Posted: November 20, 2021 Filed under: Afternoon Reads | Tags: angry white men, Black Lives Matter, Build Back Better Act, caturday, Kyle Rittenhouse
Lucky day, by Ksenia Yarovaya
Unfortunately, the House passage of the Build Back Better Act was overshadowed yesterday by the not guilty verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse case. But if you’d like to know more about what is in the massive spending bill, The Washington Post has an excellent article about that: A guide to all the ways the House spending bill would affect America. Climate, taxes, immigration and other major provisions in the spending bill, explained.
House Democrats on Friday morning passed a more than $2 trillion bill to overhaul the country’s health care, climate, education and tax laws, moving beyond months of disputes between liberals and moderates that have stalled President Biden’s economic agenda.
The legislation builds off a framework that Biden unveiled to party lawmakers and includes new spending to enhance child care, provide free prekindergarten, combat climate change and advance a slew of tax benefits that chiefly aid low-income Americans.
But the bill omits many of Democrats’ top priorities, a reflection of the party’s difficult work to scale back a package once valued at $3.5 trillion. It now moves to the Senate, where it may face further cuts.
What follows is a guide to the legislation, one of the most significant overhauls of domestic policy in generations.
Head over to the WaPo to read summaries of all the important ways the bill could change the country.
On the Rittenhouse verdict:
Christina Maxouris at CNN: Here’s what legal experts say helped acquit Kyle Rittenhouse.
After more than 25 hours of deliberations, a 12-person jury acquitted Kyle Rittenhouse of all five charges he faced after fatally shooting two people and wounding a third during protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last summer.…
And while the jury’s decision drew harsh criticism from the victims’ loved ones, legal experts say they were not surprised by the verdict….
Among the trial’s most key moments was the testimony from Rittenhouse, who told the court he acted in self-defense when he shot Rosenbaum, who he said threatened him earlier, chased him, threw a bag at him and lunged for his gun. At one point, 18-year-old Rittenhouse broke down in tears while on the stand.
Cat’s Pause, by Bonnie Mason
“If I would have let Mr. Rosenbaum take my firearm from me, he would have used it and killed me with it and probably killed more people,” he testified.
Rittenhouse referred to the other people he shot at as part of a “mob” chasing him, telling the court Huber came at him, struck him with a skateboard, and grabbed his gun. Rittenhouse shot him once in the chest, killing him. Finally, he said he saw Grosskreutz lunge at him and point a pistol at his head, so Rittenhouse shot him, he testified.
“Number one, you humanize him… More important, number two, he explained his uses of force,” CNN legal analyst Joey Jackson said.
Rittenhouse’s testimony gave jurors the ability to hear what he thought at the time and whether he believed he was in danger — a claim the prosecution, ultimately failed to undermine, former federal prosecutor Elie Honig said.
“They (prosecutors) pointed out some sort of minor inconsistencies and things he said on the night of, and said later, but nothing that undermines sort of the core defense argument, which was, he was attacked,” Honig told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota on Friday. “Every time he shot, he was attacked.”
“The prosecution did not make enough of a dent in Kyle Rittenhouse,” Honig added.
What the trial came down to, according to civil rights attorney Charles F. Coleman Jr. were two competing narratives: one of Rittenhouse being a victim who was attacked, and one of being a vigilante who provoked the violence.
“The jury bought the narrative of Kyle Rittenhouse being a victim, they thought that his self-defense claim was a lot stronger than the prosecution’s provocation claim,” he said.
Wisconsin law allows the use of deadly force only if “necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm.” And because Rittenhouse’s attorneys claimed self-defense, state law meant the burden fell on prosecutors to disprove Rittenhouse was acting in self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt.
And it was an uphill battle to climb from the start, because of the facts in this case, experts said.
“(Prosecutors) weren’t able to show that his response to each of these men, to each of these sets of threats was unreasonable,” criminal defense attorney Sara Azari told CNN’s Pamela Brown.
Pierre Loti with a Cat, by Henri Rousseau, 1892
Another take on the verdict from Elie Mystal at The Nation: Kyle Rittenhouse Has Gotten Away With Murder—as Predicted.
Kyle Rittenhouse, who was 17 years old when he shot three people, killing two, officially got away with murder. A jury of his white peers ruled that Rittenhouse acted in self-defense when he illegally acquired a gun, traveled across state lines, lied about his status as a medic, pointed his gun at protesters, and then used it to kill others.
The verdict is not surprising, if you are familiar with how the criminal justice system works for white people. Wisconsin Judge Bruce Schroeder, who presided over the Rittenhouse trial, consistently made rulings in the best interest of the white gunman. He refused to punish Rittenhouse for violating the terms of his bail; excluded evidence of Rittenhouse’s behavior before and after the shooting that spoke to his intent and lack of remorse; allowed the defense to mischaracterize the people Rittenhouse killed as “rioters”; yelled at prosecutors in front of the jury; dismissed an illegal gun charge against the gunman; and had the jury clap for one of Rittenhouse’s expert witnesses.
Others might want to argue about why Schroeder was biased toward the defendant (I think the judge’s MAGA ringtones and off-color jokes tell you all you need to know about why he was sympathetic to a white gunman who shot up anti–police violence protesters at the height of the Black Lives Matter movement). But that he was biased toward Rittenhouse was obvious to those watching the trial without blinders.
Still, a sympathetic judge and a predominately white jury are just standard gifts the criminal justice system gives to white boys accused of criminal violence. Rittenhouse also enjoyed hero status among white supremacists and Republicans as well as favorable media coverage from Fox News and The New York Times.
No doubt, some people will express shock at the verdict over the next few days. But Rittenhouse’s freedom is not a “miscarriage” of justice—it is our white justice system working as intended. This system is designed to free people like Rittenhouse: white vigilantes who kill to maintain the best interests of whiteness. It doesn’t always work (I still believe the people who lynched Ahmaud Arbery will be found guilty). But it works often enough (see George Zimmerman) that it gives comfort and confidence to any white person who clearly realizes that they might do an obviously illegal and violent thing (like, say, storm the US Capitol) and either get away with it completely or receive a light punishment.
Morris Hirshfield, Angora Cat, 1937-39
I wholeheartedly agree with Mystal. As he writes in the article, a black 17-year-old who did what Rittenhouse did would suffer a completely different fate. Frankly, that black teenager would most likely be killed by police before he had a chance to stand trial.
John Blake at CNN: There’s nothing more frightening in America today than an angry White man.
The specter of the angry Black man has been evoked in politics and popular culture to convince White folks that a big, bad Black man is coming to get them and their daughters.
I’ve seen viral videos of innocent Black men losing their lives because of this stereotype. I’ve watched White people lock their car doors or clutch their purses when men who look like me approach. I’ve been racially profiled….
But as I’ve watched three separate trials about White male violence unfold across the US these past few weeks — the Kyle Rittenhouse trial, the Ahmaud Arbery death trial and the civil case against organizers of the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville — I’ve come to a sobering conclusion:
There is nothing more frightening in America today than an angry White man.
It’s not the “radical Islamic terrorist” that I fear the most. Nor is it the brown immigrant or the fiery Black Lives Matter protester, or whatever the latest bogeyman is that some politician tells me I should dread.
It’s encountering an armed White man in public who has been inspired by the White men on trial in these three cases.
Of course it’s not all White men, Blake writes.
But recent events have convinced me it’s time to put another character on trial: A vision of White masculinity that allows some White men to feel as if they “can rule and brutalize without consequence.”
Reynaldo Fonseca, Figure and Cats, 2003
This angry White man has been a major character throughout US history. He gave the country slavery, the slaughter of Native Americans, and Jim Crow laws. His anger also helped fuel the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol.
It’s this angry White man — not the Black or brown man you see approaching on the street at night — who poses the most dangerous threat to democracy in America.
That’s a sweeping claim. But these trials represent something bigger than questions of individual guilt or innocence. They offer a disturbing vision of the future, and a choice about what kind of country we want to live in.
Read the rest at CNN.
Mediaite: House Judiciary Chair Nadler Calls for DOJ Review of Kyle Rittenhouse Case After ‘Heartbreaking Verdict’: Sets ‘Dangerous Precedent.’
Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D- NY) called for the Justice Department to review the Kyle Rittenhouse case after a jury found Rittenhouse not guilty on all charges Friday.
Nadler, the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, reacted to the verdict by remarking, “This heartbreaking verdict is a miscarriage of justice and sets a dangerous precedent which justifies federal review by DOJ. Justice cannot tolerate armed persons crossing state lines looking for trouble while people engage in First Amendment-protected protest.”
More stories to check out today:
The New York Times: Discussions of Race Are Notably Absent in Trial of Arbery Murder Suspects.
Politico: Judge faults Trump for Jan. 6 attack.
Buzzfeed News: Top Justice Department Officials Were Told There Were “No Credible Threats” Hours Before The Capitol Riot.
David Corn: The Steele Dossier and Donald Trump’s Betrayal of America.
The New York Times: G.O.P. Is Energized, but ‘Trump Cancel Culture’ Poses a Threat.
The Washington Post: As Biden agenda advances in Congress, White House weighs new offensive on inflation.
The Washington Post: Sinema holds firm in support of the filibuster, imperiling late voting rights push.
Have a great weekend, Sky Dancers!!
Posted: November 19, 2021 Filed under: morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: Build Back Better Act, Joseph McCarthy, Kevin McCarthy, Louis De Joy, Project Veritas, Ron Bloom, Saule Omarova, Sen. John Kennedy, USPS
Today is a busy news day, even though it’s the Friday before Thanksgiving week.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., presides over House passage of President Joe Biden’s expansive social and environment bill, at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, Nov. 19, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
The breaking news: The House passed the Build Back Better bill this morning. CNBC: House passes $1.75 trillion Biden plan that funds universal pre-K, Medicare expansion and renewable energy credits.
The House of Representatives on Friday passed the largest expansion of the social safety net in decades, a $1.75 trillion bill that funds universal pre-K, Medicare expansion, renewable energy credits, affordable housing, a year of expanded Child Tax Credits and major Obamacare subsidies.
The final vote was 220-213, and only one Democrat, Jared Golden of Maine voted against the bill.
Now that it has cleared the House, President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Act goes to the Senate, where it is likely to be revised in the coming weeks. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he aims to have the chamber pass the bill before Christmas. The House will need to vote on it again if the bill is altered.
If the measure is signed into law, the bill will profoundly change how many Americans live, especially families with children, the elderly and low income Americans.
What’s in the current version of the bill:
- Universal preschool for all 3- and 4-year olds. In addition to helping millions of children prepare better for school, the benefit would enable parents of young children to return to the work force earlier.
- Capping childcare costs at 7% of income for parents earning up to 250% of a state’s median income.
- 4 weeks of federal paid parental, sick or caregiver leave.
- A year of expanded Child Tax Credits. During the past year, these credits have raised households with more than 3 million children out of poverty, and cut overall child poverty in America by 25%.
- Extended pandemic-era Affordable Care Act subsidies. So far this year, these subsidies have increased ACA enrollment by more than 2 million.
- New hearing benefits for Medicare beneficiaries, including coverage for a new hearing aid every five years.
- A $35 per-month limit on the cost of insulin under Medicare, and a cap on out-of-pocket prescription drug costs at $2,000 per year.
- $500 billion to combat climate change, largely through clean energy tax credits. This represents the largest ever federal investment in clean energy.
- Raising the State and Local Tax deduction limit from $10,000 to $80,000.
The bill represents a major victory for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who pulled together a divided caucus with conflicting interests and united it behind a sprawling, 2,000-plus-page bill, passing it with a thin majority.
The vote was supposed to be last night, but a deranged Kevin McCarthy decided to make a last ditch effort to prevent it from going forward. The New York Times: Kevin McCarthy Speaks for More Than Eight Hours to Delay a House Vote.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California early Friday concluded a marathon speech in opposition to the Democrats’ social policy bill, after talking for eight hours and 32 minutes, surpassing the length of one by Representative Nancy Pelosi in 2018 that held the record for the longest continuous House speech in modern history.
“Personally I didn’t think I could go this long,” Mr. McCarthy said toward the end of his monologue as some of the people behind him struggled to keep their eyes open. Finally, after 5 a.m., he finished. “With that, Madam Speaker, I yield back,” he said.
Mr. McCarthy, the top Republican in the House, railed against President Biden and his agenda in an effort to delay the passage of the Democrats’ $1.85 trillion social policy and climate change bill.
The debate over the bill had been scheduled to last 20 minutes before Mr. McCarthy took over after 8 p.m. to deliver an at times rambling speech stuffed with Republican talking points against the legislation and punctuated with riffs about history.
“I know some of you are mad at me, think I spoke too long,” he said at one point. “But I’ve had enough. America has had enough.”
Shortly after midnight Friday, when Mr. McCarthy showed no sign of yielding control of the House floor, Democratic leaders sent lawmakers home, with plans to return at 8 a.m. to finish debate and vote on the sprawling package.
The horror! The notion of the government helping regular Americans instead of enriching the already super-rich was just too much for McCarthy and the rest of the Trumpist goons.
The Daily Beast: Democrats Finally Unite—to Mock Kevin McCarthy All Night as He Breaks Stupid Record.
Curiously, McCarthy stopped talking shortly after surpassing the eight hour, seven minute record set by Nancy Pelosi in 2018—yielding after eight hours and 32 minutes.
Starting at 8:38 p.m., McCarthy took full advantage of the “Magic Minute”—in which leaders from both parties are allowed to speak for as long as they want with it only counting as one minute against the time allocated for debate—and delivered a stemwinder of half-truths, outright lies, aggrieved arguments, unrelated tangents, and recycled rhetoric….
As McCarthy began his lecture on the floor Thursday, the Democratic heckling started almost immediately. McCarthy told members he had “all night,” to which Democrats responded, “So do we!”
And both sides really did.
When McCarthy baselessly claimed the bill would cost $5 trillion, Democrats started yelling out increasingly large numbers. “$6 trillion!” one shouted, before another topped him with “$7 trillion!”—with more Democrats joining in with even more farcical projections.
When McCarthy said, “If I sound angry, I am,” Democrats chimed in with a prolonged “awww” sound, like they were watching a baby do something cute.
Read more at the link. Democrats mocked McCarthy on Twitter too. Read more at Mediaite: House Democrats Roast Kevin McCarthy on Twitter for Marathon Speech: ‘Please Saw Me in Half and Put Me Out of My Misery.’
Biden appears to be working up to getting rid of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. The Washington Post: Biden expected to replace Ron Bloom, USPS board chair and key DeJoy ally, on postal board.
President Biden is expected to announce Friday that he will not renominate Ron Bloom, the chair the U.S. Postal Service board and a key ally of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, when his term expires next month, according to three people with knowledge of the situation.
The move casts doubt on DeJoy’s future at the agency, the people said, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.
The decision potentially gives liberals on the panel another crucial vote to oust the postmaster general, who can only be removed by the board of governors. The nine-member board currently comprises four Democrats, four Republicans and one independent, though Biden has only appointed three members.
Bloom, a Democrat, has backed DeJoy as the agency permanently slowed mail delivery standards and raised prices.
Biden’s decision reflects the White House’s continued antipathy toward DeJoy, who is widely viewed as a loyalist to former president Donald Trump.
Read the rest at the WaPo.
Yesterday, Dakinikat posted a video of Louisiana Senator John Kennedy going full Joseph McCarthy on a Biden appointee.
At The Guardian, David Smith writes: ‘Professor or comrade?’ Republicans go full red scare on Soviet-born Biden pick.
Saule Omarova, 55, was nominated in September to be America’s next comptroller of the currency. If confirmed, she would be the first woman and person of colour in the role in its 158-year-history.
Omarova was born in Kazakhstan when it was part of the Soviet Union and moved to the US in 1991. For John Kennedy of Louisiana, a member of the Senate banking committee, this was like a red rag to a bull.
Questioning whether Omarova was still a member of communist youth organisations, Kennedy said: “I don’t mean any disrespect: I don’t know whether to call you professor or comrade.”
The remark prompted gasps in the hearing room on Capitol Hill.
Omarova replied, slowly and firmly: “Senator, I’m not a communist. I do not subscribe to that ideology. I could not choose where I was born.
“I do not remember joining any Facebook group that subscribes to that ideology. I would never knowingly join any such group. There is no record of me actually participating in any Marxist or communist discussions of any kind.”
Omarova then told how her family suffered under the communist regime.
“I grew up without knowing half of my family. My grandmother herself escaped death twice under the Stalin regime. This is what’s seared in my mind. That’s who I am. I remember that history. I came to this country. I’m proud to be an American and this is why I’m here today, Senator.”
Omarova has worked mainly as a lawyer and most recently as a law professor at Cornell University. She has testified often as an expert witness on financial regulation and even worked briefly in the administration of George W Bush.
Kennedy wasn’t the only one to attack Omarova.
…in a letter to Omarova after she was nominated, Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania requested a copy of a graduation paper she wrote about Karl Marx when she was an undergraduate at Moscow State University – “in the original Russian” .
At Thursday’s hearing, Toomey noted that Omarova has written several academic papers that propose sweeping changes to the banking system.
“Taken in totality, her ideas do amount to a socialist manifesto for American financial services,” he said.
A judge is trying to muzzle the NYT in the Project Veritas case. The New York Times: Judge Tries to Block New York Times’s Coverage of Project Veritas.
A New York trial court judge ordered The New York Times on Thursday to temporarily refrain from publishing or seeking out certain documents related to the conservative group Project Veritas, an unusual instance of a court blocking coverage by a major news organization.
The order raised immediate concerns among First Amendment advocates, who called it a violation of basic constitutional protections for journalists, a viewpoint echoed by The Times. Project Veritas issued a statement in support of the order, arguing that it did not amount to a significant imposition on the newspaper’s rights.
The judge’s order is part of a pending libel lawsuit filed by Project Veritas against The Times in 2020. That suit accuses the newspaper of defaming Project Veritas in its reporting on a video produced by the group that made unverified claims of voter fraud in Minnesota.
Led by the provocateur James O’Keefe, Project Veritas often conducts sting operations — including the use of fake identities and hidden cameras — aimed at embarrassing Democratic campaigns, labor organizations, news outlets and other entities. It is the subject of a Justice Department investigation into its possible involvement in the reported theft of a diary that apparently belonged to President Biden’s daughter, Ashley.
Theodore J. Boutrous Jr., a lawyer who represents media outlets including CNN, called the court’s order “ridiculous.”
“Even though it’s temporary, the Supreme Court has said even the most modest, minute-by-minute deprivations of these First Amendment rights cannot be tolerated,” Mr. Boutrous said. “To go further and suggest a limit on news gathering, I’ve never heard of such a thing.”
Read the rest at the NYT. See also The Washington Post: Court bars New York Times from publishing Project Veritas memos in move called ‘unconstitutional.’
More stories to check out today:
Will Bunch at The Philadelphia Inquirer: The impeachment of President Biden and other American nightmares coming in 2023.
The Daily Beast: Europe Locking Back Down With COVID Winter Surge Coming for Us All.
The Washington Post: Prominent scientist who said lab-leak theory of covid-19 origin should be probed now believes evidence points to Wuhan market.
The Chicago Tribune: Man spotted with AR-15 outside Kyle Rittenhouse trial confirms he is a fired Ferguson police officer.
Politico Magazine: The Bonnie and Clyde of MAGA World. For a decade, Dustin Stockton and Jennifer Lawrence had surfed the wave of populist-right politics like few other people in America. Then came Jan. 6.
CNN: Trump’s ire grows as DeSantis’ popularity with Republicans takes off.
The Washington Post: ‘No one tells me what to do’: Sinema praises infrastructure, questions spending and inflation in wide-ranging interview.
What stories are you following today?