Working For the Weekend

Shine the Light

New York State Attorney General Letitia James sued the city of New York, the mayor, and the police department over the civil rights abuses committed by NYPD for years. This suit focuses on their behavior during the protest after the murder of George Floyd, which included driving a car into the protestors, shoving people the ground, beating protestors with batons, and using chemical irritants. James says there has been a pattern of abuse and excessive force for some time. 

“As the demonstrations continued, the very thing being protested — aggressive actions of law enforcement — was on public display.”

Letitia James at a news conference announcing the lawsuit.

James wants a monitor to oversee the department’s tactics at future protests. She also seeks a court order to declare that the policies and practices the department used during protests last year were unlawful. The initial investigation was at the request of Gov. Cuomo and is all in an effort to actually reform the police department. Following the George Floyd protest, the NY Civil Liberties Union sued on behalf of 11 protestors who were abused and assaulted by police during the demonstrations. Additionally, New York City’s own Department of Investigation found the police department used excessive force during protest. 

Say what you want about Letitia James, but she is fearless when it comes to prosecuting injustice.

What Does G.O.P. Really Stand For?

After Sen. Liz Cheney came out and did the brave and morally correct thing by voting to impeach President Trump for his incitement of a riot many people in her own party asked for her resignation. The New York Times says, the Trump supporting Freedom Caucus in the House, which includes Reps. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Jim Jordan (R-OH), and Matt Gaetz (R-FL) are circulating a petition calling for Cheney to resign from her role as chairwoman of the House Republican Conference. In the petition, they say that her vote to impeach brought “disrepute and produced discord.” 

Cheney said she is not going anywhere and said she voted her conscience. But that is not stopping Trump supporting Republicans from trying to get her out of office. Which is ironic, because Republicans during the House Impeachment Hearing, talked about it being a time to come together and made calls for unity to heal the country. So, why then do you want to kick out a member of your own party for voting her conscience?

Since many Republicans pointed out the tension between Progressives and moderate Democrats following the election, it is now time for introspection. There is dissent in the ranks. Republicans now have to determine what they stand for, the traditional principles of republican politics or the distortions exacerbated by Donald Trump. Currently, it appears Republicans are weighing the political consequences of doing the right thing and possibly paying a price for turning against Trump versus continuing to support him and also risking their position.  

Another problem is that over the last 4 years a new type of Republican has emerged, been elected, and is currently holding office on both the state and federal levels. This Republican is incapable of seeing Trump’s flaws and condemns any dissent to his point of view. So, what will they do now? Now that Trump will no longer be President. How do they plan to show their loyalty when Biden and the Democrats are their enemy because they are Trump’s enemy?  

Trump’s Influence Remains Strong

A recent NYT article shows that despite the activities of the last week and the last four years, among Trump supporters nothing has really changed. 

Cleveland County, Oklahoma, the chairman of the local Republican Party, hours before the insurrection, posted on Facebook,  “why is violence unacceptable, What the crap do you think the American revolution was? A game of friggin pattycake?”

Republican chairman of Nye County in Nevada, 2 days after the insurrection posted a conspiracy-theory-filled letter on the local committee website, accusing Vice President Pence of treason and calling the rioting a “staged event meant to blame Trump supporters.”

This week in Virginia, Amanda Chase, a two-term Republican state senator running for governor, insisted that President Trump might still be sworn into a second term on Jan. 20 and that Republicans who blocked that “alternative plan” would be punished by the President’s supporters. She went on to say “they’ve got Mitch McConnell up there selling out the Republican Party. The insurrection is actually the deep state with the politicians working against the people to overthrow our government.”

Interviews with 40 Republican state and local leaders conducted after the siege at the Capitol were eye opening in that they still maintain a deep devotion to Trump and do not blame him for the violence. Thus, they feel the need to double down with their support. 

An Axios-Ipsos poll released this week shows that the majority of all Americans support Trump’s removal from office. A majority of Republicans, however, support the president’s recent behavior and say he should be the Republican nominee in 2024.  So, these the Republicans; Are they here to stay?

Biden on Economics

Biden released his economic plan for the country. The American Rescue Plan is a $1.9 trillion plan. To help put that number in context, look at past economic plans. Congress passed a $900 billion relief program in December and the initial pandemic relief package was $2 trillion in March. Obama’s American Recovery Reinvestment Act of 2009 was $800 billion.

So, what’s in the bill?

  • $1,400 checks for most Americans, this plus the $600 from December’s bill total the $2000 many Democrats supported.
  • $400 per week unemployment insurance supplement.
  • $15 an hour minimum wage; Minimum wage is currently $7.25 and has been for more than a decade. Many states and localities have already raised their own wages.
  • 14 weeks of paid sick and family leave for caregivers dealing with closed schools or care centers.
  • $1,400 leave benefit for eligible workers. State and local governments and employers with fewer than 500 employees would be reimbursed for the costs via a refundable tax credit. Emergency leave provisions would last through the end of September.
  • Expanded child care tax credit, families with children up to age 13 could receive a total of up to $4,000 for one child or $8,000 for two or more children. Families making less than $125,000 per year would receive the full credit, while those earning up to $400,000 would receive a partial credit.
  • $400 billion would go directly to combating the pandemic.
  • $20 billion would be allocated for vaccinations. This would be on top of the $8 billion already approved by Congress. 
  • $50 billion to expand COVID testing in an effort to get school reopened. 
  • $130 billion would be allocated to help schools reopen. 
  • Hiring 100,000 public health workers, to focus on encouraging people to get vaccinated 

“The crisis of deep human suffering is in plain sight, and there’s not time to waste; We have to act and we have to act now.”

President-Elect Biden

How is it being paid for? Mostly, borrowed money. This plan will add trillions to the national debt. Biden plans to make the case that it is necessary to prevent the economy from sliding into a deeper hole. This may be supported by the US Chamber of Commerce who agrees that the country has to get COVID under control in order to restore the economy. Either way, brace for objections to adding to the national debt. 

VID/VAC Update

The South: Georgia must have been too focused on the Senate race, because it along with Alabama, Mississippi, and South Carolina, have only vaccinated 2% of their populations with the first dose of the vaccine. Compare that to most other states, which have given the vaccine to 5% of their population.

Trump-Biden Transition: There has been limited communication between Operation Warp Speed and Biden’s incoming team. Experts are warning that this could further hinder the distribution of the vaccine. This week is the first week Biden officials have been allowed to attend a meeting with Operation Warp Speed. They were even excluded from two meetings this past weekend with Warp Speed. 

China: The World Health Organization has a 15-person global research team in Wuhan, China investigating the origins of the coronavirus. They are focusing on the first known human cases from December 2019 in the Wuhan wet market and the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Previous attempts to research were blocked because China has been resistant to outside investigation. Let’s hope they get some answers that help. 

U.S. CDC says the new variant of COVID-19 will likely be dominant in the US as early as March, causing a fresh surge of cases this spring. Great, just great.