14 votes

Weekly US politics news and updates thread - week of February 15

This thread is posted weekly - please try to post all relevant US political content in here, such as news, updates, opinion articles, etc. Extremely significant events may warrant a separate topic, but almost all should be posted in here.

This is an inherently political thread; please try to avoid antagonistic arguments and bickering matches. Comment threads that devolve into unproductive arguments may be removed so that the overall topic is able to continue.

27 comments

  1. [16]
    cfabbro
    (edited )
    Link
    https://twitter.com/DavidShuster/status/1362272883775582209

    https://twitter.com/DavidShuster/status/1362272883775582209

    Just confirmed @SenTedCruz and his family flew to Cancun tonight for a few days at a resort they've visited before. Cruz seems to believe there isn't much for him to do in Texas for the millions of fellow Texans who remain without electricity/water and are literally freezing.

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EufDL9EXMAAgUxV?format=jpg

    8 votes
    1. [3]
      lonjil
      Link Parent
      I really hope a majority of Texans hold their politicians accountable for this whole mess.

      I really hope a majority of Texans hold their politicians accountable for this whole mess.

      7 votes
      1. AugustusFerdinand
        Link Parent
        Having been here for far too long, I assure you they won't.

        Having been here for far too long, I assure you they won't.

        8 votes
      2. Loire
        Link Parent
        It's very unlikely for those in West/North Texas, but the population is shifting progressively purple largely because of demographics. There are a lot of Latinos (more accurately "Tejanos") in the...

        It's very unlikely for those in West/North Texas, but the population is shifting progressively purple largely because of demographics. There are a lot of Latinos (more accurately "Tejanos") in the state that lean Republican, despite the obvious reasons not to, and this may convince them to make the switch which would help on future elections.

        Tejanos, especially multi-generational long term Texans are, by my experience as conservative as any white Republican. I believe they even increased their votes for Trump between 2016 and 2020.

        6 votes
    2. spit-evil-olive-tips
      Link Parent
      Ted Cruz’s Cancún Trip: Family Texts Detail His Political Blunder

      Ted Cruz’s Cancún Trip: Family Texts Detail His Political Blunder

      Text messages sent from Ms. Cruz to friends and Houston neighbors on Wednesday revealed a hastily planned trip. Their house was “FREEZING,” as Ms. Cruz put it — and she proposed a getaway until Sunday. Ms. Cruz invited others to join them at the Ritz-Carlton in Cancún, where they had stayed “many times,” noting the room price this week ($309 per night) and its good security.

      7 votes
    3. [11]
      AugustusFerdinand
      Link Parent
      I am in no way defending the complete and utter piece of cowardice filth that is Rafael Edward Cruz and it pretty much only amounts to very bad optics to leave (and I'm sure his supporters will...

      I am in no way defending the complete and utter piece of cowardice filth that is Rafael Edward Cruz and it pretty much only amounts to very bad optics to leave (and I'm sure his supporters will justify it as "If I could leave I would too!"), but I'm not really seeing anything that can be done by him during this.

      1. He's a US Senator for Texas, not a Texas State Senator; so even if he had some semblance of power, he doesn't have any power within the state itself to determine what is done.

      2. As happens far too often during this age of social media connected politicians, if he were to do something like demand a call with ERCOT's CEO, it would still just be him having a political conversation that does nothing to solve the problem at present. I'm sure many of us here have been in a crisis mode trying to solve a problem quickly and someone that cannot help in any way asking you questions about it only prolongs the issue.

      I welcome counterpoints to this or ideas on what a US Senator could do to immediately rectify the power generation issues and not impede the progress of such.

      4 votes
      1. [4]
        dubteedub
        Link Parent
        There is actually quite a lot that Ted can do with the resources and connections that he has to help coordinate efforts and help his constituents. Just for an example, Beto O'Rourke has been using...

        He's a US Senator for Texas, not a Texas State Senator; so even if he had some semblance of power, he doesn't have any power within the state itself to determine what is done.

        There is actually quite a lot that Ted can do with the resources and connections that he has to help coordinate efforts and help his constituents.

        Just for an example, Beto O'Rourke has been using his volunteer network to contact thousands of citizens and connect them with resources.

        While outrage at Cruz was mounting online, his former opponent, O’Rourke, highlighted his own efforts to assist Texans during the crisis.

        “We made over 151,000 calls to senior citizens in Texas tonight,” O’Rourke said in a Wednesday night tweet. “One of our [volunteers] talked to a man stranded at home w/out power in Killeen, hadn’t eaten in 2 days, got him a ride to a warming center and a hot meal. Help us reach more people, join us tomorrow.”

        Given that Cruz is an actual Senator, he could do much more to help out.

        13 votes
        1. [3]
          dubteedub
          Link Parent
          As another response to the but what could Cruz even doooo talk, AOC just raised one million dollars for Texas relief aid in four hours yesterday. Ocasio-Cortez raises $1 million for Texas relief...

          As another response to the but what could Cruz even doooo talk, AOC just raised one million dollars for Texas relief aid in four hours yesterday.

          New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez raised over $1 million for relief efforts in Texas in about four hours, the congresswoman announced Thursday.

          The representative announced an attempt to raise money for five separate Texas organizations Thursday evening. The money will be split, according to Ocasio-Cortez, among The Bridge Homeless Recovery Center, Ending Community Homeless Coalition (ECHO), Family Eldercare, Houston Food Bank, and Feeding Texas are working around the clock to assist houseless, hungry and senior Texans in Travis and Dallas County, and beyond.

          11 votes
          1. [2]
            skybrian
            Link Parent
            It seems kind of interesting that AOC didn't have to be in Texas to raise $1 million. She just needed to tweet. Apparently she did also fly to Houston to volunteer at a food bank, but that's...

            It seems kind of interesting that AOC didn't have to be in Texas to raise $1 million. She just needed to tweet.

            Apparently she did also fly to Houston to volunteer at a food bank, but that's optics. There's no particular reason for a member of Congress to be there and it's likely to complicate things.

            It seems like there are a lot of things Cruz could do using the phone and Internet from Cancun, assuming he has decent connectivity from there? Having a good rolodex, knowing who to call, connecting people, holding meetings - all that can be done remotely. (I'm not saying he did these things; I don't know either way.)

            But it would make sense politically to be seen doing them, so politicians need to do a photo-op.

            2 votes
            1. dubteedub
              Link Parent
              AOC has raised $4M so far in her efforts. I highly doubt that she accomplished that solely through tweeting. I am sure her and her fundraising team also did plenty of outreach to major donors,...

              AOC has raised $4M so far in her efforts. I highly doubt that she accomplished that solely through tweeting. I am sure her and her fundraising team also did plenty of outreach to major donors, phone calls, emails, and other solicitations.

              On Saturday, Ocasio-Cortez was on the ground in Texas to celebrate the success of the fundraising effort, which will go to local organizations providing Texans food assistance, homelessness relief and elder care. She was joined by Democratic Texas Reps. Sylvia Garcia and Sheila Jackson Lee, all of whom helped fill boxes at the Houston Food Bank.

              Yes, she went down to Texas and she volunteered some time at the organization she had raised millions of dollars for. I don't think that Congressional visits are really all that complicated. Photo ops are good because stories are always better with photos, organizations and volunteers enjoy meeting politicians and feeling seen/heard, and being in person means local media can come out for a segment for little effort. She also went with two other Representatives and likely helped raise the profile and visibility of those local politicians and helping out the rest of her Caucus for future elections.

              Cruz could have done literally anything. Used his local Texas connections to help coordinate with FEMA to get relief out that had been sitting in storage. He could have raised money. He could have engaged his networks to coordinate relief and get his constituents help when needed. He could have gone out to speak with people to understand the horrific circumstances in order to inform future policy efforts. Hell, he even could have just stayed home to weather out the storm and no one would have said anything.

              Abandoning his state in the middle of both a pandemic and a huge weather / relief disaster is appalling and thinking that there is not a damn thing he could do is even worse.

              This was a great article from The Atlantic that I think sums this up well.

              It is tempting to turn the “hypocrite” label on Cruz, but his sin is worse. Every politician is a hypocrite at some point. Cruz’s error is not that he was shirking a duty he knew he should have been performing. It’s that he couldn’t think of any way he could use his power as a U.S. senator to help Texans in need. That’s a failure of imagination and of political ideology.

              ...

              But this dismissiveness is a double failure of imagination. First, it overlooks the importance of leaders bucking up the morale of a struggling population. Giving heart to citizens is good politics. (This lesson was not lost on Reagan, but Cruz has never had much of a way with soft persuasion.) Second, it ignores the power that Cruz holds. A U.S. senator has immense unwritten power. He can use his connections, and the doors that a Senate role opens, to call on businesses and leading citizens to get things done. He can also use his political network to organize relief efforts.

              ...

              If Cruz’s problem were mere hypocrisy, that might be manageable. Politicians (even Ted Cruz) are deeply susceptible to shaming, and voters’ memories are short. But Cruz’s problem is deeper. He didn’t go to Cancún despite knowing he should be hard at work; it just didn’t occur to him that he could help. That, too, is a kind of power failure.

              5 votes
      2. [2]
        streblo
        Link Parent
        It's mostly (really) bad optics but one doesn't need to accomplish much to be doing something in a time like this. You're right that he doesn't probably doesn't have much political power to wield...

        It's mostly (really) bad optics but one doesn't need to accomplish much to be doing something in a time like this. You're right that he doesn't probably doesn't have much political power to wield here but he's also a state leader in some capacity and people like to see even small tokens of solidarity in times of crisis. I would think that the people of Texas are doing things like donating extra blankets and jackets to shelters or going door to door and checking in on their elderly neighbours. Even if Cruz had no interest in such things it would be politically savy for him to have done so. It might not be accomplishing much but it is doing something.

        10 votes
        1. AugustusFerdinand
          Link Parent
          No argument there. Literally just sitting his ass in some mansion somewhere would be better than leaving. Yeah, there's a lot of help going around here. Seen multiple posts of people opening their...

          No argument there. Literally just sitting his ass in some mansion somewhere would be better than leaving.

          I would think that the people of Texas are doing things like donating extra blankets and jackets to shelters or going door to door and checking in on their elderly neighbours.

          Yeah, there's a lot of help going around here. Seen multiple posts of people opening their powered homes up to strangers to warm up and charge things, hot meals being given away, and (in proud Texas tradition) lots of people in the BBQ/smoking circles I'm in firing up their smokers and slinging delicious smoked meat out to anyone that needs it. I've thankfully never lost power (I'm on an "essential" section of the grid), so I rounded up friends that did and we're all hunkered down at my house. One advantage is that my, natural gas powered, heat barely comes on with this many people in the house. Checked on my, mostly elderly, neighbors when I got out for supplies yesterday and everyone is in the same boat having not lost power and being fine. The only one I was actually worried about was across the street and a few doors down as it was the only house that had no visibly melted snow on their roof, turns out she'd just had the attic re-insulated! Solid and well timed call, and she gave me the card of the guy that did it (while making me stand inside the door so I wasn't out in the cold while she found the card), so I'll add that to my list of people to call as I continue to make improvements here.

          10 votes
      3. [4]
        MonkeyPants
        Link Parent
        He could stick his big fat nose in it, like he does with most things. At a certain level, you don't do any real work. You talk. Others listen. If you are influential enough, things happen. You...

        He could stick his big fat nose in it, like he does with most things.

        At a certain level, you don't do any real work. You talk. Others listen. If you are influential enough, things happen. You don't need to be an executive with hiring and firing authority to make things happen.

        5 votes
        1. [3]
          AugustusFerdinand
          Link Parent
          True, but none of what could happen with any immediacy to resolve the power shortages would come of it. He could be a god and say "Get electricity to the people!" and the same response of "The...

          At a certain level, you don't do any real work. You talk. Others listen. If you are influential enough, things happen.

          True, but none of what could happen with any immediacy to resolve the power shortages would come of it. He could be a god and say "Get electricity to the people!" and the same response of "The fuck you think we're trying to do?" would be given.

          4 votes
          1. MonkeyPants
            Link Parent
            Surely he could roust up some portable generators for the elderly and infirm. He could help organize charitable blanket drops.

            Surely he could roust up some portable generators for the elderly and infirm.

            He could help organize charitable blanket drops.

            11 votes
  2. [2]
    Akir
    Link
    Biden says things may be back to normal by Christmas And I am really hoping so since I have planned a wedding on a cruise going around that time.

    Biden says things may be back to normal by Christmas

    And I am really hoping so since I have planned a wedding on a cruise going around that time.

    6 votes
    1. Eabryt
      Link Parent
      I think it's likely. I know the administration has sort of flip flopped on the dates but it sounds like anyone who wants a vaccine should be able to get one by August at the latest. I'd assume it...

      I think it's likely. I know the administration has sort of flip flopped on the dates but it sounds like anyone who wants a vaccine should be able to get one by August at the latest. I'd assume it will then be sort of a slow ramp-up of "back to normal" all fall then.

      3 votes
  3. skybrian
    Link
    How the 1871 Ku Klux Klan Act is being used in this latest Trump lawsuit [...] [...]

    How the 1871 Ku Klux Klan Act is being used in this latest Trump lawsuit

    The statute was first passed following the Civil War to combat KKK violence and allow Black people to take action against hate groups who use “force, intimidation, or threat” to prevent leaders from doing the duties of their office, Levin explained. Particularly, it prohibits people from using violence and conspiracies to keep Congress members from doing their jobs. The law was passed at a time when the KKK was openly, violently terrorizing Black people and Congress members while seeking to block Reconstruction-era reforms for Black people in the South.

    [...]

    The suit seeks unspecified monetary damages and asks a judge to rule that Trump, Giuliani and the hate groups’ actions violated federal law. Although there’s no evidence of an actual meeting between Trump, Giuliani and the groups, experts say utilizing the law as a civil suit — rather than criminal — is a “good strategy” because the burden of proving a conspiracy was stoked is low.

    [...]

    The 1871 statute is rarely used. But, in recent years, more attorneys have turned to the law as a legal strategy for defending people injured by hate groups. A December lawsuit by the NAACP accused Trump of violating the act when allegedly trying to disenfranchise Black voters. Last year, the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation said a pair of men broke the law when attempting to scare thousands of Black people out of voting by mail. The law also served as the basis for a suit filed against the group responsible for the deadly 2017 Charlottesville, Virginia, rally.

    The act remained virtually forgotten for about 100 years until the 1980s, when attorney Randolph McLaughlin rediscovered it and used it in a federal civil lawsuit brought by five Black women against the Justice Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Four of the women were injured when Klansmen drove through a Black neighborhood in Chattanooga, Tennessee, firing shotguns after burning a wooden cross. The fifth was hit by flying glass. Riots broke out as a result, and though the Klansmen were charged, two were acquitted and a third served a brief sentence. In 1982, McLaughlin won an award of $535,000 for the women.

    4 votes
  4. Kuromantis
    Link
    Not even the polls know what public opinion looks like on reopening schools

    Not even the polls know what public opinion looks like on reopening schools

    When you ask Americans a binary question about reopening schools, support for reopening appears high. For example, a Jan. 28-30 poll by RMG Research for Just the News found that 53 percent of registered voters thought schools in their area should be open for in-person learning, while just 31 percent thought they should remain closed. And according to a Feb. 12-15 Morning Consult/Politico survey, 57 percent of registered voters thought it was a good idea for K-12 schools to reopen in fall 2021, while just 26 percent thought it was a bad idea.

    Add an option for hybrid learning, however, and the nation is more ambivalent. According to a YouGov/HuffPost poll conducted Feb. 3-7, adults were evenly divided among the three options. Twenty-seven percent thought schools should be completely reopened, 29 percent thought schools should be partially reopened and 30 percent thought they should be closed or online-only.

    In addition, the issue has been simplistically framed as pitting parents against teachers (with the latter resisting the former’s calls to reopen). But polls indicate that, despite being personally affected by the issue, these two groups have roughly the same opinions on it as the general public — and as each other. According to the crosstabs of the YouGov/HuffPost poll, 29 percent of parents of K-12 students supported completely open schools, 28 percent supported partially reopened schools and 34 percent supported closed or online schools.

    4 votes
  5. Icarus
    Link
    Some things to look to on 2/18 COVID Relief Minimum Wage School Opening

    Some things to look to on 2/18

    COVID Relief

    With the House out of session this week, Budget Committee Chair John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) and his staff are pouring through the more than 500-page bill, the product of work by nine different House panels. Senate Democratic staffers are also vetting the package with the Parliamentarian’s office in that chamber, a critical procedural step needed to determine if the legislation complies with the reconciliation process. Hello Byrd Rule.

    One slight problem: The package right now is slightly more than the $1.9-trillion target. But Democrats believe that’s a minor hurdle that will be resolved and the measure will come in at the right price. The Budget Committee, however, can’t offer amendments or make substantive changes to what was produced by the other panels.

    Minimum Wage

    When it comes to the minimum wage, the critical question always has been whether it would survive the Byrd Rule in the Senate. The Byrd Rule is a complicated series of tests that control what can be included in a legislative package under reconciliation. Democrats are using reconciliation because it requires a simple majority to get a bill through the Senate, avoiding a GOP filibuster. Republicans did it in 2017 to pass their big tax-cut package.

    While the minimum wage provision itself may meet one Byrd Rule standard, how the House Education and Labor Committee included it in its markup may not. Furthermore, Republicans believe the provision will fail a different Byrd Rule test, which stipulates that the effect of a provision cannot be “merely incidental“ to the non-budget impact. We told you it’s complicated. Just know that the $15 minimum wage remains a problem.

    School Opening

    The Biden administration has had trouble keeping its message straight on whether, how and when schools should open. Now two conservative groups are launching cable and digital ads to “highlight the true cost of keeping schools closed.” President Joe Biden has promised to have most K-8 schools open five days per week by mid-April, his first 100 days in office. But, again, they’ve had a tough time staying on this message.

    The clash over reopening schools may be a way for Republicans to try to recapture some of the political ground they lost in America’s suburbs during the Trump era. GOP leaders on Capitol Hill have criticized the White House for appearing to back away from Biden’s original 100 days promise on schools. Biden, though, renewed that pledge during a CNN town hall on Tuesday night in Milwaukee.

    “That was a mistake in the communication, but what I'm talking about is I said opening the majority of schools in K through 8th grade because they're the easiest to open, the most needed to be open in terms of the impact on children and families having to stay home,” Biden said.

    3 votes