The Saturday Report 7/3/21

The best of the rest of the news this week

— Donald Trump learned the way of mob bosses from his first lawyer and mentor, Roy Cohn, whose other “big” clients were John Gotti of the Gambino crime family and Jeffrey Epstein. That’s why Trump has always run his business (and the White House) like a crime boss would, refusing to put anything in writing, asking lawyers not to keep notes (and tearing up the translator’s notes from his time with Putin in Helsinki). As Michael Cohen has noted in sworn testimony before Congress, “Trump talks in code” to get things done…a variation on Henry II’s coded-assassination-request about Archbishop Beckett: “Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?” I believe the really big question now that the indictments have started is if the US or NY prosecutors will get into the act with the law passed specifically to take down people like Gotti — the RICO (Racketeer-Influenced Corrupt Organization) Act? It’s probably the best way to get him and his corrupt children into prison.

German scientists are recommending people get one shot of the Pfizer vaccine and their second shot be the AstraZenica one. The former is an mRNA vaccine, the latter uses an adenovirus to get Covid reactions into cells and provoke immunity. Because they’re different types of vaccines, they seem to provide a broader spectrum of immunity when combined like this. Hopefull the AstraZenica vaccine will soon be approved for use in the US; meanwhile some are speculating that combining the J&J vaccine with a second shot a few months later from Pfizer might do the same thing.

— While we’re fine-tuning vaccines, the EU just rolled out vaccine passports this week as have New York and California. We need to do them nationwide as the Delta variant is just now beginning to burn through Red states and Red counties in Blue states. As a result of that variant, which is both more contagious and more deadly and appears more likely to “break through” into even fully vaccinated people, Los Angeles is now following WHO advice and urging even vaccinated people to wear their masks indoors. We need vaccine passports here in the US, whether they’re mandated and produced by the federal government or if there’s a very, very widespread adoption by businesses of one of the commercial ones that are in development, like the one from Clear (which just went public with an IPO). There are still a lot of people unwilling to go back to shopping or to work because they’re unwilling to be exposed to unvaccinated people, and businesses from restaurants to theaters to workplaces requiring a vaccine certificate for entrance will help get our economy back into full gear (which is the main reason the EU has adopted them!).

— The Supreme Court has become a “major impediment to American democracy” with two major decisions this week, one further gutting the 1965 Voting Rights Act and a second giving billionaires and corporations cover by striking down Dark Money transparency requirements when they pour money down politicians’ throats or into ballot initiatives or political campaigns. Congress must pass laws to overturn these decisions, and Biden’s study commission on the federal courts will hopefully recommend he expand the Court ASAP. Taking it to 18 or 27 justices and randomly assigning cases to groups of 9 justices might be a solution, although others like just adding 4 or 6 more justices are being discussed. It’ll be a big lift — the Court hasn’t had its membership numbers changed since the 19th century — but keeping the current composition of this highly-partisan Court guarantees the continued erosion of democracy in America.

A long-time ExxonMobil lobbyist has revealed that the company is just giving lip service to a carbon tax to take the heat off themselves, while bragging that the company “owns” 11 US senators. The senators he named were Republicans John Barrasso, John Cornyn, Marco Rubio, Steve Daines and Shelley Moore Capito and Democrats Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema, Jon Tester, Maggie Hassan, Chris Coons and Mark Kelly. When US senators are openly owned by individual companies, democracy deteriorates within the senate and across the country as cynicism spreads. Every one of these senators need to stand up and either admit to or repudiate their relationship to Exxon. It’ll be interesting to see if any of them are ever asked about this on national television; I’m not holding my breath, but if one of them represents you, you may want to call their office through the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask them yourself.

— While here in the Pacific Northwest we were hit with 110+ degree heat for three days and well over 300 people have died in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia, our national media was instead focused on the disaster-porn local story of the collapse of a condo in Florida. They may be related: the building appears to have been damaged by exposure to rising sea levels, although we won’t know for months the final assessment by the experts. But there’s a larger story that ties them together, which is that for 40 years since the Reagan Revolution, both America and many condos have deferred maintenance of infrastructure…at the same time that climate change has gotten so bad that some scientists are warning that deaths from heat-related issues may soon eclipse deaths from infectious diseases. President Biden’s infrastructure plan becomes more vital every day.

Chauncey Devega wonders out loud if Tucker Carlson (and, by extension, Fox “News”) are preparing white nationalists for a “second civil war” that might be kicked off by “Stochastic terrorism.” This form of lone-wolf terrorism is incited by, he writes, “the strategic repeated use of language and other means of communication intended to encourage violence while still maintaining some level of plausible deniability.” It’s hard to find holes in his logic and hopefully the FBI and DOJ are taking this seriously. Meanwhile, even over the objections and bans on teaching the racial history of America being passed and pushed by the GOP, it’s incredibly important that white people in this country learn the true history of how minorities, particularly Native Americans and African Americans, have been treated. Genocide and slavery were both, in our past, official policies of our government and the consequences of those policies continues to echo down to today.

— A new study of “Silver-Spoon Oligarchs” from the Institute for Policy Studies finds that the morbidly rich in America have amassed so much money that’s no longer circulating through the economy that it actually threatens the existence of a broad middle class while exacerbating inequality. Just 50 families have more wealth than the bottom half of America. Just since the start of the pandemic in March of last year, America’s 666 billionaires have added over $1 trillion to their money bins. The planet’s 2,365 billionaires added over $4 trillion. If we fail to strengthen the IRS’s enforcement capabilities that have been gutted by years of GOP budget cuts, and restore the Estate Tax and the personal and corporate income taxes to pre-Reagan Revolution levels, all but the top 1% of America will continue to slide toward poverty, a situation that’s happening in numerous countries around the planet.

— Rachel Bitecofer accurately predicted the details of the 2020 election, right down to every US congressional race but one. Now she’s rolled out a new PAC — STRIKEPAC — to try to get Democrats to tighten up and focus their political messaging. I had her on my show last week and she’s really worth listening to and supporting. The GOP is tightening their messaging down to a few pithy points, while Democrats are all over the map; hopefully this will change as we move toward the 2022 election. If the GOP regains control of either the House or Senate, any forward motion on democracy in America will be stalled, and if they win the White House in 2024 we may well see the end of democracy in our republic altogether. Time to get active!