Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: The Select Committee continues to dig

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: The Select Committee continues to dig

Jacqueline Alemany, Tom Hamburger, and Josh Dawsey of The Washington Post report that the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection is ramping up its efforts, including the issuance of a subpoena for Jeffrey Clark and taking closed-door testimony from former acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen.

The latest activity comes as tensions over compliance with the investigation are increasing and as the committee’s plans to hold depositions this week are already facing head winds. The focus of those depositions are Stephen K. Bannon and three other Trump administration officials — former chief of staff Mark Meadows, former deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino and Kash Patel, who was serving as chief of staff to then-acting Defense secretary Christopher Miller on Jan. 6.

Although lawmakers maintain that the deposition dates still stand for this week, it remains unclear whether any will happen.


The committee on Wednesday also took eight hours of closed-door testimony from former acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen regarding the final days of the Trump administration, according to two people familiar with the meeting who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the private testimony, as it also focuses on witnesses willing to voluntarily meet with the panel.

The latest activity comes as tensions over compliance with the investigation are increasing and as the committee’s plans to hold depositions this week are already facing head winds. The focus of those depositions are Stephen K. Bannon and three other Trump administration officials — former chief of staff Mark Meadows, former deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino and Kash Patel, who was serving as chief of staff to then-acting Defense secretary Christopher Miller on Jan. 6.

Paul Krugman of The New York Times points out that The Republican Party doesn’t seem as friendly with big business nowadays.

Republicans have been closely allied with big business since the Gilded Age, when a party originally based on opposition to slavery was, in effect, captured by the rising power of corporations. That alliance lost some of its force in the 1950s and 1960s, an era in which the G.O.P. largely accepted things like progressive taxation and strong labor unions, but came back in full with the rise of Ronald Reagan and his agenda of tax cuts and deregulation.

Indeed, it wasn’t that long ago that you could plausibly think of the Republican Party as basically a front for big-business interests, one that exploited social issues and appeals to racial hostility to win elections, only to turn immediately after each election to a pro-corporate agenda. That was basically the thesis of Thomas Frank’s 2004 book “What’s the Matter With Kansas,” and it seemed like a good model of the party until the rise of Trumpism.

Now, however, Republican politicians are at odds with corporate America on crucial issues. It’s not just vaccines. Corporate interests also want serious investment in infrastructure and find themselves on the outs with Republican leaders who don’t want to see Democrats achieve any policy successes. Basically, the G.O.P. is currently engaged in a major campaign of sabotage — its leaders want to see America do badly, because they believe this will redound to their political advantage — and if this hurts their corporate backers along the way, they don’t care.

FTR, I think that Mr. Krugman well knows that he overstates his case; the GQP is still quite friendly with big business even if their voting base is not.

BTW, I thought that Krugman’s use of “redound” was a typo but it isn’t.

Good word.

Mark Mellman writes for The Hill with the reminder that even with some of the polling numbers for President Biden and the Democrats being on a downward trend, it is a long way until the midterm elections on November 8, 2022.

To assess future possibilities, consider how we got where we are and how those central realities could change over the next year.

The first culprit is the delta variant. In the spring, Americans were celebrating rapidly declining COVID-19 case levels, and, partly as a result, those who approved of the president’s performance outnumbered those who disapproved by 12-14 points. 

The rise of the delta variant changed that. 

But infections are falling again, and if, a year from now, the pandemic seems largely over, President Biden and Democrats will be stronger.   

The economy’s a second factor. 

Politicos wait with bated breath for each months’ jobs numbers as if they determine votes. The overwhelming evidence is they don’t. 

Jessica Schulberg and Christopher Blackwell write an investigative piece for Huffpost on prison facilities using solitary confinement “under the guise of medical isolation” for hundreds of thousands of prisoners.

It is impossible to know the exact scope of the use of solitary confinement because most detention facilities are not required to report publicly how many people they place in solitary and for how long. The public reporting that does exist is not particularly useful, as it does not account for the euphemistic terms often used to describe various forms of solitary confinement. But it is clear from HuffPost’s reporting — which involved extensive interviews with people who are incarcerated, defense lawyers and activists — that the use of solitary confinement exploded during the pandemic as the coronavirus tore through facilities that were ill-prepared to protect the people who live inside.

The United Nations’ “Mandela Rules” define solitary confinement as “the confinement of prisoners for 22 hours or more a day without meaningful human contact.” The use of solitary confinement for more than 15 consecutive days is a form of torture, according to the U.N. Even shorter periods of solitary confinement should only be used “in exceptional cases as a last resort, for as short a time as possible,” the U.N. says.

By April 2020, at least 300,000 prisoners were living under full or partial lockdown, confined to their cells for nearly the entire day. That number alone represented an approximately 500% increase in the number of people placed under solitary compared to pre-pandemic levels, according to an analysis by watchdog group Solitary Watch. And that estimate did not include individuals who were sent into separate solitary units but whose prisons were not on lockdown. The duration of time spent in solitary confinement varies, but some incarcerated individuals have spent more than a year mostly in isolation.

Audra D.S. Burch and Amy Schoenfeld Walker of The New York Times report that racial gaps in vaccination rates have largely disappeared.

In the first months after the vaccine rollout, Black Americans were far less likely than white Americans to be vaccinated. In addition to the difficulty of obtaining shots in their communities, their hesitancy was fueled by a powerful combination of general mistrust of the government and medical institutions, and misinformation over the safety and efficacy of the vaccines.

But a wave of pro-vaccine campaigns and a surge of virus hospitalizations and deaths this summer, mostly among the unvaccinated and caused by the highly contagious Delta variant, have narrowed the gap, experts say. So, too, have the Food and Drug Administration’s full approval of a vaccine and new employer mandates. A steadfast resistance to vaccines in some white communities may also have contributed to the lessening disparity.

While gaps persist in some regions, by late September, according to the most recent survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a roughly equal share of Black, white and Hispanic adult populations — 70 percent of Black adults, 71 percent of white adults and 73 percent of Hispanic adults — had received at least one vaccine dose. A Pew study in late August revealed similar patterns. Federal data shows a larger racial gap, but that data is missing demographic information for many vaccine recipients.

Dona Matthews and Joanne Foster write for the New York Daily News on the necessity for gifted learning programs.

When a child’s gifted learning needs go unmet, it diminishes their chances of getting an education that meets their learning needs, and too often has long-term negative consequences, educationally, psychologically and behaviorally. In addition to problems for the child, the community as a whole forfeits whatever contribution that child might have made had they had a chance to keep learning at the pace and in the depth of which they’re capable.

There is a way to ensure that kids with advanced learning needs have those needs met, and that it happens equitably, without creating segregated streams of those who are considered gifted and those who are thereby designated “not gifted.” We have proposed an “optimal match” approach to gifted education, whereby teachers are given a range of options from which to select, and the tools and support they need to assess and address each child’s learning needs.


Acceleration alone, however, isn’t nearly enough. To meet diverse kinds of gifted learning needs, there has to be a range of learning options available. When the jurisdiction is large enough — as it is in New York — the optimal match approach would include full-time gifted programs for those kids who would benefit from them, for as long as they work for those students. In every school district, no matter the size, there can be a range of options as wide as the imaginations of the teachers, kids and parents in that district. In addition to subject-specific acceleration, gifted programming can include full-grade acceleration (aka “skipping”), book clubs, science enrichment, math contests, online courses, mentoring, leadership opportunities, guided independent study, specialized schools, and so much more.

Laura Silver, Janell Fetterolf, and Aidan Connaughton of The Pew Research Center report that, by and large, so-called “advanced economies” increasingly like racial/ethnic diversity.

Wide majorities in most of the 17 advanced economies surveyed by Pew Research Center say having people of many different backgrounds improves their society. Outside of Japan and Greece, around six-in-ten or more hold this view, and in many places – including Singapore, New Zealand, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and Taiwan – at least eight-in-ten describe where they live as benefiting from people of different ethnic groups, religions and races.

Even in Japan and Greece, the share who think diversity makes their country better has increased by double digits since the question was last asked four years ago, and significant increases have also taken place in most other nations where trends are available.

Alongside this growing openness to diversity, however, is a recognition that societies may not be living up to these ideals: In fact, most people say racial or ethnic discrimination is a problem in their society. Half or more in almost every place surveyed describe discrimination as at least a somewhat serious problem – including around three-quarters or more who have this view in Italy, France, Sweden, the U.S. and Germany. And, in eight surveyed publics, at least half describe their society as one with conflicts between people of different racial or ethnic groups. The U.S. is the country with the largest share of the public saying there is racial or ethnic conflict.

David M. Herszenhorn and Maia de la Baume of POLITICO Europe report that center-right governments are becoming incresingly rare in the EU.

In an unlucky span of 13 days, Europe’s predominant political family — the European People’s Party — saw its most seasoned leader, Angela Merkel, walk into the sunset and its brightest new star, Sebastian Kurz of Austria, crash to Earth.

With Merkel not running for another term, her Christian Democratic Union fell to a defeat in the September 26 federal election — the latest in a string of setbacks — that means the European alliance of center-right and conservative parties will almost certainly soon lose control of its biggest prize, the German government.


Perhaps even more shockingly, if a new Social Democrat-led government forms in Berlin, as is widely expected, the westernmost European capital with a conservative leader will be Ljubljana.

It’s a stunning turn for a party that has previously controlled every one of the EU’s biggest members: Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Poland. “Now, we have none of the Big Five,” lamented one EPP insider.

Jeffrey Barg, The Grammarian, writes for The Philadelphia Inquirer on the dangers of the usage and capitalization of “the Big Lie.”

“The lengths Pennsylvania Republicans will go to serve Donald Trump and the Big Lie is a national embarrassment,” Pennsylvania attorney general-turned-hopeful governor Josh Shapiro tweeted just hours before announcing that he’s running. It was one of more than a dozen recent Shapiro tweets that have used the capitalized phrase. Plenty of those on the left and right have done the same.

Trump’s erratic capitalization has been well scrutinized, particularly his Germanic tendency to capitalize every noun (along with other random parts of speech). So it’s not surprising that his public statements capitalize Big Lie as well — that is, when they don’t write it as “THE BIG LIE.”

Speaking of Germans: The term was coined by Hitler, who wrote of the große Lüge (big Lie) in Mein Kampf. In Hitler’s telling, the “big lie” was one told by Jews about Germany’s role in World War I. But then he and Joseph Goebbels, his propaganda minister, turned the Big Lie around to be about Jews themselves, as he blamed them for Germany’s ills. The Oxford English Dictionary describes it thus: “a falsehood contrived on such a large scale that its magnitude and definiteness discourage dissent (typically one propagated by a totalitarian regime).”

Finally today, Maudlyne Ihejirika reports for The Chicago Sun-Times on the passing of local historian and civil rights activist Timuel Black at the age of 102.

Activist, educator, historian Timuel Black, the revered elder statesman and griot of Chicago’s Black community, was active in every major American movement during his long life and spent his later years telling stories from our nation’s blueprint — in oral and literary form.

“I consider Dec. 7, 1918, a famous day in history,” the lifelong labor, political and civil rights activist said of his birth date as he reflected on his storied life at a celebration when he turned 100.

A retired sociology and anthropology professor with City Colleges of Chicago, a former Chicago Public Schools high school history teacher and a pioneer in the independent Black political movement who coined the phrase “plantation politics,” Mr. Black died Wednesday.

I “reviewed” Mr. Black’s oral autobiography for Black Kos in Dec. 2019. May Mr. Black rest in peace and power.

Everyone have a great day!

From Daily Kos at Read More. This article is republished from DailyKos under an open content license. Read the original article at DailyKos.

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