Saturday Snippets: Natives buying back stolen land; raising govt’s ‘social cost of carbon’ metric

Saturday Snippets is a regular weekend feature of Daily Kos.

Some Native tribes are buying back ancestral lands snatched from them

It’s expensive and the process can take years, but many American Indian tribes have been buying back lands taken from them, often at gunpoint or through connivery, during the colonization period of U.S. history. Even after they buy it, there is a complicated 16-step process before they can gain the right to govern the newly acquired land under the unique form of semi-sovereignty established between the federal government and the tribes. The Klamath tribe, for instance, recently purchased 1,705 acres of wetlands, timberland, and meadows in southern Oregon, part of what was once a 1.8 million-acre territory the government left it with when the tribe was forced in 1864 to cede 23 million acres. By 1954, with the Klamath victims caught up in the government’s effort to wipe out Native identity by terminating the tribes, all of their land had been taken. The Klamath have since been trying to buy as much of that land as they can. 

Willa Powless, Klamath Tribes’ council member at large, said the purchase was a big step toward piecing together a “broken heart,” adding, “Our people are born with a spiritual connection to the land that we all feel and we all know and our elders teach us about.” Another council member at large, Clayton Dumont, said, “I hear elders say, ‘The land doesn’t belong to us, we belong to it.’ And I think that’s true,” “The more of it we get back, the more we can care for it, the healthier the land will be and the healthier we will be.” The Klamath aren’t alone. There has been an increase in such purchases in recent years despite all the difficulties in doing so. The Yuroks of California have purchased some 80,000 acres in the past 10 years. And the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin has bought back two-thirds of its original 65,432-acre reservation, much of which was lost through “deceit and trickery,” said Bobbi Webster, the tribe’s public relations director.

Biden administration expected to return “social cost” of carbon to Obama level

The law requires the federal government to weigh costs and benefits of proposed new regulations. Unless a dollar value is placed on such benefits—such as improved health and longer lives—the calculation doesn’t pass muster. Under the Trump regime, that was exactly what happened. The value it put on actions to address the climate crisis was just $1 a ton of carbon dioxide. Under President Obama, that figure was $52. Which is likely to be what President Biden’s team will settle on temporarily while it works out an entirely new metric. Economists and environmental advocates think the $52 figure is way too low. For instance, Michael Greenstone, a University of Chicago economist who served as chief economist for Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, co-authored a working paper in January that put the social cost of carbon at $125 per ton or more. Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz and Lord Nicholas Stern published a paper Monday saying, “It is clear that climate change involves the management of risks of enormous magnitude and multiple dimensions, which could destroy lives and livelihoods across the world, displace billions, and lead to widespread, prolonged, and severe conflict.” Returning to the Obama-era social cost number would be mistaken, they said, because it wouldn’t be enough to support policies that keep the world from exceeding a 2-degree Celsius rise from pre-industrial temperatures. Anything above that scientists say would be catastrophic.


NASA Scientists & Engineers successfully landed a rover & helicopter on planet Mars, where it’s 100 degrees below zero, 120 million miles away. On that same day it was cold in Texas. Millions of people lost electricity. Conclusion: Maybe NASA, not politicians, should run Texas.

— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) February 20, 2021

Enrollment at community colleges plummets during pandemic

Community colleges have traditionally provided a place for people unable to afford college or not interested in a four-year degree to acquire higher education, learn a trade, or, as an older person, gain new skills. Such colleges in many states have made attendance significantly more expensive than in the past, but they still give students access to opportunities they would not otherwise have had. Typically, during economic downturns, enrollment rises, as was the case during the Great Recession. But in our current crisis, that hasn’t been the case. Enrollment fell 10% from fall 2019 to fall 2020, according to the National Student Clearinghouse. Hard hit were older adult students. Taking classes while trying to stay afloat economically and keeping up with family obligations is no easy matter for many people in the best of times. But during the pandemic and the recession caused in the response to it, older students lost jobs or could not boost their own education while supervising their children’s online classes and dealing with all the mundane matters like grocery shopping that economic restrictions made more difficult. “The majority of them are working, many of them in industries that have been decimated by the pandemic,” said Martha Parham, a senior vice president for the American Association of Community Colleges. “Trying to navigate that and take classes is a very daunting challenge at this time.” 

Fauci says it’s “disturbing’ that most people being vaccinated against COVID-19 are white

In an interview on Joy Reid’s “The Reid Out,” America’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci labeled the racial disparities in who is getting vaccinated against the coronavirus “very disturbing.” People of color are “getting a double whammy against them, not only do they have the propensity because of their jobs out in the community to get infected, they have the underlying conditions that make them more likely to get a serious outcome,” he said. Fauci took note of a sense of “understandable vaccine hesitancy” among minority communities, which he said should be addressed more pro-actively. “We’ve got to really extend ourselves in the community to get the access to minority populations that they don’t have,” he said, noting that President Biden has commanded authorities to set up vaccination centers in communties heavily populated by Black people, the Indigenous, and other people of color.

GOP politicians gave Texans the yoyo treatment in deep freeze—“you’re on your own” 

As sweeping power outages and sub-freezing temperatures stripped millions of Texans of fresh food or heat, causing an unknown number of deaths, Marco Lopez, an organizer with South Texas–based community organization La Unión del Pueblo Entero (LUPE), thought to call a woman he knew in the Linda Vista colonia, an unincorporated border community. As it turned out, she didn’t have light or water, and had been cooking on a makeshift stove she’d built outside. Her car had broken down, so she was stuck at home—and even if she could drive, the nearest Walmart was closed.

“I was like, holy crap, I need to give her some food, pobrecita,” Lopez said. The two went to eat and buy tortillas, a pack of which she gave to the mechanic fixing her car.

With many state and local politicians falling down on the job of disaster relief, mutual aid networks and organizations like LUPE have been helping cold and hungry Texans. [...]  Even when mutual aid efforts involve city or state government, organizers are skeptical of their government’s ability to act quickly.


Sunday Night Owls: Excerpts from the March edition of the Harper’s Index. (And a vaccine poll)

Night Owls is a themed open thread appearing at Daily Kos seven days a week.

Selected excerpts from the March edition of Harper’s Index (not yet on-line):

  • Percentage increase last year in use of the phrase “technical difficulties” during corporate earnings calls: 310
  • In use of the phrase “you’re on mute”: 1,000
  • Of the phrase “unprecedented times”: 70,830
  • Estimated portion of countries that will be poorer in 2100 than they would have been without climate change: ¾
  • Projected percentage change in average income by 2100 in the poorest 20 percent of countries: -75
  • In the richest 20 percent of countries: 0
  • Percentage of parents aged 27 to 45 who have “a negative vision of the future”: 92
  • Who regret having children: 6
  • Percentage increase in the mortality rate in large U.S. jails over the past decade: 35
  • Portion of inmates who died during that period who were awaiting trial: 2/3
  • Estimated percentage increase in the number of U.S. deaths last year: 15
  • Year in which the United States last saw so great an increase: 1918
  • Percentage of Americans who believe that 2021 will be better than 2020 for them personally: 44
  • Who believe that 2021 will be better for the world: 37


Unity Over Bipartisanship, by Tom Perriello. Genuine bipartisanship is largely illusory. To deliver for Americans, Democrats need unity.

Lindsey Graham Predicts Kamala Harris Impeachment if GOP Retakes House, by Justin Baragona. The South Carolina senator also said that the Republican Party needs to fully embrace Trump and make him the face of the party if they want to win moving forward.

The Environmental Threat You’ve Never Heard Of, by Doug Johnson. It’s called coastal darkening, and scientists are just beginning to explore its growing threat to all sorts of marine life.



LIFE IMITATES ART Republicans: "Trump was acquitted twice!" Chicago gangster Big Jule in the musical Guys and Dolls: "I used to be bad when I was a kid, but ever since then I've gone straight, as has been proved by my record: Thirty-three arrests and no convictions!"

— Victor Laszlo (@Impolitics) February 14, 2021


“It is one thing to overthrow a dictator or to repel an invader and quite another thing really to achieve a revolution.” ~~James BaldwinThe Fire Next Time (1953)


On this date at Daily Kos in 2012Orrin Hatch claims abortion is '95 percent' of what Planned Parenthood does:

Sen. Orrin Hatch is a hardcore old-school conservative. For much of recent history he was considered a conservative stalwart in the senate. That's not good enough for modern conservatism, however, which is predicated on being so absolutely batshit regressive that Ronald Reagan looks like a communist by comparison, and so Hatch has had his work cut out for him lately trying to placate a base that considers him a traitor to the cause.

Which might explain statements like this, from Hatch:

Look, we all know that Planned Parenthood does 400,000 abortions a year or more, and yet that's supported by the federal government. They claim that money isn't, uh, they don't use federal funds, well, about 95 percent of all they do, from what I understand, is abortion.

Oh! In the senate playbook we call that "Pulling a Kyl." Last year, on the floor of the Senate, Sen. Jon Kyl famously declared abortion was "well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does." It was an assertion so obviously and profoundly false that his office could do nothing but issue a now-famous press statement that his claim was "not intended to be a factual statement." Then, after becoming a national laughingstock (well, more so, anyway) Kyl "revised his remarks" in the congressional record to erase the claim, which you can do if you are a senator, and which I think senators believe alters the fabric of spacetime in such a way as to make the thing not have ever happened.

Monday through Friday you can catch the Kagro in the Morning Show 9 AM ET by dropping in here, or you can download the Stitcher app (found in the app stores or at, and find a live stream there, by searching for "Netroots Radio.”

Impervious to truth, GOP is set to smash impeachment as a remedy for high crimes and misdemeanors

So the point I’m trying to make is you don’t even have to be convicted of a crime to lose your job in this constitutional republic if this body determines that your conduct as a public official is clearly out of bounds in your role. [...] Because impeachment is not about punishment. Impeachment is about cleansing the office. Impeachment is about restoring honor and integrity to the office.”

No, that’s not Reps. Jamie Raskin or Stacey Plaskett this week laying out the case against Donald Trump. It’s then-Rep. Lindsey Graham in January 1999 speaking as an impeachment manager in the Senate trial of Bill Clinton for lying about sex. On Thursday, Sens. Graham and Ted Cruz and Mike Lee met for an extended period strategizing behind closed doors with the Trump defense team not on how to cleanse and restore the office of the presidency, but how to twist the record to defend Trump against behavior that tens of millions of Americans with a television saw him do repeatedly over the past several months. 

Okay, pointing out Lindsey Graham’s hypocrisy long ago reached the level of cliché. Even quoting him being scathing about what he thought of Trump before the election and the utter servility we see now doesn’t matter to him. And it obviously doesn’t matter to the South Carolina voters who in November stuck him back in the Senate for another insufferable six years. Neither does hypocrisy matter to most other Republican senators. After all, 13 who were representatives who voted to impeach Clinton or senators who voted to convict him 22 years ago are now in the Senate, every one of them primed to acquit Trump. Only a few Republican senators haven’t told us directly or indirectly how they expect to vote when the time comes. 

Yet even now, when newscasters, media analysts, and veteran political junkies repeat that no way will 17 Republican senators be persuaded to join Democrats in convicting Donald Trump of inciting insurrection, you can still sometimes catch a whiff of hope in their tone that perhaps they’ll be proved wrong. That perhaps those Republicans actually paying attention to the proceedings will not remain impervious to the truth. That they will abandon the view that an impeachment trial after the defendant has left office is a waste of time as well as the debunked assertion that it is unconstitutional. That they won’t align themselves with the eight senators who cozied up to Trump’s lies about fraud and voted to overturn the election results. That their vote on impeachment won’t cause gagging across the land every time in the future they label themselves “patriots.” That maybe, just maybe, enough Republicans will stop cowering at the feet of the departed Trump and quit worrying about what his cultists may do in two years at the polls.

Unfortunately, no maybes about it.

The worst part of this is that these men and women aren’t blind and they aren’t stupid. Whatever they say for the cameras, they know the truth of the situation. They know that Trump has been ramping up the incitement since his campaign began in 2015. They know that injecting a “be peaceful” into one incendiary speech out of the dozens he’s made isn’t acquittal territory. They know that he’s overturned practically every presidential norm in existence, ultimately topping it with the cherry of incitement dedicated to undermining the foundations of democracy. They know that if he had been reelected, he would right this minute be enhancing the autocratic practices with which he already had damaged the presidency and the republic in his four terrible years in the White House. They know he’s a liar, they know he’s a thief, they know he’s a relentless conniver, and they know—with nearly half a million Americans dead of COVID-19—that his ineptitude knows no bounds. Most of all, they know that Trump’s behavior may well have irrevocably split the Republican Party. 

But still these senators will vote to acquit. They will ignore the criminality the videos at the Capitol show. They will deny the assertions of the insurrectionists who said coming to Washington was in answer to Trump’s call. They will prove that they just don’t give a good goddamn for the democratic values they tell audiences on the campaign trail and patriotic holidays that they hold sacred. 

After Clinton’s acquittal, Lindsey Graham said, "People have made up their mind in a political fashion that will hurt this country long term." You can be sure he won’t be repeating that line again today. Nor will he be talking about cleansing the office of the presidency or restoring its dignity and integrity. He’s shown himself way beyond being able to restore his own. 

Thursday Night Owls: Some media seem to have forgotten that first impeachment was cut and dried, too

Night Owls is a themed open thread appearing at Daily Kos seven days a week.

Alex Shephard at The New Republic writes—The Press’s Strange Memory-Holing of Trump’s First Impeachment. His second impeachment trial is being presented as a cut-and-dried case, in contrast to its predecessor. But the first impeachment was cut-and-dried, too:

No piece of Covid-era filmmaking has been praised quite as much as the 13-minute montage that opened the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump. CNN’s Chris Cillizza argued that it was “unfathomable that any senator—Republican or Democrat—could watch that 13-minute video and not be changed by it.” The Washington Post’s Margaret Sullivan noted that “every second seemed as terrifying as the day it was recorded. More so, in fact.” MSNBC’s Chris Hayes opened his television show by playing it in its entirety.

It is undoubtedly a powerful piece of filmmaking (as was the video, never before seen, that was featured on the second day of the trial). Consisting of footage captured by security cameras, cell phones, and uncharacteristically frightened television cameramen, the video distilled the events of January 6 into a concise and harrowing narrative: A mob, spurred on by the president, attacked the Capitol and came astonishingly close to harming or even killing members of Congress and members of the executive branch. It provided an irrefutable account of the president’s role in an event that left seven dead and threatened the peaceful transition of power.

The video was so damning that it short-circuited political reporters’ hard-wired impulse to equivocate, water down, and, above all, hear both sides. The visual evidence on display—aided, it should be added, by the incompetent performance of Trump’s defense attorneys—made the Republican case irrelevant. How could they compete with such stirring documentary evidence? The video got such rave reviews that it would surely have a 100 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes had it been given a theatrical release. Trump’s own impeachment lawyers praised it during their opening statements. Even Steve Bannon was impressed!

The video was so convincing, however, that it led reporters and analysts into some erroneous historical revisionism. The second impeachment trial is an open-and-shut case, they said; the first one, not so much. The truth was that the first impeachment trial was also open-and-shut, and the fact that it is no longer seen as such reveals the extent to which the Republican narrative continues to dominate coverage of Washington. [...]




I’ve closely studied every impeachment trial in our history. No impeachment has ever been as ably prosecuted in the Senate. In no prior impeachment has a conviction been as overwhelmingly justified. Now the Senate is on trial. To acquit itself, it must convict Donald J. Trump.

— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) February 11, 2021


“Many social justice activists--many feminists--continue to work against one form of oppression while feeding the flames of another, without noticing that the blow torch behind the flames must be tuned off before we can have any hope of putting out the resultant fires.”           ~~Lisa KemmererSister Species: Women, Animals and Social Justice (2011)


On this date at Daily Kos in 2008—Laura Bush: Hillary's Criticism is Out of Bounds:

Mrs. Bush, forgive me if I think Mrs. Clinton faced a bit more personal humiliation and vitriol from the "compassionate conservative" side of the aisle during President Clinton's term of office than your husband faces today (and with a lot more grace and class than he does, I might add). Her intimate life was combed over with glee by opponents during and after the Lewinsky scandal; she was—and remains to this day—the target of some of the most misogynistic, woman-loathing rhetoric on the American scene.

Many wives in Mrs. Clinton's circumstances would have dumped their philandering spouses and slunk off to a corner of Montana to float the rest of their lives away in a lake of chardonnay. Instead, she ran for political office and won. She's not a member of some mythical Former First Ladies Club in which you, Mrs. Bush, can call in chits, nor did she ever position herself to be.

She's a working opposition senator, and calling your husband's administration on its lies, deceptions and ineptitude is her job as part of those quaint checks and balances.

Monday through Friday you can catch the Kagro in the Morning Show 9 AM ET by dropping in here, or you can download the Stitcher app (found in the app stores or at, and find a live stream there, by searching for "Netroots Radio.”

Tuesday Night Owls: The case for providing guaranteed income to foster kids aging out of the system

Night Owls is a themed open thread appearing at Daily Kos seven days a week.

Mark Courtney and Shanta Trivedi at The Appeal write—The Case for Providing Guaranteed Income to Kids Aging out of Foster Care:

More and more in America, young adults rely on their parents and other relatives for housing and financial support well into their 20s. That trend was already growing, and now the COVID-19 pandemic and dire economic conditions have further increased the need for young adults to lean on their families for resources. With soaring unemployment, stagnant wages, and historic income inequality, the transition from living at home to financial independence is often a long and arduous one, and perhaps impossible without a family safety net.

That transition is even more difficult for children in foster care. Foster children face disadvantage from the start—they are more likely, for example, to become entangled in the criminal legal system, and less likely to graduate from college—and those who age out of the system without placement into a permanent home are abruptly abandoned, left to fend for themselves between the ages of 18 or 21. The government functions as their parent, and then swiftly extinguishes financial support, depriving foster kids of the safety net that so many of their peers increasingly find necessary. This added disparity compounds the systemic disadvantage that foster kids already endure, and puts them at heightened risk for poverty, homelessness, and incarceration.

States and localities can address this crisis by providing a regular stipend to young people as they transition from child welfare systems to life as independent adults. Direct cash payments are immediate and flexible. Recipients can apply payments to their most pressing needs, and the stipends are not, nor should be, encumbered by restrictions like unemployment. A regular income pays for basic needs like education, groceries, rent, or healthcare, depending on the person’s circumstances at the moment. For young people who suddenly find themselves without a meaningful support system, this type of initiative can be a lifeline, with benefits for both the recipients and their communities. [...]

The federal government has increasingly recognized the moral imperative of supporting foster care children into adulthood. For instance, the John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program provides funds to help with everything from education to emotional support, and it authorizes Congress to provide states and tribes with training vouchers of up to $5,000 per year for youth likely to experience difficulty as they transition to adulthood. In addition, the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act provides federal funding to states that extend foster care up to age 21. To date, 28 states and the District of Columbia have taken up the option to extend care. In light of pandemic-created hardships, some states have gone further, using their own funds to allow youth to remain in care past their 21st birthday during the pandemic.  [...]


“We did the worst job in the world”: Lawrence Wright on America’s botched Covid-19 response by Sean Illing. The three moments that doomed the U.S. effort to combat the coronavirus.  

Section 230 is 25 years old, and it’s never been more important by Adi Robertson. The real questions behind reform.

How Biden Can Bring Back Manufacturing Jobs by Roger Bybee. The president’s plan to reinforce the Buy American Act is the first step in reviving the U.S. industry.


UCLA gymnast Nia Dennis clinches the win for the Bruins with a 9.95 floor exercise performance against Arizona State.



Really, stories like this are going to be the primary thing that gets me through this impeachment.

— emptywheel (@emptywheel) February 9, 2021


“This is obviously the most serious crime against our country and Constitution of any president in history, and the fact that it took place in the last month doesn't make it less serious.”            ~~Rep. Adam Schiff, Jan. 17, 2021


On this date at Daily Kos in 2013—Drug tests for welfare bills come to three more states:

Looking at the range of drug testing-for-benefits bills being pushed in state legislatures across the country, you almost have to suspect Republicans of some kind of urine fetish. In addition to all the states that are debating or have passed bills requiring people applying for unemployment insurance benefits to pee in cups, drug-testing bills aimed at welfare applicants are being introduced in three states. The specifics would be ripe for comedy if we weren't talking about a concerted effort by the powerful to stigmatize vulnerable people as drug addicts, as if that's the only reason a person might need help in an economy in which there are still more than three job-seekers for every job opening:

The Ohio State Senate held a second hearing Thursday night on a proposal to establish pilot drug-testing programs in three counties. Under the proposal, applicants would be required to submit a drug test if they disclose that they have used illegal substances. The proposal was first introduced in the spring, but pressure from opponents led Gov. John Kasich to squash the bill in May.

Virginia Republicans are also reviving a bill that was shelved earlier this year. The 2012 version failed after the state estimated it would cost $1.5 million to implement while only saving $229,000. The bill’s sponsor, Delegate Dickie Bell, has not introduced the updated version yet, but says he’s found more cost effective options.

Those would have to be some pretty damn significant changes to the cost structure to erase a nearly $1.25 million deficit.

Monday through Friday you can catch the Kagro in the Morning Show 9 AM ET by dropping in here, or you can download the Stitcher app (found in the app stores or at, and find a live stream there, by searching for "Netroots Radio.”

Friday Night Owls: Summers does it again, worrying about too much stimulus instead of not enough

Night Owls is a themed open thread appearing at Daily Kos seven days a week.

Josh Bivens at the Economic Policy Institute writes—The Biden rescue plan is neither risky nor a distraction from structural issues:

Economist Larry Summers raised fears today that the Biden administration’s economic rescue plan might go too far, leading to economic overheating or squandering political and economic space for long-run reforms down the road. Neither of these fears are very compelling.

On the first–the danger of economic overheating–there’s not much more to add to what I and several others have already said on this: The U.S. economy has run far too-cool for decades, and this has stunted growth and deprived millions of potential job opportunities and tens of millions of potential opportunities for faster pay raises. Frequently, those worried about overheating cite current estimates from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) of the “output gap”—the gap between income generated in today’s economy and what could be generated (or potential output) if there was no downward pressure on spending by households, businesses, and governments (aggregate demand). These current CBO estimates look relatively small compared to the Biden rescue plan’s fiscal support. But, these current estimates are almost certainly too-small. To provide just one piece of evidence—these estimates suggest that the economy was running above potential output in 2019 before COVID-19struck. But there was no evidence of overheating that year—price inflation was tame and wage growth actually decelerated.

If the vaccines take hold and there is a significant relaxation of social distancing measures in the coming year, the economic relief we’ve provided so far through this crisis and the Biden plan could combine to see the economy spring to life and generate a recovery far faster than what we’ve seen in the past few recessions. If this happens, and if the unemployment rate falls far beneath what it was in the pre-COVID period and stays below this for a few years, this will be an affirmatively good thing, not something to fear.

To be really clear about this—the unemployment can fall quite a ways beneath estimates of the so-called “natural rate” (or, the lowest rate of unemployment thought to be consistent with stable inflation in the long-run) for extended periods of time without disaster striking—look at the years before 1979 on this chart—we spent lots of time beneath the natural rate and had substantially faster growth (and more equal growth) than we’ve had since. [...]




Timeline cleanser: You didn’t know you needed to watch penguins being weighed today - but you so did...

— Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@RexChapman) February 5, 2021


“When you want to know how things really work, study them when they’re coming apart.”           ~~William Gibson  


On this date at Daily Kos in 2012—Posters, billboards and white privilege:

Though a lot of attention has been focused on the racism and privilege inherent in recent remarks made by Republican presidential candidates, designed to garner support from the party's southern and tea party base, and the actions of elected officials like Republican Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, too often, fingers are unfairly pointed at our warmer climes as being the sole site of racist activity and/or attitudes. Frankly, the history of racism in the U.S. has no regional boundaries; it was embedded in our roots from the moment indigenous occupants were attacked and removed. Hand in hand with systemic racism goes what those engaged in civil rights struggles and the academic study of racial disparity have dubbed "white privilege," which is a cornerstone of  the academic discipline of Critical Race Theory.  

A northern case in point is Duluth, Minnesota, where there has been controversy over a recently launched campaign designed to confront racism and white privilege.

Monday through Friday you can catch the Kagro in the Morning Show 9 AM ET by dropping in here, or you can download the Stitcher app (found in the app stores or at, and find a live stream there, by searching for "Netroots Radio.”

Saturday Snippets: Racial disparity plagues vaccination effort; migrant deaths soar; SC rep censured

Saturday Snippets is a regular weekend feature of Daily Kos.

A larger version of the chart can be found here.

AP analysis finds racial disparity in vaccination drive: The Associated Press took an early look at 17 states and two cities that have released racial breakdowns of people receiving inoculations against the raging coronavirus through Jan. 25. Results: African Americans are getting injections at levels below their share of the general population, “in some cases significantly below. In North Carolina, for example, Black people make up 22% of the population and 26% of the health care workforce, but they are only 11% of vaccine recipients so far. White people, including both Hispanic and non-Hispanic whites, make up 68% of the population and 82% of people who have been inoculated. That’s especially disturbing since severe illness and deaths from the pandemic have afflicted Black people disproportionately. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found that African Americans and American Indians are dying at almost three times the rate of white people. Said Dr. Uché Blackstock, CEO of Advancing Health Equity, an advocacy group that addresses bias and inequality, “We’re going to see a widening and exacerbation of the racial health inequities that were here before the pandemic and worsened during the pandemic if our communities cannot access the vaccine.” The reasons for the disparity includes distrust among Black Americans because of long history of discriminatory medical treatment, poor access to the vaccine in Black neighborhoods, and less access to the internet when a large proportion of vaccination applications are being taken online. Regarding the reluctance of many Black people to be vaccination, Dr. Michelle Fiscus, the chief of Tennessee’s inoculation effort, “We have to be working very hard to rebuild that trust and get these folks vaccinated,” said. “They’re dying. They’re being hospitalized.” 

There’s more behind the racial disparity that has been clear in statistics from the beginning.  Priorities were set for distributing vaccines to people in more highly valued roles—doctors and nurses—who are more likely to be white than "essential workers" who are part of support staffs. Some states have placed put those essential workers in the very last category to receive the vaccine. On top of all that, in many states, distribution locations tend NOT to be in Black neighborhoods.

CDC issues masks be worn on public transportation: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an order late Friday mandating all travelers to wear a mask on nearly all forms of public transportation starting Tuesday as part of the effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus, which has already killed 448,000 Americans. Masks will also be required at airport and bus terminals as well as train and subway stations. On his first day in office, President Joe Biden issued an executive order mandating masks for passengers in all interstate travel. “America’s transportation systems are essential,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH. “Given how interconnected most transportation systems are across our nation and the world, when infected persons travel on public conveyances without wearing a mask and with others who are not wearing masks, the risk of interstate and international transmission can grow quickly.” The move is, of course, a sharp departure from what was done under the Trump regime up until two weeks ago. Trump made a big show of not wearing a mask and ridiculing people who did. Children under 2 and people who for medical reasons cannot wear a mask are exempt. Operators must remove passengers who refuse to wear a mask "at the earliest opportunity," according to the CDC order. Said Biden, "The experts say by wearing a mask from now until April, we'd save more than 50,000 lives going forward."


President Biden has extended the eviction moratorium through March 31. But there is so much more to be done. We all should have access to safe and stable housing.

— ACLU (@ACLU) January 30, 2021

Deaths of migrants crossing from Mexico into the U.S. hit record in 2020A record number of migrants seeking to cross the Mexico-U.S. border in Arizona died on their journey last year, with the remains of 227 found, according to the advocacy group Humane Borders. Since 1998, it’s estimated that at least 7,000 migrants have died trying to cross, and that number is almost certainly an undercount. The area is characterized by isolated wilderness and extreme temperatures. “This was the hottest summer ever, and we saw the most recorded deaths ever. It’s a reminder of how dangerous the border can be,” said Douglas Ruopp, chair of the group, which, among other things stashes water for migrants crossing the arid lands in the region. Donald Trump made a priority out of building a wall to keep out migrants. “That’s a longstanding tradition, these barriers and walls have pushed people into more remote and treacherous terrain,” said Jeremy Slack, an assistant professor of geography at the University of Texas-El Paso and author of Deported to Death: How Drug Violence Is Changing Migration on the Border.

Biden-Harris administration officials offer slightly mixed messages on Iran: In a speech at the United States Institute of Peace Friday, national security adviser Jake Sullivan hinted at a faster timeline than previously has been outlined for returning to a deal curtailing Iran’s nuclear development program. Donald Trump withdrew from the multilateral 2015 agreement that he verbally trashed despite the fact that international inspectors had found Iran to be in complete compliance since the signing. Like other Democratic candidates, Joe Biden had made clear in his campaign for the presidency that he would return to the agreement signed by the United States and five other nations with Iran, but only conditionally. Sullivan did not mention a key condition Biden had laid out, this being that Iran make the first move by rolling back its moves after Trump’s withdrawal to exceed the agreement’s provisions. These include Iran’s using more and more advanced centrifuges to enrich uranium, and enriching uranium above the permitted 3.75% level to 20%, which makes it much easier to reach the 90% needed for making a nuclear weapon if Iran chose to do so. Other issues are Iran’s actions across the region and its growing sophistication in missile development. “We are going to have to address Iran’s other bad behavior, malign behavior, across the region, but from our perspective, a critical early priority has to be to deal with what is an escalating nuclear crisis as they move closer and closer to having enough fissile material for a weapon,” Sullivan said. “And we would like to make sure that we reestablish some of the parameters and constraints around the program that have fallen away over the course of the past two years.” While this stress on the need to contain Iran suggests an accelerated response, Sullivan offered no timeline. “No one should over-read these comments,” a senior White House official said Saturday. “Mr. Sullivan made a general statement that the U.S. wants to put Iran’s nuclear program back in the box—which we do. Notably, he did not even mention rejoining the JCPOA, let alone in what sequence.” The JCPOA—Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action— is the formal name of the nuclear agreement. And Secretary of State Antony Blinken said from his first full day in office Wednesday that any U.S. return to the deal is still distant. “Iran is out of compliance on a number of fronts. And it would take some time, should it make the decision to do so, for it to come back into compliance and time for us then to assess whether it was meeting its obligations,” Blinken said said at a news conference. “We’re not there yet, to say the least.”

South Carolina Republicans censure lawmaker’s impeachment vote: Rep. Tom Rice of South Carolina’s 7th congressional district voted with the Democrats and nine other Republicans to impeach Donald Trump for inciting the Capitol insurrection. That landed him in hot water with state Republican leaders. And on Saturday at the quarterly meeting of the state Republican Party’s executive committee, they censured him. “We made our disappointment clear the night of the impeachment vote. Trying to impeach a president, with a week left in his term, is never legitimate and is nothing more than a political kick on the way out the door,” said SCGOP Chairman Drew McKissick in a statement. “Congressman Rice’s vote unfortunately played right into the Democrats’ game, and the people in his district, and ultimately our State Executive Committee, wanted him to know they wholeheartedly disagree with his decision,” he added. 

Gun control advocates say the NRA laid the foundation for Capitol insurrection: Although nobody is saying the National Rifle Association didn’t itself promote the murderous assault on the Capitol, the ideology connecting all the fringe groups and conspiracy theorists who showed up to trash the place and hunt for politicians to string up or shoot in the head was a product of decades of propaganda and agitating by the gun lobby. "The violence that we saw at the Capitol, the firepower that they brought with them, may not have been part of the NRA's call. But they're responsible for getting us to this moment," said Nick Suplina, managing director for law and policy at Everytown for Gun Safety, an gun violence prevention organization founded and funded by Michael Bloomberg. "They should not be allowed to distance themselves from the Frankenstein monster that they've created. This is the NRA's handiwork. Years of conspiracy peddling, fear-mongering that the government is going to come take your guns and your freedom, and the call upon Americans to do something about it, to take action, that's what we saw on Jan. 6. That base of militia groups and white supremacist groups and other extremists has been listening to the NRA's talking points for years, and we saw it play out." Everytown released a report noting that police have seized more than 3,000 rounds of ammunition and arrested nine people on weapons charges related to the insurrection. But that could be an undercount given that only a few people were searched. More than 150 people have been charged since.

Hillary Clinton calls on Tim Ryan to run for Senate in Ohio in 2022.

 Pardons Trump didn’t give are the real scandal. Here’s one.

• Only Accountability Will Allow the U.S. to Move Forward, by Mitch Landrieu.

• There Is No GOP Civil War. The Party Has Already Chosen Trumpism, by Nathalie Baptiste.

President Biden issues flurry of new executive orders commanding action on climate

The executive orders that President Joe Biden signed today demonstrate his seriousness on the climate crisis. Adding to the fact that he has already appointed more people to positions with “climate” in their title than any president before him and has rejoined the Paris climate agreement, Biden today moved to prohibit more drilling for gas and oil on public lands, make climate change a top national security matter, conserve 30% of federal lands and oceans by 2030, cut greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector to net-zero by 2035, reach net-zero carbon emissions for the whole economy by 2050, form a civilian climate corps, and host a climate leaders summit on April 22, Earth Day. These moves, among many others including a focus on environmental justice, will mark the most significant change in U.S. environment and energy policies since the first Earth Day in 1970. 

In a speech prefacing the signing of the orders today, Biden delivered a climate message from the White House that we have not heard with such fervor ever before. His focus on well-paying jobs, people’s improved health from the elimination of fossil fuel pollution, and the transformation of our crumbling, outdated infrastructure into a green economy ought to bring smiles nationwide. But as serious as Biden is showing himself to be on this matter, as bold as the changes he has put forth are, as encouraging as the appointments are, and as much as he should be applauded for moving rapidly and early in his administration with these actions, they still aren’t enough. Many additional steps will need to be taken. Biden was, of course, right today when he said, “We have already waited too long” to address the climate crisis, which is a “existential threat.” What a difference it makes to have this kind of talk from the White House after four years of malicious idiocy on the subject.

But despite this tremendously encouraging change of direction, despite these first steps, Biden rejected Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s call for him to declare the climate crisis a national emergency, because it most certainly is. Biden should reconsider his opposition. "I think it might be a good idea for President Biden to call a climate emergency," Schumer said. "Then he can do many, many things under the emergency powers of the president that he could do ... without legislation."

Executive orders, as we saw in the Trump regime, can have large impacts. But they are reversible by a future president and, while they matter, they aren’t sufficient to achieve all that is necessary. And Congress—still brimming over with climate science deniers and other lawmakers who don’t deny the scientific consensus but nevertheless have for years dragged their feet on addressing climate—is going to be a major obstacle on legislation, despite Democrats being in charge in the Senate. 

This will be especially the case when it comes to investing federal funds to accomplish the necessary transformation of our transportation, agricultural, and energy systems away from dependence on burning fossil fuels that are also burning up the planet. That opposition, if congressional Democrats cannot overcome it, may eventually sway Biden to follow Schumer’s good advice.

Among the executive orders issued today is the assigning of Avril Haines, the newly installed director of national intelligence, to oversee the crafting of the nation’s first National Intelligence Estimate on climate change.

Biden is also imposing a one-year freeze on new federal oil and gas leases. The immediate impact on greenhouse gas emissions of that will be relatively small. For one thing, companies have stockpiled leases, with 26 million acres of public land now under lease, although the vast majority of that is not being drilled. Lawsuits can nevertheless be expected under the century-old Mineral Leasing Act that requires oil, gas, and coal on public lands be leased for auction. "I suspect there will be litigation if they try to cancel all future oil and gas sales," Mark Squillace, a law professor who served in the Interior Department during the Clinton administration, told E&E News.

Getting to net-zero emissions in the electricity sector in 15 years is possible, but it will take a massive effort. A report released in December by Princeton University researchers—"Net-Zero America: Potential Pathways, Infrastructure, and Impacts”—laid out potential paths on this conversion. "The transformation of our national energy infrastructure ... is not going to be easy," Jesse Jenkins, one of the Princeton analysts, told the meeting of the steering committee of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC). "The good news is it looks like we have the tools. It's technically feasible." The Princeton study estimates that the nation needs to add an average of 60,000 megawatts of wind and solar generation a year for a decade to reach carbon goals, nearly twice the level gained in 2020.

Another executive order issued today establishes a "Civilian Climate Corps Initiative" that will work to restore public lands and waters and address climate change. This is a modern version of the Great Depression’s Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a reinvention that some congressional lawmakers have proposed recently. The original CCC provided employment and job training to 3 million Americans between 1933 and 1942. 

In a statement, National Wildlife Federation President and CEO Collin O'Mara said, "What better way to put millions of Americans to work and build back better than by restoring our forests, grasslands, wetlands, and coastal areas to bolster resilience, sequester carbon, and recover imperiled wildlife populations through a revitalized 21st century Civilian Conservation Corps and a commitment to restore 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030?"

Just a week after swearing the oath of office, President Biden has given climate hawks and other environmental advocates good reason to be pleased Wednesday even if some matters—such as repeating that he will not end fracking—caused clenched teeth in some quarters. With such exceptions, the Biden-Harris team is assertively steering us down the right road to address the climate crisis with a comprehensive transformation of our economy and environment. 

That’s a huge switch after 30 years of obstruction and dilly-dallying by lawmakers in both parties. Grassroots climate activists still have a big task ahead of us in helping to expand, hone, and achieve the goals the White House is setting forth. And that will mean a tough, continuing fight with some of the same foes whose past actions have put us in the dire climate circumstances we find ourselves in. We can do it. We have to.

Tuesday Night Owls: Billionaires’ gain$ since March could fund Biden’s relief for working families

Night Owls is a themed open thread appearing at Daily Kos seven days a week.

Chuck Collins at the Institute for Policy Studies reports—U.S. Billionaire Wealth Surpasses $1.1 Trillion Gain Since Mid-March:

The $1.1 trillion wealth gain by 660 U.S. billionaires since March 2020 could pay for:

  • All of the relief for working families contained in President Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion pandemic rescue package, which includes $1,400 in direct payments to individuals, $400-a-week supplements to unemployment benefits, and an expanded child tax credit. (See table below)
  • A stimulus check of more than $3,400 for every one of the roughly 331 million people in the United States. A family of four would receive over $13,000. Republicans in Congress resisted sending families stimulus checks most of last year, claiming we couldn’t afford them.

[...] Tax reform that ensures the wealthy pay their fair share—the principle the Biden tax plan is built on—would transform a good chunk of those huge billionaire gains into public revenue to help heal a hurting nation. But getting at that big boost in billionaire fortunes is not as simple as raising tax rates: tax rules let the rich delay, diminish and even ultimately avoid any tax on the growth in their wealth. What’s needed is structural change to how wealth is taxed.

The most direct approach is an annual wealth tax on the biggest fortunes, proposed by Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, among others. Another option is the annual taxation of investment gains on stocks and other tradable assets, an idea advanced by the new Senate Finance Committee chair, Ron Wyden. Even under the current discounted tax rates for investment income, if Wyden’s plan had been in effect in 2020, America’s billionaires would be paying hundreds of billions of dollars in extra taxes this spring thanks to their gargantuan pandemic profits last year.




Some Republicans in Congress seem confused about what “unity” means. They seem to think that if you don’t give them what they want, you’re not for unity. ⁰That’s not unity, that’s my way or the highway. We're in a crisis and Americans need help.   Let’s unite around that.

— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) January 27, 2021


“The same rule of self-destructive financial calculation governs every walk of life. We destroy the beauty of the countryside because the un-appropriated splendors of nature have no economic value. We are capable of shutting off the sun and the stars because they do not pay a dividend.”           ~~ John Maynard Keynes, “National Self-Sufficiency,” 1933


On this date at Daily Kos in 2020—John Bolton: Trump explicitly said Ukraine aid freeze was tied to investigations into Democrats:

Former national security adviser John Bolton has refused House demands that he testify on the events surrounding the freezing of military aid to Ukraine and the efforts by Donald Trump’s allies and administration officials to pressure the Ukrainian government into announcing an investigation into potential Trump election opponent Joe Biden. Bolton is instead writing a book on his tenure.

In the now-circulating manuscript for that unreleased book, reports The New York Times, Bolton writes that Donald Trump personally told him he would continue to freeze the nearly $400 million in aid until Ukrainian officials aided his desired investigations into “Democrats” and “the Bidens.”

Bolton’s manuscript alleges direct involvement in the scheme to falsely smear and remove U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, reports The Times, and Pompeo both knew the claims to be false and suspected Giuliani was “acting on behalf of other clients.” Bolton also says he personally spoke with Trump Attorney General William Barr to inform Barr that Trump had identified him as part of Rudy Giuliani’s efforts on his now-infamous call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky: Barr’s office had previously denied that he knew about that call until much later.

Monday through Friday you can catch the Kagro in the Morning Show 9 AM ET by dropping in here, or you can download the Stitcher app (found in the app stores or at, and find a live stream there, by searching for "Netroots Radio.”

Thursday Night Owls: You-know-who is gone, but authoritarian foundations are still in place

Night Owls is a themed open thread appearing at Daily Kos seven days a week.

At The Nation, Rafael Khachaturian writes—Trump Has Left the Building, but the Foundations Are Still in PlaceAttention has rightly been paid to his malign influence. But the shift to the right started before his presidency, and promises to continue after it:

It has been an ignominious close to a historical moment that will be measured by its impact for years to come. Already long before the 2016 election, many saw Trump’s rise as a turning point of American politics toward authoritarianism, or even fascism. For some, the Trump presidency was an “aspirational autocracy,” while for others, it was an example of tyranny. Many debated the applicability of the fascist label. Yet, for others still, these concerns overlooked the persistent illiberal and antidemocratic tendencies that ran like a thread through all of American history. According to these more skeptical arguments, focusing on Trump’s would-be authoritarianism both mythologized the pre-Trump years and obscured just how ineffective and weak his time in office had been.

Even as these most recent events confirm a political defeat for Trump and the restoration of a shaky centrist-progressive coalition, the United States continues to experience a slow-burning legitimacy crisis that shows no signs of abating. While the 2016 election did not create an immediate political crisis of the state, it exacerbated antidemocratic and authoritarian tendencies that were already ingrained in American society and political institutions.

These tendencies were decades in the making. The American security state, already nurtured on decades of anti-leftist funding and training, had taken on a new gloss with the War on Terror. The lasting fallout from the Great Recession of 2008 played a major role in the 2016 crisis of the political establishment and Trump’s unexpected rise to the top of the Republican Party. This year alone, the mismanagement of Covid-19 has led to the deaths of over 400,000 people, exposing essential workers and the vulnerable to a deadly disease and fraying the country’s already tattered social institutions, at the same time as structural racial violence brought millions of people to the streets in the midst of this pandemic.

These factors have accumulated to create the most serious legitimacy crisis since the late 1960s. We still do not have enough distance to evaluate the long-term effects of the Trump administration. Nevertheless, we should not try to make sense of the Trump years by approaching them as a radical break with what has come before. Instead, they continued broader and preexisting authoritarian tendencies in American politics—a tide that will be only temporarily stemmed by Trump leaving office. [...]




I am honored to be the first male spouse of an American President or Vice President. But I'll always remember generations of women have served in this role before me—often without much accolade or acknowledgment. It’s their legacy of progress I will build on as Second Gentleman.

— Douglas Emhoff (@SecondGentleman) January 21, 2021


“They realize that in thirty-four months we have built up new instruments of public power. In the hands of a peoples Government this power is wholesome and proper. But in the hands of political puppets of an economic autocracy such power would provide shackles for the liberties of the people.” ~~Franklin D. Roosevelt, State of the Union, Jan. 3, 1936


On this date at Daily Kos in 2009—Obama Administration Sides with Bush’s DOJ in Spy Case:

A sensitive civil liberties case that has been working its way through the courts for nearly four years is in the news again as the Obama administration "fell in line with the Bush administration Thursday when it urged a federal judge to set aside a ruling in a closely watched spy case weighing whether a U.S. president may bypass Congress and establish a program of eavesdropping on Americans without warrants." The case involves the now-defunct, Oregon-based Saudi charity, the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation.

According to David Kravets at Wired:

With just hours left in office, President George W. Bush late Monday asked U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker to stay enforcement of an important Jan. 5 ruling admitting key evidence into the case.  

Thursday's filing by the Obama administration marked the first time it officially lodged a court document in the lawsuit asking the courts to rule on the constitutionality of the Bush administration's warrantless-eavesdropping program. The former president approved the wiretaps in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

"The Government's position remains that this case should be stayed," the Obama administration wrote in a filing that for the first time made clear the new president was on board with the Bush administration's reasoning in this case.

Given that it has adopted the Bush administration's position in this case, the question now to be answered is what role "unitary executive" philosophy will play in the Obama administration.

Monday through Friday you can catch the Kagro in the Morning Show 9 AM ET by dropping in here, or you can download the Stitcher app (found in the app stores or at, and find a live stream there, by searching for "Netroots Radio.”