President Biden announces nominations for key positions at Homeland Security

President Joe Biden on Monday announced a number of nominations to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), including two who were oftentimes frequent critics of the previous president’s anti-immigrant policies and, if confirmed, will now lead top immigration agencies with the department.

The New York Times reports that the president has nominated “progressive” Tucson, Arizona, police chief Chris Magnus to be the new Customs and Border Protection (CBP) commissioner, and former U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) chief counsel and immigrant rights advocate Ur Jaddou to be the agency’s new director.

The president’s nomination of Magnus, who is openly gay, marks a significant shift (to say the least) from former acting commissioner Mark Morgan, who joined an anti-immigrant hate group since the previous administration ended.

Biden “chose not a veteran of the agency but rather a progressive police chief who promoted community policing efforts while overseeing departments in Tucson and Richmond, Calif,” the report said. “Mr. Biden was compelled to choose … Read the rest

Vaccine is piling up in red states, as Republican anti-science threatens national health

As of Thursday, Civiqs showed 41% of Republicans saying that they would definitely not accept a COVID-19 vaccine, while another 10% remain unsure. With the remaining Republicans saying they will accept the vaccine down to just 18%, red states are starting to see a problem that the rest of the nation would love to have—a vaccine surplus. As The New York Times reports, Mississippi alone is now sitting on tens of thousands of doses that they’re having a hard time giving out.

With just 25% of adults vaccinated, Mississippi is lagging well behind most of the nation when it comes to vaccinating its citizens. But that’s not because of a lack of vaccine. The state voted 58% for Donald Trump in 2020. If that number accurately reflects those Mississippians who consider themselves Republicans, that’s 23% of the state either giving a definite “no” to the vaccine. Add in the small … Read the rest

Clarence and Virginia Thomas have an impressively corrupt activist/judge scheme going

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife, far-right activist Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, have quite the scheme going. She takes in dark money contributions to her Tea Party-connected nonprofit, Liberty Central, and organizes Republicans on exactly the kind of issues that often reach the Supreme Court. He sits on the Supreme Court and never recuses himself as justices are called on by federal law to do in certain situations, including ones where their spouses have financial interests.

And this is going on while Justice Stephen Breyer is solemnly warning that expanding the Supreme Court might be a problem because “Structural alteration motivated by the perception of political influence can only feed” the perception that the court is guided by politics, “further eroding that trust.” As if that ship had not long since sailed.

That ship sailed when then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell held open a seat on the court for nearly a year of then-President Barack Obama’s term to … Read the rest

Biden releases budget, shows his values: Investing in the environment, health, education, equity

The Biden administration released its budget blueprint for discretionary spending on Friday in what’s known as the “skinny budget” for 2022. It doesn’t provide detailed spending but is intended to establish the priorities of the administration with overall spending levels for the various government agencies, and will allow Congress to begin the appropriations process. It could include some details on proposed overall spending for issues like combating climate change and shoring up the social safety net. In the words of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, used a lot in regard to the former guy: “Show me your budget, show me your values.”

Which the Biden administration has just done: The top spending includes big increases for education, health care (including combatting coronavirus), housing, and environmental protection. It’s a $1.5 trillion spending plan that calls for a nearly 16% increase across the board in nondefense programs. It will keep military spending basically flat. “This moment … Read the rest

Biden's 'sick and tired of ordinary people being fleeced' and so are ordinary people

President Joe Biden continued prosecuting his case Wednesday for raising the corporate tax rate to pay for his $2 trillion infrastructure and jobs plan.

“I’m not trying to punish anybody,” Biden said in a White House speech. “But damn it—maybe it’s because I come from a middle-class neighborhood—I’m sick and tired of ordinary people being fleeced.”

New polling from Morning Consult shows the American public is sick and tired of being fleeced too, and Biden is therefore prosecuting his case for a bipartisan majority of Americans. In the survey, 65% of voters support raising the tax rate on corporations in order to pay for Biden’s infrastructure plan. That includes 85% of Democrats, 60% of independents, and 42% of Republicans.

The finding tracks with Gallup polling on the matter for more than a decade. When the polling organization has asked respondents whether they thought corporations were paying their “fair share” in taxes, … Read the rest

Atlanta mayor hits back when communities of color targeted with restrictive new voting law

The Atlanta mayor has issued an administrative order to protest a new Georgia law that limits drop boxes, gives the majority Republican legislature more control over local elections, and adds a requirement to provide photo identification when voting by mail.

“The voting restrictions of SB 202 will disproportionately impact Atlanta residents—particularly in communities of color and other minority groups,” Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said in a news release. “This Administrative Order is designed to do what those in the majority of the state legislature did not—expand access to our right to vote.”

The city order directs city law and equity officials to develop a plan to “mitigate the impact” of the law on Atlanta residents. The order also spells out a plan to disseminate information on how to secure identification required to vote by mail and to train staff members on voter registration and on early, absentee, and in-person voting. Another way the mayor seeks to … Read the rest

Matt Gaetz's staffers were sending videos of his outrageous behavior to other Republican officials

Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz has come up with what would seem to be the perfect defense for a Republican audience. In a Washington Examiner editorial, Gaetz explains how the whole series of charges against him are nothing more than fake news from “leftist television anchors” who are after Gaetz because he “loathes the swamp.” He then compares his current troubles to the very-credible accusations made against Brett Kavanaugh, and the Senate verified claims connecting Donald Trump’s campaign to Russia.

But as Gaetz rails that these “bizarre claims” are coming out because he’s decided to take on the FBI and the “Biden Justice Department” in some unspecified way, there seems to be a distinct flood of rats looking for the exit ramp from S.S. Gaetz.

According to Politico, those eager to walk, not run, away from association with Gaetz include Trump, right-wing pundits like Sean Hannity, and other Republican members of Congress. According to one Trump staffer, when … Read the rest

While Republicans whine about 'bipartisanship,' Biden takes his infrastructure case to the people

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: President Biden unveils a big, critical spending package to rescue the nation’s economy. Republicans in Congress pan it as a “liberal wish list” and refuse to negotiate. The polls are all on Biden’s side, with majority support from Democrats, Republicans, and independents for his proposals. Ignoring the popular will, the traditional media totally plays into congressional Republicans’ hands and bemoans Biden’s refusal to be “bipartisan.” You have heard it before. It played out all through February and into March while Biden’s American Rescue Plan worked its way through Congress.

Now it’s happening all over again with Biden’s big jobs and infrastructure plan. A huge majority—79%—support the federal government taking on transportation infrastructure, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling from last week. Support stays high for the various elements of the plan: 71% support extending high-speed internet to everyone; 68% support replacing every lead water … Read the rest

Tracking Biden's promises to Black America: What's in the president's jobs plan for Black people

President Joe Biden would not be where he is without Black voters. Fittingly, he’s made some pretty weighty promises in his plan for Black America. We’re keeping track of them all in a biweekly series.

So far, Biden’s presidency has provided unexpected glimmers of hope where there has long been pitch darkness, particularly with regards to diversity and policy attempts to help improve upward mobility in Black communities. His recently announced judicial nominations and healthcare plans give two more signals of brighter days to come. And the president’s jobs plan, which would dedicate $2 trillion to repair infrastructure and create union jobs, is yet another reason for renewed hope.

Creating jobs in Black communities

Biden’s promises: To dedicate $1.3 trillion to creating union jobs, bringing broadband to every household, and improving infrastructure “in communities that need it most.”

Biden’s action: The president announced his American Jobs Plan on Wednesday promising over the next eight … Read the rest

‘ConspiracyTok’: The right-wing’s newest attempt at spreading conspiracy theories on social media

As social media platforms finally take to cracking down on conspiracy theories, right-wing propaganda has found a new home. Conspiracy theorists are flooding TikTok, a popular social media application known for its short videos, with misinformation and alt-right propaganda. 

While this seems harmless as propaganda is not new to social media, the issue is these videos are making their way to a number of audiences because of TikTok’s recommendation algorithm. The algorism encourages users to follow accounts that are in their area or similar to their interests, by pushing multiple conspiracy theory accounts, TikTok’s algorithm is spreading extremist misinformation at a rapid rate, according to Media Matters. As a result, far-right conspiracy theories are creating massive communities on and offline. 

The videos are mostly known on the platform as “ConspiracyTok” come from a community that regularly discusses conspiracy theories. According to Media Matters, while some accounts are dedicated to theories … Read the rest