Issue #186, 2021 Week 10

Hey everyone,

Want to know what’s happening and how you can help?  Read on to make sure that you’re staying informed!
As always, please reach out (activism@patrothfuss.comwith any tips, suggestions, questions, or concerns!

Thanks,
The Activism Team

This week was a bit sobering; we’re seeing a lot of reminders that the alt-right is still present and a lot of reminders that fixing the last four years will be tough. Some weeks will be like this, but the Activism Newsletter has your back–as always, we’ll have suggestions for ways to help below.

Events to Know

CPAC MachineThe Conservative Political Action Conference happened this past week, and it would have been a golden opportunity to distance the party from the January insurrection attempt–but since this is the modern GOP, the only golden thing to materialize was a literal Trump idol. Between a Nazi stage design, repeated messaging which insisted the election was stolen, and attendee refusals to wear masks, the single biggest takeaways appear to be that the GOP will change nothing about its broken and treasonous party, and Donald Trump is still in charge. A 2024 Trump election campaign remains a very credible threat, and officials are also concerned that there may be further insurrection planned at the Capitol building complex–so much so that the House is shifting its work schedule and the National Guard will remain in place for the next two months.

Key links:

  1. The Guardian – Golden Trump Statue Turning Heads At CPAC Was Made In … Mexico
  2. Daily Kos – The Nazi Stage At CPAC Is The Odal Rune
  3. CNN – Fact Checking CPAC: Speakers Make False Claims About The Election, The Capitol Attack, Immigration, Covid, And The Muppets
  4. Reuters – Trump Targets Disloyal Republicans, Repeats Election Lies And Hints At 2024 Run
  5. Associated Press – Police uncover ‘possible plot’ by militia to breach Capitol
  6. Politico – House scraps work schedule amid security threat

Confirmation Tango (Again). This was quite a week for Senate confirmation process. Early in the week, Tom Vilsack was confirmed again for a reprise of his role as Secretary of Agriculture; shortly after, Jennifer Granholm was confirmed as Secretary of Energy. Meanwhile, Xavier Becerra began his hearing for Secretary of Health and Human Services, and Deb Haaland began hers for Secretary of Interior. Voting on Neera Tanden for the Office of Management and Budget got postponed amid growing opposition and eventually her candidacy was withdrawn. Merrick Garland advanced out of the Senate Judiciary Committee after several days of hearing; he will face a floor vote early next week. Finally, Miguel Cardona was confirmed as Secretary of Education.

 

Key links: 

  1. Washington Post – Tom Vilsack Confirmed For A Second Stint As Agriculture Secretary With Strong Republican Support
  2. The Hill – Senate Confirms Former Michigan Governor Granholm As Energy Secretary
  3. NBC – Biden Health Secretary Pick Xavier Becerra Faces Contentious Senate Hearings
  4. The Hill – Haaland Courts Moderates During Tense Confirmation Hearing
  5. Politico – Bipartisan Escape Hatch Emerges As Tanden Totters
  6. CBS – Merrick Garland Assures Senators He’s “Not The President’s Lawyer” In Hearing To Lead Justice Department

Post Office Updates. In more positive news, President Biden nominated three people to the U.S.P.S. Board of Governors, several of whom are uniquely qualified for the role. The move comes as Postmaster General Dejoy faces questioning about mail delays and other systemic issues, which is an edifying juxtaposition as well as a hopeful sign.

 

Key links: 

  1. Washington Post – Biden Nominates Three To USPS Board Of Governors As DeJoy Testifies On Mail Crises
  2. New York Times – Biden Seeks More Control Over Postal Service With New Appointments
  3. Washington Post – Biden administration is supplying emergency generators to Texas, White House says
  4. Texas Mutual Aid Directory
  5. Vanity Fair – Ted Cruz Blames Cancún Getaway On His Daughters

Recent Resilience

Recent State Resilience. We did see a smattering of positive state news from various places this week. New Jersey decriminalized marijuana, making it the fourteenth state in the country to adopt such regulations. A federal judge protected California’s net neutrality law, which clears the way for the state to begin implementing it in the near future. And the Manhattan District Attorney now officially has Trump’s tax returns, which will hopefully result in criminal charges further down the line.

Key links:

  1. New York Times – Marijuana Is Legal In New Jersey, But Sales Are Months Away
  2. Washington Post – Net Neutrality Law To Take Effect In California After Judge Deals Blow To Telecom Industry
  3. Washington Post – Trump’s Tax Returns Have Been Turned Over To Manhattan District Attorney

Things to Watch

Congressional Updates.  Democrats continue to fight about the $15 minimum wage provision in the $1.9T stimulus package after the package itself passed in the House on Friday by a mere seven votes.  The Senate parliamentarian has decided that it cannot be included in the Senate version for procedural reasons, and in a move to keep the Democrats united enough to pass something, President Biden also limited who qualifies for the stimulus.  House Democrats also passed several other forms of promising legislation: 1) The Equality Act, which is an LGBT protections bill that was first passed by the House in 2019; 2) The For the People Act, which is a very comprehensive voting rights act bill; and 3) The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which is a policing overhaul bill first passed in 2020.
Key links:

  1. The Hill – Democrats In Standoff Over $15 Minimum Wage
  2. NPR – Senate Can’t Vote On $15 Minimum Wage, Parliamentarian Rules
  3. Washington Post – House Democrats pass sweeping elections bill as GOP legislatures push to restrict voting
  4. New York Times – House Passes Sweeping Gay And Transgender Equality Legislation
  5. NPR – House Approves Police Reform Bill Named After George Floyd

State of the COVID-19. As mentioned above, the House passed the $1.9T COVID relief package, though it has already seen some changes on its way through the senate.  Additionally, early studies of vaccination in the U.K. and Israel, two countries with a high per capita vaccination rate, are showing that hospitalizations drop dramatically as vaccinated populations rise.  Here in the United States, the CDC is recommending the Johnson and Johnson single-dose vaccination, which could be implemented as soon as this week–though its use may have health equity implications, as it’s slightly less effective than the dual-dose vaccines.  Speaking of health equity, Texas was also in the news for denying vaccination to undocumented populations and ending its mask mandate in the same week, both of which are counter to public health common sense.  We also saw a slowing of case drops nationally, and both New York and California are reporting new variants.

Key links:

  1. New York Times – Vaccines Sharply Cut Coronavirus Hospitalization, U.K. Studies Show
  2. CNBC – FDA Panel Unanimously Recommends Third Covid Vaccine As J&J Wins Key Vote In Path To Emergency Use
  3. Washington Post – Texas Vaccination Site Turned Away Undocumented Immigrants Over Their Status, Against State Policy
  4. Politico – Texas, Mississippi to lift mask mandates, let all businesses reopen at full capacity
  5. New York Times – Coronavirus In The U.S.: Latest Map And Case Count

Dismantling the Deportation Machine? The administration did reverse several Trump-era policies which froze immigration visas and blamed it on the pandemic. Additionally, the administration announced it will permit families separated under the Zero Tolerance policy to reunite in the United States, and is converting family detention centers back into 72-hour processing facilities per their original legal purpose. But it also reopened tent city facilities where the Trump administration housed unaccompanied minors, which may be illegal under the Flores settlement agreement and definitely isn’t a best practice. This move was also compounded by another injunction on the 100-day deportation ban. All told, not a great week on the immigration front, but I’m hoping we’ll see more progress in the near future.

Key links:

  1. NPR – Biden Reopens Gateway For Green Cards Reversing Trump COVID-19 Freeze
  2. NBC- Biden Administration Will Let Migrant Families Separated Under Trump Reunite Inside U.S.
  3. Politico – Biden To Allow Migrant Families Separated Under Trump To Reunite In The U.S.
  4. Politico – Federal Judge Deals Biden Another Blow On 100-day Deportation Ban

Actions for Everyone

Maybe it’s the Women’s History Month, or perhaps the Mardi Gras in me, but this week’s issue is about stuff that’s stigmatized but needs to be normalized, and furthermore, needs infrastructural support from our society and government.

Decriminalize Sex Work: The pandemic has damaged so many industries, and the unemployment rate is climbing again, but can you imagine an industry more effected than sex work? Sex work is work. It’s up close and personal, and if in person and not virtual, it’s really dangerous in a pandemic. The odds are already stacked against the industry because paying for sex is illegal in the United States, and so, there are few safety standards for sex workers. On top of that, there is a virtual crack down on sex worker’s rights.

What can you do to further this conversation into action during this pandemic, so that when it’s safe for people to be close, we can have a safer sex work industry? Read up on Open Society’s 10 Reasons to Decriminalize Sex Work, check out the International Union of Sex Workers, contact your elected officials calling for an end to criminal prosecution of sex work.

Women’s History Month: Yo! International Women’s Day is Monday, March 8th. It has a storied history with the labor movement, and the suffrage movement. In 1917, an International Women’s Day March became revolutionary as the crowds in St. Petersburg marched to the Czar’s palace and sparked the Russian Revolution (there’s a lot more to that obvs, but also that really happened).

I’m co-facilitating an effort called #PortraitsOfFemme, which you can follow on social media. I also love She Shreds all the time, but especially during Black History Month and Women’s History Month as they share edu-taining music history.

What are you doing to uplift and celebrate women this month? Whatever it is, make sure it’s intersectional. Trans women are women, thems can be femmes, and you can and should still celebrate this month while not excluding or harming others. The women’s rights movement has a past (and present, remember those pink pussy hats?) of white supremacy and transphobia. So, please celebrate joyously and inclusively this Women’s History Month.

End ICE: The Biden Administration is making strides toward undoing the predecessor’s violent policies, but real talk, Immigration and Customs Enforcement still has a long way to go – reformation unto dismantling. Here are some of the more recent changes as of a few days ago. We have to keep putting pressure on a centrist administration to end ICE. Here are a few organization doing just that:

This week, take a look at one or more of these groups, and decide how to get involved. Join a newsletter? Donate? Making phone calls? Dealers choice, but we’ve got to put pressure on if we want to see progress.

We hope this newsletter left you feeling more informed and more energized to go out there and make a difference in whatever way you can.

We’d love to hear from you, not only for tips or suggestions (though they’re always welcome), but also to hear about how the activism has been going. Do you have any success stories? Did anything surprise you that you weren’t expecting? Let us know at activism@patrothfuss.com and hopefully we can use your stories to help encourage and educate others!

Best,
The Activism Team

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