Supercreator Daily: Juneteeth is having its moment
Plus: Biden takes action on domestic terrorism and one of my keys to keeping to keeping cool this summer.
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Welcome back to Supercreator Daily, your go-to guide to what matters at the intersection of politics, culture and creativity — and how it affects you.
It’s Wednesday, June 16. Let’s catch up.
Juneteenth is having its moment
As I scheduled today’s newsletter last night, the Senate announced it voted by unanimous consent to pass a bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday.
The news comes as Republicans in at least half a dozen states across the country have advanced legislation to uphold a whitewashed version of US history that glosses over the impact of race in our economy, justice system and media.
Juneteenth is a celebrated on June 19 to commemorate the emancipation of enslaved people in the US. The holiday was first celebrated in Texas, where on that date in 1865, slaves were finally declared free under the terms of the Emancipation Proclamation signed by Abraham Lincoln three years earlier.
The Senate attempted to pass the bill when a group of Senate Democrats, including then-Sen. Kamala Harris, introduced it last year, but it was blocked by Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.
Juneteenth is already recognized as a holiday in 49 states and the District of Columbia. The federal legislation has 60 cosponsors, including 18 Republicans.
The bill now has to be passed by the House, which is expected to do so in short order. It would be nice if the Senate could draw on this same bipartisan energy to expand voting rights, pass a comprehensive plans for police reform and infrastructure and federalize paid family leave. But I’m not holding my breath.
Progressives are on the verge of killing infrastructure
Progressive Democrats are uniting to oppose a bipartisan proposal bipartisan on legislation to rebuild our country’s infrastructure. The current framework under discussion focuses on physical infrastructure like modernizing our roads, bridges and transit centers. But the left wants the bill to expand the social safety and include climate provisions and corporate tax reforms too.
Politico reported yesterday that The White House has given House Democrats 10 days to figure out if there’s a path to an agreement. A few hours later, Mike Lillis at The Hill reported that top administration officials told the Democratic lawmakers to prepare to pass infrastructure through budget reconciliation, a process that enables the majority party to quickly advance high-priority fiscal legislation without the threat of a filibuster or delays due to extended debate on amendments.
White House officials told House Democrats Tuesday to get ready to go it alone on infrastructure, setting the stage for party leaders to tap an obscure budget procedure to move President Biden's top domestic priority without Republican support.
The Congressional Progressive Caucus, led by Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington, said her members will also oppose unless Democrats also commit to a broader, separate bill to pass the agenda items excluded from the compromise bill.
If it seems like you’ve heard little from the GOP on infrastructure this week, it’s because you haven’t. Congressional Republicans are satisfied to sit back and watch the various factions of the opposition party publicly fight each other over one of President Biden’s top agenda items.
DACA gets a day in the spotlight
Nine years after President Barack Obama announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the program was the center of attention in the nation’s capital yesterday.
Vice President Harris hosted a roundtable yesterday with a group of female immigrants who have temporary protection from deportation to focus attention on immigration reform.
The Senate Judiciary Committee also held a hearing on the American Dream and Promise Act of 2021, a bill the House passed in March that would provide certain undocumented people with a path to receive permanent resident status.
And a group of Senators, led by Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, sent a letter to the agency of the US Department of Homeland Security responsible for the country’s immigration system requesting answers the delays in processing applications for the program.
DACA allows some undocumented people who were brought to America as children and maintain a clean record as adults to receive a renewable two-year grace period from deportation and eligibility to work in the US. Since DACA doesn’t provide a path to citizenship, recipients are still waiting for long overdue immigration reform.
Since DACA was established, Congress has tried and failed several times to pass a legislative fix to Obama’s executive action. During the Trump administration, it rolled back the program for new, first-time applications and only processed renewals. The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in June 2020 that the decision to wind down DACA was legally flawed. And all the while, recipients have often been used as bargaining chips for lawmakers to obtain concessions in other bills from their political opponents.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, there are 41 million immigrants in the US. In 2013, 83 percent of the people deported from the US weren’t given a hearing before a judge. The US spends $1.84 billion on detaining immigrants.
The White House said it will continue to work with Congress to advance the Dream and Promise Act to President Biden’s desk for a signature. “My Administration looks forward to working together with Congress to do the right thing for Dreamers and [Temporary Protected Status] holders who contribute so much to our country,” President Biden said after the House passed the legislation in March.
Biden designates domestic terrorism as a top priority
President Biden took a huge step in shoring up our national security yesterday by releasing the National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism, a first-of-its-kind plan for protecting American from domestic terrorists.
The Jan 6. insurrection at the Capitol showed the danger of homegrown extremist violence fomented by lies and white supremacy and hate groups. According to Robert O'Harrow Jr., Andrew Ba Tran and Derek Hawkins at The Washington Post, right-wing extremists have been involved in 267 plots or attacks and 91 fatalities since 2015. (Attacks and plots inspired by far-left views accounted for 66 incidents leading to 19 deaths.)
Domestic terrorism is nothing new. But as the pandemic deprived people of their daily routines and personal relationships and wrecked our economy combined with political polarization, we find ourselves in what feels like an increasingly combative society. This environment creates a fertile soil for fringe ideas and accelerated radicalization to take root.
Biden’s plan consists of four pillars:
Understand and share domestic terrorism-related information
Prevent domestic terrorism recruitment and mobilization to violence
Disrupt and deter domestic terrorism activity
Confront long-term contributors to domestic terrorism
The plan will also work to counter the affects of disinformation, misinformation and dangerous online conspiracy theories on our political discourse.
The Biden administration said it will evaluate the implementation of its strategy to adapt its response as threats evolve and to make sure there’s proper oversight and accountability.
State legislators ask Congress to do more on voting rights
Vice President Harris met with nearly two dozen Democratic members of the Texas state legislature yesterday as they pushed for Congress to pass the comprehensive federal voting rights bill that’s currently stalled in the US Senate.
Texas Democrats killed a law from the Republican-controlled Legislature earlier this month that would restrict voter access in similar ways that other bills in Georgia, Florida and across the country would. The For the People Act would stave off many of the state-level voting constraints these bills put in place.
The lawmakers are especially urgent because Texas’s governor is hellbent on calling a special session to bring the bill state Democrats defeated back for another vote later this year.
We’ve seen a rapid uptick since the 2020 election in state and local proposals and laws designed to restrict the right to vote by eliminating options like early voting and voting by mail that make participating in our democracy more convenient and accessible.
These calls to action to the Senate from state lawmakers follow a similar sentiment expressed by former President Barack Obama earlier this week. But the For the People Act is currently opposed by Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and all 50 Republican Senators, leaving it short of the 60-vote filibuster-proof majority required to be signed into law.
Another day, another T**** scandal
The House Oversight Committee, which oversees the federal government and all its agencies, released new documents that detail Donald T****’s efforts to pressure the Department of Justice to overturn the lawful results of the 2020 presidential election.
The documents reveal emails related to allegations of voter fraud in Michigan, including a message from T****’s personal assistant with subject line “From POTUS” attaching document purporting to show voter fraud in Antrim County, MI. Another email includes details about filing lawsuit in Supreme Court to overturn election results. There’s also a batch of emails from an Assistant Attorney General and other DOJ senior officials as they discuss possible courses of action and several emails from former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows Emails to DOJ Officials that glean insight into the administration’s despartion to reverse the results of the election.
It’s completely bonkers.
T****’s DOJ has been under fire for the past week. The New York Times reported last week that Justice Department officials subpoenaed Apple for information regarding accounts belonging to two top Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee in an attempt to find sources of critical coverage of T**** associates and their connection to Russian contacts. The House and Senate Judiciary Committees announced on Monday that they would open separate investigations into the secret subpoenas.
Amazon and Airbnb’s skeletons in their closet are exposed
The New York Times and the technology news site Recode broke two bombshell stories that takes readers behind the scenes of an Amazon warehouse and pulls the curtain back on how the company’s HR department is failing its Black employees.
Meanwhile, reporting from Bloomberg’s Olivia Carville revealed how Airbnb spends millions of dollars to in damage control to avoid PR crises and keep guests, hosts and families from sounding the alarms.
Amazon are worth $1.7 trillion and $92.8 billion respectively. And as terrible as the allegations and revelations in these stories are, they’re likely to have to little affect on the companies’ bottom lines. If you think these companies should be better, the most meaningful way to affect change is to redirect your dollars and data elsewhere.
Here’s everything else you should know this morning:
An unworthy distinction: The US hit 600,000 COVID deaths yesterday — more than any other country. [Scott Neuman / NPR]
Following the confirmation of potential Supreme Court hopeful Ketanji Brown Jackson on Monday, President Biden submitted five more candidates for the federal bench, including a leading voting rights expert. [Carl Hulse / The New York Times]
An Alabama lawmaker wants to ban critical race theory so a journalist asked him to explain what it is (the result is what you’d expect). [Kyle Whitmire / AL.com]
New research conducted this winter and spring suggests the expansion of telehealth didn’t make mental health care more accessible to marginalized communities. [Jamie Ducharme / TIME]
A majority of adults in the US favor the death penalty for people convicted of murder with views varying by religion: atheists and agnostics oppose capital punishment at the same rate as Americans overall support it. [Stephanie Kramer / Pew Research Center]
Read All About It
AJ Dellinger at Mic on rainbow capitalism:
These corporations give to anti-LGBTQ+ politicians for the same reason that they don the Pride flag during Pride Month: to make more money. Lobbying politicians, regardless of what they believe in, helps do that. Pandering to communities with buying power helps do that. Until they actually put their money where their mouths are and take a stand for the community they not only claim to support but also likely employ, it should be clear that the only thing these corporations take pride in is their bottom line.
Jack Holmes at Esquire on why rich celebrities should get off social apps and enjoy being rich:
But let's not get hung up on a cancel culture debate, because the issue here is people choosing to be rich and famous in a disastrous way. They are not doing this thing properly. The whole point is to style yourself as an aloof semi-alien species, permanently adorned with sunglasses and a half-smirk as you roll away from the paparazzi in the back of a jet-black Escalade. You are getting paid large sums of money to do interesting things—star in movies, play concerts for tens of thousands of people—and also, basically, to just exist. Why are you tweeting? What are you doing here? As someone who has a professional obligation to marinate in the ocean of awful, it instills in me a cocktail of mad and sad to watch others do it willingly.
Rep. Ritchie Torres, Democrat for New York’s 15th district, at Newsweek on why it’s time for nationwide ranked-choice voting:
Ranked choice voting restores power where it belongs, with the people themselves. That's why I introduced legislation earlier this year to have the U.S. Government Accountability Office study ranked choice voting for presidential elections. Imagine being able to rank the vote in a crowded presidential primary, ensuring that we as citizens have an even greater say in deciding who is going to represent us at the highest level of office?
Ranked choice voting isn't a silver bullet that will turn our politics into some Platonic ideal. We still might not love the candidates we get and the choices we have to make. It won't drain all the polarization and toxicity that has accumulated over years and years. And it doesn't mean that your favorite candidate will always win.
What it does is make our politics better and more fair, and this mayoral primary is an undeniable example. There are more candidates of color. There's more engagement with voters. There's more campaigning, in more neighborhoods. There's more opportunity for votes to have more impact. There's less pressure on candidates to drop out ahead of election day.
Anna North at Vox on wrinkles:
The bias against aging skin has deep roots in American culture, and in some ways seems as entrenched as ever — see, for instance, the supposed “Zoom boom,” a rise in plastic surgery among people tired of looking at their faces on video calls. But the last year has also been a time of rejecting beauty norms that seemed increasingly onerous or pointless, as well as growing awareness around the problems of ageism, as many advocates pushed back on the idea that the elderly and others who were especially vulnerable to Covid-19 were somehow disposable. And after a period of unprecedented trauma, more people may be interested in embracing what wrinkles mean — that you’ve been lucky enough to make it to old age.
Brian Contreras at The Los Angeles Times on Google and its mysterious Gmail inbox filter:
Newsletter writers talk about Gmail and its whims “the way that Greeks used to talk about Greek gods,” said one writer, who publishes a newsletter through Substack competitor MailChimp. Like some ancient, unknowable deity, Gmail “has this influence over our lives, but we don’t know ... how they’re making decisions and how it will affect us from one day to another. We just know that it’s always changing, and sometimes it’s good news and sometimes it’s bad news.”
Nothing inspires this sense of helpless frustration more than Gmail’s Promotions folder: a sort of liminal purgatory into which the mailbox platform casts emails too bad for the inbox and too good for the spam folder. If the inbox is for friends, family and colleagues, and the spam folder is for untested virility pills and investment propositions from deposed foreign princes, the “Promos” folder is for … well, whatever Google’s sorting algorithm chooses to put there. For some newsletter writers, that seems to change week to week and reader to reader.
Rachel Tashjian at GQ on the age of the power collab:
What seems like a branding exercise is in fact something a little weirder: because our exhausted minds, traversing a world filled with too many logos, are used to seeing certain shapes and designs as shorthand, swapping one logo for another, as minor as it may seem, causes us to short-circuit a bit. The zestiest takeaway from the project might be its challenge to the puritanical call-outs around copying that have dominated fashion over the past five years—everyone does it, so nothing is really original. Is it possible to have a more sophisticated conversation around borrowing or even stealing? Around counterfeit products? It’s a question only two power players could raise.
Tovolo Classic Pop Molds ($10): These easy-to-remove drip-proof molds will come in handy when I finally decide to cross “create a batch of fresh fruit pops” off my weekend to-do list.