There’s a lot riding on Biden’s upcoming NYC trip
The President is visiting the Big Apple on Thursday as it grapples with rising gun violence. But it’ll be important for him to strike the right tone.
When President Joe Biden arrives in New York City on Thursday to meet with local elected and community leaders about gun violence, he’ll wade into dicey political waters.
On the one hand, the president’s handling of crime, along with the pandemic and the economy, represents a trifecta of issues that have led to his plunging poll numbers. In response, White House aides have been aggressively touting Biden’s crime bona fides.
But he also runs the risk of alienating a coalition of base voters who are anxious that the current moment will lead to another course correction the nation endured from the consequences of the 1994 crime bill that was crafted by then-Sen. Biden.
Attorney General Merrick Garland will join the president and both are expected to talk about the steps the Biden administration has taken so far to reduce gun crime. They’ll attempt to show themselves as strong partners for a city that like so many others is grappling with increased gun violence over the past two years.
During the visit, Biden and Garland will make two stops with Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul and New York City Mayor Eric Adams — who proclaims himself as Biden’s “favorite mayor,” though no one in the press corps has been able to confirm the claim.
First, they’ll discuss at New York Police Department headquarters the work that the federal, state and local law enforcement officials are doing to quickly take guns and repeat shooters off the streets.
Afterward, the quartet and other elected leaders will visit with community violence intervention leaders in Queens to talk about the community-led work to interrupt gun violence.
Conservative news organizations and politicians have cast the spike in gun violence as the result of an administration that’s soft on crime.
Republicans have talked about Biden meeting an affirmative action quota with the unnamed Black woman he’ll nominate for the Supreme Court this month.
But someone should ask Fox News correspondents Jacqui Heinrich or Peter Doocy if they’ve been assigned a crime-question quota. Because if White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki calls on them during a briefing, then ten times out of nine they’ll lead with a question about why the White House isn’t doing more to curtail a crime spike administration officials say is fueled in large part by the pandemic.
On Monday, for example, Heinrich asked Psaki about a recent appearance on Crooked Media’s popular “Pod Save America” podcast in which Psaki pushed back against some of the criticisms leveled by Fox News and its far-right successors.
“Were you speaking in your personal opinion? Or is that at all a reflection of the priorities of this administration?” Heinrich asked. “Because the criticism is that it would reflect that crime is not a priority of this administration.”
Psaki, as she’s wont to do, parlayed the question into an opportunity to rattle off a litany of talking points. They often include how much money the White House has invested towards the crisis, how Biden is opposed to defunding police, that it’s actually Republicans who voted against deeper investments in law enforcement and how they have resisted at even modest attempts for gun control.
Perhaps the future would feel less ominous if the president was able to sign into law a comprehensive police bill introduced in George Floyd’s name last year. But negotiations broke down between Democratic and Republican lawmakers last year.
So activists have turned to the White House to fill the vacuum with executive action but to no avail. And some civil rights leaders are even proposing Congress break the sweeping bill into components for lawmakers to individually vote on.
“As you know, the president very much wanted to sign the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act into law, and we did not take executive actions at the time because we wanted to leave room and space for that process to proceed in a bipartisan manner,” Psaki said on Tuesday. “So I’d really point you to leadership and committee chairs in Congress to see what is possible on that front.”
The realities of both the legislative and campaign calendars make congressional action feel like an especially heavy lift. And since Republicans have no incentive to help President Biden and Democrats change the narrative on what they view as a winning issue, Biden is left to hope that his traveling megaphone is persuasive enough to calm a jittery nation.
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TODAY IN POLITICS
President Biden will receive his daily intelligence briefing with Vice President Harris this morning. Biden and Harris and First Lady Jill Biden will host an event at the White House this afternoon on cancer research. Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff will also attend.
The House will consider legislation to strengthen the nation’s supply chains, invest in US research and development and out-compete China.
The Senate will continue consideration of President Biden’s executive and judicial nominations.
IN THE KNOW
— House Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer tested positive for COVID-19. The second-ranking House Democrat is fully vaccinated and boosted, experiencing mild symptoms and will work from home for the rest of this week.
— Democratic Sen. Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico suffered a stroke last week and underwent decompressive surgery to ease swelling, according to his staff. “He is being cared for at [University of New Mexico] hospital, resting comfortably and is expected to make a full recovery.” Luján’s office will remain open without interruption. [@SenatorLujan / Twitter]
— House Democratic Whip Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, Republican Rep. Hal Rogers of Kentucky, Democratic Sen. Cory Booker and Republican Sen. Rob Portman introduced legislation to direct federal funding to persistent poverty areas across America. The bill would require the Office of Management and Budget to invest in these areas in an amount greater than their proportion of the population.
— Jury selection for the trial of Brett Hankison, the former Kentucky police officer who participated in the raid that killed Breonna Taylor, was delayed until Thursday. The selection was scheduled to take place on Tuesday but the judge said Hankison has a right to observe the process. [Piper Hudspeth Blackburn / The Associated Press]
— At least 10 HBCUs received bomb threats on Tuesday, the first day of Black History Month and one day after six reported threats to their campuses. The schools included Howard in DC, Morgan State University in Baltimore, Fort Valley State University in Georgia, Kentucky State University in Lankford, Xavier University in New Orleans, Alcorn State University in Lorman Mississippi, Edward Waters University in Jacksonville, Florida, Jackson State University in Mississippi and Spelman College in Atlanta. [Chantal Da Silva, Tat Bellamy-Walker, Courtney Brogle, Austin Mullen and Ken Dilanian / NBC News]
— A former UCLA instructor was taken into custody in Colorado after he sent a video referencing a mass shooting and an 800-page manifesto with threats to members of the university’s philosophy department. The university canceled in-person classes on Tuesday. [CBS News]
— US traffic deaths surged in the first nine months of 2021 to 31,720, keeping up a record pace of increased dangerous driving during the pandemic. Data from the department's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showed that traffic fatalities increased during the nine-month period in 38 states and were flat in two states. The numbers declined in 10 states and the District of Columbia. [Hope Yen / ABC News via The Associated Press]
— Hospital admissions for teenage girls who may have attempted suicide have increased 50 percent nationwide. Although teenage boys remain more likely to die by suicide, teenage girls are more likely to attempt it. [Eleanor Klibanoff / The Texas Tribune]
— 46 percent of millennials say their finances control their lives, compared to 33 percent of other adults. Millennials’ beliefs about their own financial health rank worse than the national average and more millennials say they’re “often” or “always” behind on their finances. [Morning Consult]
— America’s national debt surpassed $30 trillion due to increased government spending during the pandemic. The nation’s debt has surged about $7 trillion since the end of 2019. [Matt Egan / CNN]
— Journalist Taylor Lorenz will join The Washington Post as a columnist in March. Lorenz, the media’s preeminent voice on all things internet culture, is currently on leave from The New York Times writing a book about the topic. (Fun fact: She retweeted this story last year to her hundreds of thousands of followers and it’s still the most-read newsletter to date.)
— Tom Brady announced his retirement from the National Football League in a lengthy Instagram post. Brady, who played 22 seasons, won seven Super Bowl titles and rewrote the NFL record book, thanked his teammates, coaches, friends and family and said he plans to take his post-playing life day by day. [@tombrady / Instagram]
— Jada Pinkett Smith and Queen Latifah will reunite in an upcoming episode of CBS’ The Equalizer. Now I want to go watch Set It Off. [Denise Petski / Deadline]
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Kaitlyn Tiffany on Tumblr:
As the site grew, it served as a wellspring for memes, web comics, and new forms of art and popular culture. GIFs emerged on Tumblr blogs as a fully realized visual language, and a cohort of “alt lit” writers, dubbed “40 Likely to Die Before 40,” started mixing online ephemera into their poetry and novels. (When the musician Frank Ocean published an open letter about his own sexuality on Tumblr in 2012, it was a global news event and an instant classic of internet literature.) Huge new online fandoms took shape too, celebrating Glee, One Direction, Marvel, and the TV show Supernatural, among other (often nerdy) pop-culture properties; they chatted in the same space where artists and photographers were coining terms for digital aesthetics. Meanwhile, all were learning a new vocabulary with which to talk about social issues. Through their interests, Tumblr users were introduced to concepts such as sex positivity, internalized misogyny, gender identity, and ableism—as well as, somewhat notoriously, trigger warnings and safe spaces.
The reasons why more artists haven’t abandoned Spotify include a stew of political hesitancies, music ownership complications and business incentives. The issues speak to the trickiness of the debate over COVID-19 misinformation, free speech, music rights and the role of Spotify in the modern music industry.
Although it has never been easy to turn internet fame into TV success, Brunson’s brand of comedy always seemed like a natural fit for television. Her character-driven sketches spotlighted her ability to world-build and, most important, to nail a punch line. But the media landscape was rapidly shifting — no one was sure how people even watched television anymore, and every tech company was trying to become a production company. Around 2016, Brunson started making shows for many of them. Her first two were done in partnership with BuzzFeed Motion Pictures: Verizon go90’s Up for Adoption, a mockumentary about volunteers at an adoption center, and Broke, a YouTube Red series about three friends moving from Philadelphia to Los Angeles to pursue their dreams. In 2017, she sold Quinta vs. Everything, in which Brunson tackles all types of life issues one episode at a time, to Facebook Watch. While characterizations of Black women often traded in respectability politics or showcased them as saviors, she wasn’t afraid to be silly, wrong, and imperfect. These shows laid the groundwork for Abbott Elementary,with Brunson drawing from her personal experiences to tell stories that reflected her life and community. “I was cutting my teeth on what it took to create television shows,” she says. “I didn’t formally go to school for this, so it was like on-the-job training.”
Jaya Saxena on why every snack is Flamin’ Hot:
It’s not just the heat, though, as familiarity also seems to be a factor. We like hot things that are combined with other flavors we already like. None of the products with the Flamin’ Hot treatment are new. Frito-Lay has not considered what precise spicy flavorings would work well on a Frito, and if those might differ from what would work on cheddar popcorn. Instead, every snack gets the same Flamin’ Hot wash. It’s an easy way to appear innovative without doing any work.
Out of this nebulous pattern, a generic Supreme Court nominee emerges. They are a 47-year-old Harvard Law graduate, or maybe Yale if the White House is feeling adventurous. They clerked for well-respected judges and almost certainly a Supreme Court justice. They then went into a public-service job of some kind, maybe as an assistant U.S. attorney, or in the White House Counsel’s office, or something in the Justice Department if there was a presidential administration keen to give them the right leg up at the right time. (Maybe they also taught at a top-tier law school if there wasn’t.) Then they accepted a nomination to serve on a federal appellate court when the appropriate party held the White House. There are about as many lawyers in America as there are residents of Dallas, Texas, and there are maybe as many lawyers who fit that generic profile—and party alignment—as there are players, coaches, and assistants for the Dallas Cowboys.
Rani Molla on remote work:
Once we have a little more time and space, we can focus on how to encourage collaboration, creativity, and innovation in a remote setting. If executives want to make the quality of work better, they might want to take a look at the quantity of work they expect. If they want to make remote work better, there are better places to start than the office.
Rebecca Jennings on TikTok and fashion:
What is TikTok couture? It is a (sort of rude) way to describe the coalescence of trends that materialize on TikTok, whether from teenagers experimenting with clothes they’ve thrifted from their local charity shop, from older folks revisiting the subcultural styles of their youth, or from professional and amateur trend watchers combining aesthetic clues into a single theory of what’s coming next. Together, with the help of the supercharged TikTok algorithm that blasts viral content to millions of users within hours or days, these videos shape what mainstream culture considers stylish, which therefore can affect what we choose to wear ourselves.
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