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Journal Archives

'Bulls---': How a Manchin-Bernie blowup helped unstick Dems' agenda

A cathartic breakthrough between the West Virginia centrist and Vermont progressive paved the way for growing momentum towards a deal after months of infighting.


Democratic Sens. Bernie Sanders and Joe Manchin patched things up after a cathartic exchange during a Democratic meeting. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Joe Manchin and Bernie Sanders tangled in a private Democratic meeting this week that helped set the stage for growing progress on President Joe Biden’s agenda.

As Democratic leadership gathered Monday ahead of a pivotal week of negotiations on the party’s social spending bill, Manchin (D-W.Va.) laid out what he could accept to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s team. Universal pre-K was in, he said, but no tuition-free community college.

Sanders (I-Vt.) was not pleased. “Bullshit,” Sanders said, according to a readout of the meeting provided to POLITICO. Sanders said Manchin was telling the rest of the Democratic caucus to go “F themselves” and bend to one senator's agenda. Manchin disputed that, recounting that he’d told Biden the president did not win West Virginia and his very presence in the Senate is remarkable.

Shortly after that tussle, Manchin and Sanders met privately, posed for a photo together and publicly reconciled. They’ve met four times so far this week, each softening their rhetoric toward one another and speaking more hopefully of a deal even as they continue to spar behind the scenes. Yet the cathartic blowup helped spark a significant breakthrough after a dayslong feud between the two that began when Sanders leaned publicly on Manchin to support Biden’s agenda.


Biden, Democrats shred spending, tax plans to get a deal done


Oct 21 (Reuters) - For months, U.S. President Joe Biden and Democrats touted a $3.5 trillion Build Back Better plan as a transformational piece of legislation that would reshape the world’s largest economy for decades to come. They have spent recent days painfully deciding how to pare down parts of the plan, and which parts to scrap entirely as they seek to satisfy demands from within their own ranks to cut the size of the package.

Congressional and White House sources say that among the ideas now on the chopping block are: a $109 billion plan to provide free community college to all Americans and a $150 billion program to push utilities to switch to renewable energy. The highly touted child tax credit extension was slashed to one year, and paid family leave could be gutted as well, they say.

Most significantly, a fundamental mechanism for paying it all, raising the corporate tax rate, is on ice, because Senator Kyrsten Sinema, a key swing-vote Democrat, is unlikely to support it.


Paid family leave, a cornerstone of Biden’s economic agenda, and a topic some members of his women-heavy economic team have spent years advocating for, also faces severe cutes. Biden’s initial plan called for providing up to 12 weeks of paid leave for new parents and caretakers for seriously ill family members, and compensating workers for at least two-thirds of their earnings. Now the benefit could shrink to just a few weeks, alarming supporters who view this as the best chance to secure a crucial safety net for workers, particularly women.

child tax credit extension was slashed to one year

the transphobic Dave 'I'm on Team TERF' Chappelle and Netflix get raked over the coals

Dave Chappelle’s controversial comedy special is a catalyst for change as Netflix walkout leads to calls for reform

When it comes to the controversy surrounding Dave Chappelle’s “The Closer,” Netflix seems to have hit a nerve affecting both employees and boldfacers


Netflix employees at the streaming giant’s campuses around the world walked off the job Wednesday in protest of Dave Chappelle’s latest special, the company’s defense of the comedian and its dismissal of concerns that the content was dangerously transphobic.

A crowd of dozens gathered outside the streamer’s West Hollywood offices to denounce both Chappelle and the company’s chief executive, Ted Sarandos, who has stood by “The Closer” after employees, LGBTQ organizations and the platform’s own talent likened the special to hate speech. Some supporters of Chappelle also attended the rally, clashing with protesters as they urged Netflix not to limit speech and held up signs with messages such as “Jokes are funny.”

“We’re here today not because we can’t take a joke," Ashlee Marie Preston, a media personality and the walkout’s organizer, told rallygoers. “We’re here today because the jokes are taking lives.”

The one-day walkout followed weeks of simmering complaints and punctuates the collision of the comedian’s popularity with the growing movement to protect the rights of transgender people.

Netflix made a mess of the Dave Chappelle controversy. It's a crisis of Netflix's own making


New York (CNN Business)The Dave Chappelle comedy special, "The Closer," has thrust Netflix into its biggest crisis ever. It's a mess of the company's own making.

Chappelle's special, which debuted on Netflix earlier this month, caused a firestorm inside and outside the company. It includes several jokes about trans people that some found deeply offensive. Netflix has stood by the special, even after it was criticized as transphobic by some LGBTQ+ advocates, artists and even Netflix's own employees.

"Promoting [trans-exclusionary radical feminist] ideology (which is what we did by giving it a platform yesterday) directly harms trans people," Terra Field, a senior software engineer at Netflix, tweeted earlier this month. "It is not some neutral act."

But Netflix's strategy — offering a trove of diverse content without much editorial supervision — has made the company a huge success. Intervening in Chappelle's special isn't so simple.

Dave Chappelle insulted another audience no one mentions


(CNN)Dave Chappelle's latest Netflix special may have attracted a barrage of criticism from the LGBTQ community, but there is another group that he has offended that no one mentions: The long list of iconic Black comics who affirmed gender nonconforming people or were members of the LGBTQ community themselves.

Richard Pryor was bisexual and raised money for a gay rights organization. "Moms Mabley,' who was the first Black female standup comic to go mainstream, was a lesbian.

Cross-dressing Black men have created some of the enduring comic characters in Black comic history, from comedian's Flip Wilson's sassy "The Devil Made Me Do it" character of "Geraldine" to Tyler Perry's "Madea."

Black comics have indeed peddled their fair share of harmful stereotypes about LGBTQ people. Eddie Murphy, for example, unleashed a blistering series of homophobic slurs in his early standup routines -- performances for which he's since apologized.

AOC: Follow along for a day in the life as we welcome First Lady @DrBiden to the Bronx (PS83!)

to engage teachers and staff, prep for hearings, do laundry, & stream w/ Bernie.


The airlines are spinelessly softening their original demands that all employees be vaccinated

Southwest and American Are Making a Dangerous Mandate Mistake


Covid-19 vaccine mandates are only as good as the people enforcing them. And it seems the executives running Southwest Airlines Co. and American Airlines Inc. could use more backbone. For inspiration, they can look to United Airlines Inc.’s managers, or to mayors, governors and college presidents around the country.

Last week, Southwest and American gamely pushed back against Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s effort to forbid companies headquartered in his state to impose mandates. Both airlines issued statements saying their first responsibility was to follow the Biden administration’s planned federal mandates. In the days since, however, the two Texas-based airlines have shown less gumption.


American originally told employees they would have to be vaccinated or lose their jobs, and eventually imposed a Nov. 24 deadline. It invited employees with religious, medical or disability claims to apply for an exemption. But American’s flight attendants’ union said management recently indicated that employees who have applied for exemptions can keep working — a concession that weakens the mandate. Southwest first told its employees they had to be vaccinated by Dec. 8 to keep their jobs unless they received an exemption. Employees who applied for exemptions would be placed on unpaid leave while applications were reviewed. But more recently, Southwest told employees that anyone seeking an exemption would not be placed on leave — and encouraged them to apply. I imagine that might persuade many Southwest employees who are opposed to vaccination to take that advice and dodge the mandate.

Maybe this shouldn’t be surprising. Gary Kelly, Southwest’s chief executive officer, told CNBC last week he wasn’t fully behind this public health stuff. “I’ve never been in favor of corporations imposing that kind of a mandate,” he said. “I’m not in favor of that, never have been.” But he had federal guidelines to follow, he allowed. “My goal obviously is that no one loses their job. The objective here obviously is to improve health and safety, not for people to lose their jobs.”


David Corn on Lawrence right now, standing by his story


Joe Manchin Isn't Moved by Dem Attacks--He's Emboldened By Them

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has been unmoved by threats and attacks from Democrats. Part of that may be because he revels in those attacks.


When activists paddled their kayaks to Sen. Joe Manchin’s houseboat in Washington, D.C., earlier this month to protest the West Virginia Democrat’s opposition to a $3.5 trillion social welfare bill, what they encountered was a man very comfortable with being heckled.

Like others who have pressured Manchin to reconsider—Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and pretty much every other liberal activist and elected Democrat between them—these progressive pushers aren’t moving Manchin. In fact, they may just be stiffening his resolve.

Part of the reason Manchin has survived in the increasingly red state of West Virginia is because he’s built a reputation as a true moderate. He is known for dashing Democratic dreams large and small while finding chances to back Republican priorities.

And it’s exactly these big moments—when Sanders and like-minded Democrats express their endless frustration with Manchin—that help him burnish the gadfly credentials needed for a Democrat to survive in a state that went for Donald Trump in 2020 by 38 points.


This is Tina Forte, who is challenging AOC for her seat. Seems like she would be a downgrade.


AOC Challenger Tina Forte Promoted and Attended Jan. 6 Capitol Riot

In this special investigation, Snopes found that the apparent QAnon believer livestreamed to Facebook Live the day of the attack on the U.S. Capitol.


Official Wizard of New Zealand fired by city council after more than 2 decades


The Wizard of Christchurch, who is otherwise known by his given name, Ian Brackenbury Channell, casts a "spell" during a television interview in Christchurch, New Zealand, Wednesday, March 2, 2011.

For more than two decades, the New Zealand city of Christchurch has annually paid thousands of dollars to Ian Brackenbury Channell, known as the official Wizard of New Zealand. Now the city council wants him to disappear.

Channell has been paid $16,000 annually in New Zealand dollars (about $11,290 U.S.) – about $368,000 ($260,000 in U.S. dollars) over 23 years – for "acts of wizardry and other wizard-like services," the city's assistant chief executive Lynn McClelland said in a statement to USA TODAY.

"The Council is grateful for the valuable and special contribution The Wizard made to our city’s cultural life, and he will forever be a part of our history," she said.

Born in London, Channell began making appearances in the city's Cathedral Square in 1974, according to the city's library website. Over the years, his public appearances included rain dancing during droughts.


Democrats Are Winning the Race to Raise the Most Cash Online

Democratic fundraising platform ActBlue will report more than $300 million in the third quarter.


Democratic fundraising giant ActBlue says it raised more than $305 million in the third quarter, more than tripling its totals over the same period in 2017, the most recent comparable election cycle, according to documents first obtained by The Daily Beast.

The internal data shared with The Daily Beast shows the Democratic money machine marked dramatic increases across the board. Raw totals of donors and contributions both more than doubled over this point in the previous midterm cycle, as did the amount of cash funnelled to Democratic House and Senate candidates, many of whom face tight races in 2022.

That $305 million came from 2 million individual contributors, with an average donation amount of $35.26. And the combination of gifts to outside groups and to candidates at the federal, state, and local levels brings ActBlue’s sitewide totals on the year to an eye-popping $906 million.

ActBlue executive director Erin Hill provided a statement touting the platform’s responsiveness. “Grassroots donors are not letting up the gas pedal as we head into 2022,” Hill said. “This quarter particularly showed that donors are ready to mobilize at a moment’s notice and committed to supporting candidates and causes long-term. As donors fuel movements and expand their investment in campaigns and organizations demanding change, they’re setting the stage for the pivotal midterm year.”

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