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The Bread Line
2 minutes | Jun 3, 2020
Taking a break + a few tidbits of housecleaning.
Hey everyone,With all of the important work going on within the Black Lives Matter movement, we’re going to put this mostly on pause for a bit. That means redirecting our energy towards direct action, showing up when it counts, but also listening and learning. Today we’re just going to go through three quick things in case you missed ‘em. * Congressman Steve King, a white nationalist, lost his primary last night. The Republican who beat him, Randy Feenstra, is still an awful person. Unfortunately, he’s also the favorite in that race in Iowa, so keep an eye on his challenger, J.D. Scholten. * According to investigative reporting by Ken Klippenstein for The Nation, the FBI found “no intel indicating antifa involvement” in Sunday’s violence. This runs contrary to Trump’s justification for trying to designate anti-fascists as a terrorist organization. * Buzzfeed News broke the story that the Justice Department has given the DEA the temporary power to “enforce any federal crime committed as a result of the protests over the death of George Floyd.” Surveillance methods have long been used to stop protestors and this seems like the first big move to do authorize that. Thanks for sticking with us. Check out this list of ways to help for more info about what you can do. Stay safe out there. This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit thebreadline.substack.com
5 minutes | Jun 2, 2020
The murder of David McAtee, Trump and the Insurrection Act.
Good morning friends, family, and any other comrades who find themselves reading this. No news is good news and unfortunately, we’ve got plenty of news today. * David McAtee was killed by Louisville, Kentucky law enforcement: and they left his body on the street for 12 hours afterward. The protestors in the city were already mourning the death of Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed in her apartment by Louisville police over two months ago. * Trump is now saying he may invoke the Insurrection Act to deploy military: that is, he claims, if state officials can’t contain protest violence. We’re just tiptoeing around martial law in 2020 like it’s no big deal, huh? We’ll get through this. Let’s get started. BLACK LIVES MATTER David McAtee Was Killed in Louisville, His Body Sat For 12 Hours David McAtee was killed by Louisville, Kentucky law enforcement and the National Guard. At least, that’s what Kentucky’s Governor, Andy Beshear, has attributed the murder to, though the acting Police Chief has said “we do not know who shot him.” In any case, after McAtee was murdered, his body sat in the streets for the next twelve hours. Police Violence in Louisville * In March, Breonna Taylor was killed in Louisville as well. The city’s police broke into her apartment in the middle of the night and started shooting, eventually killing the 26-year old EMT. * That’s why like Minneapolis, Louisville has been one of the communities most vocal in their demand for a change from police departments and their violence towards black people. * After days of protesting, David McAtee was killed on Sunday night and his body was left on the street until noon on Monday. * Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer has said that police officers didn’t have their body cameras activated, a violation of policy, which led to the firing of Police Chief Steve Conrad. * No officials have addressed why the body was left on the street and did not respond to The Intercept when asked to comment. In a Time of Uncertainty... * Leaving the body there obviously upset members of the community, with Robert LeVertis Bell, a community activist running for the Louisville Metro Council in the 4th District, describing this as being “terrorizing.” * This is just another instance of police violence escalating in this time of unrest. Other protestors died over the weekend, but this seemed to be the most blatant case of police violence in recent times, especially considering it happened in Louisville. * It’s time to have the tough conversations. It’s time to talk to anyone you know who doesn’t understand this or holds bigoted beliefs. Bottom line: the community of Louisville is surely hurting right now. Keep an eye on ‘em and let’s hope that meaningful change happens somewhere down the road. TRUMPOCALYPSE Trump is Now Saying He May Invoke Insurrection Act The Insurrection Act. It’s a federal law that allows the president to deploy military troops domestically to suppress civil disorder or rebellion. Seems kinda ironic if you think about our origins but anyway, Trump wants to invoke that law to send troops to protests. Trump’s Not Handling This Well * The other night, stories of Trump retreating to his underground White House bunker during protests spread like wildfire. Yesterday, it felt like much of what Trump was saying was in response to that humiliation. * While speaking at the Rose Garden, Trump announced that “we are ending the riots and lawlessness that has spread throughout our country. We will end it now.” He went on to say that if a city or state doesn’t take the necessary actions to defend the life and property of the residents, he’s going to deploy the military to “quickly solve the problem for them.” * Remember the “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” comment from a few nights ago? Man, the guy really wants to shoot people, doesn’t he? * While he made this announcement, the police and National Guard began using tear gas and flashbangs to clear out peaceful protesters outside. It was all caught on CNN. He can’t even use a bogus curfew as a reason either, considering this was done 20 minutes before D.C.’s 7 PM curfew. * Trump then made his way to St. John’s Church for a photo op while he awkwardly held up a Bible. Using the National Guard to clear out peaceful protests so you can take some sweet pics in front of holy ground? Yep, that’s Trump. Bottom line: spiraling into martial law is classic failed state behavior. God damn America. UNREST Another Compilation of Police Violence If you know anyone who doesn’t get what’s going on or why it matters, or even someone who stands totally opposed to all of this because they think folks are just looting and rioting for no real reason, show ‘em these clips. Learn about George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, David McAtee, and the many other victims of the police state and try to educate them. Make your community better than it currently is. END OF THE LINE... That’s it for today. That’s what we’ve got. Remember, we’re only able to do this every day because of readers like you. Drop your friends, family, or anyone else whose email you happen to have a referral link and help us grow. We’d truly appreciate it. Have a good one, The Bread Line we’re listening to: This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit thebreadline.substack.com
6 minutes | Jun 1, 2020
Police resort to violence nationwide, Antifa are supposedly terrorists, and leaving the WHO.
Good morning everyone. A whole lot has happened this weekend so we get it if you’re burnt out on news, but we thought we’d still take the time to put a bit of pen to paper and get this out into the world. * The police have responded to protests and riots with excessive violence nationwide: between driving vehicles through crowds, shooting journalists with rubber bullets, and tear-gassing innocent people, it’s clear they’re doing everything but “de-escalating.” * Trump wants to label antifa as a terrorist organization: that’s a bit crazy if you understand how antifa is “organized,” which it isn’t...really. There’s no leadership or formal organization. You can’t really call an ideological disposition a “terrorist organization.” * Trump also wants to sever all ties with the WHO during a global pandemic: goddamn man, how dumb is this dude? Thanks for reading. Stay safe, everyone. UNREST Police Have Escalated Protests Into Violence Around the Nation This weekend saw numerous protests in just about every major city around the country. One common thread that has been seen in nearly every city that has major protests is that police are provoking violence, not the other way around. The Situation * Everything is absolutely fucked right now. There’s just no better way to put it. People are mobilizing around the country to protest against police violence and institutional racism, and instead of being heard, the police state has decided to crank up the evil. * People are getting pepper sprayed left and right. Journalists have been shot at by rubber bullets and pepper balls. An elderly man using a cane was pushed over. NYPD cruisers even drove into people. * It’s important to note that most of the cities this is happening in are run by Democrats. This isn’t some partisan issue where one side is in the right and the other isn’t; leadership around the country is failing us. * This video compiles some examples of this that were caught on camera. Some Thoughts * Many have been quick to point out that there are “outside instigators.” It’s true that some protests have been influenced by folks who just wanna see s**t burn and many have pointed to white people who show up and want to damage a community. That’s bad, but first of all, as long as property damage is confined to corporate or government property, who cares? Secondly, white supremacists and undercover cops are also showing up to contribute to chaos. Don’t get fooled and don’t get off on a tangent when serious work is being done on the ground. * A lot of right-wingers who were complaining about government tyranny not too long ago are perfectly okay with this. They’ll use not listening to a police officer as justification for excessive force, yet when it came to staying home because of coronavirus, they were all too angry about that. * At the end of this, thousands of people will have been arrested. All of that because they were demanding the rest of the handful of officers who have been responsible for the recent deaths of innocent people. * Lastly, this isn’t a point but still worth mentioning, this as brought out a lotta weirdos. One man tried to defend a business with a machete (and promptly got his ass beat), another shot at people with a compound bow after shouting “all lives matter” (and promptly got his ass beat), and another drove a tanker truck into an a group of people (not sure if he got his ass beat, we can only hope). Bottom line: upending the police state was never going to be easy. Throw your money towards a good cause, listen to black voices and don’t co-opt a movement that is about their lives, and if you can, show up. That’s the only way people are going to be heard right now. TRUMPOCALYPSE Trump Wants to Designate Antifa as a Terrorist Organization Donald Trump likes to push the same narrative that a lot of Republicans do: that antifa are dangerous thugs who are causing issues around the country. Now, he wants to designate them as a terrorist organization. Oh My God, That’s Dumb * The issue here is that antifa isn’t really a group, it’s an ideology. It’s a broad group of people whose political beliefs tend to lean towards the left (many of them are anarchists, socialists, or communists), though the only real attributable belief of antifa is that they’re anti-fascists. * There is no formal organization though. There’s no leadership. There’s no membership, either. It’s just some folks who dislike racism and authoritarianism and sometimes protest against it. Some people get more militant about it, sure, but how many people have died at the hands of antifa vs. the American police state? * This designation could potentially be very dangerous, although some experts are already saying that Trump’s decision would be unconstitutional. However, if it became a thing, it could be used as justification for more extreme approaches towards protestors. If they’re considered terrorists, they lose a lot of the rights that they’d typically have, which is a very scary thing indeed. Bottom line: this is classic Trump; equal parts stupid and dangerous. TRUMPOCALYPSE Trump Announces U.S. is Severing All Ties With the WHO Trump has been critical of the WHO ever since coronavirus hit our shores. Now, he wants to dissolve any relationship the U.S. has with the organization. More China Hysteria * During the speech where Trump said the U.S. will sever ties with the WHO, Trump also dedicated a lot of time to talking about China and just how much he hates them. He claims that “China has total control over” the WHO. * This came after Trump sent a letter to the WHO director general, threatening to cut ties and U.S. funding (which is the largest funder of the global health body, paying around $450 million in membership dues) if the organization didn’t make the changes he outlined within 30 days. * But Trump’s impatient, apparently, because he withdrew from the organization 10 days after the letter. Bottom line: we’re in the middle of dealing with a pandemic so, I dunno, probably pretty stupid. END OF THE LINE... That’s it for today. That’s what we’ve got. Remember, we’re only able to do this every day because of readers like you. Drop your friends, family, or anyone else whose email you happen to have a referral link and help us grow. We’d truly appreciate it. Have a good one, The Bread Line we’re listening to: This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit thebreadline.substack.com
7 minutes | May 29, 2020
Klobuchar’s prosecutorial record, Zuckerberg criticizes Twitter, and economic projections.
Good mornin’ friends and family! We just watched that Netflix documentary series about Jeffrey Epstein and holy s**t, can you believe he died in August? It feels like it was like, three years ago! OK, let’s get to the news. * Everything that’s happening in Minneapolis in the wake of George Floyd’s death is still huge news: but we want to take a minute and look at Amy Klobuchar’s record as a prosecutor there. We just wanna say at the top though: protestors in Minneapolis actually forced police to lose control of the city’s 3rd precinct building. That’s a huge deal. * Mark Zuckerberg went on Fox News to say that he thinks Twitter messed up by fact-checking Trump: the founder of Facebook also says that his website won’t adopt similar policies because he doesn’t think they should be the “arbiter of truth.” What a gross dude. * In an unprecedented move, the White House isn’t releasing formal economic projections this summer: probably because they’re going to forecast huge downturns and it’s easier for them to just bury their head in the sand. Cool! What’s gonna happen to Epstein’s pedo island anyway? Anyone know? Alright, back to the news. BLACK LIVES MATTER Amy Klobuchar’s Cop-Friendly Record as a Prosecutor Amy Klobuchar. Due to everything that’s happening in Minneapolis in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by the city’s police, people have started looking into Klobuchar’s record more. After all, she was a prosecutor in the state of Minnesota—and it’s even come out that Amy Klobuchar didn’t prosecute the officer responsible for Floyd’s death for other alleged violent encounters. The Record * Klobuchar is up for a potential VP position in a Biden presidency, so looking at her record, including the eight years she spent as a prosecutor, is pretty important. * That record shows a career defined by her tough-on-crime approach; Klobuchar pushed more convictions of minor offenses like graffiti or school truancy and also never prosecuted any of the 29 fatalities involving law enforcement. Instead of pursuing criminal charges against police, she put the decision to a grand jury, which is a process that has been scrutinized for its secrecy and tendency to benefit police. * These aren’t unusual practices by any means, many prosecutors at the time were acting similarly. However, we now know that many of these techniques were ineffective and contributed to disproportionately hurting non-white populations. The Aftermath * Last night, protests in Minneapolis continued—and escalated quite a bit. Protesters ended up storming and effectively taking over the city’s 3rd precinct police building before lighting it on fire. They then celebrated with a fireworks display outside. Honestly? That’s pretty badass and a great symbol of community solidarity. * If being totally cool with protesters burning down cop property upsets you, just consider for a second how the police are treating the people they’re meant to protect and serve. Check out the first video, then watch the second, and tell us it’s not a beautiful sight. * However, we can’t forget that this is all happening because a man is dead over a fake $20 bill. If prosecutors like Klobuchar weren’t so easy on police officers who display patterns of violent behavior, it’s not unreasonable to imagine that fewer people would end up dead. Bottom line: we need extreme overhauls to our entire justice system. From the cops who kill innocent folks to the prosecutors who protect them, change must be demanded. SOCIAL MEDIA Trump Has Found a New Ally in Criticizing Twitter: Mark Zuckerberg Mark Zuckerberg. He’s just the absolute worst. Totally uncomfortable look at and clearly such a snake. OK, personal feelings aside, he’s also criticizing Twitter over their decision to fact-check Trump. The Zucc * Zuckerberg went on Fox News to criticize Twitter’s decision to fact-check Trump and also insist that he believes privately-owned digital platforms like his shouldn’t act as the “arbiter of truth.” * Trump has already suggested he would shut Twitter down if he could. He’s also quoting Zuckerberg as justification for being critical of Twitter. * Trump is also signing an executive order that would allow U.S. citizens to submit complaints if they feel they were treated unfairly by a social network. Man, that sure is dumb. * On this, Zuckerberg may actually have a point: perhaps we shouldn’t trust corporations to determine what’s true or not for us. However, we can’t think of a much better system right now, so maybe Zuck should reconsider cozying up to awful conservatives over this talking point! * There are independent fact-checking organizations out there. Facebook even worked with them at some point. Problem is? They didn’t follow through with many of the recommendations fact-checkers gave them. Bottom line: Zuck emphasizes just how important protecting political speech is. We agree. However, when we get into the area of actual misinformation, it seems wrong to insist that privately-owned platforms don’t have some responsibility to control what their platform is used for, especially when that misinformation could cause serious harm like we’re seeing with all the coronavirus misinformation out there. TRUMPOCALYPSE The White House Isn’t Going to Release Formal Economic Projections In an unprecedented move, Trump’s White House has decided they’re not going to release updated economic projections. That’s totally normal, right? The Economy is Screwed, Probably * According to people with knowledge of this decision, they’re doing this to stop panic because forecasts would almost certainly indicate that the pandemic has led to a “severe economic downturn.” * The document would have been released just a few months before the November elections, so by doing this, Trump can keep fear at bay to some degree and increase his chances of getting reelected. * These numbers have been released consistently since the ‘70s. Obama released the numbers during the Great Recession even though they looked bad. Many are now saying the White House should publish economic projections despite the pandemic. * With more than 40 million Americans out of work, the number of companies or countries at risk of having their credit ratings cut being pushed to an all-time high, and big bankruptcies taking place as quickly as they did back in May of 2009, it’s pretty obvious that the economy is screwed. Bottom line: pretending the numbers don’t exist doesn’t actually make the numbers not exist. END OF THE LINE... That’s it for today. That’s what we’ve got. Remember, we’re only able to do this every day because of readers like you. Drop your friends, family, or anyone else whose email you happen to have a referral link and help us grow. We’d truly appreciate it. Have a good one, The Bread Line we’re listening to: This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit thebreadline.substack.com
6 minutes | May 28, 2020
George Floyd’s murder & subsequent protests, Trump vs. Twitter, and Congress voting remotely
Good morning! The last few days have been quite the whirlwind, huh? Let’s get right to it and pick apart some of the stories that stood out the most to us. * George Floyd was murdered and it was caught on camera: as a Minneapolis police officer put his knee on Floyd’s neck while Floyd continued to say he couldn’t breathe. The fallout has been pretty significant. * Twitter started fact-checking Trump and he’s super pissed about it: going so far as to say he’s going to issue a social media executive order. Aw, poor baby’s upset. * The House is going to cast its first proxy vote: and people are pretty split about whether that’s okay or not, with there being a clear partisan divide. If I were a government creating a virus in a lab, I’d make it way more dope and scary. Blood from the eyes and stuff. Just a thought. BLACK LIVES MATTER George Floyd’s Murder in Minneapolis Has Sparked Unrest George Floyd. If you’ve seen the clip of the events that led to his death, you already know that he was murdered. In it, a police officer places his knee on Floyd’s neck while Floyd says he can’t breathe and later, Floyd goes unconscious and eventually dies. It’s about as clear cut as you can get and clearly shows a police officer committing murder, so what’s happened since the video went viral? The Aftermath * The Mayor of Minneapolis, Jacob Frey, has made his statement, saying, “what I can say with certainty, based on what I saw, is that … the officer who had his knee on the neck of George Floyd should be charged.” He’s right but more heavy-handed action needs to be taken. * Since then, hundreds have begun protesting in the streets of Minneapolis. They’ve destroyed cop cars, which rules, but unfortunately, they’ve also been subject to police crackdowns, including firing rubber bullets at protestors and using tear gas on them. * Four of the officers at the scene have been fired but no one has been charged as of yet. * This has happened right after the lynching of Ahmaud Arbery, another high profile case of an innocent black man getting murdered. After all these years and all these bodies, for many, it feels as though nothing has changed. A Deeper Dive * The officer at the center of Floyd’s murder had a long history of conduct complaints. He’s worked for Minneapolis police since 2001 and was never disciplined over those conduct complaints. * Amy Klobuchar, who is a contender for Joe Biden’s VP pick, may be wrapped up in this too. Klobuchar served as Minnesota’s chief prosecutor for 8 years and declined to bring charges against more than two dozen police officers who killed citizens on duty, including the cop responsible for Floyd’s death. * This has contributed to protests elsewhere, too, including a Black Lives Matter protest in Los Angeles where a police officer sped away while protestors were on the hood of his car. * Of course, this has also drawn anger when compared to other recent demonstrations. White dudes with assault rifles show up to their state’s capital and egg on a civil war? No problem! Black men are upset about police officers getting away with murder? Fire up the riot gear! Bottom line: clearly nothing or very little has changed, from Rodney King, to Trayvon Martin, to now. We must demand more from those in power. TRUMPOCALYPSE Twitter is Fact-Checking Trump, Trump is Issuing an Executive Order Twitter has gotten a lot of flak from folks over their content moderation and for not taking action against misinformation on the site. Trump has been at the center of this, with Kamala Harris even calling on Twitter to ban Trump from the platform (which is, let’s be honest, a stupid hill to die on). However, Twitter took things in a different direction by fact-checking Trump’s tweets, which has pissed him off quite a bit and spurred him into wanting to issue an executive order related to social media. He’s Sooo Mad * The content of the order isn’t clear yet. That said, there are reports of Trump’s allies saying it will strip Twitter of its special speech liability immunity. * Essentially, he wants to push the platform around into not flagging his tweets. * This ties into a larger narrative where Republicans accuse social media sites of silencing conservatives. That’s not really true (after all, they only get silenced when they say things that are demonstrably false and dangerous to say), but they’ve insisted enough that people actually think Twitter and Facebook have a LIBRUL bias. * Stephen Colbert might be a bit of a neolib with bad politics, but this does make us think of that one quote of his: “reality has a well-known liberal bias.” Bottom line: this is actually a pretty smart move on Twitter’s part. It moves the needle, it drives conversation, and it forces Trump to angrily react. Banning a sitting president from one of the largest social media platforms would likely set a bad precedent, but it’s dangerous in another way, too: what if it drives Trump (and his followers) to hop ship and head off to another platform like Gab, where his kind-of-nuts supporters would be more likely to be inundated by actual extremism? CONGRESS The House May Soon Have its First Proxy Vote The House. Despite everything going on with coronavirus, they still need to vote on new legislation. That’s why they’ve implemented historic new rules that allow proxy voting, which more than 70 Democrats have indicated they’re going to take advantage of by allowing a colleague to vote on their behalf. New Rules, New Controversy * Politicians are rightly worried about traveling right now, which is why the House is now allowing members to vote on behalf of up to ten of their colleagues that are unable to travel to the Capitol during the pandemic. * Some in favor of this rule argue that this is something Congress needed anyway, especially during national emergencies. * Republicans are arguing against this though and say it sets a dangerous precedent. They’ve gone so far as to file a federal lawsuit, claiming that this is unconstitutional. * The House has already had virtual sessions that had some technical issues. Is that a problem? Sure. Does that mean the House really needs to meet in person? Hell no! Bottom line: as with most non-issues, Republicans are real pissed off. END OF THE LINE... That’s it for today. That’s what we’ve got. Remember, we’re only able to do this every day because of readers like you. Drop your friends, family, or anyone else whose email you happen to have a referral link and help us grow. We’d truly appreciate it. Have a good one, The Bread Line we’re listening to: Tony Molina’s old band, Ovens, has all of their music up on Bandcamp at a pay-what-you-can rate right now. The funds are being used to help Tony’s friend pay for cancer treatments. Ovens is a great band, check it out and put some money towards a good cause if you can. (Yes, most of his songs are that short.) https://ovens.bandcamp.com/ This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit thebreadline.substack.com
6 minutes | May 27, 2020
Corporate immunity, Facebook’s divisiveness, and Biden’s mask.
Good morning everyone! We’ve got some quick stories for you today so let’s get to it. * Senate Republicans are focused on corporate immunity during coronavirus recovery: their justification for which is that it could slow economic recovery growing forward, but it’s really just ghoulish pro-corporate nonsense that we’ve always seen from Republicans. * Facebook is an incredibly divisive website: which isn’t going to change anytime soon, as top executives have mounted efforts to stop any changes that would make the platform less polarizing. * Joe Biden wore a mask and for some reason, that’s really big news: it seems like an obviously good thing that Biden is setting a good example for mask-wearing, but it’s already become a contentious issue. Anyone have any content suggestions? God, I’m so bored. Alright, let’s break these stories down: CORONAVIRUS Conservatives Use Coronavirus As Catalyst for Big Corporate Immunity Push Corporations want to protect themselves. During this global pandemic that we’re sure you’re all sick of hearing about, that means corporate immunity, as described by a recent piece at The Intercept. Essentially, this means that businesses want to protect themselves from any kind of legal liability for anything related to coronavirus. It’s important to remember, though, that these protections are something Mitch McConnell and other conservatives have long sought. Stalwarts of Corporations * This effort isn’t new, per se, it’s just that the coronavirus has opened up new demand (and new excuses) for corporate immunity. * Groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council have long pushed the idea that corporations should be less liable for their employees’ health and safety. * While those concerned with workers are pushing businesses to provide safe working conditions for their employees (which means adequate access to PPE and clean facilities where social distancing is a possibility), others are more concerned with how corporations will fare during all this. Rebounding the economy is a great excuse for letting corporations get away with less than the bare minimum. * Now, Senate Republicans are saying they won’t support any new relief bills if it doesn’t include corporate immunity, which would make it difficult to hold employers accountable for working conditions. Please, Democrats, Don’t Roll Over * Democrats have already brought up some great ideas, like the Workers Bill of Rights which involves hazard pay and personal protective equipment that was worked on by Elizabeth Warren and Ro Khanna. * However, this may be undermined by Pelosi’s willingness to play ball. She’s already said that there are “no red lines” and she didn’t outright dismiss the possibility that liability protections could end up in a bipartisan package. * The fact is, progressives need to get in there and start negotiating and trying to convince more people to buck Pelosi. Bottom line: we simply can’t let corporations get away with not doing the bare minimum to keep their workers safe. SOCIAL MEDIA Facebook Kills Proposed Solutions to Make Site Less Divisive Facebook. It’s known for being a super polarizing hellhole where you get in arguments with your racist uncle or that creep you went to high school with who posts incel nonsense now. It has recently come out that Facebook’s internal research also concluded their site promotes polarization, but top executives killed proposed solutions that could change that. Facebook’s Scrutiny * So how bad is this issue, really? Even one of Facebook’s internal reports concluded that their algorithms “exploit the human brain’s attraction to divisiveness,” according to The Wall Street Journal. * Some solutions were proposed to fix this issue, but Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook’s policy chief, Joel Kaplan, killed those solutions for a few potential reasons: one being that they were afraid of seeming biased against conservatives and the other being that they may have not thought it was a serious enough issue. * We know this is a serious issue though. We’ve seen how misinformation has traversed Facebook during the coronavirus. We’re ready to watch it impact another presidential election. * It seems clear that the platform isn’t doing enough to curtail the more unsavory aspects of their website. As long as harmful content isn’t significantly impeded upon, that will remain true. Bottom line: Facebook sure does suck. It’s got so many uses that it’s hard to pry yourself away from it, but one can’t help but wonder what kind of irreversible harm it’s doing to our society. ELECTION 2020 Wearing a Mask (or Not) is Now a Contentious Issue Joe Biden chose to wear a mask at a Memorial Day wreath-laying event. That has sparked a lot of controversy, even though it absolutely shouldn’t. Biden vs. Trump: MASK FIGHT * Afterwards, Trump responded by saying he found Biden’s mask “very unusual.” However, he had to be clear: “I thought it was fine. I wasn’t criticizing him at all. Why would I ever do a thing like that?” * Why WOULD you ever do a thing like that?! * The not-criticism-criticism is apparently because Biden wore the mask outside while not near anyone. To that we say: seriously, who gives a s**t? It sets a good precedent. Show the American people that masks are a useful tool in combating coronavirus. It’s that simple. Bottom line: Trump will continue to not wear a mask and make light of the whole thing, more Americans will die, and we can only hope a good thing or two comes of it in the end. END OF THE LINE... That’s it for today. That’s what we’ve got. Remember, we’re only able to do this every day because of readers like you. Drop your friends, family, or anyone else whose email you happen to have a referral link and help us grow. We’d truly appreciate it. BUTTON 1 Have a good one, The Bread Line BUTTON 2 we’re listening to: This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit thebreadline.substack.com
2 minutes | May 22, 2020
Biden’s VP search, The Atlantic’s layoffs, and a nuclear arms race.
Good morning! Excuse us for our downtime yesterday, but we’re back on track with the regular program today. * Everyone’s wondering who Biden is going to pick for VP: and we’ve got a quick glance at what are likely the top 4 contenders, Amy Klobuchar, Stacey Abrams, Elizabeth Warren, and Kamala Harris. * The Atlantic is laying off 68 people, which is about 17% of its workforce: which is striking a nerve with some people considering the publication is owned by multi-billionaire Laurene Powell Jobs. * We’re in an arms race with Russia and China...again: and according to Trump’s arms negotiator, we’re willing to send the nations “into oblivion” if we’ve got to. Super scary stuff. The state of the world makes my stomach hurt. Let’s go. VEEPSTAKES The Current Status of Biden’s Search for a VP Joe Biden’s Vice President pick. He’s already committed to picking a woman, which narrows the field down some. Many people have their eyes on the different potential contenders and there have been some developments in that regard so we thought now’s a good time to take a look. The Candidates * Amy Klobuchar. You may best remember Klobuchar for non-stop talking about flyover states and bullying Pete Buttigieg. She also backed out of her run in early March, right before Super Tuesday, which contributed to Biden edging Bernie out. She’s also the most centrist-leaning of the pack and news came out yesterday that Biden asked her to be vetted for VP consideration, though it’s likely that they’re going to vet other people too. * The argument for picking Klobuchar? She would give Biden much-needed support in the Midwest. Her moderate positions and folksy charm may appeal to rural America and on the other hand, Biden will have Obama to help campaign with him, which may be a counterargument to the sentiment that Biden needs to pick a black woman for his VP. * Arguments against Klobuchar? She abuses her staff. Coastal types tend to hate her, or at least, I don’t know anyone who actually likes her. She has almost zero support among black voters but again, Biden will have Obama to lean on. Her record as a prosecutor is dodgy and some people say she may have locked up an innocent black teen. She also tells really bad jokes. * Stacey Abrams. After losing her 2018 run for governor, she ended up delivering a response to the State of the Union address in 2019 and has been a prominent advocate for the Democratic party. She’s also been trying really, really hard to get this job. * The argument for Abrams: she’s a black woman from the South who doesn’t have a long career mired in controversy. In fact, most people know her solely because of her 2018 run, where she was seen as losing out to corrupt Republicans because of voter suppression. She has a ton of experience in state politics and was in the Georgia House of Representatives for ten years. * So why not choose Abrams? Well, she also did eventually lose in 2018, so that’s not great. It means she has no experience in the federal government whatsoever. With Biden basically having already said that he intends on being a one-term president, whoever he chooses for Vice President could end up taking on the torch—something that Abrams may not be ready for. * Elizabeth Warren. Warren’s entire career seems to be opposed to much of what Biden has done with his and, during the primaries, that seemed to continue. One topic in particular that the two clashed over was Medicare for All, something Elizabeth Warren has seemingly pivoted on, which may be an effort to make herself more appealing as a VP pick. * Why choose Warren? Biden’s camp has been trying to make inroads with progressives and Warren may be one way to do that. She’s one of the most progressive senators out there and it may leave progressives feeling more positive about the potential of Biden moving further left. * Why not Warren? She placed third in her home state during the primary. Her appeal seems to be geared towards a rather narrow group of college educated white people, too, who may be the kinds of people to vote for Biden regardless of who he picks. * Kamala Harris. Biden has openly said he’d consider her to be his VP despite the fact that the two clashed a ton during early debates. Unlike everyone else, she doesn’t seem to be actively vying for the position, but there may be some advantages to a Harris VP pick. * The good: she’s a minority woman, she’s done some pretty progressive things in Congress including working on a Medicare for All bill and recently joining Bernie Sanders in asking for $2,000 a month for people during the pandemic, and she has plenty of experience. * The bad: mostly just that she clashed with Biden during debates, but honestly, a lot of people are calling Harris the safe choice and it’s hard to disagree with that. She did some pretty shitty things as a prosecutor though. Bottom line: these aren’t the only options, of course. People also love floating Gretchen Whitmer’s name or one of the Tammys (as in, Duckworth and Baldwin) as potential options. We may not find out for some time still. UNEMPLOYMENT The Atlantic is Laying Off 68 of Their Employees The Atlantic. It’s a huge media company that’s about to get about 17% smaller. This is due to the coronavirus of course, with their events division, AtlanticLIVE, being hit especially hard. Many video production, sales, and marketing jobs will take hits, which has upset people in light of the company being owned by a multi-billionaire. Layoffs Aren’t Fun * Jobs across most industries are taking hits right now and publications like The Atlantic are no different. That may come as a surprise considering The Atlantic has record online traffic and big subscription numbers. However, their events division and a hit in advertising caused enough damage to justify the layoffs. * The Atlantic is owned by someone with immense power though. Laurene Powell Jobs, widow and heir of Steve Jobs, is estimated to be worth $19.5 billion. She can make millions of dollars in just a few days. * This has led to some outrage, particularly among journalists, who are facing pretty weird times. Now more than ever, people are clamoring to get news and engage with quality journalism, yet so many of them are being laid off. Sometimes, publications truly are stuck between a rock and a hard place and don’t have much of an option. This seems like a case where Jobs could potentially do more for these employees. Bottom line: we’re gonna keep seeing rich people having to make tough decisions like this. To that we say: good! Great power, great responsibility, all that jazz. FOREIGN POLICY The U.S. is Prepared to Spend Russia & China “Into Oblivion” to Win Nuclear Arms Race Nuclear arms races. Did you know we were in one with Russia and China? Honestly, neither did I. There are too many bad things happening in the world to keep up with all of them. Not much to say here other than to quote the U.S. envoy that this story originated from: “the president has made clear that we have a tried and true practice here. We know how to win these races and we know how to spend the adversary into oblivion. If we have to, we will, but we sure would like to avoid it.” So much for not having enough money to help the millions of average Americans who are struggling right now. END OF THE LINE... That’s it for today. That’s what we’ve got. Remember, we’re only able to do this every day because of readers like you. Drop your friends, family, or anyone else whose email you happen to have a referral link and help us grow. We’d truly appreciate it. BUTTON 1 Have a good one, The Bread Line BUTTON 2 we’re listening to: This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit thebreadline.substack.com
9 minutes | May 20, 2020
Roe vs. Wade revelations, progressives running for Congress, and right-wing extremism.
Good morning friends! Don’t worry, we’re not delving into Pelosi’s comments on Trump being obese today. That’s right! No obesitygate for us! Instead, we’ve got some news that actually matters:* Norma McCorvey, who was the anonymous “Jane Roe” in Roe Vs. Wade, says the whole thing was a sham: according to a documentary that was filmed in the months before her death back in 2017. She claimed she only did it because she was paid by antiabortion groups. * There’s plenty of drama when it comes to progressives who are running for Congress: from some Warren endorsements to establishment backings, we’ve got the details on some of the races that may interest you the most.* Far-right extremists have been energized by COVID-19 lockdowns: and for the first time since Charlottsville that it feels significant. It’s important to recognize these things for what they are.Did you hear Joe Biden came up with a snappy nickname to combat Trump? “President Tweety.” Yeah, we’re all screwed. Let’s get to it.ABORTIONThe Woman Behind “Roe Vs. Wade” Didn’t Actually Change Her MindNorma McCorvey is likely a name you haven’t heard before—but you’ve probably heard of her by another name, “Jane Roe.” According to her own testimony for the FX documentary “AKA Jane Roe,” McCorvey was never anti-abortion. She was simply paid to pretend that she was.The Details* McCorvey was the anonymous plaintiff in the landmark 1973 Supreme Court ruling that individual states could not constitutionally ban abortion. However, later in her life, McCorvey became involved in the pro-life movement, saying that she had been a pawn for abortion activists. She spent from 1995 to as late as 2013 visibly advocating for the pro-life movement.* The documentary features a “visibly ailing McCorvey” expressing her support for abortion rights pretty clearly, saying that “if a young woman wants to have an abortion, that’s no skin off my ass. That’s why they call it a choice.”* Why the multiple changes of heart? In her “deathbed confession,” she reveals she never really did—she was just paid by antiabortion groups including Operation Rescue. In truth, McCorvey was an actress, not an advocate.The Implications* In an election year with concerns about reproductive rights on the table, this matters. The documentary even depicts McCorvey expressing support for Hillary Clinton in 2016, saying, “I wish I knew how many abortions Donald Trump was responsible for. I’m sure he’s lost count, if he can count that high.”* It seems that McCorvey’s confession and its release are timely as well: the Supreme Court is considering a high-profile abortion case that could undermine Roe vs. Wade. Several states have already put “heartbeat laws” in place, which basically ban the procedure.* Catch “AKA Jane Roe” on FX this Friday for a more in-depth dive into McCorvey’s life.Bottom line: it’s as shocking as it is cynical which somehow makes it not at all shocking in the end. Anti-abortion advocates will leap through whatever hoops they have to do to limit a woman’s right to choose.ELECTION 2020A Brief Update on Some of the Most Important Congressional Runs This YearEndorsements. They can make or break a campaign. When a challenger is going up against an incumbent, who endorses who—and who stays silent—can not only end up influencing a race, but it can also tell you quite a bit about people in positions of power. Today, we want to look at three races (and three endorsements) and take a quick glance at the facts. The Campaigns* Ed Markey: incumbent Senator Ed Markey is up against Rep. Joseph Kennedy III this year. Kennedy is, well, a Kennedy—and while his heritage may draw him attention, he just doesn’t have the record that Markey does. Markey co-sponsored the Green New Deal with AOC and is an ardent progressive who has been endorsed by just about every big name progressive you can think of. Kennedy is running on political dynasty name recognition.* Kennedy did pick up some help recently, in that House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is holding a virtual fundraiser for him. Hoyer has received millions from oil and gas PACs during his career, so given that, it feels like a bit of a slap in the face to Markey’s environmentally-concerned campaign. Hoyer also has a history of working against those who challenge incumbents, but that’s obviously not the case here.* Charles Booker: is managing to pick up some steam over his primary opponent, Amy McGrath. Amy McGrath was handpicked by Chuck Schumer to run against Mitch McConnell McGrath’s resume as a veteran and advocate is strong and at face value, it feels like it’d suit Kentucky well. She’s a moderate Democrat and has even called herself a fiscal conservative. She may be more of a Joe Manchin Democrat than anything, but at least she wouldn’t be Mitch McConnell.* In a surprising turn of events, though, McGrath’s primary opponent is picking up some steam. 18 of the 38 Democrats in Kentucky’s House of Representatives, including the Dem leader, the Dem Caucus Chair, and the Dem Whip, endorsed Charles Booker in the primary. Booker is much further left-leaning than McGrath and supports a Green New Deal, Medicare For All, and a Universal Basic Income, among other forward-thinking policies. Getting rid of McConnell is good no matter what but Booker would be a much more exciting option if you ask us.* Lindsay Boylan is running for Congress in New York against Jerry Nadler, who is one of the most prominent and powerful Democrats in Congress. As far as establishment Democrats with decades-long careers in politics go, Nadler’s record isn’t bad per se. However, there’s no denying that Boylan is more of an outspoken progressive who pushes for a Green New Deal, healthcare as a human right, and addressing income inequality.* With that in mind, it may come as a shock that Elizabeth Warren came out with an endorsement of Nadler. In terms of policy, Boylan seems like the kind of candidate who would be right in Warren’s camp. Defenders of this decision may point to the fact that Nadler has been effective as a leader in getting legislation passed and also combatting the Trump administration. Critics will point to Boylan’s progressive stances on the issues.* Shahid Buttar is a Stanford Law graduate who has a long history of grassroots organizing snd supporting democratic socialism. He’s also primarying Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House and a top Democrat who has a ton of money and name-recognition at her fingertips. However, don’t let that keep you from paying attention to Buttar’s campaign.* Buttar recently picked up an endorsement from the shockingly-cool Marianne Williamson. Williamson gained a lot of attention for being a surprisingly progressive contender for the Democratic nomination and she eventually endorsed Bernie Sanders after suspending her campaign. Whether Buttar has a chance in hell at taking Pelosi down or not, he’s likely to draw some attention to some of Pelosi’s flaws and positions. Bottom line: here’s your regular reminder to look into campaigns and offer up support where you can. See who is running near you. Volunteer to phonebank. Throw a few bucks towards a candidate you think has a chance in hell at winning. HATE WATCHFar-Right Extremists Seizing on Coronavirus to Spread HateConspiracy theories and racism go hand-in-hand and nothing has made the conspiracy theory world pop off quite like coronavirus. Let’s see how this is playing out stateside and elsewhere.The Machine Churns...* You may have seen online conspiracies circulating about Bill Gates and his supposed involvement in creating the coronavirus. This isn’t just some ridiculous story that was forged out of misinformation, it’s based on centuries-old anti-Semitic tropes about global elites controlling everything. We like blaming rich people for problems, but it’s not enough for the far-right, who turn “rich people in control of an immense of capital” into “Jewish cabal that targets white people.” * Remember the Michigan protestors where all those tryhard dudes showed up with guns? You may even remember that a few of them were sporting Hawaiian shirts that seemed to heavily contrast with the otherwise-typical “I have an entire room for my guns” camo look. That’s a reference to “the big luau,” or the “boogaloo,” which celebrates the idea of an armed insurrection against the American government and a race war. * Of course, this is how the pipeline is intended to work. You watch that wacky Plandemic video or the huge Q-Anon conspiracy video on YouTube and start to think, “maybe there really is more to do this.” When you start to lose faith in institutions, you seek out new sources of knowledge to fill in the gaps. Some of these people legitimately are just totally nuts and believe in far-out ideas, but others use it as a basis for indoctrinating people into far-right views, including blaming minorities, or liberals, or “the global elites.”Bottom line: don’t spread misinformation, don’t lose all faith in institutions and turn to dodgy sources, and be on the lookout for your loved ones. Not to scaremonger here but: kids end up going down an algorithmic path on sites like YouTube and before you know it, they’ve started to believe in some awful reactionary crap. Likewise, your parents may end up doing the same thing on Facebook, where misinformation spreads like fire and the more dangerous aspects of ideology get amplified. Talk to folks before they’re too far gone.END OF THE LINE...That’s it for today.That’s what we’ve got. Remember, we’re only able to do this every day because of readers like you. Drop your friends, family, or anyone else whose email you happen to have a referral link and help us grow. We’d truly appreciate it.Have a good one,The Bread Linewe’re listening to: This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit thebreadline.substack.com
6 minutes | May 19, 2020
Biden’s bundling fundraising, Jayapal’s plan, and Trump’s claims regarding hydroxychloroquine.
Good morning everyone! We’re on the highway to hell, probably, so let’s try to have some fun ‘til we get there. * Biden pushes for new fundraising objectives for bundlers, seeking more than $2 million each: a pretty big jump from previous asks for up to $500,000 each. If he wants to go toe to toe with Trump, he’s going to need it. * Pramila Jayapal’s Paycheck Guarantee Act may be the best way to save the economy: and it would do so by preserving jobs and keeping employees on the payroll. * Trump claims he’s taking hydroxychloroquine to prevent COVID-19: is he just stupid, lying, or is he slowly poisoning himself? Hey, it could be all three. This one’s gonna be a quick one so let’s get to it. ELECTION 2020 Biden’s Campaign Pushes Big New Fundraising Goals Joe Biden’s campaign is strapped on cash when compared to Trump’s war chest. It’s no wonder that they’re now asking their top fundraisers to start pulling in over $2 million for the general election—up from previous asks of $500,000. Go, Bundlers, Go * Any of these donations would end up in Biden’s joint fundraising committee with the DNC, called the Biden victory fund. * This ask is a massive jump from previous objectives for Biden’s top donors, which were originally asked to raise up to $100,000 each at the start of his campaign. $500,000 was a recent goal. * As far as who is outraising who: Biden and the DNC have raised $60.5 million in April, while Trump and the RNC raised $61 million. Not much of a gulf, but it’s important to note the Republicans have $255 million on hand whereas the Dems only have $103 million. Unprecedented Times * With both campaigns going entirely virtual, raising money and putting it in the right places has become more important than ever. * Biden also needs to target states that Trump won in 2016, but the RNC knows this and plans on upping their field staff in these states significantly. Bottom line: we’re in uncharted territory here. Campaigning has never quite looked like this, so having enough cash on hand becomes increasingly important as the state of campaigns gets a bit more experimental. CORONAVIRUS The Strength of Pramila Jayapal’s Paycheck Protection Act With all the talk of reopening, you’d think there would be some specific priorities in mind. One would be keeping folks employed, which has already been problematic considering nearly 37 million Americans are unemployed and it may get worse still. One potential solution: Pramila Jayapal’s Paycheck Protection Act. Halting Economic Collapse * The goal of Jayapal’s legislation: preserve jobs and stop mass unemployment. * Ideas like this actually have bipartisan support in Congress and similar ideas have been proposed in the Senate already. * Instead of dumping money into unemployment programs or direct payments, the idea is to subsidize payroll funding grants which directly go to businesses, nonprofits, state and local governments, contractors, and gig workers. * There would be a $90,000 salary cap to try to help middle and low-wage Americans in particular. * Such programs have found success across Europe despite those nations shutting down comparable parts of their economies. * The price tag isn’t insignificant—it’d be around $100 billion per month. Remember, though, this keeps people on payrolls, paying taxes, health insurance intact, no unemployment insurance, and no reliance on other social safety nets like food stamps. * Unemployment is bad for other less apparent reasons, too. It makes it harder to open the economy up if businesses suddenly find themselves understaffed. Unemployment also takes a mental toll on people and could cause the psychological damages of coronavirus to be much worse. Bottom line: direct payments are a good idea, don’t get us wrong—but keeping people employed is also a good idea. TRUMPOCALYPSE Trump is Claiming He Takes Hydroxychloroquine Hydroxychloroquine. Not only is it a mouthful, but it’s also an antimalarial drug that, while unproven as a treatment for COVID-19, has been pushed by President Trump. Now, the President claims he himself is taking it, meaning he’s either lying to the American people for some reason, or his aides let him think he’s taking it but they’re swapping it out with a placebo, or he’s just legitimately poisoning himself. “I’m Taking It” * Despite being an unproven treatment for COVID-19 that’s not recommended by most experts outside of hospital use (and is even potentially lethal if misused), Trump says he’s taking it right now after having consulted with the White House physician. * Trump’s doctor did release a memo saying he and Trump decided the benefits of the medication outweigh the possible risks. However, the memo doesn’t clearly state that Trump was prescribed the medication or make any mention of doses. * One White House official told NBC News that the president began taking it after being exposed to his coronavirus-positive valet. Only a small group of aides were privy to the knowledge that Trump is supposedly taking the medication. Bottom line: if it weren’t for the fact that promoting this kind of thing is so incredibly dangerous, this might actually be pretty damn funny. END OF THE LINE... That’s it for today. That’s what we’ve got. Remember, we’re only able to do this every day because of readers like you. Drop your friends, family, or anyone else whose email you happen to have a referral link and help us grow. We’d truly appreciate it. Have a good one, The Bread Line we’re listening to: This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit thebreadline.substack.com
7 minutes | May 18, 2020
Trump eyes Social Security cuts, House progressives, and America’s role in Yemen
Good morning friends! It’s been quite the weekend and our livers hurt. Let’s get right into it: * The Trump administration has an insidious plan to cut Social Security: and they’re going to use arguments surrounding the growing national debt and the trillions spent on COVID-19 bailout funds to justify it. * House progressives fail to rally support despite #PutPeopleFirst push: though there are embers of a coalition still burning. We’ll see what it ends up amounting to in the coming months. * Bombs made in America are being used by the Saudi Arabian government to kill civilians in Yemen: which is really, really awful. Let’s brush up on some foreign policy. We may be idiots but we’re certainly not patriots. Now let’s get to some skull-crackin’ news. TRUMPOCALYPSE The Trump Administration Really Wants to Cut Social Security Benefits Social Security. Despite being an earned insurance benefit and not a fund that you can just raid whenever the government is low on cash, Republicans really want to do that right about now. The Trump administration officials are reportedly considering a few proposals that would reduce government spending, including cutting or delaying Social Security benefits, in light of coronavirus relief spending. Potential Routes * One proposal that is reportedly being considered: allowing Americans to choose to receive checks of up to $5,000. The payoff? A delay in their Social Security Benefits. * There’s also rumblings of “the Eagle Plan.” Scary, right? It’s a 29-page memo that describes an overhaul of federal retirement programs, according to The Washington Post. That could include giving Americans $10,000 upfront, however, it comes at the cost of curbing federal retirement benefits entirely. * One White House spokesperson, Hogan Gidley (lmao) has said that Trump is opposed to the Eagle Plan. However, the Post reported that the president has yet to even review the proposal. What It Boils Down To * Trump has long signaled that he would be willing to cut Social Security benefits. He’s also been pushing cutting payroll taxes during this pandemic, which is what funds Social Security and Medicare. * The significance of all of this? It could rob people of their retirement plans. Alex Lawson, the executive director of a Social Security advocacy group called Social Security Works, says the plan would “force people to choose: Go hungry today or work until you die.” Bottom line: people need help right now. We shouldn’t have to make a deal with the Devil to give up our retirement benefits to make sure we can pay rent on time. CONGRESS House Progressives Fail to Successfully Rally—For Now Photo Credit: Lorie Shaull House Progressives. A few months ago, it seemed there was some hope for a more progressive coalition within our Congress. Let’s look at the current state of things. What’s Been Happening * The Congressional Progressive Caucus had created bold key proposals that they wanted to see in any coronavirus relief bill. * Outside progressive groups, from the Justice Democrats to Move On and Indivisible, worked on coalition building. * The campaign culminated on April 20th under the “#PutPeopleFirst” namesake and was pushed by CPC co-chairs Pramila Jayapal, Mark Pocan, and all four members of the Squad. * However, the HEROES Act ended up passing without many of the progressive priorities this coalition had agreed on. So What Went Wrong? * While it may have certainly felt like some unity was going down, The Intercept reports that according to their sources, there was no real agreed-upon strategy here. * Some lawmakers believed it was wrong to vote against desperately needed aid and signal disagreements within the party. Others, including many of the outside organizations that helped rally this coalition, wanted to see a more aggressive approach. * There may be some light at the end of this tunnel: a total of 14 Democrats voted against the rule to consider the HEROES Act. This includes both CPC co-chairs, the Squad, Chuy Garcia, Katie Porter, and a handful of moderates in swing states. Justin Amash was also a no vote. * However, the bill still got to the floor and was eventually passed. Jayapal was the only progressive to vote against it, but she made it clear her vote did not represent an official CPC position and did not whip Democrats against it. Bottom line: Republicans were going to vote down the HEROES Act no matter what. Let’s take off the kid gloves and demand a better, more progressive Democratic party. Not to be cliche but to quote Žižek: “the crucial battle in the United States today is not against Trump, it’s what happens within the Democratic party.” FOREIGN POLICY American-Made Bombs Are Being Used to Kill Civilians in Yemen Saudi Arabia’s attacks on Yemen. It’s one of the worst humanitarian tragedies taking place on the world stage. This isn’t really new-news, but considering the New York Times had a writeup on it this past weekend and that foreign policy is never sexy, it seems as good a time as ever to talk about this. America’s Role in All This * Peter Navarro, one of Trump’s economic aides and a total hack who only got his job because Jared Kushner looked up anti-Chinese books on Amazon, has become a liaison between the White House and defense contracting firms like Raytheon. * America has been selling arms to Saudi Arabia since the Obama administration, which many officials ended up regretting. Under Trump, though, this whole process has sped up thanks in part to their rewriting of rules surrounding arms exports and the State Department more aggressively promoting arms deals. * The defense industry also aggressively lobbies to be able to do this because it rakes in the big bucks. They’re able to simultaneously shrug off responsibility since they just follow policy and don’t create it while also influencing policy via lobbying. Horrible, right? * This aggressive push for the sale of American made weapons has contributed to a conflict that has left over 100,000 people dead. While lawmakers in both parties have condemned the sale of arms to be used in the Yemen war, the Trump administration has continued to do everything they can to allow defense contractors to do this, all in the name of creating American jobs. Bottom line: our contributions to this war are totally evil. The Obama administration was wrong for getting us into this and the Trump administration is wrong for accelerating it. END OF THE LINE... That’s it for today. That’s what we’ve got. Remember, we’re only able to do this every day because of readers like you. Drop your friends, family, or anyone else whose email you happen to have a referral link and help us grow. We’d truly appreciate it. Have a good one, The Bread Line we’re listening to: This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit thebreadline.substack.com
7 minutes | May 15, 2020
Richard Burr investigated by FBI, Senate Republicans investigate Biden, and mental health.
Good mornin’ friends! Ready for casual Friday? Dunno what that means anymore either, but hey, we’re doin’ this: * Senator Bill Burr is being investigated by the FBI: due to an inquiry of claims that he took advantage of a private coronavirus briefing to dump his stocks before they dived. * Senate Republicans are trying to find out about Biden’s role in “unmasking” Michael Flynn: and if that sounds like it’s just a distraction and an attempt to smear a political enemy, you may be onto something! * The U.N. is warning of how severe the mental health costs may be during the pandemic: which is disheartening to hear because we were already depressed. Dang it. Are you ready? Are we ready? Is anyone ready anymore? Let’s break these stories down. CORRUPTION Senator Richard Burr is Under Investigation by FBI Richard Burr faced scrutiny for reportedly selling off a ton of stocks after a private coronavirus hearing. He was served a search warrant at his residence and turned over his phone, a significant escalation of the investigation into whether Burr and other lawmakers engaged in insider trading. The Details * Burr sold a large part of his stock portfolio over 33 different transactions on February 13th, soon after a private coronavirus briefing meeting. He made somewhere between half a million and $2 million from the trades. * The STOCK Act specifically prohibits this kind of thing and also requires lawmakers to disclose their stock market activity. Burr was one of the three senators who opposed the passing of the STOCK Act. * As a result of the investigation, Burr stepped down as Senate committee chair for the intelligence committee. * To get this warrant, federal agents and prosecutors must have persuaded a judge that they had probable cause to believe a crime was committed here. What they may be looking for: what his communication with his broker looked like and whether he signaled that it was time to dump many key stocks. * Reportedly, the FBI originally served a warrant to Apple to get information from Burr’s iCloud account. The evidence found there was enough to justify a warrant for his actual phone. * A sitting U.S. senator getting handed warrants like this certainly isn’t normal. The Concerns * Senator Kelly Loeffler acted similarly but thus far, we haven’t seen any details on an investigation around her. There is concern that Burr is being punished for not helping cover up Russia’s election interference, while Loeffler has earned impunity for her loyalty. A Loeffler spokesperson said that the senator has sent documents and information to the Department of Justice, the Senate Ethics Committee, and the Securities and Exchange Committee that show she acted appropriately. * Senator Diane Feinstein’s office has also confirmed she answered questions from the FBI about her husband’s stock trades and handed documents over to the agency. Bottom line: we can’t forget that Loeffler and Burr actually sit together in the Senate. It sure seems fishy to us and hopefully this isn’t just another political ploy and anyone who engaged in insider trading will face punishment. ELECTION 2020 Senate Republicans Are Pushing Biden Investigations Obamagate. Whatever it’s supposed to be, I think that’s what this is about, right? The details are hazy, but the narrative seems to be that nearly three dozen Obama administration officials requested the name of an unidentified American under surveillance, something known as “unmasking,” during the Trump transition post-2016 election. The person in question: Michael Flynn. New Declassified * All of this information was classified until Wednesday, when Trump’s acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grennell and Attorney General William Barr declassified the information and sent it to Senate Republicans. * In a joint statement, Senators Ron Johnson and Chuck “Attaches Three Lawnmowers Together” Grassley said: “The officials listed should confirm whether they reviewed this information, why they asked for it and what they did with it, and answer many other questions that have been raised by recent revelations.” * Some Senators have gone a little harder on this, like libertarian poster boy Rand Paul, who said this was an investigation into a political enemy or something. Yeah, like the Trump administration never does that. * In reality, this was likely a very normal thing that ought to have happened. Biden’s guilty of plenty of awful stuff, but this is probably a manufactured scandal and isn’t actually a big deal. Bottom line: don’t let yourself get distracted by the noise. Trump’s doing an awful job right now and if you wanna hate on Biden, just talk about like, Iraq or something. MENTAL HEALTH The U.N. is Warning About the Mental Health Costs of Pandemic Let’s get real, y’all. It’s Friday, we’re feeling open and sensitive, and a lot of people in our lives are struggling right now. A global pandemic is impossible to escape, and while many people talk about what the physical symptoms may be or how devastating it is to the economy, few of us talk about what it does to mental health. It’s Gettin’ Dire, Folks! * Part of why this project even exists is because we know how stressful it is to be tuned in every day. The news sucks, TV sucks, being a responsible and knowledgeable adult just kinda sucks! * The U.N. even agrees things suck, citing an increase in psychological suffering including: “grief at the loss of loved ones, shock at the loss of jobs, isolation and restrictions on movement, difficult family dynamics, uncertainty and fear for the future.” * It’s hard to find solid data on this since you know, the shitshow that we’re all experiencing, but one study done in Ethiopia estimates a threefold increase in symptoms consistent with depression since the pandemic began. Another metric to look at: substance use. Canada’s national statistical agency, for example, noted that a fifth of Canadians aged 15-49 had increased their alcohol consumption since the coronavirus crisis started. Bottom line: look, it’s anecdotal, but those findings are in line with what we’ve been going through. We’re drunk way more than normal, we’re stressed as hell about the future, and sometimes, we just feel outright hopeless! At the end of the day, it’s critically important now more than ever to support your loved ones, stay in touch, and to not let the isolation blues consume you. END OF THE LINE... That’s it for today. That’s what we’ve got. Remember, we’re only able to do this every day because of readers like you. Drop your friends, family, or anyone else whose email you happen to have a referral link and help us grow. We’d truly appreciate it. Have a good one, The Bread Line we’re listening to: This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit thebreadline.substack.com
6 minutes | May 14, 2020
The Senate allows warrantless surveillance, Biden + Bernie task forces, and Bill Gates.
Good morning everyone! Keep your hands clean and your eyes peeled: it’s news time. * The Senate voted to continue allowing the government to keep tracks of what you do online: without a warrant, to boot. While many senators wanted to end the practice, the amendment that would have done so failed to pass—by just one vote. * Biden and Sanders are working together on six unity task forces: which will be aimed at exploring “possible policy initiatives,” ranging from climate change to the economy. * Bill Gates is exploring ways to encourage other rich people to use their money for good: which sure sounds nice but leaves us wondering: why not just tax them more? No quips today: we’re hitting the news highway. Let’s take a look. CONGRESS The Senate Allows Government to Continue Looking at What You Do Online The Patriot Act. Since its inception, it’s been a controversial piece of legislation that has seemingly bent the rules in what kind of surveillance the government is allowed to engage in. There is currently no provision in the act—meaning, there’s nothing stopping the government from doing it—that prevents them from collecting internet browsing history from a secret court. The Senate just voted on an amendment that would have expressly prohibited that, but it failed to pass by just one vote. Enhanced Government Powers * The Patriot Act was a response to 9/11 and has been around since 2001. The act was a vehicle for huge expansions in government surveillance, many of the practices it allowed for became newly infamous in 2013, when NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed the extent of what was going on to the world. * Part of this allows the government to get an order from a secret court created by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to look at someone’s internet history or phone records, which has little oversight and has been a system subject to abuse. * The USA Freedom Act was created in 2015 and was meant to reform some of these issues. In March, the bill hit the House, which passed the bill with some reforms including forbidding the warrantless collection of phone records. * An amendment was proposed in the Senate which would have also prevented warrantless collection of internet browsing and search history. * 59 Senators voted in favor of this amendment, meaning it failed by one vote. Nine Democrats sided with Mitch McConnell in killing this reform. What’s even more infuriating: Bernie Sanders was a no-show and did not vote. Government Spying is Bad News * Aside from being a risk to everyday Americans, it’s also subject to being a political tool. Mitch McConnell is a big fan of this for a reason, as he knows it allows Bill Barr and the Department of Justice to secretly investigate Donald Trump’s enemies. * It’s also just kinda messed up. Warrants exist for a reason. Creating a system to bypass that, which is largely abused and not used for its original purpose, is wrong. Bottom line: privacy is important to us and we’re sure it is to you, too. What Snowden did was brave and whistleblowing like that is sometimes the only way to keep the government accountable. Unfortunately, it’s for nothing if we can’t get our representatives to alter the systems that were being abused in the first place. ELECTION 2020 Bernie and Biden Create Task Forces to Push Policy Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden. They seem to represent the two sides of ideologies that are battling it out within the Democratic party right now, and with Biden on track to possibly take the presidency, a lot of progressives are looking for their voices to be heard. Now, the two have created six task forces to help define policy positions for a potential upcoming Democratic administration. What’s it Look Like? * There are six task forces aimed at six initiatives, focusing on climate change, criminal justice reform, the economy, education, healthcare, and immigration policy. * Admittedly, there are some big progressive heavy hitters here: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Stacey Walker, Sara Nelson, Stephanie Kelton, Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, Pramila Jayapal, and many more. * There are also a ton of Biden picks and one criticism already levied is that when each task force has eight members and five of them are in favor of Biden, how much compromise is really going to go down? * Whether you’re feeling optimistic or not about whether this is a true concession or just an empty promise, it’s clear that the Biden campaign is trying to appeal to progressives. Bottom line: if we had a wishlist for this kind of initiative, some of these names would certainly be on there. There are also many names missing and of course, it’s unclear just how effective this will even be. BILLIONAIRES Bill Gates Wants Billionaires to Do More. We Wanna Tax Him. photo credit: Greg Rubenstein Bill Gates. He’s rich as hell and has done some pretty notably good things during this whole pandemic, including building factories for future vaccines and pushing to expand testing worldwide. He’s also quietly trying to push fellow billionaires to put more of their money to use right now. We say: thanks, Bill, but how about we just tax you instead? The Giving Pledge * The Giving Pledge was created over a decade ago by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, then signed by some of the richest people in the world, promising to give away at least half of their wealth to charity. The results: 209 billionaires who are estimated to donate at least $500 billion to charity. * It may seem like an inherently good thing, but the Giving Pledge has no mechanism for enforcement, many may not do so until towards the end of their lifetimes or even in their wills, and the evidence that it has boosted giving is pretty weak. * Billionaire philanthropy is never going to get us Medicare for All. It’s never going to result in adequate public transit or the decommodification of housing. As nice of an idea as it is, that the goodwill of the incredibly wealthy will lead to them guiding society in positive ways, many of them are simply out of touch with the needs and desires of regular folks. We need systemic change, not a handout from our capitalist overlords. Bottom line: sometimes it feels like this kinda shtick boils down to a “please consider not eating the rich” campaign. Gates may not be an awful person (we’ll leave that designation to Jeff Bezos), but c’mon man, you still have too much money. END OF THE LINE... That’s it for today. That’s what we’ve got. Remember, we’re only able to do this every day because of readers like you. Drop your friends, family, or anyone else whose email you happen to have a referral link and help us grow. We’d truly appreciate it. Have a good one, The Bread Line we’re listening to: This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit thebreadline.substack.com
7 minutes | May 13, 2020
A new stimulus bill from House Democrats and the coronavirus Senate hearing.
Good moooooooorning!!! Yeah, we’re amped up, so what? What of it? It’s Wednesday! We’ve got some news—only two stories today though because they’re pretty dense and involve an institution we all know and love: Congress. Yay! Congress! * The House Democrats have unveiled a new stimulus bill: with a whopping $3 trillion price tag. What’s in it? Is it any good? Does it have a chance in hell at getting passed? We’ll give you the rundown. * The Senate held a coronavirus hearing: and it involved a lot of goofy teleconferencing mistakes. On second thought: boo, Congress! They suck big ass! Anyway, enough CONGRESS House Democrats Work on New “HEROES” Stimulus Act House Democrats have unveiled their new stimulus act which they’re calling the “HEROES” act. The bill would be the largest relief package in history, costing over $3 trillion, and would be aimed at easing up the economy in the wake of coronavirus. The Package * The bill would include $1 trillion in state and local aid, a response to various governors saying that more aid is needed at the local level. * It would also shore up hazard pay by adding $200 billion to a hazard pay fund. That would help essential workers according to the summary in the bill, though it doesn’t specify which workers would qualify. * Remember the $1,2000 direct cash payments we all (well, hopefully) got? It’d include another round of that but increase the household payments of up to $6,000, which could be a big help to low-income families. * It’d put $75 billion towards COVID-19 testing to help ensure that whenever we do reopen, there is adequate testing to help trace and track the virus and keep folks healthy. * Don’t think they forgot about everyone struggling to pay their rent or mortgage though: it’d launch a $175 billion housing assistance fund to help people out with that. * The $600-per-week boost to unemployment benefits that was passed with the CARES Act would be continued through January. * Last little details: a 15% increase in SNAP funding, an employee retention tax credit to keep people on payrolls, and aid for employer-backed health coverage. The Problems * Lindsey Graham has already said the bill is “dead on arrival,” while John Barrasso described it as a “payoff” to Pelosi’s constituents. John Thune didn’t believe the bill was designed to pass in the first place. Lastly, Mitch McConnell described the bill as “not something designed to deal with reality.” Ouch. * So if the bill wasn’t going to pass in the first place, you’d imagine it was pretty ambitious and called for all the possible bells and whistles, to at least let Dem voters know that the party is doing whatever they can and Republicans are obstructing that...right? * What’s up with the lack of recurring payments? People like Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, and even more centrist politicians like Kamala Harris wanted $2,000 monthly payments. * Pramila Jayapal also took issue: she wanted to see the inclusion of the Paycheck Guarantee Act, which would cover 100% of worker wages up to $90,000 a year. Jayapal purportedly confronted Pelosi to no avail, but Jayapal and the co-leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Mark Pocan, also calling for the vote to be pushed back by a week to allow progressives time to respond. Pelosi wants to vote this Friday, progressive leaders want to wait until next week. * Climate action groups also took issue with the bill for failing to close loopholes that allow fossil fuel corporations to lobby for federal bailouts during the pandemic. * Some are also worried about those “protections for employer-sponsored insurance plans.” That amounts to subsidies for COBRA which is, to put it nicely, a garbage system. Some attempt at getting people on Medicare, at least those who need the help, would be a welcome change. Many are actually going to be better off on Medicaid than COBRA. Bernie Sanders says that subsidizing COBRA “would be both expensive and ineffective.” Bottom line: these letdowns may best be summed up by Jordan Uhl, who tweeted: “80,000 people are dead. If there's ever been a time where it's on people to demand more from their elected officials—especially leaders of their own party—you'd be hard-pressed to think of a time more fitting than now.” We agree. CORONAVIRUS The Senate Held a Coronavirus Hearing Attendees including Dr. Anthony Fauci who is part of the coronavirus task force, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration Stephen Hahn, the head of the CDC Dr. Robert Redfield, the assistant health secretary who is overseeing the federal government’s testing efforts Brett Giroir, and a buncha old Senators. The hearing was kinda weird, actually! What Went Down Here are some key takeaways. * While there are declines in infections in some areas, Fauci warned about being overly optimistic, saying that “we don’t have it completely under control.” He also advised that reopening states without the proper precautions create a “real risk that you will trigger an outbreak.” * Dr. Fauci also said that the current death toll of 80,000 is likely wrong, but not because it’s overinflated: instead, he says “most of us feel that the number of deaths are likely higher than that number.” * On vaccines: Fauci says that it’s not a long shot. In fact, he says it’s “much more likely than not that we will get a vaccine.” That comes with some caveats though: he’s not optimistic about vaccines or treatments being ready by August, which may influence whether some schools end up having physical classes. * Mitt Romney slammed the notion that we should be celebrating how much testing we’ve done, as he believes the country simply “treaded water” while other countries, such as South Korea, were much more aggressive in early testing. * The chairman of the meeting, Lamar Alexandar, said this won’t be the last coronavirus hearing and that they ought to happen more regularly. The Biggest Goofs and Gags This isn’t really important, but we’d like to harp on some of the funnier aspects of this hearing, which marked the first time the Senate has done something like this via conference call. * Bernie Sanders opened the call with some mumbling, having not realized that he didn’t mute himself. He also sat in a room that sported some interesting art, including a Red Hot Chili Peppers poster and something related to Prince’s New Generation Power. Seriously. * Mitt Romney sat in front of dozens of posters of family members, which is a very Mormon power move. He also set himself apart by naming himself simply: “mitt.” Lowercase M and all. * Many Senators who attended in person didn’t wear masks at all. Tim Kaine wore a weird bandana that made him look like an outlaw and Susan Collins wore a mask that she kept fiddling with, rendering it ineffective, though. * At points, barking dogs in the background caused some confusion. Some suspect it was chairman Lamar Alexander’s dog, Rufus, who could be seen laying down behind him. Bottom line: it’s kinda worrisome that people who can’t figure out a Zoom call or refuse to wear masks even though they definitely should be are in charge of all of this. END OF THE LINE... That’s it for today. That’s what we’ve got. Remember, we’re only able to do this every day because of readers like you. Drop your friends, family, or anyone else whose email you happen to have a referral link and help us grow. We’d truly appreciate it. Have a good one, The Bread Line we’re listening to: This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit thebreadline.substack.com
6 minutes | May 12, 2020
A bumbling White House, Republican deficit concerns, and migrants during coronavirus.
Good morning ya freaks and geeks! That’s what I call my friends, alright? Just a quick reminder up top that we’re doing an audio format now, so check that out. It’s on Spotify and should be on Apple momentarily. Let’s get straight into it. * The White House is in a state of coronavirus-inducted panic: and it’s about damn time even though their reasoning is pretty selfish. After two staffers tested positive for COVID-19, masks and social distancing finally became enforced. * The Republicans are very concerned about the deficit: which is exactly what we said would happen, remember? We’ll see if this ends up being a major hurdle in future stimulus packages that many are saying need to happen in order to help keep the U.S. afloat. * Coronavirus has laid the ground for unprecedented immigration restrictions: and since the U.S. began sending undocumented migrants primarily to Mexico in late March, over 20,000 migrants have been forced out of the country. In the face of what feels like utter hopelessness, we’re really tryin’ over here, y’know? We hope you’re keeping afloat too. Now let’s get to the news. CORONAVIRUS The White House is Finally Freaking Out About Coronavirus The White House. If you’ve paid any attention to anything that’s taken place there since coronavirus hit the states, you already know that this administration’s response has been mind-bogglingly stupid and ineffective. Part of that stupidity is the undermining of their own suggested measures like social distancing and wearing a mask—but now that two staffers have tested positive, panic is beginning to set in. A White House in Terror In many places, wearing a mask and keeping good social distancing practices—that is, staying six feet apart—isn’t just advised, it’s required. It may come as a surprise for some that until yesterday, that wasn’t an expectation in the White House. * Two White House staffers have tested positive for coronavirus: one of Trump’s personal valets and Katie Miller, the spokeswoman for Vice President Pence and wife of almost-definitely white nationalist Stephen Miller. * Any normal response would involve anyone who came into contact with these two to self-quarantine. Some individuals are, others aren’t, and it’s hard to tell how much of that is because of essential work needing to be done or if it’s just a side-effect of how awful this administration truly is. * The White House’s response has been to ask more people to work from home, mandate the usage of masks, and to better screen anyone who enters the White House. Employees are supposed to be tested at least weekly, with some aides testing daily. Just Not Good Enough Aside from some of these precautions being far overdue, we’ve got to be serious about the gravity of all of this. * Trump still won’t wear a mask. Pence didn’t wear one while visiting the Mayo Clinic. Despite having come into contact with people who tested positively, neither one of them is likely to start wearing masks. * To that, we ask: uh, why? It sets a good precedent, it keeps people around you healthy, it signals that you’re taking all of this seriously. * Then again, Trump is known to egg on his base. Maybe he doesn’t really want them to take this seriously at all, maybe he really does want to drum up tensions and politicize this. By “maybe” we mean “almost definitely” but it’s hard to say when you have a president as dumb as he is evil. Bottom line: we’ll save you the phony “we would never wish ill on others” nonsense. If you disregard everything experts tell you and end up getting bit in the ass for it, so be it. THE ECONOMY Republican Lawmakers Are Deficit Scaremongering Again The deficit. It’s often wielded as a political cudgel whenever there are any big ideas that require big spending in mind. Sure, no one says “where’s the money going to come from?” whenever we rush into a needless war, but healthcare for everyone? That’ll surely break the deficit and make us go bankrupt! Once again, Republican lawmakers are sounding deficit alarm bells, this time because of coronavirus spending. Please Just Give Us Money * Republicans have already backed nearly $3 trillion in staving off the economic downturn caused by COVID-19, an unprecedented amount. Now, while Democrats continue pushing for relief, some Republicans are already pushing the idea that we’re going to ruin the economy. * This includes Florida Senator Rick Scott, who says “we’ve got to figure out now how we’re going to pay for it.” Otherwise, “we’re going to ruin this economy,” he says. * Trump has already begun echoing pump-the-break sentiments, saying that he’s in “no rush” for a new stimulus. Bottom line: this is all in spite of 20 million jobs lost in April and a chorus of economists telling us that more needs to be done. Remember not to fall for austerity panic. IMMIGRATION Coronavirus Policies Have Put Migrants In Danger Migrants. They’re normally a very vulnerable group of people but during these scary times, things have become even scarier for them. The coronavirus has been used as justification for historic immigration restrictions, which has ultimately led to 20,000 migrants being forced out of the U.S. A Dangerous Situation * In late March, Mexico emptied its detention centers due to warnings about the risk of exposure to coronavirus for incarcerated people. That was initially seen as a blessing, but because the U.S. is sending so many migrants over to Mexico, it’s become a big issue. * This is especially an issue for migrants who aren’t even from Mexico but landed in their facilities. The result? Many ended up bouncing between facilities, flown to their home countries, or bused to southern Mexico and told to walk home. Others were offered the chance to wait for Mexican asylum or got temporary visitor permits. * This is anything but normal. Migrants fear getting sick or ending up homeless, forcing many of them to head back to where they came from. Still, so many are being put at risk in holding centers that are overpopulated and allow coronavirus to quickly spread. Bottom line: the reporting on this has been few and far between, but check out The Intercept’s piece to hear some stories of migrants who are living through a global pandemic. END OF THE LINE... That’s it for today. That’s what we’ve got. Remember, we’re only able to do this every day because of readers like you. Drop your friends, family, or anyone else whose email you happen to have a referral link and help us grow. We’d truly appreciate it. Have a good one, The Bread Line we’re listening to: This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit thebreadline.substack.com
7 minutes | May 11, 2020
Bailouts for shady lenders, Biden buddies up with Republicans, and Reade’s interview with Megyn Kelly.
Good morning folks! Some news about ourselves right up top: we’re doing an audio version of this now that’ll be available on all your major podcast platforms (Apple Music, Spotify, Stitcher, etc.). You’ll also get the podcast right in your inbox alongside the regular newsletter. More options, more better! So what do we got today? * Lawmakers sought bailouts for shadow bankers: or more generally, they sought bailouts for controversial financial services that offer high-interest loans to low-income Americans and are generally under very little oversight. Also: all 14 of the lawmakers are members of the House Financial Services Committee and received campaign contributions from the lenders. Yikes. * Biden’s campaign is working to create a group of Republicans: at least supposedly, there’s an effort to create something of a “Republicans for Biden” movement. * Tara Reade was interviewed by Megyn Kelly: and while there wasn’t much new info to surface in the segment, it may be a central piece of what many end up creating their judgments around. Come on and ZOOM! Come on and ZOOM! Come on and ZOOM! Y’know what we’re saying? BAILOUTS 14 House Members Sought Bailouts for Controversial Lenders The House Financial Services Committee. 14 members of it—seven Republicans and seven Democrats—asked the Federal Reserve to extend an emergency loan program intended for controversial financial firms that offer high-internet loans to poor folks. Basically, shady loan companies want to get good loans from the government. Bad Loans for Bad Lenders Here are the details as reported by HuffPost. * The letter, written to Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, encouraged the Fed to open up eligibility offered by the TALF (or Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility). The request? Let “non-bank lenders and fintech platforms” qualify, too. “Non-bank lenders” are loans that are regulated less than bank loans, take on greater risk, and sometimes get called “shadow banking” due to their controversial nature. Fintech platforms are similar in that they’re online non-bank lenders. * What motivated them to write the letter? A letter from AFSA, or the American Financial Services Association, a political action committee that represents the interests of subprime lenders (remember 2008? No? Look into it.) that was sent to those 14 House members. All 14 of those lawmakers have received campaign contributions from the lenders. * TALF was actually created in the wake of 2008 to help out consumer lenders. Because of COVID-19, the program has been reinitiated but was intended to specifically exclude some of the more dodgy forms of lending. These lawmakers sought to change that by encouraging the Fed to include loans by “installment” lending firms, which offer high-interest, predatory loans to poor people. Look Out for Loans Remember where these kinds of lenders came from. After 2008, people were desperate for short-term cash and installment lending—or payday lending by another name—filled the void. * Some of these lawmakers have defended their actions by saying they need to get cash into the hands of American people, but these loans can be predatory and boast outrageous interest rates. Why not use existing safety nets instead? * Graham Steele, a former Democratic counsel on the Senate Banking Committee, told HuffPost that “it’s bad on the substance to have the Federal Reserve be lending to subprime consumer and small business lenders. It doesn’t look good when the members asking for that kind of bailout for these companies are also funded by those predatory lenders.” * When recessions come-a-callin’, so too do the sharks who see blood in the water. Just another case of parasites trying to capitalize on a pandemic. Bottom line: do people need money in their hands? For sure. Does that mean we should saddle them with debt and allow industries whose entire existence is dependent on screwing people over take advantage of a global pandemic? Nope. ELECTION 2020 Is Biden’s Campaign Building Up a Republican Group of Supporters? Joe Biden’s language regarding Republicans has felt a bit weird to a lot of people. He won’t rule out having a Republican running mate or cabinet members, he seems to attack Trump exclusively and not the party that empowers him, and he said in an Instagram live chat that he has been “speaking to a lot of Republicans.” What’s Joe’s Goal Here? * In that same live chat, he went on to say “matter of fact, there’s some major Republicans who are already forming ‘Republicans for Biden.’ Major officeholders.” * Longtime insiders aren’t clear on how strong of a movement or what form this will take, but what’s clear is that it is inevitable: there’s a movement of “Republicans for Biden” * Two big ideas floating around: an external group working as a political action committee or an internal operation with one or multiple major Republicans joining to help change Biden’s public perception. Bottom line: Biden has always had a fondness for that old school, West Wing-ish “reach across the aisles” stuff. Whether it works (it hasn’t in the past), whether it converts into votes (it hasn’t in the past), or whether it’s a good idea whatsoever (it hasn’t been in the past) remains to be seen. Trumpism in the Republican party seems to be an unstoppable force but who’s to say. READE REPORT Tara Reade Sat Down With Megyn Kelly For Interview Tara Reade sat down with Megyn Kelly for an over-40 minute long interview. You can check out the clip on YouTube if you’d like. This was Reade’s first on-camera interview regarding her sexual assault allegation against former vice president and current Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. Some Highlight Moments * Reade’s politics: Reade has been a lifelong Democrat but now describes herself as “politically homeless.” She also says that she personally believes Biden should drop out of the race, though she understands why someone may still vote for him even if they believe her. * Filling in some details: Reade explained why she didn’t come forward until now. She cited that she voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012, but said that those votes were for Obama, not Biden. She also notes that her daughter was still young and she didn’t want to put her through it. Lastly, she talked about how it didn’t feel as though there were much of an apparatus for this kind of thing back then, but considering she’s an advocate for survivors of sexual assault, she feels compelled to now tell her story. * Moving forward: Reade says she’s willing to testify under oath and be cross-examined. On the subject of polygraphs, Reade points out that polygraphs aren’t admissible in court; she also says she’s not being accused of a crime. However, she did say she’d take one if Biden also took one. Bottom line: this interview is emotional and worth a watch, regardless of how you end up feeling about the situation. END OF THE LINE... That’s it for today. That’s what we’ve got. Remember, we’re only able to do this every day because of readers like you. Drop your friends, family, or anyone else whose email you happen to have a referral link and help us grow. We’d truly appreciate it. Have a good one, The Bread Line we’re listening to: This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit thebreadline.substack.com
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