Sen. Joe Manchin (D?-WV) flexes his muscle as the One True Great American President of Bipartisanship by spending 10 hours securing cuts to enhanced unemployment benefits in the COVID relief bill. Mr. Manchin will lose his 2024 re-election effort by 20 points no matter what he does, but I'm gobsmacked that more politicians don't see that cutting unemployment benefits is a stupid political calculation, particularly for a Democrat, from whom voters (for better and worse) expect more. I had hoped he'd be satisfied with Neera Tanden's head on a plate, but I was wrong. I'm starting to think my optimism is a fault, not a strength.
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D?-AZ) brought a chocolate cake to the Senate -- supposedly to help out staffers who'd been up all night working on the relief bill -- before nixing Sen. Sanders's amendment to put the $15/hour minimum wage back in the bill. She may not have literally said "let them eat cake," but gosh, what a bad look, and I find her story wanting, too -- is cake what you want when you've been up working all night? Does nobody do chicken and waffles in D.C. anymore? (In a related note, I hope the sight of her incomprehensibly swaggering thumbs-down vote to that $15/hour minimum wage amendment launches a thousand memes. You have to have the presence of mind not to look like that when you're denying higher pay to over 40 percent of American workers. Hate to pile on, but Kyrsten Sinema is supposedly one of the Democrats' most disciplined messagers.)
Olivia Goldhill at STAT catches Florida's government giving COVID vaccines meant for rural black residents to rich white ones. No, you can't explain this away by saying "black people hate vaccines," not when black folks make up 18% of Palm Beach County but only 4% of vaccine recipients; go ahead and blame Gov. DeSantis's decision to let the Publix supermarket chain (whose owners donate bigly to his campaigns, naturally) administer the vaccines, because guess which supermarket chain doesn't have stores in places like Pahokee and Belle Glade. Also, he apparently decided not to tell any locals the vaccinations were happening.
From John Logan at TruthOut we learn that Amazon spends $10,000 daily just on consultants who help them keep unions out of their warehouses. Gosh, they're rolling in money during this pandemic, more than just about any other corporation; can't they do something better with all that money? See, when we say "corporations should make as much money as possible because they'll do more good," we have to remember that if you give them too much money, they'll spend it consolidating their power, and that's why we taxed them at 55% during the Eisenhower years. And don't believe Amazon's PR hype. We've delivered millions of meals to people in need! Meaning, gosh, every person who lost their job because of the pandemic got maybe one sandwich? (As an aside, dig the union-busting consultant who claims unions "demonize consultants," like it's some kind of big lift for Americans to demonize consultants.)
Kentucky state legislators, knowing the state's Governor is a Democrat and sensing that Sen. McConnell might not be in the best of health, are scrambling to change state laws so that if Mr. McConnell retires or dies, his seat can easily stay in Republican hands. They say none of that has anything to do with it, of course, but we're not schmucks, and it's telling that "letting good Kentuckians fill the seat via a special election" is lower on their wish list than making Gov. Beshear pick from a list of three Republican names. What do they have to be afraid of? That Charles Booker might actually win a Senate race in the state that killed Breonna Taylor? (As an aside, I'm pretty sure Nick Storm thoroughly enjoyed writing that Mr. McConnell recovered from polio as a youth "with his mother's persistence.")
Finally, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, now the biggest asshole among world chiefs-of-state with Donald Trump out of power, tells his citizens to "stop whining" about things like spikes in cases and record death numbers and lack of vaccines. Even worse, he says "we need a solution" to the pandemic with no apparent awareness that maybe good Brazilians are looking to their fucking President to lead them toward a "solution." At any rate, we must remind too many folks that there is in fact a profound difference between whining about things like "cancel culture" and "whining" about your own government -- which belongs to you and should work on your behalf -- leaving you to die.