Joe Biden’s Inauguration is tomorrow, and just in time, the nation’s authorities are beginning to address the threat posed by right wing extremists, both inside and out of the government.
Meanwhile, the Democrats have regained the Senate for the first time in over five years, and are already finding ways to give some of their power away, agreeing to a split-power structure with Mitch McConnell even though they have the deciding vote with VP-elect Kamala Harris.
And lastly, in more depressing news from the Administration that takes over tomorrow, Joe Biden’s potential picks for extremely important anti-trust positions are already alarming Big Tech critics due to their numerous conflicts of interest.
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The New York Times reported on Monday that the Pentagon has recently accelerated its efforts to root out white nationalists within the armed forces. That’s nice of them! Perhaps a little late, however, considering the notable presence of current and former military members at the January 6 Capitol riots.
This also comes on the heels of an Associated Press report that the FBI was vetting national guard troops sent to DC to protect Joe Biden’s Inauguration over fears of an insider attack. I wish they’d thought of doing that vetting, you know, before the guys were sent to the capital and issued guns, but sure. Better late than never.
The vetting is something that’s been done in the past -- they did it for Donald Trump’s 2017 inauguration as well, according to the Times, and will only apply to troops who will be near Biden himself on the day of. That certainly still leaves a lot of wiggle room!
The FBI is also reportedly setting its sights on the hardcore militias and right wing extremist groups that helped lead the attack on the Capitol. These are the guys who extremism researchers said to worry about days and days before the attack, so once again, the government is a step behind. The general militia types also prize military experience and knowledge, of course, so the two trends are linked. Glad to see that someone in charge is finally figuring things out.
Schumer And McConnell, Sitting In A Tree
Meanwhile, we’re about to have a new Senate, which could look a lot like the old Senate. Democrats have the majority. Yes, the actual makeup of the Senate is a dead heat at 50-50. But with the VP’s deciding vote, the Democrats are in control, provided they can get their basically-republican members like Joe Manchin to go along with things.
And yet, Chuck Schumer seems to be taking a very lenient line with former Majority leader Mitch McConnell, otherwise known as the chief architect of basically everything horrible that Congress did in the past four years.
CNN reports that Schumer and McConnell are close to ironing out a power-sharing agreement that would govern how some of the procedural workings of the body go down once things kick off after Biden takes over. The rules are being modeled on the last 50-50 split of the senate in 2001, and largely govern how bills get out of committee and who holds the power in those committees.
These are agreements that Schumer and McConnell have to make, of course, but it’s a bad sign for progressives to see the status quo reassert itself so quickly.
McConnell has for years been playing a different game than his Democratic peers, using every possible procedural trick and inch of power than he can take to screw over the Democrats as much as possible.
That’s his prerogative, of course, but it’s incredibly frustrating that the Democrats don’t seem to be willing to play as rough as he does. Here’s hoping that once Congress starts deliberating with Kamala Harris in the tiebreaking seat, the Democrats don’t give McConnel any more inches to extend into miles.
Biden's Picks To Break Up Big Tech Used To Work For Big Tech
Well here we are again: it’s time for the weekly update into the Biden Administration’s staffing. Today the forecast is: not great!
The Department of Justice has an extremely important division that covers federal anti-trust cases: the big legal decisions that govern how major companies can form and wield monopolies against the American public. The biggest anti-trust cases of this generation, of course, are two active cases against Google and Facebook, and activists hope a case against Amazon will soon follow.
The Assistant Attorney General who leads this division is a federal appointee. Right now, the Intercept reports that Biden’s leading candidate is a woman named Renata Hesse, a former Justice Department official in the Obama Administration. But take onee quick guess where else Hesse has worked.
If you guessed Google or Amazon, well, they’re both correct! A decade ago, the Intercept reports, Hesse worked with Ted Cruz -- yes, that Ted Cruz -- to defend Google in an antitrust case. She was also involved in the merger between Amazon and Whole Foods, rounding out her experience in companies that she’d be dealing with directly if she got her new job.
So let’s take a quick look at the next guy rumored to be in the running for the spot. His name is Juan Arteaga, and he also worked for the Obama Justice department! What are his other credentials? Well, according to the Intercept, he defended JPMorgan Chase and several other financial firms in fraud cases and also represented AT&T in its merger with Time Warner.
As you can see, this is painting a pretty grim picture when it comes to what the Biden administration is going to do to break up the big tech companies. Right now, it looks like both candidates for the job will have to recuse themselves left and right. Not exactly the most productive strategy.
AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:
Florida’s state authorities are still throwing the book at Rebekah Jones, a former public servant who was fired and then persecuted for trying to keep an accurate tally of the state’s coronavirus deaths. She’s now been arrested on counts of downloading a state computer file without authorization.
A bill to abolish the death penalty passed Virginia’s state senate’s judiciary committee, where it had failed just a year ago, sending a clear signal that the state may outlaw capital punishment in the near future.
Trump’s Census Director, Stephen Dilliam, resigned from his post on Monday, finally crumbling under the scrutiny that he had let Trump’s racist and xenophobic politics interfere with his job at the supposedly nonpartisan agency. His term was supposed to end in December of 2021, but it seems like he saw the writing on the wall.
And finally, as Trump enters the last few hours of his presidency, the Times reports that he’s planning a wave of pardons for Tuesday, which involve both disgraced politicians like NY politico Sheldon Silver and celebrities like Rapper Lil Wayne. He’s expected to release that list today, his last full day in office.
That’s it for the majority report’s AM quickie! The full show, as always, will bring Sam to you live at noon eastern.
JAN 19, 2021 - AM QUICKIE
HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner
WRITER - Jack Crosbie
PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn