Extra! Extra!: What We’re Seeing on COVID-19 and Accountability So Far from Biden’s Administration

This week’s Extra! Extra! continues to unpack the insurrection while also looking at some of Biden’s actions these last two weeks as president. We look a little more closely at the latest on police accountability, immigration and COVID-19, as well as a smattering of international news.


New York Democrats finally ready to repeal ‘walking while trans’ loitering law

Natalie: There is, I think, a conventional wisdom that exists on the left — which I find myself adopting — that blue states are, by and large, better for folks from marginalized communities… that an infrastructure exists to support those communities in a way that it just doesn’t elsewhere. Stories like this always remind me though that as progressive as those states look from my vantage point — especially as someone who lives in a conservative red state — they aren’t nearly as progressive as I sometimes imagine they are.

Hungary orders LGBT publisher to print disclaimers on children’s book

Himani: The latest from Viktor Orbán’s far right regime. The book they are targeting, Wonderland Is for Everyone, sounds lovely though, which is a real testament to the persistence of LGBTQ+ and other activist groups in Hungary, even in the face of state-sanctioned extremism.

Democracy Rules…?

The Insurrection Was Put Down. The GOP Plan for Minority Rule Marches On.

The Unfinished Business of Flint’s Water Crisis

Himani: You might wonder why I placed an article about the Flint water crisis after an article about voter suppression, gerrymandering and the imbalance of power built into the Senate and the Courts. Both of these articles are about the many multitudes of ways that democracy is broken in America, from the federal and state-level structures that allow a minority government to dictate policy and secure their rule even as they represent less and less of the populous to the practically totalitarian grip that some officials have over local jurisdictions in our so-called democracy. From the federal level down to the local, the story is the same even if the details are different: white (mostly) men writing the rules that allow them to hold onto power so that they can continue to do unconscionable harm to Black, immigrant and marginalized communities.

Natalie: Obviously, I’m glad that the folks who had a hand in exasperating the Flint Water Crisis will finally be subjected to some sort of accountability…though, admittedly, I believe it insufficient for the harm that they have caused. But I feel obliged to remind folks that issues with Flint’s water quality persist. Residents still cannot drink or brush their teeth with the water that comes from the tap.

Flint continues to be an opportunity missed. Politicians talk all the time about the importance of investing in infrastructure and how it leads to good-paying union jobs that can’t be outsourced…and yet, here’s a city that’s been screaming out for that investment for six years and THEY STILL DON’T HAVE CLEAN WATER.

Here’s the full list of Biden’s executive actions so far

Natalie: I fully understand that executive actions isn’t a sustainable answer to the problems this country is facing — that we are in need of legislative fixes from Congress particularly on issues of non-discrimination, health care access and COVID relief — I have to say that I’ve been impressed with the issues that Biden’s tackling through executive orders thus far. The issues that he’s been tackling are the issues, frankly, that warranted immediate action and those communities shouldn’t have to wait any longer for some sort of relief. I expect to be wholly disappointed with Joe Biden sooner rather than later but for now, I’m really encouraged by his administration’s priorities.

Also? As Jeet Heer points out in his latest piece for The Nation, given the attempts by Republicans to delegitimize the Biden presidency (which are still ongoing, quite frankly), I believe it’s crucial that Biden continue to move in a way that asserts his authority as the leader of this country.

How Democrats Plan to Get Stuff Done Without Eliminating the Filibuster

Natalie: I’m not a single issue voter — our world is too complex, my existence too intersectional, for that — but in the 2020 Democratic primary I came as close as I’ve ever come to being one… and, for me, that one issue was the elimination of the filibuster. I saw it then, and continue to see it now, as a “Jim Crow relic” that stands in the way of the change our country so desperately needs. There is no path to truly universal healthcare or a Green New Deal or a pathway to citizenship for immigrants with the filibuster standing in the way.

I appreciate the explainer here about budget reconciliation but the most important thing to highlight is that Democrats could likely only pass three bills this way…THREE BILLS between now and the 2022 midterms. That’s woefully insufficient for the change that we need. The only real option is to get rid of the filibuster. I’m mystified by Joe Manchin’s willingness to wait and see if Republicans will come to the table as if he wasn’t a US Senator for most of the Obama presidency. We know how this story ends, Joe.

And, good lord, Kyrsten Sinema…what a disappointment she is. I hope her ambition keeps her warm at night.

Himani: The only thing I have to add to this is… I really have no patience for Joe Manchin… Literally none at all.

And We’re Still Trying to Sort This Mess

Nearly 1 In 5 Defendants In Capitol Riot Cases Served In The Military

Natalie: I know I’m beating the proverbial dead horse about this but the Department of Homeland Security’s 2009 report called “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment” predicted all of this. The fact that our leaders had this intelligence at our fingertips and did nothing to thwart it is maddening.

New: Michigan GOP Senate leader advised militias on messaging, says they’ve gotten ‘a bad rap’

Some QAnon followers lose hope after inauguration

Rachel: It brings me no pleasure to observe that the aftermath of the Capitol attack is shaking out the way a lot of us feared: it’s evident that police and military or ex-police and ex-military were very involved, it seems pretty incontestable that several GOP members of Congress were involved in planning and executing the attack, and… very little is going to be done either to explore consequences for the insurrectionists or to treat the collective of armed white nationalists as a serious threat. There have been a range of public arrests of people involved, but many of those have later been freed on bail. The charges they may face, many ranging from 5-10 years, feel pretty paltry to the many Americans and American communities who have experienced loved ones being locked up for 20-year sentences as juveniles for streetfights, or spending three years in jail before even going to trial for unproven petty theft, or being detained and tortured without due process in the highest security prison for wearing the wrong wristwatch.

Even more concerning, it seems likely that in the absence of coordinated and comprehensive plans to address the infestation of white nationalist counterculture and its violent desires, it’s still only growing; there have been no real consequences for the GOP for openly allying themselves with it, so they have no incentive to stop — which is where we get Michigan lawmakers publicly coordinating with the same groups of people who want to kidnap Gretchen Whitmer to punish her for enforcing pandemic precautions. I was (pleasantly!) surprised that the inauguration didn’t see more violence, but am at this point resigned to seeing more actions like the one on Jan 6.

The dissolution of Q is, unfortunately, tied into all of this as well; although it can be easy (and cathartic) to chuckle at Q and the people devoted to it, they’re a group of people very strongly bonded together and largely isolated from a lot of more regulating social connection who believe they’re at great risk, and a lot of them just lost an organizing ideology that was giving them structure and hope and are looking for another one to replace it. Fascism and white nationalism are right there waiting to scoop them up, and those movements are likely to grow stronger in the coming years, not weaker. I was fascinated to read this article on what it takes to deradicalize white people who join these movements, and how few resources the US devotes to it especially as compared to the vague specter of Middle Eastern terrorism after 9/11.

In 2009, a security analyst at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security named Daryl Johnson wrote a report that stated right-wing extremism was “likely to grow in strength,” potentially driven by such factors as gun restrictions, economic uncertainty, immigration, a perceived rising influence of other countries that undermines American sovereignty, and the election of the first Black president. Republican lawmakers condemned the report and forced the department to retract it, ushering in an era of virtual silence on far-right violence, and of treating instances of far-right terrorism as hate crimes, which are classified as a lower priority and afforded fewer resources.

Even when the Obama administration reframed its counterterrorism work as “Countering Violent Extremism,” or CVE, few resources went to combatting right-wing extremism. In 2017, the administration issued a $400,000 grant to Life After Hate, a formers-led organization cofounded by Picciolini with which Martinez was volunteering at the time. (Neither is still involved with the group.) But the Trump administration changed the name of the administering office to the Office of Terrorism Prevention Partnerships, revoked the grant, and slashed the budget and staff.

And now here we are! I suspect we are all getting tired of pandemic comparisons to things that are not pandemics, but I can’t help but acknowledge my exhaustion and frustration that our government has allowed the plagues of both coronavirus and far-right white nationalism to grow exponentially completely unchecked, then issued vague platitudes and basically told the individuals who are most at risk to ~remain informed~ and that we’re all in this together.

‘This is not freedom’: militarized US Capitol a sign of forever wars coming home

Himani: Following up everything Rachel said above, which is extremely on point, I greatly appreciated this article that placed the American insurrection within the broader context of American military occupation and the war on terror. America has long fostered the lie that it is the arbiter of democracy all the while sinking deeper and deeper into a decidedly undemocratic minority rule (as noted earlier). It’s easier to pretend that tyranny is a problem that exists across the border, across the ocean, two continents away than it is to admit that we really are not all that different from the rest of the world. To simultaneously give ourselves more credit than we’re due and discredit entire populations of people as seemingly incapable of living up to standards that we have always fallen short of. And in case that point wasn’t clear enough already, the meagre ideas that have been floated thus far to “address” the insurrection led by white terrorists will, arguably, only serve to further target Black and brown people and silence activists who are actually fighting for democracy.

Why “Everybody Should Be Deeply Skeptical” of Corporate America’s Turn Against Trump

Natalie: Last summer, during the political uprisings in response to the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, the Paramount Network cancelled the long-running “reality” show, Cops. For decades, the show had been part of television’s normalizing of injustice. But, unbeknownst to most, by October, the show quietly started back into production again.

I mention that to say I won’t be surprised when corporate America resumes its support of Donald Trump or his insurrectionist loving pals in Congress once the spotlight falls elsewhere. This is who they are, this is who they’ve always been.

Holding Police and Their Enablers to Account

Minneapolis has yet to discipline a single officer for misconduct during summer’s unrest

Protesters Caught In NYPD’s Violent Mott Haven Crackdown Push For Community Reparations Fund

Breonna Taylor Grand Jurors File Petition To Impeach AG Daniel Cameron

Rachel: I wish I were shocked about the news from Minneapolis; I am not, but I am impressed by the narrative arc these stories form when taken together, forming a text about the ways that our justice systems fail deeply (or, depending on how you frame it, function correctly and fulfill their aims, which are aims of the state and not of justice) and that individual people work collectively to call for accountability where it is being withheld. I feel a lot of grief and rage that so many people are put in a position where they have to do this work themselves and demand some kind of justice during a time when so many of us have lost so much and deserve to be able to rest and grieve, and also a deep gratitude for everyone who is doing that work anyway.

Natalie: I share Rachel’s heartbreak and disappointment over the situations in Minneapolis, New York, Tacoma and too many other cities to name. There was this encouraging bit of news out of Austin this week: the City Council redirected money from policing to buy and operate supportive housing. It’s not enough, but it’s a step…and I hope it’s a guiding light for organizers across the country.

And Related Criminal Justice Reform News

Joe Biden Is Aiming To End The Federal Use Of Private Prisons

Himani: This is an incredibly important step, but the exclusion of DHS and ICE detention centers from this directive is a significant oversight. It also does nothing to address state use of private prisons. What Natalie said above applies to this news as well: “It’s not enough, but it’s a step…”


DOJ rescinds ‘zero tolerance’ immigration rule

Biden to rescind Trump’s pandemic-era limits on immigrant and work visas, top adviser says

‘It’s about freedom from fear’: Deportations loom despite Biden executive order

Natalie: First, the idea that the Texas Attorney General who is, himself, under criminal indictment for securities fraud and who is likely still being investigating by the FBI for using his office to benefit a wealthy donor…the idea that that guy has any standing to tell anyone what the government should be doing (on immigration or any other issue) is infuriating. Also? Do you think Ken Paxton had anything to say when the Trump administration was just out here defying court orders with respect to family reunification? Of course not.

The federal government has had discretion over deportations for years and has used it repeatedly. Ken Paxton can have several seats.

Beyond that, the Biden administration should be going down the chain of command at ICE and asking them to implement this executive order. The moment one person relents or balks, they should be immediately fired from their position for cause. It might not be within the administration’s ability to eliminate ICE without an act of Congress — though, let’s be clear, that’s obviously what needs to happen — but surely they should be able to appoint people who aren’t engaging in seditious acts like denying an order from the President of the United States.

Rachel: It’s mindblowingly awful that these actions from the Biden administration are such good news, as they’re SO basic, but the status of the US immigration system has been so incredibly dire under Trump that these things do in fact constitute lifesaving developments. It’s sort of the equivalent of having someone turn off the slow-tracking murder laser that’s millimeters away from slicing James Bond in half, in that it really only ends the absolute most immediate crises and James Bond is still imprisoned and strapped to a metal slab, but is unquestionably a major relief.

COVID-19 Update

The Most Worrying Mutations in Five Emerging Coronavirus Variants

Vaccine nationalism puts world on brink of ‘catastrophic moral failure’: WHO chief

COVID Vaccine Distribution Plagued By Lack Of Clarity About Even Basic Facts

UK now has highest Covid death rate in the world

Himani: Let’s just put it this way… the situation with COVID is not… looking great in my view. The virus is mutating in ways that are raising concerns within the scientific community. The vaccine rollout is… a bit of a disaster both in the U.S. and globally. And yet, we must all continue to live with the grim reality that… we’ve largely done this to ourselves. Starting with our destruction of the environment to the way in which we treat and house animals (whether in wet markets or on factory farms) to our collective denial of science as it stares us in the face to our inhumane policies that prioritize capitalism and a misguided sense of morality over, even, the greater good.

The new research about housing precarity (evictions and utility shutoff) and COVID death rates is particularly heartbreaking to consider. It’s been seven years since I read about the Housing First model. Long before the pandemic we already knew that giving people housing with no strings attached is, not only more humane, but also saves more money (since that all that seems to matter to the movers and shakers of the world), and yet even in the midst of what increasingly feels like a truly unprecedented pandemic, America as a country somehow could not agree on this.

Meanwhile, Biden put forward a truly meaningful COVID-relief bill, which includes (among so many things): additional stimulus checks, increases to unemployment insurance money, increased funding to schools, increased fundings to state and local governments, increased funding to transit systems, an extension of the eviction moratorium and even increasing the federal minimum wage to $15/hour. Republicans spared no time in dismissing it as “a colossal waste”, which I really can’t say came as a surprise given that they have spent the entirety of the last year dismissing the urgency of the moment we are in. But it enrages me, nonetheless, to read it. In theory Biden is both misguidedly courting bipartisanship and also refusing the Republican proposal to break up the bill. Honestly, so long as the filibuster remains intact, I truly do not know what to hope for. One thing is clear though, Mitch McConnell is only here to play games while people are literally dying.

International News

Poland puts new restrictions on abortion into effect, resulting in a near-total ban on terminations

Natalie: Admittedly, I don’t spend my time engaging a lot with Polish politics, but I’d hoped that the delay that kept the ruling from Poland’s constitutional tribunal from going into effect would give the parties more time to come together on a solution. Unfortunately, it seems that time was just utilized as a way to depress protest: “The government appears to be banking on fatigue over the issue plus continued coronavirus-related restrictions to dampen any new waves of protest.”

Irish state makes landmark apology for church-run homes, where thousands of infants died

31 people who could make or break Justin Trudeau’s minority government

Himani: Knowing literally nothing about Canadian politics, this was a helpful introduction to some of the players in this year’s upcoming elections. I welcome any discussion on this topic and will greatly appreciate everything I learn from you all!

Giuseppe Conte quits as Italy’s PM in tactical move

Grim Updates From a Few Situations We’ve Been Following

More Than 3,000 Arrested In Russia In Protests Calling For Release Of Alexei Navalny

A pro-democracy activist on Hong Kong’s year of turmoil: “The city itself is dying”

India’s farmers are still protesting — and things are turning violent

Ethiopia’s leader won the Nobel Peace Prize. Now he’s accused of war crimes.

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  1. I especially appreciated the article on deradicalizing white supremacists and the the one on vaccine nationalism. And as always, your analysis is so helpful in making sense of the situation. Thank you for writing this.

  2. I’ve always loved how consistent the hate of the filibuster is to both parties when with party X is in the majority, but loved when in the minority. These feelings will flip a in heartbeat if one of the Democrat senators who have a GOP governor stops having those beats.

  3. i really appreciate these roundups/perspectives – i know it must be quite a bit of work. truly, thank you.

    also, if a i may add – republicans being dismayed/upset that trump subjected them to the same chaotic, destructive self-interest they facilitated him to perpetrate on the u.s. specifically, and the world generally, is not so much surprising as funny. albeit in that existential terror -ha- kind of way.

    perhaps we can all use the info thoughtfully gathered in the piece above to spur regular contact with our federal electeds to remind them that they have 2 years to accomplish good things before conservatives have a legitimate shot a retaking one or both congressional bodies. 74,000,000 voted for 4 more years like those we just went through despite literal plague, famine, flood, and fire.

    • Thanks for sharing that article, @msanon! I’ve seen a bunch of articles about what’s happening to the Republican party — is Trumpism taking over? Will it become fractured or be destroyed because of it? and so on… I really want to be hopeful but… at the end of the day, I think your analysis is right when you say that in 2 years “conservatives have a legitimate shot a retaking one or both congressional bodies.” It really is just… I can’t wrap my mind around it. As you said “74,000,000 voted for 4 more years like those we just went through despite literal plague, famine, flood, and fire.”

      My brother in law and I were chatting recently and he referenced something that (of course) now I can’t find online but basically, there was either a specific instance or some research to indicate that when you make a big sweeping policy change, people will ABSOLUTELY hate it for 6 months and then they once they start getting used to the benefits, they’ll come around. In many ways, this is exactly what happened with the ACA, though over a bit of a longer time frame. When they were trying to pass it, it was all “big government, evil!” (but big private corporations which we can’t hold to any kind of accountability are somehow ok?) and then when Republicans tried MULTIPLE times to repeal it a few years later, everyone was crying and calling into their conservative reps in Congress saying how they were literally going to die if it was repealed.

      All that to say, I feel like Democrats actually have much less than 2 years to make meaningful policy change if we want those policies to really stay in place. This is why the whole bs with the filibuster angers me to no end. Get rid of it now, pass all the policies we need, let your everyday people (including conservatives) get used to it for a year and then run re-election campaigns on that success. Even if Republicans manage to claw back control of Congress because they’ve rigged voting and the districts at the state levels, it’ll at least be much harder to dismantle the policies.

      If Manchin & Sinema twiddle their thumbs and then finally decide to come around a year from now, it’ll be too late. But, in many ways much like McConnell, they too are more interested in playing bull shit games of power while people continue to die…

  4. In Australia we’re doing pretty well against the rona and it’s weird hearing about how badly it’s going in other countries.

    But what’s not going well is our freedom of speech, which already is pretty bad compared to other countries, and is now being completely shattered by the fascist potato Peter Dutton. The changes they’re proposing gives Australia’s spy agencies the power to take over, delete, and post on citizens’ social media accounts. Seriously. Here’s a good article about it: https://www.smh.com.au/national/two-alarming-assaults-on-your-freedom-by-a-government-that-spruiks-liberty-20210118-p56uue.html

    • Thank you for sharing this. I’m really sorry to learn that this is how things are going in terms of freedom of speech, state surveillance, and basic rights / liberties in Australia! I’ll try to keep an eye on news about Australia moving forward, but I do greatly appreciate that you shared this.

  5. About the 31 people who could make or break the current Canadian minority government, it’s not that there’s a scheduled federal election this year it’s that a minority government could collapse at any time triggering an election. Technically the next election isn’t until 2023 but if the Liberal Party can’t get enough support from other federal parties the government “loses the confidence of the House” and we go into an election.

    As for those 31 people who could make or break the current Canadian minority government they’re basically the same people that could make or break any federal governing party during an election. Not so much the individuals themselves but the positions they hold (although there’s a few people there that are unique to current events like the whole 2 Michaels/China thing).

    The only unusual people/positions included are the minster of public safety, minister of health, minster of public services, and the chief medical officer. They wouldn’t normally be super important in the public eye during an election but with covid, they’re all front and centre.

    I find it weird that they didn’t include Meng Wanzhou in there, because the whole fiasco with Huawei and her possible extradition to the US is why China arrested Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig in the first place (and then “coincidentally” instigated a bunch of trade restrictions against Canada). It’s been a minor political nightmare for a couple years now, do we piss off the US or do we piss off China?

    On the one hand, I really don’t think any Canadian politicians actually care about the US fraud charges but on the other hand, it was the easiest way to deal with Trump while we were caught up with the whole new NAFTA will they/won’t they trade war. Now I think they’re just waiting to see if Biden actually cares about her extradition.

    Also odd that they didn’t include the governor general (although I guess right now that would just be a circle with a question mark).

    Julie Payette was governor general until just a few days ago but she resigned after a scathing workplace review found that she was abusing and harassing her staff and creating a truly toxic workplace environment. This is an issue for Trudeau because he recommended her appointment without properly vetting her (he actually disbanded the committee that was supposed to do the vetting). It would be a political nightmare to just pick one again without impartial vetting so he’s either got to reinstate the advisory committee or else consult with other federal parties about who should be recommended.

    Reinstating the advisory committee would be a political win for the Conservative party (the advisory committee in its most current form was the invention of the previous Conservative government) but it would also be the least partisan option. Consulting the other federal parties means they would admit a bit of wrong doing (doesn’t everyone accidentally recommend an abusive asshole to hold the highest office in Canada once in a while haha…) but it would also mean very obviously playing politics with the position again, which, of course, all the federal parties would say is a bad thing until they’re invited to do so.

    Just for fun: three other people/party that could have an indirect influence are the provincial opposition leaders for Alberta and Ontario, and the Maverick Party despite not currently holding any seats in parliament.

    First off, a bit of background. The provincial opposition leaders for Alberta and Ontario are currently both part of the NDP. The NDP is unique in Canada in that they are provincially and federally integrated. They still run separate campaigns but membership is shared across levels of government; they work together. Whereas the elected officials in Alberta and Ontario are both “conservatives” but Alberta is United Conservative Party (UCP) and Ontario is Progressive Conservative Party (PC). These are ideologically related but completely separate political parties and aren’t a part of the federal Conservative Party of Canada. The Maverick Party is a federal conservative party and comes in as a weird long shot federal party. It’s at odds with the Conservative Party of Canada but not with Alberta’s UCP.

    So, the Maverick Party is a separatist party (which isn’t weird in and of itself, one of our largest federal parties is the Bloc Québécois; a separatist party out of Quebec) that seems to think everyone west of Ontario is onboard with leaving Canada because…oil? jobs? the economy? They’re mostly the result of western alienation and attract right-wing social conservatives and nationalists but like, Alberta only Nationalists.

    If there is an election the federal NDP could work with and use their provincial counterparts to gain traction with disillusioned provincial conservatives, especially in Alberta where the UCP’s leader, Jason Kenney, is on a one man mission to get rid of all the doctors and nurses during a pandemic, bankrupt Alberta over a dead oil pipeline, and is in general a ridiculous cartoon villain.

    Meanwhile the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada is Eric O’Toole, who is from Ontario (this is a plot point), and is currently on a public relations campaign to re-brand the federal conservative party as actually not socially conservative at all! Would the gays and the immigrants please vote for us? …unless you’re poor in which case, get fucked. So not only is he pissing off his socially conservative base over his “progressive” views (he’s really not) he has committed the other ultimate sin: living in Ontario. This is where the Maverick Party comes in.

    If Eric O’Toole doesn’t sufficiently get behind Jason Kennney’s oil pipeline fantasies it’s possible that the UCP will throw their support behind the Maverick Party instead of the Conservative Party of Canada and accuse the federal Conservatives of favouring “the East” over western Canada (they even elected a leader from Ontario! Gasp! The horror!). In which case the Maverick Party could sweep in and grab all the angry social conservatives, pro-oil voters, and the populist/separatist/nationalists voters who are still mad that Eric O’Toole is from Ontario and not a good and honest Albertan. This could become a major preoccupation for the Conservative Party of Canada if they have to fight with a provincially supported Maverick Party instead of just assuming they’ll get western Canada votes. It could potentially result in conservative vote splitting if the Maverick Party manages to drum up enough support.

    So the tl;dr of the indirect influence people/parties is that the NDP might force an election if they think their support is strong enough provincially because of the NDP opposition leaders have good approval ratings. While the Liberals might force an election if they think there will be sufficient conservative vote splitting because the conservatives all hate each other again.

    • oh my goodness, THANK YOU SO MUCH for this INCREDIBLE explainer into Canadian politics. Haha I feel like such a fool for completely misunderstanding the situation with the election (I forgot that in parliamentary systems the whole thing about the coalition governments if there’s no majority and if the coalition falls apart then that triggers an election).

      Also good god, if I had to keep track of that many political parties, I’d never be able to follow politics. Three times, I’ve re-read your last several paragraphs about 4 (I think???) conservative parties and I still can’t keep them straight in my mind!

      • Conservative parties in Canada are like those complicated monarchy family trees.

        The current federal Conservative Party of Canada is a result of a merger between the Progressive Conservative Party (federal, not provincial) and the Canadian Alliance Party which was previously called the Reform Party when it was mostly an Alberta/western Canada protest party at the federal level. The Reform party itself was a splinter group of an earlier version of the Progressive Conservative Party.

        If you follow the bizarre feuds, disbandments, and name changes all the way back you eventually get to the original conservative party in 1867 which was called, wait for it…the “Liberal-Conservative Party of Canada”. And just, WHY!? Your rival party is the Liberal Party of Canada, why call yourself “Liberal-Conservative Party of Canada”? I swear, the conservative parties in this country have never had an original thought in their lives.

        But, anyway, the Maverick Party is basically the newest variation of a federal conservative Alberta splinter group.

        And this is all complicated by provincial conservatives using the same names as federal parties at various points in history, and that all these various conservative parties on the provincial and federal scale generally hate each other.

        However! There’s an even more hilarious political feud in Canadian federal politics: the “Communist Party of Canada” vs the “Communist Party of Canada (Marxist–Leninist)”. The Communist Party of Canada is the second oldest federal party (beaten only by the Liberal Party of Canada) so they get the naming rights to Communist Party. But the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist–Leninist) also wants to use that name but Elections Canada won’t let them use the word Communist on ballots so they have to use Marxist-Leninist during elections. So every four years there are little story of the week news articles on how the Communist Party of Canada is mad at the Communist Party of Canada because they won’t give up the name.

        • Hahaha wow… also this whole thing about federal versus provincial parties is fascinating. I just started reading about this on wiki but I think my brain is overwhelmed with all this new information I’ve learned from you today so I’ll have to revisit all this in a week or so. Thank you again for sharing this incredible wealth of information!

    • *Erin O’Toole! But otherwise this is a fantastic analysis, and I bitter-laughed at “ridiculous cartoon villain”.

      • Yeah…I was using the auto text prediction thing on my phone and didn’t realize I was picking Eric instead of Erin until I posted it and then was like …well I guess I’ll just live with the shame of not proof reading forever now.

        As for the cartoon villain bit I’ve heard/read a bunch of variations on that description so I can’t take all the credit but Kenney really is just a series of ridiculous villain tropes.

        I mean I can’t say I was surprised that his “war room” thought spending 6+ billion on a pipeline was a good idea but the whole multi million dollar “inquiry” into anti-Alberta energy campaigns was…weird to say the least. Like that really ventured off the deep end.

        Although I hear he’s backtracked on the climate change denial parts.

    • As I think about what you’ve written here more, one of the things that stands out to me in your (truly incredible !!) explainer is this statement: “Now I think they’re just waiting to see if Biden actually cares about her extradition.”

      The thing is on this side of the border … I don’t know that this is something anyone really remembers or is paying attention to…? Admittedly, this falls under the umbrella of US foreign relations with countries that have traditionally been allies and that’s just not something I personally track all that closely. But in terms of what’s making its way into the news, foreign policy really is getting short shrift and the only bit of foreign policy news that I’ve really seen covered in terms of “what will Biden do?” relates to Iran, China, Russia and North Korea.

      All that to say, this was really an eye opening reminder to me of how much sway American actions can have, even when we ourselves forget about them. That’s a point that, on the one hand, I try not to put too much weight into generally (so as not to take the attitude that the world revolves around the U.S.) while, on the other hand, I try to keep in perspective when I think about America’s forever wars and approach to “terrorism” and climate change.

      This extent of global diplomacy and also trade deals is just something I don’t follow a lot, and I’m realizing I really should start paying more attention to it.

      • Himani, if you’d like to read more about the Meng Wanzhou affair, I recommend this article:


        TLDR: The US did the very same thing in 2014 with Su Bin, a Chinese national living in Canada who really was guilty of espionage, China retaliated by imprisoning 2 Canadians, a criminal trial turned into a hostage negotiation and in the end the Americans had nothing to show for it. This is probably the most high profile case of the Canadian state utterly caving to Trump to its own detriment and it was totally preventable.

        • Hi @donnamartingraduates – thank you so much for sharing that article. It was a really eye opening read into global diplomacy and how utterly fucked up that whole situation is from start to beginning. I had no idea about the hostage situation that happened in 2014, which makes the whole thing Meng and the two Michaels even more galling. I really hope I’m wrong in what I said earlier and that maybe this whole issue is higher on the list than I’m aware of. I hope it gets settled soon.

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