Bits ‘n’ Pieces: Feb. 25, 2021

By Lorraine H. Marie
Reader Columnist

East, west or beyond, sooner or later events elsewhere may have a local impact. A recent sampling:

Last week marked when millionaires stopped paying into Social Security, since the cap is at $142,800 of earnings. Lifting that cap could extend the lifespan of the SS Trust Fund, according to Americans for Tax Fairness. There are currently two plans for doing so: President Joe Biden proposed a payroll tax on earnings above $400,000, impacting the top 0.4% of wage earners. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ plan would apply SS payroll taxes on earnings above $250,000, raising $1.4 trillion for the fund.

Hard-core adherants to the QAnon conspiracy theory believe former-President Donald Trump will be inaugurated on Thursday, March 4, Forbes reported, noting that March 4 inaugurations ended with legislation in 1933.

Data analysis of almost 800 U.S. counties showed COVID-19 deaths are likely 44% higher than reported. According to — which is produced by Boston Globe Media — undercounting has been prevalent in Trump-supporting counties, and many COVID-19 deaths were either not diagnosed or not reported as being from COVID-19. 

A civil rights firm, the NAACP and a Mississippi U.S. Representative have sued Trump, his lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and right-wing militant groups the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers regarding the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. The suit alleges that conspiring to incite riots to block certification of the 2020 election results was a violation of the Ku Klux Klan Act, Politico reported. The Act was designed to protect formerly enslaved Black Americans, as well as congressional lawmakers, from white supremacist violence.

During a recent hearing to confirm him as the next U.S. attorney general, Merrick Garland recalled the beginning of the Department of Justice 150 years ago, when it was founded to protect the rule of law amid the KKK’s campaign of murder and intimidation against former slaves, intended to stop them from using their newly won rights. He pledged to continue the mission of protecting citizens from criminal activities, and to battle extremist attacks on democracy.

There would have been 40% fewer deaths in the U.S. from COVID-19 if the U.S. had a health system as strong as that of Canada or Japan, according to a new report in The Lancet. Recorded COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. have now exceeded a 500,000, according to NPR. While Congress debates the next stimulus package, Thea Lee, of the Economic Policy Institute, challenged opposition that argues the stimulus would be wasteful. 

“I wish I heard the same kind of righteous indignation … when the Republican tax bill in 2017 gave $2 trillion to folks who didn’t need it, 85% of it going to the richest folks,” Lee said on C-SPAN. “Across the country people are in tremendous difficulty. Kids are going hungry. People are being thrown out in the street.” 

Pew Research shows 64% of people favor COVID-19 relief. The perspective from Republican West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice: “We need to go big … we’ve got to get ourselves out of this mess.”

One of the Senate’s first considerations for 2021 will be the For the People Act. It would increase election security and voter participation; end congressional gerrymandering; strengthen ethics and financial conflict of interest laws for the president, Congress and Supreme Court; rein in super PACs; end secret political donations; and close lobbyist loopholes, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. It passed the House in 2019 but was not acted on under the Republican-led Senate.

Blast from the past: “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” — Frederick Douglas, c.1818-1895, a former slave who became a noted reformer, author and orator.

And another blast: With former President Ronald Reagan’s dismantling of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, anti-New Deal politicians no longer had to compete side-by-side with ideas from moderate Republicans and Democrats. This opened the door for radio personalities like the recently deceased Rush Limbaugh. His radio career resulted in an estimated net worth of $600 million. Limbaugh is credited with laying the groundwork for Trump’s presidency by stoking decades of resentment among especially white, working-class men, whom he claimed were under threat from “socialism.”

While we have you ...

... if you appreciate that access to the news, opinion, humor, entertainment and cultural reporting in the Sandpoint Reader is freely available in our print newspaper as well as here on our website, we have a favor to ask. The Reader is locally owned and free of the large corporate, big-money influence that affects so much of the media today. We're supported entirely by our valued advertisers and readers. We're committed to continued free access to our paper and our website here with NO PAYWALL - period. But of course, it does cost money to produce the Reader. If you're a reader who appreciates the value of an independent, local news source, we hope you'll consider a voluntary contribution. You can help support the Reader for as little as $1.

You can contribute at either Paypal or Patreon.

Contribute at Patreon Contribute at Paypal

You may also like...

Close [x]

Want to support independent local journalism?

The Sandpoint Reader is our town's local, independent weekly newspaper. "Independent" means that the Reader is locally owned, in a partnership between Publisher Ben Olson and Keokee Co. Publishing, the media company owned by Chris Bessler that also publishes Sandpoint Magazine and Sandpoint Online. Sandpoint Reader LLC is a completely independent business unit; no big newspaper group or corporate conglomerate or billionaire owner dictates our editorial policy. And we want the news, opinion and lifestyle stories we report to be freely available to all interested readers - so unlike many other newspapers and media websites, we have NO PAYWALL on our website. The Reader relies wholly on the support of our valued advertisers, as well as readers who voluntarily contribute. Want to ensure that local, independent journalism survives in our town? You can help support the Reader for as little as $1.