Supercreator Daily: Barack Obama calls on Congress to act on voting rights

Plus: House Democrats’ plan to make Congress more competitive and the stylish upgrade to my functional backpacks and tote bags.

👋🏾 Hi, hey, hello!

Welcome back to Supercreator DailyIt’s Tuesday, June 15. Let’s get you caught up on the news.

Voting rights

Former President Barack Obama issued a call to action for Congress to pass voting rights legislation in an interview with Errin Haines of The 19th. Specifically, he called for protections to make sure every American is automatically registered to vote by adding polling places, expanding early voting and ending partisan gerrymandering that allows elected officials to pick their voters instead of voters choosing their elected officials. He also endorsed guarantees that every American citizen has equal representation, including those who live in Washington D.C., in Puerto Rico and the formerly incarcerated. Many of these provisions are in the For the People Act, the legislation the House passed in March and is currently being held up in the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is expected to schedule a vote this month, even though the proposal is opposed by DemocraticSen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and all 50 Republican Senators.

T**** DOJ probe

The House and Senate Judiciary Committees announced that they would open separate investigations into secret subpoenas of data from members of Congress and multiple journalists issued by the Department of Justice under the T**** administration. The New York Times reported last week that DOJ officials subpoenaed Apple for information regarding accounts belonging to two top Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee in an attempt to find sources of critical coverage of T**** associates and their connection to Russian contacts. “Like many Americans, I desperately want to see Attorney General Garland succeed in his goal of repairing the damage done by his predecessors and return a sense of ‘normal’ to the Department of Justice. It is an important and worthy undertaking,” Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, said. “Accordingly, the [committee] will investigate the Trump Administration’s surveillance of Members of Congress, the news media, and others.”

LGBTQ+ equality

Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney of New York announced plans to reintroduce the “LGBTQ Essential Data Act” to improve sexual orientation and gender identity data collection in violent crimes and suicides. This year is on track to become the deadliest for trans Americans, which is no surprise considering the record number of bills targeting trans children has fueled dangerous transphobia and violence. Maloney’s proposal would require law enforcement to include sexual orientation and gender identity in a national database that documents violent deaths and suicides along with information about why they occurred. “The epidemic of violence against transgender Americans — particularly transgender women of color — is only getting worse,” Maloney said in a statement to Jo Yurcaba at NBC News. If the bill is passed by Congress, President Biden is expected to sign the bill.

Financial well-being

Kayla Epstein at Insider obtained a letter signed by more than 100 House Democrats demanding a raise for Capitol Hill staffers. According to Insider, the lawmakers’ demands come two weeks after they revealed the low wages workers earn while putting in long hours. In the letter, lawmakers urged the House Appropriations Committee to authorize an increase to their offices’ budgets plus additional funding for committee and leadership budgets to recruit, attract and retain a diverse pool of talent. To that end, the letter also calls for benefits to cover adoption, fertility treatment and childcare make the House competitive with the private sector. “Generational wealth shouldn’t be a requirement to work in Washington,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, one of the signatories of the letter, wrote on Twitter. “Congressional staffers have been far underpaid for far too long. This has damaging effects on both policymaking [and] diversity.”

NYC primaries

New Yorkers will elect hundreds of candidates running for mayor, comptroller (the city’s top finance official), City Council, borough president and Manhattan district attorney in next Tuesday's primary elections. It’s as fraught of a time in the city since I moved here in 2014, as crime is spiking, rent is too damn high and disparities in education continue to marginalize Black and brown students. Under the city’s new ranked-choice voting system, voters will be able to rank up to five candidates on the primary ballot. In the latest polling, Brooklyn borough president Eric Adams would ultimately beat out former city Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia in the mayoral race.

Here’s what else you need to know today:

  • Attorney General Merrick Garland met with leaders from CNN, The New York Times and The Washington Post yesterday to discuss the aforementioned T**** administration’s anti-press leak investigation that involved seeking reporter records from all three media outlets. [Chauncey Alcorn / CNN Business]

  • The Senate voted 53–44 to confirm Ketanji Brown Jackson, who insiders believe could be President Biden’s pick as the first Black woman on the Supreme Court, to replace Garland on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. [Sahil Kapur / NBC News]

  • Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine co-wrote an op-ed in The Times to announce legislation proposing a commission to study the United States’ COVID-19 response. [Bob Menendez and Susan Collins / NYT]

  • Apple is reportedly working on new Apple Watch models and health features, including display and speed upgrades, an extreme sports edition and body temperature and blood sugar sensors. [Mark Gurman / Bloomberg]

  • YouTube announced it will no longer accept ads for alcohol sales, gambling, prescription drugs and election and political ads for its masthead, the rectangle across the top of its homepage that commands the app’s most expensive rates. [Sara Fischer / Axios]

Read All About It

Courtney Rubin at The Hollywood Reporter on the Hollywoodization of Peloton:

In many ways, Peloton operates like an old Hollywood studio, creating star instructors who are on multiyear contracts, producing all its own content and controlling its distribution. Peloton’s desire for absolute control is such that it attempts to trace leaks to the press, says a former employee, who had knowledge of multiple leaks that appeared on The Clip Out, a Peloton fan podcast. And when this reporter approached an instructor’s agent to ask why they had signed a cycling star, it was a Peloton PR person who wrote back to say that the request (though it was to someone not employed by Peloton) must be routed through the company and to “respect our protocols.” For this article, Peloton did make two executives available for interviews (with conditions, including that questions be submitted in advance and that inquiries about the company’s music deals were off-limits). King and Rigsby answered questions via email, the only way Peloton allowed them to be interviewed.

Marc Fischer at The Washington Post on the maddening persistence of “hygiene theater”:

None of these precautions provide meaningful protection against the spread of the coronavirus, safety experts say. Instead, they are examples of what critics call “hygiene theater,” the deployment of symbolic tactics that do little to prevent the spread of the coronavirus but may make some anxious consumers feel safer. (The term is widely credited to Atlantic writer Derek Thompson, who catalogued ineffective but showy anti-covid tactics last summer.)

Charles M. Blow at The New York Times on critical race theory:

Critical race theory began to stand for any teachings that challenged the narrative that white America had crafted about the country, and that unveiled any truths that it had tried to hide or erase.

Identifying and challenging racism was seen by some as racist. Pretending racism didn’t exist — that merit and sloth, excellence and pathology, explained away racial imbalance — was viewed as egalitarian and unifying.

So the rush by states across the country to ban the teaching of critical race theory in schools isn’t really about a real threat. Very few schools even teach C.R.T. as a core part of their curriculums, if at all.

Republicans are using their tried-and-true playbook of fear mongering about the rise of otherness and the displacement of whiteness, the white patriarchy and a dominant white narrative.

Critical race theory has simply become the latest tool.

Mary Ziegler and Robert L. Tsai at Politico on how the anti-abortion movement used the progressive playbook to chip away at Roe v. Wade:

Some of this connection is symbolic: Anti-abortion leaders have deliberately invoked the struggle for equal rights for Black people in a bid to rally wider political support for their own cause, portraying “the unborn” as a class of people with no other voice in American politics. (Dr. John Willke, the so-called “father of the pro-life movement,” even wrote a book called Abortion and Slavery: History Repeats.) In the aftermath of Roe, this appeal was an effort to lend legitimacy to a cause on which neither political party had firmed up a position. Conservative evangelicals, many of whom deeply opposed abortion, kept their distance from what they saw as a Catholic movement. Comparing their work to the clear moral good of abolitionism, however, made it easier for abortion foes to appeal to evangelicals, Mormons and other religious conservatives, helping to mainstream anti-abortion activism and open the door to a partnership with the Republican Party.

Alex Pareene at The New Republic on why liberals should invest in propaganda:

Liberals shouldn’t (and couldn’t) recreate the right-wing messaging operation, not least because their voters, and the voters they need to reach, consume media very differently from the conservative base. But liberals—normal, mainstream, Pod Save America–listening, Barack Obama–voting liberals—need to learn to get their message directly to people instead of trying to wrangle NPR and TheNew York Times into covering the news in a way favorable to Democrats.

Michael Cuby at Nylon on social influencer Rickey Thompson:

“I feel like, back in the day, Black people were just being funny and that was highlighted way more,” Thompson theorizes. “But now, it’s so hard. Now, I feel like, for you to be popping, you have to be white, cute, and straight.” It doesn’t help that he now sees lifestyle and beauty content largely overshadowing comedy on the algorithm — a shift he doesn’t hesitate to say he “hates.”“I think that's what the new generation wants to see. Our generation, we just wanted to laugh, have a good time. Now it's like, oh, who's going to be the prettiest, who's going to be the richest, oh my God.”

Michael’s Pick

COS Nylon Crossbody Bag ($89): I’m finally ready for one of these sleek crossbody bags for when the occasion calls for something a bit more stylish than my functional backpacks and totes can offer.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this post misstated the date for the New York City primaries.