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Letter From An American by Heather Cox Richardson

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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,283
     April 23, 2021 (Friday)

    The big news today is the two-day climate conference of world leaders, which I will write about in the future, but I am still chewing over something from four days ago. Tonight’s post is a combination of history and speculation, so this is a good one to skip if you need a break from politics or you’re not interested in musings.

    If you’re still on board….
     
    On April 19, Senator Rick Scott (R-FL), who is the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, in charge of fundraising to elect Republicans to the Senate, wrote an astonishing op-ed for Fox Business. It lashed out at “Woke Corporate America,” the corporations Scott blames for shunning states that are undermining voting rights in order to try to keep Republicans in power, particularly Major League Baseball. Using language that echoes that of former president Donald Trump, this scathing op-ed accuses business leaders of catering to “the rabble leftist mob” because they are “hoping to buy time to rake in more cash.” It warns, “There is a massive backlash coming. You will rue the day when it hits you. That day is November 8, 2022. That is the day Republicans will take back the Senate and the House. It will be a day of reckoning.”
     
    The man who is in charge of raising money to elect Republicans to the Senate, a businessman whose net worth is estimated to be more than $200 million, with his wife worth another $170–208 million, is turning viciously on the business people who, until now, have provided the financing to keep Republicans in office.
     
    This strikes me as an interesting moment.
     
    The ideological faction that is currently in control of the Republican Party grew out of opposition to the active government both Democrats and Republicans embraced after World War II. But since Americans actually liked business regulation, a social safety net, and infrastructure projects, those Movement Conservatives who wanted to take the government back to the 1920s got little traction until 1954, when the Brown v. Board of Education decision enabled them to harness racism to their cause. With federal government efforts to end segregation in the public schools, businessmen who hated government regulation warned voters that their tax dollars were being used to give Black Americans extra benefits. It was socialism, they said, and it would encourage Black people to step out of their place.
     
    This formula worked. Businessmen determined to cut the government bankrolled Movement Conservative candidates, and people determined not to let their tax dollars go to Black or Brown people voted for them. In 1986, Grover Norquist, a former economist for the Chamber of Commerce, brought together business people, evangelicals, and social conservatives. “Traditional Republican business groups can provide the resources,” Norquist explained, “but these groups can provide the votes.”

    These two very different groups have worked together since the Reagan administration, but former president Trump changed the equation. In the past, the racist and sexist language was understated enough that supporters could wink at it and insist that those calling it out were overly sensitive. But Trump put it openly on the table.

    When Trump announced his candidacy for president on June 16, 2015, suggesting that Mexican immigrants to the U.S. are drug dealers, criminals, and rapists, supporters continued the old pattern of excusing that rhetoric. But in August 2017, when Trump appeared to side with the white supremacist mob that killed Heather Heyer and wounded 19 other counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, with his claim that there were “very fine people on both sides,” a split seemed to open up in the party. Fed on decades of racist and sexist rhetoric and emboldened by the president, white supremacists stepped into public view in a way that could not be ignored. And party leaders who depended on their votes did not turn away.

    But the calculation for business leaders changed with the January 6 insurrection and the attempts of states like Georgia to restrict the vote, largely to keep Black people from the polls. Consumers and employees are pressing business leaders to take a stand against the white supremacist wing of the party, and many of them are doing so. At the same time, though, small donors are making up for the money that corporations are withholding from Republican candidates. This seems to have inspired Senator Scott—who is in charge of fundraising, after all—to turn viciously on businessmen in order to court Trump loyalists.

    Could it be that after all these years the marriage of business and racist voters is twisting apart?

    If it is, it seems to me there are two logical outcomes to this split. It could be that the people running today’s businesses fall in line behind the white nationalists and let them call the shots, letting them take the lead in the old partnership for a change. If that happens, we can expect any future Republican government formally to throw out our foundational principle of equality before the law, and the vision that the former president and his followers embraced will come to pass.

    But there is another possible outcome. It was, after all, the marriage of these two very different groups that gave Movement Conservatives the power to take over the Republican Party in an attempt to destroy the post–World War II government. If they finally wrench apart, the remnants of the Republican Party would once again have to appeal to ordinary voters who want to keep the active government that provides Social Security and Medicare and roads and clean water but who want a real conversation about what that government should look like.

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    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,283
      April 24, 2021 (Saturday)

    Spring has sprung here, and life is starting to pick up again.

    Going to bed to get a jump on it. Will see you tomorrow.

    [Photo by Buddy Poland]

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,283
     April 25, 2021 (Sunday)
     
    On Thursday and Friday of last week, April 22 and 23, President Biden convened a virtual meeting of 40 world leaders to discuss addressing climate change. It is no longer possible to ignore changes in the world’s climate: the last decade was the hottest in recorded history, and the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has reached record levels. Arctic ice is melting; last summer’s fires in Australia, California, and Colorado were catastrophic.
     
    In 2015, representatives of more than 190 countries, including the U.S., gathered in Paris and hammered out an agreement on mitigating climate change, adapting to it, and financing those changes. Former president Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris Agreement. On his first day in office, Biden took the U.S. back into the international agreement.
     
    But Biden seems not simply to be trying to adjust the nation’s energy production. With the Leaders Summit on Climate, Biden is taking what his Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm called “our generation’s moonshot,” a reference to the American determination to reach the moon in the 1960s, a goal that spurred previously unimaginable developments in technology, computers, and science.
     
    In the past, refusal to address the issue of climate change has centered around the idea that cutting back on fossil fuels would take jobs from coal miners and those in related fossil fuel industries. That focus was always about more than jobs: the hardworking white man in a hardhat was a cultural symbol for a certain political stance more than it was about reality. Walmart, for example, employs about 28 times the number of people as does coal, even including executives, office workers, and so on. Still, it’s a trope that worked in 2016: Trump won West Virginia by 42 points.
     
    But a lot has changed in the last four years.
     
    For one thing, the market for coal has slid, illustrating that old blue-collar jobs are not coming back. Trump promised to make coal great again and seemed to think that slashing environmental regulations would do the trick, but even combined with an infusion of up to $1 billion, slashing regulations could not stop Trump’s administration from overseeing the fastest decline of coal-fuel capacity in U.S. history. The U.S. lost 10% of coal-mining jobs—5300 of them—between 2016 and 2020. Low natural gas prices and the rise of wind and solar alternatives pushed coal aside. At the same time, mechanization across blue collar industries means the recovery of old manufacturing jobs is not in the cards.
     
    On April 19, the United Mine Workers of America, the largest coal miners’ union, backed Biden’s plan to move away from coal, so long as miners get government support to transition into similar jobs. In a plan endorsed by Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia (who is well known for delivering for his constituents), the union asked for funding to plug abandoned oil and gas wells, clean up mining sites, and train workers for new jobs in new energy technologies.
     
    The sentiments of business leaders have shifted, too, as they recognize that climate change is a financial disruptor. Earlier this month, leaders of more than 400 businesses that collectively employ more than 7 million Americans signed a letter asking Biden to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% below 2005 levels by 2030. “To restore the standing of the U.S. as a global leader, we need to address the climate crisis at the pace and scale it demands,” they wrote. “New investment in clean energy, energy efficiency, and clean transportation can build a strong, more equitable, and more inclusive American economy.” Signatories included Etsy, Facebook, Nike, Microsoft, Verizon, and Walmart.
     
    Biden has already embraced the idea that addressing climate change is not a loss but an opportunity. It will, he insists, bring good jobs to ordinary Americans. “When people talk about climate, I think jobs,” Biden said on Thursday. “Within our climate response lies an extraordinary engine of job creation and economic opportunity ready to be fired up.”
     
    Indeed, Biden’s American Jobs Plan already calls for $16 billion to clean up abandoned mining sites and more for the training in new infrastructure jobs coal miners want. It also addresses job losses in rural areas in an obvious but novel way: by supporting the caregiver economy. Caregiving jobs cannot ever be mechanized, and there are caregivers—and people who need care— in every single community in this country. Supporting those positions will bring money into towns left behind by the loss of jobs like mining.
     
    Biden’s emphasis on new energy jobs is part domestic politics, but it is also a major play for redefining future world power. It was no accident that the overarching political theme of last week’s conference was “America is back.”
     
    As the White House fact sheet on the conference stated: “Over the course of two days and eight sessions, President Biden convened heads of state and government, as well as leaders and representatives from international organizations, businesses, subnational governments, and indigenous communities, to rally the world in tackling the climate crisis, demonstrate the economic opportunities of the future, and affirm the need for unprecedented global cooperation and ambition to meet the moment.”

    America is back, indeed.
     
    But what does that mean, in this context? At the summit, Biden announced that by 2030 the U.S. would reduce emissions by 50–52% from the levels of 2005, more than doubling our commitment under the Paris Agreement. He called for other countries, which make up 85% of emissions, to “step up” to “tackle the climate crisis and support the most vulnerable.” (The U.S., which has 4% of the world’s population, emits 15% of the world’s greenhouse gases). This is all pretty standard for U.S. climate statements. Biden went farther, though, calling for changing the American economy over to renewables, including wind, solar, nuclear, and so on, to make the country carbon-free by 2035.
     
    Still, what jumps out from the rest of the Biden proposal is what sure looks like a major reworking of the world economy and thus its political tensions.
     
    While the U.S. focused on fossil fuels and refused to jump wholeheartedly into research and development of alternative energies, China did. That nation is still dependent on fossil fuels and expects not to reach its highest pollution levels until sometime before 2030, but it has heavily subsidized solar power and now has 8 of the top 10 solar companies in the world. America has one; Europe has none. Chinese dominance of the technology and supply chains for the solar industry threatens to sideline American technology and national security, as even American solar manufacturers depend on Chinese materials.
     
    Dominating the world of alternative energy would give China a powerful geopolitical tool. Remember how hard the supply chain failures in China during the early days of the coronavirus hit the U.S.? Now, think energy. A recent piece by Emerging Markets journalist Kenneth Rapoza in Forbes is titled: “How China’s Solar Industry Is Set Up To Be The New Green OPEC,” a reference to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, whose oil embargo to the U.S. in 1973 slammed the U.S. economy.

    Countries, especially weaker countries, would need to turn toward China if that’s where they get their energy technology. And even stronger countries would be dependent on China for one of their most vital needs. To forestall that scenario, Biden has stepped in to reclaim leadership on new energy technologies for the United States, enabling other countries to work toward an energy future that is not dominated by China. On April 22, North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg signed onto the idea of NATO cooperation on climate change and other security challenges.

    After four years in which our leaders saw the height of American strength as standing alone, our leadership is now focusing on the idea of international teamwork. Biden’s climate plan is about saving the planet, but it also seems to be about saving global alliances, binding countries together with a new climate agreement to retain their power over their own energy in the future.

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,283
     April 26, 2021 (Monday)

    In his first major speech as Secretary of State, Antony Blinken laid out the principles of the Biden administration in foreign policy, emphasizing that this administration believed foreign and domestic policy to be profoundly linked. Biden’s people would support democracy at home and abroad to combat the authoritarianism rising around the world… including in the U.S.

    “The more we and other democracies can show the world that we can deliver, not only for our people, but also for each other, the more we can refute the lie that authoritarian countries love to tell, that theirs is the better way to meet people’s fundamental needs and hopes. It’s on us to prove them wrong,” Blinken said. “So the question isn’t if we will support democracy around the world, but how.” He answered: “We will use the power of our example.  We will encourage others to make key reforms, overturn bad laws, fight corruption, and stop unjust practices. We will incentivize democratic behavior.”

    President Joe Biden has set out a foreign policy that focuses on human rights and reaches out more to foreign peoples than to their governments, heartening protesters in authoritarian countries.

    On Saturday, Biden issued a document declaring that the displacement and slaughter of 1.5 million ethnic Armenians at the hands of the Ottomans in 1915 was a “genocide.” The U.S. had previously refused to recognize the ethnic cleansing for what it was because of the strategic importance of Turkey to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO (among other things, Turkey holds the straits that control access to the Black Sea, on which Russia and Ukraine, as well as other countries, sit).
     
    Biden’s recognition of the Armenian genocide is a reflection of the fact that Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is increasingly close to Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Taliban, and appears to be abandoning democracy in his own country, giving Biden the room to take a step popular in America but previously too undiplomatic to undertake. (Remember when Erdogan’s security staff beat up protesters in Washington, D.C., in 2017 and prosecutors dropped the charges?)

    Erdogan greeted Biden’s announcement with anger, demanding he retract it, but he also said he expected to discuss all of the disputes between the U.S. and Turkey at the June NATO summit. Geopolitics in Erdogan’s part of the world are changing, as Putin is struggling at home with protests against his treatment of opposition leader Alexey Navalny and with the new U.S. sanctions that, by making it hard for him to float government bonds, could weaken his economy further. It is looking more and more likely that Biden and Putin will also have a summit early this summer.
     
    Biden’s emphasis on ordinary people and his attempt to illustrate the power of democracy showed today, too, when the Biden administration announced it would share as many as 60 million doses of our stockpiled AstraZeneca shots with the world once they pass safety reviews.
     
    But the news shows that Biden’s concerns about the rise of authoritarianism at home are well founded. Republican pundits and lawmakers are rallying their supporters to a world that is based not in reality, but rather in what they consider to be fundamental truths: a hallmark of authoritarians.

    The ridiculous idea that Biden’s climate proposals would mean that Biden was banning meat swept through the right-wing echo chamber this weekend. It appears to have originated in an entirely unrelated academic paper from 2020 that explored how changing the American diet might affect greenhouse gas emissions. Still, the Fox News Channel (FNC) claimed that Biden was cutting “90% of red meat from diet,” and restricting people to “one burger per month," and lawmakers joined the chorus.
     
    The right seems increasingly detached from reality, but it is a detachment with a purpose.
     
    Right-wing pundits are fantasizing about being afraid of the left. After the guilty verdict in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin, who knelt on George Floyd’s neck until he died, Fox News personality Tucker Carlson and Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) both implied that the nation’s cities are boarded up and people are cowering in fear from protesters against police brutality. They seem to be saying that imagined excesses of the left justify extreme behavior from the right. That is, in their telling, left-wing protesters are so out of control, their actions justify any sort of a crackdown they bring upon themselves.
     
    On Twitter, lawyer and political writer Teri Kanefield did a deeper dive on the way lies serve the authoritarian government of fascism. Stories like that about meat, or about the inhabitants of the nation’s capital being afraid to go outside, or the idea that the January 6 insurrectionists were Biden supporters are not true, and those who tell them know it. But those lies illuminate what those who tell them see as a higher truth, doing so in a way that ordinary people can understand. People challenging the lie prove they do not accept the higher truth, and thus are enemies.
     
    History suggests we’re in dangerous territory.

    Last week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law the “Combatting Public Disorder Act,” designed, as he said, to “stand for the rule of law and public safety.” Recalling the summer’s protests, he said, “We are holding those who incite violence in our communities accountable, supporting our law enforcement officers who risk their lives every day to keep us safe and protecting Floridians from the chaos of mob violence. We’re also putting an end to the bullying and intimidation tactics of the radical left by criminalizing doxing and requiring restitution for damaging memorials and monuments by rioters.”

    The new law lowers a “riot” to three people and dramatically increases punishments for “rioting,” including the loss of the right to vote. It also makes local governments financially liable if they do not respond aggressively enough to “unlawful assembly,” and it protects people who happen to injure or kill a protester during a riot, including by driving a car into them.

    But a study by The Guardian, released earlier this month, suggests that the summer’s mass arrests were an attempt to control crowds, silence protests, and turn observers against the protesters by portraying them as violent and lawbreaking. Law enforcement dropped, dismissed, or never filed the vast majority of citations and charges it issued to Black Lives Matter protesters.

    Guardian reporter Tom Perkins looked at 12 different jurisdictions and found that in most of them, including in Minneapolis where Floyd was killed, at least 90% of the cases were dropped or dismissed. In Dallas and Philadelphia, 95% of the cases were dropped. In San Francisco, 100% of the cases related to peaceful protest were dismissed. In Detroit, most of the tickets were written by officers who were not themselves at the protests.
     
    Tonight, FNC personality Carlson called for his audience to start direct action. He told them to confront people wearing masks, which he says are signs of “political obedience.” He maintained that 64% of white Americans who called themselves “liberal” or “very liberal” “have been diagnosed with an actual mental health condition.” He called them “aggressors” and told supporters, “it’s our job to brush them back and restore the society we were born in.” He said to call the police immediately if they see children wearing masks and keep calling until someone arrives: it is child abuse, he says, and his audience is “morally obligated to prevent it.”

    The chyron under his monologue read: “THIS ISN’T ABOUT SCIENCE. IT’S ABOUT POWER.”

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
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    Halifax2TheMaxHalifax2TheMax Posts: 36,931
    mickeyrat said:
     April 26, 2021 (Monday)

    In his first major speech as Secretary of State, Antony Blinken laid out the principles of the Biden administration in foreign policy, emphasizing that this administration believed foreign and domestic policy to be profoundly linked. Biden’s people would support democracy at home and abroad to combat the authoritarianism rising around the world… including in the U.S.

    “The more we and other democracies can show the world that we can deliver, not only for our people, but also for each other, the more we can refute the lie that authoritarian countries love to tell, that theirs is the better way to meet people’s fundamental needs and hopes. It’s on us to prove them wrong,” Blinken said. “So the question isn’t if we will support democracy around the world, but how.” He answered: “We will use the power of our example.  We will encourage others to make key reforms, overturn bad laws, fight corruption, and stop unjust practices. We will incentivize democratic behavior.”

    President Joe Biden has set out a foreign policy that focuses on human rights and reaches out more to foreign peoples than to their governments, heartening protesters in authoritarian countries.

    On Saturday, Biden issued a document declaring that the displacement and slaughter of 1.5 million ethnic Armenians at the hands of the Ottomans in 1915 was a “genocide.” The U.S. had previously refused to recognize the ethnic cleansing for what it was because of the strategic importance of Turkey to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO (among other things, Turkey holds the straits that control access to the Black Sea, on which Russia and Ukraine, as well as other countries, sit).
     
    Biden’s recognition of the Armenian genocide is a reflection of the fact that Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is increasingly close to Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Taliban, and appears to be abandoning democracy in his own country, giving Biden the room to take a step popular in America but previously too undiplomatic to undertake. (Remember when Erdogan’s security staff beat up protesters in Washington, D.C., in 2017 and prosecutors dropped the charges?)

    Erdogan greeted Biden’s announcement with anger, demanding he retract it, but he also said he expected to discuss all of the disputes between the U.S. and Turkey at the June NATO summit. Geopolitics in Erdogan’s part of the world are changing, as Putin is struggling at home with protests against his treatment of opposition leader Alexey Navalny and with the new U.S. sanctions that, by making it hard for him to float government bonds, could weaken his economy further. It is looking more and more likely that Biden and Putin will also have a summit early this summer.
     
    Biden’s emphasis on ordinary people and his attempt to illustrate the power of democracy showed today, too, when the Biden administration announced it would share as many as 60 million doses of our stockpiled AstraZeneca shots with the world once they pass safety reviews.
     
    But the news shows that Biden’s concerns about the rise of authoritarianism at home are well founded. Republican pundits and lawmakers are rallying their supporters to a world that is based not in reality, but rather in what they consider to be fundamental truths: a hallmark of authoritarians.

    The ridiculous idea that Biden’s climate proposals would mean that Biden was banning meat swept through the right-wing echo chamber this weekend. It appears to have originated in an entirely unrelated academic paper from 2020 that explored how changing the American diet might affect greenhouse gas emissions. Still, the Fox News Channel (FNC) claimed that Biden was cutting “90% of red meat from diet,” and restricting people to “one burger per month," and lawmakers joined the chorus.
     
    The right seems increasingly detached from reality, but it is a detachment with a purpose.
     
    Right-wing pundits are fantasizing about being afraid of the left. After the guilty verdict in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin, who knelt on George Floyd’s neck until he died, Fox News personality Tucker Carlson and Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) both implied that the nation’s cities are boarded up and people are cowering in fear from protesters against police brutality. They seem to be saying that imagined excesses of the left justify extreme behavior from the right. That is, in their telling, left-wing protesters are so out of control, their actions justify any sort of a crackdown they bring upon themselves.
     
    On Twitter, lawyer and political writer Teri Kanefield did a deeper dive on the way lies serve the authoritarian government of fascism. Stories like that about meat, or about the inhabitants of the nation’s capital being afraid to go outside, or the idea that the January 6 insurrectionists were Biden supporters are not true, and those who tell them know it. But those lies illuminate what those who tell them see as a higher truth, doing so in a way that ordinary people can understand. People challenging the lie prove they do not accept the higher truth, and thus are enemies.
     
    History suggests we’re in dangerous territory.

    Last week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law the “Combatting Public Disorder Act,” designed, as he said, to “stand for the rule of law and public safety.” Recalling the summer’s protests, he said, “We are holding those who incite violence in our communities accountable, supporting our law enforcement officers who risk their lives every day to keep us safe and protecting Floridians from the chaos of mob violence. We’re also putting an end to the bullying and intimidation tactics of the radical left by criminalizing doxing and requiring restitution for damaging memorials and monuments by rioters.”

    The new law lowers a “riot” to three people and dramatically increases punishments for “rioting,” including the loss of the right to vote. It also makes local governments financially liable if they do not respond aggressively enough to “unlawful assembly,” and it protects people who happen to injure or kill a protester during a riot, including by driving a car into them.

    But a study by The Guardian, released earlier this month, suggests that the summer’s mass arrests were an attempt to control crowds, silence protests, and turn observers against the protesters by portraying them as violent and lawbreaking. Law enforcement dropped, dismissed, or never filed the vast majority of citations and charges it issued to Black Lives Matter protesters.

    Guardian reporter Tom Perkins looked at 12 different jurisdictions and found that in most of them, including in Minneapolis where Floyd was killed, at least 90% of the cases were dropped or dismissed. In Dallas and Philadelphia, 95% of the cases were dropped. In San Francisco, 100% of the cases related to peaceful protest were dismissed. In Detroit, most of the tickets were written by officers who were not themselves at the protests.
     
    Tonight, FNC personality Carlson called for his audience to start direct action. He told them to confront people wearing masks, which he says are signs of “political obedience.” He maintained that 64% of white Americans who called themselves “liberal” or “very liberal” “have been diagnosed with an actual mental health condition.” He called them “aggressors” and told supporters, “it’s our job to brush them back and restore the society we were born in.” He said to call the police immediately if they see children wearing masks and keep calling until someone arrives: it is child abuse, he says, and his audience is “morally obligated to prevent it.”

    The chyron under his monologue read: “THIS ISN’T ABOUT SCIENCE. IT’S ABOUT POWER.”

    What was that about ‘Murica turning into a Nazi like regime again? It’s early yet but we’re well on our way. Give it another 2-4 years to stew and fester. And just wait until POOTWH’s kids really enter the fray.
    09/15/1998 & 09/16/1998, Mansfield, MA; 08/29/00 08/30/00, Mansfield, MA; 07/02/03, 07/03/03, Mansfield, MA; 09/28/04, 09/29/04, Boston, MA; 09/22/05, Halifax, NS; 05/24/06, 05/25/06, Boston, MA; 07/22/06, 07/23/06, Gorge, WA; 06/27/2008, Hartford; 06/28/08, 06/30/08, Mansfield; 08/18/2009, O2, London, UK; 10/30/09, 10/31/09, Philadelphia, PA; 05/15/10, Hartford, CT; 05/17/10, Boston, MA; 05/20/10, 05/21/10, NY, NY; 06/22/10, Dublin, IRE; 06/23/10, Northern Ireland; 09/03/11, 09/04/11, Alpine Valley, WI; 09/11/11, 09/12/11, Toronto, Ont; 09/14/11, Ottawa, Ont; 09/15/11, Hamilton, Ont; 07/02/2012, Prague, Czech Republic; 07/04/2012 & 07/05/2012, Berlin, Germany; 07/07/2012, Stockholm, Sweden; 09/30/2012, Missoula, MT; 07/16/2013, London, Ont; 07/19/2013, Chicago, IL; 10/15/2013 & 10/16/2013, Worcester, MA; 10/21/2013 & 10/22/2013, Philadelphia, PA; 10/25/2013, Hartford, CT; 11/29/2013, Portland, OR; 11/30/2013, Spokane, WA; 12/04/2013, Vancouver, BC; 12/06/2013, Seattle, WA; 10/03/2014, St. Louis. MO; 10/22/2014, Denver, CO; 10/26/2015, New York, NY; 04/23/2016, New Orleans, LA; 04/28/2016 & 04/29/2016, Philadelphia, PA; 05/01/2016 & 05/02/2016, New York, NY; 05/08/2016, Ottawa, Ont.; 05/10/2016 & 05/12/2016, Toronto, Ont.; 08/05/2016 & 08/07/2016, Boston, MA; 08/20/2016 & 08/22/2016, Chicago, IL; 07/01/2018, Prague, Czech Republic; 07/03/2018, Krakow, Poland; 07/05/2018, Berlin, Germany; 09/02/2018 & 09/04/2018, Boston, MA; 09/08/2022, Toronto, Ont; 09/11/2022, New York, NY; 09/14/2022, Camden, NJ; 09/02/2023, St. Paul, MN; 05/04/2024 & 05/06/2024, Vancouver, BC; 05/10/2024, Portland, OR;

    Libtardaplorable©. And proud of it.

    Brilliantati©
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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,283
     April 27, 2021 (Tuesday)
     
    More than 140 military leaders, former national security officials, and elected officials from both parties have asked Congress to establish a commission to figure out what led to the January 6 insurrection, when rioters attacked the U.S. Capitol, and how to stop a similar coup attempt in the future.

    Yesterday, Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) told reporters that the proposed congressional commission should focus solely on that attack. "What happened on January 6 is unprecedented in our history, and I think that it's very important that the commission be able to focus on that," she said. "It's very important that the January 6 commission focus on what happened on January 6 and what led to that day."
     
    Cheney is staking out turf apart from that of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who has said any commission should cover political violence in general, including Black Lives Matter protesters and Antifa protests. And yet, an investigation by The Guardian established that more than 90% of arrests at Black Lives Matter protests never led to charges and were apparently at least in part to feed a narrative that the BLM protesters were violent.
     
    Cheney and McCarthy are parting ways over what they see the future of the Republican Party to be. Cheney voted to convict former president Trump of incitement of insurrection for the events of January 6 and clearly wants to keep herself from the contamination of that crisis.
     
    McCarthy, in contrast, has come back to the Trump fold. Immediately after the January 6 attack, a number of Republicans who had witnessed the events said that McCarthy called Trump to beg him to call off the insurrectionists. Trump had said to him, “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are,” to which McCarthy responded: “Who the F—k do you think you’re talking to?”
     
    Nonetheless, later that night, McCarthy joined the majority of the House Republicans to object to the counting of the certified state ballots electing Joe Biden president. Although he later said that the former president “bears responsibility” for the assault, he voted against his impeachment for incitement of insurrection.
     
    What is at stake is the future of the Republican Party. What is also at stake is the future of the country.
     
    McCarthy doesn’t want to alienate Trump or his supporters because he sees them as key to future electoral victories. On Fox News Sunday this week, Chris Wallace asked McCarthy whether the story about his angry phone call with Trump on January 6 was true, but, despite witnesses, McCarthy refused to answer. He would like to keep Trump voters behind Republican candidates and has suggested forcing Cheney out of her leadership position in the party.
     
    The Trump loyalists in the party are trying to take over the party in its entirety. Trump and his supporters have continued to feed the idea that Biden cheated Trump out of his election win until now more than two thirds of Republicans say they believe Biden did not win the election. (He did. This is well established.)
     
    To continue to feed this Big Lie, Republicans in the Arizona state senate have turned to a private company for a vote audit in Arizona’s largest county, Maricopa. The vote has already been audited at least twice, under formal rules, and both audits turned up no fraud. Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell, a Republican, said there was no need to review the ballots again.

    In contrast to the trained election officials, the company the Republicans tapped is run by a conspiracy theorist who supports the idea that voter fraud stole the election from Trump; he claims Trump actually won by 200,000 votes. When a judge ordered the company, Cyber Ninjas, to explain publicly how it was conducting the audit, company attorneys refused. A reporter who observed the early process by claiming to be a volunteer noted that the volunteers helping with the audit were using pens that could be picked up by the scanners. The ballots are no longer secure, so whatever this so-called audit claims is automatically suspect.
     
    Tying the Republican Party to the Big Lie that caused the January 6 insurrection is a dangerous game. It is still unclear what will come out about the insurrection and the media lies that supported it and continue to support it.

    While officials in the Department of Justice have been quiet about investigations of the insurrection, that does not mean they are ignoring it: it is not appropriate to comment on an ongoing investigation. Indeed, more than four hundred people have already been arrested for their participation in the insurrection, and news broke yesterday that the FBI had at least four informants within the Proud Boys, the right-wing organization that allegedly provided security for Trump adviser Roger Stone in the days around the insurrection. The Department of Justice has announced it expects to charge at least 100 more individuals.

    There are also suggestive insurrection-adjacent stories swirling. A far-right British agitator, Tommy Robinson, who urged Trump supporters to keep fighting after the insurrection and who appeared in right-wing U.S. media, is now affiliating himself with Russia.  

    If Russian disinformation is indeed involved in the Big Lie, it might well be revealed: nine regional military commanders last year asked the intelligence community to declassify information about the ways in which Russia and China are undermining U.S. national security by shaping public opinion. Yesterday, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines announced that the administration will establish a new center to coordinate intelligence about foreign interference in U.S. politics. Haines noted that “[E]fforts by U.S. adversaries seek to exacerbate divisions and undermine confidence in our democratic institutions.”

    Lawyers from the Justice Department have been arguing in court lately that Trump’s continued lying about the election, along with the amplification of those lies by right-wing media, remains an ongoing threat.

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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,283
     April 28, 2021 (Wednesday)
     
    Earlier today, in anticipation of tonight’s address to Congress, President Joe Biden met with news anchors. The president told them that his many meetings with foreign leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping, have convinced him that the story of this moment is whether democracy can survive the challenges of the twenty-first century. As things speed up, is it possible, he asked, to achieve the consensus necessary for democracy in time to compete with autocracy?
     
    He told the anchors that “they’re going to write about this point in history.”
     
    Biden nailed it. The struggle to preserve democracy is precisely what the story of this moment is—although it started long ago in the U.S., at least—and historians are already writing about it that way.
     
    In the United States, the move toward oligarchy had been underway for decades. First, Movement Conservatives, who wanted to destroy the liberal state President Franklin Delano Roosevelt created, increasingly grabbed power through voter suppression, gerrymandering, filling the courts with originalist judges, focusing on the idea of the so-called “unitary executive,” and propaganda. Once they controlled the Republican Party, their techniques left it open to a leader like Trump to gather power to himself alone. Their admiration for oligarchy left them open to autocracy.
     
    And now the Republican Party appears to have embraced Trump over any principles the party once held. Its leaders support the Big Lie that Trump won the election and are exercising their control of certain state legislatures to cement their power in enough states to control the federal government. They are passing laws to restrict voting and outlaw protesting; at the same time they have given up on policy and are relying on such blatant propaganda that just yesterday a writer for the pro-Trump New York Post felt obliged to quit after writing a completely fabricated story.
     
    Biden is calling this move to autocracy like it is, and making a bid to shift the course of the nation.
     
    Today, the Department of Justice executed search warrants on both the Manhattan home and the office of Trump’s ally and former lawyer Rudy Giuliani as part of an investigation into Giuliani’s adventures in Ukraine as he tried to dig up dirt on Biden’s son Hunter. Experts say such a search against a lawyer, and against a president’s former lawyer, to boot, is extraordinary. To get a warrant, investigators had to convince a judge that they believed it would turn up evidence of a crime that they knew had been committed. Political appointees in Trump’s Department of Justice had blocked such a warrant in the past, but Attorney General Merrick Garland lifted the block.
     
    Federal officials also executed a search warrant on Victoria Toensing, a media personality and lawyer associated with Giuliani on his Ukraine work. The details of that search are still murky (but my long-time readers will be pleased to know that Lev Parnas is relevant).
     
    Also today, federal prosecutors have added conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction to the charges against three men who allegedly plotted to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, and a jury in New York today convicted a Trump supporter of making a death threat against elected officials for his statements in a video he posted online after the January 6 insurrection calling for the “slaughter” of Democratic senators. The penalty for such a crime is up to ten years in prison.
     
    While authorities seem finally to be exploring the potential lawbreaking of the previous administration, Biden is properly entrusting law enforcement to the branch of government responsible for it, leaving the actions of the previous administration to the Department of Justice and state and local authorities. He is also refusing to engage in the rhetorical brawls the right wing is trying to spark, ignoring, for example, the ridiculous story that he was going to outlaw the consumption of meat, or that the federal government had bought and distributed copies of Vice President Kamala Harris’s children’s book to incoming refugees, both of which then blew up in the faces of those who had pushed them.
     
    Instead, Biden is advancing a vision of an active government that levels the legal, economic, and social playing field for all Americans. While observers tend to associate this vision with FDR, who gave us our modern government, in fact that vision has been shared by all our greatest presidents.
     
    Indeed, it was Republican Abraham Lincoln who first proposed the idea that the country does best when government guarantees equality before the law and works to guarantee equality of resources to all. Under Lincoln, the Republican Party established public colleges, put farmers on land, built railroads, and backed Black equality before the law, paying for those things with our first national taxes, including an income tax.
     
    Republican Theodore Roosevelt took that idea a step further, addressing the extremes of industrialization with a federal government strong enough to regulate business and provide support for labor. Democrat FDR went much further, using the government not just to regulate business but to provide a basic social safety net—Social Security and the Works Progress Administration, for example—and to promote infrastructure through investments like the Tennessee Valley Authority, which brought electricity and flood control to what had been a neglected region, and the Civilian Conservation Corps, which enabled men to recover the landscape from the ravages of the Dust Bowl.   
     
    Biden is in the mold of such predecessors, but his vision is new. He wants the government to support all Americans, beginning not with the ability of a man to support his family but with the idea of protecting children. Since the beginning of his presidency, he has focused on rebuilding the economy by improving the conditions in which children live—famously, reformers credited his American Rescue Plan with reducing by half the number of children living in poverty—and with the plan he announced tonight, he illustrated this reworking of society by investing in our children.

    The American Families Plan calls for investing $1.8 trillion in education, providing free schooling from pre-kindergarten through community college. It calls for funding for childcare and paid family medical leave, and it includes more money for fighting child poverty. Biden plans to pay for this, in part, by enforcing existing tax laws which wealthy people and corporations currently slide by, raising as much as $700 billion. Biden also proposes increasing the top tax rate from 37% to 39.6%, the rate it was under President George W. Bush, and by increasing the capital gains rate.  

    “The question of whether our democracy will long endure is both ancient and urgent,” Biden reminded us tonight, in an echo of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. “Can our democracy deliver on its promise that all of us —created equal in the image of God—have a chance to lead lives of dignity, respect, and possibility?  Can our democracy deliver on the most pressing needs of our people? Can our democracy overcome the lies, anger, hate and fears that have pulled us apart?”

    The world’s autocrats are betting it can’t, Biden said. But he listed the accomplishments of the past 99 days, when the people of the United States came together to administer 200 million doses of vaccine and create hundreds of thousands of jobs and he pointed out: “It’s never been a good bet to bet against America.”

    “Our Constitution opens with the words, ‘We the People,’” Biden reminded his listeners tonight. And “it’s time we remembered that We the People are the government. You and I. Not some force in a distant capital. Not some powerful force we have no control over. It’s us. It’s ‘We the people.’”  

    And if we remember that and come together, he said, “then we will meet the central challenge of the age by proving that democracy is durable and strong.” “The autocrats will not win the future….

    America will.”

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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,283
     April 29, 2021 (Thursday)
     
    Today marks the hundredth day of the Biden-Harris administration. In many ways, the hundred-day mark is arbitrary, a holdover from the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who worked with Congress to pass 76 new laws by the end of his first 100 days, setting a high bar for a consequential presidency. A hundred days is not an entirely useless metric, though, because by that time, a modern president has generally set the tone of the administration. Crucial to the success of that tone is having scored a major win. That, in turn, sets the tone for public reaction to a presidency, which then feeds the administration’s momentum.
     
    When President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris took office on January 20, 2021, they were facing crises that rivaled the ones faced by FDR and even by President Abraham Lincoln, who took office after a number of southern states had declared they were leaving the United States to form their own confederacy.
     
    Biden and Harris took office after the former president had supported an insurrection to overturn the results of the election and seize power. Trump denied the legitimacy of their election (and continues to deny it) despite more than 60 lawsuit outcomes that upheld it, while 147 members of Congress sided with the former president, challenging at least one of the official state-certified ballots that made Biden president. The actions of the former president were unprecedented, breaking our previous history of peaceful transitions of power, and on January 20, Washington, D.C., was patrolled by troops stationed there to protect the incoming government.
     
    When Biden took office, the novel coronavirus was ravaging the country. More than 24 million of us had been infected with the virus, and more than 400,000 Americans had died of Covid-19, including 2727 deaths the day before Biden was sworn in. New variants were spreading, and while the previous administration had begun vaccinations, reaching about 4% of the population, it had not arranged for distribution of them, planning simply to get them to states and let the states handle the process from there.
     
    The economy was under water. More than ten million people were out of work and another 3.9 million had stopped even looking. Economic growth before the pandemic was modest—2.2%—but the economy contracted during the crisis. Biden also inherited the biggest federal debt since World War II, standing at over $21.6 trillion. That debt was not simply a product of the coronavirus recession: Trump’s 2017 tax cuts, passed without a single Democratic vote, cost almost $230 billion, helping to create a federal deficit of $984 billion even before the pandemic hit.  
     
    The first tweet Biden sent as president made a marked contrast from what Americans had seen for the previous four years. “There is no time to waste when it comes to tackling the crises we face,” Biden wrote. “That’s why today, I am heading to the Oval Office to get right to work delivering bold action and immediate relief for American families.”
     
    And he did.
     
    After he was sworn in and the ceremonies were over, Biden went to the Oval Office and began the process of signing more than a dozen executive actions that either addressed the pandemic or rolled back some of the policies of the previous administration.
     
    During the campaign, Biden had promised to hit 100 million vaccine doses delivered in his first 100 days; on January 25, he increased that number to 200 million. By February, the administration had bought enough vaccines to inoculate all Americans and had begun to open mass vaccination sites. By April 22, the United States had met Biden’s goal of 200 million vaccinations, a week ahead of time.
     
    On January 20, Biden announced the American Rescue Plan to rebuild the nation after the ravages of the pandemic. It appropriated $1.9 trillion to expand unemployment benefits, make direct payments to individuals, increase food security, fund housing, move children out of poverty, support small businesses, and fund support for healthcare and Covid vaccines. The plan passed Congress, and Biden signed it into law on March 11, less than two months after he took office, a major win.
     
    The job market is rebounding. For the third straight week, initial jobless claims—which are a way to look at layoffs-- have dropped below 600,000, the lowest they’ve been in a year. At the same time, U.S. employers added more than 900,000 jobs in March, and economists expect to see more than a half a million new jobs a month for the next year. That will not end the economic crisis of the past year—we are still down 8.4 million jobs from the beginning of the pandemic—but numbers are moving in the right direction. In the first quarter of 2021, the economy grew at an annual rate of 6.4%
     
    A problem for the administration that did not show up in the media last January was the budding crisis at our southern border, where numbers of refugees were about to surge both with seasonal migration and with those held at the border by the former administration. The administration adhered to Covid protocols, turning away from admission all but unaccompanied children. This initially created a surge of children in Border Patrol and Health and Human Services facilities, but the administration has worked to get the situation under control. The number of children in the custody of Border Patrol has dropped 82% in the past month, leaving fewer than 1000 still in custody. The problem is not solved—the children still need to be moved out of Health and Human Services facilities—but it seems to be getting into order.
     
    But Biden has done more than address the coronavirus crisis, the economy, or the refugee crisis. He is reclaiming the nation from the policies of the Reagan Revolution, rejecting the idea central to that revolution, that government is bad by nature and that the country works best when we turn it over to individual actors. He is doing so by working around the Republican lawmakers who are determined to obstruct him at every turn, appealing instead to ordinary Republican voters, who actually want many of the same things ordinary Democratic voters do. The American Rescue Plan, for example, was popular with 77% of Americans, although it received not a single Republican vote.
     
    Biden is reasserting the idea that government can address problems that can only be fixed at a national scale—problems like a pandemic and the economy—but he is not resurrecting the idea of using the government to protect the ability of men to support their families, as FDR did. He is adapting the idea of an active government to the civil rights movements after World War II, defending the rights of Americans as individuals, rather than as members of nuclear families. His administration is centering children and those who take care of them, rather than shoring up any particular family structure.

    His revision of the American dream shows in his appointment of the most diverse cabinet in American history: 58% of his political appointees are women while half identify as non-white, 15% were the first in their families to go to college, and 32% are naturalized citizens or first-generation Americans. He chose the first female vice president, the first female Treasury Secretary, the first Indigenous American to lead the Interior Department, and the first Black head of the Pentagon.

    One thing, though, about what sure seems to be a very strong start from the Biden administration…. Never forget that what made the American Rescue Plan possible was the election of Democratic Senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock in Georgia. Had the Democrats not held 50 seats in the Senate, enabling them to enact the American Rescue Plan through reconciliation, Biden would be able to maneuver only through executive orders, since Republicans in the Senate would have stopped all legislation.

    Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, traveled today to Plains, Georgia, to visit former President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter. “We owe a special thanks to the people of Georgia. Because of you, the rest of America was able to get help,” Biden said to reporters while he was there. “If you ever wonder if elections make a difference, just remember what you did here in Georgia.... You changed America.”

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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,283
     April 30, 2021 (Friday)
     
    In a hearing today before a subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee charged with investigating technology and information warfare, cyber policy and national security expert Dr. Herb Lin of the Hoover Institution told lawmakers that in the modern era we are not formally at war, but we are not at peace either:
     
    “Information warfare threat to the United States is different from past threats, and it has the potential to destroy reason and reality as a basis for societal discourse, replacing them with rage and fantasy. Perpetual civil war, political extremism, waged in the information sphere and egged on by our adversaries is every bit as much of an existential threat to American civilization and democracy as any military threat imaginable.”
     
    His warning comes two days after the power of warfare waged with disinformation once again became a top story in the U.S. On Wednesday, federal officials executed a search warrant on the home and office of Trump’s former lawyer Rudy Giuliani. To conduct such a search, investigators had to convince a judge that they had good reason to think a crime had been committed.
     
    Investigators appear to be focusing on Giuliani’s successful attempt to get the American ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, recalled on April 24, 2019. Yovanovitch was one of our very top diplomats. She stood firmly against corruption in Ukraine, earning the fury of oligarchs connected to Russia, especially Ukraine president Petro Poroshenko; the country’s prosecutor general, Yuriy Lutsenko; and the country’s former prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin, who was fired for corruption. They wanted her gone.
     
    On the surface, the case is about whether or not Giuliani was working for Ukrainian oligarchs as well as Trump when he undermined Yovanovitch. But it is really a story about disinformation. Giuliani wanted Yovanovitch out of the way because she refused to enable his attempt to manufacture dirt on the son of then-candidate Joe Biden, an effort designed to make it possible for Trump to win reelection.
     
    A quick recap of the Yovanovitch part of the story: In late 2018, Ukraine-born American businessman Lev Parnas introduced Giuliani to Shokin, who was willing to say that he was fired because he was looking into Burisma, a company on whose board Hunter Biden sat (this was false). In December, Parnas and his partner Igor Fruman attended the annual White House Hanukkah party. Parnas later told people they had a private meeting with Trump and Giuliani, who gave them “a secret mission” to pressure the Ukrainian government to announce an investigation into the Bidens.

    In January 2019, Giuliani tried to get a visa for Shokin to come to the U.S., but Yovanovitch denied it. So Giuliani, Parnas, and Fruman interviewed Shokin and Lutsenko where they were.

    For the next three months, Lutsenko and Giuliani sparred over the announcement of an investigation into the Bidens, apparently in exchange for the removal of Yovanovitch. Meanwhile, in the U.S., journalist John Solomon, who was in contact with Lutsenko, wrote articles for The Hill attacking both the Bidens and Yovanovitch, and claiming that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that interfered in the 2016 election.

    And then on April 21, Porosheko lost a presidential election to Volodymyr Zelensky.

    On April 23, Giuliani announced on Twitter that Ukraine was investigating Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the DNC for conspiring with “Ukrainians and others to affect 2016 election.” And the next day, Yovanovitch was recalled.

    The rest is history (sorry!): in the infamous phone call of July 25, 2019, Trump asked Zelensky to announce an investigation into the Bidens before the U.S. would release congressional appropriations to enable Ukraine to fight Russian incursions, a whistleblower complained, the Department of Justice tried to hide the complaint, and the Trump presidency began to unravel.

    As the Ukraine scandal worked its way toward the president’s impeachment, Giuliani did not let up on his insistence that Ukraine, not Russia, had tried to undermine the 2016 election, and he continued to push that lie. By late 2019, the FBI warned Giuliani that Russian intelligence was targeting him to circulate lies about Biden. (It also warned One America News.) According to former FBI Special Agent and lawyer Asha Rangappa, officials likely did so both as a warning and to see if he would break away from the disinformation. He did not.

    What is at stake in the recent story of the federal investigation of Giuliani is the role of disinformation in our politics. Crucially, Giuliani and Trump did not want an actual investigation of the Bidens: they just wanted an announcement of an investigation. An announcement would be enough for the media to pick up the story, and the fact it was made up out of whole cloth wouldn’t matter. People would believe there was something fishy with the man whom Trump feared (rightly, as it turned out) as his chief rival for the presidency, and his candidacy would be hobbled.

    It doesn’t matter, Dr. Lin pointed out to the subcommittee today, whether foreign actors are working in concert or in parallel with American actors when they spread disinformation: the destabilizing effect is the same.

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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,283
     May 1, 2021 (Saturday)

    In honor of this year's Kentucky Derby (won today by Medina Spirit), I'm posting a piece my friend Michael S. Green and I wrote together a number of years ago on Ten Famous American Horses. It has no deep meaning... it's just fun. It remains one of my favorite things I had a hand in writing, and I'm pleased to have an excuse to share it.

    I'll be back on the usual beat tomorrow.

    1) Traveller

    General Robert E. Lee rode Traveller (spelled with two Ls, in the British style) from February 1862 until the general’s death in 1870. Traveller was a grey American Saddlebred of 16 hands. He had great endurance for long marches, and was generally unflappable in battle, although he once broke both of General Lee’s hands when he shied at enemy movements. Lee brought Traveller with him when he assumed the presidency of Washington and Lee University. Traveller died of tetanus in 1871. He is buried on campus, where the safe ride program still uses his name.

    2) Comanche

    Comanche was attached to General Custer’s detachment of the 7th Cavalry when it engaged the Lakota in 1876 at the Battle of Little Bighorn. The troops in the detachment were all killed in the engagement, but soldiers found Comanche, badly wounded, two days later. They nursed him back to health, and he became the 7th Cavalry’s mascot. The commanding officer decreed that the horse would never again be ridden, and that he would always be paraded, draped in black, in all military ceremonies involving the 7th Cavalry. When Comanche died of colic in 1891, he was given a full military funeral (the only other horse so honored was Black Jack, who served in more than a thousand military funerals in the 1950s and 1960s). Comanche’s taxidermied body is preserved in the Natural History Museum at the University Of Kansas.

    3) Beautiful Jim Key

    Beautiful Jim Key was a performing horse trained by formerly enslaved veterinarian Dr. William Key. Key demonstrated how Beautiful Jim could read, write, do math, tell time, spell, sort mail, and recite the Bible. Beautiful Jim performed from 1897 to 1906 and became a legend. An estimated ten million Americans saw him perform, and others collected his memorabilia – buttons, photos, and postcards – or danced the Beautiful Jim Key two-step. Dr. Key insisted that he had taught Beautiful Jim using only kindness, and Beautiful Jim Key’s popularity was important in preventing cruelty to animals in America, with more than 2 million children signing the Jim Key Band of Mercy, in which they pledged: “I promise always to be kind to animals.”

    4) Man o’ War

    Named for his owner, August Belmont, Jr., who was overseas in WWI, Man o’ War is widely regarded as the top Thoroughbred racehorse of all time. He won 20 of his 21 races and almost a quarter of a million dollars in the early twentieth century. His one loss – to “Upset” – came after a bad start. Man o’ War sired many of America’s famous racehorses, including Hard Tack, which in turn sired Seabiscuit, the small horse that came to symbolize hope during the Great Depression.

    5) Trigger

    Entertainer Roy Rogers chose the palomino Trigger from five rented horses to be his mount in a Western film in the 1930s, changing his name from Golden Cloud to Trigger because of his quick mind and feet. Rogers rode Trigger in his 1950s television series, making the horse a household name. When Trigger died, Rogers had his skin draped over a Styrofoam mold and displayed it in the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Museum in California. He also had a 24-foot statue of Trigger made from steel and fiberglass. One other copy of that mold was also made: it is “Bucky the Bronco,” which rears above the Denver Broncos stadium south scoreboard.

    6) Sergeant Reckless

    American Marines in Korea bought a mare in October 1952 from a Korean stable boy who needed the money to buy an artificial leg for his sister, who had stepped on a land mine. The marines named her Reckless after their unit’s nickname, the Reckless Rifles. They made a pet of her, and trained her to carry supplies and to evacuate wounded. She learned to travel supply routes without a guide: on one notable day she made 51 solo trips. Wounded twice, she was given a battlefield rank of corporal in 1953 and promoted to sergeant after the war, when she was also awarded two Purple Hearts and a Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal.

    7) Mr. Ed

    Mr. Ed was a talking palomino in a 1960s television show by the same name. At a time when Westerns dominated American television, Mr. Ed was the anti-Western, with the main human character a klutzy architect and the hero a horse that was fond of his meals and his comfortable life, and spoke with the voice of Allan “Rocky” Lane, who made dozens of “B” westerns. But the show was a five-year hit as it married the past to the future. Mr. Ed offered a gentle homely wisdom that enabled him to straighten out the troubles of the humans around him. The startling special effects that made it appear that the horse was talking melded modern technology with the comforting traditional community depicted in the show.

    8) Black Jack

    Black Jack, named for John J. “Black Jack” Pershing, was the riderless black horse in the funerals of John F. Kennedy, Herbert Hoover, Lyndon Johnson, and Douglas MacArthur, as well as more than a thousand other funerals with full military honors. A riderless horse, with boots reversed in the stirrups, symbolized a fallen leader, while Black Jack’s brands – a US brand and an army serial number – recalled the army’s history. Black Jack himself was buried with full military honors; the only other horse honored with a military funeral was Comanche.

    9) Khartoum

    Khartoum was the prize stud horse of Jack Woltz, the fictional Hollywood mogul in Mario Puzo’s The Godfather. In one of the film version’s most famous scenes, after Woltz refuses requests from Don Vito Corleone to cast singer Johnny Fontane in a movie, Woltz wakes up to find Khartoum’s head in bed with him…and agrees to use Fontane in the film. In the novel, Fontane wins the Academy Award for his performance. According to old Hollywood rumor, the story referred to real events. The rumor was that mobsters persuaded Columbia Pictures executive Harry Cohn to cast Frank Sinatra in From Here to Eternity. As Maggio, Sinatra revived his sagging film career and won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

    10) Secretariat

    Secretariat was an American Thoroughbred that in 1973 became the first U.S. Triple Crown winner in 25 years. His records in the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes still stand. After Secretariat was stricken with a painful infection and euthanized in 1989, an autopsy revealed that he had an unusually big heart. Sportswriter Red Smith once asked his trainer how Secretariat had run one morning; Charlie Hatton replied, “The trees swayed.”

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

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    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
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    brianluxbrianlux Moving through All Kinds of Terrain. Posts: 40,912
    mickeyrat said:
     May 1, 2021 (Saturday)

    In honor of this year's Kentucky Derby (won today by Medina Spirit), I'm posting a piece my friend Michael S. Green and I wrote together a number of years ago on Ten Famous American Horses. It has no deep meaning... it's just fun. It remains one of my favorite things I had a hand in writing, and I'm pleased to have an excuse to share it.

    I'll be back on the usual beat tomorrow.

    1) Traveller

    General Robert E. Lee rode Traveller (spelled with two Ls, in the British style) from February 1862 until the general’s death in 1870. Traveller was a grey American Saddlebred of 16 hands. He had great endurance for long marches, and was generally unflappable in battle, although he once broke both of General Lee’s hands when he shied at enemy movements. Lee brought Traveller with him when he assumed the presidency of Washington and Lee University. Traveller died of tetanus in 1871. He is buried on campus, where the safe ride program still uses his name.

    2) Comanche

    Comanche was attached to General Custer’s detachment of the 7th Cavalry when it engaged the Lakota in 1876 at the Battle of Little Bighorn. The troops in the detachment were all killed in the engagement, but soldiers found Comanche, badly wounded, two days later. They nursed him back to health, and he became the 7th Cavalry’s mascot. The commanding officer decreed that the horse would never again be ridden, and that he would always be paraded, draped in black, in all military ceremonies involving the 7th Cavalry. When Comanche died of colic in 1891, he was given a full military funeral (the only other horse so honored was Black Jack, who served in more than a thousand military funerals in the 1950s and 1960s). Comanche’s taxidermied body is preserved in the Natural History Museum at the University Of Kansas.

    3) Beautiful Jim Key

    Beautiful Jim Key was a performing horse trained by formerly enslaved veterinarian Dr. William Key. Key demonstrated how Beautiful Jim could read, write, do math, tell time, spell, sort mail, and recite the Bible. Beautiful Jim performed from 1897 to 1906 and became a legend. An estimated ten million Americans saw him perform, and others collected his memorabilia – buttons, photos, and postcards – or danced the Beautiful Jim Key two-step. Dr. Key insisted that he had taught Beautiful Jim using only kindness, and Beautiful Jim Key’s popularity was important in preventing cruelty to animals in America, with more than 2 million children signing the Jim Key Band of Mercy, in which they pledged: “I promise always to be kind to animals.”

    4) Man o’ War

    Named for his owner, August Belmont, Jr., who was overseas in WWI, Man o’ War is widely regarded as the top Thoroughbred racehorse of all time. He won 20 of his 21 races and almost a quarter of a million dollars in the early twentieth century. His one loss – to “Upset” – came after a bad start. Man o’ War sired many of America’s famous racehorses, including Hard Tack, which in turn sired Seabiscuit, the small horse that came to symbolize hope during the Great Depression.

    5) Trigger

    Entertainer Roy Rogers chose the palomino Trigger from five rented horses to be his mount in a Western film in the 1930s, changing his name from Golden Cloud to Trigger because of his quick mind and feet. Rogers rode Trigger in his 1950s television series, making the horse a household name. When Trigger died, Rogers had his skin draped over a Styrofoam mold and displayed it in the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Museum in California. He also had a 24-foot statue of Trigger made from steel and fiberglass. One other copy of that mold was also made: it is “Bucky the Bronco,” which rears above the Denver Broncos stadium south scoreboard.

    6) Sergeant Reckless

    American Marines in Korea bought a mare in October 1952 from a Korean stable boy who needed the money to buy an artificial leg for his sister, who had stepped on a land mine. The marines named her Reckless after their unit’s nickname, the Reckless Rifles. They made a pet of her, and trained her to carry supplies and to evacuate wounded. She learned to travel supply routes without a guide: on one notable day she made 51 solo trips. Wounded twice, she was given a battlefield rank of corporal in 1953 and promoted to sergeant after the war, when she was also awarded two Purple Hearts and a Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal.

    7) Mr. Ed

    Mr. Ed was a talking palomino in a 1960s television show by the same name. At a time when Westerns dominated American television, Mr. Ed was the anti-Western, with the main human character a klutzy architect and the hero a horse that was fond of his meals and his comfortable life, and spoke with the voice of Allan “Rocky” Lane, who made dozens of “B” westerns. But the show was a five-year hit as it married the past to the future. Mr. Ed offered a gentle homely wisdom that enabled him to straighten out the troubles of the humans around him. The startling special effects that made it appear that the horse was talking melded modern technology with the comforting traditional community depicted in the show.

    8) Black Jack

    Black Jack, named for John J. “Black Jack” Pershing, was the riderless black horse in the funerals of John F. Kennedy, Herbert Hoover, Lyndon Johnson, and Douglas MacArthur, as well as more than a thousand other funerals with full military honors. A riderless horse, with boots reversed in the stirrups, symbolized a fallen leader, while Black Jack’s brands – a US brand and an army serial number – recalled the army’s history. Black Jack himself was buried with full military honors; the only other horse honored with a military funeral was Comanche.

    9) Khartoum

    Khartoum was the prize stud horse of Jack Woltz, the fictional Hollywood mogul in Mario Puzo’s The Godfather. In one of the film version’s most famous scenes, after Woltz refuses requests from Don Vito Corleone to cast singer Johnny Fontane in a movie, Woltz wakes up to find Khartoum’s head in bed with him…and agrees to use Fontane in the film. In the novel, Fontane wins the Academy Award for his performance. According to old Hollywood rumor, the story referred to real events. The rumor was that mobsters persuaded Columbia Pictures executive Harry Cohn to cast Frank Sinatra in From Here to Eternity. As Maggio, Sinatra revived his sagging film career and won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

    10) Secretariat

    Secretariat was an American Thoroughbred that in 1973 became the first U.S. Triple Crown winner in 25 years. His records in the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes still stand. After Secretariat was stricken with a painful infection and euthanized in 1989, an autopsy revealed that he had an unusually big heart. Sportswriter Red Smith once asked his trainer how Secretariat had run one morning; Charlie Hatton replied, “The trees swayed.”

    Something to consider here:


    Behind the romanticized façade of Thoroughbred horse racing is a world of injuries, drug abuse, gruesome breakdowns, and slaughter. While spectators show off their fancy outfits and sip mint juleps, horses are running for their lives.

    Forced to Race

    Horses used for racing are forced to sprint—often under the threat of whips and even illegal electric-shocking devices—at speeds so fast that they frequently sustain injuries and even hemorrhage from the lungs.

    Whip use is standard practice in the U.S., with little more than lip service handed out to extreme violators in most states. At a 2008 race, the horse named Appeal to the City hemorrhaged around her eye when jockey Jeremy Rose “engaged in extreme misuse of the whip.” During his Kentucky Derby win, American Pharoah was struck with a whip at least 32 times by jockey Victor Espinoza.

    In 2013, PETA documented that top trainers and jockeys admitted to having used illegal electro-shock devices on horses. Months later, jockey Roman Chapa—who was previously suspended for using a nail on a horse—was charged with a felony for race-fixing after using a shocking device during a race.

    Pushed beyond their limits, most horses are subjected to cocktails of legal and illegal drugs intended to mask injuries and artificially enhance performance. Many horses—fittingly called “bleeders” by the racing industry—will bleed from their lungs, a condition known as exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage. In an attempt to decrease the bleeding, many horses are given a drug called Lasix or Salix, a diuretic with performance-enhancing qualities.

    Not surprisingly, every week, an average of 24 horses experience fatal breakdowns at racetracks across the country, and this number doesn’t even take into account the horses who are discarded by the racing industry when they’re no longer considered profitable. In 2015, in New York alone, more than 250 Thoroughbreds endured injuries or fatal breakdowns during races.

    Treated Like Commodities

    As most owners and trainers have little more than a short-term financial interest in horses, there is little continuity and accountability over Thoroughbreds’ lifetimes, leaving them to suffer terribly.

    Ownership turnover is rampant, and most Thoroughbreds are bought or “claimed” multiple times during their careers. Some races, called claiming races, allow for horses to be purchased and taken away by a new owner immediately after the race, giving previous owners little control over where horses end up. In a two-month period in 2011, over 2,000 horses were callously sold through claiming races. A horse named Who’s Bluffing was claimed 12 times in his career—including three times by the same owner.

    Because no one individual is committed to a horse throughout his or her lifetime, each day brings new uncertainty for these animals. An estimated 10,000 “unprofitable” or simply unwanted Thoroughbreds from the U.S. are trucked to Canada and Mexico and slaughtered each year. And despite these staggering numbers, the racing industry continues to churn out nearly 20,000 Thoroughbred foals annually.







    “The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man [or woman] who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”
    Variously credited to Mark Twain or Edward Abbey.













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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,283
      May 2, 2021
     
    On Friday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and 36 Republicans sent a letter to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona accusing him of trying to advance a “politicized and divisive agenda” in the teaching of American history. This is a full embrace of the latest Republican attempt to turn teaching history into a culture war.
     
    On April 19, the Department of Education called for public comments on two priorities for the American History and Civics Education programs. Those programs work to improve the “quality of American history, civics, and government education by educating students about the history and principles of the Constitution of the United States, including the Bill of Rights; and… the quality of the teaching of American history, civics, and government in elementary schools and secondary schools, including the teaching of traditional American history.”
     
    The department is proposing two priorities to reach low-income students and underserved populations. The Republicans object to the one that encourages “projects that incorporate racially, ethnically, culturally, and linguistically diverse perspectives into teaching and learning.”
     
    History teaching that reflects our diverse history and the way our diversity supports democracy can help to improve racial equality in society, the document states. It calls out the 1619 Project of the New York Times, as well as the resources of the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History, to note how our understanding of diversity is changing. It notes that schools across the country are teaching “anti-racist practices,” which it follows scholar Ibram X. Kendi by identifying as “any idea that suggests the racial groups are equals in all their apparent differences—that there is nothing right or wrong with any racial group.”
     
    The Education Department invited comments on these priorities. The department does not have much at all to do with local school curricula.
     
    McConnell’s letter in response to this call for comments is disingenuous, implying connections between the teaching of a diverse past, the sorry state of history education, and the fact that “American pride has plummeted to its lowest level in 20 years.” There is, of course, no apparent connection between them.
     
    He complains that Cardona’s “proposal”—it’s a call for comments—would “distort bipartisan legislation that was led by former Senators Lamar Alexander, Ted Kennedy, and Robert Byrd.” That legislation was indeed landmark for the teaching of American history… but its funding was cut in 2012.

    What McConnell’s letter is really designed to do is to throw a bone to Trump Republicans. On Thursday, Trump called for Senate Republicans to replace McConnell with a Trump loyalist, and embracing their conviction that our history is being hijacked by radicals is cheap and easy.

    The prime object of Republican anger is the 1619 Project, called out in McConnell’s letter by name. The project launched in the New York Times Magazine in August 2019 to coincide with the 400th anniversary of the first landing of 20 to 30 enslaved Africans at the English colony of Virginia. Led by New York Times reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones, the project placed race and Black Americans “at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are as a country.”
     
    The 1619 Project argued that the landing of the Black slaves marked “the country’s very origin” since it “inaugurated a barbaric system of chattel slavery that would last for the next 250 years.” From slavery “and the anti-black racism it required,” the editors claimed, grew “nearly everything that has truly made America exceptional: its economic might, its industrial power, its electoral system, its diet and popular music, the inequities of its public health and education, its astonishing penchant for violence, its income inequality, the example it sets for the world as a land of freedom and equality, its slang, its legal system and the endemic racial fears and hatreds that continue to plague it to this day.”
     
    Their goal, they said, was “to reframe American history,” replacing 1776 with 1619 as the year of the nation’s birth.  
     
    The most explosive claim the project made was that one of the key reasons that the American colonists broke away from Britain was that they wanted to protect slavery. Scholars immediately pushed back. Northwestern University’s Dr. Leslie M. Harris, a scholar of colonial African American history, wrote: “Although slavery was certainly an issue in the American Revolution, the protection of slavery was not one of the main reasons the 13 Colonies went to war.” The project tempered its language over that issue but stood by its larger argument.

    Trump Republicans conflated this project with so-called “Critical Race Theory,” a related scholarly concept that argues that racism is not simply the actions of a few bad actors, but rather is baked into our legal system, as well as the other institutions that make up our society. This is not a new concept, and it is not limited to Black Americans: historian Angie Debo’s And Still the Waters Run: The Betrayal of the Five Civilized Tribes launched this argument in 1940 when it showed how Oklahoma’s legislators had written discrimination against Indigenous people into the law. But the idea that white people have an automatic leg up in our country has taken on modern political teeth as Trump Republicans argue that Black and Brown people, among others, are at the bottom of society not because of discriminatory systems but because they are inferior.

    The former president railed against recent historical work emphasizing race as “a series of polemics grounded in poor scholarship” that has “vilified our Founders and our founding.” Calling them “one-sided and divisive,” he opposed their view of “America as an irredeemably and systemically racist country.” He claimed, without evidence, that “students are now taught in school to hate their own country, and to believe that the men and women who built it were not heroes, but rather villains.” He said that “this radicalized view of American history” threatens to “fray and ultimately erase the bonds that knit our country and culture together.”

    On November 2, 2020, just before the election, former president Trump established a hand-picked commission inside the Department of Education to promote “patriotic education” in the nation’s schools, national parks, and museums.
     
    The commission released its report, written not by historians but by right-wing activists and politicians, on Martin Luther King Day, just two days before Trump left office. “The 1776 Report” highlighted the nation’s founding documents from the Revolutionary Era, especially the Declaration of Independence. It said that the principles written in the declaration “show how the American people have ever pursued freedom and justice.” It said “our history is… one of self-sacrifice, courage, and nobility.” No other nation, it said, had worked harder or done more to bring to life “the universal truths of equality, liberty, justice, and government by consent.”

    Then–Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted that multiculturalism [is]... not who America is.” It “distort[s] our glorious founding and what this country is all about.” Hannah-Jones retorted: "When you say that multiculturalism is 'not who America is' and 'distorts our glorious founding' you unwittingly confirm the argument of the 1619 Project: That though we were ... a multiracial nation from our founding, our founders set forth a government of white rule. Cool."

    On his first day in office, President Joe Biden dissolved the 1776 Commission and took its report off the official government website.

    But the fight goes on. The Pulitzer Center, which supports journalism but is not associated with Columbia University’s Pulitzer Prizes, produced a school curriculum based on the 1619 Project; Republican legislators in five states—Arkansas, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, and South Dakota—filed virtually identical bills to cut funding to any school or college that used the material. Other Republican-led states have proposed funding “patriotic education.” In Mississippi, Governor Tate Reeves called for a $3 million fund to promote teaching that “educates the next generation in the incredible accomplishments of the American Way” to counter “far-left socialist teachings that emphasize America’s shortcomings over the exceptional achievements of this country.” South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem proposed a curriculum that explains “why the U.S. is the most special nation in the history of the world.”

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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,283
     May 3, 2021 (Monday)
     
    Since the January 6 insurrection, Democrats have called the Republican adherence to the idea that Biden did not win the 2020 election “the Big Lie.” This term refers to a propaganda technique associated with Nazi politician Joseph Goebbels (although it did not actually originate with him). It refers to a lie told to garner power, a lie that is so big, so monstrous, and so outrageous that people believe it because they cannot imagine someone lying about something so important.
     
    One of the hallmarks of the former president was his ability to turn any accusations against him into an attack on his opponents. True to form, this morning he set out to appropriate the term “the Big Lie” for his own. Rather than meaning his refusal to admit he lost the election, he wants to use the phrase to mean the opposite: that it refers to “The Fraudulent Presidential Election of 2020.”
     
    Trump’s insistence that he was robbed of the 2020 election is pure fantasy, designed at least in part to enable him to continue to raise money (as I’ve written about before), and certainly designed to whip up supporters to believe the Democrats are illegitimate. It has been the driving force behind voter suppression efforts in a number of Republican-dominated states, efforts that, in Florida, were so extreme they had Republican operatives contemplating carving out exceptions for elderly and military voters to make sure those traditionally Republican constituencies will not be hit by the new rules.
     
    The effort to stoke the Big Lie continues to the present day. The Republican-controlled Arizona senate has authorized a private company with deep ties to Trump and his Big Lie to perform yet another recount of the ballots cast in Maricopa County last year. The firm, Cyber Ninjas, has no experience doing such a recount and is running the process without bipartisan observation. The goal appears to be to “prove” that the 45,000 votes Biden won in the county in 2020 were fraudulent, bringing his win of the state into question to “prove” that Biden’s overall win was fraudulent. One of the people performing the recount is Anthony Kern, a former state representative who was part of the January 6 insurrection.
     
    Today’s incarnation of the Big Lie, though, appears to be an attempt of the former president to solidify his power over the remnants of the Republican Party leadership. According to a recent CNN poll, 70% of Republicans do not believe that Biden actually won the election, but a few leading holdouts, including Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY), refuse to follow the party line. For her troubles, Cheney is facing a move to push her out of her position as the conference chair of the House Republicans, the third most powerful spot in the House for her party.  
     
    As he has consolidated power over the Republican Party after leaving office, the former president has been less and less tolerant of those Republicans who have called out his refusal to recognize the legitimacy of President Joe Biden’s election for what it is: a dangerous attack on our democracy. But Cheney is not giving in. After Trump’s announcement this morning, she tweeted: “The 2020 presidential election was not stolen. Anyone who claims it was is spreading THE BIG LIE, turning their back on the rule of law, and poisoning our democratic system.”
     
    This fight is a proxy fight over whether Trump will win full control over the Republican Party. His loyalists have vowed to get rid of Cheney from her position in party leadership by the end of the month. An ally of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) told Scott Wong and Mike Lillis of The Hill: “She’s a liability, and McCarthy’s as fed up as the rest of us that she is focused on the past rather than winning back the House.”
     
    But Cheney appears to have some key backing, including that of former president George W. Bush, who has recently said that if the party stands for “White Anglo-Saxon Protestantism, then it’s not going to win anything.” Cheney is speaking out and standing firm. In a speech today at the annual retreat for the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, in Georgia, she said: "We can't embrace the notion the election is stolen. It's a poison in the bloodstream of our democracy…. We can't whitewash what happened on January 6 or perpetuate Trump's big lie. It is a threat to democracy. What he did on January 6 is a line that cannot be crossed."

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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,283
      May 4, 2021 (Tuesday)
     
    In any normal era, the big story right now would be the country’s dramatic economic recovery from the recession sparked by the coronavirus. In the first three months of 2021, the economy grew by 1.6% as economic stimulus measures kicked in and people started to buy things again. Amazon posted profits of $8.1 billion for the first three months of the year; the same months last year brought the company $2.5 billion. Supply chains are still frayed, pushing prices upward, but those problems are expected to ease as the chains heal.
     
    At the beginning of the year, economists predicted just 0.6% growth, because they did not expect vaccinations to go into circulation as quickly as they did, and they expected the recession to linger for months. If the current growth rate holds, it would mean an annual rate of 6.4% (it’s unclear, of course, if it will hold).
     
    For the last three weeks, jobless claims have dropped. Restaurants and service industries are not in as good a shape as consumer goods, but they should recover as more and more people get vaccinated. We are still down about 8.4 million jobs lost during the pandemic, but employment is moving in the right direction.
     
    This economic turnaround is possible because of the administration’s vaccine program. That’s another huge story. Just four months ago, it was unclear how vaccinations would happen, and how long they would take. But Biden clearly considered the vaccination program his top priority, a way to prove that an efficient federal government was indeed vital to the country.
     
    As of Monday, more than 56% of U.S. adults have had at least one dose of the vaccine, and more than 246 million doses have been administered. Biden is aiming to get 70% of Americans vaccinated by July 4 and is trying to make getting vaccines even easier to help persuade everyone to get them. The administration wants pharmacies to give shots to walk-in patients, for example, and is giving more doses to rural areas to cut travel distances. Today, the administration announced that states whose people are refusing the vaccine will be able to decide if they want the vaccines allocated to them as a percentage of their population. If not, they can choose to contribute those they don’t want to a federal pool from which states eager for more could pull.   
     
    Biden appears to be betting that Americans of all parties will pay attention to what he is accomplishing and stop listening to Republican lawmakers, who are living in an entirely different political reality than the Democrats.

    But it’s hard to get airtime for good, solid, progress when Republican leadership is openly feuding, the former president’s advisor Rudy Giuliani is in front of cameras talking about the Ukraine scandal that led to Trump’s first impeachment, and a federal judge today whacked Trump’s second attorney general, William Barr, for misleading her, Congress, and the public about the Mueller investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

    The fight between House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) is escalating. To court the Trump base, McCarthy is trying to bring the caucus together behind the former president, but Cheney refuses to overlook the January 6 insurrection. She is adamant that Republicans must push back on the Big Lie that Trump won the 2020 election, while the Republicans are coming together behind that lie. New York Representative Elise Stefanik, a Trump loyalist, is working to succeed Cheney as the third most powerful Republican in the House. Swapping Stefanik for Cheney will cede the party to Trump once and for all.

    On her side, Cheney has the fact that there are already 400 federal cases against the January 6 insurrectionists, and those cases will be in the news, with videos and evidence, in the coming months, constantly reminding people that the Trump Republicans are defending that insurrection. And she is calm and measured, while the Trump loyalists are represented by provocateurs like Lauren Boebert (R-CO), fond of parading around with her guns; Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA); and Matt Gaetz (R-FL) who is currently entangled in a sex-trafficking scandal involving minors. Cheney can do a lot of damage to a Trump party if she wants to.

    Tying the party to Trump and the Big Lie also means that party leaders will have to weather whatever might come of the federal investigation into Giuliani, who is publicly accusing officials at the Department of Justice of trying to get to Trump through him. But the investigation into Giuliani’s work in Ukraine began not under Merrick Garland, the current attorney general, but under William Barr, Trump’s attorney general. And today, federal prosecutors in Manhattan asked U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken to appoint an outside lawyer, known as a “special master,” to review the evidence investigators took from Giuliani’s home and office to avoid accusations of political bias.

    Since the search, legal analysts have been very visible in the media, suggesting that Giuliani is in, as Trump critic George Conway said, “deep s**t.”

    Another story today also grabbed headlines away from Biden and kept the focus on the former president. U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson issued a strongly worded opinion ordering the Justice Department to release a 2019 memo connected to whether Trump should have been charged with obstructing justice during the Russia investigation. Jackson accused the DOJ under Barr’s tenure of misleading her, Congress, and the public both about the memo and about the Mueller Report itself.

    The DOJ has until May 17 to decide if it will appeal her ruling or release the memo.

    This weird dichotomy between the things that are going very right in the new administration and the things that are going very wrong has unusually profound implications. Republican lawmakers in the states are doing all they can to skew the mechanics of government so they can regain control of the country no matter how unpopular they are.

    Paying attention to the fireworks on the Republican side of the aisle threatens to drown out the extraordinary things the Biden administration has already accomplished. But ignoring the growing radicalism of the Trump party threatens to downplay just how dangerous it really is.

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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,283
     May 5, 2021 (Wednesday)
     
    With Trump loyalists consolidating their power over the Republican Party, Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) today launched the Republican opposition.
     
    Cheney is currently the House Republican Conference chair, managing committee assignments, media appearances, and certain debates in the House. Her refusal to whitewash the January 6 insurrection and to support the former president has led him to press for her removal from her position as the third most powerful House Republican.

    House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy appears to have caved to that pressure. A vote will likely take place next week, and observers expect Cheney to lose. Trump loyalist Elise Stefanik (R-NY), who voted against counting the electoral votes for Joe Biden on January 6, appears to be the front-runner to replace the Wyoming representative.
     
    Cheney laid the stakes of this political moment out starkly in an op-ed in today’s Washington Post. Trump continues to lie that he won the 2020 election and that Biden is an illegitimate president. That language provoked the violent insurrection of January 6 and, according to judges and prosecutors, still threatens to rally his supporters to attack the government.

    And aye, there’s the rub: Trump has borne no consequences for the January 6 crisis, and there is every reason to believe he will spur his supporters to make similar efforts to install him as president again in the future. “Trump is seeking to unravel… confidence in the result of elections and the rule of law,” Cheney said. “No other American president has ever done this.”
     
    She called for a bipartisan review of the January 6 insurrection by a commission with subpoena power to dig into what happened, and said that no member of Congress currently serving should participate. Instead, she proposed tapping former officials, judges, and other prominent Americans who can be objective. Rejecting calls of Trump loyalists to muddy the waters with a general commission that looks into the Black Lives Matter movement as well as the insurrection, Cheney wrote that a careful examination of the events surrounding January 6 is imperative to stop the “misinformation and nonsense circulating in the press and on social media.”
     
    Such a commission would almost certainly want to interview a number of Trump loyalists, including McCarthy, who had a phone exchange with the former president during the insurrection that observers say devolved into a shouting match. It seems unlikely that all of those interviewed would come out looking good. Having thrown in their lot with the former president, Republican leadership is now yoked to the testimony about the insurrection—and the videos—that will come out in the future.
     
    “The Republican Party is at a turning point, and Republicans must decide whether we are going to choose truth and fidelity to the Constitution,” Cheney wrote. “History is watching. Our children are watching. We must be brave enough to defend the basic principles that underpin and protect our freedom and our democratic process.”
     
    Cheney is no Democrat. She voted with Trump nearly 93% of the time (compared with Stefanik’s nearly 78%). It is impossible to argue that her opposition to Trump is partisan, which makes it all the more powerful. She looks to be trying to reclaim the Republican Party from Trump and his supporters, and she has a decent shot at it.
     
    First of all, she is already getting a lot of airtime, and being tossed out of House leadership for refusing to lie will get her even more. She has the backing of the low-tax, no regulation, military hawk, business side of the party, which also happens to be the side with the most money. Corporations have been dragging their feet at supporting the Trump wing; she will offer Republican policies without the overthrow of the government.
     
    The anger of Republican lawmakers at corporations withholding money from those who backed the insurrection suggests they are keenly aware that they will have to turn entirely to the Trump base for cash. According to Greg Bluestein of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham brought this up last night when he spoke at the annual fundraiser for the Georgia Republican Party. Informed that corporations had been reluctant to chip in for the event, Graham said: “I don’t know how much money you lost from these corporate sponsors not giving you money but I’m gonna get on Sean Hannity’s show we’re going to raise every penny of it back—and these people can kiss my ass as far as I’m concerned.”

    That quest for money from the grass roots is behind at least part of today’s outpouring of fury from Trump loyalists after Facebook upheld the former president’s ban. Facebook was key to Trump’s power: he used it to gin up his base’s anger and then to get his supporters to send him money. Losing that platform weakens him.

    For his part, the former president today attacked Cheney, and also Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and former Vice President Mike Pence, whom Trump blamed for refusing to stop Biden’s election. Far from abandoning the Big Lie, Trump doubled down on it, insisting that the 2020 election was fraudulent. If only Pence and McConnell had been stronger, he wrote, “we would have had a far different Presidential result, and our Country would not be turning into a socialist nightmare!” He ended with words that proved right the concern that he will continue to back attacks on our government: “Never give up!” he wrote.

    Pro-Trump Republican leadership is now tied to that mess. Cheney and those who might rally to her side are not.
     
    While today’s drama played out among the Republicans, Biden and his administration kept moving forward. When asked about his support for Cheney, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said simply, “One-hundred percent of my focus is on stopping this new administration.” Asked about McConnell’s comment at today’s press conference, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, “I guess the contrast for people is 100% of our focus is on delivering relief to the people and getting the pandemic under control.”

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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,283
     May 6, 2021 (Thursday)
     
    Today President Biden traveled to Lake Charles, in the Republican-dominated state of Louisiana, to build bipartisan support for his $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan. The proposed law is designed to create good jobs while it rebuilds America’s badly neglected infrastructure.

    Biden stood in front of the Calcasieu River Bridge, built in 1952 and twenty years overdue for renovation, in a state hit 30 times in the past ten years by natural disasters that cost up to $50 billion in damage. “I’ve never seen a Republican or Democrat road. I just see roads,” Biden said. He called for a once in a lifetime investment in roads, bridges, electrical grids, schools, childcare, job training, broadband, and so on, to make America competitive in the twenty-first century.
     
    Biden has called for funding this investment by raising the corporate tax rate from its current 21% to 28%—still lower than the 35% it was before Trump’s 2017 tax cut—and by making sure corporations can no longer skip out on paying their taxes.
     
    Polls show that the plan is popular with about 56% of Americans, who seem eager to see the federal government invest in ordinary Americans again, particularly after seeing the willingness of Republicans to pass the 2017 tax cut that fueled a projected $1.9 trillion increase in the national debt in its first eleven years and primarily benefited households that made more than $200,000 a year. That bill passed without a single Democratic vote, but Republicans later complained about Democrats’ “irresponsible” refusal to cut spending, saying that “America is driving toward a fiscal cliff….”
     
    Indeed, Republicans seem eager to take credit for the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which passed Congress in March without a single Republican vote. The plan is popular—77% of Americans backed it—and Republicans are touting the help it’s bringing to their constituents without noting that they opposed it. The Restaurant Revitalization Fund, which supports restaurants hurt by the pandemic, is especially popular.
     
    But while Republican lawmakers are willing to embrace the popular American Rescue Plan now that it’s law, they oppose the American Jobs Plan, saying that higher taxes would hurt the economy. “I’m going to fight them every step of the way,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said last week. Yesterday, he said, "100 percent of my focus is on stopping this new administration."
     
    In Louisiana today, Biden said he was willing to talk to opponents. “I’m ready to compromise,” he said. “What I’m not ready to do is, I’m not ready to do nothing. I’m not ready to have another period where America has another Infrastructure Month and it doesn’t change a damn thing.”

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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,283
     May 7, 2021 (Friday)
     
    Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo articulated today what many have been reluctant to say: What is at stake in the Big Lie and all the Republican efforts to keep it in play—the shenanigans in the secret Maricopa County, Arizona, recount; the censuring of Republicans who voted to impeach the former president; the expected removal of Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney from a leadership role in the party; and so on—is not the past election of 2020, but the upcoming election of 2024.
     
    The Republican Party has demonstrated that it intends to control the government in the future, no matter what most Americans want. Iowa, Georgia, Montana, and Florida have already passed voter suppression laws, while other states are considering them. (Governor Ron DeSantis signed Florida’s bill yesterday live on the Fox News Channel.)
     
    As Marshall points out, though, making sure that states return only Republicans to Congress is also about controlling the White House. Republican lawmakers are purging from state election machinery members of their own party who refused to change the outcome of the 2020 election and give a victory to Trump. The former president has fed speculation that he still hopes to overturn the 2020 election, but Marshall looks forward: Is it really possible to think that in 2024, members of the new Trump party will protect the sanctity of any election that gives a victory to a Democratic candidate? If Republicans capture the House in 2022, will they agree to certify electoral votes for a Democrat? In 2020, even before the current remaking of the party in Trump’s image, 139 House Republicans contested them.
     
    Trump is systematically going after leading members of the Republican Party, determined to remake it into his own organization. Several former senior White House officials told Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey of the Washington Post that “[t]he defeated ex-president is propelled primarily by a thirst for retribution, an insatiable quest for the spotlight and a desire to establish and maintain total dominance and control over the Republican base.” Republican strategist Brendan Buck noted that Trump seems to relish fighting, rather than victory to achieve an end. “Usually,” Buck said, “a fight is the means to an end, but in this case fighting is the end.”
     
    The Republicans are consolidating their control over the machinery of government in a way that indicates they intend to control the country regardless of what Americans actually want, putting Trump and his organization back in charge. Democrats have proposed the For the People Act (H.R. 1 and S. 1), which would start to restore a level playing field between the parties. The For the People Act would sideline the new voter suppression bills and make it easier to vote. It would end partisan gerrymandering and stop the flow of big money into elections permitted after the 2010 Citizens United decision.
     
    But Republicans are determined to stop this measure. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is especially engaged in its obstruction. He has called it a “partisan takeover” that would “give Washington Democrats unprecedented control over 50 states’ election laws.” He recognizes that restoring a level electoral playing field would hamstring the Republicans’ ability to win elections. Defeating the act is McConnell’s top priority.
     
    The story of how Republican leaders embraced voter suppression and gerrymandering starts back in the 1980s, though the mechanics of overturning a presidential election are new to 2020. Still, their undermining of our democratic system begs the question: Why are leading Republicans surrendering their party, and our nation, to a budding autocrat?

    Two days ago, when asked if he is concerned about the direction of his party,  McConnell told reporters that he is not paying attention to it because the Democrats are trying “to turn American into a socialist country,” and that “[o]ne-hundred percent of our focus is on stopping this new administration.”
     
    In his April 28 address before a joint session of Congress, President Biden indicated he intended to reverse the course the government has been on since the Reagan years. “My fellow Americans,” Biden said, “trickle-down… economics has never worked, and it's time to grow the economy from the bottom up and the middle out.”

    Republicans have tied themselves to the idea that, as Reagan said, “government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem” (although in 1981 he prefaced that statement with the words: “In this present crisis”). Since the 1990s, they have focused on tax cuts and deregulation as the key to building a strong economy, even though that program has moved wealth dramatically upward.

    Today, Republicans interpreted a jobs report that showed job growth slowing in April as a sign that Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which pumped $1.9 trillion into the country to help it heal from the coronavirus recession, has failed. Rather than speeding up growth, they say, it is slowing it down. Biden pointed out that the nation has added 1.5 million jobs since he took office and that the recession will not end overnight, but Republicans insist that the federal $300 weekly unemployment checks included in the law are keeping people from going back to work.

    The top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, Representative Kevin Brady of Texas, issued a statement saying: “This is a stunning economic setback, and unequivocal proof that President Biden is sabotaging our jobs recovery with promises of higher taxes and regulation on local businesses that discourage hiring and drive jobs overseas.”

    Citing help wanted ads, Republican governors in South Carolina, Montana, and Arkansas are ending the unemployment benefit in their own states to get people back to work. Other Republican-led states are suing the administration to force it to let them use the money provided in the American Rescue Plan not to offer help to workers, but to subsidize tax cuts. Meanwhile, still others at home are touting the benefits of the American Rescue Plan to their constituents without mentioning that they voted against it.

    Americans appear to like the new direction of the country. Seventy-seven percent liked the American Rescue Plan and 56% like Biden’s proposed American Jobs Plan for infrastructure, while 65% want to tax people making more than $400,000 a year to pay for it. At the same time, a new Pew poll suggests that the divisiveness of the Trump years is easing and that young people in particular are not interested in the culture wars.

    Faced with the prospect of voters rejecting their economic policies, Republican leaders are undermining democracy.

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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,283
     May 8, 2021 (Saturday)

    Those of us who are truly lucky have more than one mother. They are the cool aunts, the elderly ladies, the family friends, even the mentors who whip us into shape. By my count, I've had at least eight mothers. One of the most important was Sally Adams Bascom Augenstern.

    Mrs. A., a widow who had played cutthroat bridge with my grandmother in the 1950s, lived near my family in Maine in the summer. I began vacuuming and weeding and painting for her when I was about 12, but it wasn't long before my time at her house stopped being a job. She was bossy, demanding, sharp as a tack... and funny and thoughtful, and she remembered most of the century. She would sit in her rocking chair by the sunny window in the kitchen, shelling peas and telling me stories while I washed the floor with a hand sponge to spin out the time.

    Sally (not Sarah) Bascom was born on December 25, 1903. (For folks in Maine keeping score, that made her almost a full year older than Millard Robinson, a fact she loathed.) She was the oldest of six children and spent her youth taking care of the younger ones. When I once asked her what was the most important historical event in her lifetime, this woman who had lived through the Depression and both world wars answered without hesitation: "the washing machine." It had freed her and her mother from constant laundry. She could finally have some leisure time, which she spent listening to the radio and driving in cars with boys. Because her mother always needed her at home, it was not she, but all her younger siblings, who went to college. By the time Mrs. A. was an adult, she was certain she wanted no part of motherhood.

    Mrs. A. never forgave her sister for driving her Model T through a field. She saved aluminum foil not because of WWII, but because of WWI. She supported herself and refused to marry until she met an older man who offered to take her traveling; they had a quickie wedding and set off for Banff, where they looked at mountains and watched the bears pilfer trash.

    She destroyed her knees playing tennis, so she would weed the garden by staggering to a lawn chair set up there. She loved snapdragons and nicotiana, veronica and irises and wild roses. After Mr. Augenstern died, she drove herself to and from Florida once a year in a giant old Cadillac with "Arrive Alive" on the license plate holder; she drove like a bat out of hell. She played bridge with terrifying intensity. And she always refused to be seen in public unless she was in a dress with her hair pinned up and her pearls on.

    Mrs. A. laughed at me when I fell in love with history and tried to tell her that people changed the world because of their beliefs. "Follow the money, Heather," said the woman whose income depended on her knowledge of the stock market. "Don't pay attention to what they say; pay attention to who's getting the money." I listened. And then I learned as I watched her lose my grandmother's generation and then work to make friends with my mother's generation. And when they, too, died, she set out, in her eighties, to make friends with my generation. Every day was a new day.

    Mrs. A. left me her linens, her gardening coat, and this photo of her and her siblings: Frances (who died young), Phyllis, Carlton, Guy, and Nathan. She also left me ideas about how to approach both history and life. I've never met a woman more determined never to be a mother, but I'm pretty sure that plan was one of the few things at which she failed.

    Thinking of her, and all the wonderful women like her who mother without the title, on this Mother's Day.


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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,283
     May 9, 2021 (Sunday)

    I finished teaching for the semester on Friday and am still catching up on sleep, so I'm going to call it quits early tonight and get to bed.

    Buddy took this picture-- unfiltered-- as the sun rose on Monday morning a week ago. Let's hope this week begins as well.

    See you tomorrow, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed (I hope!).

    [Photo by Buddy Poland]


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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,283
     May 10, 2021 (Monday)
     
    A poll today by the Associated Press (AP) and the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) shows that President Joe Biden’s administration is gaining positive traction. Sixty-three percent of Americans approve of how he is handling his job as president. Seventy-one percent approve of how he is handling the coronavirus pandemic; 62% percent approve of how he is handling health care. Fifty-seven percent approve of how he is handling the economy; 54% approve of how he is handling foreign affairs.
     
    Fifty-four percent of Americans think the country is going in the right direction. This is the highest number since 2017, but it is split by party: 84% of Democrats like the country’s direction, while only 20% of Republicans do.
     
    Biden’s weak spots are in immigration, where 43% approve and 54% disapprove, and gun policy, where 48% approve and 49% disapprove.

    And yet, Biden’s people have been working to address the influx of migrant children; White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki noted last week that “At the end of March, there were more than 5,000 children in Customs and Border Protection Patrol stations. Today, that number is approximately 600…. The amount of time children spend in CBP facilities is down by 75 percent — from 131 hours at the end of March to under 30 hours now.”
     
    The administration has backed that short-term work with a long-term initiative. Last week, Vice President Kamala Harris met virtually with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the leader of the left of center populist nationalist coalition party MORENA, to talk about finding ways to promote economic development to address the root causes prompting the flight of refugees from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and southern Mexico. They also talked about working together to protect human rights and dismantle the criminal networks that smuggle migrants. She will travel to Guatemala and Mexico in June, where she will meet with their leaders.
     
    Disapproval of Biden’s gun policies might well reflect a desire for a stronger stance. In April, a Morning Consult/Politico poll showed that 64% of registered voters supported stricter gun control laws. We have had an average of ten mass shootings a week in 2021, 194 in all. (A mass shooting is one in which four people are killed or wounded.)
     
    This week, Biden will be meeting with bipartisan groups of leaders, including Representative Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), to begin to hammer out an infrastructure measure based on his American Jobs Plan. He will also meet with Senators John Barrasso (R-WY), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Roger Wicker (R-MS), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), who have proposed their own $568 billion proposal without corporate tax hikes.
     
    As the good news from the administration is starting to filter into the media, bad news from the Trump wing of the Republican Party is also starting to get traction. On Saturday, we learned that at retreats in March and April, staff for the National Republican Congressional Committee refused to tell lawmakers how badly Trump is polling in core battleground districts, where 54% see Biden favorably while only 41% still favor Trump. Vice President Kamala Harris, the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, and the $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan are all more popular in those districts than the former president.
     
    Indeed, it is more than a little odd that party leaders are bending over backward to tie their party to a former president who, after all, never broke 50% favorability ratings—the first time in polling history that had happened—and who lost both the White House and Congress.
     
    Another set of data from Catalist, a voter database company in Washington, D.C., shows that the 2020 election was the most diverse ever, with Latino and Asian voters turning out in bigger numbers than ever before. Black voting increased substantially, while Asian-American and Pacific Islander voters had a decisive increase in turnout. The electorate was 72% white, down 2% from 2016 and 5% from 2008. Thirty-nine percent of Biden-Harris voters were people of color (61% were white); only 15% of Trump-Pence voters were POC (85% were white).
     
    This demographic trend is behind the new voter suppression bills in Republican states. But the racial breakdown of the 2020 vote is not the only problem for the current Republican Party. The biggest turnout gains in 2020 were among young voters, 18 to 40 years old, who now make up 31% of voters, while those over 55 have dropped to only 44% of the electorate. Younger voters skew heavily toward the Democrats. Also notable was that women break heavily toward Democrats by a 10 point gap—79% of women of color support Democrats; 58% of white women voted for Biden-Harris—and women make up 54% of the electorate overall.
     
    News out of the private “recount” in Arizona by Cyber Ninjas, a company without experience in election recounts and whose owner has already gone on record as believing that rigged voting machines in Arizona cost Trump victory, continues to be embarrassing as well. Although the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, which has a Republican majority, said the count was fair and opposed a recount, sixteen Republicans in the state senate voted to give the ballots for Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, to the company for a private recount. The count has been plagued by conspiracy theories—one observer claimed they are examining the ballots for signs of bamboo in the paper to show that tens of thousands of ballots were flown in from Asia—and it turned out that one of the people recounting the ballots had been at the January 6 riot at the Capitol. Now the “recount” is running so far behind it appears it won’t be done until August, rather than May 14 as the company promised.
     
    State senator Paul Boyer, who voted for the “audit,” told New York Times reporter Michael Wines “It makes us look like idiots…. Looking back, I didn’t think it would be this ridiculous. It’s embarrassing to be a state senator at this point.”
     
    And then, this morning, the Washington Post dropped a long, investigative story by reporters Emma Brown, Aaron C. Davis, Jon Swaine, and Josh Dawsey revealing that the arguments former president Trump has grabbed to “prove” the election was stolen from him were part of a long conspiracy theory hatched in 2018 by Russell J. Ramsland, Jr., “a Republican businessman who has sold everything from Tex-Mex food in London to a wellness technology that beams light into the human bloodstream.” The story follows how Ramsland’s theories, which were debunked as “bat-s**t insane” by White House lawyers, got pumped into the media by Representative Louie Gohmert (R-TX) and Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, among others, and how Trump came to embrace them.
     
    While Republican leaders are still standing behind those theories, and the former president, opponents of the party’s direction are pushing back not just against Trump but also against those leaders supporting him. Representative Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) tweeted this morning: “A few days before Jan 6, our GOP members had a conference call. I told Kevin [McCarthy] that his words and our party’s actions would lead to violence on January 6th. Kevin dismissively responded with ‘ok Adam, operator next question.’ And we got violence.”
     
    Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) has narrated a video distributed by the Republican Accountability Project recalling the violence of January 6, blaming Trump for spreading lies about the election, and reminding viewers that more than 60 lawsuits disproved his claims that the election was stolen. The video says “we are the party of Lincoln. We are not the party of QAnon” (showing an image of Jacob Chansley, the so-called “QAnon Shaman,” who wore a horned headdress during the Capitol insurrection) “or white supremacy” (showing an image of Fox News Channel personality Tucker Carlson). “We cannot embrace insurrection” (showing a picture of Georgia Republican Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene). “President Trump provoked an attack on the United States Capitol which resulted in five people dying. That is a person who does not have a role as a leader of our party going forward.” The video features an image of McCarthy standing with Trump. Cheney made it clear she was not about to shut up.  
     
    This afternoon, McCarthy released a statement calling for Cheney’s ouster as conference chair, featuring the line: “[u]nlike the left, we embrace free thought and debate.” (References to George Orwell, who famously wrote about how fascists used language to rewrite history, were all over Twitter.) McCarthy and other Trump loyalists have suggested that Cheney needs to go because she keeps talking about the past, but Allan Smith of NBC News points out that Trump himself seems to be the one who cannot stop talking about the past.

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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,283
     May 11, 2021 (Tuesday)
     
    Tonight, in a speech that claimed every piece of the Republican landscape since 1980, Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney launched a broadside against the Republican leaders who have shackled the party to the former president.

    “Today we face a threat America has never seen before,” Cheney said. “A former president who provoked a violent attack on this Capitol in an effort to steal the election has resumed his aggressive effort to convince Americans that the election was stolen from him. He risks inciting further violence. Millions of Americans have been misled by the former president. They have heard only his words, but not the truth, as he continues to undermine our democratic process, sowing seeds of doubt about whether democracy really works at all.”

    Cheney recalled the determination of those in Kenya, Russia, and Poland to risk their lives to vote for freedom, and talked of how the dream of American democracy had inspired them. She touched on religion, assuring listeners that God has favored America. She invoked Reagan, claiming that his Republican Party won the Cold War and saying that America is now on the cusp of another cold war with communist China.

    This impending struggle highlighted the importance of today’s domestic struggle: “Attacks against our democratic process and the rule of law empower our adversaries and feed communist propaganda that American democracy is a failure. We must speak the truth. Our election was not stolen, and America has not failed.”

    Cheney went on to claim that she stood on conservative principles Republicans like House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has abandoned. The fundamental conservative principle is the rule of law, she reminded listeners, and those backing Trump’s Big Lie are denying that rule and undermining our democracy. The election is over, she said, and “Those who refuse to accept the rulings of our courts are at war with the Constitution.” It is imperative, she said, to act to prevent “the unraveling of our democracy.”

    "This is not about policy. This is not about partisanship. This is about our duty as Americans. Remaining silent and ignoring the lie emboldens the liar."

    Tomorrow, House Republicans will vote on whether to keep Cheney at the number three spot in the party in the House—she is expected to be removed—and Trump’s own former deputy attorney general, Jeffrey A. Rosen, will tell the House Oversight Committee that after the election, the Justice Department “had been presented with no evidence of widespread voter fraud at a scale sufficient to change the outcome of the 2020 election.”

    On Thursday, over 100 former Republican leaders will drop a letter saying that if party leadership does not separate itself from former president Trump, they will start a third party. They are calling themselves the “rationals” against the “radicals,” and they include former governors and representatives, as well as Republican officeholders.

    This revolt against the Trump loyalists in the Republican Party signals that, no matter what leadership is saying, many Republicans—including Republican lawmakers—are not, in fact, united behind the former president. After all, he never broke 50% approval when he was president, and he lost the White House and Congress for the party. And, now that he is locked out of Twitter and Facebook, it appears he can no longer command the audience he used to. In the week since he launched a new blog, it has attracted a little over 212,000 likes, shares, and comments. The top post got just 16,000 engagements.

    Meanwhile, 63% of Americans approve of the job President Joe Biden is doing.

    What’s at stake in the fight over Cheney’s position in the Republican Party—admit it, did you ever think you would care about who was the third most important House Republican?—is not some obscure struggle for political seniority. It’s a fight over whether the Republican Party will wed itself to the Big Lie that a Democratic president is illegitimate, despite all evidence to the contrary. Cheney is not a Democrat by a long shot, and she is correctly calling out the danger of the Big Lie for what it is: a dagger pointed at the heart of our democracy.

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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,283
      May 12, 2021 (Wednesday)

    As expected, this morning the House Republicans removed Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney from her position as conference chair after she refused to stop speaking out against the former president for instigating the January 6 attack on our Capitol and the counting of electoral votes for President Joe Biden. The Republicans ousted her by voice vote, which meant that no one had to go on the record for or against Cheney, and the Republicans kept the split in the party from being measurable. It also ensured that she would lose; she has survived a secret ballot vote before.

    Before the vote, Cheney allegedly told her Republican colleagues: “If you want leaders who will enable and spread his destructive lies, I’m not your person; you have plenty of others to choose from.” After the vote, she went in front of the cameras to say that she would lead the fight to reclaim the party from Trump, and said: “I will do everything I can to ensure that the former president never again goes anywhere near the Oval Office.”

    After her ouster, Trump Republican Representative Madison Cawthorn (NC) tweeted ““Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey, goodbye Liz Cheney.” The former president echoed Cawthorn: “Liz Cheney is a bitter, horrible human being. I watched her yesterday and realized how bad she is for the Republican Party. She has no personality or anything good having to do with politics or our Country.”  

    After convincing his caucus to dump Cheney and embrace Trump, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) told reporters: “I don’t think anybody is questioning the legitimacy of the presidential election. I think that is all over with.”

    This was a breathtaking statement. McCarthy himself challenged the certification of Biden’s win, and just last week, Trump made a big announcement in which he called the election of 2020 “fraudulent.” The Big Lie animating the Republicans today is that Trump, not Biden, really won the 2020 election.

    But McCarthy is not alone in his gaslighting. Yesterday, in the Senate Rules Committee markup of S1, the For the People Act protecting the vote, ending gerrymandering, and pushing big money out of our elections, Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said: “I don’t think anyone on our side has been arguing that [voter fraud] has been pervasive all over the country.”  

    The false claim of widespread voter fraud is, of course, exactly what Trump Republicans have stood on since the 2020 election. It is the justification for their voter suppression measures in Republican states, including Texas, Iowa, Georgia, Florida, and, as of yesterday afternoon, Arizona.

    In today’s House Oversight Committee hearing on the January 6 insurrection, Republican lawmakers in general tried to gaslight Americans, as they tried to paint that unprecedented attack on our democracy as nothing terribly important. Although 140 law enforcement officers were injured, five people were killed, more than 400 people have been charged with crimes, and rioters did more than $30 million worth of damage, Republican representatives downplayed the events of the day, insisting that they were not really out of the ordinary. Representative Andrew Clyde (R-GA) said that calling the attack on the Capitol an insurrection is a “bald-faced lie” and that “if you didn't know the TV footage was a video from January the 6th, you would actually think it was a normal tourist visit…."

    CNN later called Clyde’s remarks “absolute nonsense.” Even the definition of insurrection Clyde quoted—“an organized attempt by a group of people to defeat their government and take control of their country usually by violence”—showed the attack of January 6 to be an insurrection. And, as lawyer and CNN analyst Asha Rangappa noted tonight on Twitter, at his second impeachment trial even Trump’s own lawyers did not dispute that the events of January 6 were a violent insurrection. The record is clear.

    Republican lawmakers like Clyde did, though, echo the former president’s interview on the Fox News Channel in March when he said that when his supporters went into the Capitol they posed “zero threat” and were “hugging and kissing the police and the guards…. A lot of the people were waved in, and then they walked in and they walked out.”

    The former president appears to be continuing to exercise control over his underlings. Former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and former Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller provided testimony at the House Oversight Committee hearing, and what they would not say was revealing. Rosen refused to answer questions about whether Trump asked him to try to overturn the 2020 election. Miller’s prepared remarks had included a sentence that said “I stand by my prior observation that I personally believe his comments encouraged the protesters that day.” In his testimony, he omitted that line, and later tried to walk it back, trying to draw a line between people who marched on the Capitol and those who broke into it.

    But with Cheney and her supporters now in open revolt, and with news about the Capitol attack dropping, and even with more information coming about the ties between the former president and Russia, will Republican Party leaders manage to sweep everything under the rug?

    Today, at a hearing on domestic extremism today before the Senate Appropriations Committee, Attorney General Merrick Garland and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas both testified that the most serious domestic national security threat in the U.S. right now is that of white supremacist gangs. “I think it's fair to say that in my career as a judge, and in law enforcement, I have not seen a more dangerous threat to democracy than the invasion of the Capitol,” Garland said. “There was an attempt to interfere with the fundamental passing of an element of our democracy, the peaceful transfer of power. And if there has to be a hierarchy of things that we prioritize, this would be the one we'd prioritize. It is the most dangerous threat to our democracy. That does not mean that we don't focus on other threats.”

    For his part, President Biden is refusing to get sucked into the Republican drama, instead focusing on the country. Today an advisory panel for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorsed the Pfizer vaccine for children as young as 12, and the CDC signed off on the recommendation, making it easier to reopen schools in the fall.

    Today Biden met at the White House with Republicans McCarthy and McConnell, as well as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), to try to hash out an infrastructure plan, although the Republicans have said they will absolutely not consider raising the corporate tax rates from where Trump’s 2017 tax cut dropped them. It was the first time McCarthy and McConnell had visited the West Wing since Biden was elected.

    It was in the context of visiting the president that McCarthy tried to say that there was no Republican questioning the legitimacy of the 2020 election (although, of course, more than two thirds of Republicans currently believe in the Big Lie). “We’re sitting here with the president today,” he told reporters.

    Will today’s gesture be enough to make swing voters forget the party’s wholehearted embrace of the former president? Shortly after House Republicans removed Cheney from her leadership position, nine out of 14 voters in an Axios focus group said they would be willing to vote for a Republican in next year’s congressional races. But of those, 8 said they would not back any Republican who supports Trump’s lie that he won the 2020 election.

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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,283
     May 13, 2021 (Thursday)
     
    Today, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that people who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus can stop wearing masks, both outdoors and indoors, except on public transportation and in crowded indoor venues. The new guidelines come as cases are dropping and as the U.S. is now vaccinating children ages 12 and up. They are intended, at least in part, to encourage people to get the vaccine. The CDC guidelines do not override federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial laws, or regulations put in place by businesses and workplaces. Still, they are a big step toward emerging from the pandemic.

    "If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic," Walensky said. President Joe Biden, who made vaccines the centerpiece of his early administration, spoke to reporters without a mask. “I think it’s a great milestone, a great day,” he said.
     
    On morning television, Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) hammered her point that the former president continues to endanger our nation. She also insisted that the U.S. must have a January 6 commission, as it has had an investigative commission for every similar threat, but said that fellow Republicans opposed such a commission because it threatened those “who may have been playing a role they should not have been playing.”
     
    Those who were playing a role they should not have been playing today turned out to include an active-duty Marine Corps officer, Major Christopher Warnagiris, who was arrested for assaulting the Capitol on January 6.
     
    And there are others associated with the administration who may have been playing a role they should not have been, aside from the events of January 6.

    For weeks now, rumors have swirled about Trump loyalist Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and his friend Joel Greenberg, the former tax collector for Seminole County, Florida, who is under indictment for sex trafficking of a minor and 32 other counts. Papers filed today suggest that Greenberg has made a deal with prosecutors. The terms of the deal are not public, but they might not bode well for Gaetz.

    At the New York Times, Adam Goldman and Mark Mazzetti wrote today that Project Veritas (that right-wing group always trying to catch people on video doing something illegal) was part of an effort during the Trump years to discredit both FBI agents and H.R. McMaster, the former three-star general who was at the time Trump’s national security advisor. Project leaders hoped to get the agents and McMaster, who was perceived as being insufficiently loyal to the former president, to say something damning about the president so they could be removed. One of the participants in the project was Barbara Ledeen, a staff member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which was, at the time, led by Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA).
     
    But the real blockbuster political story of the day came in the form of a video obtained by Mother Jones and written about in a detailed article there by Ari Berman and Nick Surgey. The leaked video shows Jessica Anderson, the executive director of Heritage Action for America—the political arm of the right-wing Heritage Foundation think tank—explaining to big-money donors that Heritage Action has worked closely with Republican state legislators to enact voter suppression laws. “In some cases, we actually draft them for them,” she said, “or we have a sentinel on our behalf give them the model legislation so it has that grassroots, from-the-bottom-up type of vibe.”

    The story is not entirely new. Heritage (as it is known) published a report last February outlining “best practices” for voting, many of which are in the new bills coming out of Republican-dominated state legislatures. And in a March article for the New York Times, Nick Corasaniti and Reid J. Epstein outlined the role of Heritage Action in Georgia’s and Arizona’s voting restrictions, noting that at least 23 of the proposed state bills that dealt with voting had language that looked like that of Heritage. They also wrote that Heritage plans to spend $24 million to change voting laws in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, Texas, and Wisconsin before the 2022 election, and that the person behind the Heritage voting policies is Hans von Spakovsky, who mainstreamed the idea of voter fraud in the Republican Party, although experts agree it is vanishingly rare.

    What is new and dramatic about the video is seeing Anderson make her pitch to donors for a coordinated right-wing effort to take the vote away from their opponents. She talks of working with similar groups: “We literally give marching orders for the week ahead,” Anderson said. “All so we’re singing from the same song sheet of the goals for that week and where the state bills are across the country.”

    Heritage Action is fighting hard against the Democrats’ For the People Act, which would protect the right to vote, end partisan gerrymandering, and limit money in politics. Heritage summarized the bill, which it called the “Corrupt Politicians Act,” in a short sheet for lawmakers. Anderson explained: “We’ve made sure that every single member of Congress knows just how bad the bill is…. Then we’ve made sure there’s an echo chamber of support around these senators driven by your Heritage Action activists and sentinels across the country where we’ve driven hundreds of thousands of calls, emails, place[d] letters to the editor, hosted events, and run television and digital ads.”
     
    Democrats cannot pass the For the People Act through the Senate without buy-in from all 50 of their senators, and Surgey noted that in March, Heritage Action and similar groups bussed protesters to West Virginia from other states for a big rally at the capitol to pressure Democratic West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin.

    The “grassroots” protest against “voter fraud” is, in fact, conceived, funded, and organized by one of the most powerful elite political organizations in the country.

    Manchin has suggested he will not support the For the People Act without Republican support, so yesterday, he suggested a different way to address the recent voter suppression measures. Under the 1965 Voting Rights Act, states and local governments that had a history of racist election laws had to get clearance from federal officials before they put new election rules in place. The Supreme Court gutted that rule in 2013 with the Shelby County v. Holder decision (which is why all these new laws are going into the books). Manchin called for restoring the old system of preclearance, but applying it to all states and territories, not just the nine to which it had previously applied, thus taking away the Supreme Court’s objection that it singled out certain states.

    Manchin’s workaround wouldn’t deal with gerrymandering or big money, but it would certainly be a start toward leveling the electoral playing field, and historically, support for the Voting Rights Act was bipartisan. No longer. Almost immediately, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) shot Manchin’s plan down.

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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,283
      May 14, 2021 (Friday)

    This morning, as expected, the House Republicans elected Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Trump’s choice for conference chair, to replace Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY). This means that the four top House Republican leaders—Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), Stefanik, and Policy Committee Chair Gary Palmer (R-AL)—all voted to overturn Biden’s 2020 victory after the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

    Stefanik thanked “President Trump for his support,” saying “he is a critical part of our Republican team.” She went on to say that "House Republicans are united in our fight to save our country from the radical Socialist Democrat agenda of President Biden and Nancy Pelosi."

    Today’s vote confirmed that the leaders of the current Republican Party are willing to abandon democracy in order to save the country from what they call “socialism.”

    But what Republicans mean when they say “socialism” is not the political system most countries recognize when they use that word: one in which the people, through their government, own the means of production. What Republicans mean comes from America’s peculiar history after the Civil War, when new national taxation coincided with the expansion of voting to include Black men.

    In the years just after the firing stopped, white southerners who hated the idea that Black men could use the vote to protect themselves terrorized their Black neighbors. Pretending to be the ghosts of dead Confederate soldiers, they dressed in white robes with hoods to cover their faces and warned formerly enslaved people not to show up at the polls. But in 1870, Congress created the Department of Justice, and President U.S. Grant’s attorney general set out to destroy the Ku Klux Klan.

    In 1871, southern leaders changed their tactics. The same men who had vowed that Black people would never be equal to whites began to say that their objection to Black voting was not based on race. No, they said, their objection was that Black people were poor and uneducated and would elect lawmakers who promised to give them things—hospitals, and roads, and schools—that could be paid for only through tax levies on people with property: white men. In this formulation, voting was not a means to ensuring equality; it was a redistribution of wealth from hardworking white men to African Americans who wanted a handout. Black voting meant “socialism,” and it would destroy America.

    With this argument, northerners who had fought alongside Black colleagues and insisted they must be equal before the law on racial grounds were willing to see Black men kept from the polls. Black voting, which northerners had recognized as key to African Americans being able to protect their interests—and, for that matter, to defend the national government from the former Confederates who still wanted to destroy it—slowed. And then it stopped.

    The South became a one-party state ruled by a small elite class, defined by white supremacy, and mired in poverty. For its part, the North also turned on workers, undermining the labor movement and focusing on protecting the new industrial factories whose owners claimed they were the ones driving the economy.

    In the 1930s, the Great Depression changed this equation. When the bottom fell out of the economy, Democrats under Franklin Delano Roosevelt transformed the government to regulate business, provide a basic social safety net, and promote infrastructure. As early as 1937, Republican businessmen and southern Democrats began to talk of coming together to stop what they considered socialism. But most Americans liked this New Deal, and its opponents had little hope of attracting enough voters to stop its expansion.

    That equation changed after World War II, when Presidents Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower began to use the government to advance racial equality. Truman’s 1948 desegregation of the military prompted southern Democrats to form their own short-lived segregationist party. The Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, decision declaring segregation in public schools unconstitutional enabled opponents of the new government system to tie racism to their cause. They warned that the expanded government meant the expensive protection of Black rights, which cost tax dollars. They argued it was simply a redistribution of wealth, just as their counterparts had done in the Reconstruction South.

    With the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, that argument increasingly fed the idea that Black and Brown people were lazy and wanted to receive government handouts rather than work. Businessmen and social traditionalists eager to get rid of the popular New Deal government told voters that government programs to help ordinary Americans were “socialism,” redistributing money from hardworking white people to lazy people of color. They talked of “makers” and “takers.”

    To purge the nation of socialism, then, and return it to the pre–New Deal government, they set out to limit voting. In 1980, Paul Weyrich, the co-founder of the Heritage Foundation that has designed much of the legislation currently being passed in Republican-dominated states, said “I don’t want everybody to vote….our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”

    By 1986, Republicans were talking about cutting down on Black voters through “ballot integrity” drives. As Democrats sought to expand voting, most notably with the 1993 Motor Voter Act, Republicans began to charge that they were losing elections only because of voter fraud, although experts agree that voter fraud is exceedingly rare and does not change election outcomes. Since then, arguing that they are simply protecting the vote, Republicans have become dependent on ID laws and other voter suppression measures.

    But by 2020, it was clear that the Republicans’ drive to slash the government back to its 1920 form, along with the racism and sexism that had become central to the party to pull voters to their standard, had become so unpopular that it was unlikely they could continue to win elections. And so, Republicans began to say that the United States is “not a democracy,” as Utah Senator Mike Lee tweeted in October. “Democracy isn’t the objective,” he continued, “liberty, peace, and prospe[r]ity are. We want the human condition to flourish. Rank democracy can thwart that.”

    With the election of Democrat Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, along with a Democratic Congress, the leadership of the Republican Party has taken the next step. They are rejecting the legitimacy of the election, doubling down on Trump’s Big Lie that he won. Claiming to want to combat “voter fraud,” they are backing bills across the country to suppress Democratic voting, making sure that no one but a Republican can win an election.

    Just as white southerners argued after the Civil War, Republican leaders claim to be acting in the best interests of the nation. They are standing firm against “the radical Socialist Democrat agenda,” making sure that no wealthy person’s tax dollars go to schools or roads or social programs.

    They are “saving” America, just as white supremacists “saved” the Jim Crow South.

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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,283
     May 15, 2021 (Saturday)

    "The Way Home," by Peter Ralston.

    Let's hope we find it in the coming months.

    I'll see you tomorrow.

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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,283
     May 16, 2021 (Sunday)

    Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY), whom the Republican House conference dumped as chair last week after she refused to kowtow to former president Trump, said some interesting things to Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday this morning. She reiterated that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has information about conversations with Trump surrounding the events of January 6 and should be subpoenaed if he will not talk about those things voluntarily (and, by implication, under oath).

    Cheney is bringing back into the media cycle a number of things we heard between the election and January 6, but she has said that McCarthy should be subpoenaed enough times that it’s hard to believe she is talking generally.

    On ABC’s This Week, Cheney also repeated the information she gave last week: that Republicans were afraid to convict Trump in his second impeachment trial because they were frightened for their lives. You may recall that the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff (D-CA) said something similar in his closing remarks in January 2020 at Trump’s first impeachment trial, and Republicans claimed to be outraged. Senator James Lankford (R-OK) told reporters: “That’s insulting and demeaning to everyone to say that we somehow live in fear and that the president has threatened all of us.”

    And yet, sixteen months later, here we are.

    Cheney is not the only Republican who is turning on the former president and his loyalists. Last night, Trump posted a statement claiming that “the entire Database of Maricopa County in Arizona”—where the bizarre “audit” is underway—“has been DELETED!” The statement goes on to make sweeping claims about “this unbelievable Election crime,” and so on.

    But, in real time, the Republican recorder of Maricopa County wrote on Twitter in response to Trump’s statement: “Wow. this is unhinged,” Stephen Richer wrote. “I’m literally looking at our voter registration database on my other screen. Right now.” He went on: “We can’t indulge these insane lies any longer. As a party. As a state. As a country. This is as readily falsifiable as 2+2=5. If we don’t call this out….”

    And Maricopa County did call it out. In a remarkable Twitter thread, the Maricopa County official account destroyed the effort by the private company Cyber Ninjas to recount the 2020 votes in that county. “The 2020 elections were run w/ integrity, the results certified by the county & state were accurate, & the 2 independent audits conducted by the County are the true final word on the subject,” the account said. “We know auditing. The Senate Cyber Ninja audit is not a real audit.” The account went on to list all the many ways in which this audit is simply a propaganda effort to shore up the Big Lie that the election was stolen.

    This weekend we also learned that Joel Greenberg, the former tax collector for Seminole County, Florida, will plead guilty to six charges in federal court tomorrow. Greenberg is the man Florida Representative Matt Gaetz, a Trump loyalist, used to call his “wingman,” and Greenberg has worked his way down from the 33 original charges against him by promising to cooperate with prosecutors, presumably to offer information about people above him in the food chain, possibly including Gaetz. On Friday, media reported that witnesses could place Gaetz at a party with Greenberg, as well as lots of cocaine and sex workers, one of whom ended up with a “no-show” government job.

    Gaetz has compared the accusations that he has been “falsely accused of exchanging money for naughty favors” with congressional earmarks.

    I’m afraid I have no idea what point Gaetz is trying to make, but I’m flagging all three of these stories because they illustrate an important point: that a one-party state is bad even for the party that holds a monopoly and that, together, these stories reveal that the Republican Party is nearing the end of its dominant run in our democracy.

    One of the key functions of a strong opposition party in a functioning democracy is oversight. Human nature being what it is, there are going to be bad eggs in every organization, including governments. It is in everyone’s best interest to expose the Joel Greenbergs of a party long before they hit 33 federal indictments and threaten to torpedo a highly visible lawmaker. But by marginalizing the Democrats through voter suppression, gerrymandering, and media attacks, the Republicans undermined that oversight and grew some terribly outsized scandals.

    Manipulating the system to gain power without oversight, a party can close ranks even to the point that its members are afraid to speak out. The contrast between the fury unleashed when Schiff said lawmakers were afraid for their lives and Cheney’s acknowledgement of that fear illustrates what a closed circuit the Republican Party became under Trump. It could be, of course, that their fear is entirely new, but it seems more likely that they rejected the oversight that would have helped them throw off Trump before it got to the point that party members were afraid to speak out for fear of their own safety.

    This sort of political domination might seem like a great victory, but it is actually suicidal in the long run. The party becomes so extreme that it finally alienates even its own members, like the Maricopa elections officials or Representative Cheney. They turn on the party leadership. And if they join with the party’s opposition, they can empower the regime’s opponents, enabling them to restore voting rights, end gerrymandering, and make the playing field level again. This restoration of fairness swings the pendulum away from the dominant party pretty dramatically.

    The fear that the American people will end the Republican Party’s dominance, of course, explains why Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has declared that his primary goal in this Congress is to make sure the Democrats cannot pass the For the People Act to make voting easier, end partisan gerrymandering, and end the influence of big money in politics. McConnell and the Republicans want to protect Trump’s corporate tax cuts, and to do that, it is imperative that they regain control of Congress. And for that, they need the tools they have developed over the past generation, tools the For the People Act would take away.  

    It’s a Catch-22. To win, the Republicans need to hamstring the opposition. But as they did that over the last generation, they undercut the oversight that would have kept the party healthy. Now the Republican Party runs the risk of alienating voters it desperately needs as it faces a scandal of sex and drugs, a profoundly troubled election “audit,” accusations that party members are afraid to speak out because they fear for their lives, and suggestions from the former third-ranking official in the House Republican conference that the first official in the conference should be subpoenaed.

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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,283
     May 17, 2021 (Monday)

    I’m wiped out from grading, but I wanted to note that on this day in 1954, the Supreme Court handed down the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, decision, declaring racial segregation in public schools unconstitutional. A unanimous court decided that segregation denied Black children the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment, which was ratified in 1868 in the wake of the Civil War. Brown v. Board was a turning point in establishing the principle of racial equality in modern America.

    Since the 1860s, we have recognized that equality depends upon ensuring that all Americans have a right to protect their own interests by having a say in their government.

    Today, that principle is under attack.

    In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson urged Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act to “help rid the Nation of racial discrimination in every aspect of the electoral process and thereby insure the right of all to vote.” And yet, in 2013, the Supreme Court gutted that law, and in the wake of the 2020 election in which voters gave Democrats control of the government, Republican-dominated states across the country are passing voter suppression laws.

    Today, Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) begged their colleagues to reinstate the Voting Rights Act. In 2006 a routine reauthorization of the law got through the Senate with a vote of 98-0; now it is not clear it can get even the ten Republican votes it will need to get through the Senate, so long as the filibuster remains intact.

    But here’s the thing: Once you give up the principle of equality before the law, you have given up the whole game. You have admitted the principle that people are unequal, and that some people are better than others. Once you have replaced the principle of equality with the idea that humans are unequal, you have granted your approval to the idea of rulers and servants. At that point, all you can do is to hope that no one in power decides that you belong in one of the lesser groups.

    In 1858, Abraham Lincoln, then a candidate for the Senate, warned that arguments limiting American equality to white men and excluding black Americans were the same arguments “that kings have made for enslaving the people in all ages of the world…. Turn in whatever way you will—whether it come from the mouth of a King, an excuse for enslaving the people of his country, or from the mouth of men of one race as a reason for enslaving the men of another race, it is all the same old serpent.” Either people—men, in his day—were equal, or they were not.

    Lincoln went on, “I should like to know if taking this old Declaration of Independence, which declares that all men are equal upon principle and making exceptions to it… where will it stop?”

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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,283
      May 18, 2021 (Tuesday)

    Today President Joe Biden traveled to Dearborn, Michigan, to sell his $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan. Visiting Ford’s Rouge Electric Vehicle Center, he tested an electric version of the classic F-150 pickup and urged Americans to use the race to dominate the market in electric vehicles as a way to create jobs. The American Jobs Plan provides $174 billion to switch the nation’s car industry away from fossil fuels and toward renewables, and Ford’s electric F-150 could help sell the idea.

    Union leaders support the idea of constructing the nation’s new electric fleet despite their concern that the new vehicles need less human labor than vehicles powered by internal combustion engines. (Ford says that building the new electric truck—the Lightning—will add jobs.) But Republican lawmakers, especially those whose states produce oil, remain skeptical.

    Biden is quietly and deliberately trying to rebuild the American economy, which has been gutted in the years since 1981. Yesterday, he announced that the Treasury would deposit the benefits of the child tax credit, expanded in the American Rescue Plan Congress passed in March shortly after Biden took office, directly into people’s bank accounts on the 15th of every month, beginning in July. The child tax credit will amount to at least $250 per child every month, up to an annual amount of up to a maximum of $3600 per child. About 90% of all families with kids—about 39 million of them—will receive the money; the program is expected to cut child poverty in half. It is a tax cut, but one that benefits ordinary Americans.

    Biden appears to be gambling that restoring the economy and rebuilding the middle class will weaken Trump’s hold on the dispossessed voters who cling to his racist nationalism out of anger at being left behind in today’s economy. He gives the impression of a president who is above the fray, simply trying to do what’s best for the nation.

    But it seems hard for him to get media attention as the Republicans continue to make more dramatic news.

    Today’s headlines were dominated by the fight in Congress over a commission to investigate the events surrounding the January 6 insurrection. Last week, Bennie Thompson (D-MS), the chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, and John Katko (R-NY), the top Republican on the committee, hammered out a deal to create an independent commission patterned on the one that investigated the 9/11 attack. Katko was one of the ten Republican representatives who voted to impeach Trump after the January 6 insurrection.

    According to Politico, McCarthy authorized Katko to negotiate and gave him a list of demands, including equal representation for Republicans and Democrats on the committee, power for both parties to subpoena witnesses, and a final report before the end of the year so it wouldn’t still be active before the 2022 election.

    Thompson conceded these three big points to the Republicans. And then, this morning, McCarthy came out against the deal. “Given the political misdirections that have marred this process, given the now duplicative and potentially counterproductive nature of this effort, and given the Speaker’s shortsighted scope that does not examine interrelated forms of political violence in America, I cannot support this legislation,” he said.

    Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) has repeatedly called for McCarthy to be subpoenaed to testify about his contact with Trump around the time of the insurrection, and Representative Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) says that McCarthy dismissed him when Kinzinger warned before January 6 that the party’s rhetoric would cause violence.

    “McCarthy won’t take yes for an answer,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said. “He made three requests—every single one was granted by Democrats, yet he still says no.” A senior Republican House aide told Politico: “I think Kevin was hoping that the Democrats would never agree to our requests—that way the commission would be partisan and we can all vote no and say it’s a sham operation.... Because he knows Trump is going to lose his mind” over the commission.

    Indeed Trump later weighed in, saying the deal was a “Democrat trap.” This afternoon, in yet another illustration of how determined House leadership is to protect the former president, it began “whipping” House Republicans—that is, trying to get them to hold the party line— to oppose the creation of the commission. Nonetheless, Politico reported tonight that dozens of Republicans are considering supporting the commission despite how much it would infuriate Trump, because it would provide them political cover in 2022.

    The measure will come to the floor of the House on Wednesday and should pass. The real question will be how it fares in the Senate, where seven Republican senators voted to convict Trump of inciting an insurrection in January. Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD), who voted to acquit the former president, told Sahil Kapur of NPR News that he wanted a bipartisan commission that would focus on January 6. “We clearly had an insurrection on that particular day, and I don’t want it to be swept under any rug,” he said.

    While Republicans try to avoid a reckoning over January 6, there are signs that the hold of Trump loyalists is weakening. Yesterday, the Maricopa County, Arizona, Board of Supervisors sent a spectacular letter to Karen Fann, the president of the Arizona Senate that authorized the “audit” of the ballots cast in Maricopa County by the private company Cyber Ninjas. The 14-page letter tore apart the entire project, pointing out that the Cyber Ninjas are utterly ignorant of election procedures.

    It is a devastating take down, saying, for example: “You have rented out the once good name of the Arizona State Senate to grifters and con-artists, who are fundraising hard-earned money from our fellow citizens even as your contractors parade around the Coliseum, hunting for bamboo and something they call ‘kinematic artifacts’ while shining purple lights for effect.” It concludes by begging Fann “to recognize the obvious truth: your ‘auditors’ are in way over their heads. They do not have the experience necessary to conduct an audit of an election. They do not know the laws, nor the procedures, nor the best practices. It is inevitable that they will arrive at questionable conclusions. It is time to end this. For the good of the Senate, for the good of the Country and for the good of the Democratic institutions that define us as Americans.”

    Perhaps sensing blood in the water, former New Jersey governor Chris Christie this morning hinted he was considering a presidential run in 2024. He said he would make that decision without deferring to “anyone.” Still, his repeated claim that the party must stop being “reckless” seemed aimed specifically at the former president, whose refusal to acknowledge the danger of Covid-19 led to Christie’s own hospitalization with the disease.

    Tonight offered more bad news for the former president. A spokesperson for New York Attorney General Letitia James said: “We have informed the Trump Organization that our investigation into the organization is no longer purely civil in nature. We are now actively investigating the Trump Organization in a criminal capacity, along with the Manhattan DA.” Manhattan district attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., has been conducting a criminal investigation of the former president and his family for more than a year, focusing on finances. Now the New York attorney general’s office will be collaborating.

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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,283
      May 19, 2021 (Wednesday)

    The news grabbing the headlines today is the congressional fight over the creation of a bipartisan independent commission to investigate the events surrounding the January 6 insurrection.

    House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) made demands of the Democrats that he evidently expected Democrats to refuse, enabling him to object to the commission by claiming it was partisan. But the Democrats agreed to his conditions, forcing him to object in such a way that it was clear he is simply covering for the former president and, likely, for himself, because he does not want to have to testify to what he observed or participated in in the days around that event (including, for example, the hostile phone call with Trump when McCarthy was inside the besieged Capitol).

    McCarthy and the Republican whip, Steven Scalise (R-LA), whose job is to get Republican members to vote along the lines leadership requires, set out to get Republican representatives to oppose the creation of the commission. But when the House voted on the bill this afternoon, 35 Republicans broke ranks to join the Democrats and vote to create  the commission. The defections were a sign that McCarthy and the Trump caucus do not entirely own the House Republicans yet; 35 Republicans would like to know what the heck happened on January 6. One hundred and seventy-five Republicans want to sweep the whole event under the rug. The final vote on the bill to create the commission was 252-175.

    Representative Tim Ryan (D-OH) spoke for those of us who are gobsmacked that anyone could say we do not need to investigate the most profound attack on our democracy in our history. He thanked the Republicans supporting the creation of the independent commission and then turned on the rest. “Benghazi. You guys chased the former secretary of state all over the country, spent millions of dollars. We have people scaling the Capitol, hitting the Capitol police with lead pipes across the head, and we can’t get bipartisanship. What else has to happen in this country? Cops: this is a slap in the face to every rank-and-file cop in the United States. If we’re going to take on China, if we’re going to rebuild the country, if we’re going to reverse climate change, we need two political parties in this country that are both living in reality—and you ain’t one of them.”

    The bill now goes to the Senate, where Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has announced he will not support it. After Trump’s second impeachment trial, McConnell said that he hadn’t voted to convict Trump because the former president would face punishment later. Now he has attacked the bipartisan commission as partisan and said, "It's not at all clear what new facts or additional investigation yet another commission could actually lay on top of existing efforts by law enforcement and Congress,” implying that there has been an investigation already—there has not—and that the fact we don’t know what such a commission would uncover means we have no need to uncover it.

    All of this matters because the January 6 insurrection was an attack on our democracy, and the Republican Party has concluded that they do not want us to know what happened. A number of Republicans have said they believe that “Antifa” was behind the riot; if they really thought that were the case, wouldn’t they want an investigation?

    The only logical conclusion is that they are afraid of what an investigation will uncover. And, in fact, that’s precisely what Republican senators are saying: they do not want an investigation to color the 2020 election. Today Senate Republican whip John Thune (R-SD) said that the findings of any investigation “could be weaponized politically and drug into next year” (although the bipartisan agreement requires the investigation to be over by the end of 2021). After years of weaponizing investigations—Benghazi, Secretary of State Clinton’s emails, Hunter Biden—the Republicans are facing an investigation, based in reality, that likely will reflect badly on them. They want no part of it.

    But it is going to be very difficult to stuff back into the bottle the genie of interest in what the heck went on during the Trump administration. Yesterday’s announcement by New York Attorney General Letitia James that her office’s investigation into the Trump Organization has become a criminal investigation sparked fireworks from the former president. Today he issued a long, rambling statement that rehashed all his complaints about, well, everything, but the centerpiece was James’s announcement. It was weird and unhinged, even for him, and suggested that he is very worried that there will be criminal charges forthcoming.

    And today a filing from the Department of Justice showed that, under Biden, the department has found the parents of 54 more children, from whom they were separated at our southern border by the Trump administration in an attempt to stop refugees from entering the country. The previous administration separated at least 2800 children from their parents. Shortly after he took office, Biden created a task force in the Department of Homeland Security to reunite families. The parents of 391 migrant children have still not been found.

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,283
     May 20, 2021 (Thursday)

    President Joe Biden is trying to model a normal presidency as he stabilizes the nation after the drama of the past four years, rebuilds from the devastation of the coronavirus pandemic, and deals with crises around the world.

    Today, Biden signed into law a bill to combat hate crimes, especially against Asian Americans, sparked by Covid-19. After former president Trump began blaming China for the coronavirus pandemic—calling the virus the “kung flu” for example—hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders spiked to more than 6600 between March 2020 and March 2021. “Hate has no place in America,” Biden tweeted.

    Vaccine rates are up: more than 48% of the population has gotten at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine, and in 19 states, more than half the population is fully vaccinated. This week, for the first time since March of last year, the seven-day average of deaths from Covid-19 has fallen below 500.  

    The economy is healing. Fresh claims for unemployment insurance fell again last week, by 34,000, showing an improving job market. Now at 444,000, they are still higher than they were before the pandemic. Nonetheless, more than 20 states have announced they are rejecting the $300 a week boost in federal unemployment benefits, insisting that the extra money is keeping people from going to work.

    Biden is also dealing with foreign policy crises, to which he brings a longstanding interest in foreign affairs, including 34 years on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and 8 years in the vice presidency, dealing with foreign countries. He is the president most experienced in foreign affairs since at least George H. W. Bush, who had been U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

    In managing foreign affairs, Biden appears to favor private pressure over public statements, leaving room for other governments to change direction without losing face domestically by backing down to the United States in public, a tendency he showed when he declined to sanction Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman personally for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, instead increasing pressure on MBS by imposing penalties on 76 of the people around him.

    Private pressure over public statements appears to have been Biden’s approach to the recent crisis between Palestinians and Israeli military that broke out on May 10, killing at least 230 Palestinians in Gaza (the 25-mile-long, 4- to  8-mile-wide strip on the Mediterranean side of Israel) including 63 children, leaving tens of thousands homeless, and badly damaging hospitals, schools, roads, and water and electrical systems. Twelve Israelis, including two children, have also been killed.

    Biden has pressured Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to end Israel’s bombing campaign against Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that controls Gaza. Through allies, especially those in Egypt, which borders Gaza, the administration has told Hamas to stop firing rockets into Israel. Today Israel and Hamas agreed to a cease-fire brokered by Egypt. It is not clear if the cease-fire will hold: after similar hostilities in 2014, it ultimately took 9 truces to end the fighting.  

    But while there is a normal—and largely successful—presidency underway, politics in America is not at all business as usual. The Republican Party is radicalizing into a pro-Trump force that is throwing the country under the bus to defend their leader.

    Dramatically, Republicans have come out this week against an investigation into the January 6 insurrection. This is a transparent attempt to protect former president Trump, as well, perhaps, as some of their own members; House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) today refused to say whether he thought members of his caucus had communicated with the January 6 rioters.

    This objection to an investigation of an attack of such magnitude is breathtaking. We have always had investigations of attacks on our country; Republicans themselves held 7 congressional investigations and 33 hearings about the 2012 attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya, that killed 4 Americans.

    Today, journalist David Freedlander reminded us that in January, a number of Republican lawmakers, including McCarthy, argued against impeaching then-president Trump for inciting the January 6 insurrection because, they said, a “fact-finding commission” was important. “I believe impeaching the president in such a short time frame would be a mistake,” said McCarthy. “No investigations have been completed. No hearings have been held….”

    And yet, McCarthy and the Republican leadership are now opposing the creation of a bipartisan commission, although the Democrats gave them all their demands: equal representation on the commission, the power to subpoena witnesses, and a final report before the end of the year.

    The story is the same in the Senate. On February 13, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), tweeted: “The 1/6 attack on the Capitol was horrific & appalling. Those who planned & participated in the violence that day should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I agree w/Speaker Pelosi—a 911-type investigation is called for to help prevent this from happening again.”

    And yet, Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT), whom Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman intercepted and led away from the mob on January 6, today told journalist Manu Raju that he wasn’t sure whether he will block debate on the commission bill. This indicates there will not be enough Senate votes to break a filibuster on the bill.

    Today, Senator Angus King, Jr. (I-ME) came out and said it: “We need answers on the 1/6 insurrection—but many of my [Republican] colleagues are indicating they will vote against an independent investigation. When people start moving heaven and earth to block an investigation, I have to wonder if there is something to hide.”

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

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