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Letter From An American by Heather Cox Richardson



  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 22,425
     September 9, 2021 (Thursday)

    After weeks of pleading with Americans to get vaccinated as Republican governors opposed mask mandates, ICUs filled up, and people died, today President Joe Biden went on the offensive.

    Saying, “My job as President is to protect all Americans,” he announced that he was imposing new vaccination or testing requirements on the unvaccinated. The U.S. government will require all federal employees, as well as any federal contractors, to be vaccinated. The government already requires that all nursing home workers who treat patients on Medicare and Medicaid have to be vaccinated; Biden is expanding that to cover hospital workers, home healthcare aides, and those who work in other medical facilities. “If you’re seeking care at a health facility, you should be able to know that the people treating you are vaccinated.”

    Using the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Biden will also make employers with 100 or more employees require that their employees either be vaccinated or show a negative coronavirus test at least once a week. He pointed out that big companies already are doing this, including United Airlines, Disney… and the Fox News Channel.

    Together, the new vaccine requirements will affect about 100 million Americans, making up two thirds of all U.S. workers.

    Biden also urged those who run large entertainment venues to require vaccines or show a recent negative test for entry. He has already required teachers at the schools run by the Defense Department to get vaccinated, and today he announced that the government will require teachers in the Head Start program, which is federally funded, to be vaccinated. He called on governors to require that all teachers and staff be vaccinated for coronavirus, as their states already require a wide range of vaccinations for other diseases.

    Calling out those like Florida governor Ron DeSantis, who has taken a stand against mask mandates and is threatening to withhold the salaries of school officials who defy him, Biden said that “if these governors won’t help us beat the pandemic, I’ll use my power as President to get them out of the way.”

    He is using the Defense Production Act to increase production of rapid tests and has worked with major retailers to sell those tests at cost for the next three months. The government has also expanded free testing at 10,000 pharmacies and will spend $2 billion to distribute nearly 300 million rapid tests to community health centers, food banks, and schools. He has ordered the Transportation Safety Administration to double the fines on travelers that refuse to mask.

    After deploying nearly 1000 healthcare workers to address this summer’s surges in 18 states, the president is now sending in military health teams from the Defense Department. Meanwhile, he said, the U.S. continues to donate vaccines to the rest of the world, “nearly 140 million vaccines over 90 countries so far, more than all other countries combined, including Europe, China, and Russia.... That’s American leadership on a global stage, and that’s just the beginning.” The U.S. is now shipping 500 million more Pfizer vaccines to 100 lower-income countries.

    “Many of us are frustrated with the nearly 80 million Americans who are still not vaccinated, even though the vaccine is safe, effective, and free,” Biden said. More than 175 million Americans are fully vaccinated, and for the past three months we have created 700,000 new jobs a month. But while nearly three quarters of those eligible have gotten at least one shot, the highly contagious Delta variant has ripped through the unvaccinated, who are overcrowding our hospitals, threatening the health of our children, and weakening our economic recovery.

    “[D]espite America having an unprecedented and successful vaccination program, despite the fact that for almost five months free vaccines have been available in 80,000 different locations, we still have nearly 80 million Americans who have failed to get the shot…. And to make matters worse, there are elected officials actively working to undermine the fight against COVID-19,” Biden said. “Instead of encouraging people to get vaccinated and mask up, they’re ordering mobile morgues for the unvaccinated dying from COVID in their communities. This is totally unacceptable.”

    “[W]e have the tools to combat COVID-19, and a distinct minority of Americans—supported by a distinct minority of elected officials—are keeping us from turning the corner…. We cannot allow these actions to stand in the way of protecting the large majority of Americans who have done their part and want to get back to life as normal.”

    “We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin. And your refusal has cost all of us,” he said. “So, please, do the right thing.”

    The Biden administration is pushing back, too, on Texas’s Senate Bill 8, which prohibits abortion after 6 weeks and thus outlaws 85% of abortions in the state. Today, the United States of America sued the state of Texas for acting “in open defiance of the Constitution” when it passed S. B. 8 and deprived “individuals of their constitutional rights.” The United States has a “profound sovereign interest” in making sure that individuals’ constitutional rights can be protected by the federal government, the lawsuit declares. "The act is clearly unconstitutional under longstanding Supreme Court precedent,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said.

    What is at stake in this case is the ability of the federal government to defend Americans’ constitutional rights against local vigilantes, a power Americans gave to the federal government in 1868 by ratifying the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution after white former Confederates in southern states refused to accept the idea that their Black neighbors should have rights.

    Since the 1950s, the Supreme Court has used federal power to protect the rights of minorities and women when state laws discriminated against them. S. B. 8 would strip the government of that power, leaving individuals at the mercy of their neighbors’ prejudices. The government has asked the U.S. district court for the western district of Texas to declare the law “invalid, null, and void,” and to stop the state from enforcing it.

    This issue of federal supremacy is not limited to Texas. Glenn Thrush of the New York Times today called out that in June, Missouri governor Mike Parson signed the Second Amendment Preservation Act, which declares federal laws—including taxes—that govern the use of firearms “invalid in this state.” Like the Texas abortion law, the Second Amendment Preservation Act allows individuals to sue state officials who work with federal officials to deprive Missourians of what they consider to be their Second Amendment rights. “Obviously, it’s about far more than simply gun rights,” one of the chief proponents of the bill, far-right activist Aaron Dorr, said to Thrush about his involvement.

    There were other wins today for the Biden administration. Today was the deadline for federal agencies to produce a wide range of records surrounding the events of January 6 to the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol, and according to the committee’s Twitter feed, those records have, in fact, been forthcoming.

    And Taliban officials did allow a plane carrying about 115 Americans and other nationals to leave Afghanistan.

    Biden’s new approach to the pandemic is, as Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo points out, good politics as well as good for public health. About 65% of the voting age population is already vaccinated, and older people are both more likely to be vaccinated and more likely to vote. With most Americans vaccinated and increasingly frustrated with those who refuse, there is little political risk to requiring vaccines, while Republicans standing in the way of public health measures are increasingly unpopular. Florida, where deaths from coronavirus soared to more than 300 a day in late August, has begun to limit the information about deaths it releases.

    If Biden’s new vaccine requirements slow or halt the spread of the coronavirus, the economic recovery that had been taking off before the Delta variant hit will resume its speed, strengthening his popularity. Those Republican lawmakers furious at the new vaccine requirements are possibly less worried that they won’t work than that they will.


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  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 22,425
     September 10, 2021 (Friday)

    When the Senate returns to business on September 14, voting rights are going to be on the table.

    In the midst of the efforts of Republican-dominated states to suppress voting, Joe Manchin (D-WV), who stood alone in his party against the sweeping For the People Act, has continued to lead a group of senators trying to craft a voting rights bill that will gain the support of at least ten Republicans so it can pass without changing the rules of the filibuster.

    The group includes Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Angus King (I-ME).

    After rejecting the For the People Act, Manchin released a list of the voting items he could support. That list is apparently the basis for the new bill.

    Once it is written, Manchin will shop it around to Republicans in order to find the ten votes needed to get anything through the Senate (since Senate rules currently require 60 votes to break a filibuster, Democrats in the evenly divided chamber need support from at least 10 Republicans to pass the bill). Manchin maintains he can find those votes, although many are skeptical and there has so far been no sign that today’s Republicans will rally to a voting rights bill.

    If Manchin cannot find the ten votes he needs to make the measure filibuster-proof, the central question is whether he will agree to a carve-out for the filibuster like the one the Senate now has for high-level judicial appointments.

    If so, the federal government will enforce the right of individual citizens to vote, overriding state laws restricting that vote. If not, the restrictive state measures put in place by Republican-dominated legislatures will stand, and the nation seems likely to become a one-party state.

    This measure is tied up with the huge infrastructure package currently before Congress: the infrastructure bill creates room to negotiate with those who might need some incentive to vote for a voting rights bill. The measure also offers members a chance to vote for it and go down in history as saving American democracy… or as destroying American democracy by voting no.

    And one other piece of news before I fall into bed: Today another civilian flight left Kabul, Afghanistan, carrying 158 passengers, including 21 Americans.


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  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 22,425
     September 11, 2021 (Saturday)
    On the twentieth anniversary of the day terrorists from the al-Qaeda network used four civilian airplanes as weapons against the United States, the weather was eerily similar to the bright, clear blue sky of what has come to be known as 9/11. George W. Bush, who was president on that horrific day, spoke in Pennsylvania at a memorial for the passengers of United Airlines Flight 93 who, on September 11, 2001, stormed the cockpit and brought their airplane down in a field, killing everyone on board but denying the terrorists a fourth American trophy.  
    Former president Bush said: “Twenty years ago, terrorists chose a random group of Americans, on a routine flight, to be collateral damage in a spectacular act of terror. The 33 passengers and 7 crew of Flight 93 could have been any group of citizens selected by fate. In a sense, they stood in for us all.” And, Bush continued, “The terrorists soon discovered that a random group of Americans is an exceptional group of people. Facing an impossible circumstance, they comforted their loved ones by phone, braced each other for action, and defeated the designs of evil.”
    Recalling his experience that day, Bush talked of “the America I know.”
    “On America's day of trial and grief, I saw millions of people instinctively grab for a neighbor's hand and rally to the cause of one another…. At a time when religious bigotry might have flowed freely, I saw Americans reject prejudice and embrace people of Muslim faith…. At a time when nativism could have stirred hatred and violence against people perceived as outsiders, I saw Americans reaffirm their welcome to immigrants and refugees…. At a time when some viewed the rising generation as individualistic and decadent, I saw young people embrace an ethic of service and rise to selfless action.”
    Today’s commemorations of that tragic day almost a generation ago seemed to celebrate exactly what Bush did: the selfless heroism and care for others shown by those like Welles Crowther, the man in the red bandana, who helped others out of danger before succumbing himself; the airplane passengers who called their loved ones to say goodbye; neighbors; firefighters; law enforcement officers; the men and women who volunteered for military service after the attack.
    That day, and our memories of it, show American democracy at its best: ordinary Americans putting in the work, even at its dirtiest and most dangerous, to take care of each other.
    It is this America we commemorate today.

    But even in 2001, that America was under siege by those who distrusted the same democracy today’s events commemorated. Those people, concentrated in the Republican Party, worried that permitting all Americans to have a say in their government would lead to “socialism”: minorities and women would demand government programs paid for with tax dollars collected from hardworking people—usually, white men. They wanted to slash taxes and government regulations, giving individuals the “freedom” to do as they wished.

    In 1986, they had begun to talk about purifying the vote; when the Democrats in 1993 passed the so-called Motor Voter law permitting people to register to vote at certain government offices, they claimed that Democrats were buying votes. The next year, Republicans began to claim that Democrats won elections through fraud, and in 1998, the Florida legislature passed a voter ID law that led to a purge of as many as 100,000 voters from the system before the election of 2000, resulting in what the United States Commission on Civil Rights called “an extraordinarily high and inexcusable level of disenfranchisement,” particularly of African American voters.

    It was that election that put George W. Bush in the White House, despite his losing the popular vote to Democrat Al Gore by more than a half a million votes.

    Bush had run on the promise he would be “a uniter, not a divider,” but as soon as he took office, he advanced the worldview of those who distrusted democracy. He slashed government programs and in June pushed a $1.3 trillion cut through Congress. These measures increased the deficit without spurring the economy, and voters were beginning to sour on a presidency that had been precarious since its controversial beginnings.
    On the morning of September 11, 2001, hours before the planes hit the Twin Towers, a New York Times editorial announced: “There is a whiff of panic in the air.”

    And then the planes hit.

    “In our grief and anger we have found our mission and our moment,” Bush said. America had seemed to drift since the Cold War had ended twelve years before, but now the country was in a new death struggle, against an even more implacable foe. To defeat the nation’s enemies, America must defend free enterprise and Christianity at all costs.

    In the wake of the attacks, Bush’s popularity soared to 90 percent. He and his advisers saw that popularity as a mandate to change America, and the world, according to their own ideology. “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists,” he announced.

    Immediately, the administration focused on strengthening business. It shored up the airline industry and, at the advice of oil industry executives, deregulated the oil industry and increased drilling. By the end of the year, Congress had appropriated more than $350 billion for the military and homeland security, but that money would not go to established state and local organizations; it would go to new federal programs run by administration loyalists. Bush’s proposed $2.13 billion 2003 budget increased military spending by $48 billion while slashing highway funding, environmental initiatives, job training, and other domestic spending. It would throw the budget $401 billion in the red. Republicans attacked any opposition as an attack on “the homeland.”

    The military response to the attacks also turned ideological quickly. As soon as he heard about the attacks, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld asked his aides to see if there was enough evidence to “hit” Iraqi president Saddam Hussein as well as al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. In fact, Saddam had not been involved in the attack on America: the al-Qaeda terrorists of 9/11 were from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates.

    Rumsfeld was trying to fit the events of 911 into the worldview of the so-called neocons who had come together in 1997 to complain that President Bill Clinton’s foreign policy was “incoherent” and to demand that the U.S. take international preeminence in the wake of the Cold War. They demanded significantly increased defense spending and American-backed “regime change” in countries that did not have “political and economic freedom.” They wanted to see a world order “friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles.”  

    After 9/11, Bush launched rocket attacks on the Taliban government of Afghanistan that had provided a safe haven for al-Qaeda, successfully overthrowing it before the end of the year. But then the administration undertook to reorder the Middle East in America's image. In 2002, it announced that the U.S. would no longer simply try to contain our enemies as President Harry S. Truman had planned, or to fund their opponents as President Ronald Reagan had done, but to strike nations suspected of planning attacks on the U.S. preemptively: the so-called Bush Doctrine. In 2003, after setting up a pro-American government in Afghanistan, the administration invaded Iraq.

    By 2004, the administration was so deeply entrenched in its own ideology that a senior adviser to Bush told journalist Ron Suskind that people like him—Suskind—were in “the reality-based community”: they believed people could find solutions based on their observations and careful study of discernible reality. But, the aide continued, such a worldview was obsolete. “That’s not the way the world really works anymore.… We are an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

    The 9/11 attacks enabled Republicans to tar those who questioned the administration's economic or foreign policies as un-American: either socialists or traitors making the nation vulnerable to terrorist attacks. Surely, such people should not have a voice at the polls. Republican gerrymandering and voter suppression began to shut Democratic voices out of our government, aided by a series of Supreme Court decisions. In 2010, the court opened the floodgates of corporate money into our elections to sway voters; in 2013, it gutted the 1965 Voting Rights Act; in 2021, it said that election laws that affected different groups of voters unevenly were not unconstitutional.

    And now we grapple with the logical extension of that argument as a former Republican president claims he won the 2020 election because, all evidence to the contrary, Democratic votes were fraudulent.

    Today, former president Bush called out the similarities between today’s domestic terrorists who attacked our Capitol to overthrow our government on January 6 and the terrorists of 9/11. “There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home, “he said. “But in their disdain for pluralism, in their disregard for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same foul spirit. And it is our continuing duty to confront them.”

    In doing so, we can take guidance from the passengers on Flight 93, who demonstrated as profoundly as it is possible to do what confronting such an ideology means. While we cannot know for certain what happened on that plane on that fateful day, investigators believe that before the passengers of Flight 93 stormed the cockpit, throwing themselves between the terrorists and our government, and downed the plane, they all took a vote.


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  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 22,425
     September 12, 2021 (Sunday)

    It's been a very long week indeed, but the sun will come up again tomorrow, and we will tackle it all again then.

    [Photo "Breakwater Dawn" by Peter Ralston.]


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  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 22,425
     September 13, 2021 (Monday)

    As the coronavirus continues to burn across the United States, Republicans are maintaining their opposition to President Joe Biden’s new requirement that certain groups, including those who work at companies that employ more than 100 people, should either be vaccinated or be tested frequently for the virus. They insist that vaccination should be voluntary, but have no solution to the new spike in coronavirus infections and deaths.

    In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis is threatening to sue cities that impose vaccine requirements, saying such mandates will hurt the economy by threatening jobs. More than 11,215 Florida residents are currently hospitalized with Covid-19.

    More than 243,000 children tested positive for the virus last week, the second highest number of pediatric cases since the pandemic started. About 2200 are currently hospitalized.

    Democrats continue to develop the infrastructure measure they expect to pass through reconciliation, thus being able to steer the bill through the Senate without facing a filibuster (budget reconciliation bills can’t be filibustered). A recent poll conducted for CNN by the independent research firm SSRS found that 93% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning Independents think it is important to the party’s identity to believe that the federal government should do more to help people.

    The price tag on the new measure is currently around $3.5 trillion. As E. J. Dionne points out in the Washington Post, that number covers 10 years of spending, a period of time in which the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP), which measures the value of production, is expected to be $288 trillion. So that $3.5 trillion makes up around just 1.2 percent of the economy. It’s a big number, but not a large percentage for an investment in childcare, elder care, education, and addressing climate change.

    The Democrats propose to fund the bill not with deficit spending alone, as so many of our investments have been funded of late, but by cutting spending elsewhere and by raising revenue by restoring some of the taxes Republicans cut in 2017. The Democrats also propose raising taxes on individuals who make more than $400,000 a year, or couples who make more than $450,000 a year. There is a growing impulse to level the economic playing field in this country as growing inequality makes the news more frequently. As Dr. Gabriel Zucman, an economist at the University of California at Berkeley, told Washington Post reporter Jeff Stein, the wealth of the top 400 people in the U.S. has increased by $1.4 trillion since 2019.

    While the moderate Democrats and the progressive wing of the party are sparking breathless news stories as they hash out their differences, it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that Republicans refuse to participate in this process at all.

    Perhaps the biggest breaking news today, although it, too, is a continuation of a longer theme, is that, in California’s recall election of Governor Gavin Newsom, the campaign website of challenger Republican Larry Elder, a right-wing talk show host, is already claiming he lost the election because of fraud. “Statistical analyses used to detect fraud in elections held in 3rd-world nations (such as Russia, Venezuela, and Iran) have detected fraud in California resulting in Governor Gavin Newsom being reinstated as governor,” the website says. "The primary analytical tool used was Benford’s Law and can be readily reproduced."

    But the election isn’t until tomorrow.

    The theme that Democrats win elections only by cheating became popular in Republican circles after the 1993 Motor Voter Act, which made it easier for poor people to vote. Republicans said Democrats, who passed the measure, were simply packing elections with their own voters. There was not then, and there is not now, evidence of widespread fraud in American elections.

    Former president Donald Trump harped on the idea that Democrats cheated in the 2016 election—he insisted he would have won the popular vote as well as the vote in the Electoral College if it hadn’t been for fraudulent Democratic votes—and that idea is, of course, at the heart of his complaint about Biden’s election in 2020. There is no evidence for these accusations; they are lies. And yet, that recent CNN/SSRS poll found that 59% of Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents think believing that Trump won the 2020 election is important to their identity as Republicans.

    California has about half as many registered Republicans as it does registered Democrats, and Newsom won in 2018 by almost 24 percentage points, so if Newsom wins tomorrow's election it will hardly be an upset. But Elder is already claiming fraud and refusing to say he will accept the results of the election—the same playbook Trump used in 2016 and 2020. Tonight, a pastor at a rally for Elder prayed: “We don’t even look at the polls because we are looking to you, Lord. Lord, we pray that you would take down the current government…. We ask this state will be set free, and you would start with Larry Elder.”

    If losers in a democracy refuse to accept the legitimacy of elections, the system falls apart.

    The growing radicalism of the Republican Party is putting pressure on Democrats to pass a voting rights act to counteract the vote-suppressing measures that Republican-dominated states are enacting. Today, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he hopes to bring a voting rights bill backed by West Virginia Democratic senator Joe Manchin to the floor for a vote as early as next week.


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  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 22,425
     September 14, 2021 (Tuesday)

    This morning, the team of Democratic senators working on a voting rights measure that could meet the demands of conservative Democratic West Virginia senator Joe Manchin released their bill. The 592-page document is described as a bill “to expand Americans’ access to the ballot box and reduce the influence of big money in politics, and for other purposes.” Led by Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), the senators have called their effort the “Freedom to Vote Act.”

    This new measure is a pared-down version of the For the People Act passed by the House earlier this year before being blocked by Republicans in the Senate. It makes it easier to vote, allowing for automatic voter registration and mail-in voting. It protects the voting rights of minorities and establishes what forms of identification can be required for voter IDs. It makes Election Day a federal holiday and protects election workers from partisan pressure. The bill also tries to slow the flood of “dark money” from undisclosed sources into campaigns and bans partisan gerrymandering.

    Senate Democrats could not pass the measure without significant changes to make it acceptable to Manchin, and he has worked to craft this new measure that he has argued—without public evidence—will attract Republican votes. His hope is to pass the bill with the ten Republican votes necessary to override a filibuster. If those votes are not forthcoming, he and the rest of the Democrats will have to confront the reality that they must preserve either the right of Americans to vote—the centerpiece of our democracy—or the filibuster.

    After the bill was released, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) promptly announced that Republicans would not support It. He says there’s no reason for the federal government to be “taking over how we conduct elections in this country.” This prompted Princeton historian Kevin Kruse to note that the Senate renewed the 1965 Voting Rights Act in 2006 by a vote of 98–0, and to suggest that Republicans have significantly revised their definition of federal overreach in the last 15 years.

    The protection of voting rights seems more vital than ever today, as excerpts from a new book by veteran journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa revealed just how precarious the last days of the Trump presidency were. The portrait they reveal is of a man so desperate to retain his hold on the presidency that those around him thought he was mentally unhinged, while they also tried to do what he wanted so they wouldn’t upset him.

    Trump tried hard to convince then–Vice President Mike Pence not to certify the electoral college votes from the states. Pence tried to oblige him, eventually turning to former Vice President Dan Quayle, who had served in the George H. W. Bush administration, to see if there was any way he could do what Trump asked. According to Woodward and Costa, Pence repeatedly asked Quayle if there was anything he could do. Quayle answered: “Mike, you have no flexibility on this. None. Zero. Forget it. Put it away.”

    But Trump didn’t want to take no for an answer. When Pence refused, Trump allegedly told him: “I don’t want to be your friend anymore if you don’t do this.” He later told the vice president: “You’ve betrayed us. I made you. You were nothing.”

    The account casts Pence’s role in the January 6 insurrection in a new light.

    The book also says that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mark Milley, was so worried that Trump’s mental state around the time of the election would lead him to attack China that twice Milley called his Chinese counterpart Li Zuocheng secretly to assure him that the U.S. would not launch a surprise attack. Milley was not the only one worried about the president: when Trump refused to concede the election, CIA Director Gina Haspel allegedly told Milley, “We are on the way to a right-wing coup. The whole thing is insanity. He is acting out like a six-year-old with a tantrum.” Haspel worried Trump might attack Iran.

    Milley also allegedly told top military commanders that they should involve him if then-president Trump ordered a nuclear strike. That conversation was in part a reaction to a phone call with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), two days after the assault on the Capitol, in which the Speaker demanded to know: “What precautions are available to prevent an unstable president from initiating military hostilities or from accessing the launch codes and ordering a nuclear strike?”

    When Milley tried to reassure her, she continued: "What I'm saying to you is that if they couldn't even stop him from an assault on the Capitol, who even knows what else he may do? And is there anybody in charge at the White House who was doing anything but kissing his fat butt all over this?"

    “He’s crazy. You know he’s crazy,” Pelosi said, according to a transcript of the call Woodward and Costa saw. “He’s crazy and what he did yesterday is further evidence of his craziness.” Milley replied to the House Speaker: “I agree with you on everything.”

    The picture the book excerpts paint of Trump is of an unhinged man screaming obscenities at his advisers, unwilling to accept limits to his power. The book also highlights the role of Steve Bannon, who urged Trump to fight the January 6 counting of the ballots.

    We also learned today that Trump’s own senior advisers were warning as early as February 2020 that the nation was dangerously unprepared for the coronavirus pandemic, even as Trump was publicly saying the administration’s response to the crisis had been “pretty amazing.” A House committee is discovering information about that response from messages retrieved from the personal email accounts the advisers used.  

    The revelations about the former president, along with the efforts of administration and military leaders to either support or thwart him, highlight just how close the nation came to a disaster, and that the danger continues. But preventing that danger was never Milley’s responsibility alone. The Constitution provides two safeguards against an unstable leader who might, for example, launch a war simply to keep himself in power. One is the 25th Amendment, which provides an emergency mechanism for removing a dangerous president, but while there was talk of using that amendment to remove Trump after January 6, the amendment’s reliance on presidential appointees to trigger it meant that this particular president would not be threatened with removal in that way.

    The other safeguard is the power of impeachment and removal from office upon conviction. Democrats did try to impeach and remove Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in early 2020 over the Ukraine scandal, only to have Senate Republicans stand firmly behind their president and vote to acquit.

    The party’s association with Trump and his ilk did not help it in today’s recall election in California. As of 11:00 pm California time, voters rejected the recall of Democratic governor Gavin Newsom by more than 66%. In thanking his supporters, Newsom claimed his victory showed that voters said yes to science, vaccines, “ending this pandemic,” “people’s right to vote without fear,” a woman’s “fundamental constitutional right to decide for herself what she does with her body”; yes to diversity, inclusion, pluralism, economic justice, social justice, racial justice, and environmental justice. Californians—and Americans, Newsom said—are making choices.

    Newsom’s Republican challenger has already claimed his loss was due to voter fraud.

    That claim highlights the crucial difference between voter fraud and election fraud. Republicans are using the claim of voter fraud—the idea of individual corrupt voters—to launch election fraud, the overturning of a free and fair election. While voter fraud is vanishingly rare, the voter suppression measures passed by Republican-dominated states mean that election fraud is looming and likely... unless Congress passes the Freedom to Vote Act.


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  • HughFreakingDillonHughFreakingDillon HeadstoniaPosts: 27,527
    so as most already knew, Pence would have sold out america had he could to appease the orange one. 

    I wonder if he calls Trump "Father". 
    (Track 10 of The Headstones' Nickels For Your Nightmares)

  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 22,425
     September 15, 2021 (Wednesday)

    Today’s news can wait for tomorrow. Tonight, a thank-you.

    Exactly two years ago today, after about a six-week hiatus during the summer, I wrote a Facebook post that started: “Many thanks to all of you who have reached out to see if I'm okay. I am, indeed (aside from having been on the losing end of an encounter with a yellow jacket this afternoon!). I've been moving, setting up house, and finishing the new book. Am back and ready to write, but now everything seems like such a dumpster fire it's very hard to know where to start. So how about a general overview of how things at the White House look to me, today....”

    I went on to explain that the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA), had written a letter to then–acting Director of National Intelligence, Joseph Maguire, on Friday, September 13, telling Maguire he knew that a whistleblower had filed a complaint with the inspector general of the intelligence community, who had deemed the complaint “credible” and "urgent.” This meant that the complaint was supposed to be sent on to the House Intelligence Committee. But, rather than sending it to the House as the law required, Maguire had withheld it. Schiff’s letter told Maguire that he knew about the complaint and that Maguire had better hand it over. Schiff speculated that Maguire was covering up evidence of crimes by the president or his closest advisors.

    Readers swamped me with questions. So I wrote another post answering them and explaining the news, which began breaking at a breathtaking pace.

    And so, these Letters from an American were born.

    In the two years since then, we have lived through the Ukraine scandal—the secret behind the whistleblower complaint in Schiff’s letter—which revealed that then-president Trump was secretly running his own foreign policy team to strong-arm Ukraine into helping the president’s reelection campaign.

    We lived through the abrupt withdrawal of U.S. troops from northern Syria in early October 2019, leaving our former Kurdish allies to be murdered by Turkish troops. ISIS freed compatriots from jails and launched new attacks, and Russian troops moved into the positions we had held in the region.

    We lived through the impeachment hearings, the trial of former president Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, then the president’s acquittal on those charges and his subsequent purge of career government officials and their replacement with Trump loyalists.

    Then, on February 7, just two days after Senate Republicans acquitted him, Trump picked up the phone and called veteran journalist Bob Woodward to tell him there was a deadly new virus spreading around the world. It was airborne, he explained, and was five times “more deadly than even your strenuous flus.” “This is deadly stuff,” he said. He would not share that information with other Americans, though, continuing to play down the virus in hopes of protecting the economy.

    The pandemic, more than 660,000 of us—1 American in 500—have not lived through.

    We have, though, lived through the attempts of the former president to rig the 2020 election, the determination of American voters to make their voices heard, the Black Lives Matter protests after the murder of George Floyd, the election of Democrat Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, and the subsequent refusal of Trump and his loyalists to accept Biden’s win.

    And we have lived through the unthinkable: an attack on the U.S. Capitol by a mob determined to overrule the results of an election and install their own candidate in the White House. For the first time in our history, the peaceful transfer of power was broken.

    Rather than disappearing after the inauguration of President Biden, the reactionary authoritarianism of the former president’s supporters has grown stronger. Senate Republicans acquitted Trump for a second time in his second impeachment trial-- this time for incitement of insurrection-- and in Republican-dominated states across the country, legislatures have passed laws to suppress Democratic voting and to put the counting of votes into partisan hands.

    We have seen the attempts of Biden and the Democratic-controlled Congress to move America past this dark moment by making coronavirus vaccines widely available and passing the American Rescue Plan to rebuild the economy. We have watched the U.S. withdraw from the longest war in our history, losing 13 military personnel in the exit from Afghanistan that brought out more than 130,000 evacuees.

    And we are, today, watching the fight over the survival of our democracy.

    If you are tired, you have earned the right to be.

    And yet, you are still here, reading.

    I write these letters because I love America. I am staunchly committed to the principle of human self-determination for people of all races, genders, abilities, and ethnicities, and I believe that American democracy could be the form of government that comes closest to bringing that principle to reality. And I know that achieving that equality depends on a government shaped by fact-based debate rather than by extremist ideology and false narratives.

    And so I write.

    But I have come to understand that I am simply the translator for the sentiments shared by hundreds of thousands of people who are finding each other and giving voice to the principles of democracy. Your steadfast interest, curiosity, critical thinking, and especially your kindness—to me and to one another—illustrates that we have not only the power, but also the passion, to reinvent our nation.

    To those who read these letters, send tips, proofread, criticize, comment, argue, worry, cheer, award medals (!), and support me and one another: I thank you all for taking me along on this wild, unexpected, exhausting, and exhilarating journey.


    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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