Auto-Save Draft feature temporarily disabled. Please be sure you manually save your post by selecting "Save Draft" if you have that need.

Letter From An American by Heather Cox Richardson

11617181921

Comments

  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 23,196
     November 1, 2021 (Monday)

    Americans appear to be waking up to the reality that our democracy is on the ropes.

    Emerging details about how hard Trump lawyer John Eastman pushed his memo with the plan of how Trump could steal the 2020 election, along with the chronology of the events surrounding the January 6 insurrection compiled by reporters for the Washington Post, show that we came perilously close to a successful coup d’état.

    New polls show that 82% of people who watch the Fox News Channel believe the Big Lie that President Joe Biden did not win the 2020 election; 30% of Republicans think violence might be warranted to reclaim America.

    And tonight, Fox News Channel personality Tucker Carlson claimed that he had heard a tape of a phone conversation between far right activist Ali Alexander and members of Congress, as well as state legislators, about descending on Washington, D.C., for the “Stop the Steal” rally on January 6.

    This information appeared to be an attempt to get ahead of the story. Carlson said that there was “no talk of insurrection.” (But why were lawmakers on any such call in the first place?)

    Still, while there is increasing focus on the attempt to overturn the 2020 election and keep former president Trump in power, there has been little discussion of what the destabilization of our democracy means for the economy. This is no small thing, because since the late nineteenth century, it has been the stability of our nation that has attracted investment. That investment, in turn, has built our economy.

    An October 27 article by Courtney Fingar, Ben van der Merwe, and Sebastian Shehadi in Investment Monitor warns that “efforts to undermine the integrity of US elections carry a heavy cost for businesses and could weaken investment in the country.”

    The authors put a price tag on U.S. political strife. Drawing on a study by Texas-based economic analysts The Perryman Group, they estimate that Texas’s voter suppression measures will cost the state $14.7 billion in annual gross product by 2025 and $1.5 trillion over the next 25 years. The Perryman Group’s study itself warned that Texas would lose 73,249 jobs by 2025 as businesses and investment flee the state and as voter suppression is correlated to declining wages.

    “For the first time since the Cold War, there is now concern about medium and long-term political stability of the US business environment,” Jonathan Wood, lead analyst for North America at global political risk consultancy Control Risks, told the reporters. “And what we are seeing in voter suppression acts and political gerrymandering, etc, is undermining that perception of the US as a very predictable and stable environment.”

    Dr Ruth Ben-Ghiat, an expert on authoritarianism, explains that when the rule of law, which treats every business equally, has been replaced by the whims of a dictator, success depends on closeness to the leader rather than on quality. “One of the biggest myths of authoritarianism is that it is ‘good for business,’” she said. “[Russian President Vladimir] Putin has jailed over 100,000 business people on trumped-up charges of tax evasion, financial irregularities, etc. Anyone with a profitable enterprise becomes a target, regardless of their political sentiments. This practice goes on in Hungary and Turkey too. Business people should know that this can happen anywhere, to anyone, if autocrats take power.”

    The Perryman Group concluded: "While there are many other important advantages to, and compelling reasons for, encouraging political participation by all eligible citizens, the economic ramifications are substantial and worthy of significant attention as restrictions on voter access are considered.”
     
    An example of what it looks like economically when we lose the rule of law came last week in a story about Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) and his brother-in-law Gerald Fauth. Both men apparently dumped stock after Burr was part of a private official briefing in February 2020 about the looming coronavirus pandemic. After Burr sold more than $1.6 million in stocks, he called Fauth and talked for 50 seconds. A minute later, Fauth called his broker and sold between $97,000 and $280,000 in stocks. The next week, the market began a drop of what would eventually be more than 30%.

    Burr claims he relied on public information when he decided to sell and that he did not coordinate with Fauth.

    Meanwhile, the culture wars in which the Republicans are engaged at home keep focus off the damage the debt ceiling fight is doing to us in the world. In October, Republican senators allowed the Democrats to pass a measure to raise the debt ceiling to pay for measures Congress already enacted, but the Treasury will hit that new ceiling no later than mid-December.

    Republicans have vowed they will not vote to raise the debt ceiling despite the fact that a default would send shockwaves around the world and would likely remove the U.S. permanently from its powerful position among other nations.

    Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen urged Democrats to raise the debt ceiling by themselves if necessary.  “If Democrats have to do it by themselves, that’s better than defaulting on the debt to teach the Republicans a lesson,” she told the Washington Post.

    ​​Today, Time magazine ran a story by Molly Ball about business leaders who are starting to stand up for democracy. The lower taxes and less regulation Republicans promise aren’t much good without a stable democracy, some business leaders told Ball. “The market economy works because of the bedrock foundation of the rule of law, the peaceful succession of power and the reserve currency of the U.S. dollar, and all of these things were potentially at risk,” former Thomson Reuters CEO Tom Glocer said. “CEOs are normally hesitant to get involved in political issues, but I would argue that this was a fundamental business issue.”

    Republicans disagree. Today, in a remarkable op-ed in The American Conservative, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) called “corporate America... the instrument of anti-American ideologies.” He accused Wall Street of “devoting hundreds of billions of dollars to advance corporate propaganda” that promotes Marxist tactics. Rubio wants to “require that the leadership of large companies be subject to strict scrutiny and legal liability when they abuse their corporate privilege by pushing wasteful, anti-American nonsense.”

    In a passage that sounds much like that of a political purge, he warned readers of “the current Marxist cultural revolution among our corporate elite,” and said that “the ultimate way” to stop them “is to replace them with a new generation of business leaders who consider themselves Americans, not citizens of the world…. That is how we defeat this toxic cultural Marxism and rebuild an economy where America’s largest companies were accountable for what matters to America: new factories built in America, good jobs for American families, and investments in American neighborhoods and communities.”

    In the op-ed, Rubio played to the Republican base by bashing China, but he could not outdo his colleague Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who said yesterday at a political rally that the U.S. should demand $5 trillion in reparations from the Chinese for “unleashing” the novel coronavirus and if they would not pay up, we should simply seize their assets in the U.S.

    It is long past time we stop permitting these people to call themselves “conservatives.”

    _____________________________________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
  • static111static111 Posts: 2,939
    It really is amazing to be living through the decline of america.  I am intrigued by what will happen in the next 5-10 years.
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 23,196
     November 2, 2021 (Tuesday)

    The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, is underway right now in Glasgow, Scotland. It began on Sunday, October 31, and will last until Friday, November 12. (COP stands for “Conference of the Parties” and this is the 26th meeting. The “parties” are the countries that signed the 1994 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.)

    President Joe Biden spent Monday and Tuesday at COP26, where he tried to demonstrate that the United States is once again taking up global leadership. Biden emphasized his Build Back Better bill, which invests $555 billion in the clean economy. It lays the groundwork for the U.S. to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50–52% below 2005 levels by 2030 as it creates new jobs.

    Today, the administration announced that the U.S. will cut methane coming from oil and gas rigs and that 105 countries have committed to reduce methane emissions 30% by 2030. Meanwhile, leaders at COP26 promised to protect the forests that absorb carbon dioxide, pledging to end deforestation by 2030.

    At COP26, Biden worked to reclaim the nation’s leadership role in the world after four years in which the Trump administration rejected cooperation with our traditional allies. In 2015, at COP21, the representatives of 195 countries met in Paris and agreed to increase investments in renewable energy and limit the greenhouse gases that are heating the globe. They pledged to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The U.S. became a signatory to the agreement in June 2016, and then-president Barack Obama joined the agreement by executive order in September 2016.

    On June 1, 2017, five months after he took office, then-president Trump announced the U.S. was withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, saying that it would hurt the U.S. economy. The move was not popular: 59% of Americans opposed the withdrawal while only 28% supported it. The withdrawal took effect on November 4, 2020, the day after the 2020 election that put Biden in the White House. The very first day of his term, Biden led the U.S. back into the Paris Agreement, and he is now using the need for international action on climate change to indicate that America is back. "We'll demonstrate to the world the United States is not only back at the table but hopefully leading by the power of our example," he said.

    He repeatedly noted that China and Russia, both of which have ambitions for global power, did not send their leaders. “We showed up. We showed up,” Biden told reporters. “The fact that China is trying to assert, understandably, a new role in the world as a world leader, not showing up? Huh. The single most important thing that’s gotten the attention of the world is climate.” He called it “a big mistake” for Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin not to show up at COP26. “They’ve lost their ability to influence people around the world,” he said.

    Biden wants to demonstrate that democracy works. Representative Ro Khanna (D-CA) chairman of the House Subcommittee on the Environment, told Katie Rogers of the New York Times that Biden told him: “when he meets with foreign leaders, they tout the benefits of autocracy and authoritarianism. He wants to be able to show that democracies can govern and do big things, and do big things with the appropriate speed.”

    Global approval of U.S. leadership has jumped from 30% under the former president to 49% during the Biden administration, but foreign leaders are wary of U.S. promises. Biden had hoped to show up in Glasgow with his Build Back Better measure, with its funding to address climate change, a law…or at least virtually certain to become one. Instead, the Democrats are still wrangling over it, while Republicans are refusing to participate at all.

    Even more unnerving for foreign allies is that, as the Trump administration illustrated, anything Biden does can be undone the next time a Republican is in office. And, as the party slides further and further to the right, the disemboweling of Biden’s actions on climate change seems increasingly likely. On Friday, the Supreme Court, with the three new justices on it added by Trump, announced it would review whether the Environmental Protection Agency can regulate greenhouse gas emissions.  

    Of even more concern are the ongoing attacks on our democracy. Former Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen told Annie Linskey of the Washington Post: “After four years with Trump, the world is very, very curious whether this is a lasting new direction of American politics or we could risk a return to Trumpism in 2024…. It will be an uphill effort for Biden to convince his allies and partners that he has changed American attitudes profoundly.” Rasmussen told Linskey that world leaders were watching tonight’s election in Virginia’s governor’s race and would see Democrat Terry McAuliffe’s loss as a warning sign. “It would add to some skepticism in Europe that the declaration that ‘America is back’ is only temporary,” he said.

    In that election, Republican Glenn Youngkin presented himself as a more genteel version of Trump, railing against mask mandates, school closings, and especially Critical Race Theory (CRT). Tonight, he won, largely thanks to the votes of non-college-educated white voters, 76% of whom backed him rather than McAuliffe.

    Youngkin’s victory is not particularly surprising—Virginia almost always elects a governor from the party not in the White House—and his margin was tight indeed, but Rasmussen was right to predict that the victory of a Trumpian campaign featuring culture wars, even as news continues to drop about the events of January 6, is worrisome. Not surprisingly, Trump has already taken credit for Youngkin’s victory.

    And yet, there is no clear pattern emerging from the elections. In local elections in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Connecticut, anti-mask, anti-CRT candidates lost across the board—but they won in Texas and Colorado. In New Jersey’s governor’s race, which is so close it has not been called yet, the central issue was not CRT but property taxes, which appears to have helped the Republican candidate significantly…but in Colorado, voters rejected a referendum on lowering property taxes.

    One result we can say with assurance is historic is that, for the first time in 199 years, Boston voters have chosen a mayor who is not a white man. They have elected progressive former city councilor Michelle Wu, a graduate of Harvard University and Harvard Law School. Black, Latino, and Asian residents now make up more than half of Boston’s population, and voters saw Wu as a move into 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
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 23,196
    edited November 4
     November 3, 2021 (Wednesday)

    While the news has been full of stories about how Trump-like Glenn Youngkin’s win in yesterday’s Virginia governor’s race spells disaster for Democrats going into 2022, the election news is not at all such a clear story.

    The Virginia governor’s race almost always goes against whichever party is in the White House; indeed, journalist Eric Boehlert, who studies the press, noted that this pattern is so well established that in 2009, during President Barack Obama’s first term in office, when Democrats lost the races for governor of New Jersey and Virginia, the New York Times published only a single piece of analysis, saying “the defeats may or may not spell trouble for Democrats.” Boehlert noted that the New York Times has already posted at least 9 articles about Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe’s loss last night in Virginia.

    And it was not altogether a bad night for the Democrats. In New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy won a tight race for reelection, making him the first Democrat to win reelection in that state in 44 years. Progressive Michelle Wu became the first woman and the first person of color to win the mayorship of Boston in 199 years; Democrat Eric Adams became New York City’s second Black mayor. Cities across the country elected Democrats of color.

    If the meaning of the elections is hard to read, there are other stories to pay attention to that are much clearer.

    The Democrats are trying to make a case that the government can work for ordinary Americans. They continue to negotiate over the Build Back Better Bill.

    Meanwhile, the Republicans continue to focus on culture wars like the manufactured Critical Race Theory crisis, claiming that educators are destroying America. This is the formula Youngkin used in Virginia, and they appear to be running with it. Already, it is dangerous. Yesterday, at the National Conservatism Conference, J. D. Vance, who is running for the Senate from Ohio, quoted Richard Nixon’s statement that “The professors are the enemy.”

    Attacks on professors are fodder for authoritarian attacks. They were standard for Cambodia’s Pol Pot, Italy’s Benito Mussolini, and the Soviet Union’s Joseph Stalin as they consolidated their power.

    Nonetheless, Vance’s audience applauded his statement.

    Republicans are using these cultural attacks to consolidate power in the states, 19 of which have passed 33 new laws to restrict the vote. In Florida, where Trump loyalist Roger Stone has threatened to challenge him, Governor Ron DeSantis has pledged to establish a statewide election police force to investigate election fraud, despite his earlier assurances that the 2020 elections were secure.

    “I guarantee you this: The first person that gets caught, no one is going to want to do it again after that,” said DeSantis at a West Palm Beach event filled with supporters who cheered, “Let’s go, Brandon,” a euphemism for “F**k Joe Biden.”

    The determination of Republican-dominated states to retake control of state elections and cut from the vote those they declare undesirable—usually people of color—echoes the arguments made by those determined to get rid of Black voters during Reconstruction.

    Insisting that lazy Black men were voting for lawmakers who promised them roads, and hospitals, and jobs—things that would be paid for with tax dollars, levied on white men—former Confederates insisted that Black voting redistributed wealth from white people to Black Americans who would use the services the states provided. Black voting, then, amounted to socialism. Such a system was corrupt, former Confederates said, and good Americans must reclaim their country by “purifying” the vote. They were, they insisted, reformers, eager to “redeem” the South from corruption.

    As white vigilantes tried to force Black men from the polls, Republicans in Congress gave to the federal government the power to protect the civil rights of Black Americans, as well as the right to vote, in states that would deprive them of these rights. Congress passed the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution and sent them to the states for ratification. The Reconstruction Amendments explicitly declared that “Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.” When white southerners continued to attack their Black neighbors, Congress did precisely that. In 1870, it established the Department of Justice to enable the federal government to enforce those rights in the states.

    Quickly, southern whites changed their tune. They insisted they were discriminating against Black voters not on the grounds of race, but rather on the grounds of property ownership or education, criteria that northern native-born whites embraced as immigration from southern Europe increased in northern cities. After Mississippi wrote a constitution in 1890 that virtually eliminated Black voting, state legislatures across the country cut poor people, Black people, and people of color out of voting.

    In 1898, white vigilantes in Wilmington, North Carolina, launched a coup d’état against the duly elected city government. The insurrectionists admitted that the government of Black men and poor whites had been fairly elected but, they said, such people should not be voters at all, because they would pass laws using tax dollars to help poor people in the community. White property owners were within their rights to refuse to be governed by such people, and they would never allow such a thing again.

    In the process of taking over the government, they killed between 60 and 300 people, primarily African Americans.

    In the 1890s, the federal government looked the other way as states suppressed Black voting, but World War II made lawmakers sit up and take notice of the silencing of American voices by state legislatures. Black and Brown Americans demanded a say in the democratic government they had defended from fascism, and in 1954, the Supreme Court unanimously decided the Brown v. Board of Education decision declaring segregation in public schools unconstitutional. In response, white southerners launched what they called “massive resistance” against the enforcement of civil rights within the states.

    Republican President Dwight Eisenhower backed the Civil Rights Act of 1957 to enlist the federal government in the protection of voting rights in the states. After South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond (who had fathered a biracial daughter he kept secret) engaged in the longest filibuster in U.S. history to stop the bill, Congress passed it on a bipartisan basis.

    Three years later, Congress gave federal judges more power to protect voting rights, and in 1965, Congress passed the national Voting Rights Act to make sure all Americans could vote. The vote in favor of the bill was bipartisan. Ten years later, Congress expanded that law to make sure ballots would be available in multiple languages.

    The role of the federal government in protecting the right to vote has been a mainstay of our Constitution since 1870.

    But today’s Republicans are standing on the same ground former Confederates did in the post–Civil War years, insisting that only states can decide how the people within those states live, and who gets to vote on those conditions.

    Today, once again, Senate Republicans have filibustered a motion to begin debate on the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. That act would restore some of the provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights act the Supreme Court stripped away in their 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision. In 2006, when the Voting Rights Act came up for renewal, it passed the Senate unanimously. Today, the only Republican voting to advance the John Lewis bill was Alaska's Lisa Murkowski.

    Post edited by mickeyrat on
    _____________________________________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
  • brianluxbrianlux Moving through All Kinds of Terrain.Posts: 35,585
    "Today, once again, Senate Republicans have filibustered a motion to begin debate on the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. That act would restore some of the provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights act the Supreme Court stripped away in their 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision. In 2006, when the Voting Rights Act came up for renewal, it passed the Senate unanimously. Today, the only Republican voting to advance the John Lewis bill was Alaska's Lisa Murkowski."

    Is there any hope for this?  :frowning: 

    Major Kudos again for Lisa Murkowski.  My step daughter has worked with Murkowski on a first name basis and says she is wonderful.  I may not be 100% on board with everything "Lisa" is for, but I can believe that about her.
    "I believe in the mystery, and I don't want to take it any further than that. Maybe what I mean by that is love."
    -John Densmore











  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 23,196
    brianlux said:
    "Today, once again, Senate Republicans have filibustered a motion to begin debate on the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. That act would restore some of the provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights act the Supreme Court stripped away in their 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision. In 2006, when the Voting Rights Act came up for renewal, it passed the Senate unanimously. Today, the only Republican voting to advance the John Lewis bill was Alaska's Lisa Murkowski."

    Is there any hope for this?  :frowning: 

    Major Kudos again for Lisa Murkowski.  My step daughter has worked with Murkowski on a first name basis and says she is wonderful.  I may not be 100% on board with everything "Lisa" is for, but I can believe that about her.

    changes to or the abolition of the filibuster
    _____________________________________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
  • brianluxbrianlux Moving through All Kinds of Terrain.Posts: 35,585
    mickeyrat said:
    brianlux said:
    "Today, once again, Senate Republicans have filibustered a motion to begin debate on the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. That act would restore some of the provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights act the Supreme Court stripped away in their 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision. In 2006, when the Voting Rights Act came up for renewal, it passed the Senate unanimously. Today, the only Republican voting to advance the John Lewis bill was Alaska's Lisa Murkowski."

    Is there any hope for this?  :frowning: 

    Major Kudos again for Lisa Murkowski.  My step daughter has worked with Murkowski on a first name basis and says she is wonderful.  I may not be 100% on board with everything "Lisa" is for, but I can believe that about her.

    changes to or the abolition of the filibuster

    When I went back to school to get my degree and teaching certificate, at the start the first day of my first course in Education, the instructor said, "I'm sure many or most of you going into this field of study have high hope of making positive changes in education.  But you need to know this: education is an institution, and institutions in America are very slow to change."
    That really opened my head up to how things work in this country.  Not that we shouldn't try, but it's kind of depressing to think of how slow change here really is.
    "I believe in the mystery, and I don't want to take it any further than that. Maybe what I mean by that is love."
    -John Densmore











  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 23,196
     November 4, 2021 (Thursday)

    Republican state legislatures are gerrymandering districts to elect members to the House of Representatives. The results are extreme.

    According to voting expert Ari Berman, in Ohio, where former president Trump got 53% of the vote in 2020, the new maps would give Republicans 86% of seats. In North Carolina, where Trump won 49.9% of the vote, Republicans would take 71–78% of seats, which translates to a 10–4 advantage if the voters split the vote evenly. In Wisconsin, where Trump won 49% of the vote, the new maps give Republicans 75% of the seats. In Texas, where Trump got 52% of the vote, Republicans would take 65% of the seats.

    Skewing election results toward Republicans plays to former president Donald Trump, who tried to steal the 2020 election by using the power of the federal government to hamstring his Democratic opponent.

    Today, news broke that federal prosecutors have uncovered a new angle in the 2019 Ukraine scandal. It appears Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani, Victoria Toensing, and Joe DiGenova were working with corrupt Ukrainian prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko to announce and promote an “investigation” into Hunter Biden in Ukraine to damage his father Joe Biden’s chances of election to the U.S. presidency. To curry favor with the Trump administration, Lutsenko promised hundreds of thousands of dollars to the three lawyers. Volodymyr Zelensky’s election upended the scheme, Trump tried to pressure him to take it up, and the rest of that story is history, but the original plan appears to be deeper than previously proven.

    Trump’s attack on the 2020 election is getting pushback, too, from Smartmatic, a company that provides election technology. On Wednesday, it sued right-wing media outlets Newsmax and One America News Network for defamation, after the outlets aired stories accusing Smartmatic of rigging the 2020 vote. Today, CNN called attention to videos from Giuliani and Trump lawyer Sidney Powell in a different lawsuit by Dominion Voting Systems saying they did not check any of their accusations of voter fraud before putting them in front of the public.

    And yet, as Democrats try to restore a level playing field through the Freedom to Vote Act, Republican senators yesterday blocked even discussion of the measure for the third time. And they are launching objections to the confirmations of nominees to routine appointments, running out the clock on the Senate calendar.

    Today the Department of Justice used the slim means the Supreme Court has left to it in order to sue the state of Texas for its new voter restriction laws, saying they “disenfranchise eligible Texas citizens who seek to exercise their right to vote, including voters with limited English proficiency, voters with disabilities, elderly voters, members of the military deployed away from home, and American citizens residing outside of the country.”

    Texas governor Greg Abbott tweeted in response: "Bring it. The Texas election integrity law is legal. It INCREASES hours to vote. It does restrict illegal mail ballot voting. Only those who qualify can vote by mail. It also makes ballot harvesting a felony. In Texas it is easier to vote but harder to cheat."

    This is, of course, the standard Republican defense of the many new laws Republican-dominated state legislatures have passed after the 2020 election, which they falsely claim was marred by voter fraud. Perhaps more to the point was the response of Georgia officials to a similar lawsuit by the Department of Justice, saying that the lawsuit was "not a serious legal challenge but a politically motivated effort to usurp the constitutional authority of Georgia’s elected officials to regulate elections."

    Republicans are holding tight to the idea of pre–Civil War Democrats that our system of democracy gives to the states alone the power to determine how people within those states live, and who in those states gets to vote to determine those rules. After that idea led to the Civil War, Republicans overturned it with the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution, which give the federal government the power to protect equality within the states.

    Since World War II, the federal government has taken that charge seriously, protecting minority voting in the Civil Rights Act of 1957, the Civil Rights Act of 1960, and, most thoroughly, in the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Since the passage of that measure, Congress repeatedly reauthorized it by large, bipartisan majorities, most recently in 2006, when the Senate voted unanimously in favor of it. But then in 2013 the Supreme Court gutted that law, and now, only 8 years later, Republican senators claim federal protection of voting rights is an assault on states’ rights.

    Today, Delaware Senator Tom Carper, a Democrat, published an op-ed in the USA Today network describing how he happened, as a first-year student at Ohio State University on a Navy ROTC scholarship, to hear arguments in the House Judiciary Committee over the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Those debates inspired him to pursue a career in government. Today, as state legislatures pass laws to curb minority voting, Carper called for Congress to pass the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.

    Carper said he hoped Republicans and Democrats could come to an agreement on the voting rights bills, “But,” he said, “I cannot look the other way if total obstruction continues. I do not come to this decision lightly, but it has become clear to me that if the filibuster is standing in the way of protecting our democracy then the filibuster isn’t working for our democracy.”

    Montana Senator Jon Tester, another of the Democrats vocal about protecting the filibuster, agreed with Carper that his patience was not unlimited. Republicans, he said, were “weaponizing the filibuster.” “Right now, I am focused on getting voting rights moving forward,” he told Darrell Ehrlick of the Daily Montanan. But “[a]t a certain point, if we can’t accomplish that, I am going to say, ‘We have to move forward, with or without you.’”

    Meanwhile, the Biden administration continues to push its agenda.

    The Build Back Better bill got a boost today when a new report from Moody's Analytics concluded that the current package would strengthen long-term growth, starting to adjust the currently badly skewed economic playing field by helping lower- and middle-income Americans. Answering the concern that the measure would create debt, Moody’s concluded that it would indeed pay for itself. It added, “Concerns that the plan will ignite undesirably high inflation and an overheating economy are overdone.”

    “The bipartisan infrastructure deal provides a modest increase in infrastructure spending and it thus supports only a modestly stronger economy,” the report says, but “[t]he reconciliation package is much larger and thus meaningfully lifts economic growth and jobs and lowers unemployment.” It concludes that together, the two measures will add 1.5 million jobs per year and increase GDP by nearly $3 trillion relative to the baseline in the next decade.

    “The nation has long underinvested in its infrastructure and social needs and has been slow to respond to the threat posed by climate change, with mounting economic consequences,” the report concluded. “[F]ailing to pass [this] legislation would certainly diminish the economy’s prospects.”

    And that economy is healing in the wake of the pandemic. Jobless claims last week dropped to a low since the start of the pandemic, down 14,000 to reach 269,000 last week. This is about 75% lower than they were when Biden took office. In early January, they were more than 900,000. We are almost back to the level they were before the pandemic, when they were around 220,000 a week. About 2.1 million Americans collected unemployment insurance last week, down from 7.1 million a year ago.

    The strength of these two reports helped to close the S&P 500 Index that tracks the performance of 500 large companies at 4,680.06, an all-time high.

    _____________________________________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
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 23,196
     November 5, 2021 (Friday)

    In February 2021, the month after President Joe Biden took office, unemployment was 6.3%, and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projected that it would take until the end of 2023 for the nation to reach 4.6% unemployment.

    In March 2021, Congress passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan to stimulate the economy, which had withered during the coronavirus pandemic. The plan extended unemployment benefits and provided stimulus payments to individuals. It increased food stamp benefits and significantly expanded the Child Tax Credit, putting money in parents’ pockets. It provided grants to small business and local, state, and tribal governments. It provided money for schools, housing, and healthcare.

    Not a single Republican voted for the measure.

    Today, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its October monthly jobs report, and the news was good. The country added 531,000 new jobs, and numbers for previous months were revised to take more complete data into account. They show that there were 235,000 more jobs created in August and September than had previously been counted. Today’s news says that the U.S. economy has reached 4.6% unemployment two years ahead of schedule.

    Since Biden took office, the U.S. has added more than 5.6 million jobs. This reflects the rebound from the lows of the pandemic, and it means that Biden added more jobs in the first 9 months of his presidency than the last three Republican administrations, covering 16 years, combined. The news created a rally on the stock market. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq Composite, all ways of measuring the stock market, all closed at record highs, a powerful sign in light of the fact that right-wing politicians have insisted that Biden’s policies would hurt the economy.

    “Bold fiscal policy works,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen wrote on Twitter. “A rebound like this was never a foregone conclusion. When our administration took office back in January, there was a real risk that our economy was going to slip into a prolonged recession. Now our recovery is outpacing other wealthy nations’.” She credited the American Rescue Plan and Biden’s immunization campaign, which has vaccinated 193 million Americans against the novel coronavirus, for the recovery.

    Turning the obscene right-wing rallying cry “Let’s go, Brandon” on its head, Biden supporters today got #ThankYouBrandon trending on Twitter throughout the day.

    The new numbers also show that women are still not reentering the workforce in numbers that reflect the pre-pandemic era. Experts think that the lack of safe childcare and concerns about schools are keeping women out of the workforce. The administration’s Build Back Better infrastructure bill would address these concerns, and after months of complicated negotiations, Biden has put a huge push today to get the House to advance the measure.

    The Build Back Better bill is paired with the smaller bipartisan infrastructure measure, and this morning Republicans tried to adjourn Congress rather than allow the Democrats to bring them up. Their efforts failed, and House Democrats negotiated all day as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tried to hammer down the last details while President Biden put pressure on lawmakers to pass both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better measure.

    As they worked, there was a little more fallout from Tuesday’s election. In New Jersey, where Democratic governor Phil Murphy won, Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli has refused to concede. While Ciattarelli has said he only wants to make sure all legal votes are counted, Donald Trump Jr., the eldest son of the former president, shared Ciattarelli’s video asking people to wait before accepting Murphy's victory and added: “Nothing to see here folks, just a blatant crime being committed!”

    In Virginia, governor-elect Glenn Youngkin’s 17-year-old son tried twice to vote despite being too young. This was unfortunate because his father had emphasized “election integrity” in his campaign, announcing that he would create an “Election Integrity Task Force” that would work “to ensure free and fair elections in Virginia.”

    Also on the Hill today, Jeffrey Clark, the Department of Justice attorney who championed then-president Trump’s efforts to get the 2020 election overturned, cut short his deposition before the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol.

    After about 90 minutes, Clark handed the committee a 12-page letter saying he would not answer questions because while he held office, former president Trump was entitled “to the confidential advice of lawyers like” him. That meant that Clark “is subject to a sacred trust—one that is particularly vital to the constitutional separation of powers.” This vague and odd declaration is seemingly intended simply to buy time. Clark clearly doesn't want to talk, but he also doesn’t appear to want to plead the Fifth Amendment, which would cement the idea that he has committed crimes. Trump has not asserted executive privilege over his conversations with Clark and indeed couldn’t, for a number of reasons.

    Committee chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) said that Clark “has a very short time to reconsider and cooperate fully.”

    After being at it all day, tonight, President Biden, House Speaker Pelosi, the progressive Democrats, and centrist and conservative Democrats hammered out an agreement on the infrastructure measures. Centrists promised in writing to support the Build Back Better Act the progressives want as soon as they get confirmation from the Congressional Budget Office that it will cost what the White House says it will (ironically, the CBO says the bipartisan measure they like will cost $256 billion) and to work to come to a new compromise if it doesn’t. With that assurance, Pelosi had enough progressive votes to pass the first of the two infrastructure bills.

    At about 11:30 p.m., the House of Representatives passed the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684) by a vote of 228–206. Biden promised to pass a bipartisan measure and after nine months of hard work, he did it: thirteen Republicans voted in favor of the bill; six progressive Democrats voted against it. The measure had already passed the Senate, so now it goes to his desk for a signature.

    This bill is a huge investment in infrastructure. Axios lists just how huge: over the next 8 years, it will provide $110 billion for fixing roads and bridges, $73 billion for the electrical grid, $66 billion for railroads, $65 billion for broadband, $55 billion for water infrastructure, $47 billion for coastal adjustments to climate change, $39 billion for public transportation, and so on.

    The Guardian’s congressional reporter, Hugo Lowell, noted: “Regardless of the politics, the passage of a $1.2T bipartisan infrastructure bill is a towering legislative achievement for Biden—and one that Trump never came close to matching.”

    _____________________________________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
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 23,196
      November 6, 2021 (Saturday)

    As soon as the Democrats in the House of Representatives, marshaled by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), passed the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684) by a bipartisan vote of 228–206 last night, Republicans began to say that the Democrats were ushering in “socialism.”

    When Republicans warn of socialism, they are not talking about actual socialism, which is an economic system in which the means of production, that is, the factories and industries, are owned by the people. In practical terms, that means they are owned by the government.

    True socialism has never been popular in America, and virtually no one is talking about it here today. The best it has ever done in a national election was in 1912, when labor organizer Eugene V. Debs, running for president as a Socialist, won a whopping 6% of the vote, coming in behind Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, and William Howard Taft. True socialism isn't a real threat in America.

    What politicians mean when they cry "socialism" in America today is something entirely different. It is a product of the years immediately after the Civil War, when Black men first got the right to vote.

    Eager to join the free labor system from which they had previously been excluded, these men joined poor white men to vote for leaders who promised to rebuild the South, provide schools and hospitals (as well as desperately needed prosthetics for veterans), and develop the economy with railroads to provide an equal opportunity for all men to work hard and rise.

    Former Confederates loathed the idea of Black men voting. But their opposition to Black voting on racial grounds ran headlong into the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which, after it was ratified in 1870, gave the U.S. government the power to make sure that no state denied any man the right to vote “on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” When white former Confederates nonetheless tried to force their Black neighbors from the polls, Congress in 1870 created the Department of Justice, which began to prosecute the Ku Klux Klan members who had been terrorizing the South.

    With racial discrimination now prohibited by the federal government, elite white southerners changed their approach. They insisted that they objected to Black voting not on racial grounds, but because Black men were voting for programs that redistributed wealth from hardworking white people to Black people, since hospitals and roads would cost tax dollars and white people were the only ones with taxable property in the Reconstruction South. Poor Black voters were instituting, one popular magazine wrote, "Socialism in South Carolina."

    This idea that it was dangerous for poor working men to have a say in the government caught on in the North as immigrants moved into growing cities to work in the new factories. Like their counterparts in the South, they voted for roads and schools, and northern men of wealth too insisted these programs meant a redistribution of wealth through tax dollars.

    They got more concerned still when a majority of Americans began to call for regulation to keep businessmen from gouging consumers, polluting the environment, and poisoning the food supply (milk was preserved with formaldehyde, and candy was often painted with lead paint). Wealthy men argued that any attempt to regulate business would impinge on a man's liberty, while an army of bureaucrats to enforce regulations would cost tax dollars and thus would mean a redistribution of wealth from men of means to the poor who would benefit from the regulations.

    Long before the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia brought the fears of a workers' government to life, Americans who opposed regulation insisted that their economy was under siege by socialists. That conviction did indeed lead to a redistribution of wealth, but as regular Americans were kept from voting, it went dramatically upward, not down.

    Regulation of business and promotion of infrastructure is not, in fact, the international socialism today’s Republicans claim. According to Abraham Lincoln, who first articulated the principles of the Republican Party, and under whom the party invented the American income tax, the “legitimate object of government, is to do for a community of people, whatever they need to have done, but can not do, at all, or can not, so well do, for themselves---in their separate, and individual capacities.” Those things included, he wrote, “public roads and highways, public schools, charities, pauperism, orphanage, estates of the deceased, and the machinery of government itself.”

    _____________________________________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
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 23,196
      November 7, 2021 (Sunday)

    This time change always throws me for a loop. I'm going to go to bed and hope I have a clue what time it is when I wake up.

    Despite the time confusion, though, fall evenings are special....

    _____________________________________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
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 23,196
      November 8, 2021 (Monday)

    The big news of the day is the Biden administration’s ongoing efforts to combat international terrorism and lawlessness through cybersecurity and international cooperation.

    Today the Department of Justice, the State Department, and the Treasury Department together announced indictments against two foreign actors for cyberattacks on U.S. companies last August. They announced sanctions against the men, one of whom has been arrested in Poland; they seized $6.1 million in assets from the other. The State Department has offered a $10 million reward for information about other cybercriminals associated with the attack. Treasury noted that ransomware attacks cost the U.S. almost $600 million in the first six months of 2021, and disrupt business and public safety.  

    The U.S. has also sent Special Envoy Jeffrey Feltman to Ethiopia and neighboring Kenya to urge an end to the deadly civil war in Ethiopia, where rebel forces are close to toppling the government. A horrific humanitarian crisis is in the making there. The U.S. is interested in stopping the fighting not only because of that, but also because the Ethiopian government has lately tended to stabilize the fragile Somali government. Without that stabilization, Somalia could become a haven for terrorists, and terrorists could extort the global shipping industry.  

    Meanwhile, it appears that Biden’s big win on Friday, marshaling a bipartisan infrastructure bill through Congress, has made Republicans almost frantic to win back the national narrative. The National Republican Congressional Committee has released an early ad for the 2022 midterm elections titled "Chaos,” which features images of the protests from Trump’s term and falsely suggests they are scenes from Biden’s America.

    As Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and other Republican leaders today attacked the popular Sesame Street character Big Bird today for backing vaccinations—Big Bird has publicly supported vaccines since 1972—they revealed how fully they have become the party of Trump.

    Excerpts from a new book by ABC News chief Washington correspondent Jonathan Karl say that Trump was so mad that the party did not fight harder to keep him in office that on January 20, just after he boarded Air Force One to leave Washington, he took a phone call from Ronna McDaniel, the chair of the Republican National Committee, and told her that he was quitting the Republicans to start his own political party.

    McDaniel told him that if he did that, the Republicans “would lose forever.” Trump responded: “Exactly.” A witness said he wanted to punish the officials for their refusal to fight harder to overturn the election.

    Four days later, Trump relented after the RNC made it clear it would stop paying his legal bills and would stop letting him rent out the email list of his 40 million supporters, a list officials believed was worth about $100 million.

    Instead of leaving the party, he is rebuilding it in his own image.

    In Florida, Trump loyalist Roger Stone is threatening to run against Governor Ron DeSantis in 2022 to siphon votes from his reelection bid unless DeSantis promises he won’t challenge Trump for the Republican nomination in 2024.  

    A long piece in the Washington Post by Michael Kranish today explored how, over the course of his career, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has singlemindedly pursued power, switching his stated principles to their opposites whenever it helped his climb to the top of the Senate. Eventually, in the hope of keeping power, he embraced Trump, even acquitting him for his role in inciting the January 6 insurrection.

    The former president is endorsing primary candidates to oust Republicans he thinks were insufficiently loyal. In Georgia, he has backed Herschel Walker, whose ex-wife got a protective order against him after he allegedly threatened to shoot her. In Pennsylvania, Trump has endorsed Sean Parnell, whose wife testified that he choked her and abused their children physically and emotionally.

    Although such picks could hurt the Republicans in a general election with the women they desperately need to attract (hence the focus on schools), the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Rick Scott (R-FL), did not feel comfortable today bucking Trump to comment on whether Parnell was the right candidate to back. Scott said he would focus on whoever won the primary.

    The cost of the party’s link to Trumpism is not just potential 2022 voters. In the New York Times today, David Leonhardt outlined how deaths from the novel coronavirus did not reflect politics until after the Republicans made the vaccines political. A death gap between Democrats and Republicans emerged quickly as Republicans shunned the vaccine.

    Now, only about 10% of Democrats eligible for the vaccine have refused it, while almost 40% of Republicans have. In October, while about 7.8 people per 100,000 died in counties that voted strongly for Biden, 25 out of every 100,000 died in counties that went the other way. Leonhardt held out hope that both numbers would drop as more people develop immunities and as new antiviral drugs lower death rates everywhere.

    And yet, Republicans continue to insist they are attacking the dangerous Democrats. Quite literally. Representative Paul Gosar (R-AZ), who has ties to white supremacists and who has been implicated in the January 6 attack, yesterday posted an anime video in which his face was photoshopped onto a character that killed another character bearing the face of New York Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The Gosar character also swung swords at a Biden character and fought alongside Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Lauren Boebert (R-CO).

    In response to the outcry about the video, Gosar’s digital director, Jessica Lycos, said: “Everyone needs to relax.”

    The House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol is not relaxing. Today it issued six new subpoenas. The subpoenas went to people associated with the “war room” in the Willard Hotel in the days leading up to the events of January 6.

    The subpoenas went to William Stepien, the manager of Trump's 2020 campaign which, as an entity, asked states not to certify the results of the election; Trump advisor Jason Miller, who talked of a stolen election even before the election itself; Angela McCallum, an executive assistant to Trump’s 2020 campaign, who apparently left a voicemail for a Michigan state representative pressuring the representative to appoint an alternative slate of electors because of “election fraud”; and Bernard Kerik, former New York City police commissioner, who paid for the hotel rooms in which the plotting occurred.

    Another subpoena went to Michael Flynn, who called for Trump to declare martial law and “rerun” the election, and who attended a December 18, 2020, meeting in the Oval Office “during which participants discussed seizing voting machines, declaring a national emergency, invoking certain national security emergency powers, and continuing to spread the false message that the November 2020 election had been tainted by widespread fraud.”

    The sixth subpoena went to John Eastman, author of the Eastman memo saying that then–vice president Mike Pence could reject the certified electors from certain states, thus throwing the election to Trump. Eastman was apparently at the Willard Hotel for a key meeting on January 5, and he spoke at the rally on the Ellipse on January 6.

    None of these people are covered by executive privilege, even if Trump tries to exercise it.

    The 2022 midterm elections, scheduled for November 8, 2022, are exactly a year away.

    _____________________________________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
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 23,196
     November 9, 2021 (Tuesday)

    While President Joe Biden quietly tried to fix the congestion at ports that is causing supply chain issues, the news today has been consumed by one story after another showing the increasing radicalization of those Republicans in charge of the national party.

    Yesterday’s news that Representative Paul Gosar (R-AZ) had posted a video of himself as an anime character killing Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and slashing at an anime Biden drew attention today as Democrats called for an ethics and law enforcement investigation into the congressman but no leading Republican condemned Gosar’s outrageous and dangerous behavior. Instead, Republicans talked of stripping the committee assignments from the 13 Republican representatives who voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

    At the very least, this refusal to hold Gosar to account while going after those party members who cooperated with Democrats and voted for the very popular infrastructure bill indicates that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) sees no choice but to throw his weight behind the Trump faction.

    The party has tied itself to Trump, and yet, more damaging information continues to drop about his administration. A report today from the Office of Special Counsel, an internal federal government watchdog agency led by Henry Kerner, who was appointed to the post by former president Donald Trump, concluded that 13 senior Trump administration officials violated the Hatch Act by using their official positions to campaign for the president.

    Pressure on the former president continues to mount.

    Late last night, Trump tried to block the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) from answering a subpoena from the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol for telephone records, visitor logs, and other documents.

    But tonight, federal judge Tanya Chutkan rejected his suit, saying that the decision to exercise executive privilege resides with the office, not the people who have held that office in the past. Her decision was scorching. It quoted his tweets inciting the insurrection, took down his arguments one by one, and concluded: “Plaintiff does not acknowledge the deference owed to the incumbent President’s judgment…. His position that he may override the express will of the executive branch appears to be premised on the notion that his executive power ‘exists in perpetuity,’.... But Presidents are not kings, and Plaintiff is not President.” She concluded: “The court…holds that Plaintiff’s assertion of privilege is outweighed by President Biden’s decision not to uphold the privilege.”

    But she went further. Trump’s lawyers had tried to argue that the committee was simply on a fishing expedition and had no legitimate legislative reason to look into the insurrection. Judge Chutkan responded with an acknowledgement of just what Congress might want to consider in the wake of the insurrection. It might want to enact or amend criminal laws “to deter and punish violent conduct targeted at the institutions of democracy, enacting measures for future executive enforcement of Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment against any Member of Congress or Officer of the United States who engaged in ‘insurrection or rebellion,’ or gave ‘aid or comfort to the enemies thereof,’” she wrote. Coming from a federal judge, this is a significant indictment of the actions of those leaders who engaged in the events of January 6.

    Trump’s lawyers immediately appealed. A senior adviser to Trump responded that the former president is simply trying to “defend Executive Privilege for Presidents past, present & future,” and that “Trump remains committed to defending the Constitution & the Office of the Presidency, & will be seeing this process through.”

    For his part, Trump promptly issued a statement insisting that the 2020 election in Georgia was fraudulent.

    The House Select Committee issued subpoenas today for records and testimony from ten more people from the Trump White House. Many of those names were of people who are largely out of the spotlight and who witnessed or participated in conversations. Some better known names jump out.

    The committee has subpoenaed Kayleigh McEnany, the former White House press secretary, who insisted falsely there was fraud in the election and who was apparently with Trump as he watched the attack on January 6.

    It subpoenaed Trump adviser Stephen Miller, who talked falsely about voter fraud in the election and called on state legislatures to overturn Biden’s victory by appointing alternate slates of electors.

    It also subpoenaed John McEntee, a young Trump loyalist who had been the former president’s baggage handler before Trump installed him as the White House personnel director, in charge of hiring for the executive branch. McEntee was reportedly present for many of the key conversations around trying to overturn the 2020 election.

    An article today in The Atlantic by Jonathan D. Karl, the chief Washington correspondent for ABC News, calls “Johnny” McEntee “the man who made January 6 possible.” McEntee purged the administration of anyone he did not consider sufficiently—that is to say, totally—loyal to Trump.

    All the negative news for the former president today provided fodder for the anti-Trump Republicans who seem to be making a play to reclaim control of the party. In reaction to McCarthy’s silence on Gosar, Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois tweeted: “A party with leaders like Kevin McCarthy, that cannot stand up to the insanity from people like Greene, Gaetz, Gosar, etc, is going to have a hard time standing up to countries like China.”

    In New Hampshire today, Republican governor Chris Sununu announced on television that he would not run for the Senate. Party leaders had courted the popular governor for the spot, believing he could win and help the Republicans retake control of the Senate. Sununu did not tell Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) or National Republican Senatorial Committee chair Rick Scott (R-FL) ahead of time, telling reporters: "I guess you'll have to let them know. I haven't talked to them.” Democrats did well in New Hampshire in last week’s election, and Sununu likely noted that this was a poor time to tie himself to the national party.

    Also in New Hampshire today, Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) tore into the Trump Republicans. She said that Americans are “confronting a domestic threat that we’ve never faced before: a former president who's attempting to unravel the foundations of our Constitutional Republic, aided by political leaders who have made themselves willing hostages to this dangerous and irrational man.” Cheney was speaking at St. Anselm College, a traditional stop for those running for president.

    “In this time of testing, will we do our duty? Will we do what we must? Will we defend our Constitution? Will we stand for truth? Will we put duty to our oath above partisan politics? Or will we look away from the danger, ignore the threat, embrace the lies and enable the liar?” she said. “There is no gray area when it comes to that question. When it comes to this moment, there is no middle ground.”

    _____________________________________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
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 23,196
     November 10, 2021 (Wednesday)

    Today, in a joint press conference with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the U.S. is "concerned by reports of unusual Russian military activity," which it is "monitoring very closely” out of concern that Russia might invade Ukraine again as it did in 2014.

    Russia has been building up troops near the border, and Russian leaders have been talking more forcefully about asserting control over Ukraine.

    The Biden administration is taking the apparent change in Russia’s posture seriously. It has reached out to European allies apparently to share specific information about Russian activities. “The administration is very, very concerned—this is the most concerned I've heard them about Russia in a really, really long time," one diplomat told Natasha Bertrand, Jim Sciutto, and Kylie Atwood of CNN. "I wouldn't underestimate this. They're doing a massive outreach to raise awareness....”

    The administration is also trying to deescalate the tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

    Earlier this month, Biden sent a team of senior U.S. officials, led by CIA Director William J. Burns, to Russia to meet with officials there. After the meeting, Burns called Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky to assure him of U.S. support. The U.S. also made it a point to have Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Dr. Karen Donfried, visit Kyiv “to reaffirm our strategic partnership, the U.S. commitment to Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and cooperation to advance Ukraine's Euro-Atlantic integration.”

    In his own meeting with Ukraine officials today, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan “emphasized the United States’ unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

    The struggle between the U.S. and Russia about Ukraine’s future is a proxy war between authoritarianism and democracy.

    Ukraine was part of the USSR until the USSR fell apart in 1991. After that, Ukraine remained under the sway of the Russian oligarchs who rose to replace the region’s communist leaders, monopolizing formerly publicly held industries as those industries were privatized.

    In 2004, a Russian-backed politician, Viktor Yanukovych, appeared to be elected president of Ukraine. But Yanukovych was rumored to have ties to organized crime, and the election was so full of fraud—including the poisoning of a key rival who wanted to break ties with Russia and align Ukraine with Europe—that the government voided the election and called for a do-over. Yanukovych needed a makeover fast, and for that he called on a political consultant with a reputation for making unsavory characters palatable to the media: Paul Manafort, the same man who went on to lead Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

    For ten years, from 2004 to 2014, Manafort worked for Yanukovych and his party, trying to make what the U.S. State Department called a party of “mobsters and oligarchs” look legitimate. In 2010, Yanukovych finally won the presidency on a platform of rejecting the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), through which Europe and the U.S. joined together to oppose first the USSR, and then the rising threat of Russia. Immediately, Yanukovych turned Ukraine toward Russia. In 2014, after months of popular protests, Ukrainians ousted Yanukovych from power in what is known as the Revolution of Dignity. He fled to Russia.

    Shortly after Yanukovych’s ouster, Russia invaded Ukraine’s Crimea and annexed it, prompting the United States and the European Union to impose economic sanctions on Russia itself and also on specific Russian businesses and oligarchs, prohibiting them from doing business in U.S. territories. These sanctions have crippled Russia and frozen the assets of key Russian oligarchs, including Russian president Vladimir Putin.

    Desperate to get the sanctions lifted, Putin helped get Trump elected, and American policy swung his way as Trump attacked NATO and the European Union, weakened our ties to our traditional European allies, and threatened to withdraw our support for Ukraine.

    Now, though, the Biden administration has renewed support for Ukraine and its move toward stronger ties to NATO and the European Union, while it is also cracking down on the cybercrime that has enhanced Russian power.

    So, with Germany’s Angela Merkel finishing up her career, France’s Emmanuel Macron five months out from an election, and Biden trying to deal with an insurrection, it is not a bad time for Putin to test NATO’s resolve and see if it will, indeed, hang together against his expansion.

    Horrifically, to destabilize the EU and NATO further, Russia and its ally Belarus are weaponizing migrants.

    According to Elisabeth Braw, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute who is a specialist on the region, Belarus officials are promising people eager to leave the Middle East that they can move easily from Belarus to Poland or other EU countries. (Belarus is currently running 55 “tourist” flights a week from the Middle East.) Once the migrants arrive in Minsk, officials push them across the borders of neighboring EU countries Poland, Latvia, and Lithuania, which try to force them back, creating a humanitarian crisis in what are now freezing conditions.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko are well aware that migrants spark right-wing opposition: Hungary’s Viktor Orbán and America’s Donald Trump both took power by inflaming fears of migrants. Lukashenko vowed to “flood the EU with migrants and drugs,” this May after the outcry when he downed a plane crossing Belarusian territory in order to abduct dissident journalist Roman Protasevich and his girlfriend Sofia Sapega.

    "This is not normal asylum seekers, that seek the protection of Europe fleeing war, dictatorship. These are groups of people that are flown to Minsk, they are put in buses, they are escorted by Belarusian police and special forces, pushed to the border and pushed into the European Union," European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas told CNN's Becky Anderson today. "This is not a normal migratory movement. This is a hybrid attack."

    Poland is a NATO country, as are the Baltic countries of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, and much of this chaos appears to be taking place in a narrow sliver of Poland known as the Suwalki Gap that separates Belarus from the Russian territory of Kaliningrad. Mark Hertling, Commanding General of United States Army Europe and the Seventh Army from March 2011 to November 2012, tweeted that “any misstep by Polish borders forces create the opportunity for Russia to ‘defend Russians’ in K-grad while marching forces into the Baltic countries of Latvia/Lithuania/Estonia (all NATO members).”

    Tonight, Fox News Channel personality Tucker Carlson echoed Russian talking points when he asked Representative Mike Turner (R-OH) why the U.S. would side with Ukraine over Russia. Turner noted that Ukraine is a democracy, “Russia is an authoritarian regime,” and that America is “for democracy” and “not for authoritarian regimes.” Carlson reiterated his belief, as he has done before, that the U.S. should choose Russia.  

    The answer to why American should side with Ukraine’s democracy instead of Russian authoritarianism came in a recent letter from 52 writers, journalists, artists, activists, and political figures who have dissented from authoritarian regimes. They begged the U.S. to defend our democracy and thus reinforce democracy around the world.

    “If the world’s leading democracy doesn’t believe in its own values, why should dictators even bother paying lip service to them? We must defend these principles that inspire advocates of liberty and provide a crucial check on tyrants.”

    _____________________________________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
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 23,196
      November 11, 2021 (Thursday)

    Our Veterans Day falls on what used to be called Armistice Day. On that day in 1918, the major fighting of World War I ended.

    My grandfather fought in France in WWI, but when I think of that horrific, interminable conflict, and all that it says about war, I think not of him, but of George Lawrence Price.

    In 1918, Price was a private serving with Company A of the 28th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force in Belgium. Along with all the other exhausted soldiers, Price had heard that their leaders had negotiated for the guns in Europe to fall silent once and for all on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. The soldiers hardly dared to hope that peace would really come to pass.

    As the moment of the armistice approached, a few soldiers continued to skirmish, and Price's company set out to take control of the small town of Havre. As they crossed a canal to their target, a German gunner hidden in a row of houses tried to stop them. Once safely across, just ten minutes before the armistice, the Canadian patrol began to look for the German soldier who had harassed them. They found no one but civilians in the first two homes they searched. And then, as they stepped back into the street, a single shot hit Price in the chest. He fell into the arms of his comrade, who pulled him back into the house they had just left. As Price died, German soldiers cleared their guns in a last burst of machine-gun fire that greeted the armistice.

    Price’s life ended just two minutes before the Great War was over.

    Even at the time, Price’s death seemed to symbolize the pointless slaughter of WWI. When an irony of history put Price in the same cemetery as the first Allied soldier to die in the conflict, disgusted observers commented that the war had apparently been fought over a half-mile of land. In the years after the war ended, much was made of George Price, the last soldier to die in the Great War.

    But ever since I learned Price’s story, I have been haunted by the unknown story of the German sniper who killed him. What made that man take that one last life, two minutes before the war ended? Was it rage? Fear? Had the war numbed him into a machine that simply did its job? Or was it a final, deadly act of revenge against a world that had changed beyond his reckoning?

    And what did the knowledge that he had stolen another man's future—legally, but surely immorally—do to the man who pulled that trigger? He went back to civilian life and blended into postwar society, although the publicity given to Price's death meant that he must have known he was the one who had taken that last, famous life in the international conflagration. The shooter never acknowledged what he had done, or why.

    Price became for the world a heartbreaking symbol of hatred's sheer waste. But the shooter? He simply faded into anonymity, becoming the evil that men do.

    _____________________________________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
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 23,196
     November 12, 2021 (Friday)

    This afternoon, a federal grand jury indicted Trump advisor Stephen K. Bannon on two counts of contempt of Congress. Today’s indictment was signed by Matthew M. Graves, the new U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, sworn into office just a week ago today.

    Bannon was part of the gang at the so-called War Room at the Willard Hotel that apparently helped to plan the events of January 6, and before that date he told his podcast audience repeatedly to expect something huge on January 6 because he and others were planning something extraordinary.

    On September 23, 2021, the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol issued a subpoena to Bannon, requiring him both to produce documents and to testify about what he knew about the insurrection.

    Bannon ignored the subpoena. After he had missed the deadlines, his lawyer sent a letter to the committee saying that former president Trump’s lawyer had advised them that Trump planned to assert executive privilege over the material, and not to comply with the subpoena. Committee chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) responded that “the former president has not communicated any such assertion of privilege” to the committee and that Trump’s lawyer’s saying Trump might assert privileges that he might not even have “does not provide a legal basis for Mr. Bannon’s refusal to comply.”

    Bannon assured the committee that he would not comply until they worked out the issue of executive privilege with Trump.

    The idea that Bannon might be covered by executive privilege—even though Trump has not asserted it in his case—is a stretch. Bannon left the White House in 2017 after only seven months, and at the time of the insurrection almost four years later was working as a podcaster on his show, titled “War Room.” Executive privilege is designed to permit the president to get honest and wide-ranging advice from official advisors.

    Further, executive privilege goes with the office, not the person filling it, so the current president is the one who determines whether the office will invoke executive privilege. So far as I know, Trump has actually asserted executive privilege only over the documents the committee has requested from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), and the Biden administration has declined to support his assertion.

    On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Tanya S. Chutkan rejected Trump’s right to invoke executive privilege over those documents, pointing out that it’s Biden, not a former president, who gets to decide, and Biden has said he doesn’t want to ask for it over that material.

    Trump immediately appealed, and last night a three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals temporarily blocked the committee from getting the records. It will hear arguments on November 30. But it doesn’t look good for Trump on that issue, so the idea that he can successfully claim executive privilege for conversations with someone outside the administration is questionable.

    Bannon is facing a fine of up to $1000 and a year in jail on each count. But a conviction will not mean he will be forced to testify before the committee.

    This indictment’s significance may well lie less in getting Bannon to cooperate than in warning others what is at stake if they do not. Trump’s former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, has been defying a subpoena with statements similar to Bannon’s, and the committee has run out of patience, tweeting: “Mr. Meadows has failed to answer even the most basic questions, including whether he was using a private cell phone to communicate on January 6th, and where his text messages from that day are.”

    The committee told him to appear at 10:00 this morning and warned that if he did not, he could face contempt of Congress charges. He did not, and after Bannon’s indictment, the committee’s account tweeted: “Steve Bannon’s indictment should send a clear message to anyone who thinks they can ignore the Select Committee or try to stonewall our investigation: no one is above the law…. We will not hesitate to use the tools at our disposal to get the information we need.”

    Also in the hot seat is Jeffrey Clark, the Department of Justice attorney who tried to rise to the position of attorney general by backing Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen. After receiving a subpoena, Clark actually showed up for his hearing but then refused to speak.

    And from late November through mid-December, the committee has scheduled depositions with key members of former vice president Mike Pence’s inner circle and Trump’s White House loyalists. Legal analyst and long-time prosecutor Joyce White Vance points out, “You always put the folks you’re most interested in at the end so you can learn as much information about them as possible before you speak to them.”

    The November depositions indeed have the potential to provide important information before the December depositions. Those later ones are from Trump press secretary Kayleigh McEnany; Trump advisor Michael Flynn; Trump’s bodyguard Nicholas Luna; Trump legal team member John Eastman, author of the memo for overturning the election; Trump advisor Jason Miller; Trump’s 2020 campaign director Bill Stepien; advisor Stephen Miller; and John McEntee, who was responsible for stacking the White House with fervent loyalists.

    It will be hard for these many witnesses to maintain a solid front against the committee now that a lack of cooperation has teeth. Those testifying will likely be interested in doing what’s best for themselves.

    There is another possible significance to Bannon’s indictment, as well. If Bannon is convicted and goes to jail, he will not be able to record his podcast, which will mean he cannot keep whipping up Trump’s followers.

    The other big news today suggests that would be a good thing. In an interview with the former president recorded on March 18 by ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl, Trump continued to blame Pence for the events of January 6 and defended those calling for his vice president to be hanged. In the interview tapes, shared with Axios, Trump also said that he didn’t worry about Pence because “I had heard he was in very good shape.” This raises the question of who he was talking to at the Capitol building during the insurrection.

    In a statement about Bannon’s indictment, Attorney General Merrick Garland said: “Since my first day in office, I have promised Justice Department employees that together we would show the American people by word and deed that the department adheres to the rule of law, follows the facts and the law and pursues equal justice under the law.” He added, “Today’s charges reflect the department’s steadfast commitment to these principles.”

    _____________________________________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
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 23,196
     November 13, 2021 (Saturday)

    I had every intention of writing tonight... and then fell sound asleep in my chair for many hours. Now I'm wide awake, but it's far too late to take on Michael Flynn's new declaration that this nation needs to establish one religion (presumably Christianity?) and to explain why our separation of church and state is such a vital-- and admirable-- part of who we are.

    Tomorrow.

    Goodnight everyone.

    [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
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 23,196
     November 14, 2021 (Sunday)

    Last night, Trump’s disgraced former national security advisor Michael Flynn spoke at the “Reawaken America” conference in San Antonio, Texas, designed to whip up supporters to believe the 2020 election was stolen and that coronavirus vaccines are an infringement on their liberty. Flynn told the audience: “If we are going to have one nation under God, which we must, we have to have one religion. One nation under God, and one religion under God.”

    This statement flies in the face of our Constitution, whose First Amendment reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof….” James Madison of Virginia, the key thinker behind the Constitution, had quite a lot to say about why it was fundamentally important to make sure the government kept away from religion.

    In 1772, when he was 21, Madison watched as Virginia arrested itinerant preachers for attacking the established church in the state. He was no foe of religion, but by the next year, he had begun to question whether established religion, which was common in the colonies, was good for society. By 1776, many of his broad-thinking neighbors had come to believe that society should “tolerate” different religious practices; he had moved past tolerance to the belief that men had a right of conscience.

    In that year, he was instrumental in putting Section 16 into the Virginia Declaration of Rights on which our own Bill of Rights—the first ten amendments to the Constitution—would be based. It reads, “That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity toward each other.”

    In 1785, in a “Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments,” he explained that what was at stake was not just religion, but also representative government itself. The establishment of one religion over others attacked a fundamental human right—an unalienable right—of conscience. If lawmakers could destroy the right of freedom of conscience, they could destroy all other unalienable rights. Those in charge of government could throw representative government out the window and make themselves tyrants.

    Madison believed that a variety of religious sects would balance each other out, keeping the new nation free of the religious violence of Europe. He drew on that vision explicitly when he envisioned a new political system, expecting that a variety of political expressions would protect the new government. In Federalist #51, he said: “In a free government the security for civil rights must be the same as that for religious rights. It consists in the one case in the multiplicity of interests, and in the other in the multiplicity of sects.”

    Right on cue, Flynn’s call for one religion runs parallel to modern Republican lawmakers’ determination to make their party supreme.

    The 13 Republicans in the House who were willing to vote yes and give Democratic president Joe Biden a win with the popular bipartisan infrastructure bill are now facing increasing harassment, including death threats from Trump supporters. Although he talked about passing his own infrastructure bill, former president Trump opposed the measure on Biden’s watch, and Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene called those voting for it “traitor Republicans.”

    Meanwhile, Republicans remain silent about the video released by Representative Paul Gosar (R-AZ), showing a cartoon version of himself killing a Democratic congresswoman. Sixty Democratic representatives are sponsoring a bill to censure Gosar; not even the Republican Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), has condemned the video.

    It turns out the plot to overturn the election of a Democratic president was wider than we knew. New information from a forthcoming book by ABC News chief Washington correspondent Jonathan Karl reveals that Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows was deeply involved. On New Year’s Eve, Meadows emailed to then–vice president Mike Pence’s top aide a memo outlining how Pence could steal the election for Trump.

    On Friday, Meadows refused to testify before the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, ignoring a subpoena. His lawyer, George Terwilliger III, said that Trump had told him not to testify on the grounds of executive privilege, but as far as I can tell, Trump has not actually made that claim over Meadows’s testimony.

    That did not stop Meadows’s lawyer from taking to the pages of the Washington Post to try to defend his client. His op-ed was quite misleading both about precedent and about the limits of executive privilege: as the committee chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and vice-chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) said, “there’s nothing extraordinary about the Select Committee seeking the cooperation of a former senior administration official. Throughout U.S. history, the White House has provided Congress with testimony and information when it has been in the public interest. There couldn’t be a more compelling public interest than getting answers about an attack on our democracy.”

    But Terwilliger insisted the committee was out of bounds in demanding that Meadows testify. He indicated that the only reasonable compromise between the committee and Meadows was for the former chief of staff to answer written questions.

    Terwilliger seems concerned that Meadows will get caught in lies if he testifies. The select committee says that “Meadows has failed to answer even the most basic questions, including whether he was using a private cell phone to communicate on January 6th, and where his text messages from that day are.” That sure makes it sound like they have information on his actions that day, leaving him open to getting caught if he tries to lie. Written answers are much safer.

    Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA), chair of the House Intelligence Committee and member of the select committee, said today the committee would move forward quickly to refer Meadows to the Department of Justice for criminal contempt of Congress.

    As Madison foresaw, the Republicans’ attempt to cement their power endangers the country. On Friday, the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis released transcripts of interviews with officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledging that Trump administration officials stopped them from talking to the public and altered their scientific guidance about the coronavirus, accusing them of trying “to harm our commander in chief, the President.” More than 750,000 Americans have now died from COVID.

    Their power play hurts us abroad, as well. Tensions surrounding Russia remain high. Yesterday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken talked to Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau to reaffirm U.S. support for Poland—a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization—as Belarus’s leader Alexander Lukashenko tries to destabilize Europe by forcing migrants over the Polish border. The State Department noted that the turmoil on the Polish border “seeks to threaten security, sow division, and distract from Russia’s activities on the border with Ukraine,” where Russian president Vladimir Putin has recently pushed a large military buildup.

    But, as Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) pointed out this morning, “Senate Republicans are blocking the confirmation of our NATO and EU Ambassadors so as to deliberately hamper global security…because they believe global instability will hurt Biden, and hurting Biden is all that matters.”

    _____________________________________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
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 23,196
     November 15, 2021 (Monday)

    This afternoon, President Joe Biden signed the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, into law. At a celebratory signing ceremony on the White House lawn, he and several of the lawmakers who worked to pass the measure, Democrats and Republicans both, joined in praising the new law.

    Said Biden: “The new law makes the most significant investment in roads and bridges in the past 70 years, the most significant investment in passenger rail in the past 50 years, and the most significant investment in public transit in our nation's history. It’s a BFD.” “We’re finally getting this done,” he said. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) added: “This is what can happen when Republicans and Democrats decide we’re going to work together to get something done.”

    The passage of this infrastructure bill is a big deal. Biden, who remembers the days in which lawmakers of both parties actually worked together to pass legislation that was good for the country, insisted he could get a bipartisan package through today’s deeply polarized Congress as proof that bipartisanship is still viable. There were lots of skeptics (including me). But months of hard negotiation produced a bill that is indeed bipartisan and that will bring imperative investment into the country.

    Since 1981, we have badly underinvested in our infrastructure as we turned to private investment to develop our economy. In order to stimulate that private investment, we have focused on cutting taxes on the wealthy, but the promised investment never materialized. Now our bridges are crumbling, and some of our water pipes are still leaching lead into our drinking water.  

    The new law commits $550 billion in new spending, along with monies from other appropriations, to rebuild the hardscape of our infrastructure. It provides:

     $73 billion to upgrade the country’s electrical grid,

    $66 billion for high-speed internet access across the country,

    $47 billion to fight wildfires and protect coastal zones from flooding in the new global climate conditions,

    $21 billion to clean up contaminated rivers and lakes and other polluted sites (including abandoned mines, whose private owners left poisons behind when they left),

    $15 billion to get rid of lead pipes in drinking water,

    $75 billion to build charging stations for electric vehicles, and

    $2 billion to bring transportation to rural areas.

    To accomplish all these things, it will create good jobs across the country.

    The measure is popular, and as soon as the ceremony was over, lawmakers of both parties issued press releases outlining what the new law would bring to their states, regardless of whether they had voted for it.

    This bill is more than a needed investment in our roads and bridges. In 1981, in his first Inaugural Address, President Ronald Reagan called for the scaling back of government investment in the country, famously saying: “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” After 40 years of cutting government along the lines of that philosophy, this measure signals that the Democrats intend to use the government to invest in ordinary Americans, in the belief that such investment will help the country prosper.

    “We can do this,” Biden said. “We can deliver real results for real people.”

    “This law is a blue-collar blueprint to rebuild America. It leaves no one behind. And it makes—it marks an inflection point that we face as a nation,” Biden said today. “For most of the 20th century, we led the world by a significant margin because we invested in ourselves. But somewhere along the way, we stopped investing in ourselves. We’ve risked losing our edge as a nation, and China and the rest of the world are catching up…. [B]ecause of this law, next year will be the first year in 20 years American infrastructure investment will grow faster than China’s. We’ll once again have the best roads, bridges, ports, and airports over the next decade. And we’ll lead the world into the 21st century with modern cars and trucks and transit systems.”

    Biden has named former mayor of New Orleans and former lieutenant governor of Louisiana Mitch Landrieu to oversee the infrastructure spending, along with a task force that includes National Economic Council Director Brian Deese, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Labor Secretary Martin J. Walsh, and Office of Personnel Management Director Kiran Ahuja.

    It is a historic bill, not least because it recalled times when the government just…functioned, with members of both parties backing the passage of a popular bill that reflected a lot of hard work to hammer out a compromise.

    And yet, Trump loyalists have attacked the bill as “Joe Biden’s Communist takeover of America” and have attacked any Republican who supported it as “a traitor to our party, a traitor to their voters and a traitor to our donors.” Some of the Republicans voting for it have gotten death threats.

    In response, according to CNN’s chief congressional correspondent Manu Raju, 18 former House Republicans signed a letter supporting the new law and calling on Republican leaders in the House to defend the 13 House Republicans who voted for it.

    But the Republican party leadership appears to be doubling down on support for former president Trump over all else. Today the central committee of the Wyoming Republican Party voted 31–29 that it would no longer recognize Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) as a member because of her stand against Trump for his role in the January 6 insurrection.

    Today, Trump loyalist Steve Bannon, who seems to have been deeply involved in the January 6 insurrection, appeared in federal court to answer charges of contempt of Congress for ignoring a subpoena.

    While Biden cabinet officers were telling the country: “We’re going to bring high-speed, affordable, and reliable broadband to 100% of Americans,” “We’re going to replace lead pipes all across America and clean up long standing pollution,” and “We’re going to create good paying jobs with historic investments in passenger rail, roads and bridges, and public transport,” Bannon had a different message.

    "We're taking down the Biden regime,” Bannon told reporters before he went to court, where the judge released him pending trial. “I'm telling you right now, this is going to be the misdemeanor from hell for [Attorney General] Merrick Garland, [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden.” He said his team is "going to go on the offense."

    Tonight, Bannon echoed Trump’s call to the Proud Boys who would fight for him on January 6, defiantly telling supporters to “stand by.”

    _____________________________________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
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 23,196
      November 16, 2021 (Tuesday)

    Today, President Joe Biden hit the road to sell the benefits of the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill he signed into law yesterday. In Woodstock, New Hampshire, today, standing at a bridge deemed structurally unsafe—one of the 215 unsafe bridges in New Hampshire—Biden said  "Clean water, access to the internet, rebuilding bridges—everything in this bill matters to the individual lives of real people. This is not something abstract.”

    The popularity of the new law was evident today when Republicans began to tout its benefits for their districts, despite their votes against it. Representative Gary Palmer (R-AL), for example, told his constituents: “Funding the Northern Beltline has consistently been one of my top priorities.” He added, “Birmingham is currently one of the largest metropolitan areas in the country without a complete beltline around it. Completing the Northern Beltline will benefit the entire region and enhance economic development and employment opportunities.” Completion of the road will create more than $2 billion in 10 years, he noted, and could create 14,000 jobs.

    And yet, Palmer voted against the bill. When it passed, he tweeted: "The Democrats' recklessly expensive infrastructure bill finally passed tonight after weeks of disarray among their caucus."

    Since Biden took office, the Democrats have used the government to help ordinary Americans. In the wake of the 2008 crash, the government badly underinvested in the economy, leaving consumers unable to recharge it. After a terribly slow recovery, the economy stabilized and then, once again, crashed during the pandemic. In spring 2020, millions of people lost their jobs, incomes plummeted, and spending fell off a cliff.

    Worried we would make the same mistake twice, leaving the country to limp along, lawmakers pushed money into the economy. In spring 2020, Congress passed the $2.2 trillion bipartisan CARES Act, then in December 2020, the $900 billion bipartisan aid package. Then, in March 2021, the Democrats passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan.

    These put more than $3 trillion into the economy, raising incomes and enabling individuals to put money into savings. Yesterday, the government sent out its fifth monthly payment to the families of around 61 million eligible children under the child tax credit that Democrats expanded under the American Rescue Plan. Yesterday’s payments were around $15 billion. So far, the program has delivered about $77 billion to families across the country which, in turn, enables them to buy household goods that pump money into the economy.  

    By protecting individuals’ incomes, the government also protected income tax revenues, enabling state and local governments to continue to function, while the money in people’s pockets has also meant they continued to buy goods, keeping sales taxes producing money. Far from collapsing, as it looked like they might in the early days of the pandemic, state and local governments are currently strong financially.

    Other economic news is also good. Today, news broke that the government has badly underestimated job growth. Between June and September, the Bureau of Labor Statistics underestimated job growth by 626,000 jobs. The pandemic meant that businesses were slow to fill out paperwork, and this, in turn, meant numbers were underreported.

    Goldman Sachs says that by the end of 2022, the nation’s unemployment rate will be at a 50-year low. Unemployment is currently at 4.6% and is expected to be at 3.5% by the end of the year, a rate that will match that of 2019, which was the lowest in 50 years.

    Retail sales are also higher than expected. They are 16% higher now than they were a year ago, during the height of the pandemic. They jumped 1.7% in October, with Americans spending about $638.2 billion in that month. The National Retail Federation expects strong holiday retail sales. J.P. Morgan has upgraded its growth expectations for gross domestic product in the fourth quarter from 4% to 5%.

    Products are also refilling shelves. Walmart today reported that it will have full shelves for the holiday season.

    On all of this news, the stock market rose again.

    All of these indicators are excellent, and they reflect the government’s protection of the demand side of the economy to prevent a situation in which the economy can’t recover from a recession because not enough people have enough money to get things moving again.

    But now we are looking at a very different problem. The pandemic crashed supply chains across the world, creating a supply shortage (someone described this as the parking lot after a concert, when everyone is trying to leave at once, and as someone who once spent 4.5 hours trying to get out of a parking lot after a U2 concert, I love this comparison). Prices are rising as people who have money, thanks to lawmakers’ efforts to guarantee that we didn’t prolong a recession because of a demand problem, are trying to get scarce goods.  

    This has created 6.2% inflation in consumer prices, 4 points above the 2% inflation for which government officials aim, and a 30-year high. (Interestingly, gasoline prices, to which people look as a sign of inflation and which have risen about $1.50 a gallon from their low during the pandemic when no one was buying gas, are a reflection of global oil prices and have little to do with U.S. policies.)

    Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says that the smoothing out of supply chains and the end of the pandemic—if we can finally manage the pandemic—will bring prices back to expected levels, and Biden’s work with ports and shippers to expand their operations in order to clear bottlenecks appears to be having an effect. Bloomberg reports that the number of containers sitting on docks at the port of Los Angeles had declined 29% from its high. Still, the Federal Reserve has begun to scale back its support for the economy to try to cool the market.

    Mike Pyle, chief economic adviser to the vice president, told Catherine Lucey and Alex Leary of the Wall Street Journal, “We continue to bet that as the economy recovers, as the pandemic abates, as a lot of the work that we’re doing to unclog supply chains and make them higher velocity and more fluid, as those things happen these pressures are going to abate.”

    But concerns about inflation are affecting the Democrats’ plans for the larger Build Back Better infrastructure plan. Republicans insist that more investment will raise prices further, and  conservative Democrat Joe Manchin (D-WV) has expressed his own concerns. Administration officials counter that the Build Back Better plan will lower key costs for families, especially childcare and medical expenses, and that since it is a long-term investment to be disbursed over ten years it will not have any immediate inflationary tendencies, while it will build long-term wealth for ordinary people.

    With the economy so strong, so far only about 5% of Americans say that inflation is the most important issue facing the country. But painful memories of the crippling stagflation of the 1970s, when rising prices, rising energy costs, and the end of price controls instituted under President Richard Nixon sent inflation briefly over 12%, linger.

    Republicans are hammering on this fear. Senator Rick Scott (R-FL), the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the fundraising arm of the Senate Republicans, said recently: “You can see what’s going to happen next. We’re going to continue to have inflation, and then interest rates will go up…. This is a gold mine for us.”

    _____________________________________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
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 23,196
     November 17, 2021 (Wednesday)

    Today the House of Representatives voted to censure (not censor) Representative Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and to strip him of his committee assignments. The vote was 223 to 207, with 1 representative, David Joyce (R-OH), voting “present.” Three other representatives—Barry Loudermilk (R-GA), Scott Perry (R-PA), and Morgan Griffith (R-VA)—did not vote. Representatives Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) joined Democrats to vote in favor of the resolution censuring Gosar.

    At stake was what to do about the fact that Gosar posted on his official Twitter account an anime video that showed a character with his face photoshopped onto it killing a character wearing the face of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). The “Gosar” character also slashed with swords at a character wearing the face of President Joe Biden.

    Democrats have been outraged at the video, while Republicans have largely kept mum about it, focusing instead on attacking the Republicans who voted with the Democrats to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

    Today, Democrats tried to recall their Republican colleagues to a common agreement on the principle that Congress should not be an arena of violence. “Threatening and showing the killing of a member of this House,” Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said to the Republicans. “Can't that appall you? Even that act? Do you have no shame?”

    Indeed, censuring Gosar should have been an easy vote for Republicans. He is a problematic colleague: he has embraced white nationalist and neo-Nazi culture, and six of his nine siblings have cut ads urging voters not to support him. (He retorted that they are “leftists” of whom “Stalin would be proud.”) One of his brothers said on television today: "My brother is unhinged. He needs to be more than censured. He needs to be expelled. And if it is determined that criminal charges need to be filed, then they need to be filed."

    But only Kinzinger and Cheney were willing to call out Gosar’s behavior, while four others avoided the vote. “This is not an issue about party,” Cheney told reporters. Gosar’s post was “completely unacceptable.” “I think that it’s really important for us to be very clear that violence has no place in our political discourse,” she said.

    The rest of the House Republicans backed Gosar, attacking Democrats—sometimes screaming at them—as totalitarians, with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) calling the resolution “an abuse of power.” (In reality, censure is a tool the House has used throughout our history.) Gosar never apologized for the video showing him killing the Democratic representative, although many of his colleagues talked as if he did.

    As many people have pointed out, sharing an image of yourself killing a colleague would get you fired from virtually any job.

    This is an important moment. It appears that all but two Republican lawmakers are willing to embrace violence against Democrats if it will lead to political power.

    There is a subtle difference between their willingness to defend the violence of the January 6 insurrectionists, and today’s stance. When Republicans have defended the insurrectionists, they did so with the argument—false though it was—that the rioters simply wanted to defend the country from a stolen election. Today there was no pretense of an excuse for Gosar’s violent fantasy; it was defended as normal.

    The march toward Republicans’ open acceptance of violence has been underway since January 6, as leaders embraced the Big Lie that the Democrats stole the 2020 election, and then as leaders have stood against mask and vaccine mandates as tyranny. Those lies have led to a logical outcome: their supporters believe that in order to defend the nation, they should fight back against those they have been told are destroying the country.

    When Charlie Kirk, the founder of Turning Point USA, an organization devoted to promoting right-wing values on campuses, spoke in Idaho last month, the audience applauded when a man asked when he could start killing Democrats. “When do we get to use the guns?” the man said. “How many elections are they going to steal before we kill these people?” Kirk denounced the question not on principle, but because he said it would play into Democratic hands. He agreed that, as he said, “We are living under fascism.”

    The vigilantism of the current Republican Party is evidence that its leaders know they cannot win free and fair elections—if they could, there would be no need for terrorizing opponents—so they are working to rig the system. In Idaho, Kirk went on to encourage his audience to retake control of the country by using their power in the states.

    They can do so through measures like Texas’s S.B. 8, the so-called “heartbeat bill” prohibiting women from exercising their constitutional right to abortion, and calling on individuals within the community to enforce that law.

    And they can also do so by taking control of state election procedures. Since the Democrats won control of the House and Senate and the White House in November 2020, Republicans have used their power in Republican-dominated states to pass laws that will suppress Democratic votes and transfer control of the counting of election results from non-partisan officials to partisans, along with the right to exclude votes they claim are “fraudulent.” Had such measures been in place in 2020, Trump would currently be in the White House.

    They are also gerrymandering their states to cut Democrats out of representation. So, for example, according to Ari Berman, who studies voting rights, Georgia has written new congressional maps that would give Republicans 64% of the state’s seats in the U.S. House of Representatives in a state Biden won with 49.5% of the vote. In the Georgia state senate, Republicans would take 59% of seats.

    In Wisconsin the legislature passed a map that would give Republicans 75% of U.S. House seats and 60% of legislative seats in a state Biden won. The Ohio senate has passed a map giving Republicans 80% of seats in state Trump won with 53% of the vote. In North Carolina, which is 40% non-white and evenly split politically, the Republican legislature passed redistricting maps giving Republicans 71–78% of U.S. House seats.  

    Republicans have made it clear that they are comfortable with violence, and they are rigging elections to gain power. Unless Congress chooses to protect our votes with the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, the Republican performance in the House today will become our norm.

    Part of the ceremony of censure is that the censured representative stands in the House well as the censure is read. Gosar was joined in the well today by a group of Republicans, including Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) read the censure.

    Ocasio-Cortez and Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA), were sitting in the front row.

    Immediately following his censure, Gosar retweeted the video.

    _____________________________________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
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 23,196
      November 18, 2021 (Thursday)  Today began with Republican leadership doubling down on its support for Representative Paul Gosar (R-AZ), whom the House censured yesterday for tweeting a cartoon video of himself killing a Democratic colleague, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), and attacking the president, Joe Biden. Only two Republicans voted with the Democrats in favor of the censure.   Former president Donald Trump issued a statement praising Gosar and saying the congressman “has my Complete and Total Endorsement!” In addition to the censure, the House stripped Gosar of his committee assignments, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said today that if the Republicans take the majority and he is elected Speaker, he will likely throw Democrats off committees and give Gosar and Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who was stripped of her committee assignments in February after violent threats against Democratic colleagues, better committee assignments.    This morning, on the podcast of Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows went after McCarthy, suggesting that Trump should replace him. Then, on Trump loyalist Steve Bannon’s podcast, Meadows suggested that if the Republicans win control of the House of Representatives in next year’s elections, Trump should become Speaker of the House, which would drive Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “crazy.” Bannon suggested he could hold the position for 100 days and “sort things out” before running for president in 2024.   While the Trump loyalists were putting the screws to McCarthy, the economic news continued to be good. A report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development on Thursday showed that the United States is the only G7 country to surpass its pre-pandemic economic growth. That growth has been so strong it has buoyed other countries.  Meanwhile, the administration's work with ports and supply chains to handle the increase in demand for goods appears to be having an effect. Imports through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are up 16% from 2018, and in the first two weeks of November, those two ports cleared about a third of the containers sitting on their docks.    Then the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its score for the Democrats’ $1.85 trillion Build Back Better Act. The CBO is a nonpartisan agency within the legislative branch that provides budget and economic information to Congress. The CBO’s estimate of the costs of the Build Back Better Act will affect who will vote for it.  The CBO’s projection was good news for the Democrats; it was in line with what the Democrats had said the bill would cost. The CBO estimates that the bill will increase the deficit by $367 billion over ten years. But the CBO also estimates that the government will raise about $207 billion over those same ten years by enforcing tax rules on those currently cheating on them. These numbers were good in themselves—in comparison, the CBO said the 2017 Republican tax cuts would cost $1.4 trillion over ten years—but they might get even better. Many economists, including Larry Summers, who has been critical of the Biden administration, think that the CBO estimates badly underplay the benefits of the bill.   The CBO score also predicted that the savings from prescription drug reforms in the bill would come in $50 billion higher than the House had predicted.  As soon as the score was released, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the House would vote on the bill tonight, suggesting that she had the votes to pass the bill.   And then something interesting happened. Kevin McCarthy took to the House floor to slow down the passage of the Build Back Better Act, throwing the vote into the middle of the night. The minority leader put on a Trump-esque show of non-sequiturs, previewing the kind of speech he would make to rally Republicans behind him if the Republicans retake the House in 2022. The speech was angry, full of shouting, and made for right-wing media: it was full of all the buzz-words that play there. McCarthy spoke for more than three hours—as I write this, he is still speaking.  But the blows he was trying to deliver didn’t land. The Democrats made fun of him, catcalled, and eventually just walked out, while the Republicans lined up behind McCarthy looked increasingly bored, checked their phones, and appeared to doze off. When Axios reporter Andrew Solender asked a Republican aide for some analysis of the speech, the aide answered: “I’m watching the Great British Baking Show.”   As he spoke, Pelosi’s office fact-checked him, noting that while he is attacking the elements of the bill, saying no one wants them, the opposite is true. According to CBS News, Pelosi’s staff wrote, “88 percent of Americans support Build Back Better’s measures to cut prescription drug prices,” “73 percent of Americans support Build Back Better’s funding for paid family leave,” and “67 percent of Americans support Build Back Better’s funding for universal pre-K.” In addition, according to Navigator Research, “84 percent of Americans support Build Back Better’s provisions to lower health insurance premiums,” and “72 percent of Americans support Build Back Better’s creation of clean energy jobs to combat climate change.”   Grace Segers, a politics reporter for The New Republic, described the mood in the House as “hostile.” She noted that Democrats are furious that McCarthy has made no effort to rein in the most extreme Republicans and, after yesterday’s defense of Gosar, have had enough. In his speech, McCarthy was indeed courting that extreme right, posturing not for voters, but rather for his conference, trying to reassure them that he is a strong enough pro-Trump leader to be House Speaker if the Republicans retake the House.    But it felt tonight as if the dynamic in the House has changed. The Republicans are now openly embracing Trump and his one-man rule. But their support for Gosar yesterday appears to have created a breach. Democrats are no longer trying to reason with the Republicans and are instead treating them with derision. That is, psychologically at least, a much more dominant position than they held recently.  Rather than vote in the middle of the night, the Democrats have delayed the vote on the bill until tomorrow, when the American people can watch. In the past, Republicans have criticized Democrats for passing legislation “in the dead of night.” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said of this important bill that dramatically expands the nation’s social safety net: “We are going to do it in the day.”
    _____________________________________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
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 23,196
      November 19, 2021 (Friday)

    On November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln spoke at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where more than 23,000 men had been killed or wounded the previous July defending the United States of America from those who would destroy it.

    He rooted the nation in the Declaration of Independence, in which the nation’s founders announced that they “hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,” and that governments derive “their just powers from the consent of the governed.” But in 1863, Lincoln was afraid the idea “that all men are created equal” was no longer “self-evident.”

    In 1863, it was a “proposition.”

    He told the crowd, “met on a great battle-field,” that they were “engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.”

    This morning, at 9:46, the House of Representatives passed the “Build Back Better” bill by a vote of 220–213. The bill provides $555 billion to fight climate change by providing jobs in clean industries. It devotes $400 billion to universal pre-kindergarten education for 3- and 4-year-olds, easing the costs of child care and reducing gaps between children when they enter kindergarten. It extends for a year the child tax credit the Democrats put in place in March in the American Rescue Plan, providing parents with $300 per month for every child under age 6 and $250 for every child from 6 to 17. It appropriates $150 billion for affordable housing to build more than 1 million new homes.

    The United States is one of the few nations that does not provide paid family leave for new parents, and the Build Back Better bill appropriates $200 billion for 4 weeks of paid family or medical leave. It also sets aside $150 billion to expand affordable home care in hopes of reducing the backlog of more than 800,000 people on waiting lists for state Medicaid. If passed into law, the bill will also reduce health care premiums and the cost of medication.

    The Build Back Better bill, also known as the Reconciliation bill because if it gets through the Senate it will have to do so through the reconciliation process, which cannot be filibustered, is a huge deal. It reorients our national investment away from a wealthy few and toward ordinary families, much as Lincoln insisted in 1859 that the country should not invest in elite enslavers, but rather in ordinary men, who would innovate as they worked to provide for their families.

    When the House passed the bill, Democrats recognized the extraordinary skill of House Speaker Pelosi in nailing together a coalition to get this measure to a positive vote, chanting: “Nancy, Nancy, Nancy.”

    Every single Republican voted against the measure.

    This afternoon, a jury in Kenosha, Wisconsin, found Kyle Rittenhouse not guilty of intentional homicide, reckless homicide, and attempted intentional homicide in the killing of Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and in the wounding of Gaige Grosskreutz, 27. Rittenhouse shot the three men with an assault rifle on August 25, 2020. Then 17, he traveled from his home in Antioch, Illinois, to Kenosha to, he later said, protect businesses there that he thought were under threat from those gathered to protest the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, by law enforcement officers.

    The defense presented evidence that the men Rittenhouse killed made him afraid for his life. Wisconsin permits deadly force if a person reasonably believes they are in imminent danger of great bodily harm.

    The case has national implications. Although protesting is a constitutional right protected by the First Amendment, members of the right wing hailed Rittenhouse as a hero who righteously took up arms against protesters they insist are dangerous to America. Immediately, the white nationalist, neo-Nazi website VDARE reversed victim and offender, tweeting: “Kyle Rittenhouse is the hero we’ve been waiting for throughout the turbulent summer of 2020, where a Black Lives Matter/Antifa/Bolshevik revolution has our country on the brink of total chaos.”

    With Rittenhouse’s acquittal, we learned that Fox News Channel personality Tucker Carlson had a film crew creating a documentary about Rittenhouse during the trial. Carlson will interview Rittenhouse on Monday night.

    Even more ominous than the public praise of Rittenhouse, Republican lawmakers also celebrated his acquittal, inviting a young man without any qualifications other than involvement in a deadly shooting of protesters to accept a position in our government. Former president Trump sent out a fund-raising email, cheering the acquittal and claiming the trial was “nothing more than a WITCH HUNT from the Radical Left,” who “want to PUNISH law-abiding citizens, including a CHILD, like Kyle Rittenhouse, for doing nothing more than following the LAW.”

    Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) cheered that Rittenhouse is one of the “good guys” who “help, protect, and defend.” Representatives Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), and Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) all publicly offered Rittenhouse a congressional internship. Cawthorn told followers that Rittenhouse was not guilty and told them to “be armed, be dangerous, and be moral.”

    Across the country, Republican lawmakers are backing violence and attacking voting.

    Wisconsin, where the Rittenhouse trial just took place, is leading the way in trying to rig elections so Democrats cannot win. Senator Ron Johnson is spearheading an attempt to get rid of the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission, created by Republicans, and to charge the members of the commission with felonies, while giving control of federal elections to Republican lawmakers. Johnson says that the Republicans need to control state elections because Democrats cheat. Johnson has admitted that Biden won Wisconsin fairly in the 2020 election but is arguing for the Big Lie to justify rigging the system in Republicans’ favor.

    At Gettysburg in 1863, Lincoln reminded his audience of those “who here gave their lives that that nation might live.” And he urged them “to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

    [Image from Library of Congress. Lincoln at Gettysburg, hatless and standing facing the camera in front of the tall man in the top hat.]

    _____________________________________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
  • brianluxbrianlux Moving through All Kinds of Terrain.Posts: 35,585
    A hard letter to digest this time around (that's not a reflection on Heather- I greatly appreciate what she does).  My wife and I were talking about this letter a little while ago- well, not really talking, just kind of staring, unsure of what to say, not at all feeling comfortable about how we felt.  Unsettled, to say the least.
    "I believe in the mystery, and I don't want to take it any further than that. Maybe what I mean by that is love."
    -John Densmore











  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 23,196
      November 20, 2021 (Saturday)

    As ever, the tide comes up and the tide goes down, and the sun will rise again tomorrow.

    I'll see you then, better rested and ready to carry on.

    [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
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 23,196
      November 21, 2021 (Sunday)  Yesterday, the head of Ukraine’s defense intelligence agency, Brigadier General Kyrylo Budanov, told Military Times that he expects Russia to attack his country in late January or early February. Russia has placed more than 92,000 troops at its border with Ukraine.   In a visit to Washington, D.C., where he met with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Ukraine’s defense minister, Oleksiy Reznikov, took a broader view of the mounting tensions in central and eastern Europe. Russian president Vladimir Putin “is testing the unity of the European Union, he is testing the unity of NATO allies, he is testing our society, Ukrainians, he is testing Poland, the Baltic countries,” Reznikov said.  Indeed, although U.S. and European officials for weeks have been warning Putin to pull back from the Ukraine border, he has escalated his rhetoric against Ukraine, claiming that Russians and Ukrainians represent “one people—a single whole.” At the same time, he has backed a rising authoritarian in Belarus, President Alexander Lukashenko. Putin has established a joint military base in Belarus and backed Lukashenko’s use of Middle Eastern migrants to destabilize nearby Poland. Poland is a member of both the European Union and NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which joined the U.S., Canada, and Western European nations together in 1949 to oppose first the USSR and then, after the USSR crumbled, the rising threat of Russia.   What we have here is a proxy battle over the future of liberal democracy—government based on individual rights, civil liberties, free enterprise, and consent of the governed.  Since it declared independence from the old USSR in 1991, Ukraine has moved toward the European Union, a stance that threatens the wealth and power of oligarchs with ties to Russia who have consistently tried to regain control of the country. Part of Putin’s reach for Ukraine reflects that the Russian economy has underperformed under his 20-year rule; Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea in 2014 significantly boosted Putin’s popularity in Russia, but that enthusiasm faded in the sluggish economy.   But Putin’s attempt to undermine democracy is also ideological.  In 2019, he told the Financial Times that liberalism—the set of ideas necessary for freedom and embraced by America’s Founders—is obsolete.  Those governing principles have outlived their purpose, Putin said. The multiculturalism that comes from liberalism has led to the breakdown of traditional values and permitted migrants to “kill, plunder and rape with impunity because their rights as migrants have to be protected, he said.” "[Liberals] cannot simply dictate anything to anyone.”  In that, he led the way for Hungary’s Viktor Orbán, who champions what he calls “illiberal democracy,”or “Christian democracy.” Replacing the multiculturalism, immigration, and nontraditional family structures of modern democracies with a society based on Christianity, nationalism, traditional families, and white supremacy will strengthen Hungary, he says.   Putin, Orbán, Lukashenko, and others like them are advancing a very old version of society. They believe that a few men—white, Christian—should run the world and amass both wealth and power while the rest of us support them. While they attract voters with their cultural stands—attacking immigration and gay rights, for example—they have rigged elections, turned their economies over to cronies, and stifled the press. They have turned their nations from democracy to an authoritarianism that has been called “kleptocracy” or “soft fascism.”  In short, they want to abandon democracy for autocracy—government by a dictator.  Astonishingly, radicals of the American right have embraced this vision. Fox News Channel personality Tucker Carlson has been open about his support for both Orbán and Russia, and in 2022, the Conservative Political Action Conference will meet in Budapest, where, apparently, they think they will feel at home. Leaders on the American right hammer constantly on cultural issues, deliberately inflaming voters against immigration, Black rights, and transgender students on school sports teams, for example, as signs that American society is collapsing and that we must turn to Christianity and traditional values to restore our stability.   Now, as Americans have chosen multiculturalism, civil rights, and equality, the American right has turned to the power of the state to impose their will on the rest of us, just as Orbán and Putin have used the state in their own countries. We are seeing calls from right-wing leaders to institute Christianity as the basis of our government, attacks on immigration and civil rights, and the systematic dismantling of our right to vote, that is, our right to consent to the government under which we live.   That those who claim to love America, which once billed itself as the leader of the world, are taking their lead from minor authoritarian countries—the economy of Russia is comparable to that of Texas, while Hungary’s population is comparable to Michigan’s—shows the extraordinary poverty, or perhaps the extraordinary greed, of their vision.    In 1776, the Founders of this country declared independence from monarchy, not just from England’s King George III but from all kings. In part because they could not see women or people of color as equal to white men, they could envision the concept of natural equality for everyone else. That, in turn, made them stand against the idea that some men should rule over others on the basis of their wealth, ancestry, or religion.   Instead of these old forms of government and society, they stood firm on the idea that all men are created equal and that they have natural rights they bring with them into society. These rights include—but are not limited to (James Madison would later add the free exercise of religion, for example)—the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”   Governments, they said, are made by men to secure these rights, and they are legitimate only as long as those they govern consent to them.    Our democratic government, based on ideas Putin and Orbán explicitly reject—the liberal ideas of individual rights, civil liberties, democracy, and free enterprise—is the heritage of all Americans, expanded as it has been since 1776 and imperfectly though it has been, so far, applied.   In today’s America, those who call themselves “conservative” are the very opposite of conservative: they are dangerous radicals seeking to bring us to our knees by attacking the grand philosophy that made this nation great—and which, if we could finally make it a reality, could make it greater still—replacing it with the stunted beliefs of petty tyrants.      
    _____________________________________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
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 23,196

    _____________________________________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
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 23,196
    edited November 23
      November 22, 2021 (Monday)  Today, the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, based in Stockholm, Sweden, released its 2021 report on “The Global State of Democracy.”   “Democracy is at risk,” the report’s introduction begins. “Its survival is endangered by a perfect storm of threats, both from within and from a rising tide of authoritarianism.” “The world is becoming more authoritarian as nondemocratic regimes become even more brazen in their repression and many democratic governments suffer from backsliding by adopting their tactics of restricting free speech and weakening the rule of law.”  The report identifies the United States as one of the democracies that is “backsliding,” meaning that it has “experienced gradual but significant weakening of Checks on Government and Civil Liberties, such as Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Association and Assembly, over time.”  

    ​​ “The United States, the bastion of global democracy, fell victim to authoritarian tendencies itself, and was knocked down a significant number of steps on the democratic scale,” the report says.  That fall continues to be pushed by malign foreign actors. An investigation by Jordan Liles of Snopes.com shows that foreign social media accounts are magnifying right-wing voices. In the wake of the Rittenhouse acquittal, for example, foreign accounts posing as Americans appeared to celebrate the jury’s decision.  Frank Figliuzzi, the former assistant director for counterintelligence at the FBI, tweeted that of 32,315 pro-Rittenhouse hashtag tweets from November 19–20, 29,609 had disabled geolocation. Of them, 17,701 were listed as “foreign,” and most of those were in Russia, China, and the EU. Plenty of Americans are along for the authoritarian ride, too. A story by David A. Fahrenthold, Josh Dawsey, Isaac Stanley-Becker, and Shayna Jacobs in the Washington Post today reveals that the Republican National Committee (RNC) is using party funds to pay some of former president Donald Trump’s legal bills. Allies of RNC chair Ronna McDaniel note that since Trump is the biggest draw the party has for fundraising, it is important to cultivate his goodwill. 

    This dumps the RNC into the January 6 insurrection mess by aligning the party’s central organization with Trump. 

    That mess is deepening. Today the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol issued five new subpoenas to people involved in planning the rallies in Washington, D.C., on January 6 and the subsequent march to the Capitol.   The subpoenas went to Dustin Stockton and Jennifer Lawrence, who organized the “Women for America First” rally, and Trump spokesperson Taylor Budowich, who called for a social media blitz. Another subpoena went to Roger Stone, who pushed the rally and raised money for it, and who hired members of the right-wing Oath Keepers, several of whom were at the riot, as personal bodyguards. Right-wing newscaster Alex Jones got one, too; he helped to organize the rallies, spoke at the one held January 5, and claimed to have provided 80% of the funding for the January 6 rally.   Committee chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) said: “We need to know who organized, planned, paid for, and received funds related to those events, as well as what communications organizers had with officials in the White House and Congress.”  Two days ago, Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), who sits on the committee, told CNN that many of the people they’ve interviewed so far—more than 200—have been Trump officials who testified voluntarily and wanted to be subpoenaed for “cover.” 

    In Washington, D.C., today, at a hearing for one of those charged in the riot at the Capitol that day, U.S. District Court Judge Carl Nichols, a Trump appointee, sought to define what it means to interfere with an official federal government proceeding. About a third of those charged in the attack on the Capitol have been charged with this crime, which carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison. Nichols asked a prosecutor today whether calling “Vice President Pence to seek to have him adjudge the certification in a particular way” would be obstruction.  

    That’s a key question.  Trump’s influence took some hits today. Sean Parnell, the Trump-backed candidate for Pennsylvania senator, suspended his campaign after losing a custody battle with his ex-wife. She accused him of physical and emotional abuse of her and their children.  Today, conservative columnist Max Boot called out Republican lawmakers for “fomenting violent extremism” and noted that “they have also become hostage to the extremists in their ranks” because they fear for their safety should they stand up to the Trump loyalists. Right-wing extremists have threatened the lives of the 13 Republicans who voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill.  

    Two long-standing Fox News Channel contributors, Steve Hayes and Jonah Goldberg, quit the enterprise today over Tucker Carlson’s three-part series Patriot Purge. That series, they wrote, “is presented in the style of an exposé, a hard-hitting piece of investigative journalism. In reality, it is a collection of incoherent conspiracy-mongering, riddled with factual inaccuracies, half-truths, deceptive imagery, and damning omissions.”   They say they could no longer work at the Fox News Channel because “we sincerely believe that all people of good will and good judgment—regardless of their ideological or partisan commitments—can agree that a cavalier and even contemptuous attitude toward facts, truth-seeking, and truth-telling, lies at the heart of so much that plagues our country.”  

    And Kyle Rittenhouse, whom a jury acquitted Friday of all charges connected with the shooting deaths of Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and the wounding of Gaige Grosskreutz, is fighting with the “Fightback Foundation” organized by “Stop the Steal” lawyer Lin Wood over the $2 million bail posted for Rittenhouse. Rittenhouse’s lawyers say the money was raised for their client and thus should be his; Wood contends that he raised the money (although apparently not all of it) and thus it should go to his organization. 

    A number of Republican governors are facing primary challengers backed by Trump, and according to the Wall Street Journal, former vice president Mike Pence told the Republican Governors’ Association this week that he would be supporting incumbent Republican governors rather than Trump-backed challengers. Trump spokesperson Budowich—now under subpoena—responded, “Just like in cycles previous, successful Republican candidates must earn the support of President Donald J. Trump.”  As the Republican Party falls to autocracy, President Joe Biden is focused on making Americans believe in democracy again by making the economy work for regular people. His policies are working.  

    Today the CEO of Walmart, Doug McMillon, explicitly praised the Biden administration for its actions to reduce pandemic-related supply chain shortages, which are easing. “I would like to give the administration credit for helping do things like help get the ports open 24 hours a day, to open up some of the trucking lines…—there’s been a lot of work to do that—and then all the way through the supply chain there’s been a lot of innovation, and…week after week, in the third quarter in particular, sequentially, each month of the quarter got stronger, the number of containers that we were moving through the ports has grown significantly 
    Post edited by mickeyrat on
    _____________________________________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
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 23,196
    edited November 23
    I fucking give up
    Post edited by mickeyrat on
    _____________________________________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
  • brianluxbrianlux Moving through All Kinds of Terrain.Posts: 35,585
    mickeyrat said:
    I fucking give up

    Why, M?  Because of a little thing like the end of Democracy?
    Yeah, I get it.  What we are living through is hard to fathom, even harder to deal with.  Throwing one's hands up is mighty tempting.  It might even be a good thing to do now and then.  Just say, "Fuck it", and step back a while and not let it overwhelm and consume you.
    You can always re-engage when ready.
    "I believe in the mystery, and I don't want to take it any further than that. Maybe what I mean by that is love."
    -John Densmore











Sign In or Register to comment.