Letter From An American by Heather Cox Richardson

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  • mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,616
      March 14, 2023 (Tuesday)

    Two years ago, in the midst of the pandemic, I whipped off a quick and somewhat flippant letter about why March 15 is a crucially important day in American history. It became one of the most popular things I’ve ever written, so popular that when I was asked to write a book based on these letters, I centered the book around it.

    And then, as books have a way of doing, the project changed and this material dropped away. The only piece of the letter that made it into the final version of the book was Owen Lovejoy’s vow never to forget his brother Elijah’s murder at the hands of a proslavery mob.

    It’s a shame because there is much of our history and our present, as well as of me, in this story, and so I am taking a relatively quiet night on this date in 2023 to retell it.

    But now there is more to add. Exactly three and a half years ago tonight, on September 15, 2019, I began to write these Letters from an American. At the time, I was simply answering the questions people on my Facebook page had asked me about the emerging scandal of Trump withholding congressionally approved funds from Ukraine; I had no idea that we were beginning an epic journey together.

    It turns out to be a journey deeply rooted in this country’s history, and I often cannot wrap my head around the fact we are quietly making our own history, just as our predecessors did. It is a curious thing to be a historian in this moment: we live in both the past and the present, and I promise you we worry about the future. Above all, though, I am constantly thankful to be on this journey with so many wonderful people who are organizing, as Lincoln’s Republicans did, to change the course of the nation.

    Anyway, a little backstory about the flippant tale I told two years ago: the man who taught me to use a chainsaw is real—together we cleared a field gone to alders in summer 1978. An adze is a woodcutting tool. And Hannibal Hamlin is one of the few topics my now-husband and I could find to talk about on our tongue-tied first date.  

    So, two years ago, I wrote:
       
    By the time most of you will read this it will be March 15, which is too important a day to ignore. As the man who taught me to use a chainsaw said, it is immortalized by Shakespeare’s famous warning: “Cedar! Beware the adze of March!”

    He put it that way because the importance of March 15 is, of course, that it is the day in 1820 that Maine, the Pine Tree State, joined the Union.

    Maine statehood had national repercussions. The inhabitants of this northern part of Massachusetts had asked for statehood in 1819, but their petition was stopped dead by southerners who refused to permit a free state—one that did not permit enslavement—to enter the Union without a corresponding “slave state.” The explosive growth of the northern states had already given free states control of the House of Representatives, but the South held its own in the Senate, where each state got two votes. The admission of Maine would give the North the advantage, and southerners insisted that Maine’s admission be balanced with the admission of a southern slave state lest those opposed to slavery use their power in the federal government to restrict enslavement in the South.

    They demanded the admission of Missouri to counteract Maine’s two “free” Senate votes.

    But this “Missouri Compromise” infuriated northerners, especially those who lived in Maine. They swamped Congress with petitions against admitting Missouri as a slave state, resenting that enslavers in the Senate could hold the state of Maine hostage until they got their way. Tempers rose high enough that Thomas Jefferson wrote to Massachusetts—and later Maine—Senator John Holmes that he had for a long time been content with the direction of the country, but that the Missouri question “like a fire bell in the night, awakened and filled me with terror. I considered it at once as the knell of the Union. It is hushed indeed for the moment, but this is a reprieve only, not a final sentence.”

    Congress passed the Missouri Compromise, but Jefferson was right to see it as nothing more than a reprieve.

    The petition drive that had begun as an effort to keep the admission of Maine from being tied to the admission of Missouri continued as a movement to get Congress to whittle away at enslavement where it could—by, for example, outlawing slave sales in the nation’s capital—and would become a key point of friction between the North and the South.

    There was also another powerful way in which the conditions of the state’s entry into the Union would affect American history. Mainers were angry that their statehood had been tied to the demands of far distant enslavers, and that anger worked its way into the state’s popular culture. The opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 meant that Maine men, who grew up steeped in that anger, could spread west.

    And so they did.

    In 1837, Elijah P. Lovejoy, who had moved to Alton, Illinois, from Albion, Maine, to begin a newspaper dedicated to the abolition of human enslavement, was murdered by a pro-slavery mob, who threw his printing press into the Mississippi River.

    Elijah Lovejoy’s younger brother, Owen, had also moved west from Maine. Owen saw Elijah shot and swore his allegiance to the cause of abolition. "I shall never forsake the cause that has been sprinkled with my brother's blood," he declared. He turned to politics, and in 1854 he was elected to the Illinois state legislature. His increasing prominence brought him political friends, including an up-and-coming lawyer who had arrived in Illinois from Kentucky, Abraham Lincoln.

    Lovejoy and Lincoln were also friends with another Maine man gone to Illinois. Elihu Washburne had been born in Livermore, Maine, in 1816, when Maine was still part of Massachusetts. He was one of seven brothers, and one by one, his brothers had all left home, most of them to move west. Israel Washburn, Jr., the oldest, stayed in Maine, but Cadwallader moved to Wisconsin, and William Drew would follow, going to Minnesota. (Elihu was the only brother who spelled his last name with an e).

    Israel and Elihu were both serving in Congress in 1854 when Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act overturning the Missouri Compromise and permitting the spread of slavery to the West. Furious, Israel called a meeting of 30 congressmen in May to figure out how they could come together to stand against the Slave Power that had commandeered the government to spread the South’s system of human enslavement. They met in the rooms of Representative Edward Dickinson, of Massachusetts—whose talented daughter Emily was already writing poems—and while they came to the meeting from all different political parties, they left with one sole principle: to stop the Slave Power that was turning the government into an oligarchy.

    The men scattered for the summer back to their homes across the North, sharing their conviction that a new party must rise to stand against the Slave Power. In the fall, those calling themselves “anti-Nebraska” candidates were sweeping into office—Cadwallader Washburn would be elected from Wisconsin in 1854 and Owen Lovejoy from Illinois in 1856—and they would, indeed, create a new political party: the Republicans. The new party took deep root in Maine, flipping the state from Democratic to Republican in 1856, the first time it fielded a presidential candidate.

    In 1859, Abraham Lincoln would articulate an ideology for the party, defining it as the party of ordinary Americans standing together against the oligarchs of slavery, and when he ran for president in 1860, he knew it was imperative that he get the momentum of Maine men on his side. In those days Maine voted for state and local offices in September, rather than November, so a party’s win in Maine could start a wave. “As Maine goes, so goes the nation,” the saying went.

    So Lincoln turned to Hannibal Hamlin, who represented Maine in the Senate (and whose father had built the house in which the Washburns grew up). Lincoln won 62% of the vote in Maine in 1860, taking all 8 of the state’s electoral votes, and went on to win the election. When he arrived in Washington quietly in late February to take office the following March, Elihu Washburne was at the railroad station to greet him.

    I was not a great student in college. I liked learning, but not on someone else’s timetable. It was this story that woke me up and made me a scholar. I found it fascinating that a group of ordinary people from country towns who shared a fear that they were losing their democracy could figure out how to work together to reclaim it.

    Happy Birthday, Maine.

    _____________________________________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 up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,616
      March 15, 2023 (Wednesday)

    The Justice Department today announced the arrest of Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui, also known as Ho Wan Kwok and Miles Guo, charged with defrauding followers of more than $1 billion. The 12-count indictment for wire fraud, securities fraud, bank fraud, and money laundering says Guo and a co-conspirator, Kin Ming Je, raised money by promising stock in Guo’s GTV Media Group, a high-end club, or cryptocurrency but then used the money themselves for items that included a $53,000 fireplace log holder, a watch storage box that cost almost $60,000, and two $36,000 mattresses, as well as more typical luxury items: a 50,000-square-foot mansion, a Lamborghini, and designer furniture.

    The U.S. government seized more than $630 million from multiple bank accounts as well as other assets purchased with illicit money. If convicted, Guo faces up to 20 years in prison. Guo has attracted donors by developing the idea that he is a principled opponent of the Chinese Communist Party, but Dan Friedman, who writes on lobbying and corruption for Mother Jones, points out that this persona appears to be a grift.

    Guo is close to sometime Trump ally Steve Bannon, who was reading a book on Guo’s yacht, Lady May, when federal officers arrested him for defrauding donors of $25 million in his “We Build the Wall” fundraising campaign. Rather than constructing a wall, Bannon and three associates funneled that money to themselves. Trump pardoned Bannon for that scheme hours before he left office.

    Friedman points out that prosecutors say Guo’s criminal conspiracy began in 2018, which is the year that Guo and Bannon launched The Rule of Law Foundation and the Rule of Law Society. They claimed the organizations would defend human rights in China and then, according to prosecutors, lured donors to other products.

    In April 2020, Guo and Bannon formed the GTV Media Group, which flooded the news with disinformation before the 2020 election, especially related to Hunter Biden and the novel coronavirus. Sued by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in September 2021 for the illegal sale of cryptocurrency, GTV paid more than $539 million to settle the case. Bannon’s War Room webcast features Guo performing its theme song.

    One of the entities Guo and Bannon created together is the “New Federal State of China,” which sponsored the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C., earlier this month.

    In other money news, Hugo Lowell of The Guardian reported today that $8 million of the loans that bankrolled Trump’s social media platform Truth Social came from two entities that are associated with Anton Postolnikov, a relation of an ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin named Aleksandr Smirnov.

    Banks continue to writhe, in Europe this time, as Credit Suisse disclosed problems in its reporting and its largest investor, Saudi National Bank, said it would not inject more cash into the institution. The government of Switzerland says it will backstop the bank.

    In the U.S., Michael Brown, a venture partner at Shield Capital and former head of the Defense Department’s Defense Innovation Unit, told Marcus Weisgerber and Patrick Tucker of Defense One that the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank had the potential to be a big problem for national security, since a number of the affected start-ups were working on projects for the defense sector. “If you want to kind of knock out the seed corn for the next decade or two of innovative tech, much of which we need for the competition with China, [collapsing SVB] would have been a very effective blow. [Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin] would have been cheering to see so many companies fail.”

    Federal and state investigators are looking into the role of Representative George Santos (R-NY) in the sale of a $19 million yacht from one of his wealthy donors to another, for which he collected a broker’s fee. In an interview with Semafor last December, Santos explained that his income had jumped from $55,000 in 2020 to enough money to loan his 2022 campaign $705,000 because he had begun to act as a broker for boat or plane sales. He told Semafor: “If you’re looking at a $20 million yacht, my referral fee there can be anywhere between $200,000 and $400,000.”

    Today’s emphasis on money and politics brings to mind the speech then–FBI director Robert Mueller gave in New York in 2011, warning about a new kind of national security threat: “so-called ‘iron triangles’ of organized criminals, corrupt government officials, and business leaders” allied not by religion or political inclinations, but by greed.

    It also brings to mind the adamant opposition of then–National Republican Senatorial Committee chair Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to campaign finance reform in 1997 after he raised a record-breaking amount of money for Republican candidates, saying that political donations are simply a form of free speech. The Supreme Court read that interpretation into law in the 2010 Citizens United decision, but the increasingly obvious links between money, politics, and national security suggest it might be worth revisiting.

    Money and politics are in the news in another way today, too, as part of the ongoing budget debates. A letter yesterday from the Congressional Budget Office to Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Ron Wyden (D-OR), answering their questions about how to eliminate the deficit by 2033, says that it is impossible to balance the budget by that year without either raising revenue or cutting either Social Security, Medicare, or defense spending. Even zeroing out all discretionary spending is not sufficient. Led by House speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Republicans have promised they can do so, but they have not yet produced a budget. This CBO information makes their job harder.

    And finally, today, in Amarillo, Texas, U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk held a hearing on the drug mifepristone, used in about half of medically induced abortions. The right-wing “Alliance Defending Freedom,” acting on behalf of antiabortion medical organizations and four doctors, is challenging the approval process the Food and Drug Administration used 22 years ago to argue that the drug should be prohibited. While the approval process took more than four years, it was conducted under an expedited process that speeds consideration of drugs that address life-threatening illnesses. “Pregnancy is not an illness,” senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom Julie Marie Blake said.

    And yet mifepristone is commonly used in case of miscarriage and for a number of other medical conditions. And Texas’s Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review, released in December 2022, concluded that from March 2021 to December 2022, at least 118 deaths in Texas were related to pregnancy. In 2020, 861 deaths in the U.S. were related to pregnancy, up from 754 in 2019.

    Public health officials note that extensive research both in the U.S. and in Europe has proven the medication is safe and effective. They warn that a judge’s overturning a drug’s FDA approval 20 years after the fact could upend the country’s entire drug-approval system, as approvals for coronavirus treatments, for example, become plagued by political challenges.

    Kacsmaryk was appointed by Trump and is well known for his right-wing views on abortion and same-sex marriage. Initially, he kept the hearing over a nationwide ban on the key drug used for medicated abortion off the docket, and in a phone call last Friday he asked lawyers not to publicize today’s hearing, saying he was concerned about safety. Legal observers were outraged at the attack on judicial transparency—a key part of our justice system—and Chris Geidner of LawDork outlined the many times Kacsmaryk had taken a stand in favor of the “public’s right to know.”

    According to Ian Millhiser of Vox, Kacsmaryk let 19 members of the press and 19 members of the public into today’s hearing.

    _____________________________________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
  • Halifax2TheMaxHalifax2TheMax Posts: 36,560
    mickeyrat said:
      March 15, 2023 (Wednesday)

    The Justice Department today announced the arrest of Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui, also known as Ho Wan Kwok and Miles Guo, charged with defrauding followers of more than $1 billion. The 12-count indictment for wire fraud, securities fraud, bank fraud, and money laundering says Guo and a co-conspirator, Kin Ming Je, raised money by promising stock in Guo’s GTV Media Group, a high-end club, or cryptocurrency but then used the money themselves for items that included a $53,000 fireplace log holder, a watch storage box that cost almost $60,000, and two $36,000 mattresses, as well as more typical luxury items: a 50,000-square-foot mansion, a Lamborghini, and designer furniture.

    The U.S. government seized more than $630 million from multiple bank accounts as well as other assets purchased with illicit money. If convicted, Guo faces up to 20 years in prison. Guo has attracted donors by developing the idea that he is a principled opponent of the Chinese Communist Party, but Dan Friedman, who writes on lobbying and corruption for Mother Jones, points out that this persona appears to be a grift.

    Guo is close to sometime Trump ally Steve Bannon, who was reading a book on Guo’s yacht, Lady May, when federal officers arrested him for defrauding donors of $25 million in his “We Build the Wall” fundraising campaign. Rather than constructing a wall, Bannon and three associates funneled that money to themselves. Trump pardoned Bannon for that scheme hours before he left office.

    Friedman points out that prosecutors say Guo’s criminal conspiracy began in 2018, which is the year that Guo and Bannon launched The Rule of Law Foundation and the Rule of Law Society. They claimed the organizations would defend human rights in China and then, according to prosecutors, lured donors to other products.

    In April 2020, Guo and Bannon formed the GTV Media Group, which flooded the news with disinformation before the 2020 election, especially related to Hunter Biden and the novel coronavirus. Sued by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in September 2021 for the illegal sale of cryptocurrency, GTV paid more than $539 million to settle the case. Bannon’s War Room webcast features Guo performing its theme song.

    One of the entities Guo and Bannon created together is the “New Federal State of China,” which sponsored the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C., earlier this month.

    In other money news, Hugo Lowell of The Guardian reported today that $8 million of the loans that bankrolled Trump’s social media platform Truth Social came from two entities that are associated with Anton Postolnikov, a relation of an ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin named Aleksandr Smirnov.

    Banks continue to writhe, in Europe this time, as Credit Suisse disclosed problems in its reporting and its largest investor, Saudi National Bank, said it would not inject more cash into the institution. The government of Switzerland says it will backstop the bank.

    In the U.S., Michael Brown, a venture partner at Shield Capital and former head of the Defense Department’s Defense Innovation Unit, told Marcus Weisgerber and Patrick Tucker of Defense One that the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank had the potential to be a big problem for national security, since a number of the affected start-ups were working on projects for the defense sector. “If you want to kind of knock out the seed corn for the next decade or two of innovative tech, much of which we need for the competition with China, [collapsing SVB] would have been a very effective blow. [Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin] would have been cheering to see so many companies fail.”

    Federal and state investigators are looking into the role of Representative George Santos (R-NY) in the sale of a $19 million yacht from one of his wealthy donors to another, for which he collected a broker’s fee. In an interview with Semafor last December, Santos explained that his income had jumped from $55,000 in 2020 to enough money to loan his 2022 campaign $705,000 because he had begun to act as a broker for boat or plane sales. He told Semafor: “If you’re looking at a $20 million yacht, my referral fee there can be anywhere between $200,000 and $400,000.”

    Today’s emphasis on money and politics brings to mind the speech then–FBI director Robert Mueller gave in New York in 2011, warning about a new kind of national security threat: “so-called ‘iron triangles’ of organized criminals, corrupt government officials, and business leaders” allied not by religion or political inclinations, but by greed.

    It also brings to mind the adamant opposition of then–National Republican Senatorial Committee chair Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to campaign finance reform in 1997 after he raised a record-breaking amount of money for Republican candidates, saying that political donations are simply a form of free speech. The Supreme Court read that interpretation into law in the 2010 Citizens United decision, but the increasingly obvious links between money, politics, and national security suggest it might be worth revisiting.

    Money and politics are in the news in another way today, too, as part of the ongoing budget debates. A letter yesterday from the Congressional Budget Office to Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Ron Wyden (D-OR), answering their questions about how to eliminate the deficit by 2033, says that it is impossible to balance the budget by that year without either raising revenue or cutting either Social Security, Medicare, or defense spending. Even zeroing out all discretionary spending is not sufficient. Led by House speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Republicans have promised they can do so, but they have not yet produced a budget. This CBO information makes their job harder.

    And finally, today, in Amarillo, Texas, U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk held a hearing on the drug mifepristone, used in about half of medically induced abortions. The right-wing “Alliance Defending Freedom,” acting on behalf of antiabortion medical organizations and four doctors, is challenging the approval process the Food and Drug Administration used 22 years ago to argue that the drug should be prohibited. While the approval process took more than four years, it was conducted under an expedited process that speeds consideration of drugs that address life-threatening illnesses. “Pregnancy is not an illness,” senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom Julie Marie Blake said.

    And yet mifepristone is commonly used in case of miscarriage and for a number of other medical conditions. And Texas’s Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review, released in December 2022, concluded that from March 2021 to December 2022, at least 118 deaths in Texas were related to pregnancy. In 2020, 861 deaths in the U.S. were related to pregnancy, up from 754 in 2019.

    Public health officials note that extensive research both in the U.S. and in Europe has proven the medication is safe and effective. They warn that a judge’s overturning a drug’s FDA approval 20 years after the fact could upend the country’s entire drug-approval system, as approvals for coronavirus treatments, for example, become plagued by political challenges.

    Kacsmaryk was appointed by Trump and is well known for his right-wing views on abortion and same-sex marriage. Initially, he kept the hearing over a nationwide ban on the key drug used for medicated abortion off the docket, and in a phone call last Friday he asked lawyers not to publicize today’s hearing, saying he was concerned about safety. Legal observers were outraged at the attack on judicial transparency—a key part of our justice system—and Chris Geidner of LawDork outlined the many times Kacsmaryk had taken a stand in favor of the “public’s right to know.”

    According to Ian Millhiser of Vox, Kacsmaryk let 19 members of the press and 19 members of the public into today’s hearing.

    Yo! It’s Hunter, yo! And Brandon, yo! The Brandon crime family, yo!
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    Libtardaplorable©. And proud of it.

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  • mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,616
     March 16, 2023 (Thursday)

    Yesterday, Tamar Hallerman and Bill Rankin of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the special grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia, investigating the attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election in that state, heard yet another recording of former president Trump pushing a key lawmaker—in this case, Georgia House speaker David Ralston—to convene a special session of the legislature to overturn Biden’s victory.

    One juror recalled that Ralston “basically cut the president off. He said, ‘I will do everything in my power that I think is appropriate.’ … He just basically took the wind out of the sails.” Ralston, who died last November, did not call a special session.

    This is the third such recorded call. One was with Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger, and another was with the lead investigator in Raffensperger’s office. Ralston had reported the call, but it was not public knowledge that there was a recording of it.

    Hallerman and Rankin interviewed five members of the grand jury, which met for 8 months and heard testimony from 75 witnesses. The jurors praised the elections system, and one said, “I tell my wife if every person in America knew every single word of information we knew, this country would not be divided as it is right now.” Another said: “A lot’s gonna come out sooner or later…. And it’s gonna be massive. It’s gonna be massive.”

    The special grand jury recommended Fulton County district attorney Fani Willis indict people involved in the attempt to overturn the election. The cases are now in her hands.

    Yesterday, prosecutors in New York met with Stormy Daniels, the adult film actress whom Trump allegedly paid $130,000 to keep their sexual liaison quiet. Also yesterday, Trump fixer Michael Cohen testified before a grand jury about the hush-money payment. Cohen’s testimony suggests that Manhattan district attorney Alvin L. Bragg is considering an indictment on a felony charge for misrepresenting the nature of that payment.

    Trump has a new lawyer in that case, Joe Tacopina, who has been making the rounds on television shows to insist that Trump isn’t guilty. Tacopina’s job isn’t easy, and he is not necessarily helping, telling MSNBC’s Ari Melber that Trump didn’t actually lie about the hush payment when he lied about it because he was not under oath and he didn’t want to violate a confidentiality agreement.

    Also in New York, Trump has asked a judge to delay the $250 million civil case against him, his three oldest children, and the Trump Organization, for manipulating asset valuations to get bank loans and avoid taxes. New York attorney general Letitia James, who brought the suit, said the defendants had had plenty of time to prepare and that Trump is trying to move the case into the election season, at which point he will insist it must be delayed again.

    Katelyn Polantz, Paula Reid, Kristen Holmes, and Casey Gannon of CNN reported today that the federal grand jury investigating Trump’s handling of classified documents has interviewed dozens of Mar-a-Lago staff, from servers to attorneys. Special Counsel Jack Smith continues to try to get Trump lawyer Evan Corcoran to testify after prosecutors learned that on June 24, 2022, Trump and Corcoran spoke on the phone as Trump had been ordered to produce the missing documents and the surveillance tapes of the area.

    Prosecutors want Corcoran to have to testify despite the attorney-client privilege he claims, using the “crime-fraud exception,” which means that discussions that aided a crime cannot be kept secret.

    In the face of this mounting legal pressure, Trump took to video to demand: “The State Department, the defense bureaucracy, the intelligence services, and all of the rest need to be completely overhauled and reconstituted to fire the deep staters.” Then, he said, his people need to finish the process he began of “fundamentally revaluating [sic] NATO’s purpose and NATO’s mission.” “[T]he greatest threat to Western civilization today is not Russia,” he said, but “some of the horrible USA-hating people that represent us.”

    This speech was not simply a defense of Russia and its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. In his attempt to undermine the legal cases against him, Trump has endorsed the “post-liberal order” whose adherents reject the American institutions that defend democracy. In their formulation, American institutions they do not control—“the State Department, the defense bureaucracy, the intelligence services, and all of the rest,” for example—are corrupt because they defend the ideas of equality before the law, a free press, religious freedom, and so on. They must be torn down and taken over by true believers who will use the state to enforce their “Christian nationalism.”

    In that formulation, the FBI and the Department of Justice are persecuting good Americans who were trying to protect the country on January 6, 2021. And yesterday, Zoe Tillman of Bloomberg reported that Matthew Graves, the U.S. attorney in Washington, D.C., sent a letter on October 28 last year to Chief Judge Beryl Howell warning that as many as 1,200 more people could still face charges in connection with the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

    Today, the House Republicans announced an investigation, run by Representative Barry Loudermilk (R-GA), into the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol. The January 6th committee asked Loudermilk to talk to it voluntarily to explain why he gave a tour of the Capitol complex on January 5, 2021, a time when the coronavirus had ended public tours. One of the people on that tour showed up on a video the next day threatening lawmakers.

    Loudermilk told Scott MacFarlane and Rebecca Kaplan of CBS News that Americans have “very little confidence” in the report of the January 6th committee, “[a]nd there’s good reason. I mean, you even consider what they did to me, the false allegations that they made against me regarding the constituents that I had in my office in the office buildings—accusing me of giving reconnaissance tours.”

    Loudermilk, who chairs the House Administration subcommittee on Oversight, says his committee will work “aggressively” to explain why Capitol security failed on January 6 and will seek interviews with people involved, including former House speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). He says his panel will “be honest, show the truth, show both sides.” Representative Norma Torres (D-CA), the top Democrat on the panel, notes that Loudermilk has not informed the Democrats even of the dates on which the committee is supposed to meet.

    Politico’s Heidi Przybyla today reported on a February 2023 “bootcamp” for Republican staffers to learn how to investigate the Biden administration. The camp was sponsored by right-wing organizations including the Conservative Partnership Institute, which is led by Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows and other right-wing leaders and which raised $45 million in 2021 alone. Sessions included “Deposing/Interviewing a Witness” and “Managing the News Cycle.”

    At one of those investigations yesterday, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who sits on the Homeland Security committee, said she intended to divulge classified information, saying: “I’m not gonna be confidential because I think people deserve to know.” She claimed that drug cartels had left an explosive device on the border; U.S. Border Patrol chief Raul Ortiz later posted a picture of the “device” and said it was “a duct-taped ball filled with sand that wasn’t deemed a threat to agents/public.”

    Meanwhile, the Biden administration continues to administer.

    Today, Sanofi, the third major producer of insulin in the United States, announced it will cap prices for insulin at $35 a month. Sanofi, Eli Lilly, and Novo Nordisk produce 90% of the insulin in the U.S. The producers have faced pressure after the Inflation Reduction Act lowered the monthly cost of insulin to $35 a month for those on Medicare.

    _____________________________________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
  • Halifax2TheMaxHalifax2TheMax Posts: 36,560
    mickeyrat said:
     March 16, 2023 (Thursday)

    Yesterday, Tamar Hallerman and Bill Rankin of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the special grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia, investigating the attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election in that state, heard yet another recording of former president Trump pushing a key lawmaker—in this case, Georgia House speaker David Ralston—to convene a special session of the legislature to overturn Biden’s victory.

    One juror recalled that Ralston “basically cut the president off. He said, ‘I will do everything in my power that I think is appropriate.’ … He just basically took the wind out of the sails.” Ralston, who died last November, did not call a special session.

    This is the third such recorded call. One was with Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger, and another was with the lead investigator in Raffensperger’s office. Ralston had reported the call, but it was not public knowledge that there was a recording of it.

    Hallerman and Rankin interviewed five members of the grand jury, which met for 8 months and heard testimony from 75 witnesses. The jurors praised the elections system, and one said, “I tell my wife if every person in America knew every single word of information we knew, this country would not be divided as it is right now.” Another said: “A lot’s gonna come out sooner or later…. And it’s gonna be massive. It’s gonna be massive.”

    The special grand jury recommended Fulton County district attorney Fani Willis indict people involved in the attempt to overturn the election. The cases are now in her hands.

    Yesterday, prosecutors in New York met with Stormy Daniels, the adult film actress whom Trump allegedly paid $130,000 to keep their sexual liaison quiet. Also yesterday, Trump fixer Michael Cohen testified before a grand jury about the hush-money payment. Cohen’s testimony suggests that Manhattan district attorney Alvin L. Bragg is considering an indictment on a felony charge for misrepresenting the nature of that payment.

    Trump has a new lawyer in that case, Joe Tacopina, who has been making the rounds on television shows to insist that Trump isn’t guilty. Tacopina’s job isn’t easy, and he is not necessarily helping, telling MSNBC’s Ari Melber that Trump didn’t actually lie about the hush payment when he lied about it because he was not under oath and he didn’t want to violate a confidentiality agreement.

    Also in New York, Trump has asked a judge to delay the $250 million civil case against him, his three oldest children, and the Trump Organization, for manipulating asset valuations to get bank loans and avoid taxes. New York attorney general Letitia James, who brought the suit, said the defendants had had plenty of time to prepare and that Trump is trying to move the case into the election season, at which point he will insist it must be delayed again.

    Katelyn Polantz, Paula Reid, Kristen Holmes, and Casey Gannon of CNN reported today that the federal grand jury investigating Trump’s handling of classified documents has interviewed dozens of Mar-a-Lago staff, from servers to attorneys. Special Counsel Jack Smith continues to try to get Trump lawyer Evan Corcoran to testify after prosecutors learned that on June 24, 2022, Trump and Corcoran spoke on the phone as Trump had been ordered to produce the missing documents and the surveillance tapes of the area.

    Prosecutors want Corcoran to have to testify despite the attorney-client privilege he claims, using the “crime-fraud exception,” which means that discussions that aided a crime cannot be kept secret.

    In the face of this mounting legal pressure, Trump took to video to demand: “The State Department, the defense bureaucracy, the intelligence services, and all of the rest need to be completely overhauled and reconstituted to fire the deep staters.” Then, he said, his people need to finish the process he began of “fundamentally revaluating [sic] NATO’s purpose and NATO’s mission.” “[T]he greatest threat to Western civilization today is not Russia,” he said, but “some of the horrible USA-hating people that represent us.”

    This speech was not simply a defense of Russia and its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. In his attempt to undermine the legal cases against him, Trump has endorsed the “post-liberal order” whose adherents reject the American institutions that defend democracy. In their formulation, American institutions they do not control—“the State Department, the defense bureaucracy, the intelligence services, and all of the rest,” for example—are corrupt because they defend the ideas of equality before the law, a free press, religious freedom, and so on. They must be torn down and taken over by true believers who will use the state to enforce their “Christian nationalism.”

    In that formulation, the FBI and the Department of Justice are persecuting good Americans who were trying to protect the country on January 6, 2021. And yesterday, Zoe Tillman of Bloomberg reported that Matthew Graves, the U.S. attorney in Washington, D.C., sent a letter on October 28 last year to Chief Judge Beryl Howell warning that as many as 1,200 more people could still face charges in connection with the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

    Today, the House Republicans announced an investigation, run by Representative Barry Loudermilk (R-GA), into the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol. The January 6th committee asked Loudermilk to talk to it voluntarily to explain why he gave a tour of the Capitol complex on January 5, 2021, a time when the coronavirus had ended public tours. One of the people on that tour showed up on a video the next day threatening lawmakers.

    Loudermilk told Scott MacFarlane and Rebecca Kaplan of CBS News that Americans have “very little confidence” in the report of the January 6th committee, “[a]nd there’s good reason. I mean, you even consider what they did to me, the false allegations that they made against me regarding the constituents that I had in my office in the office buildings—accusing me of giving reconnaissance tours.”

    Loudermilk, who chairs the House Administration subcommittee on Oversight, says his committee will work “aggressively” to explain why Capitol security failed on January 6 and will seek interviews with people involved, including former House speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). He says his panel will “be honest, show the truth, show both sides.” Representative Norma Torres (D-CA), the top Democrat on the panel, notes that Loudermilk has not informed the Democrats even of the dates on which the committee is supposed to meet.

    Politico’s Heidi Przybyla today reported on a February 2023 “bootcamp” for Republican staffers to learn how to investigate the Biden administration. The camp was sponsored by right-wing organizations including the Conservative Partnership Institute, which is led by Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows and other right-wing leaders and which raised $45 million in 2021 alone. Sessions included “Deposing/Interviewing a Witness” and “Managing the News Cycle.”

    At one of those investigations yesterday, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who sits on the Homeland Security committee, said she intended to divulge classified information, saying: “I’m not gonna be confidential because I think people deserve to know.” She claimed that drug cartels had left an explosive device on the border; U.S. Border Patrol chief Raul Ortiz later posted a picture of the “device” and said it was “a duct-taped ball filled with sand that wasn’t deemed a threat to agents/public.”

    Meanwhile, the Biden administration continues to administer.

    Today, Sanofi, the third major producer of insulin in the United States, announced it will cap prices for insulin at $35 a month. Sanofi, Eli Lilly, and Novo Nordisk produce 90% of the insulin in the U.S. The producers have faced pressure after the Inflation Reduction Act lowered the monthly cost of insulin to $35 a month for those on Medicare.

    How does any of that before the last paragraph end well? Keep the passport handy.
    09/15/1998 & 09/16/1998, Mansfield, MA; 08/29/00 08/30/00, Mansfield, MA; 07/02/03, 07/03/03, Mansfield, MA; 09/28/04, 09/29/04, Boston, MA; 09/22/05, Halifax, NS; 05/24/06, 05/25/06, Boston, MA; 07/22/06, 07/23/06, Gorge, WA; 06/27/2008, Hartford; 06/28/08, 06/30/08, Mansfield; 08/18/2009, O2, London, UK; 10/30/09, 10/31/09, Philadelphia, PA; 05/15/10, Hartford, CT; 05/17/10, Boston, MA; 05/20/10, 05/21/10, NY, NY; 06/22/10, Dublin, IRE; 06/23/10, Northern Ireland; 09/03/11, 09/04/11, Alpine Valley, WI; 09/11/11, 09/12/11, Toronto, Ont; 09/14/11, Ottawa, Ont; 09/15/11, Hamilton, Ont; 07/02/2012, Prague, Czech Republic; 07/04/2012 & 07/05/2012, Berlin, Germany; 07/07/2012, Stockholm, Sweden; 09/30/2012, Missoula, MT; 07/16/2013, London, Ont; 07/19/2013, Chicago, IL; 10/15/2013 & 10/16/2013, Worcester, MA; 10/21/2013 & 10/22/2013, Philadelphia, PA; 10/25/2013, Hartford, CT; 11/29/2013, Portland, OR; 11/30/2013, Spokane, WA; 12/04/2013, Vancouver, BC; 12/06/2013, Seattle, WA; 10/03/2014, St. Louis. MO; 10/22/2014, Denver, CO; 10/26/2015, New York, NY; 04/23/2016, New Orleans, LA; 04/28/2016 & 04/29/2016, Philadelphia, PA; 05/01/2016 & 05/02/2016, New York, NY; 05/08/2016, Ottawa, Ont.; 05/10/2016 & 05/12/2016, Toronto, Ont.; 08/05/2016 & 08/07/2016, Boston, MA; 08/20/2016 & 08/22/2016, Chicago, IL; 07/01/2018, Prague, Czech Republic; 07/03/2018, Krakow, Poland; 07/05/2018, Berlin, Germany; 09/02/2018 & 09/04/2018, Boston, MA; 09/08/2022, Toronto, Ont; 09/11/2022, New York, NY; 09/14/2022, Camden, NJ; 09/02/2023, St. Paul, MN;

    Libtardaplorable©. And proud of it.

    Brilliantati©
  • mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,616
      March 17, 2023 (Friday)

    The International Criminal Court today issued an arrest warrant for Russian president Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin and Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, Putin’s commissioner for children’s rights, for war crimes:  kidnapping Ukrainian children and transporting them to Russia. Russia does not recognize the ICC, which is established at The Hague—the government seat of the Netherlands—and for its part, the Russian government claims its deportation program is humanitarian and patriotic. The international assessment that Putin and one of his top officials have personally engaged in war crimes drives another wedge between Putin and the rest of the Russian people as over time his inability to interact successfully with the rest of the world will have growing consequences for the people at home,

    The arrest warrant is unlikely to put Putin in custody any time soon. But an official charge of war crimes will make it harder for other leaders and countries to associate with the Russian regime. Chinese president Xi Jinping is scheduled to travel to Russia next week for his first visit since Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine. Suddenly, that visit, which was fraught enough to begin with, has become more complicated.

    Russia promptly announced that Putin and Xi will sign accords ushering in a “new era” of ties, while China’s foreign ministry called the trip “a visit for peace.” But the trip, coming after recent evidence that China has been supplying Russia with war materials, means its involvement with Russia could lead to sanctions against China, a hit that its currently fragile economy can’t easily absorb.

    That the warrant focuses on children is also significant. Of the 123 countries that are parties to the Rome Statute that created the International Criminal Court, 33 are African, 19 are in the Asia-Pacific region, 18 are in Eastern Europe, 28 are in Latin America and the Caribbean, and 25 are in Western Europe and elsewhere. All nations care about children, but the trafficking of children to serve as soldiers, sex slaves, drug mules, and so on, is an especially sensitive issue for many of the parties to the Rome Statute.

    The international assessment that Putin has engaged in war crimes is significant in the United States as well, even though the U.S. is not a signatory to the Rome Statute. The American right wing has held up Putin and his attack on the secular values of democracy as a model, saying that his rejection of LGBTQ rights, for example, and his alleged embrace of Christianity show how a modern nation can reclaim what they see as traditional virtue. Putin’s arrest warrant for war crimes, centered in crimes against children, will make it harder to spin his authoritarianism as a virtue, especially as they claim their policies are designed to protect children.

    The right-wing rejection of democracy was on display at a meeting of the Federalist Society in early March. Politico’s Ian Ward covered the meeting. The Federalist Society organized in the 1980s to argue that the civil rights decisions of the past several decades corrupted democracy because liberal judges were “legislating from the bench” against the wishes of actual voters. The society’s members claimed to stand for judicial restraint.

    But now that their judges are on the bench, they have changed their philosophy. Last summer, after a Supreme Court stacked with Federalist Society members overturned the right to abortion, voters have tried to protect that right in the states. Now, according to Ward, the Federalist Society appears to be shifting away from the idea of judicial restraint in the face of popular votes and toward the idea that judges should “interpret the Constitution” in ways right-wing Americans support. They are quick to claim that democracy is not the answer: it would result, they say, in the tyranny of the majority.

    That abandonment of democracy is about more than just voting their folks into office. Right-wing figures frustrated by the secular values of democracy—religious freedom, companies that respond to markets without interference by the state, academic freedom, public schools, free speech, equality before the law—want to restore what they consider human virtue by using the state to enforce their values.

    Because they think all aspects of the modern U.S. have been corrupted by liberal democracy, people on the far right are eager to destroy those institutions and replace them. When Trump said, as he did yesterday, that “the greatest threat to Western civilization today is not Russia,” he was echoing this ideology to mobilize his followers (even though his concerns are probably less to do with civilization than with his legal issues). His call for firing “deep staters” and reconstituting “the State Department, the defense bureaucracy, the intelligence services, and all of the rest” is an explicit call to radicalize our government.

    Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security advisor, endorsed Trump’s worldview, saying “Trump is absolutely right, our greatest threat currently is right here at home. We must ‘fundamentally change’ by severely reforming the government deep state bureaucracy. They (among many parts of our USG[overnment]) represent a menace to our way of life.” (Flynn’s ties to Russia forced him out of office, and he pleaded guilty to lying about them to the FBI; Trump pardoned him.)

    Flynn has been on a far-right road tour across America since shortly after Trump left office, recruiting an “Army of God” to put Christianity at the center of American life and institutions. “At this ReAwaken America Tour, Jesus is King [and] President Donald J. Trump is our president,” a co-organizer, Clay Clark, said.

    Kiera Butler of Mother Jones today explained how Flynn and his conspiracy-minded supporters have leveled a hate campaign against Sarasota Memorial Hospital in Sarasota, Florida, accusing it of killing Covid patients by denying them the horse-deworming drug ivermectin. They have organized a group called The Hollow 2A to help “Americans gather to lawfully take back our country” with guns and activism at the local level. Along with two other groups, they are planning to swamp the hospital board meeting on Monday, acting as a groundswell of local activists protesting hospital malpractice when, in fact, they have joined forces to attack a hospital that adheres to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a government agency.

    Today Ohio joined five other Republican-dominated states—Louisiana, Alabama, West Virginia, Missouri, and Florida—in leaving the Electronic Registration Information Center, a national data-sharing consortium that updates national voter rolls. Right-wing election deniers say that the bipartisan ERIC is controlled by left-wing groups that enable fraud. Those still belonging to ERIC deny all of the accusations and point out that getting rid of ERIC would get rid of one of the country’s most powerful tools for stopping individuals from voting multiple times, as a number of people from Florida’s The Villages did in 2020.

    In a sworn affidavit today, the top lawyer for the Capitol Police said that neither he nor the police chief was informed that anyone other than House members would see the video footage from January 6, 2021, that House speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) permitted Fox News Channel personality Tucker Carlson and his staff to review. Republicans also ignored the Capitol Police’s repeated requests to review and approve all of the footage that Carlson used on his show. Carlson tried to present the attack on the Capitol as a tourist visit as part of his narrative that the FBI and the Department of Justice are corrupt.

    But the attempt to destroy the fabric of our government has not yet succeeded. Today, in one of her last rulings before stepping down, Chief Judge Beryl Howell of the D.C. District Court ordered Trump attorney Evan Corcoran to testify in the investigation into Trump’s handling of classified documents. Howell agreed with Department of Justice prosecutors that discussions between Trump and Corcoran met the threshold for the crime-fraud exception, meaning that they are not covered by attorney-client privilege because they were part of a crime.

    Meanwhile, CNN’s John Miller, as well as journalists from many other outlets, reports that sources in law enforcement are telling them that “senior staff members from the Manhattan district attorney’s office, the New York State Court Officers—who provide security at the state Supreme Court building in lower Manhattan—and the New York Police Department” have been meeting all week to prepare for a possible indictment of the former president, as early as next week.

    _____________________________________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 up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,616
      March 18, 2023 (Saturday)

    Rumors that he is about to be indicted in New York in connection with the $130,000 hush-money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels have prompted former president Donald Trump to pepper his alternative social media site with requests for money and to double down on the idea that any attack on him is an attack on the United States.

    The picture of America in his posts reflects the extreme version of the virtual reality the Republicans have created since the 1980s. The United States is “THIRD WORLD & DYING,” he wrote. “THE AMERICAN DREAM IS DEAD.” He went on to describe a country held captive by “CRIMINALS & LEFTIST THUGS,” in which immigrants are “FLOODING THROUGH OUR OPEN BOARDERS [sic], MANY FROM PRISONS & MENTAL INSTITUTIONS,” and where the president is “SURROUNDED BY EVIL & SINISTER PEOPLE.” He told his supporters to “SAVE AMERICA” by protesting the arrest he—but no one else—says is coming on Tuesday.
     
    Trump’s false and dystopian portrait of the nation takes to its logical conclusion the narrative Republicans have pushed since the 1980s. Since the days of Reagan, Republicans have argued that people who believe that the government should regulate business, provide a basic social safety net, protect civil rights, and promote infrastructure are destroying the country by trying to redistribute wealth from hardworking white Americans to undeserving minorities and women. Now Trump has taken that argument to its logical conclusion: the country has been destroyed by women, Black Americans, Indigenous people, and people of color, who have taken it over and are persecuting people like him.  

    This old Republican narrative created a false image of the nation and of its politics, an image pushed to a generation of Americans by right-wing media, a vision that MAGA Republicans have now absorbed as part of their identity. It reflects a manipulation of politics that Russian political theorists called “political technology.”

    Russian “political technologists” developed a series of techniques to pervert democracy by creating a virtual political reality through modern media. They blackmailed opponents, abused state power to help favored candidates, sponsored “double” candidates with names similar to those of opponents in order to split their voters and thus open the way for their own candidates, created false parties to create opposition, and, finally, created a false narrative around an election or other event that enabled them to control public debate.

    Essentially, they perverted democracy, turning it from the concept of voters choosing their leaders into the concept of voters rubber-stamping the leaders they had been manipulated into backing.

    This system made sense in former Soviet republics, where it enabled leaders to avoid the censorship that voters would recoil from by instead creating a firehose of news until people became overwhelmed by the task of trying to figure out what was real and simply tuned out.

    But it also fit nicely into American politics, where there is a long history of manipulating voters far beyond the usual political spin. As far back as 1972, Nixon’s operatives engaged in what they called “ratf*cking,” dirty tricks that amounted to political sabotage of their opponents. The different elements of that system became a fundamental part of Republican operations in the 1990s, especially the use of a false narrative spread through talk radio and right-wing television.

    More recently, we have seen blackmail (former representative Madison Cawthorn [R-NC] blamed his own party for the release of compromising photos); the use of state power to help candidates (through investigations, for example); double candidates (a Florida Republican won a seat in the state legislature in 2020 after a sham candidate with the same name as the Democratic candidate siphoned voters); and the deliberate creation of a false political reality.

    Indeed, David Klepper at AP News reported just yesterday that Russian social media accounts are up to their old tricks in the U.S., pushing the idea that federal authorities have been lying about the true impact of the East Palestine, Ohio, train derailment because they want to divert U.S. money from problems at home to Ukraine. “Biden offers food, water, medicine, shelter, payouts of pension and social services to Ukraine! Ohio first! Offer and deliver to Ohio!” one of those accounts posted.  

    So the United States has had its own version of political technology that overlaps with the Russian version, and it has led to the grim picture Trump is portraying in his attempt to rile up his supporters to protect him.

    But here’s what I wonder: What happens when people who have embraced a virtual world begin to figure out it’s fake?

    Russians are having to come to grips with their failing economy, world isolation, and rising death rates as President Vladimir Putin throws Russian soldiers into the maw of battle without training or equipment. Now they have to deal with the fact that the International Criminal Court has indicted their president for war crimes. Will they rally around their leader, slide away, or turn against him?

    MAGA Republicans have been faced with evidence released in the Dominion Voting Systems defamation case against the Fox News Corporation that shows Fox News Channel personalities lied to them. Now those who have cleaved to Trump have to face that he is asking them to risk their freedom to oppose his arrest for paying $130,000 to an adult film actress to keep quiet about their sexual encounter, hardly a noble cause. And the last time he asked people to defend him, more than 1,000 of them—so far—faced arrest and conviction, while he went back to playing golf and asking people for money.

    Tonight, Erica Orden of Politico reported that Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg emailed his employees to say “we do not tolerate attempts to intimidate our office or threaten the rule of law in New York.” He told them: “Our law enforcement partners will ensure that any specific or credible threats against the office will be fully investigated and that the proper safeguards are in place so all 1,600 of us have a secure work environment.” He also noted, without mentioning specific cases, that his office has been coordinating with the New York Police Department and with the New York court system during certain ongoing investigations.

    Some of Trump’s radical supporters have taken to social media to make a plan for surrounding Mar-a-Lago and protecting Trump with firearms, but others appear to be more eager for someone else to show up than to do so themselves.

    Ali Alexander, who helped to organize “Stop the Steal” rallies to try to overturn the 2020 presidential election, wrote to his supporters today: “Previously, I had said if Trump was arrested or under the threat of a perp walk, 100,000 patriots should shut down all routes to Mar-a-Lago…. Now I’m retired. I’ll pray for him though!”

    _____________________________________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 up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,616
      March 19, 2023 (Sunday)

    I am madly reviewing the copyediting on the new book and was ever so pleased that the day was mostly quiet, so I could post a photo with a clear conscience.

    But I have had half an eye all day on the increasingly eye-popping messages appearing on a Twitter knock-off social media site from a man in Florida who appears to be getting more jittery by the minute.

    Not my usual contemplative image this week, but this one was so perfect under the circumstances I just had to post it....

    See you all tomorrow.

    [Photo, "Gaggle," by Peter Ralston]

    _____________________________________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 up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,616
      March 20, 2023 (Monday)

    As rumors swirl about what may be an upcoming indictment against former president Donald Trump from Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg, Republican Party leaders are in a bit of a pickle.

    For years now, they have gone along with—and some have fed—Trump’s insistence that the government is stacked against him and therefore against the right wing. Some have gone along out of conviction, undoubtedly, but others almost certainly were trying to keep the base voters without whom the Republicans cannot win an election.

    Now, as it appears that some of the legal cases in which Trump is embroiled might be coming to the point of indictments, they are in a difficult position. Trump is blowing up his social media website with increasingly unhinged accusations and demanding that his supporters “take our nation back.” His language echoes that of the weeks before the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, during which Trump supporters tried to overturn the results of a presidential election. And few Republican leaders actually want to launch a war against the Manhattan district attorney's office.

    So far, at least, Trump’s demands for his supporters to rally around him again have produced anemic results, suggesting his power is waning. When senior reporter for HuffPost Christopher Mathias reported from outside the Manhattan DA’s office, he found that the media there far outnumbered the protesters. “So many reporters here I just saw a reporter start interviewing someone but they turned out to be a reporter too,” he tweeted.

    As a number of people have pointed out, Trump rallied his supporters in late 2020 around the idea that a key election had been stolen. His supporters are likely to find the idea that he must be protected over financial crimes committed in New York, possibly related to a sexual encounter with an adult film actress, less compelling.

    And then there is the issue that those who turned out to support him in January 2021 found themselves on the hook for crimes, all on their own, without his help. Just today, a jury found four more people affiliated with the Oath Keepers guilty of conspiring to obstruct an official proceeding, conspiracy to prevent an official from doing their duty, destruction of government property, and civil disorder. The jury found two others guilty of entering and remaining on restricted grounds. Meanwhile, Trump spent the day “truthing” on social media.

    So, if Trump’s influence is waning and he is perhaps facing indictments—remember, there are a number of investigations outstanding, and for all that Trump is talking about an indictment about his hush-money payment, we do not know what any of them will turn up—what direction should Republicans who signed on with Trump now jump?

    Rachael Bade, Eugene Daniels, and Ryan Lizza of Politico reported this morning that House leadership has gathered for their annual three-day retreat at a luxury resort in Orlando, Florida. Led by House Judiciary Committee chair Jim Jordan (R-OH), far-right representatives were preparing to demand that members of the Manhattan district attorney’s office testify about any such indictment.
     
    Indeed, this afternoon, the chairs of three House committees—Jordan, House Oversight Committee chair James Comer (R-KY), and House Administration Committee chair Bryan Steil (R-WI)—sent a letter to Bragg criticizing his investigation as an “unprecedented abuse of prosecutorial authority,” even though there has been no announcement of any charges.

    The chairs claim they want to know if federal money was used in the investigation, but Representative Daniel Goldman (D-NY) noted: “Defending Trump is not a legitimate legislative purpose for Congress to investigate a state district attorney. Congress has no jurisdiction to investigate the Manhattan DA, which receives no federal funding nor has any other federal nexus.”

    Representative Glenn Ivey (D-MD), a former state’s attorney for Prince George’s County, went further, saying that he was “stunned” that the House Republicans were trying to obstruct a criminal investigation and intimidate an elected state law enforcement official.

    House speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is trying to split the baby. He says the chairs are just “asking questions.” McCarthy is also trying to undercut Trump by saying that people should not protest if he is arrested, but also keep his claim on Trump voters by claiming that Bragg’s investigation is politically motivated.

    Florida governor Ron DeSantis has his own problems with the whole situation. He wants Trump’s voters but does not want to be saddled with a scenario in which Trump tries to hole up at Mar-a-Lago to resist an indictment in New York. Today, DeSantis said he would not get involved in an extradition order, although Florida law allows him to intervene in a contested extradition.

    His lack of support for the former president apparently outraged Trump, who promptly accused DeSantis of sexually assaulting a teenaged boy. The tension between the two Republican leaders has prompted speculation that Trump will fight extradition if only to force DeSantis to choose between alienating Trump’s supporters or kowtowing to the former president. Either would wound his presidential hopes, perhaps fatally.

    Other Republicans are trying to deflect attention from the former president’s potentially criminal behavior and to focus instead on what they say is overreach by prosecutors. But when former vice president Mike Pence this weekend said he was “taken aback at the idea of indicting a former president of the United States,” former Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele tweeted "Why the hell are you 'taken aback by the idea of indicting a former President' who has engaged in criminal behavior? Why continue to make excuses for Trump who would rather see you hanged & rancid behavior you decry in others?"

    Other Republicans have apparently decided to stay out of this whole mess. It is notable that Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) voice is missing right now, as he recovers from his fall.

    Meanwhile, the Fox News Corporation’s troubles over the defamation lawsuit against it by Dominion Voting Systems have just gotten worse. Fox News producer Abby Grossberg has sued the company in New York and Delaware, saying company lawyers tried to coerce her into giving misleading testimony in the lawsuit to set up her and FNC personality Maria Bartiromo to take the blame for the airing of Trump’s conspiracy theories against Dominion.

    Regardless of how that lawsuit proceeds, Grossberg’s quite graphic account of the misogyny at the network will not help its profile right now.

    And what is most astonishing about all of today’s sordid news is that, so far, nothing has happened. If and when it does, it’s going to be quite a ride.

    What did happen today, though, is that the Biden administration issued the president’s economic report—which I will cover in more depth in the next few days—and that American aid worker Jeff Woodke, who was taken prisoner more than six years ago in Niger and held captive by a terrorist group, has been released. Secretary of State Blinken told reporters, “As you know, I have no higher priority or focus than bringing home any unjustly detained American, wherever that is in the world.” He thanked the government of Niger, Special Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens, and “all of those who have been working at the department” to get Woodke released.

    _____________________________________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 up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,616
       March 21, 2023 (Tuesday)

    As you know, I try to write this record of modern America from the perspective of what stories will matter in 150 years (about the span between the present and the Civil War).

    So, for all the chop in the water about the former president facing indictments, the story that really seems uppermost to me today is the visit China’s president Xi Jinping made today to Moscow for a meeting with Russia’s president Vladimir Putin.

    National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby told reporters today that China and Russia would both like “to see the rest of the world play by their rules rather than the ones that…are enshrined in the U.N. Charter and what everybody else is…following.” Kirby said the White House sees the relationship of Xi and Putin as a “marriage of convenience.” He explained:

    “In President Putin and Russia, President Xi sees a counterweight to American influence and  NATO influence certainly on the continent and elsewhere around the world. In President Xi, President Putin sees a potential backer.” Putin needs Xi’s support because of his misadventure in Ukraine. There, Kirby said, Putin is “blowing through inventory.  He’s blowing through manpower. His military is getting embarrassed constantly. They’ve lost greater than 50 percent of the territory that they took in the first few months of this war.  He needs help from President Xi, and that’s what this visit was all about.”

    “Now,” he added, “whether it results in anything, we’ll see.”

    When a reporter asked Kirby if Xi would provide lethal aid to Russia, Kirby answered, “We don’t think that China is taking it off the table, but they haven’t moved in that direction.  We’ve seen no indication that they’re about to or — or fixing to provide lethal weapons.”

    The Institute for the Study of War concluded that the outcome of the meeting was likely less than Putin wanted. It noted that Putin represented the meeting as showing the two countries working together against an adversarial West, while Xi only said the two countries were working together. This is a significant step down from the stance China took before Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine, in which it declared it had a “no limits partnership” with Russia, suggesting China is not inclined to give Russia all the support it needs for that war.

    Putin has been trying to rally states in Africa to his cause and likely hoped Xi would help that effort, but he did not.

    The People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Russia put out a statement deepening their cooperation, but Sam Greene, Director for Democratic Resilience at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) and Professor of Russian Politics at King's College London, noted that the economic benefits of the statement all flowed from Russia to China, including Russia’s announcement that it will use yuan for foreign transactions with Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

    “This summit…brings home exactly how much Putin has lost,” Greene wrote. “Prior to the war—even after 2014—Putin occupied a position of strategic maneuverability. He could arbitrage between east and west, reaping windfalls for his regime along the way. That's all gone now. Putin tells his people he's fighting for Russia's sovereignty. In truth, he's mortgaged the Kremlin to Beijing.”

    Meanwhile, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan met with Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky today in a surprise trip to Ukraine at Zelensky’s invitation. It is the first visit of a Japanese prime minister to a country at war since World War II and demonstrates Japan’s growing international foreign policy presence. Last month, when Japan pledged $5.5 billion in humanitarian aid to Ukraine, Kishida said: “Russia’s aggression against Ukraine is not just a European matter, but a challenge to the rules and principles of the entire international community.” Today, he confirmed Japan’s “solidarity and unwavering support for Ukraine.”

    The next most important issue of the day, to my mind, was President Joe Biden’s designation of two new national monuments under the Antiquities Act of 1906: Avi Kwa Ame in Nevada and Castner Range in Texas. These are Biden’s second and third new monument designations. Last fall he created the Camp Hale–Continental Divide National Monument in Colorado, and in 2021 he restored the protections to Bears Ears, Grand Staircase–Escalante, and Northeast Canyons and Seamounts National Monuments that Trump had removed. Both of the new monuments cover land sacred to Indigenous American tribes. Together, they protect nearly 514,000 acres.

    Biden also directed Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo to start the process of designating a marine sanctuary in the Pacific covering 777,000 square miles.

    Biden is advancing his promise to conserve American lands, but he is also answering criticism of his administration’s approval of the controversial Alaska Willow oil drilling project on March 13. ConocoPhillips had existing leases for the project, and it has bipartisan support in Alaska, where locals expect it will bring jobs and income, so after debate, the administration let the project move forward. But environmentalists and those who recognize the immediate need to address climate change vehemently opposed the project, launched lawsuits immediately, and criticized the president.   

    “Our national wonders are literally the envy of the world,″ Biden said as he announced the new monuments. “They’ve always been and always will be central to our heritage as a people and essential to our identity as a nation.″

    But while conservation groups and tribal members cheered the new designations, the new Republican governor of Nevada, Joe Lombardo, said that the federal government was confiscating Nevada land—a red-hot issue in the home state of the Bundy ranchers who have engaged in armed standoffs with law enforcement officers over public land—and said the new Nevada monument is “a historic mistake that will cost Nevadans for generations to come.”

    None of this is to say that Trump’s troubles are not important. Indeed, the indictment of a president is unprecedented, and there is good reason to watch it closely, not least because the Republican Party has tied itself to him so completely it is now responding to the growing tide of legal news by calling for the investigation or even the arrest of those handling Trump’s many lawsuits– an alarming development.

    Right now, though, much of what we are seeing is being churned up by Trump himself, and it feels far less important than the fact it appears that neither the legal nor the political momentum is in his favor.

    _____________________________________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 up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,616
       March 22, 2023 (Wednesday)

    This week, news has been focused on the former president’s possible indictment for paying $130,000 in hush money to adult film performer Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about their 2006 affair before the 2016 election. The information currently being thrown about has been shaped by Trump himself and is obviously suspect (among other things, he has apparently raised $1.5 million since he claimed he would be arrested on Tuesday).

    Although Republican lawmakers have no more idea than any of the rest of us do what the Manhattan grand jury might have seen, or what charges might be brought against Trump, they have tried to gloss over the scandal by claiming it is about a non-disclosure agreement or that it happened seven years ago or that its investigation is “a political witch hunt perpetrated by one of the far left radical socialist district attorneys,” as Representative Elise Stefanik (R-NY) said. But as journalist Aaron Rupar and Noah Berlatsky explained today in Public Notice, the payment was a big deal in the larger scheme of American democracy.

    Trump bought Daniels’s silence because he was willing to break laws in order to get elected. Then–Trump fixer Michael Cohen paid Daniels for her story in exchange for a non-disclosure agreement. Cohen testified that he paid her through a shell company to keep Trump’s connection to the payment hidden. Then Trump reimbursed Cohen for “legal fees.”

    That’s a problem with regard to business filings and tax fraud. It is also a problem for the campaign finance laws intended to protect clean elections. Cohen’s payment was a contribution to the Trump campaign because it was made “in order to influence the 2016 presidential election.” The payment was intended to make sure voters didn’t hear another sex scandal in October 2016, just after the Access Hollywood tape came out in which Trump talked vulgarly about sexually assaulting women, when it might have hurt his chances at election. The $130,000 contribution was far above the individual limit of $2,700, and the Trump campaign did not disclose it.

    This is not small potatoes. When the issue came to light, Cohen pleaded guilty for his role in the payments, and he was sentenced to three years in prison. Cohen testified that he made the payments at Trump’s direction.

    This is also not an isolated incident. Trump has proved himself more than willing to cheat to win elections. In the 2020 presidential election season, before he tried to overthrow the election altogether, he tried to strong-arm Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky into announcing an investigation into the son of the Democratic candidate about whom he was most worried: Joe Biden. Trump knew that the media would run with an announcement of an investigation, wounding Biden’s candidacy by keeping the story in the news even without any real investigation behind it.

    The Trump campaign had done much the same thing in 2016. According to the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee, which investigated the ties between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives, Trump’s people were willing at the very least to work alongside Russian operatives to weaken Trump’s Democratic opponent, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The Trump campaign also boosted Trump’s standing in the 2016 election season with the recurring refrain of the investigation into Secretary Clinton’s emails, convincing voters—falsely—that she had committed crimes.

    The pending issue of the hush-money payment is not just about 2016, and it is not just about Trump. That today’s Republican leaders have not condemned any of his attempts to cheat speaks volumes about the party. As Representative Ted Lieu (D-CA) pointed out today, when “Cohen was arrested, indicted, convicted, and went to prison for participating in an illegal hush money payment scheme to Stormy Daniels, not a single Republican leader complaining now said a thing about what happened to Michael Cohen.” So why the rush to defend Trump in the same case?

    It appears Republicans have gotten to the point that they don’t believe they can win a free and fair election, and in their conviction that Democrats will destroy the country, they believe cheating to win is justified. They cannot condemn Trump because he delivered what they wanted: a victory.

    In a democracy, the way parties are supposed to win elections is by making a better case for being in power than their opponents do. Losing elections is supposed to make leaders think deeply about how better to appeal to voters. That system keeps all parties constantly honing their policies, thinking through problems, benefiting their constituents.

    Our election laws are designed to try to hold the playing field level, and a party should want to keep the system fair in order to keep itself healthy. But if a party is willing to cheat to win, it no longer has to work on policies that appeal to voters; it can simply game the system to dismantle the competition on which democracy depends and instead create a one-party state.

    There are many legal problems in Trump’s front yard these days. Some, like his theft of documents with markings bearing the highest level of classification and his attempt to overturn the Georgia results for the 2020 presidential election, are heating up fast, and their significance is clear.

    But for all that the case we are currently hearing so much about seems less serious on its face than the other things charged to Trump's account, a hush-money payment to silence someone whose story might have affected the 2016 election is no laughing matter.

    _____________________________________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 up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,616
      March 23, 2023 (Thursday)

    While the latest machinations from Trump are taking up oxygen, the debt ceiling crisis hasn’t gone away. Indeed, just as it is becoming more and more urgent, Republican far-right extremists are becoming more committed to using the opportunity to blow up the economy as a way to get their wishes.

    The uncertainty that followed the collapse of the Silicon Valley Bank illustrated just how quick and how dangerous even a relatively minor banking crisis could be, but far-right Republicans are not backing off on their threat to refuse to raise the debt ceiling without concessions from Democrats. Two months ago, in response to a question about “whether you think this debt ceiling is going to be used as a bargaining chip in some way that could turn dangerous?” the chair of the House Budget Committee, Jodey Arrington (R-TX), said, “I believe it will and I believe it has to.”

    Now, in the wake of the banking crisis, Arrington says the uncertainty after the banking instability means that “[t]his is the best time to do it.” Republicans are arguing that the inflation of the past year is the result of pandemic-era spending and that by threatening the debt ceiling, they can bring that spending under control.

    But let’s be very clear on this: the debt ceiling is not about future spending. It is about the amount of money Congress authorizes the Treasury to borrow in order to pay obligations that already exist. It is not associated with any individual bill, and it is not an appropriation for any specific program. It enables the government to borrow money to pay for programs in bills already passed. If Congress does not raise the debt ceiling when necessary, the government will default on its debts, sparking a financial catastrophe.

    Future spending is in the government’s annual budget. The budget process starts when the president submits a detailed budget request to Congress for the fiscal year that starts on October 1, usually by the first Monday in February, though sometimes that is delayed (as it was this year). The president’s budget shows what the administration thinks is important to fund and how much that will cost.

    Congress is then supposed to consider the president’s budget, hold hearings to ask administration officials why they need certain items or have gotten rid of others, and then develop its own plan. This budget resolution, as it is called, sets amounts that Congress thinks are appropriate for different parts of the budget. Congress is supposed to pass that budget resolution by April 15 (even though it rarely does). Appropriations bills then fund the items in the budget.

    President Biden introduced his detailed budget on March 9, deliberately using it as a way to signal his determination to use the government to help ordinary Americans rather than the wealthy and corporations. He is operating under the belief that the economy grows fastest and does better for most people when the government invests in jobs, education, and social services rather than when it tries to free up as much capital as possible for wealthy investors. This is the Republican plan, which is based on the idea that the wealthy will invest in the economy and create jobs. Biden called for funding programs—while also cutting the deficit—by rolling back the Republicans' 2017 tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, by imposing a 25% tax on billionaires, and by raising the tax on stock buybacks.

    Republicans have attacked Biden’s budget, but they have not produced one of their own. They likely can’t produce one, because the only way for House Republicans to deliver the cost savings they have promised is to cut Social Security and Medicare, cuts they have advocated for years. But at his State of the Union address, when prominent Republicans yelled that he was a liar for suggesting they wanted to cut those popular programs, Biden backed them into vowing not to cut them.

    Then, earlier this month, in response to a request from Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Ron Wyden (D-OR), the Congressional Budget Office wrote that if the Republicans’ 2017 tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations stay in place as Republicans wish and defense spending, Social Security, Medicare, and veterans’ programs are all protected—as Republicans now say they want to do—even zeroing out all other discretionary spending in the budget will not balance it by 2033.

    Arrington and Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) say they will release the Republican budget after April 15, blaming Biden’s own late budget for their delay. But because they have not launched an official plan, they have left an opening for the far-right House Freedom Caucus of around three dozen lawmakers to step into the gap.

    On March 10, Representative Lauren Boebert (R-CO) was in front as members of the Freedom Caucus issued a statement laying out the demands they want met before they will consider raising the debt ceiling. They want laws that cut current spending by stopping student loan relief, clawing back all unspent Covid-19 funds, and repealing the $80 billion in appropriations for the Internal Revenue Service and all the monies appropriated by the Inflation Reduction Act for addressing climate change. They want to cap future spending at 2022 levels, claiming a cap will cut “the wasteful, woke, and weaponized federal bureaucracy.” They demand further business deregulation and more work requirements on programs like Medicaid.

    If all that gets written into law, Freedom Caucus members “will consider voting to raise the debt ceiling.” Senator Rick Scott (R-FL), whose 11-point plan to “rescue America” was the one Biden pointed to most frequently as a Republican plan to cut Social Security and Medicare because it called for every law to end in five years and have to be repassed, said he was “very optimistic” about the Freedom Caucus’s plan. Just this week, McCarthy added the idea of tying changes to the permitting process for oil and mining development to the debt ceiling.  

    But, in fact, the things the Republicans call for are not popular in the country, and the administration has been laying out piece by piece how the devastating cuts in the proposal would impact families, consumers, the elderly, and working Americans, all to increase tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations.

    In any case, while it claims to be eager to negotiate over the budget, the Biden White House maintains it will not negotiate over the debt ceiling, especially as the current financial woes are attributable in large part to the explosion of the deficit and debt under Trump. Republicans seem hell-bent on doing so, expecting that the Democrats will ultimately back down rather than permit the Republicans to destroy the economy. In the past, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has managed to bring Republicans around, but now he is out of commission from his fall.

    It is against this backdrop that Republicans have rushed to defend Trump, who is pretty clearly trying to whip up his supporters to violence. His antics have gotten so extreme that he posted an image today of Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg beside an image of himself brandishing a baseball bat. Today, citing Trump’s apparent calls for violence, Judge Lewis A. Kaplan ordered that the jurors in the case of E. Jean Carroll’s rape accusations against Trump be kept anonymous for their own safety. The case goes to trial next month.

    Republicans seem to be working with Trump to keep him in the news, perhaps aware that he is drowning out both the debt ceiling crisis and their inability to produce a budget.

    Three days ago, Jim Jordan (R-OH), James Comer (R-KY), and Bryan Steil (R-WI) demanded that Bragg deliver to them all information related to his investigation into Trump. Today the Manhattan DA’s general counsel Leslie B. Dubeck correctly called their demand an “unprecedented” federal intrusion into an independent local investigation that unlawfully undermined New York’s sovereignty. She added: “The Letter only came after Donald Trump created a false expectation that he would be arrested the next day and his lawyers reportedly urged you to intervene. Neither fact is a legitimate basis for congressional inquiry.” She noted that Trump’s lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, had written a letter to Jordan encouraging Congress to investigate Bragg.

    Now a different case is suddenly imperiling Trump. Yesterday a federal appeals court ruled that Trump attorney Evan Corcoran must turn over records to Special Counsel Jack Smith and testify before the grand jury in the investigation into Trump’s theft of classified documents. Judge Beryl Howell said last week that Trump could not use attorney-client privilege to block Corcoran’s participation because prosecutors in Smith’s office had shown sufficient evidence to support the claim that Trump had committed a crime, triggering the “crime-fraud” exception to attorney-client privilege. Trump’s lawyers appealed, and the appeals court agreed with Howell.

    A Trump spokesperson told ABC News: "There is no factual or legal basis or substance to any case against President Trump."

    Corcoran is testifying tomorrow.

    _____________________________________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
  • Halifax2TheMaxHalifax2TheMax Posts: 36,560
    mickeyrat said:
      March 23, 2023 (Thursday)

    While the latest machinations from Trump are taking up oxygen, the debt ceiling crisis hasn’t gone away. Indeed, just as it is becoming more and more urgent, Republican far-right extremists are becoming more committed to using the opportunity to blow up the economy as a way to get their wishes.

    The uncertainty that followed the collapse of the Silicon Valley Bank illustrated just how quick and how dangerous even a relatively minor banking crisis could be, but far-right Republicans are not backing off on their threat to refuse to raise the debt ceiling without concessions from Democrats. Two months ago, in response to a question about “whether you think this debt ceiling is going to be used as a bargaining chip in some way that could turn dangerous?” the chair of the House Budget Committee, Jodey Arrington (R-TX), said, “I believe it will and I believe it has to.”

    Now, in the wake of the banking crisis, Arrington says the uncertainty after the banking instability means that “[t]his is the best time to do it.” Republicans are arguing that the inflation of the past year is the result of pandemic-era spending and that by threatening the debt ceiling, they can bring that spending under control.

    But let’s be very clear on this: the debt ceiling is not about future spending. It is about the amount of money Congress authorizes the Treasury to borrow in order to pay obligations that already exist. It is not associated with any individual bill, and it is not an appropriation for any specific program. It enables the government to borrow money to pay for programs in bills already passed. If Congress does not raise the debt ceiling when necessary, the government will default on its debts, sparking a financial catastrophe.

    Future spending is in the government’s annual budget. The budget process starts when the president submits a detailed budget request to Congress for the fiscal year that starts on October 1, usually by the first Monday in February, though sometimes that is delayed (as it was this year). The president’s budget shows what the administration thinks is important to fund and how much that will cost.

    Congress is then supposed to consider the president’s budget, hold hearings to ask administration officials why they need certain items or have gotten rid of others, and then develop its own plan. This budget resolution, as it is called, sets amounts that Congress thinks are appropriate for different parts of the budget. Congress is supposed to pass that budget resolution by April 15 (even though it rarely does). Appropriations bills then fund the items in the budget.

    President Biden introduced his detailed budget on March 9, deliberately using it as a way to signal his determination to use the government to help ordinary Americans rather than the wealthy and corporations. He is operating under the belief that the economy grows fastest and does better for most people when the government invests in jobs, education, and social services rather than when it tries to free up as much capital as possible for wealthy investors. This is the Republican plan, which is based on the idea that the wealthy will invest in the economy and create jobs. Biden called for funding programs—while also cutting the deficit—by rolling back the Republicans' 2017 tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, by imposing a 25% tax on billionaires, and by raising the tax on stock buybacks.

    Republicans have attacked Biden’s budget, but they have not produced one of their own. They likely can’t produce one, because the only way for House Republicans to deliver the cost savings they have promised is to cut Social Security and Medicare, cuts they have advocated for years. But at his State of the Union address, when prominent Republicans yelled that he was a liar for suggesting they wanted to cut those popular programs, Biden backed them into vowing not to cut them.

    Then, earlier this month, in response to a request from Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Ron Wyden (D-OR), the Congressional Budget Office wrote that if the Republicans’ 2017 tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations stay in place as Republicans wish and defense spending, Social Security, Medicare, and veterans’ programs are all protected—as Republicans now say they want to do—even zeroing out all other discretionary spending in the budget will not balance it by 2033.

    Arrington and Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) say they will release the Republican budget after April 15, blaming Biden’s own late budget for their delay. But because they have not launched an official plan, they have left an opening for the far-right House Freedom Caucus of around three dozen lawmakers to step into the gap.

    On March 10, Representative Lauren Boebert (R-CO) was in front as members of the Freedom Caucus issued a statement laying out the demands they want met before they will consider raising the debt ceiling. They want laws that cut current spending by stopping student loan relief, clawing back all unspent Covid-19 funds, and repealing the $80 billion in appropriations for the Internal Revenue Service and all the monies appropriated by the Inflation Reduction Act for addressing climate change. They want to cap future spending at 2022 levels, claiming a cap will cut “the wasteful, woke, and weaponized federal bureaucracy.” They demand further business deregulation and more work requirements on programs like Medicaid.

    If all that gets written into law, Freedom Caucus members “will consider voting to raise the debt ceiling.” Senator Rick Scott (R-FL), whose 11-point plan to “rescue America” was the one Biden pointed to most frequently as a Republican plan to cut Social Security and Medicare because it called for every law to end in five years and have to be repassed, said he was “very optimistic” about the Freedom Caucus’s plan. Just this week, McCarthy added the idea of tying changes to the permitting process for oil and mining development to the debt ceiling.  

    But, in fact, the things the Republicans call for are not popular in the country, and the administration has been laying out piece by piece how the devastating cuts in the proposal would impact families, consumers, the elderly, and working Americans, all to increase tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations.

    In any case, while it claims to be eager to negotiate over the budget, the Biden White House maintains it will not negotiate over the debt ceiling, especially as the current financial woes are attributable in large part to the explosion of the deficit and debt under Trump. Republicans seem hell-bent on doing so, expecting that the Democrats will ultimately back down rather than permit the Republicans to destroy the economy. In the past, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has managed to bring Republicans around, but now he is out of commission from his fall.

    It is against this backdrop that Republicans have rushed to defend Trump, who is pretty clearly trying to whip up his supporters to violence. His antics have gotten so extreme that he posted an image today of Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg beside an image of himself brandishing a baseball bat. Today, citing Trump’s apparent calls for violence, Judge Lewis A. Kaplan ordered that the jurors in the case of E. Jean Carroll’s rape accusations against Trump be kept anonymous for their own safety. The case goes to trial next month.

    Republicans seem to be working with Trump to keep him in the news, perhaps aware that he is drowning out both the debt ceiling crisis and their inability to produce a budget.

    Three days ago, Jim Jordan (R-OH), James Comer (R-KY), and Bryan Steil (R-WI) demanded that Bragg deliver to them all information related to his investigation into Trump. Today the Manhattan DA’s general counsel Leslie B. Dubeck correctly called their demand an “unprecedented” federal intrusion into an independent local investigation that unlawfully undermined New York’s sovereignty. She added: “The Letter only came after Donald Trump created a false expectation that he would be arrested the next day and his lawyers reportedly urged you to intervene. Neither fact is a legitimate basis for congressional inquiry.” She noted that Trump’s lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, had written a letter to Jordan encouraging Congress to investigate Bragg.

    Now a different case is suddenly imperiling Trump. Yesterday a federal appeals court ruled that Trump attorney Evan Corcoran must turn over records to Special Counsel Jack Smith and testify before the grand jury in the investigation into Trump’s theft of classified documents. Judge Beryl Howell said last week that Trump could not use attorney-client privilege to block Corcoran’s participation because prosecutors in Smith’s office had shown sufficient evidence to support the claim that Trump had committed a crime, triggering the “crime-fraud” exception to attorney-client privilege. Trump’s lawyers appealed, and the appeals court agreed with Howell.

    A Trump spokesperson told ABC News: "There is no factual or legal basis or substance to any case against President Trump."

    Corcoran is testifying tomorrow.

    How does this end well? All of it?

    If I’m Brandon, and I’m not, I’m Batman, fuck the repubs and their debt ceiling. Let it crash and burn. Ball is in their court and when those social security deposits and Medicare payments don’t get made, and federal employees on furloughs don’t spend money, little bumpkins might pick up a phone and complain. Of course, contingent on them remembering how to dial and who to dial.

    “When only stupid people vote, stupid people get elected.”
    09/15/1998 & 09/16/1998, Mansfield, MA; 08/29/00 08/30/00, Mansfield, MA; 07/02/03, 07/03/03, Mansfield, MA; 09/28/04, 09/29/04, Boston, MA; 09/22/05, Halifax, NS; 05/24/06, 05/25/06, Boston, MA; 07/22/06, 07/23/06, Gorge, WA; 06/27/2008, Hartford; 06/28/08, 06/30/08, Mansfield; 08/18/2009, O2, London, UK; 10/30/09, 10/31/09, Philadelphia, PA; 05/15/10, Hartford, CT; 05/17/10, Boston, MA; 05/20/10, 05/21/10, NY, NY; 06/22/10, Dublin, IRE; 06/23/10, Northern Ireland; 09/03/11, 09/04/11, Alpine Valley, WI; 09/11/11, 09/12/11, Toronto, Ont; 09/14/11, Ottawa, Ont; 09/15/11, Hamilton, Ont; 07/02/2012, Prague, Czech Republic; 07/04/2012 & 07/05/2012, Berlin, Germany; 07/07/2012, Stockholm, Sweden; 09/30/2012, Missoula, MT; 07/16/2013, London, Ont; 07/19/2013, Chicago, IL; 10/15/2013 & 10/16/2013, Worcester, MA; 10/21/2013 & 10/22/2013, Philadelphia, PA; 10/25/2013, Hartford, CT; 11/29/2013, Portland, OR; 11/30/2013, Spokane, WA; 12/04/2013, Vancouver, BC; 12/06/2013, Seattle, WA; 10/03/2014, St. Louis. MO; 10/22/2014, Denver, CO; 10/26/2015, New York, NY; 04/23/2016, New Orleans, LA; 04/28/2016 & 04/29/2016, Philadelphia, PA; 05/01/2016 & 05/02/2016, New York, NY; 05/08/2016, Ottawa, Ont.; 05/10/2016 & 05/12/2016, Toronto, Ont.; 08/05/2016 & 08/07/2016, Boston, MA; 08/20/2016 & 08/22/2016, Chicago, IL; 07/01/2018, Prague, Czech Republic; 07/03/2018, Krakow, Poland; 07/05/2018, Berlin, Germany; 09/02/2018 & 09/04/2018, Boston, MA; 09/08/2022, Toronto, Ont; 09/11/2022, New York, NY; 09/14/2022, Camden, NJ; 09/02/2023, St. Paul, MN;

    Libtardaplorable©. And proud of it.

    Brilliantati©
  • mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,616
      March 24, 2023 (Friday)

    A follow-up to last night’s examination of the confusion among the Republicans about their budget plans: today when a reporter said to House speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) that the chair of the House Budget Committee, Jodey Arrington (R-TX), had said that he and McCarthy were finalizing a list of proposals to give to President Biden about spending cuts, McCarthy answered: “I don’t know what he’s talking about.”

    Noise also continues from former president Donald Trump, who early this morning posted on social media that his indictment could lead to “potential death & destruction”; hours later, Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg received a death threat in an envelope with white powder in it. For three days this week, Russian accounts have emailed bomb threats to the court buildings where the grand jury is meeting.  

    Tomorrow, Trump will hold a rally in Waco, Texas, where a 1993 government siege to extricate the leader of a religious cult who witnesses said was stockpiling weapons led to a gun battle and a fire that left seventy-six people dead.
     
    Although a Republican investigation cited “overwhelming evidence” that exonerated the government of wrongdoing, right-wing talk radio hosts jumped on the events at Waco to attack the administration of Democratic president Bill Clinton. Rush Limbaugh stoked his listeners’ anger with talk of the government’s “murder” of citizens, and Alex Jones dropped out of community college to start a talk show on which he warned that the government had “murdered” the people at Waco and was about to impose martial law.

    After the Waco siege the modern militia movement took off, and Trump is clearly using the anniversary to tap into domestic violence against the government to defend him in advance of possible indictments.

    But will it work? His supporters turned out on January 6, 2021, when he was president and had the power—they thought—to command the army to back him. In the end, that didn’t happen. Since then, Trump’s foot soldiers have been going to prison while he dines at Mar-a-Lago and rails about how unfairly he has been treated.

    Trump is also in more trouble today, as Judge Beryl Howell ruled last week that Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows, former director of national intelligence John Ratcliffe, former top Department of Homeland Security official Ken Cuccinelli, former national security advisor Robert O'Brien, former top aide Stephen Miller, former deputy chief of staff and social media director Dan Scavino, and former Trump aides Nick Luna and John McEntee all have to testify before the federal grand jury investigating Trump’s attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
     
    Special counsel Jack Smith had subpoenaed these members of the Trump administration, and Trump had tried to stop their testimony by claiming it was covered by executive privilege. Howell rejected that claim. In the past, she rejected a similar claim by arguing that only the current president has the right to claim executive privilege and Biden had declined to do so. Meadows is the key witness to Trump’s involvement in the events of January 6.

    Also today, Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a repeal of so-called right-to-work legislation passed in 2012 by a Republican-controlled legislature, whose members pushed it through in a lame-duck session without hearings.  

    That legislation had a long history. U.S. employers had opposed workers’ unions since the organization of the National Labor Union in 1866, but the rise of international communism in the early twentieth century provoked a new level of violence against organized workers. In 1935, as part of the New Deal, Democrats passed the National Labor Relations Act, popularly known as the Wagner Act, and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed it into law.

    The Wagner Act confirmed workers’ right to organize and to bargain with employers collectively (although to appease southern Democrats, it exempted domestic and agricultural workers, who in the South were mostly Black). It also defined unfair labor practices and established a new National Labor Relations Board that could issue cease and desist orders if workers testified that employers were engaging in them.

    The Wagner Act gave workers a unified voice in American politics and leveled the playing field between them and employers. But while most Americans of both parties liked the Wagner Act, right-wing Republicans hated it because it put large sums of money into the hands of labor officials, who used the money to influence politics. And organized workers had backed Democrats since the 1860s.

    So, in 1947, a Republican-led Congress pushed back against the Wagner Act. The previous year, the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) had launched “Operation Dixie” to organize Black workers, which seemed a threat to segregation as well as white employers. Together, business Republicans and segregationist Democrats passed the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, better known as the Taft-Hartley Act. Ohio Senator Robert Taft (who was the son of President William Howard Taft) claimed that the Taft-Hartley Act would simply equalize power between workers and employers after the “completely one-sided” Wagner Act gave all the power to labor leaders.

    The Taft-Hartley Act limited the ways in which workers could organize; it also went after unions’ money. Although the Wagner Act had established that if a majority of a company’s workers voted to join a union, that union would represent all the workers in the company, it didn’t require all the workers to join that union. That presented a problem: if workers were going to get the benefits of union representation without joining, why should they bother to pay dues?

    So labor leaders began to require that everyone employed in a unionized company must pay into the union to cover the cost of bargaining, whether or not they joined the union.

    The Taft-Hartley Act undermined this workaround by permitting states to get rid of the requirement that employees who didn’t join a union that represented them must pay fees to the union.

    Immediately, states began to pass so-called right-to-work laws. Their supporters argued that every man should have the right to bargain for his work on whatever terms he wanted, without oversight by a union. But lawmakers like Senator Barry Goldwater (R-AZ), who pushed a right-to-work law in his own state, were clear that they were intent on breaking the power of organized workers. He was determined to destroy the political power of unions because, he said, their leaders were stealing American freedom. They were, he said, “more dangerous than Soviet Russia.”

    Michigan had been known as a pro-union state, but in 2012, Republicans there pushed through two right-to-work laws over waves of protest. Repealing the laws has been a priority for Democrats, and now that they are in control of state government, they have made it happen.  

    Joey Cappelletti of the Associated Press notes that twenty-six states currently have right to work laws, and although Missouri voters overwhelmingly rejected a right-to-work law in 2017, it has been 58 years since a state repealed one. Indiana voters repealed theirs in 1965; Republicans put it back into place in 2012.  

    Republicans say that since the neighboring states of Indiana and Wisconsin have right-to-work laws—although there were huge protests when those laws went into place in 2012 and 2015—Michigan’s repeal of right to work will make that state less attractive to employers.

    But after signing the law today, Governor Whitmer embraced a different vision for the state, saying: "Today, we are coming together to restore workers' rights, protect Michiganders on the job, and grow Michigan's middle class."

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

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  • mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,616
      March 25, 2023 (Saturday)

    On March 25, 1911, Frances Perkins was visiting with a friend who lived near Washington Square in New York City when they heard fire engines and screams. They rushed out to the street to see what the trouble was. A fire had broken out in a garment factory on the upper floors of a building on Washington Square, and the blaze ripped through the lint in the air. The only way out was down the elevator, which had been abandoned at the base of its shaft, or through an exit to the roof. But the factory owner had locked the roof exit that day because, he later testified, he was worried some of his workers might steal some of the blouses they were making.

    “The people had just begun to jump when we got there,” Perkins later recalled. “They had been holding until that time, standing in the windowsills, being crowded by others behind them, the fire pressing closer and closer, the smoke closer and closer. Finally the men were trying to get out this thing that the firemen carry with them, a net to catch people if they do jump, the[y] were trying to get that out and they couldn’t wait any longer. They began to jump. The…weight of the bodies was so great, at the speed at which they were traveling that they broke through the net. Every one of them was killed, everybody who jumped was killed. It was a horrifying spectacle.”

    By the time the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire was out, 147 young people were dead, either from their fall from the factory windows or from smoke inhalation.

    Perkins had few illusions about industrial America: she had worked in a settlement house in an impoverished immigrant neighborhood in Chicago and was the head of the New York office of the National Consumers League, urging consumers to use their buying power to demand better conditions and wages for workers. But even she was shocked by the scene she witnessed on March 25.

    By the next day, New Yorkers were gathering to talk about what had happened on their watch. “I can't begin to tell you how disturbed the people were everywhere,” Perkins said. “It was as though we had all done something wrong. It shouldn't have been. We were sorry…. We didn't want it that way. We hadn’t intended to have 147 girls and boys killed in a factory. It was a terrible thing for the people of the City of New York and the State of New York to face.”

    The Democratic majority leader in the New York legislature, Al Smith—who would a few years later go on to four terms as New York governor and become the Democratic presidential nominee in 1928—went to visit the families of the dead to express his sympathy and his grief. “It was a human, decent, natural thing to do,” Perkins said, “and it was a sight he never forgot. It burned it into his mind. He also got to the morgue, I remember, at just the time when the survivors were being allowed to sort out the dead and see who was theirs and who could be recognized. He went along with a number of others to the morgue to support and help, you know, the old father or the sorrowing sister, do her terrible picking out.”

    “This was the kind of shock that we all had,” Perkins remembered.

    The next Sunday, concerned New Yorkers met at the Metropolitan Opera House with the conviction that “something must be done. We've got to turn this into some kind of victory, some kind of constructive action….” One man contributed $25,000 to fund citizens’ action to “make sure that this kind of thing can never happen again.”

    The gathering appointed a committee, which asked the legislature to create a bipartisan commission to figure out how to improve fire safety in factories. For four years, Frances Perkins was their chief investigator.

    She later explained that although their mission was to stop factory fires, “we went on and kept expanding the function of the commission 'till it came to be the report on sanitary conditions and to provide for their removal and to report all kinds of unsafe conditions and then to report all kinds of human conditions that were unfavorable to the employees, including long hours, including low wages, including the labor of children, including the overwork of women, including homework put out by the factories to be taken home by the women. It included almost everything you could think of that had been in agitation for years. We were authorized to investigate and report and recommend action on all these subjects.”

    And they did. Al Smith was the speaker of the house when they published their report, and soon would become governor. Much of what the commission recommended became law.
    Perkins later mused that perhaps the new legislation to protect workers had in some way paid the debt society owed to the young people who died in the Triangle Shirtwaist fire. “The extent to which this legislation in New York marked a change in American political attitudes and policies toward social responsibility can scarcely be overrated,” she said. “It was, I am convinced, a turning point.”

    But she was not done. In 1919, over the fervent objections of men, Governor Smith appointed Perkins to the New York State Industrial Commission to help weed out the corruption that was weakening the new laws. She continued to be one of his closest advisers on labor issues. In 1929, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt replaced Smith as New York governor, he appointed Perkins to oversee the state’s labor department as the Depression worsened. When President Herbert Hoover claimed that unemployment was ending, Perkins made national news when she repeatedly called him out with figures proving the opposite and said his “misleading statements” were “cruel and irresponsible.” She began to work with leaders from other states to figure out how to protect workers and promote employment by working together.

    In 1933, after the people had rejected Hoover’s plan to let the Depression burn itself out, President-elect Roosevelt asked Perkins to serve as Secretary of Labor in his administration. She accepted only on the condition that he back her goals: unemployment insurance, health insurance, old-age insurance, a 40-hour work week, a minimum wage, and abolition of child labor. She later recalled: “I remember he looked so startled, and he said, ‘Well, do you think it can be done?’”

    She promised to find out.

    Once in office, Perkins was a driving force behind the administration’s massive investment in public works projects to get people back to work. She urged the government to spend $3.3 billion on schools, roads, housing, and post offices. Those projects employed more than a million people in 1934.

    In 1935, FDR signed the Social Security Act, providing ordinary Americans with unemployment insurance; aid to homeless, dependent, and neglected children; funds to promote maternal and child welfare; and public health services.

    In 1938, Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act, which established a minimum wage and maximum hours. It banned child labor.

    Frances Perkins, and all those who worked with her, transformed the horror of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire into the heart of our nation’s basic social safety net.

    “There is always a large horizon…. There is much to be done,” Perkins said. “It is up to you to contribute some small part to a program of human betterment for all time.”

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

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  • mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,616
      March 26, 2023 (Sunday)

    Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff landed midday today in Accra, the capital of Ghana, a country of about 33 million people slightly larger than Michigan on Africa’s west coast.

    The 54 countries in Africa vary widely in language, religion, and culture, and Harris will visit three countries which initially seem unrelated. During her week on the African continent, in addition to Ghana, Harris will also visit Tanzania, a country bigger than Texas of about 62 million people on the east coast that is known for its natural wonders—Mount Kilimanjaro and the Serengeti plain are both on the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage List. She will then visit neighboring Zambia, a landlocked country slightly larger than Texas with about 20 million people, where about one third of the country is game management areas or national parks, including one that protects the famous waterfall Mosi-oa-Tunya, or Smoke that Thunders—also known as Victoria Falls.

    Harris’s visit is part of the Biden administration’s plan to counter Chinese and Russian influence on the African continent. That continent is rich in natural resources, and other countries want access to them. Between 2000 and 2016, China invested heavily in a number of African nations, sometimes in exchange for resources, sometimes for political alliances. It has become Africa’s second most important trading partner with about $250 billion in trade in 2021, just slightly behind the European Union, while U.S.-Africa trade in 2021 was about $64 billion.  

    Russia’s interests in Africa have tended toward support for authoritarian regimes. Russia focused on Africa after its 2014 invasion of Ukraine began to isolate it from other nations and their resources. The Russian Wagner Group of mercenary fighters has been a key player in Africa since then, often called in by authoritarian leaders to suppress political opposition in exchange for access to mines or other valuable resources.

    The Wagner Group has supported anti-democratic movements across the semi-arid Sahel region, which stretches across the northern part of the continent in a band above Ghana. After recent failures in Ukraine, the leader of the Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, says he will turn his attention back to Africa, although it is unclear that he will be able to raise the necessary forces to make a major push.

    African nations have historical reasons to be leery of European governments, who have tended to want to exploit the continent’s resources for themselves at the expense—often the deadly expense—of Africa’s inhabitants. They are also leery of the U.S., for when African nations began to throw off colonial rule, the Soviet Union tended to support those movements while the U.S. tended instead to support right-wing forces. More recently, the Trump years continued to weaken ties between the U.S and Africa as the United States withdrew from engagement with what the former president allegedly called “sh*thole countries.”

    The Biden administration has worked to repair relations between the U.S. and Africa on the stated principle that Africans must have control over their own countries and their own future. The administration hosted the U.S.-Africa leaders summit in December 2022, where it announced that it backed the admission of the African Union to the Group of 20, welcoming the 55 member states of the African Union to the intergovernmental forum that focuses on global issues. The African Union has wanted admission to the G20 for years, noting that they are currently left out of discussions that affect them—most recently, the plans to address the coronavirus—and the administration’s promise that it would back the African Union’s admission was an important sign of the administration’s focus on strengthening ties between the continent and the U.S.  

    Since then, the Biden administration has pledged more than $6.5 billion to the continent to aid security, support democratic institutions, and advance civil rights and the rule of law. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield, First Lady Jill Biden, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have all visited the continent.

    Harris is the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit and will emphasize the deep connections between Africa and the spread of Africans around the world, a process known as the African diaspora. In Ghana, Harris will visit the Cape Coast slave castle, used to hold enslaved Africans before they were shipped across the Atlantic for sale, primarily in the Caribbean. But the connections between Africa and the Americas reach far beyond the legacy of enslavement: Accra is the burial place of early twentieth-century U.S. writer and intellectual W. E. B. DuBois, for example. Harris will also visit Lusaka, Zambia, where as a child she visited her maternal grandfather when he worked there as a civil engineer.

    The administration’s outreach to Africa is not simply a way to counter China and Russia on the continent. The White House explained that Harris is visiting these three countries specifically because their governments are investing in their democracies at a time when democracies around the globe are under siege.

    Harris will launch her meeting with Ghana’s president Nana Akufo-Addo. When the two leaders met before, in September 2021, Akufo-Addo identified the key issue facing Africa and the world, saying: “[O]ur big challenge—and it is a challenge of all those who want to develop democratic institutions on our continent—is to ensure and reassure our people that democratic institutions can be a vehicle for the resolution of their big problem—that is economic development as the means to eradicate poverty on the continent.”

    This is a great summary of the central issue for democracy today.

    In Africa the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic, alongside a rise in interest rates, has made it hard for a number of nations to pay their international debts, which quintupled between 2000 and 2020. At the same time, the Russian blockade of Ukraine has cut food supplies while international sanctions against Russia for its 2022 invasion of Ukraine has cut fertilizer supplies to the continent, increasing food shortages.

    Those crises offer possibilities for international cooperation to invest in the African continent, especially as the new African Continental Free Trade Area agreement smooths trade across the continent and, with luck, brings rural regions into better contact with more urban areas.

    But those same crises also open the way for strongmen to take over by promising to solve their country’s shortages. Russian disinformation in Africa drives pro-Russian and anti-European sentiment; a new Russian social media network launched on the continent in February 2022. Last week, Russian president Vladimir Putin claimed to have written off $20 billion of African debt and blamed the West for his inability to deliver the fertilizer he had promised.  

    But while democracy is under siege around the world, Freedom House, the non-profit organization that tracks the health of democracy worldwide, noted last September that African countries have shown important efforts to expand the rule of law and strong democratic institutions. Ghana, for example, has become more democratic but is threatened by the instability to its north.

    Still, in August, the pan-African, nonpartisan research network Afrobarometer found that African voters want democratic institutions. According to a report from Chatham House that reviewed the polling, Africans “believe that the military should stay out of politics, that political parties should freely compete for power, that elections are an imperfect but essential tool for choosing their leaders, and that it is time for the old men who cling to power to step aside.” Seventy percent of Africans say they prefer democracy to any other form of government, 82% reject “strongman” rule, 77% reject one-party rule, and 75% reject military rule (even in countries that have recently experienced military coups).

    Those impressive numbers in a continent of very young people—the median age is just 19—are an obvious reason for the U.S. to want better relations at a time when both President Biden and Secretary of State Blinken have been very clear that they believe democracy at home depends at least in part on democracy overseas.

    And the danger to democracy at home was crystal clear last night, as former president Trump held a rally in Waco, Texas, where in 1993 a 51-day government siege of the headquarters of a religious cult gave birth to the modern anti-government militia movement. Since then, Waco has been a touchstone for violent attacks on the government. There, last night, Trump stood on stage with his hand over his heart while loudspeakers played not the national anthem but a song recorded by January 6 insurrectionists. Footage from the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol played on a screen behind him.

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

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  • mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,616
    edited March 2023
     March 27, 2023 (Monday)

    Seven people died today in a school shooting in Nashville. Three of them were nine-year-olds. Three were staffers. One was the shooter. In the aftermath of the shooting, President Joe Biden once again urged Congress to pass a ban on assault weapons, to which today’s Republican lawmakers will never agree because gun ownership has become a key element of social identity for their supporters, who resent the idea that the legal system could regulate their ownership of firearms.

    In the wake of the shooting, Representative Andrew Ogles (R-TN), who represents Nashville thanks to redistricting by the Republican legislature that cut up a Democratic district, said he was “utterly heartbroken” by the shooting and offered “thoughts and prayers to the families of those lost.”

    In 2021, Ogles, his wife, and two of his three children held guns as they posed for a Christmas card with a caption that read: “The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference—they deserve a place of honor with all that’s good.”

    Meanwhile, protests continue in Israel, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s attempt to hamstring his country’s Supreme Court and put the legislature in charge of judicial review has sparked fierce opposition.

    Netanyahu regained power last November while he was facing criminal charges of fraud, breach of trust, and bribery. His far-right coalition put together a government and elevated two critics of the Israeli judiciary, who promptly put forward a plan of “legal reforms.”

    According to Amichai Cohen and Yuval Shany in Lawfare, supporters of those changes claim that unelected judges who are part of a “liberal deep state” have too much power, often using it to pursue criminal proceedings against senior politicians, prohibit Israeli settlements on Palestinian land in the West Bank, or to refuse religious exemptions from military service for ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students.  

    On January 4, 2023, Netanyahu’s minister of justice Yariv Levin proposed an overhaul of the judicial system that would put Netanyahu’s slim majority—just 64 seats in the 120-member Knesset—in complete control of the country’s laws, enabling the far-right majority to avoid any checks on its power (as well as enabling Netanyahu to evade the criminal trials he faces).

    But Netanyahu did not campaign on remaking the judiciary; it is the far-right members of his coalition who have made it their signature issue. Protests against the measures began almost immediately as alarmed Israelis realized the move would destroy their democracy.

    The protests continued until this Saturday, when Israeli defense minister Yoav Gallant warned that the massive backlash against the judicial overhaul, including more and more military members who are boycotting their training missions, threatened the nation’s military readiness. He called for a halt to the attempt to force through the changes. Two members of the coalition backed Gallant and one appeared to be wavering, thus threatening Netanyahu’s majority. The next day, Netanyahu fired Gallant.

    The firing sparked massive demonstrations and widespread strikes. At first, the far-right members of Netanyahu’s coalition refused to stop their plans to overhaul the judiciary and called for their supporters to turn out to oppose the protesters, but Netanyahu apparently cut a deal with them. He has announced that the judicial reforms will be postponed while the two sides look for a compromise, and that he has agreed to the formation of a civil “national guard” the right will control. While Bethan McKernan of The Guardian called this move an empty gesture, Zach Beauchamp of Vox noted that the new paramilitary unit will be under the control of the extremist minister of national security, Itamar Ben-Gvir, who in 2008 was convicted of supporting a terrorist organization and who used to keep a photograph of a mass murderer in his living room.

    Still, as Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo notes, the halt is “pretty transparently a stalling tactic,” launched in the hope that the protests will die down and the package can go forward later, although, as Marshall points out, polls show that the so-called reforms are very unpopular.

    The crisis in Israel threatens the country’s relationship with the United States. During the Trump administration, Netanyahu cozied up to Trump and his Republican allies, and Israel’s continued rightward shift has alarmed foreign observers. In early March, Israel’s finance minister Bezalel Smotrich called for the state to “erase” a Palestinian town, and he has called himself a “proud homophobe” and a “fascist.” In Israel, Netanyahu’s son tweeted that the U.S. State Department is behind the protests, hoping to overthrow Netanyahu, a sentiment to which Netanyahu himself has nodded.

    When Smotrich visited Washington, D.C., earlier this month, White House officials declined to meet with him, and more than ninety Democratic lawmakers wrote to Biden asking him to use “all diplomatic tools available to prevent Israel’s current government from further damaging the nation’s democratic institutions and undermining the potential for two states for two peoples.” According to Josh Lederman of NBC News, more than 300 rabbis last year said that members of Netanyahu’s coalition were not welcome to speak at their synagogues.

    The threats to the Israeli judiciary threaten the nation’s economy, as billionaire and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg pointed out in a New York Times op-ed earlier this month. “Companies and investors place enormous value on strong and independent judicial systems because courts help protect them — not only against crime and corruption but also government overreach. Just as important, they protect what their employees value most: individual rights and freedoms,” he wrote.

    In case anyone missed the obvious comparison between what is happening in Israel and what might transpire in the U.S., Bloomberg continued: “In the United States, our founding fathers’ insistence on checks and balances to control the tyrannical tendencies of majorities was part of their genius. Our Constitution is not perfect—no law is—but its many checks and balances have been essential to protecting and advancing fundamental rights and maintaining national stability. It was only through those safeguards that the United States has managed to withstand extreme shocks to our democracy in recent years—including a disgraceful attempt to prevent the peaceful transfer of power—without a catastrophic fracturing.”

    Post edited by mickeyrat on
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  • mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,616
      March 28, 2023 (Tuesday)

    Today, House speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) sent a letter to President Joe Biden accusing him of being “missing in action” on efforts to address the approaching debt ceiling crisis. McCarthy accused Biden of “putting an already fragile economy in jeopardy” and tried to portray himself as the reasonable party, trying to negotiate “what is best for the American people.”

    It was a simply astonishing document, brazen in its suggestion that it is Biden who is taking an “extreme position” on the debt ceiling when in fact it is the Republicans who are threatening to destroy the world’s economy to get their way. They are insisting they will hold the debt ceiling hostage to force a wide range of spending cuts, and also to push policies like easier access to drilling permits.

    Once again, the debt ceiling is not about future spending. It’s about meeting the obligations past Congresses have incurred. And a great deal of that debt was incurred during the Trump administration, in large part from the 2017 tax cuts that the Congressional Budget Office estimated would cost almost $2 trillion over 11 years.

    Congress voted to increase the debt ceiling three times during the Trump administration. Biden had been clear that he expects it to do so again; he will not negotiate over paying the nation’s bills.

    But, as part of the normal budget process, he has also been clear that he is more than happy—eager, even—to debate budget proposals with the Republicans. Biden produced a budget on March 9 and has said that he will enter into negotiations just as soon as the Republicans produce a budget proposal of their own.

    But this they cannot do. McCarthy has promised dramatic cuts to the budget that he cannot deliver without cutting Social Security and Medicare, which the Republicans have agreed not to cut. At the same time, House Republicans have vowed to get rid of the provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act that fund the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), invest in addressing climate change, establish a minimum tax on the wealthy, and give the government the power to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies, provisions that the Committee for a Responsible Budget projects will save the government almost $2 trillion over 2 decades.

    And so, McCarthy published a letter trying to blame Biden for the mess the House speaker is in.

    Biden responded immediately to McCarthy’s extraordinary public letter with one of his own, thanking the speaker for his communication and reiterating that Congress has always increased the debt ceiling without conditions and should “act quickly to do so now.”

    “We can agree,” he wrote, “that an unprecedented default would inflict needless economic pain on hard-working Americans and that the American people have no interest in brinksmanship. That is why House Democrats joined with House Republicans and voted to avoid default throughout the Trump Administration—without conditions, despite disagreements about budget priorities. That same standard should apply today.”

    Biden noted that he had already provided the American people with his own detailed budget, one that would reduce the deficit by nearly $3 trillion over ten years by increasing taxes on the wealthy and on corporations, cutting subsidies for the oil and gas industries, and expanding the list of drugs over which Medicare can negotiate with pharmaceutical companies. “My proposals enable us to lower costs for families and invest in our economic growth, all while reducing the deficit,” Biden wrote.

    “Unfortunately,” he continued, the Republicans' proposals would “exacerbate the debt problem I inherited by adding over $3 trillion” with more tax cuts “skewed to the same constituencies who should be paying more, like multinational corporations and the richest taxpayers.” He urged McCarthy, once again, to produce a detailed budget plan rather than vague calls for savings, “so we can understand the full, combined impact on the deficit, the economy, and American families.”

    Biden asked McCarthy to produce a Republican budget plan before Congress’s Easter recess “so that we can have an in-depth conversation when you return. As I have repeatedly said, that conversation must be separate from prompt action on the Congress’ basic obligation to pay the Nation’s bills and avoid economic catastrophe.”

    Republicans are using similar brinksmanship with regard to the military to push their extremist agenda.

    Back in July, just after the Supreme Court overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, Pentagon officials warned the House Armed Services Committee that the abortion restrictions promptly imposed by Republican-dominated legislatures were adding to the military’s recruiting crisis by creating new family planning problems for military families. More than 100 military installations with about 240,000 service members are located in states that have total abortion bans, and Gil Cisneros, the Pentagon’s chief of personnel and readiness, warned that the new laws would hurt recruiting and that service members would leave the military rather than continue to live in those states.

    In February, the military launched a policy permitting military personnel up to three weeks’ leave and reimbursement for travel expenses to go to a state that permits abortion care and fertility treatments. Those rules went into effect this month.

    Now, Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) is refusing to permit senior military promotions—at this point 160 of them—in protest of the military’s rules covering reproductive health care. “You all have the American taxpayer on the hook to pay for travel and time off for elective abortions,” Tuberville said to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin today as he spoke before the Senate Armed Services Committee. “And you did not make this [policy] with anybody in this room or Congress taking a vote.”

    Austin responded that women make up almost 20% of the military and about 80,000 are stationed in states that don’t have access to abortion (and men want to plan their families as well). Tuberville’s hold on promotions means that senior officials cannot rotate into new positions, leaving the military without leaders in places like the Navy’s 5th Fleet, which oversees military operations in the Middle East and which is due for a new leader within the next few months. Those holes will become worse over the next several months as key military leaders are set to retire or rotate out of their posts.

    Austin warned that Tuberville’s stance affects military readiness, and Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said that Tuberville’s brinksmanship with the military risks “permanently politicizing the confirmation of military personnel…. If every single one of us objected to the promotion of military personnel whenever we feel passionately or strongly about an issue, our military would simply grind to a halt,” Schumer pointed out.

    Tuberville says he will not stop his objections until the abortion policy is ended.

    _____________________________________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 up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,616
      March 29, 2023 (Wednesday)

    After a lot of very late nights in a row, I came home from work early today and fell asleep, which is quite unlike me. It feels like I never really properly work up, and so am admitting defeat and going to bed again for real.

    I missed posting a picture last weekend, so will make it up to you now with a dreamy image from my friend Peter. Kind of where my head seems to be tonight, and not a bad respite for all of us from what seems, once again, to be a daily firehose of news.

    [Image, "Aubade"—which means "dawn serenade;" I had to look it up :) — by Peter Ralston.]

    _____________________________________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 up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,616
      March 30, 2023 (Thursday)

    The New York grand jury investigating Trump’s 2016 hush-money payments to adult film actor Stormy Daniels has voted to indict the former president. While we don’t know the full range of charges, Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg’s office confirmed that they were forthcoming tonight when it released a statement saying, “This evening we contacted Mr. Trump’s attorney to coordinate his surrender to the Manhattan D.A.’s office for arraignment on a Supreme Court indictment, which remains under seal.”  

    This is the first time in history a former United States president has been indicted, although it is worth remembering that it is not new for our justice system to hold elected officials accountable. Mayors have been indicted and convicted. So have governors: in fact, four of the past ten Illinois governors have gone to prison. Vice presidents, too, have been charged with crimes: Aaron Burr was indicted on two counts of murder in 1804 while still in office and was tried for treason afterward. And in 1973, Richard Nixon’s vice president Spiro Agnew resigned after pleading no contest to tax evasion to avoid prison time.

    That Trump’s indictment is happening in New York has likely made it harder for Trump to drum up the mobs he has been inciting to defend him. New York City notoriously dislikes the former real estate man. Voters of Tomorrow official Victor Shi was at the Manhattan district attorney’s office this evening and found no one protesting. When people did show up, he tweeted, they were not Trump supporters. They were women carrying signs that said, “‘Trump is guilty’ and ‘The Time Is Now,’” he wrote. “People in the background are chanting, ‘Way to go, ladies!’ NYC is rejoicing.”

    New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, to whom Trump people feel comfortable talking, said that the Trump camp at Mar-a-Lago is “in…shock” at the news. They thought yesterday’s announcement that the grand jury will go on a break in early April indicated that nothing would happen before the jury reconvened. As Haberman points out, Trump has been afraid of indictments for many years, and while some speculate this indictment might help his political profile (I disagree with that, by the way), he is unhappy to see it finally arrive. He did, though, immediately start fundraising off it.

    Trump also released quite a long, antisemitic statement blaming “Radical Left Democrats” for a “Witch-Hunt” and saying this is “blatant Election interference.” House speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) also quickly reinforced Trump's argument, saying that Bragg had “irreparably damaged our country in an attempt to interfere in our Presidential election,” and a number of other Republican officials reinforced that sentiment.

    That is quite a position to take. The vote to indict came not from Bragg himself, but from a grand jury made up of ordinary Americans, and none of us knows what’s in the indictment, so one can hardly object to it in good faith.

    CNN reporter Melanie Zanona reports that Trump has been working the phones tonight, reaching out to Republican allies to shore up support. Some of them, of course, are trying to discredit Bragg’s work by investigating him.
     
    Trump is at his company’s property in Florida, Mar-a-Lago. Florida governor Ron DeSantis echoed Trump’s antisemitism and accusations, tweeting that Florida would “not assist in an extradition request.” But Article IV, Section 2, of the United States Constitution says, “A Person charged in any State with Treason, Felony, or other Crime, who shall flee from Justice, and be found in another State, shall on Demand of the executive Authority of the State from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the State having Jurisdiction of the Crime.”

    So either DeSantis is planning to violate the Constitution, or he recognizes that Trump will probably return to New York voluntarily, or—and this is the most likely—he is posturing to pick up Trump voters while secretly rejoicing that this will likely make it harder for Trump to win the Republican presidential nomination. While all eyes were on Trump this evening, paperwork was filed in the Florida Senate to begin the process of revising election laws, possibly so that DeSantis can run for president without resigning as governor, as under current Florida law he must.

    But there was something striking about Trump’s statement. In blaming the “Radical Left Democrats” for their “Witch-Hunt to destroy the Make America Great Again movement,” he wrote, “You remember it just like I do: Russia, Russia, Russia; the Mueller Hoax; Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine; Impeachment Hoax 1; Impeachment Hoax 2; the illegal and unconstitutional Mar-a-Lago raid; and now this.”

    It's not a list to be proud of, but that wording—“you remember it just like I do”—jumped out. Trump always goes back to what he calls the Russia hoax, his second attempt to rewrite the way people thought about his presidency (the first was the size of the crowd at his inauguration).

    From the very start of his presidency, when the Federal Bureau of Investigation caught Trump's then–national security advisor Michael Flynn lying about his contact with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, more and more information has come out tying the Trump campaign to Russian operatives. As it did, Trump insisted that his followers must believe that all that information was a lie. If they believed his lies rather than the truth over the Russia scandal, they would trust him rather than believe the truth about everything.

    The 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine has given a new frame to Russia’s attempts to interfere in the 2016 election. A piece by Jim Rutenberg in the New York Times Magazine in November 2022 pulled together testimony given both to the Mueller investigation and the Republican-dominated Senate Intelligence Committee, transcripts from the impeachment hearings, and recent memoirs. Rutenberg showed that in 2016, Russian operatives had presented to Trump advisor and later campaign manager Paul Manafort a plan “for the creation of an autonomous republic in Ukraine’s east, giving Putin effective control of the country’s industrial heartland, where Kremlin-armed, -funded, and -directed “separatists” were waging a two-year-old shadow war that had left nearly 10,000 dead.”

    In exchange for weakening the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), undermining the U.S. stance in favor of Ukraine in its attempt to throw off the Russians who had invaded in 2014, and removing U.S. sanctions from Russian entities, Russian operatives were willing to put their finger on the scale to help Trump win the White House.

    Rutenberg notes that Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine looks a lot like a way to achieve the plan it suggested in 2016 but, thanks to a different president in the U.S., that invasion did not yield the results Russian president Vladimir Putin expected. The Russian economy is crumbling, and Tuesday, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley told the Senate Armed Services Committee that Russia's Wagner group of mercenaries is "suffering an enormous amount of casualties in the Bakhmut area.” He called it a “slaughter-fest" for the Russians. Today, Putin issued an order to conscript another 147,000 soldiers by July 15.

    Pressure on Putin continues to mount. The International Criminal Court’s March 17 arrest warrant against him and his children’s rights commissioner, Maria Lvova-Belova, for war crimes apparently caught Russian leadership by surprise. It isolates Russia and worries other Russian lawmakers that they will be charged as well, weakening their support for Putin. “Now proximity to the president isn’t just talk,” one political strategist said, “it’s a real step towards being prosecuted by international law enforcement.”

    And President of the European Commission (which is the executive of the European Union) Ursula von der Leyen today warned that as the European Union rethinks its trade policies, China could find itself isolated as well if it continues to support Russia. “How China continues to interact with Putin’s war will be a determining factor for EU-China relations going forward,” she said.

    Meanwhile, Turkey today dropped its opposition to Finland’s membership in NATO, a membership Finland has pursued in the wake of Russia’s recent aggression. Finland shares an 830-mile border with Russia, and now it will be part of NATO.

    Under such pressure, Russia today took the extraordinary step of detaining American journalist Evan Gershkovich, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, accusing him of spying. Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed deep concern and urged U.S. citizens living or traveling in Russia to “leave immediately.”

    Yesterday, another study of the Russian invasion of Ukraine invited us to look backward as well as forward. Britain’s Royal United Services Institute, a government-affiliated think tank, released a report on Russia’s “covert and clandestine operations, psychological operations, subversion, sabotage, special operations and intelligence and counterintelligence activities” designed to destabilize Ukraine and take it over. The report’s focus was on the current war in Ukraine, but as Josh Kovensky of Talking Points Memo notes, it establishes that some of the same people behind the destabilization of Ukrainian politics were part of Trump’s world. Notably, Russian operative Andrii Derkach not only worked to grab Ukraine for Russia, but also escorted Trump ally Rudy Giuliani around Ukraine in 2019 to dig up dirt on Biden.

    In the end, as legal dominoes begin to fall, it might be that Americans do not, in fact, remember the history of his presidency from “Russia, Russia, Russia” forward the same way Trump does.

    _____________________________________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
  • Halifax2TheMaxHalifax2TheMax Posts: 36,560
    mickeyrat said:
      March 30, 2023 (Thursday)

    The New York grand jury investigating Trump’s 2016 hush-money payments to adult film actor Stormy Daniels has voted to indict the former president. While we don’t know the full range of charges, Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg’s office confirmed that they were forthcoming tonight when it released a statement saying, “This evening we contacted Mr. Trump’s attorney to coordinate his surrender to the Manhattan D.A.’s office for arraignment on a Supreme Court indictment, which remains under seal.”  

    This is the first time in history a former United States president has been indicted, although it is worth remembering that it is not new for our justice system to hold elected officials accountable. Mayors have been indicted and convicted. So have governors: in fact, four of the past ten Illinois governors have gone to prison. Vice presidents, too, have been charged with crimes: Aaron Burr was indicted on two counts of murder in 1804 while still in office and was tried for treason afterward. And in 1973, Richard Nixon’s vice president Spiro Agnew resigned after pleading no contest to tax evasion to avoid prison time.

    That Trump’s indictment is happening in New York has likely made it harder for Trump to drum up the mobs he has been inciting to defend him. New York City notoriously dislikes the former real estate man. Voters of Tomorrow official Victor Shi was at the Manhattan district attorney’s office this evening and found no one protesting. When people did show up, he tweeted, they were not Trump supporters. They were women carrying signs that said, “‘Trump is guilty’ and ‘The Time Is Now,’” he wrote. “People in the background are chanting, ‘Way to go, ladies!’ NYC is rejoicing.”

    New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, to whom Trump people feel comfortable talking, said that the Trump camp at Mar-a-Lago is “in…shock” at the news. They thought yesterday’s announcement that the grand jury will go on a break in early April indicated that nothing would happen before the jury reconvened. As Haberman points out, Trump has been afraid of indictments for many years, and while some speculate this indictment might help his political profile (I disagree with that, by the way), he is unhappy to see it finally arrive. He did, though, immediately start fundraising off it.

    Trump also released quite a long, antisemitic statement blaming “Radical Left Democrats” for a “Witch-Hunt” and saying this is “blatant Election interference.” House speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) also quickly reinforced Trump's argument, saying that Bragg had “irreparably damaged our country in an attempt to interfere in our Presidential election,” and a number of other Republican officials reinforced that sentiment.

    That is quite a position to take. The vote to indict came not from Bragg himself, but from a grand jury made up of ordinary Americans, and none of us knows what’s in the indictment, so one can hardly object to it in good faith.

    CNN reporter Melanie Zanona reports that Trump has been working the phones tonight, reaching out to Republican allies to shore up support. Some of them, of course, are trying to discredit Bragg’s work by investigating him.
     
    Trump is at his company’s property in Florida, Mar-a-Lago. Florida governor Ron DeSantis echoed Trump’s antisemitism and accusations, tweeting that Florida would “not assist in an extradition request.” But Article IV, Section 2, of the United States Constitution says, “A Person charged in any State with Treason, Felony, or other Crime, who shall flee from Justice, and be found in another State, shall on Demand of the executive Authority of the State from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the State having Jurisdiction of the Crime.”

    So either DeSantis is planning to violate the Constitution, or he recognizes that Trump will probably return to New York voluntarily, or—and this is the most likely—he is posturing to pick up Trump voters while secretly rejoicing that this will likely make it harder for Trump to win the Republican presidential nomination. While all eyes were on Trump this evening, paperwork was filed in the Florida Senate to begin the process of revising election laws, possibly so that DeSantis can run for president without resigning as governor, as under current Florida law he must.

    But there was something striking about Trump’s statement. In blaming the “Radical Left Democrats” for their “Witch-Hunt to destroy the Make America Great Again movement,” he wrote, “You remember it just like I do: Russia, Russia, Russia; the Mueller Hoax; Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine; Impeachment Hoax 1; Impeachment Hoax 2; the illegal and unconstitutional Mar-a-Lago raid; and now this.”

    It's not a list to be proud of, but that wording—“you remember it just like I do”—jumped out. Trump always goes back to what he calls the Russia hoax, his second attempt to rewrite the way people thought about his presidency (the first was the size of the crowd at his inauguration).

    From the very start of his presidency, when the Federal Bureau of Investigation caught Trump's then–national security advisor Michael Flynn lying about his contact with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, more and more information has come out tying the Trump campaign to Russian operatives. As it did, Trump insisted that his followers must believe that all that information was a lie. If they believed his lies rather than the truth over the Russia scandal, they would trust him rather than believe the truth about everything.

    The 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine has given a new frame to Russia’s attempts to interfere in the 2016 election. A piece by Jim Rutenberg in the New York Times Magazine in November 2022 pulled together testimony given both to the Mueller investigation and the Republican-dominated Senate Intelligence Committee, transcripts from the impeachment hearings, and recent memoirs. Rutenberg showed that in 2016, Russian operatives had presented to Trump advisor and later campaign manager Paul Manafort a plan “for the creation of an autonomous republic in Ukraine’s east, giving Putin effective control of the country’s industrial heartland, where Kremlin-armed, -funded, and -directed “separatists” were waging a two-year-old shadow war that had left nearly 10,000 dead.”

    In exchange for weakening the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), undermining the U.S. stance in favor of Ukraine in its attempt to throw off the Russians who had invaded in 2014, and removing U.S. sanctions from Russian entities, Russian operatives were willing to put their finger on the scale to help Trump win the White House.

    Rutenberg notes that Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine looks a lot like a way to achieve the plan it suggested in 2016 but, thanks to a different president in the U.S., that invasion did not yield the results Russian president Vladimir Putin expected. The Russian economy is crumbling, and Tuesday, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley told the Senate Armed Services Committee that Russia's Wagner group of mercenaries is "suffering an enormous amount of casualties in the Bakhmut area.” He called it a “slaughter-fest" for the Russians. Today, Putin issued an order to conscript another 147,000 soldiers by July 15.

    Pressure on Putin continues to mount. The International Criminal Court’s March 17 arrest warrant against him and his children’s rights commissioner, Maria Lvova-Belova, for war crimes apparently caught Russian leadership by surprise. It isolates Russia and worries other Russian lawmakers that they will be charged as well, weakening their support for Putin. “Now proximity to the president isn’t just talk,” one political strategist said, “it’s a real step towards being prosecuted by international law enforcement.”

    And President of the European Commission (which is the executive of the European Union) Ursula von der Leyen today warned that as the European Union rethinks its trade policies, China could find itself isolated as well if it continues to support Russia. “How China continues to interact with Putin’s war will be a determining factor for EU-China relations going forward,” she said.

    Meanwhile, Turkey today dropped its opposition to Finland’s membership in NATO, a membership Finland has pursued in the wake of Russia’s recent aggression. Finland shares an 830-mile border with Russia, and now it will be part of NATO.

    Under such pressure, Russia today took the extraordinary step of detaining American journalist Evan Gershkovich, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, accusing him of spying. Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed deep concern and urged U.S. citizens living or traveling in Russia to “leave immediately.”

    Yesterday, another study of the Russian invasion of Ukraine invited us to look backward as well as forward. Britain’s Royal United Services Institute, a government-affiliated think tank, released a report on Russia’s “covert and clandestine operations, psychological operations, subversion, sabotage, special operations and intelligence and counterintelligence activities” designed to destabilize Ukraine and take it over. The report’s focus was on the current war in Ukraine, but as Josh Kovensky of Talking Points Memo notes, it establishes that some of the same people behind the destabilization of Ukrainian politics were part of Trump’s world. Notably, Russian operative Andrii Derkach not only worked to grab Ukraine for Russia, but also escorted Trump ally Rudy Giuliani around Ukraine in 2019 to dig up dirt on Biden.

    In the end, as legal dominoes begin to fall, it might be that Americans do not, in fact, remember the history of his presidency from “Russia, Russia, Russia” forward the same way Trump does.

    POOTWH pissed off the wrong people. You don't fuck with US Intelligence.
    09/15/1998 & 09/16/1998, Mansfield, MA; 08/29/00 08/30/00, Mansfield, MA; 07/02/03, 07/03/03, Mansfield, MA; 09/28/04, 09/29/04, Boston, MA; 09/22/05, Halifax, NS; 05/24/06, 05/25/06, Boston, MA; 07/22/06, 07/23/06, Gorge, WA; 06/27/2008, Hartford; 06/28/08, 06/30/08, Mansfield; 08/18/2009, O2, London, UK; 10/30/09, 10/31/09, Philadelphia, PA; 05/15/10, Hartford, CT; 05/17/10, Boston, MA; 05/20/10, 05/21/10, NY, NY; 06/22/10, Dublin, IRE; 06/23/10, Northern Ireland; 09/03/11, 09/04/11, Alpine Valley, WI; 09/11/11, 09/12/11, Toronto, Ont; 09/14/11, Ottawa, Ont; 09/15/11, Hamilton, Ont; 07/02/2012, Prague, Czech Republic; 07/04/2012 & 07/05/2012, Berlin, Germany; 07/07/2012, Stockholm, Sweden; 09/30/2012, Missoula, MT; 07/16/2013, London, Ont; 07/19/2013, Chicago, IL; 10/15/2013 & 10/16/2013, Worcester, MA; 10/21/2013 & 10/22/2013, Philadelphia, PA; 10/25/2013, Hartford, CT; 11/29/2013, Portland, OR; 11/30/2013, Spokane, WA; 12/04/2013, Vancouver, BC; 12/06/2013, Seattle, WA; 10/03/2014, St. Louis. MO; 10/22/2014, Denver, CO; 10/26/2015, New York, NY; 04/23/2016, New Orleans, LA; 04/28/2016 & 04/29/2016, Philadelphia, PA; 05/01/2016 & 05/02/2016, New York, NY; 05/08/2016, Ottawa, Ont.; 05/10/2016 & 05/12/2016, Toronto, Ont.; 08/05/2016 & 08/07/2016, Boston, MA; 08/20/2016 & 08/22/2016, Chicago, IL; 07/01/2018, Prague, Czech Republic; 07/03/2018, Krakow, Poland; 07/05/2018, Berlin, Germany; 09/02/2018 & 09/04/2018, Boston, MA; 09/08/2022, Toronto, Ont; 09/11/2022, New York, NY; 09/14/2022, Camden, NJ; 09/02/2023, St. Paul, MN;

    Libtardaplorable©. And proud of it.

    Brilliantati©
  • mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,616
      March 31, 2023 (Friday)

    The second Summit for Democracy organized by the White House concluded yesterday with an invitation to a third summit, to be held in Costa Rica later this year. The second summit was not just a United States party: its virtual sessions were co-hosted by Costa Rica, the Netherlands, South Korea, and Zambia. Over the course of three days, participants from more than 100 countries discussed ways to surge resources to reformers during democratic openings, address inequality, promote economic growth, combat corruption, advance the status of women, promote media freedom, encourage youth political participation, combat hate speech, strengthen unions, and defend the rule of law.

    On Tuesday, President Joe Biden congratulated the attendees for helping to make democracy work, turning the tide against autocracies. In the U.S. he said, “we’ve demonstrated that our democracy can still do big things and deliver important progress for working Americans.” As ordinary Americans have seen lower costs for prescription drugs and health insurance premiums, progress on rebuilding infrastructure, innovation, and policies to address climate change, they have, Biden said, “resoundingly and roundly rejected the voices of extremism attacking and undermining our democracy.”

    Biden highlighted the ways other countries are advancing democracy: Angola is trying to build an independent judiciary, the Dominican Republic and Croatia have combated corruption. Biden called out “many other countries…from countries taking the first steps toward reform to well-established democracies of people making real changes to protect and strengthen their democracy.” The work of democracy “has never been easy,” he said. It “is hard work. The work of democracy is never finished. It’s never laid down and that’s it, all you have to do. It must be protected constantly.”
     
    He continued: “We have to continually renew our commitment, continually strengthen our institutions, root out corruption where we find it, seek to build consensus, and reject political violence, give hate and extremism no safe harbor.”

    The U.S. has invested in global democracy by committing more than $1 billion to shore up government transparency and accountability, support media freedom, fight international corruption, defend elections, and promote technology that advances democracy. It intends, Biden says, to commit $9.5 billion over three years.
     
    Protecting democracy, the president said, “is a defining challenge of our age.”

    Today, Leslie B. Dubeck, the general counsel for the Manhattan district attorney’s office, wrote to Representatives Jim Jordan (R-OH), chair of the House Committee on the Judiciary; Bryan Steil (R-WI), chair of the House Committee on House Administration; and James Comer (R-KY), chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability, to warn them that their attacks on Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg and his office were “unlawful political interference.”

    Jordan, Steil, and Comer have tried to intervene in the district attorney’s investigation of former president Trump. Even before a grand jury of ordinary citizens voted to file charges against Trump, the three men demanded the district attorney share with them confidential information about the state of the investigation. The district attorney did not give it to them because, as Dubeck said, “our Office is legally constrained in how it publicly discusses pending criminal proceedings,… as you well know. That secrecy is critical to protecting the privacy of the target of any criminal investigation as well as the integrity of the independent grand jury’s proceedings,” she wrote.

    She called their interference “unnecessary and unjustified” and reminded the men that Congress has no jurisdiction over individual criminal investigations. Nor does it have jurisdiction over state investigations. “The Committees’ attempted interference with an ongoing state criminal investigation—and now prosecution—is an unprecedented and illegitimate incursion on New York’s sovereign interests,” she wrote.

    Dubeck noted that the men were reportedly working closely with Trump to attack the district attorney’s office and the grand jury process, making it seem that “you are acting more like criminal defense counsel trying to gather evidence for a client than a legislative body seeking to achieve a legitimate legislative objective.”

    Dubeck noted that Trump has been threatening Bragg personally and warning that his indictment might unleash “death & destruction.” She pointed out that the three men, as committee chairs, “could use the stature of your office to denounce these attacks and urge respect for the fairness of our justice system and for the work of the impartial grand jury.” Instead, they and their colleagues were collaborating with Trump to attack the justice system as politically motivated. “We urge you to refrain from these inflammatory accusations, withdraw your demand for information, and let the criminal justice process proceed without unlawful political interference,” she wrote.

    Dubeck concluded by noting that subpoenaing the district attorney for information about an ongoing state criminal prosecution, as they threatened to do, was “unprecedented and unconstitutional” and expressed hope they would “make a good-faith effort to reach a negotiated resolution.”

    Also today, Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis ruled in favor of Dominion Voting Systems in a key point of the company’s lawsuit against the Fox News Corporation for defamation. The ruling also established the central point for dismissing the story that Trump had won the 2020 election. Davis wrote—in italics—“The evidence developed in this civil proceeding demonstrates that [it] is CRYSTAL clear that none of the Statements relating to Dominion about the 2020 election are true.”

    The Fox News Corporation had argued that the false statements of its hosts claiming that the voting system had thrown the 2020 presidential election to Biden were not defamatory because they were opinions. In his decision the judge went through the statements, calling out 20 occasions on which lies were stated as facts and similar occasions on which deliberately omitted material changed the meaning of what was presented.

    The judge has determined that the hosts’ statements were false. Now the case will go to a jury trial in April to determine whether Fox hosts knew they were lying and whether Dominion sustained damages from the defamation. The company is suing for $1.6 billion.

    In the last stop of her Africa visit, Vice President Kamala Harris today was in Zambia, which co-hosted this week’s Summit for Democracy. Neither Harris nor Biden will comment in any way about the impending indictment of the former president. At a press conference in Zambia’s capital, Lusaka, today, a reporter from the Wall Street Journal reminded Harris that she had “spoken about democracy and the rule of law at every stop in Africa,” and asked her to comment on news of the indictment.

    When she declined, Zambian president Hakainde Hichilema stepped forward. “[L]et’s remove names from your question,” he said.

    “Let’s put what we decided we will do to govern ourselves in an orderly manner. First, our constitutions, bedrock law. Then, secondary laws, other regulations create a platform or framework around which we agreed, either as Americans or as Zambians, to govern ourselves.  And so, to live within those confines.

    “And when there’s transgression against law, it does not matter who is involved. I think that is what the rule of law means.”

    _____________________________________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 up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,616
      April 1, 2023 (Saturday)

    Although no one has seen the charges, MAGA Republican lawmakers reacted to the decision of a grand jury of ordinary citizens to charge a former president by preemptively accusing Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg of abusing the power of the government against MAGA Republicans.

    “[C]orrupt Socialist District Attorney Alvin Bragg [and] the radical Far Left” (New York representative Elise Stefanik) “irreparably damaged our country” (House speaker Kevin McCarthy) “for pure political gain” (Virginia governor Glenn Youngkin). It is “a direct assault on the tens of millions of Americans who support [Trump]” (Ohio senator J. D. Vance), and “[the House Republicans] will hold Alvin Bragg accountable” (Stefanik, again).

    The lawmakers have reached their position after extensive coordination with Trump, with whom Stefanik, Jordan, and Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) speak regularly to keep him abreast of what they know about investigations and to plan policy. As Stephen Collinson pointed out on CNN, they are taking to a new level what they have been doing since Trump took office: weaponizing the government to put Trump back into power.

    As the Manhattan grand jury’s investigation got close to a decision, McCarthy backed an investigation of the Manhattan district attorney’s office. Promptly, committee chairs Jim Jordan (R-OH, Judiciary), James Comer (R-KY, Oversight and Accountability), and Bryan Steil (R-WI, House Administration) demanded that Bragg turn over all documents and testimony related to the investigation and appear before them to answer questions. As the counsel for the district attorney’s office, Leslie B. Dubeck, pointed out in response, these demands are “an unprecedented and illegitimate incursion on New York’s sovereign interests” and amount to  “unlawful political interference.”

    Representative Jamie Raskin (D-MD), the top Democrat on the Oversight Committee, told Washington Post reporter Greg Sargent: “This is an extreme move to use the resources of Congress to interfere with a criminal investigation at the state and local level and block an indictment.” It is, he said, “the kind of political culture you find in authoritarian dictatorships.”

    At Axios today, Sophia Cai and Juliegrace Brufke ran the numbers of Trump backers in Congress. Thirty-seven Republicans have already endorsed him, and in the House, McCarthy has put them into key positions. Trump supporters make up more than a third of the Republicans members on the Committee on the Judiciary, which oversees the legal system, and the Committee on Oversight, which oversees government accountability. Nine of the 25 Republicans on the Judiciary Committee support him; 11 of the 26 Republicans on House Oversight do, too.

    What is actually in the indictment remains unknown, but the language Republicans are using to attack it reveals that what it says doesn’t particularly matter. Their claim that “the Left” is “weaponizing government” against the right echoes “post-liberal” ideology. This worldview explains why the right wing continues to lose ground in society despite Republican victories at the polls. The problem is not that right-wing positions are unpopular, post-liberal thinkers insist, it’s that the “left” has captured the nation’s institutions.

    They argue that the ideas that underpin democracy—equality before the law, separation of church and state, academic freedom, a market-driven economy, free speech—have undermined virtue. These values are “liberal” values because they are based on the idea of the importance of individual freedom from an oppressive government, and they are at the heart of American democracy.

    But post-liberal thinkers say that liberalism’s defense of individual rights has destroyed the family, communities, and even the fundamental differences between men and women, throwing society into chaos. They propose to restore the values of traditional Christianity, which would, they believe, restore traditional family structures and supportive communities, and promote the virtue of self-sacrifice as people give up their individualism for their children (their worldview utterly rejects abortion).

    The position of those embracing a post-liberal order is a far cry from the Reagan Republicans' claim to want small government and free markets. The new ideologues want a strong government to enforce their religious values on American society, and they reject those of both parties who support democratic norms—for it is those very norms they see as destructive. They urge their leaders to “dare to rule.”

    Those who call for a new post-liberal order want to “reconquer public institutions all over the United States,” as Christopher Rufo put it after Florida governor Ron DeSantis appointed him to the board of New College as part of a mission to turn the progressive school into a right-wing bastion. “If we can take this high-risk, high-reward gambit and turn it into a victory,” Rufo told Michelle Goldberg of the New York Times, “we’re going to see conservative state legislators starting to reconquer public institutions all over the United States.”

    To spur that process, Republicans have turned to so-called culture wars, but as David Kurtz of Talking Points Memo notes, issues are becoming heated not in some vague way, but because Republicans are deliberately making normal processes partisan to destroy consensus about them. So, for example, Rufo pushed the idea that the legal framework “critical race theory” was being pushed in public agencies and public schools in order, he told Benjamin Wallace-Wells of the New Yorker, “to politicize the bureaucracy.” He hoped to “take some of these essentially corrupted state agencies and then contest them, and then create rival power centers within them.”

    The Republican attacks on Bragg reflect this process. They are quite deliberately destroying public faith in the justice system, declaring Trump’s looming indictment a political attack even before we know what’s in it, and attributing the indictment to a single man—a Black man— rather than to a jury of ordinary citizens. That attack, as Raskin pointed out, is their own attempt to politicize the Department of Justice and then take it over.  

    It is important to understand the pattern behind these attacks on American institutions. They are not piecemeal; they are a larger attack on democracy itself.

    Republicans are wrong, not only in their attacks on Bragg, but also in their premise that liberal democracy is immoral. It has not destroyed families or communities, or ended self-sacrifice: just the opposite.

    The principles of liberal democracy made nineteenth-century writer Harriet Beecher Stowe turn her grief for her dead eighteen-month-old son into the best-selling novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which showed why no mother’s child should be sold away from her. It made Rose Herera sue her former enslaver for custody of her own children after the Civil War. It made Julia Ward Howe demand the right to vote so her abusive husband could not control her life any longer.

    It made Black mathematician and naturalist Benjamin Banneker call out Thomas Jefferson for praising liberty while denying it to Black Americans; Sitting Bull defend the right of the Lakota to practice their own new religion, even though he did not believe in it; Saum Song Bo tell The New York Sun he was insulted by their request for money to build a pedestal for the Statue of Liberty when, three years before, the country had excluded people like him; Dr. Héctor García realize that Mexican Americans needed to be able to vote in order to protect themselves; Edward Roberts claim the right to get an education despite his physical paralysis; drag king Stormé DeLarverie throw the first punch at the Stonewall riot that jump-started the gay rights movement.

    And self-sacrifice? Americans trying to push the United States to live up to its principles have  always put themselves on the line for freedom rather than permitting democracy to fall to white supremacists or theocrats. As James Meredith recalled of his long struggle to desegregate the University of Mississippi in the 1960s: “My entire crusade at Ole Miss, you see, was a love story. It is a story about my love for America….”

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  • mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,616
       April 2, 2023 (Sunday)

    A key fight over democracy is currently taking place in Wisconsin. On April 4, voters in the state will choose a new judge for Wisconsin’s Supreme Court. That judge will determine the seven-person court’s majority, a majority that will either uphold or possibly strike down the state’s gerrymandered voting maps that are so heavily weighted toward Republicans as to make it virtually impossible for Democrats to win control of the legislature.

    Political scientists judge Wisconsin to be the most gerrymandered state in the country. The state is divided pretty evenly between Democrats and Republicans, although the Democrats have won 13 of the past 16 statewide elections. But despite the state’s relatively even political split, the current district maps are so heavily tilted for Republicans that Democrats have to win the statewide vote by 12 points just to get a majority in the assembly: 50 of the 99 seats. Republicans, though, can win a majority with just 44% of the vote.

    The process of changing Wisconsin into a stronghold of Republican power began in the 2010 elections, when Republicans launched Operation REDMAP to take over state legislatures before the redistricting process based on the 2010 census began. That year, the billionaire brothers Charles G. and David H. Koch pumped money into Wisconsin. Along with a strong talk radio media ecosystem, they helped to elect Governor Scott Walker to curb the power of public sector unions, which they blamed for what they considered excessive state spending.

    The election of Governor Walker and a Republican legislature began the process of taking control of the state. Using granular voting data and sophisticated mapping software, the Republicans gerrymandered the state so severely that they retained control of the assembly going forward even though Democrats won significantly more votes.

    As Ari Berman explained in Mother Jones, Republicans used that power to take away the bargaining rights of public sector unions in order to defund and demoralize one of the Democratic Party’s core constituencies. Berman quotes right-wing strategist Grover Norquist, who wrote that the Wisconsin policies were a national model. “If Act 10 is enacted in a dozen more states, the modern Democratic Party will cease to be a competitive power in American politics…. It’s that big a deal.” The assembly also passed at least 33 new laws during the Walker years to change election procedures and make it harder to vote.

    When Democrat Tony Evers won election as governor in 2018, Democrats won all four statewide races. They also won 53% of the votes for state assembly—203,000 more votes than the Republicans did—but because of gerrymandering, the Democrats got just 36% of the seats in the legislature. The Republicans there immediately held a lame duck session and stripped powers from Evers and Democratic attorney general Josh Kaul. Then they passed new laws to restrict voting rights. The legislature went on to block Evers’s appointees and block his legislative priorities, like healthcare, schools, and roads.

    Polls showed that voters opposed the lame duck session by a margin of almost 2 to 1, and by 2020, 82% of Wisconsin voters had passed referenda calling for fair district maps.

    But when it came time to redistrict after the 2020 census, the Republican-dominated legislature carved up the state into an even more pro-Republican map than it had put into place before. Ultimately, the new maps gave Republicans 63 out of 99 seats in the assembly and 22 out of 23 in the state senate. They came within two assembly seats of having a supermajority that would enable them to override any vetoes by the governor, essentially nullifying him, although Evers had been reelected by 53.5% of the vote (a large margin for Wisconsin).

    With gerrymandered districts virtually guaranteeing their reelection, Republicans are insulated from popular opinion. In the 2021–2022 session, they ignored the governor, refusing to confirm Evers’s appointees and going nearly 300 days without passing a single bill. They also ignored popular measures, refusing to let 98% of Democratic bills even be heard and refusing to address gun safety issues—although 81% of Wisconsinites wanted background checks for gun sales—or abortion rights, even though 83% of Wisconsin residents wanted at least some abortion rights protected after the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade last June put back into effect a law from 1849.

    This radicalized Wisconsin assembly also mattered nationally when it became a centerpiece of Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Nearly 75% of the Republicans in it worked to cast doubt on that election. After an audit turned up “absolutely no evidence of election fraud”—according to a Wisconsin judge—they tried to take control of elections away from a bipartisan commission and turn it over to the legislature they control. Senator Ron Johnson led the effort, calling for Republicans to take control of the elections because, he said, Democrats can’t be expected to “follow the rules.” In the 2022 election, the Trump-endorsed Republican candidate for governor, Tim Michels, promised, “Republicans will never lose another election in Wisconsin after I’m elected governor.”

    Their effort failed only because they fell two seats shy of the supermajority they needed.

    By shaping the state maps and limiting the power of Democratic constituencies, Republicans have also taken control of the state supreme court, which sides with the Republican lawmakers’ attempts to cement their own power. Now voters have the chance to shift the makeup of that court. Doing so would make it possible that new challenges to the gerrymandered maps would succeed, returning fairness to the electoral system.

    Wisconsin journalist Dan Shafer, who writes The Recombobulation Area, is following the race closely. His coverage reveals how the candidates’ framing of the election mirrors a larger debate about democracy. Theoretically, the election is nonpartisan, but Republicans paid former state supreme court justice Dan Kelly $120,000 to consult on Trump’s false elector scheme to overturn the 2020 presidential election, and he was on the payroll of the Republican National Committee until last December. In 2012 he defended the Republicans’ gerrymandered maps in court.

    For her part, Milwaukee County judge Janet Protasiewicz has made it clear she opposes the gerrymandered maps. “Let’s be clear here: The maps are rigged. Absolutely positively rigged,” she said in a candidates’ forum in January. “They do not reflect the people in the state. They do not reflect accurate representation, either in the State Assembly or the State Senate. They are rigged, period. I don’t think it would sell to any reasonable person that the maps are fair.”

    Shafer notes that supreme court terms are for ten years, so if the court does not shift in this election, it, along with the gerrymandered maps, will remain in place “for the foreseeable future.” The race ultimately comes down to checks and balances, he says. The court has not checked the legislature, which has entrenched one-party rule in Wisconsin.

    “This isn’t to say the maps should be redrawn to instead benefit Democrats,” Shafer continues. “Far from it. It’s about fairness. Some years Democrats will win a majority, other years Republicans will win a majority. If one party isn’t doing their job, voters should be able to do something about it. It’s about crafting a system that reflects the people of Wisconsin and can be responsive to the state’s voters. We don’t have that right now. And that has to be the goal.”

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  • mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,616
      April 3, 2023 (Monday)

    On Saturday, April 1, the emergency measures Congress put in place to extend medical coverage at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic expired. This means that states can end Medicaid coverage for people who do not meet the pre-pandemic eligibility requirements, which are based primarily on income. As many as 15 million of the 85 million people covered by Medicaid could lose coverage, although most will be eligible for other coverage either through employers or through the Affordable Care Act. The 383,000 who will fall through the cracks are in the 10 states that have refused to expand Medicaid.

    The pandemic prompted the United States to reverse 40 years of cutbacks to the social safety net. These cuts were prescribed by Republican politicians who argued that concentrating money upward would promote economic growth by enabling private investment in the economy. That “supply side” economic policy, they said, would expand the economy so effectively that everyone would prosper. In 2017, Republicans passed yet another tax cut, primarily for the wealthy and for corporations, to advance this policy.

    As the economy fell apart during the coronavirus pandemic, though, it was clear the government must do something to shore up the tattered social safety net, and even Republicans got on board fast. On March 6, 2020, Trump signed the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, allocating $8.3 billion to fund vaccine research and give money to states and local governments to try to stop the spread of the virus. On March 18, he signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which provided food assistance, sick leave, $1 billion in unemployment insurance, and Covid testing. On the same day, the Federal Housing Administration put moratoriums on foreclosure and eviction for people with government-backed loans.

    On March 27, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES), which appropriated $2.3 trillion, including $500 billion for companies, $349 billion for small businesses, $175 billion for hospitals, $150 billion to state and local government, $30.75 billion for schools and universities, individual one-time cash payments, and expanded unemployment benefits.

    Trump signed another stimulus package on April 24, 2020, which appropriated another $484 billion. And on December 27, 2020, he signed another $900 billion stimulus and relief package.

    When he took office, President Joe Biden promised to rebuild the American middle class. He and the Democratic Congress began to shift the government’s investment from shoring up the social safety net to repairing the economy. On March 19, 2021, he signed the American Rescue Plan into law, putting $1.9 trillion behind economic stimulus and relief proposals.

    Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Law, also known as the Bipartisan infrastructure Act, on November 15, 2021, putting $1.2 trillion into so-called hard infrastructure projects: roads and bridges and broadband.

    On August 9, 2022, he signed the CHIPS and Science Act, putting about $280 billion in new funding behind scientific research and the manufacturing of semiconductors. And days later, on August 16, Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Law, putting billions behind addressing climate change and energy security while also raising money to pay for new policies and to reduce the deficit by raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy, funding the Internal Revenue Service to stop cheating, and permitting Medicare to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies over drug prices.

    This dramatic investment in the demand side, rather than the supply side, of the economy helped to spark record inflation, compounded by supply chain issues that created shortages and encouraged price gouging. To combat that inflation, the Federal Reserve has been raising interest rates. Numbers released Friday show that inflation cooled in February, suggesting that the Federal Reserve is seeing the downward trend it has been hoping for, although there is concern that the sudden decision of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) this weekend to slash production of crude oil might drive the price of oil back up, dragging prices with it.

    That investment in the demand side of the economy also meant that the child poverty rate in the U.S. fell almost 30%, while food insufficiency fell by 26% in households that received the expanded child tax credit. The U.S. economy recovered faster than that of any other G7 nation after the worst of the pandemic. Wages for low-paid workers grew at their fastest rate in 40 years, with real income growing by 9%. MIddle-income workers’ wages grew by only between 2.4% and 3.9% after inflation, but that, too, was the biggest jump in 40 years. Unemployment has fallen to its lowest level since 1969, and a record 10 million people have applied to start small businesses.

    This public investment in the economy has attracted billions in private-sector investment—chipmakers have planned almost $200 billion of investments in 17 states—while it has also pressured certain companies to act in the public interest: the three major insulin producers in the U.S., making up 90% of the market, have all capped prices at $35 a month.  
     
    As the economy begins to smooth out, Biden and members of his administration are touting the benefits of investing in the economy “from the bottom up and the middle out.” They have emphasized that they are working to support unions and the rights of consumers, taking on “junk fees,” noncompete agreements, and nondisparagement clauses. After the collapse of the Silicon Valley Bank, the administration has suggested that deregulation of banking institutions went too far, and Biden has continued to push increased support for child care and health care.

    A recent Associated Press–NORC poll shows that while 60% of Americans say the federal government spends too much money, they actually want increased investment in specific programs: 65% want more on education (12% want less); 63% want more on health care (16% want less); 62% want more on Social Security (7% want less); 58% want more spending on Medicare (10% want less); 53% want more on border security (23% want less); and 35% want more spending on the military (29% want less).

    This puts the political parties in an odd spot. A week ago, Biden and members of the administration began barnstorming the country to highlight how their policy of “Investing in America” has been building the economy: “unleashing a manufacturing boom, helping rebuild our infrastructure and bring back supply chains, lowering costs for hardworking families, and creating jobs that don’t require a four-year degree across the country,” as the White House puts it.

    Meanwhile, the Republicans are doubling down on the idea that such investments are a waste of money, and are forcing a fight over the debt ceiling to try to slash the very programs that the administration is celebrating. Ignoring that the 2017 Trump tax cuts and spending under Trump added about 25% to the debt, they are focusing on Biden’s policies and demanding  that the government balance the budget in 10 years without raising taxes and without cutting defense, veterans benefits, Social Security, or Medicare, which would require slashing everything else by an impossible 85%, at least (some estimates say even 100% cuts wouldn’t do it).

    As David Firestone put it today in the New York Times: “Cutting spending…might sound attractive to many voters until you explain what you’re actually cutting and what effect it would have.” Republicans cut taxes and then complain about deficits “but don’t want to discuss how many veterans won’t get care or whose damaged homes won’t get rebuilt or which dangerous products won’t get recalled.” Firestone noted that this disconnect is why the House Republicans cannot come up with a budget. “The details of austerity are unpopular,” Firestone notes, “and it’s easier to just issue fiery news releases.”

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  • mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,616
      April 4, 2023 (Tuesday)

    There are two huge stories afield tonight. First, Finland has officially joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Finland opted for neutrality after the organization of NATO in 1949 to stand against the expansion of the Soviet Union, but Russia’s invasion of non-NATO country Ukraine last year sparked concern in a country that shares an 832-mile border with Russia. NATO members share an ironclad security guarantee among them, agreeing to come to each other’s aid if any of them is attacked.

    “The era of nonalignment in our history has come to an end—a new era begins,” Finland’s president Sauli Niinistö said.

    The second huge story is domestic. Today, Wisconsin voters elected Janet Protasiewicz to the Wisconsin Supreme Court by a ten-point margin. Her opponent, Dan Kelly, supported the heavily gerrymandered district maps in the state and was supported by antiabortion groups. Protasiewicz has called those maps, which make it virtually impossible for Democrats to win control of the assembly, “rigged” and supports abortion rights. Her election switches the political orientation of the court for the first time in 15 years.

    This court will likely take up cases relating to the state’s abortion ban, its extreme gerrymandering, and its voting rules for the 2024 presidential election. Far-right activist Ali Alexander, who was deeply involved in the attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election, tweeted: “We just lost the Wisconsin Supreme Court. I do not see a path to 270 in 2024.”

    Wisconsin Democratic chair Ben Wikler tweeted: “This isn’t a prediction. It isn’t a hint. It’s just a note. And my note is, this election was a release valve for twelve years of Democratic rage in Wisconsin about Republicans rigging our state and smashing our democracy—and then using that power to rip away our rights.”

    Across the state, Republican numbers slumped. Political commentator Brian Tyler Cohen noted: “Republicans are losing across the country, even in historically red areas—Georgia, Arizona, Michigan, Wisconsin. The abortion bans, climate denial, gun idolatry, anti-democratic behavior and extremism has lost them entire generations of Americans.”

    That disaffection was on display in Tennessee, where 7,000 schoolchildren marched to the Capitol yesterday to demand gun safety legislation after a school shooting killed six people last week. Republican lawmakers have taken steps to expel three Democratic representatives who used a bullhorn on the floor of the House to help lead the protest.

    Representatives Gloria Johnson, Justin Jones, and Justin Pearson led chants from the House floor. Their Democratic colleagues support them, but their Republican colleagues have stripped them of their committee assignments and filed resolutions declaring that the three Democrats engaged in “disorderly behavior” and “knowingly and intentionally” brought “dishonor to the House of Representatives.” The House will vote on the resolutions Thursday. Kimberlee Kruesi of the Associated Press reports that only two House members have been expelled since the Civil War.

    In other news today, the former president, Donald Trump, was arraigned in Manhattan on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. In order to quash damaging stories before the 2016 election, the charges allege, he paid a doorman who claimed to know about an out-of-wedlock child (a story apparently proved incorrect) and two women to keep them quiet about affairs. The payments were structured to hide them. This violated both election law and falsified business records, as well as mischaracterizing the payments for tax purposes.

    There were far more Trump opponents than supporters in the crowd outside the courthouse, and while Trump-allied representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and George Santos (R-NY) were there, other Republican lawmakers steered clear.

    While Trump seemed subdued and angry in the courtroom, where he pleaded not guilty, his tone had changed markedly by tonight. Back at Mar-a-Lago and surrounded by supporters, he launched into a half-hour speech tonight rehashing his favorite complaints.

    Last week, as he waited for indictment, Trump circulated on social media a picture of himself with a baseball bat next to a picture of Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg. This morning, his son, Don Jr., posted on social media a picture of the daughter of the judge presiding over the case. In court today Judge Juan Merchan asked the former president to “refrain from making comments or engaging in conduct that has the potential to incite violence, create civil unrest, or jeopardize the safety or well-being of any individuals” and suggested that, having made that warning, if he had to revisit it he would “take a closer look at it.” Nonetheless, tonight Trump went after those prosecutors pursuing cases against him.  

    Mark Barabak of the Los Angeles Times noted the "stark contrast between the humbled Trump facing justice Tuesday and the swaggering Trump—all toughness, cunning and hyper-masculinity—that he prefers to project.”

    Also today, a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., ruled that several of Trump’s top aides must testify before the grand jury investigating the attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

    In his statement welcoming Finland to NATO today, President Joe Biden noted that the United States and 11 other nations came together to sign the original NATO declaration 74 years ago today: April 4, 1949. On that day, President Harry S. Truman said, “If there is anything inevitable in the future, it is the will of the people of the world for freedom and for peace.”

    At the end of the night, the Wisconsin Democratic Party released a statement congratulating Justice-elect Protasiewicz on her victory. “The resurrection of democracy and freedom in Wisconsin has begun,” it read.

    “On paper, this campaign may have lasted only a few months. But tonight’s victory is the result of years of unglamorous work by volunteers, activists, union members, and organizers across our state who knocked doors, made phone calls, chipped in, and never lost the faith that a better future was possible—even when hope seemed all but lost. Tonight is a testament to the power of never giving up. And it’s a testament to the whirlwind that the foes of democracy—in Wisconsin, and in America—can expect to reap.

    “While we may have won tonight, we know that the threat posed to our freedoms and our democracy by MAGA extremism continues. And that’s why we will never stop organizing. We will use this moment as a springboard into the long work ahead—to build a multiracial democracy in which all of us, no matter our gender or gender identity, our generation or the geography in which we live, has a voice, has dignity, and has the power that is supposed to be the birthright of all American citizens.”

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  • brianluxbrianlux Moving through All Kinds of Terrain. Posts: 40,655
    Alright!  Good news for a change!
    “The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man [or woman] who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”
    Variously credited to Mark Twain or Edward Abbey.













  • mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,616
      April 5, 2023 (Wednesday)

    In yesterday’s election in Wisconsin, the two candidates represented very different futures for the country. One candidate for the state supreme court, Daniel Kelly, had helped politicians to gerrymander the state to give Republicans an iron lock on the state assembly and was backed by antiabortion Republicans. The other, Janet Protasiewicz, promised to stand behind fair voting maps and the protection of reproductive rights.

    Wisconsin voters elected Protasiewicz by an overwhelming eleven points in a state where elections are usually decided by a point or so. Kelly reacted with an angry, bitter speech. “I wish that in a circumstance like this I would be able to concede to a worthy opponent,” he said. “But I do not have a worthy opponent to which I can concede.”

    Yesterday’s vote in Wisconsin reinforces the polling numbers that show how overwhelmingly popular abortion rights and fair voting are, and it seems likely to throw the Republican push to suppress voting into hyperdrive before the 2024 election.

    Since the 1980s, Republicans have pushed the idea of “ballot integrity” or, later, “voter fraud” to justify voter suppression. That cry began in 1986, when Republican operatives, realizing that voters opposed Reagan’s tax cuts, launched a “ballot integrity” initiative that they privately noted “could keep the black vote down considerably.”

    That effort to restrict the vote is now a central part of Republican policy. Together with Documented, an investigative watchdog and journalism project, The Guardian today published the story of the attempt by three leading right-wing election denial groups to restrict voting rights in Republican-dominated states by continuing the lie that voting fraud is rampant.

    The Guardian’s story, by Ed Pilkington and Jamie Corey, explores a two-day February meeting in Washington organized by the right-wing Heritage Foundation and attended by officials from 13 states, including the chief election officials of Indiana, Florida, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. At the meeting, participants learned about auditing election results, litigation, and funding to challenge election results. Many of the attendees and speakers are associated with election denial.

    Since the 2020 election, Republican-dominated states have passed “election reform” measures that restrict the vote; those efforts are ongoing. On Thursday alone, the Texas Senate advanced a number of new restrictions. In the wake of high turnout among Generation Z Americans, who were born after 1996 and are more racially and ethnically diverse than their elders, care deeply about reproductive and LGBTQ rights, and want the government to do more to address society’s ills, Republican legislatures are singling out the youth vote to hamstring.

    That determination to silence younger Americans is playing out today in Tennessee, where a school shooting on March 28 in Nashville killed six people, including three 9-year-olds. The shooting has prompted protesters to demand that the legislature honor the will of the people by addressing gun safety, but instead, Republicans in the legislature have moved to expel three Democratic lawmakers who approached the podium without being recognized to speak—a breach of House rules—and led protesters in chants calling for gun reform. As Republicans decried the breach by Representatives Gloria Johnson, Justin Jones, and Justin Pearson, protestors in the galleries called out, “Fascists!”

    Republican efforts to gain control did not end there. On Twitter today, Johnson noted that she had “just had a visit from the head of HR and the House ethics lawyer,” who told her “that if I am expelled, I will lose my health benefits,” but the ethics lawyer went on to explain “that in one case, a member who was potentially up for expulsion decided to resign because if you resign, you maintain your health benefits.”

    The echoes of Reconstruction in that conversation are deafening. In that era, when the positions of the parties were reversed, southern Democrats used similar “persuasion” to chase Republican legislators out of office. When that didn’t work, of course, they also threatened the physical safety of those who stood in the way of their absolute control of politics.

    On Saturday night, someone fired shots into the home of the man who founded and runs the Tennessee Holler, a progressive news site. Justin Kanew was covering the gun safety struggle in Tennessee. He wrote: “This violence has no place in a civilized society and we are thankful no one was physically hurt. The authorities have not completed their investigation and right now we do not know for sure the reason for this attack. We urge the Williamson County Sheriff’s office to continue to investigate this crime and help shed light on Saturday’s unfortunate events and bring the perpetrators of this crime to justice. In the meantime, our family remains focused on keeping our children healthy and safe.”

    The anger coming from losing candidate Kelly last night, and his warning that “this does not end well….[a]nd I wish Wisconsin the best of luck because I think it's going to need it,” sure sounded like those lawmakers in the Reconstruction years who were convinced that only people like them should govern. The goal of voter suppression, control of statehouses, and violence—then and now—is minority rule.

    Today’s Republican Party has fallen under the sway of MAGA Republicans who advocate Christian nationalism despite its general unpopularity; on April 3, Hungarian president Viktor Orbán, who has destroyed true  democracy in favor of "Christian democracy" in his own country, cheered Trump on and told him to “keep on fighting.” Like Orbán, today's Republicans reject the principles that underpin democracy, including the ideas of equality before the law and separation of church and state, and instead want to impose Christian rule on the American majority.

    Their conviction that American “tradition” focuses on patriarchy rather than equality is a dramatic rewriting of our history, and it has led to recent attacks on LGBTQ Americans. In Kansas today, the legislature overrode Democratic governor Laura Kelly’s veto of a bill banning transgender athletes who were assigned male at birth from participating in women’s sports. Kansas is the twentieth state to enact such a policy, and when it goes into effect, it will affect just one youth in the state.

    Yesterday, Idaho governor Brad Little signed a law banning gender-affirming care for people under 18, and today Indiana governor Eric Holcomb did the same.

    Meanwhile, Republican-dominated states are so determined to ignore the majority they are also trying to make it harder for voters to challenge state laws through ballot initiatives. Alice MIranda Ollstein and Megan Messerly of Politico recently wrote about how, after voters in a number of states overrode abortion bans through ballot initiatives, legislatures in Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, and Oklahoma are now debating ways to make it harder for voters to get measures on the ballot, sometimes even specifying that abortion-related measures are not eligible for ballot challenges.

    And yet, in the face off the open attempt of a minority to seize control, replacing our democracy with Christian nationalism, the majority is reasserting its power. In Michigan, after an independent redistricting commission redrew maps to end the same sort of gerrymandering that is currently in place in Wisconsin and Tennessee, Democrats in 2022 won a slim majority to control the state government. And today, Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer signed into law a bill revoking a 1931 law that criminalized abortion without exception for rape or incest.

    _____________________________________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
  • Halifax2TheMaxHalifax2TheMax Posts: 36,560
    mickeyrat said:
      April 5, 2023 (Wednesday)

    In yesterday’s election in Wisconsin, the two candidates represented very different futures for the country. One candidate for the state supreme court, Daniel Kelly, had helped politicians to gerrymander the state to give Republicans an iron lock on the state assembly and was backed by antiabortion Republicans. The other, Janet Protasiewicz, promised to stand behind fair voting maps and the protection of reproductive rights.

    Wisconsin voters elected Protasiewicz by an overwhelming eleven points in a state where elections are usually decided by a point or so. Kelly reacted with an angry, bitter speech. “I wish that in a circumstance like this I would be able to concede to a worthy opponent,” he said. “But I do not have a worthy opponent to which I can concede.”

    Yesterday’s vote in Wisconsin reinforces the polling numbers that show how overwhelmingly popular abortion rights and fair voting are, and it seems likely to throw the Republican push to suppress voting into hyperdrive before the 2024 election.

    Since the 1980s, Republicans have pushed the idea of “ballot integrity” or, later, “voter fraud” to justify voter suppression. That cry began in 1986, when Republican operatives, realizing that voters opposed Reagan’s tax cuts, launched a “ballot integrity” initiative that they privately noted “could keep the black vote down considerably.”

    That effort to restrict the vote is now a central part of Republican policy. Together with Documented, an investigative watchdog and journalism project, The Guardian today published the story of the attempt by three leading right-wing election denial groups to restrict voting rights in Republican-dominated states by continuing the lie that voting fraud is rampant.

    The Guardian’s story, by Ed Pilkington and Jamie Corey, explores a two-day February meeting in Washington organized by the right-wing Heritage Foundation and attended by officials from 13 states, including the chief election officials of Indiana, Florida, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. At the meeting, participants learned about auditing election results, litigation, and funding to challenge election results. Many of the attendees and speakers are associated with election denial.

    Since the 2020 election, Republican-dominated states have passed “election reform” measures that restrict the vote; those efforts are ongoing. On Thursday alone, the Texas Senate advanced a number of new restrictions. In the wake of high turnout among Generation Z Americans, who were born after 1996 and are more racially and ethnically diverse than their elders, care deeply about reproductive and LGBTQ rights, and want the government to do more to address society’s ills, Republican legislatures are singling out the youth vote to hamstring.

    That determination to silence younger Americans is playing out today in Tennessee, where a school shooting on March 28 in Nashville killed six people, including three 9-year-olds. The shooting has prompted protesters to demand that the legislature honor the will of the people by addressing gun safety, but instead, Republicans in the legislature have moved to expel three Democratic lawmakers who approached the podium without being recognized to speak—a breach of House rules—and led protesters in chants calling for gun reform. As Republicans decried the breach by Representatives Gloria Johnson, Justin Jones, and Justin Pearson, protestors in the galleries called out, “Fascists!”

    Republican efforts to gain control did not end there. On Twitter today, Johnson noted that she had “just had a visit from the head of HR and the House ethics lawyer,” who told her “that if I am expelled, I will lose my health benefits,” but the ethics lawyer went on to explain “that in one case, a member who was potentially up for expulsion decided to resign because if you resign, you maintain your health benefits.”

    The echoes of Reconstruction in that conversation are deafening. In that era, when the positions of the parties were reversed, southern Democrats used similar “persuasion” to chase Republican legislators out of office. When that didn’t work, of course, they also threatened the physical safety of those who stood in the way of their absolute control of politics.

    On Saturday night, someone fired shots into the home of the man who founded and runs the Tennessee Holler, a progressive news site. Justin Kanew was covering the gun safety struggle in Tennessee. He wrote: “This violence has no place in a civilized society and we are thankful no one was physically hurt. The authorities have not completed their investigation and right now we do not know for sure the reason for this attack. We urge the Williamson County Sheriff’s office to continue to investigate this crime and help shed light on Saturday’s unfortunate events and bring the perpetrators of this crime to justice. In the meantime, our family remains focused on keeping our children healthy and safe.”

    The anger coming from losing candidate Kelly last night, and his warning that “this does not end well….[a]nd I wish Wisconsin the best of luck because I think it's going to need it,” sure sounded like those lawmakers in the Reconstruction years who were convinced that only people like them should govern. The goal of voter suppression, control of statehouses, and violence—then and now—is minority rule.

    Today’s Republican Party has fallen under the sway of MAGA Republicans who advocate Christian nationalism despite its general unpopularity; on April 3, Hungarian president Viktor Orbán, who has destroyed true  democracy in favor of "Christian democracy" in his own country, cheered Trump on and told him to “keep on fighting.” Like Orbán, today's Republicans reject the principles that underpin democracy, including the ideas of equality before the law and separation of church and state, and instead want to impose Christian rule on the American majority.

    Their conviction that American “tradition” focuses on patriarchy rather than equality is a dramatic rewriting of our history, and it has led to recent attacks on LGBTQ Americans. In Kansas today, the legislature overrode Democratic governor Laura Kelly’s veto of a bill banning transgender athletes who were assigned male at birth from participating in women’s sports. Kansas is the twentieth state to enact such a policy, and when it goes into effect, it will affect just one youth in the state.

    Yesterday, Idaho governor Brad Little signed a law banning gender-affirming care for people under 18, and today Indiana governor Eric Holcomb did the same.

    Meanwhile, Republican-dominated states are so determined to ignore the majority they are also trying to make it harder for voters to challenge state laws through ballot initiatives. Alice MIranda Ollstein and Megan Messerly of Politico recently wrote about how, after voters in a number of states overrode abortion bans through ballot initiatives, legislatures in Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, and Oklahoma are now debating ways to make it harder for voters to get measures on the ballot, sometimes even specifying that abortion-related measures are not eligible for ballot challenges.

    And yet, in the face of the open attempt of a minority to seize control, replacing our democracy with Christian nationalism, the majority is reasserting its power. In Michigan, after an independent redistricting commission redrew maps to end the same sort of gerrymandering that is currently in place in Wisconsin and Tennessee, Democrats in 2022 won a slim majority to control the state government. And today, Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer signed into law a bill revoking a 1931 law that criminalized abortion without exception for rape or incest.

    And some say it can’t happen here.
    09/15/1998 & 09/16/1998, Mansfield, MA; 08/29/00 08/30/00, Mansfield, MA; 07/02/03, 07/03/03, Mansfield, MA; 09/28/04, 09/29/04, Boston, MA; 09/22/05, Halifax, NS; 05/24/06, 05/25/06, Boston, MA; 07/22/06, 07/23/06, Gorge, WA; 06/27/2008, Hartford; 06/28/08, 06/30/08, Mansfield; 08/18/2009, O2, London, UK; 10/30/09, 10/31/09, Philadelphia, PA; 05/15/10, Hartford, CT; 05/17/10, Boston, MA; 05/20/10, 05/21/10, NY, NY; 06/22/10, Dublin, IRE; 06/23/10, Northern Ireland; 09/03/11, 09/04/11, Alpine Valley, WI; 09/11/11, 09/12/11, Toronto, Ont; 09/14/11, Ottawa, Ont; 09/15/11, Hamilton, Ont; 07/02/2012, Prague, Czech Republic; 07/04/2012 & 07/05/2012, Berlin, Germany; 07/07/2012, Stockholm, Sweden; 09/30/2012, Missoula, MT; 07/16/2013, London, Ont; 07/19/2013, Chicago, IL; 10/15/2013 & 10/16/2013, Worcester, MA; 10/21/2013 & 10/22/2013, Philadelphia, PA; 10/25/2013, Hartford, CT; 11/29/2013, Portland, OR; 11/30/2013, Spokane, WA; 12/04/2013, Vancouver, BC; 12/06/2013, Seattle, WA; 10/03/2014, St. Louis. MO; 10/22/2014, Denver, CO; 10/26/2015, New York, NY; 04/23/2016, New Orleans, LA; 04/28/2016 & 04/29/2016, Philadelphia, PA; 05/01/2016 & 05/02/2016, New York, NY; 05/08/2016, Ottawa, Ont.; 05/10/2016 & 05/12/2016, Toronto, Ont.; 08/05/2016 & 08/07/2016, Boston, MA; 08/20/2016 & 08/22/2016, Chicago, IL; 07/01/2018, Prague, Czech Republic; 07/03/2018, Krakow, Poland; 07/05/2018, Berlin, Germany; 09/02/2018 & 09/04/2018, Boston, MA; 09/08/2022, Toronto, Ont; 09/11/2022, New York, NY; 09/14/2022, Camden, NJ; 09/02/2023, St. Paul, MN;

    Libtardaplorable©. And proud of it.

    Brilliantati©
  • mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,616
     April 6, 2023 (Thursday)

    The Supreme Court was in the news this morning, as Joshua Kaplan, Justin Elliott, and Alex Mierjeski of ProPublica explained that for more than twenty years Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has enjoyed the hospitality and funding of Dallas real estate magnate and major Republican donor Harlan Crow. Thomas and his wife Ginni, who was closely involved in challenging the 2020 presidential election, have taken trips in private jets and gone on vacations with Crow worth as much as $500,000.

    Thomas did not disclose any of these valuable gifts. Indeed, in a documentary funded in part by Crow, Thomas presented himself as a regular guy. “I prefer the RV parks. I prefer the Walmart parking lots to the beaches and things like that. There’s something normal to me about it,” he said. “I come from regular stock, and I prefer that—I prefer being around that.”

    After the story dropped, David G. Savage of the Los Angeles Times recalled that his newspaper had disclosed the close connections between Thomas and Crow in 2004, noting, for example, that Crow had given Thomas a $19,000 Bible that had belonged to the famous formerly enslaved abolitionist and writer Frederick Douglass and a $15,000 bust of Abraham Lincoln. After their story appeared, it seems that Thomas did not stop accepting expensive gifts and travel from the wealthy mogul, but instead stopped disclosing them.

    In Crow’s company, Thomas rubbed elbows with his host’s other guests, including senior business executives, major Republican donors, and leaders of right-wing think tanks. Crow has worked hard to move the judiciary and the legal system to the right, and at one of the properties where Thomas vacations, there is a painting of him in conversation with a number of figures, including Leonard Leo, the leader of the Federalist Society who has orchestrated the court’s hard-right turn. Leo is now overseeing Marble Freedom Trust, established to disburse funds from a $1.6 billion bequest to manipulate elections in favor of Republicans.

    Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) tweeted: “Important for news media to not simply label this guy as a ‘[Republican] mega donor’. It’s so much worse. Crow has many interests before the Supreme Court. His groups file petitions before the court. It’s the clearest, most brazen violation of judicial ethics you can imagine.”

    In Congress today, House Judiciary Committee chair Jim Jordan (R-OH) issued a subpoena in its investigation of the Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg’s office after that office indicted former president Donald Trump on 34 counts of falsifying business records on Tuesday. Bragg explained: “The trail of money & lies exposes a pattern that, the People allege, violates one of New York’s basic & fundamental business laws.”

    Although Jordan himself refused to respond to a subpoena issued by the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, he is demanding that Mark Pomerantz, a former county special assistant district attorney who investigated Trump’s finances, show up to testify.

    Pomerantz resigned from his role in the investigation out of frustration that Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg was not then moving forward with an indictment. The wording of Jordan’s letter indicates he is hoping to use Pomerantz’s words critical of Trump to argue that the district attorney’s office was biased against the former president.

    General counsel for the Manhattan district attorney’s office Leslie Dubeck previously rejected the demands of Jordan, House Committee on House Administration chair Bryan Steil (R-WI), and  House Committee on Oversight and Accountability chair James Comer (R-KY) for testimony and documents from Bragg, warning them that their attacks on Bragg and his office were “unlawful political interference.”

    Dubeck pointed out: “our Office is legally constrained in how it publicly discusses pending criminal proceedings,… as you well know.” She called their interference “unnecessary and unjustified” and reminded the men that Congress has no jurisdiction over individual criminal investigations. Nor does it have jurisdiction over state investigations. “The Committees’ attempted interference with an ongoing state criminal investigation—and now prosecution—is an unprecedented and illegitimate incursion on New York’s sovereign interests,” she wrote.

    Now Jordan is trying a different approach. Bragg responded: “The House [Republicans continue] to attempt to undermine an active investigation and ongoing New York criminal case with an unprecedented campaign of harassment and intimidation. Repeated efforts to weaken state and local law enforcement actions are an abuse of power and will not deter us from our duty to uphold the law.”

    In the Tennessee statehouse this afternoon, Republican legislators led by House of Representatives speaker Cameron Sexton voted to expel Justin Jones and Justin Pearson, two young Black lawmakers who had led young protesters in chants from the floor of the house chamber in favor of gun safety legislation after house Republicans refused to allow debate on such a measure.

    The Republicans charged that the three representatives had broken house rules and had engaged in “disorderly behavior” and “knowingly and intentionally” brought “dishonor to the House of Representatives.” The body avoided expelling Gloria Johnson, the white woman who chanted with Jones and Pearson, by one vote. Although the debate showed that a Republican had also broken house rules by recording a video that was then misleadingly edited and shown, that representative was not charged.

    The three Democratic representatives joined protesters to call for gun safety legislation after six people, including three 9-year-olds, were killed in yet another school shooting. The Republicans have focused on cultural issues and have opposed taking up gun safety legislation. Indeed, they have worked to loosen gun laws; on the same day as the recent school shooting, a federal judge cleared the way for the Tennessee legislature to lower the age for permitless carry in the state from 21 to 18. Republican governor Bill Lee signed the permitless carry bill for 21 and up in 2021 at a Beretta gun manufacturing plant.

    Today, young protesters in the statehouse defended the Tennessee Three, as they have become known, saying: “You ban books, you ban drag—kids are still in body bags!” After the votes to expel, the chants changed to “F*ck you, fascists!”

    Republicans in the Tennessee legislature could act as they did because they have a supermajority thanks to their redistricting of the state after the 2020 census. In that redistricting they cracked Democratic-leaning Nashville, dividing it among three districts in which they overwhelmed Democratic voters with Republicans from the suburbs. A new state law has now required Nashville to cut its city council in half. Meanwhile, laws prohibiting people with a past felony conviction from voting cut more than 470,000 people from the voter rolls.

    This lock on power has given Tennessee Republicans the ability to do as they please. Today it pleased them to expel two young Black legislators who were trying to force the Republicans to do something about the epidemic of gun violence that is killing their constituents.

    The Supreme Court, Congress, and the Tennessee statehouse. What would you say if you saw today’s news coming from another country?

    Before he left the chamber, Representative Justin Pearson told his suddenly former colleagues how he saw it.

    “You are seeking to expel District 86’s representation from this house, in a country that was built on a protest. IN A COUNTRY THAT WAS BUILT ON A PROTEST. You who celebrate July 4, 1776, pop fireworks and eat hotdogs. You say to protest is wrong because you spoke out of turn, because you spoke up for people who are marginalized. You spoke up for children who won’t ever be able to speak again; you spoke up for parents who don’t want to live in fear; you spoke up for Larry Thorn, who was murdered by gun violence; you spoke up for people that we don’t want to care about. In a country built on people who speak out of turn, who spoke out of turn, who fought out of turn to build a nation.

    “I come from a long line of people who have resisted.”

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
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