Letter From An American by Heather Cox Richardson

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  • mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,022
      January 24, 2024 (Wednesday)

    The dust is beginning to settle after last night’s New Hampshire primary. Former president Donald Trump won the Republican primary with 54.3% of the vote, netting him 12 delegates to the Republican National Convention. Former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley came in second with 43.3% of the vote, garnering her 9 delegates. Other candidates together took 2.3%, but none of them won any delegates.

    There has been a lot of noise today about whether the New Hampshire results spell good news for Trump or bad news. While the result keeps him in the front spot for the Republican nomination, I fall into the category of observers who see bad news: more than 45% of Republican primary voters—those most fervent about the party—chose someone other than Trump.

    As David French pointed out in the New York Times today, Trump is running as a virtual incumbent, and any incumbent facing a challenger who can command 43% of the party faithful is in trouble. President Gerald Ford discovered this equation in 1976 when he faced Ronald Reagan’s insurgency; President George H. W. Bush discovered it in 1992 when he faced a similar challenge from right-wing commentator Patrick Buchanan. While both Ford and Bush went on to win the Republican nomination, they lost the general election.

    More important than opinions or history to indicate what the primary indicated, though, is Trump’s apparent anger about Haley’s showing. Politico’s Playbook noted that he “rage-posted” about Haley’s speech after her strong finish with posts that lasted far into the night. Ron Filipkowski noted that at 2:19 this morning he was still at it, posting: “NIKKI CAME IN LAST, NOT SECOND!”

    In addition to attacking her from the podium, Trump appeared to threaten her when he warned her about “very dishonest people” she would have to fight. He said she was not going to win, “but if she did, she would “be under investigation…in fifteen minutes and I could tell you five reasons why already. Not big reasons, a little stuff that she doesn’t want to talk about, but she will be under investigation within minutes, and so would Ron have been, but he decided to get out.”

    The tactics Trump might have been suggesting became clear this afternoon, when the chair of the Arizona Republican Party, Jeff DeWit, resigned after a recording that appeared to show him trying to bribe Arizona Senate candidate and fervent Trump supporter Kari Lake to stay out of the Senate race was leaked to the press. The tape itself was clearly contrived to show Lake as if she were in a campaign ad, defending Trump and America, but it includes DeWit’s pleas for her to stand aside for two years, presumably while the Arizona party regroups with less extremist candidates, and his request that she name her price.

    This sordid story reflects a problem in the state Republican parties as MAGA supporters have tried to take over from the party establishment. In Arizona, challenging the 2020 presidential election—remember the “Cyber Ninjas” who audited the Maricopa County vote?—ran the finances of the Arizona party into the ground. Lake has continued to insist, without evidence, that the election was stolen, and she and other MAGA activists have called for purging the party of all but the Trump faithful. The recording positions Lake as a Trump loyalist fighting against party operatives.

    In his resignation letter, DeWit claimed the recording had been “taken out of context” and said he had been “set up.” He noted that Lake has “a disturbing tendency to exploit private interactions for personal gain,” calling out “her habit of secretly recording personal and private conversations. This is obviously a concern given how much interaction she has with high profile people including President Trump,” he added. “I believe she orchestrated this entire situation to have control over the state party,” he wrote.

    DeWit said he had “received an ultimatum from Lake’s team: resign today or face the release of a new, more damaging recording. I am truly unsure of its contents,” he wrote, “but considering our numerous past open conversations as friends, I have decided not to take the risk. I am resigning as Lake requested.”

    It seems clear the Trump team is eager to consolidate power behind him no matter what it takes, especially in the face of what appears to be his weakness. Rising authoritarians depend on the idea they are invincible, so being perceived as vulnerable—or as a loser—hits them much harder than it does a normal political candidate.

    Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel—who was recorded on November 17, 2020, pressuring two Republican officials in Michigan not to certify Joe Biden’s electors in a county he won by 68% and promising the officials to “get you attorneys”—has urged Haley to drop out of the race. Traditionally, party chairs stay neutral in primary contests. Tonight, Trump posted a threat to donors: “Nikki ‘Birdbrain’ Haley is very bad for the Republican Party and, indeed, our Country…. Anybody that makes a ‘Contribution’ to Birdbrain, from this moment forth, will be permanently barred from the MAGA camp. We don’t want them and will not accept them.”

    For her part, Haley has vowed to stay in the contest. While observers point out that there is very little chance she could actually overtake Trump, it’s also true that either Trump’s obvious mental lapses or his legal troubles could knock him out of the race, in which case she would be the most viable candidate  standing.

    Curiously, what happened to Trump in New Hampshire was what, before the election, pundits suggested could and maybe should happen to President Joe Biden: a challenger would show that he was weak going into the 2024 election.

    Instead, despite dirty-trickster robocalls in a fake Biden voice telling Democratic voters not to show up vote for Biden, he won 65% of the vote as a write-in candidate—he wasn’t on the ballot—while Representative Dean Phillips and self-help author Marianne Williamson, who were on the ballot, together garnered just under 25%.

    On Monday, Miranda Nazzaro of The Hill reported that the creator of ChatGPT banned a super PAC backing Phillips for misusing AI for political purposes. Billionaire Bill Ackman, who has been in the news lately for his fight against diversity, equity, and inclusion programs, attacks on former Harvard president Claudine Gay, and threats to media outlets that pointed out plagiarism in his wife’s doctoral dissertation, donated $1 million to Phillips’s super PAC.  

    There was other good news for the Biden camp today, too. Sign-ups for the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, have surged by 80% under Biden, with a record 21 million people enrolling this year. Trump has promised to get rid of the program, saying that “Obamacare Sucks!!!” and that he will replace it with something better, but neither now nor in his four years in office did he produce a plan.

    Biden also received the enthusiastic endorsement today of the United Auto Workers union, whose president, Shawn Fain, had made it clear that any president must earn that endorsement. Biden stood with the union in its negotiations last year with the big three automakers, not only behind the scenes but also in public when he became the first president to join a picket line. “[Trump] went to a nonunion plant, invited by the boss, and trashed our union,” Fain said, “And, here is what Joe Biden did during our stand up strike. He heard the call. And he stood up and he showed up.” "Donald Trump stands against everything we stand for as a society," Fain told the crowd.

    More news dropped today about the damage MAGA Republicans are doing to the United States. A report published today in JAMA Internal Medicine estimates that in the 14 states that outlawed abortion after the Supreme Court's June 2022 Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, 64,565 women became pregnant after being raped, “but few (if any) obtained in-state abortions legally.”  

    Finally, Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan of Punchbowl News confirmed this evening that although MAGA Republicans have insisted the border is such a crisis that no aid to Ukraine can pass until it is addressed, Trump is preventing congressional action on the border because he wants to run on the issue of immigration. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told a closed meeting of Senate Republicans that “the nominee” wants to run his campaign on immigration, adding, “We don’t want to do anything to undermine him.” “We’re in a quandary,” McConnell said.

    Jennifer Bendery and Igor Bobic of HuffPost reported that Trump today reached out to Republican senators to kill the bipartisan border deal being finalized, “because he doesn’t want Biden to have a victory,” one source said. “The rational Republicans want the deal because they want Ukraine and Israel and an actual border solution,” Bendery and Bobic quote the source as saying. “But the others are afraid of Trump, or they’re the chaos caucus who never wants to pass anything.”

    “They’re having a little crisis in their conference right now,”

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  • mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,022
     January 25, 2024 (Thursday)

    Today a report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis showed strong economic growth of 3.3% in the U.S. in the fourth quarter of 2023, setting growth for the year at 3.1% (by comparison, in the first three years of Trump’s term, before the pandemic, growth was 2.5%). A year ago, economists projected that the U.S. would have a recession in 2023, and forecast growth of 0.2%.

    Meanwhile, unemployment remains low, wages are high, and inflation is receding. As Gabriel T. Rubin put it in the Wall Street Journal today, “The final three months of the year looked a lot like the soft landing Fed officials are seeking to achieve.”

    There is a major political story behind this impressive economic one. Since 1981, lawmakers have insisted that cutting taxes, regulation, and the social safety net would create much faster and more efficient growth than was possible under the system in place between 1933 and 1981.

    In the earlier era, lawmakers regulated business, imposed progressive taxes, and supported workers to make sure that ordinary Americans had the resources to fuel the economy through their desire for homes, consumer goods, and so on. But with the election of Republican president Ronald Reagan, lawmakers claimed that concentrating wealth on the “supply side” of the economy would enable wealthy investors and businessmen to manage the economy more efficiently than was possible when the government meddled, and the resulting economic growth would make the entire country more prosperous.

    The problem was that this system never produced the economic boom it promised. Instead, it moved money dramatically upward and hollowed out the American middle class while leaving poorer Americans significantly worse off.

    When they took office, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris rejected “supply side” economics and vowed to restore buying power to the demand side of the economy: ordinary Americans. They invested in manufacturing, infrastructure, small businesses, and workers’ rights. And now, after years in which pundits said their policies would never work, the numbers are in. The U.S. economy is very strong indeed, and at least some voters who have backed Republicans for a generation are noticing, as United Auto Workers president Shawn Fain made clear yesterday when the union made a strong and early endorsement of President Biden.  

    So here is the political story: Republicans cannot run for office in 2024 by attacking the economy, although Trump has tested that message by saying the economy is “so fragile” and “running off the fumes” of his administration and that it will soon crash. He has promised to cut taxes again, which is not likely to impress many voters these days. Media stories are beginning to reflect the reality of the economy, and people are starting to realize that it is strong.

    At the same time, the Republicans are in huge trouble over their overturning of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision recognizing the constitutional right to abortion. A poll taken in June 2023, a year after the Supreme Court overturned Roe, showed that 69% of Americans want to see Roe reinstated. But, to appeal to their base, Republican leaders are backing more, rather than less, extreme measures: a federal prohibition of abortion.

    So the MAGA Republicans, who back Trump, need an election issue. They are trying to turn the migration influx at the southern border into an issue that can win for them in November. In December 2023, extremist House Republicans refused to pass a supplementary funding bill that is crucial to Ukraine’s effort to resist Russia’s 2022 invasion, insisting that the “border crisis” must be attended to first, although they refused to participate in the negotiations that Biden and senators promptly began.

    Then, after news hit that the negotiators were close to a deal, House speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) and Fox News Channel personality Laura Ingraham told the television audience that they had both spoken to Trump and he opposed a deal. Negotiations continued, and last night, journalists reported that Trump was pressuring Republican lawmakers to reject any deal because he wants to run on the issue of immigration and “doesn’t want Biden to have a victory.”

    Today, Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) told CNN’s Manu Raju that “the fact that he would communicate to Republican senators and congresspeople that he doesn’t want us to solve the border problem because he wants to blame Biden for it is really appalling.” Attacking Romney on social media, Trump said: "[W]e need a Strong, Powerful, and essentially 'PERFECT' Border and, unless we get that, we are better off not making a Deal, even if that pushes our Country to temporarily 'close up' for a while, because it will end up closing anyway with the unsustainable Invasion that is currently taking place,” which he called “A DEATH WISH for the U.S.A.!...”

    Now, after insisting the border issue must be addressed and riling up their base to believe it is the biggest crisis the U.S. faces, MAGA Republicans are in the position of having to refuse to address the problem. So they are escalating their rhetoric, claiming that the bipartisan deal to address the border is not good enough.

    That dilemma is especially clear in Texas, where voters are very angry over reproductive rights in the face of Texas’s draconian laws, which have produced high-profile cases in which white suburban women—a key voting demographic—have been forced to leave the state to obtain abortions to protect their health. Texas governor Greg Abbott is also searching for a viable political issue since his signature policy, school vouchers, failed late last year. According to Patrick Svitek of the Texas Tribune, money has been pouring into the Texas primaries as Abbott and Texas attorney general Ken Paxton try “to unseat House Republicans who crossed them.”

    When the Supreme Court on Monday permitted the federal government to cut razor wire that was blocking federal agents from reaching parts of the border, including the crossing where three migrants died last week, MAGA Republicans urged Texas to “ignore” the ruling (although it came from a right-wing court), and Abbott launched a war of words against the federal government over management of the border.

    In a construction that appeared to echo Civil War–era declarations of secession, Abbott asserted Texas’s “constitutional authority to defend and protect itself.”

    Twenty-five Republican governors have issued a joint statement supporting “Texas’ constitutional right to self-defense.” Their statement accuses Biden of attacking Texas, using the right-wing talking points that the administration is "refusing to enforce immigration laws already on the books" and leaving the country "completely vulnerable to unprecedented illegal immigration pouring across the Southern border."

    House speaker Johnson has also posted: “I stand with Governor Abbott. The House will do everything in its power to back him up. The next step: holding Secretary Mayorkas accountable.” (Johnson refers here to the impeachment effort against Homeland Security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in which the Republicans wrote articles of impeachment before holding any hearings.) Trump called for “all willing States to deploy their [national] guards to Texas."

    But Paxton (whose trial on charges of securities fraud is set to start in April), asserted this right in court last September, and Abbott suggested today that his moves are part of an attempt to create a record for a court case challenging the long-standing precedent that the federal government, not the states, has jurisdiction over border issues.

    Observers worry that Texas’s stance is a modern version of the secession of the American South from the Union in the months before the Civil War, and perhaps in one way, it is. In the 1850s, elite southerners’ management of the South’s economy had thrown huge numbers of poor white southerners off their land and enabled a few men to amass huge wealth and power. As dispossessed white men became restive against the economic policies of human enslavement, southern lawmakers shored up their own slipping popularity by warning of the dangers of federal government meddling in their business.

    Here’s another way in which that era might inform our own. In the 1860s, southern leaders’ posturing took on a momentum of its own, propelling fire-eating southerners into a war. As MAGA Republicans are talking tonight about fighting the federal government and as Trump calls for “all willing States to deploy their guards to Texas,” I think of those elite southerners in 1861 for whom threatening war was all a rhetorical game.

    Meanwhile, Ukraine is running out of ammunition.

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  • mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,022
      January 26, 2024 (Friday)

    [There is a description of rape in paragraph 8.]

    This afternoon a jury of nine Americans deliberated for less than three hours before it ordered former president Trump to pay writer E. Jean Carroll $83.3 million for defaming her after she accused him in 2019 of raping her in the 1990s. In May 2023 a jury found Trump liable for sexually abusing Carroll in an assault the judge said is commonly known as rape, and for defaming her. That jury awarded Carroll $5 million.

    Despite the jury’s 2023 verdict, Trump has continued to attack Carroll. Indeed, he repeatedly attacked her on social media posts even during this month’s trial. Today’s jury found that Trump acted with malice and awarded Carroll $65 million in punitive damages, $11 million in compensatory damages for a reputation repair program, and $7.3 million in compensatory damages outside of the reputation program.

    Trump immediately called the jury verdict “Absolutely ridiculous!” and said he would appeal. “THIS IS NOT AMERICA!” he posted on social media.

    Conservative lawyer George Conway responded. “Not so. The United States of America is about the rule of law, something you couldn’t care less about. Today nine ordinary citizens upheld the rules of law. You have no right to maliciously defame anyone, let alone a woman you raped. In America, we call this justice.”

    In June 2023 the court required Trump to move $5.5 million to a bank account controlled by the court to cover the jury’s judgment while he appeals it. For this larger verdict, Trump could do the same thing: pay $83.3 million to the court to hold while he appeals, or try to get a bond, which would require a deposit and collateral and would also incur fees and interest. Any bank willing to lend him that money would likely take into consideration that he has other major financial vulnerabilities and charge him accordingly.

    This was not, actually, the case that looked like it would incur staggering costs. More threatening is the other case currently underway in Manhattan, where New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron is considering appropriate penalties for the frauds that Trump, the Trump Organization, the two older Trump sons, and two employees committed in their business dealings. New York attorney general Letitia James, who brought the case, has asked Engoron to impose a $370 million penalty, as well as a prohibition on the Trump Organization from doing business in New York.

    Judge Engoron has said he hopes to have a decision by the end of the month.

    Former president Trump is under pressure on a number of fronts. As legal analyst Joyce White Vance pointed out tonight in Civil Discourse, two separate juries have now found that Trump acted with malice, and it is becoming harder for him to argue that so many people—two entirely different juries, prosecutors, and so on—are unfairly targeting him. Vance speculates that this latest judgment might hurt his political support. “How do you explain to your kids that you’re going to give your vote in the presidential race to a man who forced his fingers into a woman’s vagina and then lied about it and about her, and exposed her to public ridicule and harm?” she asked.

    On the political front, much to his apparent frustration, Trump has not been able to bully former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley out of the race for the Republican nomination, and she is needling him about his mental deterioration. The Republican National Committee has been considering simply deciding Trump is the nominee rather than letting the process play out. The Haley camp responded to that idea with a statement saying that if Ronna McDaniel, the RNC chair, “wants to be helpful she can organize a debate in South Carolina, unless she’s also worried that Trump can’t handle being on the stage for 90 minutes with Nikki Haley.” Ouch.

    Trump’s congressional allies’ attacks on President Biden took another hit today after a business associate of Hunter Biden said in sworn testimony yesterday that President Biden “was never involved” in any of their business dealings.

    John Robinson Walker said: “In business, the opportunities we pursued together were varied, valid, well-founded, and well within the bounds of legitimate business activities. To be clear, President Biden—while in office or as a private citizen—was never involved in any of the business activities we pursued…. “Any statement to the contrary is simply false…. Hunter made sure there was always a clear boundary between any business and his father. Always. And as his partner, I always understood and respected that boundary.”

    Meanwhile, Trump’s attempts to destroy the bipartisan border deal, in which Democrats appear to have been willing to give away more than the Republicans out of desperate determination to fund Ukraine, are being called out for cynical politics. The news is awash today with stories condemning the Republicans for caving to the demands of a man who is, at least for now, a private citizen and who is putting his own election over the interests of the American people as he tries to keep the issue of immigration alive to exploit in the 2024 campaign.

    Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) told his colleagues: “I didn’t come here to have the president as a boss or a candidate as a boss. I came here to pass good, solid policy…. It is immoral for me to think you looked the other way because you think this is the linchpin for President Trump to win.” Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) told Sahil Kapur and Frank Thorp V of NBC News, “I think it’s crap…. We need to get that deal done to secure the border. If they want to keep it as a campaign issue, I think they need to resign from the damn Senate.”

    But while Trump is apparently telling Republicans he will “fix” the border if he gets back into the White House, Greg Sargent noted yesterday in The New Republic that when Trump was in office, “[h]e too released a lot of migrants into the interior, and he couldn’t pass his immigration agenda even with unified GOP control.” And, of course, he never got Mexico to pay for his wall, as he repeatedly claimed he would, while President Joe Biden, in contrast, got Mexico to invest $1.5 billion in “smart” border technology and to beef up its own border security.

    The White House has refused to abandon negotiations even as Trump trashed them. In a statement today, Biden said that negotiators have been “[w]orking around the clock, through the holidays, and over weekends,” to craft a bipartisan deal on the border, and he called out Republicans who are now trying to scuttle the bill.

    “What’s been negotiated would—if passed into law—be the toughest and fairest set of reforms to secure the border we’ve ever had in our country,” he said. “It would give me, as President, a new emergency authority to shut down the border when it becomes overwhelmed. And if given that authority, I would use it the day I sign the bill into law.
     
    “Further, Congress needs to finally provide the funding I requested in October to secure the border. This includes an additional 1,300 border patrol agents, 375 immigration judges, 1,600 asylum officers, and over 100 cutting-edge inspection machines to help detect and stop fentanyl at our southwest border. Securing the border through these negotiations is a win for America. For everyone who is demanding tougher border control, this is the way to do it. If you’re serious about the border crisis, pass a bipartisan bill and I will sign it.”

    Biden seems to be signaling that if the Republicans kill this measure, they will own the border issue, but he is not the only one making that argument. Yesterday the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board, which slants toward the right, wrote: “[G]iving up on a border security bill would be a self-inflicted GOP wound. President Biden would claim, with cause, that Republicans want border chaos as an election issue rather than solving the problem. Voter anger may over time move from Mr. Biden to the GOP, and the public will have a point. Cynical is the only word that fits Republicans panning a border deal whose details aren’t even known.”

    The Wall Street Journal editorial board went further, articulating what Republicans are signing up for if they continue to prevent funding for Ukraine. Recalling the horrific images of the April 1975 fall of Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, to North Vietnamese forces, when desperate evacuees fought their way to helicopters, the board asked: “Do Republicans want to sponsor the 2024 equivalent of Saigon 1975?”

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  • mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,022
     January 27, 2024 (Saturday)

    On January 27, 1838, Abraham Lincoln rose before the Young Men’s Lyceum in Springfield, Illinois, to make a speech. Just 28 years old, Lincoln had begun to practice law and had political ambitions. But he was worried that his generation might not preserve the republic that the founders had handed to it for transmission to yet another generation. He took as his topic for that January evening, “The Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions.”

    Lincoln saw trouble coming, but not from a foreign power, as other countries feared. The destruction of the United States, he warned, could come only from within. “If destruction be our lot,” he said, “we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.”

    The trouble Lincoln perceived stemmed from the growing lawlessness in the country as men ignored the rule of law and acted on their passions, imposing their will on their neighbors through violence. He pointed specifically to two recent events: the 1836 lynching of free Black man Francis McIntosh in St. Louis, Missouri, and the 1837 murder of white abolitionist editor Elijah P. Lovejoy by a proslavery mob in Alton, Illinois.

    But the problem of lawlessness was not limited to individual instances, he said. A public practice of ignoring the law eventually broke down all the guardrails designed to protect individuals, while lawbreakers, going unpunished, became convinced they were entitled to act without restraint. “Having ever regarded Government as their deadliest bane,” Lincoln said, “they make a jubilee of the suspension of its operations; and pray for nothing so much as its total annihilation.”

    The only way to guard against such destruction, Lincoln said, was to protect the rule of law on which the country was founded. “As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor…. Let reverence for the laws…become the political religion of the nation; and let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.”

    Lincoln was quick to clarify that he was not saying all laws were good. Indeed, he said, bad laws should be challenged and repealed. But the underlying structure of the rule of law, based in the Constitution, could not be abandoned without losing democracy.

    Lincoln didn’t stop there. He warned that the very success of the American republic threatened its continuation. “[M]en of ambition and talents” could no longer make their name by building the nation—that glory had already been won. Their ambition could not be served simply by preserving what those before them had created, so they would achieve distinction through destruction.

    For such a man, Lincoln said, “Distinction will be his paramount object, and although he would as willingly, perhaps more so, acquire it by doing good as harm; yet, that opportunity being past, and nothing left to be done in the way of building up, he would set boldly to the task of pulling down.” With no dangerous foreign power to turn people’s passions against, people would turn from the project of “establishing and maintaining civil and religious liberty” and would instead turn against each other.

    Lincoln reminded his audience that the torch of American democracy had been passed to them. The Founders had used their passions to create a system of laws, but the time for passion had passed, lest it tear the nation apart. The next generation must support democracy through “sober reason,” he said. He called for Americans to exercise “general intelligence, sound morality, and in particular, a reverence for the constitution and laws.”

    “Upon these let the proud fabric of freedom rest, as the rock of its basis; and as truly as has been said of the only greater institution, ‘the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’”

    What became known as the Lyceum Address is one of the earliest speeches of Lincoln’s to have been preserved, and at the time it established him as a rising politician and political thinker. But his recognition, in a time of religious fervor and moral crusades, that the law must prevail over individual passions reverberates far beyond the specific crises of the 1830s.

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  • mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,022
    man that dude was prescient....
    _____________________________________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: 35,022
     January 28, 2024 (Sunday)

    Today—last night U.S. time—three military personnel were killed and 34 more wounded in a drone attack on the living quarters at a U.S. base in Jordan, near the Iraq-Syria border. U.S. troops are stationed there to enable them to cross into Syria to help fight the Islamic State. There have been almost-daily drone and missile strikes on U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria since the October 7 attack on Israel by Iran-backed Hamas. The U.S. has blamed Iran-backed militant groups for the attack, and while no one has officially claimed responsibility yet, three officials from such groups have said an Iran-backed militia in Iraq is responsible.

    President Joe Biden today called the act “despicable and wholly unjust,” and he praised the servicemembers, who he said “embodied the very best of our nation: Unwavering in their bravery. Unflinching in their duty. Unbending in their commitment to our country—risking their own safety for the safety of their fellow Americans, and our allies and partners with whom we stand in the fight against terrorism.”

    “And have no doubt,” he said, “we will hold all those responsible to account at a time and in a manner [of] our choosing.”

    Republican war hawks have called for retaliation that includes “striking directly against Iranian targets and its leadership,” as Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) said, or by “Target[ing] Tehran,” as Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) said. Republicans are blaming Biden for failing to “isolate the regime in [Iran], defeat Hamas, & support our strategic partners,” as Representative Carlos Gimenez (R-FL) wrote on X, formerly Twitter, today.

    But there is, of course, a larger story here. The Biden administration has been very clear both about the right of nations to retaliate for attacks and about its determination to stop the war between Hamas and Israel from spreading.

    Iran would like that war to spread. It is eager to stop the normalization of relations between Arab states and Israel, and is backing Hamas in Gaza, the Houthis in Yemen, and Hezbollah in Lebanon—all nonstate militias—to try to stop that normalization.  

    They are trying to stop what Patrick Kingsley and Edward Wong outlined in the New York Times yesterday: a new deal in the Middle East that would end the war between Hamas and Israel and establish a Palestinian state. The constant round of phone calls and visits of Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken with at least ten different countries is designed to hammer out deals on a number of fronts.

    The first is for a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel, which would require the exchange of more than 100 Israeli hostages taken on October 7 for thousands of Palestinians held by the Israelis. The second is for a new, nonpartisan Palestinian Authority to take control of Gaza and the West Bank. The third is for international recognition of a Palestinian state, which would be eased by Saudi Arabia’s recognition of Israel. If that recognition occurs, Arab states have pledged significant funds to rebuild Gaza.

    Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has rejected this proposal, but his popularity is so low people are talking openly about who can replace him. Hamas and Iran also reject this proposal, which promises to isolate Iran and the militias from stable states in the Middle East.   

    Behind this story is an even larger geopolitical story involving Iran’s ally Russia. As Democratic strategist Simon Rosenberg retorted when Senator Wicker called on Biden to respond to the attack that killed three Americans “swiftly and decisively for the whole world to see”: “Wasn’t funding Ukraine and Israel the first, critical step in deterring Iran? We are in this place now due to the Russian fifth columnists in the Republican Party including Trump who slavishly do Putin’s bidding.”  

    Rosenberg was referring to the fact that Iran is allied with Russia, and Russia is desperate to stop the United States from supporting Ukraine. Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, apparently thought his February 2022 invasion of Ukraine would establish control of the eastern parts of that country in a matter of days. Instead, the invasion has turned into an expensive and destabilizing two-year war that has badly weakened Russia and that threatens to stretch on.

    In the United States, today marks the 100th day that extremist Republicans have refused to provide supplemental funding for Ukraine or Israel arguing that funding to protect the U.S. border must be addressed first. On October 20, 2023, as David Frum pointed out today, Biden asked Congress for “$106 billion to aid Ukraine and Israel against attack by Russia, Iran, and their proxies.” That funding has bipartisan support, but “[f]or 100 days, House Republicans have said NO,” Frum said. “Today, Iranian proxies have killed Americans.”

    Republicans’ insistence that they want border funding has proved to be a lie, as Democratic and Republican senators have hammered out a strong agreement that extremist Republicans now reject. Former president Trump has made it clear he wants to run on the idea that the border is overwhelmed, so has demanded his supporters prevent any solution. Today, on the Fox News Channel, when asked why Republicans should let Biden “take a victory lap” with a border deal, Senator James Lankford (R-OK), who has been part of the border deal negotiation team, responded with some heat:

    “Republicans four months ago would not give funding for Ukraine, for Israel, and for our southern border because we demanded changes in policy. So we actually locked arms together and said we’re not going to give you money for this, we want a change in law. And now it’s interesting, a few months later, when we’re finally getting to the end they're like, ‘Oh, just kidding, I actually don’t want a change in law because [it’s] a presidential election year.’ We all have an oath to the Constitution, and we have a commitment to say we’re going to do whatever we can to be able to secure the border."

    MAGA Republicans in charge of the Oklahoma Republican Party showed where Trump Republicans stand when they voted on Saturday to “strongly condemn” Lankford for “playing fast and loose with Democrats on our border policy.” They said “that until Senator Lankford ceases from these actions the Oklahoma Republican Party will cease all support for him.”

    In The Atlantic, Frum noted that “vital aid to Israel and Ukraine must be delayed and put in further doubt because of a rejected president’s spite and his party’s calculation of electoral advantage. The true outcome of the fiasco in Congress will be the collapse of U.S. credibility all over the world. American allies will seek protection from more trustworthy partners, and America itself will be isolated and weakened.”

    Rosenberg wrote: “If you are unhappy with Iran today, first thing you should do is come out for funding Ukraine fully. Nothing will embolden Iran more than a Russian victory in Europe.”

    _____________________________________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: 35,022
     January 29, 2024 (Monday)

    With their families now notified, the Pentagon has released the names of the three American soldiers killed in Jordan yesterday. Army Reserve soldiers Sergeant William Jerome Rivers, 46, Specialist Kennedy Ladon Sanders, 24, and Specialist Breonna Alexsondria Moffett, 23, all from Georgia, were assigned to support Operation Inherent Resolve, charged with helping regional partners defeat the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq, or ISIS, to promote stability in the region.

    At a press conference today with North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Washington, D.C., Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke of the three lost soldiers, the many wounded, and their family and friends. “Every day we have our men and women in uniform around the world who are putting their lives on the line for our security, for our freedom,” he said. “I am as always humbled by their courage and their sacrifice.”

    Blinken reiterated the administration’s determination to keep the Hamas-Israel war from spreading, a signal that the administration will respond to this attack but not go to the extremes right-wing hawks have demanded. “From the outset, we have been clear in warning that anyone looking to take advantage of conflict in the Middle East and try to expand it: Don’t do it,” Blinken said. “[W]e do not seek conflict with Iran, we do not seek war with Iran, but we have and we will continue to defend our personnel and to take every action necessary to do that, including responding very vigorously to the attack that just took place.”

    The secretary reiterated that the administration is “very, very actively pursuing” efforts to get the hostages currently held by Hamas released—including as many as six Americans—and create an extended pause in fighting to get aid to Palestinians in Gaza. Its larger goal, he said, is “putting a durable end to the cycle of violence that we’ve seen in the region for generation after generation” and to achieve “an integrated Israel with relations with all of its neighbors, security commitments, assurances that it needs to make sure that it can move forward in peace and security; a Palestinian Authority that’s reformed, and a clear pathway to a Palestinian state.”

    Such a plan, Blinken said, would promote security by creating a more integrated region with normalized relations between countries and “where the question of the rights of Palestinians is finally answered.” Stoltenberg responded by thanking Blinken for his “tireless diplomacy…to prevent further escalation of the war in Gaza, your efforts to alleviate human suffering, and your hard work towards a peaceful resolution.”

    Over the weekend, officials from the U.S., Israel, Egypt, and Qatar meeting in Paris, France, created a blueprint for a six-week pause in the war while Hamas releases the hostages taken on October 7 in exchange for a much greater number of Palestinians held in Israeli jails. The prime minister and foreign minister of Qatar, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim al-Thani, traveled from Paris to Washington, D.C., where he met with Blinken.

    David Rothkopf noted today in The Daily Beast that such a plan would end the death and destruction in Gaza and enable Israel to begin a healing process. It would create room to rebuild new leadership for the Palestinians and move Israel toward “the new elections and new government it so desperately needs and deserves.”

    Qatar is taking the proposal to Hamas.

    Blinken and Stoltenberg both talked as well about NATO and its “unwavering support for Ukraine.” NATO has grown stronger in response to Russia’s attack on Ukraine, and NATO allies and partners have provided more than $110 billion in total aid for Ukraine while the U.S. has provided about $75 billion, Blinken noted (the U.S. has contributed by far the most in military aid).

    But the U.S., which has provided key support for NATO and Ukraine, is suddenly faltering as extremist Republicans in the House are refusing to pass a supplemental measure to provide more funding for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan and to secure the southern border of the U.S.

    Blinken again urged Congress to pass the funding.

    “Without it, simply put, everything that Ukrainians achieved and that we’ve helped them achieve will be in jeopardy,” Blinken said. “And…we’re going to be sending a strong and wrong message to all of our adversaries that we are not serious about the defense of freedom, the defense of democracy. And it will simply reinforce for Vladimir Putin that he can somehow outlast Ukraine and outlast us.”

    Stoltenberg agreed. “It would be a tragedy for the Ukrainians if President Putin wins, but it will also make the world more dangerous and us, all of us, more insecure. It will embolden other authoritarian leaders—not only Putin…but also North Korea, Iran, and China—to use force.  Today it’s Ukraine; tomorrow it could be Taiwan. So therefore it is in our interests to ensure that Ukraine prevails as a sovereign, independent nation.”

    Biden appears to have ramped up aid to Ukraine slowly to keep Putin from being able to claim he was at war with the U.S. and to keep him from mounting a full-blown response to such a threat, but as David Frum put it in The Atlantic, Biden “overestimated the time available to keep aid flowing to Ukraine because he underestimated the servility of House Republicans to Trump’s anti-Ukraine animus.” Frum explained: “[T]he background political reality is that Donald Trump is an enemy of Ukraine and an admirer of the Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. As Trump has neared renomination, his party—especially in the House of Representatives—has surrendered to his pro-Putin pressure.”  
     
    Back in early November, then a brand new House speaker, Mike Johnson (R-LA) told Senate Republicans that he supported aid to Ukraine but would not deliver it without money for security on the southern border of the U.S. Such a measure was crucial to U.S. security, he and other Republicans insisted, and they hyped the dangers of current immigration policy.

    A bipartisan group of Senate negotiators went to work to hammer out such a measure, but once it got close to completion, Trump stepped in to stop the deal, intending to run on fears of immigration in 2024. Republicans are falling into line behind Trump, putting the border deal, as well as more funding for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan, at risk.

    Meanwhile, the extremist Republicans are in the awkward position of insisting that the United States is in terrible danger from a border crisis but that they don’t want to solve that crisis for almost a year, waiting until 2025 when they expect Trump to be in office.

    _____________________________________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: 35,022
      January 30, 2024 (Tuesday)

    Today, according to Clare Foran, Manu Raju, and Morgan Rimmer of CNN, House speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) told his Republican colleagues that he will not bring forward the bipartisan immigration bill senators have been working on for months, calling it “absolutely dead.”

    Although Johnson insisted in November that border security was so crucial that he wouldn’t bring up aid to Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan, and Gaza until such legislation was attached to it, Trump has made it clear he wants immigration and border security left on the table for him to use as an issue in his run for the presidency.

    Instead of addressing border security through legislation, House Republicans instead are moving forward with their plan to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. They wrote articles of impeachment even before holding hearings. Today, members of the House Homeland Security Committee held a hearing to mark up those articles, which claim that Mayorkas committed high crimes and misdemeanors because he allegedly breached the public trust and refused to enforce immigration law.

    In all our history, only one cabinet officer has been impeached. William Belknap, whose eight years as secretary of war under President U. S. Grant had been marked by ostentatious displays of wealth and apparent kickbacks from army contracts, was charged with corruption in March 1876 just hours after he tearfully handed Grant his resignation.

    The House charged Belknap with “criminally disregarding his duty as Secretary of War and basely prostituting his high office to his lust for private gain.” The Senate agreed that it had jurisdiction to hold an impeachment trial even for a former government official, for an officer should not be able to escape justice simply by resigning. After hearing more than 40 witnesses, a majority of senators voted to convict Belknap on each of five charges, but no vote reached the necessary two-thirds threshold for conviction, and he was therefore acquitted.

    Almost 150 years later, the impeachment of Mayorkas would be the second effort to impeach a cabinet member. Yet there is no suggestion that Mayorkas has done anything but try to implement the law, even as the administration has repeatedly asked for more funding to make it possible for him to do his job.

    In the hearing today, Representative Seth Magaziner (D-RI) noted that “across the system, we are at and above capacity, and so, what should the secretary do? The secretary, because he has not received the funding to provide adequate detention capacity, has to use his judgment for who to detain and who to release. That is not illegal. It is certainly not impeachable. And it is the exact same kind of discretion that every other director before him has used. In the last two years of the Trump administration, 52% of migrants apprehended at the southern border were released, not detained…. Nearly a million people. I did not hear my Republican colleagues trying to impeach the secretary or acting secretary under the Trump administration during those years. But here they are, trying to impeach Secretary Mayorkas for doing the exact same thing.”

    Rather than passing the laws the country needs, the extremist Republicans appear to be determined to tee up an issue on which Trump can run for president in 2024. House speaker Johnson has demanded “ZERO” illegal crossings into the U.S., but this is a standard that no previous homeland security secretary has met because it is impossible to wall off every single means of entering this country by water, air, or land. And—despite Republicans’ false claims that Biden has established “open borders”—immigrants were more likely to be released into the country during Trump's term than during Biden’s.

    What is going on here is an attempt of the extremist Republicans to undercut the administration by attacking a key cabinet officer not for actual misbehavior but on policy grounds.  

    There is no chance the Senate, dominated by Democrats, will convict Mayorkas even if the House, with its razor-thin Republican majority, impeaches him, but the extremist minority in the House that is going after him is attempting to set a precedent that a minority can stop the government from functioning.

    The cost of that obstruction has been clear in domestic politics over government funding, but it has now become a global issue over the question of U.S. support for Ukraine. Johnson had said he would not bring forward a bill to provide supplemental funding for Ukraine unless it included measures for increased border security; now his rejection of a bill to provide that border security threatens Ukraine aid.

    Ukraine is defending itself against an invasion by Russia, but the struggle there is larger than one between two countries: it is the question of whether the rules-based international order put in place after World War II will survive, or whether the world will go back to a system in which stronger countries can gobble up less powerful ones.

    Military aid for Ukraine is widely popular among Americans and among American lawmakers, who recognize the larger questions at stake. But extremist Republicans are siding with Trump, who has made his preference for Russia and its autocratic leader over Ukraine clear. The realization that a few extremist Republicans are scuttling Ukraine aid has prompted officials from both parties to warn of the consequences if the U.S. stops providing support to Ukraine.

    In Foreign Affairs today, Central Intelligence Agency director Wililam Burns noted that the war has weakened Putin’s Russia significantly. Aid to Ukraine has amounted to less than 5% of the U.S. defense budget, “a relatively modest investment with significant geopolitical returns for the United States and notable returns for American industry,” he wrote.

    “For the United States to walk away from the conflict at this crucial moment and cut off support to Ukraine would be an own goal of historic proportions,” Burns said. The secretary general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Jens Stoltenberg, has been in Washington, D.C., this week, urging Republicans to back the aid, if only on the grounds that most of the money appropriated goes to support jobs in the U.S.

    The man behind the extremists, Trump, was in the news today for the fact that the political action committees that back him spent about $50 million covering his legal bills in 2023. That money came from donors and arrived primarily in the months after the 2020 presidential election, when Trump lied that he had actually won the election and needed financial support to challenge the results.

    _____________________________________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: 36,246
    mickeyrat said:
      January 30, 2024 (Tuesday)

    Today, according to Clare Foran, Manu Raju, and Morgan Rimmer of CNN, House speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) told his Republican colleagues that he will not bring forward the bipartisan immigration bill senators have been working on for months, calling it “absolutely dead.”

    Although Johnson insisted in November that border security was so crucial that he wouldn’t bring up aid to Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan, and Gaza until such legislation was attached to it, Trump has made it clear he wants immigration and border security left on the table for him to use as an issue in his run for the presidency.

    Instead of addressing border security through legislation, House Republicans instead are moving forward with their plan to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. They wrote articles of impeachment even before holding hearings. Today, members of the House Homeland Security Committee held a hearing to mark up those articles, which claim that Mayorkas committed high crimes and misdemeanors because he allegedly breached the public trust and refused to enforce immigration law.

    In all our history, only one cabinet officer has been impeached. William Belknap, whose eight years as secretary of war under President U. S. Grant had been marked by ostentatious displays of wealth and apparent kickbacks from army contracts, was charged with corruption in March 1876 just hours after he tearfully handed Grant his resignation.

    The House charged Belknap with “criminally disregarding his duty as Secretary of War and basely prostituting his high office to his lust for private gain.” The Senate agreed that it had jurisdiction to hold an impeachment trial even for a former government official, for an officer should not be able to escape justice simply by resigning. After hearing more than 40 witnesses, a majority of senators voted to convict Belknap on each of five charges, but no vote reached the necessary two-thirds threshold for conviction, and he was therefore acquitted.

    Almost 150 years later, the impeachment of Mayorkas would be the second effort to impeach a cabinet member. Yet there is no suggestion that Mayorkas has done anything but try to implement the law, even as the administration has repeatedly asked for more funding to make it possible for him to do his job.

    In the hearing today, Representative Seth Magaziner (D-RI) noted that “across the system, we are at and above capacity, and so, what should the secretary do? The secretary, because he has not received the funding to provide adequate detention capacity, has to use his judgment for who to detain and who to release. That is not illegal. It is certainly not impeachable. And it is the exact same kind of discretion that every other director before him has used. In the last two years of the Trump administration, 52% of migrants apprehended at the southern border were released, not detained…. Nearly a million people. I did not hear my Republican colleagues trying to impeach the secretary or acting secretary under the Trump administration during those years. But here they are, trying to impeach Secretary Mayorkas for doing the exact same thing.”

    Rather than passing the laws the country needs, the extremist Republicans appear to be determined to tee up an issue on which Trump can run for president in 2024. House speaker Johnson has demanded “ZERO” illegal crossings into the U.S., but this is a standard that no previous homeland security secretary has met because it is impossible to wall off every single means of entering this country by water, air, or land. And—despite Republicans’ false claims that Biden has established “open borders”—immigrants were more likely to be released into the country during Trump's term than during Biden’s.

    What is going on here is an attempt of the extremist Republicans to undercut the administration by attacking a key cabinet officer not for actual misbehavior but on policy grounds.  

    There is no chance the Senate, dominated by Democrats, will convict Mayorkas even if the House, with its razor-thin Republican majority, impeaches him, but the extremist minority in the House that is going after him is attempting to set a precedent that a minority can stop the government from functioning.

    The cost of that obstruction has been clear in domestic politics over government funding, but it has now become a global issue over the question of U.S. support for Ukraine. Johnson had said he would not bring forward a bill to provide supplemental funding for Ukraine unless it included measures for increased border security; now his rejection of a bill to provide that border security threatens Ukraine aid.

    Ukraine is defending itself against an invasion by Russia, but the struggle there is larger than one between two countries: it is the question of whether the rules-based international order put in place after World War II will survive, or whether the world will go back to a system in which stronger countries can gobble up less powerful ones.

    Military aid for Ukraine is widely popular among Americans and among American lawmakers, who recognize the larger questions at stake. But extremist Republicans are siding with Trump, who has made his preference for Russia and its autocratic leader over Ukraine clear. The realization that a few extremist Republicans are scuttling Ukraine aid has prompted officials from both parties to warn of the consequences if the U.S. stops providing support to Ukraine.

    In Foreign Affairs today, Central Intelligence Agency director Wililam Burns noted that the war has weakened Putin’s Russia significantly. Aid to Ukraine has amounted to less than 5% of the U.S. defense budget, “a relatively modest investment with significant geopolitical returns for the United States and notable returns for American industry,” he wrote.

    “For the United States to walk away from the conflict at this crucial moment and cut off support to Ukraine would be an own goal of historic proportions,” Burns said. The secretary general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Jens Stoltenberg, has been in Washington, D.C., this week, urging Republicans to back the aid, if only on the grounds that most of the money appropriated goes to support jobs in the U.S.

    The man behind the extremists, Trump, was in the news today for the fact that the political action committees that back him spent about $50 million covering his legal bills in 2023. That money came from donors and arrived primarily in the months after the 2020 presidential election, when Trump lied that he had actually won the election and needed financial support to challenge the results.

    Brilliant brilliance in all its brilliancy.
    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: 35,022
     January 31, 2024 (Wednesday)

    Stef W. Kight and Zachary Basu of Axios reported tonight that the border measure, on which a bipartisan group of senators have worked for four months, is “on life support” after former president Trump urged his supporters in the House to block it so he can run on the issue. Senators are still holding out hope they can get it through, blaming “misinformation” about the bill, whose text has not yet been released.

    The attacks on the measure are revealing the increasing extremism of the Republican Party. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) appointed Senator James Lankford (R-OK), who is well liked and is known as a calm conservative, to lead negotiations for the party. Suddenly, Lankford finds himself on the side Trump and his followers oppose. Lankford is now under attack from within his own party.

    The Republican about-face is also threatening to take down U.S. aid to Ukraine, which is fighting off a Russian invasion. House speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) linked aid to Ukraine to the border deal last November with the argument that the U.S. should not be helping other countries until it helped secure its own border. After Trump’s attack on the border measure, congressional reporter Max Cohen of Punchbowl News reported this afternoon that McConnell has suggested moving ahead with aid for Ukraine.

    "It's time to move something,” Cohen reported McConnell saying, “hopefully including a border agreement. But we need to get help to Israel and Ukraine quickly…. There is bipartisan support here in the Senate for both Israel and Ukraine, hopefully at some point we can get them the support they need."

    Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) told reporters: “It would be nice to change the status quo on the border, but if there is not the political support to do that, then I think we should proceed with the rest of the supplemental,” referring to the measure that provides funding for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan, and humanitarian aid to Gaza.  

    Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), a Trump loyalist, has said she would move to overthrow Johnson as speaker if he puts Ukraine funding up for a vote.

    Meanwhile, Ukraine is running short of weapons and ammunition.

    Tonight, Senator Angus King (I-ME) spoke on the Senate floor about what U.S. refusal to aid Ukraine would mean.

    King harked back to the failure of European allies to stop Hitler when it would have been relatively easy. “Whenever people write to my office” asking why we are supporting Ukraine, he said, “I answer, Google Sudetenland, 1938.” “We could have stopped a murderous dictator who was bent on geographic expansion…at a relatively low cost. The result of not doing so was 55 million deaths.”

    The upcoming vote on whether to support “the people of Ukraine as they fight for our values,” King said, “will echo throughout the history of this country and the history of the world for generations…. If we back away, walk away, pull out and leave the Ukrainians without the resources to defend themselves, it will compromise the interests of this country for 50 years. It will be viewed as one of the greatest geopolitical mistakes of the 21st century.”
     
    Abandoning Ukraine would embolden Russian president Vladimir Putin, King said. Putin “told us in 2005 that he felt that the greatest catastrophe of the 20th century was the dissolution of the Soviet Union. He has…pursued the remedy to that catastrophe in his eyes ever since…. In 2008 he gobbled up part of what had been an independent country of Georgia. In 2014…Crimea and eastern Ukraine. [In] 2022, he tried for the rest of Ukraine.”

    People say Putin will stop with Ukraine, King said, but “the Finns don't think so. The Swedes don't think so. The Baltic countries don't think so, and the Finns and the Swedes know Russia.”
     
    “Maya Angelou once said if someone tells you who they are, you should believe them,” King said. “Putin has told us who he is. He’s an autocrat. He’s an authoritarian. And he wants to rebuild the Soviet Union. And I believe he wouldn't stop there….  We have to take him at his word…. He despises the west. He thinks NATO is an aggressive alliance, somehow designed to invade or otherwise threaten Russia. NATO doesn't want to invade Russia. NATO wants to keep the lines where they are.” King noted that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was “the first crossing of a border of this nature since World War II.”

    “[W]hat we're looking at here,” King said, “is…the struggle between the idea of democracy and the rule of law and authoritarianism and totalitarianism…. Ukraine is the opening wedge in that…conflict.” Turning away from Ukraine would embolden Putin, King said, but not only Putin. “[I]f we cut and run in Ukraine, that will change Xi Jinping's calculus about Taiwan. He's going to say well, the Americans aren't going to stick. We don't have to worry too much about them helping the Taiwanese defend themselves.”

    King, who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, identified the centerpiece of U.S. foreign policy and warned what is at stake if the U.S. abandons Ukraine. “Our asymmetric advantage in the world right now is allies,” King said. “China has customers. We have allies…. But our allies are going to say well, wait a minute. You’re with us now but when the going gets tough and you have to maybe have a budget supplemental to stick with us, you're going to walk away. It's going to undermine the confidence of our allies, and in places like Japan and South Korea, they may say we can't count on the Americans to defend us.”

    If we abandon Ukraine, he said, we will have destroyed “our ability to negotiate and make deals in the future. Who the heck is going to deal with us if they know we can't be trusted?.... What an…incredible…self-inflicted wound on this country.” King recalled that in the 1780s, France had stood with the fledgling U.S. even as the Revolutionary War dragged on, and noted that “[t]here’s a reasonable chance we wouldn't be the United States of America today, if our ally had walked away…. The whole idea of an alliance is that you can count on somebody when the times are tough. We're sending ammunition. They're sending lives.”

    Addressing right-wing talking points about aid to Ukraine, King said that U.S. aid to Ukraine is “one of the best and strongest and most closely accounted for provisions of aid ever” and that “the idea that nobody else is contributing and Europe isn't doing its part is just bunk.” Europe has given far more to Ukraine than the U.S. as a percentage of the wealth each country produces, he said, and other countries have also taken in millions of refugees.
     
    “[D]emocracy matters,” King said. “Values matter. Freedom of expression, the rule of law matter, and that’s what’s at stake…. This is a historic struggle between authoritarianism, arbitrariness, surveillance, and the radical idea that people can govern themselves. That's what this is all about. This is a battle for the soul of our democracy in the world…. It's worth fighting for. And in this case we don't even have to do the fighting. We just have to supply the arms and ammunition.”
     
    “I have a question for my colleagues,” King said. “When the history of this day is written, as it surely will be, do you really want to be recorded as being on the side of Vladimir Putin?... Or on the side of China, as they contemplate the invasion of Taiwan…. [H]istory's going to record this vote as one of the most important votes that any of us have ever made.”

    For his part, King said, “I want to stand on the side of resisting authoritarianism, on the side of democracy, on the side of the values that the country has stood for and that people have been fighting for 250 years.”

    _____________________________________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: 35,022
     February 1, 2024 (Thursday)

    One of the biggest stories of 2023 is that the U.S. economy grew faster than any other economy in the Group of 7 nations, made up of democratic countries with the world’s largest advanced economies. By a lot. The International Monetary Fund yesterday reported that the U.S. gross domestic product—the way countries estimate their productivity—grew by 2.5%, significantly higher than the GDP of the next country on the list: Japan, at 1.9%.

    IMF economists predict U.S. growth next year of 2.1%, again, higher than all the other G7 countries. The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta projects growth of 4.2% in the first quarter of 2024.

    Every time I write about the booming economy, people accurately point out that these numbers don’t necessarily reflect the experiences of everyone. But they have enormous political implications.

    President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen, and the Democrats embraced the idea that using the government to support ordinary Americans—those on the “demand” side of the economy—would nurture strong economic growth. Republicans have insisted since the 1980s that the way to expand the economy is the opposite: to invest in the “supply side,” investors who use their capital to build businesses.

    In the first two years of the Biden-Harris administration, while the Democrats had control of the House and Senate, they passed a range of laws to boost American manufacturing, rebuild infrastructure, protect consumers, and so on. They did so almost entirely with Democratic votes, as Republicans insisted that such investments would destroy growth, in part through inflation.

    Now that the laws are beginning to take effect, their results have proved that demand-side economic policies like those in place between 1933 and 1981, when President Ronald Reagan ushered in supply-side economics, work. Even inflation, which ran high, appears to have been driven by supply chain issues, as the administration said, and by “greedflation,” in which corporations raised prices far beyond cost increases, padding payouts for their shareholders.

    The demonstration that the Democrats' policies work is has put Republicans in an awkward spot. Projects funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, are so popular that Republicans are claiming credit for new projects or, as Representative Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL) did on Sunday, claiming they don’t remember how they voted on the infrastructure measure and other popular bills like the CHIPS and Science Act (she voted no). When the infrastructure measure passed in 2021, just 13 House Republicans supported it.

    Today, Medicare sent its initial offers to the drug companies that manufacture the first ten drugs for which the government will negotiate prices under the Inflation Reduction Act, another hugely popular measure that passed without Republican votes. The Republicans have called for repealing this act, but their stance against what they have insisted is “socialized medicine” is showing signs of softening. In Politico yesterday, Megan Messerly noted that in three Republican-dominated states—Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi—House speakers are saying they are now open to the idea of expanding healthcare through Medicaid expansion.

    In another sign that some Republicans recognize that the Democrats’ economic policies are popular, the House last night passed bipartisan tax legislation that expanded the Child Tax Credit, which had expired last year after Senate Republicans refused to extend it. Democrats still provided most of the yea votes—188 to 169—and Republicans most of the nays—47 to 23—but, together with a tax cut for businesses in the bill, the measure was a rare bipartisan victory. If it passes the Senate, it is expected to lift at least half a million children out of poverty and help about 5 million more.

    But Republicans have a personnel problem as well as a policy problem. Since the 1980s, party leaders have maintained that the federal government needs to be slashed, and their determination to just say no has elevated lawmakers whose skill set features obstruction rather than the negotiation required to pass bills. Their goal is to stay in power to stop legislation from passing.

    Yesterday, for example, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who sits on the Senate Finance Committee and used to chair it, told a reporter not to have too much faith that the child tax credit measure would pass the Senate, where Republicans can kill it with the filibuster. “Passing a tax bill that makes the president look good…means he could be reelected, and then we won’t extend the 2017 tax cuts,” Grassley said.

    At the same time, the rise of right-wing media, which rewards extremism, has upended the relationship between lawmakers and voters. In CNN yesterday, Oliver Darcy explained that “the incentive structure in conservative politics has gone awry. The irresponsible and dishonest stars of the right-wing media kingdom are motivated by vastly different goals than those who are actually trying to advance conservative causes, get Republicans elected, and then ultimately govern in office.”

    Right-wing influencers want views and shares, which translate to more money and power, Darcy wrote. So they spread “increasingly outlandish, attention-grabbing junk,” and more established outlets tag along out of fear they will lose their audience. But those influencers and media hosts don’t have to govern, and the anger they generate in the base makes it hard for anyone else to, either.

    This dynamic has shown up dramatically in the House Republicans’ refusal to consider a proposed border measure on which a bipartisan group of senators had worked for four months because Trump and his extremist base turned against the idea—one that Republicans initially demanded.

    Since they took control of the House in 2023, House Republicans have been able to conduct almost no business as the extremists are essentially refusing to govern unless all their demands are met. Rather than lawmaking, they are passing extremist bills to signal to their base, holding hearings to push their talking points, and trying to find excuses to impeach the president and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas.

    Yesterday the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal, which is firmly on the right, warned House Republicans that “Impeaching Mayorkas Achieves Nothing” other than “political symbolism,” and urged them to work to get a border bill passed. “Grandstanding is easier than governing, and Republicans have to decide whether to accomplish anything other than impeaching Democrats,” it said.

    Today in the Washington Post, Jennifer Rubin called the Republicans’ behavior “nihilism and performative politics.”

    On CNN this morning, Representative Dan Goldman (D-NY) identified the increasing isolation of the MAGA Republicans from a democratic government. “Here we are both on immigration and now on this tax bill where President Biden and a bipartisan group of Congress are trying to actually solve problems for the American people,” Goldman said, “and Chuck Grassley, Donald Trump, Mike Johnson—they are trying to kill solutions just for political gain."

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  • mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,022
     February 2, 2024 (Friday)

    It’s been quite a long week for me, but I want to make sure we have a record of the U.S. military’s strike today on more than 85 targets at four facilities in Syria and three in Iraq used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp—which is the paramilitary organization organized in 1979 to protect the Islamic regime—and the militant groups it sponsors.

    The U.S. was responding to the attacks on U.S. troops and facilities in Iraq and Syria and the attack on Sunday that killed three U.S. soldiers and wounded more than 40 in Jordan.

    National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters tonight that the “targets were carefully selected to avoid civilian casualties and based on clear, irrefutable evidence that they were connected to attacks on U.S. personnel in the region.” They included command and control centers; headquarters buildings; rocket, missile, and drone storage facilities; and so on. Kirby expressed strong confidence that the strikes were successful.

    Kirby reiterated that the U.S. does not want conflict with Iran. It chose the targets “to degrade and disrupt the capabilities” of the groups that have been attacking U.S. troops. When asked what signal the administration was trying to send, Kirby said: “The signal is: The attacks have to stop. The attacks have to stop.”

    But, he added, the strikes weren’t just a message. “This was about degrading capability; taking away, in a more robust way than we have in the past—taking away capabilities by the IRGC and the militant groups.”

    Kirby was clear that there will be additional responses to the attacks on U.S. troops. He also explained how military strikes could be part of a policy of trying to avoid a broader conflict, saying that by taking away an adversary’s capability to kill your troops, “you are by default working to deescalate the tensions. And that’s the approach we’re taking,” he said.

    In the past few days, the administration has sought to cut off funding for the IRGC and the groups it supports by placing additional economic sanctions on IRGC officers and officials and by charging nine people with selling Iran’s oil to finance Hamas and Hezbollah.

    “The United States does not seek conflict in the Middle East or anywhere else in the world,” President Joe Biden said in a statement. “But let all those who might seek to do us harm know this: If you harm an American, we will respond.”

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  • mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,022
      February 3, 2024 (Saturday)

    Another marker for today:

    Yesterday, after the U.S. military’s strike on more than 85 targets at four facilities in Syria and three in Iraq used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the militant groups it sponsors, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby was clear that there would be additional responses to the attacks on U.S. troops.

    Today, U.S. and British forces launched strikes against 13 military targets in areas of Yemen controlled by the Iran-backed Houthis, who have disrupted international shipping by attacking international vessels in the Red Sea. The coalition struck against “deeply buried weapons storage facilities, missile systems and launchers, air defense systems, and radars,” according to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

    Austin continued: “This collective action sends a clear message to the Houthis that they will continue to bear further consequences if they do not end their illegal attacks on international shipping and naval vessels. We will not hesitate to defend lives and the free flow of commerce in one of the world's most critical waterways.”

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  • mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,022
      February 4, 2024 (Sunday)

    On February 4, 1870, the Chicago Tribune announced: “The rebellion may now be regarded as over and the great war finished.” Referring to the Civil War, which had ended just five years before, the paper’s editor explained: “That rebellion was undertaken to preserve and perpetuate human slavery, and, within ten years from the date of the first secession ordinance, the great struggle has been terminated in the adoption of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments….”

    On the previous day, February 3, 1870, enough states had ratified the Fifteenth Amendment to make it part of the U.S. Constitution. The Fifteenth Amendment was the last of the three Reconstruction Amendments, added to the U.S. Constitution both to bring the United States closer to the ideal of liberty promised in the Declaration of Independence and to make sure that insurrectionists could never again try to destroy the nation.

    Key to that protection was cementing into the nation’s fundamental law the power of the federal government over the states.
     
    Congress passed the first of the three Reconstruction Amendments, the Thirteenth, in January 1865, and the states ratified it on December 6 of the same year. The Thirteenth Amendment abolished human enslavement in the United States, except as punishment for a crime (an exception that later enabled the use of chain gangs). President Abraham Lincoln and the congressmen who embraced this monumental change to the Constitution expected that ending enslavement would end the power of a few elite southerners to dismantle the United States.
     
    Enslavement, they believed, had enabled a few men to monopolize wealth and power in the American South, where they dominated state governments and wrote laws to protect their own interests. Those same men had taken over first the Democratic Party and then the national government, controlling the Supreme Court, the Senate, and the presidency.

    The elite southerners insisted that the national government had no power to do anything that was not spelled out in the Constitution. It could protect the property interests of enslavers—through a law forcing free states to return escaped slaves, for example, or laws protecting enslavement in the western territories—but it could not do anything to help ordinary Americans, like dredging harbors, building roads, or establishing colleges, no matter how popular those measures might be.
     
    During the Civil War, Lincoln and the Republicans rejected this old formula and created a new one. They pioneered a government that responded to the interests of ordinary Americans. Amending the Constitution to end enslavement was not simply an attempt to guarantee freedom for Black Americans; it was also designed to cement in place the government “of the people, by the people, for the people.”
     
    Demonstrating that momentous change, the second section of the Thirteenth Amendment added: “Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.” The first ten amendments to the Constitution—the Bill of Rights—limited the power of the federal government. The Thirteenth was the first to expand it.
     
    Republicans knew that Black southerners supported this new government. They believed that poorer white southerners who had been crushed economically before the war as wealthy white enslavers gobbled up the region’s best land and who had borne the brunt of the war would also embrace it. Under the Republicans’ new system, the North had defied all expectations and thrived during the war, and Republicans thought its superiority to the old system was so obvious that ordinary southerners would jump at it.
     
    Many did…but white lawmakers in the southern states did not. They agreed to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment, but enabled by President Andrew Johnson, who took over the presidency after Lincoln’s assassination, they passed a series of laws that bound Black Americans to yearlong contracts working in white-owned fields, prohibited Black Americans from meeting together or owning guns, demanded that Black Americans behave submissively to white Americans, and sometimes punished white people who interacted with their Black neighbors.
     
    The Chicago Tribune wrote, “The men of the North will turn the State of Mississippi into a frog-pond before they will allow any such laws to disgrace one foot of soil in which the bones of our soldiers sleep and over which the flag of freedom waves.” To counter these “Black Codes,” Congress wrote the Fourteenth Amendment in 1866, and the states ratified it in 1868.  
     
    Congress designed the Fourteenth Amendment to end forever the ability of state lawmakers to undermine the United States of America. The amendment declared anyone born or naturalized in the United States to be a U.S. citizen and then established the power of the federal government to stop states from discriminating against citizens. The Fourteenth Amendment establishes that states must treat everyone equally before the law, and they can’t take away someone’s rights without due process of the law.

    With the Fourteenth Amendment, Congress tried to protect voting rights by establishing that states that did not permit Black men to vote would lose representation in Congress in proportion to the number of people they disfranchised. It also barred from office anyone who had previously taken an oath to support the Constitution and then “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.” Finally, to guard against former Confederates undermining the nation by refusing to honor its debt, Congress added that “[t]he validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law…, shall not be questioned.”

    Once again, the amendment gave Congress the “power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.”

    Two years later, when it became clear that the provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment for protecting a man’s right to have a say in his government had fallen short, the nation amended the Constitution a fifteenth time. The Fifteenth Amendment established that the right of citizens to vote could not be denied or restricted either by the United States or by any state “on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” Congressmen believed that so long as people could vote, they could elect lawmakers who would protect their interests.

    Once again, the amendment gave Congress the “power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

    It seems clear that the men who wrote the Reconstruction Amendments expected men like former president Trump to be disqualified from the presidency under the Fourteenth Amendment, as 25 distinguished historians of Reconstruction outlined in their recent brief supporting Trump’s removal from the Colorado ballot.

    But the Fourteenth Amendment did far more than ban insurrectionists from office. Together with the other Reconstruction Amendments, it established the power of the federal government to defend civil rights, voting, and government finances from a minority that had entrenched itself in power in the states and from that power base tried to impose its ideology on the nation.

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  • mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,022
     February 5, 2024 (Monday)

    It’s been an exceedingly weird 24 hours.

    Last night the Senate released the text of the national security supplemental bill on which a bipartisan team of negotiators has been working for four months. Negotiators were working on adding a border component to an urgent measure to fund aid to Ukraine, Israel, and Gaza, since extremist House Republicans said they would not pass such a measure until Congress also addressed what they insisted was a crisis at the U.S. border.

    The measure appropriated $60.1 billion in military aid to Ukraine, $14.1 billion in security aid for Israel, and $10 billion in humanitarian aid for Palestinians, Ukrainians, and other civilians in crises. It also invested about $20 billion in securing the southern border of the U.S., money to be used in hiring new officials, expanding detention facilities, and increasing the screening abilities of border agents to detect illicit fentanyl and other drugs.

    Other provisions would trigger border closures if the volume of migrants climbs past a certain number and make it more difficult to qualify for asylum. At the same time, the measure offered more pathways to citizenship and more work visas.

    But it appears the MAGA Republicans never really intended for such a measure to pass. They apparently thought that demanding that Congress agree to a border measure, which it has not been able to do now for decades, would kill the national security bill altogether. Certainly, once news began to spread that the negotiators were close to a deal, both former president Trump and House speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), who said he was conferring with Trump, came out strongly against the measure even before anyone knew what was in it.

    Trump and MAGA Republicans have been drumming up hysteria about the border as an issue before the 2024 election in part because they have very little else to run on. Voters are angry at the Republicans’ restrictions on abortion—especially in Texas, which has had a number of high-profile cases—and the economy is too strong for Republicans to get much traction by attacking it, especially as the numbers under Biden are dramatically stronger than those under Trump.

    Keeping alive the immigration issue could cut into those numbers, especially in Texas.

    But as David Kurtz points out in Talking Points Memo today, it is a terrible mistake to forget that the measure Trump and the MAGA Republicans are blocking is primarily a bill to fund Ukraine’s war against Russia’s invasion, because the administration believes that Ukraine’s stand against Russia is vital for our own national security. Without U.S. weapons and money, Ukraine is running out of ammunition and Russian forces are beginning to take back the territory Ukrainian forces had pushed them out of.

    Funding Ukraine is popular in the U.S., even among a majority of non-MAGA Republicans. Americans recognize that Ukraine’s forces are not simply defending their sovereign territory, they are defending the rules-based international order that protects the United States. Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, is trying to destroy that order, replacing it with the idea that bigger countries can conquer smaller countries at will.

    Putin’s war on Ukraine has drained Russia’s money and men—just yesterday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Russian civilian airplanes are malfunctioning as sanctions bite—and Putin would clearly like the U.S. to abandon Ukraine and clear the way for him to take control of the country.

    Trump and the MAGA Republicans have always had an unusually close relationship with Putin. Over the weekend, former Fox News Channel personality Tucker Carlson, who routinely echoed Russian talking points on his show, was spotted in Moscow. Reports say he has been there since last Thursday, staying in the city’s top hotels and visiting its main cultural sites.
     
    Carlson was fired from Fox in the wake of the election lies in which he participated, and which cost the company $787 million. He said on his now-defunct show that in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, he was “rooting for Moscow.” The Russian Union of Journalists has said they would gladly accept Carlson as a member.

    President Joe Biden and his administration, along with congressional Democrats, are so adamant that the U.S. must aid Ukraine that they were willing to cut a deal with the Republicans in order to get that funding through. That deal did not include a path to citizenship for so-called Dreamers, people brought to the U.S. without documentation as children who have never known another home but this one, a demand Democrats in the past have stood by. Biden today expressed his frustration that the Republicans excluded the Dreamers from the bill, but he still urged Congress to pass it.

    Indeed, as soon as the bill was available, Biden urged Congress to pass it immediately and promised to sign it into law as soon as Congress sent it to him. Over the course of today, those interested in a border measure joined with those interested in aiding Ukraine to call for the bill’s passage. The spectrum of those urging Congress to pass the bill was wide. The right-leaning U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Border Patrol union both called for the bill’s immediate passage.

    But MAGA Republicans stood against the bill from the start. By midday, the top Republicans in the House—Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA), Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-MN), and Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-NY)—had released a statement saying: “Any consideration of this Senate bill in its current form is a waste of time. It is DEAD on arrival in the House. We encourage the U.S. Senate to reject it.” Although it seemed clear that the measure would pass the House if it came to the floor, Johnson said he would not introduce it.

    A storm raged throughout the day as the Republican senators who had negotiated the bill joined with Republican senators who want Ukraine aid and with Democrats to demand the passage of the bill. Former U.S. ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul noted that Johnson was “blocking the overwhelming majority of the House. Last September, when a related piece of legislation was on the floor, the House voted 311 to 117 in favor of continuing to provide security assistance to Ukraine.” In the Senate, CNN’s Manu Raju reported, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) urged the bill’s passage, noting: “This is a humanitarian and security crisis of historic proportions, and Senate Republicans have insisted—not just for months but for years—that this urgent crisis demanded action.”

    But by the end of the day, enough Republicans had peeled away from the measure that senior senate reporter for Punchbowl News Andrew Desiderio reported that McConnell had ceased to push the measure, saying that “the political mood in the country has changed.”

    “I’ve never seen anything like it,” Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) wrote. “They literally demanded specific policy, got it, and then killed it.”

    Foreign affairs journalist Anne Applebaum reflected on the teetering national security measure and wrote: “People will die, today, because of the cynical game played by the American Republican party. Their irresponsibility is breathtaking.”

    Foreign affairs specialist Tom Nichols of The Atlantic wrote: “Letting Ukraine fall because of [Republicans’] cultish loyalty to Trump will be a betrayal that will stain America forever—and probably end up pulling us into a fight for Europe later. This is one of the rare moments when the path to disaster is clearly marked and avoidable.”

    Former representative  Liz Cheney (R-WY) summed up the day’s crisis over the national security measure: “On Trump’s orders, Republicans  in Congress are rejecting the border security deal. They’re also abandoning America’s allies in Ukraine. Trump and the [Republicans] are losing the war on purpose in an inexcusable betrayal that will strengthen America’s enemies for years to come.”

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  • mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,022
     February 6, 2024 (Tuesday)

    MAGA Republicans appear to have killed the Emergency National Security Supplemental Appropriations Act, after senators and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas spent four months writing the border security piece of the bill that the House MAGA Republicans themselves demanded. House Republicans insisted that border security be added to the supplemental national security bill that provided additional assistance to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan and provided humanitarian aid to Gaza.

    It turns out that they were apparently hoping to kill support for Ukraine, which is widely popular both in Congress and with voters across the country, and figured that Democrats would never agree to their demands for a border measure. Thus they could kill aid to Ukraine and hammer Democrats for leaving the border in crisis.

    But Democrats see aid to Ukraine as so fundamental to our national security that they were willing to give up even the path to citizenship for the Dreamers, those brought to the U.S. as children, a requirement on which they have previously stood firm, in order to get Republicans to pass the national security measure. The final compromise, released by the Senate negotiators late Sunday night, had much of what Republicans have wanted to impose on the border for a long time.

    But Trump, who wants to use the confusion on the border as a campaign issue, pressed the Republicans to reject the measure. While the Senate will vote tomorrow on whether to take it up, enough Republicans have now come out against it that it appears to have little hope of advancing. As the headline of Carl Hulse’s analysis in the New York Times puts it: “On the Border, Republicans Set a Trap, Then Fell Into It.”

    In a speech at the White House today, President Joe Biden urged Congress to pass the bill. He thanked the negotiators who have worked so hard on it, and blamed Trump for shooting it down. Trump has been working the phones, calling Republican lawmakers to “threaten them and try to intimidate them to vote against this proposal,” Biden said. “And it looks like they’re caving.”

    Biden pointed out that “everyone from the Wall Street Journal to the Border Patrol [Union] to the…United States Chamber of Commerce support[s] this bill,” and that the Border Patrol Union endorsed Trump in 2020.

    “[I]f the bill fails,” Biden told Republicans, “I want to be absolutely clear about something: The American people are going to know why it failed. I’ll be taking this issue to the country, and the voters are going to know that…just at the moment we were going to secure the border and fund these other programs, Trump and the MAGA Republicans said no because they’re afraid of Donald Trump.”

    “Every day between now and November, the American people are going to know that the only reason the border is not secure is Donald Trump and his MAGA Republican friends. It’s time for Republicans in the Congress to show a little courage, to show a little spine to make it clear to the American people that you work for them and not for anyone else.”

    Then, this afternoon, House leadership called a vote on the impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas, who they insist is not enforcing the laws that should protect the border. Just to be clear, good leadership would never call such an important vote unless they were absolutely certain it had the votes to pass.

    You know where this is going, right?

    It did not have the votes to pass. Three Republicans joined the Democrats to make up a majority of 216, while the Republicans could muster only 214. Republicans say they will bring the measure up again later.

    Then House leadership decided to bring to the House floor a standalone bill providing $17.6 billion to Israel, without aid for Ukraine or Taiwan, or humanitarian aid for the Palestinians. That, too, failed, by a vote of 250 to 180.

    Jake Sherman of Punchbowl News posted on social media: “I’ve seen a lot of embarrassing days for different House Republican leadership teams. This one is pretty high on the list. They lost a vote to impeach Mayorkas. And then they lost a vote to send $17.6 billion to Israel. They didn't need to vote on the Israel bill today. They knew it would fail. They chose to.”

    News broke today that Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel is planning to leave her position under pressure from Trump, who wants a more fervent loyalist in the job—despite the unquestioned loyalty that had McDaniel participating in Trump’s attempt to steal the 2020 election—and is unhappy with the RNC’s dismal finances. The RNC’s chief of staff under McDaniel, Mike Reed, will also be stepping down.

    Meanwhile, former Fox News Channel personality Tucker Carlson released a video today confirming that he is in Moscow to interview Russian president Vladimir Putin. He says he plans to tell people the “truth” of Russia’s war on Ukraine. Carlson says that no U.S. journalist has tried to interview Putin since the conflict began, a comment that drew the astonishment of CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, who pointed out that real journalists (unlike Carlson, whose lawyers have successfully defended him in court from slander charges by saying he should not be expected to tell the truth) have been trying to get an interview with Putin since the war began but he will only talk to propaganda outlets.

    Putin has, of course, imprisoned American journalists Evan Gershkovich of the Wall Street Journal and Alsu Kurmasheva of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

    Carlson said Elon Musk is permitting him to post the interview on X, formerly Twitter.

    And finally today, last but very much not least, the three judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit reviewing the question of whether Trump is immune from criminal prosecution for his attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election released their decision.

    He is not immune.

    The panel wrote: “We cannot accept former President Trump's claim that a President has unbounded authority to commit crimes that would neutralize the most fundamental check on executive power—the recognition and implementation of election results. Nor can we sanction his apparent contention that the Executive has carte blanche to violate the rights of individual citizens to vote and to have their votes count….

    “We cannot accept that the office of the Presidency places its former occupants above the law for all time thereafter….

    “For the purposes of this criminal case, former President Trump has become citizen Trump, with all of the defenses of any other criminal defendant. But any executive immunity that may have protected him while he served as President no longer protects him against this prosecution….”

    Trump’s lawyers say they will appeal the decision.

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  • mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,022
     February 7, 2024 (Wednesday)

    Amidst the Republican meltdown in Washington, a disturbing pattern is emerging.

    Under pressure from former president Donald Trump, Republican senators today killed the $118 billion Emergency National Security Supplemental Appropriations Act that provided funding for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan and humanitarian assistance for Gaza and also included protections for the border that Republicans themselves had demanded.

    Senator Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), one of the team of senators who had negotiated the bill, called out the Republicans who had staged photo ops at the border and insisted that Congress must address the rise in migration across the border…until Trump told them the opposite: “After all those trips to the desert, after all those press conferences, it turns out this crisis isn’t much of a crisis after all. Sunday morning, it’s a real crisis,” she said. “Monday morning it magically disappeared.”

    After four months of Senate negotiations over the bill produced a strong bipartisan agreement, Trump pulled the rug out from under a measure that gave the Republicans much of what they wanted, partly because he wanted the issue of immigration and the border to run on in 2024, it seems, but also to demonstrate that he could command Congress to do his bidding.

    It appears that Trump is trying to turn the Republican Party into an instrument he can use as he wishes.  

    Senator James Lankford (R-OK), whom Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) tapped to negotiate the bill, today told the Senate that four weeks ago a right-wing media personality had told him “flat out—before they knew any of the contents of the bill, any of the content, nothing was out at that point—that told me flat out, ‘If you try to move a bill that solves the border crisis during this presidential year, I will do whatever I can to destroy you, because I do not want you to solve this during the presidential election.’”

    Lankford added, “[They] have been faithful to their promise and have done everything they can to destroy me in the past several weeks.” (MAGA radio host Jesse Kelly later claimed he was the person to whom Lankford referred, and called the Oklahoma senator a “eunuch.”)

    It is not a normal part of our political system to have members of Congress deciding what laws to support on the basis of threats.

    In Politico today, Burgess Everett reported that Trump-aligned MAGA Republican senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT) are calling for McConnell to step down because he backed the national security measure with the border fixes MAGA demanded, suggesting that negotiating with Democrats is off-limits. Trump has consistently called for McConnell to be replaced with someone friendlier to him.

    Senators aligned with Trump—Ron Johnson (R-WI), Rick Scott (R-FL), and J.D. Vance (R-OH), as well as Cruz and Lee—took a stand against the national security measure, creating such pressure that McConnell’s supporters quietly turned against it. Everett noted that the rapid about-face Senate Republicans made over the national security measure “is evidence of a major drift away from McConnell’s style of Republicanism and toward Trump’s.”

    Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) said, “I have a difficult time understanding again how anyone else in the future is going to want to be on that negotiating team—on anything—if we are going to be against it.” She said: “I’ve gone through the multiple stages of grief. Today I’m just pissed off.”

    Trump’s takeover of the Republican Party is showing as well in his attempt to take over the Republican National Committee, in particular a plan to replace as its chair his hand-picked loyalist Ronna McDaniel, who has ties to the old party, with someone even closer to him. Since 2016, “[t]hey’ve merged the DNA of the president’s campaign and the RNC,” a Republican operative told Matt Dixon, Olympia Sonnier, and Katherine Doyle of NBC News.

    Josh Dawsey and Michael Scherer reported yesterday in the Washington Post that Republicans are afraid to stand up to Trump out of fear that he will retaliate against them. In Politico today, Peder Schaefer described how in Republican-dominated Wyoming, Democrats are afraid to admit their political affiliation out of concern for their safety.

    Yesterday, Politico’s Adam Wren pointed out that Trump has spent much of the last week attacking elections officials in Indiana for helping former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, who is running against him for the Republican presidential nomination. He is apparently working with loyalist Representative Jim Banks (R-IN) to push the lie that Haley had forgotten to fill out the paperwork to get onto the Republican primary ballot and that election officials were cheating to get her onto it.

    Officials say that these baseless accusations are an attempt to sow distrust of the 2024 election.

    “Trump is reinforcing a narrative where the only acceptable outcome is his victory, thus preemptively delegitimizing any electoral defeat,” Evansville attorney and former Indiana Republican delegate Joshua Claybourn told Wren. “It sets the stage for yet another crisis of legitimacy in the November general election.”

    Mike Murphy, a former Republican member of the Indiana House of Representatives, offered Wren a different theory about Trump’s actions: “The bottom line is he’s completely unhinged. He is literally off his rocker.”

    But there is a method behind the madness. Trump’s actions are not those designed to win an election by getting a majority of the votes. They are the tools someone who cannot win a majority uses to seize power.

    Trump’s base is shrinking as his actions become more extreme, but he has a big megaphone, and it is getting bigger. As Robyn Dixon and Natalia Abbakumova pointed out in the Washington Post today, Putin’s awarding of an interview to right-wing former Fox News Channel personality Tucker Carlson in Moscow this week “demonstrated Putin’s interest in building bridges to the disruptive MAGA element of the Republican Party, and it seemed to reflect the Kremlin’s hope that Donald Trump would return to the presidency and that Republicans would continue to block U.S. military aid to Ukraine.”

    Yesterday, Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) introduced, and more than 60 House Republicans co-sponsored, a resolution denying that Trump had engaged in insurrection in his attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

    Former District of Columbia police officer Michael Fanone, who was badly hurt on January 6,  said the resolution was “a slap in the face to those of us who almost lost everything defending the Capitol on January 6th, including protecting some of the very Members of Congress who are now attempting to rewrite history to exonerate former President Trump.

    “But no piece of paper signed by a group of spineless extremists will ever change the facts about that dark day:” he wrote, “the insurrection was violent, it was deadly and it will happen again if we do not expunge the MAGA ideology that stoked the flames of insurrection in the first place. Rep. Matt Gaetz and every supporter of this resolution must be held accountable for their lies and un-American efforts to undermine our democracy.”

    _____________________________________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: 35,022
     February 8, 2024 (Thursday)

    I'm on the road again, and was happily writing away on a couple of interesting stories tonight when I saw my laptop battery was almost gone. Went to plug it in and realized I did not pack my charger.

    Tonight, therefore, is an emergency picture.

    It's miserable for this to happen mid-draft, but the good news is that there is no news that isn't part of a much longer story, so nothing is breaking (and yes, I'm saying that even though I have read the entire 388-page report about President Biden's handling of classified documents-- that's where the battery went).

    Anyway, a bit of a respite with a picture from a couple of days ago in Florida. I loved how much this looked like a committee meeting.

    Sorry about this. But will be back at it 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
  • mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,022
     February 9, 2024 (Friday)

    Yesterday, Special Counsel Robert Hur, appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland in January 2023 to investigate President Joe Biden’s handling of classified documents before he was president, released his report. It begins: “We conclude that no criminal charges are warranted in this matter. We would reach the same conclusion even if Department of Justice policy did not foreclose criminal charges against a sitting president.” The Department of Justice closed a similar case against former Vice President Mike Pence on June 1, 2023, days before Pence announced his presidential bid, with a brief, one-page letter.

    But in Biden’s case, what followed the announcement that he had not broken a law was more than 300 pages of commentary, including assertions that Biden was old, infirm, and losing his marbles and even that “[h]e did not remember, even within several years, when his son Beau died” (p. 208).

    As television host and former Republican representative from Florida Joe Scarborough put it: “He couldn’t indict Biden legally so he tried to indict Biden politically.”

    Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and their teams came out swinging against what amounted to a partisan hit job by a Republican special counsel. The president’s lawyers noted that it is not Department of Justice practice and protocol to criticize someone who is not going to be charged, and tore apart Hur’s nine references to Biden’s memory in contrast to his willingness to “accept…other witnesses’ memory loss as completely understandable given the passage of time.”

    They pointed out that “there is ample evidence from your interview that the President did well in answering your questions about years-old events over the course of five hours. This is especially true under the circumstances, which you do not mention in your report, that his interview began the day after the October 7 attacks on Israel. In the lead up to the interview, the President was conducting calls with heads of state, Cabinet members, members of Congress, and meeting repeatedly with his national security team.”

    Nonetheless, they note, Biden provided “often detailed recollections across a wide range of questions, from staff management of paper flow in the West Wing to the events surrounding the creation of the 2009 memorandum on the Afghanistan surge. He engaged at length on theories you offered about the way materials were packed and moved during the transition out of the vice presidency and between residences. He pointed to flaws in the assumptions behind specific lines of questioning.”

    They were not alone in their criticism. Others pointed out that Republicans have made Biden’s age a central point of attack, but Politico reported last October that while former House speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was publicly mocking Biden’s age and mental fitness, he was “privately telling allies that he found the president sharp and substantive in their conversations.” Dan Pfeiffer of Pod Save America and Message Box noted that the report’s “characterizations of Biden don't match those relayed by everyone who talks to him, including [Republicans].”

    He explained: “There are few secrets in [Washington], and if Joe Biden acted like Hur says, we would all know. Biden meets with dozens of people daily—staffers, members of Congress, CEOs, labor officials, foreign leaders, and military and intelligence officials…. If Biden was regularly misremembering obvious pieces of information or making other mistakes that suggested he was not up to the job, it would be in the press. Washington is not capable of keeping something like that secret."

    But the media ran not with the official takeaway of the investigation—that Biden had not committed a crime—or with a reflection on the accuracy or partisan reason for Hur’s commentary, but with Hur’s insinuations. Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo noted that the New York Times today ran five front-page stories above the fold about the report and Biden’s memory.

    Matt Gertz of Media Matters collected some of the day’s headlines: “Eight Words and a Verbal Slip Put Biden’s Age Back at the Center of 2024 (New York Times); “1 Big thing: Report Questions Biden’s memory (Axios)”; “Biden tries to lay to rest age concerns, but may have exacerbated them” (CNN); “Biden disputes special counsel findings, insists his memory is fine” (CBS News); “Age isn’t just a number. It’s a profound and growing problem for Biden” (Politico); and so on.

    As far back as 1950, when Senator Joe McCarthy (R-WI) insisted—without evidence—that the Department of State under Democratic president Harry Truman had been infiltrated by Communists, Republicans have used official investigations to smear their opponents. State Department officials condemned McCarthy’s “Sewer Politics” and the New York Times complained about his “hit-and-run” attacks, but McCarthy’s outrageous statements and hearings kept his accusations in the news. That media coverage, in turn, convinced many Americans that his charges were true.

    Other Republicans finally rejected McCarthy, but in 1996, congressional Republicans frustrated by the election of Democratic president Bill Clinton in 1992 and the Democrats’ subsequent expansion of the vote with the so-called Motor Voter law in 1993 resurrected his tactics. They launched investigations into two elections they insisted the Democrats had stolen. They discovered no fraud, but their investigation convinced a number of Americans that voter fraud was a serious problem.

    There were ten investigations into the 2012 attack on two U.S. government facilities in Benghazi, Libya, in which four Americans were killed and several others wounded; Republican-dominated House committees held six of them. Kevin McCarthy bragged to Fox News personality Sean Hannity that the Benghazi special committee was part of a “strategy to fight and win” against then–Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

    The strategy of weaponizing investigations went on to be central to the 2016 election, when Trump ran on the investigation of Clinton’s email practices, and to the 2020 election, when Trump tried to weaken Biden’s candidacy by trying to force Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky to say that Ukraine was opening an investigation into Hunter Biden and the company he worked for.

    Going into 2024, the House is investigating Hunter Biden, and while witness testimony and evidence has not supported their contention that President Biden is corrupt, the stench of the hearings has convinced a number of MAGA voters of the opposite.

    And now the media appears to be falling for this strategy yet again.

    Political commentator Brian Tyler Cohen outlined how Biden’s performance disproves the argument that he is unfit for the presidency: “The thing about Biden’s memory,” Cohen wrote, “is that he’s presided over the addition of ~15 million jobs & 800k manufacturing jobs, 23 straight months of sub-4% unemployment, surging consumer sentiment, wages outpacing inflation, the American Rescue Plan, Inflation Reduction Act, CHIPs Act, PACT Act, infrastructure law, gun safety law, VAWA, codified marriage equality, canceled $136 billion in student loan debt for 3.7 million borrowers, bolstered NATO, and presided over electoral wins in ‘20, ‘22 and ‘23.”

    Political strategist Simon Rosenberg had his own take: “As we end this crazy week I am struck that somehow the claim that Biden's memory is faulty has gotten more attention than a jury confirming that Trump raped E. Jean Carroll in a department store dressing room.”

    It may be, though, that the report has been a game changer in a different way than Hur intended it. Hur’s suggestion that Biden does not remember when his son died seems to echo the moment in the 1954 Army-McCarthy hearings in which Senator McCarthy was trying to prove that the U.S. Army had been infiltrated by Communists. Sensing himself losing, McCarthy attacked on national television a young aide of Joseph Nye Welch, the lawyer defending the Army.

    “Have you no sense of decency, sir?” Welch demanded. “At long last, have you left no sense of decency?” McCarthy didn’t, but Americans did, and they finally threw him off the public stage.

    Biden supporters took their gloves off today, producing videos of Trump’s incoherence, gaffes, and wandering off stages, and noting that he mistook writer E. Jean Carroll, whom he sexually assaulted, for his second wife, Marla Maples, when asked to identify Carroll in a photograph. They also produced clips of Fox News Channel personalities Sean Hannity and Jesse Watters messing up names themselves on screen, and gaffes from Republican lawmakers.  

    Senior communications advisor for the Biden-Harris campaign T.J. Ducklo released a statement lambasting Trump for a speech he gave tonight in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, saying: “Tonight, he lied more than two dozen times, slurred his words, confused basic facts, and placated the gun lobby weeks after telling parents to ‘get over it’ after their kids were gunned down at school. But you won’t hear about any of it if you watch cable news, read this weekend’s papers, or watch the Sunday shows.”  

    But it was Biden who responded most powerfully. “There’s even a reference that I don’t remember when my son died,” he told reporters. “How in the hell dare he raise that…. I don’t need anyone to remind me when he passed away.” And when asked about Hur’s dismissal of him as a “well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory,” Biden responded with justified anger: “I am well-meaning, and I’m an elderly man, and I know what the hell I’m doing. I’ve been President. I put this country back on its feet.”

    _____________________________________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: 36,246
    mickeyrat said:
     February 9, 2024 (Friday)

    Yesterday, Special Counsel Robert Hur, appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland in January 2023 to investigate President Joe Biden’s handling of classified documents before he was president, released his report. It begins: “We conclude that no criminal charges are warranted in this matter. We would reach the same conclusion even if Department of Justice policy did not foreclose criminal charges against a sitting president.” The Department of Justice closed a similar case against former Vice President Mike Pence on June 1, 2023, days before Pence announced his presidential bid, with a brief, one-page letter.

    But in Biden’s case, what followed the announcement that he had not broken a law was more than 300 pages of commentary, including assertions that Biden was old, infirm, and losing his marbles and even that “[h]e did not remember, even within several years, when his son Beau died” (p. 208).

    As television host and former Republican representative from Florida Joe Scarborough put it: “He couldn’t indict Biden legally so he tried to indict Biden politically.”

    Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and their teams came out swinging against what amounted to a partisan hit job by a Republican special counsel. The president’s lawyers noted that it is not Department of Justice practice and protocol to criticize someone who is not going to be charged, and tore apart Hur’s nine references to Biden’s memory in contrast to his willingness to “accept…other witnesses’ memory loss as completely understandable given the passage of time.”

    They pointed out that “there is ample evidence from your interview that the President did well in answering your questions about years-old events over the course of five hours. This is especially true under the circumstances, which you do not mention in your report, that his interview began the day after the October 7 attacks on Israel. In the lead up to the interview, the President was conducting calls with heads of state, Cabinet members, members of Congress, and meeting repeatedly with his national security team.”

    Nonetheless, they note, Biden provided “often detailed recollections across a wide range of questions, from staff management of paper flow in the West Wing to the events surrounding the creation of the 2009 memorandum on the Afghanistan surge. He engaged at length on theories you offered about the way materials were packed and moved during the transition out of the vice presidency and between residences. He pointed to flaws in the assumptions behind specific lines of questioning.”

    They were not alone in their criticism. Others pointed out that Republicans have made Biden’s age a central point of attack, but Politico reported last October that while former House speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was publicly mocking Biden’s age and mental fitness, he was “privately telling allies that he found the president sharp and substantive in their conversations.” Dan Pfeiffer of Pod Save America and Message Box noted that the report’s “characterizations of Biden don't match those relayed by everyone who talks to him, including [Republicans].”

    He explained: “There are few secrets in [Washington], and if Joe Biden acted like Hur says, we would all know. Biden meets with dozens of people daily—staffers, members of Congress, CEOs, labor officials, foreign leaders, and military and intelligence officials…. If Biden was regularly misremembering obvious pieces of information or making other mistakes that suggested he was not up to the job, it would be in the press. Washington is not capable of keeping something like that secret."

    But the media ran not with the official takeaway of the investigation—that Biden had not committed a crime—or with a reflection on the accuracy or partisan reason for Hur’s commentary, but with Hur’s insinuations. Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo noted that the New York Times today ran five front-page stories above the fold about the report and Biden’s memory.

    Matt Gertz of Media Matters collected some of the day’s headlines: “Eight Words and a Verbal Slip Put Biden’s Age Back at the Center of 2024 (New York Times); “1 Big thing: Report Questions Biden’s memory (Axios)”; “Biden tries to lay to rest age concerns, but may have exacerbated them” (CNN); “Biden disputes special counsel findings, insists his memory is fine” (CBS News); “Age isn’t just a number. It’s a profound and growing problem for Biden” (Politico); and so on.

    As far back as 1950, when Senator Joe McCarthy (R-WI) insisted—without evidence—that the Department of State under Democratic president Harry Truman had been infiltrated by Communists, Republicans have used official investigations to smear their opponents. State Department officials condemned McCarthy’s “Sewer Politics” and the New York Times complained about his “hit-and-run” attacks, but McCarthy’s outrageous statements and hearings kept his accusations in the news. That media coverage, in turn, convinced many Americans that his charges were true.

    Other Republicans finally rejected McCarthy, but in 1996, congressional Republicans frustrated by the election of Democratic president Bill Clinton in 1992 and the Democrats’ subsequent expansion of the vote with the so-called Motor Voter law in 1993 resurrected his tactics. They launched investigations into two elections they insisted the Democrats had stolen. They discovered no fraud, but their investigation convinced a number of Americans that voter fraud was a serious problem.

    There were ten investigations into the 2012 attack on two U.S. government facilities in Benghazi, Libya, in which four Americans were killed and several others wounded; Republican-dominated House committees held six of them. Kevin McCarthy bragged to Fox News personality Sean Hannity that the Benghazi special committee was part of a “strategy to fight and win” against then–Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

    The strategy of weaponizing investigations went on to be central to the 2016 election, when Trump ran on the investigation of Clinton’s email practices, and to the 2020 election, when Trump tried to weaken Biden’s candidacy by trying to force Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky to say that Ukraine was opening an investigation into Hunter Biden and the company he worked for.

    Going into 2024, the House is investigating Hunter Biden, and while witness testimony and evidence has not supported their contention that President Biden is corrupt, the stench of the hearings has convinced a number of MAGA voters of the opposite.

    And now the media appears to be falling for this strategy yet again.

    Political commentator Brian Tyler Cohen outlined how Biden’s performance disproves the argument that he is unfit for the presidency: “The thing about Biden’s memory,” Cohen wrote, “is that he’s presided over the addition of ~15 million jobs & 800k manufacturing jobs, 23 straight months of sub-4% unemployment, surging consumer sentiment, wages outpacing inflation, the American Rescue Plan, Inflation Reduction Act, CHIPs Act, PACT Act, infrastructure law, gun safety law, VAWA, codified marriage equality, canceled $136 billion in student loan debt for 3.7 million borrowers, bolstered NATO, and presided over electoral wins in ‘20, ‘22 and ‘23.”

    Political strategist Simon Rosenberg had his own take: “As we end this crazy week I am struck that somehow the claim that Biden's memory is faulty has gotten more attention than a jury confirming that Trump raped E. Jean Carroll in a department store dressing room.”

    It may be, though, that the report has been a game changer in a different way than Hur intended it. Hur’s suggestion that Biden does not remember when his son died seems to echo the moment in the 1954 Army-McCarthy hearings in which Senator McCarthy was trying to prove that the U.S. Army had been infiltrated by Communists. Sensing himself losing, McCarthy attacked on national television a young aide of Joseph Nye Welch, the lawyer defending the Army.

    “Have you no sense of decency, sir?” Welch demanded. “At long last, have you left no sense of decency?” McCarthy didn’t, but Americans did, and they finally threw him off the public stage.

    Biden supporters took their gloves off today, producing videos of Trump’s incoherence, gaffes, and wandering off stages, and noting that he mistook writer E. Jean Carroll, whom he sexually assaulted, for his second wife, Marla Maples, when asked to identify Carroll in a photograph. They also produced clips of Fox News Channel personalities Sean Hannity and Jesse Watters messing up names themselves on screen, and gaffes from Republican lawmakers.  

    Senior communications advisor for the Biden-Harris campaign T.J. Ducklo released a statement lambasting Trump for a speech he gave tonight in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, saying: “Tonight, he lied more than two dozen times, slurred his words, confused basic facts, and placated the gun lobby weeks after telling parents to ‘get over it’ after their kids were gunned down at school. But you won’t hear about any of it if you watch cable news, read this weekend’s papers, or watch the Sunday shows.”  

    But it was Biden who responded most powerfully. “There’s even a reference that I don’t remember when my son died,” he told reporters. “How in the hell dare he raise that…. I don’t need anyone to remind me when he passed away.” And when asked about Hur’s dismissal of him as a “well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory,” Biden responded with justified anger: “I am well-meaning, and I’m an elderly man, and I know what the hell I’m doing. I’ve been President. I put this country back on its feet.”

    Running circles around repubs more than half his age, ‘ol demented sleepy woke Joe, gettin’ it done. Too bad many on here can’t admit it.
    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: 35,022
      February 10, 2024 (Saturday)

    A key story that got missed yesterday was that the Senate voted 64–19 to allow a bill that includes $95.34 billion in aid for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan to advance a step forward. In terms of domestic politics, this appears to be an attempt by those who controlled the Republican Party before Trump to push back against Trump and the MAGA Republicans.

    MAGA lawmakers had demanded border security measures be added to a national security supplemental bill that provided this international aid, as well as humanitarian aid to Gaza, but to their apparent surprise, a bipartisan group of lawmakers actually hammered out that border piece. Trump immediately demanded an end to the bill and MAGA obliged on Wednesday, forcing the rest of the party to join them in killing the national security supplemental bill. House Republicans then promptly tried to pass a measure that provided funding for Israel alone.

    At stake behind this fight is not only control of the Republican Party, but also the role of the U.S. in the world—and, for that matter, its standing. And much of that fight comes down to Ukraine’s attempt to resist Russia’s invasions of 2014 and 2022.

    Russian president Vladimir Putin is intent on dismantling the rules-based international order of norms and values developed after World War II. Under this system, international organizations such as the United Nations provide places to resolve international disputes, prevent territorial wars, and end no-holds-barred slaughter through a series of agreements, including the United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the U.N. Genocide Convention, and the Geneva Conventions on the laws of war.

    Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, deliberate targeting of civilian populations, and war crimes are his way of thumbing his nose at the established order and demanding a different one, in which men like him dominate the globe.

    Trump’s ties to Russia are deep and well documented, including by the Senate Intelligence Committee, which was dominated by Republicans when it concluded that Trump’s 2016 campaign team had worked with Russian operatives. In November 2022, in the New York Times Magazine, Jim Rutenberg pulled together testimony given both to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and the 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.”

    But they were concerned that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) might stand in their way. Formed in 1947 to stand against Soviet expansion and now standing against Russian aggression, NATO is a collective security alliance of 31 states that have agreed to consider an attack on any member to be an attack on all.

    In exchange for weakening 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 scales to help Trump win the White House.

    When he was in office, Trump did, in fact, try to weaken NATO—as well as other international organizations like the World Health Organization—and promised he would pull the U.S. out of NATO in a second term, effectively killing it. Rutenberg noted that Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine looks a lot like an attempt to achieve the plan it suggested in 2016. But because there was a different president in the U.S., that invasion did not yield the results Putin expected.

    President Joe Biden stepped into office more knowledgeable on foreign affairs than any president since Dwight Eisenhower, who took office in 1953. Biden recognized that democracy was on the ropes around the globe as authoritarian leaders set out to dismantle the rules-based international order. He also knew that the greatest strength of the U.S. is its alliances. In the months after he took office, Biden focused on shoring up NATO, with the result that when Russia invaded Ukraine again in February 2022, a NATO coalition held together to support Ukraine.

    By 2024, far from falling apart, NATO was stronger than ever with the addition of Finland. Sweden, too, is expected to join shortly.

    But far more than simply shore up the old system, the Biden administration has built on the stability of the rules-based order to make it more democratic, encouraging more peoples, nations, and groups to participate more fully in it. In September 2023, Secretary of State Antony Blinken explained to an audience at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies that the end of the Cold War made people think that the world would inevitably become more peaceful and stable as countries cooperated and emphasized democracy and human rights.

    But now, Blinken said, that era is over. After decades of relative stability, authoritarian powers have risen to challenge the rules-based international order, throwing away the ideas of national sovereignty and human rights. As wealth becomes more and more concentrated, people are losing faith in that international order as well as in democracy itself. In a world increasingly under pressure from authoritarians who are trying to enrich themselves and stay in power, he said, the administration is trying to defend fair competition, international law, and human rights.

    Historically, though, the U.S. drive to spread democracy has often failed to rise above the old system of colonialism, with the U.S. and other western countries dictating to less prosperous countries. The administration has tried to avoid this trap by advancing a new form of international cooperation that creates partnerships and alignments of interested countries to solve discrete issues. These interest-based alignments, which administration officials refer to as “diplomatic variable geometry,” promise to preserve U.S. global influence and perhaps an international rules-based order but will also mean alliances with nations whose own interests align with those of the U.S. only on certain issues.  

    In the past three years, the U.S. has created a new security partnership with Australia and the United Kingdom, known as AUKUS, and held a historic, first-ever trilateral leaders’ summit at Camp David with Japan and the Republic of Korea. It has built new partnerships with nations in the Indo-Pacific region, as well as with Latin American and Caribbean countries, to address issues of immigration; two days ago the Trilateral Fentanyl Committee met for the fourth time in Mexico. This new system includes a wider range of voices at the table—backing the membership of the African Union in the Group of 20 (G20) economic forum, for example—advancing a form of cooperation in which every international problem is addressed by a group of partner nations that have a stake in the outcome.

    At the same time, the U.S. recognizes that wealthier countries need to step up to help poorer countries develop their own economies rather than mine them for resources. Together with G7 partners, the U.S. has committed to deliver $600 billion in new investments to develop infrastructure across the globe—for example, creating a band of development across Africa.
     
    Biden’s is a bold new approach to global affairs, based on national rights to self-determination and working finally to bring an end to colonialism.

    The fight over U.S. aid to Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan, and the other countries with which we have made partnerships is not about saving money—most of the funds for Ukraine are actually spent in the U.S.—or about protecting the U.S. border, as MAGA Republicans demonstrated when they killed the border security bill. It is about whether the globe will move into the 21st century, with all its threats of climate change, disease, and migration, with ways for nations to cooperate, or whether we will be at the mercy of global authoritarians.

    Trump’s 2024 campaign website calls for “fundamentally reevaluating NATO’s purpose and NATO’s mission,” and in a campaign speech in South Carolina today, he made it clear what that means. Trump has long misrepresented the financial obligations of NATO countries, and today he suggested that the U.S. would not protect other NATO countries that were “delinquent” if they were attacked by Russia. “In fact,” he said, “I would encourage [Russia] to do whatever the hell they want.”

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  • mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,022
    news!!!

    Audio version of Letters from an American

    702
    69
    24

    Hi Folks:

    First off: Everything that already exists will stay exactly the same!

    But here’s the news: after years of requests, we are finally adding audio versions of Letters from an American. The audio version will appear the morning after I post the letter. They will live on this Substack page, if you want to get them here, but they will also be available on the Apple Podcast Channel, and elsewhere, as we get our ducks in a row.

    Like the Letters, they are free.

    We’ve committed to trying this for three weeks, to see how it goes. Please let me know if you think it’s worthwhile, and do spread the word to those who might be interested.

    Trying to get solid information in front of as many people as we can heading into this election.

    Links here:

    Where the episodes will be stored on Substack:

    https://heathercoxrichardson.substack.com/.../february-10...




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  • mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,022
      February 11, 2024 (Sunday)

    On February 12, 1809, Nancy Hanks Lincoln gave birth to her second child, a son: Abraham.

    Abraham Lincoln grew up to become the nation’s sixteenth president, leading the country from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865, a little over a month into his second term. He piloted the country through the Civil War, preserving the concept of American democracy. It was a system that had never been fully realized but that he still saw as “the last, best hope of earth” to prove that people could govern themselves.

    “Four score and seven years ago,” he told an audience at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in November 1863, “our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

    Lincoln dated the founding of the nation from the Declaration of Independence rather than the Constitution, the document enslavers preferred because of that document’s protection of property. In the Declaration, the Founders wrote that they held certain “truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed….”

    But in Lincoln’s day, fabulously wealthy enslavers had gained control over the government and had begun to argue that the Founders had gotten their worldview terribly wrong. They insisted that their system of human enslavement, which had enabled them to amass fortunes previously unimaginable, was the right one. Most men were dull drudges who must be led by their betters for their own good, southern leaders said. As South Carolina senator and enslaver James Henry Hammond put it, “I repudiate, as ridiculously absurd, that much-lauded but nowhere accredited dogma of Mr. Jefferson, that ‘all men are born equal.’”

    In 1858, Abraham Lincoln, then a candidate for the Senate, warned that arguments limiting American equality to white men were the same arguments “that kings have made for enslaving the people in all ages of the world…. Turn in whatever way you will—whether it come from the mouth of a King, an excuse for enslaving the people of his country, or from the mouth of men of one race as a reason for enslaving the men of another race, it is all the same old serpent.” Either people—men, in his day—were equal, or they were not. Lincoln went on, “I should like to know if taking this old Declaration of Independence, which declares that all men are equal upon principle and making exceptions to it…where will it stop?”

    Lincoln had thought deeply about the logic of equality. In his 1860 campaign biography, he permitted the biographer to identify six books that had influenced him. One was a book published in 1817 and wildly popular in the Midwest in the 1830s: Capt. Riley’s Narrative. The book was written by James Riley, and the full title of the book was “An Authentic Narrative of the Loss of the American Brig Commerce, Wrecked on the Western Coast of Africa, in the Month of August, 1815, With the Sufferings of Her Surviving Officers and Crew, Who Were Enslaved by the Wandering Arabs on the Great African Desart [sic], or Zahahrah.” The story was exactly what the title indicated: the tale of white men enslaved in Africa.

    In the 1850s, on a fragment of paper, Lincoln figured out the logic of a world that permitted the law to sort people into different places in a hierarchy, applying the reasoning he heard around him. “If A. can prove, however conclusively, that he may, of right, enslave B.—why may not B. snatch the same argument, and prove equally, that he may enslave A?” Lincoln wrote. “You say A. is white, and B. is black. It is color, then; the lighter, having the right to enslave the darker? Take care. By this rule, you are to be slave to the first man you meet, with a fairer skin than your own. You do not mean color exactly?—You mean the whites are intellectually the superiors of the blacks, and, therefore have the right to enslave them? Take care again. By this rule, you are to be slave to the first man you meet, with an intellect superior to your own. But, say you, it is a question of interest; and, if you can make it your interest, you have the right to enslave another. Very well. And if he can make it his interest, he has the right to enslave you.”

    Lincoln saw clearly that if we give up the principle of equality before the law, we have given up the whole game. We have admitted the principle that people are unequal and that some people are better than others. Once we have replaced the principle of equality with the idea that humans are unequal, we have granted approval to the idea of rulers and ruled. At that point, all any of us can do is to hope that no one in power decides that we belong in one of the lesser groups.

    In 1863, Lincoln reminded his audience at Gettysburg that the Founders had created a nation “dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal,” but it was no longer clear whether “any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.” During the Civil War, the people of the United States were defending that principle against those who were trying to create a new nation based, as the Confederacy’s vice president Alexander Stephens said, “upon the great truth” that men were not, in fact, created equal, that the “great physical, philosophical, and moral truth” was that there was a “superior race.”

    In the midst of the Civil War, Lincoln called for Americans to understand what was at stake, and to “highly resolve…that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

    [Photo of Abraham Lincoln by Alexander Gardner, November 8, 1863]

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

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  • mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,022
     February 12, 2024 (Monday)

    Today’s big story continues to be Trump’s statement that he “would encourage [Russia] to do whatever the hell they want” to countries that are part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) if those countries are, in his words, “delinquent.” Both Democrats and Republicans have stood firm behind NATO since Dwight D. Eisenhower ran for president in 1952 to put down the isolationist wing of the Republican Party, and won.

    National security specialist Tom Nichols of The Atlantic expressed starkly just what this means: “The leader of one of America’s two major political parties has just signaled to the Kremlin that if elected, he would not only refuse to defend Europe, but he would gladly support Vladimir Putin during World War III and even encourage him to do as he pleases to America’s allies.” Former NATO supreme commander Wesley Clark called Trump’s comments “treasonous.”

    To be clear, Trump’s beef with NATO has nothing to do with money. Trump has always misrepresented NATO as a sort of protection racket, but as Nick Paton Walsh of CNN put it today: “NATO is not an alliance based on dues: it is the largest military bloc in history, formed to face down the Soviet threat, based on the collective defense that an attack on one is an attack on all—a principle enshrined in Article 5 of NATO’s founding treaty.”

    On April 4, 1949, the United States and eleven other nations in North America and Europe came together to sign the original NATO declaration. It established a military alliance that guaranteed collective security because all of the member states agreed to defend each other against an attack by a third party. At the time, their main concern was resisting Soviet aggression, but with the fall of the Soviet Union and the rise of Russian president Vladimir Putin, NATO resisted Russian aggression instead.

    Article 5 of the treaty requires every nation to come to the aid of any one of them if it is attacked militarily. That article has been invoked only once: after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, after which NATO-led troops went to Afghanistan.

    In 2006, NATO members agreed to commit at least 2% of their gross domestic product (GDP, a measure of national production) to their own defense spending in order to make sure that NATO remained ready for combat. The economic crash of 2007–2008 meant a number of governments did not meet this commitment, and in 2014, allies pledged to do so. Although most still do not invest 2% of their GDP in their militaries, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea in 2014 motivated countries to speed up that investment.

    On the day NATO went into effect, 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.” In the years since 1949, his observation seems to have proven correct. NATO now has 31 member nations.

    Crucially, NATO acts not only as a response to attack, but also as a deterrent, and its strength has always been backstopped by the military strength of the U.S., including its nuclear weapons. Trump has repeatedly attacked NATO and said he would take the U.S. out of it in a second term, alarming Congress enough that last year it put into the National Defense Authorization Act a measure prohibiting any president from leaving NATO without the approval of two thirds of the Senate or a congressional law.

    But as Russia specialist Anne Applebaum noted in The Atlantic last month, even though Trump might have trouble actually tossing out a long-standing treaty that has safeguarded national security for 75 years, the realization that the U.S. is abandoning its commitment to collective defense would make the treaty itself worthless. Chancellor of Germany Olaf Scholtz called the attack on NATO’s mutual defense guarantee “irresponsible and dangerous,” and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said, “Any suggestion that allies will not defend each other undermines our security.”

    Applebaum noted on social media that “Trump's rant…will persuade Russia to keep fighting in Ukraine and, in time, to attack a NATO country too.” She urged people not to “let [Florida senator Marco] Rubio, [South Carolina senator Lindsey] Graham or anyone try to downplay or alter the meaning of what Trump did: He invited Russia to invade NATO. It was not a joke and it will certainly not be understood that way in Moscow.”

    She wrote last month that the loss of the U.S. as an ally would force European countries to “cozy up to Russia,” with its authoritarian system, while Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) suggested that many Asian countries would turn to China as a matter of self-preservation. Countries already attacking democracy “would have a compelling new argument in favor of autocratic methods and tactics.” Trade agreements would wither, and the U.S. economy would falter and shrink.

    Former governor of South Carolina and Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley, whose husband is in the military and is currently deployed overseas, noted: “He just put every military member at risk and every one of our allies at risk just by saying something at a rally.” Conservative political commentator and former Bulwark editor in chief Charlie Sykes noted that Trump is “signaling weakness,… appeasement,…  surrender…. One of the consistent things about Donald Trump has been his willingness to bow his knee to Vladimir Putin. To ask for favors from Vladimir Putin…. This comes amid his campaign to basically kneecap the aid to Ukraine right now. People ought to take this very, very seriously because it feels as if we are sleepwalking into a global catastrophe…. ”

    President Joe Biden asked Congress to pass a supplemental national security bill back in October of last year to provide additional funding for Ukraine and Israel, as well as for the Indo-Pacific. MAGA Republicans insisted they would not pass such a measure unless it contained border security protections, but when Senate negotiators actually produced such protections earlier this month, Trump opposed the measure and Republicans promptly killed it.

    There remains a bipartisan majority in favor of aid to Ukraine, and the Senate appears on the verge of passing a $95 billion funding package for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan. In part, this appears to be an attempt by Republican senators to demonstrate their independence from Trump, who has made his opposition to the measure clear and, according to Katherine Tulluy-McManus and Ursula Perano of Politico, spent the weekend telling senators not to pass it. South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham, previously a Ukraine supporter, tonight released a statement saying he will vote no on the measure.

    Andrew Desiderio of Punchbowl News recorded how Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) weighed in on the issue during debate today: “This is not a stalemate. This guy [Putin] is on life support… He will not survive if NATO gets stronger.” If the bill does not pass, Tillis said, “You will see the alliance that is supporting Ukraine crumble.” For his part, Tillis wanted no part of that future: “I am not going to be on that page in history.”

    If the Senate passes the bill, it will go to the House, where MAGA Republicans who oppose Ukraine funding have so far managed to keep the measure from being taken up. Although it appears likely there is a majority in favor of the bill, House speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) tonight preemptively rejected the measure, saying that it is nonstarter because it does not address border security.  

    Tonight, Trump signaled his complete takeover of the Republican Party. He released a statement confirming that, having pressured Ronna McDaniel to resign as head of the Republican National Committee, he is backing as co-chairs fervent loyalists Michael Whatley, who loudly supported Trump’s claims of fraud after the 2020 presidential election, and his own daughter-in-law Lara Trump, wife of Trump’s second son, Eric. Lara has never held a leadership position in the party. Trump also wants senior advisor to the Trump campaign Chris LaCivita to become the chief operating officer of the Republican National Committee.

    This evening, Trump’s lawyers took the question of whether he is immune from prosecution for trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election to the Supreme Court. Trump has asked the court to stay last week’s ruling of the Washington, D.C., Circuit Court of Appeals that he is not immune. A stay would delay the case even further than the two months it already has been delayed by his litigation of the immunity issue. Trump’s approach has always been to stall the cases against him for as long as possible. If the justices deny his request, the case will go back to the trial court and Trump could stand trial.

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

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  • mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,022
      February 13, 2024 (Tuesday)

    “History is watching,” President Joe Biden said this afternoon. He warned “Republicans in Congress who think they can oppose funding for Ukraine and not be held accountable” that “[f]ailure to support Ukraine at this critical moment will never be forgotten.”

    At about 5:00 this morning, the Senate passed a $95 billion national security supplemental bill, providing funding for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan, and humanitarian aid to Gaza. Most of the money in the measure will stay in the United States, paying defense contractors to restock the matériel the U.S. sends to Ukraine.

    The vote was 70–29 and was strongly bipartisan. Twenty-two Republicans joined Democrats in support of the bill, overcoming the opposition of far-right Republicans.

    The measure went to the House of Representatives, where House speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) said he will not take it up, even though his far-right supporters acknowledged that a majority of the representatives supported it and that if it did come to the floor, it would pass.

    Yesterday, House Intelligence Committee chair Mike Turner (R-OH)—who had just returned from his third trip to Ukraine, where he told President Volodymyr Zelensky that reinforcements were coming—told Politico’s Rachel Bade: “We have to get this done…. This is no longer an issue of, ‘When do we support Ukraine?’ If we do not move, this will be abandoning Ukraine.”

    “The speaker will need to bring it to the floor,” Turner said. “You’re either for or against the authoritarian governments invading democratic countries.… You’re either for or against the killing of innocent civilians. You’re either for or against Russia reconstituting the Soviet Union.”

    Today, Biden spoke to the press to “call on the Speaker to let the full House speak its mind and not allow a minority of the most extreme voices in the House to block this bill even from being voted on—even from being voted on. This is a critical act for the House to move. It needs to move.”

    Bipartisan support for Ukraine “sends a clear message to Ukrainians and to our partners and to our allies around the world: America can be trusted, America can be relied upon, and America stands up for freedom,” he said. “We stand strong for our allies. We never bow down to anyone, and certainly not to Vladimir Putin.”

    “Supporting this bill is standing up to Putin. Opposing it is playing into Putin’s hands.”

    “The stakes were already high for American security before this bill was passed in the Senate last night,” Biden said. “But in recent days, those stakes have risen. And that’s because the former President has sent a dangerous and shockingly, frankly, un-American signal to the world” Biden said, referring to Trump’s statement on Saturday night that he would “encourage [Russia] to do whatever the hell they want” to countries that are part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)—the 75-year-old collective security organization that spans North America and Europe—but are not devoting 2% of the gross domestic product to their militaries.

    Trump’s invitation to Putin to invade our NATO allies was “dumb,…shameful,…dangerous, [and] un-American,” Biden said. “When America gives its word, it means something. When we make a commitment, we keep it. And NATO is a sacred commitment.” NATO, Biden said, is “the alliance that protects America and the world.”

    “[O]ur adversaries have long sought to create cracks in the Alliance. The greatest hope of all those who wish America harm is for NATO to fall apart. And you can be sure that they all cheered when they heard [what] Donald Trump…said.”

    “Our nation stands at…an inflection point in history…where the decisions we make now are going to determine the course of our future for decades to come. This is one of those moments.
    And I say to the House members, House Republicans: You’ve got to decide. Are you going to stand up for freedom, or are you going to side with terror and tyranny? Are you going to stand with Ukraine, or are you going to stand with Putin? Will we stand with America or…with Trump?”

    “Republicans and Democrats in the Senate came together to send a message of unity to the world. It’s time for the House Republicans to do the same thing: to pass this bill immediately, to stand for decency, stand for democracy, to stand up to a so-called leader hellbent on weakening American security,” Biden said.

    “And I mean this sincerely: History is watching. History is watching.”

    But instead of taking up the supplemental national security bill tonight, House speaker Johnson took advantage of the fact that Representative Steve Scalise (R-LA) has returned to Washington after a stem cell transplant to battle his multiple myeloma and that Judy Chu (D-CA) is absent because she has Covid to make a second attempt to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for “high crimes and misdemeanors” for his oversight of the southern border of the United States.

    Republicans voted to impeach Mayorkas by a vote of 214 to 213. The vote catered to far-right Republicans, but impeachment will go nowhere in the Senate.

    “History will not look kindly on House Republicans for their blatant act of unconstitutional partisanship that has targeted an honorable public servant in order to play petty political games,” Biden said in a statement. He called on the House to pass the border security measure Republicans killed last week on Trump’s orders, and to pass the national security supplemental bill.

    House minority leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) has said he will use every possible tool to force a vote on the national security supplemental bill. In contrast, as Biden noted, House Republicans are taking their cue from former president Trump, who does not want aid to Ukraine to pass and who last night demonstrated that he is trying to consolidate his power over the party by installing hand-picked loyalists, including his daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, who is married to his son Eric, at the head of the Republican National Committee (RNC).

    This move is likely due in part to outgoing RNC chair Ronna McDaniel’s having said the RNC could not pay Trump’s legal bills once he declared himself a presidential candidate. After his political action committees dropped $50 million on legal fees last year, he could likely use another pipeline, and even closer loyalists might give him one.

    In addition, Trump probably recognizes that he might well lose the protective legal bulwark of the Trump Organization when Judge Arthur Engoron hands down his verdict in Trump’s $370 million civil fraud trial. New York attorney general Letitia James is seeking not only monetary penalties but also a ban on Trump’s ability to conduct business in the New York real estate industry. In that event, the RNC could become a base of operations for Trump if he succeeds in taking it over entirely.

    But it is not clear that all Republican lawmakers will follow him into that takeover, as his demands from the party not only put it out of step with the majority of the American people but also now clearly threaten to blow up global security. “Our base cannot possibly know what’s at stake at the level that any well-briefed U.S. senator should know about what’s at stake if Putin wins,” Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) told his colleagues as he urged them to vote for the national security supplemental bill.

    Politicians should recognize that Trump’s determination to win doesn’t help them much: it is all about him and does not extend to any down-ballot races.

    Indeed, the attempt of a Republican minority to impose its will on the majority of Americans appears to be sparking a backlash. In today’s election in New York’s Third Congressional District to replace indicted serial liar George Santos, a loyal Trump Republican, voters chose Democrat Tom Suozzi by about 8 points. CNN’s Dana Bash tonight said voters had told her they voted against the Republican candidate because Republicans, on Trump’s orders, killed the bipartisan border deal. The shift both cuts down the Republican majority in the House and suggests that going into 2024, suburban swing voters are breaking for Democrats.

    As Trump tries to complete his takeover of the formerly grand old Republican Party, its members have to decide whether to capitulate.

    History is watching.

    --

    [If you prefer to hear me read this letter, it will be available tomorrow, at about noon, at these sites (for free):

    On Substack: https://heathercoxrichardson.substack.com/podcast
    On Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/.../letters-from.../id1730358737 ]

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  • mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,022
     February 14, 2024 (Wednesday)

    I am at home for a short break, and Buddy and I have spent the day taking it easy, a plan I intend to continue for the next several hours. But rather than posting a picture and taking the night off, I am reposting one of my favorite pieces ever for what it says about love, loss, humanity... and history.

    It feels appropriate these days.

    On Valentine’s Day in 1884, Theodore Roosevelt lost both his wife and his mother.

    Four years before, Roosevelt could not have imagined the tragedy that would stun him in 1884. February 14, 1880, marked one of the happiest days of his life. He and the woman he had courted for more than a year, Alice Hathaway Lee, had just announced their engagement. Roosevelt was over the moon: “I can scarcely realize that I can hold her in my arms and kiss her and caress her and love her as much as I choose,” he recorded in his diary. What followed were, according to Roosevelt, “three years of happiness greater and more unalloyed than I have ever known fall to the lot of others.”

    After they married in fall 1880, the Roosevelts moved into the home of Theodore’s mother, Martha Bulloch Roosevelt, in New York City. There they lived the life of wealthy young socialites, going to fancy parties and the opera and traveling to Europe.

    When Roosevelt was elected to the New York State Assembly in 1881, they moved to the bustling town of Albany, where the state’s political wire-pullers worked their magic. Roosevelt’s machine politician colleagues derided the rich, Harvard-educated young man as a “dude,” and they tried to ignore his irritating interest in reforming society.

    In the summer of 1883, Alice discovered that she was pregnant, and that fall she moved back to New York City to live with her mother-in-law. There she awaited the birth of the child who Theodore was certain would arrive on February 14.

    As headstrong as her father, Roosevelt’s daughter beat her father’s prediction by two days. On February 12, Alice gave birth to the couple’s first child, who would be named after her.

    Roosevelt was at work in Albany and learned the happy news by telegram. But Alice was only “fairly well,” Roosevelt noted. She soon began sliding downhill. She did not recover from the birth; she was suffering from something at the time called “Bright’s Disease,” an unspecified kidney illness.

    Roosevelt rushed back to New York City, but by the time he got there at midnight on February 13, Alice was slipping into a coma. Distraught, he held her until he received word that his mother was dangerously ill downstairs. For more than a week, “Mittie” Roosevelt had been sick with typhoid. Roosevelt ran down to her room, where she died shortly after her son got to her bedside. With his mother gone, Roosevelt hurried back to Alice. Only hours later she, too, died.

    On February 14, 1884, Roosevelt slashed a heavy black X in his diary and wrote “The light has gone out of my life.” He refused ever to mention Alice again.

    Roosevelt’s profound personal tragedy turned out to have national significance. The diseases that killed his wife and mother were diseases of filth and crowding—the hallmarks of the growing Gilded Age American cities. Mittie contracted typhoid from either food or water that had been contaminated by sewage, since New York City did not yet treat or manage either sewage or drinking water. Alice’s disease was probably caused by a strep infection, which incubated in the teeming city’s tenements, where immigrants, whose wages barely kept food on the table, crowded together.

    Roosevelt had been interested in urban reform because he worried that incessant work and unhealthy living conditions threatened the ability of young workers to become good citizens. Now, though, it was clear that he, and other rich New Yorkers, had a personal stake in cleaning up the cities and making sure employers paid workers a living wage.

    The tragedy gave him a new political identity that enabled him to do just that. Ridiculed as a “dude” in his early career, Roosevelt changed his image in the wake of the events of February 1884.

    Desperate to bury his feelings for Alice along with her, Roosevelt escaped to Dakota Territory, to a ranch in which he had invested the previous year. There he rode horses, roped cattle, and toyed with the idea of spending the rest of his life as a western rancher.

    The brutal winter of 1886–1887 changed his mind. Months of blizzards and temperatures as low as –41 degrees killed off 80% of the Dakota cattle herds. More than half of Roosevelt’s cattle died.

    Roosevelt decided to go back to eastern politics, but this time, no one would be able to make fun of him as a “dude.” In an era when the independent American cowboy dominated the popular imagination, Roosevelt now had credentials as a westerner. He ran for political office as a western cowboy taking on corruption in the East. And, with that cowboy image, he overtook his eastern rivals.

    Eventually, Roosevelt’s successes made establishment politicians so nervous they tried to bury him in what was then seen as the graveyard of the vice presidency. Then, in 1901, an unemployed steelworker assassinated President William McKinley and put Roosevelt—“that damned cowboy,” as one of McKinley’s advisers called him—into the White House.

    Once there, he worked to clean up the cities and stop the exploitation of workers, backing the urban reforms that were the hallmark of the Progressive Era.

    [Photo of Theodore Roosevelt's diary, Library of Congress.]

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  • mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,022
      February 15, 2024 (Thursday)

    Today House speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) canceled tomorrow’s votes and sent the House of Representatives into recess until February 28.

    Before recessing, Johnson refused to take up the national security supplemental bill the Senate passed early Tuesday morning, providing aid for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan and humanitarian aid for Gaza. Johnson said the House must “work its own will” rather than vote on the bill at hand because the measure did not include border security measures.

    Yesterday, Johnson told House Republicans that the House will not be “rushed” into passing foreign aid, despite the fact that Ukraine’s desperate need for ammunition is enabling Russia to regain some of the territory Ukraine’s troops reclaimed over the past year.

    But is it a rush? President Biden asked for additional national security funding in October 2023. A majority of lawmakers in the Senate and the House support such a measure, but Johnson bowed to the demands of MAGA Republicans and said he would not bring such a bill up for a vote unless it contained border security measures to address what they insisted was a crisis at the southern border of the U.S., apparently banking on the idea that such a compromise was impossible.

    But Democrats were so desperate to pass the Ukraine funding they see as crucial to our national security that they agreed to give up their demand for a path to citizenship for the so-called Dreamers, those brought to the United States as children and reared here but now stuck in citizenship limbo. So, after four months of work, Senate negotiators produced a bill that offered much of what Republicans demanded.

    Once it was clear a deal was going to materialize, Trump demanded it be shut down, likely because he has promised his base that on his first day back in office, he will “begin the largest domestic deportation operation in American history,” and a new border measure would both undermine his campaign message and stymie his plans. Although the border patrol officers union endorsed the Senate national security measure that included border security provisions, Republicans killed it.

    Senators immediately went to work on a national security supplemental without the border measure, passing it with 70 votes on Tuesday morning. Johnson indicated he would not take it up, right about the same time that Trump renewed his attack on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization that underpins U.S. and global security.

    “House Republicans are…siding with Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, and Tehran against our defense industrial base, against NATO, against Ukraine, against our interests in the Indo-Pacific,” the White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said yesterday, and President Joe Biden has repeatedly warned that “[f]ailure to support Ukraine at this critical moment will never be forgotten.” But Republicans, too—including Trump’s vice president Mike Pence—are begging House Republicans to pass a version of the measure.  

    Perhaps to pressure Johnson, House Intelligence Committee chair Mike Turner (R-OH), who is a strong supporter of aiding Ukraine in its fight against Russia, yesterday released information about “a serious national security threat,” urged all members of Congress to view the intelligence, and called on Biden to declassify all information relating to it. That threat appears to be antisatellite weapons Russia is developing, but they are not yet operational. Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) of the Senate Intelligence Committee expressed concern that the disclosure might have revealed intelligence sources and methods.

    And now, rather than taking up the national security measure, the House has recessed.

    National security and border measures are not the only things the House is ignoring. Since this is a leap year, putting February 29 on the calendar, the recess will give the House just three working days to pass appropriations measures for the 2024 budget before the stopgap continuing resolution to fund the government expires on March 1.

    The appropriations process is so far overdue that it threatens to become tangled in that for 2025, which is set to begin March 11, when the White House is expected to release its budget proposal for the year.

    While they have been unable to make headway on these measures, on Tuesday night, Republicans in the House of Representatives voted to impeach Homeland Security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, blaming him for an increase in migrants at the border. Johnson has named as impeachment managers a number of Republican extremists, including Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Clay Higgins (R-LA), and Harriet Hageman (R-WY).

    As Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan of Punchbowl News reported: “This is the most chaotic, inefficient and ineffective majority we’ve seen in decades covering Congress. It started this way under former Speaker Kevin McCarthy and has gotten worse under Johnson.”

    Trump and his MAGA supporters are demonstrating their power over the Republican Party. Trump is trying to install hand-picked loyalists, including his daughter-in-law, at the head of the Republican National Committee, where she vows that “[e]very single penny will go to the No. 1 and the only job of the RNC—that is electing Donald J. Trump as President of the United States.”

    When Trump was in office, his team installed loyalists at the head of state parties, where they have worked to purge all but Trump loyalists. MAGA Republicans are continuing that process. After Senator James Lankford (R-OK), a reliable conservative tapped by Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to negotiate a border measure, produced one that favored Republican positions, right-wing provocateur Benny Johnson called those like Lankford “traitors…spineless scum” who must “be criminally prosecuted.”

    That demand for purity appears to be radicalizing the House as Republicans inclined to get things done, including five committee chairs, have announced they will not run for reelection. Meanwhile, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene yesterday said that British foreign secretary David Cameron, who is urging Congress to pass Ukraine aid, “can kiss my ass.”

    But the MAGA agenda is falling apart in the courts. True the Vote, the right-wing organization that insisted it had evidence of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election, has told a Georgia judge that, in fact, it has no such evidence. Their claims provided the basis for the arguments about voter fraud highlighted in right-wing pundit Dinesh D’Souza’s film 2000 Mules.

    Today a grand jury convened by Special Counsel David Weiss, whom Trump appointed to investigate Hunter Biden, indicted former FBI informant Alexander Smirnov for making a false statement and creating a false and fictitious record about Hunter Biden. Smirnov has been a key witness for Republican allegations about Biden’s “corruption” since Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) released Smirnov’s unverified claims about a year ago and other MAGA figures spread them. Matthew Gertz of Media Matters noted that Fox News Channel personality Sean Hannity’s show highlighted these allegations in at least 85 separate segments last year, including 28 monologues. Now a grand jury has grounds to think Smirnov lied.

    Trump’s personal problems also continue to mount.

    Today Judge Juan Merchan confirmed that Trump is going to trial on his criminal election interference case, with jury selection beginning on March 25. Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg has charged Trump with 34 felonies for falsifying business records in order to hide critical information from voters before the 2016 election. Prosecutors say that Trump defrauded voters by illegally hiding payments he made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels to keep her quiet about their affair before the election. As Andrew Warren put it in The Daily Beast, the case “is about a plot to deprive voters of information about a candidate for president—information that Trump and his allies believed to be damaging enough to hide.”

    And yet Trump’s MAGA Republicans are calling the shots in the House, and their refusal to support Ukraine threatens to empower Russian president Vladimir Putin and thus to lay waste to the rules-based international order that has helped to prevent world war since 1945. Conservative pundit Bill Kristol noted earlier this month that “politics is often a stage on which people act in bad faith. Still, the demagogic opposition of House Republicans to the border/Ukraine bill, when they've all said the border is an emergency and that Putin should be stopped, is just about the baddest bad faith ever.”

    The implications of that bad faith for the country—and the world—are huge.

    _____________________________________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: 36,246
    mickeyrat said:
      February 15, 2024 (Thursday)

    Today House speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) canceled tomorrow’s votes and sent the House of Representatives into recess until February 28.

    Before recessing, Johnson refused to take up the national security supplemental bill the Senate passed early Tuesday morning, providing aid for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan and humanitarian aid for Gaza. Johnson said the House must “work its own will” rather than vote on the bill at hand because the measure did not include border security measures.

    Yesterday, Johnson told House Republicans that the House will not be “rushed” into passing foreign aid, despite the fact that Ukraine’s desperate need for ammunition is enabling Russia to regain some of the territory Ukraine’s troops reclaimed over the past year.

    But is it a rush? President Biden asked for additional national security funding in October 2023. A majority of lawmakers in the Senate and the House support such a measure, but Johnson bowed to the demands of MAGA Republicans and said he would not bring such a bill up for a vote unless it contained border security measures to address what they insisted was a crisis at the southern border of the U.S., apparently banking on the idea that such a compromise was impossible.

    But Democrats were so desperate to pass the Ukraine funding they see as crucial to our national security that they agreed to give up their demand for a path to citizenship for the so-called Dreamers, those brought to the United States as children and reared here but now stuck in citizenship limbo. So, after four months of work, Senate negotiators produced a bill that offered much of what Republicans demanded.

    Once it was clear a deal was going to materialize, Trump demanded it be shut down, likely because he has promised his base that on his first day back in office, he will “begin the largest domestic deportation operation in American history,” and a new border measure would both undermine his campaign message and stymie his plans. Although the border patrol officers union endorsed the Senate national security measure that included border security provisions, Republicans killed it.

    Senators immediately went to work on a national security supplemental without the border measure, passing it with 70 votes on Tuesday morning. Johnson indicated he would not take it up, right about the same time that Trump renewed his attack on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization that underpins U.S. and global security.

    “House Republicans are…siding with Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, and Tehran against our defense industrial base, against NATO, against Ukraine, against our interests in the Indo-Pacific,” the White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said yesterday, and President Joe Biden has repeatedly warned that “[f]ailure to support Ukraine at this critical moment will never be forgotten.” But Republicans, too—including Trump’s vice president Mike Pence—are begging House Republicans to pass a version of the measure.  

    Perhaps to pressure Johnson, House Intelligence Committee chair Mike Turner (R-OH), who is a strong supporter of aiding Ukraine in its fight against Russia, yesterday released information about “a serious national security threat,” urged all members of Congress to view the intelligence, and called on Biden to declassify all information relating to it. That threat appears to be antisatellite weapons Russia is developing, but they are not yet operational. Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) of the Senate Intelligence Committee expressed concern that the disclosure might have revealed intelligence sources and methods.

    And now, rather than taking up the national security measure, the House has recessed.

    National security and border measures are not the only things the House is ignoring. Since this is a leap year, putting February 29 on the calendar, the recess will give the House just three working days to pass appropriations measures for the 2024 budget before the stopgap continuing resolution to fund the government expires on March 1.

    The appropriations process is so far overdue that it threatens to become tangled in that for 2025, which is set to begin March 11, when the White House is expected to release its budget proposal for the year.

    While they have been unable to make headway on these measures, on Tuesday night, Republicans in the House of Representatives voted to impeach Homeland Security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, blaming him for an increase in migrants at the border. Johnson has named as impeachment managers a number of Republican extremists, including Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Clay Higgins (R-LA), and Harriet Hageman (R-WY).

    As Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan of Punchbowl News reported: “This is the most chaotic, inefficient and ineffective majority we’ve seen in decades covering Congress. It started this way under former Speaker Kevin McCarthy and has gotten worse under Johnson.”

    Trump and his MAGA supporters are demonstrating their power over the Republican Party. Trump is trying to install hand-picked loyalists, including his daughter-in-law, at the head of the Republican National Committee, where she vows that “[e]very single penny will go to the No. 1 and the only job of the RNC—that is electing Donald J. Trump as President of the United States.”

    When Trump was in office, his team installed loyalists at the head of state parties, where they have worked to purge all but Trump loyalists. MAGA Republicans are continuing that process. After Senator James Lankford (R-OK), a reliable conservative tapped by Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to negotiate a border measure, produced one that favored Republican positions, right-wing provocateur Benny Johnson called those like Lankford “traitors…spineless scum” who must “be criminally prosecuted.”

    That demand for purity appears to be radicalizing the House as Republicans inclined to get things done, including five committee chairs, have announced they will not run for reelection. Meanwhile, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene yesterday said that British foreign secretary David Cameron, who is urging Congress to pass Ukraine aid, “can kiss my ass.”

    But the MAGA agenda is falling apart in the courts. True the Vote, the right-wing organization that insisted it had evidence of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election, has told a Georgia judge that, in fact, it has no such evidence. Their claims provided the basis for the arguments about voter fraud highlighted in right-wing pundit Dinesh D’Souza’s film 2000 Mules.

    Today a grand jury convened by Special Counsel David Weiss, whom Trump appointed to investigate Hunter Biden, indicted former FBI informant Alexander Smirnov for making a false statement and creating a false and fictitious record about Hunter Biden. Smirnov has been a key witness for Republican allegations about Biden’s “corruption” since Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) released Smirnov’s unverified claims about a year ago and other MAGA figures spread them. Matthew Gertz of Media Matters noted that Fox News Channel personality Sean Hannity’s show highlighted these allegations in at least 85 separate segments last year, including 28 monologues. Now a grand jury has grounds to think Smirnov lied.

    Trump’s personal problems also continue to mount.

    Today Judge Juan Merchan confirmed that Trump is going to trial on his criminal election interference case, with jury selection beginning on March 25. Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg has charged Trump with 34 felonies for falsifying business records in order to hide critical information from voters before the 2016 election. Prosecutors say that Trump defrauded voters by illegally hiding payments he made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels to keep her quiet about their affair before the election. As Andrew Warren put it in The Daily Beast, the case “is about a plot to deprive voters of information about a candidate for president—information that Trump and his allies believed to be damaging enough to hide.”

    And yet Trump’s MAGA Republicans are calling the shots in the House, and their refusal to support Ukraine threatens to empower Russian president Vladimir Putin and thus to lay waste to the rules-based international order that has helped to prevent world war since 1945. Conservative pundit Bill Kristol noted earlier this month that “politics is often a stage on which people act in bad faith. Still, the demagogic opposition of House Republicans to the border/Ukraine bill, when they've all said the border is an emergency and that Putin should be stopped, is just about the baddest bad faith ever.”

    The implications of that bad faith for the country—and the world—are huge.

    Fun to watch them eat their own, eh?
    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: 35,022
      February 16, 2024 (Friday)

    At the Munich Security Conference, where leaders from more than 70 countries gather annually in Germany to discuss international security policy, Vice President Kamala Harris today responded to Trump’s recent attacks on America’s global leadership with a full-throated defense of global engagement.

    People around the world have reason to wonder if the United States is committed to global leadership, she acknowledged. Americans, she said, must also ask themselves “[w]hether it is in America’s interest to continue to engage with the world or to turn inward. Whether it is in our interest to defend longstanding rules and norms that have provided for unprecedented peace and prosperity or to allow them to be trampled. Whether it is in America’s interest to fight for democracy or to accept the rise of dictators. And whether it is in America’s interest to continue to work in lockstep with our allies and partners or go it alone.”

    Harris spoke at least in part to people at home, saying that upholding international rules and democratic values “makes America strong, and it keeps Americans safe.” Isolating ourselves and embracing dictators while we “abandon commitments to our allies in favor of unilateral action” is “dangerous, destabilizing, and indeed short-sighted,” she said. “That view would weaken America and would undermine global stability and undermine global prosperity.”

    The Biden administration’s approach to global engagement is not “based on the virtues of charity,” Harris said, but rather is based on the nation’s strategic interest. “Our leadership keeps our homeland safe, supports American jobs, secures supply chains, and opens new markets for American goods. And I firmly believe,” she added, “our commitment to build and sustain alliances has helped America become the most powerful and prosperous country in the world—alliances that have prevented wars, defended freedom, and maintained stability from Europe to the Indo-Pacific. To put all of that at risk would be foolish.”

    Turning to the defense of Ukraine in the face of Russia’s invasion, she said: “we have joined forces with our friends and allies to stand up for freedom and democracy…. The world has come together, with leadership from the United States, to defend the basic principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity and to stop an imperialist authoritarian from subjugating a free and democratic people.”

    The European Union has recently committed $54 billion to support Ukraine in addition to “the more than $100 billion our European allies and partners have already dedicated,” she said, noting that that support makes it clear that Europe will stand with Ukraine.

    “I will make clear President Joe Biden and I stand with Ukraine,” Harris said. “In partnership with supportive, bipartisan majorities in both houses of the United States Congress, we will work to secure critical weapons and resources that Ukraine so badly needs. And let me be clear: The failure to do so would be a gift to Vladimir Putin.”

    “If we fail to impose severe consequences on Russia” for its invasion of Ukraine, she warned, “other authoritarians across the globe would be emboldened, because you see, they will be watching…and drawing lessons. “In these unsettled times, it is clear,” she said. “America cannot retreat. America must stand strong for democracy. We must stand in defense of international rules and norms, and we must stand with our allies.”

    “[T]he American people will meet this moment,” Vice President Harris said, “and America will continue to lead.”

    News that arrived just before Harris began to speak underscored her argument: Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has died in a Russian prison a day after being recorded on video in court, seemingly healthy. Navalny’s crusade against Putin’s corruption had led Putin to try repeatedly to murder him, then finally in 2021 to imprison him on trumped-up charges. Navalny’s widow, Yulia Navalnaya, took the stage after Harris and vowed that Vladimir Putin and his allies “will be brought to justice, and this day will come soon.”

    Russian elections will be held next month, and while Putin is assumed to be the certain victor, his recent disqualification of Boris Nadezhdin, who was running on a platform that opposed the Ukraine war, suggests he is concerned about opposition. Eliminating Navalny at this moment sends a warning to other Russians that, as Anne Applebaum noted in a piece today in The Atlantic, courage in opposing Putin is pointless.

    In the U.S., Navalny’s apparent murder creates a political problem for Republicans. Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) yesterday recessed the House for two weeks without taking up the national security supplemental bill that would support Ukraine in its fight against Russia, just as its supplies are running out.

    On Saturday, former president Trump told an audience he would encourage Russia to “do whatever the hell they want” to NATO countries that are not devoting 2% of their gross domestic product to building up their militaries. Meanwhile, former Fox News Channel personality Tucker Carlson has been in Moscow, interviewing Putin and favorably comparing Russia to the United States.

    On Monday, in Dubai, Egyptian journalist Emad El Din Adeeb asked Carlson why, when interviewing Putin, he “did not talk about Navalny, about assassinations, about restrictions on opposition in the coming elections.” Carlson replied by equating Russia and the U.S., saying: “Every leader kills people…. Some kill more than others. Leadership requires killing people.”          

    The death of Navalny at just this moment appears to tie the Republicans to Putin’s murderous regime, and party leaders scrambled today to distance themselves from Putin. House speaker Mike Johnson, who has resisted passing aid to Ukraine and insisted the House would not be “rushed” into passing such a measure, released a statement saying that “as international leaders are meeting in Munich, we must be clear that Putin will be met with united opposition…. [T]he United States, and our partners, must be using every means available to cut off Putin’s ability to fund his unprovoked war in Ukraine and aggression against the Baltic states.”

    Republicans trying to carve out distance between themselves and Trump’s MAGA Republicans used the occasion to call out MAGAs, saying, as former vice president Mike Pence did, “There is no room in the Republican Party for apologists for Putin.” Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina, who has pushed hard for Ukraine aid, wrote: “Putin is a murderous, paranoid dictator. History will not be kind to those in America who make apologies for Putin and praise Russian autocracy. Nor will history be kind to America’s leaders who stay silent because they fear backlash from online pundits.”

    Navalny attacked the Putin regime by calling attention to its extraordinary corruption, and somewhat fittingly, the corruption of former president Donald Trump, who won the White House with Putin’s help, was also on the docket today.

    In Manhattan, in the case concerning Trump and the Trump Organization’s manipulation of financial statements in order to get better loan terms and to pay fewer taxes, Justice Arthur Engoron ordered Trump and the Trump Organization to disgorge about $355 million in ill-gotten gains as well as more than $98 million in interest on that money from the time Trump obtained it through fraud. The total came to just under $454 million. Engoron also barred Trump from running a business or applying for a loan in New York for three years. The judge ordered Trump’s sons Donald Jr. and Eric to pay more than $4 million each and barred them from serving as officers or directors of any New York corporation or legal entity for two years.  

    “[D]efendants submitted blatantly false financial data to…accountants,” Engoron wrote, “resulting in fraudulent financial statements. When confronted at trial with the statements, defendants’ fact and expert witnesses simply denied reality, and defendants failed to accept responsibility….” Engoron detailed the reluctance of the Trumps, including Ivanka, to tell the truth on the witness stand, and concluded: “Their complete lack of contrition and remorse borders on pathological.”

    New York attorney general Letitia James, who brought the lawsuit, commented: “Donald Trump is finally facing accountability for his lying, cheating, and staggering fraud. Because no matter how big, rich, or powerful you think you are, no one is above the law.”

    In his 2022 documentary about Alexei Navalny, director Daniel Roher asked Navalny what message he would leave for the Russian people if he were killed. “Listen,” Navalny answered. “I’ve got something very obvious to tell you. You’re not allowed to give up. If they decide to kill me, it means that we are incredibly strong. We need to utilize this power to not give up, to remember we are a huge power that is being oppressed by these bad dudes. We don’t realize how strong we actually are.”       

    –-

    I am reading these letters now, the morning after I post them. They are available at Apple Podcasts, Substack, and now Spotify, linked here, for those interested (they are free).

    _____________________________________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: 35,022
     February 17, 2024 (Saturday)

    Although few Americans paid much attention at the time, the events of February 18, 2014, in Ukraine would turn out to be a linchpin in how the United States ended up where it is a decade later.

    On that day ten years ago, after months of what started as peaceful protests, Ukrainians occupied government buildings and marched on parliament to remove Russian-backed president Viktor Yanukovych from office. After the escalating violence resulted in many civilian casualties, Yanukovych fled to Russia, and the Maidan Revolution, also known as the Revolution of Dignity, returned power to Ukraine’s constitution.

    The ouster of Yanukovych meant that American political consultant Paul Manafort was out of a job.

    Manafort had worked with Yanukovych since 2004. In that year, the Russian-backed politician appeared to have won the presidency of Ukraine. But Yanukovych was rumored to have ties to organized crime, and the election was full of fraud, including the poisoning of a key rival who wanted to break ties with Russia and align Ukraine with Europe. The U.S. government and other international observers did not recognize the election results, while Russia’s president Vladimir Putin congratulated Yanukovych even before the results were officially announced.

    The government voided the election and called for a do-over.  

    To rehabilitate his reputation, Yanukovych turned to Manafort, who was already working for a young Russian billionaire, Oleg Deripaska. Deripaska worried that Ukraine would break free of Russian influence and was eager to prove useful to Vladimir Putin. At the time, Putin was trying to consolidate power in Russia, where oligarchs were monopolizing formerly publicly held industries and replacing the region’s communist leaders. In 2004, American journalist Paul Klebnikov, the chief editor of Forbes in Russia, was murdered as he tried to call attention to what the oligarchs were doing.  

    With Manafort’s help, Yanukovych finally won the presidency in 2010 and began to turn Ukraine toward Russia. In November 2013, Yanukovych suddenly reversed Ukraine’s course toward cooperation with the European Union, refusing to sign a trade agreement and instead taking a $3 billion loan from Russia. Ukrainian students protested the decision, and the anger spread quickly. In 2014, after months of popular protests, Ukrainians ousted Yanukovych from power and he fled to Russia.  

    Manafort, who had borrowed money from Deripaska and still owed him about $17 million, had lost his main source of income.

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

    By 2016, Manafort’s longtime friend and business partner Roger Stone—they had both worked on Richard Nixon’s 1972 campaign—was advising Trump’s floundering presidential campaign, and Manafort was happy to step in to help remake it. He did not take a salary but reached out to Deripaska through one of his Ukrainian business partners, Konstantin Kilimnik, immediately after landing the job, asking him, “How do we use to get whole? Has OVD [Oleg Vladimirovich Deripaska] operation seen?”

    Manafort began as an advisor to the Trump campaign in March 2016 and became the chairman in late June.  

    Thanks to journalist Jim Rutenberg, who pulled together testimony given both to the Mueller investigation and the Republican-dominated Senate Intelligence Committee, transcripts from the impeachment hearings, and recent memoirs, we now know that in 2016, Russian operatives presented 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 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 help Trump win the White House. The Republican-dominated Senate Intelligence Committee in 2020 established that Manafort’s Ukrainian business partner Kilimnik, whom it described as a “Russian intelligence officer,” acted as a liaison between Manafort and Deripaska while Manafort ran Trump’s campaign.

    Now, ten years later, Putin has invaded Ukraine in an effort that when it began looked much like the one his operatives suggested to Manafort in 2016, Trump has said he would “encourage Russia to do whatever they hell they want” to NATO allies that don’t commit 2% of their gross domestic product to their militaries, and Trump MAGA Republicans are refusing to pass a measure to support Ukraine in its effort to throw off Russia’s invasion.

    The day after the violence of February 18, 2014, in Ukraine, then–vice president Joe Biden called Yanukovych to “express grave concern regarding the crisis on the streets” and to urge him “to pull back government forces and to exercise maximum restraint.”  

    Ten years later, Russia has been at open war with Ukraine for nearly two years and has just regained control of the key town of Avdiivka because Ukrainian troops lack ammunition. President Joe Biden is warning MAGA Republicans that “[t]he failure to support Ukraine at this critical moment will never be forgotten.”

    “History is watching,” he said.

    _____________________________________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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