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Letter From An American by Heather Cox Richardson

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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,688
      March 15, 2024 (Friday)

    Today, more prominent Republicans rejected Trump as the apparent Republican presidential nominee. Trump’s vice president, Mike Pence said he would not endorse Trump for president, and President George W. Bush’s vice president, Dick Cheney (the father of former Wyoming Republican representative Liz Cheney), released a video opposing Trump’s presidential run, warning: “In our nation’s 246-year history, there has never been an individual who was a greater threat to our republic than Donald Trump.”

    Three years ago, I wrote about a similar effort in the 1850s that brought a coalition together to stop a small group of men from taking over the country.

    I’m reposting that piece tonight, partly because I have been traveling all day and need a decent night’s sleep, and partly because I love this story. It’s the one that first got me interested in history in college and then introduced me to my doctoral advisor, the great David Herbert Donald. And it encompasses so much of what we are doing in America today.

    I have wondered lately if the Supreme Court’s 2022 Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision isn’t our era’s version of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, sparking a countrywide backlash.

    Just a thought.

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

    So, here is the story of why March 15 is an important day in U.S. history. As I wrote three years ago:

    March 15 is too important a day to ignore. As the man who taught me to use a chainsaw said, it is immortalized by Shakespeare’s famous warning: “Cedar! Beware the adze of March!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

    And so they did.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Happy Birthday, Maine.

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,688
      March 16, 2024 (Saturday)

    I'm posting a different sort of picture tonight from my friend Peter Ralston: a painted sign listing Maine town names. It jumped out to me when he sent it because I am on the road again— in New Orleans tonight— where I have been meeting with dear old friends and special new ones.

    Friendship is a real town not so very far from where we live, and yes, friendship is here, wherever we are.

    Taking the night off.

    I'll see you tomorrow.

    [Photo "Here" by Peter Ralston.]

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,688
      March 17, 2024 (Sunday)

    On Friday, journalist Casey Michel, who specializes in the study of kleptocracy, pointed out that reporters had missed an important meeting last week. Michel noted that while reporters covered  Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán’s visit to former president Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago, they paid far less attention to the visit Orbán paid to the Washington, D.C., headquarters of the Heritage Foundation on Friday, March 8. There, Orbán spoke privately to an audience that included the president of the organization, Kevin Roberts, and, according to a state media printout, “renowned U.S. right-wing politicians, analysts and public personalities.”

    Michel noted that it was “nothing short of shocking” that Orbán declined to meet with administration officials and instead went to Washington, D.C., to meet with a right-wing think tank. With Roberts’s appointment as head of Heritage in 2021, the conservative organization swung to the position that its role is “institutionalizing Trumpism.”

    Roberts has been vocal about his admiration for Orbán, tweeting in 2022 that it was an honor to meet him. At last year’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Orbán boasted that Hungary is “the place where we didn’t just talk about defeating the progressives and liberals and causing a conservative Christian political turn, but we actually did it.” In January, Roberts told Lulu Garcia-Navarro of the New York Times that Orbán’s statement was “all true” and “should be celebrated.” In a different interview, Garcia-Navarro noted, Roberts had called modern Hungary “not just a [italic] model for conservative statecraft but the [italic] model.”

    Last year, Michel notes, Heritage joined the Hungarian Danube Institute in a formal partnership. The Hungarian think tank is overseen by a foundation that is directly funded by the Hungarian government; as Michel says, it is, “for all intents and purposes, a state-funded front for pushing pro-Orbán rhetoric.” The Danube Institute has given grants to far-right figures in the U.S., and, Michel notes, “we have no idea how much funding may be flowing directly from Orbán’s regime to the Heritage Foundation.”

    The tight cooperation between Heritage and Orbán illuminates Project 2025, the plan Heritage has led, along with dozens of other right-wing organizations, to map out a future right-wing presidency. In Hungary, Orbán has undermined democracy, gutting the civil service and filling it with loyalists; attacking immigrants, women, and the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals; taking over businesses for friends and family, and moving the country away from the rules-based international order supported by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

    In the January interview, Roberts told Garcia-Navarro that Project 2025 was designed to jump-start a right-wing takeover of the government. “[T]he Trump administration, with the best of intentions, simply got a slow start,” Roberts said. “And Heritage and our allies in Project 2025 believe that must never be repeated.”

    Project 2025 stands on four principles that it says the country must embrace. In their vision, the U.S. must “[r]estore the family as the centerpiece of American life and protect our children”; “[d]ismantle the administrative state and return self-governance to the American people”; “[d]efend our nation’s sovereignty, borders, and bounty against global threats”; and “[s]ecure our God-given individual rights to live freely—what our Constitution calls ‘the Blessings of Liberty.’”

    In almost 1,000 pages, the document explains what these policies mean for ordinary Americans. Restoring the family and protecting children means making “family authority, formation, and cohesion” a top priority and using “government power…to restore the American family.” That, the document says, means eliminating any words associated with sexual orientation or gender identity, gender, abortion, reproductive health, or reproductive rights from any government rule, regulation, or law. Any reference to transgenderism is “pornography” and must be banned.

    The overturning of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision recognizing the right to abortion must be gratefully celebrated, but the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision accomplishing that end “is just the beginning.”

    Dismantling the administrative state in this document starts from the premise that “people are policy.” Frustrated because nonpartisan civil employees thwarted much of Trump’s agenda in his first term, the authors of Project 2025 call for firing much of the current government workforce—about 2 million people work for the U.S. government—and replacing it with loyalists who will carry out a right-wing president’s demands.

    On Friday, journalist Daniel Miller noted that purging the civil service is a hallmark of dictators, whose loyalists then take over media, education, courts, and the military. In a powerful essay today, scholar of authoritarianism Timothy Snyder explained that with the government firmly in the hands of a dictator’s loyalists, “things like water or schools or Social Security checks” depend on your declaration of loyalty, and there is no recourse. “You cannot escape to the bar or the bowling alley, since everything you say is monitored,” and “[e]ven courageous people restrain themselves to protect their children.”

    Defending our nation’s sovereignty means defending the rules-based international order hammered out in the years after World War II. This includes organizations like the United Nations and NATO and agreements like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which provide an international set of rules and forums for countries to work out their differences without going to war and which offer a system of principles for those abused within countries to assert their rights.

    Heritage and Orbán have stood firmly against aid to Ukraine in its struggle to fight off Russian aggression.

    Securing “our God-given individual rights to live freely,” hints at religious rule but ultimately focuses on standing against “government control of the economy.” The idea that regulation of business and taxes hampered economic liberty was actually one of the founding ideas of Heritage in the 1980s.

    In the U.S. that ideology has since 1981 moved as much as $50 trillion from the bottom 90% to the top 1%.

    And, as that concentration of wealth and power among a small group of people reveals, the real plan behind Project 2025 is the rule of a small minority of extremists over the vast majority of Americans.

    The plan asserts “the existential need for aggressive use of the vast powers of the executive branch”—that is, it calls for a very powerful leader—to dismantle the current government that regulates business, provides a social safety net, and protects civil rights. Instead of the government Americans have built since 1933, the plan says the national government must “decentralize and privatize as much as possible” and leave “the great majority of domestic activities to state, local, and private governance.”

    We have in front of us examples of what such governance means. Because state legislatures control who can vote and how the state’s districts are carved up, Republican-dominated state legislatures have taken absolute control of a number of states. There they have banned abortion without exceptions and defined a fertilized human egg as a person; discriminated against LGBTQ+ people and immigrants, banned books, attacked public education, and gutted business regulation, including child labor laws. They have also attacked voting rights.

    Project 2025 presents an apocalyptic vision of a United States whose dark problems can be fixed only by a minority assuming power under a strongman and imposing their values on the rest of the country. And yet the authors of the document assert that it is not them but their opponents who do “not believe that all men are created equal—they think they are special. They certainly don’t think all people have an unalienable right to pursue the good life. They think only they themselves have such a right along with a moral responsibility to make decisions for everyone else.”

    In 1776 the Founders were quite clear about the relationship between rights and government, and their vision was quite different than that of the authors of Project 2025. “We hold these 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,” they wrote.

    They continued, “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men,” and that those governments were not legitimate unless they derived power “from the consent of the governed.”

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
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    Halifax2TheMaxHalifax2TheMax Posts: 36,576
    mickeyrat said:
      March 17, 2024 (Sunday)

    On Friday, journalist Casey Michel, who specializes in the study of kleptocracy, pointed out that reporters had missed an important meeting last week. Michel noted that while reporters covered  Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán’s visit to former president Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago, they paid far less attention to the visit Orbán paid to the Washington, D.C., headquarters of the Heritage Foundation on Friday, March 8. There, Orbán spoke privately to an audience that included the president of the organization, Kevin Roberts, and, according to a state media printout, “renowned U.S. right-wing politicians, analysts and public personalities.”

    Michel noted that it was “nothing short of shocking” that Orbán declined to meet with administration officials and instead went to Washington, D.C., to meet with a right-wing think tank. With Roberts’s appointment as head of Heritage in 2021, the conservative organization swung to the position that its role is “institutionalizing Trumpism.”

    Roberts has been vocal about his admiration for Orbán, tweeting in 2022 that it was an honor to meet him. At last year’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Orbán boasted that Hungary is “the place where we didn’t just talk about defeating the progressives and liberals and causing a conservative Christian political turn, but we actually did it.” In January, Roberts told Lulu Garcia-Navarro of the New York Times that Orbán’s statement was “all true” and “should be celebrated.” In a different interview, Garcia-Navarro noted, Roberts had called modern Hungary “not just a [italic] model for conservative statecraft but the [italic] model.”

    Last year, Michel notes, Heritage joined the Hungarian Danube Institute in a formal partnership. The Hungarian think tank is overseen by a foundation that is directly funded by the Hungarian government; as Michel says, it is, “for all intents and purposes, a state-funded front for pushing pro-Orbán rhetoric.” The Danube Institute has given grants to far-right figures in the U.S., and, Michel notes, “we have no idea how much funding may be flowing directly from Orbán’s regime to the Heritage Foundation.”

    The tight cooperation between Heritage and Orbán illuminates Project 2025, the plan Heritage has led, along with dozens of other right-wing organizations, to map out a future right-wing presidency. In Hungary, Orbán has undermined democracy, gutting the civil service and filling it with loyalists; attacking immigrants, women, and the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals; taking over businesses for friends and family, and moving the country away from the rules-based international order supported by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

    In the January interview, Roberts told Garcia-Navarro that Project 2025 was designed to jump-start a right-wing takeover of the government. “[T]he Trump administration, with the best of intentions, simply got a slow start,” Roberts said. “And Heritage and our allies in Project 2025 believe that must never be repeated.”

    Project 2025 stands on four principles that it says the country must embrace. In their vision, the U.S. must “[r]estore the family as the centerpiece of American life and protect our children”; “[d]ismantle the administrative state and return self-governance to the American people”; “[d]efend our nation’s sovereignty, borders, and bounty against global threats”; and “[s]ecure our God-given individual rights to live freely—what our Constitution calls ‘the Blessings of Liberty.’”

    In almost 1,000 pages, the document explains what these policies mean for ordinary Americans. Restoring the family and protecting children means making “family authority, formation, and cohesion” a top priority and using “government power…to restore the American family.” That, the document says, means eliminating any words associated with sexual orientation or gender identity, gender, abortion, reproductive health, or reproductive rights from any government rule, regulation, or law. Any reference to transgenderism is “pornography” and must be banned.

    The overturning of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision recognizing the right to abortion must be gratefully celebrated, but the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision accomplishing that end “is just the beginning.”

    Dismantling the administrative state in this document starts from the premise that “people are policy.” Frustrated because nonpartisan civil employees thwarted much of Trump’s agenda in his first term, the authors of Project 2025 call for firing much of the current government workforce—about 2 million people work for the U.S. government—and replacing it with loyalists who will carry out a right-wing president’s demands.

    On Friday, journalist Daniel Miller noted that purging the civil service is a hallmark of dictators, whose loyalists then take over media, education, courts, and the military. In a powerful essay today, scholar of authoritarianism Timothy Snyder explained that with the government firmly in the hands of a dictator’s loyalists, “things like water or schools or Social Security checks” depend on your declaration of loyalty, and there is no recourse. “You cannot escape to the bar or the bowling alley, since everything you say is monitored,” and “[e]ven courageous people restrain themselves to protect their children.”

    Defending our nation’s sovereignty means defending the rules-based international order hammered out in the years after World War II. This includes organizations like the United Nations and NATO and agreements like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which provide an international set of rules and forums for countries to work out their differences without going to war and which offer a system of principles for those abused within countries to assert their rights.

    Heritage and Orbán have stood firmly against aid to Ukraine in its struggle to fight off Russian aggression.

    Securing “our God-given individual rights to live freely,” hints at religious rule but ultimately focuses on standing against “government control of the economy.” The idea that regulation of business and taxes hampered economic liberty was actually one of the founding ideas of Heritage in the 1980s.

    In the U.S. that ideology has since 1981 moved as much as $50 trillion from the bottom 90% to the top 1%.

    And, as that concentration of wealth and power among a small group of people reveals, the real plan behind Project 2025 is the rule of a small minority of extremists over the vast majority of Americans.

    The plan asserts “the existential need for aggressive use of the vast powers of the executive branch”—that is, it calls for a very powerful leader—to dismantle the current government that regulates business, provides a social safety net, and protects civil rights. Instead of the government Americans have built since 1933, the plan says the national government must “decentralize and privatize as much as possible” and leave “the great majority of domestic activities to state, local, and private governance.”

    We have in front of us examples of what such governance means. Because state legislatures control who can vote and how the state’s districts are carved up, Republican-dominated state legislatures have taken absolute control of a number of states. There they have banned abortion without exceptions and defined a fertilized human egg as a person; discriminated against LGBTQ+ people and immigrants, banned books, attacked public education, and gutted business regulation, including child labor laws. They have also attacked voting rights.

    Project 2025 presents an apocalyptic vision of a United States whose dark problems can be fixed only by a minority assuming power under a strongman and imposing their values on the rest of the country. And yet the authors of the document assert that it is not them but their opponents who do “not believe that all men are created equal—they think they are special. They certainly don’t think all people have an unalienable right to pursue the good life. They think only they themselves have such a right along with a moral responsibility to make decisions for everyone else.”

    In 1776 the Founders were quite clear about the relationship between rights and government, and their vision was quite different than that of the authors of Project 2025. “We hold these 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,” they wrote.

    They continued, “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men,” and that those governments were not legitimate unless they derived power “from the consent of the governed.”

    Too bad 90% of ‘Muricans haven’t got a clue. Good luck.
    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©
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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,688
      March 18, 2024 (Monday)

    It seems to me that the news tends to be slow on weekends during the Biden administration, while Mondays are a firehose. (In contrast, Trump’s people tended to dump news in the middle of the night, after Fox News Channel personality Sean Hannity’s show was over, which may or may not have been a coincidence.)

    So, lots going on today as the Biden administration continues to make the case that a democratic government can work for ordinary Americans while Trump and his supporters insist that a country run by such an administration is an apocalyptic nightmare.

    First, economic analyst Steven Rattner reported today that according to The Economist, since the end of 2019 the American economy has grown about 8%, while the European Union has grown about 3%, Japan 1%, and Britain not at all. Rattner and economist Brendan Duke reported that entrepreneurship in the U.S. is booming, with 5.2 million “likely employer” business applications filed between January 2021 and December 2023, more than a 33% increase over those filed between 2017 and 2019.

    Economists Justin Wolfers and Arin Dube noted that, as Wolfers wrote, “[f]or the first time in forever, real wage gains are going to those who need them most.” Wages have gone up for all but the top 20% of Americans, whose wages have fallen, reducing inequality.

    Federal Trade Commission (FTC) head Lina Khan announced that after the FTC challenged a set of AstraZeneca inhaler patents last September as being improperly listed, today AstraZeneca said it would cap patients’ out-of-pocket costs for its inhalers at $35, down from hundreds. Earlier this month, Boehringer Ingelheim did the same.

    The Environmental Protection Agency today announced it was banning asbestos, which is linked to more than 40,000 deaths a year in the U.S. and was already partly banned, but which is still used in a few products. More than 50 other countries already ban it.

    Also today, President Joe Biden issued an executive order to advance women’s health research to integrate women’s health into federal research initiatives, strengthening data collection and making funding available for research in a comprehensive effort to equalize attention to men’s and women’s health across their lifespans. The federal government did not require women’s health to be included in federally funded medical research until 1993. In a speech today, First Lady Jill Biden recalled that in the early 1970s, researchers studying estrogen’s effect in preventing heart attacks selected 8,341 people for the study. All of them were men.

    Last month, First Lady Biden announced $100 million in funding for research into women’s health, and last Thursday Vice President Kamala Harris visited a Planned Parenthood clinic that provides abortion care in addition to breast cancer screening, fibroid care, and contraceptive care. She noted that women’s reproductive health has been in crisis since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022, with women in some states unable to access the care they need.

    Former president Trump, who is now the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, prompted some of the economic reporting I noted above when he tried to spark attacks on President Joe Biden by asking on social media if people feel better off now than they were four years ago. This was perhaps a mistaken message, since four years ago we were in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. Supermarket shelves were empty, toilet paper was hard to find, healthcare professionals were wearing garbage bags and reusing masks because the Trump administration had permitted the strategic stockpile to run low, deaths were mounting, the stock market had crashed, and the economy had ground to a halt.

    On this day four years ago, I recorded that “more than 80 national security professionals broke with their tradition of non-partisanship to endorse former Vice President Joe Biden for president, saying that while they were from all parties and disagreed with each other about pretty much everything else, they had come together to stand against Trump.”

    Here in the present, Trump appears to be getting more desperate as his problems, including his apparent growing difficulty speaking and connecting with his audience, mount. Last week, in an interview, he echoed Republican lawmakers and pundits when he suggested he was open to cutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, something Republican lawmakers try to avoid saying to general audiences because it is hugely unpopular. Trump has since tried to repair that damage, for example, when he insisted on Saturday that it was he, rather than Biden, who would protect those programs. (In fact, Biden has called for expanding the social safety net, not contracting it, and last year forced Republicans to back off from proposed cuts.)  

    Saturday’s speech illustrated the degree to which Trump’s rhetoric has become more profane and apocalyptic as he vows revenge on those he sees as his enemies. Campaigning in Vandalia, Ohio, for his chosen Senate candidate, Trump suggested that certain migrants “are not people.” Then he said he would put tariffs of 100% on cars manufactured in Mexico by Chinese companies for sale in the U.S., “if I get elected. Now, if I don't get elected, it's going to be a bloodbath for the whole—that's going to be the least of it. It's going to be a bloodbath for the country.”

    By Sunday, Trump’s embrace of the word “bloodbath” had created a firestorm. Surrogates insisted that he was talking about the auto industry alone, but as scholar of rhetoric Jen Mercieca and legal commentator Asha Rangappa note, Trump is a master at giving himself enough plausible deniability for his supporters to claim that, as Rangappa put it, “he wasn’t saying what he was saying. I know what he meant. He knows what he meant. You know what he meant.” In the same speech Saturday, Trump called those convicted of violence on January 6, 2021, “hostages” and “patriots,” and has said he would pardon them, appearing to endorse violence to return him to power.

    This morning, Trump’s lawyers told a court that Trump cannot come up with either the money or a bond for the $454 million plus interest he owes in penalties and disgorgement after he and the Trump Organization were found guilty of fraud in a Manhattan court earlier this year. The lawyers say they have approached 30 different companies to back the bond, and they have all declined. They will not issue a bond without cash or stock behind it. Trump's real estate holdings, which are likely highly leveraged, aren’t enough.

    Last year, Trump said under oath that he had “substantially in excess of 400 million in cash,” and that amount was “going up very substantially every month.” Apparently, that statement was a lie, or the money has evaporated, or Trump doesn’t want to use it to pay this court-ordered judgment on top of the $91.6 million bond he posted earlier this month in the second E. Jean Carroll case.

    Timothy O’Brien of Bloomberg notes that Trump’s desperate need for cash makes him even more of a national security threat than his retention of classified documents made it clear he already was. “[T]he going is likely to get rough for Trump as this plays out,” O’Brien writes, “and he’s likely to become more financially desperate with each passing day,” making him “easy prey for interested lenders—and an easy mark for overseas interests eager to influence US policy.”

    This morning, Josh Dawsey of the Washington Post reported that Trump is turning to his 2016 campaign manager Paul Manafort to advise him in 2024. Dawsey notes that the campaign’s focus appears to be on the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee in July, which suggests Trump’s people are concerned that his nomination will be contested. Manafort has been known as a “convention fixer” since 1976.

    Manafort is also the key link between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russian operatives. Manafort worked for many years for Ukrainian politician Viktor Yanukovich, who was closely tied to Russian president Vladimir Putin. When Ukrainians threw Yanukovich out of office in 2014, Manafort was left with large debts to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. In 2016, Manafort began to work for Trump’s campaign. An investigation by a Republican-dominated Senate Intelligence Committee into the links between Trump’s campaign and Russia determined that Manafort had shared polling data from the Trump camp with his partner, Konstantin Kilimnik, who the senators assessed was a Russian operative.  

    In 2018, as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, Manafort was found guilty of hiding millions of dollars he had received for lobbying on behalf of Yanukovych and his pro-Russian political party, then getting loans through false financial records when Yanukovych lost power. A judge sentenced him to more than seven years in prison.

    Trump pardoned Manafort in December 2020, shortly after losing the presidential election.

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,688
      March 19, 2024 (Tuesday)

    In Florida, Kansas, Ohio, Illinois, and Arizona, Republican voters chose their presidential candidate today. The results highlight the weaknesses former president Trump is bringing to the 2024 presidential contest.

    Trump, who is the only person still in the Republican race, won all five of today’s Republican races. But the results showed that his support is soft. Results are still coming in, but as I write this, former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, who has suspended her campaign, received between 13% and 20% of the vote, Florida governor Ron DeSantis—who has also suspended his campaign—picked up votes, and “none of the names shown” got more than 5% in Kansas.

    Even in Ohio, where Trump’s preferred Senate candidate won, Trump received less than 80% of the Republican vote. After NBC News conducted an exit poll in Ohio, MSNBC producer Kyle Griffin reported that of Ohio Republican primary voters—who are typically the most committed party members—11% said they would vote for Biden in November and another 8% said they wouldn’t vote for either Trump or Biden.

    Trump has money problems, too. This morning, Brian Schwartz of CNBC reported that while Trump has pushed Haley voters away, Biden’s team has courted both voters and Haley donors to help Biden defeat Trump. Schwartz said that at least a half dozen former Haley fundraisers have decided to help Biden.

    Aside from the Haley supporters who are moving to Biden, Trump’s campaign faces a money crunch. As Schwartz reported yesterday, small donors have slowed down their financial support for Trump considerably, possibly because of fatigue after 9 years of Trump’s supercharged fundraising pitches. Big donors have also been holding back funds out of concern that they will not go toward electing Republicans, but rather will be used to pay Trump’s legal fees.

    On March 14, Trump’s people organized a new joint fundraising committee, called the Trump 47 Committee. It is designed to split the money it gets between state Republican parties, the Republican National Committee, and Trump’s Save America Political Action Committee (PAC). As Schwartz notes, Save America spent $24 million on Trump’s legal bills in the last six months of 2023.

    While running for president is pricey, so is breaking the law. The former president continues to rail against the law that he must deposit either money or a bond to cover the court-ordered $454 million he owes in penalties, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, and interest, after he and the Trump Organization were found liable for fraud. “I would be forced to mortgage or sell Great Assets, perhaps at Fire Sale prices, and if and when I win the Appeal, they would be gone. Does that make sense? WITCH HUNT. ELECTION INTERFERENCE!” Trump posted on his social media channel.

    Lisa Mascaro, Mary Clare Jalonick, and Jill Colvin of the Associated Press wrote today that Trump is putting the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol at the heart of his presidential campaign, rewriting the five deaths and the destruction to claim that the rioters were “unbelievable patriots” whom he will pardon as soon as he takes office again. His new hires at the Republican National Committee to replace staff he fired are strengthening the idea that Biden stole the 2020 election.

    He’s being helped by loyalists in Congress who are trying to rewrite the history of that day to claim that Trump and the rioters have been persecuted by the Department of Justice. They are attacking the testimony of witnesses like Cassidy Hutchinson, former aide to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, about what she saw that day, although she testified under oath and they are not similarly bound to tell the truth. Trump has said former Wyoming representative Liz Cheney, a Republican who served as vice chair of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, “should go to Jail along with the rest of the Unselect Committee!”

    But while Trump’s supporters are willing to sing along to a recording of incarcerated participants in the riots singing their version of the national anthem—the song lyrics are credited to “Donald J. Trump and J6 Prison Choir”—the fact that more than 1,200 people have been charged for their actions that day and many of them have been sentenced to prison seems likely to dampen enthusiasm for trying something like that again.

    Today, former Trump advisor Peter Navarro also had to report to prison, in his case a federal prison in Miami, for refusing to comply with a subpoena from the January 6th committee for documents and testimony. Last September, a jury found Navarro guilty of contempt of Congress, rejecting his insistence that he didn’t have to answer to Congress because Trump had invoked executive privilege over their conversations about overturning the 2020 presidential election.

    Navarro vowed to take the case all the way to the Supreme Court, but a federal appeals court agreed with the verdict, and yesterday, for the Supreme Court, Chief Justice John Roberts rejected Navarro’s plea to stay his sentence. “I am pissed—that’s what I am feeling right now,” Navarro told reporters just before he reported to prison for his four-month sentence.

    Trump is also facing renewed scrutiny on his past behavior. With the election interference case in Manhattan heating up, Trump sought to block his former fixer Michael Cohen, adult film actress Stormy Daniels, and former model Karen McDougal from testifying. All of them say Trump paid to keep voters from hearing negative stories about him before the 2016 election. Judge Juan Merchan denied those motions.

    And there was a surprise announcement today. Tomorrow, the House Oversight Committee will hold another hearing in the Republicans’ ongoing attempt to impeach President Joe Biden. Today the Democrats on the committee announced they have invited Lev Parnas as their witness. The Ukrainian-born Parnas was an associate of Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and was deeply involved in the effort to create dirt to smear Biden before the 2020 election.

    In 2022, Parnas was convicted of wire fraud, false statements, and breaking campaign finance laws by funneling money illegally to Trump and other Republican lawmakers. Since he broke with Giuliani, he has been eager to explain what happened and how. He will likely bring up stories that Trump would prefer that voters forget.

    Representative Jamie Raskin (D-MD), the top Democrat on the Oversight Committee, told reporters: “Lev Parnas can debunk the bogus claims at the heart of the impeachment probe and, in the process, explain how the GOP ended up in this degraded and embarrassing place.”

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    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,688
      March 20, 2024 (Wednesday)

    While Republicans on the House Oversight Committee continue to insist that President Joe Biden has committed crimes, testimony today by a former associate of Trump’s disgraced ex-lawyer Rudolph Giuliani was so damning not for Biden but for Republicans that Representative Stephen Lynch (D-MA) told his colleagues: “When you review the entire record of evidence of these hearings going back over a year, you've actually provided more evidence to impeach Donald Trump for a third time than you have in so much as laying a glove on Joe Biden.”

    The effort to impeach Biden has faltered as Oversight chair James Comer (R-KY), other Republican members of the committee, and their colleagues have repeatedly told right-wing media that Biden was involved in corrupt business deals with foreign countries in the face of actual testimony and evidence that has not supported those allegations. Republican lawmakers and even right-wing media figures have begun to suggest that the investigation has turned up nothing and the effort should be abandoned.

    But House extremists have promised their base that they will impeach Biden, and Comer has steadfastly refused to back down. In a public hearing today, Republicans called as witnesses Tony Bobulinski, a former business partner of President Biden’s son Hunter, and another business associate, Jason Galanis.  

    Bobulinski is a Trump ally. Democrats called out inconsistencies in Bobulinski’s first testimony before the committee, and in his opening statement today, Bobulinski relied on his military record to prove his honesty. Then he called Hunter Biden and President Biden’s brother James Biden, both of whom testified under oath, liars. He also called Hunter Biden’s defense attorney a liar, and President Joe Biden “a serial liar and a fabulist.” Bobulinski went on: “Representatives Dan Goldman [D-NY] and Jamie Raskin [D-MD], both lawyers…, will continue to lie today in this hearing and then go straight to the media to tell more lies.”

    Earlier this month, Bobulinski sued former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson for $10 million, calling her “a liar and a fraud” for her claim that Bobulinski had worn a ski mask when he met quietly with Hutchinson’s boss, Trump’s then chief of staff, Mark Meadows, at a campaign rally in Georgia. Hutchinson produced a photograph supporting her claim.

    In his opening statement, Bobulinski claimed that “the Chinese Communist Party…successfully sought to infiltrate and compromise Joe Biden and the Obama-Biden White House.” He has insisted that Biden profited from Hunter Biden’s business deals, but his claims have never been verified, and other witnesses have testified that Biden was never involved in his son’s businesses.

    Galanis is serving a 14-year sentence for defrauding a Native American tribe and numerous pension fund investors of tens of millions of dollars. He joined the proceedings virtually from federal prison.

    While Bobulinski and Galanis continued to insist, without evidence, that Biden is corrupt, the eye-popping testimony today came from the witness called by the Democrats: Lev Parnas.

    Parnas is a Ukrainian-born former associate of one-time Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani. He was deeply involved in the attempt to smear Hunter Biden before the 2020 presidential election. This attempt included then-president Trump’s 2019 phone call to Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky to force him to announce he was opening an investigation into the Ukrainian energy company on whose board Hunter Biden sat. Trump suggested he would not release the money Congress had appropriated to enable Ukraine to resist Russian incursions into Crimea until Zelensky agreed to such an announcement.

    That call eventually led to Trump’s first impeachment, in December 2019.

    During that impeachment and ever since, Parnas said, “I have never wavered from saying that there was no evidence of the Bidens’ corruption in Ukraine—because there truly was none. On the contrary, by setting up a search for false criminality, every individual majorly involved in this plan was disguising their own criminal activity. That persists to this very day: The impeachment proceedings that bring us here now are predicated on a bunch of false information that is being spread by the Kremlin.”

    Parnas said, “My mission for Giuliani and Trump would come to encompass nearly a year of traveling across the globe to find damaging information on the Bidens. This included trips to Ukraine, Poland, Spain, Vienna, London, and other locations…. In my travels, I found precisely zero proof of the Bidens’ criminality.”

    What he did find, Parnas said, was that “the Kremlin was forcing [disinformation] through Russian, Ukrainian, American, and other channels to interfere in our elections. Ultimately this was meant to benefit Trump’s re-election, which would in turn benefit Vladimir Putin.”

    Every person pushing “the Biden corruption rumors” knew they were “baseless,” Parnas said. And then he named names: “Then-Congressman Devin Nunes [R-CA, who at the time chaired the House Intelligence Committee], Senator Ron Johnson [R-WI, then chair of the Senate Homeland Security Committee], and many other individuals understood that they were pushing a false narrative. The same goes for John Solomon [of The Hill], Sean Hannity, and media personnel, particularly at FOX News, who used that narrative to manipulate the public ahead of the 2020 election. They are still doing this today, as we approach the 2024 election.”

    In 2022, Parnas was convicted of wire fraud, false statements, and breaking campaign finance laws by funneling money illegally to Trump and other Republican lawmakers (including then–California representative Kevin McCarthy, as longtime members of this community will remember).

    In his testimony, Parnas noted: “When I was arrested, my original indictment linked me to an individual referred to as unindicted co-conspirator 1. We now know this individual to be Congressman Pete Sessions [R-TX], who sits on this very committee today.” Parnas also called out Trump’s attorney general Bill Barr, who he says knew about the attempt to smear the Bidens from the day he took office, and said that Trump personally encouraged Giuliani to interfere in Ukrainian politics.

    As Justin Rohrlich of The Daily Beast put it, “Comer…stepped on rake after rake during the hearing, consistently undermining his own conference’s case.” Finally, after Democrats had pointed out the many missteps of the committee’s Republicans, Bobulinski told Jared Moskowitz (D-FL) that “the American people are well aware of the Bidens’ corruption.” “Perfect!” Moskowitz replied. He told Bobulinski to ask Comer why he hadn’t asked for an impeachment vote. Moskowitz even offered to help the Republicans out by making a motion to impeach President Biden, urging Comer to second it. Comer declined.

    Moskowitz said he wanted “to show the American people that they’re never going to impeach Joe Biden. It’s never going to happen because they don’t have the evidence. Okay, this is a show. It’s all fake. They just want to do these hearings. It’s not leading to impeachment. They’re lying to their base on Newsmax and Fox leading these people to believe that they’re going to eventually impeach the president. It’s not going to happen. At all. Ever. Period.”  

    While today might well be the day the Republicans’ impeachment effort sputtered to a dismal end, Parnas’s testimony points forward. “We cannot divorce the impact of this conspiracy from the Russia-Ukraine war,” Parnas said, “because Trump has no intention to keep aiding Ukraine. I told him in 2018, and I am telling all of you now, that without the support of the United States and NATO, Ukraine will not be able to withstand the barrage from the Russian Army.”

    House speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), a Trump loyalist, continues to refuse to bring to a vote the national security supplemental bill passed by the Senate more than a month ago containing $60 billion in aid for Ukraine, although it is expected to pass if he does. Last week the administration announced a $300 million arms package made possible by Pentagon cost savings, and tonight, national security advisor Jake Sullivan is in Kyiv to reassure the Ukrainians that aid is coming. But while Ukrainian drone strikes have knocked out as much as 11% of Russia’s oil-refining capacity, lack of supplies has meant Ukraine’s troops have lost ground to Russian advances.

    Those trying to get aid to Ukraine believe its defense is central to U.S. national security. Today the Institute for the Study of War, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research group, assessed that “[s]everal Russian financial, economic, and military indicators suggest that Russia is preparing for a large-scale conventional conflict with NATO, not imminently but likely on a shorter timeline than what some Western analysts have initially posited,” within a matter of 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
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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,688
      March 21, 2024 (Thursday)

    In the past few weeks, Josh Kovensky of Talking Points Memo has deepened our understanding of the right-wing attempt to impose Christian nationalism on the United States through support for Trump and the MAGA movement. On March 9, Kovensky explored the secret, men-only, right-wing society called the Society for American Civic Renewal (SACR), whose well-positioned, wealthy, white leaders call for instituting white male domination and their version of Christianity in the U.S. after a “regime” change.

    On March 19, Kovensky explained how that power was reaching into lawmaking when he reported on a September 2023 speech by Russ Vought, a key architect of the plans for Trump’s second term, including Project 2025. In the speech, which took place in the  Dirksen Senate Office Building, Vought explained the right wing’s extreme border policies by explicitly marrying Christian nationalism and an aversion to the pluralism that is a hallmark of American democracy. Vought argued that the U.S. should model immigration on the Bible’s Old Testament, welcoming migrants only “so long as they accepted Israel’s God, laws, and understanding of history.”

    These religious appeals against the equality of women and minorities seem an odd juxtaposition to a statement by United Auto Workers (UAW) union president Shawn Fain in response to the claim of the Trump campaign that Trump’s “bloodbath” statement of last Saturday was about the auto industry. Fain is also a self-described Christian, but he rejects the right-wing movement.   

    “Donald Trump can’t run from the facts,” Fain said in a statement to CBS News. “He can do all the name-calling he wants, but the truth is he is a con man who has been directly part of the problem we have seen over the past 40 years—where working class people have gone backward and billionaires like Donald Trump reap all the benefits….

    “Trump has been a player in the class war against the working class for decades, whether screwing workers and small businesses in his dealings, exploiting workers at his Mar a Lago estate and properties, blaming workers for the Great Recession, or giving tax breaks to the rich. The bottom line is Trump only represents the billionaire class and he doesn’t give a damn about the plight of working class people, union or not.”

    In the 1850s the United States saw a similar juxtaposition, with elite southern enslavers heightening their insistence that enslavement was sanctioned by God and their warnings that the freedom of Black Americans posed an existential threat to the United States just as white workers were beginning to turn against the system that had concentrated great wealth among a very few men. While white southern leaders were upset by the extraordinary popularity of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the 1852 novel that urged middle-class women to stand up against slavery, it was Hinton Rowan Helper’s 1857 The Impending Crisis of the South: How to Meet It that made them apoplectic.

    Hinton Helper was a white southerner himself and showed no abolitionist sympathies in his deeply racist book. What that book did was to show, using the statistics that had recently been made available from the 1850 census, that the American South was falling rapidly behind the North economically. Helper blamed the system of slavery for that economic backwardness, and he urged ordinary white men to overthrow the system of enslavement that served only a few wealthy white men. The cotton boom of the 1850s had created enormous fortunes for a few lucky planters, as well as a market for Helper’s book among poorer white men who had been forced off their land.

    White southern elites considered Helper’s book so incendiary that state legislatures made it illegal to possess a copy, people were imprisoned and three allegedly hanged for being found with the book, and a fight over it consumed Congress for two months from December 1859 through January 1860. The determination of southern elites to preserve their power made them redouble their efforts to appeal to voters through religion and racism.

    In today’s America, the right wing seems to be echoing its antebellum predecessors. It is attacking women’s rights; diversity, equity, and inclusion programs; immigration; LGBTQ+ rights and so on. At the same time, it continues to push an economic system that has moved as much as $50 trillion from the bottom 90% to the top 10% since 1981 while exploding the annual budget deficit and the national debt.

    Yesterday the far-right Republican Study Committee (RSC), which includes about two thirds of all House Republicans, released a 2025 budget plan to stand against Biden’s 2025 budget wish list. The RSC plan calls for dramatic cuts to business regulation, Social Security, Medicaid, and so on, and dismisses Biden’s plan for higher taxes on the wealthy, calling instead for more than $5 trillion in tax cuts. It calls the provision of the Inflation Reduction Act that permits the government to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies over prices “socialist price controls.”

    Biden responded to the RSC budget, saying: “My budget represents a different future. One where the days of trickle-down economics are over and the wealthy and biggest corporations no longer get all the breaks. A future where we restore the right to choose and protect other freedoms, not take them away. A future where the middle class finally has a fair shot, and we protect Social Security so the working people who built this country can retire with dignity. I see a future for all Americans and I will never stop fighting for that future.”

    Biden’s version of America has built a strong economy in the last two years, with extremely low unemployment, extraordinary growth, and real wage increases for all but the top 20%. Inequality has decreased. Today the White House announced the cancellation of nearly $6 billion in federal student loan debt for thousands of teachers, firefighters, and nurses. Simply by enforcing laws already on the books that allow debt forgiveness for borrowers who go into public service, the administration has erased nearly $144 billion of debt for about 4 million borrowers.

    At the same time, the administration has reined in corporations. Today the Department of Justice, along with 15 states and the District of Columbia, sued Apple, Inc., for violating the 1890 Sherman Antitrust Act. They charge that the company, which in 2023 had net revenues of $383 billion and a net income of $97 billion, has illegally established a monopoly over the smartphone market to extract as much revenue as possible from consumers. The company’s behavior also hurts developers, the Department of Justice says, because they cannot compete under the rules that Apple has set.

    At the end of February, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sued to block the merger of Kroger and Albertsons, a $24.6 billion takeover affecting 5,000 supermarkets and 700,000 workers across 48 states. The merger would raise grocery prices, narrow consumer choice, and hurt workers’ bargaining power, the FTC said. The attorneys general of Arizona, California, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon and Wyoming joined the FTC’s lawsuit.  

    The benefits of the administration’s reworking of the government for ordinary Americans have not gotten traction in the past few years, as right-wing media have continued to insist that Biden’s policies will destroy the economy. But as Shawn Fain’s position suggests, ordinary white men, who fueled the Reagan Revolution in 1980 when they turned against the Democrats and who have made up a key part of the Republican base, might be paying attention.

    In June 2023 the AFL-CIO, a union with more than 12.5 million members, endorsed Biden for president in 2024 in its earliest endorsement ever. In January the UAW also endorsed Biden. Yesterday the United Steelworkers Union, which represents 850,000 workers in metals, mining, rubber, and other industries, added their endorsement.

    Just as it was in the 1850s, the right-wing emphasis on religion and opposition to a modern multicultural America today is deeply entwined with preserving an economic power structure that has benefited a small minority. That emphasis is growing stronger in the face of the administration’s effort to restore a level economic playing field. In the 1850s, those who opposed the domination of elite enslavers could only promise voters a better future. But in 2024, the success of Biden’s policies may be changing the game.

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,688
      March 22, 2024 (Friday)

    As expected, Trump’s team has reorganized the Republican National Committee’s donation system, arranging for maximum donations to go first to Trump’s presidential campaign, then to Trump’s Save America political action committee, and finally to the RNC to elect down ballot candidates. The Save America PAC pays Trump’s legal bills. So far in 2024 it has spent $8.5 million on them. In essence, this new flow means Trump is using the RNC to raise money that is then diverted to him.

    This morning, conservative lawyer George Conway suggested that “we should stop defiling the memory of the party of Lincoln by referring to the current organization” as the Republican Party.

    Midnight tonight was the deadline for the continuing resolution that was funding much of the government, and the House finally passed the necessary appropriations bills this morning, just hours before the deadline, by a vote of 286–134. Democrats put the bill over the top, adding 185 yea votes to the 101 Republicans voting in favor of the bill. In a blow to House speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), 112 Republicans joined 22 Democrats to vote against the measure.

    As soon as the bill passed, Johnson recessed the House until April 9.

    Because the deadline to prevent a government shutdown was so tight, the Senate needed to take the House measure up immediately. But Senate rules mean that such a quick turnaround needs unanimous consent, and right-wing senators refused to give it.

    Instead, Republican senators Ted Budd (NC), Mike Lee (UT), Ted Cruz (TX), and Rand Paul (KY) demanded votes on extremist amendments to try to jam Democrats into a bind before the upcoming election. If the amendments passed, the government would shut down for the purely mechanical reason that the House can’t consider any amendments until it gets back to work in April. So the Democrats would certainly vote against any amendments to keep the government open. But this would mean they were on record with unpopular votes in an election year.

    The demand for amendments was partisan posturing, but the delay was particularly nasty: Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), who was a key negotiator of the bill, needed to get back to Maine for her mother’s funeral.

    In the House, the passage of the appropriations bill and the recess prompted significant changes. Representative Kay Granger (R-TX) announced she is stepping down from chairing the Appropriations Committee.

    Another Republican representative, Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, announced he will leave Congress early, stepping down on April 19. Gallagher is chair of the Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party and has voiced frustration with the current state of his party. His absence will shave the Republican House majority to just one vote, and the timing of his departure means he will not be replaced this session. Wisconsin law leaves any vacancy after the second Tuesday in April until the general election.

    Representative Ken Buck (R-CO) announced last week that he, too, was leaving Congress early, complaining that “[t]his place has just evolved into…bickering and nonsense.” Today was his last day in the House. Before he left, he became the first Republican to sign onto the discharge petitions that would bring Ukraine aid to the floor even without House speaker Johnson’s support.

    Despite the frustration of their colleagues, extremist Republicans are not backing down. After the appropriations measure passed, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) told reporters she has filed a motion to vacate the chair to punish Johnson for permitting the bill to pass without more extremist demands. Her threat will hang over the two-week break, but it is not clear what the House will do with her motion; they might simply bottle it up in committee.

    Greene might not push a vote on the speaker right now in part because of pressure from her colleagues to cut it out. They understand that the extraordinary dysfunction of the House under Republicans' control is hurting them before the 2024 election, and another speaker fight would only add to the chaos. There is also the reality that with such a small majority, Johnson would have to rely on Democrats to save his speakership if it were challenged, and a number of them have suggested they would vote to keep him in the chair if he would agree to bring a vote on aid for Ukraine to the floor.

    Representative Jamie Raskin (D-MD) told CNN that he would “make common cause with anybody who will stand up for the people of Ukraine, anybody who will get desperately needed humanitarian assistance to Gaza, and anybody who will work for a two state solution. I’m up for conversations with anybody.”

    The cost of Johnson’s withholding of assistance for Ukraine is mounting. Last night, Russia launched the largest barrages of missiles and drones since its war began at Ukraine’s power grid, leaving more than a million people without power and degrading Ukraine’s energy sector. The Institute for the Study of War assessed today that “continued delays in Western security assistance…are reportedly expected to significantly constrain Ukraine‘s air defense umbrella,” leaving Ukrainian forces unable to defend against missile attacks. Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky once again begged for aid, saying: “Russian missiles do not suffer delays in the way aid packages to our country do. Shahed drones are not affected by indecision like some politicians are.”

    Ukraine has been using drones to attack Russia’s oil refineries, but Russia had a new problem today as a deadly attack on a Moscow concert hall claimed at least 60 lives. The Islamic State's Afghan branch, known as ISIS-K, which advocates for civilian mass-casualty events to weaken governments, claimed responsibility for the attack.

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    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,688
      March 23, 2024 (Saturday)

    Buddy and I are traveling in the Southwest and have virtually no internet connection tonight, so a letter isn’t going to happen. But I'm going to try to post a picture of some of what we’ve been seeing. This image is from yesterday, near Zion National Park in Utah.

    Will be back at it tomorrow.

    [Photo by Buddy Poland.]

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,688
      March 24, 2024 (Sunday)

    The Senate passed the appropriations bill shortly after midnight on Saturday morning, and President Joe Biden signed it Saturday afternoon. In his statement after he signed the bill, Biden was clear: “Congress’s work isn’t finished,” he said. “The House must pass the bipartisan national security supplemental to advance our national security interests. And Congress must pass the bipartisan border security agreement—the toughest and fairest reforms in decades—to ensure we have the policies and funding needed to secure the border. It’s time to get this done.”

    House speaker MIke Johnson (R-LA) has refused to bring forward the national security supplemental bill to fund Ukraine, Israel, the Indo-Pacific, and humanitarian aid to Gaza. He has also refused to bring forward the border security measure hammered out in the Senate after House Republicans demanded it and passed there on February 13. Johnson is doing the bidding of former president Trump, who opposes aid to Ukraine and border security measures.

    Congress is on break and will not return to Washington, D.C., until the second week in April.

    By then, political calculations may well have changed.

    MAGA Republicans appear to be in trouble.  

    The House recessed on Friday for two weeks in utter disarray. On ABC News’s “This Week,” former representative Ken Buck (R-CO), who left Congress Friday, complained that House Republicans were focusing “on messaging bills that get us nowhere” rather than addressing the country’s problems. He called Congress “dysfunctional.”

    On Friday, NBC announced it was hiring former Republican National Committee (RNC) chair Ronna McDaniel as a political analyst. Today the main political story in the U.S. was the ferocious backlash to that decision. McDaniel not only defended Trump, attacked the press, and gaslit reporters, she also participated in the effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

    In an interview with Kristen Welker this morning on NBC’s “Meet the Press”—Welker was quick to point out that the interview had been arranged long before she learned of the hiring— McDaniel explained away her support for Trump’s promise to pardon those convicted for their participation in the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by saying, “When you’re the RNC Chair, you kind of take one for the whole team.”

    That statement encapsulated Trump Republicans. In a democracy, the “team” is supposed to be the whole country. But Trump Republicans like McDaniel were willing to overthrow American democracy so long as it kept them in power.  

    That position is increasingly unpopular. Former representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) wrote on social media: “Ronna facilitated Trump’s corrupt fake elector plot & his effort to pressure [Michigan] officials not to certify the legitimate election outcome. She spread his lies & called 1/6 ‘legitimate political discourse.’ That’s not ‘taking one for the team.’ It’s enabling criminality & depravity.”

    McDaniel wants to be welcomed back into mainstream political discourse, but it appears that the window for such a makeover might have closed.

    In the wake of Trump’s takeover of the RNC, mainstream Republicans are backing away from the party. Today, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) said she could not “get behind Donald Trump” and expressed “regret that our party is seemingly becoming a party of Donald Trump.” She did not rule out leaving the Republican Party.

    In Politico today, a piece on Trump’s vice president, Mike Pence, by Adam Wren also isolated Trump from the pre-2016 Republican Party. Pence appears to be trying to reclaim the mantle of that earlier incarnation of the party, backed as he is by right-wing billionaire Harlan Crow (who has funded Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas over the years) and the Koch network. Wren’s piece says Pence is focusing these days on “a nonprofit policy shop aimed at advancing conservative ideals.” Wren suggested that Pence’s public split from Trump is “the latest sign that Trumpism is now permanently and irrevocably divorced from its initial marriage of convenience with…Reaganism.”

    Trump appears to believe his power over his base means he doesn’t need the established Republicans. But that power came from Trump’s aura of invincibility, which is now in very real crisis thanks to Trump’s growing money troubles. Tomorrow is the deadline for him to produce either the cash or a bond to cover the $454 million he owes to the people of the state of New York in fines and disgorgement of ill-gotten gains for fraud.

    Trump does not appear to have the necessary cash and has been unable to get a bond. He claims a bond of such size is “unprecedented, and practically impossible for ANY Company, including one as successful as mine," and that "[t]he Bonding Companies have never heard of such a bond, of this size, before, nor do they have the ability to post such a bond, even if they wanted to.” But Louis Jacobson of PolitiFact corrected the record: it is not uncommon for companies in civil litigation cases to post bonds of more than $1 billion.

    Trump made his political career on his image as a successful and fabulously wealthy businessman. Today, “Don Poorleone” trended on X (formerly Twitter).

    The backlash to McDaniel’s hiring at NBC also suggests a media shift against news designed to grab eyeballs, the sort of media that has fed the MAGA movement. According to Mike Allen of Axios, NBC executives unanimously supported hiring McDaniel. A memo from Carrie Budoff Brown, who is in charge of the political coverage at NBC News, said McDaniel would help the outlet examine “the diverse perspectives of American voters.” This appears to mean she would appeal to Trump voters, bringing more viewers to the platform.  

    But former “Meet the Press” anchor Chuck Todd took a strong stand against adding McDaniel to a news organization, noting her “credibility issues” and that “many of our professional dealings with the RNC over the last six years have been met with gaslighting [and] character assassination.”

    This pushback against news media as entertainment recalls the 1890s, when American newspapers were highly partisan and gravitated toward more and more sensational headlines and exaggerated stories to increase sales. That publication model led to a circulation war between Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World and William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal that is widely—and almost certainly inaccurately—blamed for pushing the United States into war with Spain in 1898.

    More accurate, though, is that the sensationalism of what was known as “yellow journalism” created a backlash that gave rise to new investigative journalism designed to move away from partisanship and explain clearly to readers what was happening in American politics and economics. In 1893, McClure’s Magazine appeared, offering in-depth examinations of the workings of corporations and city governments and launching a new era of reform.

    Three years later, publisher Adolph Ochs bought the New York Times and put up New York City’s first electric sign to advertise, in nearly 2,700 individual lights of red, white, blue, and green, that it would push back against yellow journalism by publishing “ALL THE NEWS THAT’S FIT TO PRINT.” Ochs added that motto to the masthead. With his determination to provide nonpartisan news without sensationalism, in just under 40 years, Ochs took over the paper from just over 20,000 readers to more than 465,000, and turned the New York Times into a newspaper of record.

    In that era that looks so much like our own, the national mood had changed.

    _____________________________________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
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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,688
       March 25, 2024 (Monday)

    This morning The Boeing Company announced that the chief of Boeing’s commercial airplane division, Stan Deal, is leaving immediately. Chief executive officer Dave Calhoun is stepping down at the end of the year. Chair of the board Larry Kellner will not stand for reelection.

    On January 5 a door plug blew off a Boeing 737 Max jetliner operated by Alaska Airlines while it was in flight. The United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) immediately grounded about 170 similar Boeing planes operated by U.S. airlines or in U.S. territory until they could be inspected. “The FAA’s first priority is keeping the flying public safe,” it said, and added: “The safety of the flying public, not speed, will determine the timeline for returning the Boeing 737-9 MAX to service.”

    Last year an FAA investigation “observed a disconnect between Boeing’s senior management and other members of the organization on safety culture,” with employees worrying about retaliation for reporting safety issues. After the door plug blew off, an FAA audit of different aspects of the production process released two weeks ago found that Boeing failed 33 of 89 product audits. On March 9, Spencer S. Hsu, Ian Duncan, and Lori Aratani of the Washington Post reported that the Justice Department had opened a criminal investigation into the door plug failure.

    Today, Boeing announced a change in leadership.

    Also today, Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su reminded readers of Teen Vogue, on the anniversary of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire that killed 147 garment workers in New York City after their employer had locked the exits, of how that tragedy prompted the federal government to create “programs that generations of Americans have relied on for economic security and dignity, including a nationwide minimum wage, health and safety regulations, restrictions on child labor, and more.”

    Each generation “has a duty to take the baton of progress from those who came before us,” Su said. She noted that industries whose workforces are mostly women or immigrants have historically often broken the law, exposing workers to dangerous conditions and withholding pay.

    This problem persists in the present, and she reported that the Department of Labor is working to address it. For example, after three injuries at a plant outside Chicago, including the December 2022 death of a 29-year-old sanitation worker, the U.S. Department of Labor fined the company $2.8 million. And, earlier this year, the department recovered more than $1 million for 165 workers whose employer had cheated them of overtime pay, the largest settlement ever for California garment workers.

    The U.S. Department of Energy today announced it has selected 33 projects from more than 20 states that will be awarded up to $6 billion to jump-start the elimination of carbon dioxide emissions from industries that are hard to adapt to green technologies. The projects will match federal monies to invest more than $20 billion toward commercial-scale decarbonization solutions for cement and concrete, chemicals and refining, metals including iron and steel, pulp and paper mills, and so on. The projects are funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act, and will create tens of thousands of jobs. The Department of Energy estimates that the funded projects will cut carbon emissions by an average of 77%.

    All of these news items today—airplane safety, worker protection, and technologies to address climate change—reflect a government designed to protect the American people. The nonpartisan civil servants staffing the agencies responsible for that protection are the ones that MAGA Republicans call the Deep State and Trump has vowed to replace with his own loyalists.  

    For his part, as he faced cases in two different New York courts, Trump’s focus today was on the rule of law. He does not appear to be a fan of it.  

    March 25 was the deadline for Trump to produce a bond to cover the $454 million he owes to the people of the state of New York for fraud. But before New York attorney general Letitia James could begin to seize his assets this morning, a New York appeals court threw him a lifeline, cutting the size of the required bond to $175 million and giving him 10 more days to post it. The order also paused the enforcement of many of the penalties Judge Arthur Engoron had imposed. So, for the time being, Trump and his sons can continue to do business in New York, although their businesses remain under the supervision of an independent monitor.

    The court’s order does not change Engoron’s judgment in the case. It simply puts the execution of that judgment on hold as Trump appeals it, which he must do on time.

    In a different courtroom today, Judge Juan Merchan rejected further delaying tactics by Trump’s lawyers and set April 15 as the date for jury selection in the criminal case of election interference. This is the case in which Trump is charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records to hide payments to people with damaging information about him before the 2016 election. This scheme gave Trump “an illegal edge in a razor-thin race,” as legal reporter Adam Klasfeld of Just Security put it.

    Trump has said he will appeal.

    Last week, Brian Beutler of Off Message noted that “Trump is scarcely running a presidential campaign…. [H]is efforts are overwhelmingly fixed on evading justice or mooting judgments he’s already lost by any means necessary. He’d ideally like to prevail in these efforts before the election, but the task will become much easier if he’s able to win or steal the presidency despite the legal peril.”

    Trump appeared angry today at a press conference after Judge Merchan set a date for the start of the election interference case. He blamed President Joe Biden for his legal troubles, although the case is in New York. He insisted that holding him accountable for his behavior is itself “election interference.”

    In a statement, the Biden camp replied: “Donald Trump is weak and desperate—both as a man and a candidate for President…. His campaign can’t raise money, he is uninterested in campaigning outside his country club, and every time he opens his mouth, he pushes moderate and suburban voters away with his dangerous agenda.

    “America deserves better than a feeble, confused, and tired Donald Trump.”

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,688
      March 26, 2024 (Tuesday)

    At about 1:30 this morning, local time, the Dali, a 985-foot (300 m) container ship operating under a Singapore flag, struck the steel Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, Maryland, that spans the lower Patapsco River and outer Baltimore Harbor. The bridge immediately collapsed.

    Eight maintenance workers were on the bridge repairing potholes when the ship hit. Two were rescued from the water, but the other six remain missing. Search and rescue operations were complicated by twisted metal and debris from the collapsed bridge. This evening, the Coast Guard called off its search. Tomorrow morning, divers will begin recovery efforts.

    It is possible there were motorists on the bridge, too, but fewer than there might otherwise have been. Crew members issued a “Mayday” call—an internationally recognized word meaning distress—that Maryland police heard. At 1:27, police radio recorded an officer saying a ship had lost control of its steering as it approached the bridge, and to stop traffic and evacuate the area. There were cars submerged in the water, but they may have belonged to the construction workers.

    The loss of the bridge will tangle traffic and disrupt supply chains. Named for the Maryland lawyer who in 1814 wrote the poem that became the national anthem, the Francis Scott Key bridge carries I-695, the Baltimore Beltway, and is used by about 30,000 people a day.

    The Port of Baltimore is one of the nation’s largest shipping hubs, especially for both imports and exports of cars and light trucks. About 850,000 vehicles go through that port every year. So does more than 20% of the nation’s coal exports. In 2023 the port moved a record-breaking $80 billion worth of foreign cargo. Now the shipping lane is closed and must be cleared of debris.

    “There is no question this will be a major and protracted impact on supply chains,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said from Baltimore today.

    Perhaps learning from the 2023 East Palestine, Ohio, train derailment, when the government response was fast but quiet and thus opened a window for right-wing complaints they weren’t doing enough, the administration was out front today. Buttigieg rushed to the scene from a trip out West, and Maryland governor Wes Moore told reporters Buttigieg had called him at 3:30 am, just two hours after the crash.  

    By around 6:00 am, the National Transportation Safety Board already had a team of 24 people on the scene to launch an investigation into the cause of the collision.

    Speaking today, President Joe Biden said: “I’ve directed my team to move heaven and earth to reopen the port and rebuild the bridge as soon as…humanly possible. And we’re going to work hand in hand…to support Maryland, whatever they ask for. And we’re going to work with our partners in Congress to make sure the state gets the support it needs. It’s my intention that federal government will pay for the entire cost of reconstructing that bridge, and I expect…the Congress to support my effort.”

    Former member of President Obama’s 2012 campaign Jason Karsh noted Biden’s speech and said on social media: “[B]ecause Biden got infrastructure spending done for the first time in over a generation, and because [Pennsylvania] was able to rebuild that bridge that collapsed in record time, Dem[ocrat]s have the credibility to say things like this. Competence in government matters.”

    It remains far too soon for any solid understanding of what caused the deadly crash.

    Despite the impossibility of solid information in the hours immediately after the collision—or perhaps because of it—verified accounts on X (formerly Twitter) began spreading conspiracy theories. They posted that the accident was linked to terrorism, Jewish people, or diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs. “Did anti-white business practices cause this disaster?” one posted. Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones wrote that the collision was “deliberate” and that “WW3 has already started.”

    Technology reporter Taylor Lorenz, who studies social media patterns, explained in the Washington Post that many of these accounts are “engagement farming.” This is the practice of posting extremist comments to generate attention, which can then be monetized by, for example, getting a cut of advertising that appears near those comments. Comments with heavy engagement can receive thousands of dollars.

    For a long time now, America’s political right has riled people up with wild political rhetoric to get them to buy stuff. Just today, Trump began to hawk Bibles for $59.99, plus shipping and handling, with a video message saying “Religion and Christianity are the biggest things missing from this country, and I truly believe we need to bring them back…. That’s why our country’s going haywire—we’ve lost religion in our country.”

    That system appeared to be in play as Trump supporters apparently flocked to today’s public offering of the Trump Media & Technology Group, the company behind the Truth Social app, sending the stock upward 16%. That surge would value the company at more than $7 billion, although in the first nine months of last year it had only about $3 million in sales and lost nearly $50 million. Julian Klymochko, founder and CEO of Accelerate Financial Technologies, told NPR’s Rafael Nam that the $7 billion valuation “is completely detached from any sort of fundamentals.”

    Buying stock in the company is “more of a political movement or just a speculative meme stock [a stock driven by social media] that’s completely detached or unrelated to the underlying business fundamentals of Truth Social,” Klymochko said.

    As well as convincing supporters to buy products, extremist rhetoric can push them toward violence. Yesterday, John Keller, the head of a Department of Justice task force set up to protect election workers, told reporters Trump’s lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen has put the U.S. in a “new era” in which election workers are “scapegoated, targeted, and attacked.”

    Today, on his social media network, Trump attacked individuals related to his upcoming election interference case. He lashed out at one of the prosecutors on Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg’s staff who previously worked for the Justice Department; Judge Juan Merchan, the judge in his upcoming criminal case for election interference; and the judge’s daughter. Of the judge and his daughter, Trump told his angry followers: “These COUNTRY DESTROYING SCOUNDRELS & THUGS HAVE NO CASE AGAINST ME. WITCH HUNT!”

    Legal analyst Joyce White Vance of Civil Discourse called out Trump’s “rank effort at intimidating the judge by threatening his family,” which she said “merits a gag order but also serious pushback from [Republican] leadership—which we know won't come.”

    Republican leadership indeed stayed quiet, but the judge noted Trump’s pattern of using “threatening, inflammatory, [and] denigrating” statements against individuals in his legal cases and placed a gag order on him. Merchan noted that in the past, Trump’s statements had intimidated the individual targeted and required them to hire protection.

    Trump can still talk about Merchan or Bragg, but he cannot comment on any attorney, court staff member, or family member of prosecutors or lawyers. He can’t make statements about any potential or actual juror.

    Other news today suggests that Americans outside the MAGA bubble are turning against the poisonous politics that appeals to fear and hatred so its perpetrators can gain money or power.

    The outrage over NBC’s hiring of former Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel was so strong that today the chair of NBC News, Cesar Conde, emailed staff to tell them he had “decided that Ronna McDaniel will not be an NBC News contributor.” McDaniel had trafficked in lies to support Trump and had worked with him to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

    When the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in FDA v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine today, observers thought the justices seemed inclined to back away from the decision of extremist antiabortion judge Matthew Kacsmaryk taking the abortion drug mifepristone off the market. Antiabortion activists have long sought to ban abortion nationwide, but a strong majority of Americans support reproductive rights and have made their wishes known at the ballot box.

    Voters’ frustration with the extremists who have captured the Republican Party appeared to be behind the results in today’s special election for a seat in the Alabama legislature. There, voters in a swing district elected a Democrat, who ran on protecting abortion access, to replace a Republican. In 2022 that Democrat, Marilyn Lands, won about 45% of the vote. Today she won almost 65% of it.

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,688
      March 27, 2024 (Wednesday)

    The news that NBC News reconsidered its invitation to former Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel to become a paid contributor has buried the recent news about some of the other participants in Trump’s attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

    Yesterday a judge in Minnesota ruled in favor of a warehouse owner who sought to evict MyPillow after it failed to pay more than $200,000 in rent. MyPillow chief executive officer Mike Lindell has complained that his company has been “decimated” by his support for Trump. His insistence—without evidence—that the 2020 presidential election was stolen has entangled him in expensive defamation lawsuits filed by voting machine companies Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic.

    Lindell cannot pay his lawyers and claims to have “lost hundreds of millions of dollars,” but insists he is being persecuted “because you want me to shut up about [the] security of our elections.”

    Also yesterday, Trump loyalist Kari Lake, who has pushed the idea that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, ran for Arizona governor in 2022, and is now running for the U.S. Senate, admitted she defamed Maricopa County recorder Stephen Richer and that she acted with actual malice when she claimed he “sabotaged” the 2022 election. The request to admit to defamation came on the day that discovery, the process of sharing information about a case with each side, was to begin, suggesting that she preferred to admit wrongdoing rather than let anyone see what might be in her emails, texts, and recordings.

    Arizona journalist Howard Fischer reported in the Arizona Daily Star that in a video statement, Lake said her admission did not mean she agreed she did anything wrong, although that is expressly stipulated in the court papers. She said she conceded because Richer’s lawsuit was keeping her off the campaign trail. “It’s called lawfare: weaponizing the legal system to punish, impoverish and destroy political opponents,’’ Lake said. “We’ve all seen how they’re doing it to President Trump. And here in Arizona, they’re doing the exact same thing to me.’’

    One of Lake’s senior advisors said: “Kari Lake maintains she has always been truthful.”

    Also yesterday, a three-member panel of the D.C. Bar’s Board of Professional Responsibility began a disciplinary hearing for former Department of Justice environmental lawyer Jeffrey Clark, who was so key to Trump’s plan to get state legislatures to overturn the results of the 2020 election that Trump tried to make him attorney general.  

    Clark joins Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who led the media blitz to argue—falsely—that the election had been stolen. Giuliani’s New York and Washington, D.C., law licenses were suspended in June 2021 after a court found that he made “demonstrably false and misleading statements to courts, lawmakers, and the public at large.” He is now facing disbarment.

    Earlier this month, he said on his podcast that he expected to be disbarred because “[t]he Bar Association is going to crucify me no matter what. I will be disbarred in New York. I will be disbarred in Washington. It will have nothing to do with anything I did wrong.”

    Today, after a long trial, attorney discipline judge Yvette Roland recommended that John Eastman, the lawyer who came up with the justification for using fake electors to overturn the 2020 presidential election, be disbarred. Eastman will immediately lose his license to practice law. The California Supreme Court will decide whether to disbar Eastman.

    Eastman’s lawyer said it was unfair to take Eastman’s law license because he needs to make money to fight the criminal charges against him in Georgia, where has been indicted for his part in the effort to overthrow the results of the 2020 presidential election there. For his part, Eastman maintains he did nothing wrong.

    In her recommendation, Judge Roland compared Eastman’s case to that of Donald Segretti, the lawyer whose efforts to guarantee President Richard Nixon’s 1972 reelection included, as Roland’s recommendation noted, distributing letters that made false accusations against Nixon’s rivals (including a forged letter attributing a slur against French-Canadians to Maine senator and candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination Edmund Muskie). At the time, the court noted that Segretti was only 30, thought he was acting for Nixon, and did not act in his capacity as a lawyer. The court also emphasized that Segretti “recognized the wrongfulness of his acts, expressed regret, and cooperated with the investigating agencies.”

    In contrast, Roland wrote, “[t]he scale and egregiousness of Eastman’s unethical actions far surpasses” Segretti’s misconduct. Segretti acted outside his role as an attorney, while “Eastman’s wrongdoing was committed directly in the course and scope of his representation of President Trump and the Trump campaign.” Roland also noted that while Segretti expressed remorse and recognized his wrongdoing, Eastman has shown “an apparent inability to accept responsibility. This lack of remorse and accountability presents a significant risk that Eastman may engage in further unethical conduct, compounding the threat to the public.”  

    One by one, those who worked with Trump to overturn the election are being held to account by our legal system. But still, they refuse to admit any wrongdoing.

    In that, they are following Trump.  

    Despite Judge Juan Merchan’s gag order, Trump continued today to attack both Merchan and his daughter. On his social media site, Trump posted that Merchan was trying to deprive him of his “First Amendment right to speak out against the Weaponization of Law Enforcement, including the fact that Crooked Joe Biden, Merrick Garland, and their Hacks and Thugs are tracking and following me all across the Country, obsessively trying to persecute me, while everyone knows I have done nothing wrong!” Trump posted in great detail about the judge’s daughter, accusing her of making money by “working to ‘Get Trump,’” based on images shared by an old social media account of hers that had been hacked.

    It was President Nixon who perfected the refusal to admit wrongdoing in the face of overwhelming evidence. Even after tapes recorded in the Oval Office revealed that he had plotted with an aide to block investigations of the break-in at the Washington, D.C., headquarters of the Democratic National Committee in the Watergate Hotel by invoking national security and Republican Party leaders told him he needed to resign, he refused to admit wrongdoing. Instead, he told the American people he was stepping down because he no longer had enough support in Congress to advance the national interest. He blamed his fall on the press, saying its “leaks and accusations and innuendo” were designed to destroy him.

    Gerald R. Ford, the president who replaced Nixon, inadvertently put a rubber stamp on Nixon’s refusal to accept responsibility. Believing it was better for the country to move past the divisions of the Watergate era, Ford issued a preemptive pardon for any crimes the former president might have committed against the United States while in office. Ford maintained that the acceptance of a pardon was an admission of guilt.

    But Ford’s pardon meant Nixon never faced legal accountability for his actions. That escape allowed him to argue that a president is above the law. In a 1977 interview with British journalist David Frost, Nixon told Frost that “when the president does it…that means that it is not illegal,” by definition.

    As Nixon did, Trump has watched those who participated in his schemes pay dearly for their support, but he appears angry and confused at the idea that he himself could be held legally accountable for his behavior.

    But without accountability, as Judge Roland noted, there is no incentive to stop dangerous behavior. Josh Dawsey reported last night in the Washington Post that since Trump has taken over the Republican National Committee and purged it of former employees, those interviewing for jobs are being asked if they believe the 2020 presidential election was stolen. Other questions, Dawsey reported, include “what applicants believe should be done on ‘election integrity’ in 2024.”

    _____________________________________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
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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,688
      March 28, 2024 (Thursday)
     
    Yesterday the National Economic Council called a meeting of the Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force, which the Biden-Harris administration launched in 2021, to discuss the impact of the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge and the partial closure of the Port of Baltimore on regional and national supply chains. The task force draws members from the White House and the departments of Transportation, Commerce, Agriculture, Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services, Energy, and Homeland Security. It is focused on coordinating efforts to divert ships to other ports and to minimize impacts to employers and workers, making sure, for example, that dock workers stay on payrolls.

    Today, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg convened a meeting of port, labor, and industry partners—ocean carriers, truckers, local business owners, unions, railroads, and so on—to mitigate disruption from the bridge collapse. Representatives came from 40 organizations including American Roll-on Roll-off Carrier; the Georgia Ports Authority; the International Longshoremen’s Association, the International Organization of Masters, Mates and Pilots; John Deere; Maersk; Mercedes-Benz North America Operations; Seabulk Tankers; Under Armour; and the World Shipping Council.  
     
    Today the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration announced it would make $60 million available immediately to be used as a down payment toward initial costs. Already, though, some Republicans are balking at the idea of using new federal money to rebuild the bridge, saying that lawmakers should simply take the money that has been appropriated for things like electric vehicles, or wait until insurance money comes in from the shipping companies.

    In 2007, when a bridge across the Mississippi River in Minneapolis suddenly collapsed, Congress passed funding to rebuild it in days and then-president George W. Bush signed the measure into law within a week of the accident.
     
    In the past days, we have learned that the six maintenance workers killed when the bridge collapsed were all immigrants, natives of Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. Around 39% of the workforce in the construction industry around Baltimore and Washington, D.C., about 130,000 people, are immigrants, Scott Dance and María Luisa Paúl reported in the Washington Post yesterday.

    Some of the men were undocumented, and all of them were family men who sent money back to their home countries, as well. From Honduras, the nephew of one of the men killed told the Associated Press, “The kind of work he did is what people born in the U.S. won’t do. People like him travel there with a dream. They don’t want to break anything or take anything.”  
     
    In the Philadelphia Inquirer today, journalist Will Bunch castigated the right-wing lawmakers and pundits who have whipped up native-born Americans over immigration, calling immigrants sex traffickers and fentanyl dealers, and even “animals.” Bunch illustrated that the reality of what was happening on the Francis Scott Key Bridge when it collapsed creates an opportunity to reframe the immigration debate in the United States.

    Last month, Catherine Rampell of the Washington Post noted that immigration is a key reason that the United States experienced greater economic growth than any other nation In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The surge of immigration that began in 2022 brought to the U.S. working-age people who, Director Phill Swagel of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office wrote, are expected to make the U.S. gross domestic product about $7 trillion larger over the ten years from 2023 to 2034 than it would have been otherwise. Those workers will account for about $1 trillion dollars in revenues.
     
    Curiously, while Republican leaders today are working to outdo each other in their harsh opposition to immigration, it was actually the leaders of the original Republican Party who recognized the power of immigrants to build the country and articulated an economic justification for increased immigration during the nation’s first major anti-immigrant period.

    The United States had always been a nation of immigrants, but in the 1840s the failure of the potato crop in Ireland sent at least half a million Irish immigrants to the United States. As they moved into urban ports on the East Coast, especially in Massachusetts and New York, native-born Americans turned against them as competitors for jobs.
     
    The 1850s saw a similar anti-immigrant fury in the new state of California. After the discovery of gold there in 1848, native-born Americans—the so-called Forty Niners—moved to the West Coast. They had no intention of sharing the riches they expected to find. The Indigenous people who lived there had no right to the land under which gold lay, native-born men thought; nor did the Mexicans whose government had sold the land to the U.S. in 1848; nor did the Chileans, who came with mining skills that made them powerful competitors. Above all, native-born Americans resented the Chinese miners who came to work in order to send money home to a land devastated by the first Opium War.

    Democrats and the new anti-immigrant American Party (more popularly known as the “Know Nothings” because members claimed to know nothing about the party) turned against the new immigrants, seeing them as competition that would drive down wages. In the 1850s, Know Nothing officials in Massachusetts persecuted Catholics and deported Irish immigrants they believed were paupers. In California the state legislature placed a monthly tax on Mexican and Chinese miners, made unemployment a crime, took from Chinese men the right to testify in court, and finally tried to stop Chinese immigration altogether by taxing shipmasters $50 for each Chinese immigrant they brought.   

    When the Republicans organized in the 1850s, they saw society differently than the Democrats and the Know Nothings. They argued that society was not made up of a struggle over a limited economic pie, but rather that hardworking individuals would create more than they could consume, thus producing capital that would make the economy grow. The more people a nation had, the stronger it would be.

    In 1860 the new party took a stand against the new laws that discriminated against immigrants. Immigrants’ rights should not be “abridged or impaired,” the delegates to its convention declared, adding that they were “in favor of giving a full and efficient protection to the rights of all classes of citizens, whether native or naturalized, both at home and abroad.”

    Republicans’ support for immigration only increased during the Civil War. In contrast to the southern enslavers, they wanted to fill the land with people who supported freedom. As one poorly educated man wrote to his senator, “Protect Emegration and that will protect the Territories to Freedom.”

    Republicans also wanted to bring as many workers to the country as possible to increase economic development. The war created a huge demand for agricultural products to feed the troops. At the same time, a terrible drought in Europe meant there was money to be made exporting grain. But the war was draining men to the battlefields of Stone’s River and Gettysburg and to the growing U.S. Navy, leaving farmers with fewer and fewer hands to work the land.

    By 1864, Republicans were so strongly in favor of immigration that Congress passed “an Act to Encourage Immigration.” The law permitted immigrants to borrow against future homesteads to fund their voyage to the U.S., appropriated money to provide for impoverished immigrants upon their arrival, and, to undercut Democrats’ accusations that they were simply trying to find men to throw into the grinding war, guaranteed that no immigrant could be drafted until he announced his intention of becoming a citizen.

    Support for immigration has waxed and waned repeatedly since then, but as recently as 1989, Republican president Ronald Reagan said: “We lead the world because, unique among nations, we draw our people—our strength—from every country and every corner of the world. And by doing so we continuously renew and enrich our nation…. Thanks to each wave of new arrivals to this land of opportunity, we're a nation forever young, forever bursting with energy and new ideas, and always on the cutting edge, always leading the world to the next frontier. This quality is vital to our future as a nation. If we ever closed the door to new Americans, our leadership in the world would soon be lost.”

    The workers who died in the bridge collapse on Tuesday “were not ‘poisoning the blood of our country,’” Will Bunch wrote, quoting Trump; “they were replenishing it…. They may have been born all over the continent, but when these men plunged into our waters on Tuesday, they died as Americans.”

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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,688
      March 29, 2024 (Friday)

    On Wednesday the nonprofit, nonpartisan Institute for the Study of War published a long essay explaining that Russia’s only strategy for success in Ukraine is to win the disinformation war in which it is engaged. While the piece by Nataliya Bugayova and Frederick W. Kagan, with Katryna Stepanenko, focused on Russia’s war against Ukraine, the point it makes about Russia’s information operation against Western countries applies more widely.

    The authors note that the countries allied behind Ukraine dwarf Russia, with relative gross domestic products of $63 trillion and $1.9 trillion, respectively, while those countries allied with Russia are not mobilizing to help Russian president Vladimir Putin. Russia cannot defeat Ukraine or the West, they write, if the West mobilizes its resources.

    This means that the strategy that matters most for the Kremlin is not the military strategy, but rather the spread of disinformation that causes the West to back away and allow Russia to win. That disinformation operation echoes the Russian practice of getting a population to believe in a false reality so that voters will cast their ballots for the party of oligarchs. In this case, in addition to seeding the idea that Ukraine cannot win and that the Russian invasion was justified, the Kremlin is exploiting divisions already roiling U.S. politics.

    It is, for example, playing on the American opposition to sending our troops to fight “forever” wars, a dislike ingrained in the population since the Vietnam War. But the U.S. is not fighting in Ukraine. Ukrainians are asking only for money and matériel, and their war is not a proxy war—they are fighting for their own reasons—although their victory could well prevent U.S. engagement elsewhere in the future. The Kremlin is also playing on the idea that aid to Ukraine is too expensive as the U.S. faces large budget deficits, but the U.S. contribution to Ukraine’s war effort in 2023 was less than 0.5% of the defense budget.

    Russian propaganda is also changing key Western concepts of war, suggesting, for example, that Ukrainian surrender will bring peace when, in fact, the end of fighting will simply take away Ukrainians’ ability to protect themselves against Russian violence. The authors note that Russia is using Americans’ regard for peace, life, American interests, freedom of debate, and responsible foreign relations against the U.S.

    The authors’ argument parallels that of political observers in the U.S. and elsewhere: Russian actors have amplified the power of a relatively small, aggressive country by leveraging disinformation.

    The European Union will hold parliamentary elections in June, and on Wednesday the Czech government sanctioned a news site called Voice of Europe, saying it was part of a pro-Russian propaganda operation. It also sanctioned the man running the site, Artyom Marchevsky, as well as Putin ally Viktor Medvedchuk, a Ukrainian oligarch, saying Medvedchuk was running a “Russian influence operation” through Voice of Europe.

    The far right has been rising in Europe, and Nicholas Vinocur, Pieter Haeck, and Eddy Wax of Politico noted that “Voice of Europe’s YouTube page throws up a parade of EU lawmakers, many of them belonging to far-right, Euroskeptic parties, who line up to bash the Green Deal, predict the Union’s imminent collapse, or attack Ukraine.”

    Belgian security services were in on the investigation, and on Thursday, Belgian prime minister Alexander De Croo added that Russian operatives had paid European Union lawmakers to parrot Russian propaganda. Intelligence sources told Czech media that Voice of Europe paid politicians from Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, and Poland to influence the upcoming E.U. elections. Germany’s Der Spiegel newspaper said the money was paid in cash or cryptocurrency.

    Czech prime minister Petr Fiala wrote on social media: “We have uncovered a pro-Russian network that was developing an operation to spread Russian influence and undermine security across Europe.” "This shows how great the risk of foreign influence is," Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte told journalists. "It's a threat to our democracy, to our free elections, to our freedom of speech, to everything."

    There are reasons to think the same disinformation process is underway in the United States. Not only do MAGA Republicans, including House speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), parrot Russian talking points about Ukraine, but Russian disinformation has also been a key part of the House Republicans’ attempt to impeach President Joe Biden.

    Republicans spent months touting Alexander Smirnov’s allegation that Biden had accepted foreign bribes, with Representative James Comer (R-KY) and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) calling his evidence “verifiable” and “valuable.” In February the Department of Justice indicted Smirnov for creating a false record, days before revealing that he was in close contact with “Russian intelligence agencies” and was “actively peddling new lies that could impact U.S. elections.”  

    On March 19, former Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas testified about the investigation into Biden’s alleged corruption before the House Oversight Committee at the request of the Democrats. Parnas was part of the attempt to create dirt on Biden before the 2020 election, and he explained how the process worked.  

    “The only information ever pushed about the Bidens and Ukraine has come from Russia and Russian agents,” Parnas said, and was part of “a much larger plan for Russia to crush Ukraine by infiltrating the United States.” Politicians and right-wing media figures, including then-representative Devin Nunes (R-CA), Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), The Hill reporter John Solomon, Fox News Channel personality Sean Hannity, and other FNC hosts, knew the narrative was false, Parnas said, even as they echoed it. He suggested that they were permitting “Russia to use our government for malicious purposes, and to reward selfish people with ill-gotten gains.”

    The attempt to create a false reality—whether by foreign operatives or homegrown ones—seems increasingly obvious in perceptions of the 2024 election. There has been much chatter, for example, about polls showing Trump ahead of Biden. But the 2022 polls were badly skewed rightward by partisan actors, and Democrat Marilyn Lands’s overwhelming victory over her Republican opponent in an Alabama House election this week suggests those errors have not yet been fully addressed.

    Real measures of political enthusiasm appear to favor Biden and the Democrats. On Wednesday, Molly Cook Escobar, Albert Sun, and Shane Goldmacher of the New York Times reported that since leaving office, Trump has spent more than $100 million on legal fees alone. He is badly in need of money, and his reordering of the funding priorities of the Republican National Committee to put himself first means that the party is badly in need of money, too.

    Donors’ awareness that their cash will go to Trump before funding other Republican candidates might well slow fundraising. Certainly, small-donor contributions to Trump have dropped off significantly: Brian Schwartz of CNBC reported last week that “[i]n 2023, Trump’s reelection campaign raised 62.5% less money from small-dollar donors than it did in 2019, the year before the last presidential election.”  

    Billionaires Liz and Dick Uihlein have recently said they will back Trump, and Alexandra Ulmer of Reuters reported on Tuesday that other billionaires had pooled the money to back Trump’s then–$454 million appeal bond before an appeals court reduced it. But Ulmer also noted that there might be a limit to such gifts, as they “could draw scrutiny from election regulators or federal prosecutors if the benefactors were to give Trump amounts exceeding campaign contribution limits. While the payment would not be a direct donation to Trump's campaign, federal laws broadly define political contributions as ‘anything of value’ provided to a campaign.”

    Meanwhile, the fundraising of Biden and the Democrats is breaking records. Last night, in New York City, former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama joined Biden onstage with television personality Stephen Colbert, along with event host Mindy Kaling and musical guests Queen Latifah, Lizzo, and Ben Platt. The 5,000-person event raised an eye-popping amount—more than $25 million—and the campaign noted that, unlike donations to Trump, every dollar raised would go to the campaign.

    In his remarks, Biden said that the grassroots nature of the Democrats’ support showed in the number of people who have contributed so far to his campaign: 1.5 million in all, including 550,000 “brand-new contributors in the last couple of weeks.” Ninety-seven percent of the donations have been less than $200.

    Tonight, Adrienne Watson, the spokesperson for the National Security Council, the president’s primary forum for national security and foreign policy, pointed to Russia’s devastating recent attacks on Ukraine’s energy grid and called again for Speaker Johnson to bring up the bipartisan national security supplemental bill providing aid to Ukraine that the Senate passed in February. She warned: “Ukraine’s need is urgent, and we cannot afford any further delays.”

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    Halifax2TheMaxHalifax2TheMax Posts: 36,576
    How’s that fruit tasting, professor? You, the one who can’t close the door. For fear.
    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.

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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,688
      March 30, 2024 (Saturday)

    On Tuesday morning, on his social media outlet, former president Trump encouraged his supporters to buy a “God Bless The USA” Bible for $59.99. The Bible is my “favorite book,” he said in a promotional video, and said he owns “many.” This Bible includes the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, and the Pledge of Allegiance. It also includes the chorus of country music singer Lee Greenwood’s song “God Bless the USA,” likely because it is a retread of a 2021 Bible Greenwood pushed to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of 9-11.

    That story meant less coverage for the news from last Monday, March 25, in which Trump shared on his social media platform a message comparing him to Jesus Christ, with a reference to Psalm 109, which calls on God to destroy one’s enemies.  

    This jumped out to me because Trump is not the first president to compare himself to Jesus Christ. In 1866, President Andrew Johnson famously did, too. While there is a financial component to Trump’s comparison that was not there for Johnson, the two presidents had similar political reasons for claiming a link to divine power.

    Johnson was born into poverty in North Carolina, then became a tailor in Tennessee, where he rose through politics to the U.S. House of Representatives and then the Senate. In 1861, when Tennessee left the Union, Johnson was the only sitting senator from a Confederate state who remained loyal to the United States. This stand threw him into prominence. In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln named him the military governor of Tennessee.

    Then, in 1864, the Republican Party renamed itself the Union Party to attract northern Democrats to its standard. To help that effort, leaders chose a different vice president, replacing a staunch Republican—Hannibal Hamlin of Maine—with the Democrat Johnson.

    Although he was elected on what was essentially a Republican ticket, Johnson was a Democrat at heart. He loathed the elite southern enslavers he thought had become oligarchs in the years before the Civil War, shutting out poorer men like him from prosperity, but he was a fervent racist who enslaved people himself until 1863. Johnson opposed the new active government the Republicans had built during the war, and he certainly didn’t want it to enforce racial equality. He expected that the end of the war would mean a return to the United States of 1860, minus the system of enslavement that concentrated wealth upward.

    Johnson was badly out of step with the Republicans, but a quirk of timing gave him exclusive control of the reconstruction of the United States from April 15, 1865, when he took the oath of office less than three hours after Lincoln breathed his last, until early December. Congress had adjourned for the summer on March 4, expecting that Lincoln would call the members back together if there were an emergency, as he had in summer 1861. It was not due to reconvene until early December. Members of Congress rushed back to Washington, D.C., after Lincoln’s assassination, but Johnson insisted on acting alone.

    Over the course of summer 1865, Johnson set out to resuscitate the prewar system dominated by the Democratic Party, with himself at its head. He pardoned all but about 1,500 former Confederates, either by proclamation or by presidential pardon, putting them back into power in southern society. He did not object when southern state legislatures developed a series of state laws, called Black Codes, remanding Black Americans into subservience.

    When Congress returned to work on December 4, 1865, Johnson greeted the members with the happy news that he had “restored” the Union. Leaving soldiers in the South would have cost tax money, he said, and would have “envenomed hatred” among southerners. His exclusion of Black southerners from his calculus, although they were the most firmly loyal population in the South, showed how determined he was to restore prewar white supremacy, made possible by keeping power in the states. All Republican congressmen had to do, he said, was to swear in the southern senators and representatives now back in Washington, D.C., and the country would be “restored.”

    Republicans wanted no part of his “restoration.” Not only did it return to power the same men who had been shooting at Republicans’ constituents eight months before and push northerners’ Black fellow soldiers to a form of quasi-enslavement, but also the 1870 census would count Black Americans as whole people rather than three fifths of a person, giving former Confederates more national political power after the war than they had had before it. Victory on the battlefields would be overturned by control of Congress.

    Congressional Republicans rejected Johnson’s plan for reconstruction. Instead, they passed the Fourteenth Amendment  in June 1866 and required the former Confederate states to ratify it before they could be readmitted to the United States. The Fourteenth Amendment put the strength of the national government behind the idea that Black Americans would be considered citizens—as the Supreme Court’s 1857 Dred Scott decision had denied. Then it declared that states could neither discriminate against citizens nor take away a citizen’s rights without due process of the law. To make sure that the 1870 census would not increase the power of former Confederates, it declared that if any state kept men over 21 from voting, its representation in Congress would be reduced proportionally.

    Johnson hated the Fourteenth Amendment. He hated its broad definition of citizenship; he hated its move toward racial equality; he hated its undermining of the southern leaders he backed; he hated its assertion of national power; he hated that it offered a moderate route to reunification that most Americans would support. If states ratified it, he wouldn’t be able to rebuild the Democratic Party with himself at its head.

    So he told southern politicians to ignore Congress’s order to ratify the Fourteenth Amendment, calling Congress an illegal body because it had not seated representatives from the southern states. He promised white southerners that the Democrats would win the 1866 midterm elections. Once back in power, he said, Democrats would repudiate the Republicans’ “radicalism” and put his plan back into place.

    As he asserted his vision for the country, Johnson egged on white supremacist violence. In July, white mobs attacked a Unionist convention in New Orleans where delegates had called for taking the vote away from ex-Confederates and giving it to loyal Black men. The rioters killed 37 Black people and 3 white delegates to the convention.

    By then, Johnson had become as unpopular as his policies. Increasingly isolated, he defended his plan for the nation as the only true course. In late August he broke tradition to campaign in person, an act at the time considered beneath the dignity of a president. He set off on a railroad tour, known as the “Swing Around the Circle,” to whip up support for the Democrats before the election.

    Speaking from the same set of notes as the train stopped at different towns and cities from Washington, D.C., to New York, to Chicago, to St. Louis, and back to Washington, D.C., Johnson complained bitterly about the opposition to his reconstruction policies, attacked specific members of Congress as traitors and called for them to be hanged, and described himself as a martyr like Lincoln. And, noting the mercy of his reconstruction policies, he compared himself to Jesus.  

    It was all too much for voters. The white supremacist violence across the South horrified them, returning power to southern whites infuriated them, the reduction of Black soldiers to quasi-slaves enraged them, and Johnson’s attacks on Congress alarmed them. Johnson seemed determined to hand the country over to its former enemies to recreate the antebellum world that northerners had just poured more than 350,000 lives and $5 billion into destroying, no matter what voters wanted.

    Johnson’s extremism and his supporters’ violence created a backlash. Northerners were not willing to hand the country back to the Democrats who were rioting in the South and to a president who compared himself to Jesus. Rather than turning against the Republicans in the 1866 elections, voters repudiated Johnson. They gave Republicans a two-thirds majority of Congress, enabling them to override any policy Johnson proposed.

    And, in 1868, the states ratified the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, launching a new era in the history of the United States.

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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,688
        March 31, 2024 (Sunday)

    On Wednesday, President Joe Biden issued an executive order instructing the National Park Service to “highlight important figures and chapters in women’s history.” “Women and girls of all backgrounds have shaped our country’s history, from the ongoing fight for justice and equality to cutting-edge scientific advancements and artistic achievements,” the announcement read. “Yet these contributions have often been overlooked. We must do more to recognize the role of women and girls in America’s story, including through the Federal Government’s recognition and interpretation of historic and cultural sites.”

    In a time when American women are seeing their rights stripped away, it seems worthwhile on this last day of Women’s History Month to highlight the work of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who challenged the laws that barred women from jobs and denied them rights, eventually setting the country on a path to extend equal justice under law to women and LGBTQ Americans.

    Ginsburg was born in Brooklyn, New York, on March 15, 1933, in an era when laws, as well as the customs they protected, treated women differently than men. Joan Ruth Bader, who went by her middle name, was the second daughter in a middle-class Jewish family. She went to public schools, where she excelled, and won a full scholarship to Cornell. There she met Martin Ginsburg, and they married after she graduated. “What made Marty so overwhelmingly attractive to me was that he cared that I had a brain,” she later explained. Relocating to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, for her husband’s army service, Ginsburg scored high on the civil service exam but could find work only as a typist. When she got pregnant with their daughter, Jane, she lost her job.

    Two years later, the couple moved back east, where Marty had been admitted to Harvard Law School. Ginsburg was admitted the next year, one of 9 women in her class of more than 500 students; a dean asked her why she was “taking the place of a man.” She excelled, becoming the first woman on the prestigious Harvard Law Review. When her husband underwent surgery and radiation treatments for testicular cancer, she cared for him and their daughter while managing her studies and helping Marty with his. She rarely slept.

    After he graduated, Martin Ginsburg got a job in New York, and Ginsburg transferred to Columbia Law School, where she graduated at the top of her class. But in 1959, law firms weren’t hiring women, and judges didn’t want them as clerks either—especially mothers, who might be distracted by their “familial obligations.” Finally, her mentor, law professor Gerald Gunther, got her a clerkship by threatening Judge Edmund Palmieri that if he did not take her, Gunther would never send him a clerk again.

    After her clerkship and two years in Sweden, where laws about gender equality were far more advanced than in America, Ginsburg became one of America’s first female law professors. She worked first at Rutgers University—where she hid her pregnancy with her second child, James, until her contract was renewed—and then at Columbia Law School, where she was the first woman the school tenured.

    At Rutgers she began her bid to level the legal playing field between men and women, extending equal protection under the law to include gender. Knowing she had to appeal to male judges, she often picked male plaintiffs to establish the principle of gender equality.

    In 1971 she wrote the brief for Sally Reed in the case of Reed vs. Reed, when the Supreme Court decided that an Idaho law specifying that “males must be preferred to females” in appointing administrators of estates was unconstitutional. Chief Justice Warren Burger, who had been appointed by Richard Nixon, wrote: “To give a mandatory preference to members of either sex over members of the other…is to make the very kind of arbitrary legislative choice forbidden by the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment” to the Constitution.

    In 1972, Ginsburg won the case of Moritz v. Commissioner. She argued that a law preventing a bachelor, Charles Moritz, from claiming a tax deduction for the care of his aged mother because the deduction could be claimed only by women, or by widowed or divorced men, was discriminatory. The United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit agreed, citing Reed v. Reed when it decided that discrimination on the basis of sex violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution.

    In that same year, Ginsburg founded the Women’s Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Between 1973 and 1976, she argued six gender discrimination cases before the Supreme Court. She won five. The first time she appeared before the court, she quoted nineteenth-century abolitionist and women’s rights activist Sarah Grimké: “I ask no favor for my sex. All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks.”

    Nominated to the Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton in 1993, she was confirmed by a vote of 96 to 3. Clinton called her “the Thurgood Marshall of gender-equality law.”

    In her 27 years on the Supreme Court, Ginsburg championed equal rights both from the majority and in dissent (which she would mark by wearing a sequined collar), including her angry dissent in 2006 in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber when the plaintiff, Lilly Ledbetter, was denied decades of missing wages because the statute of limitations had already passed when she discovered she had been paid far less than the men with whom she worked. “The court does not comprehend or is indifferent to the insidious way in which women can be victims of pay discrimination,” Ginsburg wrote. Congress went on to change the law, and the first bill President Barack Obama signed was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

    In 2013, Ginsburg famously dissented from the majority in Shelby County v. Holder, the case that gutted the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The majority decided to remove the provision of the law that required states with histories of voter suppression to get federal approval before changing election laws, arguing that such preclearance was no longer necessary. Ginsburg wrote: “Throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.” As she predicted, after the decision, many states immediately began to restrict voting.

    Ginsburg’s dissent made her a cultural icon. Admirers called her “The Notorious R.B.G.” after the rapper The Notorious B.I.G., wore clothing with her image on it, dressed as her for Halloween, and bought RBG dolls and coloring books. In 2018 the hit documentary "RBG" told the story of her life, and as she aged, she became a fitness influencer for her relentless strength-training regimen. She was also known for her plain speaking. When asked when there would be enough women on the Supreme Court, for example, she answered: “[W]hen there are nine.”

    Ginsburg’s death on September 18, 2020, brought widespread mourning among those who saw her as a champion for equal rights for women, LGBTQ Americans, minorities, and those who believe the role of the government is to make sure that all Americans enjoy equal justice under law. Upon her passing, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton tweeted: “Justice Ginsburg paved the way for so many women, including me. There will never be another like her. Thank you RBG.”

    Just eight days after Ginsburg’s death, then-president Donald Trump nominated extremist Amy Coney Barrett to take her seat on the court, and then–Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) rushed her confirmation hearings so the Senate could confirm her before the 2020 presidential election. It did so on October 26, 2020. Barrett was a key vote on the June 2022 Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, the Supreme Court ruling that overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision recognizing the constitutional right to abortion.

    Ginsburg often quoted Justice Louis Brandeis’s famous line, “The greatest menace to freedom is an inert people,” and she advised people to “fight for the things you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”

    Setting an example for how to advance the principle of equality, she told the directors of the documentary “RBG” that she wanted to be remembered “[j]ust as someone who did whatever she could, with whatever limited talent she had, to move society along in the direction I would like it to be for my children and grandchildren.”

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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,688
       April 1, 2024 (Monday)

    On Tuesday, March 26, Judge Juan Merchan, who is presiding over Trump’s election interference case, put Trump under a gag order to stop his attacks on court staff, prosecutors, jurors, and witnesses. On Wednesday, Trump renewed his attacks on the judge and the judge’s daughter. On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton took the unusual step of talking publicly about what threats of violence meant to the rule of law. Walton, who was appointed to the federal bench by President George W. Bush, told Kaitlan Collins of CNN that threats, especially threats to a judge’s family, undermine the ability of judges to carry out their duties.

    “I think it’s important in order to preserve our democracy that we maintain the rule of law,” Walton said. “And the rule of law can only be maintained if we have independent judicial officers who are able to do their job and ensure that the laws are, in fact, enforced and that the laws are applied equally to everybody who appears in our courthouse.”

    On Friday, former president Trump shared on social media a video of a truck with a decal showing President Joe Biden tied up and seemingly in the bed of the truck, in a position suggesting he was being kidnapped.

    A threat of violence has always been part of Trump’s political performance. In 2016 he urged rallygoers to “knock the crap out of” protesters, and they did. They also turned on people who weren’t protesters. Political scientists Ayal Feinberg, Regina Branton, and Valerie Martinez-Ebers studied the effects of Trump’s 2016 campaign rhetoric against marginalized Americans and found that counties where Trump held rallies had a significant increase in hate incidents in the month after that rally.

    Trump’s stoking of violence became an embrace when he declared there were “very fine people, on both sides,” after protesters stood up against racists, antisemites, white nationalists, Ku Klux Klan members, neo-Nazis, and other alt-right groups met in August 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia, where they shouted Nazi slogans and left 19 people injured and one protester, Heather Heyer, dead.

    In October 2020, Trump refused to denounce the far-right Proud Boys organization, instead telling its members to “stand back and stand by.” The Proud Boys turned out for the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, where they helped to lead those rioters fired up by Trump’s speech at The Ellipse, where he told them: “You'll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong. We have come to demand that Congress do the right thing…. And we fight. We fight like hell. And if you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore.”

    Trump’s appeals to violence have gotten even more overt since the events of January 6.

    And yet, on Meet the Press yesterday, Kristen Welker seemed to suggest that there is a general problem in U.S. politics when she described Trump’s attacks on Judge Merchan as “a reminder that we are covering this election against the backdrop of a deeply divided nation.”  

    But are the American people deeply divided? Or have Trump and his MAGA supporters driven the Republican Party off the rails?

    One of the major issues of the 2024 election—perhaps THE major issue—is reproductive rights. But Americans are not really divided on that issue: on Friday, a new Axios-Ipsos poll found that 81% of Americans agree that “abortion issues should be managed between a woman and her doctor, not the government.” That number includes 65% of Republicans, as well as 82% of Independents and 97% of Democrats. The idea that abortion should be between a woman and her doctor was the language of the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, overturned in 2022 with the help of the three extremist justices appointed by Trump.

    Last week, the Congressional Management Foundation, which works with Congress to make it more efficient and accountable, released its study of the state of Congress in 2024. It found that senior congressional staffers overwhelmingly think that Congress is not functioning “as a democratic legislature should.” Eighty percent of them think it is not “an effective forum for debate on questions of public concern.”

    But there is a significant difference in the parties’ perception of what’s wrong. While 61% of Republican staffers are satisfied that Congress members and staff feel safe doing their jobs, only 21% of Democratic staffers agree, and Democratic staffers are significantly more likely to fear for their and others’ safety. Women and longer-tenured staffers are more likely to be questioning whether to stay in Congress due to safety concerns. Eighty-four percent of Democratic staffers think that agreed-upon rules and codes of conduct for senators and representatives are not sufficient to “hold them accountable for their words and deeds,” while only 44% of Republicans say the same.

    Republicans themselves seem split about the direction of their party. Republican staffers were far more likely than Democrats to be “questioning whether I should stay in Congress due to heated rhetoric from my party”: 59% to 16%. “The way the House is ‘functioning,’ is frustrating many members,” wrote one House Republican deputy chief of staff. “We have to placate [certain] members and in my nearly ten years of working here I have never felt more like we’re on the wrong track.”

    One Republican Senate communications director blamed extremist political rhetoric for the dysfunction. “[W]ith the nation being in a self-sort mode, it is easy to never hear a dissenting opinion in many areas of the country. People in DC, who work in the Capitol, generally have a collegiate approach to each other. The American people don’t get to see that—at all. From the outside it appears to be a Royal Rumble and bloodsport. It’s reflected in the [way] people, regular citizens, now view one another.”

    A Republican House staff director wrote that Congress is “a representative body and a reflection of the people writ large. When they demand something different of their leaders, their leaders will respond (or they will elect different leaders).”

    Burgess Everett and Olivia Beavers of Politico reported yesterday that nearly 20 Republican lawmakers and aides have told them they would like Trump to calm down his rhetoric. They appear to think such violent commentary is unpopular and that it will hurt those running in downballot races if they have to answer for it.

    It seems unlikely Trump will willingly temper his comments, since threatening violence seems to be all he has left to combat the legal cases bearing down on him. Over the course of Easter morning, he posted more than 70 times on social media, attacking his opponents and declaring himself to be “The Chosen One.”

    Tonight, Trump posted a $175 million appeals bond in the New York civil fraud case. He was unable to secure a bond for the full amount of the judgment, but an appeals court lowered the amount. Posting the bond will let him appeal the judge’s decision. If he wins on appeal, he will avoid paying the judgment. If he loses, the bond is designed to guarantee that Trump will pay the entire amount the judge determined he owes to the people of New York: more than $454 million.

    Trump and his campaign are short of cash, and there were glimmers last week that the public launch of his media network would produce significant money if he could only hold off judgments until he could sell the stock—six months, according to the current agreement—or use his shares as collateral for a bond. The company’s public launch raised the stock price by billions of dollars.

    But this morning the company released its 2023 financial information, showing revenues of $4.1 million last year and a net loss of $58.2 million. The stock plunged about 20%, wiping out about $1 billion of the money that Trump had, on paper anyway, made. The company said it has not made any changes to the provision prohibiting early sales or using shares as collateral.

    Tonight, Judge Merchan expanded the previous gag order on Trump to stop attacks on the judge’s family members. Trump has a right “to speak to the American voters freely and to defend himself publicly,” but “[i]t is no longer just a mere possibility or a reasonable likelihood that there exists a threat to the integrity of the judicial proceedings,” Merchan wrote. “The threat is very real.”

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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,688
      April 2, 2024 (Tuesday)

    Almost six months have passed since President Joe Biden asked Congress to appropriate money for Ukraine in a national security supplemental bill. At first, House Republicans said they would not pass such a bill without border security. Then, when a bipartisan group of senators actually produced a border security provision for the national security bill, they killed it, under orders from former president Trump.

    In February the Senate passed the national security supplemental bill with aid for Ukraine without the border measures by a strong bipartisan vote of 70 to 29. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) cheered its passage, saying: “The national security bill passed by the Senate is of profound importance to America’s security.”

    The measure would pass in the House by a bipartisan vote, but House speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) has refused to take it up, acting in concert with Trump.

    On March 24, on Washington Week, foreign affairs journalist Anne Applebaum said: “Trump has decided that he doesn’t want money to go to Ukraine… It's really an extraordinary moment; we have an out-of-power ex-president who is in effect dictating American foreign policy on behalf of a foreign dictator or with the interests of a foreign dictator in mind.”

    On Thursday, March 28, Beth Reinhard, Jon Swaine, and Aaron Schaffer of the Washington Post reported that Richard Grenell, an extremist who served as Trump’s acting director of national intelligence, has been traveling around the world to meet with far-right foreign leaders, “acting as a kind of shadow secretary of state, meeting with far-right leaders and movements, pledging Trump’s support and, at times, working against the current administration’s policies.”

    Grenell, the authors say, is openly laying the groundwork for a president who will make common cause with authoritarian leaders and destroy partnerships with democratic allies. Trump has referred to Grenell as “my envoy,” and the Trump camp has suggested he is a frontrunner to become secretary of state if Trump is reelected in 2024.

    Applebaum was right: it is extraordinary that we have a former president who is now out of power running his own foreign policy.

    For most of U.S. history, there was an understanding that factionalism stopped at the water’s edge. Partisans might fight tooth and nail within the U.S., but they presented a united front to the rest of the world. That understanding was strong enough that it was not for nearly a half century that we had definitive proof that in 1968 Republican presidential candidate Richard Nixon had launched a secret effort to thwart incumbent president Lyndon Baines Johnson’s peace initiative to end the Vietnam War; Nixon had tried very hard to hide it.

    But the era of hiding attempts to undermine foreign policy ended in 2015, when 47 Republican senators openly warned Iranian officials that they would destroy any agreement Iran made with then-president Barack Obama, a Democrat, over nuclear weapons as soon as a Republican regained the White House. At the time it sparked a firestorm, although the senators involved could argue that they, too, should be considered the voice of the government.

    It was apparently a short step from the idea that it was acceptable to undermine foreign policy decisions made by a Democratic president to the idea that it was acceptable to work with foreign operatives to change foreign policy. In late 2016, Trump’s then national security advisor Michael Flynn talked to Russian foreign minister Sergey Kislyak about relieving Russia of U.S. sanctions. Now, eight years later, Trump is conducting his own foreign policy, and it runs dead against what the administration, the Pentagon, and a majority of senators and representatives think is best for the nation.  

    Likely expecting help from foreign countries, Trump is weakening the nation internationally to gain power at home. In that, he is retracing the steps of George Logan, who in 1798 as a private citizen set off for France to urge French officials to court popular American opinion in order to help throw George Washington’s party out of power and put Thomas Jefferson’s party in.

    Congress recognized that inviting foreign countries to interfere on behalf of one candidate or another would turn the United States into a vassal state, and when Logan arrived back on U.S. shores, he discovered that Congress had passed a 1799 law we now know as the Logan Act, making his actions a crime.

    The law reads: “Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.”

    Trump’s interference in our foreign policy is weakening Ukraine, which desperately needs equipment to fight off Russia’s invasion. It is also warning partners and allies that they cannot rely on the United States, thus serving Russian president Vladimir Putin’s goal of fracturing the alliance standing against Russian aggression.  

    Today, Lara Seligman, Stuart Lau, and Paul McLeary of Politico reported that officials at the meeting of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) foreign ministers in Brussels on Thursday are expected to discuss moving the Ukraine Defense Contact Group from U.S. to NATO control. The Ukraine Defense Contact Group is an organization of 56 nations brought together in the early days of the conflict by U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and then–Joint Chiefs chair General Mark Milley to coordinate supplying Ukraine.

    Members are concerned about maintaining aid to Ukraine in case of a second Trump presidency.

    Jim Townsend, a former Pentagon and NATO official, told the Politico reporters: “There’s a feeling among, not the whole group but a part of the NATO group, that thinks it is better to institutionalize the process just in case of a Trump re-election. And that’s something that the U.S. is going to have to get used to hearing, because that is a fear, and a legitimate one.”

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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,688
       April 3, 2024 (Wednesday)

    The election of 2000 was back in the news this week, when Nate Cohn of the New York Times reminded readers of his newsletter, using a map by data strategist and consultant Matthew C. Isbell, that the unusual butterfly ballot design in Palm Beach County that year siphoned off at least 2,000 votes intended for Democratic candidate Al Gore to far-right candidate Pat Buchanan.

    Those 2,000 votes were enough to decide the election, “all things being equal,” Cohn wrote. But of course, they weren’t equal: in 1998 a purge of the Florida voter rolls had disproportionately disenfranchised Black voters, making them ten times more likely than white voters to have their ballots rejected.

    That ballot and that purge gave Republican candidate George W. Bush the electoral votes from Florida, putting him into the White House although he had lost the popular vote by more than half a million votes.

    Revisiting the 2000 election reminds us that manipulating the vote through voter suppression or the mechanics of an election in even small ways can undermine the will of the people.  

    A poll out today from the Associated Press/NORC showed that the vast majority of Americans agree about the importance of the fundamental principles of our democracy. Ninety-eight percent of Americans think the right to vote is extremely important, very important, or somewhat important. Only 2% think it is “not too important.” The split was similar with regard to “the right of everyone to equal protection under the law”: 98% of those polled thought it was extremely, very, or somewhat important, while only 2% thought it was not too important.

    Recent election results suggest that voters don’t support the extremism of the current Republican Party. In local elections in the St. Louis, Missouri, area on Tuesday, voters rejected all 13 right-wing candidates for school boards, and in Enid, Oklahoma, voters recalled a city council member who participated in the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and had ties to white supremacist groups.

    Seemingly aware of the growing backlash to their policies, MAGA Republicans are backing away from them, at least in public. Earlier this year, Florida governor Ron DeSantis called for making it harder to ban books after a few activists systematically challenged dozens of books in districts where they had no children in the schools—although he blamed teachers, administrators, and “the news media” for creating a “hoax.”

    Today, lawyers for the state of Texas told a federal appeals court that state legislators might have gone “too far” with their immigration law that made it a state crime to enter Texas illegally and allowed state judges to order immigrants to be deported. (Mexico had flatly refused to accept deported immigrants from other countries under this new law.) Nonetheless, Arizona legislators have passed a similar bill—that Democratic governor Katie Hobbs refuses to sign into law—and are considering another measure that would allow landowners to threaten or shoot people who cross their property to get into the U.S.

    Indeed, the extremists who have taken over the Republican Party seem less inclined to moderate their stances than either to pollute popular opinion or to prevent their opponents from voting.

    While Trump is hedging about his stance on abortion—after bragging repeatedly that he was the person responsible for overturning Roe v. Wade—MAGA Republicans have made their unpopular abortion stance even stronger.

    Emily Cochrane of the New York Times reported today that the hospital at the center of the decision by the Alabama state supreme court that embryos used for in vitro fertilization have the same rights and protections as children has ended its IVF services. And on Monday, Florida’s supreme court, which Florida governor Ron DeSantis packed with extremists, upheld a ban on abortion after 15 weeks and allowed a new six-week abortion ban—before most women know they’re pregnant—to go into effect in 30 days.

    In the past, people seeking abortions had gravitated to Florida because its constitution upheld the right to privacy, which protected abortion. But now the Florida Supreme Court has decided the constitution does not protect the right to abortion. Caroline Kitchener explained in the Washington Post that in the past, more than 80,000 women a year accessed abortion services in Florida. This ban will make it nearly impossible to get an abortion in the American South.

    Anya Cook, who in 2022 nearly died after she was denied an abortion under Florida’s 15-week ban, gave Kitchener a message for Florida women experiencing pregnancy complications: “Run,” she said. “Run, because you have no help here.”

    Extremist Republicans have managed to put their policies into place not by winning a majority and passing laws through Congress, but by creating cases that they then take to sympathetic judges. This system, known as “judge shopping,” has so perverted lawmaking that on March 12 the Judicial Conference, the body that makes policy for federal courts, announced a new rule that any lawsuit seeking to overturn statewide or national policies would be randomly assigned among a larger pool of judges.

    On March 29, the chief judge of the Northern District of Texas, where many such cases are filed, told Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) that he would not adhere to the new rules.

    Rather than moderating their stances, extremist Republicans are doubling down on their attempt to create dirt on the president. With their impeachment effort against President Joe Biden in embarrassing ruins, House Republicans are casting around for another issue to hurt the Democrats before the 2024 election.

    Jennifer Haberkorn of Politico reported today that in the last month, House Republican Committee chairs have sent almost 50 oversight requests to a variety of departments and agencies. Haberkorn noted that there is “significant political pressure on the party to produce results after months of promising it would uncover evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors involving Biden.”

    But it is Trump, not Biden, who is in the news for questionable behavior. In The Guardian today, Hugo Lowell reported that Trump’s social media company was kept afloat in 2022 “by emergency loans provided in part by a Russian-American businessman under scrutiny in a federal insider-trading and money-laundering investigation.”

    There is more trouble for the social media company in the news today, as two of its investors pleaded guilty to being part of an insider-trading scheme involving the company’s stock. They admitted they had secret, inside information about the merger between Trump Media and Digital World Acquisition Corporation and had used that insider information to make profitable trades.

    Meanwhile, Trump is suing Truth Social’s founders to force them out of leadership and make them give up their shares in the company. His is a countersuit to their lawsuit accusing him of trying to dilute the company’s stock.

    Of more immediate concern for Trump, Judge Juan Merchan denied yet another attempt by Trump—his eighth, according to prosecutors—to delay his election interference trial. The trial is scheduled to begin April 15.

    Finally, in an illustration of extremists aiming not to moderate their stances but to impose the will of the minority on the majority, Republicans are putting in place rules to make it easier for individuals to challenge voters, removing them from the voter rolls before the 2024 election.

    Marc Elias of Democracy Docket noted today that states and local governments have regular programs to keep voter registration accurate, while right-wing activists are operating on a different agenda. In one 70,000-person town in Michigan, a single activist challenged more than a thousand voters, Elias reported, and in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, right-wing activists have already challenged 16,000 voters and intend to challenge another 10,000.

    One group boasted that their system “can and will change elections in America forever.”

    Rather like the election of 2000.

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       April 4, 2024 (Thursday)

    Seventy-five years ago today, on April 4, 1949, representatives from twelve countries in Europe and North America—Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom and the United States—signed the North Atlantic Treaty, creating the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO. This defensive security alliance has been a key institution for world stability since World War II.

    In the wake of that war, the U.S. and its allies recognized the crucial importance of peacetime alliances to deter future wars. To stop the spread of communism across war-torn Europe, the United States backed a massive financial investment into rebuilding Europe. President Harry S. Truman signed the European Recovery Program, better known as the Marshall Plan, into law on April 3, 1948.

    Quickly, though, it appeared that economic recovery would not be enough to protect a democratic Europe. The expansion of Soviet-style communism prompted officials to consider a pact that would enlist the United States to stand behind the security of Western Europe. Crucially, though, they wanted it to stand outside the United Nations, where the Soviet Union could exercise veto power. The outcome was the NATO alliance.

    NATO guaranteed collective security because all of the member states agreed to defend each other against an attack by a third party. Article 5 of the treaty requires every nation to come to the aid of any one of them if it is attacked. 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.

    Over the years, the alliance has expanded to include 32 countries. In 1999, Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, all former satellites of the USSR, joined NATO over the protests of Russia, which was falling under the control of oligarchs who opposed western democracy. More countries near Russia joined NATO in the 2000s, and Finland and Sweden have joined in the past year—Finland a year ago today, in fact.  

    When NATO formed, the main concern of the countries backing it 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.

    In 1949, when he signed the treaty, President Truman called the pact a positive influence for peace. That peace was, first of all, among the nations signing the agreement. They were, he said, agreeing “to abide by the peaceful principles of the United Nations, to maintain friendly relations and economic cooperation with one another, to consult together whenever the territory or independence of any of them is threatened, and to come to the aid of any one of them who may be attacked.” If such an agreement had been in place “in 1914 and in 1939, supported by the nations who are represented here today,” he said, “I believe it would have prevented the acts of aggression which led to two world wars.”

    With NATO, Truman said, “we hope to create a shield against aggression and the fear of aggression—a bulwark which will permit us to get on with the real business of government and society, the business of achieving a fuller and happier life for all our citizens.”

    NATO countries agreed to stand together to withstand aggression from outside the pact. Truman emphasized the difference between the NATO countries and the authoritarian system against which the alliance stood. The NATO countries could stand together without being identical. “There are different kinds of governmental and economic systems, just as there are different languages and different cultures. But these differences present no real obstacle to the voluntary association of free nations devoted to the common cause of peace,” he said. “[I]t is possible for nations to achieve unity on the great principles of human freedom and justice, and at the same time to permit, in other respects, the greatest diversity of which the human mind is capable.”

    The experience of the United States “in creating one nation out of…the peoples of many lands” proved that this idea could work, Truman said. “This method of organizing diverse peoples and cultures is in direct contrast to the method of the police state, which attempts to achieve unity by imposing the same beliefs and the same rule of force on everyone.”

    The NATO countries did not believe that war was inevitable, Truman said. “Men with courage and vision can still determine their own destiny. They can choose slavery or freedom—war or peace. I have no doubt which they will choose. The treaty we are signing here today is evidence of the path they will follow. If there is anything certain today, if there is anything inevitable in the future, it is the will of the people of the world for freedom and for peace.”

    For many decades, the stability of NATO made it seem secure. When he was in office, though, former president Trump told aides he didn’t care about NATO, and he has vowed to take the U.S. out of the organization in a second term.

    Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, is also pressuring NATO. According to the Institute for the Study of War, on March 31, Russian prosecutor general Igor Krasnov said that Russia would continue to assert what it says is its right to enforce Russian laws “on officials of NATO and post-Soviet states for their actions taken within the territory of their own countries where Russian courts have no jurisdiction.” This effort contradicts international law, but the ISW assesses that the Kremlin is trying to deny the sovereignty of those states and that its attempts to enforce Russian laws on their territory “are part of Russian efforts to set informational conditions justifying possible Russian escalations against NATO states in the future.”

    Today, President Joe Biden celebrated the success of NATO’s seventy-five years of history and noted that it is up to the current generation of Americans to protect the pact and to build on it. “We must remember that the sacred commitment we make to our Allies—to defend every inch of NATO territory—makes us safer too, and gives the United States a bulwark of security unrivaled by any other nation in the world. And like our predecessors, we must ask ourselves what can we do—what must we do—to create a more peaceful future.”

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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,688
       April 5, 2024 (Friday)

    Today offered yet more evidence that Biden’s rejection of the Republicans’ supply-side economics in favor of investing in ordinary Americans is paying off with high growth, low unemployment, and strong wages.

    Today’s jobs report from the U.S. Department of Labor for the month of March showed higher job growth than analysts anticipated. Instead of the 214,000 jobs expected, the U.S. added 303,000. The government also revised its estimate of job growth in January and February upward by a combined number of 22,000. President Joe Biden noted that this report meant that the administration had created more than 15 million jobs since he took office.

    The unemployment rate was also good, dropping slightly to 3.8% in March. According to economist Steven Rattner of Morning Joe, the United States has now had 26 consecutive months—more than two years—of unemployment under 4%, the longest stretch of unemployment that low since the late 1960s.

    Rattner pointed out that immigrants have helped to push U.S. growth since the pandemic by adding millions of new workers to the labor market. As native-born workers have aged into retirement, immigrants have taken their places and “been essential to America’s post-COVID labor market recovery.”

    Heather Long of the Washington Post added that wage growth has been 4.1% in the past year, which is well above the 3.2% inflation rate.

    “My plan is growing the economy from the middle out and the bottom up, investing in all Americans, and giving the middle class a fair shot,” Biden said in response to the new jobs report. That system, which resurrects the economy the United States enjoyed between 1933 and 1981, has been a roaring success.

    Biden was in Baltimore, Maryland, today, where he flew over the remains of the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge, spoke with the response teams there, and met with the families of those who died when the bridge fell. Apparently trying to demonstrate that government can be both efficient and effective, the administration has emphasized speed and competence in its response to the bridge collapse of March 26, 2024.

    Kayla Tausche of CNN reported today that the U.S. Coast Guard was onsite within minutes of the collapse, and that Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg was working the phone as soon as he heard. He had spoken with Maryland governor Wes Moore, Baltimore mayor Brandon Scott, and White House chief of staff Jeff Zients by 5:00 a.m. Biden was briefed early that morning, before he began to reach out to state and local leaders.

    Baltimore County executive Johnny Olszewski told Tausche: “[Biden] demonstrated a clear understanding of the importance of the port, had a real empathy for myself and all the individuals impacted…. And he was unequivocal that he was going to do whatever he can, legally and within his power to expedite a response.”

    The collapse of the bridge not only affected traffic around Baltimore, but also shut the Port of Baltimore. For 13 years, that port has led the nation in carrying cars and light trucks, as well as tractors and cranes, handling more than 847,000 vehicles in 2023. In that same year, the port handled more than 444,000 passengers and $80 billion worth of foreign cargo. The damage to the port is of national significance.

    Less than four hours after it received an official request for funding for repairs on March 29, the Department of Transportation authorized funds to begin to address immediate needs, which officials say is a record. The Army Corps of Engineers says it expects to restore a narrow navigation channel for use by the end of April and to have the port reopened fully by the end of May. Until then, the federal government is improving the infrastructure at nearby Sparrows Point to enable it to handle more ships.

    But the Republican Party remains committed to the idea that the government must be kept small and that private enterprise must be privileged over public investments. Today, the far-right House Freedom Caucus announced that it would not consider funding the bridge repairs until foreign shipping companies had paid in all they owe (Biden has called for funding the bridge immediately rather than waiting for insurance funds, which will come much later).  

    They also say that they want the repairs to come out of money Congress has appropriated for other initiatives they dislike, that any new funds must be fully offset by other cuts, and that “burdensome regulations” such as labor agreements must be waived “to avoid all unnecessary delays and costs.”

    They are also demanding that Biden reverse the administration’s “pause on approvals of liquified natural gas export terminals” before Congress will consider any funding for the bridge reconstruction. In January, under pressure from climate activists, Biden paused the construction of such terminals. Liquid natural gas is a valuable export, but it is also made up primarily of methane, a greenhouse gas significantly worse for the planet than carbon dioxide. Oil and gas interests are strongly in favor of developing the liquid natural gas industry while ignoring its effects on climate change.

    One of the proposed plants affected by the pause would have been the largest in the U.S. It is planned for Louisiana, the home state of House speaker Mike Johnson. Johnson has already tried to tie funding for Ukraine to lifting the pause on liquid natural gas export terminals, and the White House refused. Now, apparently, extremist Republicans are trying the same gambit with repairs to the Francis Scott Key Bridge and access to one of the nation’s most important ports, although slowing repairs at that key juncture will directly affect many of their constituents.  

    Indeed, despite the solid demonstration that government support for ordinary Americans is the best way to build the economy, Republicans continue to maintain that the way to promote economic growth is to concentrate money among a few men at the top of the economic ladder. The idea is that those few people will invest their money more efficiently than the government can, and that the businesses they create will employ more and more workers. To that end, Republicans since 1981 have focused on tax cuts and deregulation in order to give those they see as job creators a free hand.

    That system, so-called “supply-side economics,” has never actually worked, but it has become an article of faith for Republicans. It is a system that is popular with the very wealthy, and Biden called that out today in a video he recorded with Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

    In the video, the two men comment on a video clip in which former president Trump, speaking at a private event, promises wealthy donors another tax cut. Biden says: “That’s everything you need to know about Donald Trump. When he thinks the cameras aren’t on, he tells his rich friends, ‘We’re gonna give you tax cuts.’”

    Sanders chimes in: “Can anybody in America imagine that at a time of massive income and wealth inequality—billionaires are doing phenomenally well—that he’s going to give them huge tax breaks? And then at the same time, he’s going to cut Social Security, Medicare, and programs that our kids need….”

    “That makes me mad as hell, quite frankly,” Biden says. “There are 1,000 billionaires in…this country. They pay an average of 8.2% [in] federal taxes. So…we have a plan: Asking his good buddies to begin to pay their fair share.”

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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,688
      April 6, 2024 (Saturday)

    Took the day off and am taking the night off, too.  

    Still traveling around the U.S.; still seeing something amazing just about everywhere we turn.

    Will be back at the laptop tomorrow.

    [Photo by Buddy Poland.]

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,688
       April 7, 2024 (Sunday)
     
    In August 1870 a U.S. exploring expedition headed out from Montana toward the Yellowstone River into land the U.S. government had recognized as belonging to different Indigenous tribes.

    By October the men had reached the Yellowstone, where they reported they had “found abundance of game and trout, hot springs of five or six different kinds…basaltic columns of enormous size” and a waterfall that must, they wrote, “be in form, color and surroundings one of the most glorious objects on the American Continent.” On the strength of their widely reprinted reports, the secretary of the interior sent out an official surveying team under geologist Ferdinand V. Hayden. With it went photographer William Henry Jackson and fine artist Thomas Moran.
     
    Banker and railroad baron Jay Cooke had arranged for Moran to join the expedition. In 1871 the popular Scribner’s Monthly published the surveyor’s report along with Moran’s drawings and a promise that Cooke’s Northern Pacific Railroad would soon lay tracks to enable tourists to see the great natural wonders of the West.
     
    But by 1871, Americans had begun to turn against the railroads, seeing them as big businesses monopolizing American resources at the expense of ordinary Americans. When Hayden called on Congress to pass a law setting the area around Yellowstone aside as a public park, two Republicans—Senator Samuel Pomeroy of Kansas and Delegate William H. Clagett of Montana—introduced bills to protect Yellowstone in a natural state and provide against “wanton destruction of the fish and game…or destruction for the purposes of merchandise or profit.”
     
    The House Committee on Public Lands praised Yellowstone Valley’s beauty and warned that “persons are now waiting for the spring…to enter in and take possession of these remarkable curiosities, to make merchandise of these bountiful specimens, to fence in these rare wonders so as to charge visitors a fee, as is now done at Niagara Falls, for the sight of that which ought to be as free as the air or water.” It warned that “the vandals who are now waiting to enter into this wonderland will, in a single season, despoil, beyond recovery, these remarkable curiosities which have required all the cunning skill of nature thousands of years to prepare.”
     
    The New York Times got behind the idea that saving Yellowstone for the people was the responsibility of the federal government, saying that if businesses “should be strictly shut out, it will remain a place which we can proudly show to the benighted European as a proof of what nature—under a republican form of government—can accomplish in the great West.”
     
    On March 1, 1872, President U. S. Grant, a Republican, signed the bill making Yellowstone a national park.
     
    The impulse to protect natural resources from those who would plunder them for profit expanded 18 years later, when the federal government stepped in to protect Yosemite. In June 1864, Congress had passed and President Abraham Lincoln signed a law giving to the state of California the Yosemite Valley and nearby Mariposa Big Tree Grove “upon the express conditions that the premises shall be held for public use, resort and recreation.”

    But by 1890 it was clear that under state management the property had been largely turned over to timber companies, sheep-herding enterprises, and tourist businesses with state contracts. Naturalist John Muir warned in the Century magazine: “Ax and plow, hogs and horses, have long been and are still busy in Yosemite’s gardens and groves. All that is accessible and destructible is rapidly being destroyed.” Congress passed a law making the land around the state property in Yosemite a national park area, and the United States military began to manage the area.

    The next year, in March 1891, Congress gave the president power to “set apart and reserve…as public reservations” land that bore at least some timber, whether or not that timber was of any commercial value. Under this General Revision Act, also known as the Forest Reserve Act, Republican president Benjamin Harrison set aside timber land adjacent to Yellowstone National Park and south of Yosemite National Park. By September 1893, about 17 million acres of land had been put into forest reserves. Those who objected to this policy, according to Century, were “men [who] wish to get at it and make it earn something for them.”

    Presidents of both parties continued to protect American lands, but in the late nineteenth century it was New York Republican politician Theodore Roosevelt who most dramatically expanded the effort to keep western lands from the hands of those who wanted only their timber and minerals.

    Roosevelt was concerned that moneygrubbing was eroding the character of the nation, and he believed that western land nurtured the independence and community that he worried was disappearing in the East. During his presidency, which stretched from 1901 to 1909, Roosevelt protected 141 million acres of forest and established five new national parks.

    More powerfully, he used the 1906 Antiquities Act, which Congress had passed to stop the looting and sale of Indigenous objects and sites, to protect land. The Antiquities Act allowed presidents to protect areas of historic, cultural, or scientific interest. Before the law was a year old, Roosevelt had created four national monuments: Devils Tower in Wyoming, El Morro in New Mexico, and Montezuma Castle and Petrified Forest in Arizona.

    In 1908, Roosevelt used the Antiquities Act to protect the Grand Canyon.

    Since then, presidents of both parties have protected American lands. President Jimmy Carter rivaled Roosevelt’s protection of land when he protected more than 100 million acres in Alaska from oil development. Carter’s secretary of the interior, Cecil D. Andrus, saw himself as a practical man trying to balance the needs of business and environmental needs but seemed to think business interests had become too powerful: “The domination of the department by mining, oil, timber, grazing and other interests is over.”

    In fact, the fight over the public lands was not ending; it was entering a new phase. Since the 1980s, Republicans have pushed to reopen public lands to resource development, maintaining even today that Democrats have hampered oil production although it is currently, under President Joe Biden, at an all-time high.

    The push to return public lands to private hands got stronger under former president Donald Trump. On April 26, 2017, Trump signed an executive order—Executive Order 13792—directing his secretary of the interior, Ryan Zinke, to review designations of 22 national monuments greater than 100,000 acres, made since 1996. He then ordered the largest national monument reduction in U.S. history, slashing the size of Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument by 85%—a goal of uranium mining interests—and that of Utah’s Escalante–Grand Staircase by about half, favoring coal interests.

    “No one better values the splendor of Utah more than you do,” Trump told cheering supporters. “And no one knows better how to use it.”

    In March 2021, shortly after he took office, President Biden announced a new initiative to protect 30% of U.S. land, fresh water, and oceans areas by 2030, a plan popularly known as 30 by 30. Also in March 2021, Supreme Court chief justice John Roberts urged opponents of land protection to push back against the Antiquities Act, saying the broad protection of lands presidents have established under it is an abuse of power.

    In October 2021, President Biden restored Bears Ears and Escalante–Grand Staircase to their original size. “Today’s announcement is not just about national monuments,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, a member of the Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico, said at the ceremony. “It’s about this administration centering the voices of Indigenous people and affirming the shared stewardship of this landscape with tribal nations.”

    In 2022, nearly 312 million people visited the country’s national parks and monuments, supporting 378,400 jobs and spending $23.9 billion in communities within 60 miles of a park. This amounted to a $50.3 billion benefit to the nation’s economy.

    But the struggle over the use of public lands continues, and now the Republicans are standing on the opposite side from their position of a century ago. Project 2025, the blueprint for a second Trump presidency, demands significant increases in drilling for oil and gas. That will require removing land from federal protection and opening it to private development. As Roberts urged, Project 2025 promises to seek a Supreme Court ruling to permit the president to reduce the size of national monuments.

    But it takes that advice even further.

    It says a second Trump administration “must seek repeal of the Antiquities Act of 1906."

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,688
       April 8, 2024 (Monday)

    On Sunday, Representative Michael R. Turner (R-OH), chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said it is “absolutely true” that Republican members of Congress are parroting Russian propaganda. “We see directly coming from Russia attempts to mask communications that are anti-Ukraine and pro-Russia messages, some of which we even hear being uttered on the House floor,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

    Turner was being questioned about an interview in which Representative Michael McCaul (R-TX), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told Russia specialist Julia Ioffe that “Russian propaganda has made its way into the United States, unfortunately, and it’s infected a good chunk of my party’s base.” McCaul blamed right-wing media. When asked which Republicans he was talking about, McCaul answered that it is “obvious.”

    Catherine Belton and Joseph Menn reviewed more than 100 internal Kremlin documents from 2022 and 2023 obtained by a European intelligence service and reported in the Washington Post today that the Russian government is running “an ongoing campaign that seeks to influence congressional and other political debates to stoke anti-Ukraine sentiment.” Kremlin-backed trolls write fake “news articles, social media posts and comments that promote American isolationism, stir fear over the United States’ border security and attempt to amplify U.S. economic and racial tensions” while claiming that “Biden’s policies are leading the U.S. toward collapse.”

    Aaron Blake pointed out in the Washington Post that Republicans are increasingly warning that Republican propaganda has fouled their party. Blake notes that Russia specialist Fiona Hill publicly told Republicans during the 2019 impeachment inquiry into Trump that they were repeating “politically driven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests,” but Republicans angrily objected.

    Now Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and John Cornyn (R-TX) and a top aide to Senator Todd Young (R-IN), as well as former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley and even Trump’s vice president Mike Pence, have warned about the party’s ties to Russia. Former Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) has said the Republican Party now has “a Putin wing.”

    Trump has hinted that he has a plan to end Russia’s war in Ukraine in 24 hours. Yesterday, Isaac Arnsdorf, Josh Dawsey, and Michael Birnbaum reported in the Washington Post on the details of that plan: he would accept Russian annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea and the Donbas region. He refuses to say how he would negotiate with Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky, who has been adamant that Ukraine will not give up its territory to an invader, or Russia president Vladmir Putin, who has claimed all of Ukraine, but after meeting with Trump last month, Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán said Trump told him he would accomplish “peace” by cutting off funds to Ukraine.

    Trump’s team said Orbán’s comment was false, but it is worth noting that this plan echoes the one acknowledged by Trump’s 2016 campaign director Paul Manafort as the goal of Russian aid to Trump’s campaign.

    Fiona Hill told the Washington Post reporters that Trump’s team “is thinking…that this is just a Ukraine-Russia thing…rather than one about the whole future of European security and the world order.”

    Trump’s MAGA loyalists in the House of Representatives have held up funding for Ukraine for six months. Although a national security supplemental bill that would fund Ukraine has passed the Senate and would pass the House if it were brought to the floor, House speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) refuses to bring it to the floor. The House returns to work tomorrow after a two-week recess but is so backed up on work that Johnson is not expected to bring up the Ukraine measure this week.  

    Clint Watts, the head of Microsoft’s Threat Analysis Center, told the Washington Post’s Belton and Menn: “The impact of the Russian program over the last decade…is seen in the U.S. congressional debate over Ukraine aid…. They have had an impact in a strategic aggregate way.”

    The Trump loyalists echoing Russia who have taken control of the Republican Party appear to be hardening into a phalanx around the former president, but even as they do so, Trump himself appears to be crumbling.

    In the week since Trump posted a $175 million appeals bond, halting the seizure of his properties to satisfy the $454 million judgment against him and the Trump Organization, multiple problems with that bond have come to light. It is possible the bond isn’t worth anything at all, and New York attorney general Letitia James has filed papers to require Trump’s lawyers or the bond underwriter to show that it’s good within ten days. A hearing is set for April 22.

    Meanwhile, Trump’s trial for election interference in 2016, when he paid people with damaging information to keep quiet before the election and falsified business records to hide those payments, is set to begin on April 15. Evidently very worried about this trial, Trump has already tried eight times to delay it until after November’s election, and today his lawyers tried yet again by requesting a delay so he could fight to get the trial moved to a different venue, but an appeals judge rejected the attempt.

    Aside from Trump’s personal problems as a presidential candidate, the Republicans face strong headwinds because of their deeply unpopular opposition to abortion rights. Trump has openly bragged about being the instrument for ending the rights recognized in the United States since the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision. Since then, abortion bans are galvanizing opposition, and the Republicans are trying to find a message that can bring back angry voters without antagonizing the antiabortion white evangelicals who make up their base.

    After months of waffling on the issue, Trump today released a video trying to thread that needle by echoing the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision that overturned Roe v. Wade. Trump said in the video that states will decide the issue for themselves, a statement that simply reflects the Dobbs decision.

    This was a dodge. In the video, Trump appealed to the antiabortion loyalists by telling the ghoulish lie that women are “executing” their babies even after birth. He also ignored that Republicans are already calling for a national ban, extremist antiabortion Texas judge Matthew Kacsmaryk has tried to take the common abortion drug mifepristone off the national market by challenging its FDA approval, and legislatures in many Republican-dominated states are refusing to implement the will of the people to protect abortion rights even after they have voted for such protections.

    Still, antiabortion leaders, including Mike Pence, immediately slammed Trump’s statement.

    The video did, though, make an enormously interesting and unintended point: Trump is communicating with voters outside his carefully curated bubble almost exclusively through videos, even on a topic as important as abortion. At rallies, his speeches have become erratic and wandering, with occasional slurred words, and observers have wondered how he would present to more general audiences. It appears that his team has concluded that he will not present well and that general audiences must see him in carefully curated settings, like this apparently heavily edited video.

    The Trump takeover of the Republican National Committee (RNC) also appears to be in trouble. This weekend, Trump claimed to have raised $50 million in a single night from billionaires, but that number is conveniently a little more than double the new record of what President Joe Biden raised at an event last week with former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, and it is long past time for everyone to stop believing anything Trump says about money.

    More to the point, The Guardian’s Hugo Lowell reported today that the RNC’s aggressive purge of the staff to guarantee that positions are held only by Trump loyalists means that “the RNC has been left without people with deep knowledge of election operations at the Republican party’s central committee.” Lowell notes this lack is especially apparent on the RNC’s data team, which is being moved from Washington, D.C., to Palm Beach, Florida, near Mar-a-Lago.

    And yet Trump loyalists continue to block aid to Ukraine, threatening the existence of the rules-based international order that has helped to prevent war since World War II. Last week, even Trump’s former secretary of state Mike Pompeo warned Speaker Johnson against “abandoning our Allies at this time of great need, when they are staring down enemies of the free world.”

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

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    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
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    Halifax2TheMaxHalifax2TheMax Posts: 36,576
    mickeyrat said:
       April 8, 2024 (Monday)

    On Sunday, Representative Michael R. Turner (R-OH), chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said it is “absolutely true” that Republican members of Congress are parroting Russian propaganda. “We see directly coming from Russia attempts to mask communications that are anti-Ukraine and pro-Russia messages, some of which we even hear being uttered on the House floor,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

    Turner was being questioned about an interview in which Representative Michael McCaul (R-TX), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told Russia specialist Julia Ioffe that “Russian propaganda has made its way into the United States, unfortunately, and it’s infected a good chunk of my party’s base.” McCaul blamed right-wing media. When asked which Republicans he was talking about, McCaul answered that it is “obvious.”

    Catherine Belton and Joseph Menn reviewed more than 100 internal Kremlin documents from 2022 and 2023 obtained by a European intelligence service and reported in the Washington Post today that the Russian government is running “an ongoing campaign that seeks to influence congressional and other political debates to stoke anti-Ukraine sentiment.” Kremlin-backed trolls write fake “news articles, social media posts and comments that promote American isolationism, stir fear over the United States’ border security and attempt to amplify U.S. economic and racial tensions” while claiming that “Biden’s policies are leading the U.S. toward collapse.”

    Aaron Blake pointed out in the Washington Post that Republicans are increasingly warning that Republican propaganda has fouled their party. Blake notes that Russia specialist Fiona Hill publicly told Republicans during the 2019 impeachment inquiry into Trump that they were repeating “politically driven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests,” but Republicans angrily objected.

    Now Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and John Cornyn (R-TX) and a top aide to Senator Todd Young (R-IN), as well as former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley and even Trump’s vice president Mike Pence, have warned about the party’s ties to Russia. Former Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) has said the Republican Party now has “a Putin wing.”

    Trump has hinted that he has a plan to end Russia’s war in Ukraine in 24 hours. Yesterday, Isaac Arnsdorf, Josh Dawsey, and Michael Birnbaum reported in the Washington Post on the details of that plan: he would accept Russian annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea and the Donbas region. He refuses to say how he would negotiate with Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky, who has been adamant that Ukraine will not give up its territory to an invader, or Russia president Vladmir Putin, who has claimed all of Ukraine, but after meeting with Trump last month, Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán said Trump told him he would accomplish “peace” by cutting off funds to Ukraine.

    Trump’s team said Orbán’s comment was false, but it is worth noting that this plan echoes the one acknowledged by Trump’s 2016 campaign director Paul Manafort as the goal of Russian aid to Trump’s campaign.

    Fiona Hill told the Washington Post reporters that Trump’s team “is thinking…that this is just a Ukraine-Russia thing…rather than one about the whole future of European security and the world order.”

    Trump’s MAGA loyalists in the House of Representatives have held up funding for Ukraine for six months. Although a national security supplemental bill that would fund Ukraine has passed the Senate and would pass the House if it were brought to the floor, House speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) refuses to bring it to the floor. The House returns to work tomorrow after a two-week recess but is so backed up on work that Johnson is not expected to bring up the Ukraine measure this week.  

    Clint Watts, the head of Microsoft’s Threat Analysis Center, told the Washington Post’s Belton and Menn: “The impact of the Russian program over the last decade…is seen in the U.S. congressional debate over Ukraine aid…. They have had an impact in a strategic aggregate way.”

    The Trump loyalists echoing Russia who have taken control of the Republican Party appear to be hardening into a phalanx around the former president, but even as they do so, Trump himself appears to be crumbling.

    In the week since Trump posted a $175 million appeals bond, halting the seizure of his properties to satisfy the $454 million judgment against him and the Trump Organization, multiple problems with that bond have come to light. It is possible the bond isn’t worth anything at all, and New York attorney general Letitia James has filed papers to require Trump’s lawyers or the bond underwriter to show that it’s good within ten days. A hearing is set for April 22.

    Meanwhile, Trump’s trial for election interference in 2016, when he paid people with damaging information to keep quiet before the election and falsified business records to hide those payments, is set to begin on April 15. Evidently very worried about this trial, Trump has already tried eight times to delay it until after November’s election, and today his lawyers tried yet again by requesting a delay so he could fight to get the trial moved to a different venue, but an appeals judge rejected the attempt.

    Aside from Trump’s personal problems as a presidential candidate, the Republicans face strong headwinds because of their deeply unpopular opposition to abortion rights. Trump has openly bragged about being the instrument for ending the rights recognized in the United States since the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision. Since then, abortion bans are galvanizing opposition, and the Republicans are trying to find a message that can bring back angry voters without antagonizing the antiabortion white evangelicals who make up their base.

    After months of waffling on the issue, Trump today released a video trying to thread that needle by echoing the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision that overturned Roe v. Wade. Trump said in the video that states will decide the issue for themselves, a statement that simply reflects the Dobbs decision.

    This was a dodge. In the video, Trump appealed to the antiabortion loyalists by telling the ghoulish lie that women are “executing” their babies even after birth. He also ignored that Republicans are already calling for a national ban, extremist antiabortion Texas judge Matthew Kacsmaryk has tried to take the common abortion drug mifepristone off the national market by challenging its FDA approval, and legislatures in many Republican-dominated states are refusing to implement the will of the people to protect abortion rights even after they have voted for such protections.

    Still, antiabortion leaders, including Mike Pence, immediately slammed Trump’s statement.

    The video did, though, make an enormously interesting and unintended point: Trump is communicating with voters outside his carefully curated bubble almost exclusively through videos, even on a topic as important as abortion. At rallies, his speeches have become erratic and wandering, with occasional slurred words, and observers have wondered how he would present to more general audiences. It appears that his team has concluded that he will not present well and that general audiences must see him in carefully curated settings, like this apparently heavily edited video.

    The Trump takeover of the Republican National Committee (RNC) also appears to be in trouble. This weekend, Trump claimed to have raised $50 million in a single night from billionaires, but that number is conveniently a little more than double the new record of what President Joe Biden raised at an event last week with former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, and it is long past time for everyone to stop believing anything Trump says about money.

    More to the point, The Guardian’s Hugo Lowell reported today that the RNC’s aggressive purge of the staff to guarantee that positions are held only by Trump loyalists means that “the RNC has been left without people with deep knowledge of election operations at the Republican party’s central committee.” Lowell notes this lack is especially apparent on the RNC’s data team, which is being moved from Washington, D.C., to Palm Beach, Florida, near Mar-a-Lago.

    And yet Trump loyalists continue to block aid to Ukraine, threatening the existence of the rules-based international order that has helped to prevent war since World War II. Last week, even Trump’s former secretary of state Mike Pompeo warned Speaker Johnson against “abandoning our Allies at this time of great need, when they are staring down enemies of the free world.”

    What was that again about fruit from the poisonous tree? Something about indictments and Barack and Hillary being held to account? Something else about vindication? 
    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©
  • Options
    brianluxbrianlux Moving through All Kinds of Terrain. Posts: 40,680
    mickeyrat said:
       April 8, 2024 (Monday)

    On Sunday, Representative Michael R. Turner (R-OH), chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said it is “absolutely true” that Republican members of Congress are parroting Russian propaganda. “We see directly coming from Russia attempts to mask communications that are anti-Ukraine and pro-Russia messages, some of which we even hear being uttered on the House floor,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

    Turner was being questioned about an interview in which Representative Michael McCaul (R-TX), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told Russia specialist Julia Ioffe that “Russian propaganda has made its way into the United States, unfortunately, and it’s infected a good chunk of my party’s base.” McCaul blamed right-wing media. When asked which Republicans he was talking about, McCaul answered that it is “obvious.”

    Catherine Belton and Joseph Menn reviewed more than 100 internal Kremlin documents from 2022 and 2023 obtained by a European intelligence service and reported in the Washington Post today that the Russian government is running “an ongoing campaign that seeks to influence congressional and other political debates to stoke anti-Ukraine sentiment.” Kremlin-backed trolls write fake “news articles, social media posts and comments that promote American isolationism, stir fear over the United States’ border security and attempt to amplify U.S. economic and racial tensions” while claiming that “Biden’s policies are leading the U.S. toward collapse.”

    Aaron Blake pointed out in the Washington Post that Republicans are increasingly warning that Republican propaganda has fouled their party. Blake notes that Russia specialist Fiona Hill publicly told Republicans during the 2019 impeachment inquiry into Trump that they were repeating “politically driven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests,” but Republicans angrily objected.

    Now Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and John Cornyn (R-TX) and a top aide to Senator Todd Young (R-IN), as well as former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley and even Trump’s vice president Mike Pence, have warned about the party’s ties to Russia. Former Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) has said the Republican Party now has “a Putin wing.”

    Trump has hinted that he has a plan to end Russia’s war in Ukraine in 24 hours. Yesterday, Isaac Arnsdorf, Josh Dawsey, and Michael Birnbaum reported in the Washington Post on the details of that plan: he would accept Russian annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea and the Donbas region. He refuses to say how he would negotiate with Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky, who has been adamant that Ukraine will not give up its territory to an invader, or Russia president Vladmir Putin, who has claimed all of Ukraine, but after meeting with Trump last month, Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán said Trump told him he would accomplish “peace” by cutting off funds to Ukraine.

    Trump’s team said Orbán’s comment was false, but it is worth noting that this plan echoes the one acknowledged by Trump’s 2016 campaign director Paul Manafort as the goal of Russian aid to Trump’s campaign.

    Fiona Hill told the Washington Post reporters that Trump’s team “is thinking…that this is just a Ukraine-Russia thing…rather than one about the whole future of European security and the world order.”

    Trump’s MAGA loyalists in the House of Representatives have held up funding for Ukraine for six months. Although a national security supplemental bill that would fund Ukraine has passed the Senate and would pass the House if it were brought to the floor, House speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) refuses to bring it to the floor. The House returns to work tomorrow after a two-week recess but is so backed up on work that Johnson is not expected to bring up the Ukraine measure this week.  

    Clint Watts, the head of Microsoft’s Threat Analysis Center, told the Washington Post’s Belton and Menn: “The impact of the Russian program over the last decade…is seen in the U.S. congressional debate over Ukraine aid…. They have had an impact in a strategic aggregate way.”

    The Trump loyalists echoing Russia who have taken control of the Republican Party appear to be hardening into a phalanx around the former president, but even as they do so, Trump himself appears to be crumbling.

    In the week since Trump posted a $175 million appeals bond, halting the seizure of his properties to satisfy the $454 million judgment against him and the Trump Organization, multiple problems with that bond have come to light. It is possible the bond isn’t worth anything at all, and New York attorney general Letitia James has filed papers to require Trump’s lawyers or the bond underwriter to show that it’s good within ten days. A hearing is set for April 22.

    Meanwhile, Trump’s trial for election interference in 2016, when he paid people with damaging information to keep quiet before the election and falsified business records to hide those payments, is set to begin on April 15. Evidently very worried about this trial, Trump has already tried eight times to delay it until after November’s election, and today his lawyers tried yet again by requesting a delay so he could fight to get the trial moved to a different venue, but an appeals judge rejected the attempt.

    Aside from Trump’s personal problems as a presidential candidate, the Republicans face strong headwinds because of their deeply unpopular opposition to abortion rights. Trump has openly bragged about being the instrument for ending the rights recognized in the United States since the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision. Since then, abortion bans are galvanizing opposition, and the Republicans are trying to find a message that can bring back angry voters without antagonizing the antiabortion white evangelicals who make up their base.

    After months of waffling on the issue, Trump today released a video trying to thread that needle by echoing the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision that overturned Roe v. Wade. Trump said in the video that states will decide the issue for themselves, a statement that simply reflects the Dobbs decision.

    This was a dodge. In the video, Trump appealed to the antiabortion loyalists by telling the ghoulish lie that women are “executing” their babies even after birth. He also ignored that Republicans are already calling for a national ban, extremist antiabortion Texas judge Matthew Kacsmaryk has tried to take the common abortion drug mifepristone off the national market by challenging its FDA approval, and legislatures in many Republican-dominated states are refusing to implement the will of the people to protect abortion rights even after they have voted for such protections.

    Still, antiabortion leaders, including Mike Pence, immediately slammed Trump’s statement.

    The video did, though, make an enormously interesting and unintended point: Trump is communicating with voters outside his carefully curated bubble almost exclusively through videos, even on a topic as important as abortion. At rallies, his speeches have become erratic and wandering, with occasional slurred words, and observers have wondered how he would present to more general audiences. It appears that his team has concluded that he will not present well and that general audiences must see him in carefully curated settings, like this apparently heavily edited video.

    The Trump takeover of the Republican National Committee (RNC) also appears to be in trouble. This weekend, Trump claimed to have raised $50 million in a single night from billionaires, but that number is conveniently a little more than double the new record of what President Joe Biden raised at an event last week with former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, and it is long past time for everyone to stop believing anything Trump says about money.

    More to the point, The Guardian’s Hugo Lowell reported today that the RNC’s aggressive purge of the staff to guarantee that positions are held only by Trump loyalists means that “the RNC has been left without people with deep knowledge of election operations at the Republican party’s central committee.” Lowell notes this lack is especially apparent on the RNC’s data team, which is being moved from Washington, D.C., to Palm Beach, Florida, near Mar-a-Lago.

    And yet Trump loyalists continue to block aid to Ukraine, threatening the existence of the rules-based international order that has helped to prevent war since World War II. Last week, even Trump’s former secretary of state Mike Pompeo warned Speaker Johnson against “abandoning our Allies at this time of great need, when they are staring down enemies of the free world.”


    Another fine letter!  It amazes me that there is such a thing as a "Trump loyalist".  How does one remain loyal to that guy?
    “The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man [or woman] who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”
    Variously credited to Mark Twain or Edward Abbey.













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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 35,688
      April 9, 2024 (Tuesday)

    Yesterday, former president Trump released a video celebrating state control over abortion; today, a judicial decision in Arizona illuminated just what such state control means. With the federal recognition of the constitutional right to abortion gone since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, old laws left on state books once again are becoming the law of the land.

    In a 4–2 decision, the all-Republican Arizona Supreme Court today said it would not interfere with the authority of the state legislature to write abortion policy, letting the state revert to an 1864 law that bans abortion unless the mother’s life is in danger. “[P]hysicians are now on notice that all abortions, except those necessary to save a woman’s life, are illegal,” the decision read.

    The court explained: “A policy matter of this gravity must ultimately be resolved by our citizens through the legislature or the initiative process…. We defer, as we are constitutionally obligated to do, to the legislature’s judgment, which is accountable to, and thus reflects, the mutable will of our citizens.”

    The idea that abortion law must be controlled by state legislatures is in keeping with the 2022 Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision that overturned Roe v. Wade. But it’s an interesting spin to say that the new policy is protecting the will of the citizens.

    The Arizona law that will begin to be enforced in 14 days was written by a single man in 1864.

    In 1864, Arizona was not a state, women and minorities could not vote, and doctors were still sewing up wounds with horsehair and storing their unwashed medical instruments in velvet-lined cases.

    And, of course, the United States was in the midst of the Civil War.

    In fact, the 1864 law soon to be in force again in Arizona to control women’s reproductive rights in the twenty-first century does not appear particularly concerned with women handling their own reproductive care in the nineteenth—it actually seems to ignore that practice entirely. The laws for Arizona Territory, chaotic and still at war in 1864, appear to reflect the need to rein in a lawless population of men.

    The 1864 Arizona criminal code talks about “miscarriage” in the context of other male misbehavior. It focuses at great length on dueling, for example—making illegal not only the act of dueling (punishable by three years in jail) but also having anything to do with a duel. And then, in the section that became the law now resurrected in Arizona, the law takes on the issue of poisoning.

    In that context, the context of punishing those who secretly administer poison to kill someone, it says that anyone who uses poison or instruments “with the intention to procure the miscarriage of any woman then being with child” would face two to five years in jail, “Provided, that no physician shall be affected by the last clause of this section, who in the discharge of his professional duties deems it necessary to produce the miscarriage of any woman in order to save her life.”

    The next section warns against cutting out tongues or eyes, slitting noses or lips, or “rendering…useless” someone’s arm or leg.

    The law that Arizona will use to outlaw abortion care seemed designed to keep men in the chaos of the Civil War from inflicting damage on others—including pregnant women—rather than to police women’s reproductive care, which women largely handled on their own or through the help of doctors who used drugs and instruments to remove what they called dangerous blockages of women’s natural cycles in the four to five months before fetal movement became obvious.

    Written to police the behavior of men, the code tells a larger story about power and control.

    The Arizona Territorial Legislature in 1864 had 18 men in the lower House of Representatives and 9 men in the upper house, the Council, for a total of 27 men. They met on September 26, 1864, in Prescott. The session ended about six weeks later, on November 10.

    The very first thing the legislators did was to authorize the governor to appoint a commissioner to prepare a code of laws for the territory. But William T. Howell, a judge who had arrived in the territory the previous December, had already written one, which the legislature promptly accepted as a blueprint.

    Although they did discuss his laws, the members later thanked Judge Howell for “preparing his excellent and able Code of Laws” and, as a mark of their appreciation, provided that the laws would officially be called “The Howell Code.” (They also paid him a handsome $2,500, which was equivalent to at least three years’ salary for a workingman in that era.) Judge Howell wrote the territory’s criminal code essentially single-handedly.

    The second thing the legislature did was to give a member of the House of Representatives a divorce from his wife.

    Then they established a county road near Prescott.

    Then they gave a local army surgeon a divorce from his wife.

    In a total of 40 laws, the legislature incorporated a number of road companies, railway companies, ferry companies, and mining companies. They appropriated money for schools and incorporated the Arizona Historical Society.

    These 27 men constructed a body of laws to bring order to the territory and to jump-start  development. But their vision for the territory was a very particular one.

    The legislature provided that “[n]o black or mulatto, or Indian, Mongolian, or Asiatic, shall be permitted to [testify in court] against any white person,” thus making it impossible for them to protect their property, their families, or themselves from their white neighbors. It declared that “all marriages between a white person and a [Black person], shall…be absolutely void.”

    And it defined the age of consent for sexual intercourse to be just ten years old (even if a younger child had “consented”).

    So, in 1864, a legislature of 27 white men created a body of laws that discriminated against Black people and people of color and considered girls as young as ten able to consent to sex, and they adopted a body of criminal laws written by one single man.

    And in 2024, one of those laws is back in force in Arizona.

    Now, though, women can vote.

    Before the midterm elections, 61% of Arizona voters told AP VoteCast they believed abortion should be legal in most or all cases, while only 6% said it should be illegal in all cases. A campaign underway to place a constitutional amendment protecting abortion rights on November’s ballot needs to gather 383,923 verified signatures by July; a week ago the campaign announced it already had 500,000 signatures.

    It seems likely those voters will turn out in November to elect lawmakers who will represent the actual will of the people in the twenty-first century.

    _____________________________________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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