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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: 36,332
      May 7, 2024 (Tuesday)

    The past two days of former president Trump’s criminal trial for falsifying business records to hide a $130,000 payment to adult film actress Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, to silence her before the 2016 election have been illuminating in different ways.

    Yesterday, witnesses established that the paper trail of payments to Trump fixer Michael Cohen, who forwarded the money to Daniels, had been falsified. That paper trail included invoices, checks, and records. Witnesses also established that Trump micromanaged his finances, making it hard to believe he didn’t know about the scheme.

    That scheme looked like this: Former Trump Organization employee Jeffrey McConney said that Trump’s former financial chief Allen Weisselberg, who has gone to jail twice in two years for his participation in Trump’s financial schemes and is there now, told him to send money to Cohen. Cohen had paid Daniels $130,000 from a home equity loan in 2016 to buy her silence about a sexual encounter with Trump. Cohen received 11 checks totaling $420,000 in repayment, including enough money to cover the taxes he would have to pay for claiming the payments as income for legal services, and a bonus.

    Nine of those checks came from Trump’s personal bank account. His team sent the checks to him at the White House for his personal signature.

    A number of observers have suggested that the evidence presented through documents yesterday was not riveting, but historians would disagree. Exhibit 35 was Cohen’s bank statement, on which Weisselberg had written the numbers to reflect the higher payment necessary to cover Cohen’s tax bill for the money. Exhibit 36 was a sheet of paper on which McConney had recorded in his own hand how the payments to Cohen would work. The sheet of paper had the TRUMP logo on it.

    “It’s rare to see folks put the key to a criminal conspiracy in writing,” legal analyst Joyce White Vance wrote in Civil Discourse, “but here it is. It’s great evidence for the prosecution.”

    Today, Daniels took the stand, where she testified about how she had met Trump, he had invited her to dinner but greeted her in a silk or satin pajamas, then went on to describe their sexual encounter. The testimony was damaging enough that Trump’s lawyers asked for a mistrial, which Judge Juan Merchan denied, noting that the lawyers had not objected to much of the testimony and must assume at least some responsibility for that.

    The case is not about sex but about business records. But it is hugely significant that the story Daniels told today is the one Trump was determined that voters would not hear before the 2016 election, especially after the “grab ‘em by the p*ssy” statement in the Access Hollywood tape, which was released in early October 2016. While his base appears to be cemented to him now, in 2016 he appeared to think that the story of him having sex with an adult film star while his wife had a four-month old baby at home could cost him dearly at the ballot box.

    The other election-related cases involving Trump indict him for his determination to cling to power after voters had turned him out in 2020. This case, from before he took office, illuminates that his willingness to manipulate election processes was always part of his approach to politics.

    Joyce White Vance is right that it’s rare to see folks put a criminal conspiracy in writing, but it is not unheard of. In our own history, the big ranchers in Johnson County, Wyoming, organized as the Wyoming Stock Growers’ Association, decided in 1892 to clear out the smaller cattlemen pushing their animals onto the federal land and the railroad land the ranchers considered their own. They hired 50 gunmen in Texas to kill their competitors, and they gave them a written list of the men they wanted dead.

    The gunmen killed four of the smaller cattlemen after cornering them in a cabin, but outraged settlers surrounded the gunmen and threatened to hang them all. Local law enforcement sided with the small cattlemen, and the Wyoming Stock Grower’s Association appealed to the governor for help in restoring order. The governor, in turn, appealed to President Benjamin Harrison, who sent troops to rescue the stock growers’ men from the angry settlers and lawmen. The expense of keeping the stock growers’ men imprisoned nearly broke the state.

    Witnesses became mum, and the cases against the Texas gunmen fell apart. The stock growers had first intimidated and then killed those who tried to challenge their monopoly on the Wyoming cattle industry. Then, thwarted by local lawmen, they called in the federal government, and those stock growers involved in the Johnson County War actually got away with murder.

    This evening, Judge Aileen Cannon vacated the May 20, 2024, trial date for the criminal case of Trump’s retention of classified documents and declined to set a new date. With so many remaining issues unresolved, she wrote, it would be “imprudent” to set a new trial date.

    This is the case in which the U.S. government accuses Trump of retaining hundreds of classified documents that compromised the work of the Central Intelligence Agency, which provides intelligence on foreign countries and global issues; the Department of Defense, which provides military forces to ensure national security; the National Security Agency, which collects intelligence from communications and information systems; the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, which provides intelligence from imagery; the National Reconnaissance Office, which operates satellites and reconnaissance systems; the Department of Energy, which manages nuclear weapons; and the Department of State, including the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, which provides intelligence to U.S. diplomats.

    These are the documents the Federal Bureau of Investigation later recovered from Mar-a-Lago, where they were stored in public spaces, including a bathroom, after Trump first retained them, then denied he had them, and then tried to hide them.

    The U.S. government charges that “[t]he classified documents TRUMP stored in his boxes included information regarding defense and weapons capabilities of both the United States and foreign countries; United States nuclear programs; potential vulnerabilities of the United States and its allies to military attack; and plans for possible retaliation in response to a foreign attack. The unauthorized disclosure of these classified documents could put at risk the national security of the United States, foreign relations, the safety of the United States military, and human sources and the continued viability of sensitive intelligence collection methods.”

    Today, Trump's trial for his retention of these classified documents is indefinitely postponed.

    Trump appointed Cannon to the bench, and the Senate confirmed her after he lost the 2020 presidential election. She has seemed to be in no hurry to bring the case to trial before the 2024 election, a case that, if he is reelected, Trump will almost certainly quash.

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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,332
       May 8, 2024 (Wednesday)

    Today, in Racine, Wisconsin, President Joe Biden announced that Microsoft is investing $3.3 billion dollars to build a new data center that will help operate one of the most powerful artificial intelligence systems in the world. It is expected to create 2,300 union construction jobs and employ 2,000 permanent workers.

    Microsoft has also partnered with Gateway Technical College to train and certify 200 students a year to fill new jobs in data and information technology. In addition, Microsoft is working with nearby high schools to train students for future jobs.

    Speaking at Gateway Technical College’s Racine campus, Biden contrasted today’s investment with that made by Trump about the same site in 2018. In that year, Trump went to Wisconsin for the “groundbreaking” of a high-tech campus he claimed would be the “eighth wonder of the world.”

    Under Republican governor Scott Walker, Wisconsin legislators approved a $3 billion subsidy and tax incentive package—ten times larger than any similar previous package in the state—to lure the Taiwan-based Foxconn electronics company. Once built, a new $10 billion campus that would focus on building large liquid-crystal display screens would bring 13,000 jobs to the area, they promised.

    Foxconn built a number of buildings, but the larger plan never materialized, even after taxpayers had been locked into contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars for upgrading roads, sewer system, electricity, and so on. When voters elected Democrat Tony Evers as governor in 2022, he dropped the tax incentives from $3 billion to $80 million, which depended on the hiring of only 1,454 workers, reflecting the corporation’s current plans. Foxconn dropped its capital investment from $10 billion to $672.8 million.  

    In November 2023, Microsoft announced it was buying some of the Foxconn properties in Wisconsin.

    Today, Biden noted that rather than bringing jobs to Racine, Trump’s policies meant the city lost 1,000 manufacturing jobs during his term. Wisconsin as a whole lost 83,500. “Racine was once a manufacturing boomtown,” Biden recalled, “all the way through the 1960s, powering companies—invented and manufacturing Windex…portable vacuum cleaners, and so much more, and powered by middle-class jobs.

    “And then came trickle-down economics [which] cut taxes for the very wealthy and biggest corporations…. We shipped American jobs overseas because labor was cheaper. We slashed public investment in education and innovation. And the result: We hollowed out the middle class. My predecessor and his administration doubled down on that failed trickle-down economics, along with the [trail] of broken promises.”

    “But that’s not on my watch,” Biden said. “We’re determined to turn it around.” He noted that thanks to the Democrats’ policies, in the past three years, Racine has added nearly 4,000 jobs—hitting a record low unemployment rate—and Wisconsin as a whole has gained 178,000 new jobs.

    The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS and Science Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act have fueled “a historic boom in rebuilding our roads and bridges, developing and deploying clean energy, [and] revitalizing American manufacturing,” he said. That investment has attracted $866 billion in private-sector investment across the country, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs “building new semiconductor factories, electric vehicles and battery factories…here in America.”

    The Biden administration has been scrupulous about making sure that money from the funds appropriated to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure and manufacturing base has gone to Republican-dominated districts; indeed, Republican-dominated states have gotten the bulk of those investments. “President Biden promised to be the president of all Americans—whether you voted for him or not. And that’s what this agenda is delivering,” White House deputy chief of staff Natalie Quillian told Matt Egan of CNN in February.

    But there is, perhaps, a deeper national strategy behind that investment. Political philosophers studying the rise of authoritarianism note that strongmen rise by appealing to a population that has been dispossessed economically or otherwise. By bringing jobs back to the regions that have lost them over the past several decades and promising “the great comeback story all across…the entire country,” as he did today, Biden is striking at that sense of alienation.

    “When folks see a new factory being built here in Wisconsin, people going to work making a really good wage in their hometowns, I hope they feel the pride that I feel,” Biden said. “Pride in their hometowns making a comeback.  Pride in knowing we can get big things done in America still.”

    That approach might be gaining traction. Last Friday, when Trump warned the audience of Fox 2 Detroit television that President’s Biden’s policies would cost jobs in Michigan, local host Roop Raj provided a “reality check,” noting that Michigan gained 24,000 jobs between January 2021, when Biden took office, and May 2023.

    At Gateway Technical College, Biden thanked Wisconsin governor Tony Evers and Racine mayor Cory Mason, both Democrats, as well as Microsoft president Brad Smith and AFL-CIO president Liz Schuler.

    The picture of Wisconsin state officials working with business and labor leaders, at a public college established in 1911, was an image straight from the Progressive Era, when the state was the birthplace of the so-called Wisconsin Idea. In the earliest years of the twentieth century, when the country reeled under industrial monopolies and labor strikes, Wisconsin governor Robert “Fighting Bob” La Follette and his colleagues advanced the idea that professors, lawmakers, and officials should work together to provide technical expertise to enable the state to mediate a fair relationship between workers and employers.

    In his introduction to the 1912 book explaining the Wisconsin Idea, former president Theodore Roosevelt, a Republican, explained that the Wisconsin Idea turned the ideas of reformers into a workable plan, then set out to put those ideas into practice. Roosevelt approvingly quoted economist Simon Patten, who maintained that the world had adequate resources to feed, clothe, and educate everyone, if only people cared to achieve that end. Quoting Patten, Roosevelt wrote: “The real idealist is a pragmatist and an economist. He demands measurable results and reaches them by means made available by economic efficiency. Only in this way is social progress possible.”

    Reformers must be able to envision a better future, Roosevelt wrote, but they must also find a way to turn those ideals into reality. That involved careful study and hard work to develop the machinery to achieve their ends.

    Roosevelt compared people engaged in progressive reform to “that greatest of all democratic reformers, Abraham Lincoln.” Like Lincoln, he wrote, reformers “will be assailed on the one side by the reactionary, and on the other by that type of bubble reformer who is only anxious to go to extremes, and who always gets angry when he is asked what practical results he can show.” “[T]he true reformer,” Roosevelt wrote, “must study hard and work patiently.”

    “It is no easy matter actually to insure, instead of merely talking about, a measurable equality of opportunity for all men,” Roosevelt wrote. “It is no easy matter to make this Republic genuinely an industrial as well as a political democracy. It is no easy matter to secure justice for those who in the past have not received it, and at the same time to see that no injustice is meted out to others in the process. It is no easy matter to keep the balance level and make it evident that we have set our faces like flint against seeing this government turned into either government by a plutocracy, or government by a mob. It is no easy matter to give the public their proper control over corporations and big business, and yet to prevent abuse of that control.”

    “All through the Union we need to learn the Wisconsin lesson,” Roosevelt wrote in 1912.

    "We’re the United States of America," President Biden said today, "And there’s nothing beyond our capacity when we work together."

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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,332
     May 9, 2024 (Thursday)

    Last night, 163 Democratic representatives joined 196 Republicans to stop far-right Republicans from removing House speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA). Georgia representative Marjorie Taylor Greene led the effort to remove Johnson, but her motion received only 43 votes: 32 Democrats and 11 Republicans. Twenty-eight representatives either did not vote or voted present.

    Greene promptly excoriated the “uniparty,” saying that “the Democrats now control Speaker Johnson. That was something that everybody’s suspected all along. They just voted to save him.”

    But the majority of the House Republican conference appears to be tired of the chaos in their ranks that has made this Congress one of the least productive in American history. Jordain Carney and Olivia Beavers of Politico reported today that House Republicans who are not aligned with Greene and her cohort want to change House rules to create punishments for the extremists who keep stopping House business by, for example, voting against letting bills come to the floor of the House.

    Greene and Thomas Massie (R-KY), her main ally in trying to oust Johnson, urged their colleagues to bring it on. Massie said that anyone trying to stop them was going to “take an ass-whooping from their base.”

    Since the 1990s, right-wing media hosts have directed the Republican base, telling them what to think and urging them to put pressure on Republican lawmakers to do what the media hosts wanted. Talk radio host Rush Limbaugh was so influential in the 1990s that when Republicans took control of the House of Representatives in 1995 for the first time since 1954, they made him an honorary member of their incoming congressional freshman class. And what Limbaugh did for radio, Fox News Channel hosts like Bill O’Reilly did for television.

    But Limbaugh died in February 2021, and after the Fox News Channel (FNC) had to pay a $787 million settlement to Dominion Voting Systems for the lies the network’s hosts told about the company’s voting machines in the 2020 election, it let go of main host Tucker Carlson. There are indications that FNC founder and former chair Rupert Murdoch hoped to center Republican messaging around young activist Charlie Kirk, but Kirk has slid into MAGA extremism, too.

    The Republican extremists no longer have a centralized messaging center. Instead, as CNN’s Oliver Darcy noted today, Murdoch’s outlets themselves—the Fox News Channel, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Post—stood behind Johnson.

    Yesterday, FreedomWorks, the right-wing organization that was backed by the Koch family at its start in 2004 and that was behind the Tea Party movement, abruptly shut down. FreedomWorks attacked Democratic measures for business regulation and social welfare because it embraced libertarian principles. Its revenue had dropped by half since 2022, its president, Adam Brandon, told Luke Mullins of Politico. But in the end, what did the organization in was the party’s split over Trump.
     
    That split was crystal clear in Tuesday’s Republican primary election in Indiana. Trump won that election, but with only 78.3% of the vote. Former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, who suspended her campaign in early March and has not campaigned since, won 21.7%.

    Before the Indiana primary, on May 2 political statistician Tom Bonier debunked the idea that Haley’s support came from Democratic-leaning voters flooding the primary vote to hurt Trump. Crunching the numbers in North Carolina showed that Haley voters there “were not substantially younger than the GOP voters (41% over 65 vs 45% among reg[istered Republicans]). They were overwhelmingly white (94% of Ind[ependent]s vs 97% of [Republicans]), and were actually more likely to be men (51% of Ind[ependent Republican] primary voters vs 50% of [Republicans]).” In short, he wrote, “[e]very indicator suggests these Independents voting in [Republican] primaries are more likely [Republican] voters. They just don't like Trump.”

    Political commentator Chris Cillizza today called attention to the numbers that landed before Tuesday. On March 12, Haley won 13.2% of the vote in Georgia (or 78,000 votes). On March 19 she won 17.8% of the vote in Arizona (111,000 votes), 3.9% of the vote in Florida (155,000 votes), and 14.4% of the vote in Ohio (161,000 votes). On April 2 she won 12.8% of the votes in Wisconsin (77,000 votes). And on April 23, Haley won 16.6% of the votes in Pennsylvania (158,000 votes).

    If Biden picks up even one in five of these votes, Cillizza noted, “it matters bigly.”

    Three high-level Republicans this week told media they would not vote for Trump, helping to pave an off-ramp for other Republicans. Former House speaker Paul Ryan told Yahoo Finance that he would write in another Republican rather than vote for Trump. “Character is too important to me,” he said.

    Cassidy Hutchinson, former aide to Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, also cited character when she said she would not vote for Trump. “I’ve never voted for a Democrat in my life, but I would absolutely consider voting for Joe Biden this upcoming November because he will not seek to destroy our nation [or] our Constitution, and he has the statesman character that we need in an elected official.”

    Georgia’s former lieutenant governor Geoff Duncan went further on Monday night, endorsing Biden, whom he had called in an op-ed a “decent person I disagree with on policy,” over Trump, whom he described as “a criminal defendant without a moral compass.” “Sometimes the best way to learn your lesson is to get beat, and Donald Trump needs to get beat. We need to move on as a party. We need to move on as a country,” he said.

    Meanwhile, as Khaya Himmelman noted in Talking Points Memo, MAGA Republicans are already blaming a potential loss in 2024 on illegal voters. On Wednesday, Speaker Johnson and other Trump Republicans held a press conference to promote their new bill to make it illegal for people who are not U.S. citizens to vote in federal elections.

    This is a political stunt: It is already illegal for noncitizens to vote in federal elections, and there is no evidence that this is happening. In 2017, Trump created a commission to root out the illegal voting he claimed had affected the 2016 election; less than a year later, he disbanded it when it could find no evidence of his claims. Johnson admitted there was no evidence of voting by undocumented immigrants when he told reporters: "We all know, intuitively, that a lot of illegals are voting in federal elections. But it's not been something that is easily provable. We don't have that number."

    Pulitzer Prize–winning author T.J. Stiles retorted: “People terrified of contact with government because they don’t want their lives destroyed by deportation don’t register to vote illegally and then vote illegally for the reward of having a tiny tiny influence on federal electoral outcomes.”

    For his part, Trump appears to have tried a more direct approach to reelection. According to Josh Dawsey and Maxine Joselow of the Washington Post, last month at Mar-a-Lago, Trump told about two dozen top oil executives that if they gave him $1 billion to get reelected, he would immediately reverse the environmental regulations the Biden-Harris administration has put into place and stop any new ones. A $1 billion gift would be a “deal,” according to Trump, because the tax cuts he plans to enact and the regulatory cuts would be worth far more than that. Since then, Ben Lefebvre wrote yesterday in Politico, oil executives have been drawing up executive orders that Trump can sign as soon as he takes office.

    Yesterday, in an interview with CNN’s Erin Burnett, President Biden said the U.S. would continue to supply defensive weapons to support the Iron Dome over Israel, but it would not send offensive weapons to Israel if it went forward with its controversial invasion of the city of Rafah in southern Gaza, where more than a million Palestinians have taken shelter from Israeli strikes. The administration has publicly opposed that invasion since Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced it. “If they go into Rafah, I'm not supplying the weapons that have been used historically to deal with Rafah,” Biden said. “Civilians have been killed in Gaza as a consequence of those bombs and other ways in which they go after population centers.”

    Trump and other Republicans promptly accused President Joe Biden of “taking the side of these terrorists, just like he has sided with the Radical Mobs taking over our college campuses.”

    “We’re not walking away from Israel’s security,” Biden told Burnett.  “We’re walking away from Israel’s ability to wage war in those areas.”

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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
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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,332
     May 10, 2024 (Friday)

    On October 31, 2020, former Trump White House advisor Steve Bannon—who had left Trump’s administration in 2017—explained to a group of people that, knowing that votes for Biden would accumulate throughout the evening as mail-in ballots were counted, Trump planned simply to declare victory on election night, seizing the presidency and claiming that any results to the contrary were an attempt to steal the election from him. “[A]t 10 or 11 o’clock Trump’s gonna walk in the Oval, tweet out, ‘I’m the winner. Game over. Suck on that,’” Bannon was recorded as saying.

    That prediction was pretty much what happened, but Trump did not succeed in seizing the presidency. Next came plans to overturn the election results, and Bannon was also involved in those. Then, famously, on January 5, 2021, he predicted on his podcast that the next day, “all hell is going to break loose.”

    Not surprisingly, the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol wanted to talk to Bannon. It subpoenaed him in September 2021 for testimony and documents. When he refused to comply, a jury found him guilty of contempt of Congress in October 2022. A judge sentenced him to four months in jail but allowed him to stay out of jail while he appealed.

    Today a three-judge panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld his conviction. He will not be jailed immediately; he can still appeal to a higher court.

    Another White House advisor, Peter Navarro, appealed all the way to the Supreme Court to overturn his own conviction for contempt of Congress after he, too, refused to answer a House subpoena for testimony and documents. The Supreme Court denied his appeal, and Navarro reported to prison on March 19, 2024. He has asked a federal judge to let him serve the remainder of his sentence on supervised release, so far without luck.

    Former federal prosecutor and legal analyst Joyce White Vance wrote: “Bannon is effectively out of appeals. He can delay a little bit longer, asking for the full court to review the decision en banc & asking SCOTUS to hear his case on cert, but neither one of those things will happen. Bannon is going to prison.”

    Lack of information was at the heart of Bannon and Navarro’s cases; it was also at the heart of the State Department’s report to Congress about whether Israel’s strikes on Gaza have complied with international and U.S. law. National Security Memorandum (NSM)-20, which Biden signed on February 8, 2024, was designed to make sure that there are adequate safeguards and accountability when countries who have access to U.S. weapons use them. The memo required the secretary of state “to obtain certain credible and reliable written assurances from foreign governments receiving defense articles” and transmit that information to Congress.

    Issued today, the report covered seven countries in “active conflict”—Colombia, Iraq, Israel, Kenya, Nigeria, Somalia, and Ukraine—and explored whether they were using U.S. government-funded defense articles in accordance with international humanitarian law, and whether they were not “arbitrarily” denying, restricting, or otherwise impeding U.S.-backed humanitarian assistance in any areas where the country was using those U.S. defense articles.

    The report noted that it’s hard to collect accurate information in a war zone. Often, the information has to come from participants or third parties, and sometimes that information comes only from the country the U.S. is supplying with weapons. It also noted that the human-rights-based Leahy Laws prohibit the U.S. from supplying weapons to a foreign military unit if the departments of state or defense have credible information that the unit has committed a gross violation of human rights, including torture, rape, extrajudicial killing, or enforced disappearance.

    The report concluded that Colombia appears to be in compliance. Iraqi security forces have been credibly alleged to be violating international law, but the U.S. does not supply those units. Those it does supply have received U.S. training on compliance with international humanitarian law, and Iraqi leadership is working closely with the U.S. to professionalize. It has not restricted humanitarian aid.

    Kenya has repeatedly violated international human rights law, but it is working to come into compliance and has not misused U.S. weapons. Nigerian forces routinely use excessive force and torture. They are expanding the legal advice in the professionalizing army, and there are no credible reports of U.S. matériel used in ways that are inconsistent with international law.

    Somalia has violated humanitarian law and human rights law, arbitrarily killing and torturing people and committing sexual violence. The U.S. supplies the counterterrorism Danab Brigade of the Somali National Army and works closely with it. The State Department assesses that the brigade has not used U.S. weapons in any violations of humanitarian or human rights law.

    That leaves Israel and Ukraine.

    The report begins by noting that in the October 7 attack on Israel, Hamas and other Palestinian terrorists killed an estimated 1,200 individuals, wounded more than 5,400, and took 253 hostages, including U.S. citizens. Hamas, it notes, “does not follow any portion of and consistently violates” international humanitarian law.

    Then it takes on the numbers of Palestinians killed and injured, saying that the Hamas-controlled Gaza Ministry of Health, “which international organizations generally deem credible,” estimates that 34,700 Palestinians have been killed. Another 78,200 have been wounded, “a significant percentage of whom are reported to be women and children.” The Gaza Ministry of Health does not differentiate between Hamas fighters and civilians, but Israel says that about half the 34,700 killed were Hamas fighters. The State Department says that “we do not have the ability to verify this estimate.” It also notes that “[t]he conflict has displaced the vast majority of Palestinians in Gaza and resulted in a severe humanitarian crisis.”

    The State Department notes that the U.S. government has emphasized Israeli compliance with international humanitarian law and that Israel has “institutions and processes charged with upholding” those laws. Israel has been conducting assessments, including criminal investigations, into alleged violations of international humanitarian law.

    The next paragraph, though, says that when asked, Israel shared some information that gave insight into Israel’s procedures and rules, but that information was incomplete. Among other things, “Israel has not shared complete information to verify whether U.S. defense articles covered under NSM-20 were specifically used in actions that have been alleged as violations of [international humanitarian law or international human rights law] in Gaza, or in the West Bank and East Jerusalem during the period of the report.” However, the authors concluded, because “certain Israeli-operated systems are entirely U.S.-origin (e.g., crewed attack aircraft),” they “are likely to have been involved in incidents that raise concerns about Israel’s [international humanitarian law] compliance.”

    The report goes on to say that while it is difficult to determine whether specific U.S. weapons have been used improperly, “there have been sufficient reported incidents to raise serious concerns…. Given the nature of the conflict in Gaza, with Hamas seeking to hide behind civilian populations and infrastructure and expose them to Israeli military action, as well as the lack of [U.S. government] personnel on the ground in Gaza, it is difficult to assess or reach conclusive findings on individual incidents. Nevertheless, given Israel’s significant reliance on U.S.-made defense articles, it is reasonable to assess that defense articles covered under NSM-20 have been used by Israeli security forces since October 7 in instances inconsistent with its [international humanitarian law] obligations or with established best practices for mitigating civilian harm.”

    The State Department says it is “not aware” of U.S. weaponry being misused. It also said that it “has had deep concerns…about action and inaction by Israel” that hampered humanitarian aid efforts and that, while that aid still is insufficient, “we do not currently assess that the Israeli government is prohibiting or otherwise restricting the transport or delivery of U.S. humanitarian assistance.”

    The report also assessed that Ukraine had occasionally violated international humanitarian law and international human rights law, torturing those suspected of collaborating with Russia, for example. The Ukraine government has committed to adhere to the rule of law. It has apparently not used U.S. weapons in those violations and has facilitated U.S. humanitarian assistance.

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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
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    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: 36,332
      May 11, 2024 (Saturday)

    If you google the history of Mother’s Day, the internet will tell you that Mother’s Day began in 1908 when Anna Jarvis decided to honor her mother. But “Mothers’ Day”—with the apostrophe not in the singular spot, but in the plural—actually started in the 1870s, when the sheer enormity of the death caused by the Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War convinced writer and reformer Julia Ward Howe that women must take control of politics from the men who had permitted such carnage. Mothers’ Day was not designed to encourage people to be nice to their mothers. It was part of women’s effort to gain power to change society.

    The Civil War years taught naïve Americans what mass death meant in the modern era. Soldiers who had marched off to war with fantasies of heroism discovered that newly invented long-range weapons turned death into tortured anonymity. Men were trampled into blood-soaked mud, piled like cordwood in ditches, or withered into emaciated corpses after dysentery drained their lives away.

    The women who had watched their hale and healthy men march off to war were haunted by its results. They lost fathers, husbands, sons, and brothers. The men who did come home were scarred in both body and mind.

    Modern war, it seemed, was not a game.

    But out of the war also came a new sense of empowerment. Women had bought bonds, paid taxes, raised money for the war effort, managed farms, harvested fields, worked in war industries, reared children, and nursed soldiers. When the war ended, they had every expectation that they would continue to be considered valuable participants in national affairs, and had every intention of continuing to take part in them.

    But the Fourteenth Amendment, which established that Black men were citizens, did not explicitly include women in that right. Worse, it introduced the word “male” into the Constitution when it warned states against preventing “male inhabitants” from voting. In 1869, the year after the Fourteenth Amendment was added to the Constitution, women organized two organizations—the National Woman Suffrage Association and the American Woman Suffrage Association—to promote women’s right to have a say in American government.

    From her home in Boston, Julia Ward Howe was a key figure in the American Woman Suffrage Association. She was an enormously talented writer who in the early years of the Civil War had penned “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” a hymn whose lyrics made it a point to note that Christ was “born of woman.”

    Howe was drawn to women’s rights because the laws of her time meant that her children belonged to her abusive husband. If she broke free of him, she would lose any right to see her children, a fact he threw at her whenever she threatened to leave him. She was not at first a radical in the mold of reformer Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who believed that women had a human right to equality with men. Rather, she believed strongly that women, as mothers, had a special role to perform in the world.

    For Howe, the Civil War had been traumatic, but that it led to emancipation might justify its terrible bloodshed. The outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War in 1870 was another story. She remembered:

    “I was visited by a sudden feeling of the cruel and unnecessary character of the contest. It seemed to me a return to barbarism, the issue having been one which might easily have been settled without bloodshed. The question forced itself upon me, ‘Why do not the mothers of mankind interfere in these matters, to prevent the waste of that human life of which they alone know and bear the cost?’”

    Howe had a new vision, she said, of “the august dignity of motherhood and its terrible responsibilities.” She sat down immediately and wrote an “Appeal to Womanhood Throughout the World.” Men always had and always would decide questions by resorting to “mutual murder,” she wrote, but women did not have to accept “proceedings which fill the globe with grief and horror.” Mothers could command their sons, “who owe their life to her suffering,” to stop the madness.

    "Arise, women!” Howe commanded. “Say firmly: ‘We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience. We, women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country, to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.’”

    Howe had her document translated into French, Spanish, Italian, German, and Swedish and distributed it as widely as her extensive contacts made possible. She believed that her Women’s Peace Movement would be the next great development in human history, ending war just as the antislavery movement had ended human bondage. She called for a “festival which should be observed as mothers’ day, and which should be devoted to the advocacy of peace doctrines” to be held around the world on June 2 of every year, a date that would permit open-air meetings.

    Howe organized international peace conferences, and American states developed their own Mothers’ Day festivals. But Howe quickly realized that there was much to be done before women could come together on a global scale. She turned her attention to women’s clubs “to constitute a working and united womanhood.”

    As Howe worked to unite women, she came to realize that a woman did not have to center her life around a man, but rather should be “a free agent, fully sharing with man every human right and every human responsibility.” “This discovery was like the addition of a new continent to the map of the world,” she later recalled, “or of a new testament to the old ordinances.” She threw herself into the struggle for women’s suffrage, understanding that in order to create a more just and peaceful society, women must take up their rightful place as equal participants in American politics.

    While we celebrate the modern version of Mother’s Day on May 12, in this momentous year of 2024 it’s worth remembering the original Mothers’ Day and Julia Ward Howe’s conviction that women must have the same rights as men, and that they must make their voices heard.

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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,332
      May 12, 2024 (Sunday)

    I write a lot about how the Biden-Harris administration is working to restore the principles of the period between 1933 and 1981, when members of both political parties widely shared the belief that the government should regulate business, provide a basic social safety net, promote infrastructure, and protect civil rights. And I write about how that so-called liberal consensus broke down as extremists used the Reconstruction-era image of the American cowboy—who, according to myth, wanted nothing from the government but to be left alone—to stand against what they insisted was creeping socialism that stole tax dollars from hardworking white men in order to give handouts to lazy minorities and women.

    But five major stories over the past several days made me realize that I’ve never written about how Trump and his loyalists have distorted the cowboy image until it has become a poisonous caricature of the values its recent defenders have claimed to champion.

    The cowboy myth originated during the Reconstruction era as a response to the idea that a government that defended Black rights was “socialist” and that the tax dollars required to pay bureaucrats and army officers would break hardworking white men.

    This weekend, on Saturday, May 11, Paul Kiel of ProPublica and Russ Buettner of the New York Times teamed up to deliver a deep investigation into what Trump was talking about when he insisted that he must break tradition and refuse to release his tax returns when he ran for office in 2016 and 2020, citing an audit.

    The New York Times had already reported that one of the reasons the Internal Revenue Service was auditing Trump’s taxes was that, beginning in 2010, he began to claim a $72.9 million tax refund because of huge losses from his failing casinos.  

    Kiel and Buettner followed the convoluted web of Trump’s finances to find another issue with his tax history. They concluded that Trump’s Chicago skyscraper, his last major construction project, was “a vast money loser.” He claimed losses as high as $651 million on it in 2008. But then he appears to have moved ownership of the building in 2010 from one entity to a new one—the authors describe it as “like moving coins from one pocket to another”—and used that move to claim another $168 million in losses, thereby double-dipping.

    The experts the authors consulted said that if he loses the audit battle, Trump could owe the IRS more than $100 million. University of Baltimore law professor Walter Schwidetzky, who is an expert on partnership taxation, told the authors: “I think he ripped off the tax system.”

    The cowboy myth emphasized dominance over the Indigenous Americans and Mexicans allegedly attacking white settlers from the East. On Friday an impressive piece of reporting from Jude Joffe-Block at NPR untangled the origins of a story pushed by Republicans that Democrats were encouraging asylum seekers to vote illegally for President Joe Biden in 2024, revealing that the story was entirely made up.  

    The story broke on X, formerly Twitter, on April 15, when the investigative arm of the right-wing Heritage Foundation, which promises to provide “aggressive oversight” of the Biden administration, posted photos of what it claimed were flyers from inside portable toilets at a migrant camp in Matamoros, Mexico, that said in broken Spanish: “Reminder to vote for President Biden when you are in the United States. We need another four years of his term to stay open.” The tweet thread got more than 9 million views and was boosted by Elon Musk, X’s owner.

    But the story was fabricated. The flyer used the name of a small organization that helps asylum seekers, along with the name of the woman who runs the organization. She is a U.S. citizen and told Joffe-Block that her organization has “never encouraged people to vote for anyone.” Indeed, it has never come up because everyone knows noncitizens are not eligible to vote. The flyer had outdated phone numbers and addresses, and its Spanish was full of errors. Migrants who are staying at the encampment as they wait for their appointments to enter the U.S. say they have never seen such flyers, and no one has urged them to vote for Biden.

    Digging showed that the flyer was “discovered” by the right-wing video site Muckraker, which specializes in “undercover” escapades. The founder of Muckraker, Anthony Rubin, and his brother, Joshua Rubin, had shown up at the organization’s headquarters in Matamoros asking to become volunteers for the organization; they and their conversation were captured on video, and signs point to the conclusion that they planted the flyers.

    Nonetheless, Republicans ran with the story. Within 12 hours after the fake flyer appeared on X, Republican representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Dan Bishop (R-NC) brought posters of it to Congress, and Republicans made it a centerpiece of their insistence that Congress must pass a new law against noncitizen voting. Rather than being protected by modern-day cowboys, the woman who ran the organization that helps asylum seekers got death threats.

    The cowboy image emphasized the masculinity of the independent men it championed, but the testimony of Stephanie Clifford, the adult film actress also known as Stormy Daniels, in Trump’s criminal trial for falsifying business records to cover up his payments to Clifford to keep her story of their sexual encounter secret before the 2016 election, turns Trump’s aggressive dominance into sad weakness. Covering Clifford’s testimony, Maureen Dowd of the New York Times yesterday wrote that “Trump came across as a loser in her account—a narcissist, cheater, sad Hugh Hefner wannabe, trading his satin pajamas for a dress shirt and trousers (and, later, boxers) as soon as Stormy mocked him.”

    In the literature of the cowboy myth, the young champion of the underdog is eventually supposed to settle down and take care of his family, who adore him. But the news of the past week has caricatured that shift, too. On Wednesday, May 8, the Republican Party of Florida announced that it had picked Trump’s youngest son, 18-year-old Barron, as one of the state’s at-large delegates to the Republican National Convention, along with Trump’s other sons, Eric and Donald Jr.; Don Jr.’s fiancée, Kimberly Guilfoyle; and Trump’s second daughter, Tiffany, and her husband.

    On Friday, May 10, Trump’s current wife and Barron’s mother, former first lady Melania Trump, issued a statement saying: “While Barron is honored to have been chosen as a delegate by the Florida Republican Party, he regretfully declines to participate due to prior commitments.” It is hard not to interpret this extraordinary snub from his own wife and son as a chilly response to the past month of testimony about his extramarital escapades while Barron was an infant.

    Finally, there was the eye-popping story broken by Josh Dawsey and Maxine Joselow in the Washington Post on Thursday, revealing that last month, at a private meeting with about two dozen top oil executives at Mar-a-Lago, Trump offered to reverse President Joe Biden’s environmental rules designed to combat climate change and to stop any new ones from being enacted in exchange for a $1 billion donation.

    Trump has promised his supporters that he would be an outsider, using his knowledge of business to defend ordinary Americans against those elites who don’t care about them. Now he has been revealed as being willing to sell us out—to sell humanity out—for the bargain basement price of $1 billion (with about 8 billion people in the world, this would make us each worth about 12 and a half cents).

    Chief White House ethics lawyer in the George W. Bush administration Richard Painter wrote: “This is called bribery. It’s a felony.” He followed up with “Even a candidate who loses can be prosecuted for bribery. That includes the former guy asking for a billion dollars in campaign cash from oil companies in exchange for rolling back environmental laws.”

    The cowboy myth was always a political image, designed to undermine the idea of a government that worked for ordinary Americans. It was powerful after the Civil War but faded into the past in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s as Americans realized that their lives depended on government regulation and a basic social safety net. The American cowboy burst back into prominence with the advent of the Marlboro Man in 1954, the year of the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision, and the idea of an individual white man who worked hard, wanted nothing from the government but to be left alone, was a sex symbol, and protected his women became a central myth in the rise of politicians determined to overturn the liberal consensus.

    Now it seems the myth has come full circle, with the party led by a man whose wife rejects him and whose lovers ridicule him, who makes up stories about dangerous “others,” cheats on his taxes, solicits bribes, and tries to sell out his followers for cash—the very caricature the mythological cowboy was invented to fight.

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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,332
      May 13, 2024 (Monday)

    Today illustrated that the Democrats have become America’s cheerleaders, emphasizing how investment in the nation’s infrastructure has created jobs and rebuilt the country. This week, the Biden-Harris administration is touting its investments in rebuilding roads and bridges, making sure Americans have clean water, getting rid of pollution, expanding access to high-speed internet, and building a clean energy economy, contrasting that success with Trump’s eternal announcements of an “Infrastructure Week” that never came.

    The White House today announced that it has awarded nearly $454 billion in funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, including more than 56,000 projects across more than 4,500 communities across the nation. Those include fixing more than 165,000 miles of roads and more than 9,400 bridges and improving more than 450 ports and 300 airport terminals. It has funded more than 1,400 drinking water and wastewater projects and projects to replace up to 1.7 million toxic lead pipes, as well as more than 8,000 low- and zero-emission buses. It has funded 95 previously unfunded Superfund projects to clean up contaminated sites. It has improved the electrical grid and funded 12,000 miles of high-speed internet infrastructure, and exposed internet junk fees.  

    The White House explained that this investment is making it cheaper to install clean energy technology and lowering families’ monthly energy bills, and highlighted today the available rebates to enable people to take advantage of the new technologies.

    On Wednesday, May 8, a report from the Semiconductor Industry Association and the Boston Consulting Group explored the “breathtaking speed,” as the president of the semiconductor organization put it, at which the industry is growing. In the Financial Times on May 9, John Thornhill reported that the CHIPS and Science Act, which provided a $39 billion investment in  the semiconductor industry, has “primed a torrent of private sector investment.” With the influx of both federal money and an additional $447 billion of private investment in 83 projects in 25 states, the report forecasts that the U.S. will increase its share of global manufacturing capacity for leading-edge chips from today’s rate of 0% to 28% by 2032. Thornhill compared this investment to that spurred by Russia’s 1957 launch of the Sputnik satellite.

    The Economist yesterday announced that the U.S. “is in the midst of an extraordinary startup boom,” and explored “[h]ow the country revived its “go-getting spirit.”

    In contrast to the Democrats’ confidence in America, the Republicans are all-in on the idea that the country is an apocalyptic wasteland. At a rally in New Jersey Saturday, Trump announced: “On day one we will throw out Bidenomics and reinstate MAGAnomics.” He promised to extend his 2017 tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations.

    But the gist of his speech was an angry, vitriolic picture of a failing nation full of “enemies” that are “more dangerous” than China and Russia and who are “going to destroy our country.” In his telling, the criminal case against him in Manhattan is “bullsh*t,” and President Biden has done more damage than the “ten worst presidents in the history of our country” combined: “[h]e’s a fool; he’s not a smart man…[h]e’s a bad guy…the worst president ever, of any country. The whole world is laughing at him.”

    Trump lied that other countries are “emptying out their mental institutions into the United States, our beautiful country. And now the prison populations all over the world are down. They don’t want to report that the mental-institution population is down because they’re taking people from insane asylums and from mental institutions.” Then he riffed into “the late great Hannibal Lecter,” the fictional murderer and cannibal in the film The Silence of the Lambs, apparently to suggest that similar individuals are migrating to the U.S.

    House Republicans this week are working to pass a nonbinding resolution to condemn Biden’s immigration policies, although it was Republicans, under orders from Trump, who killed a strong bipartisan immigration bill earlier this year.

    The only way to turn back this apocalypse, Trump and his supporters insist, is to put Trump and his team back into the White House. From there, Republicans will return those they consider “real” Americans to power.

    The last few days have added new information about what that means. On Thursday, May 9, Senators Katie Britt (R-AL), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Kevin Cramer (R-ND) introduced the More Opportunities for Moms to Succeed (MOMS) act. Britt—who is best known for her disastrous response to Biden’s State of the Union speech from her kitchen—said the measure would provide a federal database of resources for pregnant women and women parenting young children, but that information excludes anything that touches on abortion.

    The measure is clear that it enlists the government in opposition to abortion, but more than that, it establishes that the government will create a database of the names and contact information of pregnant women, which the government can then use “to follow up with users on additional resources that would be helpful for the users to review.”

    A government database of pregnant women would give the federal government unprecedented control over individuals, and it is especially chilling after the story Caroline Kitchener broke in the Washington Post on May 3, that a Texas man, Collin Davis, filed a petition to stop his ex-partner from traveling to Colorado, where abortion is legal, to obtain an abortion. Should she do so, his lawyer wrote, he would “pursue wrongful-death claims against anyone involved in the killing of his unborn child.” Now Davis wants to be able to depose his former partner along with others he says are “complicit” in the abortion.

    Antiabortion activists are also seeking to make mifepristone and misoprostol, drugs used in many abortions, hard to obtain. In Louisiana, state lawmakers are considering classifying the drugs as “controlled dangerous substances,” which would make possessing them carry penalties of up to ten years in prison and fines of up to $75,000.

    More than 240 Louisiana doctors wrote to lawmakers saying that the drugs have none of the addictive characteristics associated with dangerous controlled substances and warning that the drugs are crucial for inducing routine labor and preventing catastrophic hemorrhage after delivery, in addition to their use in abortions. “Given its historically poor maternal health outcomes, Louisiana should prioritize safe and evidence-based care for pregnant women,” the doctors wrote.

    Louisiana lawmakers also rejected a bill that would have allowed anyone under age 17, the age of consent in Louisiana, to have an abortion if they became pregnant after rape or incest. Passionate testimony from those who suffered such attacks or who treated pregnant girls as young as 8 failed to convince the Republican lawmakers to support the measure. “That baby [in the womb] is innocent.… We have to hang on to that,” said Republican state representative Dodie Horton.

    Today, at the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization promoting Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander participation and representation at all levels of the political process, Vice President Kamala Harris encouraged young people to innovate and to move into spaces from which they have been traditionally excluded.

    “So here’s the thing about breaking barriers,” she said. “Breaking barriers does not mean you start on one side of the barrier and you end up on the other side. There’s breaking involved. And when you break things you get cut. And you may bleed. And it is worth it every time…. We have to know that sometimes people will open the door for you and leave it open. Sometimes they won't. And then you need to kick that f*cking door down.”

    Harris’s advice reflects the history that happened on this date in 1862, when the enslaved mariners on board the shallow-draft C.S.S. Planter gathered up their families, fired up the ship’s boilers, and sailed out of the Charleston, South Carolina, harbor. The three white officers of the ship had gone ashore, leaving enslaved 23-year-old pilot Robert Smalls to take control. Smalls knew how to steer the ship and give the proper signals to the Confederates at Fort Sumter, Fort Moultrie, and three other checkpoints.

    Smalls piloted the Planter, the sixteen formerly enslaved people on it, and a head full of intelligence about the Confederate fortifications at Charleston to the U.S. Navy. In Confederate hands, the Planter had surveyed waterways and laid mines; now that information was in U.S. hands. Smalls went on to pilot naval vessels during the war, and in 1864 he bought the house formerly owned by the man who had enslaved him.

    A natural leader, Smalls went on to become a businessman, politician, and strong advocate for education. After serving in the 1868 South Carolina Constitutional Convention that made school attendance compulsory and provided for universal male suffrage, he went on to serve in the South Carolina legislature from 1868 to 1874, when he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served until 1887. When President Barack Obama signed an executive order establishing the nation’s first national monument concerning Reconstruction, he cited the life of Robert Smalls.

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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,332
      May 14, 2024 (Tuesday)

    Today the White House announced tariffs on certain products imported from China, including steel and aluminum products, semiconductors, electric vehicles, batteries and battery components, solar cells, ship-to-shore cranes, syringes and needles, and certain personal protective equipment (or PPE). According to the White House, these higher tariffs are designed “to protect American workers and businesses from China’s unfair trade practices.” Tariffs are essentially taxes on imported goods, and altogether the tariff hikes cover about $18 billion in imported goods.

    In 2018, Trump abruptly ended the economic era based on the idea that free trade benefited the global economy by putting tariffs of 25% on a wide range of foreign made goods. This was a cap to a set of ideas that had been sputtering for a while as industries moved to countries with cheaper labor, feeding the popular discontent Trump tapped into. Trump claimed that other countries would pay his tariffs, but tariffs are actually paid by Americans, not foreign countries, and his have cost Americans more than $230 billion. Half of that has come in under the Biden administration.

    Trump’s tariffs also actually cost jobs, but they were very popular politically. A January 2024 National Bureau of Economic Research working paper by David Autor, Anne Beck, David Dorn, and Gordon H. Hanson established that the trade war of 2018–2019 hurt the U.S. heartland but actually helped Trump’s reelection campaign. “Residents of regions more exposed to import tariffs became less likely to identify as Democrats, more likely to vote to reelect Donald Trump in 2020, and more likely to elect Republicans to Congress,” they discovered.

    Now Trump is saying, that if elected, he will impose a 10% tariff on everything imported into the United States, with a 60% tariff on anything from China and a 100% tariff on any cars made outside the U.S.

    In contrast, the administration’s new tariffs are aimed only at China, and only at industries already growing in the U.S., especially semiconductors. Tariffs will rise to 50% on semiconductors and solar cells, 100% on electric vehicles, and 25% on batteries, a hike that will help the Big Three automakers who agreed to union demands in newly opened battery factories, as well as their United Auto Workers workforce. “I’m determined that the future of electric vehicles be made in America by union workers. Period,” Biden said.

    The administration says the tariffs are a response to China’s unfair trade practices, and such tariffs are popular in the manufacturing belt of Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Democratic senators from that region have asked Biden to maintain or increase tariffs on Chinese imports after “[g]enerations of free trade agreements that prioritize multinational corporations have devasted our communities, harmed our economy, and crippled our job market.”

    In other economic news, a new rule capping credit card late fees at $8, about a quarter of what they are now, was supposed to go into effect today, but on Friday a federal judge in Texas blocked the rule. The new cap was set by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the brainchild of Massachusetts Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren, and was part of the Biden administration’s crackdown on “junk fees.”

    The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Bankers Association sued to stop the rule from taking effect, and U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman, appointed by Trump, issued a preliminary injunction against it. His reasoning draws from an argument advanced by the far-right Fifth Circuit, which oversees Texas, Mississippi, and Louisiana, arguing that the CFPB itself is unconstitutional because of its funding structure. "Consequently, any regulations promulgated under that regime are likely unconstitutional as well," Pittman wrote.

    On Friday, major airlines, including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Hawaiian Airlines, and Alaska Airlines—but not Southwest Airlines—sued the U.S. Department of Transportation over its new rule that requires the airlines disclose their fees, such as for checking bags, upfront to consumers. The department says consumers are overpaying by $543 million a year in unexpected fees.

    The airlines say that the rule will confuse consumers and that its “attempt to regulate private business operations in a thriving marketplace is beyond its authority.”

    The other big story of the day is the continuing attempt of the MAGA Republicans to overturn our democratic system.

    This morning, House speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), second in line for the presidency and sworn to uphold the Constitution, left his post in Washington, D.C., to appear with former president Trump at his trial for falsifying business records to deceive voters before the 2016 election. The House was due to consider the final passage of the crucially important Federal Aviation Authority Reauthorization Act, but Johnson chose instead to show up to do the work the judge’s gag order means Trump cannot do himself, attacking key witness Michael Cohen, Trump’s former fixer. Johnson described Cohen as “clearly on a mission for personal revenge” and, citing his “history of perjury,” said that “[n]o one should believe a word he says in there.”

    “I do have a lot of surrogates,” Trump boasted this morning, “and they are speaking very beautifully.” Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), who was also at the trial this morning, later said on Newsmax that they had indeed gone to “overcome this gag order.”

    Johnson went on to call the trial “corrupt” and say “this ridiculous prosecution…is not about justice. It’s all about politics.” He left without taking questions. Meg Kinnard of the Associated Press called out the moment as “a remarkable moment in modern American politics: The House speaker turning his Republican Party against the federal and state legal systems that are foundational to the U.S. government and a cornerstone of democracy.”

    Peter Eisler, Ned Parker, and Joseph Tanfani of Reuters explained today how those attacks on our judiciary are sparking widespread calls for violence against judges, with social media posters in echo chambers goading each other into ever more extreme statements. According to her lawyer, Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, wore a bullet-proof vest as she came and went from court, an uncanny echo of the precautions necessary in mob trials.   

    In a different attack on our constitutional system, House Republicans are trying to replace the administration’s foreign policy with their own. Over the weekend, they introduced a bill to force President Biden to send offensive weapons to Israel for its invasion of Rafah, overruling the administration’s decision to withhold a shipment of 2,000-pound and 500-pound bombs after Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced his government would invade Rafah despite strong opposition from the Biden administration.

    White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters: “We strongly, strongly oppose attempts to constrain the president’s ability to deploy a U.S. security assistance consistent with U.S. foreign policy and national security objectives.”

    The Constitution establishes that the executive branch manages foreign affairs, and until 2015 it was an established practice that politics stopped at the water’s edge, meaning that Congress quarreled with the administration at home but the two presented a united front in foreign affairs. That practice ended in March 2015, when 47 Republican senators, led by freshman Arkansas senator Tom Cotton, wrote a letter to Iran’s leaders warning that they would not honor any agreement Iran reached with the Obama administration over its development of nuclear weapons.

    The Obama administration did end up negotiating the July 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran and several world powers, under which Iran agreed to restrict its nuclear development and allow inspections in exchange for relief from economic sanctions. In 2018 the extremist Republicans got their way when Trump withdrew the U.S. from the deal, largely collapsing it, after which Iran resumed its expansion of the nuclear enrichment  program it had stopped under the agreement.  

    Now extremists in the House are trying to run foreign policy on their own. The costs of that usurpation of power are clear in Niger, formerly a key U.S. ally in the counterterrorism effort in West Africa. The new prime minister of Niger, Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine, whose party took power after a coup d’état threw out Niger’s democratically elected president, defended his country’s turn away from the U.S. and toward Russia in an interview with Rachel Chason of the Washington Post. Recalling the House’s six month delay in passing the national security supplemental bill, he said: “We have seen what the United States will do to defend its allies,” he said, “because we have seen Ukraine and Israel.”

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    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: 36,332
     May 15, 2024 (Wednesday)

    All three of the nation’s major stock indexes hit record highs today after the latest data showed inflation cooling. Standard and Poor’s 500, more commonly known as the S&P 500, measures the stock performance of 500 of the largest companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges. Today it was up 61 points, or 1.2%. The Nasdaq Composite is weighted toward companies in the information technology sector. Today it was up 231 points, or 1.4%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, often just called the Dow, measures 30 prominent companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges. Today it was up 350 points, or 0.9%. The Dow has risen now for eight straight days, ending the day at 39,908, approaching 40,000.

    Driving the hike in the stock market, most likely, is the information released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Labor Department saying that inflation eased in April. Investors are guessing this makes it more likely that the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates this year.

    People note—correctly—that the stock market does not reflect the larger economy. This makes a report released yesterday from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, or CBO, an important addition to the news from the stock market. It concludes that the goods and services an American household consumed in 2019 were cheaper in 2023 than they were four years before, because incomes grew faster than prices over that four-year period. That finding was true for all levels of the economy.

    That is, “for all income groups…the portion of household income required to purchase the same bundle of goods and services declined.” Those in the bottom 20% found that the share of their income required to purchase the same bundle dropped by 2%. For those in the top 20%, the share of their income required to purchase as they did in 2019 dropped by 6.3%.

    These statistics come on top of unemployment below 4% for a record 27 months, and more than 15 million jobs created since Biden took office, including 789,000 in manufacturing. According to Politifact, three quarters of those jobs represented a return to the conditions before the coronavirus pandemic, but the rest are new. Politifact noted that it is so rare for manufacturing jobs to bounce back at all, that the only economic recovery since World War II that beats the current one was in 1949, making the recovery under the Biden-Harris administration the strongest in 72 years.

    And yet, a recent Philadelphia Inquirer/New York Times/Siena College poll found that 78% of Pennsylvania voters thought the economy was “fair” or “poor.” Fifty-four percent of them said they trust Trump to handle the economy better than Biden, compared with just 42% who prefer Biden.

    The divorce between reality and people’s beliefs illuminates just how important media portrayals of events are.

    In the landslide election of 1892, when voters elected Democrat Grover Cleveland to the White House for the third time (he won the popular vote in 1888 but lost in the electoral college) and put Democrats in charge of the House of Representatives and the Senate, Republicans insisted that the economy would collapse. The previous administration, that of Republican Benjamin Harrison, had openly and proudly worked for businessmen, and Republicans maintained that losing that administration would be a calamity. Democrats, the Republicans insisted, were really socialists and anarchists who wanted to destroy America.

    As Republican newspapers predicted an impending collapse, fearful investors pulled out of the market. Although economic indicators were actually better in 1892 than they had been for years, as soon as Cleveland was elected, the nation seemed to be in terrible trouble. Money began to flow out of the stock market, and the outgoing Harrison administration refused to reassure investors. By February 1893 the stock market was paralyzed.

    In mid-February, financier J. P. Morgan rushed to Washington to urge Harrison to do something, but the calm of the administration men remained undisturbed. Secretary of the Treasury Charles Foster commented publicly that the Republicans were responsible for the economy only until March 4, the day Cleveland would take office. His job was to “avert a catastrophe up to that date.”

    He didn’t quite manage it. On Friday, February 17, the stock market began to collapse. By February 23 the slaughter was universal. Investors begged Harrison to relieve the crisis, but with only eight days left in his term, Harrison and his men maintained that nothing important was happening. The secretary of the Treasury spent his last few days in office sitting for his portrait. The New York Times noted that “[i]f the National Treasury Department had been retained especially to manufacture apprehension and create disturbance it could not have done more effective work.”

    Secretary Foster had one more parting shot. When he handed the Treasury Department off to his Democratic successor, he told the newspapers that “the Treasury was down to bedrock.”

    When Cleveland took office on March 4, 1893, a financial panic was in full swing. As he tried to negotiate that crisis, Republicans sagely told voters the crash was the result of the Democrats’ policies. When Democrats turned to an income tax so they could lower the tariffs that were hurting consumers, Republicans insisted they were socialists. When unemployed workers and struggling farmers marched on Washington to ask for jobs or launched railroad strikes, Republicans insisted that Democrats stood with the mob, while Republicans were the party of law and order.

    Republicans promised voters that they would restore the health of the economy. The 1894 midterm elections reversed the landslide of 1892, giving Republicans 130 more seats in the House—a two-thirds majority—and a majority in the Senate. The economy had begun to recover before the election, and that uptick continued. The Democrats had plunged the country into a panic, the Chicago Tribune reported, but now “American manufacturers and merchants and business-men generally will draw a long breath of relief.”

    How the media covers events matters.

    Allison Fisher of Media Matters reported today that with the exception of MSNBC, national television news failed to cover the extraordinary story reported by Josh Dawsey and Maxine Joselow on May 9 in the Washington Post that Trump had told oil executives that if they gave $1 billion to his campaign, he would get rid of all the regulations the Biden administration has enacted to combat climate change.

    In the 1920s, President Warren G. Harding’s secretary of the interior, Albert Fall, went to prison for a year for accepting a $385,000 bribe from oilman Edward L. Doheny in exchange for leases to drill for oil on naval reserve land in Elk Hills and Buena Vista, California, and Teapot Dome, Wyoming. Fall was the first former cabinet officer to go to prison, and the scandal was considered so outrageous that “Teapot Dome” has gone down in U.S. history as shorthand for a corrupt presidency.

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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,332
      May 16, 2024 (Thursday)

    Seventy years ago, on May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court decided Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. That landmark decision declared racial segregation in public schools unconstitutional.

    Brown v. Board was a turning point in American history.

    It established that the U.S. government would, once and for all, use the Fourteenth Amendment to protect American citizens from discriminatory legislation written by state legislatures.

    Added to the Constitution in 1868, in the wake of the Civil War, as southern state legislatures were writing laws that made Black Americans subservient to white Americans, the Fourteenth Amendment asserted that the federal government could, and must, stop such discrimination. It established that “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” It gave Congress the power to enforce the amendment.

    In the late nineteenth century, the Supreme Court nodded to racial segregation in the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson decision, getting around the Fourteenth Amendment by asserting that separate accommodations were fine, so long as they were “equal.” But in 1954 a unanimous court under Chief Justice Earl Warren, who had previously been the Republican governor of California, ruled that racial segregation established by state law in public schools denied to Black children the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment.

    “Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal,” it wrote.

    Just two weeks before it decided Brown v. Board, the Supreme Court had decided Hernandez v. Texas, which established that not only Black Americans, but also Mexican Americans and all other nationality groups, were entitled to equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment.

    Over the following decades, the Supreme Court used the Fourteenth Amendment to strike down state laws against interracial marriage and gay marriage, and to establish equal rights for women, including the right to abortion. It also ruled the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, constitutional.

    That new legal framework, embodied in Brown v. Board, both established the equal rights that were central to the modern era and sparked a backlash against them.

    The federal requirement that states desegregate their public schools spurred southern state legislatures to pass laws and resolutions to block or postpone desegregation. In 1956, ninety-nine congressmen, led by South Carolina Democrat Strom Thurmond, wrote the “Declaration of Constitutional Principles,” quickly dubbed the Southern Manifesto, denouncing desegregation as unconstitutional.

    Lawmakers also found ways to transfer tax dollars to private schools, which were not covered by the Supreme Court’s decision. Attendance at so-called segregation academies exploded. By 1958, more than 250,000 students had migrated to segregation academies, a number that jumped to a million by 1965.

    Those opposed to racial equality made common cause with those businessmen determined to get rid of federal regulation of business. In 1955, William F. Buckley Jr., the son of an oilman, started National Review, a periodical that promised to stand against an active government that protected labor and regulated business. Buckley said he would tell the “violated businessman’s side of the story.”

    In National Review, Buckley gave Virginia newspaper editor James Kilpatrick a platform to assure readers that desegregation challenged American values. Black Americans had no right to the equality declared unanimously by the Supreme Court, Kilpatrick wrote. Rather, the white community had an established right “to peace and tranquillity [sic]; the right to freedom from tumult and lawlessness.” Desegregation would lead to bloody violence, he promised, implying that Black Americans would rage and riot, although, in fact, it was the white community that was attacking Black Americans.

    In 1964, Arizona senator Barry Goldwater brought these two themes to his presidential campaign. He stood firm on the idea that the federal government had no business either regulating business or protecting equality. In The Conscience of a Conservative, published under his name in 1960, Goldwater asserted that the federal government had no power over schools at all and certainly could not order them to desegregate.

    Goldwater accepted the Republican presidential nomination in July 1964, less than a month after three civil rights workers registering Black Americans to vote had disappeared in Mississippi. Goldwater told his cheering supporters:  “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice, and…moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.” Strom Thurmond publicly announced that he would vote for Goldwater.

    Goldwater lost in a landslide, but his loss fed the backlash against federal protection of equality, especially after Congress passed the 1965 Voting Rights Act to expand Black and Brown voting, moving many of those voters into the Democrats’ camp. In 1968, Republican Richard Nixon courted Thurmond and white southerners with a promise to slow down desegregation and a defense of state’s rights. The so-called Southern Strategy moved the former Dixiecrats to the Republican Party.

    Religious traditionalists, particularly those among the Southern Baptist Convention, also opposed the federal government’s support for equality, although they got less press in the early years of that expansion. In their view, the Bible laid out hierarchical social arrangements, especially patriarchy. Government defense of women’s equality was a direct assault on their worldview.

    When he ran for the presidency in 1980, former California governor Ronald Reagan courted those religious traditionalists, and in 1985 his people made them a key part of the Republican coalition. Americans for Tax Reform brought together big business, evangelicals, and social conservatives under the leadership of Grover Norquist, who had been an economist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “Traditional Republican business groups can provide the resources,” Norquist explained, “but these groups can provide the votes.”

    In the following decades, Republican leaders used racist and traditionalist dislike of equal rights to turn out voters who would let them put their economic policies—cuts to taxes and deregulation of business—into place. But those opposed to equal rights found themselves out of step with a majority of voters and unable to get their policies enshrined into law as courts continued to uphold equal rights for racial and ethnic minorities, LGBTQ+ individuals, and women.

    The backlash against the federal protection of equal rights based on the Fourteenth Amendment entered a new era with the election of Donald Trump. In contrast to his predecessors, Trump let the racist and sexist voter base of the party drive policy. White evangelicals, especially, found in Trump an answer to their frustration at being sidelined by the courts and a majority of American voters.

    Despite his own lack of personal virtue, Trump was willing to smash through the laws and court decisions that had supported equality since the 1950s, offering to center the country on traditional religion and racial hierarchies in exchange for power. Under him, traditionalists saw the courts stacked with extremists who would prioritize their evangelical faith across society, including by ending the federal protection of abortion rights.

    Their fight to return Trump to power is part of their fight to establish traditional religion, rather than the equality promised in the Fourteenth Amendment, as the nation’s fundamental law. As Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows wrote to Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, as they plotted to overturn the decision of voters in 2020 to reject Trump: “This is a fight of good versus evil. Evil always looks like the victor until the King of Kings triumphs. Do not grow weary in well doing. The fight continues. I have staked my career on it.”  

    Today, almost exactly seventy years to the day after Brown v. Board ushered in a new era of equality and democracy in the United States, MAGA Republican lawmakers Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Michael Cloud (R-TX), Eli Crane (R-AZ), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Bob Good (R-VA), Diana Harshbarger (R-TN), Anna Paulina Luna (R-FL), Ralph Norman (R-SC), and Andy Ogles (R-TN) traveled to Manhattan to stand with Trump at his criminal trial for falsifying business records to interfere in an election. The lawmakers made it clear that their determination to control the country has made them give up not only on the equality promised in the Declaration of Independence and defended by the Fourteenth Amendment, but also on democracy.

    Echoing the promise of the right-wing Proud Boys to Trump before they stormed the U.S. Capitol to install Trump into office despite the will of the voters, Gaetz tweeted: “Standing back and standing by, Mr. President.”

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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,332
      May 17, 2024 (Friday)

    Yesterday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose above 40,000 but then dropped back below it; today it closed above 40,000 for the first time in history, ending the day at 40,003.59. This extraordinary performance means investors have confidence the Federal Reserve will get inflation under control without throwing the country into a recession. It is a triumphant vindication of the financial policies advanced by President Joe Biden and Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen.

    In comparison to the breathless coverage of the stock market during Trump’s administration, this milestone is getting very little coverage. Under Trump, the stock market had the highest annualized gain of any Republican president since Calvin Coolidge in the 1920s, but at 11.8%, that annualized gain was lower than the annualized return under Democratic presidents Barack Obama (12.1%) and Bill Clinton (15.9%). Biden’s annualized return passed Trump’s in April 2024, as well.

    The stock market’s performance is being ignored partly because Democrats tend to underplay the role of the stock market as an indication of economic health because they recognize it is not the only important way to think about the economy. But since he took office, Biden has also had to contend with the constant stream of outrageous news coming from the radical right.

    Today is no exception. Indeed, today’s news is among the most shocking that we’ve had since Biden took office.

    Yesterday evening, Jodi Kantor of the New York Times reported that in the days before Biden’s inauguration, an upside-down American flag flew in front of Supreme Court justice Samuel Alito’s home. A U.S. flag flown upside down is a universal symbol of distress. In the days after the January 6, 2021, insurrection, Trump loyalists flew the upside-down flag as a symbol of “the impending death of the nation and a call to arms,” according to American studies professor Matthew Guterl.

    Leading scholar of the American right Kathleen Belew explained on social media that the upside-down flag was “not just signifying that the election was ‘stolen.’ The inverted flag means the country has been overthrown (to many, if not most, on the right). This is a profound act of symbolism and appalling at the home of a Supreme Court Justice.“

    For Alito to fly it was an indication that he was part of the insurrection.

    In September 2021, Trump loyalist lawyer Sidney Powell, who was part of the team trying to get the results of the 2020 presidential election overturned, told a right-wing talk show host that while rioters were attacking the Capitol, she and her team were trying to get an emergency injunction to prevent Congress from certifying Biden’s victory.

    "We were filing a 12th Amendment constitutional challenge to the process that the Congress was about to use under the Electoral Act provisions that simply don't jive [sic] with the 12th Amendment to the United States Constitution," she said. "And Justice Alito was our circuit justice for that.”

    The plan was thwarted, she said, when then-House speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) reconvened Congress and certified Biden’s win that night. "[S]he really had to speed up reconvening Congress to get the vote going before Justice Alito might have issued an injunction to stop it all, which is what should have happened,” Powell said.

    Senate Judiciary Committee chair Dick Durbin (D-IL) said today that “Justice Alito should recuse himself immediately from cases related to the 2020 election and the January 6th insurrection, including the question of the former President's immunity in U.S. v. Donald Trump, which the Supreme Court is currently considering. The Court is in an ethical crisis of its own making, and Justice Alito and the rest of the Court should be doing everything in their power to regain public trust.”

    House minority leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) also called for Alito to recuse himself from cases involving the 2020 election and Trump.

    But the potential for Alito to destroy our country in order to restore Trump to the presidency has continued. Along with Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas, whose wife Ginni was in both sympathy and communication with the others trying to overturn the results of the election, as well as the three extremist justices Trump appointed, Alito has been part of a court that has delayed its decision about whether Trump can be tried on criminal charges for conspiring to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election for so long that Trump likely has won his gambit to avoid trial before the 2024 election.

    When Trump claimed last October that he could not be prosecuted, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is overseeing his trial, rejected the argument in December. Trump appealed, and Special Counsel Jack Smith asked the Supreme Court to decide the case immediately. The Supreme Court refused. Then, after a three-judge panel of a federal appeals court unanimously affirmed Chutkan’s ruling in a February 2024 decision that legal observers praised as “thorough and compelling,” Trump appealed to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court then accepted his appeal and scheduled oral arguments for late April, more than a month after the original trial date set by Judge Chutkan.

    The result of all this delay, former federal prosecutor Ankush Khardori wrote in Politico last month, is “that a question whose answer was obvious back in December is unlikely to get that answer from the Supreme Court until its session ends in June.” “If the Court hadn’t intervened, we would already have a verdict in the January 6 case,” political strategist Michael Podhorzer wrote, “and we don’t know whether the Court would have decided to intervene without Thomas and Alito.”

    When the story of Alito’s misuse of the flag broke, the justice explained himself to Fox News Sunday host Shannon Bream. He blamed his wife, Martha-Ann Alito, for flying the flag, saying she had hung it up in response to a “F*** Trump” sign that was “within 50 feet of where children await the school bus in Jan[uary] 21.” He said that the neighbors are “very political” and had had “words” with the Alitos that had upset Mrs. Alito.

    While Justice Alito blamed his wife for the flag, he could hardly have missed seeing it above his house. Former Chicago Tribune editor Mark Jacob wrote: “When I was an editor at the Chicago Tribune, I would’ve been in trouble if I’d let my wife put a political bumper sticker on our car. But a Supreme Court justice’s home can fly a flag of insurrection and he’s still allowed to rule on whether the head insurrectionist has immunity.”

    The deputy chief of staff for Representative Don Beyer (D-VA), who represents the town in which the Alitos live, noted that the local schools were all remote in January 2021 because of the pandemic. “No children were waiting for buses,” he noted. Legal analyst Elie Mystal added: “Sam Alito running to Fox News to explain how…he’s not politically motivated at all…is an under-appreciated part of this ongoing ethical disaster.”

    It would be bad enough for a Supreme Court justice to announce a partisan preference. But, as David Kurtz wrote this morning at Talking Points Memo, Alito’s embrace of the insurrectionist flag “was a bold declaration of affinity for and alignment with the smoldering insurrection led by a president of the same party that had just been put down but which still loomed as a threat to civic order, the peaceful transfer of power (which at that point had still not yet happened), and the rule of law.”

    The call is coming from inside the house.

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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,332
     May 18, 2024 (Saturday)

    Spent a lovely day today with family and let the world turn without me.

    Handing tonight's letter over to my friend Peter with a photograph of his heralding the summer that is just over the horizon.

    I'll be back at it tomorrow.

    [Image, "Moon, Hardwood," by Peter Ralston]

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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,332
      May 19, 2024 (Sunday)

    Delivering the commencement address to the graduating seniors at Morehouse College today, President Joe Biden addressed the nation. After thanking the mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, and all the people who helped the graduates get to the chairs in front of the stage, Biden recalled Morehouse’s history. The school was founded in 1867 by civil rights leader Reverend William Jefferson White with the help of two other Baptist ministers, the Reverend Richard C. Coulter and the Reverend Edmund Turney, to educate formerly enslaved men. They believed “education would be the great equalizer from slavery to freedom,” Biden said, and they created an institution that would make the term “Morehouse man” continue to stand as a symbol of excellence 157 years later.

    Then Biden turned to a speech that centered on faith. Churches talk a lot about Jesus being buried on Friday and rising from the dead on Sunday, he said, “but we don’t talk enough about Saturday, when…his disciples felt all hope was lost. In our lives and the lives of the nation, we have those Saturdays—to bear witness the day before glory, seeing people’s pain and not looking away. But what work is done on Saturday to move pain to purpose? How can faith get a man, get a nation through what was to come?”

    It’s a truism that anything that happens before we are born is equidistant from our personal experience, mixing the recent past and the ancient past together in a similar vaguely imagined “before” time. Most of today’s college graduates were not born until about 2002 and likely did not pay a great deal of attention to politics until about five years ago. Biden took the opportunity to explain to them what it meant to live through the 1960s.

    He noted that he was the first in his family to graduate from college, paid for with loans. He fell in love, got a law degree, got married and took a job at a “fancy law firm.”

    But his world changed when an assassin murdered the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King—a Morehouse man—and the segregated city of Wilmington, Delaware, erupted with fires, looting, fights, and occasional gunfire. For nine months, the National Guard patrolled the city in combat gear,  “the longest stretch in any American city since the Civil War,” Biden recalled.

    “Dr. King’s legacy had a profound impact on me and my generation, whether you’re Black or white,” Biden explained. He left the law firm to become first a public defender and then a county councilman, “working to change our state’s politics to embrace the cause of civil rights.”

    The Democratic Party had historically championed white supremacy, but that alignment was in the process of changing as Democrats had swung behind civil rights and the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Biden and his cohort hoped to turn the Delaware Democratic Party toward the new focus on civil rights, he said. In 1972, Biden ran for the Senate and won…barely, in a state Republican president Richard Nixon won with 60% of the vote.

    Biden recalled how, newly elected and hiring staff in Washington, D.C., he got the call telling him that his wife and daughter had been killed in a car accident and that his two sons were gravely injured. The pain of that day hit again 43 years later, he said, when his son Beau died of cancer after living for a year next to a burn pit in Iraq. And he talked of meeting First Lady Jill Biden, “who healed the family in all the broken places. Our family became my redemption,” he said.

    His focus on family and community offered a strong contrast to the Republican emphasis on individualism. “On this walk of life...you come to understand that we don’t know where or what fate will bring you or when,” Biden said. “But we also know we don’t walk alone. When you’ve been a beneficiary of the compassion of your family, your friends, even strangers, you know how much the compassion matters,” he said. “I’ve learned there is no easy optimism, but by faith—by faith, we can find redemption.”

    For the graduates, Biden noted, four years ago “felt like one of those Saturdays. The pandemic robbed you of so much. Some of you lost loved ones—mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, who…aren’t able to be here to celebrate with you today….  You missed your high school graduation. You started college just as George Floyd was murdered and there was a reckoning on race.

    “It’s natural to wonder if democracy you hear about actually works for you.

    “What is democracy if Black men are being killed in the street?
     
    “What is democracy if a trail of broken promises still leave[s]…Black communities behind?
     
    “What is democracy if you have to be 10 times better than anyone else to get a fair shot?
     
    “And most of all, what does it mean, as we’ve heard before, to be a Black man who loves his country even if it doesn’t love him back in equal measure?”

    The crowd applauded.

    Biden explained that across the Oval Office from his seat behind the Resolute Desk are busts of Dr. King and Senator Robert Kennedy, challenging Biden: “Are we living up to what we say we are as a nation, to end racism and poverty, to deliver jobs and justice, to restore our leadership in the world?” He wears a rosary on his wrist made of Beau’s rosary as a reminder that faith asks us “to hold on to hope, to move heaven and earth to make better days.”

    “[T]hat’s my commitment to you,” he said. “[T]o show you democracy, democracy, democracy is still the way.”

    Biden pledged to “call out the poison of white supremacy” and noted that he “stood up…with George Floyd’s family to help create a country where you don’t need to have that talk with your son or grandson as they get pulled over.” The administration is investing in Black communities and reconnecting neighborhoods cut apart by highways decades ago. It has reduced Black child poverty to the lowest rate in history. It is removing lead pipes across the nation to provide clean drinking water to everyone, and investing in high-speed internet to bring all households into the modern era.

    The administration is creating opportunities, Biden said, bringing “good-paying jobs…; capital to start small businesses and loans to buy homes; health insurance, [prescription] drugs, housing that’s more affordable and accessible.” Biden reminded the audience that he had joined workers on a picket line. To applause, he noted that when the Supreme Court blocked his attempt to relieve student debt, he found two other ways to do it. He noted the administration’s historic investment in historically black colleges and universities.

    “We’re opening doors so you can walk into a life of generational wealth, to be providers and leaders for your families and communities.  Today, record numbers of Black Americans have jobs, health insurance, and more [wealth] than ever.”

    Then Biden directly addressed the student protests over the Israeli government’s strikes on Gaza. At Morehouse today, one graduate stood with his back to Biden and his fist raised during the president’s speech, and the class valedictorian, DeAngelo Jeremiah Fletcher, who spoke before the president, wore a picture of a Palestinian flag on his mortarboard and called for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza, at which Biden applauded.

    “In a democracy, we debate and dissent about America’s role in the world,” Biden said. “I want to say this very clearly. I support peaceful, nonviolent protest. Your voices should be heard, and I promise you I hear them.”

    “What’s happening in Gaza…is heartbreaking,” he said, with “[i]nnocent Palestinians caught in the middle” of a fight between Hamas and Israel. He reminded them that he has called “for an immediate ceasefire…to stop the fighting [and] bring the hostages home.” His administration has been working for a deal, as well as to get more aid into Gaza and to rebuild it. Crucially, he added, there is more at stake than “just one ceasefire.” He wants “to build a lasting, durable peace. Because the question is…: What after? What after Hamas? What happens then? What happens in Gaza? What rights do the Palestinian people have?” To applause, he said, “I’m working to make sure we finally get a two-state solution—the only solution—for two people to live in peace, security, and dignity.”

    “This is one of the hardest, most complicated problems in the world,” he said. “I know it angered and frustrates many of you, including my family. But most of all, I know it breaks your heart. It breaks mine as well. Leadership is about fighting through the most intractable problems. It’s about challenging anger, frustration, and heartbreak to find a solution. It’s about doing what you believe is right, even when it’s hard and lonely. You’re all future leaders, every one of you graduating today…. You’ll face complicated, tough moments. In these moments, you’ll listen to others, but you’ll have to decide, guided by knowledge, conviction, principle, and your own moral compass.”

    Turning back to the United States, Biden urged the graduates to examine “what happens to you and your family when old ghosts in new garments seize power, extremists come for the freedoms you thought belonged to you and everyone.” He noted attacks on equality in America, and that extremist forces were peddling “a fiction, a caricature [of] what being a man is about—tough talk, abusing power, bigotry. Their idea of being a man is toxic.”

    “But that’s not you,” he continued. “It’s not us. You all know and demonstrate what it really means to be a man. Being a man is about the strength of respect and dignity. It’s about showing up because it’s too late if you have to ask. It’s about giving hate no safe harbor and leaving no one behind and defending freedoms. It’s about standing up to the abuse of power, whether physical, economic, or psychological.” To applause, he added: “It’s about knowing faith without works is dead.”

    “The strength and wisdom of faith endures,” Biden said. “And I hope—my hope for you is—my challenge to you is that you still keep the faith so long as you can.”

    “Together, we’re capable of building a democracy worthy of our dreams…a bigger, brighter future that proves the American Dream is big enough for everyone to succeed.”

    “Class of 2024, four years ago, it felt probably like Saturday,” Biden concluded. “Four years later, you made it to Sunday, to commencement, to the beginning. And with faith and determination, you can push the sun above the horizon once more….”

    “God bless you all,” he said. “We’re expecting a lot from you.”

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

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    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: 36,332
      May 20, 2024 (Monday)

    There is a curious dynamic at work in politics these days. Trump does not appear to be trying to court voters to his standard. If he were, he would be reaching out to Nikki Haley voters and trying to moderate his stances. Instead, he is rejecting her voters and doubling down on extreme positions. Rather than trying to appeal to swing voters, he seems to be trying to whip up his right-wing base to engage in violence on his behalf.

    In Minnesota on Friday, Trump echoed fascists when he told supporters, "No matter how hateful and corrupt the communists and criminals we are fighting against may be, you must never forget this is not a nation that belongs to them. This is a nation that totally belongs to you. It belongs to you. This is your home, this is your heritage."

    Saturday, at the annual meeting of the National Rifle Association in Dallas, Texas, Trump floated the idea that he could throw out the constitutional amendment limiting a president to two terms. “You know, FDR 16 years—almost 16 years—he was four terms. I don’t know, are we going to be considered three-term? Or two-term?” he asked the crowd. Some yelled, “Three!”

    In the same speech, Trump told attendees that the Second Amendment “is very much on the ballot” in November, and he urged gun owners to vote and to “be rebellious.” Then he told the crowd that Biden’s actions were such that if he “were a Republican, he would have been given the electric chair, they would have brought back the death penalty.”

    This evening, Trump’s Instagram account posted a video of what a newspaper would look like after a 2024 MAGA win. Under the headline “WHAT’S NEXT FOR AMERICA?” were the words “INDUSTRIAL STRENGTH SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASED DRIVEN BY THE CREATION OF A UNIFIED REICH,” a clear reference to fascism and German dictator Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich.

    It is not clear to me how anyone can any longer deny that Trump is promising to destroy our democracy and usher in authoritarianism.

    But it is also not clear that he is still a figure that any but the extremes of his base will follow to that end. Hence his emphasis on turning them to violence.

    His lies have become increasingly outrageous. On Friday he told a crowd in Minnesota that he won the state by “a landslide” in 2020 even though he actually lost it by more than 7 points. At the NRA annual meeting, Trump claimed that his former physician told him he is “healthier” and “a better physical specimen” than the famously athletic former president Barack Obama. At that same event he boasted that he won 31 club golf championships; the day before, he boasted that he won 29.

    Significantly, he continues to insist that the area around the courtroom is like “Fort Knox.” “There are more police than I’ve ever seen anywhere because they don’t want to have anybody come down,” he said today, “There’s not a civilian within three blocks of the courthouse.” But this is, quite simply, a lie. Virtually no one has turned out to support him. As conservative lawyer George Conway noted today, “There is virtually complete freedom of movement around that courthouse.”

    Social media contributor Eddie Smith, who filmed the handful of Trump protesters in New York today, put it more colorfully. After noting that “MAGA’s not repping in New York,” he added: “Wait a minute! You guys hear that? There is a mouse pissing on a ball of cotton in China. That’s how quiet it is out here.”

    Republican lawmakers are stepping in where Trump’s base followers are not. Republicans attacked as unfit for office 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server. They tried to impeach current president Biden on unfounded accusations that he took bribes from foreign countries. Now they find themselves forced to defend a man who is currently the defendant in a criminal trial that is showing that his associates acted like a criminal gang. As Tom Nichols put it today in The Atlantic, that defense is partly because they are afraid of their own voters.

    Nichols also called out those “now circling Trump like the cold fragments of a destroyed planet” who “resent the people who stuck to their principles.” Those MAGA Republicans lawmakers are, like Trump, trying to gin up anger with lies. Representative Anna Paulina Luna (R-FL), who went to Trump’s Manhattan trial to support him on Thursday, told Jesse Watters of the Fox News Channel and later posted on social media that “[t]hey’re trying to keep cameras out of the courtroom so that the American people don’t see what’s happening.” Former federal prosecutor Ron Filipkowski noted in response that “New York has banned cameras in courtrooms since June 30, 1997.”

    The most important of their lies, though, is that the 2020 presidential election was stolen and that to protect the 2024 election, it is imperative to police the election. This is the same tactic Trump used in 2020, claiming exactly four years ago that “they send in thousands and thousands of fake ballots.”

    Those lies have resulted in a huge increase in threats against those whom MAGA perceives as an enemy. Danny Hakim, Ken Bensinger, and Eileen Sullivan reported in the New York Times yesterday that last year, threats against federal judges increased 150% over 2019: 450 federal judges were targeted. Since 2018, threats to members of Congress have increased by 50%, with more than 8,000 such threats last year. More than 80% of local officials also say they have been threatened or harassed.

    MAGA lawmakers refuse to say they will accept the results of the 2024 election. On Saturday, Wisconsin senator Ron Johnson refused to commit to that fundamental tenet of our democracy. On Meet the Press on Sunday, Florida senator Marco Rubio also declined to say he would accept the election results. Those vying for the Republican vice presidential nomination, including North Dakota governor Doug Burgum and South Carolina senator Tim Scott, have refused to say they would accept the results.

    Their tactics are working among the Republican base. A CBS News/YouGov poll released this weekend showed that only 47% of Arizona Republicans say they will accept the results of the 2024 election no matter who wins. An equal number—47%—say they will challenge the results if the other side wins. That result is not symmetrical with the Democrats: 82% of them say they will accept the results, while only 14% say they will challenge the results if their opponents win.  

    But people are pushing back against the MAGA narrative. On May 15 the Texas Tribune and ProPublica published a story by Jeremy Schwartz about Courtney Gore, a woman who ran for a Texas school board to combat pornography and critical race theory in the schools, only to find there wasn’t any. When she told the public, her former colleagues turned on her. “I’m over the political agenda, hypocrisy bs,” Gore wrote. “I took part in it myself. I refuse to participate in it any longer. It’s not serving our party. We have to do better.”

    Steve MacLaughlin, a meteorologist for NBC 6 News in Miami, reported on a new law Florida governor Ron DeSantis signed into law last week that will remove references to climate change from state law. “On Thursday, we reported on NBC 6 News that the government of Florida was beginning to roll back really important climate change legislation and really important climate change language in spite of the fact that the state of Florida, over the last couple of years, has seen record heat, record flooding, record rain, record insurance rates, and the corals are dying all around the state,” MacLaughlin said. “The entire world is looking to Florida to lead in climate change, and our government is saying that climate change is no longer the priority it once was. Please keep in mind, the most powerful climate change solution is the one you already have in the palm of your hands: the right to vote. And we will never tell you who to vote for, but we will tell you this: We implore you to please do your research and know that there are candidates that believe in climate change and that there are solutions, and there are candidates that don’t.”

    On May 17, former lieutenant governor of Georgia Geoffrey Duncan noted on Amanpour & Company that Trump had done less for rural voters than any other president in modern history. “At the end of the day,” he said, “we just cannot get into the business in America of electing dishonest human beings to represent us…. The world’s watching us. I’m hoping we get this right.”

    Tonight, Sarah Matthews, who was deputy press secretary for the Trump administration, wrote: “Trump’s continued use of Nazi rhetoric is un-American and despicable. Yet too many Americans are brushing off the glaring red flags about what could happen if he returns to the White House. When someone shows you who they are, believe them.”

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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,332
      May 22, 2024 (Tuesday)

    Trump’s lawyers rested their defense of the former president today, putting an end to the testimony we will hear in the case. Trump did not testify.

    Trump's refusal to take the stand encapsulates the MAGA approach to politics. Since the 2020 presidential election, he and his surrogates have made repeated accusations and statements about how the system is rigged against them and alleged there is evidence that proves them right.

    Crucially, they make those arguments only in front of television cameras or on podcasts and radio. They refuse to make them under oath in a court of law, where there are penalties for lying.

    After the 2020 presidential election, for example, lawyer Sidney Powell insisted to media outlets that voting machines switched votes from Trump to Biden. When Dominion Voting Systems sued her for defamation, her lawyers defended her by saying: “No reasonable person would conclude that the statements were truly statements of fact.” “[R]easonable people would not accept such statements as fact but view them only as claims that await testing by the courts through the adversary process,” they said.

    Similarly, Trump ally Rudy Giuliani insisted that Georgia election officials Ruby Freeman and Wandrea ArShaye (Shaye) Moss were changing votes from Trump to Biden. When they sued him for defamation, he conceded that “to the extent the statements were statements of fact…, such…statements were false.” When a jury awarded Freeman and Moss more than $148 million in damages, Giuliani filed for bankruptcy and continued to defame them.

    Freeman and Moss sued him again, asking a court to stop him. Today, in a settlement in bankruptcy court, Giuliani "agreed to never again accuse either [Ruby] Freeman or [Shaye] Moss of engaging in any wrongdoing in connection with the 2020 election,” according to the women’s lawyers.

    Like his colleagues who advanced lies to shape a narrative, Trump insisted that he would testify in his own defense. “I’m testifying,” he said before the trial. “I tell the truth, I mean, all I can do is tell the truth. And the truth is that there is no case.”

    Then he tried to weasel out of that promise by saying the gag order put in place to stop him from attacking witnesses or members of the court and their families prevented him from testifying. “I’m not allowed to testify, because this judge, who’s totally conflicted, has me under an unconstitutional gag order,” he told reporters. Judge Juan Merchan corrected him, clarifying that Trump had the “absolute” right to testify and that the gag order “does not prohibit you from taking the stand and it does not limit or minimize what you can say.”

    Nonetheless, true to form, Trump declined to testify despite all his protestations. Instead, he has argued his case in front of the television cameras. “I had nothing to do with it,” he said yesterday. “A bookkeeper put it down as a legal expense. This is why I’m here, because we called it a legal expense, a payment to a lawyer.”

    Dan Froomkin of Press Watch noted that juries cannot consider in any manner the fact that a defendant doesn’t testify. “But the court of public opinion is under no such obligation,” he wrote. “And, notably, it is the court of public opinion that is voting in November.”

    The court of public opinion weighed in on the man who pioneered the practice of telling repeated lies to the cameras and then moving onto the next lie before journalists can fact-check the first. That man was Senator Joe McCarthy (R-WI), who as a mediocre freshman senator in 1950, during the Cold War, needed an issue for reelection. On February 12, 1950, at a meeting gathered to celebrate Lincoln’s birthday in Wheeling, West Virginia, he claimed there were 205 members of the Communist Party working in Democratic president Harry S. Truman’s State Department.

    By the next day, the number had dropped to 57, and the numbers bounced around after that, but it didn’t really matter. McCarthy insisted that Truman was protecting Communists, and he ramped up his claims that there were Communists in government after voters put Republican Dwight Eisenhower into office. McCarthy’s investigation of the State Department enabled him to bully witnesses, spread innuendo, and destroy careers.

    McCarthy loved attention and headlines. He kept them by concocting ever grander lies. His hearings produced little evidence of Communists in government, but newspapers found they had to reprint his false accusations—they were news, after all—and by the time they could issue corrections, the storyline had moved on.

    Finally, in fall 1953, McCarthy accused Eisenhower’s beloved U.S. Army of harboring “subversives.” In early 1954 the Army turned the tables, charging that McCarthy had pressured army officers to give a friend favorable treatment. This time, unlike McCarthy’s congressional investigations, which were behind closed doors and spread to the media on McCarthy’s terms, the Army-McCarthy hearings were televised.

    The chief counsel for the Army, Joseph Nye Welch, repeatedly demanded that McCarthy’s aide Roy Cohn provide to the U.S. Attorney General the names of the 130 “subversives” they claimed were in defense plants. Unable to do so, McCarthy pivoted to accusing one of Welch’s young associates of being a Communist.

    “Have you no sense of decency, sir?” Welch asked. “At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”

    Up to 20 million people watched on their televisions as McCarthy was finally facing real lawyers and oaths in a congressional hearing about his accusations that Communists had infiltrated the U.S. Army. And when they saw him for what he was—a vicious, lying bully—most of them turned against him. His popularity plummeted, reporters ignored him, and the Senate “condemned” him in December 1954. When he died two and a half years later, Democrat William Proxmire, who won his seat, told voters that McCarthy was “a disgrace to Wisconsin, to the Senate, and to America.”

    But McCarthy’s serial lying had shown how to dominate politics with an unceasing string of lies.

    There is a direct line from McCarthy to Trump in the person of Roy Cohn, who became a New York power broker after his years with McCarthy, helped the Trump Organization when the federal government sued it for racial discrimination, and mentored Trump as he rose to fame in New York. That relationship is chronicled in the new biopic about Trump, The Apprentice, now debuting at the Cannes Film Festival. Trump campaign spokesperson said that the Trump campaign will be filing a lawsuit “to address the blatantly false assertions from these pretend filmmakers.”  

    There is perhaps even a more direct line from McCarthy to Trump today than the one Cohn provides. After the trial today, Trump noted that the Department of Justice had “AUTHORIZED THE FBI TO USE DEADLY (LETHAL) FORCE. NOW WE KNOW, FOR SURE, THAT JOE BIDEN IS A SERIOUS THREAT TO DEMOCRACY. HE IS MENTALLY UNFIT TO HOLD OFFICE—25TH AMENDMENT!” In an email with a subject line “They were authorized to shoot me—I nearly escaped death,” the Trump campaign said: “Joe Biden was locked & loaded ready to take me out & put my family in danger…. But here’s the one thing they don’t know: WE WILL NEVER SURRENDER!”

    Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) exaggerated the story further: “The Biden DOJ and FBI were planning to assassinate Pres[ident] Trump and gave the green light…. What are Republicans going to do about it?”

    The truth, as former FBI assistant director Frank Figliuzzi noted, is that there was nothing special about the order for Trump’s search warrant. “[E]very FBI operations order contains a reminder of FBI deadly force policy. Even for a search warrant. Deadly force is always authorized if the required threat presents itself,” Figliuzzi wrote.
     
    MAGA lies have become part of the Russian state narrative. Following the 2020 presidential election, the Fox News Channel had to pay $787 million to Dominion Voting Systems after its personalities repeated MAGA lies on air. Less than a week later, popular host Tucker Carlson, who pushed those lies, left the channel and launched his own show on X. Today, news broke that Russian TV has been dubbing Carlson’s show into Russian and rebroadcasting it on state TV.

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    brianluxbrianlux Moving through All Kinds of Terrain. Posts: 40,931
    Today's letter (Wednesday) is a great one- spot on.  She really nails it in terms of describing some of the despicable lawmakers in the house, and one particularly creepy SCOTUS judge.
    “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: 36,332
      May 22, 2024 (Wednesday)

    Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA) called out his Republican colleagues on the floor of the House today for offering “stunts instead of solutions, extremism over bipartisanship.” It’s a shame, he said, because the Republicans’ narrow majority “could have given us a chance to work together in a bipartisan way.” Instead, Republicans have caved to their most extreme members, who have been “skipping their real jobs to take day trips up to New York to try to undermine Donald Trump's criminal trial.”

    McGovern suggested that perhaps they were trying “to distract from the fact that their candidate for president has been indicted more times than he's been elected” and “is on trial for covering up hush money payments to a porn star for political gain not to mention three other criminal felony prosecutions.”

    Representative Jerry Carl (R-AL), the temporary chair at the time, rebuked McGovern, who noted that the fact that the former president is in a court of law is the truth. Just last week, McGovern pointed out, a Republican member of the House was not admonished when he complained about “the former president of the United States being hauled into court day after day with a sham trial.”

    Carl reminded McGovern that members “must avoid personalities in debates.”

    McGovern replied: “[A]t some point, it's time for this body to recognize that there is no precedent for this situation. We have a presumptive nominee for president facing 88 felony counts, and we're being prevented from even acknowledging it. These are not alternative facts. These are real facts. A candidate for president of the United States is on trial for sending a hush money payment to a porn star to avoid a sex scandal during his 2016 campaign and then fraudulently disguising those payments in violation of the law. He's also charged with conspiring to overturn the election. He's also charged with stealing classified information, and a jury has already found him liable for rape in a civil court. And yet, in this Republican-controlled house, it's okay to talk about the trial, but you have to call it a sham.”

    Representative Erin Houchin (R-IN) demanded McGovern’s words be stricken from the record. The chair agreed to do so, saying that “it is a breach of order to refer to the candidate in terms personally offensive, whether by actually accusing or merely insulting.” Republicans banned McGovern from speaking on the floor for the rest of the day. McGovern observed: “You can only talk about the trial on the House Floor if you're using it to defend Donald Trump.”

    It was curious timing for extremists to silence a Massachusetts lawmaker.

    In 1836, Democratic lawmakers in the House of Representatives passed a resolution to table, or put aside without action or discussion, all petitions relating to slavery. Repeatedly thereafter, former president John Quincy Adams, now representing Massachusetts in the House, rose to read a petition and was silenced. But the First Amendment protects the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances—King George III had pointedly rejected the colonists’ 1775 Olive Branch Petition trying to avoid war, and the framers of the new government wanted to be clear that people had a right to be heard—and people in the North increasingly understood the silencing of those who were determined to stop debate over slavery as an attack on their constitutional rights.

    The House got rid of the “gag rule” in 1844, but just twelve years later, on May 22, 1856—exactly 168 years ago today—South Carolina representative Preston Brooks beat Massachusetts senator Charles Sumner nearly to death on the floor of the Senate after Sumner criticized southern enslavers, particularly Brooks’s relative South Carolina senator Andrew Butler.

    The gist of Sumner’s speech was that a small minority of men were trying to impose their will on the majority of the American people by forcing enslavement on the territory of Kansas, much as enslavers like Butler forced themselves on the women they enslaved. Sumner’s speech was insulting, but beating him into a welter of blood while he sat at his Senate desk for representing his constituents suggested that enslavers would tolerate no dissent.

    Jodi Kantor, Aric Toler, and Julie Tate tonight broke the story in the New York Times that the upside-down U.S. flag associated with the January 6 insurrectionists was not the only anti-American flag Supreme Court justice Samuel Alito displayed. In at least July and September 2023, over his beach house in New Jersey there flew an “Appeal to Heaven” flag like the one carried by January 6 rioters. This banner is also known as the “Pine Tree flag,” but it is not the same one currently under consideration to become Maine’s state flag.

    This flag represents the idea that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. As Ishaan Jhaveri of Columbia University’s Tow Center in the Graduate School of Journalism explained in 2021, in the days of the American Revolution, the flag “was meant to symbolize the right of armed revolution in the face of tyranny.”  

    But in 2013 the flag was the symbol of a group working to put Christians into public office to create a government based on their ideology. In 2015, those trying to stop the Supreme Court from legalizing gay marriage flew the flag; in 2016, supporters of the militias that occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge did so, too. In 2017 the flag was behind Trump when he spoke to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), and in 2020, those opposed to Covid shutdowns carried it.

    More recently, the January 6 rioters carried it, and so have neo-Nazis. It is the same flag that House speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) displays outside of his congressional office. Scholar of religion Bradley Onishi noted: “It’s a flag symbolizing Christian revolution. It’s used by extremists.”

    These extremists appear to have turned to Trump, who is, as McGovern pointed out, facing 88 felony counts and is currently on trial for paying off a sex partner in order to prevent voters from hearing about their encounter and then violating the law to hide the payments, because they believe he will crash through the laws and bureaucracy that are designed to protect the democratic institutions that would stop them from seizing power.

    And now it turns out that a flag representing the idea that the 2020 election was stolen, that the people should engage in armed revolution against tyranny, and that the United States should be a nation based in Christian theology has been flying over the home of Justice Alito, who is supposed to be defending the United States Constitution impartially. Alito wrote the 2022 Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that recognized the constitutional right to abortion.
     
    Election columnist Laura Bassett of The Cut wrote: “The [A]lito flag story does not teach me anything new about his politics but it does reveal how confident he is that nobody can do anything about him.”

    There is indeed a sense of power and entitlement coming from MAGA Republicans as they impose new limits on their fellow Americans and call those constraints freedom. Lori Rozsa of the Washington Post today noted that Florida governor Ron DeSantis is rewriting the history of the summer of 1964, made famous as Black and white organizers fanned out in Mississippi to register Black Americans to vote, by launching his own, new “Freedom Summer.” From May 27 through September 2, bridges in the state are prohibited from displaying rainbow colors for Pride Month in June, orange for National Gun Awareness Month, or yellow for Women’s Equality Day. The only colors they can display are red, white, and blue.

    “Thanks to the leadership of Gov[ernor] Ron DeSantis,” Florida Department of Transportation secretary Jared Perdue wrote on X, “Florida continues to be the freest state in the nation.”

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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,332
      May 23, 2024 (Thursday)

    It turns out that Supreme Court justice Samuel Alito is not the only one flying an “Appeal to Heaven” flag. Leonard Leo, the man behind the extremist takeover of the American judiciary, also flew that flag at his home on Mount Desert Island in Maine.

    So now we have the Appeal to Heaven flag, which represents the idea that the 2020 election was stolen, that the people should engage in armed revolution against tyranny, and that the United States should be a nation based in Christian theology, in front of the office of House speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) and over the houses of Supreme Court justice Samuel Alito and the architect of the right-wing theocratic takeover of the federal courts, Leonard Leo.

    Abraham Lincoln’s “House Divided” speech of June 16, 1858, is often described as defining the difference between the North, based on the idea of free labor, and the South, based on enslaved labor, and the idea that one or the other must prevail.

    But the speech is much more than a simple depiction of the conflict between freedom and slavery. It details a long-standing plan to destroy American democracy.

    Lincoln outlined the steps that the United States had taken away from freedom toward tyranny, and noted:

    “[W]hen we see a lot of framed timbers…which we know have been gotten out at different times and places and by different workmen—Stephen, Franklin, Roger and James, for instance—and we see these timbers joined together, and see they exactly make the frame of a house… we find it impossible not to believe that Stephen and Franklin and Roger and James all understood one another from the beginning, and all worked upon a common plan or draft drawn up before the first lick was struck.”

    Lincoln did not choose the names of his workmen at random. Stephen was Illinois senator Stephen Douglas, who had popularized the idea that local voters should be able to decide whether their territory would permit slavery, no matter what the majority of Americans wanted; Franklin was Franklin Pierce, who had presided over the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act permitting enslavement to move into the western territories; Roger was Roger Taney, chief justice of the Supreme Court that decided Dred Scott v. Sandford, saying that Congress could not keep slavery out of the territories; and James was President James Buchanan, who urged Americans to accept the judgment of the Supreme Court. By spreading enslavement westward, that judgment would create new slave states that would work with the southern slave states to make slavery national.  

    Together, Lincoln said, these four workmen had constructed an edifice to support human enslavement, an edifice working against the nation’s dedication to freedom established by the Declaration of Independence. "A house divided against itself cannot stand,” Lincoln said. “I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved,” he said. “I do not expect the house to fall—but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other.”

    Today the Supreme Court handed down a decision in the case of Alexander v. South Carolina State Conference of the NAACP. After the 2020 census, when it was clear that a South Carolina district was becoming competitive, the Republican-dominated legislature moved the district lines to cut Black voters out and move white voters in, thereby guaranteeing Democrats would lose. Voting rights advocates sued, saying that moving around voters on the basis of race violated the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. A federal district court agreed.

    Today, by a vote of 6–3, the Supreme Court overturned the lower court’s decision and signed off on the new South Carolina congressional map that dilutes Black votes. It approved the map because, it said, the gerrymander was politically, rather than racially, motivated. And, it said, “as far as the Federal Constitution is concerned, a legislature may pursue partisan ends when it engages in redistricting.”

    From now on, as Mark Joseph Stern noted in Slate, it will be virtually impossible for Black voters to prove that lawmakers targeted their race rather than their politics when redistricting, and partisan gerrymandering has just gotten the Supreme Court’s approval (previously, as Stern noted, the court had said federal courts could not intervene even if partisan gerrymandering violates the Constitution; today they said it does not violate the Constitution). Representative James Clyburn (D-SC) said: “Today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision…is further affirmation that this Court has chosen to disenfranchise Black voters and rob us of our fundamental access to the ballot box. Equitable representation is the hallmark of a healthy democracy and in this case, the Supreme Court is attempting to steer the country back to a dark place in our history.”

    Justice Samuel Alito wrote the majority opinion.

    In a concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas argued that the Supreme Court has no power to redraw district maps at all. As Stern noted, Thomas places the blame for what he sees as judicial overreach on the Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision declaring segregation in public schools unconstitutional. After that decision, Thomas says, the court invented powers to remedy the problem. If Brown invited overreach, all the landmark voting decisions of the 1960s did, too.

    And so, almost exactly 70 years after the Supreme Court unanimously decided Brown v. Board, it appears that the framed timbers designed to reverse the expansion of minority rights are falling into place.

    But in 2024, those of us eager to protect the idea of human equality outlined in the Declaration of Independence have an advantage that Lincoln’s generation did not. “James”—James Buchanan, who cheerfully backed the Dred Scott decision—is not in the White House.

    Instead of sympathizing with the extremists, as Buchanan did, President Joe Biden has worked to undermine the sense of grievance that has permitted them to amass power. In the 1850s the  federal government had few ways to weaken the ties of ordinary people to the state leaders who were determined to spread the institution of slavery that had made them enormously wealthy, but the modern administrative state has given Biden more options.

    The administration has used the power of the federal government to begin to unwind the trickle-down economy that between 1981 and 2021 transferred $50 trillion from the bottom 90% of the US to the top 1%, hollowing out the middle class. The result has been solid economic growth of  5.7% in 2021, 1.9% in 2022, and 2.5% in 2023.

    The unemployment rate has been at record lows of under 4% for more than two years, the strongest run since the 1960s. Inflation is not rising; it is falling and is now at 3.4%, higher than the Federal Reserve’s preferred mark of 2% but down significantly from its high of 9.1% in June 2022, just after the worst of the pandemic eased. At 4.5% growth over 2023, wage growth outpaced inflation, meaning that although prices have risen, workers have come out ahead. The S&P stock market index went up about 24% in 2023 and is up more than 12% this year.

    In the 1930s, under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, federal investment in the impoverished South quieted much of the region’s opposition to the federal government. Limiting crops in exchange for subsidies both brought higher prices and helped to repair damaged soil, new labor regulations got children out of factories and raised workers’ pay, and the government brought electricity and health care to places private industry wouldn’t go.   

    Biden appears to be aiming for the same result, but he might be stymied by a news system that has many Americans not just unaware of the good economic news, but believing the opposite. Lauren Aratani of The Guardian reported earlier this week on an exclusive Harris poll showing that 56% of Americans believe incorrectly that the U.S. is in a recession. Those following the stock market are slightly more informed: 49% of them think the S&P stock market index is down for the year. Almost half of those polled—49%—think unemployment is at a 50-year high. Seventy-two percent think inflation is increasing. Fifty-eight percent of those polled blame Biden for mismanaging an economy that is in fact the strongest in the world.

    Tempting as it is to blame the media for its relentless focus on bad news rather than good, a study from NBC News at the end of April showed that those who follow national newspapers and media swing heavily to Biden, while those who either don’t follow politics or get their news from YouTube and social media favor Trump or Robert Kennedy Jr.

    Those sources seem unlikely to explain that Leonard, Sam, Clarence, Mike, and Donald have been swinging hammers.

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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,332
      May 24, 2024 (Friday)

    On Wednesday, May 22, former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, who had been the candidate for anti-Trump Republicans, said she will vote for Trump. Haley ran against Trump for the Republican presidential nomination and maintained a steady stream of criticism of him, calling him “unstable,” “unhinged” and “a disaster…for our party.” Since she suspended her campaign in early March, she has continued to poll at around 20% of Republican primary voters.

    There are two ways to look at Haley’s capitulation. It might show that Trump is so strong that he has captured the entire party and is sweeping it before him. In contrast, it might show that Trump is weak, and Haley made this concession to his voters either in hopes of stepping into his place or in a desperate move to cobble the party, whose leaders are keenly aware they are an unpopular minority in the country, together.

    The Republican Party is in the midst of a civil war. The last of the establishment Republican leaders who controlled the party before 2016 are trying to wrest control of it back from Trump’s MAGA Republicans, who have taken control of the key official positions. At the same time, Trump’s MAGA voters, while a key part of the Republican base, have pushed the party so far right they have left the majority of Americans—including Republicans—far behind.

    Abortion remains a major political problem for Republicans. Trump appointed the three Supreme Court justices who provided the votes to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that recognized the constitutional right to abortion, and he has boasted repeatedly that he ended Roe. This pleases his white evangelical base but not the majority of the American people.

    According to a recent Pew poll, 63% of Americans believe that abortion should be legal in most or all cases, while only 36% think it should be illegal in most or all cases. But Republicans are continuing to push unpopular antiabortion legislation. On Thursday, Louisiana lawmakers approved a law classifying mifepristone and misoprostol, two drugs commonly used in abortions, as dangerous drugs—a category usually reserved for addictive medications—making it a crime to possess abortion pills without a prescription.

    Louisiana prohibits abortions except to save the life of the mother or in cases in which the fetus has a condition incompatible with life. The law requires doctors to get a special license to prescribe the drugs, one of which is used for routine reproductive care as well as abortions. The state would then keep a record of those prescriptions, effectively a database to monitor women’s pregnancies and the doctors who treat them. Louisiana governor Jeff Landry, a Republican, is expected to sign the measure into law.

    Trump has repeatedly promised to weigh in on the mifepristone question but, likely aware that he cannot please both his base and voters, has not done so. On Tuesday, May 21, though, he stepped into a related problem. Since the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision overturned Roe v. Wade, antiabortion activists have begun to talk about contraception as abortion, with some warning that it is “unbiblical.” But in February, 80% of voters polled said that contraception was “deeply important” to them, including 72% of Republican voters. On Tuesday, Trump said he was open to regulating contraception and that his campaign would issue a policy statement on contraception “very shortly.” He later walked back his earlier comments, saying they had been misinterpreted.
     
    On May 19 the same judge who tried to remove mifepristone from the market by rescinding the FDA approval of it, Trump-appointed U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, blocked the Biden administration from implementing a new rule that requires sellers at gun shows and online to get licenses and conduct background checks. The rule closes what’s known as the “gun show loophole.” According to the Penn State McCourtney Institute for Democracy, 86% of Americans want mandatory background checks for all gun purchases.

    Trump himself is a problem for the party. His base is absolutely loyal, but he is a deeply problematic candidate for anyone else. As Susan Glasser outlined in the New Yorker yesterday, in the past week he chickened out of testifying in his ongoing criminal trial for paying hush money to an adult film actress to keep damaging information from voters in 2016 after insisting for weeks that he would. He talked about staying in office for a third term, ran a video promising that the United States will become a “unified Reich” when he wins reelection, and accused President Joe Biden of trying to have him assassinated. He will be 78 in a few weeks and is having trouble speaking.

    In addition to his ongoing criminal trial, on Tuesday a filing unsealed in the case of Trump’s retention of classified documents showed that a federal judge, Beryl Howell, believed investigators had “strong evidence” that Trump “intended” to hide those documents from the federal government.

    Also revealed were new photographs of Trump’s personal aide Walt Nauta moving document boxes before one of Trump’s lawyers arrived to review what Trump had, along with the information that once Trump realized that the men moving the boxes could be captured on Mar-a-Lago’s security cameras, he allegedly made sure they would avoid the cameras. The new details suggest that prosecutors have more evidence than has been made public.

    This might explain why, as Asawin Suebsaeng and Adam Rawnsley of Rolling Stone reported today, Trump is pressuring Republicans to pass a law shielding presidents from prosecution in state or local courts, moving prosecutions to federal courts where a president could stop them.

    Yesterday, Marilyn W. Thompson of ProPublica reported on yet another potentially harmful legal story. There were a number of discrimination and harassment complaints made against the Trump campaign in 2016 and 2020 that Trump tried to keep quiet with nondisclosure agreements. A federal magistrate judge has ordered the Trump campaign to produce a list of the complaints by May 31. Those complaints include the charge that the 2016 campaign paid women less than men and that Trump kissed a woman without her consent.

    Trump’s current behavior is not likely to reassure voters.

    Yesterday he wrote on social media that “Evan Gershkovich, the Reporter from The Wall Street Journal, who is being held by Russia, will be released almost immediately after the Election, but definitely before I assume Office. He will be HOME, SAFE, AND WITH HIS FAMILY. Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, will do that for me, but not for anyone else, and WE WILL BE PAYING NOTHING!”

    There is no good interpretation of this post. If Trump does have that sort of leverage with Putin, why? And why not use it immediately? Is he openly signaling to Putin to ignore the Biden administration’s ongoing negotiations for Gershkovich’s release? Trevor Reed, who was arrested in Russia in 2019 when visiting his girlfriend in Moscow, noted: “As a former wrongful detainee in Russia, I would just like to remind everyone that President Trump had the ability to get myself and Paul Whelan out of Russia for years and chose not to. I would be skeptical of any claims about getting Evan Gershkovich back in a day.”  

    Reed was freed in 2022 as part of a prisoner swap arranged by the Biden administration.

    Last night, at a rally in New York, Trump accepted the endorsement of alleged gang members, rappers Michael Williams (Sheff G) and Tegan Chambers (Sleepy Hallow). In 2023 the two men were indicted with 30 other people on 140 counts, including murder, attempted murder, illegal possession of firearms, and at least a dozen shootings. Sheff G was released from jail in April after posting a $1.5 million bond.

    Then, Trump’s people claimed that 25,000 people turned out for the rally, but they requested a permit for only 3,500, and only 3,400 tickets were issued. Aerial shots suggest there were 800–1,500 people there.

    MAGA voters don’t care about any of this, apparently, but non-MAGA Republicans and Independents do. And this might be behind Haley’s promise to vote for Trump. The unpopularity of the MAGA faction might allow Haley to step in if Trump crashes and burns, so long as she kowtows to Trump and his base. Or it might be calculated to try to repair the rift in hopes that the party can cobble together some kind of unity by November. As The Shallow State noted on X, Haley’s announcement showed that “Trump is fragile.”

    But Haley’s statement that she will vote for Trump does not necessarily mean her voters will follow her. Deputy political director for the Biden campaign Juan Peñalosa met with Haley supporters in a prescheduled zoom call hours after Haley’s announcement. On Thursday afternoon the campaign issued a press release titled: “To Haley Voters: There’s a Home For You on Team Biden-Harris.”

    MAGA Republicans know their agenda is unpopular, and they are working to seize power through voter suppression, violence, gerrymandering, and packing the legal system. But there are signs a bipartisan defense of democracy may be gathering strength.

    _____________________________________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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    Halifax2TheMaxHalifax2TheMax Posts: 36,964
    mickeyrat said:
      May 24, 2024 (Friday)

    On Wednesday, May 22, former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, who had been the candidate for anti-Trump Republicans, said she will vote for Trump. Haley ran against Trump for the Republican presidential nomination and maintained a steady stream of criticism of him, calling him “unstable,” “unhinged” and “a disaster…for our party.” Since she suspended her campaign in early March, she has continued to poll at around 20% of Republican primary voters.

    There are two ways to look at Haley’s capitulation. It might show that Trump is so strong that he has captured the entire party and is sweeping it before him. In contrast, it might show that Trump is weak, and Haley made this concession to his voters either in hopes of stepping into his place or in a desperate move to cobble the party, whose leaders are keenly aware they are an unpopular minority in the country, together.

    The Republican Party is in the midst of a civil war. The last of the establishment Republican leaders who controlled the party before 2016 are trying to wrest control of it back from Trump’s MAGA Republicans, who have taken control of the key official positions. At the same time, Trump’s MAGA voters, while a key part of the Republican base, have pushed the party so far right they have left the majority of Americans—including Republicans—far behind.

    Abortion remains a major political problem for Republicans. Trump appointed the three Supreme Court justices who provided the votes to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that recognized the constitutional right to abortion, and he has boasted repeatedly that he ended Roe. This pleases his white evangelical base but not the majority of the American people.

    According to a recent Pew poll, 63% of Americans believe that abortion should be legal in most or all cases, while only 36% think it should be illegal in most or all cases. But Republicans are continuing to push unpopular antiabortion legislation. On Thursday, Louisiana lawmakers approved a law classifying mifepristone and misoprostol, two drugs commonly used in abortions, as dangerous drugs—a category usually reserved for addictive medications—making it a crime to possess abortion pills without a prescription.

    Louisiana prohibits abortions except to save the life of the mother or in cases in which the fetus has a condition incompatible with life. The law requires doctors to get a special license to prescribe the drugs, one of which is used for routine reproductive care as well as abortions. The state would then keep a record of those prescriptions, effectively a database to monitor women’s pregnancies and the doctors who treat them. Louisiana governor Jeff Landry, a Republican, is expected to sign the measure into law.

    Trump has repeatedly promised to weigh in on the mifepristone question but, likely aware that he cannot please both his base and voters, has not done so. On Tuesday, May 21, though, he stepped into a related problem. Since the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision overturned Roe v. Wade, antiabortion activists have begun to talk about contraception as abortion, with some warning that it is “unbiblical.” But in February, 80% of voters polled said that contraception was “deeply important” to them, including 72% of Republican voters. On Tuesday, Trump said he was open to regulating contraception and that his campaign would issue a policy statement on contraception “very shortly.” He later walked back his earlier comments, saying they had been misinterpreted.
     
    On May 19 the same judge who tried to remove mifepristone from the market by rescinding the FDA approval of it, Trump-appointed U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, blocked the Biden administration from implementing a new rule that requires sellers at gun shows and online to get licenses and conduct background checks. The rule closes what’s known as the “gun show loophole.” According to the Penn State McCourtney Institute for Democracy, 86% of Americans want mandatory background checks for all gun purchases.

    Trump himself is a problem for the party. His base is absolutely loyal, but he is a deeply problematic candidate for anyone else. As Susan Glasser outlined in the New Yorker yesterday, in the past week he chickened out of testifying in his ongoing criminal trial for paying hush money to an adult film actress to keep damaging information from voters in 2016 after insisting for weeks that he would. He talked about staying in office for a third term, ran a video promising that the United States will become a “unified Reich” when he wins reelection, and accused President Joe Biden of trying to have him assassinated. He will be 78 in a few weeks and is having trouble speaking.

    In addition to his ongoing criminal trial, on Tuesday a filing unsealed in the case of Trump’s retention of classified documents showed that a federal judge, Beryl Howell, believed investigators had “strong evidence” that Trump “intended” to hide those documents from the federal government.

    Also revealed were new photographs of Trump’s personal aide Walt Nauta moving document boxes before one of Trump’s lawyers arrived to review what Trump had, along with the information that once Trump realized that the men moving the boxes could be captured on Mar-a-Lago’s security cameras, he allegedly made sure they would avoid the cameras. The new details suggest that prosecutors have more evidence than has been made public.

    This might explain why, as Asawin Suebsaeng and Adam Rawnsley of Rolling Stone reported today, Trump is pressuring Republicans to pass a law shielding presidents from prosecution in state or local courts, moving prosecutions to federal courts where a president could stop them.

    Yesterday, Marilyn W. Thompson of ProPublica reported on yet another potentially harmful legal story. There were a number of discrimination and harassment complaints made against the Trump campaign in 2016 and 2020 that Trump tried to keep quiet with nondisclosure agreements. A federal magistrate judge has ordered the Trump campaign to produce a list of the complaints by May 31. Those complaints include the charge that the 2016 campaign paid women less than men and that Trump kissed a woman without her consent.

    Trump’s current behavior is not likely to reassure voters.

    Yesterday he wrote on social media that “Evan Gershkovich, the Reporter from The Wall Street Journal, who is being held by Russia, will be released almost immediately after the Election, but definitely before I assume Office. He will be HOME, SAFE, AND WITH HIS FAMILY. Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, will do that for me, but not for anyone else, and WE WILL BE PAYING NOTHING!”

    There is no good interpretation of this post. If Trump does have that sort of leverage with Putin, why? And why not use it immediately? Is he openly signaling to Putin to ignore the Biden administration’s ongoing negotiations for Gershkovich’s release? Trevor Reed, who was arrested in Russia in 2019 when visiting his girlfriend in Moscow, noted: “As a former wrongful detainee in Russia, I would just like to remind everyone that President Trump had the ability to get myself and Paul Whelan out of Russia for years and chose not to. I would be skeptical of any claims about getting Evan Gershkovich back in a day.”  

    Reed was freed in 2022 as part of a prisoner swap arranged by the Biden administration.

    Last night, at a rally in New York, Trump accepted the endorsement of alleged gang members, rappers Michael Williams (Sheff G) and Tegan Chambers (Sleepy Hallow). In 2023 the two men were indicted with 30 other people on 140 counts, including murder, attempted murder, illegal possession of firearms, and at least a dozen shootings. Sheff G was released from jail in April after posting a $1.5 million bond.

    Then, Trump’s people claimed that 25,000 people turned out for the rally, but they requested a permit for only 3,500, and only 3,400 tickets were issued. Aerial shots suggest there were 800–1,500 people there.

    MAGA voters don’t care about any of this, apparently, but non-MAGA Republicans and Independents do. And this might be behind Haley’s promise to vote for Trump. The unpopularity of the MAGA faction might allow Haley to step in if Trump crashes and burns, so long as she kowtows to Trump and his base. Or it might be calculated to try to repair the rift in hopes that the party can cobble together some kind of unity by November. As The Shallow State noted on X, Haley’s announcement showed that “Trump is fragile.”

    But Haley’s statement that she will vote for Trump does not necessarily mean her voters will follow her. Deputy political director for the Biden campaign Juan Peñalosa met with Haley supporters in a prescheduled zoom call hours after Haley’s announcement. On Thursday afternoon the campaign issued a press release titled: “To Haley Voters: There’s a Home For You on Team Biden-Harris.”

    MAGA Republicans know their agenda is unpopular, and they are working to seize power through voter suppression, violence, gerrymandering, and packing the legal system. But there are signs a bipartisan defense of democracy may be gathering strength.

    There is only one way to view this. In the absence of complete and total repudiation, its capitulation. Like Neville Chamberlain.

    It’s Nikkki Styxxx. It’s Deathsantis. It’s mittens. It’s Chris, with his “I won’t support him but I’ll vote for the republican nominee, because I’m a repub.” Everyone else in the repub party is in line. Watch the swirl.

    Abortion rights in ‘Louisana?”  Nobody outside of ‘Bama and ‘sippi give two shits what happens to the residents of those states. It’s like asking Tejas residents to care about Vermont and Maine. Remember the Maine?

    Yup, I’m taking the cynical view, glass half empty, stick a pin in it. Shizzies gettin realz, yo!
    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; 05/04/2024 & 05/06/2024, Vancouver, BC; 05/10/2024, Portland, OR;

    Libtardaplorable©. And proud of it.

    Brilliantati©
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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,332
      May 25, 2024 (Saturday)

    While it’s not officially summer yet, the town is coming to life.

    The lilacs and apple trees are blooming over the forget-me-nots, and over them all is the bright blue sky of the coming summer.

    For me, though, the clearest sign of the change of seasons is that Buddy is back on the water, and sunrise photos like this are waiting for me on my phone when I get up many hours after he has headed out to haul.

    Taking the night off. 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: 36,332
      May 26, 2024 (Sunday)

    Tomorrow is Memorial Day, the day Americans have honored since 1868, when we mourn those military personnel who have died in the service of the country—that is, for the rest of us.

    For me, one of those people is Beau Bryant.
     
    When we were growing up, we hung out at one particular house where a friend’s mom provided unlimited peanut butter and fluff sandwiches, Uno games, iced tea and lemonade, sympathetic ears, and stories. She talked about Beau, her older brother, in the same way we talked about all our people, and her stories made him part of our world even though he had been killed in World War II 19 years before we were born.

    Beau’s real name was Floyston, and he had always stepped in as a father to his three younger sisters when their own father fell short.

    When World War II came, Beau was working as a plumber and was helping his mother make ends meet, but in September 1942 he enlisted in the Army Air Corps. He became a staff sergeant in the 322nd Bomber Squadron, 91st Bomb Group, nicknamed "Wray's Ragged Irregulars" after their commander Col. Stanley T. Wray. By the time Beau joined, the squadron was training with new B-17s at Dow Army Airfield near Bangor, Maine, and before deploying to England he hitchhiked three hours home so he could see his family once more.

    It would be the last time. The 91st Bomb Group was a pioneer bomb group, figuring out tactics for air cover. By May 1943 it was experienced enough to lead the Eighth Air Force as it sought to establish air superiority over Europe. But the 91st did not have adequate fighter support until 1944. It had the greatest casualty rate of any of the heavy bomber squadrons.

    Beau was one of the casualties. On August 12, 1943, just a week before his sister turned 18, while he was on a mission, enemy flak cut his oxygen line and he died before the plane could make it back to base. He was buried in Cambridge, England, at the Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial, the military cemetery for Americans killed in action during WWII. He was twenty years old.

    I grew up with Beau’s nephews and nieces, and we made decades of havoc and memories. But Beau's children weren't there, and neither he nor they are part of the memories.

    Thinking about our untimely dead is hard enough, but I am haunted by the holes those deaths rip forever in the social fabric: the discoveries not made, the problems not solved, the marriages not celebrated, the babies not born.

    I know of this man only what his sister told me: that he was a decent fellow who did what he could to support his mother and his sisters. Before he entered the service, he once spent a week’s paycheck on a dress for my friend’s mother so she could go to a dance.

    And he gave up not only his life but also his future to protect American democracy against the spread of fascism.

    I first wrote about Beau when his sister passed, for it felt to me like another kind of death that, with his sisters now all gone, along with almost all of their friends, soon there would be no one left who even remembered his name.

    But something amazing happened after I wrote about him. People started visiting Beau’s grave in England, leaving flowers, and sending me pictures of the cross that bears his name.

    So he, and perhaps all he stood for, will not be forgotten after all.

    May you have a meaningful Memorial Day.

    [Photo by Carole Green.]

    _____________________________________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: 36,332
      May 27, 2024 (Monday)

    The White House hosted a three-day state visit for President William Ruto and First Lady Rachel Ruto of Kenya beginning on May 23, 2024. The visit marks the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Kenya and is the first state visit for an African leader since President John Kufuor of Ghana visited in 2008.

    The Biden administration has worked to develop ties to African nations, whose people are leery of the United States not only because of what Biden called the “original sin” of colonists importing enslaved Africans to North American shores, but also because while the Soviet Union tended to support the movements when African nations began to throw off colonial rule, the U.S. tended to support right-wing reaction. More recently, during the Trump years the United States withdrew from engagement with what the former president allegedly called “sh*thole countries.”

    In contrast, officials from the Biden administration have noted the importance of the people of Africa to the future of the global community. Currently, the median age on the continent is 19, and experts estimate that by 2050, one in four people on Earth will live on the African continent.

    Saying that Africans must have control over their own countries and their own future, U.S. officials backed the admission of the African Union to the Group of 20 (G-20), welcoming the organization’s 55 member states to the intergovernmental forum that focuses on global issues, and pledged more than $55 billion to the continent to aid security, support democratic institutions, and advance civil rights and the rule of law. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield, First Lady Jill Biden, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have all visited the continent, where they have emphasized partnership with African countries for economic development rather than a competition with China and Russia for resource extraction.

    In March 2023, Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to Ghana, Tanzania, and Zambia to emphasize the connections between Africa and North America, focus on the importance of democracy as Russian disinformation in Africa is driving pro-Russian and anti-U.S. sentiment, and announce U.S. investment in the continent as well as calling for more.

    But in July 2023, those efforts appeared to take a step back when a military coup in Niger deposed elected president Mohamed Bazoum. A few months later, the ruling junta asked the forces of former colonial power France to leave the country and turned to Russia’s Wagner group for security. In March, U.S. diplomats and military officials expressed concern about the increasing presence of Russia in Niger, and a few days later, officials told close to 1,000 U.S. troops stationed in the country to leave as well. Russian troops moved into a military base the U.S. has been using.

    The U.S. says its troops will leave by mid-September and has pledged to continue negotiations. Niger was a key ally in the U.S. antiterrorism efforts against armed forces allied with al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. Neighboring Chad has also asked the 100 U.S. troops in the country to leave.

    Meanwhile, in the year since her trip to Africa, Vice President Harris has focused on digital inclusion in Africa, recognizing that the spread of digital technology has the potential to promote economic opportunity and gender equality and to create jobs, as well as open new markets for U.S. exports. Last week, she announced that the African Development Bank Group and Mastercard have launched the Mobilizing Access to the Digital Economy Alliance (MADE), which is working with public and private investors to provide digital access for 100 million individuals and businesses in Africa over the next ten years, focusing first on agriculture and women.

    Kenya’s President Ruto won election in 2022, promising voters that he would champion the “hustlers,” the young workers piecing together an income informally. U.S. ambassador to Kenya Meg Whitman, former chief executive officer of eBay and Hewlett-Packard and unsuccessful 2010 Republican candidate for governor of California, has supported this idea of economic development. Focusing on “commercial diplomacy,” she has worked with Ruto to encourage business investment in Kenya.  

    At a state luncheon with President Ruto last week, Harris reiterated her belief “that African ideas and innovations will have a significant impact on the future of the entire world—a belief driven in part by the extraordinary creativity, dynamism, and energy of young African leaders” and by the continent’s young demographic. She reiterated the need to “revise and upgrade the U.S.-Africa narrative, which is long overdue; and to bring fresh focus to the innovation and ingenuity that is so prevalent across the continent of Africa.” She warned: “Any leader that ignores the continent of Africa is doing so at their own peril.”

    While Kenya’s main economic sectors are agriculture, manufacturing, and tourism, it is also a technology hub, and Harris called out its “Silicon Savannah,” a technology ecosystem that produced the cellphone-based money transfer system M-PESA, as well as startups making biodegradable plastics, creating drinking water from humidity, and so on.

    Ruto thanked Harris and Biden “for helping us reshape, reengineer, and write a new narrative for our continent.” Africans “are going to write our own story,” Ruto said, adding that the narrative of “this continent of conflict, trouble, disease, poverty” is “not the story of Africa.” “Africa is a continent of tremendous opportunity,” he said, “the largest reserves of energy—renewable energy resources; 60 percent of the world’s arable, uncultivated land; 30 percent of…global mineral wealth, including those that are necessary for energy transition; the youngest continent, which will produce 40 percent of the world’s…workforce by 2050 and where a quarter of the world’s population will be living, providing the world’s biggest single market. In short,” he said, “Africa is a rich continent and a continent of opportunity.”  

    In a conversation with Vice President Harris and Ambassador Whitman, President Ruto said that the young population of Africa is “tech hungry” and that technology “is the instrument that we can use to leapfrog Africa from where we are to…catch up with the rest of the world.” The digital space, he said, is the space that will create the greatest output from young people and women. To that end, he said, Kenya is investing 30% of its annual budget in education, training, knowledge, and skills.

    As part of his reach for global leadership, Ruto has put Kenya at the front of an initiative backed by the United Nations for a multinational security intervention in Haiti, where officials have asked for help restoring order against about 200 armed gangs in the country, coalitions of which control about 80% of the capital, Port-au-Prince. The assassination of Haitian president Jovenel Moïse in July 2021 exacerbated political instability in Haiti by creating a power vacuum, while weapons flowing into the country, primarily from straw purchases in the U.S., fed violence. Last year, then–prime minister Ariel Henry had pleaded with the United Nations Security Council to bolster Haitian security forces and combat the gangs.

    The U.S. declined to lead the effort or to provide troops, although it, along with Canada and France, is funding the mission. On Thursday, Biden explained that “for the United States to deploy forces in the hemisphere just raises all kinds of questions that can be easily misrepresented about what we’re trying to do…. So we set out to find…a partner or partners who would lead the effort that we would participate in.” Kenya stepped up, although Kenyan opposition leaders, lawyers, and human rights groups are fiercely opposed to deploying Kenyans to the Caribbean nation.

    The Haitian gangs oppose the Multinational Security Support Mission (MSS), which is supposed to consist of 2,500 troops, 1,000 of whom are Kenyans. The Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Benin, Chad, and Jamaica have officially notified the United Nations secretary-general of their intent to send personnel to the mission. Other nations have said they will support the mission, but as of May 20 had not yet sent official notifications. The MSS was supposed to arrive by May 23, but a base for it in Port-au-Prince is not yet fully equipped. Experts also told Caitlin Hu of CNN that Haitian authorities have not done enough to explain to local people how the mission will work, and Haitian police say what is most necessary is more support for local police.  

    Kenyan news reported that the advance team of Kenyan police officers who went to Haiti to assess conditions for their deployment there will recommend a delay in deployment.

    _____________________________________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: 36,332
      May 28, 2024 (Tuesday)

    The defense and the prosecution today made their closing statements in the New York criminal case against Trump for falsifying business records to hide a $130,000 payment to adult film actress Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels. The payment was intended to stop her account of her sexual encounter with Trump from becoming public in the days before the 2016 election, when the Trump campaign was already reeling from the Access Hollywood tape showing Trump boasting of sexual assault.  

    The Biden-Harris campaign showed up at the trial today with veteran actor Robert DeNiro and former police officers Michael Fanone and Harry Dunn, who protected the U.S. Capitol and members of Congress from rioters on January 6, 2021. In words seemingly calculated to get under Trump’s skin, DeNiro said, “We New Yorkers used to tolerate him when he was just another grubby real estate hustler masquerading as a big shot,” and called him a coward.

    When Robert Costa of CBS News asked campaign spokesperson Michael Tyler why they had shown up at the trial, Tyler answered: “Because you all are here. You’ve been incessantly covering this day in and day out, and we want to remind the American people ahead of the…first debate on June 27 of the unique, persistent, and growing threat that Donald Trump poses to the American people and to our democracy. So since you all are here, we’re here communicating that message.”

    Yesterday, in remarks at Arlington National Cemetery in observance of Memorial Day, President Joe Biden honored “the sacrifice of the hundreds of thousands of women and men who’ve given their lives for this nation. Each one…a link in the chain of honor stretching back to our founding days. Each one bound by common commitment—not to a place, not to a person, not to a President, but to an idea unlike any idea in human history: the idea of the United States of America.”

    “[F]reedom has never been guaranteed,” Biden said. “Every generation has to earn it; fight for it; defend it in battle between autocracy and democracy, between the greed of a few and the rights of many…. And just as our fallen heroes have kept the ultimate faith with our country and our democracy, we must keep faith with them,” he said.

    His speech at Arlington echoed the message he delivered to this year’s graduating class at the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he urged the graduates to hold fast to their oaths. “On your very first day at West Point, you raised your right hands and took an oath—not to a political party, not to a president, but to the Constitution of the United States of America—against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” he said to applause. Soldiers “have given their lives for that Constitution. They have fought to defend the freedoms that it protects: the right to vote, the right to worship, the right to raise your voice in protest. They have saved and sacrificed to ensure, as President Lincoln said, a ‘government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the Earth.’”

    “[N]othing is guaranteed about our democracy in America. Every generation has an obligation to defend it, to protect it, to preserve it, to choose it,” he said. “Now, it’s your turn.” Biden spent more than an hour saluting and shaking the hand of each graduate.

    In contrast, Trump ushered in Memorial Day with a post on his social media company, saying: “Happy Memorial Day to All, including the Human Scum that is working so hard to destroy our Once Great Country, & to the Radical Left, Trump Hating Federal Judge in New York that presided over, get this, TWO separate trials, that awarded a woman, who I never met before (a quick handshake at a celebrity event, 25 years ago, doesn’t count!), 91 MILLION DOLLARS for “DEFAMATION.” He then continued to attack E. Jean Carroll, the writer who successfully sued him for defamation, before turning to attack Judge Arthur Engoron, who presided over the civil case of Trump and the Trump Organization falsifying documents, and Judge Juan Merchan, who is presiding over the current criminal case in New York.

    The message behind this extraordinary post was twofold: Trump can think of nothing but himself…and he appears to be terrified.

    On Saturday, May 25, Trump had an experience quite different from his usual reception at rallies of hand-picked supporters. He was resoundingly booed at the national convention of the Libertarian Party in Washington, D.C., where Secret Service agents confiscated squeaky rubber chickens before his speech. Attendees jeered Trump’s order, “You have to combine with us,” even when he reminded them of his libertarian credentials—tax cuts and defunding of federal equality programs—and promised to pardon the January 6 rioters who attacked the U.S. Capitol.

    Trump also promised to pardon Ross Ulbricht, who founded and from January 2011 to October 2013 ran an online criminal marketplace called Silk Road, where more than $200 million in illegal drugs and other illicit goods and services, such as computer hacking, were bought and sold. Most of the sales were of drugs, with the Silk Road home page listing nearly 13,000 options, including heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, and LSD. The wares were linked to at least six deaths from overdose around the world. In May 2015, Ulbricht was sentenced to life in prison and was ordered to forfeit more than $180 million.

    Libertarians want Ulbricht released because they support drug legalization on the grounds that people should be able to make their own choices and they see Ulbricht’s sentence as government overreach. Trump has repeatedly called for the death penalty for drug dealers, making his promise to pardon Ulbricht an illustration of just how badly he thinks he needs the support of Libertarian voters. But they refused to endorse him.

    Trump appeared angry, and on Sunday, as Greg Sargent reported in The New Republic, he reposted a video of a man raging at MSNBC host Joe Scarborough. In it, the man says that when Trump is reelected: “He’ll get rid of all you f*cking liberals. You liberals are gone when he f*cking wins. You f*cking blowjob liberals are done. Uncle Donnie’s gonna take this election—landslide. Landslide, you f*cking half a blowjob. Landslide. Get the f*ck out of here, you scumbag.”

    Trump’s elevation of this video, Sargent notes, is a dangerous escalation of his already violent rhetoric, and yet it has gotten very little media attention.

    Last November, Matt Gertz of Media Matters reported that ABC News, CBS News, and NBC News provided 18 times more coverage of 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s comment at a fundraising event that “you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables” who are “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic,” than they provided of Trump’s November 2023 promise to “root out the communist, Marxist, fascist and the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country.”

    CNN, the Fox News Channel, and MSNBC mentioned the “deplorables” comment nearly 9 times more than Trump’s “vermin” language. The ratio for the five highest-circulating U.S. newspapers was 29:1.

    Clinton’s statement was consistent with polling, and she added that the rest of Trump’s supporters were “people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they’re just desperate for change.” She said: “Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.”

    Sargent noted that news stories require context and that Trump’s elevation of the violent video should be placed alongside his many threats to prosecute his enemies. While there is often concern over disrespect toward right-wing voters, Sargent writes, there has been very little attention to the presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s posting of “a video that declares a large ideological subgroup of Americans ‘done’ and ‘gone’ if he is elected.”

    Scott MacFarlane of CBS News reported yesterday that Republicans have ignored a law passed in March 2022 requiring the placement of a small plaque honoring police officers who protected the U.S. Capitol and the lawmakers and staffers there on January 6, 2021. It was supposed to be in place by March 2023 but has not gone up. A spokesperson for House speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) says his office is working on it. Kayla Tausche of CNN reported today that three of the police officers at the Capitol that day—Sergeant Aquilino Gonell and Officer Harry Dunn, both retired, and Officer Daniel Hodges, who is still with the Washington, D.C., metropolitan police—will be traveling to swing states for the Biden campaign to tell voters that Trump threatens Americans’ fundamental rights.

    Finally, today, Melinda French Gates, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, announced $1 billion in new spending over the next two years “for people and organizations working on behalf of women and families around the world, including on reproductive rights in the United States.” Only 2% of charitable giving in the U.S. goes to these organizations, she wrote the New York Times, and “[f]or too long, a lack of money has forced organizations fighting for women's rights into a defensive posture while the enemies of progress play offense. I want to help even the match.”

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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,332
      May 29, 2024 (Wednesday)

    President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris campaigned today in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They spoke at Girard College, a school where Black Americans make up most of the student body, where they emphasized the importance of Black voters to the Democratic coalition and the ways in which the administration’s actions have delivered on its promises to the Black community.

    “Because Black Americans voted, Kamala and I are President and Vice President of the United States,” Biden said. “That’s not hyperbole. Because you voted, Donald Trump is a defeated former president.”

    Harris noted that Black Americans are 60% more likely than white Americans to be diagnosed with diabetes, and called out the administration’s capping of insulin at $35 a month, along with the provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act that permit Medicare to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies. She called out the administration’s relief of more than $165 billion in student loan debt for more than 5 million Americans, as well as the first major bipartisan gun safety law in 30 years.

    What has guided them, Harris said to applause, is the “fundamental belief” that “[w]e work for you, the American people, not the special interests, not the billionaires or the big corporations, but the people.”

    She contrasted their record with that of former president Trump, who tried to get rid of the Affordable Care Act that puts healthcare within reach for millions of Black Americans, proposed cuts to Social Security and Medicare, and handpicked Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade. “And as he intended, they did,” she said. “[T]oday, one in three women and more than half of Black women of reproductive age live in a state with an abortion ban.”

    Then Biden took the stage to chants of “Four more years!” He added to Harris’s list of ways in which the administration has worked for racial equality: reconnecting the Black and brown and poor neighborhoods that were cut apart by highways in the 1960s and addressing the decades of disinvestment that happened as a consequence of the carving up of those neighborhoods (this cutting apart of neighborhoods is a really big deal in urban history, by the way); getting rid of the lead pipes that still contaminate water, especially in minority neighborhoods; making high-speed internet widely available and affordable; investing in historically Black colleges and universities; appointing more Black women to federal circuit courts than all other U.S. presidents combined.

    Under the Biden administration, he noted, Black unemployment is at a record low and Black small businesses are starting at the fastest rate in 30 years. The wealth gap between Black Americans and white Americans is the lowest it’s been in 20 years. “We’re opening more doors for economic opportunity, including access to capital, entrepreneurship, workforce training so you can build a life of financial freedom and create generational wealth...all while being the providers and leaders of your families and community,” the president said.

    Biden drew a contrast between his administration and Trump, saying, “I’ve shown you who I am, and Trump has shown you who he is. And today, Donald Trump is pandering and peddling lies and stereotypes for your votes so he can win for himself, not for you.” “[W]e’re not going to let Donald Trump turn America into a place that doesn’t believe in honesty, decency, and treating people with respect,” he said, “and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let Donald Trump turn America into a place filled with anger and resentment and hate.”

    According to Myah Ward and Brakkton Booker of Politico, this was Biden’s fifth trip to the Philadelphia area and his seventh to Pennsylvania this year. As he tries to win the state in 2024, the campaign has opened 24 field offices and outspent Trump there by a ratio of more than 4 to 1.   

    Harris and Biden’s appearance in Philadelphia looked pretty much like a normal day in a normal presidential campaign season.

    The same was not true of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who was in a courtroom in Manhattan as Judge Juan Merchan instructed the jury in the criminal case  against Trump for falsifying business records to hide a $130,000 payment to adult film actress Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, to stop her account of their sexual encounter from becoming public in the days before the 2016 election.  

    Legal analyst Joyce White Vance explained that to find Trump guilty, “[t]he jury must find unanimously that Trump created fraudulent business records and that he did it with the intent to influence an election through unlawful means.”

    Trump and his supporters immediately took to the media to misrepresent the court system. Trump appeared to sleep through the jury instructions but later posted on social media: “I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT THE CHARGES ARE IN THIS RIGGED CASE…. THERE IS NO CRIME.” (He had told the judge on April 4, 2023, that he understood the charges against him.) Trump insisted that he had been railroaded by the fact that “a lot of key witnesses were not called,” although his own defense did not call them and he declined to testify himself. He called the judge “conflicted” and “corrupt,” and said “Mother Teresa could not beat these charges,” a reference to the Albanian-Indian Catholic nun canonized by the Catholic Church in 2016.

    Fox News host John Roberts misrepresented the judge’s instructions, launching a wave of fury on right-wing media stations and prompting Florida senator Marco Rubio to write: “This is exactly the kind of sham trial used against political opponents of the regime in the old Soviet Union.” Utah senator Mike Lee chimed in with his own attacks on Judge Merchan. Roberts later corrected his tweet, but it was too late to change the narrative.

    Tonight, those two themes reappeared again and again on social media in both Trump’s feed and those of his supporters. Their frenzy suggested they are concerned about the jury’s verdict. Newsmax host Todd Starnes tweeted: “President Trump needs to get out of New York City RIGHT NOW! Fly back to Mar-a-Lago or another state that will provide him safe harbor.”

    Indeed, it seems we are seeing the fear of accountability that has been missing from the top levels of American politics since President Gerald Ford pardoned President Richard M. Nixon in 1974. While Ford believed Nixon’s accepting the pardon was an admission of guilt for his participation in the coverup of the break-in at the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee in the Watergate Hotel before the 1972 election and anything else he might have done, Nixon never admitted such guilt.

    In the fifty years since then, certain powerful people seem to have concluded that they cannot be held accountable to laws or rules. The MAGA Republicans are illustrating that disrespect for the rule of law on a daily basis as they work to undermine the courts and the Department of Justice.

    Yesterday, Jodi Kantor of the New York Times reported that Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s story that his wife flew the upside down flag of distress favored by the January 6th rioters as a response to a hostile neighbor did not line up with accounts given by neighbors and a police report.

    Because of that distress flag, as well as the “Appeal to Heaven” flag that flew over his beach house, Alito is under increasing pressure to recuse himself from considering cases related to the events of January 6, including whether Trump is immune from prosecution for his actions surrounding the attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Today Alito refused to recuse himself, blaming his wife for flying the flags—“My wife is fond of flying flags. I am not,” he wrote—and suggesting that anyone who thinks he should recuse himself is “motivated by political or ideological considerations.”

    And in what should almost certainly be read as trolling those who disagree with him, Alito, the author of the 2022 Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision taking away from American women the right to make their own decisions about their healthcare, wrote: “[M]y wife is an independently minded private citizen. She makes her own decisions, and I honor her right to do so.”  

    Trump promptly congratulated Alito “for showing the INTELLIGENCE, COURAGE, and ‘GUTS’ to refuse stepping aside from making a decision on anything January 6th related.”
     
    MAGA attacks on the rule of law affect real people’s lives. Ryan J. Reilly of NBC News reported today that after former Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police officer Michael Fanone called Trump “authoritarian” with a “violence fetish” in front of the Manhattan courthouse yesterday, Fanone’s 78-year-old mother was swatted, with officers showing up at her home after reports of a murder there. Fanone protected the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, and went into cardiac arrest after a rioter assaulted him with a stun gun. "This is the reality of going up against or challenging Donald Trump…. These swatting calls are incredibly f---ing dangerous, especially when the target is somebody like my mom."

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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,332
      May 30, 2024 (Thursday)

    After slightly less than ten hours of deliberation, a jury today found former president Donald J. Trump guilty on all 34 counts of falsifying business records in order to unlawfully influence the 2016 election.

    For the first time in our history, a former president of the United States is a convicted felon.

    For the first time in our history, a former president of the United States has been convicted of committing crimes to steal an election.

    Republican senators could have convicted Trump of high crimes and misdemeanors in 2019. In that year, the House impeached Trump after he tried to rig the 2020 presidential election by withholding congressionally appropriated funds to support Ukraine’s resistance to Russia’s 2014 invasion. He withheld the funds to try to force Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky to manufacture dirt on Democrat Joe Biden.

    Republican senators could have convicted Trump, but they acquitted him.

    Republican senators could have convicted Trump of high crimes and misdemeanors in 2021. In that year, the House impeached him after he tried to seize the presidency by instigating an attack on the U.S. Capitol and trying to rig the count of the electoral vote after Americans had elected Democrat Joe Biden.

    Republican senators could have convicted Trump, but they acquitted him.

    Today, twelve ordinary Americans did what Republican senators refused to do. They protected the rule of law and held Trump accountable for his attempt to rig an election.

    Trump stared blankly ahead as the verdict was read. “Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty.”

    Trump has managed to escape accountability from the political system, but in a court of law, where prosecutors brought facts, witnesses were under oath, and jurors did not need him to keep them in positions of power, he lost.

    And so he continued his assault on the rule of law. MAGA lawmakers, including House speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), both of whom were involved in the events of January 6, 2021, joined him in attacking the system that produced the guilty verdicts, although they steered clear of defending Trump himself.

    After the verdict, Trump turned back to politics. He went directly to the television cameras outside the courtroom, where he gave his usual speech, saying the trial was rigged, he was “a very innocent man,” and that “our country has gone to hell.” Within four minutes of the verdict, his campaign posted a fundraising pitch on social media, proclaiming, “I am a political prisoner!”

    Trump has repeatedly urged his supporters to defend him with violence, but there was none reported. In some cities, there was cheering. Shares in Trump media fell sharply in after-hours trading.

    Judge Juan Merchan will sentence Trump at 10:00 in the morning of July 11, four days before the Republican National Convention begins.

    A spokesperson for the White House said: “We respect the rule of law, and have no additional comment.”

    Tonight, for the first time in our history, a former president of the United States is a convicted felon.

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,332
      May 31, 2024 (Friday)

    Today felt as if there was a collective inward breath as people tried to figure out what yesterday’s jury verdict means for the upcoming 2024 election. The jury decided that former president Trump created fraudulent business records in order to illegally influence the 2016 election. As of yesterday, the presumptive Republican nominee for president of the United States of America is a convicted felon.

    Since the verdict, Trump and his supporters have worked very hard to spin the conviction as a good thing for his campaign, but those arguments sound like a desperate attempt to shape a narrative that is spinning out of their control. Newspapers all over the country bore the word “GUILTY” in their headlines today.

    At stake for Trump is the Republican presidential nomination. Getting it would pave his way to the presidency, which offers him financial gain and the ability to short-circuit the federal prosecutions that observers say are even tighter cases than the state case in which a jury quickly and unanimously found him guilty yesterday. Not getting it leaves Trump and the MAGA supporters who helped him try to steal the 2020 presidential election at the mercy of the American justice system.  

    After last night’s verdict, Trump went to the cameras and tried to establish that the nomination remains his, asserting that voters would vindicate him on November 5. But this morning, as he followed up last night’s comments, he did himself no favors. He billed the event as a “press conference,” but delivered what Michael Grynbaum of the New York Times described as “a rambling and misleading speech,” so full of grievance and unhinged that the networks except the Fox News Channel cut away from it as he attacked trial witnesses, called Judge Merchan “the devil,” and falsely accused President Joe Biden of pushing his prosecution. He took no questions from the press.

    Today the Trump campaign told reporters it raised $34.8 million from small-dollar donors in the hours after the guilty verdict, but observers pointed out there was no reason to believe those numbers based on statements from Trump’s campaign. Meanwhile, Trump advisor Stephen Miller shouted on the Fox News Channel that every Republican secretary of state, state attorney general, donor, member of Congress must use their power “RIGHT NOW” to “beat these Communists!”

    The attempt of MAGA lawmakers to shape events in their favor seemed just as panicked. Representative Jim Banks (R-IN) posted on social media that “New York is a liberal sh*t hole,” and Jim Jordan (R-OH) today asked Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg, who brought the case against Trump, to testify before the House Judiciary’s Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government about “politically motivated prosecutions of…President Donald Trump.” Representative Dan Goldman (D-NY) noted that Trump is a private citizen and Congress has no jurisdiction over the case, but that Jordan is using his congressional authority illegally to defend Trump.

    MAGA senators were even more strident. Republican senator Mike Lee of Utah melted down on X last night over the verdict, and today he led nine other Republican senators in a revolt against the federal government. Lee, J. D. Vance of Ohio, Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, Eric Schmitt of Missouri, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Rick Scott of Florida, Roger Marshall of Kansas, Marco Rubio of Florida, Josh Hawley of Missouri, and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin issued a public letter saying they would no longer pass legislation, fund the government, or vote to confirm the administration’s appointees because, they said, “[t]he White House has made a mockery of the rule of law and fundamentally altered our politics in un-American ways. As a Senate Republican conference,” they said, although there were only 10 of them, “we are unwilling to aid and abet this White House in its project to tear this country apart.”

    It was an odd statement seemingly designed to use disinformation to convince voters to stick with them. Ten senators said they would not do the federal jobs they were elected to do because private citizen Trump was convicted in a state court by a jury of 12 people in New York, a jury that Trump’s lawyers had agreed to. The senators attacked the rule of law and the operation of the federal government in a demonstration of support for Trump. A number of the senators involved were key players in the attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

    Awkwardly, considering the day’s news, a video from 2016 circulated today in which Trump insisted that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who he falsely insisted had committed crimes even as he was the one actually committing them, “shouldn’t be allowed to run.” If she were to win, Trump then said, “it would create an unprecedented constitutional crisis. In that situation, we could very well have a sitting president under felony indictment and, ultimately, a criminal trial. It would grind government to a halt.”

    Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo put it correctly: this is not an “outpouring of rage and anger,” so much as “an overwhelming effort to match and muffle the earthquake of what happened yesterday afternoon with enough noise and choreography to keep everyone in Trump’s campaign and on the margins of it in line and on side.”

    Still, there is more behind the MAGA support for Trump than fearful political messaging. Trump has been hailed as a savior by his supporters because he promises to smash through the laws and norms of American democracy to put them into power. There, they can assert their will over the rest of us, achieving the social and religious control they cannot achieve through democratic means because they cannot win the popular vote in a free and fair election. With Trump’s conviction within the legal system, his supporters are more determined than ever to destroy the rules that block them from imposing their will on the rest of us.

    Today the Federalist Society, which is now aligned with Victor Orbán’s Hungary, flew an upside- down U.S. flag as a signal of national distress. Their actions were in keeping with Russian president Vladimir Putin’s statement that Trump is being persecuted “for political reasons” and that the cases show “the rottenness of the American political system, which cannot pretend to teach others about democracy.”

    Ryan J. Reilly of NBC News reported today on a spike in violent rhetoric on social media targeting New York judge Juan Merchan, who oversaw Trump’s Manhattan election interference trial, and District Attorney Bragg. Users of a fringe internet message board also shared what they claimed were the addresses of jurors. “Dox the Jurors. Dox them now,” one user wrote. Another wrote, “1,000,000 men (armed) need to go to washington and hang everyone. That’s the only solution.”

    This attack on our democracy was the central message of a crucially important story from yesterday that got buried under the news of Trump’s conviction. In The New Republic, Ken Silverstein reported on a private WhatsApp group started last December by military contractor Erik Prince—founder of Blackwater and brother of Trump’s secretary of education, Betsy DeVos—and including about 650 wealthy and well-connected “right-wing government officials, intelligence operatives, arms traffickers, and journalists,” including Representative Ryan Zinke (R-MT), who served as Trump’s secretary of the interior.

    Called “Off Leash,” the group discussed, as Silverstein wrote, “the shortcomings of democracy that invariably resulted from extending the franchise to ordinary citizens, who are easily manipulated by Marxists and populists,” collapsing Gaza into a “fiery hell pit,” wiping out Iran, how Africa was a “sh*thole of a continent,” and ways to dominate the globe. Mostly, though, they discussed the danger of letting everyone vote. “There is only one path forward,” Zinke wrote. “Elect Trump.” Another member answered, “It’s Trump or Revolution” “You mean Trump AND Revolution,” wrote another.

    And yet the frantic MAGA spin on the verdict reveals that there is another way to interpret it. Americans who had lost faith that the justice system could ever hold a powerful man accountable as Trump’s lawyers managed to put off his many indictments see the verdict as a welcome sign that the system still works.

    “The American principle that no one is above the law was reaffirmed,” Biden said today. “Donald Trump was given every opportunity to defend himself. It was a state case, not a federal case. And it was heard by a jury of 12 citizens, 12 Americans, 12 people like you. Like millions of Americans who served on juries, this jury is chosen the same way every jury in America is chosen. It was a process that Donald Trump's attorney was part of. The jury heard five weeks of evidence…. After careful deliberation, the jury reached a unanimous verdict. They found Donald Trump guilty on all 34 felony counts. Now he’ll be given the opportunity as he should to appeal that decision just like everyone else has that opportunity. That's how the American system of justice works. And it's reckless, it's dangerous, and it's irresponsible for anyone to say this was rigged just because they don't like the verdict. Our justice system has endured for nearly 250 years and it literally is the cornerstone of America…. The justice system should be respected, and we should never allow anyone to tear it down. It’s as simple as that. That's America. That's who we are. And that's who we will always be, God willing.”

    Today the publisher of Dinesh D’Souza’s book and film 2000 Mules, which alleged voter fraud in the 2020 election, said it was pulling both the book and film from distribution and issued an apology to a Georgia man who sued for defamation after 2000 Mules accused him of voting illegally.  

    MAGA Republicans confidently predicted yesterday that the stock market would crash if the jury found Trump guilty. Today the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained almost 600 points.

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

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    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
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    Halifax2TheMaxHalifax2TheMax Posts: 36,964
    I look forward to the drone strikes.
    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; 05/04/2024 & 05/06/2024, Vancouver, BC; 05/10/2024, Portland, OR;

    Libtardaplorable©. And proud of it.

    Brilliantati©
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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,332
      June 1, 2024 (Saturday)

    Today, as MAGA Republicans attack the rule of law and promise to prosecute their political enemies if they get back into power, it’s easy to forget that once upon a time, certain Republican politicians championed reason and compromise and took a stand against MAGAs’ predecessors. On June 1, 1950, Senator Margaret Chase Smith, a Republican from Maine, stood up against Republican Senator Joe McCarthy of Wisconsin and his supporters, who were undermining American democracy in a crusade against “communism.”

    Margaret Chase was born in Skowhegan in 1897, the oldest child of a barber and a waitress, and became a teacher and a reporter before she got into politics through her husband, Clyde Smith, who was a state legislator and newspaperman. Soon after they married in 1930, she was elected to the Maine Republican State Committee and served until 1936, when Maine voters elected Clyde to Congress.

    Once in Washington, Margaret worked as her husband’s researcher, speechwriter, and press secretary. When Clyde died of a heart attack in April 1940, voters elected Margaret to finish his term, then reelected her to Congress in her own right. They did so three more times, always with more than sixty percent of the vote. In 1948, they elected her to the Senate with a 71% majority.

    When she was elected to Congress, the U.S. was still getting used to the New Deal government that Democratic president Franklin Delano Roosevelt had ushered in first to combat the Great Depression and then to fight for victory in World War II. Smith’s party was divided between those who thought the new system was a proper adjustment to the modern world and those determined to destroy that new government.

    Those who wanted to slash the government back to the form it had taken in the 1920s, when businessmen ran it, had a problem. American voters liked the business regulation, basic social safety net, and infrastructure construction of the new system. To combat that popularity, the anti–New Deal Republicans insisted that the U.S. government was sliding toward communism. With the success of the People’s Liberation Army and the declaration of the People’s Republic of China in October 1949, Americans were willing to entertain the idea that communism was spreading across the globe and would soon take over the U.S.

    Republican politicians eager to reclaim control of the government for the first time since 1933 fanned the flames of that fear. On February 9, 1950, during a speech to a group gathered in Wheeling, West Virginia, to celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, an undistinguished senator from Wisconsin named Joe McCarthy claimed that he had a list of 205 communists working for the State Department and that the Democrats refused to investigate these “traitors in the government.”

    The anti–New Deal faction of the party jumped on board. Sympathetic newspapers trumpeted McCarthy’s charges—which kept changing, and for which he never offered proof—and his colleagues cheered him on, while congress members from the Republican faction that had signed onto the liberal consensus kept their heads down to avoid becoming the target of his attacks.

    All but one of them did, that is. Senator Smith recognized the damage McCarthy and his ilk were doing to the nation. She had seen the effects of his behavior up close in Maine, where the faction of the Republican Party that supported McCarthy had supported the state’s Ku Klux Klan. Clyde and Margaret Chase Smith had taken a stand against them.

    On June 1, 1950, only four months after McCarthy made his infamous speech in Wheeling, Smith stood up in the Senate to make a short speech.

    She began: “I would like to speak briefly and simply about a serious national condition. It is a national feeling of fear and frustration that could result in national suicide and the end of everything that we Americans hold dear…. I speak as a Republican, I speak as a woman. I speak as a United States senator. I speak as an American.”

    Referring to Senator McCarthy, who was sitting two rows behind her, Senator Smith condemned the leaders in her party who were destroying lives with wild accusations. “Those of us who shout the loudest about Americanism in making character assassinations are all too frequently those who, by our own words and acts, ignore some of the basic principles of Americanism,” she pointed out. Americans have the right to criticize, to hold unpopular beliefs, to protest, and to think for themselves. But attacks that cost people their reputations and jobs were stifling these basic American principles. “Freedom of speech is not what it used to be in America,” Senator Smith said. “It has been so abused by some that it is not exercised by others.”

    Senator Smith wanted a Republican victory in the upcoming elections, she explained, but to replace President Harry Truman’s Democratic administration—for which she had plenty of harsh words—with a Republican regime “that lacks political integrity or intellectual honesty would prove equally disastrous to this nation.”

    “I do not want to see the Republican party ride to political victory on the Four Horsemen of Calumny—Fear, Ignorance, Bigotry, and Smear.”

    “I doubt if the Republican party could do so,” she added, “simply because I do not believe the American people will uphold any political party that puts political exploitation above national interest. Surely we Republicans are not that desperate for victory.”

    “I do not want to see the Republican party win that way,” she said. “While it might be a fleeting victory for the Republican party, it would be a more lasting defeat for the American people. Surely it would ultimately be suicide for the Republican party and the two-party system that has protected our American liberties from the dictatorship of a one-party system.”

    “As an American, I condemn a Republican Fascist just as much as I condemn a Democrat Communist,” she said. “They are equally dangerous to you and me and to our country. As an American, I want to see our nation recapture the strength and unity it once had when we fought the enemy instead of ourselves.”

    Smith presented a “Declaration of Conscience,” listing five principles she hoped her party would adopt. It ended with a warning: “It is high time that we all stopped being tools and victims of totalitarian techniques—techniques that, if continued here unchecked, will surely end what we have come to cherish as the American way of life.”

    Six other Republican senators signed onto Senator Smith’s declaration.

    There were two reactions to the speech within the party. McCarthy sneered at “Snow White and the Six Dwarves.” Other Republicans quietly applauded Smith’s courage but refused to show similar courage themselves with public support. In the short term, Senator Smith’s voice was largely ignored in the public arena and then, when the Korean War broke out, forgotten.

    But she was right. Four years later, the Senate condemned McCarthy. And while Senator Smith was later awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, McCarthy has gone down in history as a disgrace to the Senate and to the United States of America.

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,332
      June 2, 2024 (Sunday)

    Today is the one-hundredth anniversary of the Indian Citizenship Act, which declared that “all non-citizen Indians born within the territorial limits of the United States be, and they are hereby, declared to be citizens of the United States: Provided, That the granting of such citizenship shall not in any manner impair or otherwise affect the right of any Indian to tribal or other property.”

    That declaration had been a long time coming. The Constitution, ratified in 1789, excluded “Indians not taxed” from the population on which officials would calculate representation in the House of Representatives. In the 1857 Dred Scott v. Sandford decision, the Supreme Court reiterated that Indigenous tribes were independent nations. It called Indigenous peoples equivalent to “the subjects of any other foreign Government.” They could be naturalized, thereby becoming citizens of a state and of the United States. And at that point, they “would be entitled to all the rights and privileges which would belong to an emigrant from any other foreign people.”

    The Fourteenth Amendment, ratified in 1868, established that “all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” But it continued to exclude “Indians not taxed” from the population used to calculate representation in the House of Representatives.

    In 1880, John Elk, a member of the Winnebago tribe, tried to register to vote, saying he had been living off the reservation and had renounced the tribal affiliation under which he was born. In 1884, in Elk v. Wilkins, the Supreme Court affirmed that the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution did not cover Indigenous Americans who were living under the jurisdiction of a tribe when they were born. In 1887 the Dawes Act provided that any Indigenous American who accepted an individual land grant could become a citizen, but those who did not remained noncitizens.

    As Interior Secretary Deb Haaland pointed out today in an article in Native News Online, Elk v. Wilkins meant that when Olympians Louis Tewanima and Jim Thorpe represented the United States in the 1912 Olympic games in Stockholm, Sweden, they were not legally American citizens. A member of the Hopi Tribe, Tewanima won the silver medal for the 10,000 meter run.

    Thorpe was a member of the Sac and Fox Nation, and in 1912 he won two Olympic gold medals, in Classic pentathlon—sprint hurdles, long jump, high jump, shot put, and middle distance run—and in decathlon, which added five more track and field events to the Classic pentathlon. The Associated Press later voted Thorpe “The Greatest Athlete of the First Half of the Century” as he played both professional football and professional baseball, but it was his wins at the 1912 Olympics that made him a legend. Congratulating him on his win, Sweden’s King Gustav V allegedly said, “Sir, you are the greatest athlete in the world.”  

    Still, it was World War I that forced lawmakers to confront the contradiction of noncitizen Indigenous Americans. According to the Gilder Lehrman Institute for American History, more than 11,000 American Indians served in World War I: nearly 5,000 enlisted and about 6,500 were drafted, making up a total of about 25% of Indigenous men despite the fact that most Indigenous men were not citizens.

    It was during World War I that members of the Choctaw and Cherokee Nations began to transmit messages for the American forces in a code based in their own languages, the inspiration for the Code Talkers of World War II. In 1919, in recognition of “the American Indian as a soldier of our army, fighting on foreign fields for liberty and justice,” as General John Pershing put it, Congress passed a law to grant citizenship to Indigenous American veterans of World War I.

    That citizenship law raised the question of citizenship for those Indigenous Americans who had neither assimilated nor served in the military. The non-Native community was divided on the question; so was the Native community. Some thought citizenship would protect their rights, while others worried that it would strip them of the rights they held under treaties negotiated with them as separate and sovereign nations and was a way to force them to assimilate.

    On June 2, 1924, Congress passed the measure, its supporters largely hoping that Indigenous citizenship would help to clean up the corruption in the Department of Indian Affairs. The new law applied to about 125,000 people out of an Indigenous population of about 300,000.

    But in that era, citizenship did not confer civil rights. In 1941, shortly after Elizabeth Peratrovich and her husband, Roy, both members of the Tlingit Nation, moved from Klawok, Alaska, to the city of Juneau, they found a sign on a nearby inn saying, “No Natives Allowed.” This, they felt, contrasted dramatically with the American uniforms Indigenous Americans were wearing overseas, and they said as much in a letter to Alaska’s governor, Ernest H. Gruening. The sign was “an outrage,” they wrote. “The proprietor of Douglas Inn does not seem to realize that our Native boys are just as willing as the white boys to lay down their lives to protect the freedom that he enjoys."

    With the support of the governor, Elizabeth started a campaign to get an antidiscrimination bill through the legislature. It failed in 1943, but passed the House in 1945 as a packed gallery looked on. The measure had the votes to pass in the Senate, but one opponent demanded: "Who are these people, barely out of savagery, who want to associate with us whites with 5,000 years of recorded civilization behind us?"

    Elizabeth Peratrovich had been quietly knitting in the gallery, but during the public comment period, she said she would like to be heard. She crossed the chamber to stand by the Senate president. “I would not have expected,” she said, “that I, who am barely out of savagery, would have to remind gentlemen with five thousand years of recorded civilization behind them of our Bill of Rights.” She detailed the ways in which discrimination daily hampered the lives of herself, her husband, and her children. She finished to wild applause, and the Senate passed the nation’s first antidiscrimination act by a vote of 11 to 5.

    Indigenous veterans came home from World War II to discover they still could not vote. In Arizona, Maricopa county recorder Roger G. Laveen refused to register returning veterans of the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, including Frank Harrison, to vote. He cited an earlier court decision saying Indigenous Americans were “persons under guardianship.” They sued, and the Arizona Supreme Court agreed that the phrase only applied to judicial guardianship.  

    In New Mexico, Miguel Trujillo, a schoolteacher from Isleta Pueblo who had served as a Marine in World War II, sued the county registrar who refused to enroll him as a voter. In 1948, in Trujillo v. Garley, a state court agreed that the clause in the New Mexico constitution prohibiting “Indians not taxed” from voting violated the Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments by placing a unique requirement on Indigenous Americans. It was not until 1957 that Utah removed its restrictions on Indigenous voting, the last of the states to do so.

    The 1965 Voting Rights Act protected Native American voting rights along with the voting rights of all Americans, and they, like all Americans, are affected by the Supreme Court’s hollowing out of the law and the wave of voter suppression laws state legislators who have bought into Trump’s Big Lie have passed since 2021. Voter ID laws that require street addresses cut out many people who live on reservations, and lack of access to polling places cuts out others.

    Katie Friel and Emil Mella Pablo of the Brennan Center noted in 2022 that, for example, people who live on Nevada’s Duckwater reservation have to travel 140 miles each way to get to the closest elections office. “As the first and original peoples of this land, we have had only a century of recognized citizenship, and we continue to face systematic barriers when exercising the fundamental and hard-fought-for right to vote,” Democratic National Committee Native Caucus chair Clara Pratte said in a press release from the Democratic Party.

    As part of the commemoration of the Indian Citizenship Act, the Democratic National Committee is distributing voter engagement and protection information in Apache, Ho-Chunk, Hopi, Navajo, Paiute, Shoshone, and Zuni.

    _____________________________________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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