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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: 36,603
      June 3, 2024 (Monday)

    The fallout from the New York jury’s conviction of Donald Trump on 34 felony counts last Thursday, May 30, continues. Trump’s team continues to insist that the guilty verdict will help him, but that’s nonsensical on its face: if guilty verdicts are so helpful, why has he moved heaven and earth to keep the many other cases against him from going to trial? And why are he and House speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) calling for the Supreme Court to overturn the convictions?

    As political consultant Stuart Stevens put it: “I worked in five presidential races and helped elect Republican governors or Senators in over half the country. I have never heard anything more transparently desperate than a party trying to spin that there is some non-MAGA pool of voters who can't wait to vote for a convicted felon.”

    On Friday, Morning Consult conducted a poll to gauge how voters were reacting to the guilty verdict. It showed that 54% of registered voters approved of it, while only 34% disapproved. Perhaps worse for Trump was that 49% of Independents and 15% of Republicans thought he should end his campaign. A Reuters/Ipsos poll found that 10% of registered Republican voters and 25% of Independents said that his conviction made it less likely that they would vote for him for president.

    Then, on Saturday, there was what Danny Westneat of the Seattle Times called a plot twist. It turns out the state of Washington has a law on the books that prevents felons from running for office. But because a candidate has to be certified to be on a ballot before they can be challenged, the issue can’t be resolved until Trump officially becomes the Republican Party’s presidential nominee at the July convention. Westneat asked, “Republicans: You sure you want to go down this road?”

    On Sunday, Trump appeared on Fox and Friends for his first interview since his conviction. The interview was heavily edited, suggesting his comments were problematic in some way, but what was there was still bad enough. He repeated his plans to fire generals who refuse to do his bidding and to deport immigrants by using local police to round them up. Notably, considering his own looming sentencing, he claimed he never said “lock her up” about Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a claim that reporters on social media promptly shredded with video clips of him doing exactly that.

    Media figures are puncturing Trump’s image. The verdict buried a story by The Apprentice producer Bill Pruitt, who is now free of a nondisclosure agreement, explaining how he and others created an illusion that Trump was a successful businessman and alleging that Trump used the n-word on set. On Saturday, an image circulated on social media of Trump leaving Trump Tower and waving as if to a crowd, but there was no one there.

    Also on Saturday, top sports talk host Colin Cowherd pushed back on the idea that the trial was rigged, telling his listeners: “If everybody in your circle is a felon, maybe it’s not rigged. Maybe the world isn’t against you.” “Donald Trump is now a felon,” Cowherd said. “His campaign chairman was a felon. So is his deputy campaign manager, his personal lawyer, his chief strategist, his National Security Adviser, his Trade Advisor, his Foreign Policy Adviser, his campaign fixer, and his company CFO. They’re all felons. Judged by the company you keep. It’s a cabal of convicts.”

    Cowherd went on: “[Trump’s] trying to sell me an America that doesn’t exist.” “Stop trying to sell me on ‘everything’s rigged, the country’s falling into the sea, the economy’s terrible,’” he continued. “The America that I live in is imperfect. But compared to the rest of the world, I think we’re doing okay.”

    This morning, Robert Faturechi, Justin Elliott, and Alex Mierjeski of ProPublica reported that Trump’s businesses and campaign committees have funneled significant financial benefits to at least nine witnesses in the criminal campaigns against Trump, often at crucial moments in the legal proceedings. The pay of one campaign aide doubled; another got a $2 million severance package that barred him from cooperating with law enforcement. The daughter of one of the campaign’s top officials was hired onto the staff and is now the fourth-highest-paid employee, with a salary of $222,000. Payments to the companies of certain witnesses dramatically increased.
     
    Faturechi, Elliott, and Mierjeski note that it is not uncommon for bosses to find themselves defendants, complicating their relationship with employees who might have witnessed alleged crimes. In such cases, lawyers advise the defendant not to provide any unusual benefits or penalties, to avoid the appearance of witness tampering.
     
    Trump’s attorney, David Warrington, sent ProPublica a cease-and-desist letter saying that if the outlet and its reporters “continue their reckless campaign of defamation, President Trump will evaluate all legal remedies.” He demanded that ProPublica kill the article, keeping it from publication.

    And then, this afternoon, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams, along with the U.S. Department of Labor and the State Department, unsealed an indictment charging Weidong Guan, also known as Bill Guan, the chief financial officer of the global news outlet The Epoch Times, with using the outlet to launder at least $67 million. The Epoch Times is affiliated with the ultraconservative Chinese anticommunist religious group Falun Gong and supports Donald Trump and other right-wing U.S. politicians with both press and cash. It was a major promoter of Dinesh D’Souza’s film 2000 Mules that claimed the 2020 presidential election was stolen. A voter depicted in that film sued for defamation, and just last week the distributor settled with the plaintiff, issued an apology, and stopped distributing the film.
     
    The allegation that The Epoch Times is a money-laundering operation comes on top of yesterday’s story by Joseph Menn in the Washington Post, reporting that the editor of another media site that pushes disinformation from both the far right and the far left, The Grayzone, has worked for Russia’s Sputnik as well as taken money from Iranian government-owned media. One of the people who retweets Grayzone stories is Senator Mike Lee (R-UT).

    In the middle of all this bad news for MAGA Republicans, it felt like desperation today when the House Oversight Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic tried to resurrect Covid conspiracy theories against Dr. Anthony Fauci. Fauci was director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) from 1984 to 2022, serving under seven presidents. President George W. Bush awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the U.S., for his work on combating the global AIDS epidemic.

    Fauci’s position as NIAID director put him at the center of U.S. attempts to grapple with Covid-19, and for his work on developing a vaccine, Trump awarded him a presidential commendation. But first QAnon and then MAGA Republicans centered him as a villain who either started or covered up the pandemic, or forced people to mask or to get vaccines they told their supporters were unnecessary or even dangerous. QAnon conspiracy theorist Ivan Raiklin and convicted January 6 rioter Brandon Fellows were seated behind Fauci today; Fellows made pouty faces when Fauci was describing the death threats he, his wife, and his daughters have endured.

    Video creator and political commentator Michael McWhorter noted that Raiklin has made dramatic threats of violence against those he considers members of “the Deep State” and that he should have been nowhere near Fauci. McWhorter also noted that the two men were likely invited to the hearing and that it would be useful to know who invited them.  

    Committee member Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who has skipped seven of the last ten hearings and who has expressed sympathy for QAnon in the past, attacked Fauci by saying he should be prosecuted: “You know what this committee should be doing? We should be writing a criminal referral because you should be prosecuted for crimes against humanity,” she said. “You belong in prison, Dr. Fauci.” For all the nastiness, the hearing turned up nothing.

    Later, Greene told Manu Raju of CNN that Speaker Johnson should shut down the government over the Trump verdict and prosecutions. “We're literally a banana republic. So what does it matter funding the government? The American people don't give a sh*t.”

    While MAGA Republicans are insisting that a Manhattan jury’s conviction of Trump means that President Joe Biden has weaponized the Department of Justice and that they must take revenge, the trial of Biden’s son Hunter on federal gun charges, brought by a Trump-appointed U.S. attorney whom Biden kept on, started today. Former top Justice Department prosecutor Andrew Weissmann noted that Biden is “living the rule of law…in the most personal way. He is not telling DOJ to stand down…. He is not pardoning his son…. He is living what it means to have a rule of law in this country…. If you want to know if he believes it, you can actually see what is happening with his own son.”

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
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    Halifax2TheMaxHalifax2TheMax Posts: 37,157
    mickeyrat said:
      June 3, 2024 (Monday)

    The fallout from the New York jury’s conviction of Donald Trump on 34 felony counts last Thursday, May 30, continues. Trump’s team continues to insist that the guilty verdict will help him, but that’s nonsensical on its face: if guilty verdicts are so helpful, why has he moved heaven and earth to keep the many other cases against him from going to trial? And why are he and House speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) calling for the Supreme Court to overturn the convictions?

    As political consultant Stuart Stevens put it: “I worked in five presidential races and helped elect Republican governors or Senators in over half the country. I have never heard anything more transparently desperate than a party trying to spin that there is some non-MAGA pool of voters who can't wait to vote for a convicted felon.”

    On Friday, Morning Consult conducted a poll to gauge how voters were reacting to the guilty verdict. It showed that 54% of registered voters approved of it, while only 34% disapproved. Perhaps worse for Trump was that 49% of Independents and 15% of Republicans thought he should end his campaign. A Reuters/Ipsos poll found that 10% of registered Republican voters and 25% of Independents said that his conviction made it less likely that they would vote for him for president.

    Then, on Saturday, there was what Danny Westneat of the Seattle Times called a plot twist. It turns out the state of Washington has a law on the books that prevents felons from running for office. But because a candidate has to be certified to be on a ballot before they can be challenged, the issue can’t be resolved until Trump officially becomes the Republican Party’s presidential nominee at the July convention. Westneat asked, “Republicans: You sure you want to go down this road?”

    On Sunday, Trump appeared on Fox and Friends for his first interview since his conviction. The interview was heavily edited, suggesting his comments were problematic in some way, but what was there was still bad enough. He repeated his plans to fire generals who refuse to do his bidding and to deport immigrants by using local police to round them up. Notably, considering his own looming sentencing, he claimed he never said “lock her up” about Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a claim that reporters on social media promptly shredded with video clips of him doing exactly that.

    Media figures are puncturing Trump’s image. The verdict buried a story by The Apprentice producer Bill Pruitt, who is now free of a nondisclosure agreement, explaining how he and others created an illusion that Trump was a successful businessman and alleging that Trump used the n-word on set. On Saturday, an image circulated on social media of Trump leaving Trump Tower and waving as if to a crowd, but there was no one there.

    Also on Saturday, top sports talk host Colin Cowherd pushed back on the idea that the trial was rigged, telling his listeners: “If everybody in your circle is a felon, maybe it’s not rigged. Maybe the world isn’t against you.” “Donald Trump is now a felon,” Cowherd said. “His campaign chairman was a felon. So is his deputy campaign manager, his personal lawyer, his chief strategist, his National Security Adviser, his Trade Advisor, his Foreign Policy Adviser, his campaign fixer, and his company CFO. They’re all felons. Judged by the company you keep. It’s a cabal of convicts.”

    Cowherd went on: “[Trump’s] trying to sell me an America that doesn’t exist.” “Stop trying to sell me on ‘everything’s rigged, the country’s falling into the sea, the economy’s terrible,’” he continued. “The America that I live in is imperfect. But compared to the rest of the world, I think we’re doing okay.”

    This morning, Robert Faturechi, Justin Elliott, and Alex Mierjeski of ProPublica reported that Trump’s businesses and campaign committees have funneled significant financial benefits to at least nine witnesses in the criminal campaigns against Trump, often at crucial moments in the legal proceedings. The pay of one campaign aide doubled; another got a $2 million severance package that barred him from cooperating with law enforcement. The daughter of one of the campaign’s top officials was hired onto the staff and is now the fourth-highest-paid employee, with a salary of $222,000. Payments to the companies of certain witnesses dramatically increased.
     
    Faturechi, Elliott, and Mierjeski note that it is not uncommon for bosses to find themselves defendants, complicating their relationship with employees who might have witnessed alleged crimes. In such cases, lawyers advise the defendant not to provide any unusual benefits or penalties, to avoid the appearance of witness tampering.
     
    Trump’s attorney, David Warrington, sent ProPublica a cease-and-desist letter saying that if the outlet and its reporters “continue their reckless campaign of defamation, President Trump will evaluate all legal remedies.” He demanded that ProPublica kill the article, keeping it from publication.

    And then, this afternoon, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams, along with the U.S. Department of Labor and the State Department, unsealed an indictment charging Weidong Guan, also known as Bill Guan, the chief financial officer of the global news outlet The Epoch Times, with using the outlet to launder at least $67 million. The Epoch Times is affiliated with the ultraconservative Chinese anticommunist religious group Falun Gong and supports Donald Trump and other right-wing U.S. politicians with both press and cash. It was a major promoter of Dinesh D’Souza’s film 2000 Mules that claimed the 2020 presidential election was stolen. A voter depicted in that film sued for defamation, and just last week the distributor settled with the plaintiff, issued an apology, and stopped distributing the film.
     
    The allegation that The Epoch Times is a money-laundering operation comes on top of yesterday’s story by Joseph Menn in the Washington Post, reporting that the editor of another media site that pushes disinformation from both the far right and the far left, The Grayzone, has worked for Russia’s Sputnik as well as taken money from Iranian government-owned media. One of the people who retweets Grayzone stories is Senator Mike Lee (R-UT).

    In the middle of all this bad news for MAGA Republicans, it felt like desperation today when the House Oversight Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic tried to resurrect Covid conspiracy theories against Dr. Anthony Fauci. Fauci was director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) from 1984 to 2022, serving under seven presidents. President George W. Bush awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the U.S., for his work on combating the global AIDS epidemic.

    Fauci’s position as NIAID director put him at the center of U.S. attempts to grapple with Covid-19, and for his work on developing a vaccine, Trump awarded him a presidential commendation. But first QAnon and then MAGA Republicans centered him as a villain who either started or covered up the pandemic, or forced people to mask or to get vaccines they told their supporters were unnecessary or even dangerous. QAnon conspiracy theorist Ivan Raiklin and convicted January 6 rioter Brandon Fellows were seated behind Fauci today; Fellows made pouty faces when Fauci was describing the death threats he, his wife, and his daughters have endured.

    Video creator and political commentator Michael McWhorter noted that Raiklin has made dramatic threats of violence against those he considers members of “the Deep State” and that he should have been nowhere near Fauci. McWhorter also noted that the two men were likely invited to the hearing and that it would be useful to know who invited them.  

    Committee member Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who has skipped seven of the last ten hearings and who has expressed sympathy for QAnon in the past, attacked Fauci by saying he should be prosecuted: “You know what this committee should be doing? We should be writing a criminal referral because you should be prosecuted for crimes against humanity,” she said. “You belong in prison, Dr. Fauci.” For all the nastiness, the hearing turned up nothing.

    Later, Greene told Manu Raju of CNN that Speaker Johnson should shut down the government over the Trump verdict and prosecutions. “We're literally a banana republic. So what does it matter funding the government? The American people don't give a sh*t.”

    While MAGA Republicans are insisting that a Manhattan jury’s conviction of Trump means that President Joe Biden has weaponized the Department of Justice and that they must take revenge, the trial of Biden’s son Hunter on federal gun charges, brought by a Trump-appointed U.S. attorney whom Biden kept on, started today. Former top Justice Department prosecutor Andrew Weissmann noted that Biden is “living the rule of law…in the most personal way. He is not telling DOJ to stand down…. He is not pardoning his son…. He is living what it means to have a rule of law in this country…. If you want to know if he believes it, you can actually see what is happening with his own son.”

    So much winning. Are you tired of winning yet? Imagine believing this clown show of a party and government is good for you and the country. Delusional.
    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.

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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,603
       June 4, 2024 (Tuesday)

    The Gettysburg Address it wasn’t.

    Seventy-seven years ago, on June 5, 1947, Secretary of State George C. Marshall, who had been a five-star general in World War II, gave a commencement speech at Harvard University.

    Rather than stirring, the speech was bland. Its long sentences were hard to follow. It was vague. And yet, in just under eleven minutes on a sunny afternoon, Marshall laid out a plan that would shape the modern world.

    “The truth of the matter is that Europe's requirements for the next three or four years of foreign food and other essential products—principally from America—are so much greater than her present ability to pay that she must have substantial additional help or face economic, social, and political deterioration of a very grave character,” he said. “It is logical that the United States should do whatever it is able to do to assist in the return of normal economic health in the world, without which there can be no political stability and no assured peace. Our policy is directed not against any country or doctrine but against hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos. Its purpose should be the revival of a working economy in the world so as to permit the emergence of political and social conditions in which free institutions can exist.”

    In his short speech, Marshall outlined the principles of what came to be known as the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe in the wake of the devastation of World War II. The speech challenged European governments to work together to make a plan for recovery and suggested that the U.S. would provide the money. European countries did so, forming the Organization for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC) in 1948. From 1948 to 1952, the U.S. would donate about $17 billion to European countries to rebuild, promote economic cooperation, and modernize economies. By the end of the four-year program, economic output in each of the countries participating in the Marshall Plan had increased by at least 35%.

    This investment helped to avoid another depression like the one that had hit the world in the 1930s, enabling Europe to afford goods from the U.S. and keeping low the tariff walls that had helped to choke trade in the crisis years of that decade. Marshall later recalled that his primary motivation was economic recovery, that he had been shocked by the devastation he saw in Europe and felt that “[i]f Europe was to be salvaged, economic aid was essential.”

    But there was more to the Marshall Plan than money.

    The economic rubble after the war had sparked political chaos that fed the communist movement. No one wanted to go back to the prewar years of the depression, and in the wake of fascism, communism looked attractive to many Europeans.

    “Marshall was acutely aware that this was a plan to stabilize Western Europe politically because the administration was worried about the impact of communism, especially on labor unions,” historian Charles Maier told Colleen Walsh of the Harvard Gazette in 2017. “In effect, it was a plan designed to keep Western Europe safely in the liberal Western camp.” It worked. American investment in Europe helped to turn European nations away from communism as well as the nationalism that had fed World War II, creating a cooperative and stable Europe.

    The Marshall Plan also helped Europe and the U.S. to articulate a powerful set of shared values. The U.S. invited not just Europe but also the Soviet Union to participate in the plan, but Soviet leaders refused, recognizing that accepting such aid would weaken the idea that communism was a superior form of government and give the U.S. influence. They blocked satellite countries from participating, as well. Forcing the USSR either to join Europe or to divide the allies of World War II put Soviet leaders in a difficult position and at a psychological disadvantage.

    With a clear ideological line dividing the USSR and Europe, Europeans, Americans, and their allies coalesced around a concept of government based on equality before the law, secularism, civil rights, economic and political freedom, and a market economy: the tenets of liberal democracy. As Otto Zausmer, who had worked for the U.S. Office of War Information to swing Americans behind the war, put it in 1955: “America’s gift to the world is not money, but the Democratic idea, democracy.”

    In the years after the Marshall Plan, European countries expanded their cooperative organizations. The OEEC became the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 1961 and still operates with 37 member countries that account for three fifths of world trade. And the U.S. abandoned its prewar isolationism to engage with the rest of the world. The Marshall Plan helped to create a liberal international order, based on the rule of law, that lasted for decades.

    In his commencement speech on June 5, 1947, Marshall apologized that “I’ve been forced by the necessities of the case to enter into rather technical discussions.” But on the ten-year anniversary of the speech, the Norwegian foreign minister had a longer perspective, saying: “[T]his initiative taken by Marshall and by the American Government marked the beginning of a new epoch in western Europe, an epoch of wider, and above all more binding, cooperation between the countries than ever before.”

    Not bad for an eleven-minute speech.

    _____________________________________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: 36,603
       June 5, 2024 (Wednesday)

    Today the S&P 500, which tracks the stock performance of 500 of the biggest companies on U.S. stock exchanges, closed at a new record high of 5,354. The Nasdaq Composite, which is weighted toward the information technology sector, also closed at a record high of 17,187. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was also up, but not to a new record. It closed at 38,807.

    That notable economic news got very little attention, likely in part because there is so much else going on.

    Most dramatically, House speaker Mike Johnson elevated Ronny Jackson (R-TX) and Scott Perry (R-PA) to the House Intelligence Committee, giving them oversight of the entire U.S. intelligence community and access to the nation’s most sensitive foreign intelligence. The Intelligence community includes intelligence from the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Marine Corps, the U.S. Space Force, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Defense Department, the State Department, the Department of Energy (which oversees information about nuclear weapons), the Treasury Department, and the Department of Homeland Security.

    It also oversees the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and that oversight is likely a key reason Johnson put Jackson and Perry on the committee.

    A former Navy admiral, Jackson was Trump’s White House physician. Trump liked him enough to try unsuccessfully to promote him into the cabinet and within the U.S. Navy, and then to back him successfully for Congress after he retired from the Navy in 2019. In 2022 the U.S. Navy demoted him from admiral to captain after a 2021 report by the inspector general of the Defense Department showed he had “disparaged, belittled, bullied, and humiliated” his staff and abused alcohol on at least two occasions when he was supposed to be providing medical care to government officials.   

    Perry is more problematic than Jackson. Cassidy Hutchinson, former aide to Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows, told the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol that Perry played an important role in the plan to keep Trump in office after he lost the 2020 presidential election. She told podcast host Scott Lamar in October 2023 that Perry was “central to the planning of January 6,” and she has said repeatedly that Perry asked Trump for a pardon before he left office.

    Federal authorities from the FBI seized Perry’s cell phone in 2022 as part of their investigation into the effort to seize the presidency; he is the only member of Congress whose cell phone was seized. Like Trump, who has attacked the FBI since then-director James Comey refused to drop the investigation into the connections between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russian operatives, Perry has complained bitterly about the FBI’s investigation of him.

    Now, Perry will be on the committee that oversees the FBI. In a statement, he said: “I look forward to providing not only a fresh perspective, but conducting actual oversight—not blind obedience to some facets of our Intel Community that all too often abuse their powers, resources, and authority to spy on the American People.”

    Former director of the CIA General Michael Hayden wrote: “That’s unbelievable. Both of them. Intelligence Committee? God help us.”

    There is other news about the attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election: yesterday Wisconsin attorney general Josh Kaul filed felony forgery charges against attorney Kenneth Chesebro, who planned the use of fake electors; former judge James Troupis, who managed Trump’s 2020 campaign in Wisconsin; and Michael Roman, a political operative who allegedly delivered the paperwork for Wisconsin’s fake electors to a congressional staffer to try to get them to Vice President Mike Pence.

    On January 6, 2021, after the document was delivered, Troupis texted to Chesebro: “Excellent. Tomorrow let’s talk about SCOTUS strategy going forward. Enjoy the history you have made possible today.”

    In Georgia, a court of appeals paused the case against Trump and his co-conspirators from proceeding until it rules on Trump’s appeal to disqualify Fulton County district attorney Fani Willis. It has tentatively set a hearing date for October 4, meaning that voters will not get to learn the outcome of the trial until after the election. If Trump is reelected, the trial will almost certainly not go forward.

    The federal criminal case against Trump for retaining classified documents is also stalled. Judge Aileen Cannon not only has put off hearings, she has added a hearing on June 21 to consider whether Special Counsel Jack Smith was properly appointed in the first place. She is revisiting a decision already decided in the affirmative in 2019 by the Washington, D.C., Court of Appeals. She has also taken the highly unusual step of inviting three people not involved in the case to argue in that hearing: two will argue that the appointment is invalid, one will argue that it was done properly.

    Meanwhile, there were signs over the past few days of the deeply different party principles at the heart of the 2024 election. At an event to reach Black voters in what Julia Terruso and Sean Collins Walsh of the Philadelphia Inquirer described as “one of the whitest and most conservative parts of Philly,” Representative Byron Donalds (R-FL), who is Black, illustrated the grip of a fantasy idyllic past on MAGA Republicans.

    Donalds praised the Jim Crow era of American history—which was literally named for a vicious caricature of African Americans that helped to justify the lynching that characterized the period—because “during Jim Crow the Black family was together.” He blamed the Great Society programs of President Lyndon Baines Johnson, including civil rights and social welfare programs, for eroding family values.

    On the House floor, Minority leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) urged Donalds to “check yourself before you wreck yourself.” Democratic National Committee chair Jamie Harrison was less poetic but more succinct. He wrote: “These fools have lost their damn minds….”

    In the Senate, Democrats forced Republicans to vote on advancing a bill to protect access to contraception. Republicans threatened a filibuster, meaning it would take 60 votes to bring the bill forward. And so the measure failed by a vote of 51 in favor to 39 against (Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer of New York voted no so he could bring the measure up again). Republican senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska voted in favor of the measure. All the other Republicans either voted no or did not vote.

    All the Republicans running for reelection this year voted no: John Barrasso (R-WY), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Pete Ricketts (R-NE), Rick Scott (R-FL), and Roger Wicker (R-MS).

    Some of them said they voted no because there was no danger that Republicans would attack contraception, claiming that Democrats were just “fear-mongering.” But in 2022, House Republicans overwhelmingly voted against protecting contraceptive rights, and in an interview last month, Trump said he was looking at restrictions on contraceptives before his campaign walked the statement back. Yesterday, in a hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee on “How Abortion Bans Have Created a Health Care Nightmare Across America,” a Republican witness, Dr. Christina Francis, chief executive officer of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG) took the position that IUDs and Plan B emergency contraception constitute abortion and should be banned. In the Senate itself, Jodi Ernst (R-IA) has already proposed getting rid of Plan B.

    A February 2024 poll showed that 80% of American voters said that protecting access to birth control was “deeply important” to them.  

    For all their rhetoric about “America First,” MAGA Republicans are out of step with actual Americans. The Trump loyalists now in charge of the Republican National Committee also appear to be remarkably ill-informed about the country itself. Sam Brody, political reporter for the Boston Globe, noted yesterday that on their website promoting the Republican National Convention to be held in July in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Republicans used a photograph not of Milwaukee, but of Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City.

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,603
     June 6, 2024 (Thursday)

    President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had good news for the American people when he gave his twenty-ninth Fireside Chat on June 5, 1944. The day before, on June 4, Rome had fallen to Allied troops. “The first of the Axis capitals is now in our hands,” Roosevelt said.

    The president pointed out that “it is…significant that Rome has been liberated by the armed forces of many nations. The American and British armies—who bore the chief burdens of battle—found at their sides our own North American neighbors, the gallant Canadians. The fighting New Zealanders from the far South Pacific, the courageous French and the French Moroccans, the South Africans, the Poles and the East Indians—all of them fought with us on the bloody approaches to the city of Rome. The Italians, too, forswearing a partnership in the Axis which they never desired, have sent their troops to join us in our battles against the German trespassers on their soil.”

    This group of ordinary men from many different countries had worked together to defeat the forces of fascism.

    But FDR warned Americans that the fall of Rome was only the beginning. “We shall have to push through a long period of greater effort and fiercer fighting before we get into Germany itself,” he said. [T]he victory still lies some distance ahead. That distance will be covered in due time—have no fear of that. But it will be tough and it will be costly.”

    FDR knew something his audience did not. On the other side of the Atlantic, paratroopers, their faces darkened with cocoa, were already dropping into France, and the soldiers, sailors, and airmen of the Allies were on their way across the English channel.

    The order of the day from their commander Dwight D. Eisenhower that day had read: “You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed people of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

    “Your task will not be an easy one,” it read, but it assured the troops that the Germans had suffered great defeats and Allied bombing had reduced German strength, while “[o]ur Home Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to Victory!”

    Eisenhower’s public confidence did not reflect his understanding that the largest amphibious invasion in military history was a gamble. On June 5, in pencil on a sheet of paper, he had written a message to be communicated in case the invasion failed.     

    “Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops,” it read. “My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that bravery and dedication to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.”

    On the morning of June 6, 1944, five naval assault divisions stormed the beaches of Normandy. Seven thousand ships and landing craft operated by more than 195,000 naval personnel from 8 countries brought almost 133,000 troops to beaches given the code names UTAH, OMAHA, GOLD, JUNO, and SWORD. By the end of the day, more than 10,000 Allied troops were wounded or killed, but the Allies had established a foothold in France that would permit them to flood troops, vehicles, and supplies into Europe. When FDR held a press conference later that day, officials and press both were jubilant.

    Today, eighty years later, world leaders and more than two dozen U.S. veterans of D-Day gathered to commemorate that day. They met above Omaha Beach at the Normandy American Cemetery, where the remains of 9,388 Americans, many of whom were killed on D-Day, are buried.

    “Hitler and those with him thought democracies were weak, that the future belonged to dictators,” President Joe Biden said in a speech. “Here, on the coast of Normandy, the battle between freedom and tyranny would be joined.”

    Biden honored the visiting veterans by name—Kenneth Blaine Smith, Bob Gibson, Ben Miller, Louis Brown, Woody Woodhouse, Marjorie Stone—and recounted what they did that day: operating radar, driving an M4 tractor mounted with an anti-aircraft gun, dragging injured soldiers to safety, treating wounds, driving trucks carrying supplies, flying and fixing planes.

    Echoing FDR’s chat about the fall of Rome, Biden attributed D-Day’s success to ordinary people. “Every soldier who stormed the beach, who dropped by parachute or landed by glider; every sailor who manned the thousands of ships and landing craft; every aviator who destroyed German-controlled air fields, bridges, and railroads—all—all were backed by other brave Americans, including hundreds of thousands of people of color and women who courageously served despite unjust limitations on what they could do for their nation,” Biden said.

    The story of the veterans “has always been the story of America,” Biden said. “Just walk the rows of this cemetery…. Nearly 10,000 heroes buried side by side, officers and enlisted, immigrants and native-born. Different races, different faiths, but all Americans. All served with honor when America and the world needed them most.”

    “Millions back home did their part as well.  From coast to coast, Americans found countless ways to pitch in. They understood our democracy is only as strong as all of us make it, together.”

    “The men who fought here became heroes not because they were the strongest or toughest or were fiercest—although they were,” Biden said, “but because they…knew, beyond any doubt, there are things that are worth fighting and dying for.”

    “Freedom is worth it. Democracy is worth it. America is worth it. The world is worth it—then, now, and always.”

    “Here we proved the forces of liberty are stronger than the forces of conquest,” Biden said. “Here we proved that the ideals of our democracy are stronger than any army or combination of armies in the entire world.”

    D-Day also proved that alliances make us stronger, Biden said, a principle that after the war led to the creation of “the greatest military alliance in the history of the world,” NATO. He continued, to applause: “America’s unique ability to bring countries together is an…undeniable source of our strength and our power. Isolationism was not the answer 80 years ago, and it is not the answer today.”  

    “The struggle between a dictatorship and freedom is unending,” he said, and he vowed that the U.S., NATO, and allied countries will not walk away from Ukraine in its fight to resist Russia’s assault. “[T]o bow down to dictators,” he said, “means we’d be forgetting what happened here on these hallowed beaches.”

    “History tells us freedom is not free,” Biden said. “If you want to know the price of freedom, come here to Normandy…and remember: The price of unchecked tyranny is the blood of the young and the brave.

    “In their generation, in their hour of trial, the Allied forces of D-Day did their duty. Now the question for us is: In our hour of trial, will we do ours?

    “We’re living in a time when democracy is more at risk across the world than at any point…since these beaches were stormed in 1944. Now, we have to ask ourselves: Will we stand against tyranny, against evil, against crushing brutality of the iron fist?

    “Will we stand for freedom? Will we defend democracy? Will we stand together?

    “My answer is yes. And it only can be yes.”

    “Let us be the generation that when history is written about our time—in 10, 20, 30, 50, 80 years from now—it will be said: When the moment came, we met the moment. We stood strong. Our alliances were made stronger. And we saved democracy in our time as well.”

    During the ceremony, the past and the present came together. Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky shook the hand of a U.S. veteran in a wheelchair. When the man tried to kiss Zelensky’s hand, the Ukraine president instead stooped and hugged him. “You’re the savior of the people,” the man said. Zelensky answered, “You saved Europe.” The exchange continued: “You’re my hero.” “No, you are our hero.”

    As the crowd cheered, the old man turned to look at the younger one and said, “I pray for you.”

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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,603
      June 7, 2024 (Friday)

    Two big stories today that together reveal a broader landscape.

    The first is that the Bureau of Labor Statistics today released another blockbuster jobs report. The country added 272,000 jobs in May, far higher than the 180,000 jobs economists predicted. A widespread range of sectors added new jobs, including health care, government, leisure and hospitality, and professional, scientific, and technical services. Wages are also up. Over the past year, average hourly earnings have grown 4.1%, higher than the rate of inflation, which was 3.4% over the same period.

    The unemployment rate ticked up from 3.9% to 4%. This is not a significant change, but it does break the 27-month streak of unemployment below that number.

    The second big story is that Justice Clarence Thomas amended a financial filing from 2019, acknowledging that he should have reported two free vacations he accepted from Texas billionaire Harlan Crow. While in the past he said he did not need to disclose such gifts, in today’s filing he claimed he had “inadvertently omitted” the trips on earlier reports. ProPublica broke the story of these and other gifts from Crow, including several more trips than Thomas has so far acknowledged.

    Fix The Court, a nonprofit advocacy group that seeks to reform the federal courts, estimates that Thomas has accepted more than $4 million in gifts over the last 20 years. As economic analyst Steven Rattner pointed out, that’s 5.6 times more than the other 16 justices on the court in those years combined.

    These two news items illustrate a larger story about the United States in this moment.

    The Biden administration has quite deliberately overturned the supply-side economics that came into ascendancy in 1981 when President Ronald Reagan took office and that remained dominant until 2021, when Biden entered the White House. Adherents of that ideology rejected the idea that the government should invest in the “demand side” of the economy—workers and other ordinary Americans—to develop the economy, as it had done since 1933.

    Instead, they maintained that the best way to nurture the economy was to support the “supply side”: those at the top. Cutting business regulations and slashing taxes would nurture the economy, they said, by concentrating wealth in the hands of private individuals who would invest in the economy more efficiently than they could if the government interfered in their choices. That smart investment would dramatically expand the economy, supporters argued, and everyone would do better.

    But supply-side economics never produced the results its supporters promised. What it did do was move money out of the hands of ordinary Americans into the hands of the very wealthy. Economists estimate that between 1981 and 2021, more than $50 trillion dollars moved from the bottom 90% of Americans to the top 1%.

    In order to keep that system in place, Republicans worked to make it extraordinarily difficult for Congress to pass laws making the government do anything, even when the vast majority of Americans wanted it to. With the rise of Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to the position of Senate majority leader in 2007, they weaponized the filibuster so any measure that went against their policies would need 60 votes in order to get through the Senate, and in 2010 they worked to take over state legislatures so that they could gerrymander state congressional districts so severely that Republicans would hold far more seats than they had earned from voters.

    With Congress increasingly neutered, the power to make law shifted to the courts, which Republicans since the Reagan administration had been packing with appointees who adhered to their small-government principles.

    Clarence Thomas was a key vote on the Supreme Court. But as ProPublica reported in December 2023, Thomas complained in 2000 to a Republican member of Congress about the low salaries of Supreme Court justices (equivalent to about $300,000 today) and suggested he might resign. The congressman and his friends were desperate to keep Thomas, with his staunchly Republican vote, on the court. In the years after 2000, friends and acquaintances provided Thomas with a steady stream of gifts that supplemented his income, and he stayed in his seat on the court.

    But what amounts to bribes has compromised the court. After the news broke that Thomas has now disclosed some of the trips Crow gave him, conservative lawyer George Conway wrote: “It’s long past time for there to be a comprehensive criminal investigation, and congressional investigation, of Justice Thomas and his finances and his taxes. What he has taken, and what he has failed to disclose, is beyond belief, and has been so for quite some time.” A bit less formally, over a chart of the monetary value of the gifts Thomas has accepted, Conway added: “I mean. This. Is. Just. Nuts.”

    As the Republican system comes under increasing scrutiny, Biden’s renewal of traditional economic policies is showing those policies to be more successful than the Republicans’ system ever was. If Americans turn against the Republican formula of slashing taxes and deregulating business, those at the top of the economy stand to lose both wealth and control of the nation’s economic system.

    Trump has promised more tax cuts and deregulation if he is reelected, although the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office recently projected that his plan to extend the 2017 tax cuts that are set to expire in 2025 will add more than $3 trillion to the deficit over the next decade. In April, at a meeting with 20 oil executives, Trump promised to cut regulations on the fossil fuel industry in exchange for $1 billion in donations, assuring them that the tax breaks he would give them once he was in office would pay for the donation many times over (indeed, an analysis quoted in The Guardian showed his proposed tax cuts would save them $110 billion). On May 23, he joined fossil fuel executives for a fundraiser in Houston.

    In the same weeks, Biden’s policies have emphasized using the government to help ordinary people rather than to move wealth upward.

    On May 31 the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that it will make its experimental free electronic filing system permanent. It asked all 50 states and the District of Columbia to sign on to the program and to help taxpayers use it. The program’s pilot this year was wildly successful, with more than 140,000 people filing that way. Private tax preparers, whose industry makes billions of dollars a year, oppose the new system.

    The Inflation Reduction Act provided funding for this program and for beefing up the ability of the IRS to audit the wealthiest taxpayers. As Fatima Hussein wrote for the Associated Press, Republicans cut $1.4 billion from these funds last summer and will shift an additional $20 billion from the IRS to other programs over the next two years.

    Today the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued five new reports showing that thanks in part to the administration's outreach efforts about the Affordable Care Act, the rate of Black Americans without health insurance dropped from 20.9% in 2010 to 10.8% in 2022. The same rate among Latinos dropped from 32.7% to 18%. For Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders, the rate of uninsured dropped from 16.6% to 6.2%. And for American Indians and Alaska Natives, the rate dropped from 32.4% to 19.9%. More than 45 million people in total are enrolled in coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

    President Biden noted the strength of today’s jobs report in a statement, adding: “I will keep fighting to lower costs for families like the ones I grew up with in Scranton.” Republicans “have a different vision,” he said, “one that puts billionaires and special interests first.” He promised: “I will never stop fighting for Scranton—not Park Avenue.”

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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,603
      June 8, 2024 (Saturday)

    I've been traveling, and Buddy took out the camera in my absence. This is the view as he left the harbor one morning this week— that's his brother's buoy in the foreground.

    I'm heading back to Maine tomorrow, and I can't wait. But before I hit the road, I need to sleep for a very long time.  

    I'll be back at it tomorrow.

    [Photo by Buddy Poland.]

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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,603
      June 9, 2024 (Sunday)

    Yesterday the Washington Post published an article by Beth Reinhard examining the philosophy and the power of Russell Vought, the hard-right Christian nationalist who is drafting plans for a second Trump term. Vought was the director of the Office of Management and Budget from July 2020 to January 2021 during the Trump administration. In January 2021 he founded the Center for Renewing America, a pro-Trump think tank, and he was a key player in the construction of Project 2025, the plan to gut the nonpartisan federal government and replace it with a dominant president and a team of loyalists who will impose religious rule on the United States.

    When Republicans took control of the House of Representatives in 2023, Vought advised the far right, calling for draconian cuts to government agencies, student loans, and housing, health care, and food assistance. He called for $2 trillion in cuts to Medicaid over ten years, more than $600 billion in cuts to the Affordable Care Act, more than $400 billion in cuts to food assistance, and so on.

    Last month the Republican National Committee (RNC), now dominated by Trump loyalists, named Vought policy director of the RNC platform committee, the group that will draft a political platform for the Republicans this year. In 2020 the Republican Party did not write a platform, simply saying that it “enthusiastically” supported Trump and his agenda. With Vought at the head of policy, it is reasonable to think that the party’s 2024 platform will skew toward the policies Vought has advanced elsewhere.

    Vought argues that the United States is in a “post constitutional moment” that “pays only lip service to the old Constitution.” He attributes that crisis to “the Left,” which he says “quietly adopted a strategy of institutional change,” by which he appears to mean the growth of the federal government to protect individual Americans. He attributes that change to the presidency of President Woodrow Wilson beginning in 1913. Vought calls for what he calls “Radical Constitutionalism” to destroy the power of the modern administrative state and instead elevate the president to supreme authority.

    There are historical problems with this assessment, not least that it attributes to “the Left” a practical and popular change in the U.S. government to adjust it to the modern industrial world, as if somehow that change was a fringe stealth campaign.

    While it has been popular among the radical right to bash Democratic president Woodrow Wilson for the 1913 Revenue Act that established the modern income tax, suggesting that it was this moment that began the creation of the modern state, the recasting of government in fact took place under Republican Theodore Roosevelt a decade before Wilson took office, and it was popular without regard to partisanship.

    The liberalism on which the United States was founded in the late 1700s came from the notion—radical at the time—that individuals have rights and that the government generally must not intrude on those rights. This idea was central to the thinking of the Founders who wrote the Declaration of Independence, who put into the form of a mathematical constant—“we hold these truths to be self-evident”—the idea that “all men are created equal” and that they have the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” as well as the right to live under a government of their own choosing.

    To keep the government from crushing those individual rights, the Constitution’s Framers wrote the Bill of Rights. Those first ten amendments to the Constitution hold back the federal government by, among other things, prohibiting Congress from making laws that would establish a national religion or prohibit the free exercise of religion, limit freedom of speech or of the press, or hamper people’s right to assemble peacefully or to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

    The belief that liberalism depended on a small government dominated the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, but the rise of industry in the late nineteenth century shifted the relationship between individuals and the government. Was everyone really equal when industrialists were worth millions and commanded state legislatures and Congress, while workers, consumers, and children had little leverage to protect themselves?

    The majority of Americans said no, and Theodore Roosevelt agreed. The danger for individuals in their era was not that the government would crush them, but that industrialists would. In order for the government truly to protect the people, Roosevelt argued, it must regulate businesses and support the ability of ordinary Americans to prosper. A true liberal government, one that protected the rights of individuals, must be big enough and strong enough to act as a referee between workers, consumers, and businessmen.

    Roosevelt actually loathed Wilson, in part because Wilson ran for office in 1912 with the argument that as soon as the government broke up big corporations, the country could revert back to a small government. To Roosevelt, this made no sense. Unless the conditions of the modern economy were changed—and he believed they could not be, because the trend was always toward bigger and bigger enterprises—industry would always concentrate. Only a big government could stop those corporations from taking over the country.

    Tearing apart the modern state, as those like Vought advocate, would take us back to the world Roosevelt recognized as being antithetical to the rights of individuals promised by the Declaration of Independence.

    A key argument for a strong administrative state was that it could break the power of a few men to control the nation. It is no accident that those arguing for a return to a system without a strong administrative state are eager to impose their religion on the American majority, who have rejected their principles and policies. Americans support abortion rights, women’s rights, LBGTQ+ rights, minority rights: the equal rights articulated in the Declaration of Independence.

    And therein lies the second historical problem with Vought’s “Radical Constitutionalism.” James Madison, the key thinker behind the Constitution, explained why a democracy cannot be based on religion. As a young man, Madison had watched officials in his home state of Virginia arrest itinerant preachers for attacking the established church in the state. He was no foe of religion, but by 1773 he had begun to question whether established religion, which was common in the colonies, was good for society. By 1776, many of his broad-thinking neighbors had come to believe that society should “tolerate” different religious practices, but he had moved past tolerance to the belief that men had a right of conscience.

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

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

    Journalist Reinhard points out that Trump strategist Steve Bannon recently praised Vought and his colleagues as “madmen” who are going to destroy the U.S. government. “We’re going to rip and shred the federal government apart, and if you don’t like it, you can lump it,” Bannon said.

    In July 2022 a jury found Bannon guilty of contempt of Congress for his defiance of a subpoena from the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, and that October, U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols, a Trump appointee, sentenced him to four months in prison. Bannon fought the conviction, but in May 2024 a federal appeals court upheld it.

    On June 6, Judge Nichols ordered him to report to prison by July 1.

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

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    Halifax2TheMaxHalifax2TheMax Posts: 37,157
    mickeyrat said:
      June 9, 2024 (Sunday)

    Yesterday the Washington Post published an article by Beth Reinhard examining the philosophy and the power of Russell Vought, the hard-right Christian nationalist who is drafting plans for a second Trump term. Vought was the director of the Office of Management and Budget from July 2020 to January 2021 during the Trump administration. In January 2021 he founded the Center for Renewing America, a pro-Trump think tank, and he was a key player in the construction of Project 2025, the plan to gut the nonpartisan federal government and replace it with a dominant president and a team of loyalists who will impose religious rule on the United States.

    When Republicans took control of the House of Representatives in 2023, Vought advised the far right, calling for draconian cuts to government agencies, student loans, and housing, health care, and food assistance. He called for $2 trillion in cuts to Medicaid over ten years, more than $600 billion in cuts to the Affordable Care Act, more than $400 billion in cuts to food assistance, and so on.

    Last month the Republican National Committee (RNC), now dominated by Trump loyalists, named Vought policy director of the RNC platform committee, the group that will draft a political platform for the Republicans this year. In 2020 the Republican Party did not write a platform, simply saying that it “enthusiastically” supported Trump and his agenda. With Vought at the head of policy, it is reasonable to think that the party’s 2024 platform will skew toward the policies Vought has advanced elsewhere.

    Vought argues that the United States is in a “post constitutional moment” that “pays only lip service to the old Constitution.” He attributes that crisis to “the Left,” which he says “quietly adopted a strategy of institutional change,” by which he appears to mean the growth of the federal government to protect individual Americans. He attributes that change to the presidency of President Woodrow Wilson beginning in 1913. Vought calls for what he calls “Radical Constitutionalism” to destroy the power of the modern administrative state and instead elevate the president to supreme authority.

    There are historical problems with this assessment, not least that it attributes to “the Left” a practical and popular change in the U.S. government to adjust it to the modern industrial world, as if somehow that change was a fringe stealth campaign.

    While it has been popular among the radical right to bash Democratic president Woodrow Wilson for the 1913 Revenue Act that established the modern income tax, suggesting that it was this moment that began the creation of the modern state, the recasting of government in fact took place under Republican Theodore Roosevelt a decade before Wilson took office, and it was popular without regard to partisanship.

    The liberalism on which the United States was founded in the late 1700s came from the notion—radical at the time—that individuals have rights and that the government generally must not intrude on those rights. This idea was central to the thinking of the Founders who wrote the Declaration of Independence, who put into the form of a mathematical constant—“we hold these truths to be self-evident”—the idea that “all men are created equal” and that they have the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” as well as the right to live under a government of their own choosing.

    To keep the government from crushing those individual rights, the Constitution’s Framers wrote the Bill of Rights. Those first ten amendments to the Constitution hold back the federal government by, among other things, prohibiting Congress from making laws that would establish a national religion or prohibit the free exercise of religion, limit freedom of speech or of the press, or hamper people’s right to assemble peacefully or to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

    The belief that liberalism depended on a small government dominated the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, but the rise of industry in the late nineteenth century shifted the relationship between individuals and the government. Was everyone really equal when industrialists were worth millions and commanded state legislatures and Congress, while workers, consumers, and children had little leverage to protect themselves?

    The majority of Americans said no, and Theodore Roosevelt agreed. The danger for individuals in their era was not that the government would crush them, but that industrialists would. In order for the government truly to protect the people, Roosevelt argued, it must regulate businesses and support the ability of ordinary Americans to prosper. A true liberal government, one that protected the rights of individuals, must be big enough and strong enough to act as a referee between workers, consumers, and businessmen.

    Roosevelt actually loathed Wilson, in part because Wilson ran for office in 1912 with the argument that as soon as the government broke up big corporations, the country could revert back to a small government. To Roosevelt, this made no sense. Unless the conditions of the modern economy were changed—and he believed they could not be, because the trend was always toward bigger and bigger enterprises—industry would always concentrate. Only a big government could stop those corporations from taking over the country.

    Tearing apart the modern state, as those like Vought advocate, would take us back to the world Roosevelt recognized as being antithetical to the rights of individuals promised by the Declaration of Independence.

    A key argument for a strong administrative state was that it could break the power of a few men to control the nation. It is no accident that those arguing for a return to a system without a strong administrative state are eager to impose their religion on the American majority, who have rejected their principles and policies. Americans support abortion rights, women’s rights, LBGTQ+ rights, minority rights: the equal rights articulated in the Declaration of Independence.

    And therein lies the second historical problem with Vought’s “Radical Constitutionalism.” James Madison, the key thinker behind the Constitution, explained why a democracy cannot be based on religion. As a young man, Madison had watched officials in his home state of Virginia arrest itinerant preachers for attacking the established church in the state. He was no foe of religion, but by 1773 he had begun to question whether established religion, which was common in the colonies, was good for society. By 1776, many of his broad-thinking neighbors had come to believe that society should “tolerate” different religious practices, but he had moved past tolerance to the belief that men had a right of conscience.

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

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

    Journalist Reinhard points out that Trump strategist Steve Bannon recently praised Vought and his colleagues as “madmen” who are going to destroy the U.S. government. “We’re going to rip and shred the federal government apart, and if you don’t like it, you can lump it,” Bannon said.

    In July 2022 a jury found Bannon guilty of contempt of Congress for his defiance of a subpoena from the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, and that October, U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols, a Trump appointee, sentenced him to four months in prison. Bannon fought the conviction, but in May 2024 a federal appeals court upheld it.

    On June 6, Judge Nichols ordered him to report to prison by July 1.

    I encourage everyone to read their treatise against wokeism. It’s only 900+ pages and took 40 years to pull together. These are serious people.
    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: 36,603
      June 10, 2024 (Monday)

    Former president Trump met with a New York City probation officer today for a pre-sentencing interview. They met over video for a first step in the sentencing process, in which an officer assesses the convicted criminal’s living situation, finances, mental health, addiction, and criminal record. Trump was expected to have his lawyer, Todd Blanche, with him when he linked in from Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach. Judge Juan Merchan will take the information from the interview into account when he sentences Trump. He will also consider that Trump was held in contempt 10 times during the trial for violating the gag order designed to stop him from attacking witnesses and court personnel and their families.

    Ever since a New York jury unanimously found the former president guilty of 34 felonies on Thursday, May 30, he and his supporters have tried to assert that he is, in fact, in a strong position for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination and for the November election itself. First, they insisted that his convictions made him more popular than ever, an assertion undermined by their own desperate avoidance of other trials and the demands of both Trump and House speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) to have the Supreme Court somehow step in to overturn a conviction by a state court.

    Trump has also tried to reassert dominance by insisting in at least five interviews that he will seek “revenge” on Democrats for prosecuting him, and MAGA loyalists have echoed this threat. But as Greg Sargent pointed out today, this, too, is spin.

    There is a big difference between a prosecution advancing on the basis of evidence gathered by law enforcement, evidence that prompted grand juries to indict Trump, and his own threats to prosecute President Joe Biden and other Democrats simply because he had to endure a prosecution, not because there is any evidence that they have committed crimes. The first serves the rule of law, the second shatters it.

    Since the conviction, as political analyst Simon Rosenberg points out, the right-wing Murdoch media empire “has gone into hyperdrive.” That empire, which includes the Fox News Channel, supports Trump and knowingly lied that the 2020 election had been stolen. On June 4, the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal printed a story saying that “behind closed doors, Biden shows signs of slipping,” but the piece quoted only former House speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who previously had hammered Biden in public but privately assured colleagues he was mentally sharp.

    One of the authors of the piece sparked outrage in October 2021 by tweeting that Biden, who was visiting the graves of his dead children and wife, “goes to church and walks through a graveyard in Wilmington as his legislative agenda is dying in Washington.”

    In November 2021, Biden signed into law the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act. In June 2022 he signed into law the Safer Communities Act, a gun safety law. In August 2022 he signed into law the CHIPS and Science Act that invested billions in semiconductor manufacturing and science, and the Inflation Reduction Act that provided record funding for addressing climate change and permitted Medicare to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies over drug prices. Together, those legislative accomplishments rival those of Presidents Lyndon Baines Johnson and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, whose congressional majorities were far stronger than Biden’s.

    The Republicans’ frantic pushback on Trump’s conviction reveals both that it has hurt him badly, and that without Trump projecting the dominance of a strongman, they have little to fall back on except for personal attacks on Biden.

    Trump had counted on using immigration against Biden and ordered his loyalists to scuttle the bipartisan immigration measure the Senate hammered out in February in order to keep the issue alive. Swing voters took notice: in March a focus group showed that 9 out of 13 Wisconsin swing voters blamed Trump for killing the bill.

    As soon as that measure failed, the administration began to talk of what Biden could do through an executive order, despite believing that such an order would be challenged in the courts. At the same time, Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris continued their pressure on the Mexican government to increase its own immigration enforcement. That process worked, and undocumented migration has dropped sharply at the southern border. Meanwhile, the administration’s parole program for people from Venezuela, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Cuba has cut undocumented migration from those countries by almost 90%.

    Then on Tuesday, June 4, likely trying to get ahead of the usual summer rise in immigration, and after Senate Republicans once again killed the bipartisan border measure,  Biden issued an executive order permitting him to seal the southern border temporarily when undocumented crossings surge to more than 2,500 a day, a restriction stricter than that negotiated in the Senate measure Trump scuttled. This order looks more like Trump’s effort to curb migration—one that courts blocked—at least in part because without legislation, there is no new funding to provide the additional courts the administration wants in order to move asylum cases faster.

    As predicted, the order is likely to face legal challenges. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), who worked with Senator James Lankford (R-OK) on the Senate immigration bill, wrote in a statement: “I am sympathetic to the position the administration is in, but I am skeptical [that] the executive branch has the legal authority to shut down asylum processing between ports of entry on its own. Meaningful asylum reform requires a bipartisan solution in Congress.”

    Nonetheless, while Trump continues to demagogue immigration issues, the charge that Biden wants “open borders”—which was always disinformation—is now harder to make.

    Meanwhile, the measures Democrats advocate are so popular that Republican legislators are taking credit for projects funded by them even though they voted against the laws themselves. Katherine Tully-McManus of Politico pointed out today that Representative Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA) voted against the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that will deliver nearly $470 million to her district. She has attended a highway ribbon cutting and boasted of the modernization of locks and dams on the Mississippi River in her district despite her “no” vote.

    Representative Nancy Mace (R-SC) called the infrastructure law a “socialist wish list” and a “fiasco” but nonetheless celebrated a federal grant for nearly $26 million to invest in public transit in her district.

    This credit-taking is widespread among those who opposed the law. Just this weekend, Trump falsely asserted that it was he, not Biden, who lowered the cost of insulin to $35 a month. In fact, it was Biden who signed into law the Inflation Reduction Act that made such negotiations possible.

    There is little else for Trump to stand on. The Republicans’ position on abortion is so unpopular that when Trump spoke today to the Danbury Institute, which calls for abortion to be “eradicated entirely,” he never mentioned the word abortion. Instead of delivering a keynote address, he spoke for less than two minutes and said that the attendees “can’t vote Democrat” because “[t]hey’re against religion.”

    Democrats pushed back on the Wall Street Journal’s article attacking Biden, calling it a “hit piece” and noting that their own quotations did not make the cut. Observers pointed out that reporters jump on Biden’s speech while Trump’s jumbled and offensive statements—like his crazy hash of MIT, electric batteries, boats, and sharks yesterday—rarely get reproduced.

    The Biden campaign is addressing that lack with a new ad campaign, one that deliberately punctures the idea of Trump as a strongman. One ad shows foreign leaders laughing at Trump’s statements, and another, directed at Latino voters, shows Trump last week kissing former Maricopa County, Arizona, sheriff Joe Arpaio, whom Trump pardoned after his conviction related to racial profiling. Another ad from the Biden campaign in the wake of the 80th anniversary of D-Day focuses on Trump’s quotations mocking the military as suckers and losers and quoting some of his other offensive statements about those who serve.

    Finally, the Biden team rushed to produce an ad today using Trump’s own words from a rally this weekend in the broiling Nevada desert in which he said he didn’t want people to keel over because: “We need every voter. I don’t care about you. I just want your vote. I don’t care.”

    _____________________________________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: 36,603
      June 11, 2024 (Tuesday)

    “We’re producing more energy than ever before in this nation. We have the strongest economy in the world, and we are beating China for the first time in decades. More people went to work this morning in America than at any other time in our nation’s history. So I’ve got a message to Donald Trump and all his negativity and his whining: Stop sh*t talking America. This is the greatest country on earth, and it’s time that we all start acting like it.”

    Pennsylvania governor Josh Shapiro’s words to Jen Psaki on MSNBC yesterday illustrated that Democrats are flipping the script on the MAGA Republicans.

    Since he decided to run for president in 2015, almost exactly nine years ago, Trump’s narrative has been that the United States is in terrible decline and that only he can “make America great again.” In his speech announcing his candidacy on that June day in 2015, he claimed that “our country is in serious trouble” and complained that China, Japan, and Mexico were all “beating” the U.S. and “laughing at us, at our stupidity…. The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems,” he said before launching into the idea that Mexico was sending criminals and rapists across the border. “Our enemies are getting stronger and stronger…, and we as a country are getting weaker,” he said. “Even our nuclear arsenal doesn’t work.”

    Trump claimed—falsely—that the nation’s gross domestic product was below zero, that the labor participation rate was “the worst since 1978,” that unemployment was between 18 and 20 percent, and that while Obamacare was “amazingly destructive,” he would replace it with something cheaper and better.

    Trump continued this theme of decline and what he called “American carnage” in his inaugural address. He described “[m]others and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our Nation; an education system, flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge; and the crime and the gangs and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.”

    Trump initially seemed to blame inept politicians and bureaucrats for what he claimed was America’s decline, assuring the audience at his 2015 campaign announcement: “Well, you need somebody, because politicians are all talk, no action. Nothing’s gonna get done. They will not bring us—believe me—to the promised land. They will not.” But when then–FBI director James Comey refused to drop the investigation into the relationship between Russian operatives and the 2016 Trump campaign, Trump and his loyalists began to warn of a secretive “deep state” that was working to undermine Trump and, with him, the nation.

    Trump’s narrative that he is the true defender of the United States, under attack by dark forces, maps beautifully over white evangelical narratives of religious decline. Trump continued that storyline even after voters turned him out of the White House, insisting that a nefarious conspiracy of Democrats, undocumented immigrants, and foreigners stole the election from him.

    The House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol estimated that Trump raised $250 million in donations from supporters for an “election defense fund” to pay the legal fees to overturn the results of the 2020 election. But the Trump team never actually set up that fund. Instead, the money went to the Save America political action committee founded and controlled by Trump, and from there the money went to Trump loyalists and pro-Trump organizations.

    And therein lies a key reason for Trump’s story of an apocalyptic America: describing the nation as a hellhole that only he can fix also maps over a common pattern of American grifters. So long as supporters send him money, he claims, they will be able to defend the country against dark forces: communists, Marxists, atheists, immigrants, pedophiles, feminists—just what the dark forces are matters far less than that they are a foil for the grifter.

    When Trump made that argument in 2015, it was not all that far-fetched. Economists estimate that the supply-side economics of the past 40 years had shifted $50 trillion dollars from the bottom 90% of Americans to the top 1%, hollowing out the middle class. Schools had been chronically underfunded, and the opioid epidemic, which began in 1999, was claiming more than 10,000 Americans a year (a number that has continued to rise ever since). And by weaponizing the filibuster and gerrymandering states, Republicans had made it extraordinarily difficult for Congress to accomplish anything that would address these issues.

    When Biden took office, he was in the unusual position of signing executive orders to establish policies that were not unpopular, like Trump‘s, but that were extraordinarily popular. This began the process of showing that the government could, in fact, represent the people.

    Then, thanks to the election of Georgia senators Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff in a runoff election on January 6, 2021—that was the seismic shift of January 6, 2021, that is often forgotten—the Democrats continued to demonstrate that the government could work for the people. They passed the American Rescue Plan to shore up the U.S. economy after the pandemic shutdowns, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act to rebuild roads and bridges and improve broadband access, the CHIPS and Science Act to promote semiconductor manufacturing, the Inflation Reduction Act to invest in climate change mitigation and permit the government to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies over drug prices, and the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act to close loopholes in gun purchases.  

    Those changes have created a roaring economy with an unemployment rate that has just last month ticked up to 4% after 27 months below that number, with wages growing faster than the inflation that plagued the U.S.—and the world—after the pandemic eased. The highest wage growth has gone to the lowest earners, helping to cut the nation’s extreme wealth inequality.

    That booming economy might be partly what’s behind another significant change: for all that Trump and MAGA Republicans still talk about Democratic cities as hellholes, the FBI yesterday released a report showing that violent crime in fact dropped by more than 15% in the U.S. during the first three months of 2024.  As Jim Sciutto of CNN pointed out today, “Murders fell 26.4% and rapes decreased by 25.7%. Aggravated assaults decreased by 12.5%, according to the data, robberies fell 17.8%.” In his own assessment, Biden attributed those dropping numbers to “putting more cops on the beat, holding violent criminals accountable, and getting illegal guns off the street.”

    On June 1, top sports talk host Colin Cowherd anticipated Shapiro’s pro-American stance when he pushed back on the Republican idea that the country is a dystopian nightmare. “[Trump’s] trying to sell me an America that doesn’t exist,” he said. “Stop trying to sell me on ‘everything’s rigged, the country’s falling into the sea, the economy’s terrible,’” he continued. “The America that I live in is imperfect. But compared to the rest of the world, I think we’re doing okay.”

    Today, Biden pointedly illustrated one more difference between Trump and the real world. In the wake of his own conviction on 34 criminal counts, Trump has amped up his insistence that the Department of Justice is rigged against him and must be purged of nonpartisan civil servants and repopulated with his own loyalists. Biden today underscored his own respect for the rule of law.

    This afternoon a jury found Biden’s 54-year-old son Hunter Biden guilty on three charges of lying on a form required to purchase a gun in 2018 when he checked the “no” box that asked if he was “an unlawful user of, or addicted to,” drugs. That lie permitted him to buy the gun that he owned for 11 days. His lawyer argued that he did not consider himself an addict because he was trying at the time to end his drug dependence.

    The news made the Trump team rush back to their narrative. “This trial has been nothing more than a distraction from the real crimes of the Biden Crime Family, which has raked in tens of millions of dollars from China, Russia and Ukraine,” Trump campaign spokesperson Karoline Leavitt said. Echoing the false allegations MAGA Republicans have made about President Biden, she added: “Crooked Joe Biden’s reign over the Biden Family Criminal Empire is all coming to an end on November 5th, and never again will a Biden sell government access for personal profit.”

    But there is no Biden family business, and Hunter Biden is not in the administration. President Biden has kept his distance from the case. Today he said, “I am the president, but I am also a dad. Jill and I love our son, and we are so proud of the man he is today. So many families who have had loved ones battle addiction understand the feeling of pride seeing someone you love come out the other side and be so strong and resilient in recovery. As I…said last week, I will accept the outcome of this case and will continue to respect the judicial process as Hunter considers an appeal. Jill and I will always be there for Hunter and the rest of our family with our love and support. Nothing will ever change that."

    _____________________________________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: 36,603
      June 12, 2024 (Wednesday)

    On June 13, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9182, consolidating a number of different government information offices into the Office of War Information (OWI). The mission of the new agency was to gather public information and to spread it across the U.S. and abroad through the press, radio, motion pictures, and other media. Its aim, in the middle of World War II, was to develop “an informed and intelligent understanding, at home and abroad, of the status and progress of the war effort and of the war policies, activities, and aims of the Government.”

    The United States had experimented with a government information bureau during World War I. After the U.S. declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917, the Secretaries of State, War, and the Navy asked the president to create a Committee on Public Information (CPI) to unify Americans behind the war. They had watched as artists whipped up enthusiasm for enlisting to fight the Germans as early as 1915, with the sinking of the Lusitania, and wanted to create a similar shared experience over the war itself.

    On April 13, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson created the committee through an executive order, then put newspaperman George Creel in charge of it. Creel had organized a committee of friendly newspapermen to promote Wilson's reelection in 1916. Strongly opposed to the idea of government censorship during the war, he instead promised to create an agency that, as he later wrote, would use “every possible media…to drive home the justice of America’s cause. Not to combat prejudices and disaffection at home was to weaken the firing line.” The CPI set out to reach every person in the U.S. by flooding the media zone with pamphlets, newspapers, posters, films, and short speeches given by so-called Four Minute Men, local figures who embellished talking points handed out by the CPI.

    In 1940 the Council on Foreign Relations, a nonpartisan foreign relations think tank in New York City that had grown out of Wilson’s internationalism, published a book by Harold Tobin and Percy Bidwell titled Mobilizing Civilian America. It set out plans for putting the nation’s manufacturing and military on a war footing. It also noted that in the modern world, in which war was often about domestic production as much as numbers of troops, “victory may depend not so much on the skill of generals or the fighting quality of their troops, as on the loyalty and stamina of the men and women on the home front.”

    With that in mind, the authors examined the Committee on Public Information and concluded that while the committee had done brilliantly at informing the public of the facts, the Four Minute Men and other local writers during World War I had spread “hysterical and fanatical outbursts,” sometimes in connection with bond drives, that had whipped up communities against their foreign-born neighbors and other alleged “spies in our midst.” After the war, Americans were so disgusted by their own campaign of hatred and violence against German-Americans, the authors wrote, that they were hugely resistant to anything they saw as propaganda.

    Nonetheless, the authors said, if the U.S. got involved in another war, the government must be prepared for a public relations campaign. In such a case, they said, it was crucial for the government to make sure it stuck firmly to the truth and did not permit the kind of freelancers whose extreme rhetoric had hurt the CPI.

    That advice seemed prescient in the months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor ushered the U.S. into World War II. Information came from different departments and bureaus, but no one seemed to be explaining what America’s goals were or what it was doing to achieve them. FDR was reluctant to set up an agency that his political opponents would charge was a propaganda outlet, but gradually he greenlit small agencies to explain the war to the country.

    In June 1942, FDR pulled those agencies together as the Office of War Information, putting popular news commentator Elmer Davis in charge. Davis vowed to focus not on building morale but on delivering news that would enable people to understand what was at stake. OWI officials were chagrined to learn that in summer 1942 almost a third of Americans said they did not know what the country was fighting for, while Representative Joe Starnes (D-AL), for example, complained, “I think it is an insult to the intelligence of the American people to say that we do not know why we are fighting.”

    In the three years it operated, the Office of War Information created radio programs that explained to Americans which nations were at war and why and others that portrayed life on the home front, and film documentaries about Japanese American incarceration, military training, and so on. Overseas, the OWI established the Voice of America, which is still the official U.S. international broadcasting service, as well as running secret radio stations and disseminating propaganda to harass enemy forces in combat zones. The OWI also examined scripts for Hollywood movies—1,652 of them before the war ended—to make sure they supported the Allies’ mission.

    The OWI ran into trouble quickly as reporters determined to explain facts were overridden by advertising men who wanted to sell the war with positive stories, and both were often tripped up by military leaders who withheld information, especially negative stories, for “public safety.” By 1944, OWI operated mostly overseas, as FDR’s opponents insisted its domestic efforts were designed to help him politically. In September 1945, with the war over, president Harry Truman ended the OWI by executive order after congratulating it for its “outstanding contribution to victory.”

    In the years to come, especially after the government’s disinformation regarding the Vietnam War, the idea of government propaganda fell into even more disrepute in the United States than it had in the aftermath of World War II, as the excesses possible under someone like the chief propagandist for Germany’s Nazi Party, Joseph Goebbels, became clear.

    But we have been far less guarded against the ways in which other actors shape public opinion.

    In February, cyber experts said that Russia was already spreading disinformation to influence the 2024 election, and in April, Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, warned that the U.S. is more susceptible to Russian influence operations than it has ever been, despite the understanding of the importance of Russian influence operations on the 2016 election. “With polarization in this country, and the lack of faith in institutions, people will believe anything or not believe things that come from what used to be viewed as trusted sources of information,” Warner told Julian E. Barnes of the New York Times. “So there’s a much greater willingness to accept conspiracy theories.”

    Also in April, Microsoft said it had uncovered fake social media profiles run by Chinese operatives to destabilize U.S. politics, and in May, TikTok said it took down thousands of accounts from fifteen covert influence operations in the first four months of 2024. Last week, NewsGuard reported on a network of 167 Russian disinformation sites fronted by a former deputy sheriff from Florida.

    On June 6 the State Department’s top official on digital and cyber policy, Nate Fick, told an audience: “I don’t think most American citizens really viscerally understand how much of the content they see on social platforms is actually a foreign intelligence operation…. I just don’t think we viscerally get how much of what we see is bot-generated or foreign intelligence service–generated.”

    Today, officials from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) told lawmakers that Russian influence operations aimed at undermining support for Ukraine and faith in democratic institutions provide the top threat to the upcoming U.S. election. China is the second-greatest threat but is more cautious because it is concerned about U.S. blowback, while the third, Iran, acts primarily as a “chaos agent,” trying to confuse voters. The ODNI officials said they have been issuing warnings to political candidates, government officials, and others targeted by foreign groups.

    Senator Angus King (I-ME) urged Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines to make threats known to the public. “I’m worried that you may be overly concerned with appearing partisan and that that will freeze you in terms of taking the actions that are necessary,” he said. “Please ramp it up. We’ve got about six months and...we know that these adversaries are going to be coming at us.”

    The modern propaganda flooding the U.S. portrays us as bitterly divided along lines of race and gender, religion and ethnicity. In contrast to this version of America is the one portrayed during World War II by the OWI documentary photography unit. Photographers who had been moved into the agency from the Farm Security Administration documented war work, women in the factories, and civil rights struggles, including those of the incarcerated Japanese Americans as well as Black and brown Americans, showing them at work or in their small towns or cities. The images were of ordinary Americans, often singled out as heroic individuals in their own frames, to represent the American people as a whole.

    And these images were some of the most lasting and vital elements of the OWI’s work. If the hero of the military was the ordinary soldier, the G.I., as newspaper reporters wrote, the hero of the home front was the ordinary American who, in order to make sure that the G.I. had supplies, went to work in a factory or on a farm.

    That image was central to the shaping of postwar America.

    [Alfred T. Palmer, "Operating a hand drill at Vultee-Nashville, woman is working on a "Vengeance" dive bomber, Tennessee," 1943, Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Color Photographs, Library of Congress]

    _____________________________________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: 36,603
      June 13, 2024 (Thursday)

    The Port of Baltimore reopened yesterday, fewer than 100 days after a container ship hit the Francis Scott Key Bridge on March 26, collapsing it into the channel. The port is a major shipping hub, especially for imports and exports of cars and light trucks—about 750,000 vehicles went through it in 2022. It is also the nation’s second-biggest exporter of coal. In 2023 it moved a record-breaking $80 billion worth of foreign cargo.

    After the crash, the administration rushed support to the site, likely in part to emphasize that under Democrats, government really can get things done efficiently, as Democratic Pennsylvania governor Josh Shapiro demonstrated in June 2023 when he oversaw the reopening of a collapsed section of I-95 in just 12 days. Reopening the Port of Baltimore required salvage workers, divers, crane operators, and mariners to clear more than 50,000 tons of steel.

    Yesterday, at the reopening, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg noted the “whole of government” response. State leadership under Maryland governor Wes Moore worked with those brought together by the Unified Command set up under the National Response System to coordinate the responses of the local government, state government, federal government, and those responsible for the crisis to make them as effective and efficient as possible; the Coast Guard; the Army Corps of Engineers; the first responders; and the port workers.

    Buttigieg noted that the response team had engaged all the stakeholders in the process, including truck drivers and trucking companies, trade associations, and agricultural producers. He gave credit for that ability to the administration’s establishment of the White House Supply Chains Disruptions Task Force, which, he said, “put us in a strong place to mitigate the disruptions to our supply chain and economy.”  

    Clearing the channel was possible thanks to an immediate down payment of $60 million from the Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration. The department estimates that rebuilding the bridge will cost between $1.7 billion and $1.9 billion. President Joe Biden has said he wants the federal government to fund that rebuilding as it quickly did in 2007, when a bridge across the Mississippi River in Minneapolis suddenly collapsed. Within a week of that collapse, Congress unanimously passed a measure to fund rebuilding the bridge, and President George W. Bush signed it into law. But now some Republicans are balking at Biden’s request, saying that lawmakers should simply take the money that has been appropriated for things like electric vehicles, or wait until insurance money comes in from the shipping companies.
     
    Meanwhile, former president Trump traveled to Capitol Hill today for the first time since the January 6, 2021, riots. Passing protesters holding signs that said things like “Democracy Forever, Trump Never,” Trump met first with Republican lawmakers from the House and then with Republican senators, who, according to Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), gave him “a lot of standing ovations.” Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) called it “bring your felon to work day.”

    Republicans billed the visit as a brainstorming session about Trump’s 2025 agenda, but no discussions of plans have emerged, only generalities and the sort of cheery grandstanding McConnell provided. The meeting, along with a press appearance at which Trump made a short speech but did not take questions before shaking a lot of Republican hands, appeared to be an attempt to overwrite the news of his conviction by indicating he is popular in Congress.

    The news that has gotten traction is Trump’s statement that Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where the Republicans are holding their convention in July, is a “horrible city.” Republicans are trying hard to spin this comment as a misunderstanding, but their many different attempts to explain it away—as meaning crime, or elections, or Pere Marquette Park (!)—seem more likely to reinforce the comment than distract from it.

    Indeed, it’s possible that the agenda had more to do with Trump than with the nation. Anna Massoglia of Open Secrets reported today that Trump’s political operation spent more than $20 million on lawyers in the first four months of 2024, and Rachel Bade of Politico reported hours before the House meeting that Trump has been obsessed with using the powers of Congress to fight for him and to, as she puts it, “go to war against the Democrats he accuses of ‘weaponizing’ the justice system against him.”

    Bade said that after his May 30 conviction by a unanimous jury on 34 criminal counts, Trump immediately called House speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), insisting in a profanity-laden rant that “We have to overturn this.” Johnson is sympathetic but has too slim a House majority to deliver as much fire as both would like, especially since vulnerable Republicans aren’t eager to weaponize the nation’s lawmaking body for Trump.

    As David Kurtz of Talking Points Memo explained this morning, House Republicans “are already advancing Trump’s campaign of retribution.” Yesterday they voted to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress and recommended his prosecution for refusing to hand over an audio recording of special counsel Robert Hur’s interview with President Biden. Biden, who was not charged over his retention of classified documents as vice president, has provided a transcript of the interview but has exerted executive privilege over the recording.

    The demand for the audio is particularly galling, considering that Biden voluntarily testified while Trump refused to be interviewed by either special counsel Robert Mueller or special counsel Jack Smith. But Biden has a well-known stutter, and having hours of testimony in his own voice might offer something that could be chopped up for political ads.

    Indeed, former Republican representative Ken Buck (R-CO) acknowledged that Republicans are “just looking for something for political purposes,” and House Oversight Committee chair James Comer (R-KY) sent out a fundraising appeal promising that the audio recording “could be the final blow to Biden with swing voters across the country.”

    White House Counsel Edward Siskel wrote to Comer and Judiciary Committee chair Jim Jordan (R-OH) saying that the administration “has sought to work in good faith with Congress.” It released Hur’s long report editorializing on Biden’s mental acuity without redacting it, allowed Hur to testify publicly for more than five hours, and provided transcripts, emails, and documents. “The absence of a legitimate need for the audio recordings lays bare your likely goal,” Siskel wrote, “to chop them up, distort them, and use them for partisan political purposes.”

    The attack on Garland, journalist Kurtz notes, continues the steady stream of disinformation the House Republicans have been producing through their “investigations” and impeachment hearings and press conferences.

    In the Senate, six MAGA Republicans demonstrated their support for Trump by threatening to block Biden’s key nominees in protest of the New York jury’s conviction of Trump, although they are trying to frame the convictions as “the current administration’s persecution of” Trump. The senators are J. D. Vance (R-OH), Mike Lee (R-UT), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), and Eric Schmitt (R-MO).

    While MAGA Republicans show their reverence for Trump, Democrats are working to get them on the record on issues the American people care about.

    Today, Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) held a vote on whether to advance a bill that would provide federal protection for in vitro fertilization (IVF), an infertility treatment in which a human egg is fertilized outside the body and then placed in a human uterus for gestation. IVF is popular: a March poll by CBS News/YouGov found that 86% of Americans think it should be legal, while only 14% think it should be illegal. But the white evangelical Christians who make up the Republicans’ base are increasingly demanding that the nation’s laws recognize “fetal personhood,” the idea that a fertilized egg has the full rights of a living human. This would end all abortion, of course, as well as birth control that prevents implantation, such as IUDs and Plan B. And, if fertilized eggs are fully human, it would also end IVF because the procedure often results in some fertilized eggs being damaged or discarded.

    This is a vote Republicans did not want to take because voting to protect IVF will infuriate their base and voting to end it will infuriate the 86% of Americans who support it. So they tried to get around it by signing a statement noting that IVF is legal and that they “strongly support continued nationwide access to IVF.” While it is true that IVF is currently legal, the Alabama Supreme Court in February ruled that frozen embryos should be considered unborn children and their destruction could be prosecuted under the state’s Wrongful Death of a Minor Act. In the wake of that decision, two of Alabama’s eight fertility clinics paused their IVF treatments.

    In today’s vote, all but three Republicans voted against taking up the bill protecting IVF. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska voted in favor of it; Eric Schmitt of Missouri did not vote. All the Democrats voted in favor, although Schumer changed his vote to a “no” so he could bring the vote up again later.

    Regarding the difference between the statement and the votes, Leah Greenberg of Indivisible posted: “Who are you gonna believe, me or my voting record?”

    In another window onto the future of reproductive rights, the Supreme Court today unanimously decided that the antiabortion groups trying to get the drug mifepristone banned did not have standing to bring the case. This preserves access to mifepristone, commonly used to induce medical abortions, but as legal observers point out, the court ruled only on standing, meaning that others, who do have standing, could bring a similar case.

    This afternoon, Biden posted: “Kamala and I stand with the majority of Americans who support a woman’s right to make deeply personal health care decisions. And our commitment to you is that we will not back down from ensuring women in every state get the care they need.”

    And so, going into the 2024 election, the question of abortion is on the table.

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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: 36,603
      June 14, 2024 (Friday)

    Today, former president Trump turned 78. For his birthday, Representative Greg Steube (R-FL) introduced a bill to name 4,383,000 square miles of the coastal waters off the United States over which the U.S. has sole authority, a region called the exclusive economic zone, the “Donald John Trump Exclusive Economic Zone of the United States.”

    A less welcome present was that the chief executive officers who attended a meeting with Trump in Washington yesterday told reporters they found him uninformed and unfocused. Christina Wilkie and Brian Schwartz of CNBC noted that the attendees dislike the Biden administration’s enforcement of antitrust laws, its price caps on drugs and medical products, and its promise of progressive tax policy and like Trump’s promise to slash regulations and cut taxes, so they went into the meeting hoping to support him.

    One CEO left the meeting with the takeaway that “Trump doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” and several, Andrew Ross Sorkin of CNBC reported, said that he “was remarkably meandering, could not keep a straight thought [and] was all over the map.” He could not explain how he planned to accomplish any of the policies he was proposing. When asked why he had chosen a policy of bringing the corporate tax rate down to 20%, he allegedly answered: “Well, it’s a round number.”

    No one applauded Trump, attendees reported, in striking contrast to reports of the enthusiasm of Republican lawmakers yesterday. This difference underscores that Trump likely intended yesterday’s grandstanding to send a political message that Republican members of Congress support him despite his criminal convictions, while the lawmakers themselves were trying to show party unity at a time when they are bitterly divided.

    Also today, the Supreme Court handed down the Garland v. Cargill decision, which considered whether the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) correctly determined that a device that dramatically increases the speed at which a semiautomatic weapon fires bullets, called a bump stock, could be prohibited under the law, originally passed in 1934, that outlawed machine guns.

    By a 6–3 vote, the Supreme Court said the ATF did not make that decision correctly and that bump stocks were not banned under the law.

    After the Parkland, Florida, shooting of February 14, 2018, when Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people and injured 17 others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, then-president Trump told reporters that he had been studying the issue of gun safety. This was his first articulated policy on that issue, and although the Parkland shooter did not use a bump stock, Trump said he had told then–attorney general Jeff Sessions to write regulations to ban bump stocks in October of the previous year, after a gunman using them had fired up to 1,000 rounds of ammunition in 11 minutes, killing 58 people and wounding about 500—two died later—at a Las Vegas music festival.

    By the time the ATF finalized a new rule on December 18, 2018, Sessions was gone and it was Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker who announced that bump stocks would be classified as a “machinegun” under federal law. The rule went into effect on March 26, 2019. People who owned bump stocks had to get rid of them, either by destroying them or by taking them to an ATF office. The ATF estimated that about 520,000 bump stocks needed to be destroyed.

    A Texas gun store owner, Michael Cargill, handed over his two bump stocks under protest and then sued the ATF, saying it did not have the authority to reclassify bump stocks.

    Today, in a majority opinion written by Justice Clarence Thomas, the Supreme Court dove deep into the mechanics of bump stocks to try to establish that they were not physically machine guns and that because of differences in the mechanical operations between true machine guns and bump stocks, the law did not prohibit bump stocks. ATF officials thus had no business defining bump stocks as they did in 2018, and those who want them can own them.

    In a concurring opinion, Justice Samuel Alito wrote: “There is a simple remedy for the disparate treatment of bump stocks and machineguns. Congress can amend the law—and perhaps would have done so already if ATF had stuck with its earlier interpretation. Now that the situation is clear, Congress can act.”

    Indeed, if Congress truly reflected the will of the people, it would have acted on this issue years ago. A Pew poll from June 2023—when bump stocks were illegal—showed that 64% of Americans want assault-style weapons banned altogether, as they were between 1994 and 2004. But Republicans have increasingly fetishized guns as a symbol of individualism, and Republican senators have kept most gun safety legislation at bay by weaponizing the filibuster, which means that any legislation must have not simply a 51-vote majority to pass the Senate, but 60 votes.  

    In other Supreme Court news, yesterday Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Dick Durbin (D-IL) released documents showing that Justice Thomas accepted at least three more trips from billionaire Republican donor Harlan Crow than had previously been known.

    And in other news concerning our nation’s horrific history of mass shootings and the political meaning of guns, today a federal judge ordered the liquidation of the personal assets of conspiracy theorist and InfoWars host Alex Jones to begin the payment he owes to the families of those murdered at Sandy Hook. For years, Jones told his followers that the shooting was a hoax to encourage restrictions on gun ownership, prompting harassment of the victims’ families.

    A jury in Texas and a jury in Connecticut awarded the families $1.5 billion in damages for defamation; Jones owns about $9 million of personal assets but will keep his $2.8 million home in Texas. The judge threw out an attempted reorganization of Jones’s company, Free Speech Systems, saying Jones’s creditors would recover more money in state courts. The families have sued Jones for hiding millions of dollars in assets.

    Reacting to the news of the Supreme Court’s decision in Garland v. Cargill, gun safety advocate David Hogg, who survived the Parkland shooting, wrote: “Ah yes because who doesn’t need the ability to freely turn a semiautomatic AR-15 into what in effect is a machine gun. This is f*cking insane.”

    “We know thoughts and prayers are not enough,” President Biden said in his own statement about the Supreme Court’s decision, referring to the usual response of Republicans after a mass shooting. “I call on Congress to ban bump stocks, pass an assault weapon ban, and take additional action to save lives—send me a bill and I will sign it immediately.”

    _____________________________________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: 36,603
      June 15, 2024 (Saturday)

    I spent so much time in my friend Mike’s house growing up that I knew his parents as Mama and Papa. His father, Kenneth Edward Nyboe, was born in 1924 in New York City but spent his summers in Maine, where he knew my mother and my aunt and where he met, and secretly married, my aunt's friend Helen Bryant just before he shipped overseas to be in the tank corps with Patton's Third Army in World War II.

    Papa's war was not an easy one, although he came home without visible wounds. After the war, he went to the University of Maine on the GI Bill, spurred by Helen, who had never been to college herself but made it clear she expected him to live up to her faith in him by making it through school.

    After college, he went to work for the U.S. Navy in Washington, D.C., insisting on the simplest solutions—the ones that worked—even when the rest of the team scoffed that they were too easy. For years, while Helen and their two sons were in Maine for the summer, he commuted between there and Washington, driving back and forth on the weekends because even though it was a 12-hour drive, nothing mattered more than driving down Carter's Lane at the end of it.

    Papa was away a lot, but when he was home, he always had time for us kids. He taught me how to shingle a roof and to sand a deck and to wire lights and to spell out the NATO phonetic alphabet and to count hours in military time and what to do when you cut an artery (which came in surprisingly handy after a kitchen accident many years later).

    He took all of us out to the islands in his boat for hiking and picnics. On one incredibly special, brutally hot August day, when everyone else had gone somewhere and the tide was way too low to swim, he took me out into the sound to find deep, cold water so I could jump in. The heat made things waver; we saw mirages among the islands that day.

    Papa Ken had a huge heart. He could whistle “If I Were a Rich Man” from Fiddler on the Roof loud enough to hear all the way across the harbor. And he always said there was nothing anyone couldn't work out, so long as they talked to each other honestly.

    Papa had a wonderful voice, a resonant baritone. When Helen was in the hospital after giving birth to one of their sons—these were the days when you stayed in the hospital for a week—she got lonely and scared. She called Papa in tears. “Say something,” she begged. “Just say something to me. I need to hear your voice.”

    And in the middle of the night, Papa didn’t even say hello. He took a deep breath. “Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal….”

    And he recited the Gettysburg Address until she could sleep.

    Happy Father’s Day to dads and to those who fill the role.

    _____________________________________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: 36,603
      June 16, 2024 (Sunday)

    Early in the morning on June 17, 1972, Frank Wills, a 24-year-old security guard at the Watergate Office Building in Washington, D.C., noticed that a door lock had been taped open. He ripped off the tape and closed the door, but when he went on the next round, he found the door taped open again. He called the police, who found five burglars in the Democratic National Committee headquarters located in the building.

    And so it began.

    The U.S. president, Richard M. Nixon, was obsessed with the idea that opponents were trying to sink his campaign for reelection. The previous year, in June 1971, the New York Times had begun to publish what became known as the Pentagon Papers, a secret government study that detailed U.S. involvement in Vietnam from presidents Harry Truman to Lyndon Johnson. While the study ended before the Nixon administration, it showed that presidents had lied to the American people, and Nixon worried that the story would hurt his administration by souring the public on his approach to the Vietnam War. Worse, if anyone leaked similar information about his own administration—and there was plenty to leak—it would destroy his reelection campaign.  

    To stop his enemies, Nixon put together in the White House a special investigations unit to stop leaks. And who stops leaks? Plumbers.

    These operatives burglarized the office of the psychiatrist who worked with the man who had leaked the Pentagon Papers, Daniel Ellsberg, to find damaging information about him. They sabotaged opponents by “ratf*cking” them, as they called it, planting fake letters in newspapers, hiring vendors for Democratic rallies and then running out on the unpaid bills, planting spies in Democrats’ campaigns and, finally, wiretapping.
    On June 17, 1972, they tried to tap the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee in Washington’s fashionable Watergate complex.

    The White House denied all knowledge of what it called a “third-rate burglary attempt,” and most of the press took the denial at face value. But two young reporters for the Washington Post, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, followed the sloppy money trail behind the burglars directly to the White House.

    The fallout from the burglary gained no traction before the election, which Nixon and Vice President Spiro Agnew won with an astonishing 60.7 percent of the vote. They took 520 electoral votes—49 states—while the Democratic nominees, South Dakota senator George McGovern and former Peace Corps director Sargent Shriver, won only 37.5% of the popular vote and the electoral votes of only Massachusetts and Washington, D.C.

    But in March 1973, one of the burglars, James W. McCord Jr., wrote a letter to Judge John Sirica before his sentencing, saying that he had lied at his trial, under pressure to protect government officials. McCord had been the head of security for the Committee for the Re-Election of the President, known as CREEP. Sirica was known for his stiff sentences—reporters called him “Maximum John”—and later said, “I had no intention of sitting on the bench like a nincompoop and watching the parade go by.” Sirica made the letter public, and White House counsel John Dean promptly began cooperating with prosecutors. In April, three of Nixon’s top advisors resigned, and in May the president was forced to appoint Archibald Cox as a special prosecutor to investigate the affair.

    In May the Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, informally known as the Senate Watergate Committee, began nationally televised hearings. The committee’s chair was Sam Ervin (D-NC), a conservative Democrat who would not run for reelection in 1974 and thus was expected to be able to do the job without political grandstanding.

    The hearings turned up the explosive testimony of John Dean, who said he had talked to Nixon about covering up the burglary more than 30 times, but there the investigation sat during the hot summer of 1973 as the committee churned through witnesses. And then, on July 13, 1973, deputy assistant to the president Alexander Butterfield revealed that conversations and phone calls in the Oval Office had been taped since 1971.

    Nixon refused to provide copies of the tapes either to Cox or to the Senate committee. When Cox subpoenaed a number of the tapes, Nixon ordered Attorney General Elliot Richardson to fire him. In the October 20, 1973, “Saturday Night Massacre,” Richardson and his deputy, William Ruckleshaus, refused to execute Nixon’s order and resigned in protest; it was only the third man at the Justice Department—Solicitor General Robert Bork—who was willing to carry out the order firing Cox.

    Popular outrage at the resignations and firing forced Nixon to ask Bork—now acting attorney general—to appoint a new special prosecutor, Leon Jaworski, a Democrat who had voted for Nixon, on November 1. On November 17, Nixon assured the American people that “I am not a crook.”

    Like Cox before him, Jaworski was determined to hear the Oval Office tapes. He subpoenaed a number of them, and Nixon fought the subpoenas on the grounds of executive privilege. On July 24, 1974, in U.S. v. Nixon, the Supreme Court sided unanimously with the prosecutor, saying that executive privilege “must be considered in light of our historic commitment to the rule of law. This is nowhere more profoundly manifest than in our view that 'the twofold aim (of criminal justice) is that guilt shall not escape or innocence suffer.'... The very integrity of the judicial system and public confidence in the system depend on full disclosure of all the facts….”

    Their hand forced, Nixon’s people released transcripts of the tapes. They were damning, not just in content but also in style. Nixon had cultivated an image of himself as a clean family man, and the tapes revealed a mean-spirited, foul-mouthed bully. Aware that the tapes would damage his image, Nixon had his swearing redacted. “[Expletive deleted]” trended.

    In late July 1974 the House Committee on the Judiciary passed articles of impeachment, charging the president with obstruction of justice, abuse of power, and contempt of Congress. Each article ended with the same statement: “In all of this, Richard M. Nixon has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and subversive of constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States. Wherefore Richard M. Nixon, by such conduct, warrants impeachment and trial, and removal from office.”

    Still, Nixon insisted he was not guilty, saying he did not know his people were committing crimes on his watch. Then in early August a new tape, recorded days after the Watergate break-in, revealed Nixon and an aide plotting to invoke national security to protect the president. Even Republican senators, who had not wanted to convict their president, knew the game was over. A delegation went to the White House to deliver the news.

    On August 9, 1974, Nixon became the first president in American history to resign.

    Rather than admit guilt, though, he told the American people he had to step down because he no longer had the support he needed in Congress to advance the national interest. He blamed the press, whose “leaks and accusations and innuendo” had been designed to destroy him. His disappointed supporters embraced the idea that there was a “liberal” conspiracy, spearheaded by the press, to bring down any Republican president.

    When his replacement, Gerald Ford, issued a preemptive blanket pardon for any crimes the former president might have committed against the United States, he guaranteed that Nixon would never have to account for his illegal attempt to undermine his Democratic opponent, and that those who thought like Nixon could come to think they were above the law.

    On May 30, 2024, when a jury of twelve ordinary Americans  found a former president guilty on 34 criminal counts, it reasserted the principle that no one is above the law.

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

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    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,603
       June 17, 2024 (Monday)

    Leaders from the Group of Seven (G7) met for their fiftieth summit in Italy from June 13 to June 15. Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States formed the G7 in 1975 as a forum for democracies with advanced economies to talk about political and economic issues. The European Union is also part of the forum, and this June, Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky also attended.

    This summit was a particularly fraught one. When it took office, the Biden-Harris administration, along with the State Department under Secretary of State Antony Blinken, set out to reshape global power structures not only in light of Trump’s attempt to abandon international alliances and replace them with transactional deals, but also in light of a larger change in international affairs.

    In a speech at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in September 2023, Blinken explained that the end of the Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union had promised a new era of peace and stability, with more international cooperation and political freedom. But while that period did, in fact, lift more than a billion people out of poverty, eradicate deadly diseases, and create historic lows in conflicts between state actors, it also gave rise to authoritarians determined to overthrow the international rules-based order.

    At the same time, non-state actors—international corporations; non-governmental organizations, or NGOs, that provide services to hundreds of millions of people across the globe; terrorists who can inflict catastrophic harm; and transnational criminal organizations that traffic illegal drugs, weapons, and human beings—have growing influence.

    Forging international cooperation has become more and more complex, Blinken explained, at the same time that global problems are growing: the climate crisis, food insecurity, mass migration and mass displacement of populations, as well as the potential for new pandemics. In the midst of all this pressure, “many countries are hedging their bets.”

    They have lost faith in the international economic order, as a handful of governments have distorted the markets to gain unfair advantage while technology and globalization have hollowed out communities and inequality has skyrocketed. “Between 1980 and 2020,” Blinken noted, “the richest .1 percent accumulated the same wealth as the poorest 50 percent.” Those who feel the system is unfair are exacerbating the other drivers of political polarization.

    These developments have undermined the post–Cold War political order, Blinken said. “One era is ending, a new one is beginning, and the decisions that we make now will shape the future for decades to come.”

    In his inaugural address on January 20, 2021, President Joe Biden vowed to “repair our alliances and engage with the world once again.” Saying that “America’s alliances are our greatest asset” just weeks later at the State Department, the president and officers in the administration set out to rebuild alliances that had fallen into disrepair under Trump. They reinforced the international bodies that upheld a rules-based international order, bodies like the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) organized in 1947 to stand against Soviet aggression and now a bulwark against Russian aggression. They began the process of rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement and the World Health Organization, both of which Trump had abandoned.

    Officials also worked to make international bodies more representative by, for example, welcoming into partnerships the African Union and Indonesia. They also broadened cooperation, as Blinken said, to “work with any country—including those with whom we disagree on important issues—so long as they want to deliver for their citizens, contribute to solving shared challenges, and uphold the international norms that we built together.”

    At home, they worked to erase the “bright line” between foreign and domestic policy, investing in policies to bring jobs back to the U.S. both to restore the economic fairness they identified as important to democracy and to stabilize the supply chains that the pandemic had revealed to be a big national security threat.

    On April 28, 2021, in his first address to a joint session of Congress,  President Biden said he had told world leaders that “America is back.” But they responded: “[F]or how long?”  

    That question was the backdrop to the G7 summit. Trump has said he will abandon international alliances, including NATO, in favor of a transactional foreign policy. He supports Russian president Vladimir Putin’s attempt to replace the rules-based international order with the idea that might makes right and that any strong country can grab the land of weaker states.

    Earlier this month, Biden used the occasion of the commemoration ceremonies around the 80th anniversary of D-Day to reinforce the international rules-based order and U.S. leadership in that system. On June 4, before Biden left for France, Massimo Calabresi published an interview with Biden in Time magazine in which Calabresi noted that the past 40 months have tested Biden’s vision. Russia reinvaded Ukraine in February 2022, and Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, 2023. Putin is trying to create “an axis of autocrats,” as Calabresi puts it, including the leaders of China and Iran, the state that is backing the non-state actors Hamas in Gaza, the Houthis of Yemen, and Hezbollah in Lebanon in order to destabilize Israel and the Arab states. China is threatening Taiwan.

    Calabresi pointed out that Biden has responded to these threats by shoring up NATO and welcoming to it Finland and Sweden, with their powerful militaries. His support has enabled Ukraine to decimate the Russian military, which has lost at least 87% of the 360,000 troops it had when it attacked Ukraine in February 2022, thus dramatically weakening a nation seen as a key foe in 2021. He has kept the war in Gaza from spreading into a regional conflict and has forced Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza, although the Palestinian death toll has continued to mount as Netanyahu has backed devastating attacks on Gaza. Biden’s comprehensive deal in the Middle East—an immediate ceasefire, the release of all hostages held by Hamas, a big increase in humanitarian aid to Gaza, and an enduring end to the crisis with the security of both Israelis and Palestinians assured—has yet to materialize.

    In Italy the leaders at the G7 summit stood firm behind Biden’s articulated vision, saying that the G7 “is grounded in a shared commitment to respect the U.N. Charter, promote international peace and security, and uphold the free and open rules-based international order.” On hot-button issues, the G7 backed Biden’s Middle East deal and support for Ukraine, agreeing to transfer $50 billion to Ukraine from the interest earned on Russian assets frozen in the European Union and elsewhere.

    The Biden administration announced additional economic sanctions to isolate Russia even more from the international financial system. At the summit, on June 13, 2024, Presidents Biden and Zelensky signed a ten-year bilateral security agreement that commits the U.S. to supporting Ukraine with a wide range of military assistance but, unlike the NATO membership Ukraine wants, does not require that the U.S. send troops. The agreement is legally binding, but it is not a treaty ratified by the Senate. If he is reelected, Trump could end the agreement.

    Immediately after the G7 summit, world leaders met in Switzerland for the Summit on Peace in Ukraine, held on June 15 and 16. Ukraine called the summit in hopes of persuading major countries from the global south to join and isolate Russia, but the group had to be content with demonstrating their own support for Ukraine. Vice President Kamala Harris, who attended the summit, today posted: “The more than 90 nations that gathered at the Summit on Peace in Ukraine hold a diverse range of views on global challenges and opportunities. We don’t always agree. But when it comes to Putin’s unprovoked, unjustified war—there is unity and solidarity in support of Ukraine and international rules and norms.”

    Earlier this month, Finnish software and methodologies company Check First released a report exposing “a large-scale, cross-country, multi-platform disinformation campaign designed to spread pro-Russian propaganda in the West, with clear indicators of foreign interference and information manipulation.” The primary goal of “Operation Overload” is to overwhelm newsrooms and fact-checkers and spread “the Kremlin’s political agenda.”

    Foreign affairs journalist Anne Applebaum told Bill Kristol of The Bulwark that China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela, and North Korea do not share an ideology, but “they do share a common interest, and the common interest is undermining…America, Europe, the liberal world, the democratic world.” They do this, she said, because the oppositions in their own countries are inspired by and use the democratic language of freedom and liberty and rights and rule of law, and leaders need to undermine that language to hold onto power. They also recognize that chaos and uncertainty give them business opportunities in the West. Disrupting democracies by feeding radicalism makes the democratic world lose its sense of community and solidarity.

    When it does that, Applebaum notes, it loses its ability to stand up to autocrats.

    _____________________________________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: 36,603
      June 18, 2024 (Tuesday)

    First, a follow-up to last night’s letter on foreign affairs: Russian president Vladimir Putin visited North Korea today for a meeting with leader Kim Jong Un, who greeted his visitor personally as he got off the plane. Putin is looking for more weapons for his war on Ukraine. U.S. national security spokesman John Kirby expressed concern about “the deepening relationship between these two countries.”

    At home, news broke on Saturday that Paul Pressler, a major leader of the Southern Baptist Convention and a key Republican activist, died on June 7 at age 94. In 1967, Pressler, a Texas judge, and Paige Patterson, a seminary student, met in New Orleans to plan a takeover of the Southern Baptists, the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S., to rid it of liberals, purging those who believed in abortion rights, women’s rights, and gay rights. By 1979 their candidate was elected head of the organization, and in the 1980s, Southern Baptists, who then numbered about 15 million people, were active in politics and were staunch supporters of the Republican Party.

    In Robert Downen’s obituary of Pressler for the Texas Tribune, he notes that as Pressler’s influence in the Republican Party grew, he also allegedly groped, solicited, or raped at least six men, including one who said he was 14 when Pressler first sexually abused him. Pressler denied the allegations, but he and the Southern Baptist Convention settled a lawsuit brought by that accuser just last December. A 2019 investigation by the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News inspired by that lawsuit found more than 400 Southern Baptist church leaders or volunteers had been charged with sex crimes since 2000.

    In March 2021 the hugely popular leader Beth Moore, herself a survivor of sexual assault, left the church, saying, “You have betrayed your women.” That May, Russell Moore (no relation to Ms. Moore) left the church leadership and then, the following month, left the church itself over its handling of sexual abuse allegations and racism. A 2022 report on the church and sex abuse was so damning that Russell Moore wrote: “I was wrong to call sexual abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention…a crisis. Crisis is too small a word. It is an apocalypse.” The investigation, he says, “uncovers a reality far more evil and systematic than I imagined it could be.”

    The patriarchal model of society embraced by the Republican Party in the 1980s enabled the sorts of abuse uncovered in the Southern Baptist Convention, but Pressler’s death suggests that the era might be ending. Today, Robert Morris, the pastor of Texas megachurch Gateway Church, resigned after news broke on Friday that a woman has accused him of sexually abusing her for several years in the 1980s beginning when she was 12.

    The Reagan Republican model started from the proposition that the best way to serve the public good was to slash taxes and regulations because that would enable the very wealthy to accumulate capital that they would then invest more efficiently in the economy, making it grow faster than it ever could when government investments warped markets. Theoretically, this would help everyone.

    Former president Trump and MAGA Republicans are still advancing that plan. Trump has promised to cut taxes yet again if he is reelected and has suggested replacing them with tariffs, which are essentially taxes levied on imported goods and then passed on to the consumer. Meanwhile, the Heritage Foundation, which is the major organization behind Project 2025, has called for raising the retirement age for Social Security benefits because of future shortfalls in the program’s financing.

    But in 2024 the media is noting ahead of time that Trump’s vow to abolish the income tax and replace it with higher tariffs would raise taxes for a typical American family by $5,000 while raising the incomes of the wealthiest Americans.

    And while the Heritage Foundation dismisses out of hand the idea of raising taxes, the Biden administration has noted that we are on the cusp of a generational opportunity to reorient the U.S. tax system.

    Yesterday, National Economic Council Deputy Director Daniel Hornung used the Trump tax cuts to skewer the larger argument that tax cuts help everyone. He pointed out that the 2017 Trump tax cuts failed on their own terms. Proponents of those cuts said they would benefit mainly ordinary Americans; instead, the bill gave those in the top 1% a tax cut more than 50 times higher than the cut that fell to middle-income households. Meanwhile, corporations used their tax savings on stock buybacks, dividends, and executive pay. No wage gains trickled down to the bottom 90% of workers.

    Furthermore, the proponents of the Trump tax cuts said they would double or triple the economic growth rate. Instead, real GDP and fixed investment stayed at about the same rate as they had been before the tax cuts. Similarly, those behind the bill said it would increase revenues and pay for itself; instead, revenues fell and the deficit increased.

    Hornung notes that Republicans want to continue this system, but the Biden administration wants to scrap it in favor of a system that would be “more fair, promoting economic opportunity and work and eliminating preferences for wealth,” and that would raise enough revenue to fund critical national priorities, like Social Security.

    The administration would like to see higher taxes on the less than 5% of American households with an income of more than $400,000 a year and on corporations. In addition, it is calling for using the tax code to support middle-class families and those in need, including by restoring the expanded Child Tax Credit, which cut child poverty nearly in half in 2021.

    Yesterday, officials from the Treasury Department said they were cracking down on the ability of businesses and the wealthy to manipulate the value of their assets to lower their taxes. Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo estimated that the crackdown should yield about $50 billion in the next decade.

    The struggle to resurrect a government that works for ordinary people rather than concentrating power and wealth in the hands of a few was on display in President Biden’s announcement today that, in the absence of congressional legislation, he is trying to streamline the process of applying for U.S. citizenship for certain undocumented spouses and children of U.S. citizens, allowing them to apply for legal permanent residency without leaving the country.

    Two weeks ago, Biden announced executive actions to bar undocumented immigrants from claiming asylum when the seven-day average of undocumented crossings is above 2,500 people. At the same time the administration is trying to stop undocumented immigration, it is also trying to make getting permanent residency easier for legal immigrants.

    Currently, in order to apply for legal residency, an undocumented person has to leave the United States, leaving jobs and family, and to hope for a chance to come back in. Now people who have lived in the U.S. for at least ten years and are legally married to a U.S. citizen can apply without leaving first. So can those who were brought here as children who have earned a degree at an accredited U.S. institution of higher learning in the United States and who have received a job offer from a U.S. employer in a field related to their degree.

    This rule will affect about 500,000 spouses of U.S. citizens and about 50,000 noncitizen children under the age of 21 whose parent is married to a U.S. citizen. It will affect 50,000 to 100,000 “Dreamers.”

    “We’re a nation of immigrants,” Biden said as he announced the order. “That’s who we are.”

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     June 19, 2024 (Wednesday)

    Today is the federal holiday honoring Juneteenth, the celebration of the announcement in Texas on June 19th, 1865, that enslaved Americans were free.

    That announcement came as late as it did because, while General Robert E. Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia to General Ulysses S. Grant of the U.S. Army on April 9, 1865, it was not until June 2 that General Edmund Kirby Smith surrendered the Trans-Mississippi Department, the last major army of the Confederacy, to the United States, in Galveston, Texas. Smith then fled to Mexico.

    Seventeen days later, Major General Gordon Granger of the U.S. Army arrived to take charge of the soldiers stationed in Texas. On that day, June 19, he issued General Order Number 3. It read:  

    “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor.”

    Granger’s order was not based on the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which abolished enslavement except as punishment for a crime. Although Congress had passed that amendment on January 31, 1865, and Lincoln had signed it on February 1, the states were still in the process of ratifying it.

    Instead, Granger’s order referred to the Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863, which declared that Americans enslaved in states that were in rebellion against the United States “shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons.” Granger was informing the people of Galveston that, Texas having been in rebellion on January 1, 1863, their world had changed. The federal government would see to it that, going forward, white people and Black people would be equal.

    Black people in Galveston met the news Order No. 3 brought with celebrations in the streets, but emancipation was not a gift from white Americans. Black Americans had fought for the United States and worked in the fields to grow cotton the government could sell. Those unable to leave their homes had hidden U.S. soldiers, while those who could leave indicated their support for the Confederacy and enslavement with their feet. They had demonstrated their equality and their importance to the United States.

    The next year, after the Thirteenth Amendment had been added to the Constitution, Texas freedpeople gathered on June 19, 1866, to celebrate the coming of their freedom with prayers, speeches, food, and socializing. By the following year, the federal government encouraged “Juneteenth” celebrations, eager to explain to Black citizens the voting rights that had been put in place by the Military Reconstruction Act in early March 1867, and the tradition of Juneteenth began to spread to Black communities across the nation.

    But white former Confederates in Texas were demoralized and angered by the changes in their circumstances. “It looked like everything worth living for was gone,” Texas cattleman Charles Goodnight later recalled.

    In summer 1865, as white legislators in the states of the former Confederacy grudgingly ratified the Thirteenth Amendment, they also passed laws to keep freedpeople subservient to their white neighbors. These laws, known as the Black Codes, varied by state, but they generally bound Black Americans to yearlong contracts working in fields owned by white men; prohibited Black people from meeting in groups, owning guns or property, or testifying in court; outlawed interracial marriage; and permitted white men to buy out the jail terms of Black people convicted of a wide swath of petty crimes, and then to force those former prisoners into labor to pay off their debt.

    At the same time, those determined to preserve their power began to rewrite the history of the Civil War. The war had irrevocably undermined the institution of enslavement in the American South, moving it far beyond the ability of white southerners to reinstate it (although some historians argue that without the Thirteenth Amendment enslavement might have moved into the western mines). So white supremacists began to claim that secession had never been about slavery, despite the many declarations of secession saying the opposite. With the Freedmen’s Bureau, created by Congress in March 1865, defending the rights of Black Americans, certain white southerners began to claim that their “cause” had been to protect the rights of the states against a powerful federal government that was forcing on them a way of life they opposed.

    In the 1820s, before he became president, Andrew Jackson argued that true democracy meant honoring the votes of those in the states rather than laws made by Congress. This idea justified minority rule. Under this argument, a state’s voters could choose to take the land of their Indigenous neighbors or enslave their Black neighbors even if the majority of Americans, speaking through Congress, opposed those policies, because what mattered was the local vote. Crucially, states also decided who could participate in voting, and before the Civil War, the body politic was almost exclusively white men.  

    The Black Codes were a clear illustration of what that system meant. Congress refused to readmit the southern states with the codes, and in 1866, congressmen wrote and passed the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. Its first section 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.” It went on: “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.”

    That was the whole ball game. The federal government had declared that a state legislature—no matter who elected it or what voters called for—could not discriminate against any of its citizens or arbitrarily take away any of a citizen’s rights. Then, like the Thirteenth Amendment before it, the Fourteenth declared that “Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article,” strengthening the federal government.

    The addition of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution in 1868 remade the United States of America.

    But those determined to preserve a world that discriminated between Americans according to race, gender, ability, and so on, continued to find workarounds. Key to those workarounds has always been resurrecting the idea that true democracy means reducing the power of the federal government and centering the power of the state governments, where voters—registered according to state laws—can choose the policies they prefer…even if they are discriminatory.

    In our era, those discriminatory policies are not just racial. They often center religion and include attacks on women’s healthcare and right to abortion, LGBTQ+ Americans, immigrants, and non-Christians. Just today, Louisiana governor Jeff Landry signed into law a measure requiring that every classroom in Louisiana public schools display the Ten Commandments. Those embracing the law hope to push the question of public displays of their faith to the Supreme Court, where they expect a warmer reception from this court than such discriminatory positions have gotten since the 1950s.

    If states get to determine who votes and can pass discriminatory legislation without interference by the federal government, they can construct the kind of world Americans lived in before the Fourteenth Amendment. As several Republican-dominated states have already demonstrated, they can also rewrite history.

    In 1865, Juneteenth was a celebration of freedom and the war’s end. In 1866 it was a celebration of the enshrinement of freedom in the U.S. Constitution after the Thirteenth Amendment had been ratified. In 1867, Juneteenth was a celebration of the freedom of Black men to vote, the very real power of having a say in the government under which they lived.  

    In a celebration of Juneteenth on June 10, 2024, Vice President Kamala Harris noted: “Across our nation, we witness a full-on attack on hard-fought, hard-won freedoms and rights, including the freedom of a woman to make decisions about her own body; the freedom to be who you are and love who you love openly and with pride; the freedom from fear of bigotry and hate; the freedom to learn and acknowledge our nation’s true and full history; and the freedom that unlocks all others: the freedom to vote.”

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      June 20, 2024 (Thursday)

    Yesterday, in North Korea, Russian president Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un signed a security partnership between their countries that said they would “provide mutual assistance in case of aggression.” The two authoritarian leaders essentially resurrected a 1961 agreement between North Korea and the Soviet Union. According to the North Korean News Agency, the agreement also calls for the two countries to work together toward a “just and multipolar new world order.”

    The United States and other western allies have been concerned for two years about the strengthening ties between the two countries. Putin needs weapons for the war in Ukraine, and in exchange, he might provide not only the economic support Kim Jong Un needs—North Korea is one of the poorest countries in Asia—but also transfer the technology North Korea needs to develop nuclear weapons.

    In the New York Times today, David Sanger pointed out that Putin and China’s leader Xi Jinping have partnered against the West in the past decade but have always agreed that North Korea must not be able to develop a nuclear weapon. Now, it appears, Putin is desperate enough for munitions that he is willing to provide the technologies North Korea needs to obtain one, along with missiles to deliver it.

    Meanwhile, Joby Warrick reported yesterday in the Washington Post that Iran has launched big expansions of two key nuclear enrichment plants, and leaders of the country’s nuclear program have begun to say they could build a nuclear weapon quickly if asked to do so. On X, security analyst Jon Wolfsthal recalled the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that successfully limited Iran’s nuclear program and that Trump abandoned with vows to produce something better. Wolfsthal noted that diplomacy worked when “wars and ‘promises’ of a better deal could not.”   

    Still, the meeting between Putin and Kim Jong Un is a sign of weakness, not strength. As The Telegraph pointed out, just ten years ago, Putin was welcomed to the G8 (now the G7) by the leaders of the richest countries in the world. “Now he has to go cap in hand to the pariah state of North Korea,” it pointed out. National Security Communications Advisor John Kirby added that “Russia is absolutely isolated on the world stage. They’ve been forced to rely, again, on countries like North Korea and Iran. Meanwhile…, Ukraine just organized a successful peace summit in Switzerland that had more than 100 countries and organizations sign up to support President Zelenskyy’s vision for a just peace.”

    In that same press conference, Kirby noted that the U.S. is delaying planned deliveries of foreign military sales to other countries, particularly of air defense missiles, sending the weapons to Ukraine instead. Also today, the U.S. emphasized that Ukraine can use American-supplied weapons to hit Russian forces in Russia. This is at least partly in response to recent reports that Russia is pulverizing Ukrainian front-line cities to force inhabitants to abandon them. Ukraine can slow the barrage by hitting the Russian airstrips from which the planes are coming.

    China, which declared a “no limits” partnership with Russia in February 2022 just before Russia invaded Ukraine, kept distant from the new agreement between Russia and North Korea. Tong Zhao of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace told Laurie Chen and Josh Smith of Reuters: "China is…careful not to create the perception of a de facto alliance among Beijing, Moscow, and Pyongyang, as this will not be helpful for China to maintain practical cooperation with key Western countries.”

    Greg Torode, Gerry Doyle, and Laurie Chen published an exclusive story in Reuters tonight, reporting that in March, for the first time in five years, delegates from the U.S. and China resumed semi-official talks about nuclear arms, although official talks have stalled.

    The office of president of the Republic of Korea (ROK), Yoon Suk Yeol, condemned the agreement. “It’s absurd that two parties with a history of launching wars of invasion—the Korean War and the war in Ukraine—are now vowing mutual military cooperation on the premise of a preemptive attack by the international community that will never happen,” it said. An ROK national security official added that the government, which has provided humanitarian aid to Ukraine, will now consider supplying weapons. This is no small threat: ROK is one of the world’s top ten arms exporters.  

    In the U.S., John Kirby told reporters that while cooperation between Russia and North Korea is a concern, the U.S. has been strengthening and bolstering alliances and partnerships throughout the Indo-Pacific region since President Joe Biden took office. It brokered the historic trilateral agreement between the Republic of Korea, Japan, and the United States; launched AUKUS, the trilateral security partnership between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the U.S.; and expanded cooperation with the Philippines.

    On Tuesday, at a joint press conference with U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken in Washington, D.C., NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg explained the cooperation between Russia and North Korea like this. “Russia’s war in Ukraine is…propped up by China, North Korea, and Iran,” he said. “They want to see the United States fail. They want to see NATO fail. If they succeed in Ukraine, it will make us more vulnerable and the world more dangerous.

    To that, The Bulwark today added journalist Anne Applebaum’s comments about the determination of those countries to disrupt liberal democracies. Dictators, she said, “are betting that Trump will be the person who destroys the United States, whether he makes it ungovernable, whether he assaults the institutions so that they no longer function, whether he creates so much division and chaos that the U.S. can’t have a foreign policy anymore. That’s what they want, and that’s what they’re hoping he will do.”

    Trump himself is a more and more problematic candidate. This week, author Ramin Setoodeh, who has a new book coming out soon about Trump’s transformation from failed businessman to reality TV star on the way to the presidency, has told reporters that Trump has “severe memory issues” adding that “he couldn’t remember things, he couldn’t even remember me.”

    Trump is supposed to participate in a debate with President Biden on June 27, and while Biden is preparing as candidates traditionally do, with policy reviews and practice, Trump’s team has been downplaying Trump’s need for preparation, saying that his rallies and interviews with friendly media are enough.

    With new polls showing Biden overtaking the lead in the presidential contest, right-wing media has been pushing so-called cheap fakes: videos that don’t use AI but misrepresent what happened by deceptively cutting the film or the shot.

    Social media has been flooded with images of Biden appearing to bend over for no apparent reason at a D-Day commemoration; the clip cuts off both the chair behind him and that everyone else was sitting down, too. Another, from the recent G7 summit, appears to show the president wandering away from a group of leaders during a skydiving demonstration; in fact, he was walking toward and speaking to a parachute jumper who had just landed but was off camera. A third appears to show Biden unable to say the name of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas; in fact, he was teasing Mayorkas, and the film cuts off just before Biden says his name.  

    On Monday, June 17, Judd Legum of Popular information produced a deep report on how the right-wing Sinclair Broadcast Group has been flooding its local media websites with these and other stories suggesting that President Biden is “mentally unfit for office.” Legum noted that these stories appeared simultaneously on at least 86 local news websites Sinclair owns.

    Finally, today, in the New York Times, Charlie Savage and Alan Feuer reported that two of Judge Aileen Cannon’s more experienced colleagues on Florida’s federal bench—including the chief judge, a George W. Bush appointee—urged her to hand off the case of Trump’s retention of classified documents to someone else when it was assigned to her. They noted that she was inexperienced, having been appointed by Trump only very late in his term, and that taking the case would look bad since she had previously been rebuked by a conservative appeals court after helping Trump in the criminal investigation that led to the indictment.

    She refused to pass the assignment to someone else.  

    Trump’s lawyers’ approach to the case has been to try to delay it until after the election. Judge Cannon’s decisions appear to have made that strategy succeed.

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      June 21, 2024 (Friday)

    Sixty years ago today, on June 21, 1964, twenty-year-old Andrew Goodman mailed a postcard to his parents in New York City. He had arrived in Meridian, Mississippi, the day before to work with Michael Schwerner, a 24-year-old former New York social worker, and James Chaney, a 21-year-old Black man from Meridian, to register Black voters in what became known as Freedom Summer.

    “Dear Mom and Dad,” Goodman wrote. “I have arrived safely in Meridian Mississippi. This is a wonderful town and the weather is fine. I wish you were here. The people in this city are wonderful and our reception was very good. All my love, Andy.”

    Mississippi had become a focal point for voter registration because fewer than 7% of Black Mississippians were registered, but members of the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan, dedicated to preserving segregation and to keeping Black people from voting, intended to stop the people challenging their power. They had come to loathe Schwerner— like Goodman, a Jewish man— who along with his wife, Rita, had taken over the field office of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) in Meridian and had begun grassroots organizing.

    At meetings, Ku Klux Klan members routinely talked about killing Schwerner, but without authorization from the Klan’s state leader, Sam Bowers, they held off. Several weeks before Goodman arrived in Mississippi, they got that authorization.

    On June 21, Schwerner, Chaney, and Goodman set out to investigate the recent burning of a church whose leaders had agreed to participate in voter registration, an arson that, unbeknownst to them, was committed by the same Klan members who had received authorization to kill Schwerner.

    After the three men left the burned church, Deputy Sheriff Cecil Ray Price stopped their car, arrested Schwerner for speeding, and held Chaney and Goodman under suspicion that they were the ones who had burned the church. Once night had dropped, after they paid the speeding ticket and left the Philadelphia, Mississippi, jail, Price followed them, stopped them, ordered them into his car, and then took them down a deserted road and turned them over to two carloads of his fellow terrorists. They beat the men, murdered them, and buried them in an earthen dam that was under construction.

    Aside from the murderers, no one knew where the three men had gone. Their fellow CORE workers had begun calling jails and police stations as soon as they didn’t turn up according to schedule, but no one told them where the men were. By June 22 the men’s friends had gotten FBI agents from New Orleans to join the search. On June 23 the agents found the station wagon the men had been driving, still smoldering from an attempt to burn it.

    As the agents searched—turning up 8 murdered Black men, but not the three they were looking for— President Lyndon B. Johnson, who as Senate majority leader had wrestled the Civil Rights Act of 1957 through Congress and who had pushed hard for a stronger civil rights law since becoming president in November 1963, harnessed the growing outrage over the missing men.

    The House had passed a civil rights bill in February 1964, but southern segregationist Democrats in the Senate filibustered it from March until June 18, when news stations covered the story of hotel owner James Brock pouring acid into a whites-only swimming pool at the Monson Motor Lodge in St. Augustine, Florida, after Black and white people jumped into the water together. The water diluted the acid and the swimmers were not injured, but law enforcement arrested them. Seeing a white man pour acid into a swimming pool to drive out Black people created such outrage that senators abandoned their opposition to the measure.

    On June 19, Republican Everett Dirksen (R-IL), the Senate minority leader, managed to deliver enough Republican votes to Majority Leader Mike Mansfield (D-MT) to break the filibuster. The Senate passed the bill and sent their version back to the House. Johnson used the popular rage over the three missing voting rights workers to pressure the House to pass the bill, and it did.

    Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law on July 2.

    Just before he wrote his name, Johnson addressed the American people on television. Tying the new law to the upcoming anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, he noted that “those who founded our country knew that freedom would be secure only if each generation fought to renew and enlarge its meaning…. Americans of every race and color have died in battle to protect our freedom. Americans of every race and color have worked to build a nation of widening opportunities. Now our generation of Americans has been called on to continue the unending search for justice within our own borders.”

    Johnson celebrated that the bill had bipartisan support of more than two thirds of the lawmakers in Congress and that it enjoyed the support of “the great majority of the American people.” “[M]ost Americans are law-abiding citizens who want to do what is right,” he said. “My fellow citizens, we have come now to a time of testing. We must not fail.”

    Those opposed to Black equality saw the passage of the Civil Rights Act as a call to arms. On July 16, two weeks after Johnson signed the bill and a little more than three weeks after Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner disappeared and while they were still missing, Arizona senator Barry Goldwater strode across the stage at the Republican National Convention to accept the party’s nomination for president. To thunderous applause, he told delegates that “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And…moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.” The votes of the delegates from South Carolina, the state that launched the Civil War in defense of American slavery, were the ones that put his nomination over the top.

    On August 4 the bodies of the missing men were found in the dam near Philadelphia, Mississippi.

    It turned out that Deputy Sheriff Price, who had arrested Schwerner, Chaney, and Goodman, and his boss, Sheriff Lawrence A. Rainey, were members of the Ku Klux Klan. Price had alerted his fellow Klansman Edgar Ray Killen that he had the three men in custody, and Killen called the local Klan together to attack the men when they got out of jail. Then Price dropped the three civil rights workers into their hands.

    While the state of Mississippi would not prosecute, claiming insufficient evidence, in January 1965 a federal grand jury indicted 18 men for their participation in the murders. The Ku Klux Klan members, who were accustomed to running their states as they saw fit, did not believe they would be punished. An infamous photograph caught Price and Rainey laughing during a hearing after their federal arraignment on charges of conspiracy and violating the civil rights of the murdered men.

    Ultimately, a jury found seven of the defendants guilty. Killen walked free because in addition to being a Klan leader, he was also a Baptist minister, and a member of the jury would not convict a minister. Price was convicted and sentenced to six years in prison (he served four). Rainey, who was not at the murder scene, was found not guilty, but he lost his job and his marriage and blamed the FBI and the media for ruining his life.

    Voters in the 1964 election backed Johnson’s vision of the country, rejecting Goldwater by a landslide. Ominously, though, Goldwater won his own state of Arizona and five states of the Deep South—Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina. The Republican Party had begun to court the segregationist southern Democrats.

    In 1980, Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan spoke in Philadelphia, Mississippi, on August 3, sixteen years almost to the day after the bodies of the three men had been found.

    “I believe in states' rights,” he said. “I believe in people doing as much as they can for themselves at the community level and at the private level. And I believe that we've distorted the balance of our government today by giving powers that were never intended in the constitution to that federal establishment. And if I do get the job I'm looking for, I'm going to devote myself to trying to reorder those priorities and to restore to the states and local communities those functions which properly belong there.”

    In January 2004 a multiracial group of citizens who wanted justice for the 1964 murders met with Mississippi state attorney general Jim Hood and local district attorney Mark Duncan, as well as with Andrew Goodman's mother Carolyn Goodman and brother David Goodman, to ask Hood to reopen the case. In January 2005 a grand jury indicted Killen, who had organized the Klan to go after Chaney, Schwerner, and Goodman, for their murder.

    On June 21, 2005, a jury found the 80-year-old Killen guilty of manslaughter.

    He died in prison six years ago.

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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,603
      June 22, 2024 (Saturday)

    This year my brother’s aluminum skiff had a stowaway.

    A mouse had clung tight to its perch in the bow eye during the trip from the boat’s winter berth in the front yard to the town landing, bouncing on a trailer. It continued to hold on as my brother and nephew launched the skiff and crossed the choppy harbor to a mooring.

    The whole adventure seems curiously like a metaphor for life in the United States these days.

    My nephew found the terrified creature when he reached for the painter to tie the boat to its mooring, and everyone made it back to shore safely.

    Going to take the night off. Will be back at it tomorrow.

    [Photo by Peter Bjerregaard.]

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      June 23, 2024 (Sunday)

    On Thursday, Moody’s Analytics, which evaluates risk, performance, and financial modeling, compared the economic promises of President Joe Biden and presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump. Authors Mark Zandi, Brendan LaCerda, and Justin Begley concluded that while a second Biden presidency would see cooling inflation and continued economic growth of 2.1%, a Trump presidency would be an economic disaster.

    Trump has promised to slash taxes on the wealthy, increase tariffs across the board, and deport at least 11 million immigrant workers. According to the analysts, these policies would trigger a recession by mid-2025. The economy would slow to an average growth of 1.3%. At the same time, tariffs and fewer immigrant workers would increase the costs of consumer goods. That inflation—reaching 3.6%—would result in 3.2 million fewer jobs and a higher unemployment rate.

    Trump’s proposed tariffs would not fully offset his tax cuts, adding trillions to the national debt.

    Michael Strain, director of economic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, said that Trump’s tariff policy “would be bad for workers and bad for consumers.” Chief Economist of Moody’s Analytics Mark Zandi said: “Biden’s policies are better for the economy.”   

    In the New York Times today, Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, the president of the Yale Chief Executive Leadership Institute at the Yale School of Management, debunked the notion that corporate leaders support Trump. Sonnenfeld notes that he works with about 1,000 chief executives a year and speaks with business leaders almost every day. Although 60 to 70 percent of them are registered Republicans, he wrote, Trump “continues to suffer from the lowest level of corporate support in the history of the Republican Party.”

    Among Fortune 100 chief executives, who lead the top 100 public and private U.S. companies ranked by revenue, Sonnenfeld notes, not one has donated to Trump this year.

    While they might not be enthusiastic Biden supporters, unhappy with his push to enforce antitrust laws and rein in corporate greed, the president has produced results they like: investment in infrastructure, repair of supply chains, investment in domestic manufacturing, achievement of record corporate profits, and transformation of the U.S. into the largest producer of oil and natural gas in the world.

    In contrast, they fear Trump. The populist plans that thrill supporters—like hiking tariffs and taking financial policy away from the independent Federal Reserve Board and putting it in his own hands—are red flags to business leaders. Such positions have more in common with the far left than with traditional Republican economic policies, Sonnenfeld says. Those policies reflect that Trump has surrounded himself with what Sonnenfeld calls “MAGA extremists and junior varsity opportunists,” while the more senior voices of his first term have been sidelined.

    On Saturday, Trump spoke in Philadelphia with a message that The Guardian’s David Smith described as “light on facts, heavy on fear.” He appears to be trying to overwrite his own criminal conviction with the idea that Biden’s immigration policy has brought violent undocumented migrants to the United States, creating a surge of crime. He told rally attendees that murders in their city have reached their highest level in six decades, while in fact, violent crime in the city is the lowest it’s been in a decade.

    In February, Trump pushed Republican lawmakers to reject a strong bipartisan border bill so he could use immigration as his primary issue in the election. That focus on immigration was key to the rise of Hungary’s Viktor Orbán to power, and it is notable that Trump’s picture of the United States echoes the rhetoric of the authoritarians hoping to overturn democracy around the world.  

    On Friday, during a podcast hosted by venture capitalists, Trump blamed Biden for starting Russia’s war against Ukraine by calling for Ukraine’s admission to NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization that resists Russian aggression. This statement utterly rewrites the history of Trump’s support for Russia’s annexation of the same Ukrainian regions it has now occupied: as Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort testified, the Kremlin helped Trump’s 2016 campaign in exchange for the U.S. permitting Russian incursions there.

    More significant in this moment, though, is that Trump, who is running to become the leader of the United States, is siding against the United States and parroting Russian propaganda. Mark Hertling, a retired lieutenant general of the United States Army who served for 37 years and commanded U.S. Army operations in Europe and Africa, wrote: “This statement is—to put it mildly—stunningly misinformed and dangerous.”

    Trump told host Sean Spicer that the U.S. is a “failing nation,” claiming that airplane flights are being delayed for four days and people are “pitching tents” because their flight is never going to happen. In reality, as Bill Kristol pointed out, with 16.3 million U.S. flights, 2023 was the busiest year in U.S. history for air travel, and the cancellation rate was below 1.2%. This was the lowest rate in a decade.

    Trump is insisting at his rallies that crime is skyrocketing under Biden. In reality, crime rose rapidly at the end of Trump’s term but is now dropping. From 2022 to 2023, according to the FBI, the only crime that went up was motor vehicle theft. Murders dropped by 13.2%, rape by 12.5%, robbery by 4.7%, burglary by 9.8%. The first quarter of 2024 showed even greater drops. Compared to the same quarter in 2023, violent crime is down 15.2%, murder down 26.4%, rape down 25.7%, robbery down 17.8%, burglary down 16.7%. Even vehicle theft is down 17.3%.

    Trump’s negative picture might play well to his die-hard supporters, but portraying the U.S. as a hellscape has rarely been a recipe for winning a presidential election.

    President Biden and Trump are scheduled to debate on Thursday, June 27, and Trump’s team is trying to lower expectations for his performance. He became so incoherent in Philadelphia that the Fox News Channel actually cut away while he was talking. The Biden-Harris team has taken simply to posting Trump’s comments, prompting Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo to note: “It’s pretty bad when one candidates rapid response account just posts the other guys quote verbatim with no explanation at all.”

    After months of insisting that Biden is mentally unfit, now Trump and his surrogates are saying Biden will perform well in the debate because he will be on drugs. There is no evidence that Biden has ever used performance-enhancing drugs, but curiously, Trump’s former White House physician Ronny Jackson (whom Trump repeatedly misidentified as Ronny Johnson last week) gave Fox News Channel host Maria Bartiromo a very detailed list of drugs that could sharpen attention and clarity. One of the ones he mentioned, Provigil, was on the list of those widely and improperly distributed by the White House Medical Unit in the Trump White House.

    Jackson said that he was “demanding” that Biden take drug tests before and after the debate. A White House spokesperson responded: “[A]fter losing every public and private negotiation with President Biden—and after seeing him succeed where they failed across the board, ranging from actually rebuilding America’s infrastructure to actually reducing violent crime to actually outcompeting China—it tracks that those same Republican officials mistake confidence for a drug.”

    With the evaluation that Biden is better for the economy and Trump’s apocalyptic vision of the U.S. is not based in reality, it jumps out that on Thursday, a filing with the Federal Election Commission showed that the day after a jury convicted former president Donald Trump on 34 criminal counts, billionaire Tim Mellon made a $50 million donation to one of Trump’s superpacs. Since 2018, Mellon has contributed more than $200 million to Republicans, giving $110 million to Republican candidates and funding committees in the 2024 election alone. He has also given $25 million to independent candidate Robert Kennedy Jr.
     
    In a 2015 autobiography, Mellon embraced the old trope that “Black Studies, Women’s Studies, LGBT Studies, they have all cluttered Higher Education with a mishmash of meaningless tripe designed to brainwash gullible young adults into going along with the Dependency Syndrome,” saying that food assistance, affordable health care “and on, and on, and on” had made Americans on government assistance “slaves of a new Master, Uncle Sam.” “The largess is funded by the hardworking folks, fewer and fewer in number, who are too honest or too proud to allow themselves to sink into this morass,” he wrote.

    It is this trope that the Biden administration has smashed, returning to the idea that the government should answer to the needs of all its people. The last three years have proved the superiority of this vision by creating a roaring economy; rebuilding the country’s infrastructure, supply chains, and manufacturing; cutting crime rates, and reinforcing international alliances.

    As Dan Eberhart, a Republican donor and chief executive officer of the energy company Canary, told Wall Street Journal reporter Tarini Parti about Mellon: “He’s clearly terrified of Biden remaining the president.”

    _____________________________________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
  • Options
    Halifax2TheMaxHalifax2TheMax Posts: 37,157
    mickeyrat said:
      June 23, 2024 (Sunday)

    On Thursday, Moody’s Analytics, which evaluates risk, performance, and financial modeling, compared the economic promises of President Joe Biden and presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump. Authors Mark Zandi, Brendan LaCerda, and Justin Begley concluded that while a second Biden presidency would see cooling inflation and continued economic growth of 2.1%, a Trump presidency would be an economic disaster.

    Trump has promised to slash taxes on the wealthy, increase tariffs across the board, and deport at least 11 million immigrant workers. According to the analysts, these policies would trigger a recession by mid-2025. The economy would slow to an average growth of 1.3%. At the same time, tariffs and fewer immigrant workers would increase the costs of consumer goods. That inflation—reaching 3.6%—would result in 3.2 million fewer jobs and a higher unemployment rate.

    Trump’s proposed tariffs would not fully offset his tax cuts, adding trillions to the national debt.

    Michael Strain, director of economic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, said that Trump’s tariff policy “would be bad for workers and bad for consumers.” Chief Economist of Moody’s Analytics Mark Zandi said: “Biden’s policies are better for the economy.”   

    In the New York Times today, Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, the president of the Yale Chief Executive Leadership Institute at the Yale School of Management, debunked the notion that corporate leaders support Trump. Sonnenfeld notes that he works with about 1,000 chief executives a year and speaks with business leaders almost every day. Although 60 to 70 percent of them are registered Republicans, he wrote, Trump “continues to suffer from the lowest level of corporate support in the history of the Republican Party.”

    Among Fortune 100 chief executives, who lead the top 100 public and private U.S. companies ranked by revenue, Sonnenfeld notes, not one has donated to Trump this year.

    While they might not be enthusiastic Biden supporters, unhappy with his push to enforce antitrust laws and rein in corporate greed, the president has produced results they like: investment in infrastructure, repair of supply chains, investment in domestic manufacturing, achievement of record corporate profits, and transformation of the U.S. into the largest producer of oil and natural gas in the world.

    In contrast, they fear Trump. The populist plans that thrill supporters—like hiking tariffs and taking financial policy away from the independent Federal Reserve Board and putting it in his own hands—are red flags to business leaders. Such positions have more in common with the far left than with traditional Republican economic policies, Sonnenfeld says. Those policies reflect that Trump has surrounded himself with what Sonnenfeld calls “MAGA extremists and junior varsity opportunists,” while the more senior voices of his first term have been sidelined.

    On Saturday, Trump spoke in Philadelphia with a message that The Guardian’s David Smith described as “light on facts, heavy on fear.” He appears to be trying to overwrite his own criminal conviction with the idea that Biden’s immigration policy has brought violent undocumented migrants to the United States, creating a surge of crime. He told rally attendees that murders in their city have reached their highest level in six decades, while in fact, violent crime in the city is the lowest it’s been in a decade.

    In February, Trump pushed Republican lawmakers to reject a strong bipartisan border bill so he could use immigration as his primary issue in the election. That focus on immigration was key to the rise of Hungary’s Viktor Orbán to power, and it is notable that Trump’s picture of the United States echoes the rhetoric of the authoritarians hoping to overturn democracy around the world.  

    On Friday, during a podcast hosted by venture capitalists, Trump blamed Biden for starting Russia’s war against Ukraine by calling for Ukraine’s admission to NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization that resists Russian aggression. This statement utterly rewrites the history of Trump’s support for Russia’s annexation of the same Ukrainian regions it has now occupied: as Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort testified, the Kremlin helped Trump’s 2016 campaign in exchange for the U.S. permitting Russian incursions there.

    More significant in this moment, though, is that Trump, who is running to become the leader of the United States, is siding against the United States and parroting Russian propaganda. Mark Hertling, a retired lieutenant general of the United States Army who served for 37 years and commanded U.S. Army operations in Europe and Africa, wrote: “This statement is—to put it mildly—stunningly misinformed and dangerous.”

    Trump told host Sean Spicer that the U.S. is a “failing nation,” claiming that airplane flights are being delayed for four days and people are “pitching tents” because their flight is never going to happen. In reality, as Bill Kristol pointed out, with 16.3 million U.S. flights, 2023 was the busiest year in U.S. history for air travel, and the cancellation rate was below 1.2%. This was the lowest rate in a decade.

    Trump is insisting at his rallies that crime is skyrocketing under Biden. In reality, crime rose rapidly at the end of Trump’s term but is now dropping. From 2022 to 2023, according to the FBI, the only crime that went up was motor vehicle theft. Murders dropped by 13.2%, rape by 12.5%, robbery by 4.7%, burglary by 9.8%. The first quarter of 2024 showed even greater drops. Compared to the same quarter in 2023, violent crime is down 15.2%, murder down 26.4%, rape down 25.7%, robbery down 17.8%, burglary down 16.7%. Even vehicle theft is down 17.3%.

    Trump’s negative picture might play well to his die-hard supporters, but portraying the U.S. as a hellscape has rarely been a recipe for winning a presidential election.

    President Biden and Trump are scheduled to debate on Thursday, June 27, and Trump’s team is trying to lower expectations for his performance. He became so incoherent in Philadelphia that the Fox News Channel actually cut away while he was talking. The Biden-Harris team has taken simply to posting Trump’s comments, prompting Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo to note: “It’s pretty bad when one candidates rapid response account just posts the other guys quote verbatim with no explanation at all.”

    After months of insisting that Biden is mentally unfit, now Trump and his surrogates are saying Biden will perform well in the debate because he will be on drugs. There is no evidence that Biden has ever used performance-enhancing drugs, but curiously, Trump’s former White House physician Ronny Jackson (whom Trump repeatedly misidentified as Ronny Johnson last week) gave Fox News Channel host Maria Bartiromo a very detailed list of drugs that could sharpen attention and clarity. One of the ones he mentioned, Provigil, was on the list of those widely and improperly distributed by the White House Medical Unit in the Trump White House.

    Jackson said that he was “demanding” that Biden take drug tests before and after the debate. A White House spokesperson responded: “[A]fter losing every public and private negotiation with President Biden—and after seeing him succeed where they failed across the board, ranging from actually rebuilding America’s infrastructure to actually reducing violent crime to actually outcompeting China—it tracks that those same Republican officials mistake confidence for a drug.”

    With the evaluation that Biden is better for the economy and Trump’s apocalyptic vision of the U.S. is not based in reality, it jumps out that on Thursday, a filing with the Federal Election Commission showed that the day after a jury convicted former president Donald Trump on 34 criminal counts, billionaire Tim Mellon made a $50 million donation to one of Trump’s superpacs. Since 2018, Mellon has contributed more than $200 million to Republicans, giving $110 million to Republican candidates and funding committees in the 2024 election alone. He has also given $25 million to independent candidate Robert Kennedy Jr.
     
    In a 2015 autobiography, Mellon embraced the old trope that “Black Studies, Women’s Studies, LGBT Studies, they have all cluttered Higher Education with a mishmash of meaningless tripe designed to brainwash gullible young adults into going along with the Dependency Syndrome,” saying that food assistance, affordable health care “and on, and on, and on” had made Americans on government assistance “slaves of a new Master, Uncle Sam.” “The largess is funded by the hardworking folks, fewer and fewer in number, who are too honest or too proud to allow themselves to sink into this morass,” he wrote.

    It is this trope that the Biden administration has smashed, returning to the idea that the government should answer to the needs of all its people. The last three years have proved the superiority of this vision by creating a roaring economy; rebuilding the country’s infrastructure, supply chains, and manufacturing; cutting crime rates, and reinforcing international alliances.

    As Dan Eberhart, a Republican donor and chief executive officer of the energy company Canary, told Wall Street Journal reporter Tarini Parti about Mellon: “He’s clearly terrified of Biden remaining the president.”

    Imagine living in a reality where you think people have to wait four days to catch their original flight and pitch a tent while they wait and then give money to that carnival barker? To the tune of a $100 a week? Suckers.

    “There’s no hotels. There used to be but Brandon taxed them out of existence. There used to be many, many hotels. All over everywhere but now they’re gone. Very sad. It’s so sad, Sean, many people are saying we need the hotels. And not just any hotels but grand hotels. With swimming pools and hamberders. All gone. Just sad.”
    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©
  • Options
    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,603
      June 24, 2024 (Monday)

    Two years ago today, on June 24, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that recognized a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy. The vote was 6–3.

    The three justices appointed by former president Trump joined Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and Chief Justice John Roberts to strip a constitutional right from the American people, a right we had enjoyed for almost 50 years, a right that is considered a fundamental human right in most liberal democracies, and a right they had indicated they would protect because it was settled law. For the first time in our history, rather than conveying rights, the court explicitly took a constitutional right away from the American people.

    Andy Kroll, Andrea Bernstein, and Ilya Marritz of ProPublica reported that the night before the decision came down, 70 or so partygoers, including two dozen state and federal judges, met to drink champagne and eat fine food at the Maine home of the man who had hatched and then executed a plan to stack the courts with extremist judges: Leonard Leo. It was Leo who had helped pick or confirm all six of the justices who would, the next day, announce to the world they were overturning Roe.

    In the decision, written by Alito, the court said that the right to determine abortion rights must be returned “to the people’s elected representatives” at the state level. This construction of American law is central to the right-wing project of dismantling the federal government which, under the Fourteenth Amendment, is charged with protecting equal rights in the states. Centering the states, which determine who can vote within them, enables a minority to dominate the majority. In this case, a strong majority of Americans has always backed abortion rights while only about 10% of Americans wanted a complete ban on the procedure.

    In the late 1970s, presidential hopeful Ronald Reagan courted religious traditionalists who objected to women’s equality with the promise of ending abortion access. Indeed, in her first statement on abortion in January 1972, right-wing activist Phyllis Schlafly focused not on fetuses but on women who wanted equal rights.

    “The ‘women’s lib[eration]’ movement is not an honest effort to secure better jobs for women who want or need to work outside the home,” she said. It “is a total assault on the role of the American woman as wife and mother, and on the family as the basic unit of society. Women’s libbers are trying to make wives and mothers unhappy with their career, make them feel that they are ‘second-class citizens’ and ‘abject slaves.’ Women’s libbers are promoting free sex instead of the “slavery” of marriage. They are promoting Federal ‘day-care centers’ for babies instead of homes. They are promoting abortions instead of families.”

    Business leaders who wanted to slash taxes and government regulations led the Reagan coalition, but winning elections always depended on the votes of racists and the religious traditionalists who opposed women’s rights. But since a majority of Americans has always supported the protection of access to abortion, Republican leaders generally promised to end abortion without intending actually to do it.

    The extremist religious judges Leo helped Trump put in place had their own agenda.

    As soon as the court overturned Roe v. Wade, Republican-dominated states began restricting abortion access. Now, two years later, 14 states ban abortion entirely. Seven others have restrictions that would have been unconstitutional two years ago.

    The overturning of Roe v. Wade upended American politics. The majority of Americans alive today have always lived in a country with abortion access recognized as a constitutional right, and had not thought they could lose it. Exactly what that loss means became clear just days after the Dobbs decision, when news broke that a ten-year-old rape victim had been unable to obtain an abortion in Ohio and had to cross state lines to Indiana, where the state attorney general, Todd Rokita, publicly attacked the doctor who treated the girl. Similar stories, as well as those of women who desperately needed abortions to save their lives or fertility, have driven support for abortion higher than it was before Dobbs.

    As state laws prohibiting abortion took effect, voters worked to protect abortion rights. In seven states, including Republican-dominated Kansas, Kentucky, and Ohio, voters have protected abortion rights when they were on the ballot. Pollster Tom Bonier today called abortion rights “the most powerful single issue in politics.”

    Bonier recalled looking at the Kansas vote and finding such a surprising statistic he thought he had miscalculated. After Dobbs, almost 70% of the people in that state registering to vote were women. He said he has “never seen a registration surge among any specific group like this before, and [doesn't] expect to again.” He went on to find substantial gender gaps in registration in states where access to abortion was at risk, but not in states where it seemed secure.

    In 2022, Bonier said, “[i]n states and races where abortion rights were perceived as at stake, Democrats overperformed massively,” including in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Arizona, but in states like New York and California, where abortion rights are protected, “the election was as you would have expected in a ‘normal’ midterm.” Bonier added that abortion rights “is likely more salient now than it was in 2022.”

    As the votes indicate, Dobbs has created a huge problem for Republicans, especially as Trump continues to boast that he is responsible for overturning Roe, a boast that the Biden campaign is highlighting. Voters eager to protect abortion rights are moving away from the party toward a more moderate and popular position on abortion.

    It has also created a problem for the party on the hard right. Having lost the abortion issue as a way to turn out voters, leaders are whipping up the party’s base with ever-increasing extremism. In the realm of reproductive rights, that extremism has led MAGA Republicans to call for national bans on abortion, contraception, and in vitro fertilization (IVF). More generally, it has increasingly made them call for violence against their opponents. On June 21, for example, Representative Chip Roy (R-TX) posted on social media: “I do want to ‘ethnic cleanse’ by deporting white progressive Democrats—with a special bonus for rich ones with an Ivy League degree. I really do not like ‘those people.’”

    Those extremists appear to be threatening Trump from the right, possibly considering a move to back Trump’s conspiracy theorist former national security advisor Michael Flynn at the July Republican National Convention. Yvonne Wingett Sanchez and Isaac Arnsdorf of the Washington Post reported Saturday that there has been a revolt against Trump in the Arizona delegation, some of whom apparently worry that Trump has been captured by the “deep state” and is not extreme enough for them.

    The promise to return decision making to the states has always been an attempt to enable a minority to impose its will on the majority, but the Dobbs decision revealed that minority to be so extreme it appears to have engaged, and enraged, people who before it were not paying much attention to politics.

    In the Dobbs decision, Alito wrote: “Our decision returns the issue of abortion to [state] legislative bodies, and it allows women on both sides of the abortion issue to seek to affect the legislative process by influencing public opinion, lobbying legislators, voting, and running for office. Women are not without electoral or political power.”

    Amen.

    _____________________________________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
  • Options
    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,603
     June 25, 2024 (Tuesday)

    These days, reality is undermining the political power of the mythological image of the American cowboy. In the years after World War II, that image helped to sell the idea that a government that regulated business, provided a basic safety net, promoted infrastructure, and protected civil rights for Black and Brown Americans and for women was cruising perilously close to communism. The cowboy image suggested that a true American was an individualist man who worked hard to provide for and to protect his homebound wife and children, with a gun if necessary, and wanted only for the government to leave him and his business alone.

    The cowboy image dominated television in the years after the Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown v. Board decision, first with shows like Bonanza, Gunsmoke, and Rawhide showing cowboys imposing order on their surroundings and then, by 1974, with Little House on the Prairie showing a world in which “Pa” Ingalls—played by the same actor who had played Little Joe from Bonanza—was a doting father who provided paternal care and wholesome guidance to his wife and daughters.

    But that image was never based in reality. Constructed during Reconstruction after the Civil War to stand against government protection of Black rights, it was always a political narrative. In reality, the federal government provided more aid to the American West than to any other region.

    Success in the American West depended as much on access to capital as it did in the American East, and western entrepreneurs struggled constantly against rich men monopolizing resources and political power, just as in the East. The wages, dangers, and upward mobility of cowboys, miners, and other western wage workers paralleled those of urban workers in the same period. Western women provided the kinship ties that facilitated trade in the region, and they—including the Ingalls girls, on whose income Pa’s family depended—worked outside the home for wages.

    UCLA law professor Adam Winkler explained that “[g]uns were widespread on the frontier, but so was gun regulation.… Wild West lawmen took gun control seriously and frequently arrested people who violated their town’s gun control laws.” Political scientist Pierre Atlas noted that famous frontier town Dodge City, Kansas, prohibited guns altogether.

    Modern-day Americans could embrace the cowboy myth so long as our laws addressed conditions in the real world. But as extremist lawmakers and judges have removed those guardrails by legislating around ideology rather than reality—incidentally, the very scenario true political conservatism was designed to avoid—they have ushered in conditions that are badly hurting Americans. This moment in our history feels chaotic in part because the gulf between reality and image can no longer be hidden with divisive rhetoric, and ordinary Americans are reasserting their right to laws that protect equality, community, and opportunity.

    A study published yesterday in the pediatrics journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA Pediatrics) shows that the idea of returning women to roles as wives and mothers by banning abortion has, in Texas, driven infant death rates 12.9% higher. The rest of the country saw an increase of 1.8%. Infant deaths from congenital anomalies increased almost 23% in Texas while they decreased for the rest of the nation, showing that the abortion ban is forcing women to carry to term fetuses that could not survive.

    When the Texas ban went into effect, Governor Greg Abbott said there was no need to make an exception for rape, because Texas was going to “eliminate all rapists from the streets of Texas.” Instead, in a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers estimated that in the 16 months after the Texas ban, 26,313 rape-related pregnancies occurred in the state.

    Earlier this month, the Southern Baptist Convention voted to oppose in vitro fertilization (IVF), and today, Representative Matt Rosendale (R-MT) announced he would file an amendment to the 2025 defense appropriations bill stripping it of funding for IVF, saying “the practice of IVF is morally wrong.”

    Trump advisors behind Project 2025 want to enforce the 1873 Comstock Law to ban medical abortion and contraception nationally. Yesterday the Biden-Harris campaign released a tape in which Jeff Durbin, a Trump ally who is pastor of the Apologia Church in Tempe, Arizona, and the founder and head of End Abortion Now, says that abortion is murder and those who practice it deserve execution: “You forfeit your right to live.”

    But for Americans, particularly American women, reality trumps the Republicans’ fantasy, and they are demanding that their right to reproductive health care be protected. Liz Crampton of Politico noted that yesterday, on the second anniversary of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that protected abortion rights, Republicans were silent. House speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) didn’t post about it on social media, those vying to be Trump’s vice-presidential pick kept quiet, and Trump himself didn’t boast about it (although his former vice president Mike Pence did say in a National Review op-ed that the Dobbs decision had made the U.S. “a more compassionate nation”).

    Republicans in Louisiana, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Texas determined to reestablish patriarchy have now taken on the cause of eliminating no-fault divorce. Eric Berger of The Guardian explains that right-wing opponents of no-fault divorce note that women, especially educated, self-supporting women, file for divorce more often than men and that no-fault divorce means men can’t fight it. They claim divorce hurts families and, by extension, society.  

    Berger points out that it was then–California governor Ronald Reagan, who had been divorced, who signed the nation’s first no-fault divorce law in 1969. Other states followed, with New York last in 2010. Berger also notes that in states that approved no-fault divorce, domestic violence rates dropped about 30%, the number of women killed by an intimate partner fell by 10%, and women’s deaths by suicide dropped by 8–16%. It’s hard to imagine American voters are going to embrace an end to no-fault divorce.

    Constructing a society around the myth of free individual gun possession has also met reality. Today, for the first time in U.S. history, Surgeon General Doctor Vivek Murthy issued a Surgeon General's Advisory calling firearm violence a public health crisis. Guns have now outpaced car accidents and drug overdoses to become the number one cause of death for American children and adolescents. That violence ripples outward to those injured, to witnesses, and to traumatized communities. Fifty-four percent of American adults say they or a family member have experienced a gun incident.

    “All of us, regardless of our background or beliefs, want to live in a world that is safe for us and our children,” Dr. Murthy said.

    The national mood about gun violence appears to be changing. A trustee for a U.S. bankruptcy court has said they will liquidate the assets of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’s Free Speech Systems, the media platform for his InfoWars website, in order to begin to pay some of the $1.5 billion he owes to family members of the victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. The shooting took the lives of 26 people, 20 of them children between the ages of six and seven, but Jones told his audience that the event was a hoax designed to push gun safety laws. The victims’ families successfully sued Jones for defamation.   

    Another part of the individualist myth that has met reality is that cutting taxes and slashing business regulation would boost the economy. Yesterday the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget compared the $8.4 trillion debt approved by Trump to the $4.3 trillion approved by Biden. It estimated Trump’s tax cuts for the rich and corporations cost $4.8 trillion, which as Allison Gill of Mueller, She Wrote pointed out, is more than the $4.3 trillion cost of Biden’s “Infrastructure bill, Inflation Reduction Act, American Rescue Plan, CHIPs [and Science Act], PACT [expanding health benefits to veterans exposed to toxic substances and burn pits], student debt forgiveness, and funding the IRS COMBINED.” Under Trump, Congress also passed $3.6 trillion in COVID relief.

    On the other side of the ledger, Trump’s tariffs relieved only about $443 billion, while Biden’s Fiscal Responsibility Act, Inflation Reduction Act, and deficit-reducing executive actions relieved close to $2 trillion in debt.

    The Biden administration has returned to the idea of leveling the nation’s economic playing field and has invested in manufacturing and clean energy. A new study released yesterday by Climate Power, which has been tracking clean energy jobs in the private sector, says that U.S. companies have added “more than 312,900 new clean energy jobs for electricians, mechanics, construction workers, technicians, support staff, and many others” since Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act in August 2022.

    On June 11, David Lynch reported in the Washington Post that U.S. economic growth has been so strong this year that it is helping to stabilize the global economy, while Hans Nichols of Axios reported today that 16 Nobel prize–winning economists have warned that Trump’s economic plans will spike inflation and hurt the global economy. "While each of us has different views on the particulars of various economic policies,” the economists wrote, “we all agree that Joe Biden's economic agenda is vastly superior to Donald Trump.”

    Restoring reality to the center of our political debates would protect the rights stolen from us by ideologues in government. Curiously, it would also do a better job than the cowboy myth of reflecting real people and communities in the historic American West.

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    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,603
      June 26, 2024 (Wednesday)

    Today President Joe Biden pardoned more than 2000 former military personnel who had been convicted of engaging in consensual sex under a gay sex ban in the military that has since been repealed. People covered under the pardon can apply to have their military discharges corrected and to recover the pay and benefits the convictions cost them. “[M]aintaining the finest fighting force in the world…means making sure that every member of our military feels safe and respected,” Biden said in a statement.

    Biden said he was “righting an historic wrong.” “This is about dignity, decency, and ensuring the culture of our Armed Forces reflect the values that make us an exceptional nation,” he said.

    On this date in 2015, the Supreme Court handed down the Obergefell v. Hodges decision, which said that states must license and recognize same-sex marriage because of the Fourteenth Amendment’s requirement that citizens must have the equal protection of the laws and cannot be deprived of rights without due process of the laws.  

    In the New York Times today, Kate Zernike explained how the public conversations about abortion have shifted in the two years since the Supreme Court overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that recognized the constitutional right to abortion. The state bans that went into place have illustrated that abortion is indeed healthcare, as people suffering miscarriages have been unable to obtain the imperative medical care they need.

    Zernike quoted pollster Tresa Undem, who estimated that before the 2022 Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision overturned Roe, less than 15% of Americans thought that abortion was relevant to them personally. Now, though, Undem said, “it’s about pregnancy, and everybody knows someone who had a baby or wants to have a baby or might get pregnant. It’s profoundly personal to a majority of the public.”

    In the three weeks since Biden announced restrictions on asylum applications for undocumented immigrants, the number of people trying to cross the border has dropped more than 40% to its lowest level since he took office. This information will likely come up in tomorrow’s scheduled debate between the president and presumptive Republican nominee Trump, who has made it clear he intends to accuse the president of promoting immigration policies that bring criminals into the United States.

    Former representative Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), a military veteran who joined the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol and who has fiercely criticized Trump, today endorsed Biden for president.

    In a video, Kinzinger said: “[W]hile I certainly don’t agree with President Biden on everything, and I never thought I’d be endorsing a Democrat for president, I know that he will always protect the very thing that makes America the best country in the world: our democracy. Donald Trump poses a direct threat to every fundamental American value. He doesn’t care about our country. He doesn’t care about you. He only cares about himself. And he’ll hurt anyone or anything in pursuit of power.”

    On CNN tonight, Georgia governor Brian Kemp told Kaitlan Collins he did not vote for Trump in his state’s Republican primary, although he said he would “support the ticket” in November so that Georgia would remain in Republican hands. It was an interesting statement, since he could easily have deflected the question or simply said he voted for Trump if he cared about avoiding Trump’s wrath. But he appeared not to care, suggesting that Trump’s power even with prominent Republicans is slipping.

    Two Republican voters from Pennsylvania told MSNBC tonight that they are voting for Biden. When asked whether they think there is “a silent Biden voter out there,” one said, “I do. I know there is…. We don’t want to talk about it, but we’re all going to vote for Joe Biden.”

    By a 6–3 vote, the Supreme Court today blessed the practice of taking “gratuities” as a gift for past behavior by an official, distinguishing them from “bribes,” which require proof that there was an illegal deal in place. The case involved a former mayor from Indiana who helped a local truck dealership win $1.1 million in city contracts and then asked for and received $13,000 from the dealership’s owners. The mayor was found guilty of violating a federal anti-corruption law that prohibits state and local officials from taking gifts worth more than $5,000 from someone the official had helped to land lucrative government business.

    For the majority, Justice Brett Kavanaugh suggested that the law prohibited officials from accepting “gift cards, lunches, plaques, books, framed photos or the like” in thanks for an official’s help, although David G. Savage of the Los Angeles Times noted that the law came into play only when the gift was worth more than $5,000.

    Savage pointed out that as the federal law in question covers about 20 million state and local officials, the decision could have wide impact. This decision that officials can accept “gifts” so long as they are not “bribes” might have something to do with the fact that Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito have accepted significant gifts from donors—Thomas’s count is upward of $4 million—and it doesn’t relieve the sense that this Supreme Court, with its three right-wing Trump-appointed justices, is untrustworthy.

    Writing for justices Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, and herself, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson said, “Officials who use their public positions for private gain threaten the integrity of our most important institutions.”

    Yesterday, House Republicans released draft legislation to fund the Justice Department and the Commerce Departments for fiscal year 2025, which starts October 1. They propose to slash nearly a billion dollars from the Department of Justice in retaliation for its bringing cases against Trump, and both to cut funding for the FBI and to block the construction of its new headquarters. Attorney General Merrick Garland called the cuts “unacceptable” and said that the “effort to defund the Justice Department and its essential law enforcement functions will make our fight against violent crime all the more difficult.”

    In a secret vote yesterday  by a House panel that fell along party lines, House Republicans also agreed to say that the last Congress’s construction of the January 6th committee was invalid and illegal. This enabled them to back a last-ditch effort by Trump ally Steve Bannon to stay out of jail. After Bannon refused to respond to the committee’s subpoena for documents and testimony about the January 6 attack, a jury found him guilty of being in contempt of Congress.

    Today, Representative Barry Loudermilk (R-GA) filed a brief with the Supreme Court saying that Bannon was right to ignore the subpoena because the committee was illegally organized. Politico’s Kyle Cheney pointed out that the lawyer for the brief is not a House lawyer but rather comes from America First Legal, a public interest organization put together by Trump loyalist Stephen Miller to challenge the legal efforts to rein in Trump’s orders when in office.

    Finally, Milwaukee journalist Dan Shafer reported in The Recombobulation Area today that event bookings expected for the week of the Republican National Convention, which is set to begin on July 15, four days after Judge Juan Merchan sentences Trump for his 34 criminal convictions, have not materialized.

    Estimates were that the convention would bring $200 million in economic impact to Milwaukee, but that now appears to be optimistic. “[This is] certainly nothing like we were told or promised,” chef Gregory León told Shafer. With locals staying home to avoid the downtown area during the convention, “[i]f the [reservation] book stays the way it is, we’re not going to make enough money to cover costs.”

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    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,603
      June 27, 2024 (Thursday)

    Tonight was the first debate between President Joe Biden and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, and by far the most striking thing about the debate was the overwhelming focus among pundits immediately afterward about Biden’s appearance and soft, hoarse voice as he rattled off statistics and events. Virtually unmentioned was the fact that Trump lied and rambled incoherently, ignored questions to say whatever he wanted; refused to acknowledge the events of January 6, 2021; and refused to commit to accepting the result of the 2024 presidential election, finally saying he would accept it only if it met his standards for fairness.

    Immediately after the debate, there were calls for Biden to drop out of the race, but aside from the fact that the only time a presidential candidate has ever done that—in 1968—it threw the race into utter confusion and the president’s party lost, Biden needed to demonstrate that his mental capacity is strong in order to push back on the Republicans’ insistence that he is incapable of being president. That, he did, thoroughly. Biden began with a weak start but hit his stride as the evening wore on. Indeed, he covered his bases too thoroughly, listing the many accomplishments of his administration in such a hurry that he was sometimes hard to understand.

    In contrast, Trump came out strong but faded and became less coherent over time. His entire performance was either lies or rambling non-sequiturs. He lied so incessantly throughout the evening that it took CNN’s fact-checker Daniel Dale almost three minutes, speaking quickly, to get through the list.

    Trump said that some Democratic states allow people to execute babies after they’re born and that every legal scholar wanted Roe v. Wade overturned—both fantastical lies. He said that the deficit is at its highest level ever and that the U.S. trade deficit is at its highest ever: both of those things happened during his administration. He lied that there were no terrorist attacks during his presidency; there were many. He said that Biden wants to quadruple people’s taxes—this is “pure fiction,” according to Dale—and lied that his tax cuts paid for themselves; they have, in fact, added trillions of dollars to the national debt.

    Dale went on: Trump lied that the U.S. has provided more aid to Ukraine than Europe has when it’s the other way around, and he was off by close to $100 billion when he named the amount the U.S. has provided to Ukraine. He was off by millions when he talked about how many migrants have crossed the border under Biden, and falsely claimed that some of Biden’s policies—like funding historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and reducing the price of insulin to $35 a month—were his own accomplishments.

    There is no point in going on, because virtually everything he said was a lie. As Jake Lahut of the Daily Beast recorded, he also was all over the map. “On January 6,” Trump said, “we had a great border.” To explain how he would combat opioid addiction, he veered off into talking points about immigration and said his administration “bought the best dog.” He boasted about acing a cognitive test and that he had just recently won two golf club tournaments without mentioning that they were at his own golf courses. “To do that, you have to be quite smart and you have to be able to hit the ball a long way,” he said. “I can do it.”

    As Lahut recorded, Trump said this: “Clean water and air. We had it. We had the H2O best numbers ever, and we were using all forms of energy during my 4 years. Best environmental numbers ever, they gave me the statistic [sic.] before I walked on stage actually.”

    Trump also directly accused Biden of his own failings and claimed Biden’s own strengths, saying, for example, that Biden, who has enacted the most sweeping legislation of any president since at least Lyndon Johnson, couldn’t get anything done while he, who accomplished only tax cuts, was more effective. He responded to the calling out of his own criminal convictions by saying that Biden “could be a convicted felon,” and falsely stating: “This man is a criminal.” And, repeatedly, Trump called America a “failing nation” and described it as a hellscape.

    It went on and on, and that was the point. This was not a debate. It was Trump using a technique that actually has a formal name, the Gish gallop, although I suspect he comes by it naturally. It’s a rhetorical technique in which someone throws out a fast string of lies, non-sequiturs, and specious arguments, so many that it is impossible to fact-check or rebut them in the amount of time it took to say them. Trying to figure out how to respond makes the opponent look confused, because they don’t know where to start grappling with the flood that has just hit them.

    It is a form of gaslighting, and it is especially effective on someone with a stutter, as Biden has. It is similar to what Trump did to Biden during a debate in 2020. In that case, though, the lack of muting on the mics left Biden simply saying: “Will you shut up, man?” a comment that resonated with the audience. Giving Biden the enforced space to answer by killing the mic of the person not speaking tonight actually made the technique more effective.

    There are ways to combat the Gish gallop—by calling it out for what it is, among other ways—but Biden retreated to trying to give the three pieces of evidence that established his own credentials on the point at hand. His command of those points was notable, but the difference between how he sounded at the debate and how he sounded on stage at a rally in Raleigh, North Carolina, just an hour afterward suggested that the technique worked on him.

    That’s not ideal, but as Monique Pressley put it, “The proof of Biden’s ability to run the country is the fact that he is running it. Successfully. Not a debate performance against a pathological lying sociopath.”

    A much bigger deal is what it says that the television media and pundits so completely bought into Trump’s performance. They appear to have accepted Trump’s framing of the event—that he is dominant—so fully that the fact Trump unleashed a flood of lies and non-sequiturs simply didn’t register. And, since the format established that the CNN journalists running the debate did not challenge anything either candidate said, and Dale’s fact-checking spot came long after the debate ended, the takeaway of the event was a focus on Biden’s age rather than on Trump’s inability to tell the truth or form a coherent thought.

    At the end of the evening, pundits were calling not for Trump—a man liable for sexual assault and business fraud, convicted of 34 felonies, under three other indictments, who lied pathologically—to step down, but for Biden to step down…because he looked and sounded old. At 81, Biden is indeed old, but that does not distinguish him much from Trump, who is 78 and whose inability to answer a question should raise concerns about his mental acuity.

    About the effect of tonight’s events, former Republican operative Stuart Stevens warned: “Don't day trade politics. It's a sucker's game. A guy from Queens out on bail bragged about overturning Roe v. Wade, said in public he didn't have sex with a porn star, defended tax cuts for billionaires, defended Jan. 6th. and called America the worst country in the world. That guy isn't going to win this race.”

    Trump will clearly have pleased his base tonight, but Stevens is right to urge people to take a longer view. It’s not clear whether Trump or Biden picked up or lost votes; different polls gave the win to each, and it’s far too early to know how that will shake out over time.

    Of far more lasting importance than this one night is the clear evidence that stage performance has trumped substance in political coverage in our era. Nine years after Trump launched his first campaign, the media continues to let him call the shots.

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    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,603
      June 28, 2024 (Friday)

    There is huge news today: in the case of Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo, the Supreme Court overturned the Chevron defense doctrine that underpins the administrative state.

    I am putting that down as a marker because I’ve had a very busy week of travel and writing (the paperback edition of Democracy Awakening is coming out in October and I am working on a new afterword) and I am just too tired to cover it and its history well tonight.

    Instead, tonight I want to make a note of something that has been nagging at me for weeks now: Trump’s focus on 32-year-old Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who was arrested by Russian officers in March 2023 and is currently on trial for the trumped-up charge of espionage. The State Department considers him “wrongfully detained,” a rare designation indicating that the person is being held by a hostile government as a bargaining chip. That designation means the U.S. government will do all it can to secure his release.

    At least three times now, Trump has interfered with those negotiations by vowing that Russian president Vladimir Putin will release Gershkovich for him and him alone. He said it in last night’s CNN debacle, where he also made a big deal out of the idea that Putin will do it as a favor, without an exchange of money.  

    He said something else last night in his slurry of words that jumped out. Somewhere in his discussion of Putin’s invasion of eastern Ukraine in February 2022, Trump said: “Putin saw that, he said, you know what, I think we’re going to go in and maybe take my—this was his dream. I talked to him about it, his dream.”

    Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s 2019 report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election explained that Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager and then conduit to Russian operatives, in summer 2016 “discussed a plan to resolve the ongoing political problems in Ukraine by creating an autonomous republic in its more industrialized eastern region of Donbas, and having [Viktor] Yanukovych, the Ukrainian President ousted in 2014, elected to head that republic.”

    Manafort had helped to get the pro-Russian oligarch Yanukovych into office, and when Yanukovych fled to Russia after the Ukrainian people threw him out, Manafort was left unemployed and in debt to other oligarchs. When he went to work for Trump, for free, he promptly wrote to his partner Konstantin Kilimnik, whom the Republican-dominated Senate Intelligence Committee identified in 2020 as a Russian operative, asking how “we” could use the appointment “to get whole,” and made sure that the Russian oligarch to whom he owed the most money knew about his close connection with the Trump campaign (p. 135).
     
    The Mueller Report continued: “That plan, Manafort later acknowledged, constituted a ‘backdoor’ means for Russia to control eastern Ukraine” (p. 140). The region that Putin wanted was the country’s industrial heartland. He was offering a “peace” plan that carved off much of Ukraine and made it subservient to him. This was the dead opposite of U.S. policy for a free and united Ukraine, and there was no chance that former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, who was running for the presidency against Trump, would stand for it. But if only Trump were elected….

    And, in November 2016, he was.

    According to the Republican-dominated Senate Intelligence Committee, Manafort’s partner and Russian operative Kilimnick wrote that "[a]ll that is required to start the process is a very minor 'wink' (or slight push) from D[onald] T[rump] saying 'he wants peace in Ukraine and Donbass back in Ukraine' and a decision to be a 'special representative' and manage this process." Following that, Kilimnik suggested that Manafort ‘could start the process and within 10 days visit Russia ([Yanukovych] guarantees your reception at the very top level, cutting through all the bullsh*t and getting down to business), Ukraine, and key EU capitals.’ The email also suggested that once then–Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko understood this ‘message’ from the United States, the process ‘will go very fast and DT could have peace in Ukraine basically within a few months after inauguration’” (p. 99).

    According to the Senate Intelligence Committee, the men continued to work on what they called the “Mariupol Plan” at least until 2018.

    In last night’s debate, Trump insisted that Putin never would have invaded Ukraine on his watch (although Putin in fact continued his 2014 assault during Trump’s term, and Trump tried to withhold support for Ukraine).

    After Russia invaded Ukraine again in 2022, Jim Rutenberg published a terrific and thorough review of this history in the New York Times Magazine, pointing out that Putin’s attack on Ukraine looked different with this history behind it. Once Biden took office in 2021, the many efforts of the people around Trump, including most obviously Rudy Giuliani, to influence Ukrainian politics through their ties to the White House were over.

    “Thirteen months later,” Rutenberg wrote, “Russian tanks crossed the Ukrainian frontier.” Once his troops were there, Putin claimed he had annexed Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson, two of which were specifically named in the Mariupol Plan, and instituted martial law in them, claiming that the people there had voted to join Russia.   

    Last night, Trump claimed that the Ukrainians are losing the war and described how sad it was that their country is being destroyed (without mentioning that it is Putin’s unprovoked war that is doing that damage). He also significantly exaggerated how much money the U.S. has contributed to Ukraine’s defense.

    That misrepresentation lines up with Putin’s offer of Friday, June 14, 2024, in a “peace proposal” to Ukraine: Ukraine would give up Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson, including far more territory than Putin’s troops occupy, in exchange for a ceasefire. Putin said, “If Kyiv and the Western capitals refuse it, as before, then in the end, that’s their…political and moral responsibility for the continuation of bloodshed.” He also demanded an end to all sanctions and that Ukraine abandon its plan to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). (Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky rejected the plan and noted that there is no reason to think Putin will stop his land grab once his forces regroup.)

    So when Trump last night said about the 2022 invasion, “Putin saw that, he said, you know what, I think we’re going to go in and maybe take my—this was his dream. I talked to him about it, his dream,” it sounded as if he had been in on the Mariupol Plan. And when he talked about how the war needed to end, especially in light of Putin’s recent “peace” plan, it sounded as if perhaps he still is.

    And he promised, yet again, that he and he alone could get Gershkovich released.

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,603
      June 29, 2024 (Saturday)

    There are many things I would like to write, but I am home, finally, after many months on the road, and it has been a long week. I am going to bed.

    Tomorrow, I will be out in my kayak in the place where I took this photograph, no matter what the skies decide to throw at me.

    And after I have gotten my bearings, I will be back in the game.

    Rest well, everyone.

    _____________________________________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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