Auto-Save Draft feature temporarily disabled. Please be sure you manually save your post by selecting "Save Draft" if you have that need.

Letter From An American

167891012»

Comments

  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,576
     March 29, 2021 (Monday)

    Today Derek Chauvin’s trial for the murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, began in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The death of Mr. Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, in Minneapolis, under the knee of police officer Chauvin, who is 45 and white, sparked dramatic civil unrest in the United States. The murder was captured on video by onlookers who tried to intervene as Floyd cried for help, said he couldn’t breathe, called for his mother, and then died.

    Today, prosecutors showed a 9-minute 29-second video of the murder, and told jurors to “believe your eyes.” They presented evidence from a 911 dispatcher who called a supervisor after seeing the event on a police surveillance camera. “Something was not right,” Jena Scurry said. The defense, in contrast, urged jurors to look at the scene in a larger context: the death happened in a part of the city where residents were hostile to officers, so Chauvin was concerned, and Floyd died not from the pressure on his neck but from underlying causes, including drug use.

    In our adversarial justice system, each side tries to present the best case it can. The defense is doing what it is paid to do, that is, to defend the accused. The jury is supposed to remain impartial and be swayed by the evidence. Remember that Boston patriot John Adams famously defended the British soldiers accused of killing five civilians in the Boston Massacre.

    The Chauvin trial is expected to take about a month.

    The other big news today is the coronavirus. The increasing rate of vaccinations appears to be racing against increasing infections to see which will win.

    While the Biden administration is administering vaccines at a pace that seems likely to have us at 200 million vaccines in arms by April 20, Biden’s hundredth day in office, the highly contagious variants of the disease along with loosened restrictions are driving numbers of infections back up again. On Sunday, the average from the previous week for vaccines administered hit 2.7 million a day—an impressive uptick— and today Biden announced that by April 19, more than 90% of Americans over the age of 16 will be eligible for a vaccine and will live within five miles of a vaccination site, including 40,000 pharmacies.

    But the average number of new cases of Covid-19 per day also increased. More than 30 million of us have been infected since the pandemic began. And 549,892 of us have died.

    Today, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, warned that she had a sense of “impending doom” and begged people “to just hold on a little longer,” wear masks, and get vaccinated. President Biden recorded a message urging governors who have gotten rid of mask mandates to reinstate them and to slow down plans to reopen. “Please,” he said. “This is not politics…. Reinstate the mandate if you let it down, and businesses should require masks as well. A failure to take this virus seriously — precisely what got us into this mess in the first place — risks more cases and more deaths.”

    There is, of course, a backstory to the Biden officials’ pleading.

    Just a year ago, on March 29, 2020, then-president Trump backed off from his insistence that the country could reopen for business on Easter Sunday, April 12, perhaps after he heard Dr. Anthony Fauci’s estimate that the nation might suffer as many as 100,000 deaths over the next year from Covid-19—a number that then seemed incredible. On March 29, our coronavirus cases topped 139,000 and at least 2425 people in the United States had died, while health care workers had inadequate protection and few supplies.

    Trump tried to downplay the pandemic as he tried to reopen the nation’s economy, but apparently found some relief in the daily briefings that put him before the television cameras. On this day a year ago, he tweeted: “President Trump is a ratings hit. Since reviving the daily White House briefing Mr. Trump and his coronavirus updates have attracted an average audience of 8.5 million on cable news, roughly the viewership of the season finale of ‘the Bachelor.’ Numbers are continuing to rise…[“] “Because the ‘Ratings’ of my News Conferences etc. are so high, ‘Bachelor Finale, Monday Night Football type numbers’ according to the [New York Times], the Lamestream Media is going CRAZY. ‘Trump is reaching too many people, we must stop him.’ said one lunatic. See you at 5:00 P.M.!”

    Last night, on a CNN documentary titled “COVID WAR: The Pandemic Doctors Speak Out,” Dr. Deborah Birx, a member of Trump’s White House coronavirus response team, said that while the first surge of Covid-19 deaths—about 100,000 Americans—was unavoidable, “[a]ll the rest of them, in my mind, could have been mitigated or decreased substantially.” Birx added: “The majority of the people in the White House did not take this seriously.”

    Birx was not the only former official airing grievances. Brett Giroir, the nation’s coronavirus testing chief under Trump, admitted, “When we said there were millions of tests available, there weren’t…. There were components of the test available, but not the full… deal.” Former director of the CDC Robert Redfield said that Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar personally tried to change scientific reports that the White House didn’t like.

    Today, the Biden administration announced it would investigate the interference of government officials with scientific evidence during the past administration in order to press political points. The Trump administration got rid of researchers who worked on climate change and other issues the administration disliked, ignored studies of chemical dangers, and refused to listen to doctors and public health officials regarding the coronavirus pandemic. The Biden administration hopes to restore faith in the government by emphasizing that it will take the advice of scientists seriously.

    Tonight, the former president released a rambling statement attacking Dr. Birx and Dr. Anthony Fauci, calling them “self-promoters” with “bad instincts and faulty recommendations” that he “almost always overturned” and which would have “led us directly into a COVID caused depression.”

    But Biden has taken the opposite tack Trump did and it is working: 71% of Americans approve of Biden’s handling of the pandemic.

    According to polls, Republican men—Trump’s key demographic-- are reluctant to get the vaccine. A CNN poll says that 92% of Democrats have had the vaccine or plan to get a shot, while 50% of Republicans say they plan to get one. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) today urged Republican men to go ahead and get the shot. He said there is “no good argument not to get the vaccination.”

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,576
      March 30, 2021 (Tuesday)

    It feels like the banking under the Republican Party from the Trump years is starting to erode.

    The murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020, sparked a nationwide fight over police brutality against Black people, with Trump supporters coalescing around the reactionary “Blue Lives Matter” flag. But today’s trial of former law enforcement officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd produced damning evidence from six witnesses, who said they were traumatized by what they saw as Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck until he died.

    Today a federal judge ruled that the non-disclosure agreement the former president required employees to sign is so broad and vague it is unenforceable. There has always been a question of whether public employees can be forced to swear to a vow of secrecy, but Trump’s Department of Justice was willing to try to enforce his NDAs. While Trump’s lawyers say they disagree with the new ruling and are considering an appeal, this ruling opens the door to more tell-all books about what happened inside the White House during the previous administration.  

    Also today, the New York State Court of Appeals ruled that a defamation lawsuit against the former president by former “Apprentice” contestant Summer Zervos could go forward. The suit had been on hold because Trump’s lawyers argued that a sitting president could not face legal action. While two previous courts ruled against him, today’s decision is from the highest court in New York. It opens up the possibility that Trump will face a deposition in which he could be asked, under oath, about sexual assault accusations.  

    On Friday, former president Trump told the Fox News channel that his supporters were “hugging and kissing” the law enforcement officers at the Capitol on January 6, but now two U.S. Capitol Police officers have sued the former president for inflaming the insurrectionists on January 6, nearly leading to their deaths. James Blassingame, who has been on the force for 17 years, and Sidney Hemby, who has served for 11 years, blame Trump for the injuries they suffered defending the Capitol. They note his December 19, 2020, tweet in which he told supporters: “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there. Will be wild!”

    News broke today that Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL), a major Trump supporter, is being investigated by the Department of Justice for traveling with a 17-year-old girl he paid to accompany him. The probe began during the last administration under Attorney General William Barr, and is linked to a political ally of Gaetz’s, Joel Greenberg, a former tax collector in Seminole County, Florida, who last summer was indicted on sex trafficking charges. Greenberg was associated with Trump ally Roger Stone.

    Gaetz has seemed to flounder since this story broke. He gave an interview on personality Tucker Carlson’s show on the Fox News Channel that Carlson himself called “one of the weirdest interviews I’ve ever conducted.” Gaetz’s denial of the story seemed quite carefully worded. Then he suggested that he and his family were victims of an extortion scheme from someone associated with the Department of Justice. He insists the investigation is happening because he is a “well-known outspoken conservative,” but the probe began under the previous president.

    Earlier today, Axios broke the story that Gaetz is considering leaving Congress to take a job at Newsmax, the right-wing news outlet.

    These stories are enough to spell a bad day indeed for supporters of the former president, but there is an even bigger story, broken yesterday by the incomparable Jane Mayer at the New Yorker.

    While Republicans insist that the For the People Act voting rights act, H.R. 1, is a partisan plan, in fact, a leaked conference call from January 8 between a policy advisor to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and leaders of a number of conservative groups showed the participants’ concern that H.R. 1 is quite popular even with Republicans. Across the political spectrum, ordinary Americans especially like its provision to limit the dark money that has flowed into our elections since the 2010 Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission Supreme Court decision, permitting billionaires to buy an election’s outcome.

    In the 2020 federal election cycle, dark-money groups spent more than a billion dollars. More than 654 million came from just fifteen groups, the top of which is connected to McConnell. In February, a Data for Progress poll showed that 68% of likely voters, including 57% of Republicans, like the bill that would staunch the flow of this money.

    To kill the measure, a research director for an advocacy group run by the Koch brothers said that Senate Republicans would have to use “under-the-dome-type strategies.” That is, they would have to leverage congressional rules, like the filibuster, to make sure the bill doesn’t pass.

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,576
     March 31, 2021 (Wednesday)

    President Joe Biden today unveiled a new $2 trillion infrastructure proposal titled The American Jobs Plan. The statement introducing the plan notes that the United States currently ranks 13th in the world for the quality of our infrastructure, and that our public domestic investment as a share of the economy has fallen more than 40% since the 1960s. It calls attention to the fact that our roads and bridges are crumbling and that our electrical grid keeps failing. Too few people have access to affordable housing or to the Internet, while our infrastructure for caregiving—a vital part of our lives—is fragile, it says. It promises to unify and mobilize the country to address climate change and the rise of an autocratic China.

    The plan calls for rebuilding American infrastructure and creating jobs. It provides $115 billion for repairing 10,000 bridges, modernizing 20,000 miles of highways and roads, and building a half a million chargers for electric vehicles. It provides $100 billion for installing broadband across the country and $100 billion to strengthen our electrical grid. It calls for replacing lead pipes in our water supply and provides $213 billion to build affordable housing.

    It will raise wages and benefits for home care workers, secure U.S. supply chains, and train Americans for jobs in the new economy. It will protect workers’ right to organize and bargain collectively, and it will make sure that American goods are shipped on vessels under a U.S. flag, with crews from the U.S.

    The plan addresses climate change and persistent racial injustice. It invests in technology to address the climate crisis and put the U.S. at the forefront of clean energy technology and clean energy jobs. It will invest in technology and innovation at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and work to eliminate gaps in access to innovation grants to communities of color and rural communities.

    To pay for the investment in the country, Biden is proposing an accompanying tax plan, the Made in America Tax Plan, to raise taxes on corporations. If this measure passes, it will pay for the American Jobs Plan in 15 years, and will reduce deficits from then on. Biden wants to roll back former president Trump’s 2017 tax cuts, which slashed corporate taxes. He proposes to set the corporate tax rate at 28%, from its current rate of 21%-- still nowhere near the 35% tax rate before the 2017 tax cuts. He also plans to discourage offshoring of corporations and to enact a minimum tax on a corporation’s “book income” (what they advertise to their investors while telling the government they made far less), and to get rid of subsidies for fossil fuels.

    Biden is making a historic gamble that Americans are tired of the past forty years of austerity and are instead eager for the government to invest in America again. He is also pushing back on the argument that tax cuts are good for the economy. “This is not a plan that tinkers around the edges,” he said yesterday as he introduced it at the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America Pittsburgh Training Center. “It is a once in a generation investment in America unlike anything we've done since we built the interstate highway system and the space race decades ago.”

    Biden’s invocation of the interstate highway system, begun under Republican President Dwight Eisenhower in 1956, was not frivolous. Eisenhower had traveled from Washington, D.C., to San Francisco in 1919 with 72 military vehicles and about 280 officers and enlisted men as part of an army convoy designed to show far-flung communities the military’s new machinery. When the nation’s roads proved so bad that the convoy never averaged more than 10 miles per hour, the journey also illustrated the need for new national roads.

    Entering the White House in 1953, Eisenhower three years later pushed through the $25 billion Federal-Aid Highway Act to build 41,000 miles of road and tie the nation together. The act jump-started the economy not only by providing jobs, but also by creating new markets for new motels, diners, gas stations, and towns along the new routes. The highways were a symbol of what investing in the nation could do for its citizens.

    And invest they did. The top marginal income tax rate during the Eisenhower administration, for incomes over $200,000, was 91%. (Two hundred thousand dollars in 1956 is about $2 million today.) As the country rebuilt itself and helped to rebuild Europe after WWII, the economy boomed. Between 1945 and 1960, the nation’s gross national product jumped 250% from $200 billion to $500 billion. American incomes doubled between 1945 and 1970.

    But men opposed to government regulation and taxation insisted that the postwar system was replacing America’s capitalist economy with socialism. Then the economic stagnation of the 1970s, combined with runaway inflation that thrust people into higher tax brackets without increasing their real buying power, helped to push the idea that tax cuts would feed economic investment. Since 1981, when President Ronald Reagan took office, the idea that tax cuts would bolster economic growth was the orthodoxy that drove politics, and they became the go-to Republican plan for economic growth.

    Experience has proven that tax cuts do not spur growth. Instead, money has moved upward dramatically in the past forty years. The upward thrust of wealth has been especially notable during the pandemic, when U.S. billionaires added more than $1 trillion to their wealth even as the U.S. suffered the sharpest rise in its poverty rate in more than 50 years. By January 2021, the combined fortune of the 660 billionaires in the U.S. had climbed to $4.1 trillion, an increase of more than 38% since the beginning of the pandemic. The fortunes of the wealthiest 15 billionaires increased more than 58%.  

    For their part, Republican lawmakers are blasting Biden’s infrastructure plan as anti-business, a tax-and-spend plan. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said, “It’s called infrastructure, but inside the Trojan horse is going to be more borrowed money and massive tax increases on all the productive parts of our economy.” Former president Trump said: “If this monstrosity is allowed to pass, the result will be more Americans out of work, more families shattered, more factories abandoned, more industries wrecked, and more Main Streets boarded up and closed down.”

    And yet, it is hard to see their objections as anything but the usual pattern of Republican tax cuts that benefit the very wealthy followed by complaints that the Democrats who want to invest in society are racking up deficits. Even before the pandemic, when the economy was strong, Republicans under Trump took on massive debt. In 2017, the national debt was $14.7 trillion; the Congressional Budget Office projected that Trump’s spending and tax cuts even before the pandemic spending would add an extra $10 trillion by 2025.

    The idea of infrastructure spending is popular with Republicans: it enticed the former president over his four years, leading two years ago to a statement from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and then-Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) that they and Trump had agreed on a $2 trillion package with details forthcoming. Yesterday, Representative Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) took to Twitter to celebrate money coming to his state from the American Rescue Plan, appearing to take credit for a law he—and all other Republicans—voted against.

    And polls say that government investment in our country, paid for with taxes on top earners, is popular: a new Morning Consult/Politico poll says that by a two-to-one margin voters prefer a $3 trillion infrastructure bill that includes tax hikes on those who make more than $400,000 a year and corporations to one that does not have those tax hikes.

    Facing Republican obstruction, Biden is also facing complaints from the Congressional Progressive Caucus whose members object that the package doesn’t adequately address climate change. But Biden seems to be betting that Americans of all political stripes will rally to a new politics that invests in the country, including the rural areas that now often vote Republican. Pelosi called the plan “a visionary, once-in-a-century investment in the American people and in America’s future.”

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,576
     April 1, 2021 (Thursday)

    The efforts of Republican state legislators in 43 states to suppress voting have made the rubber of Republicans politics meet the road of reality.

    Republicans are pushing the idea that it is imperative to pass laws to protect the sanctity of the vote because their supporters are concerned that the 2020 election was stolen. But, as observers have pointed out, if they want to reassure their voters that the election was clean, the way to do it would be to tell them the truth: the election wasn’t stolen.

    This reality has been established by Christopher Krebs, the former director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency in the United States Department of Homeland Security whom Trump fired after he said the 2020 election was “the most secure in American history”; by former president Trump’s attorney general William Barr, who said that the Justice Department had found no evidence of widespread voter fraud that would have changed the outcome of the election; and by judges who dismissed more than 50 lawsuits alleging voter fraud.

    Last week, Trump lawyer Sidney Powell claimed in a court filing that “no reasonable person” would believe that her lies about election fraud “were truly statements of fact.”

    And yet, rather than admitting that Democrats Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won the 2020 election fairly, Republicans are claiming that they must relieve supporters’ concerns about the stolen election—a myth they, themselves, have created—by passing legislation that will suppress Democratic votes.

    There seem to be a couple of things at stake here.

    One is that, having riled up Trump supporters by telling them that the election was stolen, Republican leaders can’t very well now back down and admit that they were lying. So they are playing this charade out in the hopes that they can keep Trump supporters energized enough to keep showing up at the polls and to keep voting Republican.

    The other, of course, is that Democratic wins, especially in Georgia, indicate that the Republicans must either change their political positions or get rid of Democratic voters. Since the one seems impossible to them, they are going for the other.

    But the political imperative to get rid of Democratic voters is running headlong into modern America. Not only is 2021 more openly multicultural than the 1890s, when the previous avalanche of voter suppression kept poor people of all races and ethnicities from the polls, but also the people who approve of racial equality have way more economic power than they did a century or more ago.

    Yesterday, more than 70 Black executives wrote a letter urging companies to fight the voter suppression measures under consideration in 43 states. “There is no middle ground here,” said Ken Chenault, the former head of American Express. “You either are for more people voting, or you want to suppress the vote.”

    After complaints that companies had been quiet about the Georgia voter suppression bill, the chief executive officer of Delta Airlines, Ed Bastian, issued a statement calling the new law “unacceptable” and noting that “[t]he entire rationale for this bill was based on a lie: that there was widespread voter fraud in Georgia in the 2020 elections. This is simply not true. Unfortunately, that excuse is being used in states across the nation that are attempting to pass similar legislation to restrict voting rights.” Bastian condemned the “sweeping voting reform act that could make it harder for many Georgians, particularly those in our Black and Brown communities, to exercise their right to vote.” He pledged “to protect and facilitate your precious right to vote.”

    Shortly afterward, the leader of Coca-Cola, James Quincey, followed suit with an interview on CNBC that called the law “unacceptable.”

    After Bastian spoke, Georgia Republicans said they were caught off guard by his opposition. In the Georgia House, Republicans voted to get rid of a tax break on jet fuel that benefits Delta. David Ralston, the leader of the Republican Party in the House said: “They like our public policy when we’re doing things that benefit them,” then added: “You don’t feed a dog that bites your hand. You got to keep that in mind sometimes.”

    That is, Republican lawmakers made it clear they are not legislating in the interest of the public good, but are instead using the law to retaliate against Delta after its chief executive officer criticized their voter suppression law. (The Georgia Senate did not take up the bill before the legislature adjourned.)

    Similarly, Ralston told reporters he was now a Pepsi drinker, seemingly retaliating against Coca-Cola for its own opposition to the law.

    A similar scene played out in Texas, where legislators are considering an even more restrictive bill that tries to end drive-through voting and 24-hour polling places, as well as giving partisan poll watchers more leeway to harass voters, including by recording them on video. Today, American Airlines announced it was “strongly opposed to this bill and others like it.” The company affirmed its support for democracy and called for making it easier, not harder, to vote. “Voting is the hallmark of our democracy, and is the foundation of our great country. We value the democratic process and believe every eligible American should be allowed to exercise their right to vote, no matter which political party or candidate they support.”

    Tonight, the chair of the Dallas County Republican Party, Rodney Anderson, retweeted a statement cheering on the Georgia House for trying to strip Delta of the multimillion dollar tax break for criticizing the state’s voting bill. Then he suggested retaliating against companies that oppose Texas’s proposed voting restrictions by increasing their tax burdens. Within an hour, he had deleted the tweet.

    In the late nineteenth century, southern lawmakers’ calculation that business would support voter suppression efforts would have been accurate. Indeed, southern lawmakers could suppress Black voting in part because business leaders across the country were happy to see poor voters cut out of political power, especially after the alliance movement suggested that farmers and workers might make common cause across race lines to change laws that privileged industry over ordinary Americans. When fourteen southern lawmakers defended their region’s suppression of Black voting in an 1890 book, they dedicated the work to “the businessmen of the North.”

    The reaction of today’s business leaders to new voter suppression measures suggests that the old equation in which businessmen want to get rid of Black and poor voters is no longer so clear. While businesses undoubtedly like preferential treatment, they now answer to a broader constituency than they did a century or more ago, and that constituency does not necessarily support voter suppression. Today, Brad Smith, president of Microsoft, which is developing a hub in Atlanta, took a stand against the new Georgia election law. He wrote: “We hope that companies will come together and make clear that a healthy business requires a healthy community. And a healthy community requires that everyone have the right to vote conveniently, safely, and securely.”

    In 1890, southern white leaders promised the North that voter suppression would make the South bloom. They were wrong: by concentrating wealth and power among a few white leaders, it kept the South mired in poverty for at least two generations. Rejecting voter suppression this time around could write an entirely different story.

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,576
     April 2, 2021 (Friday)

    I spent all day writing only to emerge tonight to a flood of news.

    Some of it is tragic but seems random: a man apparently drove a car into a barricade near the White House, injuring two Capitol Police officers before hitting the barrier. He got out of the car with a knife, and police officers shot him when he did not respond to their commands. He died. So did one of the Capitol Police officers, an 18-year veteran of the force, Officer William “Billy” Evans. The assailant has been identified as 25-year-old Noah Green of Indiana, and he appears to have feared that the CIA and the FBI were targeting him with mind control.

    Other news seems to be about rebuilding the nation from the troubles of the previous administration: President Joe Biden had a 30-40 minute phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in which Biden reaffirmed U.S. support for Ukraine’s burgeoning democracy as Russia builds up troops in the region. Former president Trump soured the U.S. relationship with Ukraine when he tried to get Zelenskyy to announce an investigation into Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s son, to discredit the man he expected—correctly—to be his main rival in the 2020 presidential election, before Trump would release money Ukraine needed to defend itself against Russia.

    Also today, the U.S. and Iran agreed to talk again about the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the nuclear deal that Trump abandoned, to limit Iran’s program of enriching uranium that could be used for a nuclear weapon. With our abandonment of JCPOA, Iran resumed elements of its enrichment program. Both sides are hoping to make headway on a new deal before Iran’s presidential election in June.

    The United States has also lifted sanctions the Trump administration had imposed on the top prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, after she began an investigation into U.S. forces in Afghanistan for alleged war crimes. The U.S. is not a member of the court, and the Biden administration says it disagrees strongly with the court’s actions but wants to address those concerns through engagement rather than sanctions.

    In a new indictment yesterday, prosecutors revealed that the founder of the Oath Keepers, Stewart Rhodes, his deputy, and three members of the far-right group who acted as guards for Trump loyalist Roger Stone exchanged 19 phone calls over three hours during the January 6 attack on the Capitol. The indictment indicates that federal officials have a very clear timeline of the events of that day.

    The trial of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, continues. Today Lt. Richard Zimmerman, the head of the Minneapolis police department’s homicide division, testified that kneeling on Floyd’s neck while he was handcuffed, as Chavin did, was “totally unnecessary,” and that the officers should “absolutely” have stopped restraining Floyd once he was in handcuffs, as that position on its own makes it hard to breathe.

    And then there are the ways in which the country appears to be roaring back from the low point of the past year. Today U.S. healthcare professionals put almost 4 million shots into arms, bringing our daily average for the past week to almost 3 million. Nearly 40% of all adults in the U.S. have had at least one dose of the vaccine. And yet, coronavirus infections are rising again, spurred by new, highly contagious variants of the virus into areas where safety precautions have been relaxed. The seven-day average of new cases is more than 62,000 cases a day, with just below 900 deaths a day.

    The Labor Department today said that the U.S. added 916,000 jobs in March, the best job growth since last August, dropping the unemployment rate to 6%. This is excellent news, but we still have 8.4 million fewer jobs than we had in February 2020, before the pandemic.

    And then there is Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who is at the center of a scandal which includes pretty much everything: women, girls, state lines, drugs, cash, fake IDs, and so on. Where it will all end up is entirely unclear, but it is notable that the Fox News Channel, where Gaetz has been a regular, made a point of stating that it has “no interest” in hiring Gaetz. Only Representatives Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) have spoken out to defend Gaetz, and both of them have troubles in their own backgrounds.

    But the lasting story today is the one that will hang over everything until it is resolved: the attempt of Republican legislators in 43 states to suppress voting with what are now 361 voter suppression bills across the country.

    Today Major League Baseball announced it was pulling the 2021 All-Star Game and the MLB draft from Georgia in response to the state’s new voter suppression law, passed last week. The announcement drew fury from Republican officials.

    They attacked MLB’s move by as a product of “cancel culture and woke political activists.” Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and Georgia House Speaker David Ralston released a statement blaming “this attack on our state” on President Biden and voting rights activist Stacey Abrams and insisting that the bill in fact expands, rather than contracts, the right to vote. Ralston said that “Stacey Abrams’ leftist lies have stolen the All-Star Game from Georgia…. But Georgia will not be bullied by socialists and their sympathizers.”

    Republican politicians also piled on at the national level. Representative Buddy Carter (R-GA) tweeted that MLB was “[t]otally caving to the lies of the Left” and called for a baseball boycott. Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) called it “a cowardly boycott based on a lie.” Then Representative Jeff Duncan (R-SC) called for Congress to retaliate against MLB with a law to remove MLB’s antitrust exception. The former president urged his supporters to “boycott baseball” and the companies that do not support Georgia’s new voter suppression bill.

    But journalists Nick Corasaniti and Reid J. Epstein of the New York Times today reviewed the new 98-page Georgia voting law and had one primary takeaway: “The Republican legislature and governor have made a breathtaking assertion of partisan power in elections, making absentee voting harder and creating restrictions and complications in the wake of narrow losses to Democrats.” Sixteen key provisions hamper the right to vote, especially in the urban and suburban counties that vote Democratic, or take power away from state and local election officials—like the secretary of state, who refused to throw the election to Trump in 2020—and give it to partisan legislators.

    If it’s true that the Georgia law is no big deal, Democracy Docket founder and election law defender Marc Elias asked, “why are three separate Republican Party Committees spending money intervening in court to defend it—claiming that if the law is struck down it will disadvantage the [Republicans] in elections?”

    MLB’s decision was actually not prompted by Stacey Abrams, who rejected calls for a boycott and urged companies not to leave the state but to stay and fight for voting rights. She tweeted that she was “disappointed” that MLB would move the All-Star Game “but proud of their stance on voting rights.”

    Former House Speaker John Boehner, who presided over the House during the Republican wave of 2010, published a preview of his forthcoming book that makes some sense of the Republican attempt to divert attention to Abrams. He says that the rise of the internet meant that by 2010, Republican lawmakers were taking their orders from internet media websites and the Fox News Channel, their only aim to keep viewers engaged and cash flowing.

    The Republican focus on media, rather than policy, has mushroomed until lawmakers are now reduced to talking about Dr. Seuss and the Potato Head clan rather than answering the needs of voters, with no policy besides “owning the libs.”

    And now they are trying to pin the decisions of MLB on the “socialist” Stacey Abrams, a voting-rights advocate, rather than on the Georgia Republican legislature’s open attempt to undermine democracy.

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,576
     April 3, 2021 (Saturday)

    As winter gives way to spring, happy Easter to those who celebrate.

    [photo "Spring," by Peter Ralston]

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,576
     April 4, 2021 (Sunday)

    The Republican outrage over Major League Baseball moving the All-Star game out of Georgia after the passage of the state’s new voter suppression law reveals a bigger crisis in American democracy: the mechanics of our current system do not reflect the will of the majority.

    Consumer-driven corporate America is increasingly throwing its weight against the new voter suppression measures across the country. While MLB and Coca-Cola are out front on the new Georgia voting law, American Airlines, Microsoft, and Dell are all opposing the new Texas voter restriction measures. These corporations are focused on those Americans with buying power, and on those they predict will have that buying power going forward. When they take a stand against voter suppression laws, they are making a bet that the future of America is moving away from the Republicans toward a more inclusive society.

    They have drawn the fury of current Republican lawmakers, especially those in Georgia, who are insisting that these corporate decisions are part of a culture war in which Democrats are pressuring corporate leaders to “cancel” things with which they disagree. But MLB is not known as a progressive league. Its fanbase is primarily White and does not tend to lean left. The players were not involved in MLB’s decision to move the All-Star game out of Atlanta, a decision that will cost Georgia about $100 million. Nonetheless, former president Trump yesterday called for his supporters to boycott “Major League Baseball, Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines, JPMorgan Chase, ViacomCBS, Citigroup, Cisco, UPS and Merck,” all companies on the record against the new voter suppression bills.

    The emphasis of corporate America on what its directors think the majority of its consumers want shows the same sort of disconnect national polls reveal. Americans as a whole do not like the policies of current-day Republican lawmakers. Seventy-seven percent of us like the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, and yet not a single Republican voted for it. Eighty-four percent of us like background checks for gun purchases, and yet that policy is anathema to Republicans.

    Seventy-nine percent of us want the government to fix our roads, bridges, railroads, and ports. Seventy-one percent of us want the government to make sure we all have high-speed internet. Sixty-eight percent of us want the government to replace our lead pipes, the same percentage as people who want the government to support renewable energy with tax credits. Sixty-four percent of us want to pay for these things by increasing taxes on corporations and big businesses.

    Republican lawmakers oppose all of these popular measures.

    Because our political system is currently skewed toward the Republican Party, its members’ opposition in Congress is far more powerful than it is on the ground. Because of gerrymandering, Democratic candidates in 2020 defeated their Republican opponents by 3.1 percentage points nationally and yet lost a dozen seats in the House of Representatives.

    The Senate is even less fairly representative. It is currently divided evenly, with 50 Republicans and 50 Democrats (technically, 48 Democrats and 2 Independents who caucus with the Democrats). But the 50 Democrats represent 41.5 million more people than the Republicans do (the U.S. has a population of about 328 million).

    That Republican minority can currently stop all legislation other than budget bills and judicial appointments through the process known as the filibuster, which forces 60 members of the Senate to agree to a bill before it can move forward.

    As current-day Republican lawmakers fall farther out of sync with what the majority of Americans want, they have turned to the courts to shore up their vision of a world in which government cannot regulate business, protect civil rights, or provide a basic social safety net, but can enforce rules popular with evangelical religious practitioners (although evangelical religion is also on the wane, apparently in part because of its political partisanship). “By legislating from the bench, Republicans dodge accountability for unpopular policies,” writes Ian Millhiser in a terrific piece in the New York Times on March 30. “Meanwhile, the real power is held by Republican judges who serve for life — and therefore do not need to worry about whether their decisions enjoy public support.”

    And yet, the party is nervous enough about its eroding power base that a Republican-aligned group has launched an initiative called the “American Culture Project,” intending to redirect the “cultural narrative” that its organizers believe “the left” now controls with “cancel culture” and “woke supremacy.” Set up as a social welfare organization, the American Culture Project does not have to disclose its donors or pay federal income taxes. Through ads on Facebook and other platforms, it hopes to swing voters to the Republicans; it is organized in at least five states-- Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, and Virginia—under names like “Arise Ohio,” “Stand Up Florida,” and “Mighty Michigan.”

    A fundraising email shared with Isaac Stanley-Becker of the Washington Post, who broke the story, says, “We are building assets to shape and frame the political field in advance of the 2022 election and beyond….  [Y]our support of our outreach can be the difference between the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate staying under control of the Democrats or shifting back to pro-freedom Republican majorities.”

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,576
     April 5, 2021 (Monday)

    For people sick of news, there is nothing happening that cannot wait, so tonight’s letter is a good one to skip.

    Otherwise, there are lots of developing stories today. Top of the list is the story of Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who is implicated in what appears to be a significant sex scandal involving underage girls.

    Running a close second is the story Shane Goldmacher at the New York Times broke this weekend: in the closing days of the 2020 election season, the Trump campaign scammed supporters out of more than $122 million by tricking them into “recurring” donations. The campaign had to refund those donations after the election, and it apparently did so by using money raised after the election by asking for funds to challenge the election results. In effect, supporters unknowingly made a no-interest loan to the campaign.

    Today’s overarching story is connected to this one. It is the same as yesterday’s big story, and the day before that, reaching on backward until the 2020 election. Republican Party leaders continue to insist, without evidence, that former president Donald Trump won the 2020 election and that Democrats stole it from him through voter fraud. A new Reuters/Ipsos found that six in ten Republicans believe this Big Lie.

    This falsehood has been rejected by bipartisan election officials and the courts, including the Supreme Court, but in 43 states Republican legislators are using it to justify election laws that will make it significantly harder to vote.

    Those new laws have met with significant pushback, leaving Republicans scrambling to argue that the laws actually make it easier to vote, not harder. This is not true. Former Wall Street Journal correspondent Douglas Blackmon wrote a tremendously clear thread on Twitter spelling out how the Georgia law, for example, makes it illegal for Georgia voting officials to send absentee applications to each voter, and makes it harder to get absentee ballots. It eliminates most drop boxes for ballots, as well, and makes it harder for working people to vote. Blackmon says the law’s “intent seems to be causing much longer & slower lines at the polls, which… will mean large numbers of working class, elderly, and sick voters who just give up and go home.”

    The passage of a new voter suppression law in Georgia has opened up a rift between Republican lawmakers and corporations, which in the past have been firmly in the Republican camp. After all, Republicans hailed the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which overturned election restrictions that had been in place for more than a century and permitted corporations to spend unlimited amounts on elections. The justices argued that corporations and other groups had a right to spend money under the First Amendment’s right to free speech.

    Now that corporations are taking a stand against the Georgia election law, Republicans are no longer so keen on corporate free speech. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who has long advocated the use of big money for his political causes and who in 2020 got the most money from the nation’s top chief executive officers, today issued a statement calling the corporations who oppose the Georgia election law bullies. He said: “Corporations will invite serious consequences if they become a vehicle for far-left mobs to hijack our country from outside the constitutional order. Businesses must not use economic blackmail to spread disinformation and push bad ideas that citizens reject at the ballot box.”

    McConnell’s sudden turn against corporate political speech is not as counterintuitive as it seems. He wants corporate support in general, of course, but he also appears to need corporate money to fend off a revolt in his caucus. While corporations got cold feet about the Republicans after the January 6 coup and the refusal of 147 Republican lawmakers to count the certified ballots for President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, small donors turning out for Trump’s Big Lie made up for the lost corporate money. Now, as corporations stand against the Trump wing of the party in Georgia, it appears the power in the party is shifting away from McConnell’s corporate wing and toward Trump followers who like the extremists promising to continue fighting the culture wars.

    House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is similarly struggling with his conference as far-right representatives like Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) try to use procedural tools to snarl congressional operations, turning every last House operation into a partisan fight.

    While Democrats are pushing quite popular legislation, Republicans are shifting toward lawmakers who are not only aiming a wrecking ball at Congress, but also are facing one of the biggest sex scandals in a generation and one of the biggest funding scandals ever.

    It’s no wonder McConnell is unhappy.

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,576
     April 6, 2021 (Tuesday)

    I spent much of today thinking about the Republican Party. Its roots lie in the immediate aftermath of the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in spring 1854, when it became clear that elite southern slaveholders had taken control of the federal government and were using their power to spread their system of human enslavement across the continent.

    At first, members of the new party knew only what they stood against: an economic system that concentrated wealth upward and made it impossible for ordinary men to prosper. But in 1859, their new spokesman, Illinois lawyer Abraham Lincoln, articulated a new vision of government. Rather than using government power solely to protect the property of wealthy slaveholders, Lincoln argued, the government should work to make it possible for all men to get equal access to resources, including education, so they could rise to economic security.

    As a younger man, Lincoln had watched his town of New Salem die because the settlers in the town did not have the resources to dredge the Sangamon River to increase their river trade. Had the government simply been willing to invest in the economic development that was too much for the willing workers of New Salem, it could have brought prosperity to the men who, for lack of investment, failed and abandoned their town. The government, Lincoln thought, must develop the country’s infrastructure.

    Once in power, the Republicans did precisely that. After imposing the first national taxes, including an income tax, lawmakers set out to enable men to be able to pay those taxes by using the government to give ordinary men access to resources. In 1862, they passed the Homestead Act, giving western land to anyone willing to settle it; the Land-Grant College Act, providing funds to establish state universities; the act establishing the Department of Agriculture, to provide scientific information and good seeds to farmers; and the Pacific Railway Act, providing for the construction of a railroad across the continent to get men to the fields and the mines of the West.

    In 1902, Republicans fascinated with infrastructure projects joined forces with southern Democrats desperate for flood control to pass the Newlands Reclamation Act. Under the act, the federal government built more than 600 dams in 20 western states to bring water to farmland. “The sound and steady development of the West depends upon the building up of homes therein,” President Theodore Roosevelt wrote. Water from the western dams now irrigates more than 10 million acres, which produce about 60% of the nation’s vegetables and 25% of its fruits (and nuts).

    Democratic President Franklin Delano Roosevelt combined this focus on infrastructure development with the need for work relief programs during the Depression to create the 1933 Civilian Conservation Corps, which planted trees, built fire towers, built trails, stocked fish, and so on. In 1935, Congress created the Works Progress Administration. During its existence, it employed about 3 million workers at a time; built or repaired more than 100,000 public buildings, including schools and post offices; and constructed more than 500 airports, more than 500,000 miles of roads, and more than 100,000 bridges. It also employed actors, photographers, painters, and writers to conduct interviews, paint murals of our history, and tell our national story.

    As the country grew and became more interconnected, pressure built for a developed road system, but while FDR liked the idea of the jobs it would produce, building the road fell to Republican President Dwight Eisenhower. Three years after he became president, Eisenhower backed the 1956 Federal-Aid Highway Act, saying, “Our unity as a nation is sustained by free communication of thought and by easy transportation of people and goods.” The law initially provided $25 billion for the construction of 41,000 miles of road; at the time, it was the largest public works project in U.S. history.

    In America today, there is good news. The Biden administration has rolled out vaccines at a faster pace than anyone foresaw. Today, President Biden announced that health care workers have administered 150 million doses of the vaccine and, at an average of 3 million shots a day, they are on track to administer 200 million by his 100th day in office. He is moving the date for states to make all adults eligible for a vaccine from May 1 to April 19.

    The vaccines have dovetailed with the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan from last month and the spring weather to speed up the economic recovery. Economists had expected a job gain of about 660,000 in March, but nonfarm payrolls actually rose by about 916,000. And now Biden has rolled out a dramatic new infrastructure proposal, the $2 trillion American Jobs Plan.

    So why was I thinking about the Republicans today?

    In this moment, Republican lawmakers seem weirdly out of step with their party’s history as well as with the country. They are responding to the American Jobs Plan by defining infrastructure as roads and bridges alone, cutting from the definition even the broadband that they included when Trump was president. (Trump, remember, followed his huge 2017 tax cuts with the promise of a big infrastructure bill. As he said, “Infrastructure is the easiest of all…. People want it, Republicans and Democrats.”) Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) warns that Biden’s plan is a “Trojan horse” that will require “massive tax increases.”

    Biden has indeed proposed funding the Democrats’ infrastructure plan by raising taxes on corporations from their current rate of 21% to 28% (but before Trump’s 2017 tax cuts, that rate was 35%). It ends federal tax breaks for oil and gas companies, and it increases the global minimum tax—a tax designed to keep corporations from shifting their profits to low tax countries-- from 13% to 21%.  

    This is in keeping with our history. Americans have since Lincoln have proudly used tax dollars to develop the country. During Eisenhower’s era, the corporate tax rate was 52% (and the top income tax bracket was 91%). The Newlands Act was designed to raise money through public land sales, but in 1928, when Congress authorized what would become Hoover Dam, the Bureau of Reclamation began to operate out of the government’s general funds.

    But it was Lincoln’s Republicans who first provided the justification for investing in the nation. In the midst of the deadly Civil War, as the United States was hemorrhaging both blood and money, Republican lawmakers defended first their invention of national taxes. The government had a right to “demand” 99% of a man’s property for an urgent need, said House Ways and Means Committee Chair Justin Smith Morrill (R-VT). When the nation required it, he said, “the property of the people… belongs to the [g]overnment.”

    The Republicans also defended developing the country. In a debate over the new Department of Agriculture, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee William Pitt Fessenden (R-ME), famous both for his crabbiness and for his single-minded focus on the war, defended the use of “seed money.” With such an investment, he said, the country would be “richly paid over and over again in absolute increase of wealth. There is no doubt of 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
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,576
     April 7, 2021 (Wednesday)

    Last night, commentator Kevin Williamson published a piece in National Review justifying voter suppression by suggesting that “the republic would be better served by having fewer—but better—voters.” Representatives, he says, “are people who act in other people’s interests,” which is different from doing what voters want.

    This is the same argument elite slaveholder James Henry Hammond made before the Senate in 1858, when he defended the idea that Congress should recognize the spread of human enslavement into Kansas despite the fact that the people living in that territory wanted to abolish slavery. Our Constitution, Hammond said, did not dictate that people should “be annoyed with the cares of Government,” but rather directed that they should elect leaders who would take those cares upon themselves.

    It is the same argument wealthy men made in the 1890s when they illustrated that laws calling for “better” voters meant that white registrars would hand-pick the nation’s voting population. In the South and the North both, legislators wrote new state constitutions to keep Black men, immigrants, and poor workers from the polls. Leading Americans argued that such men “corrupted” the vote by electing lawmakers who provided public infrastructure like schools and hospitals, paid for with the tax dollars of hardworking white men. To keep poor voters and men of color from the ballot, new state laws called for literacy tests, in which white registrars personally judged a man’s ability to read; poll taxes for which one had to keep the receipts; grandfather clauses, in which a man could vote if his grandfather had, and so on.

    Williamson’s is the same argument Arizona Senator Barry’s Goldwater’s ghostwriter made in 1960 in The Conscience of a Conservative, when he wrote in frustration about the New Deal government that was wildly popular despite businessmen’s hatred for it. The framers had absolutely not created a democracy, he wrote, but rather had worried about “a tyranny of the masses” who would vote for laws that redistributed tax dollars into projects that would benefit themselves.

    The theory of government that lies behind the argument for limiting the vote to “better” voters was also articulated by Senator Hammond in his 1858 speech. He explained that the South had figured out the best government in the world. It had put a few wealthy, educated, well-connected men in power over everyone else: those he called “mudsills,” workers who produced the capital that supported society but had little direction or ambition and had to be controlled by their superiors. In the South, Hammond explained to his northern colleagues, the mudsills were Black, but in the North they were wage workers. It was imperative such men be kept from political power, for “[i]f they knew the tremendous secret, that the ballot-box is stronger than ‘an army with banners,’ and could combine, where would you be? Your society would be reconstructed, your government overthrown, your property divided… by the quiet process of the ballot-box….”

    In 1859, Abraham Lincoln rejected this vision of government by wealthy elites and replaced it with one of his own. Government worked best not when it protected the property and thus the power of a few wealthy elites, said this poor man’s son, but when it protected equality of access to resources and equality before the law for everyone. Rather than concentrating wealth upward, society should protect the rights of all men to the fruits of their own labor.

    Throughout our history, adherents of these two different visions of what constitutes the best government for the U.S. have struggled. On the one hand are those who say that the country operates best when the government is controlled by a few wealthy, educated, well-connected, and usually white and male leaders. The argument goes that they are the only ones with the skills, the insight, and the experience to make good decisions about national policy, particularly economic policy. And it is important that wealth concentrate in their hands, since they will act as its stewards, using it wisely in lump sums, while if the workers who produce wealth get control of it they will fritter it away.

    On the other hand are those like Lincoln, who believe that government should reflect the will of the majority, not simply on principle, but because a wide range of voices means the government has a better chance of getting things right than when only a few people rule.

    In today’s world, Americans appear to be siding with the popular measures of the Democrats. A Morning Consult/Politico poll today says that 65% of Americans support higher corporate taxes to pay for infrastructure and that 82% want infrastructure in any case. To make matters worse for the Republicans, counties that voted for Biden provide 70% of the nation’s gross domestic product, the value of goods and services in the nation. The large corporations Republicans used to be able to count on for money and support are now eager to court these young, liberal producers.

    So, to combat the nation’s drift toward popular government, it appears the current-day Republican Party has taken up the cause of elite rule.

    Williamson is not the only Republican to muse about how getting rid of voters might be good for the nation. Arizona state representative John Kavanagh has said of voting that “[q]uantity is important, but we need to look at the quality of votes as well.”

    Today, Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) reacted to a story about rising crime rates during the pandemic by tweeting that “[w]e have a major under-incarceration problem in America.” He appears to think that we need more people in jail despite the fact that we already imprison our people at a rate more than 5 times higher than that of the rest of the world. We imprison nearly 2.3 million people, with another 3.6 million on probation and another 840,000 on parole. More important for the current struggle over government, though, his statement is that of an authoritarian rather than a democratic leader, and fits nicely with the idea of a strong-handed elite rule.

    In Florida, Republican lawmakers appear ready to silence their opponents with a law that would, according to the Miami Herald, “require public colleges and universities to survey students, faculty and staff about their beliefs and viewpoints.” It would also permit students to record their professors without their consent for a civil or criminal case against their school. A lobbyist for the measure, Barney Bishop, told journalist Ana Ceballos that “the cards are stacked in the education system… toward the left and toward the liberal ideology and also secularism — and those were not the values that our country was founded on…. [T]hose are the values that we need to get our country back to.” “The truth of the matter,” he said, “is that kids are being indoctrinated from an early age.”

    Also today, a member of the Boogaloo Bois who attended a “Stop the Steal” rally at the state capitol in Minnesota as part of the attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election was arrested and charged with illegal possession of a machine gun. He had used a 3D printer to alter a semi-automatic weapon to make it shoot automatically.

    The Republican attack on democracy is not playing well at home (although a number of our adversaries like it well enough). A new Gallup poll shows that an average of 49% of Americans consider themselves Democratic or Democratic-leaning Independents while only 40% identify as Republicans or as Republican-leaning Independents. This is the highest split since 2012.

    Still, in the end, if Republicans manage to rewrite the voting laws to silence their opponents, how their actions play with the majority of American voters won’t matter in the least.

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,576
     April 8, 2021 (Thursday)

    On April 8, 1865, General Ulysses S. Grant was having a hard night. His army had been harrying Confederate General Robert E. Lee's for days, and Grant knew it was only a question of time before Lee had to surrender. The people in the Virginia countryside were starving and Lee's army was melting away. Just that morning, a Confederate colonel had thrown himself on Grant's mercy after realizing that he was the only man in his entire regiment who had not already abandoned the cause. But while Grant had twice asked Lee to surrender, Lee still insisted his men could fight on.

    So, on the night of April 8, Grant retired to bed in a Virginia farmhouse, dirty, tired, and miserable with a migraine. He spent the night "bathing my feet in hot water and mustard, and putting mustard plasters on my wrists and the back part of my neck, hoping to be cured by morning." It didn't work. When morning came, Grant pulled on his clothes from the day before and rode out to the head of his column with his head throbbing.

    As he rode, an escort arrived with a note from Lee requesting an interview for the purpose of surrendering his Army of Northern Virginia. "When the officer reached me I was still suffering with the sick headache," Grant recalled, "but the instant I saw the contents of the note I was cured."

    The two men met in the home of Wilmer McLean in the village of Appomattox Court House, Virginia. Lee had dressed grandly for the occasion in a brand new general's uniform carrying a dress sword; Grant wore simply the "rough garb" of a private with the shoulder straps of a Lieutenant General.

    But the images of the noble South and the humble North hid a very different reality. As soon as the papers were signed, Lee told Grant his men were starving, and asked if the Union general could provide the Confederates with rations. Grant didn't hesitate. "Certainly," he responded, before asking how many men needed food. He took Lee's answer-- "about twenty-five thousand"-- in stride, telling the general that "he could have... all the provisions wanted."

    By spring 1865, Confederates, who had ridden off to war four years before boasting that they would beat the North's money-grubbing shopkeepers in a single battle were broken and starving, while, backed by a booming industrial economy, the Union army could provide rations for twenty-five thousand men on a moment's notice.

    The Civil War was won not by the dashing sons of wealthy planters, but by men like Grant, who dragged himself out of his blankets and pulled a dirty soldier's uniform over his pounding head on an April morning because he knew he had to get up and get to work.

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,576
     April 9, 2021 (Friday)

    The 1918 influenza pandemic killed at least 50 million people across the world, including about 675,000 people in the United States. And yet, until recently, it has been elusive in our popular memory. America’s curious amnesia about the 1918 pandemic has come to mind lately as the United States appears to be shifting into a post-pandemic era of job growth and optimism.

    A year ago today, I noted that we were approaching 17,000 deaths from Covid-19. Now our official death count is over 560,000. If anyone had told us a year ago that we would lose more than a half million of our family and friends to this pandemic, that number would have seemed unthinkable. And yet now, as more shots go into arms every day, attention to the extraordinary toll of the past year seems to be slipping.

    Remembering the nation’s suffering under the pandemic matters because the contrast between the disastrous last year and our hope this spring is a snapshot of what is at stake in the fight over control of the nation’s government.

    Ever since President Ronald Reagan declared in his 1981 inaugural address that “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem,” Republicans have argued that the best way to run the country has been to dismantle the federal government and turn the fundamental operations of the country over to private enterprise. They have argued that the government is inefficient and wasteful, while businesses can pivot rapidly and are far more efficient than their government counterparts.

    And then the coronavirus came.

    The president put his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, in charge of the nation’s response to the pandemic. Kushner sidelined career officials who knew how to source medical supplies, for example, in favor of young volunteers from investment banks and consulting firms. The administration touted what its leaders called an innovative public-private partnership to respond to the country’s needs, but a report from Representative Katie Porter (D-CA) documented that as late as March 2, the administration was urging American businesses to take advantage of the booming market in personal protective equipment (PPE) to export masks, ventilators, and PPE to other countries. Porter’s office examined export records to show that in February 2020, “the value of U.S. mask exports to China was 1094% higher than the 2019 monthly average.” Meanwhile, American health care providers were wearing garbage bags, and people were sewing their own masks.

    As the contours of the crisis became clearer in late March, business leaders turned to Kushner to provide national direction. He told them: “The federal government is not going to lead this response…. It’s up to the states to figure out what they want to do.” When one leader told him the states were bidding against each other for PPE and driving prices up, he responded: “Free markets will solve this…. This is not the role of government.”

    Meanwhile, Trump’s trade adviser Peter Navarro was so worried about the administration’s failure to buy critical medical supplies that he undertook to find them himself, haphazardly committing more than $1 billion of federal money to invest in drugs and supplies. Among other things, he bypassed normal procurement chains and arranged for a loan for Eastman Kodak, a company known for its work in the process of photography, to produce drugs to fight the pandemic. (The company’s stock price jumped from about $2 to $60 a share upon the news of the deal, and the loan was put on hold. Navarro called Eastman Kodak executives “stupid.”)

    As infections and deaths continued to mount, the administration repeatedly downplayed the emergency. Today we learned that by May, science adviser Paul Alexander and his boss, Michael Caputo, the assistant secretary for public affairs at Health and Human Services, were working to change the language officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention used to warn of the dangers of the disease. “I know the President wants us to enumerate the economic cost of not reopening. We need solid estimates to be able to say something like: 50,000 more cancer deaths! 40,000 more heart attacks! 25,000 more suicides!” Caputo wrote to Alexander on May 16.

    By July, Alexander was calling for the administration to adopt a strategy of herd immunity, simply letting the disease wash over the country. "Infants, kids, teens, young people, young adults, middle aged with no conditions etc. have zero to little risk….so we use them to develop herd…we want them infected," he wrote to Caputo.

    In keeping with the theory that the federal government had no role to play in combatting the pandemic, as the fall progressed and it appeared there might be a workable vaccine by 2021, the Trump administration made no plan for federal distribution of the vaccine. It figured it would simply deliver the vaccine to the states, which could make their own arrangements to get it into people. The states, though, were badly strapped for money either to advertise or to deliver the shots.

    Infections surged terrifyingly after November until by late January, when Trump left the White House, new infections had reached about 250,000 a day and about 3000 people were dying of Covid-19 daily. With 170 deaths for every 100,000 Americans, the U.S. outstrips every other country in the world for the devastation of this disease. (Brazil, with 159 deaths for every 100,000 people, is second.)

    In contrast to Trump, President Biden has used the pandemic to show what the federal government can do right.

    The night before he took office, he held a memorial for the Americans who had died in the pandemic. Once in the White House, he dedicated the federal government to ending the scourge. On January 21, he issued a national strategy for responding to the crisis that began by declaring “the federal government should be the source of truth for the public to get clear, accessible, and scientifically accurate information about COVID-19.”

    He begged Americans to wear masks, used the federal Defense Production Act to get supplies, got money to states and cities, bought vaccines, and poured money into the infrastructure that would get the vaccines into arms. As of today, the U.S. is averaging 3 million shots a day, and a third of the population has received at least one dose of a vaccine. Twenty percent of us are fully vaccinated, including 60% of those 65 and older.

    Cases of infection are dropping to about 66,000 cases a day-- well below the January surge but still high. The arrival of new, highly contagious variants continues to threaten worrisome spikes, but we are not, so far, facing the sort of crisis that Brazil is, where right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro opposes a lockdown, arguing that the damage a lockdown would do to the economy would be worse than letting the virus run its course. Hospitals in Brazil are overwhelmed, and this week more than 4,000 people died in 24 hours for the first time since the pandemic began. Meanwhile, the vaccine rollout in Brazil has been slow.

    In America, the two very different responses to the pandemic have given us a powerful education in government activism. “For the past year, we couldn’t rely on the federal government to act with the urgency and focus and coordination we needed,” Biden said, “And we have seen the tragic cost of that failure….”

    As time moves forward, if we really do get into the clear, it is entirely possible that the 2020 pandemic will fade into the same sort of vagueness that the 1918 pandemic did. But what it has taught us about government is important to remember.

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,576
     April 10, 2021 (Saturday)

    Sometimes it seems like we live in different time zones in this house: I write very late and Buddy gets up very early. On Thursday, Buddy captured the confusion of our schedules when he got up about two hours after I went to bed, went out onto the porch, and took a "sunrise" picture over the island... of a predawn moonrise.

    Going to bed early for once, myself. Will see you tomorrow.

    [Photo by Buddy Poland]

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
  • brianluxbrianlux Moving through All Kinds of Terrain.Posts: 33,827
    mickeyrat said:
     April 10, 2021 (Saturday)

    Sometimes it seems like we live in different time zones in this house: I write very late and Buddy gets up very early. On Thursday, Buddy captured the confusion of our schedules when he got up about two hours after I went to bed, went out onto the porch, and took a "sunrise" picture over the island... of a predawn moonrise.

    Going to bed early for once, myself. Will see you tomorrow.

    [Photo by Buddy Poland]


    Night owl.  No wonder I think she's great!
    “In all human affairs there are efforts, and there are results, and the strength of the effort is the measure of the result.”
    -James Allen










  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,576
     April 11, 2021 (Sunday)

    Congress has been on break since March 29, and tomorrow members will go back to Washington, D.C., to resume work. The next weeks are going to be busy for the lawmakers, not least because the political ground in America appears to be shifting.

    In the two weeks the lawmakers have been back in their districts, a lot has happened. The Biden administration released the American Jobs Plan on March 31, calling for a $2 trillion investment in infrastructure. The plan includes traditional items like railroads and bridges and roads; it also uses a modern, expansive definition of infrastructure, including support for our electrical grid, green energy, and clean water delivery, as well as the construction of high-speed broadband to all Americans. The plan also defines childcare and eldercare as infrastructure issues, an important redefinition that will not only help more women regain a foothold in the economy, but will also help to replace manufacturing jobs as a key stabilizer of middle-class America. The administration is selling the infrastructure plan, in part, by emphasizing that it will create jobs (hence “American Jobs Plan” rather than something like “American Infrastructure Act”).

    President Biden has proposed paying for the plan by raising the corporate tax from 21% to 28% (it was 35% before Trump’s 2017 tax cut) and by increasing the global minimum tax from 13% to 21% (so that companies cannot stash profits in low-tax countries). He has also proposed saving money by ending the federal tax breaks for fossil fuel companies and by putting teeth in the enforcement of tax laws against corporations who have skated without paying taxes in the past.

    The president also put together a blue-ribbon, bipartisan commission to look at the question of adjusting the Supreme Court to the modern era. While people are focusing on the question of whether the number of justices on the Supreme Court should be increased—it has held at 9 since 1869, even as three more circuits have been added—the commission is also looking at “the length of service and turnover of justices on the Court.” It is only very recently that justices grimly held onto a Supreme Court appointment until death; the positions used to turn over with some frequency. The commission is an astonishingly distinguished group of scholars, lawyers, and judges.

    Nonetheless, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) claimed the establishment of the commission displayed “open disdain for judicial independence.” And yet, the Supreme Court itself undermined his position in favor of a nonpartisan judiciary late Friday night. It issued an unsigned opinion in which the court decided, by a vote of 5-4, that state restrictions on private religious gatherings during the pandemic infringed on people’s First Amendment rights to the free exercise of religion. Chief Justice John Roberts joined the minority.

    Biden has also asked Congress to take on the issue of gun control, after yet more mass shootings in the country. And overshadowing all is the Democrat’s demand for the passage of voting rights legislation that would protect voting, end gerrymandering, and curb the influence of big money in U.S. elections.  

    While the legislative world has been rocking, so has the world of the Republicans. The party is torn between the Trump wing and the business wing, and in the course of the past few weeks, that rift has widened and destabilized.

    On March 25, Georgia passed a sweeping new voting restriction law. Legislators argued that they were simply trying to combat voter fraud, but the law, in fact, significantly restricts voting hours and mail-in voting, as well as turning over the mechanics of elections to partisan committees. The Georgia law came after a similar set of restrictions in Iowa; other states, including Texas, are following suit.

    But this attack on voting rights is not playing well with the corporate leaders who, in the past, tended to stand with the Republicans. Leaders from more than 170 corporations condemned the new Georgia law, saying, “We stand in solidarity with voters 一 and with the Black executives and leaders at the helm of this movement 一 in our nonpartisan commitment to equality and democracy. If our government is going to work for all of us, each of us must have equal freedom to vote and elections must reflect the will of voters.” Major League Baseball grabbed headlines when it decided to move this summer’s All-Star game out of the state.

    Following the corporate pushback over the Georgia law, the leader of the business Republican faction, Mitch McConnell, said that it was “stupid” for corporations to weigh in on divisive political issues, although he specified he was “not talking about political contributions.” Republican lawmakers have said that corporations should not take political stances, a position that sits uneasily with the 2010 Supreme Court Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision, which said that corporate donations to political candidates were a form of political speech and could not be limited by the government. The so-called “Citizens United” decision opened up a flood of corporate money into our political system.

    Yesterday, more than 100 corporate executives met over Zoom to figure out how to deal with the voter suppression measures coming out of Republican legislatures. They discussed that political unrest is bad for business (this is very true-- one of the key reasons the American South had insufficient capital investment after the Civil War was that investors could not be sure their money wouldn’t disappear during social unrest) and are calling for corporations to continue to take a stand against voter restrictions, including by withholding money from Republican candidates.

    This puts the Republicans in a bad spot. The insistence of state Republican legislators that they must protect against voter fraud reflects their determination to cling—without evidence—to the argument Trump lost the election only because the Democrats cheated. This is not true and has been thoroughly debunked. But, having sold their voters this Big Lie, they now need to follow through.

    And yet, backing Trump right now is a dicey proposition. Since the lawmakers have been in Washington, D.C., more and more information has come out about key Trump supporter Republican Matthew Gaetz (R-FL), who is alleged to be involved in a number of shady deals in Florida, including—allegedly—being party to moving underaged girls across state lines for sex. While Gaetz insists he is a victim of “leaks and… lies,” it is notable that only Trump Republican Representatives Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) have come to his defense. Others are remaining gingerly silent, which has only permitted the story to snowball.

    Trump himself continues to make trouble for the party. He continues to raise money for his own coffers and last month demanded that the Republican National Committee stop using his name or picture on fundraising materials. It appeared he was reconciling with the party when he agreed to give a speech at the end of the RNC’s donor summit.

    Instead, on Saturday night, at an invitation-only meeting of top donors at Mar-a-Lago, the former president’s Florida resort, Trump abandoned his scheduled calls for unity and instead used a speech to the attendees to reiterate that the 2020 election was stolen from him and to attack party members whom he considers insufficiently loyal, including Mitch McConnell.

    Meanwhile, there were “White Lives Matter” rallies planned by neo-Nazis and Proud Boys for today in cities across the country to promote white nationalism and, as one organizer said, make “the whole world tremble.” But, in the end, virtually no one showed up. With the Justice Department indicting the January 6 insurrectionists and popular voices turning against the forces Trump encouraged, the angry Trump base appears to be going underground.

    So, in the face of remarkably popular Democratic proposals to rebuild the country-- proposals that will kill the central principle of the Republican Party since the time of President Ronald Reagan that the government must get out of the economy—Republicans are split between their voting base, which wants Trumpian voter restrictions, and their donor base, which recognizes that those restrictions will destabilize the country.

    The spring is going to see a remarkable game of political chess.

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,576
     April 12, 2021 (Monday)

    Yesterday, at about 2:00 in the afternoon, a white police officer in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, shot and killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright, a Black man, after what seems to have been a routine traffic stop turned up an arrest warrant. Today, the Brooklyn Center police chief told reporters that the arresting officer intended to fire her Taser at Wright, but instead fired her gun.

    Wright’s death took place about ten miles from where Derek Chauvin is on trial for killing George Floyd in Minneapolis last May. Then a police officer, Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds while bystanders implored him to stop. Chauvin, a white officer, was arresting Floyd, a Black man, on suspicion of using a counterfeit bill.

    In the three weeks of Chauvin’s trial, the former officer’s defenders have noted that there was fentanyl in Floyd’s blood, and suggested he expired not because of the knee on his neck but because he abused opioids. After Wright’s death, those defending the police officer who shot him argued that Wright had brought the deadly outcome on himself by resisting arrest.

    But here’s the thing: Mr. Floyd and Mr. Wright are not on trial. Whether they abused drugs, or passed bad bills, or did something that warranted arrest, or did all of those things or none of them simply does not matter. They are not on trial.

    What is on trial is the fundamental American principle of equality before the law. Our law enforcement officers are supposed to use the force of the state to deliver suspected lawbreakers to our criminal justice system. And yet, in both of these cases—and so many others in which a Black person has died at the hands of police—the officers apparently killed suspected offenders instead of delivering them to the legal system guaranteed under our Constitution. Individual police officers appear to have taken the law into their own hands and become judge, jury, and executioner.

    Either Floyd and Wright had the right to due legal process, or police officers could condemn them to death without the due process of the law. If the former, it is imperative to defend the principle of equality before the law against those who would undermine that principle. If the latter, Floyd and Wright are not equal to white Americans, and we need to revisit exactly what sort of government we have.

    On this day in 1861, Confederate forces fired on Fort Sumter, the United States fort located in Charleston Harbor, launching a Civil War that would take more than 600,000 lives and cost the United States more than $5 billion. The leaders of the Confederate States of America believed that the government of the United States of America had a fatal flaw: it declared that all men were created equal.

    The men who framed the Constitution had made the terrible error of believing in equality, Georgia’s Alexander Stephens, the newly-elected vice president of the Confederacy, told a crowd on March 21, 1861. Northerners, he said, stupidly clung to the outdated idea that “the negro is equal, and hence conclude that he is entitled to equal privileges and rights with the white man.”

    In contrast to the United States government,” Stephens said, “the Confederate government rested on the “great truth” that “the negro is not equal to the white man; that… subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition.” Stephens told listeners that the Confederate government “is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.”

    Abraham Lincoln rejected this radical attempt to destroy the principles of the Declaration of Independence. He understood that it was not just Black rights at stake, but also democracy.  Arguments like that of Stephens, that some men were better than others, “are the arguments that kings have made for enslaving the people in all ages of the world,” Lincoln said. “You will find that all the arguments in favor of king-craft were of this class; they always bestrode the necks of the people, not that they wanted to do it, but because the people were better off for being ridden…. Turn in whatever way you will—whether it come from the mouth of a King, an excuse for enslaving the people of his country, or from the mouth of men of one race as a reason for enslaving the men of another race, it is all the same old serpent….”

    Lincoln warned that “it does not stop with the negro. I should like to know if taking this old Declaration of Independence, which declares that all men are equal upon principle and making exceptions to it where will it stop. If one man says it does not mean a negro, why not another say it does not mean some other man?” He told an audience in Chicago, Illinois, that Americans must stand with the Declaration of Independence or, he said, “If that declaration is not the truth, let us get the Statute book, in which we find it and tear it out!”

    “NO! NO!” his audience cried. And when the Confederates fired on Fort Sumter, they took up arms to defend their government.

    Almost four years to the day after the firing on Fort Sumter, Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia, marking the defeat of the Confederacy and its attempt to create a nation in which some people were better than others.

    And yet, on January 6, 2021, insurrectionists brandished the Confederate battle flag in the U.S. Capitol.

    _____________________________________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
  • brianluxbrianlux Moving through All Kinds of Terrain.Posts: 33,827
    mickeyrat said:
     April 12, 2021 (Monday)

    Yesterday, at about 2:00 in the afternoon, a white police officer in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, shot and killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright, a Black man, after what seems to have been a routine traffic stop turned up an arrest warrant. Today, the Brooklyn Center police chief told reporters that the arresting officer intended to fire her Taser at Wright, but instead fired her gun.

    Wright’s death took place about ten miles from where Derek Chauvin is on trial for killing George Floyd in Minneapolis last May. Then a police officer, Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds while bystanders implored him to stop. Chauvin, a white officer, was arresting Floyd, a Black man, on suspicion of using a counterfeit bill.

    In the three weeks of Chauvin’s trial, the former officer’s defenders have noted that there was fentanyl in Floyd’s blood, and suggested he expired not because of the knee on his neck but because he abused opioids. After Wright’s death, those defending the police officer who shot him argued that Wright had brought the deadly outcome on himself by resisting arrest.

    But here’s the thing: Mr. Floyd and Mr. Wright are not on trial. Whether they abused drugs, or passed bad bills, or did something that warranted arrest, or did all of those things or none of them simply does not matter. They are not on trial.

    What is on trial is the fundamental American principle of equality before the law. Our law enforcement officers are supposed to use the force of the state to deliver suspected lawbreakers to our criminal justice system. And yet, in both of these cases—and so many others in which a Black person has died at the hands of police—the officers apparently killed suspected offenders instead of delivering them to the legal system guaranteed under our Constitution. Individual police officers appear to have taken the law into their own hands and become judge, jury, and executioner.

    Either Floyd and Wright had the right to due legal process, or police officers could condemn them to death without the due process of the law. If the former, it is imperative to defend the principle of equality before the law against those who would undermine that principle. If the latter, Floyd and Wright are not equal to white Americans, and we need to revisit exactly what sort of government we have.

    On this day in 1861, Confederate forces fired on Fort Sumter, the United States fort located in Charleston Harbor, launching a Civil War that would take more than 600,000 lives and cost the United States more than $5 billion. The leaders of the Confederate States of America believed that the government of the United States of America had a fatal flaw: it declared that all men were created equal.

    The men who framed the Constitution had made the terrible error of believing in equality, Georgia’s Alexander Stephens, the newly-elected vice president of the Confederacy, told a crowd on March 21, 1861. Northerners, he said, stupidly clung to the outdated idea that “the negro is equal, and hence conclude that he is entitled to equal privileges and rights with the white man.”

    In contrast to the United States government,” Stephens said, “the Confederate government rested on the “great truth” that “the negro is not equal to the white man; that… subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition.” Stephens told listeners that the Confederate government “is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.”

    Abraham Lincoln rejected this radical attempt to destroy the principles of the Declaration of Independence. He understood that it was not just Black rights at stake, but also democracy.  Arguments like that of Stephens, that some men were better than others, “are the arguments that kings have made for enslaving the people in all ages of the world,” Lincoln said. “You will find that all the arguments in favor of king-craft were of this class; they always bestrode the necks of the people, not that they wanted to do it, but because the people were better off for being ridden…. Turn in whatever way you will—whether it come from the mouth of a King, an excuse for enslaving the people of his country, or from the mouth of men of one race as a reason for enslaving the men of another race, it is all the same old serpent….”

    Lincoln warned that “it does not stop with the negro. I should like to know if taking this old Declaration of Independence, which declares that all men are equal upon principle and making exceptions to it where will it stop. If one man says it does not mean a negro, why not another say it does not mean some other man?” He told an audience in Chicago, Illinois, that Americans must stand with the Declaration of Independence or, he said, “If that declaration is not the truth, let us get the Statute book, in which we find it and tear it out!”

    “NO! NO!” his audience cried. And when the Confederates fired on Fort Sumter, they took up arms to defend their government.

    Almost four years to the day after the firing on Fort Sumter, Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia, marking the defeat of the Confederacy and its attempt to create a nation in which some people were better than others.

    And yet, on January 6, 2021, insurrectionists brandished the Confederate battle flag in the U.S. Capitol.

    Minnesota.  Seemed like a pretty cool place when I went through there some 14 year ago. What the hell happened to that place? 
    “In all human affairs there are efforts, and there are results, and the strength of the effort is the measure of the result.”
    -James Allen










  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,576
    brianlux said:
    mickeyrat said:
     April 12, 2021 (Monday)

    Yesterday, at about 2:00 in the afternoon, a white police officer in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, shot and killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright, a Black man, after what seems to have been a routine traffic stop turned up an arrest warrant. Today, the Brooklyn Center police chief told reporters that the arresting officer intended to fire her Taser at Wright, but instead fired her gun.

    Wright’s death took place about ten miles from where Derek Chauvin is on trial for killing George Floyd in Minneapolis last May. Then a police officer, Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds while bystanders implored him to stop. Chauvin, a white officer, was arresting Floyd, a Black man, on suspicion of using a counterfeit bill.

    In the three weeks of Chauvin’s trial, the former officer’s defenders have noted that there was fentanyl in Floyd’s blood, and suggested he expired not because of the knee on his neck but because he abused opioids. After Wright’s death, those defending the police officer who shot him argued that Wright had brought the deadly outcome on himself by resisting arrest.

    But here’s the thing: Mr. Floyd and Mr. Wright are not on trial. Whether they abused drugs, or passed bad bills, or did something that warranted arrest, or did all of those things or none of them simply does not matter. They are not on trial.

    What is on trial is the fundamental American principle of equality before the law. Our law enforcement officers are supposed to use the force of the state to deliver suspected lawbreakers to our criminal justice system. And yet, in both of these cases—and so many others in which a Black person has died at the hands of police—the officers apparently killed suspected offenders instead of delivering them to the legal system guaranteed under our Constitution. Individual police officers appear to have taken the law into their own hands and become judge, jury, and executioner.

    Either Floyd and Wright had the right to due legal process, or police officers could condemn them to death without the due process of the law. If the former, it is imperative to defend the principle of equality before the law against those who would undermine that principle. If the latter, Floyd and Wright are not equal to white Americans, and we need to revisit exactly what sort of government we have.

    On this day in 1861, Confederate forces fired on Fort Sumter, the United States fort located in Charleston Harbor, launching a Civil War that would take more than 600,000 lives and cost the United States more than $5 billion. The leaders of the Confederate States of America believed that the government of the United States of America had a fatal flaw: it declared that all men were created equal.

    The men who framed the Constitution had made the terrible error of believing in equality, Georgia’s Alexander Stephens, the newly-elected vice president of the Confederacy, told a crowd on March 21, 1861. Northerners, he said, stupidly clung to the outdated idea that “the negro is equal, and hence conclude that he is entitled to equal privileges and rights with the white man.”

    In contrast to the United States government,” Stephens said, “the Confederate government rested on the “great truth” that “the negro is not equal to the white man; that… subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition.” Stephens told listeners that the Confederate government “is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.”

    Abraham Lincoln rejected this radical attempt to destroy the principles of the Declaration of Independence. He understood that it was not just Black rights at stake, but also democracy.  Arguments like that of Stephens, that some men were better than others, “are the arguments that kings have made for enslaving the people in all ages of the world,” Lincoln said. “You will find that all the arguments in favor of king-craft were of this class; they always bestrode the necks of the people, not that they wanted to do it, but because the people were better off for being ridden…. Turn in whatever way you will—whether it come from the mouth of a King, an excuse for enslaving the people of his country, or from the mouth of men of one race as a reason for enslaving the men of another race, it is all the same old serpent….”

    Lincoln warned that “it does not stop with the negro. I should like to know if taking this old Declaration of Independence, which declares that all men are equal upon principle and making exceptions to it where will it stop. If one man says it does not mean a negro, why not another say it does not mean some other man?” He told an audience in Chicago, Illinois, that Americans must stand with the Declaration of Independence or, he said, “If that declaration is not the truth, let us get the Statute book, in which we find it and tear it out!”

    “NO! NO!” his audience cried. And when the Confederates fired on Fort Sumter, they took up arms to defend their government.

    Almost four years to the day after the firing on Fort Sumter, Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia, marking the defeat of the Confederacy and its attempt to create a nation in which some people were better than others.

    And yet, on January 6, 2021, insurrectionists brandished the Confederate battle flag in the U.S. Capitol.

    Minnesota.  Seemed like a pretty cool place when I went through there some 14 year ago. What the hell happened to that place? 

    butterfly effect? stay home brian.....

    ;)
    _____________________________________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
Sign In or Register to comment.