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Letter From An American by Heather Cox Richardson

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  • brianluxbrianlux Moving through All Kinds of Terrain.Posts: 34,804
    Still, dominating the news tonight was another election story. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, said in an interview that Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, asked Raffensperger if he could throw out all the ballots from counties that had a high percentage of non-matching signatures. This would mean throwing out legally cast mail-in ballots, an illegal request that Raffensperger said stunned him. Graham called Raffensperger’s characterization of the conversation “ridiculous.”

    This is where it becomes obvious that Trump and certain other Republican leaders are simply trolling the American people and being sore losers.  Throw our ALL the ballots in counties that had high percentage on non-matching signatures?  First of all, what is a "high percentage" here?  (I don't know, but I'll bet it is a single digit number or less.)   And why throw out the legitimate ballots?  This is purely infantile, trolling behavior that is beginning to characterize the crumbling, self-destructing Republican party. 

    "The earth- we could have saved it but we were too damn cheap and lazy."
    -Kurt Vonnegut










  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 22,433
     November 17, 2020 (Tuesday)

    It was notable today that the media was dominated not by the actions of the incoming president-elect, as one would expect after a presidential election, but by the actions of the lame-duck president, Donald Trump.

    Biden is quietly and calmly building his administration, meeting with experts, filling posts, even as Trump’s refusal to acknowledge Biden’s victory in the election means that the Biden team cannot have access to federal staff or information. Biden named nine senior White House officials for his incoming administration, all of whom are long-time political operatives who know the ropes in Washington. Biden is an institutionalist who is signaling that his administration will rebuild the governmental systems dismantled in the past four years.

    He is also signaling that he will focus on the job of the presidency, rather than on dominating the media. His Twitter feed is sparse and sterile. In today's just two tweets, he expressed sympathy for the victims of Hurricane Eta and concerns about climate change, and said he and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris had met with national security experts.

    In contrast, Trump is trying to retain relevance by creating chaos, as usual.

    He continues to insist he won the election, against all evidence. Christopher Krebs, the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, earlier pushed back against his insistence the vote was tainted, calling the election “the most secure in American history.” Today, Trump fired him. Krebs tweeted “Honored to serve. We did it right. Defend Today, Secure Tomorrow.”

    National political reporter Robert Costa says he keeps hearing from people around Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani that they are challenging the results of the election not because they think there is any chance for Trump to catch up to Biden in actual votes, but in order to try to prevent key states from certifying their votes. This would throw the election into the House of Representatives, where each state gets one vote. This, they believe, would give Trump a win.

    It’s a terribly long shot, and it doesn’t appear to be working. So far, Trump’s lawyers have already lost 25 of the campaign’s lawsuits. They won one, on procedure, not on evidence.

    Still, in Wayne County, Michigan, tonight, two Republican members of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers briefly refused to certify the ballots for the county, suggesting that the votes in Detroit— where most voters are Black and which gave 94% of its votes to Biden—were fraudulent. This would have thrown the certification to the Michigan Board of State Canvassers, overseen by the state secretary of state, a Democrat, who would certainly have certified the votes.

    But after a public outcry in which attendees pointed out that the stance of the Republican canvassers was a clear insult to the poll workers who worked so hard to ensure our democratic process during the pandemic, and who had already endured the attacks of Republicans at the polls, the two Republicans reversed their decision and certified the ballots.

    Meanwhile, the story that broke last night about Senator Lindsey Graham’s interference in the recount of ballots in Georgia got more detailed. Yesterday, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said that Graham (R-SC) had asked him if it were possible to throw out all mail-in ballots from counties with large numbers of mismatched signatures, a request Raffensperger found shocking. Graham admitted the call but denied Raffensperger’s characterization of it. Now it turns out there was someone else on the call, who confirmed the conversation.

    Graham told reporters that he had also spoken with the secretaries of state in Nevada and Arizona, only to have Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs contradict the story on Twitter, saying she had not spoken with him, and Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske also deny that he had contacted her. Then he said he had spoken with the Arizona Governor, Doug Ducey, but couldn’t recall to whom he had spoken in Nevada. This whole story raises the question: why was Graham, who is a senator from South Carolina, grilling the Georgia secretary of state about an election recount in Georgia?

    Starting today, the administration allowed oil and gas companies to pick out land for drilling rights on about 1.6 million acres of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The American Petroleum Institute welcomed the move, although it is unclear how many companies will want to drill in an area so remote it will be expensive. Auctions of the leases will take place just before Biden takes office. Biden has said he would protect the refuge from drilling.

    Finally, the troop drawdown in Afghanistan and Iraq is raising the ire of lawmakers and military leaders, both. Today, the new Acting Defense Secretary, Chris Miller, who replaced the defense secretary Trump fired last week, formally announced the drawdown but refused to answer questions about it. Retired Admiral James Stavridis, who served as the commander of the U.S. European Command and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe, told CNN’s Jake Tapper, "It's astoundingly foolish from a military, strategic, diplomatic, and political perspective.... We're kind of on the 5-yard-line here in terms of getting a peace deal."

    The Trump camp is hampering Biden’s ability to govern, weakening popular faith in our democratic systems, and illustrating to foreign nations that our country is an unreliable partner. Today, conservative commentator Bill Kristol noted that “Trump is doing his best to weaken America, our friends, and allies on his way out the door.”

    _____________________________________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: 34,804
    "It was notable today that the media was dominated not by the actions of the incoming president-elect, as one would expect after a presidential election, but by the actions of the lame-duck president, Donald Trump."

    Absolutely inexcusable.   That man is turning this country into a bad circus act.  Democracy is in peril.  Can Biden and Harris turn things around?  Only if we can get the soul eater the hell out of the White House.
    "The earth- we could have saved it but we were too damn cheap and lazy."
    -Kurt Vonnegut










  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 22,433
     November 18, 2020 (Wednesday)

    Today marks a grim milestone. The official count of Americans dead of coronavirus has topped a quarter of a million. 250,000 Americans, lost. Governors, including some Republicans previously opposed to ordering measures to stop the spread of the virus, are now issuing mandatory mask requirements. New York City has reached a 3% positivity rate; schools there have closed, and will go entirely on-line tomorrow. That rate is far below that of the regions worst hit these days.

    “Right now, we are in an absolutely dangerous situation that we have to take with the utmost seriousness,” Assistant Secretary of Health at the Department of Health and Human Services Dr. Brett Giroir told MSNBC. “This is not crying wolf. This is the worst rate of rise in cases that we’ve seen in the pandemic in the United States and right now there’s no sign of flattening.” The latest report from the White House coronavirus task force says we are facing “aggressive, unrelenting, expanding broad community spread across the country, reaching most counties, without evidence of improvement but rather, further deterioration.”

    And yet, Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, maintains that no one in his department can coordinate with the incoming Joe Biden and Kamala Harris administration until the General Services Administration determines that Biden won the election. An administration official told CNN that department leadership had warned staffers not to communicate with Biden team, and to report any contact to the deputy surgeon general. Rick Bright, who was fired from the Trump administration for warnings about the dangers of coronavirus and who is now on the Biden team, told CNN: “We haven’t been able to sit down with the Trump administration at all, to be able to understand what plans are already in place, where the gaps are, where help is needed, and how we can make sure there's a smooth hand-off after January 20, where the bulk of these vaccines will be administered after that date.”

    Talking to frontline coronavirus workers, Biden said that Trump’s refusal to admit defeat is “the only slow down right now that we have.” He pointed out that the lack of information means, for example, that his team has no idea how much personal protective equipment is stockpiled. “Soon we’re going to be behind by weeks and months being able to put together the whole initiative relating to the biggest promise we have with two drug companies coming along and finding 95% effectiveness, efficiency in the vaccines, which is enormous promise,” he said. In a letter to the president, the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, and the American Nurses Association begged the administration to “work closely with the Biden transition team to share all critical information related to COVID-19.”

    Despite orders not to coordinate with the incoming Biden administration, a few Trump officials are quietly reaching out, according to CNN. As one put it: “Nothing that would get us in trouble…. Just an offer to be of help. They know what we mean, and what we can-and-can't do or say.” So far, nothing has come of these tentative offers.

    Trump appears to be doing all he can to cripple Biden’s administration before it begins. Officials have told CNN that Trump is withdrawing troops worldwide in order to box Biden in before he takes office. A senior official told CNN that the goal is “to set so many fires that it will be hard for the Biden administration to put them all out.”

    Shortly after the election, Trump purged civilian leaders at the Defense Department, replacing a number of them with people close to Devin Nunes (R-CA), who was apparently involved in conversations with Russians in 2016 that got picked up by intelligence officers, and General Michael Flynn, Trump’s former National Security Adviser, convicted of lying to the FBI about his contacts with then Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak shortly after Trump’s election in 2016.

    Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller announced today that the civilian leaders from Special Operations Command will report directly to him, rather than through the normal chain of command. Special Operations includes about 70,000 troops that undertake unconventional military operations like raids, reconnaissance, search and rescue, and psychological operations. This was a change permitted by a 2017 law, and puts Special Operations at the same level as the other military departments. Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle say this elevation of Special Operations is overdue.

    But the timing of this move raises questions, since the officials now overseeing Special Operations are the ones installed since Trump’s purge, none of whom has been approved by the Senate. The acting assistant secretary of defense for special operations—the one who will now report directly to newly-installed acting Defense Secretary Miller-- is Ezra Cohen-Watnick, originally elevated to a prominent position by Flynn. Cohen-Watnick is an obscure figure who was not removed from his job at the National Security Council when Flynn resigned, apparently because he was personally protected by Jared Kushner. This was unusual: he was very young and inexperienced. He is fiercely loyal to Trump.

    Like the other new hires at the Defense Department, Cohen-Watnick is known to be eager to hit at Iran, with whom simmering conflict continues. A week ago, inspectors reported that Iran has many times the uranium stockpile it would have been permitted under the Iran deal Trump pulled the U.S. out of, and that it would take less than a year for Iran to develop a nuclear weapon (something its leaders deny they have any interest in doing). The following day, Trump asked his top aides if he could launch a military strike against Iran’s biggest nuclear facility. They talked him out of it, noting that such a strike could lead to a larger war.

    Today, Trump imposed sweeping new sanctions on Iran. Henry Rome, an Iran analyst with Eurasia Group, consultants who analyze political risk, told Reuters: “The administration is clearly, and I think transparently, trying to raise the political cost for Biden to re-engage with Iran and lift the nuclear deal sanctions.”

    Trump’s erratic behavior is starting to alarm even Republican lawmakers, who have kept silent as Trump has done pretty much whatever he wished for the past four years. His firing yesterday of Christopher Krebs, the nation’s top cybersecurity official, led some Republicans to speak out against the president. “I’m sure I’m not the only one that would like some return to a little bit more of a—I don’t even know what’s normal anymore,” said Senator John Cornyn (R-TX).

    A bipartisan group of senators is trying to block the administration’s sale of $23 billion worth of weapons to the United Arab Emirates, including F-35 fighter planes, the most technologically advanced planes in the world. It is unlikely they will be able to do so because it would take a two-thirds majority in both houses to override Trump’s veto of any measure they produce, but they have at least highlighted that Trump has violated normal procedures to make a sale that will dramatically change the balance of power in the Middle East.

    Biden and Harris will meet with the bipartisan executive committee of the National Governors Association tomorrow to talk about addressing the coronavirus.

    _____________________________________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: 34,804
    I saw her latest letter last night just before hitting the sack.  Probably should have waited til the AM to read it though.  Trump's actions are infuriating.  His minions, followers, and congressional stooges are letting him do this shit and all he wants to do is bring down the fucking country.  Fuck that guy.
    "The earth- we could have saved it but we were too damn cheap and lazy."
    -Kurt Vonnegut










  • brianlux said:
    I saw her latest letter last night just before hitting the sack.  Probably should have waited til the AM to read it though.  Trump's actions are infuriating.  His minions, followers, and congressional stooges are letting him do this shit and all he wants to do is bring down the fucking country.  Fuck that guy.
    Yeah... today's was a tough one. 

  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 22,433
     November 19, 2020 (Thursday)

    Today Trump continued his assault on our democracy, trying to overturn what at this point is a very clear victory for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris.

    Today, Trump’s lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell alleged—without evidence—widespread fraud in the election and that Biden won because of “the massive influence of communist money through Venezuela, Cuba, and likely China and the interference with our elections here in the United States.” On his Fox News Channel show, personality Tucker Carlson noted that Powell refused to produce any evidence for any of her outlandish claims. The Washington Post described the press conference in which Trump’s lawyers made these allegations as “truly bonkers.”

    Rick Hasen, an election law expert, wrote, “This is very dangerous for our democracy, as it is an attempt to thwart the will of the voters through political pressure from the President…. Even though it is extremely unlikely to work, it is profoundly antidemocratic and a violation of the rule of law. It's inexcusable.” And yet, the official Twitter account of the Republican Party endorsed Powell’s statements.

    The goal of Trump’s team is not to make a coherent argument; they have lost 31 lawsuits so far, and have racked up only 2 quite minor wins that do not affect the outcome. They are simply creating a narrative to muddy the waters, apparently either to get legislatures to replace Democratic electors with Republican ones, or to delay the certification of ballots to throw the election into the House of Representatives, where they think Trump has a chance of winning. They are making no pretense that Trump is the choice of a majority of voters-- Biden is ahead by almost 6 million votes. Rather, they are trying to game the Electoral College.

    This is a long shot that gets longer every day. Today, Trump invited to the White House Michigan lawmakers and the Republican canvass board members from Wayne County who first certified the ballots that elected Biden, and then, after Trump reached out to them, declared they wanted to “rescind” their approval of the ballot counts. But it was too late to change the certification of the ballots.

    Tonight, the Republican secretary of state from Georgia, Brad Raffensperger, announced the result of the hand audit of ballots there, too. He confirmed that Biden has won Georgia. It turned out there were indeed some minor errors in the original count, but they were concentrated not in Democratic counties, but in Floyd County, which is Republican.

    Today, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform called out Emily Murphy, the administrator at the General Services Administration responsible for refusing to acknowledge Biden’s victory. Her refusal has kept Biden’s people from access to intelligence and federal staffers who could help them prepare to hit the ground running when Biden takes office in January. The committee members wrote a letter pointing out that Biden has won by nearly six million votes and has been identified as the winner of the 2020 election by all major news media outlets. At this point, members of the committee say, “there is no conceivable argument that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are not ‘the apparent successful candidates for the office of President and Vice President,’” the standard the law sets for recognizing an incoming administration.

    The committee wrote: “[T]here is no legitimate path forward for President Trump—regardless of how many baseless lawsuits he files or his irrelevant refusal to concede. He has now lost dozens of cases in multiple states as many of his own attorneys abandon his effort.” It went on, “Your actions in blocking transition activities required under the law are having grave effects, including undermining the orderly transfer of power, impairing the incoming Administration’s ability to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, hampering its ability to address our nation’s dire economic crisis, and endangering our national security.” The committee demanded Murphy brief them no later than Monday on why she is refusing to grant the Biden-Harris team access to the critical services and facilities required by law.

    Trump’s attempt to steal this election is a fundamental attack on our democracy.

    It is prompted in part, perhaps, by the fact that, as soon as he leaves office, Trump can no longer claim protection from indictments. Tonight the New York Times noted that two different investigations by the state of New York into Trump and his businesses have expanded to include tax write-offs for about $26 million in consulting fees, some of which appears to have gone to Ivanka Trump. She lashed out on Twitter, calling the investigation “harassment pure and simple… motivated by politics, publicity and rage.”

    Even some Republican lawmakers are calling out Trump’s assault for what it is. Today Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said “It’s outrageous. It’s an assault on democracy…. It’s bad for the Republican Party.” Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) issued a statement pointing out that the president’s lawyers have refused to allege any fraud while under oath in a court, “because there are legal consequences for lying to judges.” “We are a nation of laws, not tweets,” he said.

    Tonight on Twitter, Mitt Romney (R-UT) wrote, “Having failed to make even a plausible case of widespread fraud or conspiracy before any court of law, the President has now resorted to overt pressure on states and local officials to subvert the will of the people and overturn the election. It is difficult to imagine a worse, more undemocratic action by a sitting American president.”

    Trump’s attack is not the first assault our democracy has withstood. In the 1860s, southern slaveowners sought to destroy the United States of America in order to create their own nation, based on the principle that white men were better than women and people of color, and naturally should rule over them.

    On this date in 1863, at the dedication of a national cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, for the men who had died there in a terrible battle the previous July, President Abraham Lincoln reminded Americans what was at stake. Packed in the midst of a sea of men in frock coats, he spoke for just two minutes.

    Lincoln reminded the audience that America was “conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” The raging civil war was a test to see whether America, or indeed whether any nation based on that revolutionary principle, could survive.

    Lincoln honored “the brave men, living and dead,” who had fought at Gettysburg, but noted that their struggle there had already consecrated the ground “far above our poor power to add or detract.”  

    Instead, he told the audience, the dedication ceremony was for the living. “It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us,” he said, “that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

    _____________________________________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: 22,433
     November 20, 2020 (Friday)

    The news today remains Trump’s unprecedented attempt to steal an election in which voters chose his opponents, Democratic candidate Joe Biden and his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, by close to 6 million votes, so far. A close second to that news is that the leadership of the Republican Party is not standing up to the president, but is instead seemingly willing to let him burn down the country to stay in office.

    Never before in our history has a president who has lost by such a convincing amount tried to claw out a win by gaming the system. Biden has not only won the popular vote by more than any challenger of an incumbent since Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s win in 1932, but also has won crucial states by large margins. He is ahead by more than 80,000 votes in Pennsylvania, almost 160,000 votes in Michigan, and between 11,000 and 34,000 each in Georgia, Wisconsin, Arizona, and Nevada.

    And yet, only two Senate Republicans—Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Ben Sasse (R-NE)-- have called Trump out for refusing to accept the results of the election. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has simply said he is willing to let the process play out. In the House, only two Republicans have said they oppose Trump’s attempt to steal the election. Kay Granger (R-TX) and Fred Upton (R-MI) said there is no evidence of fraud and it is time to move on.

    State leaders, though, have refused to do Trump’s bidding. Today, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, certified Georgia’s vote for Biden. Also today, two top Republicans in the Michigan legislature, whom Trump had invited to the White House apparently to enlist their help in overturning the vote in their state, issued a statement about what happened in their meeting with the president.

    Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and Michigan Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield said they used their time with the president to press him for more money to help Michigan fight the coronavirus, which continues to rage across the country.

    As for the election, they said “We have not yet been made aware of any information that would change the outcome of the election in Michigan and as legislative leaders, we will follow the law and follow the normal process regarding Michigan’s electors…. Michigan’s certification process should be a deliberate process free from threats and intimidation. Allegations of fraudulent behavior should be taken seriously, thoroughly investigated, and if proven, prosecuted to the full extent of the law. And the candidates who win the most votes win elections and Michigan’s electoral votes.”

    Central to Trump’s argument is that Democrats have cheated, even though his own former director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), Christopher Krebs, said the election was “the most secure in American history,” and “there is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.” Krebs was the first director of CISA, an independent agency established within the Department of Homeland Security in 2018, and he worked hard to protect the election from foreign intervention despite the fact the president appeared to be angling for just such intervention.

    Krebs’s defense of the security of our elections led to Trump firing him—by tweet—with Trump falsely asserting: “[t]he recent statement by Chris Krebs on the security of the 2020 Election was highly inaccurate, in that there were massive improprieties and fraud - including dead people voting, Poll Watchers not allowed into polling locations, ‘glitches’ in the voting machines which changed votes from Trump to Biden, late voting, and many more.”

    Trump’s attempt to throw out Democratic votes and lay claim to victory in an election that he lost by quite a lot is the culmination of a generation of Republican rhetoric claiming that Democratic votes are illegitimate.

    Beginning in 1986, Republican operatives began to talk about cutting down Black voting under a “ballot integrity” initiative in hopes that would depress Democratic votes. They bitterly opposed the Democrats’ expansion of voter registration in 1993 under the “Motor-Voter” law, which permitted voter registration at certain state offices. By 1994, losing Republican candidates insisted that their Democratic opponents had won only through “voter fraud,” although voter fraud remains so exceedingly rare as to be virtually non-existent. They fought for voter ID laws that tended to disfranchise Democrats, and immediately after the landmark 2013 Shelby v. Holder decision in which the Supreme Court gutted the 1965 Voting Rights Act, Republican state officials introduced voter ID laws and bills restricting voter registration.  

    In addition to suppressing Democratic votes, recent Republican leaders also took the manipulative system of gerrymandering to new extremes in order to make sure Democrats could not win power. In 2010, party operatives raised money from corporate donors to make sure that state legislatures would be controlled by Republicans that year, as states redistricted for the following decade. After 2010, Republican controlled the key states of Florida, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Ohio, and Michigan, as well as other, smaller states, and they redrew congressional maps using precise computer models. In the 2012 election, Democrats won the White House decisively, the Senate easily, and won a majority of 1.4 million votes for House candidates. But Republicans came away with a 33-seat majority in the House of Representatives.

    Gerrymandering meant that Republicans did not have to attract moderate voters. Instead, Republican candidates had to worry about challenges from further right. Over time, they became more and more extreme. At the same time, without competition, they fielded increasingly weak candidates, who doubled down on inflammatory rhetoric rather than advancing viable policies.

    Increasingly, Republicans insisted that Democrats were anti-American “socialists,” a theme Trump picked up and ran with in his 2020 construction of his opponents as “radical left” extremists who would destroy the country. Trump said "I'm not just running against Biden — Sleepy Joe — I'm running against the corrupt media, the big tech giants, the Washington swamp. And the Democrat Party is a part of all of them — every single one of them. They flood your communities with criminal aliens, drugs and crime, while they live behind beautiful gated compounds." When the Democrats won, Trump promptly insisted that Democrats had cheated.

    Aside from the outcome of this particular election, this attempt of Republican leaders to delegitimize the Democratic Party is an assault on our democracy. Here’s why:

    Democracy requires at least two healthy political parties, so there is always an organized opposition to the party in power. Having a party that stands in opposition to those in power does two things: it enables people to disagree with current leadership while staying loyal to the nation, and it provides a means for oversight of the people running the government.

    Until the early 1700s, in Europe, the monarch was the state. You were either loyal to the king or you were a traitor. Gradually, though, the British political thinkers from whom Americans drew their inspiration began to object to the policies of the British monarchy while remaining loyal to the government. They developed the idea of a loyal opposition. This was an important development in political thought, because it meant that a person could be loyal to the country (and keep his head firmly on his shoulders) while criticizing government policies.

    It also meant that the people in power would have oversight to keep them on the straight and narrow. There’s nothing like opponents watching you for any potential scandal to keep corruption to a minimum.

    During the establishment of the early American republic, the Framers of the Constitution briefly imagined that since the colonists had thrown off the king they would no longer need an opposition. But almost immediately—as early as President George Washington’s administration—men who disagreed with Washington’s policies organized their own party under Thomas Jefferson to oppose those in power. Jeffersonians offered to voters an alternative set of policies, and a way to put them into practice without overthrowing the government itself. This recognition of a loyal opposition was key to more than 200 years of peaceful transfers of power.…

    until now.  

    Trump is rejecting the idea that Democrats can legally win an election. As this crisis drags on, more and more of his followers are echoing his insistence that the Democrats could not possibly win except by cheating. There is no evidence to support this claim. Trump’s lawyers have repeatedly admitted as much in court. It is rather a rejection of the possibility that Democrats can legitimately govern.

    Our democracy depends on our ability both to criticize our government and to believe that we can legitimately elect a different set of leaders to advance different policies. If we lose the concept of a loyal opposition, we must all declare allegiance to the king.

    _____________________________________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
  • Heavy stuff. 

  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 22,433
     November 21, 2020 (Saturday)

    We are faced with the odd prospect of a president fighting desperately to keep a job he evidently doesn’t want. Trump has continued to insist he did not lose the 2020 election, and yet seems to have given up on governing. He has not taken any questions from reporters since Election Day and has spent a great deal of time golfing. Today the G20, the “Group of Twenty,” consisting of the leaders of developed or developing countries from around the world, met virtually. After speaking briefly, Trump turned his attention back to tweeting false information about the 2020 election. Then, while members of the G20 began to talk about responses to the global pandemic, Trump went golfing. This was his 298th golf trip during his presidency. Today America surpassed 12 million coronavirus infections.

    While the president golfs, President-Elect Joe Biden is trying to pressure Congress to pass another coronavirus bill as the economy lurches toward another drop. Incoming presidents usually want to hold their influence in reserve to take credit for new policies, but Biden is pushing forward because he is so concerned about the economy. Unless Congress passes a new bill, about 12 million Americans will lose their unemployment benefits at the end of the year. Hunger and homelessness will follow.

    The image of a political leader insisting he deserves a crucial leadership role he has little interest in filling echoes South Carolina Senator James Henry Hammond in 1858. Hammond stood up on the floor of the Senate in the midst of the sectional crisis and told his colleagues he had not studied the issue that was tearing the nation apart, but felt able to vote on it anyway. He would simply vote as his southern friends did, he said, because they were leaders and he trusted them to have done the work he hadn’t. In any case, it didn’t matter much what anyone said, according to Hammond, because the Constitution had limited the government so it could do nothing but protect property. Even if an overwhelming majority of Americans wanted the government to do something more expansive, it could not.

    Hammond went on to explain that men like him and the other white slave holders who directed the Democratic Party in his era belonged at the top of society. They were naturally supported by the masses, whom he called “mudsills” after the timbers driven into the ground to support the plantation homes above. “In all social systems there must be a class to do the menial duties, to perform the drudgery of life,” he explained. Those people were dumb and unskilled, but they were strong and loyal. So long as their betters directed them, the mudsills would labor effectively, producing capital which moved upward and permitted “that other class which leads progress, civilization, and refinement,” to move the country forward.

    Elsewhere, Hammond made his principles clear: “I repudiate, as ridiculously absurd, that much-lauded but nowhere accredited dogma of Mr. Jefferson, that “all men are born equal.” In his mind, Hammond belonged in the Senate because he was a member of the ruling class.

    The following year, aspiring politician Abraham Lincoln answered Hammond with the vision that would become the intellectual underpinning of the newly formed Republican Party. Lincoln rejected the idea that society moved forward thanks to the efforts of a few rich men. He denied that most people belonged to a lower, menial class into which they were, as he said, “fatally fixed” for life.

    Instead, Lincoln argued that, if properly organized, society progressed thanks to the hard work and innovation of ordinary men. While rich men had no incentive to think up new ideas, he said, ordinary Americans worked and innovated so they could provide for themselves. As they did, they made more money than they and their families needed, so they would use the surplus to buy goods that would support merchants, shoemakers, and so on. In turn, those people would work hard and accumulate capital, which in turn would support a few financiers and industrialists, who would use their own accumulated capital to hire men just starting out, and the cycle would begin again. The heart of the system was not wealthy men, but hardworking ordinary ones.

    Central to this system was government’s guarantee that all men were equal before the law and that all men had equal access to resources. This meant that the government must not protect the very wealthy. It would require a government that did more than protect property; it must keep the economic playing field between wealthy men and ordinary men level.

    These two versions of America appear, once again, to be on the table.

    [Photo, “Partners,” by Peter Ralston]

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  • brianluxbrianlux Moving through All Kinds of Terrain.Posts: 34,804
    In the future, people here and around the world will look at the presidency of the last four years in utter disbelief and question how this was even possible.  Come to think of it, many of us already are. 
    "The earth- we could have saved it but we were too damn cheap and lazy."
    -Kurt Vonnegut










  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 22,433
     November 22, 2020 (Sunday)

    I had gotten half-way through a post tonight about what seems to me a looming split in the Republican Party, when this jumped out from my Facebook timeline. Four years ago today I responded to my inclusion on the brand-new “Professor Watchlist.”

    I will never forget standing in my dark kitchen in my pajamas, at the counter, reading my laptop in shock as I found out that some young grifter named Charlie Kirk had found my name online and put it onto his new website as a danger to students (send money to resist left-wing professors like Richardson!). As I stood there, watching in horror, messages came in from all over the country telling me people had my back. And then I wrote a post to reassure my friends that I was used to this sort of harassment and it would be okay, and then that post went viral, and I came off the list within days.

    We have lived a lifetime in the last four years, and god knows far, far worse things have happened to others than happened to me, but I am still angry about this. And yet, my inclusion on the Professor Watchlist did its job, although perhaps not the job Kirk intended. I had been a fairly quiet academic, but once I knew I was a marked woman, I resolved to fight these vile, unAmerican grifters to the end.

    Four years ago, I knew how bad things could get over the course of Trump’s term. What I could not have imagined was how many wonderful people would join forces to restore America. It’s a movement I’m proud to be part of.

    I’ll see you tomorrow.

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
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    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 22,433
    mickeyrat said:
     November 22, 2020 (Sunday)

    I had gotten half-way through a post tonight about what seems to me a looming split in the Republican Party, when this jumped out from my Facebook timeline. Four years ago today I responded to my inclusion on the brand-new “Professor Watchlist.”

    I will never forget standing in my dark kitchen in my pajamas, at the counter, reading my laptop in shock as I found out that some young grifter named Charlie Kirk had found my name online and put it onto his new website as a danger to students (send money to resist left-wing professors like Richardson!). As I stood there, watching in horror, messages came in from all over the country telling me people had my back. And then I wrote a post to reassure my friends that I was used to this sort of harassment and it would be okay, and then that post went viral, and I came off the list within days.

    We have lived a lifetime in the last four years, and god knows far, far worse things have happened to others than happened to me, but I am still angry about this. And yet, my inclusion on the Professor Watchlist did its job, although perhaps not the job Kirk intended. I had been a fairly quiet academic, but once I knew I was a marked woman, I resolved to fight these vile, unAmerican grifters to the end.

    Four years ago, I knew how bad things could get over the course of Trump’s term. What I could not have imagined was how many wonderful people would join forces to restore America. It’s a movement I’m proud to be part of.

    I’ll see you tomorrow.


    So, yes, I have the dubious honor of being on the "Professor Watchlist," a list published recently by a young alt-right provocateur who knew that such a list would get media traction because of Senator McCarthy's attacks on academics during the Red Scare. I made the list not because of complaints about my teaching, but because of my public writing about politics.

    It is ironic that this list would label me "leftist." In fact, in my public life, I do not identify with a political party, and I work with politicians on both sides of the aisle. I also teach the history of American conservative beliefs, as well as those of liberalism. I believe that the nation needs both the Democratic and the Republican parties to be strong and healthy.

    It is even more ironic that the list would label me "anti-American." In fact, I do what I do-- all the teaching, writing, speeches, and media-- because I love America. I am staunchly committed to the principle of human self-determination, and have come to believe that American democracy is the form of government that comes closest to bringing that principle to reality. This nation is not perfect-- far from it-- but when it is at its best, it has more potential for people of all genders, races, and ethnicities to create their own destinies than any other governmental system. I work to teach people about that system, its great triumphs... and also its hideous failures. We must learn from the past because the miracle of America is that it is always reinventing itself, giving us the potential to remake it, better, every day.

    I am dangerous not to America but to the people soon to be in charge of it, people like the youngster who wrote this list. I teach that the American government only works when it is based on the principle that every single American is equal before the law. Since 1997, I have argued in print and in public that, throughout history, ideologically-driven politicians have undermined that fundamental principle in order to shift the economy and the power structures of this country in their own favor. For the last several years, as I took on a more and more public role, I have focused on the present, hammering on the idea that the ideologically-driven Movement Conservatives who have taken over the nation through the Republican Party are not real Republicans; they are a cabal concentrating wealth and power into a ruling class that is crushing the rest of us. I truly believe that most Americans want not this extraordinary upward redistribution of wealth and power, but rather the same sort of government known in the 1950s as the "liberal consensus," established by FDR and Eisenhower, that regulates business, maintains national infrastructure, and provides a basic social safety net, while still leaving ample room for private enterprise and the innovation it sparks.

    That the only way Movement Conservatives have managed to stay in power is to game the system through gerrymandering and voter suppression, hatred, and now the intimidation of people like me says to me that even they know they are in danger of losing control of the country. As a friend of mine says, a dying mule kicks the hardest.

    People have asked what they can do in this moment. Across the political spectrum, I would urge everyone who believes in this nation to focus on the mechanics of government and constantly to call out official actions that you would find unacceptable if they happened to "your" side, especially if it's "your" side doing them. Call attention to law-breaking that is actionable at a state or national level, rather than focusing on individual outrages (that Russia interfered in the 2016 election is important; a keyed car is not). Do not believe or share any sensationalist stories until you have confirmed them through a site like Snopes.com, and call out those who make assertions without factual evidence. Do not mistake legal practices like peaceful protests or government petitions for wrongdoing. If you see something illegal, document it with photos and witnesses and take it to police even if you suspect they will ignore it: continue to demand that the system operate properly. Call your representatives constantly to register your opinions (it matters-- most get fewer than a dozen calls about issues at hand).

    And try to stop demonizing political opponents who fall within the normal political spectrum so we can all stand together against those who are trashing our institutions and our legal system. There are both Republicans and Democrats in my FB feed and you have far more in common than you are different, I promise you. What no one on my FB feeds wants, though, is for this nation to commit suicide, and if those of us who believe in America turn against each other, we will permit precisely that.

    I have been touched and overwhelmed by all of your messages of concern and support over my inclusion on the Professor Watchlist. And for those of you who worried: no, I will not shut up. America is still worth fighting for.

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  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 22,433
     November 23, 2020 (Monday)

    At about 6:00 tonight, Emily Murphy, the Trump appointee at the head of General Services Administration who has been holding up the transition to a Biden administration, notified President-Elect Joe Biden that she recognizes his status and will release the money set aside for the transition. This should launch the formal transition process between administrations, as Biden’s people meet with Trump’s people to learn about the issues over which they will be assuming control on January 20, 2021.

    Murphy’s decision appears to have been prompted by Michigan’s certification of its election results. Biden won the state by 150,000 votes, fourteen times Trump’s margin there in 2016, and now can officially claim the state’s 16 electoral votes. This makes it almost impossible for Trump somehow to eke out a win. The Trump campaign vowed to fight on.

    Murphy went out of her way to say that she was not pressured by the White House, but Trump promptly contradicted her, saying that the call to release the funds had been his. For all his bluster, the Trump campaign has bowed to reality, and this might indicate a new era in politics.

    Trump is unique, but he is also the product of a distinctive era of Republican history. Beginning in 1968, the party began to win power through the Southern Strategy, picking up racist southern Democrats who opposed the Democratic Party’s embrace of Black rights. After Congress passed the 1964 Civil Rights Act, those voters supported Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater for president thanks to his insistence that federal protection of racial equality was unconstitutional. The 1965 Voting Rights Act, signed by Democratic President Lyndon Johnson, put their loyalty up for grabs. Richard Nixon claimed it by promising he would not use the federal government to enforce racial justice.

    This strategy worked, but it changed the trajectory of the post-WWII Republican Party. It had been Republican Supreme Court justices nominated by President Dwight Eisenhower who advanced civil rights by insisting that states were bound by the Constitution’s Bill of Rights, but the Republican Party now needed to court voters motivated by white supremacy. That ideology promoted an image of white men as the hardworking producers in the country, taking care of their wives and children, while people of color and independent women who wanted equal rights were demanding government program that sucked tax dollars.

    That formula became the driving narrative of the modern party, embraced by business leaders who needed to marshal voters behind policies that increasingly benefited not ordinary Americans but those at the very top of the economic ladder. Over time, this new breed of Republicans bled out of the party traditional Republicans who objected to the extremist turn the party was taking. And extremist it was: aided by talk radio and the Fox News Channel, party leaders increasingly demonized their opponents, until by 2016, the leader of the party opened his presidential campaign by alleging that immigrants were criminals, boasting of sexual assault, and welcoming the support of white supremacists.

    And yet, despite a clear pattern of voter suppression, a majority of voters rejected Trump in 2020, suggesting that demographics and reality have finally caught up with the Southern Strategy.

    In the wake of the election, Trump’s followers have embraced his distrust of our electoral system and are flocking to the conspiracy theories put forward by QAnon. They are joining Parler, a social media website that permits conspiracy theories to spread unchecked, although, interestingly, their leaders remain on more mainstream platforms like Twitter.

    While defeated incumbents tend to lose power in their party, Trump has tried to assert his continued control. He has attacked loyal Republicans like Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and Ohio Governor Mike DeWine who have refused to support his attempt to steal the election; is hoping to keep his handpicked Republican National Committee chair, Ronna McDaniel, in office; has packed state level party positions with loyalists; and is trying to keep control over the voter data he has compiled over the past four years. Trump is primed to control the direction of the party for 2024. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) have signaled their support for this plan by endorsing McDaniel for another term in office.

    But while followers marinate in fantasies about secret servers and hidden ballots, and congressional leaders endorse Trump, other Republican Party leaders recognize that his refusal to accept the results of the election is unprecedented and dangerous.

    On Sunday, leaders began to pressure Trump to concede. Trump’s former National Security Advisers John Bolton and HR McMaster agreed that Trump’s disdain for the election was eroding democracy, which plays into the hands of our adversaries. The Republican former governor of New Jersey, Thomas H. Kean and a former Democratic lawmaker from New Jersey, Tim Roemer, both of whom were on the 9/11 Commission, were more explicit. They warned that the transition delay from Bill Clinton to George W. Bush contributed to the 9/11 terrorist attack.

    At about 6:00 last night, the Trump campaign abruptly jettisoned the attorney who has been making even more crazy claims than Trump’s longtime lawyer Rudy Giuliani. A statement from the Trump campaign, signed by Giuliani and Jenna Ellis, a senior legal adviser to the Trump team, said “Sidney Powell is practicing law on her own. She is not a member of the Trump Legal Team. She is also not a lawyer for the President in his personal capacity.” Powell, who is openly a QAnon believer, has been out in front of the Trump recount effort, making simply outrageous claims. It seems her craziness finally went too far.

    Today more than 100 former national security officials from the Republican Party issued a statement saying that Trump’s refusal to concede “constitutes a serious threat to America’s democratic process and to our national security.” They called “on Republican leaders—especially those in Congress—to publicly demand that President Trump cease his anti-democratic assault on the integrity of the presidential election…. By encouraging President Trump’s delaying tactics or remaining silent, Republican leaders put American democracy and national security at risk.”

    Tonight, Emily Murphy finally admitted that Joe Biden won the 2020 election.

    It’s hard to imagine this admission will bring the extremist Trump supporters back into the fold. At the same time it’s hard to see how establishment Republicans horrified by the excesses of Trump’s regime will be willing to move toward the extremists. If this is indeed a split, establishment Republicans will have to move back toward the center to pick up the voters the party has lost at the fringes. Its extremist adherents will regroup outside the mainstream, and the power of the Southern Strategy to win elections will be broken.

    We’ll see.

    While Republican leaders have struggled, Biden has stayed above the Trumpian fray, emphasizing the need for coordination to distribute the coronavirus vaccinations but focusing on jumpstarting his administration rather than challenging Trump in the public forum. Last night, word began to leak of the president-elect’s Cabinet picks. They are a very clear sign of his determination to rebuild the nation by putting experts back into power.

    Biden’s nominees are people who have spent long careers inside the government, making them good candidates to rebuild what Trump gutted, beginning with the State Department, which manages our foreign policy. Biden began by naming a secretary of state, a sign to the world that America is back and wants again to be a reliable partner. His pick is Antony Blinken, who served as Deputy Secretary of State and Deputy National Security Advisor under President Barack Obama. Blinken also worked with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when Biden chaired it, and served as Biden’s National Security advisor when he was vice president. He will be an informed, strong voice at State.

    The rest of Biden’s candidates show similarly impressive credentials. They also reflect the longstanding Democratic principle that the government should reflect the American people. Biden is proposing Cuban-born Alejandro Mayorkas, a former deputy secretary, to head the Department of Homeland Security. He proposes Avril Haines, former deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency, for Director of National Intelligence, and Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a 35-year veteran of the foreign service, who is Black, for ambassador the United Nations.    

    Thomas-Greenfield went to college with David Duke, who would go on to become the grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and who endorsed Trump for president in both 2016 and 2020. In at least some very important ways, it is a new era in politics, indeed.

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  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 22,433
     November 24, 2020 (Tuesday)

    The stock market, which has been strong thanks to the good news about coronavirus vaccines, jumped to a record high today on news that President-Elect Joe Biden is planning to nominate Janet Yellen to head the Treasury Department. She will be the first woman to lead the department, and is considered an especially strong pick, particularly at this moment. Yellen is a labor economist and monetary policy expert who cares deeply about issues of inequality, and is respected by members of both parties. She served as the Chair of the Federal Reserve from 2014 to 2018, and headed the White House Council of Economic Advisers under President Bill Clinton.

    Yellen’s strong piloting of the Federal Reserve won her support on Wall Street, while she is also popular with labor interests: many analysts credit her with the strong labor market of the Obama years that continued until the pandemic. Former Goldman Sachs executive Gary Cohn, who advised Trump on economic policy, tweeted that Yellen “is an excellent choice…. [S]he will be the steady hand we need to promote an economy that works for everyone, especially during these difficult times.” Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), known as a progressive, tweeted that the choice of Yellen is “outstanding…. She is smart, tough, and principled…. [S]he has stood up to Wall Street banks….”  

    Yellen’s expected nomination is yet another Biden pick that emphasizes stability and a return to a government to which Americans had become accustomed before Trump’s election. The Biden-Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris administration appears ready to use the government to help ordinary Americans.

    That return to our traditional position appears popular among financial markets as well as with ordinary voters. The Dow Jones industrial average jumped with the Yellen news, but it had topped 30,000 earlier, shortly after Pennsylvania certified its votes for Biden. Investors like political stability. Trump’s erratic behavior threatened to make business success depend not on ability but on political favoritism, which business leaders actually don’t like because it enables a political leader to pick winners and losers. Recently, the president’s attacks on our democratic system have undermined confidence so that Biden’s certified win was a relief (although later in the day Trump tried to take credit for the stock market high).

    Yesterday, officials at General Motors noted that the Trump years had made the government lag behind popular opinion. They abandoned their former support for Trump’s rollback of emissions standards and sided with California in its quest to modernize our automotive fleet. CEO Mary Barra wrote to leaders of environmental groups, saying: “We believe the ambitious electrification goals of the President-elect, California, and General Motors are aligned to address climate change by drastically reducing automobile emissions,” she wrote. “We are confident that the Biden Administration, California, and the U.S. auto industry, which supports 10.3 million jobs, can collaboratively find the pathway that will deliver an all-electric future.”

    The outgoing Trump administration is not taking the rejection of their policies lying down. It appears officials are trying to use their last months in office to undermine Biden and Harris, making sure they enter office with crises at hand and a limited number of options for dealing with them.

    As coronavirus roars across the country, the administration remains committed to the idea of simply letting the virus take its toll until vaccines are available. Vice President Mike Pence, the head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, briefed reporters last Thursday for the first time since July, assuring them that while infection rates are rising, “[W]e approach this moment with the confidence of experience. We know the American people know what to do.”

    In the last week, the United States has seen 1.2 million new infections, bringing our total to more than 12.5 million. We are approaching an official death count of 260,000, and are losing about 1500 people every day. Doctors in Utah are having to ration care; Minnesota, Kansas, and Missouri are short of beds in intensive care units; Texas had to mobilize 36 National Guard personnel to help clear an overflow of bodies at the El Paso morgue.

    Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warns that fatalities could get worse. “Two to three thousand deaths a day times a couple of months, and you’re approaching a really stunning number of deaths," he told Yahoo News. But, he noted, “It isn’t inevitable…. We can blunt the curve” by wearing masks, washing hands, and social distancing until the newly announced coronavirus vaccines are widely available.

    And yet, Republicans continue to downplay the dangers of the virus, although 8 of the 53 Senate Republicans have themselves tested positive for it. Last week Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) called a request from Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) that another senator wear a mask to protect nearby staffers “idiotic” and “an ostentatious sign of fake virtue.”

    More than 125 economists this week wrote an open letter calling for a new coronavirus relief package to tide the country over until coronavirus vaccines can stem the economic crisis, especially as measures passed back in March will expire with the end of the year. They are simply echoing the many calls for such a measure, including ones from Trump-appointed Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell. But while the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed a new $3 trillion bill back in May, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has declined to take it up, and has not been able to bring Senate Republicans together to back their own version. Now, he has sent senators home for Thanksgiving without taking up a bill.

    Today negotiators for the House and Senate hammered out a deal to keep the government funded past the December 11 shutdown date, but while Democrats still remain hopeful they can include coronavirus relief measures in the package, Republicans are pessimistic.

    Last week, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin went further to divorce the government from supporting the economy in this perilous time. He announced that he was suspending the Treasury’s lending powers at the end of the year, taking away a crucial backstop for businesses and local governments. He is also clawing back from the Federal Reserve about $250 billion appropriated under the original coronavirus relief bill in an apparent attempt to keep it out of the hands of the Biden team. That money will go back to Congress, which would have to reappropriate it in another bill to make it available again, which the Republican Senate shows no sign of being willing to do. Republicans have expressed concern that the Biden administration could use the appropriated money to bail out states and local governments, which by law cannot borrow to tide them over.

    The U.S. Chamber of Commerce objected strongly to Mnuchin’s actions. In a public statement, it said: ““American businesses and workers are weary of these political machinations when they are doing everything in their power to keep our economy going. We strongly urge these programs be extended for the foreseeable future and call on Congress to pass additional pandemic relief targeted at the American businesses, workers and industries that continue to suffer. We all need to unite behind the need of a broad-based economic recovery.”

    David Wilcox, who holds a PhD in Economics from MIT and is the former chief economist for the Federal Reserve, was blunt. He told journalist Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, “The most obvious interpretation is that the Trump administration is seeking to debilitate the economic recovery as much as possible on the way out of the door.”

    This is why Yellen’s nomination is being greeted with such relief. Observers expect her to back government spending to address the devastating effects of the coronavirus on the economy, while her background in monetary policy will help her craft a coordinated response between the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department.

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  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 22,433
     November 25, 2020 (Wednesday)

    It doesn’t feel like much of a Thanksgiving this year. Lots of chairs are empty, either permanently, as we are now counting our coronavirus dead in the hundreds of thousands, or temporarily, as we are staying away from our loved ones to keep the virus at bay.

    Lots of tables are empty, too, as Americans are feeling the weight of an ongoing economic crisis.

    Rather than being unprecedented, though, this year of hardship and political strife brings us closer to the first national Thanksgiving than any more normal year.

    That first Thanksgiving celebration was not in Plymouth, Massachusetts. While the Pilgrims and the Wampanoags did indeed share a harvest feast in fall 1621, and while early colonial leaders periodically declared days of thanksgiving when settlers were supposed to give their thanks for continued life and-- with luck—prosperity, neither of these gave rise to our national celebration of Thanksgiving.

    We celebrate Thanksgiving because of the Civil War.

    Southern whites fired on a federal fort, Fort Sumter, in Charleston Harbor in April 1861 in an attempt to destroy the United States of America and create their own country, based not in the American idea that “all men are created equal,” but rather in the opposite idea: that some men were better than others, and had the right to enslave their neighbors. In the 1850s, convinced that society worked best if a few wealthy men ran it, southern leaders had worked to bend the laws of the United States to their benefit. They used the government to protect slavery at the same time they denied it could do any of the things ordinary Americans wanted it to, like building roads, or funding colleges.

    In 1860, northerners elected Abraham Lincoln to the presidency to stop the rich southern slaveholders from taking over the government and using it to cement their own wealth and power. As soon as Lincoln was elected, southern leaders pulled their states out of the Union to set up their own country. For their part, Lincoln and the northerners set out to end the slaveholders’ rebellion and bring the South back into a Union in which the government worked for people at the bottom, not just those at the top.

    The early years of the war did not go well for the Union. By the end of 1862, the armies still held, but people on the home front were losing faith. Leaders recognized the need both to acknowledge the suffering and to keep Americans loyal to the cause. In November and December, seventeen state governors declared state thanksgiving holidays.

    New York Governor Edwin Morgan’s widely reprinted proclamation about the holiday reflected that the previous year “is numbered among the dark periods of history, and its sorrowful records are graven on many hearthstones.” But this was nonetheless a time for giving thanks, he wrote, because “the precious blood shed in the cause of our country will hallow and strengthen our love and our reverence for it and its institutions…. Our Government and institutions placed in jeopardy have brought us to a more just appreciation of their value.”

    The next year Lincoln got ahead of the state proclamations. On July 15, he declared a national day of thanksgiving, and the relief in his proclamation was almost palpable. After two years of disasters, the Union army was finally winning. Bloody, yes; battered, yes; but winning. At Gettysburg in early July, Union troops had sent Confederates reeling back southward. Then, on July 4, Vicksburg had finally fallen to U. S. Grant’s army. The military tide was turning.

    President Lincoln set Thursday, August 6, 1863, for the national day of thanksgiving. On that day, ministers across the country listed the signal victories of the U.S. Army and Navy in the past year, and reassured their congregations that it was only a matter of time until the United States government put down the southern rebellion. Their predictions acknowledged the dead and reinforced the idea that their sacrifice had not been in vain, as Lincoln himself did just three months later in the Gettysburg Address.

    In October 1863, President Lincoln declared the second national day of thanksgiving. In the past year, he declared, the nation had been blessed.

    In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, he wrote, Americans had maintained their laws and their institutions, and kept foreign countries from meddling with their nation. They had paid for the war as they went, refusing to permit the destruction to cripple the economy. Instead, as they funded the war, they had also advanced farming, industry, mining, and shipping. Immigrants had poured into the country to replace men lost on the battlefield, and the economy was booming. And Lincoln had recently promised that the government would end slavery once and for all. The country, he predicted, “with a large increase of freedom,” would survive, stronger and more prosperous than ever. The President invited Americans “in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea, and those who are sojourning in foreign lands” to observe the last Thursday of November as a day of thanksgiving.

    The following year, Lincoln proclaimed another day of thanksgiving, this time congratulating Americans that God had favored them not only with immigration but also with the emancipation of formerly enslaved people. “Moreover,” Lincoln wrote, “He has been pleased to animate and inspire our minds and hearts with fortitude, courage, and resolution sufficient for the great trial of civil war into which we have been brought by our adherence as a nation to the cause of freedom and humanity, and to afford to us reasonable hopes of an ultimate and happy deliverance from all our dangers and afflictions.”

    Lincoln established our national Thanksgiving to celebrate the survival of our democratic government.

    Today, more than 150 years later, President-Elect Joe Biden addressed Americans, noting that we are in our own war, this one against the novel coronavirus, that has already taken the grim toll of at least 260,000 Americans. Like Lincoln before him, he urged us to persevere, promising that vaccines really do appear to be on their way by late December or early January. “There is real hope, tangible hope. So hang on,” he said. “Don’t let yourself surrender to the fatigue…. [W]e can and we will beat this virus. America is not going to lose this war. You will get your lives back. Life is going to return to normal. That will happen. This will not last forever.”  

    “Think of what we’ve come through,” Biden said, “centuries of human enslavement; a cataclysmic Civil War; the exclusion of women from the ballot box; World Wars; Jim Crow; a long twilight struggle against Soviet tyranny that could have ended not with the fall of the Berlin Wall, but in nuclear Armageddon.” “It’s been in the most difficult of circumstances that the soul of our nation has been forged,” he said. “Faith, courage, sacrifice, service to country, service to each other, and gratitude even in the face of suffering, have long been part of what Thanksgiving means in America.”

    “America has never been perfect,” Biden said. “But we’ve always tried to fulfill the aspiration of the Declaration of Independence: that all people are created equal….”

    Biden could stand firmly on the Declaration of Independence because in 1861, Americans went to war to keep a cabal of slave owners from taking control of the government and turning it into an oligarchy. The fight against that rebellion seemed at first to be too much for the nation to survive. But Americans rallied and threw their hearts into the cause on the battlefields even as they continued to work on the home front for a government that promoted the common good.

    And they won.

    I wish you all a peaceful holiday.

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  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 22,433
     November 26, 2020 (Thursday)

    Going to take the night off and high-tail it to bed.

    Will see you all tomorrow, rested.

    [Photo by Peter Ralston. It's called "Perseverence," and was at least part of the inspiration for last night's post.]

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    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 22,433
     November 27, 2020 (Friday)

    As he lays out his plans for his first hundred days in office and begins to fill positions, President-Elect Joe Biden is making it clear he intends to rebuild the institutions and alliances Trump has gutted. At the same time, his focus on rebuilding the economy for ordinary Americans as a community, rather than as individual men, is new.

    The emphasis on the first hundred days is artificial and simply reflects the flurry of activity that Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt launched to deal with the Great Depression when he took office in March 1933. Pundits now use the hundred-day measure to judge how effective a president is early in his term. Biden is a very good negotiator, but he will be facing Republicans determined to prevent any government action, so just how successful he will be in getting legislation through is unclear. He will at least move a number of pieces around through executive action.

    As he explains his plans, Biden is beginning in the obvious place: we simply must get the coronavirus under control in order to stop the devastation it is causing across the country. With that success, the economy can rebound. The United States just suffered a million cases of coronavirus in a week; since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 264,000 of us have died of it. In the entirety of the epidemic, the United Kingdom has suffered 1.6 million cases; Germany, 1.02 million. Our hospitals are stretched, our health care professionals and front-line workers exhausted.

    In an interview with journalist Lester Holt on NBC Nightly News on Tuesday, Biden indicated he will also take action on immigration, climate change, and health care in the first 100 days. As always, he maintains that these issues can all be adjusted in ways that build the economy.

    He also said he would not interfere with the Justice Department, as his predecessor has done. Traditionally, the Department of Justice is not political, but Trump and his attorney general William Barr have used it to advance Trump’s political interests. Biden vows to return it to its normal independence.

    Biden told Holt that he wants to rebuild the economy for ordinary Americans. “I’m focused on getting the American public back at a place where they have some certainty, some surety, some knowledge that they can make it,” he said. “The middle class and working-class people are being crushed. That's my focus.”

    The emphasis of Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris on rebuilding economic security for ordinary Americans is an old promise with a new definition. Since World War Two, politicians have tended to define the primary unit of American society as based in a breadwinning white man who supports a wife and children.

    This image has never reflected the majority of households. Biden and Harris are changing the old pattern, visibly reaching out to communities of color and people who do not live in nuclear families. On Thanksgiving, it was a small thing, but a very noticeable one, when Harris urged her followers on Twitter to “check in on your single friends.” The new administration’s focus on ordinary Americans has grown out of our history, but its emphasis on community, rather than male-centered nuclear families, is new.

    Biden has also indicated he will reclaim our place at the international table as a strong ally to Europe, rather than trying to force new alliances with autocratic leaders in Saudi Arabia, Russia, and similar countries.

    Meanwhile, Trump seems to be trying to tie Biden’s hands and leave him with messes both at home and abroad. In addition to the fences Treasury Secretary has tried to put around coronavirus relief by clawing back congressionally-appropriated money, Trump has tried to burrow loyalists into the government to stop its normal operation.

    In October, Trump issued an executive order that created a new category of federal employees who could be appointed without going through normal civil service channels, but could not be removed for political reasons. This will enable him to fill government departments with Trump loyalists. And this is no small deal: Real Clear Politics obtained a memo saying that the Office of Management and Budget, which under Trump has been a vehicle for implementing the president’s plans contrary to law—it was the OMB that held up appropriated money to Ukraine in 2019, for example—is planning to put 88 percent of its employees into this new category.

    On Wednesday, the Trump administration announced a purge of longstanding members of the Defense Policy Board, a group of foreign policy experts who advise the Secretary of Defense and his team about specific issues when they want outside opinions. Those removed were former Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright, who served under Democratic President Bill Clinton, and Henry Kissinger, who has been a stalwart of Republican foreign policy since the Richard Nixon administration, as well as former leaders of Congress and the Pentagon. They will be replaced by Trump loyalists.

    This change comes after the purge of civilian leaders in the Department of Defense shortly after the election. In addition, according to DefenseNews, 24 of the 60 positions at the Department of Defense that require Senate approval are not occupied by confirmed appointees. Increasingly, our foreign policy ranks are filled with people loyal to Trump.

    These purges may or may not having something to do with the assassination today of top Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, whom U.S. and Israeli intelligence services say was behind Iran’s push for nuclear weapons. Fakhrizadeh was killed when gunmen ambushed his vehicle near Tehran, Iran. Iranian officials called the attack terrorism and vowed revenge.

    Former CIA Director John O. Brennan was appalled at the attack. “This was a criminal act & highly reckless,” he tweeted. “It risks lethal retaliation & a new round of regional conflict.” American officials have unofficially said that Israel was behind the killing. Although the U.S. has not been associated with the attack, it is well-known that America and Israel are allies that share intelligence about Iran, and just two weeks ago news broke that advisers had to talk Trump out of attacking Iran when inspectors reported that the country had at least 8 times the uranium it would have been permitted had Trump stayed in the 2015 nuclear deal that limited Iran's acquisition of nuclear material. Both the White House and the CIA have declined to comment on Fakhrizadeh’s death.

    If this assassination was indeed an attack by a foreign government, Brennan said, it is “state-sponsored terrorism” “far different than strikes against terrorist leaders & operatives of groups like al-Qaida & Islamic State, which are not sovereign states.” Those groups, considered illegitimate combatants under international law, can be targeted to stop terrorist attacks. Citizens of foreign states cannot.

    Recognizing that this attack will likely limit Biden’s ability to rejoin the Iran nuclear deal, as he has promised to do, Brennan noted: “Iranian leaders would be wise to wait for the return of responsible American leadership on the global stage & to resist the urge to respond against perceived culprits.”

    Trump is also withdrawing U.S. troops from postings around the world. Troop removals from Iraq appear to offer a window for the Taliban to retake key positions there, and as it appears we will withdraw 700 military personnel from Somalia, observers there worry extremists affiliated with al-Qaida will gain the upper hand just in time for elections, which take place in December and February. Suddenly withdrawing troops makes the U.S. look like an unreliable partner, which will further weaken our traditional alliances.

    Trump’s withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty of 1992 is another way to hamper Biden’s attempt to strengthen our European ties. The treaty permitted the 34 signatories to it to fly over each other’s territory to observe their military operations. The administration plans to sell the planes it used for its inspections, and rejected plans to build more. Biden has said he will rejoin the treaty, but that would require the approval of the Senate which, dominated by Republicans, is unlikely to agree. It is possible that Biden could sidestep the Senate by Executive Order.

    Trump has also indicated he will veto the National Defense Authorization Act, which funds the military, unless a bipartisan provision to rename the ten military bases named for Confederate officers is stripped from it.

    Trump is looking out for friends, though. On Wednesday night he pardoned his former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contact with then-Russian Ambassador the U.S. Sergey Kislyak during the transition period before Trump took office.

    So, while Biden is trying to return the country to something like a pre-Trump government, it seems the administration itself has come full circle. It was then-FBI Director James Comey’s refusal to stop investigating Flynn’s Russia dealings that led Trump to fire Comey in May 2017, which led to the Russia investigation that Trump still blames for undermining his administration. Four years later, Trump is still stuck in the same quagmire.

    Flynn, Trump said in a statement defending the pardon, is “an innocent man.”

    _____________________________________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: 34,804
    mickeyrat said:
     November 27, 2020 (Friday)

    As he lays out his plans for his first hundred days in office and begins to fill positions, President-Elect Joe Biden is making it clear he intends to rebuild the institutions and alliances Trump has gutted. At the same time, his focus on rebuilding the economy for ordinary Americans as a community, rather than as individual men, is new.

    The emphasis on the first hundred days is artificial and simply reflects the flurry of activity that Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt launched to deal with the Great Depression when he took office in March 1933. Pundits now use the hundred-day measure to judge how effective a president is early in his term. Biden is a very good negotiator, but he will be facing Republicans determined to prevent any government action, so just how successful he will be in getting legislation through is unclear. He will at least move a number of pieces around through executive action.

    As he explains his plans, Biden is beginning in the obvious place: we simply must get the coronavirus under control in order to stop the devastation it is causing across the country. With that success, the economy can rebound. The United States just suffered a million cases of coronavirus in a week; since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 264,000 of us have died of it. In the entirety of the epidemic, the United Kingdom has suffered 1.6 million cases; Germany, 1.02 million. Our hospitals are stretched, our health care professionals and front-line workers exhausted.

    In an interview with journalist Lester Holt on NBC Nightly News on Tuesday, Biden indicated he will also take action on immigration, climate change, and health care in the first 100 days. As always, he maintains that these issues can all be adjusted in ways that build the economy.

    He also said he would not interfere with the Justice Department, as his predecessor has done. Traditionally, the Department of Justice is not political, but Trump and his attorney general William Barr have used it to advance Trump’s political interests. Biden vows to return it to its normal independence.

    Biden told Holt that he wants to rebuild the economy for ordinary Americans. “I’m focused on getting the American public back at a place where they have some certainty, some surety, some knowledge that they can make it,” he said. “The middle class and working-class people are being crushed. That's my focus.”

    The emphasis of Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris on rebuilding economic security for ordinary Americans is an old promise with a new definition. Since World War Two, politicians have tended to define the primary unit of American society as based in a breadwinning white man who supports a wife and children.

    This image has never reflected the majority of households. Biden and Harris are changing the old pattern, visibly reaching out to communities of color and people who do not live in nuclear families. On Thanksgiving, it was a small thing, but a very noticeable one, when Harris urged her followers on Twitter to “check in on your single friends.” The new administration’s focus on ordinary Americans has grown out of our history, but its emphasis on community, rather than male-centered nuclear families, is new.

    Biden has also indicated he will reclaim our place at the international table as a strong ally to Europe, rather than trying to force new alliances with autocratic leaders in Saudi Arabia, Russia, and similar countries.

    Meanwhile, Trump seems to be trying to tie Biden’s hands and leave him with messes both at home and abroad. In addition to the fences Treasury Secretary has tried to put around coronavirus relief by clawing back congressionally-appropriated money, Trump has tried to burrow loyalists into the government to stop its normal operation.

    In October, Trump issued an executive order that created a new category of federal employees who could be appointed without going through normal civil service channels, but could not be removed for political reasons. This will enable him to fill government departments with Trump loyalists. And this is no small deal: Real Clear Politics obtained a memo saying that the Office of Management and Budget, which under Trump has been a vehicle for implementing the president’s plans contrary to law—it was the OMB that held up appropriated money to Ukraine in 2019, for example—is planning to put 88 percent of its employees into this new category.

    On Wednesday, the Trump administration announced a purge of longstanding members of the Defense Policy Board, a group of foreign policy experts who advise the Secretary of Defense and his team about specific issues when they want outside opinions. Those removed were former Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright, who served under Democratic President Bill Clinton, and Henry Kissinger, who has been a stalwart of Republican foreign policy since the Richard Nixon administration, as well as former leaders of Congress and the Pentagon. They will be replaced by Trump loyalists.

    This change comes after the purge of civilian leaders in the Department of Defense shortly after the election. In addition, according to DefenseNews, 24 of the 60 positions at the Department of Defense that require Senate approval are not occupied by confirmed appointees. Increasingly, our foreign policy ranks are filled with people loyal to Trump.

    These purges may or may not having something to do with the assassination today of top Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, whom U.S. and Israeli intelligence services say was behind Iran’s push for nuclear weapons. Fakhrizadeh was killed when gunmen ambushed his vehicle near Tehran, Iran. Iranian officials called the attack terrorism and vowed revenge.

    Former CIA Director John O. Brennan was appalled at the attack. “This was a criminal act & highly reckless,” he tweeted. “It risks lethal retaliation & a new round of regional conflict.” American officials have unofficially said that Israel was behind the killing. Although the U.S. has not been associated with the attack, it is well-known that America and Israel are allies that share intelligence about Iran, and just two weeks ago news broke that advisers had to talk Trump out of attacking Iran when inspectors reported that the country had at least 8 times the uranium it would have been permitted had Trump stayed in the 2015 nuclear deal that limited Iran's acquisition of nuclear material. Both the White House and the CIA have declined to comment on Fakhrizadeh’s death.

    If this assassination was indeed an attack by a foreign government, Brennan said, it is “state-sponsored terrorism” “far different than strikes against terrorist leaders & operatives of groups like al-Qaida & Islamic State, which are not sovereign states.” Those groups, considered illegitimate combatants under international law, can be targeted to stop terrorist attacks. Citizens of foreign states cannot.

    Recognizing that this attack will likely limit Biden’s ability to rejoin the Iran nuclear deal, as he has promised to do, Brennan noted: “Iranian leaders would be wise to wait for the return of responsible American leadership on the global stage & to resist the urge to respond against perceived culprits.”

    Trump is also withdrawing U.S. troops from postings around the world. Troop removals from Iraq appear to offer a window for the Taliban to retake key positions there, and as it appears we will withdraw 700 military personnel from Somalia, observers there worry extremists affiliated with al-Qaida will gain the upper hand just in time for elections, which take place in December and February. Suddenly withdrawing troops makes the U.S. look like an unreliable partner, which will further weaken our traditional alliances.

    Trump’s withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty of 1992 is another way to hamper Biden’s attempt to strengthen our European ties. The treaty permitted the 34 signatories to it to fly over each other’s territory to observe their military operations. The administration plans to sell the planes it used for its inspections, and rejected plans to build more. Biden has said he will rejoin the treaty, but that would require the approval of the Senate which, dominated by Republicans, is unlikely to agree. It is possible that Biden could sidestep the Senate by Executive Order.

    Trump has also indicated he will veto the National Defense Authorization Act, which funds the military, unless a bipartisan provision to rename the ten military bases named for Confederate officers is stripped from it.

    Trump is looking out for friends, though. On Wednesday night he pardoned his former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contact with then-Russian Ambassador the U.S. Sergey Kislyak during the transition period before Trump took office.

    So, while Biden is trying to return the country to something like a pre-Trump government, it seems the administration itself has come full circle. It was then-FBI Director James Comey’s refusal to stop investigating Flynn’s Russia dealings that led Trump to fire Comey in May 2017, which led to the Russia investigation that Trump still blames for undermining his administration. Four years later, Trump is still stuck in the same quagmire.

    Flynn, Trump said in a statement defending the pardon, is “an innocent man.”


    "Meanwhile, Trump seems to be trying to tie Biden’s hands and leave him with messes both at home and abroad."
    And to what purpose?  "I lost so now I'm going to shit on everything I can."


    In October, Trump issued an executive order that created a new category of federal employees who could be appointed without going through normal civil service channels, but could not be removed for political reasons.
    Will Biden be able to undo this?  How can this happen in a so-called Democracy?

    Troop removals from Iraq appear to offer a window for the Taliban to retake key positions there...
    What reason is there for this other that to simply fuck with the incoming Biden administration?

    And on and on.  "I lost the game so now I'm going to fuck up they playing board as badly as I can over the next 7 weeks."  Disgusting.




    "The earth- we could have saved it but we were too damn cheap and lazy."
    -Kurt Vonnegut










  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 22,433
     November 28, 2020 (Saturday)

    It seems as if Trump and President-Elect Joe Biden are in a contest to see who can will their vision of the future into life.

    Trump continues to maintain that he won the 2020 election. Wedded to this alternative reality, his supporters are circulating articles wondering how Biden--who was ahead by significant numbers in all pre-election polls-- could possibly have won the election… against a president who, for the first time since modern polling began, never cracked a 50% approval rating.

    In their fury, they are turning against election officials, including committed right-wing Republicans like Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, whom Trump has called “an enemy of the people” for defending the actual results of the election and refusing to make up reasons to throw out Democratic ballots. Raffensperger and his wife have been getting death threats, while Republican leaders refuse to stand up for him.

    Many of Trump’s supporters believe him when he downplays coronavirus, which just passed the landmark of causing at least 200,000 cases in a single day. Today NBC reporter Dasha Burns echoed the words of South Dakota nurse Jodi Doering two weeks ago, saying that three days in Appalachian hospitals had revealed a world in which “hard-hit communities still don’t believe COVID is real. Misinformation is rampant.” Burns told of patients who, according to nurses, “don’t believe they have COVID until they’re in critical condition.”

    Burns goes on to say: “Ultimately, politicization and misinformation around COVID are having tragic real-world consequences.” Health care workers “are watching neighbors die because they were told by leaders they trust that this virus is a hoax.”

    Trump’s vision is destroying faith in our electoral system and spreading death. It is destabilizing our democracy, an outcome that helps those who are eager to see America’s influence in the world decline.

    In contrast, Biden is trying to will into existence a country in which we can accomplish anything, saving ourselves from the ravages of coronavirus, rebuilding the economy, and joining those countries eager to defend equality before the law.

    To that end, his nominations for key positions are experts who believe in making the government work for ordinary Americans. Rather than tweeting frequently about conspiracy theories, he tweets sparingly words of encouragement: “I’ve always believed we can define America in one word: Possibilities. We’re going to build an America where everyone has the opportunity to go as far as their dreams and God-given ability will take them” and “We have to come together as a nation and unite around our shared goal: defeating this virus.”

    These two visions are in a fight to control our government.

    The reality is that Biden was elected president in 2020. He has won more votes than any president in American history, over 6 million votes more than Trump and 306 Electoral College votes to Trump's 232. This is not close. Trump has challenged this election in a number of court cases; he has lost all but one of them, giving him a record of 1-39.

    Yesterday, a federal appeals court made up of Republican-appointed judges rejected Trump’s attempt to overturn Pennsylvania’s certification of its election results. Judge Stephanos Bibas, a Trump appointee, wrote the opinion, which said the campaign’s challenge had “no merit.” “Charges of unfairness are serious. But calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here,” the opinion said. “Voters, not lawyers, choose the President. Ballots, not briefs, decide elections.”

    But Trump continues to tell his supporters that he has been cheated.

    At some level, it is clear he cannot handle the reality that he has lost the election. On Thanksgiving, Trump finally spoke to reporters for the first time since the election, sitting at a comically small desk that has become fodder for comedians. He was not in a good mood. When a reporter asked if he would concede the election if the Electoral College votes for Biden, he exploded: “Don’t talk to me that way. I’m the president of the United States, don’t ever talk to the president that way.”

    But Trump is also fundraising off his insistence that the election was stolen. The small print of fundraising emails reveals that donated money goes either to Trump’s political organizations or to the Republican National Committee. Today, rumors surfaced that Trump is considering holding a 2024 election rally on Biden’s Inauguration Day, a move that would help Trump feel important while it also would bring in money.

    To rebuild the government, Biden is choosing officials who are institutionalists and experts. Today, for example, he announced more members of the Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board, adding a mental health nurse, the Executive Director at Navajo Nation Department of Health, and an epidemiologist who worked as Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA).

    But Trump is trying to rush through regulations and pack positions with loyalists before he leaves office.

    Biden has been clear that he would like to return the nation to its cooperative multilateral approach to foreign affairs. He hopes to elevate diplomacy and reduce the influence of the military in our foreign policy.

    His national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, centers his understanding of foreign policy on a belief that echoes that of Republican Dwight Eisenhower a half-century ago: that American strength lies in the health of its middle class, which transnational threats are undermining. His initial focus will be health policy and China. He wants to send a “very clear message to China that the United States and the rest of the world will not accept a circumstance in which we do not have an effective public health surveillance system, with an international dimension, in China and across the world going forward.”

    Sullivan believes the U.S. can rally other nations to fight corruption and authoritarianism, and to set up a “rules-based system.” But observers note that the Biden team will be working against the “shattered glass” of the Trump administration, which dumped treaties and tried to take on the world alone.

    In the last days of his term, Trump seems eager to limit Biden’s ability to recover multilateral agreements, especially the 2015 Iran agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which limited the amount of enriched uranium Iran could hold. Trump withdrew from that treaty in 2018, and inspectors recently reported that Iran now has many times the amount of uranium it could have held had the deal remained in force. Trump responded by asking his advisers if he could strike against Iran’s nuclear center. They talked him out of a military strike, saying that such a strike could lead to an escalating crisis.

    Yesterday, gunmen likely associated with Israel assassinated the leader of Iran’s nuclear program, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, in an ambush outside Tehran. Experts note that the assassination might spark retaliation, and thus might well have destroyed Biden’s ability to rejoin the Iran nuclear deal, as he has pledged to do. It seems more likely to undermine diplomacy than Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

    Finally, while Biden has pledged science-based policies and protection of civil rights, Trump’s Supreme Court appointees on Wednesday indicated they will defend religion. Trump-appointed Justice Amy Barrett cast the deciding vote to strike down restrictions on religious services to combat the spread of Covid-19. In two similar cases in the past, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s vote had swung the court the other way. The decision claimed that secular businesses had received preference over religious gatherings; the dissenters pointed out that the distinction was not the nature of the gathering, but rather its chances of spreading a deadly disease.

    Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan said the majority was being reckless. “Justices of this court play a deadly game,” they said, “in second-guessing the expert judgment of health officials about the environments in which a contagious virus, now infecting a million Americans each week, spreads most easily.”
     
    While the majority on the court claimed to be speaking for religious interests, on Thursday, Pope Francis published an op-ed in the New York Times that seemed to side with Biden. He noted that most governments have tried to protect their people from the coronavirus, but “some governments… shrugged off the painful evidence of mounting deaths, with inevitable, grievous consequences.” He scoffed at those who refused to accept public health restrictions, “as if measures that governments must impose for the good of their people constitute some kind of political assault on autonomy or personal freedom!”

    He called for a fairer economic system, a political system that gives voice to marginalized people, and protection for the environment.

    According to Pope Francis, “This is a moment to dream big, to rethink our priorities — what we value, what we want, what we seek — and to commit to act in our daily life on what we have dreamed of.”

    _____________________________________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: 34,804
    She is so good.  Our daily dose of reality.
    "The earth- we could have saved it but we were too damn cheap and lazy."
    -Kurt Vonnegut










  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 22,433
     November 30, 2020 (Monday)

    This is going to be very quick tonight because our power is out and we’re operating on a generator. Apologies in advance for typos and lack of elegance….

    The coronavirus pandemic is ravaging America while the president and his administration are offering no government help or protection for Americans. In November, U.S. coronavirus infections have topped 4 million, more than doubling the cases we suffered in October. More than 170,000 people a day are testing positive for the virus. Hospitals are overwhelmed, and expers worry that numbers are going to move much higher, quickly. In its focus on private enterprise, the administration has turned its back on the government expertise that has protected us from previous epidemics.

    Amidst the pandemic, there is hope today. Moderna has applied for authorization for its Covid-19 vaccine. Moderna’s vaccine is 94.1% effective and 100% effective at preventing severe effects of the disease. Pfizer applied for a permit on November 20 with similar trial results. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will review their applications in December.

    Today all of the six states whose election results Trump was contesting certified their votes for Joe Biden. Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin are all in Biden’s column.

    Meanwhile, Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris are demonstrating that their administration is going to be very different than Trump’s, returning to traditional institutions and expertise.

    Quite a small thing tipped their hand yesterday. After the previous administration, when Trump’s hand-picked doctors offered exaggerated assurances that Trump was unnaturally healthy, Biden’s doctors were simply transparent yesterday when Biden tripped playing with his dog and fractured his foot. It was all very… normal.

    Facing the need to get his nominees through a Senate that could well be controlled by Republicans-- meaning that Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who has made it his signature to stop Democrats from accomplishing anything, could remain Senate Majority Leader-- Biden has opted to nominate exceedingly well qualified centrist candidates for key positions in his administration. This is frustrating to progressives, but the people he is tapping are institutionalists who will restore the contours of the government that crumbled under Trump.

    For all their moderation, though, Biden’s appointees are a major reworking of the government simply by virtue of who they are. Since the Democratic Party organized around President Andrew Jackson in the 1830s, its leaders have argued—sometimes with principles, sometimes without—that a democratic government by definition must reflect the people it governs. Unless the government looks like the nation’s people, early Democrats theorized, it will never properly understand what the people it governs need.

    Biden has filled vital positions with extraordinarily qualified women and people of color. His nominees include Janet Yellen for Treasury Secretary and Adewale “Wally” Adeyemo as Deputy Secretary of the Treasury. Adeyemo will be the first Black Deputy Treasury Secretary. Biden has chosen Alejandro Mayorkas for Secretary of Homeland Security—the first Latino and migrant in that position—and Avril Haines to be the Director of National Intelligence. She would be the first woman in that role. He has tapped Dr. Cecilia Rouse to chair the Council of Economic Advisors; she will be the first woman of color in that position. He has offered the position of Director of the Office of Management and Budget to Neera Tanden, who would be the first woman of color and first south Asian American in that position.

    Biden appears to be recovering the structure and stability of our government while also enabling it to reflect our nation more accurately than it ever has before.

    _____________________________________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: 22,433
    oops
     missed a day( was sick over the weekend, slept 17 hours from sat noon to sun noon...)

    November 29, 2020 (Sunday)

    One story jumped out at me today. The Hill reported that as soon as a Democrat is back in the White House, Republicans intend to retrench and be careful about how the country spends money, although during Trump’s term, even before the pandemic, they spent huge sums without worrying about it.

    This is a pattern. Since President Ronald Reagan’s presidency in the 1980s, Republicans have insisted that tax cuts will pay for themselves by stimulating economic growth, thus increasing tax revenues as everyone gets richer. At the same time, they have dramatically increased military spending without ever suggesting a way to pay for it. Then they complain about the debt, and insist that the only way to get our finances back into whack is to cut domestic spending.

    There are two important metrics involved in figuring out our national expenses. One is the deficit, which is the difference between the money the government spends every year and the money it takes in. The other is the debt, which is the total amount the government owes.

    Until the late twentieth century, the government took on large debt during the Civil War, WWI, WWII and during the Great Depression, when Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt initiated a new kind of government that regulated business, provided a basic social safety net, and promoted infrastructure. But leaders of both parties believed that deficits should reflect emergencies and that debt should be held at a low percentage of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, used to estimate the growth of the economy. It was to pay down the national debt that the Republican Party created national taxation, including the income tax, during the Civil War, and that Republican Dwight Eisenhower kept the top income tax bracket at 91% during his administration. Eisenhower was the last Republican president to balance a budget.

    After the Great Depression, taxes and the social welfare programs they funded created what economists call the “great compression” when economic inequality in America shrank.

    But the stagflation of the 1970s drove white families into higher tax brackets without giving them more buying power at the same time that politicians eager to end business regulation and social welfare programs told them that their tax dollars were going to the civil rights protesters that featured so prominently on the evening news. In 1980, they voted for a president who promised to cut the taxes that he insisted were going to “welfare queens” and to put money back in their pockets.

    Ronald Reagan promised that cutting taxes would actually produce more revenue. As business leaders—the supply side—had more money, they would invest in businesses which would hire more workers, at better wages. Rather than focusing on the demand side of the equation—the workers—as governments had done since FDR fought the Depression with the New Deal, Reagan said he could jump-start the economy by putting money into the supply side. The man who would become his own vice president, George H.W. Bush, called this idea “voodoo economics,” but who would complain about a plan that enabled Americans to have the government programs they had come to depend on, without having to pay for them?

    Unfortunately, it actually was voodoo economics. In 1981, Congress cut $35 billion from the next year’s budget and cut the top income tax rates from 70% to 50%, as well as cutting capital gains and estate taxes. At Reagan’s urging, it also added $17 billion in new defense spending. In the next five years, it would increase defense spending by 40%. As that money (and more, from the deregulation of savings and loan banks, and from lower interest rates) boosted the economy, it seemed that supply-side economics worked.

    An up-and-coming Republican spokesman named Grover Norquist insisted that voters did not want to be taxed to pay down deficits, and it was clear they didn’t have to be. When Democrats called for higher taxes and defense cuts to balance the deficit, Republicans accused them of being anti-business and soft on communism.

    But the booming economy was paid for by extensive borrowing. During Reagan’s years in office, the federal debt tripled from $994 billion to $2.8 trillion, and America went from being a creditor nation to a debtor nation. Republican leaders insisted that the Democrats were responsible for the rising debt because they would not make sufficient cuts in domestic spending, but in fact increased defense spending meant the administration itself never submitted a balanced budget.

    When he took office, George H.W. Bush tried to take on the national debt, which was costing Americans $200 billion a year in interest payments. In 1990, facing a $171 billion deficit for the next year, Bush agreed to raise taxes if Democrats agreed to steep spending cuts. Republicans led by Georgia Representative Newt Gingrich signed onto the deal in private, but in public began to force those willing to raise taxes, people they called RINOs—Republicans In Name Only—out of their party. The belief that economic growth depended on cutting taxes had become the test of Republican purity.

    In 1993, to deal with budget deficits, President Bill Clinton convinced Congress to raise tax rates on incomes over $250,000—affecting about 1% of Americans—to 39.6%, increase the highest corporate tax rate by 1%, and increase the gas tax. Not a single Republican voted for the measure, but under it, the economy boomed and the annual deficits began to shrink. In 1997, Clinton expanded domestic programs and cut the capital gains tax rate, but even still, in 1998, the government was producing a budget surplus.

    Even before he took office, President George W. Bush prepared a $1.6 trillion tax cut to wipe that surplus out. Norquist explained to a reporter that so long as there was money to spend, it would go to social welfare legislation, and the Republicans were determined to starve the government, not feed it. Bush did not get the full cut he wanted, but in June 2001 Congress passed a bill cutting $1.3 trillion over ten years.

    Immediately after 9-11, Congress appropriated $358 billion for security before Bush dramatically increased military spending—by $48 billion—while slashing domestic spending. When the administration launched more tax cuts the following year, Bush’s Treasury Secretary, Paul O’Neill, worried about a fiscal crisis. Vice President Dick Cheney disagreed: “Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter.” Bush took the country into war in Afghanistan and Iraq but, for the first time in U.S. history, did not raise taxes to pay for the military actions. Instead, Congress cut taxes again. By 2009, the Congressional Research Service estimated the cost of those wars at $1 trillion.

    President Barack Obama took office in early 2009 with the Great Recession in full swing. Deficit spending to restart the economy put the deficit at more than $1.4 trillion that year. As the economy recovered, deficits dropped to $585 billion.

    Under Trump, though, they rose dramatically again despite the fact he inherited a growing economy. In 2017, he pushed through a tax cut which increased the 2019 deficit to $984 billion. It was projected to be $1.02 trillion in 2020—a 74% increase in four years of a strong economy—when the coronavirus hit. This meant that interest payments on the federal debt—before coronavirus—were estimated to cost $382 billion, 8.2% of total government spending.

    The pandemic, of course, required a huge relief package. The CARES bill appropriated $2.2 trillion, making this year’s deficit projected to be at least $3.7 trillion.

    Measured against GDP, our accumulated debt is now higher than at any time except in 1946, during World War II. In June 2020, it was $20.3 trillion.

    Economists are of two minds (at least!) about the economic effects of deficits and the federal debt, but there is one very clear political meaning to them. This pattern of government spending and taxation since 1981 has moved wealth upward dramatically. In 1979, the top 1% of Americans held 20.5% of the nation’s wealth. In 1989 the top 1% held 35.7%. By 2017, the top 1% owned 40% of the country’s wealth, more than the bottom 90% combined. The top 20% in 2017 owned 90% of the wealth, leaving just 10% for the remaining 80%. The bottom 20% of Americans have no wealth; they are in debt.

    When Republicans today say they are going to turn their attention back to the deficits and the debt, what they are saying is that they intend to continue to cut taxes. Then they will blame the Democrats for being fiscally irresponsible when they call for the infrastructure and social welfare spending that used to keep the American economic playing field somewhat level.

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  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 22,433
    back on track.....

    December 1, 2020 (Tuesday)

    Still operating on a generator without room for much revision, so again, apologies for typos or inelegance….

    There is an increasing feeling of desperation coming from the White House. Trump continues to insist he won the 2020 election, although the states whose results he has challenged have all certified their votes for Joe Biden. Biden has tallied more than 6 million votes more than Trump, including significant majorities in all the states Trump claims, in the biggest win for a candidate challenging an incumbent since Franklin Delano Roosevelt challenged Herbert Hoover in 1932.

    Today loyalist William Barr, Trump’s Attorney General, admitted that the Department of Justice has not found any evidence of widespread voter fraud that would mean Trump won the election. Trump’s lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis promptly issued a statement saying “With the greatest respect to the Attorney General, his opinion appears to be without any knowledge or investigation of the substantial irregularities and evidence of systemic fraud.” Trump allies told PBS NewsHour correspondent Yamiche Alcindor that Barr’s statement was a “complete betrayal.”

    For the last three weeks, Trump and his supporters in the Republican Party have attacked elections officials—including Republicans-- who failed to throw out Democratic ballots to give the election to Trump. The president called Republican Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger an “enemy of the people,” and Trump’s loyalists are intensifying their rhetoric against officials who have persisted in defending the integrity of the election. Right-wing followers on social media called for jail, torture, or execution for a 20-year-old Georgia election technician, falsely alleging he manipulated election data. On NBC’s Today Show, the president’s lawyer Joseph diGenova called for former cybersecurity official Christopher Krebs, whom Trump fired after Krebs stated the election was not marked by fraud but was quite secure, to be “drawn and quartered. Taken out at dawn and shot.”

    Social media accounts from right-wing loyalists are increasingly calling for violence. One user on the conservative media site Parler said that “[We the People] want to kill all of you cheating traitors….” Another called for “Civil war if Biden does steal the election.” These loyalists claim to be waiting for Trump’s “order” to start just such a war.

    Today Gabriel Sterling, a voting systems manager for Republican Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger held a news conference in which he said: “It has all. Gone. Too. Far. It has to stop.” Of the young technician whose life is now in danger, he said, “[t]his kid… just took a job. And it’s just wrong. I can’t begin to explain the level of anger I have right now over this. Every American, every Georgian, Republican or Democrat alike, should have the same level of anger.”

    Sterling attacked Trump for the death threats Georgia officials have been receiving, and chewed out Georgia Republican Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, who both face runoff elections in early January against Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, for refusing to shut such language down. “Mr. President, you have not condemned these actions or this language,” he said. “Senators, you have not condemned this language or these actions. . . . Stop inspiring people to commit potential acts of violence…. That shouldn’t be too much to ask for people who ask us to give them responsibility.” Sterling also called out diGenova for his language: “Someone’s going to get hurt,” he said. “Someone’s going to get shot. Someone’s going to get killed.”

    Trump and allies of Don Jr. have been fundraising on the idea that Trump must contest the 2020 election. Trump’s Save America Political Action Committee (PAC) has raised more than $170 million in contributions to overturn the election, but very little of that money goes to the recount effort. It goes primarily to whatever Trump wants—including golf memberships, travel, and salaries-- and to the Republican National Committee.

    Don Jr.’s allies have formed the Save the U.S. Senate PAC. It is nominally about the Georgia run-off Senate elections, but can take in unlimited money from anyone, including corporations, and spend it however it wishes, so long as it doesn’t explicitly coordinate with a political campaign. As Washington Post correspondent Philip Bump puts it: “Trump and his team have figured out a way to parlay his base’s concerns about the election — concerns Trump has been hyping for months — into a well-stocked bank account with few limitations on how it is used.”

    And yet, Trump seems to have accepted that he’s going to have to leave office, and to be exploring his options. New York Times reporters Maggie Haberman and Michael S. Schmidt tonight broke the news that he has discussed with advisers whether he should grant preemptive pardons to Don Jr., Eric, Ivanka, Jared Kushner, and Giuliani. This poses a problem for them, though, since to make a pardon stick it needs to be as specific as possible, which would mean he would have to suggest what they might have done that requires a pardon.

    Pardons were in the news tonight for another reason, too, as news broke that the Department of Justice is investigating what appears to have been a bribe before the end of the summer. Someone apparently promised payments to either the White House or to a related political committee in exchange for a presidential pardon.

    Meanwhile, the country continues to suffer from the coronavirus. While the White House appears to have given up addressing the spikes that are leaving hospitals overwhelmed and the economy faltering, today Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, a Trump appointee, warned Congress that it must pass a coronavirus relief package or see even worse damage. To Republicans who insist there is no need for such relief, he responded, “The risk of overdoing it is less than the risk of underdoing it.” Powell encouraged aid to state and local governments, hard hit by the pandemic, noting they are some of the country’s largest employers. Because most cannot borrow to make up for their lost tax revenues, without relief they will have to lay people off, thus worsening the recession.

    Former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, Biden’s nominee for Treasury Secretary, echoed Powell today. “Lost lives, lost jobs, small businesses struggling to stay alive are closed for good. So many people struggling to put food on the table and pay bills and rent. It’s an American tragedy. And it is essential we move with urgency. Inaction will produce a self-reinforcing downturn causing yet more devastation.”

    In May, Democrats passed a $3 trillion relief package but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) refused to take it up. The Senate began to work on its own package in mid-July, just before federal unemployment benefits ran out, but McConnell could not bring his caucus together behind anything. So he turned his back on negotiations, leaving Democrats to negotiate with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who held to a $1 trillion limit. The Democrats offered to split the difference and agree to a $2 trillion compromise. The Republicans refused.

    In September, McConnell offered a $500 billion bill that has the key measure he wants: a liability shield for businesses whose employees contract coronavirus at work. When the Democrats refused it, he accused them of partisanship.

    Then, today, news emerged that a bipartisan group of lawmakers had tried to hammer together a stopgap relief measure of about $908 billion to rescue small businesses, the unemployed, and other hard-hit parts of the economy.

    As soon as news broke of the new bipartisan bill, McConnell shot it down. Instead, he will insert exactly what he wants into the upcoming government funding bill, which Congress must pass by December 11 or face a government shutdown. This forces Democrats either to do what he wants or to shut down the government, a solution that is usually political poison.

    McConnell’s new plan has no state and local aid and only one month of jobless aid, but it has liability protection for businesses.

    There is overwhelming popular support for a multitrillion dollar package. A month ago 70% of voters, including more than half of Republicans, wanted such a package, including aid to state and local governments. But McConnell controls the Senate.

    Biden hopes to initiate a sweeping economic relief and stimulus package immediately upon taking office. The upcoming elections in Georgia will be the difference between the fate of a new coronavirus bill, which McConnell can essentially dictate, and a tied Senate, where McConnell will have to negotiate.

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  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 22,433
     December 2, 2020 (Wednesday)

    Yesterday evening, Trump’s disgraced former National Security Advisor, retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn-- whom Trump recently pardoned after he pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with then-Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak before Trump took office-- retweeted a news release from a right-wing Ohio group called “We the People Convention.” That release contained a petition asking Trump to declare martial law, suspend the Constitution, silence the media, and have the military “oversee a national re-vote.”

    The petition ends with a threat of violence, calling on Trump “to boldly act to save our nation…. We will also have no other choice but to take matters into our own hands, and defend our rights on our own, if you do not act within your powers to defend us.”

    University of Texas School of Law Professor Steve Vladeck pointed out that “The Uniform Code of Military Justice defines as ‘sedition’ one who, ‘with intent to cause the overthrow or destruction of lawful civil authority, creates, in concert with any other person, revolt, violence, or other disturbance against that authority.’…”

    The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley today pointedly distanced the military from talk of a coup. “Our military is very very capable… we are determined to defend the U.S. Constitution,” he said. “No one should doubt that.” A defense official told Military Times that the idea of Trump declaring martial law and having the military re-do the election is “insane in a year that we didn’t think could get anymore insane.”

    He spoke too soon. This afternoon the president released a video of himself making a speech he said was “maybe the most important speech I’ve ever made.” It was a 46-minute rant insisting, despite all evidence to the contrary, that he won the 2020 election. While he has lost virtually every court challenge he has mounted and his own Attorney General, William Barr, has said there was no evidence of fraud that would change the outcome of the election, Trump continues to insist that there was “massive” voter fraud, and called on the Supreme Court to “do what’s right for our country” including throwing out hundreds of thousands of Democratic votes so “I very easily win in all states.”

    Joe Biden leads Trump in the popular vote with 80.9 million votes to Trump’s 74 million. Biden has won the Electoral College by 306 votes to Trump’s 232. These results are not close.

    Let me take a step back here for a minute to emphasize that this is dangerous, unprecedented… and crazy. The president of the United States is trying to undermine an election for which there is no evidence there was any irregularity, in order to stay in power. He might be doing so for the money—he has raised $170 million so far on promises to challenge this election—or because he is worried about the lawsuits he can expect as soon as he is not protected by the presidential office.

    Or, perhaps, he is simply escalating his rhetoric to continue to grab headlines as he feels the focus of the world slipping away from him and he cannot stand it. For the focus of the world is indeed slipping away from him.

    The president has largely ceased to govern, nursing his grievances in the White House and emerging only to golf.

    The coronavirus pandemic is burning out of control. A new estimate from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that deaths from Covid-19 are likely much higher than official numbers suggest. Deaths in the United States were 19% higher from March to November of this year than normal. More than 345,000 people than normal have died in that period. This number includes deaths from other causes—drug overdoses, for example—but suggests that the pandemic has exacerbated death rates aside from those caused by Covid-19.

    Today we hit a grim milestone, with at least 2,760 new deaths today from Covid. This is the highest daily death toll in America so far, passing the spring high-water mark. Coronavirus hospitalizations also reached a new high with more than 100,000 people admitted.

    Democrats made a huge concession in their efforts to combat the pandemic recession today, dropping their call for a $2 trillion coronavirus package and accepting the new bipartisan $908 billion package as the starting point for negotiations with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The new plan calls for $300 a week in federal unemployment benefits from December 1 to at least March; $240 billion in Paycheck Protection Program assistance for small businesses (this will be touchy because we learned today that most of the money from the original PPP went to big businesses, including a number of chains); $160 billion for state and local governments; $51 billion in money for vaccines and healthcare; and a temporary liability provision to shield businesses from lawsuits related to coronavirus.

    McConnell has already rejected this bipartisan measure, but Senator John Thune (R-SD), part of the Republican leadership, called the Democrats’ willingness to come so far down “progress.” For his part, Biden today agreed with Americans talking about the recession in a virtual roundtable that Congress must “pass a robust package of relief to address your urgent needs now,” but reminded them: “my ability to get you help immediately does not exist. I’m not even in office for another 50 days. And then I have to get legislation passed through the United States Congress to get things done.”

    Still, for all that Trump’s posturing seems like a sign that he sees power slipping away from him as the country confronts the pandemic and the recession without him, his words are a deadly assault on our democracy by the man who swore an oath to defend it. This attack cannot be dismissed as Trump being Trump. It strikes at the very heart of who we are.

    For all that attacking the election might be reality television for Trump, his supporters take it very seriously indeed. At a rally in Georgia, Trump’s ally, lawyer Lin Wood, insisted he had seen the “real” results of the election, and that Trump won “over 410” electoral votes. “He damn near won every state including California!” The crowd blamed Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, a Republican, for the fact that the state’s recount did not go to Trump. “Lock him up!” they chanted.

    Today, the Supervisor of Elections in Pasco County, Florida, Republican Brian E. Corley, said he felt compelled to speak out against those attacking the election. “Facts are stubborn things,” he wrote in a statement. It is a lie to say the election was fraudulent, he said, and "[w]ith every deep state conspiracy and illegitimate claim of fraud our democracy sinks deeper and deeper into divisiveness. As the world looks on, the greatest democracy in the world dares to risk the peaceful and orderly transition of power in favor of propagating unfounded claims of ‘rigged elections.’" “The people have spoken, and… the election is over.”

    Tonight, the Vermont Secretary of State’s Office tweeted that their elections team was “threatened with execution by firing squad.” It said, “This has to stop. The wild, unfounded accusations amplified by [Trump] need to stop.”

    But much of Republican Party leadership is not denouncing Trump’s behavior. Leaders are staying silent, although they are sidling away from him. It is noticeable that Vice President Mike Pence has been silent about Trump’s reelection accusations—he was on the ticket, too, after all—and although Trump has made it clear he intends to run again in 2024, Trump’s hand-picked Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel has invited about a dozen potential 2024 candidates to a meeting in January, signaling that she is not wedded to another Trump candidacy.

    Meanwhile, Trump’s former lawyer Sidney Powell illustrated the growing divide between Trump supporters and the Republican Party when, after insisting that Trump lost in Georgia because the voting machines there are not secure, she urged voters to boycott January’s runoff Senate elections in the state. Those elections will determine which party controls the U.S. Senate.

    While today’s Republicans are looking the other way as their president undermines our democracy, it has not always been this way. On this date in 1954, the Senate voted 67 to 22 to condemn the behavior of Senator Joe McCarthy, who lied and bullied and blustered to stay in power until finally, in televised hearings, lawyer Joseph Nye Welsh shook his head at McCarthy’s recklessness and cruelty and asked: “Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

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  • brianluxbrianlux Moving through All Kinds of Terrain.Posts: 34,804
    That release contained a petition asking Trump to declare martial law, suspend the Constitution, silence the media, and have the military “oversee a national re-vote.”

    The petition ends with a threat of violence, calling on Trump “to boldly act to save our nation…. We will also have no other choice but to take matters into our own hands, and defend our rights on our own, if you do not act within your powers to defend us.”

    It boggles my mind that there are people in this country that think this way right now.  Not only is this dangerous and seditious talk based on totally false assumptions, it comes at a time when we are desperately in the grips of a pandemic and pressing environmental which should be the focus of our combined efforts.  These people are insane. 
    "The earth- we could have saved it but we were too damn cheap and lazy."
    -Kurt Vonnegut










  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 22,433
     December 3, 2020 (Thursday)

    One of my children asked me once if people living through the Great Depression understood just how bad their era would look to historians. I answered that, on the whole, I thought not. People are focused on what’s in front of them: finding work, feeding their kids, trying to keep it together, making it through the day. It’s only when historians look back to gauge an era that they put the full picture together.

    So for those who cannot see it: we are in one of the most profound crises of American history.

    We are in the midst of a vicious pandemic that is killing us at an astounding rate while the administration ignores it or, worse, exacerbates it by encouraging our neighbors to think that wearing masks and social distancing to protect lives is somehow a political statement they must resist. Cases of coronavirus are spiking across the country. Hospitals are overwhelmed and health care workers exhausted. More than 14 million Americans have been infected with the virus and more than 276,000 of us have died of it. Today saw more than 211,762 new cases and 2,858 deaths. Tomorrow will likely be worse.

    The pandemic has crippled our economy. After a brief recovery this summer, it is faltering again. More than 20 million Americans are receiving some sort of jobless benefits. Pressure is building for some sort of federal aid package to provide relief and stimulate the economy to bridge us over the next months as vaccines are distributed. But until that happens, people need to work to keep food on their tables and a roof over their heads, so they cannot lock down to stop the spread of the disease.

    The president of the United States is ignoring the pandemic, instead spending his time fighting against the results of last month’s election. The president’s opponent, Democrat Joe Biden, won the election handily, by close to 7 million votes and by a majority of 306 to 232 in the Electoral College. But Trump, supported by loyalists, continues to insist he has won, even though the states he claims will swing the Electoral College behind him have already certified their votes for Biden.

    The attack of a president on the outcome of an election is unprecedented. Four times in American history, a candidate who has won the popular vote has lost in the Electoral College but the loser has bowed to our system, even though, curiously, it has always been a Republican who won under such circumstances and never a Democrat—indeed, Trump won in 2016 under just such a scenario.

    In this instance, though, there is no misalignment between the popular vote and the Electoral College. Biden has won both, handily. And yet, the president is actively attacking the results and the underlying democratic system that produced them. His supporters are asking him to declare martial law and seize power, although the military has denounced this idea and those supporting it are making such increasingly wild claims that at some point they simply must fall apart. Indeed, there is reason to believe Trump's claims of fraud are simply a grift: his campaign was effectively broke before the election and he has raised more than $207 million since it. But, money grab or not, this is an unprecedented assault on our democracy.

    There are, though, signs that change is in the wind. For all his drama, Trump is losing relevance. Today Congress finalized its draft of the defense authorization bill, and in it members of both parties pushed back on Trump’s demands. They refused to reduce the number of troops in Germany and South Korea, as he announced he would do in what appeared to be an attempt to weaken U.S. ties to Europe and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), our military alliance there. Congress also ignored Trump’s demands to strip technology companies of liability protections (apparently he is angry when insulting names for him trend on Twitter), and his insistence that he would veto any measure that called for renaming military bases currently named for Confederate generals, a plan endorsed by members of both parties.
     
    The measure also more directly rebukes Trump for things he either has already done or hasn’t done and should have. It orders the Secretary of Defense to report on Russian bounties offered to Taliban-linked fighters in Afghanistan for killing U.S. troops, limits how much military funding the president can move to domestic projects—as Trump tried to do for his border wall—and requires that federal law enforcement officers “visibly display” their names and the names of their agency when engaged in public responses. This summer, the officers dispatched to the streets of Washington, D.C., and other cities could not be identified. In another rebuke to the summer’s police violence, the measure also prohibits the Pentagon from handing off bayonets, certain combat vehicles, and weaponized drones to state and local law enforcement.

    It is not just Congress that is pushing back on the president. Today the Associated Press broke the story that within the last two weeks, a political operative Trump had installed at the Department of Justice has actually been banned from the building after pressuring staffers to give her information about investigations, including those about the 2020 election. Heidi Stirrup, the appointee, is an ally of Trump adviser Stephen Miller. Today Trump appointed her to the board of visitors of the Air Force Academy. Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo notes that it’s unlikely a Trump ally would have been physically removed from the Justice Department in the days before the election turned Trump into a lame duck.

    In the first interview President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris have given since the election, aired tonight on CNN, they reiterated their support for all Americans and their determination to combat the coronavirus pandemic, saying they would ask everyone to commit to wearing a mask for the first 100 days of their administration. Harris told journalist Jake Tapper: “There couldn't be a more extreme exercise in stark contrast between the current occupant of the White House and the next occupant of the White House,” and the country will be better for the change, she said.

    But it was CNN journalist Don Lemon who summed up this changing moment best. He told Tapper: “[I]t feels like we are watching ... a president-elect and a president who are on Earth One and Earth Two. And at this particular Earth that is in reality, it was very normal, very sedate. And it was welcoming news. It was good to watch. It was good to actually get content. We heard no fake news. We heard no conspiracy theories. We heard no personal grievances. We heard a President-Elect and a vice president who want to work with the other side.”

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

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    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
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  • brianluxbrianlux Moving through All Kinds of Terrain.Posts: 34,804
    Those last two paragraphs:  Great to get some comforting news in Heather's letter today.   Much needed!
    "The earth- we could have saved it but we were too damn cheap and lazy."
    -Kurt Vonnegut










  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 22,433
    gonna get a little ugly as we draw closer to Jan 20.......
    December 4, 2020 (Friday)

    While coronavirus continues to burn across the country, Trump is focusing instead on continuing to contest the election results and on the Pentagon.

    The main story in the country continues to be the coronvirus. As of tonight, according to the New York Times, more than 14,441,700 people in the U.S. have been infected with the virus and at least 278,900 have died. Official daily death counts are well over 2000.

    As several states continue to count votes from the November election, President-Elect Joe Biden’s popular vote margin over Trump is now more than 7 million. Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Nevada, Georgia, Arizona, and Michigan, all states in which Trump contested the vote, have already certified their election results for Biden. In all six of those states, judges have ruled that Trump’s lawyers have provided no evidence of fraud. They have used words like “baseless,” “flimsy,” “obviously lacking,” “dangerous,” and “not credible.”

    Trump’s obsession with winning an election he has clearly lost has brought into relief the struggle for control over the Republican Party. Trump is clearly trying to turn the party into a vehicle for loyalty to him and him alone. He has always turned on those who no longer serve his interests: Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions was one of the first elected Republicans to support Trump’s 2016 presidential candidacy, giving it an air of legitimacy. He left the Senate to become Trump’s first Attorney General, only to have Trump turn against him when he recused himself from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, because he had lied about his own contacts with Russians. Trump forced Sessions to resign, and when Sessions ran again for the Senate, endorsed his rival and attacked Sessions on Twitter. Sessions lost his primary.

    Now Trump has turned on men who similarly sacrificed their careers for his. Three days ago, Trump’s loyalist Attorney General, William Barr, undercut Trump’s election fraud arguments when he said that he had not seen such fraud. This apparently so infuriated Trump that he is considering firing Barr. Then, this morning, Trump turned on loyalist Louis DeJoy at the head of the United States Postal Service, who removed mail sorting machines and changed USPS rules to slow mail-in ballots expected to be for Biden. Trump tweeted that the USPS “is responsible for tampering with hundreds of thousands of ballots” and thus stole the election from him. He called the USPS a “long time Democrat stronghold,” although DeJoy is a major Trump supporter and donor.  

    While Trump is talking about running again in 2024, his turning against his most loyal supporters in the Republican Party will not inspire others to rally to his banner. Instead, it may simply be that he’s keeping the idea of his candidacy alive because it keeps money flowing in. Since the election, he has raised more than $200 million in donations.

    While he is fighting over the election results, Trump has done very little else except to replace civilian employees at the Pentagon with his own hand-picked loyalists. This is unusual in a lame duck period, when presidents usually try to smooth the transition to the next administration.

    Far from trying to smooth that transition, Trump is making it as bumpy as possible. His appointee at the General Services Administration delayed the start of the transition for weeks. Now that Biden’s team finally has access to Trump’s people to learn about their planning for the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine, it turns out there hasn’t been much planning. Biden today noted that “There is no detailed plan that we’ve seen, anyway, as to how you get the vaccine out of a container, into an injection syringe, into somebody’s arm…. It's going to be very difficult for that to be done and it’s a very expensive proposition…. There’s a lot more that has to be done.”

    Also disturbing is that the Trump administration has denied the Biden team access to U.S. intelligence agencies that are controlled by the Defense Department, including the National Security Agency (which is the nation’s largest U.S. intelligence service), the Defense Intelligence Agency, and other intelligence services with a global reach. The Biden folks have, though, been able to meet with their counterparts at the CIA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

    The refusal of the Pentagon to meet with Biden’s people comes at a time when Trump has been shaking up personnel there. Immediately after the election, Trump fired his fourth Defense Secretary, Mark T. Esper, and replaced him with an acting secretary of defense, Christopher C. Miller. Miller, in turn, has presided over the installation of a number of Trump loyalists both at the Pentagon leadership and on the Defense Policy Board, a group of advisors who consult with the Defense Secretary on specific issues when asked. Pushed out were about a dozen advisers, including former Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright and Henry Kissinger, as well as former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

    Today, there was another major purge at Defense, this time from the Defense Business Board, a nonpartisan group of about 20 volunteers from the business sector who are appointed to give business advice to Pentagon leaders. The White House threw nine people off the board—informing them with a terse email—including its chair, Michael Bayer. Trump replaced them with his former 2016 campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, and that year’s deputy campaign manager, David Bossie, among other loyalists. Both Lewandowski and Bossie are outspoken Trump supporters who have led the fight to contest the election.

    So has another Trump nominee for a Pentagon post, Scott O’Grady, who has endorsed the idea that Trump won by a landslide and that Trump should declare martial law. Trump has nominated him to become an assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, overseeing operations in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

    Exactly what Trump is doing with this packing of the Defense Department is unclear. There are, though, three major issues on the table right now that may or may not be involved, but are worth keeping in mind.

    The first is that Trump is trying to remove many U.S. troops from around the world before he leaves office, and had gotten serious pushback on that from the people he has now purged from the Defense Department. Today, he ordered nearly all of about 700 U.S. troops out of Somalia, where they have been training local soldiers to hold ground against terrorists. They will not come home, though; they are being sent elsewhere in Africa.

    There is also still hanging out there the administration’s sudden announcement of a $23 billion sale of arms to the United Arab Emirates, including a number of advanced F-35 fighter jets and Reaper drones. Lawmakers of both parties object to this sale, concerned about risks to Israel and that the UAE could transfer the technology to China and Russia. The Senate will vote next week on banning the sale.  

    There is also the effort by the White House to force the Pentagon to lease its airwave spectrum to a private company, Rivada Networks, to create a nationwide 5G network. Rivada is backed by major Republican figures, including operative Karl Rove, but established Pentagon officials have little interest in the project, pointing out that there is no proof that Rivada knows what it’s doing or that the plan would be legal. It’s also not clear that the use of this spectrum for private carriers wouldn’t impact its use for national security. The Defense Department spectrum the White House would like to lease to private investors is worth between $50 and $75 billion.  

    I always believe in following the money, and that’s especially true now as Trump’s years in the White House, which have given him access to huge sums, are drawing to a close.


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  • brianluxbrianlux Moving through All Kinds of Terrain.Posts: 34,804
    "Today, there was another major purge at Defense, this time from the Defense Business Board, a nonpartisan group of about 20 volunteers from the business sector who are appointed to give business advice to Pentagon leaders. The White House threw nine people off the board—informing them with a terse email—including its chair, Michael Bayer. Trump replaced them with his former 2016 campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, and that year’s deputy campaign manager, David Bossie, among other loyalists. Both Lewandowski and Bossie are outspoken Trump supporters who have led the fight to contest the election. "

    How hard will it be for Biden to overturn these new appointees?  Can he?  Will he?
    "The earth- we could have saved it but we were too damn cheap and lazy."
    -Kurt Vonnegut










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