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Letter From An American

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  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,541
    December 20, 2020 (Sunday)

    One of my very favorites from Buddy, capturing the rising sun in the middle of a frozen winter. It's an image from years ago, but somehow it sprang to mind tonight.

    I'll see you tomorrow.

    [photo by Buddy Poland]

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,541
     December 21, 2020 (Monday)

    In the past two days, stories in major papers have focused on the president’s deteriorating mental state. The Atlantic ran a story by Peter Wehner titled “Trump is Losing His Mind.” It describes “Trump’s descent into madness.” Politico ran Michael Kruse’s story titled “Is Trump Cracking Under the Weight of Losing?””[T]he actual fact of the matter,” it said, is that “Trump is a loser.” Kruse points to Trump’s uncharacteristic absence from the public eye to wonder if he is breaking down mentally.

    “His fragile ego has never been tested to this extent,” Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen told Kruse. “While he’s creating a false pretense of strength and fortitude, internally he is angry, depressed and manic. As each day ends, Trump knows he’s one day closer to legal and financial troubles. Accordingly, we will all see his behavior deteriorate until it progresses into a full mental breakdown.”

    CNN reported that senior White House officials are worried about what Trump might do in the next month as he spends more and more time with his lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who is under active investigation by federal prosecutors; conspiracy lawyer Sidney Powell; disgraced former national security adviser Michael Flynn; Steve Bannon, who has recently been indicted for fraud; Peter Navarro, Trump’s trade adviser; and now Patrick Byrne, the founder of the Overstock retail website.

    Trump is turning to this group of misfits rather than advisers like his chief of staff, Mark Meadows, or White House counsel Pat Cipollone. The new advisers are encouraging him to declare martial law or to seize state voting machines to examine them for fraud or to appoint a special counsel to investigate Joe Biden’s son Hunter. Trump has floated the idea of naming Powell as a special counsel inside the White House Counsel’s office to investigate the election. Meadows and Cipollone argue, correctly, that this is crazy.

    Nonetheless, far right House lawmakers met with Trump and Vice President Mike Pence on Monday to strategize challenging Congress’s certification of the states’ electoral votes on January 6. While several House Republicans are on board with the scheme, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is trying to stop senators from signing on, since challenges in both the House and the Senate would force Republicans to vote against Trump, publicly. The challenges do not have the votes to stop to certification of Biden’s ballots.

    Previous loyalists are opening up water between themselves and the president. Evangelical leader Pat Robertson, who famously said Trump was part of God’s plan for America, made the news today with his declaration that, for all the good he claims Trump has done, the president “lives in an alternate reality,” and has been “very erratic.” Robertson says it is time to recognize that Biden is the president-elect and it is time for Trump “to move on.”

    Attorney General William Barr also broke with Trump today, saying that he saw no need to appoint a special counsel to investigate voter fraud or to investigate Hunter Biden, and that there was no evidence of voter fraud that would have changed the outcome of the 2020 election. Barr also confirmed that it was Russia, rather than any other country, that hacked the United States government and prominent companies over the course of the past year. Barr will leave office on Wednesday.

    Yesterday, Erica Newland, a former lawyer for the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice, published an op-ed in the New York Times saying she is “Haunted by What I Did as a Lawyer in the Trump Justice Department.” Lawyers like her, she said, hoped they were limiting the damage Trump could do but were instead, she concluded, finding ways to make his demands legal. Represented by the caliber of lawyers who are currently at his side—Giuliani and Powell, for example—Newland argues, he could never have made anything stick. Newland resigned from her post in 2018 and now says, “No matter our intentions, we were complicit.” They helped enable Trump’s assault on our democracy, and on reality. She offered her apology to the nation.

    Meanwhile, right-wing media outlets Fox News Channel, Newsmax, and One America News are also concerned with the law. They are madly backpedaling as they face the consequences of their baseless accusations against election software company Smartmatic. Although that company was involved in the 2020 election only in Los Angeles County, right-wing media personalities have accused it of altering votes in several states in the 2020 presidential contest. The lawyer for the company’s founder, Antonio Mugica, has sent letters to the FNC, Newsmax, and OAN demanding that they retract their stories and warning them to keep documents for a forthcoming defamation suit. Voting machine manufacturer Dominion Voting Systems, also included in the news stories, has also hired legal counsel.

    The threat of lawsuits has prompted the FNC and Newsmax to “clarify” at some length that they had no evidence of any of the improprieties they alleged. On Newsmax, John Tabacco also had to clarify that there was no relationship between Dominion Voting Systems and Dianne Feinstein, the Clintons, Nancy Pelosi, George Soros, Hugo Chavez, or the government of Venezuela.

    As he descends into the fever swamps, Trump has largely given up any pretense of governing. His public schedule remains empty, and his private meetings appear to focus on how he can stay in office. Today we learned that Russian hackers broke into the email system used by the leadership of the Treasury Department, but the cyberattack from Russia has gone unaddressed except to the extent the president tried to blame the attack on China (although he has made no move to retaliate against China for the attack). He has made little attempt to shepherd any sort of an economic relief bill through Congress. And, most crucially, he is silent about the epidemic that is killing us. As of this evening, more than 18 million Americans have been infected with the coronavirus, and at least 319,000 have died.

    The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis that is investigating the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic today released documents showing that Trump appointees in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tried to “alter or block” at least 13 of the reports written by CDC scientists. Appointees messed around with the CDC’s traditional “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports” and edited reports on the use of masks, the dangers of Covid-19 in children, and the spread of the disease. They also tried to delete emails revealing political interference in scientific assessments. Some of the emails from science adviser Paul Alexander calling for the administration to speed the spread of coronavirus in order to achieve herd immunity have sparked outrage.

    Chaired by Representative Jim Clyburn (D-SC), the select subcommittee today issued subpoenas to Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services Alex M. Azar and Director of the CDC Dr. Robert Redfield for all documents “relating to efforts by political appointees… to interfere with scientific work conducted by career officials.” It had requested the documents earlier this month, but HHS and the CDC declined either to cooperate or to permit Redfield to testify about political censorship to the committee.

    Meanwhile President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris are preparing to take office in the midst of a pandemic, a sweeping computer systems hack, and a recession, while the outgoing president tries to undermine them by ordering his own officials not to tell them anything that could be used against him and by insisting that they were not legitimately elected.

    Biden was inoculated with the coronavirus vaccine today on national television to illustrate that the shot is safe; incoming First Lady Dr. Jill Biden also got the shot today. Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, will be vaccinated next week.

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,541
     December 22, 2020 (Tuesday)

    Late last night, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, which combined a $900 billion coronavirus relief bill and a $1.4 trillion spending bill, as well as incorporating a number of other measures. At 5,593 pages, the bill was the longest bill ever passed by Congress, and is one of the largest spending bills ever passed.

    The bill provides $300 a week in federal unemployment benefits on top of state benefits, a $13 billion increase in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) food support program, a one-time $600 direct payment to individuals, and $25 billion in assistance to help pay past-due rent. It allocates $20 billion to buy more vaccines and about $8 billion to distribute them. Schools will get $82 billion; colleges and universities are in line for $23 billion. Historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and tribal colleges and institutions have access to $1.7 billion.

    The measure also includes an appropriations bill that will keep the country funded until next September. It is a standard appropriations measure that includes all the normal aid packages and annual funding. The new bill also cuts taxes by about $200 billion and increases military spending by about $5 billion.

    The bill made many lawmakers of both parties angry, as it was negotiated by congressional leaders and they had about two hours to absorb what was in it before voting yes or no. This sort of bill, passed at the end of a congressional session, is “a clearing of the decks,” Joshua Huder, a senior fellow at the Government Affairs Institute at Georgetown University told New York Times reporters Luke Broadwater, Jesse Drucker, and Rebecca R. Ruiz. “It’s all the stuff we wanted to pass but couldn’t. Everybody would love for legislation to be passed individually, but that really is a function of a bygone era that is not coming back.”

    Still, it was a bipartisan accomplishment to help dull some of the economic pain of the pandemic and to keep the government funded. Then, tonight, Trump shocked everyone when he released a video attacking the bill, calling its payments of only $600 to individuals a “disgrace” and suggesting he would veto the measure unless Congress increases stimulus payments to $2000.

    Trump refused to have anything to do with negotiations on the bill, and his new demand seems primarily designed to undercut Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), at whom Trump is furious for recognizing that Joe Biden won the 2020 election. Last night, Trump sent an email to Republican lawmakers taking credit for McConnell’s victory in Kentucky and blasting McConnell for abandoning Trump and acknowledging Biden’s victory.

    Trump is also picking a fight with Senator John Thune (R-SD), the number two Republican in the Senate, warning Thune he would be challenged from the right in 2022 and that his political career is over. “Republicans in the Senate so quickly forget," Trump tweeted. “Right now they would be down 8 seats without my backing them in the last Election.” Thune said that Trump’s efforts to overturn the election by stopping the certification of the votes of the Electoral College on January 6 would “go down like a shot dog.”

    Trump is reportedly angry as well at Vice President Mike Pence, who has not been as supportive of Trump’s attempts to overturn the election as the president would like. Indeed, Trump is turning on everyone around him who is not defending his attack on the election results, including White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, White House counsel Pat Cipollone, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, as well as McConnell and Pence. Instead of working with them, he is spending his time with fringe advisers-- lawyer Sidney Powell, for example-- who tell him he can still seize the election victory.

    If Trump vetoes the Consolidated Appropriations Act—along with the National Defense Authorization Act he has also threatened to veto-- Congress has the votes to override it. But such an override would take time that has now run out.

    Meanwhile, Democrats jumped on the suggestion they should increase the stimulus payments that Republicans kept low. In the House, they will likely offer a new, stand-alone bill that authorizes the $2000 payments, using a parliamentary tactic that will require a Republican to go on the record objecting to the measure. Trump is forcing Republicans to choose between him and their party, making the high-stakes gamble that he will win.

    He will not. That ship has sailed. The Electoral College has voted and Congress on January 6 will certify the votes that will put Biden in the White House.

    But Trump can continue to keep himself in the news by escalating the drama of his behavior, seeking a showdown with the Senate Republicans who are doing their very best to avoid precisely such a showdown. He wants a fight.

    Tonight, Trump pardoned 15 people, including four military contractors convicted of opening fire on a crowd and killing 14 unarmed Iraqis in Baghdad in 2007. The men sparked an international outcry about the use of private military contractors in war zones when they fired machine guns and grenade launchers in what came to be known as the Nisour Square massacre. One had been sentenced to life in prison; the other three to 30 years each. When the massacre occurred, the four worked for the Blackwater Worldwide security company, founded by Erik Prince, a key Trump loyalist. Prince is Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s brother.

    Trump also pardoned three Republican lawmakers, two of whom were early supporters of his: California Representative Duncan Hunter, convicted of stealing campaign funds, and New York Representative Chris Collins, convicted of insider trading and lying to the FBI.

    Trump also pardoned two more of the men swept up in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election: campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about a conversation he had about Russia’s possession of “dirt” on 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton; and Alex van der Zwaan, a Dutch lawyer who was associated with Trump’s campaign chair Paul Manafort. Van der Zwaan pleaded guilty to making a false statement to investigators.

    Papadopoulos and van der Zwaan make up two of the now four people involved in the Russia investigation that Trump has pardoned or whose sentence he has commuted. The other two are his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, and his adviser Roger Stone, who was convicted of lying under oath, withholding documents, and threatening a witness.

    Normally, pardons go through the Justice Department, reviewed by the pardon attorney there, but the president has the right to act without consulting the Department of Justice. He has done so.

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

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  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,541
     December 23, 2020 (Wednesday)

    The main story today was that Trump has essentially quit even pretending to govern, and instead created chaos in Washington before leaving for Mar-a-Lago until sometime in the new year. The confusion he has sown promises to keep him central over the holidays, and remaining central is what drives this man.

    Today the White House first told staffers that they would “start departing” the week of January 4, then told the same staffers to “please disregard” the earlier memo.

    Trump vetoed the $740 billion National Defense Authorization Act today, complaining this bill, which funds the military and is usually a bipartisan must-pass bill, changed the names of military bases currently named for Confederate officers and did not repeal the protection for social media companies from liability for content posted by third parties. This second demand has nothing to do with the military, but Trump wanted it to give him power to rein in the insults he sees on Twitter and Facebook. Congress is expected to repass the bill over Trump’s veto.

    In his fury at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senator John Thune (R-SD) for recognizing Joe Biden as President-Elect, Trump yesterday attacked the hard-won Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 bill, which Congress passed after months of struggle late Monday night. The bill contains a coronavirus relief measure which provides $600 to individuals in a one-time payment. Trump insisted the amount should be $2000, a higher number the Republicans had rejected during negotiations. A Republican official noted today that Trump had been informed of the discussions of the bill as they progressed and had made no objection to the terms at the time. His complaints now, the official said, were driven by his desire to skewer McConnell and Thune.

    After indicating he might veto the bill and leave the government unfunded, Trump has not told anyone how he would like the bill amended to be sure of his signature. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi urged the president to “sign the bill to keep government open!”

    Meanwhile, the president’s attack on the $600 payments has opened the door for Democrats, who always wanted a higher amount, to propose a stand-alone bill increasing those payments. They will likely do so tomorrow night, on Christmas Eve. Republicans still oppose that measure, and Trump has put them in the likely position of voting down this payment to needy Americans on Christmas Eve.

    Trump's stall on signing the bill and his sudden call for higher payments also threatens to hurt the Republican Senate candidates in Georgia, who have been campaigning on the promise that there would be a coronavirus relief package before Christmas. Their Democratic challengers have seized on the idea of higher payments, putting the two Republicans, who oppose higher payments, on the spot. A Georgia Republican strategist complained that Trump had put the Republican candidates in “an impossible situation repeatedly throughout the entirety of the runoff.”

    In Washington, one top Republican aide told Politico reporters Anita Kumar, Melanie Zanona and Marianne Levine that Trump’s handling of the bill was a “complete clusterf***.”

    Trump wasn't done for the day. Tonight, he pardoned 26 more people, including his former campaign manager Paul Manafort and his friend Roger Stone, both of whom were instrumental in connecting the 2016 Trump campaign to Russian operatives. He also pardoned Jared Kushner’s father Charles Kushner, who was convicted of tax evasion, witness tampering, and illegal campaign contributions. It is likely that Attorney General William Barr made his resignation effective today because he didn’t want to be associated with these pardons.

    Legal analyst for CNN Elie Honig notes that the pardons mean that “every significant Mueller defendant who refused to cooperate (or started but then stopped) has now been pardoned. Only Rick Gates and Michael Cohen—both of whom testified publicly, in court or Congress—have not been pardoned. The math isn’t hard to do.”

    The CDC announced today that more than a million Americans have received a first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, a significant milestone, but far below the 20 million goal the administration had aimed for. Currently, the nation is averaging more than 200,000 new cases a day.

    As the Trump administration has largely given up governing, the incoming Biden administration is trying to prepare to take over despite being kept in the dark about key issues. The transition process started late, as Trump officials refused to recognize Biden’s election, and now administration officials either can’t or won’t tell Biden’s people what’s going on. In some departments, “the professionals are at a loss” to explain what’s happening, Biden said today. “I can’t tell if I have a clear view of where the landmines are,” he said. His team has not received a briefing from the Defense Department in close to a week, leaving him largely unclear about Russia's recent cyberattack on the government and key businesses, among other things.

    Biden says that part of the reason he has chosen old hands in Washington to fill key positions is because they, at least, know the ropes well enough to get the ship of state underway again.

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,541
     December 24, 2020 (Thursday)

    Happy holidays, from my home to yours.

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,541
    December 25, 2020 (Friday)

    It's been just the two of us today, and right now is the first time I've opened the laptop since last night. Aside from a few peeks at Twitter, I have let the world turn without me. It's been as good a rest as a vacation, and I will continue to take the night off, go to bed early, and take up my pen (or pixels, I guess) again tomorrow.

    I'm one of the lucky ones this year, with a roof over my head, good food on the table, my family safe. I miss my children, my brothers and sisters, and my friends-- all isolated because of the pandemic-- but am very aware that I am blessed.

    It has not always been this way.

    For those struggling this holiday season, I am thinking of you. A reminder, if anything can help in these dark times, that Christmas marks the time when the light starts to come back.


    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,541
     December 26, 2020 (Saturday)

    On December 21, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, a $2.3 trillion bill that pulled together a number of different pieces of legislation, including a $900 billion coronavirus relief bill and a $1.4 trillion appropriations bill (which included 12 separate annual appropriations bills). Today’s news is that Trump is refusing to sign the bill into law.

    Here’s what’s at stake: the bill provides $300 a week in federal unemployment benefits on top of state benefits, and without it, expanded unemployment benefits ran out today for millions of Americans. The bill increases the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) food support program by $13 billion, and allocates $25 billion in assistance to help pay past-due rent. It also provides $20 billion to buy more vaccines and about $8 billion distribute them. The bill also calls for a one-time $600 direct payment to individuals.

    That’s the coronavirus relief piece of the measure. Another piece is the regular appropriations bill for the 2021 federal fiscal year, which ends on September 30, 2021. This includes military spending, aid to foreign countries, and the money that keeps federal programs afloat. It has $1.4 billion allocated to the wall on our southern border.

    Congress should have passed this appropriations bill in time for the start of the 2021 fiscal year on October 1, 2020, but it didn’t, so it has kept the government funded through continuing resolutions. The one under which we are currently operating expires at midnight on Monday, December 28.

    Here’s the third piece of the measure. More than 3000 of the 5593 pages of this massive bill are additional measures that have nothing to do with the first two. They extend tax breaks from previous laws, amounting to tax cuts of about $200 billion. They include money for flood control and coastal protection. They fund community health centers and historically Black colleges and universities. They reauthorize intelligence programs for 2021. They establish the Women’s History Museum and the National Museum of the American Latino on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. (although it appears they do not allocate money for them, but simply authorize their establishment, as required by law).

    The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 passed Congress by large bipartisan majorities. Trump has not called congressional Democratic leaders in more than a year, but Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was part of the negotiations, and spoke for the White House. Everyone expected that, after Congress had passed the bill, Trump would sign it into law.

    But he left for Mar-a-Lago on December 23 without signing it, and is threatening not to. In a surprise video on Tuesday, December 22, he called the legislation “a disgrace.” He complained about the $600 stimulus checks—it was Mnuchin who insisted on that amount—and demanded the amount be raised to $2000. He also complained about “wasteful spending and much more,” although some of the things he called out, including funds for Egypt and the Egyptian military and money for the Kennedy Center, were his own requests. Republicans were stunned by his sudden hostility. Democrats, who had wanted higher stimulus payments all along, promptly tried to pass a stand-alone $2000 payment measure through the House, but were stopped by Republicans.  

    Trump’s sudden hostility to a bill that took months to hammer out is disastrous for millions of Americans whose expanded unemployment benefits ran out today and whose state benefits are long gone. It also threatens to force a government shutdown.

    So, what’s Trump up to?

    A couple of things. First, he is furious with Senate Republicans, especially Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Majority Whip (the second most powerful Republican in the Senate, who enforces party discipline) John Thune (R-SD), both of whom have acknowledged that Joe Biden won the 2020 election. Trump continues to insist that he won “by a landslide” and that the election was stolen. He is incensed by any Republican who has not signed on to his crusade, yet as he relies more and more on marginal figures, like his lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, and as Biden’s victory becomes more and more secure, party leaders are distancing themselves from him. Tonight, he tweeted that it is “[t]ime for Republican Senators to step up and fight for the Presidency….”

    Now, though, Republican leadership needs him to sign this bill to help Republican Senate candidates in Georgia. Democrats in the House passed coronavirus relief back in May, but McConnell objected to anything of the sort until after the election, when it became clear that control of the Senate was going to depend on the outcome of a runoff for both Senate seats from Georgia.

    In that state, the two Republican candidates are having a hard time because voters are disgusted that there has been so little help coming from the Republicans for people hurt by the economic crisis that came in on the heels of the pandemic. If those Senate seats go the Democratic candidates, Jon Ossoff and the Reverend Raphael Warnock, the Senate will be balanced 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats. In the case of such a tie, the position of the Senate Majority Leader goes to the top member of the party of the U.S. President, meaning that a Democrat would replace McConnell.

    McConnell assured the Georgia Republican Senate candidates that there would be a coronavirus relief package before Christmas, and they ran on that promise. Now Trump has them over a barrel.

    That’s one reason he’s suddenly stalling.

    The other is quite likely that he is angry and frustrated at his impending loss of power, and is lashing out to hurt people. It seems of a piece with the fact that he and then-Attorney General William Barr resumed federal executions in July 2019, and that he has sped up the executions of federal prisoners since his November defeat. During his administration, the federal government has executed ten prisoners, more than any president since Grover Cleveland in 1896. This includes executions during the transition to the next administration, although traditionally, presidents stop executions during this period, leaving life-and-death decisions to their successors.

    One person in conversation with White House officials talked with Jeff Stein of the Washington Post about Trump’s scuttling of the Consolidated Appropriations Act and said, “He’s just angry at everybody and wants to inflict as much pain on Congress as possible.”

    Trump’s supporters are urging him to “pocket veto” the bill, taking advantage of a weird option at the end of a congressional session. Normally, a president has ten days, not including Sunday, to review and sign a bill. During a congressional session, if the president doesn’t sign a bill within ten days, it becomes a law. But if the congressional session ends within ten days, the bill does not become a law. This is known as a pocket veto. The 116th Congress—this one—officially ends at noon on January 3. If Trump got the bill on December 24, and all indications are that he did, the ten-day window ends on January 4. So, he could, in fact, run out the clock in such a way that Congress could not override his veto.

    For his part, President-Elect Joe Biden is scathing of the machinations that could leave him inheriting an epic disaster. “[M]illions of families don’t know if they’ll be able to make ends meet because of… Trump’s refusal to sign an economic relief bill approved by Congress with an overwhelming and bipartisan majority,” his transition team wrote today. “This abdication of responsibility has devastating consequences.” Biden pointed out that about 10 million Americans will lose their unemployment insurance benefits, paychecks for military personnel will be at risk, a moratorium on evictions expires, small businesses will fail, and distribution of vaccines will falter. “This bill is critical,” he wrote. It needs to be signed into law now. But it is also a first step and down payment on more action that we’ll need to take early in the new year to revive the economy and contain the pandemic….”

    Biden noted that “In November, the American people spoke clearly that now is a time for bipartisan action and compromise.” Congress has stepped up to the plate with this appropriations bill, Biden said, and added that “Trump should join them, and make sure millions of American can put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads in this holiday season.”

    _____________________________________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
  • Pretty cool NYT article about her newfound fame thanks to the newsletters: 

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/27/business/media/heather-cox-richardson-substack-boston-college.html

    New York Times
    • Dec. 27, 2020, 7:32 p.m. ET

    Last Wednesday, I broke the news to Heather Cox Richardson that she was the most successful individual author of a paid publication on the breakout newsletter platform Substack.

    Early that morning, she had posted that day’s installment of “Letters From an American” to Facebook, quickly garnering more than 50,000 reactions and then, at 2:14 a.m., she emailed it to about 350,000 people. She summarized, as she always does, the events of the day, and her 1,120 words covered a bipartisan vote on a spending measure, President Trump’s surprise attack on that bill, and a wave of presidential pardons. Her voice was, as it always is, calm, at a slight distance from the moment: “Normally, pardons go through the Justice Department, reviewed by the pardon attorney there, but the president has the right to act without consulting the Department of Justice,” she wrote. “He has done so.”

    The news of her ranking seemed to startle Dr. Richardson, who in her day job is a professor of 19th century American history at Boston College. The Substack leader board, a subject of fascination among media insiders, is a long way from her life on a Maine peninsula — particularly as the pandemic has ended her commute — that seems drawn from the era she studies. On our Zoom chat, she sat under a portrait that appeared as if it could be her in period costume, but is, in fact, her great-great-grandmother, who lived in the same fishing village, population a bit over 600.

    She says she tries not to think too much about the size of her audience because that would be paralyzing, and instead often thinks of what she’s writing as a useful primary document for some future version of her historian self. But there was no ignoring her metrics when her accountant told her how much she would owe in taxes this year, and, by extension, just how much revenue her unexpected success had brought. By my conservative estimate based on public and private Substack figures, the $5 monthly subscriptions to participate in her comments section are on track to bring in more than a million dollars a year, a figure she ascribes to this moment in history.

    “We’re in an inflection moment of American politics, and one of the things that happens in that moment is that a lot of people get involved in politics again,” she said.

    Many of those newly energized Americans are women around Dr. Richardson’s age, 58, and they form the bulk of her audience. She’s writing for people who want to leave an article feeling “smarter not dumber,” she says, and who don’t want to learn about the events of the day through the panicked channels of cable news and Twitter, but calmly situated in the long sweep of American history and values.

    Dr. Richardson’s focus on straightforward explanations to a mass audience comes as much of the American media is going in the opposite direction, driven by the incentives of subscription economics that push newspapers, magazines, and cable channels alike toward super-serving subscribers, making you feel as if you’re on the right team, part of the right faction, at least a member of the right community. She’s not the only one to have realized that a lot of people feel left out of the media conversation. Many of the most interesting efforts in journalism in 2021, some of them nonprofit organizations inspired by last summer’s protests over racism, will be trying to reach people who are not part of that in-group chat. One new nonprofit, Capital B, plans to talk to Black women, while another well-regarded model is Detroit’s Outlier Media, which is relentlessly local and often delivered by text message. For Dr. Richardson’s audience, it’s an intimate connection. She spends hours a day answering emails from readers. She spent most of Saturday sending thank-you notes for Christmas presents.

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    The challenge for many of those efforts, and for nonprofit news organizations in general, has been reaching large numbers of people. Dr. Richardson, whose run of short essays began when she was stunned by the response to one she posted last September, has done that by accident, though she credits her huge audience of older women to the deepening gender gap in American politics.

    “What I am doing is speaking to women who have not necessarily been paying attention to politics, older people who had not been engaged,” Dr. Richardson said. “I’m an older woman and I’m speaking to other women about being empowered.”

    Dr. Richardson confounds many of the media’s assumptions about this moment. She built a huge and devoted following on Facebook, which is widely and often accurately viewed in media circles as a home of misinformation, and where most journalists don’t see their personal pages as meaningful channels for their work.

    She also contradicts the stereotype of Substack, which has become synonymous with offering new opportunities for individual writers to turn their social media followings into careers outside big media, and at times appears to be where purged ideological factions go to regroup. That’s true of Never Trump Republicans pushed out of conservative media, whose publications, The Dispatch and The Bulwark, are the largest brands on the platform (just above and below Dr. Richardson’s revenue, respectively.) And it’s true of left-leaning writers who have broken bitterly with elements of the mainstream liberal consensus, whether around race or national security, from the Intercept co-founder Glenn Greenwald to the Vox co-founder Matthew Yglesias to the firebrand Matt Taibbi, whom Dr. Richardson unseated from the top slot in late August.

    Dr. Richardson happened into this frontier of the media business pretty much by chance. When readers on Facebook started suggesting she write a newsletter, she realized she didn’t want to pay hundreds of dollars a month for a commercial platform, and jumped at Substack because it would allow her to send out her emails without charge to her or her readers. Substack makes its money by taking a percentage of writers’ subscription revenue, and she said she felt guilty that the company’s support team wasn’t getting paid for fixing her recurring problem: that her extensive footnotes set off her readers’ spam filters. She seemed intensely uncomfortable talking about the money her work is bringing in.

    “If you start doing things for the money, they stop being authentic,” she said, adding that she knew that was both a privilege of her tenured professorship and “an old Puritan way of looking at things.”

    Like the other Substack writers, Dr. Richardson is succeeding because she’s offering something you can’t find in the mainstream media, and indeed that many editors would assume was too boring to assign. But unlike the others, it’s not her politics, per se: She thinks of her politics as Lincoln-era Republican, but she is in today’s terms a fairly conventional liberal, disturbed by President Trump and his attacks on America’s institutions. She’s a historian who studied under the great Harvard Lincoln scholar David Herbert Donald, and her work on 19th century political history feels particularly relevant right now. This spring, she published her sixth book, “How the South Won the Civil War: Oligarchy, Democracy, and the Continuing Fight for the Soul of America,” an extended assault on the kind of nostalgia that animates Mr. Trump’s fight to preserve Confederate symbols. The face of the South in Dr. Richardson’s book is a bitterly racist and sexually abusive South Carolina planter and senator, James Henry Hammond, who called Jefferson’s notion that all men are created equal “ridiculously absurd.”

    What is unusual is to bring a historian’s confident context to the day’s mundane politics. She invoked Senator Hammond when Representative Kevin McCarthy and other Republican leaders signed on to a Texas lawsuit seeking to reverse the presidential election, comparing the Republican action to moments in American history when legislators explicitly questioned the very idea of democracy.

    “Ordinary men should, Hammond explained, have no say over policies, because they would demand a greater share of the wealth they produced,” she wrote.

    She is, ultimately, offering what feels like straightforward, if thoughtful, answers to the big questions about America right now. One subscriber, Dani Smart, 50, who works for her family real estate brokerage in Richland, Wash., told me that Dr. Richardson helped her “sort through this maelstrom.”(In fact, the edgier younger sibling of Dr. Richardson’s “Letters From an American” is a newsletter that’s called “What Just Happened Today,” with an unprintable word included. Its founder, Matt Kiser, says he reaches more than 200,000 subscribers a day and is supporting the business on voluntary contributions.)

    Dr. Richardson’s “readers are people who have been orphaned by the changes in media and the sensationalism and the meanness of so much of Twitter and Facebook, and they were surprised to find her there and pleased and spread the word,” said Bill Moyers, the former Lyndon B. Johnson aide and public television mainstay.

    Dr. Richardson isn’t sure what she’ll do next. She plans to keep writing her letters through Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s first 100 days as president. But her routine isn’t sustainable: She makes dinner most nights and eats with her partner, a lobsterman, then starts reading. She often falls asleep facedown on her desk for an hour around 11 p.m. before getting back up to write.

    I’ve been getting “Letters From an American” in my inbox since July, and I have to admit that I rarely open them. I live on Twitter much of the time, where yesterday is old news, and everyone assumes you know the context. I find it hard to hit the brakes to look at a print newspaper, much less Dr. Richardson’s rich summaries.

    When I confessed that to Mr. Moyers, he didn’t seem surprised. “You live in a world of thunderstorms,” he said, “and she watches the waves come in.”



  • brianluxbrianlux Moving through All Kinds of Terrain.Posts: 33,805
    ^^^ Very interesting article, Merkin Baller   thanks for posting the whole article- much appreciated! 
    “In all human affairs there are efforts, and there are results, and the strength of the effort is the measure of the result.”
    -James Allen










  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,541
     December 27, 2020 (Sunday)

    Tonight, Trump relented and signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, which includes the coronavirus relief measure and the 2021 appropriations bill (along with other measures).

    He accompanied it with a statement claiming he would demand changes to the law, but these have no force; Congress will almost certainly ignore him. He also continued to pressure Senate Republicans to increase payments to individuals and families, saying that the House would vote to increase the amount of stimulus payments on Monday and that the Senate should agree. But he seemed to confuse the CAA with the National Defense Authorization Act he vetoed, said that Congress has agreed to do things it hasn’t, and then threw in complaints about voter fraud. The statement was weirdly disconnected from the way the legislative process actually works.

    Trump tried to suggest he was saving the nation from the crisis he, himself, has caused, but it is likely that he finally signed the bill because his stubbornness was not playing well across an increasingly desperate nation, especially as he is golfing at Mar-a-Lago and Vice President Mike Pence is skiing in Vail, Colorado. Americans were generally angry over his inaction on a bill that would provide relief for those suffering from the economic crisis, funding for the distribution of vaccines, and funding for the government. As Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) pointed out today, "if his goal was really to get a better deal on the budget, he would have vetoed it immediately and begun negotiating. But his goal is actually national arson—chaos for the fun of it. So he sits on the budget—does nothing—in order to guarantee a government shutdown.”

    He was also under pressure from Republican Senators, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who likely told him his stubbornness was undermining the Republican Senate candidates in Georgia before the January 5 runoff. While Trump is furious with McConnell and the other Senate Republicans who have acknowledged Biden’s win, he is apparently not furious enough that he wants to see McConnell replaced by a Democrat, as would happen if the Senate is split evenly between Republicans and Democrats.

    So the CAA will become law, and the drama of lawmaking for this congressional session should be over. But it is not quite over yet. Trump vetoed the National Defense Authorization Act, which specifies how the defense budget will be spent, on Wednesday, December 23. The NDAA has passed with bipartisan majorities since the 1960s when it first began, and presidents have always signed it. But Trump has chosen to veto it, on the grounds that it calls for the renaming of U.S. military bases named for Confederate generals and that it does not strip social media companies of protection from liability when third parties post offensive material on them.

    The National Defense Authorization Act this year does something else, though, that seems to me of far more importance to the president than the naming of military bases.

    It includes a measure known as the Corporate Transparency Act, which undercuts shell companies and money laundering in America. The act requires the owners of any company that is not otherwise overseen by the federal government (by filing taxes, for example, or through close regulation) to file a report that identifies each person associated with the company who either owns 25% or more of it or exercises substantial control over it. That report, including name, birthdate, address, and an identifying number, goes to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). The measure also increases penalties for money laundering and streamlines cooperation between banks and foreign law enforcement authorities.

    America is currently the easiest place in the world for criminals to form an anonymous shell company which enables them to launder money, evade taxes, and engage in illegal payoff schemes. The measure will pull the rug out from both domestic and international criminals that take advantage of shell companies to hide from investigators. When the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists dug into leaked documents from FinCEN this fall, they discovered shell companies moving money for criminals operating out of Russia, China, Iran, and Syria.

    Shell companies also mean that our political system is awash in secrecy. Social media giants like Facebook cannot determine who is buying political advertising. And, as Representative Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) noted, shell companies allow “foreign bad actors” to corrupt our system even more directly. “[I]t’s illegal for foreigners to contribute to our campaigns,” he reminded Congress in a speech for the bill, “but if you launder your money through a front company with anonymous ownership there is very little we can do to stop you.”

    We know the Trump family uses shell companies: Trump’s fixer Michael Cohen used a shell company to pay off Stormy Daniels, and just this month we learned that Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner approved a shell company that spent more than $600 million in campaign funds.

    The new requirements in the NDAA apply not just to future entities, but also to existing ones.

    Congress needs to repass the NDAA over Trump’s veto—indeed it is likely that the CTA was included in this measure precisely because the NDAA is must-pass legislation—and both the CTA and the NDAA bill into which it is tucked have bipartisan support. Trump has objected to a number of things in the original bill but has not publicly complained about the CTA in it. It will be interesting to see if Congress repasses this bill in its original form and, if not, what changes it makes.

    Finally, we have a little more information now about the attack in downtown Nashville, Tennessee, on Christmas morning, when an explosive device in a recreational vehicle exploded near an AT&T transmission building near Second Avenue North and Commerce Street.

    At 5:30 on December 25, the sound of what seemed to be gunfire woke residents in the area, then a computerized message warned them to evacuate before a bomb went off. The recording began a countdown to detonation. Law enforcement officers knocked on doors telling people to evacuate. At about 6:30, the device exploded. The blast damaged more than 40 businesses, sent three people to the hospital, and disrupted cell service, 911 systems, and the Internet throughout Tennessee as well as in parts of Kentucky and Alabama. Planes were temporarily grounded at Nashville International Airport. Yesterday, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee asked Trump to issue an emergency disaster declaration, which would free up federal money to help clean up and rebuild.

    This evening, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee, Donald Cochran, identified Anthony Quinn Warner, a 63-year-old white man and former IT specialist, as the bomber. “He was present when the bomb went off,” Cochran said, and he “perished in the bombing.”

    Trump has not yet commented.

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  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,541

    December 28, 2020 (Monday)  I will fill in today's news tomorrow, because there is nothing that cannot wait, and today, and tomorrow, are anniversaries....  On the clear, cold morning of December 29, 1890, on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, three U.S. soldiers tried to wrench a valuable Winchester away from a young Lakota man. He refused to give up his hunting weapon; it was the only thing standing between his family and starvation. As the men struggled, the gun fired into the sky.   Before the echoes died, troops fired a volley that brought down half of the Lakota men and boys the soldiers had captured the night before, as well as a number of soldiers surrounding the Lakotas. The uninjured Lakota men attacked the soldiers with knives, guns they snatched from wounded soldiers, and their fists.   As the men fought hand-to-hand, the Lakota women who had been hitching their horses to wagons for the day’s travel tried to flee along the nearby road or up a dry ravine behind the camp. The soldiers on a slight rise above the camp turned rapid-fire mountain guns on them. Then, over the next two hours, troops on horseback hunted down and slaughtered all the Lakotas they could find: about 250 men, women, and children.   But it is not December 29 that haunts me. It is the night of December 28, the night before the killing.   On December 28, there was still time to avert the Wounded Knee Massacre.  In the early afternoon, the Lakota leader Big Foot-- Sitanka-- had urged his people to surrender to the soldiers looking for them. Sitanka was desperately ill with pneumonia and the people in his band were hungry, underdressed, and exhausted. They were making their way south across South Dakota from their own reservation in the northern part of the state to the Pine Ridge Reservation. There, they planned to take shelter with another famous Lakota chief, Red Cloud. His people had done as Sitanka asked, and the soldiers escorted the Lakotas to a camp on South Dakota's Wounded Knee Creek, inside the boundaries of the Pine Ridge Reservation.  For the soldiers, the surrender of Sitanka's band marked the end of the Ghost Dance Uprising. It had been a tense month. Troops had pushed into the South Dakota reservations in November, prompting a band of terrified men who had embraced the Ghost Dance religion to gather their wives and children and ride out to the Badlands. But, at long last, army officers and negotiators had convinced those Ghost Dancers to go back to Pine Ridge and turn themselves in to authorities before winter hit in earnest.  Sitanka’s people were not part of the Badlands group and, for the most part, were not Ghost Dancers. They had fled from their own northern reservation two weeks before when they learned that officers had murdered the great leader Sitting Bull in his own home. Army officers were anxious to find and corral Sitanka’s missing Lakotas before they carried the news that Sitting Bull had been killed to those who had taken refuge in the Badlands. Army leaders were certain the information would spook the Ghost Dancers and send them flying back to the Badlands. They were determined to make sure the two bands did not meet.  But South Dakota is a big state, and it was not until late in the afternoon of December 28 that the soldiers finally made contact with Sitanka's band, and it didn’t go quite as the officers planned: a group of soldiers were watering their horses in a stream when some of the traveling Lakotas surprised them. The Indians let the soldiers go, and the men promptly reported to their officers, who marched on the Lakotas as if they were going to war. Sitanka, who had always gotten along well with army officers, assured the commander that the Indians were on their way to Pine Ridge anyway, and asked his men to surrender unconditionally. They did.  By this time, Sitanka was so ill he couldn't sit up and his nose was dripping blood. Soldiers lifted him into an army ambulance—an old wagon-- for the trip to the Wounded Knee camp. His ragtag band followed behind. Once there, the soldiers gave the Lakotas an evening ration, and lent army tents to those who wanted them. Then the soldiers settled into guarding the camp.  And they celebrated, for they were heroes of a great war, and it had been bloodless, and now, with the Lakota’s surrender, they would be demobilized back to their home bases before the South Dakota winter closed in. As they celebrated, more and more troops poured in. It had been a long hunt across South Dakota for Sitanka and his band, and officers were determined the group would not escape them again. In came the Seventh Cavalry, whose men had not forgotten that their former leader George Armstrong Custer had been killed by a band of Lakota in 1876. In came three mountain guns, which the soldiers trained on the Indian encampment from a slight rise above the camp.  For their part, the Lakotas were frightened. If their surrender was welcome and they were going to go with the soldiers to Red Cloud at Pine Ridge, as they had planned all along, why were there so many soldiers, with so many guns?  On this day and hour in 1890, in the cold and dark of a South Dakota December night, there were soldiers drinking, singing and visiting with each other, and anxious Indians either talking to each other in low voices or trying to sleep. No one knew what the next day would bring, but no one expected what was going to happen.  One of the curses of history is that we cannot go back and change the course leading to disasters, no matter how much we might wish to. The past has its own terrible inevitability.  But it is never too late to change the future.
    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

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  • Heavy read this AM. 

  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,541
     December 29, 2020 (Tuesday)

    There is a definitely feeling of change in the air. For all his continuing insistence that he won the 2020 election, Trump is a lame duck.

    Today’s complicated fight in the Senate over the one-time stimulus payment of $2000 illustrated that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), not Trump, now controls the Republican caucus. Trump originally refused to sign the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, the bill that contains the coronavirus relief measures, because he claimed he objected to its meager $600 stimulus payments. Six hundred dollars was the amount his negotiators had demanded, but he suddenly said he wanted them to be $2000. Democrats in the House jumped on Trump’s demand for the higher payment and they passed a measure on Monday to increase the payments.

    Trump had attacked the bill largely because he is angry at McConnell and Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-SD) (a whip keeps party members in line behind the party leader) for acknowledging Biden’s victory in November. He was trying to illustrate his power by refusing to sign the bill at all. But Sunday night he gave in without winning anything. Yet, he continued to say he wanted higher payments. The House was happy to give him what the Democrats had wanted all along; today, Trump lost the showdown in the Senate.

    Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) introduced the measure, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) killed it. This enabled the two embattled Republican Senate candidates from Georgia both to support Trump and to claim they wanted higher payments, all without actually having to vote for the higher payments. McConnell bested Trump all around: he had no intention of raising those payments no matter what Trump tweeted... and he didn’t.

    Trump’s influence in Washington is waning in other ways, too. Yesterday, the House repassed the National Defense Authorization Act over Trump’s veto. Trump claims to object to the bill for a number of reasons, including that it will require that military bases currently named for Confederate generals be renamed, but this is the measure into which Congress put the Corporate Transparency Act I wrote about a few days ago. It will undercut the country’s plague of so-called shell companies, which enable money laundering and other criminal activity because they are owned and operated by in secret. The new measure will require that all owners and operators of such companies be clearly identified.

    This will likely impact the Trump family, which uses shell companies.

    There were other rumblings today that Trump’s post-presidential life might have some sticky places. The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has hired forensic accountants to help investigate Trump and his businesses. This investigation is a criminal investigation. New York Attorney General Letitia James is in charge of a civil investigation into Trump’s businesses.

    But the big thing which showed momentum is moving away from Trump is that President-Elect Joe Biden is forcefully criticizing the Trump administration for its failure to plan for distribution of the coronavirus vaccine.

    With more than 330,000 Americans dead of Covid-19 and infections spiking, Biden today noted that the Trump administration has fallen behind on vaccine distribution. The effort got off to a poor start as the administration delivered fewer doses than it had promised, and initially blamed Pfizer for a “miscommunication,” only to have Pfizer state that hit had “millions of doses” in a warehouse but had received no information about where to send them.

    The administration promised to vaccinate 20 million Americans by the end of December, but yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that it had administered just 2.1 million doses in two weeks, although that number is likely somewhat low because of lag times in reporting. At the current rate, Dr. Leana W. Wen writes in the Washington Post, we can expect to achieve herd immunity in 10 years.

    The administration at first refused to share information with the Biden camp about distribution, claiming there was a plan, even though, when finally part of discussions in early December, Biden said “[t] 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.”

    Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar responded that Biden’s claim was “nonsense.” “[W]e have comprehensive plans from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention working with 64 public health jurisdictions across the country as our governors have laid out very detailed plans that we’ve worked with them on. We’re leveraging our retail pharmacies, our hospitals, our public health departments, our community health centers.” Azar said the distribution process was being “micromanaged and controlled by the United States military, as well as our incredible private sector. We do hundreds of millions of vaccinations a year. We’re leveraging the systems that are known, and that work here in the United States,” he said. Azar assured Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace that, as soon as the vaccines were approved, the government would be shipping them “to all of the states and territories that we work with. And within hours they can be vaccinating,”
     
    It turns out Biden was more right than Azar. The administration planned simply to get the vaccines to the states, and then leave to them the problem of actually getting the vaccines into people’s arms. But state Departments of Health are strapped for money after trying to manage the pandemic for nine months, and had been allotted only $6 million apiece to make the distributions happen. (The new Consolidated Appropriations Act that Trump just signed has significantly more money in it for distribution.)

    “The Trump administration’s plan to distribute vaccines is falling behind, far behind,” Biden said today. “As I long feared and warned, the effort to distribute and administer the vaccine is not progressing as it should.”

    Finally stung, Trump tweeted tonight that “It is up to the States to distribute the vaccines once brought to the designated areas by the Federal Government. We have not only developed the vaccines, including putting up money to move the process along quickly, but gotten them to the states. Biden failed with Swine Flu!” (Biden was not in charge of the Obama Administration’s response to H1N1 in 2009, which broke out three months after Obama took office.)

    Biden promised to invoke the National Defense Production Act, a law that permits the president to require companies to produce goods at the same time that it guarantees them a market for those goods, to speed up the production of supplies necessary to distribute the vaccine quickly. “I have directed my team to prepare a much more aggressive effort, with more federal involvement and leadership to get things back on track,” he said.

    But he warned that we are behind and, breaking with the Trump administration, warned that things are going to get much worse before they get better. The spike in infections along with the fallout from holiday gatherings means we will see high case numbers in January and high death tolls in February. It will be mid-March, he warns, before we see improvement. “The next few weeks and months are going to be very tough, a very tough period for our nation — maybe the toughest during this entire pandemic,” Biden said. “I know it’s hard to hear, but it’s the truth.”

    “We are going to get through this. Brighter days are coming,” Biden said. “But it’s going to take all of the grit and determination we have as Americans to get it done.”

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

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  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,541
     December 30, 2020 (Wednesday)

    And so, we are at the end of a year that has brought a presidential impeachment trial, a deadly pandemic that has killed more than 338,000 of us, a huge social movement for racial justice, a presidential election, and a president who has refused to accept the results of that election and is now trying to split his own political party.

    It’s been quite a year.

    But I had a chance to talk with history podcaster Bob Crawford of the Avett Brothers yesterday, and he asked a more interesting question. He pointed out that we are now twenty years into this century, and asked what I thought were the key changes of those twenty years. I chewed on this question for awhile and also asked readers what they thought. Pulling everything together, here is where I’ve come out.

    In America, the twenty years since 2000 have seen the end game of the Reagan Revolution, begun in 1980.

    In that era, political leaders on the right turned against the principles that had guided the country since the 1930s, when Democratic President Franklin Delano Roosevelt guided the nation out of the Great Depression by using the government to stabilize the economy. During the Depression and World War Two, Americans of all parties had come to believe the government had a role to play in regulating the economy, providing a basic social safety net and promoting infrastructure.

    But reactionary businessmen hated regulations and the taxes that leveled the playing field between employers and workers. They called for a return to the pro-business government of the 1920s, but got no traction until the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, when the Supreme Court, under the former Republican governor of California, Earl Warren, unanimously declared racial segregation unconstitutional. That decision, and others that promoted civil rights, enabled opponents of the New Deal government to attract supporters by insisting that the country’s postwar government was simply redistributing tax dollars from hardworking white men to people of color.

    That argument echoed the political language of the Reconstruction years, when white southerners insisted that federal efforts to enable formerly enslaved men to participate in the economy on terms equal to white men were simply a redistribution of wealth, because the agents and policies required to achieve equality would cost tax dollars and, after the Civil War, most people with property were white. This, they insisted, was “socialism.”

    To oppose the socialism they insisted was taking over the East, opponents of black rights looked to the American West. They called themselves Movement Conservatives, and they celebrated the cowboy who, in their inaccurate vision, was a hardworking white man who wanted nothing of the government but to be left alone to work out his own future. In this myth, the cowboys lived in a male-dominated world, where women were either wives and mothers or sexual playthings, and people of color were savage or subordinate.

    With his cowboy hat and western ranch, Reagan deliberately tapped into this mythology, as well as the racism and sexism in it, when he promised to slash taxes and regulations to free individuals from a grasping government. He promised that cutting taxes and regulations would expand the economy. As wealthy people—the “supply side” of the economy-- regained control of their capital, they would invest in their businesses and provide more jobs. Everyone would make more money.

    From the start, though, his economic system didn’t work. Money moved upward, dramatically, and voters began to think the cutting was going too far. To keep control of the government, Movement Conservatives at the end of the twentieth century ramped up their celebration of the individualist white American man, insisting that America was sliding into socialism even as they cut more and more domestic programs, insisting that the people of color and women who wanted the government to address inequities in the country simply wanted “free stuff.” They courted social conservatives and evangelicals, promising to stop the “secularization” they saw as a partner to communism.

    After the end of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, talk radio spread the message that Black and Brown Americans and “feminazis” were trying to usher in socialism. In 1996, that narrative got a television channel that personified the idea of the strong man with subordinate women. The Fox News Channel told a story that reinforced the Movement Conservative narrative daily until it took over the Republican Party entirely.

    The idea that people of color and women were trying to undermine society was enough of a rationale to justify keeping them from the vote, especially after Democrats passed the Motor Voter law in 1993, making it easier for poor people to register to vote. In 1997, Florida began the process of purging voter rolls of Black voters.  

    And so, 2000 came.

    In that year, the presidential election came down to the electoral votes in Florida. Democratic candidate Al Gore won the popular vote by more than 540,000 votes over Republican candidate George W. Bush, but Florida would decide the election. During the required recount, Republican political operatives led by Roger Stone descended on the election canvassers in Miami-Dade County to stop the process. It worked, and the Supreme Court upheld the end of the recount. Bush won Florida by 537 votes and, thanks to its electoral votes, became president. Voter suppression was a success, and Republicans would use it, and after 2010, gerrymandering, to keep control of the government even as they lost popular support.

    Bush had promised to unite the country, but his installation in the White House gave new power to the ideology of the Movement Conservative leaders of the Reagan Revolution. He inherited a budget surplus from his predecessor Democrat Bill Clinton, but immediately set out to get rid of it by cutting taxes. A balanced budget meant money for regulation and social programs, so it had to go. From his term onward, Republicans would continue to cut taxes even as budgets operated in the red, the debt climbed, and money moved upward.

    The themes of Republican dominance and tax cuts were the backdrop of the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001. That attack gave the country’s leaders a sense of mission after the end of the Cold War and, after launching a war in Afghanistan to stop al-Qaeda, they set out to export democracy to Iraq. This had been a goal for Republican leaders since the Clinton administration, in the belief that the United States needed to spread capitalism and democracy in its role as a world leader. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq strengthened the president and the federal government, creating the powerful Department of Homeland Security, for example, and leading Bush to assert the power of the presidency to interpret laws through signing statements.

    The association of the Republican Party with patriotism enabled Republicans in this era to call for increased spending for the military and continued tax cuts, while attacking Democratic calls for domestic programs as wasteful. Increasingly, Republican media personalities derided those who called for such programs as dangerous, or anti-American.

    But while Republicans increasingly looked inward to their party as the only real Americans and asserted power internationally, changes in technology were making the world larger. The Internet put the world at our fingertips and enabled researchers to decode the human genome, revolutionizing medical science. Smartphones both made communication easy. Online gaming created communities and empathy. And as many Americans were increasingly embracing rap music and tattoos and LGBTQ rights, as well as recognizing increasing inequality, books were pointing to the dangers of the power concentrating at the top of societies. In 1997, J.K. Rowling began her exploration of the rise of authoritarianism in her wildly popular Harry Potter books, but her series was only the most famous of a number of books in which young people conquered a dystopia created by adults.

    In Bush’s second term, his ideology created a perfect storm. His administration's disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina, which killed more than 1,800 people and caused $125 billion in damage in and around New Orleans in 2005, revealed how badly the new economy had treated Black and Brown people, and how badly the destruction of domestic programs had affected our ability to respond to disasters. Computers permitted the overuse of credit default swaps that precipitated the 2008 crash, which then precipitated the housing crisis, as people who had bet on the individualist American dream lost their homes. Meanwhile, the ongoing wars, plagued with financial and moral scandals, made it clear that the Republicans optimistic vision of spreading democracy through military conflict was unrealistic.

    In 2008, voters put Black American Barack Obama, a Democrat, into the White House. To Republicans, primed by now to believe that Democrats and Black people were socialists, this was an undermining of the nation itself, and they set out to hamper him. While many Americans saw Obama as the symbol of a new, fairer government with America embracing a multilateral world, reactionaries built a backlash based in racism and sexism. They vocally opposed a federal government they insisted was pushing socialism on hardworking white men, and insisted that America must show its strength by exerting its power unilaterally in the world. Increasingly, the Internet and cell phones enabled people to have their news cater to their worldview, moving Republicans into a world characterized by what a Republican spokesperson would later call "alternative facts."

    And so, in 2016, we faced a clash between a relentlessly changing nation and the individualist ideology of the Movement Conservatives who had taken over the Republican Party. By then, that ideology had become openly radical extremism in the hands of Donald Trump, who referred to immigrants as criminals, boasted of sexually assaulting women, and promised to destroy the New Deal government once and for all.

    In the 2016 election, the themes of the past 36 years came together. Embracing Movement Conservative individualist ideology taken to an extreme, Trump was eager enough to make sure a Democrat didn't win that, according to American intelligence services, he was willing to accept the help of Russian operatives. They, in turn, influenced the election through the manipulation of new social media, amplified by what had become by then a Republican echo chamber in which Democrats were dangerous socialists and the Democratic candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was a criminal. Thanks to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision which permitted corporate money to flow into election campaigns, Trump also had the help of a wave of money from big business; financial institutions spent $2 billion to influence the election. He also had the support of evangelicals, who believed he would finally give them the anti-abortion laws they wanted.

    Trump lost the popular vote by almost 3 million votes but, as George W. Bush before him, won in the Electoral College. Once in office, this president set out to destroy the New Deal state, as Movement Conservatives had called for, returning the country to the control of a small group of elite businessmen who, theoretically, would know how to move the country forward best by leveraging private sector networks and innovation. He also set out to put minorities and women back into subordinate positions, recreating a leadership structure that was almost entirely white and male.

    As Trump tried to destroy an activist government once and for all, Americans woke up to how close we have come to turning our democracy over to a small group of oligarchs.

    In the past four years, the Women’s March on Washington and the MeToo Movement has enabled women to articulate their demand for equality. The travel ban, child separation policy for Latin American refugees, and Trump’s attacks on Muslims, Latin American immigrants, and Chinese immigrants, has sparked a defense of America’s history of immigration. The Black Lives Matter Movement, begun in July 2013 after George Zimmerman was acquitted of murdering teenager Trayvon Martin, has gained power as Black Americans have been murdered at the hands of law enforcement officers and white vigilantes, and as Black Americans have borne witness to those murders with cellphone videos.

    The increasing voice of democracy clashed most dramatically with Trump’s ideology in summer 2020 when, with the support of his Attorney General William Barr, Trump used the law enforcement officers of the Executive Branch to attack peaceful protesters in Washington, D.C. and in Portland, Oregon. In June, on the heels of the assault on the protesters at Lafayette Square, military officers from all branches made it clear that they would not support any effort to use them against civilians. They reiterated that they would support the Constitution. The refusal of the military to support a further extension of Trump's power was no small thing.

    And now, here we are. Trump lost the 2020 election to Democrat Joe Biden by more than 7 million votes and by an Electoral College split of 306 to 232. Although the result was not close, Trump refuses to acknowledge the loss and is doing all he can to hamper Biden’s assumption of office. Many members of the Republican Party are joining him in his attempt to overturn the election, taking the final, logical step of Movement Conservatism: denying the legitimacy of anyone who does not share their ideology. This is unprecedented. It is a profound attack on our democracy. But it will not succeed.

    And in this moment, we have, disastrously, discovered the final answer to whether or not it is a good idea to destroy the activist government that has protected us since 1933. In their zeal for reducing government, the Trump team undercut our ability to respond to a pandemic, and tried to deal with the deadly coronavirus through private enterprise or by ignoring it and calling for people to go back to work in service to the economy, willing to accept huge numbers of dead. They have carried individualism to an extreme, insisting that simple public health measures designed to save lives infringe on their liberty.

    The result has been what is on track to be the greatest catastrophe in American history, with more than 338,000 of us dead and the disease continuing to spread like wildfire. It is for this that the Trump administration will be remembered, but it is more than that. It is a fitting end to the attempt to destroy our government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

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  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,541
     December 31, 2020 (Thursday)

    As the sun sets on 2020, I want to thank you all.

    It was not clear what this year would bring, and fear that we were seeing the end of American democracy was very real. Thanks to people like you, we have won a respite, at least, and now have the chance to articulate what this country can look like if we put all hands on deck.

    I also thank you for your support for me, and for this project. It is no exaggeration to say we are in this together. I shape what I write according to your questions, and learn at least as much from you as you do from me. More, though, your personal support, especially in the face of the hate mail that comes over the transom, is what keeps me going.

    So I thank you, all around.

    I wish for you, and for us all, a better 2021.

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
  • brianluxbrianlux Moving through All Kinds of Terrain.Posts: 33,805
    She's been an inspiration this year.
    “In all human affairs there are efforts, and there are results, and the strength of the effort is the measure of the result.”
    -James Allen










  • Halifax2TheMaxHalifax2TheMax Posts: 27,265
    brianlux said:
    She's been an inspiration this year.
    A light in very many of a dark night. Happy new year, everyone.
    09/15/1998, Mansfield, MA; 08/29/00 08/30/00, Mansfield, MA; 07/02/03, 07/03/03, Mansfield, MA; 09/28/04, 09/29/04, Boston, MA; 09/22/05, Halifax, NS; 05/24/06, 05/25/06, Boston, MA; 07/22/06, 07/23/06, Gorge, WA; 06/29/08, 06/30/08, Mansfield, MA; 08/18/08, O2 London, UK; 10/30/09, 10/31/09, Philadelphia, PA; 05/15/10, Hartford, CT; 05/17/10, Boston, MA; 05/20/10, 05/21/10, NY, NY; 06/22/10, Dublin, IRE; 06/23/10, Northern Ireland; 09/03/11, 09/04/11, Alpine Valley, WI; 09/11/11, 09/12/11, Toronto, Ont; 09/14/11, Ottawa, Ont; 09/15/11, Hamilton, Ont; 07/02/2012, Prague, Czech Republic; 07/04/2012 & 07/05/2012, Berlin, Germany; 07/07/2012, Stockholm, Sweden; 09/30/2012, Missoula, MT; 07/16/2013, London, Ont; 07/19/2013, Chicago, IL; 10/15/2013 & 10/16/2013, Worcester, MA; 10/21/2013 & 10/22/2013, Philadelphia, PA; 10/25/2013, Hartford, CT; 11/29/2013, Portland, OR; 11/30/2013, Spokane, WA; 12/04/2013, Vancouver, BC; 12/06/2013, Seattle, WA; 10/03/2014, St. Louis. MO; 10/22/2014, Denver, CO; 10/26/2015, New York, NY; 04/23/2016, New Orleans, LA; 04/28/2016 & 04/29/2016, Philadelphia, PA; 05/01/2016 & 05/02/2016, New York, NY; 05/08/2016, Ottawa, Ont.; 05/10/2016 & 05/12/2016, Toronto, Ont.; 08/05/2016 & 08/07/2016, Boston, MA; 08/20/2016 & 08/22/2016, Chicago, IL; 07/01/2018, Prague, Czech Republic; 07/03/2018, Krakow, Poland; 07/05/2018, Berlin, Germany; 09/02/2018 & 09/04/2018, Boston, MA;

    "If you're looking down on someone, it better be to extend them a hand to lift them up."

    Libtardaplorable©. And proud of it.

    Brilliantati©
  • brianluxbrianlux Moving through All Kinds of Terrain.Posts: 33,805
    brianlux said:
    She's been an inspiration this year.
    A light in very many of a dark night. Happy new year, everyone.

    For sure.

    Happy New Year to you my friend, and all of you rascals!
    “In all human affairs there are efforts, and there are results, and the strength of the effort is the measure of the result.”
    -James Allen










  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,541
     January 1, 2021 (Friday)

    Congress began the new year by repassing the National Defense Authorization Act over Trump’s veto, finding the two-thirds majority it needed to override one of Trump’s vetoes for the first time. The House of Representatives passed the bill on Monday by a vote of 322 to 87. The Senate vote was 81 to 13, with 6 Senators not voting.

    The NDAA allocates the money Congress has appropriated for the military, and since Congress passed the first NDAA in 1961, it has never failed to pass.  

    This measure pushed back on a number of the president’s policies and demands. He wanted to be able to sue social media companies for things other people post on them—the law preventing such lawsuits is in Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act—but even staunch Trump supporter James Inhofe (R-OK) refused, noting that Section 230 has nothing to do with the military. Trump objected to the measure in the bill that requires renaming military bases that currently bear the name of Confederate generals; Congress left it in. Congress also specified that federal authorities must “visibly display” their name tags when operating in public, a rebuke to the administration’s deployment of officers in unmarked clothing this summer.

    The NDAA also challenges Trump’s policies by slowing or stopping the removal of troops from Germany and Afghanistan, making it harder to move troops to our southern border, and blocking the removal of troops from South Korea unless the Pentagon signs off on the move. It caps at $100 million the amount of money the military can use on domestic projects, a protest of the president’s decision to fund his wall by moving $3.6 billion from other projects.

    The NDAA also contains strong anti-corruption measures. Originally passed as the Corporate Transparency Act, these measures prohibit so-called shell companies with secret owners and operators, key tools of criminals and money launderers. The NDAA also regulates the antiquities trade, another haven for money laundering. The director of Transparency International's U.S. office, Gary Kalman, called the bill “one of the most important anti-corruption measures ever passed by the U.S. Congress.”

    After the Senate repassed the bill, Trump took to Twitter to call the Republican Senate “Pathetic!!!”

    As the veto override indicates, the war between Trump and establishment Republicans is now out in the open. On the one hand are lawmakers who are publicly backing Trump and his on-going attempt to overturn the election; on the other hand are Republicans who don’t want to sign on to an assault on our democracy that, if it succeeds, would make Trump a dictator and remove all their power.

    House lawmakers have indicated they will challenge some of the state electoral votes for Biden when Congress counts them on January 6. The process of gerrymandering, which protects Republicans from moderate challengers but leaves them open to challenges from extremists, has put a number of Republican radicals in the House, but the Senate has far fewer of them. A challenge from one house of Congress does not do anything, but a challenge to a state's electoral votes from both the House and the Senate means that both houses must debate whether or not to accept the electoral votes from that state. Then they decide by a simple majority vote.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has tried to keep Senate Republicans from challenging any of the votes because he doesn’t want Republicans to have to go on record either for or against the president. The election was not close. Biden won by more than 7 million votes and by 306 to 232 in the Electoral College. The Trump campaign has either lost or had dismissed 60 of the 61 cases it has brought over the election, and its advisers are increasingly unhinged.

    Today, for example, a Trump-appointed federal judge threw out a lawsuit filed by Louie Gohmert (R-TX) that sought to empower Vice President Mike Pence to throw out Biden’s victory. Pence had opposed the lawsuit, and after the judge ruled, attorney Lin Wood, who is a supporter of the Trump effort, bizarrely predicted that Vice President Mike Pence could “face execution by firing squad” for “treason.” (Twitter suspended his account.) Trump himself today retweeted an 8-minute video claiming that the Communist Party in China has secretly infiltrated America through Hollywood and newspapers and has bought Joe Biden. It urges “patriots” to defend America. To the tweet, Trump added: “January 6th. See you in D.C.”

    It seems clear that, with no chance of proving this election fraudulent, Trump is now trying to incite violence. Nonetheless, Republicans who are jockeying for the 2024 presidential nomination want to make sure they can pick up Trump’s voters. While McConnell doesn’t want Senators to have to declare their support either way, those vying to lead the party want to differentiate themselves from the pack.

    On Wednesday, Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) announced he would join the efforts of his House colleagues to challenge Biden electors from Pennsylvania and perhaps other states. This will not affect the outcome of the election, but it will force senators to go on record for or against Trump. In a statement, Hawley listed Trump talking points: the influence of “mega corporations” on behalf of Biden and “voter fraud.” Hawley seems pretty clearly to be angling for a leg up in 2024.

    On Wednesday night, Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) made his own play for the future of the Republican Party. He refuted point by point the idea that Trump won. He scolded his colleagues who are signing on to Trump’s attempt to steal the election, calling them “institutional arsonists.”

    “When we talk in private, I haven’t heard a single Congressional Republican allege that the election results were fraudulent – not one,” he wrote on Facebook. “Instead, I hear them talk about their worries about how they will “look” to President Trump’s most ardent supporters.” They think they can “tap into the president’s populist base without doing any real, long-term damage,” he wrote, but they’re wrong. “Adults don’t point a loaded gun at the heart of legitimate self-government.”

    Today, Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT), the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, launched his own bid to redefine the Republican Party with an attack on Trump’s apparent botching of the coronavirus vaccine rollout. In a press release, Romney noted “[t]hat comprehensive vaccination plans have not been developed at the federal level and sent to the states as models is as incomprehensible as it is inexcusable.”

    But he didn’t stop there. Romney went on to say that he was no expert on vaccine distribution, “[b]ut I know that when something isn’t working, you need to acknowledge reality and develop a plan—particularly when hundreds of thousands of lives are at stake.” He offered ideas of his own, offering them “not as the answer but as an example of the kind of options that ought to be brainstormed in Washington and in every state.” After listing his ideas, he concluded: “Public health professionals will easily point out the errors in this plan—so they should develop better alternatives based on experience, modeling and trial.”

    Romney’s statement was about more than vaccine distribution. With its emphasis on listening to experts and experimenting, it was an attack on the rigid ideology that has taken over the Republican Party. Romney has said he comes to his position from his own experience, not his reading, but he is reaching back to the origins of conservative thought, when Irish statesman Edmund Burke critiqued the French Revolution as a dangerous attempt to build a government according to ideology, rather than reality. Burke predicted that such an attempt would inevitably result in politicians trying to force society to conform to their ideology. When it did not, they would turn to tyranny and violence.

    Sasse’s point-by-point refutation of Trump’s arguments-- complete with citations—and Romney’s call to govern according to reality rather than ideology are suggestive. They seem to show an attempt to recall the Republican Party to the true conservatism it abandoned a generation ago.

    _____________________________________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
  • Merkin BallerMerkin Baller Posts: 5,327
    edited January 2
    Great one today.
    Post edited by Merkin Baller on

  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,541
     January 2, 2021 (Saturday)

    Today the fight to pick up Trump’s supporters continued. Eleven senators, led by Ted Cruz (R-TX), said they would object to certifying certain state electoral votes when Congress meets on Wednesday, January 6, to count them. They want a commission appointed to audit the results. This attempt is separate from the one launched yesterday by Josh Hawley (R-MO) to object to the counting of the electoral votes from Pennsylvania, but both are a transparent attempt to court Trump voters before 2022 and 2024.

    The senators signing onto the effort are: Ron Johnson (R-WI), James Lankford (R-OK), Steve Daines (R-MT), John Kennedy (R-LA), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and Mike Braun (R-IN), and Senators-Elect Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), and Tommy Tuberville (R-AL).

    President-Elect Joe Biden’s transition spokesperson Michael Gwin called their efforts a “stunt.” He isn’t wrong. This plan is unfounded. Biden won the election by more than 7 million votes and by a margin of 306 to 232 in the Electoral College. The Trump campaign tried to challenge the results in the courts, and lost or had dismissed for lack of evidence 60 out of 61 cases, including two they tried to take to the Supreme Court, where three justices appointed by Trump himself sit. Although Trump supporters grabbed headlines with their accusations of irregularities and fraud when they made them in conference rooms and in parking lots in front of landscaping companies, they could produce no evidence in courtrooms, where there are penalties for lying. The suggestion that there is somehow a problem with this election, when they could produce no evidence of wrongdoing in front of judges in 60 cases, is laughable.

    But there is more to their efforts than just creating a show to attract the future support of Trump voters. The attempt of these Trump Republicans to launch yet another baseless investigation is in keeping with their use of investigations to discredit Democrats since at least the 2012 attack on two U.S. government facilities in Benghazi, Libya, which killed four Americans. Ten investigations of the circumstances that led to that attack resulted in no evidence that members of the Obama administration acted inappropriately in that crisis. But the constant repetition of accusations convinced many Americans that something had gone terribly wrong and Obama’s people, especially Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, were to blame.

    As House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, then in running for Speaker of the House, said to Fox News Channel personality Sean Hannity in 2015, “Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she's untrustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened, had we not fought."

    The repeated Republican investigations into then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails were similar. Although the State Department’s final report on Clinton’s email use, issued in October 2019, declared there was no systematic or deliberate mishandling of classified information, the constant barrage of accusations made the email story the most important story of the 2016 election. It outweighed all the scandals involving then-candidate Donald Trump: the ones involving sexual assault, financial corruption, mocking of a disabled reporter, attacks on immigrants, and so on.

    A study by Duncan J. Watts and David M. Rothschild in the Columbia Journalism Review noted that in the 2016 election season there were 65,000 sentences in the media about Clinton’s email use but only 40,000 about all of Trump’s scandals combined. There were twice as many sentences about Clinton’s emails than about her policies. The authors wrote, "in just six days, The New York Times ran as many cover stories about Hillary Clinton’s emails as they did about all policy issues combined in the 69 days leading up to the election.” The email scandal likely cost Clinton the 2016 election, and even now, after the State Department cleared her of wrongdoing, many Americans still think Clinton mishandled classified information in her emails.   

    Trump tried the same tactic in 2020. Smearing an opponent through investigations was at the heart of the Ukraine scandal of 2019. Trump pressured new Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky, not to start an investigation of Hunter Biden and the company on whose board he had sat, but rather simply to announce that he was starting an investigation. An announcement would be enough to get picked up by the American news media so that story after story would convince voters that Hunter Biden and, by extension, his father were involved in corruption, even without evidence.

    Then, just before the election, Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani drummed up the story that Hunter Biden had left a laptop that contained incriminating evidence against both Bidens at a repair shop, and Republican leadership clamored for investigations-- this time to no avail because the story was so outrageous.

    Now, they are alleging the need for an investigation into irregularities in the 2020 election, although they have failed repeatedly to produce any evidence of such irregularities in court. Their argument is that the country needs an investigation to relieve people’s worries about the legitimacy of the election, but those worries have been created precisely by the unjustified accusations of Republican leaders. An investigation would simply convince people that the election results are questionable. They are not.

    The attempt of the senators to get Congress to appoint an investigatory committee into alleged fraud in the election is dangerous and unprecedented, and they know it. In their statement, they tried to suggest they are simply following the precedent established by Congress after the chaotic 1876 election, but the two situations are very different.

    In 1876, elections were organized by the parties themselves and were notoriously corrupt. Parties printed their own ballots in a distinctive color with only their own slate of electors. Men dropped the ballots for their party, unmarked, into a box, but their votes were not secret: how men voted was obvious from the colored ballots, at the very least. Politicians watching the polls knew exactly what the counts would be, and it was not unusual for ballot boxes to be either stuffed or broken open before results were reported.

    In Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina in 1876, Democrats appeared to have won the election, but there was no dispute that they had terrorized Republican voters to keep them from the polls. The results were a hopeless mess: in South Carolina, for example, 101% of all eligible voters cast ballots. Florida and Louisiana both reported more reasonable numbers of voters, but they each sent competing sets of electors to Congress. In both states, different officials signed off on different certificates of election, so it was not at all clear which certificate was the official one. In this utter confusion, Congress established a committee to figure out what had actually happened.

    None of that is the case today. The processes were transparent and observed by Republicans as well as Democrats. The Trump campaign had the right to challenge vote counts and did so; each turned up virtually the same result as the original count: Biden won, by a lot. Each state in the country has delivered to Congress certified results that have been signed by the state governors, who nowadays have the final say in the state certification process.

    This should be a done deal. But Trump Republicans are trying to undermine the election, and Biden’s administration, with a disinformation campaign. This is about more than this particular election. It is clear that a faction of today’s Republican Party refuses to accept the legitimacy of a Democratic president, no matter how big the victory. They are working to smear Biden by investigation, as has become their signature move.

    Democracy depends on a willingness to transfer power peacefully from one group of leaders to another. By revealing that they refuse to do so, the members of the “Sedition Caucus,” as they are being called on social media, are proving they are unworthy of elected office.

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,541
    Sedition Caucus..
    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
  • brianluxbrianlux Moving through All Kinds of Terrain.Posts: 33,805
    Our daily dose of sanity, courtesy Heather Cox-Richardson.  And so very much needed!
    “In all human affairs there are efforts, and there are results, and the strength of the effort is the measure of the result.”
    -James Allen










  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,541
     January 3, 2021 (Sunday)

    Today’s news starts yesterday, when Trump called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to demand he overturn the results of the presidential election in Georgia and deliver the state to Trump. Raffensperger apparently recorded the call, keeping it handy in case Trump misrepresented it publicly. This morning, Trump did exactly that, tweeting: “I spoke to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger yesterday about Fulton County and voter fraud in Georgia. He was unwilling, or unable, to answer questions such as the ‘ballots under table’ scam, ballot destruction, out of state ‘voters’, dead voters, and more. He has no clue!” Raffensperger retweeted the president’s accusation with the comment: “Respectfully, President Trump: What you're saying is not true. The truth will come out[.]”

    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Washington Post both obtained a recording of the conversation and published news of the call this afternoon, revealing that Trump had asked Raffensperger to “find” the 11,800 votes Trump needed to win Georgia. In the hour-long call, the president rambled through the conspiracy theories about the election—all of which have been debunked—seeming to believe them. He insisted that there was simply no way he could have lost in Georgia, and cited the size of his rallies there as proof. Trump asked Raffensperger to adjust Georgia’s vote to give the election to Trump by a single vote, telling him that he could just say that he had recalculated.

    Trump made vague threats against Raffensperger and the secretary of state’s general counsel Ryan Germany, suggesting that their unwillingness to find the ballots Trump insists are missing puts them at risk for criminal charges. He bullied them—talking over them and at one point telling Raffensperger “only a child” could believe the vote counting was fair-- and warned them that it would be their fault if the Republican candidates lost in the January 5 runoff election since “a lot of Republicans are going to vote negative, because they hate what you did to the president…. And you would be respected, really respected, if this can be straightened out before the election.”

    After running through all the conspiracy theories and suggesting that Raffensperger and Germany might face criminal charges, Trump said: “So what are we going to do here folks? I only need 11,000 votes. Fellas, I need 11,000 votes. Give me a break.”

    Joining Trump on the call were White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows; lawyer Cleta Mitchell, a prominent right-wing lawyer who had managed until now to keep her participation in Trump’s efforts to overturn the election quiet; and lawyer Kurt Hilbert. Meadows was more reasonable than Trump, but he, too, asked Raffensperger “to look at some of these allegations to find a path forward that’s less litigious.” (Raffensperger replied: “[w]e don’t agree that you have won.”)

    Mitchell and Hilbert backed Trump and Meadows in their repeated demand for information about voters, including their voter IDs and registrations. This is voter data to which, by law, they cannot have access. (When Germany answered that the state is prohibited from sharing that information, Trump retorted: “Well, you have to.”)

    University of Georgia Law Professor Anthony Michael Kreis told Politico reporters Allie Bice, Kyle Cheney, Anita Kumar, and Zach Montellaro that it is against the law in Georgia for anyone to “solicit” or “request” election fraud. “There’s just no way that… he has not violated this law,” Kreis said. Michael R. Bromwich, former inspector general of the Department of Justice, tweeted that “unless there are portions of the tape that somehow negate criminal intent,” Trump’s “best defense would be insanity.”

    David Shafer, the chair of the Georgia Republican Party, tried to excuse this extraordinary conversation by tweeting that the phone call had been a “confidential settlement discussion” of two lawsuits Trump has filed against Raffensperger, and that the audio version the Washington Post published was “heavily edited and omits the stipulation that all discussions were for the purpose of settling litigation and confidential under federal and state law.”

    Marc E. Elias, a lawyer leading the Biden team’s litigation efforts to counter Trump’s lawsuits over the election, knocked that explanation flat. “Trump and his allies have lost 60 post-election lawsuits, including several in GA,” he tweeted. “There are no cases that could have plausibly been the subject of settlement discussion. Oh, and I represent parties in all of those cases, so I would have had to be on the phone as well. I wasn't.”

    President Richard M. Nixon resigned after his people orchestrated an attempt to bug the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C., before the 1972 election, and then covered up that burglary. What is on this recording makes the Watergate scandal look quaint. President Trump, his chief of staff, and two of his lawyers have been recorded pressuring state authorities to change vote counts so they can steal an American election. Especially considering that we know he pressured Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to help him win in 2020, we have to assume this is not the only call like this he has made in the last several weeks.

    The only more thorough attack on our democracy would involve the military and, not coincidentally, tonight all ten living former defense secretaries, including two who served under Trump, signed a letter to the Washington Post reiterating that the military should not be involved in determining the outcome of an election. They warned that any efforts to involve the military in an election dispute “would take us into dangerous, unlawful and unconstitutional territory,” and noted that any civilian or military official who either directs or carries out an order to get involved in an election “would be accountable, including potentially facing criminal penalties, for the grave consequences of their actions on our republic.”

    This bombshell recording changes political calculations across the board.

    Republicans have been lining up either for or against the president, showing their loyalty by backing his attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election. More than 100 House members have said they would contest Congress’s January 6 counting of the electoral votes from states Trump continues, without evidence, to claim he won. On December 30, Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) agreed to join them, at least for the state of Pennsylvania. Then, yesterday, twelve senators, led by Ted Cruz (R-TX) said they would reject the votes from all the contested states and demand an audit of the election results there. They don’t expect to change the election—the results are clear—but lawmakers backing Trump are hoping to court his voters for future elections as they try to step into the vacuum his removal from office will create.

    It’s a cynical and dangerous position, and standing against them are lawmakers like Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE), who note that the 2020 election was overwhelming and clean, and that Trump is attacking the very basis of democratic government as he tries to change the outcome of it. They are hoping to pull the Republican Party away from Trump and his followers.

    The struggle between the two factions was out in the open by yesterday, and shortly before the news of the recording dropped, two Republican leaders sided against the lawmakers planning to contest the counting of the electoral votes. House of Representatives Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-WY), who is responsible for electing the House Republican leadership and managing committee assignments and who is therefore very powerful, sent a 21-page memo to her colleagues warning that such a plan would set a dangerous precedent, enabling Congress, rather than the states, to choose the president. She concluded: [B]oth the clear text of the Constitution and the Electoral Count Act [of 1887] compel the same conclusion—there is no appropriate basis to object to the electors from any of the six states at issue.”

    Former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) also issued a statement condemning the plan. "It is difficult to conceive of a more anti-democratic and anti-conservative act than a federal intervention to overturn the results of state-certified elections and disenfranchise millions of Americans," he wrote.

    These two defections from the Trump camp were not, perhaps, surprises, but the news of this extraordinary recording now offers an opening for others to slide away from Trump. Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR), who has been a staunch supporter of the president but who seems to be trying to position himself for a presidential run in 2024, tonight also rejected his colleagues’ plan to challenge the electoral count on Wednesday. His statement split the difference between the two Republican factions. He reiterated many of the Trump camp’s talking points but, like Cheney, objected to their plan to overturn the election in Congress on the grounds that the last thing conservatives, who object to the power of the federal government, should want is a stronger Congress. Cotton's defection is a sign that the recording is undermining Trump's position.

    If there is one good thing for the president in all this, it is that this stunning news has taken the media focus off the coronavirus, at least for a few hours. More than 350,000 Americans have now died of Covid-19; more than 20 million Americans have been infected. “Cases are rising, hospitalizations are increasing, deaths are increasing,” Dr. Henry Walke of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told Tim Stelloh of NBC News. CDC Director Robert Redfield agreed, adding that the winter months “are going to be the most difficult time in the public health history of this nation.

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

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  • cutzcutz Posts: 10,054
    University of Georgia Law Professor Anthony Michael Kreis told Politico reporters Allie Bice, Kyle Cheney, Anita Kumar, and Zach Montellaro that it is against the law in Georgia for anyone to “solicit” or “request” election fraud. “There’s just no way that… he has not violated this law,” Kreis said. Michael R. Bromwich, former inspector general of the Department of Justice, tweeted that “unless there are portions of the tape that somehow negate criminal intent,” Trump’s “best defense would be insanity.”

    I admit that I laughed at Best defense comment.
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,541
     January 4, 2021 (Monday)

    There is a frantic feeling in the political air as stories fly around: the leader of the Proud Boys has been arrested in Washington, D.C.; senators will contest the counting of electoral votes; Georgia election officials destroy Trump’s accusations of a fraudulent election.

    In the storm of news it’s hard to figure out what’s going on, but here’s the bottom line: we are right now fighting over whether or not America will be a democracy. On the one hand are Americans, Republicans as well as Democrats, who might agree on virtually nothing else, standing on the reality that Democrat Joe Biden won the 2020 election fair and square, and by a significant amount, and are recognizing that he is the president-elect. On the other hand are Trump and his supporters, who are arguing without any evidence that the president has somehow been cheated of reelection, and who are using the uncertainty their own words have created to argue that the election now must be reexamined.

    Those recognizing that Biden won and demanding an end to the Republican assault on the election are a broad and growing group. Today, Republican Georgia elections official Gabriel Sterling held a press conference outlining, again, how the president’s accusations of fraud in the election are lies. “This is all easily, provably false,” Sterling said. Sterling was visibly angry and frustrated at having to explain what really happened, yet again.

    Sterling felt obliged to hold the press conference after yesterday’s release of the recording of an extraordinary phone call Trump placed to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Saturday, in which the president urged Raffensperger to “find” 11,780 votes to swing the state—which Biden won by 11,779 votes-- into Trump’s column. Today we learned that Trump tried 18 times to reach Raffensperger before finally getting him on the phone. Representatives Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Kathleen Rice (D-NY) wrote to FBI Director Christopher Wray today to ask him to “open an immediate criminal investigation into the President” for committing election crimes.

    Democratic lawmakers, of course, are defending Biden’s election, but so are a number of Republicans. Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY), for example, oppose the attempt to overturn the election through congressional action because they note that the whole point of the twentieth-century conservative movement was to reduce the power of the federal government and give it back to the states. To take from the states the power to choose a president, the most fundamental power in our democracy, would be an unprecedented assumption of power by the federal government, and could not be easily reversed.

    Other Republicans are standing on the principle of democracy. Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) called Trump’s phone call a “new low in this whole futile and sorry episode.” Cheney called the call “deeply troubling” and said people should listen to the full recording. Representative Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) called the call “absolutely appalling” and tweeted, “To every member of Congress considering objecting to the election results, you cannot—in light of this—do so with a clean conscience.”

    Today former Senator John C. Danforth (R-MO), who has supported the political career of Josh Hawley, the first senator to back Trump’s challenge, rejected the effort to challenge the electoral college votes. “Trump’s false claim that the election was stolen is a highly destructive attack on our constitutional government. It is the opposite of conservative; it is radical….”

    These lawmakers were joined today by a group of about 200 business and legal leaders from JetBlue, Goldman Sachs, Lyft, the NBA, and so on. They signed a letter condemning attempts to “thwart or delay” the process of counting the electoral votes as a threat “to the essential tenets of our democracy.” Biden and Harris won the election, the letter notes, and courts have rejected challenges to that election. “The incoming Biden administration faces the urgent tasks of defeating COVID-19 and restoring the livelihoods of millions of Americans who have lost jobs and businesses during the pandemic. Our duly elected leaders deserve the respect and bipartisan support of all Americans at a moment when we are dealing with the worst health and economic crises in modern history. There should be no further delay in the orderly transfer of power.”

    But a group of Republican lawmakers has signed on to Trump’s attempt to overturn the election and stay in power, and Trump’s phone call has not changed their minds. More than 100 members of the House of Representatives will challenge the acceptance of electoral votes for Biden and, when asked their position on the phone call in which Trump tried to strongarm an election official into cheating, dismissed it as “frustration” or attacked the stories about the recording as “one-sided.” (The recording and the transcript were released in full.)

    At least fourteen senators, led by Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) will also reject the electoral votes for Biden from states Trump claims, without evidence, to have won. The two Republican Senators in Georgia, in a fight for reelection, have now signed onto the effort, although it means they are saying that the voters in their own state should be overruled in their choice for president.

    The situation in Georgia today got even more chaotic as the U.S. Attorney in Atlanta, Byung Pak, abruptly announced his departure today, instead of January 20, as he had previously announced. Tierney Sneed of Talking Points Memo broke the story. She noted that Pak cited only “unforeseen circumstances” for his sudden decision, and that neither the Department of Justice nor the White House would comment.

    Trump has rallied his supporters to go to Washington, D.C., to protest on Wednesday, January 6, as Congress counts the electoral college votes to make Biden’s win official. Today, the leader of the far-right Proud Boys, Enrique Tarrio, arrived in Washington, D.C., where he was promptly arrested for destruction of property during his last visit to the city when he burned a Black Lives Matter banner protestors pulled down from the historic Asbury United Methodist Church. After his arrest, law enforcement officers found he was carrying two high-capacity firearms magazines.

    As his supporters dwindle, the president is defending his performance in office. Today, he gave the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, to one of his staunchest allies, Devin Nunes (R-CA). Trump accompanied the award with a self-serving statement rehashing his own version of the Russia scandal, which has been debunked by the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee. Nunes, Trump said, “had the fortitude to take on the media, the FBI, the Intelligence Community, the Democrat [sic] Party, foreign spies, and the full power of the Deep State.”

    As Trump has focused on stealing the election and justifying his conduct in office, his administration officials have been trying to hamstring the incoming Biden administration. Today, for example, officials at the Environmental Protection Agency finalized a rule limiting the scientific research that can go into public health regulations.

    The chaos in our government is having serious real-world repercussions. The rollout for the coronavirus vaccine has been deeply flawed, even as our infection and death numbers are spiking so badly that, in Los Angeles County, for example, there is a shortage of oxygen and ambulance crews have been instructed not to transport to hospitals patients whose hearts have stopped and cannot be restarted by the crews. The chaos also means that other countries are exploiting our weakness: today Iran began to enrich its stock of uranium to 20% purity, levels that had been prohibited under the 2015 nuclear agreement Trump ended. It also seized a tanker operating under the flag of U.S. ally South Korea.

    Writing on Twitter about tomorrow’s runoff elections in Georgia, which will determine which party controls the Senate, former President Barack Obama warned that Trump and his supporters are threatening “the fundamental principles of our democracy.” Obama went on to identify what at stake in Trump’s effort to stay in office despite his election loss: “Our democracy isn’t about any individual,” he wrote, “even a president.”

    Our democracy, he wrote, is “about you.”

    _____________________________________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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  • Merkin BallerMerkin Baller Posts: 5,327
    These newsletters are helping me keep my sanity right now.    

  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,541
     January 5, 2021 (Tuesday)

    About a year ago, I wrote that 2020 would be the year that determines whether or not American democracy survives.

    And here we are.

    Our system has never lived up to its fullest potential, but until recently, its aspirations have driven us to fight to perfect it, guaranteeing everyone equality before the law and the right to a say in our government. The democracy that began as equality for a handful of the people in the new nation—just white men of property—expanded first to include poorer white men, and then immigrants, then African American men, then women, then Asian immigrants, Latinos, and native peoples. That expansion has never been smooth. Indeed, it has been obstructed at every turn. But even as people in power sought to prevent those they considered inferior from being treated as equals, the principle expanded.

    American democracy has never been perfect, and of late, voices have dismissed it as a sham. On the one hand, naysayers insist that our country is broken because we have given too much power to minorities, women, and the poor. Those people, this argument goes, vote for Democrats who will give them handouts: programs that redistribute tax dollars from hardworking white men to their own pockets. Those who back this argument want to keep those people from voting through voter suppression measures, or with underrepresenting them in Congress through gerrymandering laws.

    On the other hand, voices attack democracy because we have never really allowed full rights to any but white men. Democracy was never real, and will never be real, they say, so what’s the point in fighting for it?

    But, see, here’s the thing: Once you give up the principle of equality before the law, you have given up the whole game. You have admitted the principle that people are unequal, and that some people are better than others. Once you have replaced the principle of equality with the idea that humans are unequal, you have granted your approval to the idea of rulers and servants. At that point, all you can do is to hope that no one in power decides that you belong in one of the lesser groups.

    In 1858, Abraham Lincoln, then a candidate for the Senate, warned that arguments limiting American equality to white men and excluding black Americans were the same arguments “that kings have made for enslaving the people in all ages of the world…. Turn in whatever way you will-- whether it come from the mouth of a King, an excuse for enslaving the people of his country, or from the mouth of men of one race as a reason for enslaving the men of another race, it is all the same old serpent.” Either people—men, in his day—were equal, or they were not. Lincoln went on, “I should like to know if taking this old Declaration of Independence, which declares that all men are equal upon principle and making exceptions to it… where will it stop?”

    We are in a new era, in which an international economy is concentrating wealth and power in the hands of a very few men. We have seen how an oligarchy rose in Russia after the fall of communism, when a few wealthy, well-connected men under Vladimir Putin rejected democracy, monopolized the country’s industries and resources, and took over the government. We are watching a similar movement in our own country, where wealth has moved upward dramatically since 1981, our government increasingly answers to the demands of wealthy men rather than to the majority of us, and leaders appear more eager to work with the rising international oligarchy than to defend our democracy.
     
    America is in a precarious spot.

    But Americans have finally woken up. Democracy is not a spectator sport, and people are now speaking up, demanding that our leaders listen to us, and insisting that officials as well as ordinary Americans answer to the law.

    Let’s approach the future with the clear eyes it demands.

    And now, let's get to work.

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
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  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,541
    kinda needing this voice after yesterday. hasn't posted yet...
    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,541
    shoulda waited a few more minutes...

    January 6, 2021 (Wednesday)

    Today the Confederate flag flew in the United States Capitol.

    This morning, results from the Georgia senatorial runoff elections showed that Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff had beaten their Republican opponents—both incumbents—by more than the threshold that would require a recount. The Senate is now split 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats, so the position of majority leader goes to a Democrat. Mitch McConnell, who has bent the government to his will since he took over the position of majority leader in 2007, will be replaced.

    With the Democrats in control of both Congress and the Executive Branch, it is reasonable to expect we will see voting rights legislation, which will doom the current-day Republican Party, depending as it has on voter suppression to stay in power.

    Trump Republicans and McConnell Republicans had just begun to blame each other for the debacle when Congress began to count the certified electoral votes from the states to establish that Democrat Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election. The election was not close—Biden won the popular vote by more than 7 million votes and the Electoral College by 306 to 232—but Trump contends that he won the election in a landslide and “fraud” made Biden the winner.

    Trump has never had a case. His campaign filed and either lost or had dismissed 62 out of 63 lawsuits because it could produce no evidence for any of its wild accusations. Nonetheless, radical lawmakers courted Trump’s base by echoing Trump’s charges, then tried to argue that the fact voters no longer trusted the vote was reason to contest the certified votes.

    More than 100 members of the House announced they would object to counting the votes of certain states. About 13 senators, led by Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Ted Cruz (R-TX), agreed to join them. The move would slow down the count as each chamber would have to debate and take a separate vote on whether to accept the state votes, but the objectors never had anywhere near the votes they needed to make their objections stick.

    So Trump turned to pressuring Vice President Mike Pence, who would preside over the counting, to throw out the Biden votes. On Monday, Trump tweeted that “the Vice President has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors.” This would throw the blame for the loss onto Pence, but the vice president has no constitutional power to do any such thing, and this morning he made that clear in a statement. Trump then tweeted that Pence “didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done.”

    It seemed clear that the voting would be heated, but it was also clear that most of the lawmakers opposing the count were posturing to court Trump’s base for future elections. Congress would count Biden’s win.

    But Trump had urged his supporters for weeks to descend on Washington, D.C., to stop what he insisted was the stealing of the election. They did so and, this morning, began to congregate near the Capitol, where the counting would take place. As he passed them on the east side of the Capitol, Hawley raised a power fist.

    In the middle of the day, Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani spoke to the crowd, telling them: “Let’s have trial by combat.” Trump followed, lying that he had won the election and saying “we are going to have to fight much harder.” He warned that Pence had better “come through for us, and if he doesn’t, that will be a sad day for our country.” He warned that Chinese-driven socialists are taking over the country. And he told them to march on Congress to “save our democracy.”

    As rioters took Trump at his word, Congress was counting the votes alphabetically by state. When they got to Arizona, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) stood up to echo the rhetoric radicals had been using to discredit the certified votes, saying that public distrust in the election—created out of thin air by Republicans—justified an investigation.  

    Within an hour, a violent mob stormed the Capitol and Cruz, along with the rest of the lawmakers, was rushed to safety (four quick-thinking staffers brought along the electoral ballots, in their ceremonial boxes). As the rioters broke in, police shot and killed one of them: Ashli Babbitt, an Air Force veteran from San Diego, QAnon believer, and staunch Trump supporter. The insurrectionists broke into the Senate chamber, where one was photographed on the dais of the Senate, shirtless and wearing a bull costume that revealed a Ku Klux Klan tattoo on his abdomen. They roamed the Capitol looking for Pence and other lawmakers they considered enemies. Not finding them, they ransacked offices. One rioter photographed himself sitting at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk with his feet on it.

    They carried with them the Confederate flag.

    Capitol police provided little obstruction, apparently eager to avoid confrontations that could be used as propaganda on social media. The intruders seemed a little surprised at their success, taking selfies and wandering around like tourists. One stole a lectern.

    As the White House, the FBI, the Justice Department, and the Department of Homeland Security all remained silent, President-Elect Joe Biden spoke to cameras urging calm and calling on Trump to tell his supporters to go home. But CNN White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins later reported that she spoke to White House officials who were “genuinely freaked… out” that Trump was “borderline enthusiastic” about the storming of the Capitol because “it meant the certification was being derailed.”

    At 4:17, Trump issued his own video, reiterating his false claims that he had been cheated of victory. Only then did he conclude with: “Go home, we love you, you’re very special.” Twitter immediately took the video down. By nighttime Trump’s Twitter feed seemed to blame his enemies for the violence the president had incited (although the rhythm of the words did not sound to me like Trump’s own usual cadence): “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!”

    Twitter took down the tweet and banned the president for at least twelve hours for inciting violence; Facebook and Instagram followed suit.

    As the afternoon wore on, police found two pipe bombs near the headquarters of the Republican National Committee and the Democratic National Committee in Washington, D.C., as well as a truck full of weapons and ammunition, and mobs gathered at statehouses across the country, including in Kansas, Ohio, Minnesota, California, and Georgia.

    By 5:00, acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller issued a statement saying he had conferred with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, Vice President Pence, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Representative Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and had fully activated the D.C. National Guard.

    He did not mention the president.

    By late evening, Washington, D.C., police chief Robert J. Contee III announced that at least 52 people had been arrested and 14 law enforcement officers injured. A total of four people died, including one who died of a heart attack and one who tased themself.

    White House Counsel Pat Cipollone urged people to stay away from Trump to limit their chances of being prosecuted for treason under the Sedition Act. By midnight, four staffers had resigned, as well as Deputy National Security Adviser Matthew Pottinger, with other, higher level officials also talking about leaving. Even Trump adviser Stephen Miller admitted it was a bad day. Quickly, pro-Trump media began to insist that the attack was a false-flag operation of “Antifa,” despite the selfies and videos posted by known right-wing agitators, and the fact that Trump had invited, incited, and praised them.

    Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis laid the blame for today’s attack squarely at the feet of Trump himself: “Today’s violent assault on our Capitol, and effort to subjugate American democracy by mob rule, was fomented by Mr. Trump. His use of the Presidency to destroy trust in our election and to poison our respect for fellow citizens has been enabled by pseudo political leaders whose names will live in infamy as profiles in cowardice.”

    The attempted coup drew condemnation from all but the radical Trump supporters in government. Former President George W. Bush issued a statement “on insurrection at the Capitol,” saying “it is a sickening and heartbreaking sight.” “I am appalled by the reckless behavior of some political leaders since the election,” he said, and accused such leaders of enflaming the rioters with lies and false hopes. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) was more direct: “What happened here today was an insurrection incited by the President of the United States.”

    Across the country tonight are calls for Trump’s removal through the 25th amendment, impeachment, or resignation. The Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee have joined the chorus, writing to Pence urging him to invoke the 25th. Angry at Trump’s sabotaging of the Georgia elections in addition to the attack on our democracy, prominent Republicans are rumored to be doing the same.

    At 8:00, heavily armed guards escorted the lawmakers back to the Capitol, thoroughly scrubbed by janitors, where the senators and representatives resumed their counting of the certified votes. The events of the afternoon had broken some of the Republicans away from their determination to challenge the votes. Fourteen Republican senators had announced they would object to counting the certified votes from Arizona; in the evening count the number dropped to six: Cruz (R-TX), Hawley (R-MO), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), John Kennedy (R-LA), Roger Marshall (R-KS), and Tommy Tuberville (R-AL).

    In the House, 121 Republicans, more than half the Republican caucus, voted to throw out Biden’s electors from Arizona. As in the Senate, they lost when 303 Representatives voted in favor.

    Six senators and more than half of the House Republicans backed an attempt to overthrow our government, in favor of a man caught on tape just four days ago trying to strong-arm a state election official into falsifying the election results.

    Today the Confederate flag flew in the United States Capitol.

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

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