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Letter From An American by Heather Cox Richardson

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  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 22,781
     December 5, 2020 (Saturday)

    Today’s news just amplifies yesterday’s, but the stories add up to an interesting scenario.

    Coronavirus continues to devastate the country, with official deaths topping 281,000 today, but it turns out that the Trump administration did not actually have a plan for distribution of vaccines. Federal officials have drastically slashed the amount of vaccine they promised to states before the election. Instead of the 300 million doses the administration had promised before the end of 2020, the plan is currently to distribute 35 to 40 million doses. Even those, though, are plagued by bottlenecks in parts of the production process, as well as manufacturing issues. This means a longer struggle with the disease than many had come to expect.

    Trump continues to refuse to acknowledge his loss in the November election. This morning, before a scheduled rally in Georgia for two Republican senators facing runoffs against their Democratic challengers, Trump called Georgia Governor Brian Kemp to pressure him to overturn Biden’s win in the state. Trump asked Kemp to convince the state legislature to ignore Biden’s victory and appoint their own slate of electors who would give the president the state’s votes in the Electoral College. Biden won Georgia by about 12,000 votes, and Georgia law does not permit the legislature to submit alternative electors. When Kemp, who is a Republican, declined to do as Trump asked, Trump took to Twitter to attack him.

    Trump also asked Kemp to demand an audit of the signatures on mail-in ballots, which Kemp does not have the power to do. Georgia’s governor may not interfere in elections. Instead, the state secretary of state has jurisdiction, and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, has defended the existing signature match process and says there is no evidence of fraud.

    At tonight’s rally, Trump continued to insist he had won the election and to assure attendees they are all victims of the Democrats’ plot to steal the election. The rally was nominally about the senate candidates, but Trump treated it pretty much as he treated his rallies before the election. He is convincing his supporters that the election was rigged, and that President-Elect Biden will be an illegitimate president.

    Trump loyalists at the Pentagon continue to refuse to let Pentagon officials communicate with Biden’s transition team. According to an official, the Pentagon chief of staff Kash Patel, a former staffer for California Representative Devin Nunes appointed after the election, has rewritten policy descriptions to reflect well on Trump before letting Biden’s people see them. He has also stopped communications. He “told everybody we're not going to cooperate with the transition team,” an official said, and he has "put a lot of restrictions on it." He is “controlling the information flow.” This will put the Biden camp behind on getting up to speed on sensitive foreign policy issues with Iran, Afghanistan, Russia, and North Korea, hurting national security.

    Also today, the Washington Post printed the results of its query to all 249 Republicans in the House and Senate, asking them who won the 202 presidential election. Only 27 of them are willing to acknowledge that Biden won. Two Republicans insist that Trump won the election, all evidence to the contrary. The rest of them—220 of them—refuse to say who won.

    This is a big deal. This was not a close election. Biden currently has over 7 million more votes than Trump, and has won by 306 to 232 in the Electoral College. And yet, Republican leadership is permitting Trump to undermine our democracy. Try to imagine any past Republican president doing what Trump is doing, and you can’t. But today’s Republican lawmakers are standing to the side, permitting Trump to poison our democracy.

    To what end? Why are Republicans accepting this anti-American behavior from Trump?

    It seems to me they are unwilling to risk losing Trump’s voters in the future because they are determined to regain power. They don’t much care about our democracy, so long as they have a shot at keeping Trump’s people on their side. But then, again, to what end? If Republicans regain power in 2022 or 2024, what will that look like? Do we have any reason to think they will then begin to defend our democracy? Do we have any reason to think they are interested in anything but even more legislation that moves wealth upward?

    We have been in a spot much like this before. In 1884, Americans turned against the Republican Party because it had abandoned its support for ordinary Americans in favor of the industrial leaders who put money into Republican lawmakers’ political war chests, as well as into their pockets. Voters put Democrat Grover Cleveland into the White House, the first Democrat to hold the presidency since James Buchanan was elected in 1856.

    Horrified, the Republicans flooded the country with stories of how Democrats were socialists who would attack the rich by ending the legislation that protected businesses. If Democrats continued to control the government, Republicans said, they would destroy America. In 1888, they suppressed Democratic votes and created modern political financing as they hit up businessmen for major donations. Despite their best efforts, voters reelected Cleveland by about 100,000 votes, but Republicans managed to eke out a win for their candidate, Benjamin Harrison, in the Electoral College. Harrison promised a “BUSINESSMAN’S ADMINISTRATION,” and indeed, in office, he and his men did all they could to cement the Republican Party into power so it could continue to defend business (among other things, they added six new states to the Union to pack the Electoral College).

    But voters still didn’t like the Republicans’ platform, which seemed more and more to funnel money from hardworking Americans upward into the pockets of those men who were increasingly portrayed as robber barons. In 1892, they voted for Cleveland in such numbers they couldn’t be overridden in the Electoral College. Voters also put Democrats in charge of Congress, both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

    And that is the moment I cannot help thinking about today. Faced with a legitimately elected Democratic government, Republican leaders deliberately sabotaged the country. They swamped the media with warnings that Democrats would destroy the economy and that men should pull their capital out of stocks and industries. Foreign capital should, they said, go home or face disaster. Money began to flow out of the country and stocks faltered. When financiers begged the Harrison administration to shore up the markets in the face of the growing panic, administration officials told them their job was only to keep the country afloat until the day of Cleveland’s inauguration.

    They didn’t quite make it. The economy collapsed about ten days before Cleveland took the oath of office, saddling the new president with the Panic of 1893 and very few ways to combat it. Republicans had deliberately sabotaged the country in order to discredit Cleveland, then demanded he honor the demands of financiers to stabilize the economy. Caught between a rock and a hard place, Cleveland tried to work with moneyed interests to combat the depression and promptly split his own party. The country roiled as out-of-work Americans despaired, some of them marching on Washington, D.C., to demand the government do something to address their plight.

    The Republicans went into the 1894 midterm elections blaming the Democrats for the crisis in the country. They won the midterms in what remains the largest seat swing in the history of the House of Representatives. Then they claimed that, with Republicans back in power, the economy was now safe. They papered the country with media announcing that the panic was over and people should reinvest. The panic was over, and a Republican president won in 1896, once again insisting the Democrats were socialists, but this time adding that the past four years had proved the Democrats could not run the economy.

    There is no excuse for the silence of Republican lawmakers as their president attacks our democracy. But there might be a precedent.

    _____________________________________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: 35,109
    Quick question:  How many here read Heather's letter every day, some days, once in a while, or ever?  They're so good, and yet we rarely hear from others in response (that's not meant to be a criticism or guilt trip, just a curiosity).   I don't let a day go by without reading it!
    "I believe in the mystery, and I don't want to take it any further than that. Maybe what I mean by that is love."
    -John Densmore











  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 22,781
    daily.

    todays was intriguing. the more things change, the more they stay the same.     it did bring forth a thought


    the party of Lincoln died that night in Fords theater
    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 22,781
     December 6, 2020 (Sunday)

    After a season of storms, here's hoping for a clear direction ahead.

    Will see you all tomorrow.

    [photo, Tempest, by Peter Ralston]


    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
  • brianlux said:
    Quick question:  How many here read Heather's letter every day, some days, once in a while, or ever?  They're so good, and yet we rarely hear from others in response (that's not meant to be a criticism or guilt trip, just a curiosity).   I don't let a day go by without reading it!
    I get the daily emails, and look forward to reading them every morning during breakfast. 
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 22,781
     December 7, 2020 (Monday)

    On this date in 1941, Japanese planes attacked the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, killing 2,403 Americans, including 68 civilians. As of this evening, more than 283,700 Americans have died of Covid-19.

    The big story in the country today remains the coronavirus.

    Today the New York Times broke the story that, before it was clear that Pfizer’s vaccine would be effective, its leadership offered to the Trump administration the chance to order more than the 100 million doses to which it had committed. (Since each person requires two doses, this amount can vaccinate about 50 million people.) The administration declined, apparently because the U.S. invested in a number of vaccine companies including Moderna, whose vaccine appears as if it will be ready right behind that of Pfizer. But when Pfizer approached the European Union after the U.S. declined, its officials jumped on the chance to order the additional units, and now the E.U. has twice the Pfizer vaccine that the U.S. does. The company says it will not have more vaccines available for purchase until next June or July.

    Administration officials insist there will still be plenty of vaccines for Americans but, apparently feeling pressure, Trump has announced he will sign a toothless Executive Order saying that the United States will prioritize keeping vaccines at home until Americans are all vaccinated.

    The Trump administration delayed transmitting information to the Biden team about the plan for distribution of the vaccine to 331 million Americans, but once he did get briefings, Biden expressed concern at the apparent lack of a plan for vaccine distribution. The process will be complicated because it involves a number of steps, all of which will require different equipment, which will have to be produced and moved in huge quantities to about 50,000 sites around the country.

    Trump is now trying to arrange a summit about the vaccine on Tuesday with experts who will explain the plans for distribution. This, the administration hopes, will give the public confidence in the vaccine while enabling Trump to claim credit for it. Spokespeople for Pfizer and Moderna, the two pharmaceutical companies with what are currently the most promising vaccines, were invited but have said they will not attend. They have expressed concern about the politicization of the vaccine and worry that that politicization will hurt public confidence in it.

    The White House has not invited President-Elect Joe Biden or his team to the summit, although they will be responsible for the majority of the vaccine distribution after Biden takes office on January 20, 2021.

    Meanwhile, the doctor who criticized Trump’s decision to drive around the Bethesda, Maryland, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to greet supporters while he was a patient there, has been removed from the hospital’s schedule beginning in January. Dr. James Phillips, chief of disaster medicine at George Washington University and an attending physician at Walter Reed, called Trump’s drive a “dangerous move” that “sent the wrong message” at a time when he was infected with coronavirus. Phillips tweeted, “Every single person in the vehicle during that completely unnecessary Presidential 'drive-by' just now has to be quarantined for 14 days. They might get sick. They may die. For political theater. Commanded by Trump to put their lives at risk for theater. This is insanity.”

    This morning in Florida, about 10 armed law enforcement officers raided the home of former state data scientist Rebekah Jones and seized her computers, phone, thumb drives, and hard drives. Jones was fired from her job at the state Department of Health for insubordination in May when she apparently refused to manipulate data about coronavirus to downplay state infections at a time when Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was eager to reopen the state. Jones had built the state’s Covid-19 dashboard, and after she was fired, she continued to compile and post coronavirus updates on her own.

    An investigator with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement filed an affidavit saying that someone had hacked the state emergency management system to send a text to about 1,750 people with the message: “It’s time to speak up before another 17,000 people are dead. You know this is wrong. You don’t have to be part of this. Be a hero. Speak out before it’s too late.” The affidavit said the text came from an IP address connected to Jones’s house, and the affidavit was the reason for the search warrant that led to the raid. Jones denies having anything to do with the text, and noted that it went out on the official channel about the time that five of the eight team leaders at the DOH were fired in what she described as a purge.

    Jones publicly blamed DeSantis for the raid on her home. “This is what happens to people who speak truth to power,” she tweeted. DeSantis’s spokesperson told CNN, “the governor’s office had no involvement, no knowledge, no nothing, of this investigation.”

    Biden is taking a very different path than his predecessor with regard to science and the coronavirus. Today he chose Dr. Rochelle Walensky to head the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Dr. Walensky has degrees in medicine and public health. She is an infectious disease specialist at both Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston who has worked extensively in HIV testing, care, and prevention. “I’m honored to be called to lead the brilliant team at the CDC. We are ready to combat this virus with science and facts,” she tweeted today. Biden has also asked Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease specialist, who has had a rocky relationship with Trump, to join the Biden administration as chief medical officer.

    Despite the coronavirus crisis, the Trump administration continues to put its energy into trying to overturn the 2020 election.

    Having won only once, Trump today lost his 49th legal case, when lawyer Sidney Powell, who was recently dismissed from Trump’s campaign legal team, lost yet again in her attempt to get the results of the 2020 election thrown out. In Georgia, Judge Timothy Batten, who was appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush, rejected a lawsuit to overturn Biden’s victory in the state. "They want this court to substitute its judgment for that of 2.5 million Georgia voters who voted for Joe Biden,” Batten said, “and this I am unwilling to do.”

    Nonetheless, tonight we learned that Trump reached out to a third state to try to enlist the support of Republican officials to overturn the election results. The office of the speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Bryan Cutler, confirmed that the president twice called to try to get Cutler to “fix” what he claimed were “issues” in Philadelphia. Cutler was one of about 60 state legislators who asked Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation to object to Pennsylvania’s Electoral College votes when they are brought before Congress on January 6, 2021, an effort that might cause a fuss but is unlikely to do much else. Trump has also unsuccessfully pressured officials in Arizona and Georgia to change their state’s votes.

    So, of course, has Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who is now hospitalized with coronavirus. His meetings over the last week to try to overturn the election, meetings in which he did not wear a mask, have led the Arizona legislature to close for a week. A health officer for Michigan confirmed that “it is extremely likely that Giuliani was contagious during his testimony” in the statehouse there, and the Michigan House has canceled its Tuesday voting session. In Georgia, where Giuliani testified before a subcommittee, the legislature is not in session. Democratic Georgia Senator Jen Jordan, who attended Thursday’s hearing with Giuliani, tweeted, “Little did I know that most credible death threat that I encountered last week was Trump’s own lawyer…. Giuliani — maskless, in packed hearing room for 7 hours. To say I am livid would be too kind.”

    Other threats over the election have been more obvious. This weekend, about two dozen armed protesters gathered at the home of Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, chanting “Stop the Steal.” They believe Trump’s false accusations of voter fraud in Michigan and blame Benson for refusing to bow to what they insist is evidence of a rigged election.

    Benson called out their actions as “an extension of the noise and clouded efforts to spread false information about the security and accuracy of our elections that we’ve all endured in the month since the polls closed on November 3. Through blatantly false press releases, purely political legislative hearings, bogus legal claims and so called ‘affidavits’ that fail to allege any clear or cogent evidence of wrongdoing, those unhappy with the results of this election have perpetuated an unprecedented, dangerous, egregious campaign to erode the public’s confidence in the results of one of the most secure, accessible and transparent elections in our state’s history.”

    The threats of the protesters outside her home “were actually aimed at the 5.5 million Michigan citizens who voted in this fall’s election, seeking to overturn their will,” Benson wrote. “They will not succeed.”

    _____________________________________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: 35,109
    brianlux said:
    Quick question:  How many here read Heather's letter every day, some days, once in a while, or ever?  They're so good, and yet we rarely hear from others in response (that's not meant to be a criticism or guilt trip, just a curiosity).   I don't let a day go by without reading it!
    I get the daily emails, and look forward to reading them every morning during breakfast. 

    Well done, Merkin!
    "I believe in the mystery, and I don't want to take it any further than that. Maybe what I mean by that is love."
    -John Densmore











  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 22,781
    heres hoping Dr Walensky can restore basic standards to the center and regain the trust and credibility Redfield so readily gave aeay in trying to appease fuckstick and the minions.....
    _____________________________________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: 6,086
    edited December 2020
    brianlux said:
    brianlux said:
    Quick question:  How many here read Heather's letter every day, some days, once in a while, or ever?  They're so good, and yet we rarely hear from others in response (that's not meant to be a criticism or guilt trip, just a curiosity).   I don't let a day go by without reading it!
    I get the daily emails, and look forward to reading them every morning during breakfast. 

    Well done, Merkin!
    I appreciate @mickeyrat bringing HCR to my attention w/ this thread. I really can’t say enough about what her writing means to me right about now. 
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 22,781
     December 8, 2020 (Tuesday)

    Today is the “safe harbor” date by which state presidential votes that have been certified will go forward to Congress, where they must be counted. While Wisconsin’s votes are delayed by a late challenge, Biden has enough votes to win the Electoral College handily even without those ten electoral votes (which he should still win).

    And yet, the lawsuits continue. Today the Texas attorney general, Ken Paxton, announced he would be filing a lawsuit before the Supreme Court alleging that electors from Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin cannot cast votes because their states changed their voting systems to allow mail-in ballots. He alleges that these changes, made to permit voting during a pandemic, skewed the election results.

    Paxton’s complaint echoes those of Trump and his allies and has been widely interpreted as Paxton’s attempt to curry favor with the president. Paxton is being investigated by the FBI for using his office to benefit a political donor, and it is possible he hopes that Trump might intercede in his behalf. Experts say this case will go nowhere; Texas has no standing to complain about how other states count their votes.

    Michigan’s Attorney General, Dana Nessel, issued a statement about the lawsuit, saying: “The Motion filed by the Texas Attorney General is a publicity stunt, not a serious legal pleading. The erosion of confidence in our democratic system isn’t attributable to the good people of Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia or Pennsylvania but rather to partisan officials, like Mr. Paxton, who place loyalty to a person over loyalty to their country. The Michigan issues raised in this complaint have already been thoroughly litigated and roundly rejected in both state and federal courts– by judges appointed from both political parties. Mr. Paxton’s actions are beneath the dignity of the office of Attorney General and the people of the great state of Texas.”

    The Trump efforts continue to lose in court. Today, the Supreme Court rejected a request from Republicans in Pennsylvania to block the certification of the results in that state. The Supreme Court’s decision appeared to be unanimous, and likely signaled that the justices would like to stay away from Trump’s challenges to the election results.

    Today, at his “vaccine summit,” Trump claimed credit for the “miracle” of the coronavirus vaccine and suggested that he, rather than the experts, had had a better sense of the timeline for its availability. In his remarks, he quickly veered to the election results, again insisting that he had won the election and urging Republicans at the state level or the Supreme Court to find the “courage to do what everybody in this country knows is right” and to award him a second term.

    Meanwhile, the pandemic worsens. The U.S. just recorded a million new infections in five days, and today we marked more than 15 million infections. More than 285,000 of us have died of Covid-19.

    There is confusion over the coronavirus vaccine. This morning we learned that the Trump administration is requiring states to share with federal registries the names, birthdates, ethnicities, and addresses of the people they vaccinate against the novel coronavirus. This requirement seems like a federal intrusion into a patient’s right to privacy, and another attempt to force states to gather information on undocumented Americans, which will almost certainly make them afraid to get the vaccine.

    There is also a shortage of money for distribution. While the government has poured money into developing a vaccine, Congress has not appropriated any money for getting out the word about the vaccines, hiring people to give them, or making sure people get both of the shots they need. State officials estimate they will need $8.4 billion to distribute the vaccine.  

    Meanwhile, the economy is sagging and the country is desperate for a coronavirus relief bill. All sides have gritted their teeth and come together behind a $900 billion bill to provide support for the jobless, support hospitals and essential workers, and float loans to small businesses. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is refusing to bring that bill to a vote unless it stops all Covid-19 related lawsuits that allege injury or death because of corporate negligence.

    As least he is now willing to talk about a package. This is likely because his control of the Senate could come down to the two runoff elections in Georgia, where voters want a relief package. In Georgia, Republicans David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler are being challenged by Democrats Jon Ossoff and the Reverend Raphael Warnock. Today Georgia Republicans began the process of restricting mail-in voting and getting rid of drop boxes for ballots. As journalist Ari Berman notes, Georgia Republicans wrote these laws and approved of them until the recent election, when Democrats and Black and Brown citizens began to take advantage of them. Now they are axing the laws that make it easier for people to vote.

    The New York Times adds that Georgia’s third-largest county, Cobb County, dominated by Democrats, will have fewer than half of the early voting locations it had for the presidential election available for the Senate runoffs. Janine Eveler, the Cobb County director of elections, blamed the reductions on staffing shortages, but when fair vote groups offered to recruit volunteers, Eveler said there would not be time to train them.

    Cooperation is not high on the Republicans’ list these days. Today, the Republicans on the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies refused to affirm that the committee should be preparing for Biden’s inauguration. McConnell, Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) effectively blocked what is usually a pro-forma vote to recognize the president-elect and to begin work on inauguration events. This feeds the false Republican narrative that Trump might still have a chance to overturn the election, but mostly it’s just another way to gum up the works, making even something like an inauguration, which is supposed to be a celebratory reaffirmation of our democracy, more work for Biden’s team than it ought to be.

    Meanwhile, Biden has announced a three-part public strategy to combat the pandemic, pledging to require masks in federal buildings and interstate public transportation, to distribute at least 100 million vaccine shots, and to reopen most schools, all in his first 100 days.

    He also continues to build out his cabinet, moving more quickly than his predecessors, at least in part to reassure Americans that he will hit the ground running after a long period when the country has been rudderless. Today Biden announced that he has tapped retired General Lloyd Austin III for Secretary of Defense.

    Austin, who is 67, is a 41-year veteran of the army and headed the U.S. Central Command before he retired in 2016. Biden explained that Austin shares his desire to turn the leadership of foreign policy over to diplomats and development experts, using the military only as a last resort. Austin also oversaw the drawdown of 150,000 troops from Iraq, giving him the kind of logistical experience needed to distribute the coronavirus vaccine effectively. If confirmed, Austin will be the nation’s first African-American defense secretary.

    But the nomination will require a waiver from both houses of Congress to overrule a law requiring that a military officer be out of the service for seven years before taking the post of defense secretary. This law is designed to emphasize that civilians are in charge of our military. Congress overrode the rule in 2017 for Trump’s first Secretary of Defense James Mattis, but lawmakers made it clear they did not want to make waivers a habit.

    Biden has set up an interesting political problem. He is asking Congress to do for him what it did for Trump in 2017. This seems reasonable as a general proposition, but the supremacy of the civilian over the soldier in our government goes all the way back to George Washington. If members refuse either to provide a waiver for Austin or to confirm him, they will be in the position of voting against a highly qualified Black man about to break a barrier. If that occurs, popular anger will likely add momentum to Biden’s next pick, who could well be someone senators like less than they like Austin.  

    With the pandemic, the failing economy, and the Republicans’ unwillingness to recognize his presidency, Biden is facing an unprecedented crisis. But he definitely knows how Washington works.

    _____________________________________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: 6,086
    edited December 2020
    brianlux said:
    brianlux said:
    Quick question:  How many here read Heather's letter every day, some days, once in a while, or ever?  They're so good, and yet we rarely hear from others in response (that's not meant to be a criticism or guilt trip, just a curiosity).   I don't let a day go by without reading it!
    I get the daily emails, and look forward to reading them every morning during breakfast. 

    Well done, Merkin!
    I appreciate @mickeyrat bringing HCR to my attention w/ this thread. I really can’t say enough about what her writing means to me right about now. 
    I recently started following her on twitter, and she's a great follow. If any of you are on that God forsaken app, I recommend doing the same. 
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 22,781
     December 9, 2020 (Wednesday)  Today’s big story remains the loss of our neighbors to Covid-19. Today, our official death count passed the number of those killed in the 9-11 attacks. On that horrific day in 2001, we lost 2977 people to four terrorist attacks. Today, official reports showed 3,140 deaths from Covid-19, the highest single-day toll so far. Hospitals are overwhelmed, our health care workers exhausted.  As the country suffers, Trump has launched a new approach in his attempt to steal the 2020 election. While he has previously insisted that he actually won, and that his “win” must be recognized, this morning he tweeted simply “OVERTURN.” Republican leaders have ducked the question of Trump’s refusal to acknowledge Joe Biden’s win in the election by saying that the president has a right to challenge an election through legal means. Few of them commented on this new attack on our democracy.   Instead, the Republican attorneys general of seventeen states supported a lawsuit Texas has asked the Supreme Court’s permission to file against Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, suing them over their voting processes. A majority of voters in those four states voted for Biden, thus giving him their state’s electoral votes and the presidency. The states that want to sue are all Republican-majority states. They are hoping they can get the Supreme Court to allow them to sue, and that it will then agree with their complaint and throw out the votes from those states so the Republicans legislatures there can then choose their own electors and give the win to Trump.  Astonishingly, this argument comes from the party that claims to oppose “judicial activism.”  The states that have declared their support for Texas’s lawsuit are: Missouri, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, and West Virginia. They are essentially asking the Supreme Court to disfranchise the majority in the United States and to let them put their chosen president in the White House. This assault on American principles is breathtaking.   Trump has also filed a motion to join Texas’s lawsuit in his personal capacity as a presidential candidate. His lawyer says that he “seeks to have the votes cast in the Defendant States unlawfully for his opponent to be deemed invalid.” Tonight, at a White House Hanukkah party, Trump told the crowd that with the help of “certain very important people, if they have wisdom and if they have courage, we are going to win this election.” The attendees chanted “four more years.”  Legal experts say this case is a non-starter. University of Texas Law Professor Steve Vladeck writes, “It is lacking in actual evidence; it is deeply cynical; it evinces stunning disrespect for both the role of the courts in our constitutional system and of the states in our elections; and it is doomed to fail.”  But the fact that Republican leaders have accepted, rather than condemned, this attempt to overturn a legitimate election says they are willing to destroy American democracy in order to stay in power. On CNN tonight, former Ohio Governor John Kasich, a Republican himself, called the lawmakers supporting Trump’s attack on democracy “morally and ethically bankrupt.”  Republicans might be stoking attacks on our electoral system because they know the courts will shut them down. After all, Trump’s lawyers are currently 1-51 in court, and it is unlikely the Supreme Court will take up Texas’s lawsuit. So siding with Trump is a cheap way for leaders to avoid alienating his voters when they will want those voters in 2022.   But they are playing a deeply cynical and wildly dangerous game. Yesterday, the official Twitter account of the Arizona Republican Party asked followers if they were willing to die to overturn the election, then posted a clip from the film “Rambo” in which the main character is threatening someone’s life, saying “This is what we do, who we are. Live for nothing, or die for something.”   Today, talk show host Rush Limbaugh told his listeners that they are, in fact, still a majority but they are plagued with “RINOs” who are selling them out. “I actually think that we’re trending toward secession,” he said. “I see more and more people asking what in the world do we have in common with the people who live in, say, New York? What is there that makes us believe that there is enough of us there to even have a chance at winning New York? Especially if you’re talking about votes….” (New York City has more people than 40 of the 50 states.) He went on: “There cannot be a peaceful coexistence of two completely different theories of life, theories of government, theories of how we manage our affairs. We can’t be in this dire a conflict without something giving somewhere along the way.”   The theme of civil war, and of America tearing itself apart, was one pushed hard by Russian operatives in 2018. On Twitter, “Civil War” trended today. An actual civil war is highly unlikely, but the unwillingness of leaders to stop this language is already leading to death threats against election officials. The longer they permit it to go on, the worse things will get.  Republicans are working to undermine the incoming Democratic administration in other ways, too. Last week, Attorney General William Barr announced that he appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham as special counsel in October to investigate the FBI agents who worked on the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. While the law about special counsels says they must come from outside the government, Barr claims to have found a loophole in that rule. Durham can only be fired for specific reasons such as conflict of interest or misconduct. Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) applauded the appointment and the continuation of the investigation.  Today Biden’s son Hunter told the media that he has just learned that he is under investigation by the Department of Justice for tax issues, although CNN suggested it is a much wider financial investigation than that, and that it began in 2018. The Justice Department is also investigating a company related to Joe Biden’s brother James. While the DOJ is supposed to be independent of the president, these investigations echo Trump’s own calls for such investigations. Immediately Representative Ken Buck (R-CO) called for a special counsel to investigate Hunter Biden, and tonight, Trump tweeted that “10% of voters would have changed their vote if they knew about Hunter Biden…. But I won anyway!”   House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) told Fox News Channel personality Laura Ingraham today that Representative Eric Swalwell (D-CA) should be “removed from Congress” after an Axios report that a Chinese intelligence operative had worked to ingratiate herself with California lawmakers between 2011 and 2015. The operative targeted a number of politicians, including Swalwell, and she fundraised on his behalf, but there is no evidence she broke any laws. In 2015, FBI officers alerted Swalwell, who immediately cut all ties to her. He was never accused of any wrongdoing. The operative left the country unexpectedly during the FBI investigation.   Although the Axios story was about Chinese espionage, right-wing media is aflame with attacks on Swalwell in what seems an attempt to discredit a Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. Don Jr. tweeted that Swalwell “was literally sleeping with a Chinese spy,” an allegation that is nowhere in the story, although the story mentions that two unidentified midwestern mayors had affairs with her.  The White House appears to be trying to sabotage the Biden administration not only by keeping the Biden team from information it needs, but by tying its hands and slowing it down. The day after the election, the Trump administration proposed a new rule requiring the new Department of Health and Human Services appointees to review most of the department’s regulations by 2023. It would automatically kill any that haven’t been reviewed by then. This would mean that, just as the new administration is trying to fight the coronavirus, it would be slammed with administrative paperwork. The department’s chief of staff denies the unusual move is political, saying that a review is necessary because one hasn’t been done for 40 years.   Now that the transition process has finally started, Trump loyalists are blocking meetings, or sitting in on them to monitor what is being said, especially at the Environmental Protection Agency. At Voice of America, Trump’s appointed head, Michael Pack, has refused to give meetings or records to Biden’s team. For their part, Biden’s transition folks are avoiding fights in order to get whatever information they can.  Republican senators are also signaling that they intend to delay confirmations on Biden’s nominees, although in the past 95% of Cabinet nominees have had hearings before an inauguration, and 84% of those were approved within three days. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), for example, questioned the experience of Biden’s nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra. Becerra is the Attorney General of California, and he sat on the House Committee on Ways and Means, which oversees health issues, during his 24 years in Congress. “I don’t know what his Health and Human Services credentials are,” Cornyn told The Hill.  It’s not like [Trump’s HHS Secretary] Alex Azar, who worked for pharma and had a health care background.”
    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

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  • mickeyrat said:
     December 9, 2020 (Wednesday)  Today’s big story remains the loss of our neighbors to Covid-19. Today, our official death count passed the number of those killed in the 9-11 attacks. On that horrific day in 2001, we lost 2977 people to four terrorist attacks. Today, official reports showed 3,140 deaths from Covid-19, the highest single-day toll so far. Hospitals are overwhelmed, our health care workers exhausted.  As the country suffers, Trump has launched a new approach in his attempt to steal the 2020 election. While he has previously insisted that he actually won, and that his “win” must be recognized, this morning he tweeted simply “OVERTURN.” Republican leaders have ducked the question of Trump’s refusal to acknowledge Joe Biden’s win in the election by saying that the president has a right to challenge an election through legal means. Few of them commented on this new attack on our democracy.   Instead, the Republican attorneys general of seventeen states supported a lawsuit Texas has asked the Supreme Court’s permission to file against Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, suing them over their voting processes. A majority of voters in those four states voted for Biden, thus giving him their state’s electoral votes and the presidency. The states that want to sue are all Republican-majority states. They are hoping they can get the Supreme Court to allow them to sue, and that it will then agree with their complaint and throw out the votes from those states so the Republicans legislatures there can then choose their own electors and give the win to Trump.  Astonishingly, this argument comes from the party that claims to oppose “judicial activism.”  The states that have declared their support for Texas’s lawsuit are: Missouri, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, and West Virginia. They are essentially asking the Supreme Court to disfranchise the majority in the United States and to let them put their chosen president in the White House. This assault on American principles is breathtaking.   Trump has also filed a motion to join Texas’s lawsuit in his personal capacity as a presidential candidate. His lawyer says that he “seeks to have the votes cast in the Defendant States unlawfully for his opponent to be deemed invalid.” Tonight, at a White House Hanukkah party, Trump told the crowd that with the help of “certain very important people, if they have wisdom and if they have courage, we are going to win this election.” The attendees chanted “four more years.”  Legal experts say this case is a non-starter. University of Texas Law Professor Steve Vladeck writes, “It is lacking in actual evidence; it is deeply cynical; it evinces stunning disrespect for both the role of the courts in our constitutional system and of the states in our elections; and it is doomed to fail.”  But the fact that Republican leaders have accepted, rather than condemned, this attempt to overturn a legitimate election says they are willing to destroy American democracy in order to stay in power. On CNN tonight, former Ohio Governor John Kasich, a Republican himself, called the lawmakers supporting Trump’s attack on democracy “morally and ethically bankrupt.”  Republicans might be stoking attacks on our electoral system because they know the courts will shut them down. After all, Trump’s lawyers are currently 1-51 in court, and it is unlikely the Supreme Court will take up Texas’s lawsuit. So siding with Trump is a cheap way for leaders to avoid alienating his voters when they will want those voters in 2022.   But they are playing a deeply cynical and wildly dangerous game. Yesterday, the official Twitter account of the Arizona Republican Party asked followers if they were willing to die to overturn the election, then posted a clip from the film “Rambo” in which the main character is threatening someone’s life, saying “This is what we do, who we are. Live for nothing, or die for something.”   Today, talk show host Rush Limbaugh told his listeners that they are, in fact, still a majority but they are plagued with “RINOs” who are selling them out. “I actually think that we’re trending toward secession,” he said. “I see more and more people asking what in the world do we have in common with the people who live in, say, New York? What is there that makes us believe that there is enough of us there to even have a chance at winning New York? Especially if you’re talking about votes….” (New York City has more people than 40 of the 50 states.) He went on: “There cannot be a peaceful coexistence of two completely different theories of life, theories of government, theories of how we manage our affairs. We can’t be in this dire a conflict without something giving somewhere along the way.”   The theme of civil war, and of America tearing itself apart, was one pushed hard by Russian operatives in 2018. On Twitter, “Civil War” trended today. An actual civil war is highly unlikely, but the unwillingness of leaders to stop this language is already leading to death threats against election officials. The longer they permit it to go on, the worse things will get.  Republicans are working to undermine the incoming Democratic administration in other ways, too. Last week, Attorney General William Barr announced that he appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham as special counsel in October to investigate the FBI agents who worked on the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. While the law about special counsels says they must come from outside the government, Barr claims to have found a loophole in that rule. Durham can only be fired for specific reasons such as conflict of interest or misconduct. Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) applauded the appointment and the continuation of the investigation.  Today Biden’s son Hunter told the media that he has just learned that he is under investigation by the Department of Justice for tax issues, although CNN suggested it is a much wider financial investigation than that, and that it began in 2018. The Justice Department is also investigating a company related to Joe Biden’s brother James. While the DOJ is supposed to be independent of the president, these investigations echo Trump’s own calls for such investigations. Immediately Representative Ken Buck (R-CO) called for a special counsel to investigate Hunter Biden, and tonight, Trump tweeted that “10% of voters would have changed their vote if they knew about Hunter Biden…. But I won anyway!”   House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) told Fox News Channel personality Laura Ingraham today that Representative Eric Swalwell (D-CA) should be “removed from Congress” after an Axios report that a Chinese intelligence operative had worked to ingratiate herself with California lawmakers between 2011 and 2015. The operative targeted a number of politicians, including Swalwell, and she fundraised on his behalf, but there is no evidence she broke any laws. In 2015, FBI officers alerted Swalwell, who immediately cut all ties to her. He was never accused of any wrongdoing. The operative left the country unexpectedly during the FBI investigation.   Although the Axios story was about Chinese espionage, right-wing media is aflame with attacks on Swalwell in what seems an attempt to discredit a Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. Don Jr. tweeted that Swalwell “was literally sleeping with a Chinese spy,” an allegation that is nowhere in the story, although the story mentions that two unidentified midwestern mayors had affairs with her.  The White House appears to be trying to sabotage the Biden administration not only by keeping the Biden team from information it needs, but by tying its hands and slowing it down. The day after the election, the Trump administration proposed a new rule requiring the new Department of Health and Human Services appointees to review most of the department’s regulations by 2023. It would automatically kill any that haven’t been reviewed by then. This would mean that, just as the new administration is trying to fight the coronavirus, it would be slammed with administrative paperwork. The department’s chief of staff denies the unusual move is political, saying that a review is necessary because one hasn’t been done for 40 years.   Now that the transition process has finally started, Trump loyalists are blocking meetings, or sitting in on them to monitor what is being said, especially at the Environmental Protection Agency. At Voice of America, Trump’s appointed head, Michael Pack, has refused to give meetings or records to Biden’s team. For their part, Biden’s transition folks are avoiding fights in order to get whatever information they can.  Republican senators are also signaling that they intend to delay confirmations on Biden’s nominees, although in the past 95% of Cabinet nominees have had hearings before an inauguration, and 84% of those were approved within three days. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), for example, questioned the experience of Biden’s nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra. Becerra is the Attorney General of California, and he sat on the House Committee on Ways and Means, which oversees health issues, during his 24 years in Congress. “I don’t know what his Health and Human Services credentials are,” Cornyn told The Hill.  It’s not like [Trump’s HHS Secretary] Alex Azar, who worked for pharma and had a health care background.”
    And Rushbo was a Medal of Freedumb recipient. Sure, it can’t happen here. I wonder who has the codes?
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  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 22,781
    December 10, 2020 (Thursday)

    Today more than half of the Republicans in the House of Representatives signed onto Texas’s lawsuit asking the Supreme Court to overturn the results of the 2020 election and install Trump, rather than the legitimately elected Joe Biden, into the White House.

    Democrat Biden won the election by more than 7 million votes and by 306 to 232 electoral votes. Trump has lost 55 of the 56 court cases he has brought to change the election’s outcome, and all 50 states have certified their election results. This election is not close; attempts to overturn it reject the central concept of democracy: that voters choose their leaders.

    The story is this: Texas’s Attorney General Ken Paxton is asking the Supreme Court to hear an original case between the states—which it can do, but it’s rare—arguing that Texas was harmed by voting procedures in Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. Essentially, Paxton is arguing that mail-in voting in those states, which Democrats used more extensively than Republicans did after Trump insisted it was insecure, stepped on Texans’ rights. This will be a hard sell.

    If the Supreme Court does say Texas can sue, Paxton is hoping that 5 justices will then decide to toss out the electoral votes—but not the votes in the downballot races-- from those states. This would take away Biden’s victory in the Electoral College, handing the election to Trump.

    After Texas filed the lawsuit, Trump filed a request to join it.

    This is a crazy lawsuit. As Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) said: “It’s just simply madness…. The idea of supplanting the vote of the people with partisan legislators is so completely out of our national character that it’s simply mad…. [T]his effort to subvert the vote of the people is dangerous and destructive of the cause of democracy.” University of Texas Law School Professor Steve Vladeck was more succinct: “In a nutshell the President is asking the Supreme Court to exercise its rarest form of jurisdiction to effectively overturn the entire presidential election.”

    It is possible—likely, even—that Paxton is advancing this nonsense because he has been under indictment since 2015 for securities fraud, is now under investigation by the FBI for bribery and abuse of office, and is hoping to impress Trump enough to get a presidential pardon. Just today, the FBI issued at least one subpoena for records from Paxton’s office. Knowing that this lawsuit has virtually no chance of winning, he could file it and win points with Trump while also knowing it would go nowhere.

    But this moment has grown far beyond Paxton’s lawsuit into a fight over the future of the Republican Party and, ultimately, over the future of democracy.

    States have squared off on both sides of Paxton’s lawsuit. Last night, seventeen other states supported the suit to hand the election to Trump, including Missouri, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, and West Virginia. Later, Arizona joined them.

    Today, the four states named in the suit made it clear they are standing up for democracy. Pennsylvania’s brief notes that Trump has “flooded” the courts “with frivolous lawsuits aimed at disenfranchising large swaths of voters and undermining the legitimacy of the election.” Adding to “the cacophony of bogus claims,” Texas is trying to throw out four state elections because it doesn’t like their results. Its demand “is legally indefensible and is an affront to principles of constitutional democracy.” The brief warns, “Texas’s effort to get this Court to pick the next President has no basis in law or fact. The Court should not abide this seditious abuse of the judicial process, and should send a clear and unmistakable signal that such abuse must never be replicated.”

    “[T]his case is not ordinary,” the Wisconsin brief says. “Texas is asking this Court to overturn the will of the people of Wisconsin—and the nation—based on meritless accusations of election fraud. If this Court agrees to do so, it will not only irreparably harm its own legitimacy, but will lend fuel to a disinformation campaign aimed at undermining the legitimacy of our democracy.”

    Twenty-three Democratic-led states and territories, along with the Republican Attorney General of Ohio, Dave Yost, today signed a brief supporting the four states Texas is attacking. The District of Columbia, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Guam, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Washington all backed the states whose votes Texas is trying to throw out.

    But six states—Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Utah—joined Texas’s lawsuit today. Members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly filed a brief supporting Texas and Trump, signing on to the idea of taking the vote away from their own people.

    Then the 106 Republican members of Congress jumped aboard the lawsuit, signing a brief in support of it. Trump worked the phones and enlisted Representative Mike Johnson (R-LA) head of the Republican Study Committee, the party caucus of social conservatives in the House, to hold members’ feet to the fire. Johnson sent around an email saying that Trump had “specifically asked me to contact all Republican Members of the House and Senate today and request that all join on to our brief.” Johnson noted that Trump “will be anxiously awaiting the final list to review,” in order to see who was on his team and who was not. Only ninety House Republicans refused to sign.

    What on earth is going on?

    First: Trump is throwing at the wall anything he can in hopes of staying in office. The more chaos it creates, the happier he is. The lawsuit crisis has, for example, muted the story that at least 2,923 Americans died today of Covid-19, and 223,570 cases were reported, a 28% increase in the weekly average of cases since two weeks ago.

    It has also diverted attention from the fact that there is no deal, and no real sign of a deal, on a coronavirus relief bill. A bipartisan group of senators has managed to hammer out a $908 billion deal but Republicans refuse to allow its $160 billion for aid to state and local governments and Democrats refuse to agree to shield businesses from liability for coronavirus injuries. The bipartisan group tried to put the two things together, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says that’s a non-starter. Meanwhile, 26 million Americans say they don’t have enough to eat.

    Second: There is a war underway for control of the Republican Party. While a losing incumbent president usually loses influence in the party, Trump intends to continue to call the shots. He wants to run again in 2024, or at least to anoint a successor, rather than letting the Republican National Committee pick a presidential candidate. There is a struggle going on to control the RNC and, as well, to figure out who gets control of the lists of supporters Trump has compiled. Trump also controls a lot of the party’s money, since he has been out front as its fundraiser without a break since he decided to run for office. He was the first president ever to file for reelection on the day of his inauguration, permitting him to hold “rallies” and to raise money throughout his presidency.

    So Republican lawmakers are willing to swear loyalty to him, either because they want to attract his voters in future elections, or because they want access to the cash he can raise, or both. They no longer defend traditional policy positions; they defend Trump.

    This loyalty requires contortions. In Georgia, the Republican Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr called the Texas lawsuit “constitutionally, legally and factually wrong.” But Georgia’s two senators, Republicans David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, have backed it. The senators are facing a runoff election in January against Democrat challengers Jon Ossoff and the Reverend Raphael Warnock, and they need Trump’s support. So they are taking a stand against their own voters. So are nearly half of Georgia’s Republican congressional delegation, despite the fact that this position logically would overturn their own elections.

    Third: Texas’s lawsuit and the Republican Party’s embrace of it is an unprecedented attempt to destroy the very foundation of our democracy. Since the 1980s, Republican leaders have managed to hold onto power by suppressing votes, promoting propaganda, gerrymandering states, gaming the Electoral College, and stacking the courts.

    Now, so unpopular that even gaming the mechanics of our system is not enough, they have abandoned democracy itself.
    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

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  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 22,781
     December 11, 2020 (Friday)

    Today, twenty more House Republicans, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the top Republican in the House, and Greg Pence, Vice President Mike Pence’s older brother, signed onto the lawsuit filed by the Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton asking the Supreme Court first to take up the lawsuit, and then to throw out the presidential electors for Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Georgia, and Michigan. If it would do so, those state legislatures could appoint a new slate of electors for Trump, thereby tossing out President-Elect Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election and handing the White House back to Trump.

    Also joining the Texas lawsuit were “New California State” and “New Nevada State,” pseudo states supported by movements that want to break the rural counties of California and Nevada away from urban counties. Spokespeople for the proposed states claimed that their new states are “suffering under many governmental usurpations,” and that the governors of the actual states were engaging in “lawless actions” by permitting same-day voter registration.

    And yet, this evening, the Supreme Court refused to hear the case. Two justices, Justice Samuel Alito and Justice Clarence Thomas, said they would have permitted the court to hear the case—this is consistent with their longstanding position that the court must allow states to file in a dispute between states-- but would have decided against it. So Trump, who had joined the Texas lawsuit, has lost his bid to have the Supreme Court overturn the election results.

    The Electoral College meets on Monday, and Congress counts the electoral votes in a joint session on January 6. It is possible that Republican loyalists in the House will gum up the congressional acceptance of the electoral votes, but the election is over. Joe Biden will be inaugurated on January 20, 2021.

    The larger story is not over.

    The Republican Party has become a dangerous faction trying to destroy American democracy. Fittingly, after the Supreme Court decision, the Chair of the Texas Republican Party, Allen West, promptly issued a grammatically muddy statement saying, “Perhaps law-abiding states should bond together and form a Union of states that will abide by the constitution.”

    Americans unhappy with the results of a presidential election have done precisely this before. It was called “secession,” and it occurred in 1860 when elite southern Democrats tried to destroy the United States of America rather than accept the election of Republican Abraham Lincoln to the White House.

    In 1860, as today, there were two competing visions of America. In the South, members of a small wealthy class had come to believe that they should lead society, and that “democracy” meant only that voters got to choose which set of leaders ruled them. Society, they said, worked best when it was run by natural leaders, the wealthy, educated, well-connected men who made up the region’s planter class.

    As South Carolina Senator James Henry Hammond explained in 1858, society was naturally made up of a great mass of workers, rather dull people, but happy and loyal, whom he called “mudsills” after the timbers driven into the ground to support elegant homes above. These mudsills needed the guidance of their betters to produce goods that would create capital. That capital would be wasted if it stayed among the mudsills; it needed to move upward, where better men would use it to move society forward.

    Ordinary men should, Hammond explained, have no say over policies, because they would demand a greater share of the wealth they produced. No matter what regular folks might want from the government—roads, schools, and so on—the government could not deliver it because it could do nothing that was not specifically listed in the Constitution. And what the Constitution called for primarily, he said, was to protect and spread the system of human enslavement that made men like him rich.

    In 1859, Illinois lawyer Abraham Lincoln rejected Hammond’s vision of America. In a speech at the Milwaukee Agricultural Fair, Lincoln denied that there was any such thing as a “mudsill” in America. No one, he said, should be locked into working poverty for life. Society did not work best when a few rich men ran it, he said; it worked best when government made sure that everyone was equal before the law and that ordinary men had access to resources.

    Under the system of “free labor,” hardworking farmers applied their muscle and brains to natural resources. They produced more than they could consume, and their accumulated capital employed shopkeepers and shoemakers and so on. Those small merchants, in turn, provided capital to employ industrialists and financiers, who then hired men just starting out. The economic cycle drove itself, and the “harmony of interest” meant that everyone could prosper in America so long as the government didn’t favor one sector over another.

    Lincoln’s vision became the driving ideology of the Republican Party.

    In 1860, when Democratic leaders demanded that the government protect the spread of slavery to the West, Republicans objected. They argued that the slave system, in which a few rich men dominated government and monopolized resources, would choke out free labor.

    Southern Democratic leaders responded by telling voters the Republicans wanted a race war. To win the election, they silenced opponents and kept them from the polls. And when the Democrats nonetheless lost, southern leaders railroaded their states out of the Union and made war on the U.S. government. They threw away the idea of American democracy and tried to build a new nation they would control.

    That moment looks much like the attempt of today’s Republicans to overturn a legitimate election and install their own leadership over the country.

    But there the parallels stop. When southern Democratic leaders took their states out of the Union in 1861, they rushed them out before constituents could weigh in. Modern media means that voters have seen the ham-fisted legal challenges that have repeatedly lost in court, and have heard voices condemning this effort to overturn our democracy. Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE), for example, issued a statement tonight: "Since Election Night, a lot of people have been confusing voters by spinning Kenyan Birther-type, ‘Chavez rigged the election from the grave’ conspiracy theories, but every American who cares about the rule of law should take comfort that the Supreme Court — including all three of President Trump’s picks — closed the book on the nonsense."
     
    Make no mistake, though: today’s Republican Party has drifted away from its original principles to attack American democracy. Fully 64% of the House Republican delegation endorsed Trump’s bid to steal the election. Some likely signed onto Paxton’s frivolous lawsuit because they honestly believed in it. Many others likely supported it either because they feared retaliation from Trump or they recognized that they would face primary challengers from the right in their gerrymandered districts in 2022 if they did not. Either way, the party as it currently exists is not going to repudiate this week’s anti-American stand.

    But Republicans who still value democracy and their traditional values of equality before the law and equal access to resources could repudiate the radicals who have taken over their party.
     
    They could reject the ideology of the Confederacy and reclaim the Party of Lincoln.

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

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  • brianluxbrianlux Moving through All Kinds of Terrain.Posts: 35,109
    "Fully 64% of the House Republican delegation endorsed Trump’s bid to steal the election."

    Stick this to these fuckers:


    Citing 14th Amendment, Pascrell Says These GOP House Members Shouldn't Even Be Sworn In

    "The text of the 14th Amendment expressly forbids members of Congress from engaging in rebellion against the United States. Trying to overturn a democratic election and install a dictator seems like a pretty clear example of that."


    More at link.


    "I believe in the mystery, and I don't want to take it any further than that. Maybe what I mean by that is love."
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  • brianlux said:
    "Fully 64% of the House Republican delegation endorsed Trump’s bid to steal the election."

    Stick this to these fuckers:


    Citing 14th Amendment, Pascrell Says These GOP House Members Shouldn't Even Be Sworn In

    "The text of the 14th Amendment expressly forbids members of Congress from engaging in rebellion against the United States. Trying to overturn a democratic election and install a dictator seems like a pretty clear example of that."


    More at link.


    I don’t think the democrats have the cohones to take serious action, but I would love it if they did. 
  • brianluxbrianlux Moving through All Kinds of Terrain.Posts: 35,109
    brianlux said:
    "Fully 64% of the House Republican delegation endorsed Trump’s bid to steal the election."

    Stick this to these fuckers:


    Citing 14th Amendment, Pascrell Says These GOP House Members Shouldn't Even Be Sworn In

    "The text of the 14th Amendment expressly forbids members of Congress from engaging in rebellion against the United States. Trying to overturn a democratic election and install a dictator seems like a pretty clear example of that."


    More at link.


    I don’t think the democrats have the cohones to take serious action, but I would love it if they did. 

    Yeah, I don't see it happening, but sure do like the idea!
    "I believe in the mystery, and I don't want to take it any further than that. Maybe what I mean by that is love."
    -John Densmore











  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 22,781
     December 12, 2020 (Saturday)  Maybe it's just me, but it sure feels like we could all use a night off.  Tonight's image comes from photographer Peter Ralston, again. It's called "Holding Ground," and in case the boat at anchor in the rough water makes people worry, here's what Peter says about it:                         “The title refers to those places where the bottom is good, where one’s boat will be safe and where the anchor or mooring will not drag,” and where, in the middle of a three-day storm, “you hope that all of the attention you’ve paid to your ground tackle will reward you with a boat still there in the morning.”  A perfect sentiment for America in December 2020.  See you tomorrow.  [photo, "Holding Ground," by Peter Ralston.]

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  • brianluxbrianlux Moving through All Kinds of Terrain.Posts: 35,109
    A well deserved night off!
    "I believe in the mystery, and I don't want to take it any further than that. Maybe what I mean by that is love."
    -John Densmore











  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 22,781
     December 13, 2020 (Sunday)

    As of today, the United States has more than 16 million confirmed coronavirus infections, with more than 200,000 cases diagnosed every day. We are closing in on 300,000 deaths from Covid-19. On Friday, the Food and Drug Administration gave Emergency Use Authorization to the coronavirus vaccine developed by BioNTech and Pfizer. Today, Pfizer began to ship the first of about 3 million doses of vaccine from its facility in Michigan. Pfizer will be working with UPS and FedEx to send the vaccines around the country.

    The first to get the vaccine will be high-risk health care workers. Along with them, White House staffers who work close to Trump will be among the first to receive the vaccine, to prevent more of them from becoming ill with Covid-19 after so many of them have become sick in the past months. There has been a backlash to this information, as critics note that the administration has downplayed the virus, officials have refused to wear masks, and the White House has held large gatherings that turned out to be superspreader events, so the idea that Trump staffers will now take scarce vaccines doesn’t sit very well. After the New York Times broke this story, Trump tweeted late Sunday night that he has asked for staffers not to get the vaccine immediately, “unless specifically necessary.”

    Still, the eagerness of Trump administration officials to take it might help convince reluctant Americans that the vaccine is safe. The Biden-Harris team has already launched a drive to educate people about the vaccine, worried that the Trump administration’s downplaying of the virus has set that effort back significantly. While a president-elect generally stays quiet in the weeks before taking office under the principle that America has only one president at a time, Biden is indicating that he will not stay silent in the face of mounting deaths the White House refuses to acknowledge. "We’re in the teeth of the crisis right now," the president-elect said Friday. "This nation needs presidential leadership right now. … You know, we… have to face it head on.”

    To combat widespread skepticism about the vaccine, Biden is highlighting trusted public health experts like Anthony Fauci, as well as other well-known figures who have agreed to be vaccinated on television. Biden’s team is also working with the Advertising Council, a nonprofit organization of advertising agencies that produces public service announcements, to launch a $50 million advertising campaign in the new year. This effort is late getting started and has been hampered by Trump’s politicization of the vaccine process, which led executives from both Pfizer and Moderna, the companies with the most promising vaccines so far, to skip Trump’s “vaccine summit” at the White House last week.

    Aside from his aggressive action to combat the coronavirus, an evaluation of Biden’s nominees tells us a great deal about what we can expect of his administration. He has chosen institutionalists with a great deal of experience, and with a general bent toward fairness in government. So, for example, Dr. Janet L. Yellen, Biden’s nominee for Treasury Secretary, has served as chair of the Federal Reserve and chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, and her hallmark was always her defense of wage workers at a time when leading Republican lawmakers insisted that building the economy meant cutting taxes for those at the top of the economy.

    Yellen is known to support lower interest rates, which tend to boost borrowing and thus the economy, but also worries about the extraordinary debt under which the country now labors. The budget deficit in 2020 was $3.1 trillion, and the debt is more than $20 trillion, which means that more than $52 billion of our tax dollars every year go into paying interest on the debt. That amount is as much as the combined budgets of the Departments of Commerce, Education, Energy, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice, and State. Yellen has suggested that she sees a need to raise taxes—which heartens progressives—and to cut retirement programs, which horrifies them. She worries about the long-term effects of the rising debt as baby boomers age, doubling spending on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

    Last year, Yellen told the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care Fall Conference that she thinks our financial issues “will not be solved without some additional revenues on the table, but I also find it hard to believe that it won’t be solved without some changes to those programs…. So this is certainly something that people in this audience should have in their sights as something that will greatly affect the well-being of our cohort or, more likely, our children.”

    This moderation is cheering former Republicans, like Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post, and making progressives despair. But Biden’s picks seem to be less about indicating the content of his administration than indicating he plans to have an administration in the first place. He seems to be signaling that he intends to rebuild the framework of the government that Trump has dismantled in his four years. As for what comes once that framework is rebuilt, his choice of California Senator Kamala Harris—the first woman, and the first woman of color, on a presidential ticket-- as his running mate suggests he is not signaling a return to the past. Biden has always been famous for being in the middle of the Democratic pack, and will move to the left or the right according to what he hears from the public.

    The president-elect is rushing to jump into the presidency in the face of a leadership vacuum as Trump continues to stew over his election loss and to plot yet more ways he can try to overturn the results. All those options are weaker than the ones that have already failed. That’s not to say damage isn’t being done: yesterday, Trump supporters who refuse to accept his defeat roamed U.S. cities, including Washington, D.C, where last night, people were assaulted, 33 were arrested, and four stabbed.

    It is not clear what is going to happen to the Republican Party with Trump demanding loyalty even as he is losing battle after battle after a very clear defeat in the election, and his base turning violent. Those lawmakers who have signed on to Trump’s attack on our democratic processes have painted themselves into a corner along with the extremist Trump base, and their strategy might weaken them politically.

    In an important move today, evangelical leader Beth Moore, the founder of Living Proof Ministries, a Bible-based women’s group from Houston, Texas, who has almost a million followers on Twitter, tweeted: “I do not believe these days are for mincing words. I’m 63 ½ years & I have never seen anything in these United States of America I found more astonishingly seductive & dangerous to the saints of God than Trumpism. This Christian nationalism is not of God. Move back from it…. Fellow leaders, we will be held responsible for remaining passive in this day of seduction to save our own skin while the saints we’ve been entrusted to serve are being seduced, manipulated, USED and stirred up into a lather of zeal devoid of the Holy Spirit for political gain….”

    Moore follows this weekend's statement by evangelical Karen Swallow Prior, who said she was “now embarrassed and ashamed” for voting for local and state Republican candidates (although she had never voted for Trump). “What a bunch of money-grubbing, power-hungry, partisan cowards who care nothing about conservatism,” she tweeted. Conservative journalist David French also wrote this weekend that “the frenzy and fury of the post-election period has laid bare the sheer idolatry and fanaticism of Christian Trumpism.”

    If evangelicals return to their traditional stance that politics corrupts religion, the modern-day Republican Party is in trouble. In this year’s election, about 80% of white evangelicals supported Trump. They make up 15% of the U.S. population, but because they turn out in huge numbers, they provided about 40% of Trump’s votes in 2020. Since the Reagan years, white evangelicals have been a crucial part of the Republican base. If they are starting to rethink their loyalties, it will be a game changer.

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  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 22,781
     December 14, 2020 (Monday)

    Today, Americans began receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine. Dr. Michelle Chester administered the first dose to Sandra Lindsay, a nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center. Lindsay is a Covid nurse and said she hoped seeing her get the vaccine would convince people it was safe. “I have seen the alternative, and do not want it for you,” she told the New York Times. “I feel like healing is coming. I hope this marks the beginning of the end of a very painful time in our history.” The pandemic has hit Americans of color particularly hard, making it fitting that the first U.S. dose was administered by a Black doctor to a Black nurse.

    Finally, there is light at the end of the tunnel. But that light is still a long way away. Today we passed 300,000 official deaths from Covid-19, with well over 16 million infections. We also set a new single-day record of at least 232,369 new coronavirus cases. Outbreaks are escalating, not dropping, and the upcoming holidays threaten to spread the virus further.

    There is, as well, an issue with the distribution of the vaccines. While the federal government invested in the development of the vaccine, it provided funding and a plan only to get the vaccines to the states. Getting the doses from a central point into people’s arms remains largely unfunded and unplanned. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health and Human Services have dug into their existing budgets to find some money for states to start planning, but there is currently no money for states to distribute the vaccine, especially in light of the financial crisis caused by the pandemic. Federal funding of vaccine delivery is set to run out about February 1, just in time for it to fall into Biden’s watch.

    The good news is that Congress appears be narrowing in on a coronavirus relief package. Lawmakers expect to announce a $1.4 trillion compromise measure tomorrow. The Republicans still hate the idea of state and local funding; Democrats still hate the idea of a liability shield for businesses whose workers contract the coronavirus at work. So, negotiators have split those two issues off from the items that have bipartisan support. A $748 billion bill will provide less controversial funding for unemployment assistance, small businesses, food assistance, rental assistance, health funding, education, and transportation; and a $160 billion bill will offer local and state aid and liability protections.

    Today was a big day in politics as well as in health. The Electoral College formally elected Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. president, and Kamala Devi Harris vice president. Tonight, Biden spoke to the American people. He rebuked Trump for his effort to steal the election, saying “In America, politicians don’t take power-- people grant power to them.”

    Biden tied today’s contest for democracy to our history. "The flame of democracy was lit in this nation a long time ago. And we now know nothing — not even a pandemic — or an abuse of power — can extinguish that flame," he said. He asked Americans to move on, focusing on combatting the pandemic and rebuilding the economy.

    The election is finally over.

    But, although 62% of American voters say the election is “over and settled” and it’s “time to move on,” Trump continues to insist that he won it. In the face of the Electoral College confirmation of Biden’s win, this position increasingly seems a ploy to raise money. Even as the Electoral College was voting, the Trump campaign filed yet another lawsuit challenging the outcome of the election. It has lost 59 of 60 court cases, and the Supreme Court last week refused to hear a case in which Trump planned to argue that mail in voting in swing states that voted for Biden—but not the states that voted for him—injured Republican voters in Texas.

    Senate Republicans, who have set the Electoral College vote as the condition on which they would acknowledge Biden’s victory, are swinging behind the idea that Biden is indeed the President-Elect. But the Trump loyalists are not giving up. The state Capitols of Michigan and Wisconsin had to be closed to the public before the Electoral College delegates met out of safety concerns; the electors in Arizona had to meet in an undisclosed location. One Republican state representative in Michigan hinted at potential violence against the delegates to the Electoral College; leadership later stripped him of his committee assignments. Despite the fussing, members of Congress are expected to certify the Electoral College votes on January 6, 2021.

    The Republicans’ willingness to entertain Trump’s tantrums means that, unlike most Americans, 82% of Trump voters say they think Biden’s victory is illegitimate and that Trump should refuse to concede and should do all he can to stay in power.

    This was finally too much for Representative Paul Mitchell of Michigan, who announced today he was switching his affiliation from Republican to Independent. Mitchell is retiring from Congress, perhaps freeing him to speak his mind. In his announcement, he called out Ronna McDaniel, the chair of the Republican National Committee, for suggesting that Trump’s loss was because of Black voters in Detroit. “Ronna,” he wrote, “you know Michigan politics well.” (McDaniel is the granddaughter of former Michigan Governor George W. Romney, and served as chair of the Michigan Republican Party from 2015 to 2017). “Trump did not lose Michigan because of Wayne County, but rather he lost because of dwindling support in areas including Kent and Oakland County, both previous Republican strongholds.”

    Mitchell called out “political candidates” who “treat our election system as though we are a third-world nation and incite distrust of something so basic as the sanctity of our vote.” He warned, “If Republican leaders collectively sit back and tolerate unfounded conspiracy theories and ‘stop the steal’ rallies without speaking out for our electoral process, which the Department of Homeland Security said was ‘the most secure in American history,’ our nation will be damaged.” He condemned the “raw political considerations” that led party leaders to support the “stop the steal” efforts. He noted that members of Congress take oaths to support and defend the Constitution, not “to preserve and protect the political interests of any individual, be it the president or anyone else, to the detriment of our cherished nation.”

    Tonight, just in time to disrupt the news cycle before Biden was set to address the nation, Trump announced that Attorney General William Barr is stepping down on December 23. Barr was a true loyalist, politicizing the Department of Justice to protect Trump from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, stepping in to defend Trump in a defamation suit by a woman who claimed Trump had sexually assaulted her, favoring Trump’s friends, and supporting Trump’s attack on this summer’s protesters at Lafayette Park in Washington, D.C. Barr’s resignation letter was full of praise for Trump but the two men have been at odds since Barr refused to sign on to Trump’s efforts to overturn the election. On December 1, Barr told the Associated Press that there was no evidence of widespread election fraud that would change the outcome of the 2020 election, thus undercutting the president’s arguments.

    While the timing of the resignation announcement seems pegged to try to upstage Biden’s win, the timing of the resignation itself might well reflect that Trump is planning some controversial pardons and Barr didn’t want to be associated with them.

    Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen will become the acting Attorney General.

    There is one more big developing story. Yesterday, the administration admitted that hackers acting for a foreign country—almost certainly Russia—have breached many of our key government networks, including the Treasury Department, the Commerce Department, and agencies related to our national security. Hackers apparently began to sneak malicious code into software updates for business and government computers last March. The breach has enabled them to extract information for many months.  

    If indeed it was Russia that broke into our system, it will be their most sophisticated break-in since 2014 and 2015, when operatives broke into unclassified email systems in the White House, State Department, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, then went on to hack the Democratic National Committee. The recent hack was so serious the National Security Council, which advises the president about national security, military affairs, and foreign affairs, had an emergency meeting about it on Saturday.

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    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 22,781
    December 15, 2020 (Tuesday)

    There’s not a lot going on today that changes the national story, so this letter is a good one to skip if you’re tired of news.

    Coronavirus numbers continue to climb, even as vaccinations are beginning. Josh Kovensky and Kate Riga at Talking Points Memo are following the story that the Trump administration appears to have planned a federal vaccine rollout only until Biden takes office, and then has simply handed the problem to the states to handle without any funding. This threatens to turn vaccine distribution into chaos, while Trump administration officials are making rosy predictions about how things will go in those early weeks.

    Dr. Leana Wen, a former Baltimore city health commissioner and a George Washington University health policy professor, told the TPM reporters: “I just don’t see how it would happen.” Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar has promised that the vaccine will be widely distributed in February and March, but, she said, “That’s an extremely optimistic projection that assumes everything is done perfectly, and when resources are so limited, that perfect execution is nearly impossible.”

    Joe Biden continues to move forward with his administration, naming former rival Pete Buttigieg for Secretary of Transportation. Buttigieg, the 38-year-old former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, emerged as a surprisingly popular presidential candidate in 2020, and afterward turned out to be an astonishingly good voice for Democratic policies on the Fox News Channel. (Seriously. Go watch clips.)

    But critics note that his experience in public office is limited to his mayorship, and his nomination would throw him at the head of a department of 55,000 employees in service to a president who has vowed extensive infrastructure development—for real, this time. Since he is obviously hungry for national elected office, nerdy about infrastructure, and good in front of the cameras, it’s not clear this is a bad idea. It might be a good way to boost a low-profile department that often goes unappreciated.

    Buttigieg ran his presidential campaign on a platform of climate action, and his nomination has already drawn praise from the Sierra Club, the Environmental Defense Fund, and the League of Conservation Voters. If confirmed, he will be the nation’s first openly gay Cabinet member.

    Now that the Electoral College has cast the votes that elect Joe Biden to the presidency, Republican senators are acknowledging Biden’s win. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told other Republican senators not to object to the certification of the Electoral College votes on January 6. Doing so would force the rest of the Senate to vote against Trump, infuriating Trump voters, and McConnell hopes to avoid such a vote. Still, Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson and Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) have indicated they might be willing to join House Republicans in challenging the votes.

    Tomorrow, the Senate Homeland Security Committee, which Johnson chairs, will hold an oversight hearing on what he says are the irregularities in the 2020 election. Courtrooms, where lawyers bear penalties for lying, have turned up no irregularities. The Senate hearing will have no such penalties, and its first witness is Republican operative Kenneth W. Starr, so it is almost certainly going to consist of rumors and assumptions rather than anything to which the witnesses would swear under oath.

    The White House continues to refuse to acknowledge Trump’s loss. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany today said simply that “The president is still involved in ongoing litigation related to the election. Yesterday’s vote was one step in the constitutional process.”

    The lies about the election spread by Trump and his loyalists are radicalizing Republican true believers, according to security officials and terrorism researchers. They worry that fringe conspiracy theories are going mainstream. Polls suggest that 77% of Trump supporters believe that Biden stole the election—although there is no evidence of fraud—and officials worry those true believers are turning to violence.

    Elizabeth Neumann, who resigned from her job as assistant secretary of counterterrorism and threat prevention at the Department of Homeland Security in April out of concerns that Trump was exacerbating right-wing violence, noted that “the conservative infotainment sector makes money off… outrage.” Kori Schake, director of foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, who was a senior adviser in the State Department, Defense Department, and the National Security Council, agreed with others that Trump is promoting radicalism by spreading conspiracies and disinformation. "Leadership matters," she said. "It really matters that the president of the United States is an arsonist of radicalization. And it will really help when that is no longer the case."

    In Houston, Texas, today, police arrested a former police department captain for running a man off the road and pointing a gun at his head in an attempt to foil what the man believed was a massive voter fraud scheme. The former captain, 63-year-old Mark Anthony Aguirre, claimed to be part of a citizens’ group investigating voter fraud. Aguirre believed his victim was hiding 750,000 fraudulent ballots in his truck. Aguirre rammed the truck with his SUV and held the driver first at gunpoint and then with his knee in the man’s back until police came. Upon inspection, it turned out the truck was full of air conditioning parts. The district attorney, Kim Ogg, said “His alleged investigation was backward from the start—first alleging a crime had occurred and then trying to prove it happened…. [W]e are lucky no one was killed.”

    But power is shifting in Washington. Tonight, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his wife Susan hosted an indoor holiday party to which they had invited more than 900 guests. Only about 70 people responded to the invitation and even fewer showed up to what public health officials warned could be a superspreader event. In the past, the party has drawn 200-300 people, but the combination of a pandemic and the waning days of the administration meant the event had little attraction. Pompeo’s name was on the invitation and he was scheduled to speak, but he canceled and sent someone else.

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    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 22,781
     December 16, 2020 (Wednesday)  The reality that Joe Biden is about to become president and Kamala Harris is about to become vice president is sinking in across Washington, and today gave us some indications of what that’s going to mean.  Stories about what exactly happened in the Trump administration are coming out, and they are not pretty. Politics trumped everything for members of the administration, even our lives.   Today Representative James Clyburn (D-SC), who chairs the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, revealed documents from senior appointees in the Trump administration overriding the work of the career officials in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those documents show that the political appointees at the Department of Health and Human Services called for dealing with the coronavirus crisis by pursuing a strategy of “herd immunity,” deliberately spreading the coronavirus to try to infect as many people as possible, with the theory that this approach would minimize the dangers of the pandemic. While doing so, they downplayed what they were doing, tried to hide the dangers of the virus, and blamed the career scientists who objected to this strategy for the rising death rates.   Although the White House has tried to distance itself from senior Health and Human Services Adviser Paul Alexander, last summer he was widely perceived to speak for his boss Michael Caputo, the Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs whom Trump had appointed, and for the White House itself. Alexander, a part-time university professor from Canada, defended Trump against scientists, accusing CDC Principal Deputy Director Dr. Anne Schuchat of lying when she provided accurate public information about the worsening pandemic. When she suggested everyone should wear a mask, he claimed: “her aim is to embarrass the President.” Alexander attacked Anthony Fauci for his attempts to protect Americans. “He just won’t stop!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” wrote Alexander on July 3, 2020; “does he think he is the President???”   Alexander advocated spreading the infection to younger Americans: “So the bottom line is if it is more infectiouness [sic] now, the issue is who cares? If it is causing more cases in young, my word is who cares…as long as we make sensible decisions, and protect the elderely [sic] and nursing homes, we must go on with life….who cares if we test more and get more positive tests.”  Alexander wrote to Caputo: “There is no other way, we need to establish herd, and it only comes about allowing the non-high risk groups expose themselves to the virus.  PERIOD.” On the same day, he wrote: “Infants, kids, teens, young people, young adults, middle aged with no conditions etc. have zero to little risk….so we use them to develop herd…we want them infected.…”  On July 24, he wrote to FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn and Caputo: “it may be that it will be best if we open up and flood the zone and let the kids and young folk get infected” as a strategy to get “natural immunity…natural exposure,” an argument that illuminates Trump’s insistence this summer that schools and colleges must open.   But the idea that young people are safe from the virus is wrong. Today, an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that while Americans older than 65 have borne the brunt of the coronavirus, young adults are suffering terribly. From March through July, there were almost 12,000 more deaths than expected among adults from 25 to 44. Young Black and Hispanic Americans make up not just a disproportionate number of that group of victims; they are a majority. Those extraordinary death rates have continued. Younger adults are indeed endangered by the coronavirus; the idea it is harmless to them “has simply not been borne out by emerging data,” doctors Jeremy Samuel Faust, Harlan M. Krumholz, and Rochelle P. Walensky—Biden’s pick to run the CDC-- wrote in the New York Times today.    Another report today showcases two former CDC political appointees who are now speaking out to call attention to the silencing of career scientists at the agency. Kyle McGowan, a former chief of staff at the CDC, and his deputy Amanda Campbell watched as political appointees in Washington ignored scientists, censored doctors’ messages to the public, and cut the agency’s budget. “It was… like a hand grasping something, and it slowly closes, closes, closes, closes until you really that, middle of the summer, it has a complete grasp on everything at the CDC,” McGowan told New York Times reporter Noah Weiland. “Every time that the science clashed with the messaging, messaging won.”  Politifact, the Pulitzer Prize winning fact-checking website from the Poynter Institute, named the downplaying and denial of the seriousness of coronavirus its “Lie of the Year.”  Today it became clear the administration dropped the ball in other important ways. We have more information now about the extensive computer hack that appears to have been conducted by operatives from the Russian government. It’s bad. Hackers placed malware on commercial network management software upgrades to gain access to government computers, along with those of major U.S. companies, as far back as last March. They have been able to root around in our secrets for months. Hackers accessed the Treasury and Commerce Departments, the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security, and parts of the Pentagon, among other targets. The intrusion was discovered on December 8, when the cybersecurity company FireEye realized it had been hacked and alerted the FBI.   Today the FBI, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISAO, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), issued a joint statement acknowledging “a significant and ongoing cybersecurity campaign” and indicated they are not sure yet what has been hit. “This is a developing situation, and while we continue to work to understand the full extent of this campaign, we know this compromise has affected networks within the federal government.” It is clear the U.S. has been hit hard: Trump’s National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien has cut short an overseas trip to come home and deal with the crisis. In the New York Times, Thomas P. Bossert, Trump’s former Homeland Security Adviser said, “the magnitude of this national security breach is hard to overstate.” He insisted the U.S. must call out Russia for this attack (assuming it is confirmed that that country is, indeed, behind the attack). “Trump must make it clear to Vladimir Putin that these actions are unacceptable. The U.S. military and intelligence community must be placed on increased alert; all elements of national power must be placed on the table.” “President Trump is on the verge of leaving behind a federal government, and perhaps a large number of major industries, compromised by the Russian government. He must use whatever leverage he can muster to protect the United States and severely punish the Russians.”  The New York Times called this breach “among the greatest intelligence failures of modern times.” Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) called it “stunning.” “Today’s classified briefing on Russia’s cyberattack left me deeply alarmed, in fact downright scared. Americans deserve to know what’s going on,” he tweeted. Blumenthal also recognized the severity of the coronavirus early: he tweeted on February 25: “This morning’s classified coronavirus briefing should have been made fully open to the American people—they would be as appalled & astonished as I am by the inadequacy of preparedness & prevention.”  And yet, there are signs that the country is reorienting itself away from Trump and modern-day Republicanism.   Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, previously a staunch Trump supporter, has released an advertisement urging people to wear masks and admitting he was wrong not to wear one at the White House. It seems likely he is eyeing a future presidential run, and clearly is calculating that it is wise these days to distance himself from Trump’s anti-mask politics.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who has refused to advance a coronavirus relief bill since the House passed one last May, seven months ago, is now trying to make a deal that includes direct payments to Americans hurt by the pandemic. He explained to Republicans today that Republican senate candidates Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, who are running against Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff in Georgia, are “getting hammered” because the people want the bill and the Senate is holding it up.   Finally, Bloomberg last night ran a story by journalist Craig Stirling highlighting the work of economists David Hope of the London School of Economics and Julian Limberg of King’s College London, who examined the concept of “supply side economics,” or the “trickle down theory.” This is the economic theory popularized in the 1980s saying it’s best for the economy not to support wages at the bottom of the economy—the demand side—but rather to free up capital at the top—the supply side—because wealthy entrepreneurs will create new jobs and the resulting economic growth will help everyone. This idea has been behind the Republicans’ forty-year commitment to tax cuts for the wealthy.   In their study of 18 countries over 50 years, Hope and Limberg concluded that this theory was wrong. Tax cuts do not, they prove, trickle down. They do little to promote growth or create jobs. Instead, they mostly just help the people who get the tax cuts.
    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

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    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 22,781
    December 17, 2020 (Thursday)

    Four days ago, on December 13, Reuters broke the story that computer hackers had breached U.S. government agencies, including the Treasury Department and the Commerce Department. It was serious enough that the National Security Council had been called into an emergency meeting on Saturday. While no nation has yet been charged with this attack, officials agree that it looks like a Russian operation.

    On Monday, the story got worse. Also hit were the Department of Homeland Security, the State Department, and the National Institutes of Health. Officials at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) in the Department of Homeland Security told all federal agencies to disconnect the products containing the malware that had been used to breach the firewalls. Those products had been installed as far back as March, meaning that the attackers had been able to observe crucial aspects of our government from the inside for as much as nine months. Government officials found out about the breach only after a private cybersecurity firm, FireEye, realized it had been hacked and alerted the FBI. Hackers planted the malware they used to get into the systems on a patch issued by the software company, SolarWinds, which produces widely used management software.

    The story is getting worse still.

    Today CISA said that the hackers used many different tools to get into government systems, taking them into critical infrastructure, which could include the electrical grid, telecommunications companies, defense contractors, and so on. Officials said that the hacks were “a grave risk to the federal government.”

    Later in the day, it came out that the Energy Department and the National Nuclear Security Administration, which oversees our nuclear weapons, was also hit, although a Department of Energy spokesperson said that there is no evidence that the hackers breached critical defense systems, including the NNSA.

    Microsoft’s president, Brad Smith, today said the company had identified 40 different companies, government agencies, and think tanks the hackers infiltrated, and that those forty were just the tip of the iceberg. Smith said that more companies had been hit than government agencies, “with a big focus on I.T. companies, especially in the security industry.”  

    The Associated Press quoted a U.S. official as saying: “This is looking like it’s the worst hacking case in the history of America. They got into everything.” Tom Kellermann, the cybersecurity strategy chief of the software company VMware, told Ben Fox of the Associated Press that the hackers could now see everything in the federal agencies they’ve hacked, and that, now that they have been found out, “there is viable concern that they might leverage destructive attacks within these agencies.”

    It is not clear yet how far the hackers have penetrated, and we will likely not know for months. But given the fact they have had access to our systems since March and have almost certainly been planting new ways into them (known as “back doors”), all assumptions are that this is serious indeed.

    Initially, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo downplayed the attack, saying that such attacks are common and that China, not Russia, is the biggest offender. Trump has said nothing about the attacks, and administration officials say that they are simply planning to hand the crisis off to Biden.

    But this attack does not come out of the blue for the Trump administration. There was discussion of strengthening our security systems against attackers after the 2016 election, and on July 9, 2017, Trump suggested we would partner with Russia to address the issue. “Putin & I discussed forming an impenetrable Cyber Security unit so that election hacking, & many other negative things, will be guarded,” he tweeted.

    Congress instead created the CISA within the Department of Homeland Security in 2018 to protect against precisely the sort of attack which has just occurred, shortly after Russia hacked our electrical grid, including “multiple organizations in the energy, nuclear, water, aviation, construction, and critical manufacturing sectors,” according to the FBI and Department of Homeland Security report.

    In response to the Russian attack, the U.S. hit Russia’s electrical grid in June 2019.

    Since then, administration officials have deliberately forced out of CISA key cybersecurity officials. The destruction was so widespread, according to Dr. Josephine Wolff, a professor of cybersecurity policy at Tufts University’s Fletcher School who holds her PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), “they signify the systematic decimation of the personnel most directly responsible for protecting critical infrastructure, shielding our elections from interference and guarding the White House’s data, devices and networks.”

    Almost exactly a year ago, on December 19, 2019, Wolff warned in the New York Times that “As we head into 2020, worrying about the integrity of our elections, the growing scourge of ransomware and the increasingly sophisticated forms of cyberespionage and cybersabotage being developed by our adversaries, it’s disconcerting to feel that many of our government’s best cybersecurity minds are walking out the front door and leaving behind too few people to monitor what’s coming in our back doors.”

    Just a month ago, Trump continued this process, firing Christopher Krebs, the former director of CISA, on November 18, saying he was doing so because Krebs defended the 2020 election as “the most secure in American history.” Krebs said that there “is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”

    And now, here we are. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) said to SiriusXM about the hack: "Our national security is extraordinarily vulnerable. And, in this setting, to not have the White House aggressively speaking out and protesting and taking punitive action is really, really quite extraordinary."

    The timing of the exposure of this hack might be coincidence, but it is curiously well timed. It illustrates to the world that Russia now holds power over the U.S. while the perpetrators can assume, after four years of Trump’s refusal to stand up to Putin, that they will not have to face immediate retaliation for the attack as they would have to if it were revealed just a month later.

    President-elect Biden was briefed on the attack today. He warned that his administration would impose “substantial costs on those responsible for such malicious attacks, including in coordination with our allies and partners.” “A good defense isn’t enough; we need to disrupt and deter our adversaries from undertaking significant cyberattacks in the first place,” Biden said. “I will not stand idly by in the face of cyberassaults on our nation.”
    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

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  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 22,781
    one day closer.....
    _____________________________________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
  • Lerxst1992Lerxst1992 Posts: 4,133
    mickeyrat said:
    December 17, 2020 (Thursday)

    Four days ago, on December 13, Reuters broke the story that computer hackers had breached U.S. government agencies, including the Treasury Department and the Commerce Department. It was serious enough that the National Security Council had been called into an emergency meeting on Saturday. While no nation has yet been charged with this attack, officials agree that it looks like a Russian operation.

    On Monday, the story got worse. Also hit were the Department of Homeland Security, the State Department, and the National Institutes of Health. Officials at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) in the Department of Homeland Security told all federal agencies to disconnect the products containing the malware that had been used to breach the firewalls. Those products had been installed as far back as March, meaning that the attackers had been able to observe crucial aspects of our government from the inside for as much as nine months. Government officials found out about the breach only after a private cybersecurity firm, FireEye, realized it had been hacked and alerted the FBI. Hackers planted the malware they used to get into the systems on a patch issued by the software company, SolarWinds, which produces widely used management software.

    The story is getting worse still.

    Today CISA said that the hackers used many different tools to get into government systems, taking them into critical infrastructure, which could include the electrical grid, telecommunications companies, defense contractors, and so on. Officials said that the hacks were “a grave risk to the federal government.”

    Later in the day, it came out that the Energy Department and the National Nuclear Security Administration, which oversees our nuclear weapons, was also hit, although a Department of Energy spokesperson said that there is no evidence that the hackers breached critical defense systems, including the NNSA.

    Microsoft’s president, Brad Smith, today said the company had identified 40 different companies, government agencies, and think tanks the hackers infiltrated, and that those forty were just the tip of the iceberg. Smith said that more companies had been hit than government agencies, “with a big focus on I.T. companies, especially in the security industry.”  

    The Associated Press quoted a U.S. official as saying: “This is looking like it’s the worst hacking case in the history of America. They got into everything.” Tom Kellermann, the cybersecurity strategy chief of the software company VMware, told Ben Fox of the Associated Press that the hackers could now see everything in the federal agencies they’ve hacked, and that, now that they have been found out, “there is viable concern that they might leverage destructive attacks within these agencies.”

    It is not clear yet how far the hackers have penetrated, and we will likely not know for months. But given the fact they have had access to our systems since March and have almost certainly been planting new ways into them (known as “back doors”), all assumptions are that this is serious indeed.

    Initially, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo downplayed the attack, saying that such attacks are common and that China, not Russia, is the biggest offender. Trump has said nothing about the attacks, and administration officials say that they are simply planning to hand the crisis off to Biden.

    But this attack does not come out of the blue for the Trump administration. There was discussion of strengthening our security systems against attackers after the 2016 election, and on July 9, 2017, Trump suggested we would partner with Russia to address the issue. “Putin & I discussed forming an impenetrable Cyber Security unit so that election hacking, & many other negative things, will be guarded,” he tweeted.

    Congress instead created the CISA within the Department of Homeland Security in 2018 to protect against precisely the sort of attack which has just occurred, shortly after Russia hacked our electrical grid, including “multiple organizations in the energy, nuclear, water, aviation, construction, and critical manufacturing sectors,” according to the FBI and Department of Homeland Security report.

    In response to the Russian attack, the U.S. hit Russia’s electrical grid in June 2019.

    Since then, administration officials have deliberately forced out of CISA key cybersecurity officials. The destruction was so widespread, according to Dr. Josephine Wolff, a professor of cybersecurity policy at Tufts University’s Fletcher School who holds her PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), “they signify the systematic decimation of the personnel most directly responsible for protecting critical infrastructure, shielding our elections from interference and guarding the White House’s data, devices and networks.”

    Almost exactly a year ago, on December 19, 2019, Wolff warned in the New York Times that “As we head into 2020, worrying about the integrity of our elections, the growing scourge of ransomware and the increasingly sophisticated forms of cyberespionage and cybersabotage being developed by our adversaries, it’s disconcerting to feel that many of our government’s best cybersecurity minds are walking out the front door and leaving behind too few people to monitor what’s coming in our back doors.”

    Just a month ago, Trump continued this process, firing Christopher Krebs, the former director of CISA, on November 18, saying he was doing so because Krebs defended the 2020 election as “the most secure in American history.” Krebs said that there “is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”

    And now, here we are. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) said to SiriusXM about the hack: "Our national security is extraordinarily vulnerable. And, in this setting, to not have the White House aggressively speaking out and protesting and taking punitive action is really, really quite extraordinary."

    The timing of the exposure of this hack might be coincidence, but it is curiously well timed. It illustrates to the world that Russia now holds power over the U.S. while the perpetrators can assume, after four years of Trump’s refusal to stand up to Putin, that they will not have to face immediate retaliation for the attack as they would have to if it were revealed just a month later.

    President-elect Biden was briefed on the attack today. He warned that his administration would impose “substantial costs on those responsible for such malicious attacks, including in coordination with our allies and partners.” “A good defense isn’t enough; we need to disrupt and deter our adversaries from undertaking significant cyberattacks in the first place,” Biden said. “I will not stand idly by in the face of cyberassaults on our nation.”


    Amy Acker is a hacker.
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 22,781
     December 18, 2020 (Friday)

    A year ago today, the House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald J. Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

    In his plea to Senators to convict the president, Adam Schiff (D-CA), the lead impeachment manager for the House, warned “you know you can’t trust this president to do what’s right for this country.” Schiff asked: “How much damage can Donald Trump do between now and the next election?” and then answered his own question: “A lot. A lot of damage.” “Can you have the least bit of confidence that Donald Trump will… protect our national interest over his own personal interest?” Schiff asked the senators who were about to vote on Trump’s guilt. “You know you can’t, which makes him dangerous to this country.’’

    Republicans took offense at Schiff’s passionate words, seeing them as criticism of themselves. They voted to acquit Trump of the charges the House had levied against him.

    And a year later, here we are. A pandemic has killed more than 312,000 of us, and numbers of infections and deaths are spiking. Today we hit a new single-day record of reported coronavirus cases with 246,914, our third daily record in a row. The economy is in shambles, with more than 6 million Americans applying for unemployment benefits. And the government has been hobbled by a massive hack from foreign operatives, likely Russians, who have hit many of our key departments.

    Today it began to feel as if the Trump administration was falling apart as journalists began digging into a number of troubling stories.

    Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller, appointed by Trump after he fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper by tweet on November 9, this morning abruptly halted the transition briefings the Pentagon had been providing, as required by law, to the incoming Biden team. Observers were taken aback by this unprecedented halt to the transition process, as well as by the stated excuse: that Defense Department officials were overwhelmed by the number of meetings the transition required. Retired four-star general Barry R. McCaffrey, a military analyst for NBC and MSNBC, tweeted: “Pentagon abruptly halts Biden transition—MAKES NO SENSE. CLAIM THEY ARE OVERWHELMED. DOD GOES OPAQUE. TRUMP-MILLER UP TO NO GOOD. DANGER.”

    After Axios published the story and outrage was building, Miller issued a statement saying the two sides had decided on a “mutually-agreed upon holiday, which begins tomorrow.” Biden transition director Yohannes Abraham promptly told reporters: “Let me be clear: there was no mutually agreed upon holiday break. In fact, we think it’s important that briefings and other engagements continue during this period as there’s no time to spare, and that’s particularly true in the aftermath of ascertainment delay," a reference to the delay in the administration’s recognition of Biden’s election.

    Later, the administration suggested the sudden end to the transition briefings was because Trump was angry that the Washington Post on Wednesday had published a story showing how much money Biden could save by stopping the construction of Trump’s border wall. Anger over a story from two days ago seems like a stretch, a justification after the briefings had been cancelled for other reasons. The big story of the day, and the week, and the month, and the year, and probably of this administration, is the sweeping hack of our government by a hostile foreign power. The abrupt end to the briefings might reflect that the administration isn’t keen on giving Biden access to the crime scene.

    Republicans appear to be trying to cripple the Biden administration more broadly. The country has been thrilled by the arrival of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine that promises an end to the scourge under which we’re suffering. Just tonight, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized a second vaccine, produced by Moderna, for emergency authorization use. This vaccine does not require ultracold temperatures for shipping the way the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine does. Two vaccines for the coronavirus are extraordinarily good news.

    But this week, as the first Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines were being given, states learned that the doses the federal government had promised were not going to arrive, and no one is quite sure why. The government blamed Pfizer, which promptly blasted the government, saying it had plenty of vaccines in warehouses but had received no information about where to send them. Then the White House said there was confusion over scheduling.

    Josh Kovensky at Talking Points Memo has been following this story, and concluded a day or so ago that the administration had made no plans for vaccine distribution beyond February 1, when the problem would be Biden’s. Kovensky also noted that it appears the administration promised vaccine distribution on an impossible timeline, deliberately raising hopes for vaccine availability that Biden couldn’t possibly fulfill. Today Kovensky noted that there are apparently doses missing and unaccounted for, but no one seems to know where they might be.

    Today suggested yet another instance of Republican bad faith. With Americans hungry and increasingly homeless, the nation is desperate for another coronavirus relief bill. The House passed one last May, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to take it up. Throughout the summer and fall, negotiations on a different bill failed as Republicans demanded liability protection for businesses whose employees got coronavirus after they reopened, and Democrats demanded federal aid to states and local governments, pinched as tax revenue has fallen off during the pandemic. Now, though, with many Americans at the end of their rope, McConnell indicated he would be willing to cut a deal because the lack of a relief package is hurting the Republican Senate candidates before the runoff election in Georgia on January 5. Both sides seemed on the verge of a deal.

    That deal fell apart this afternoon after Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) with the blessing of McConnell, suddenly insisted on limiting the ability of the Federal Reserve to lend money to help businesses and towns stay afloat. These were tools the Trump administration had and used, but Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin tried to kill them after Trump lost the election. The Federal Reserve’s ability to manage fiscal markets is key to addressing recessions. Removing that power would gravely hamper Biden’s ability to help the nation climb out of the recession during his administration.

    It’s hard not to see this as a move by McConnell and Senate Republicans to take away Biden’s power—power enjoyed by presidents in general, and by Trump in particular—to combat the recession in order to hobble the economy and hurt the Democrats before the 2022 election.

    Money was in the news in another way today, too. Business Insider broke the story that the Trump campaign used a shell company approved by Jared Kushner to pay campaign expenses without having to disclose them to federal election regulators. The company was called American Made Media Consultants LLC. Trump’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, was president, and Vice President Mike Pence’s nephew, John Pence, was vice president until the two apparently stepped down in late 2019 to work on the campaign. The treasurer was the chief financial officer of the Trump campaign, Sean Dollman.

    The Trump campaign spent more than $700 million of the $1.26 billion of campaign cash it raised in the 2020 cycle through AMMC, but to whom it paid that money is hidden. Former Republican Federal Election Commission Chairman Trevor Potter is trying to take up the slack left by the currently crippled Federal Elections Commission. His organization, the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan clean election group, last July accused the Trump campaign of "disguising" campaign funding of about $170 million "by laundering the funds" through AMMC.

    This news adds to our understanding that Trump is leaving the White House with a large amount of cash. He has raised more than $250 million since November 3, urging his supporters to donate to his election challenges, but much of the money has gone to his own new political action committee or to the Republican National Committee. Recently, he has begged supporters to give to a “Georgia Election Fund,” suggesting that the money will go to the runoff elections for Georgia’s two senators, but 75% of the money actually goes to Trump’s new political action committee and 25% to the Republican National Committee.

    Shane Goldmacher and Maggie Haberman at the New York Times note that are very few limits to how Trump can spend the money from his new PAC.

    _____________________________________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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  • dignindignin Posts: 8,992
    Best daily read.
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 22,781
     December 19, 2020 (Saturday)

    “The old world is dying, and the new world struggles to be born: now is the time of monsters,” wrote Italian philosopher Antonio Gramsci. Trump and the Republicans are fighting tooth and nail to retain their hold on power, while President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris are quietly trying to move forward.

    There are monsters, indeed. Today, New York Times journalists Maggie Haberman and Zolan Kanno-Youngs reported that Trump held a long meeting at the White House yesterday with his lawyer Rudy Giuliani; disgraced former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, whom Trump recently pardoned for lying to the FBI; and Flynn’s lawyer Sidney Powell. These four are the heart of those insisting—without evidence—that Trump won the 2020 election. They have talked of Trump declaring martial law and holding new elections. In the meeting, Trump apparently asked about appointing Powell as special counsel to investigate voter fraud in the 2020 election.

    White House advisers in the room, including White House counsel Pat A. Cipollone and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, pushed back strongly, noting that Powell has yet to prove any of her accusations. Axios journalist Jonathan Swan reported that senior Trump officials think Trump is spending too much time with crackpots who are egging him on to seize power. One told Swan: when Trump is "retweeting threats of putting politicians in jail, and spends his time talking to conspiracy nuts who openly say declaring martial law is no big deal, it’s impossible not to start getting anxious about how this ends."

    The country is increasingly ravaged by the pandemic. Friday saw more than 250,000 new infections in a single day. More than 315,000 have died, including 3,611 on Wednesday. More than 128,000 Americans have received the vaccine.

    The economy is in recession, but yesterday, Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) objected to one-time federal payments of $1200 because he says he’s worried about the deficit. Democrats noted that the Trump administration’s tax cuts for the wealthy and military spending added a projected $4 trillion to the deficit by 2026. Then, just as it seemed both sides had come to an agreement over a coronavirus relief bill, the Republicans scuttled it with a new demand that would rein in the ability of the Federal Reserve to combat the recession. This would take from Biden a key tool. The Republicans seem to be doing their best to undercut the Biden administration so they can regain power in 2022 and 2024.

    (Just before midnight tonight, the Senate appears to have reached a compromise. Details are not yet available).

    This week, the United States learned of a massive hack on our government and business sector. Intelligence agents as well as Trump's Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, say Russia is behind the attack. Once again, though, Trump refuses to criticize Russian President Vladimir Putin. He claimed that the attack wasn't as bad as the "Fake News Media" says it is, and he suggested the culprit could have been China, rather than Russia. Then, once again, he insisted he won the election.

    And yet, if the Trump administration models an assault on our country by a group of oligarchs determined to seize power, the incoming Biden administration is signaling that it takes seriously our future as a true multicultural democracy.

    Nothing signals that more than the nomination of Representative Deb Haaland (D-NM) as Secretary of the Interior Department. Haaland is a member of the Laguna Pueblo people who have lived in the land that is now New Mexico for 35 generations. She is the daughter of two military veterans. A single mother who earned a law degree with a young daughter in tow, she was a tribal leader focused on environmentally responsible economic development for the Lagunas before she became a Democratic leader.

    Her nomination for Interior carries with it deep symbolism. If confirmed, Haaland will be the first Native American Cabinet secretary and will head the department that, in the nineteenth century, destroyed Indigenous peoples for political leverage.

    The United States government initially put management of Indian affairs into the War Department but, in 1849, transferred the Bureau of Indian Affairs to the newly created Department of the Interior. Reformers hoped that putting Indian relations under the control of civilians, rather than military, would lead to fewer wars. But the move opened the way for indigenous people to be swept up in a political system over which they had no control.

    In the nineteenth century, as settlers pushed into Indigenous territory, the government took control of that land through treaties that promised the tribes food, clothing, shelter, education, health care, and usually the tools and seeds to become farmers. As well, tribal members usually received a yearly payment of cash. These distributions of goods and money were not payment for the land. They were the terms of the deal. If tribes were to give up the lands on which they depended to survive, their people needed a replacement for their livelihoods.

    But here’s where politics came in. Tribes moved onto the reservations, either willingly or by force. In the nineteenth century, those reservations were often large tracts of land. To pick up their food and so on, the Indigenous people would go once or twice a month to the agency, essentially a town on the reservation, usually with a school, a doctor, warehouses, and stores. The agency grew up around the man in charge of the agency: the agent.

    With Indian Affairs in the Department of the Interior, the agents were political appointees. The U.S. senators of the state in which the reservation was located made their choices and told the president, who then made the appointment. While some of the agents actually tried to do their job, most were put into office to advance the interests of the political party in power. So, they took the money Congress appropriated for the tribe they oversaw, then gave the contracts for the beef, flour, clothing, blankets, and so on, to cronies, who would fulfill the contracts with moldy food and rags, if they bothered to fulfill them at all. They would pocket the rest of the money, using it to help keep their political party in power and themselves in the position of agent.

    When tribal leaders complained, lawmakers pointed out—usually quite correctly—that they had appropriated the money required under the treaties. But the system had essentially become a slush fund, and the tribes had no recourse against the corrupt agents except, when they were starving, to go to war. Then the agents called in the troops. Democrat Grover Cleveland tried to clean up the system (not least because it was feeding the Republicans so much money) in 1885-1889, but as soon as Republican Benjamin Harrison took the White House back, he jump-started the old system again.

    The corruption was so bad by then that military leaders tried to take the management of Indian Affairs away from the politicians at the Interior Department, furious that politicians caused trouble with the tribes and then soldiers and unoffending Indians died. It looked briefly as if they might manage to do so until the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890 ended any illusions that military management would be a better deal for Native Americans than political management.

    The Interior Department today manages our natural resources as well as the government’s relationship with Indigenous tribes. Placing Haaland at the head of it is more than simply promoting diversity in government. It is a recognition of 170 years of American history and the perversion of our principles by men who lusted for power. It is a sign that we are finally trying to use the government for the good of everyone.  

    “A voice like mine has never been a Cabinet secretary or at the head of the Department of Interior,” Haaland tweeted after the announcement. “I’ll be fierce for all of us, our planet, and all of our protected land.”

    A new world struggles to be born.

    _____________________________________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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