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Letter From An American

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  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,556
     January 21, 2021 (Thursday)

    Today’s big news was not entirely unexpected: There was never any plan for a federal response to the coronavirus pandemic. "What we're inheriting is so much worse than we could have imagined," said President Biden's coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients in a call with reporters. Another official said: “There is nothing for us to rework. We are going to have to build everything from scratch."

    Biden says he is approaching the coronavirus with a “wartime” strategy, moving the power of the federal government behind the effort to get everyone vaccinated. He warned today that the death toll, which is at 407,000 Americans today, will likely rise to 500,000 by the end of February. Today, he invoked the Defense Production Act, which enables the government to direct private companies to produce goods for national needs at the same time that it provides a market for the goods the companies produce. He wants more testing, faster vaccinations, and more funding for state and local governments to enable them to provide more vaccination sites. He has announced he hopes to vaccinate 100 million Americans by April 20.

    The new president is also facing bad economic news as almost a million more people filed for unemployment benefits this week. This is the worst jobs market any modern president has ever inherited.

    Biden is trying to get a handle on our national intelligence. This morning, Avril Haines, former Deputy National Security Adviser and Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency in the Obama administration, became the Director of National Intelligence, overseeing the nation’s intelligence community. The Senate confirmed her appointment yesterday evening by a vote of 84 to 10.

    Today, Biden asked the U.S. intelligence community to assess the recent hack of United States businesses and government agencies, the poisoning of Putin opponent Alexei Navalny in August, and the story that Russia offered to Taliban-linked militias bounties on U.S. and allied troops in Afghanistan. These events are all linked to Russia and Vladimir Putin, whom the former president refused to criticize or investigate.

    If that is what is happening specifically in Washington today, there are more general stories in the news, too, as Americans take stock of where we are and how we got here.

    The January 6 attack on the Capitol made Americans acutely aware of the danger that disinformation poses to our democracy. Evidence indicates that the people who stormed the Capitol were radicalized by online QAnon conspiracy theories and by Republicans who pushed the lie that the 2020 election had been stolen. In the face of this disinformation, many different voices are now talking about the 1987 lapse of the Fairness Doctrine, which required companies that held broadcast licenses to present issues honestly, giving equal time to opposing opinions. People are talking about how its principles might be restored even in an era when modern technology means that we no longer need broadcast licenses to share news.

    On Tuesday, Shepard Smith, a reporter who worked at the Fox News Channel until 2019 and who now has a show at CNBC, explained to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour why he left his job at the FNC. " I believe that when people begin with a false premise and lead people astray, that's injurious to society," Smith continued, "and it's the antithesis of what we should be doing."

    "I don't know how some people sleep at night,” Smith said, “because I know there are a lot of people who have propagated the lies and have pushed them forward over and over again, who are smart enough and educated enough to know better. And I hope that at some point, those who have done us harm as a nation — and I might even add as a world — will look around and realize what they've done. But I'm not holding my breath."

    Over the years, people fed up with the Fox News Channel have organized boycotts of businesses advertising on one show or another, but a big source of FNC’s income is not advertising, but rather cable fees. FNC is bundled with other channels, so many people who do not want it pay for it. Today on Twitter, lawyer Pam Keith noted that a simple regulatory change ending this sort of bundling would force FNC and similar channels to compete on a level playing field rather than being able to survive on fees from people who might not want to support them.

    The other story from today with a long history behind it is that the Senate is currently unable to organize itself because Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is insisting that the Democrats commit to leaving the filibuster intact. The filibuster is peculiar to the Senate, and is a procedure designed to draw out the session to prevent a vote on a measure. It is an old system, but it is not exactly hallowed: it was a bit of a mistake.

    The Constitution provides for the Senate to pass most measures by a simple majority. It also permits each house of Congress to write its own rules. According to historian Brian Bixby, the House discovered early on that it needed a procedure to stop debate and get on with a vote. The Senate, a much smaller body, did not.

    In the 1830s, senators in the minority discovered they could prevent votes on issues they disliked simply by talking the issue to death. In 1917, when both President Woodrow Wilson and the American people turned against the filibuster after senators used it to stop Wilson from preparing for war, the Senate reluctantly adopted a procedure to end a filibuster using a process called “cloture,” but that process is slow and it takes a majority of three-fifths of all members. Today, that is 60 votes.

    From 1917 to 1964, senators filibustered primarily to stop civil rights legislation. The process was grueling: a senator had to talk for hours, as South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond did in 1957, when he spoke for 24 hours straight to stand against a civil rights act. But the need to speed up Senate business meant that in the 1960s and 1970s, senators settled on procedural filibusters that enabled an individual senator to kill a measure simply by declaring opposition, rather than through the old-fashioned system of all-night speeches. The Senate also declared some measures, such as budget resolutions, immune to filibusters. Effectively, this means that it takes 60 votes, rather than a simple majority, to get anything--other than absolutely imperative financial measures-- done.

    In 2013, frustrated by the Republicans’ filibustering of President Obama’s judicial nominees and picks for a number of officials in the Executive Branch, then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) prohibited filibusters on certain Executive Branch and judicial nominees. In 2017, when Democrats tried to filibuster the nomination of Supreme Court Judge Neil Gorsuch, then-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell killed the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees, as well.

    The filibuster remains in place for legislation.  

    The Democrats currently have no plans to try to kill the filibuster altogether—they do not have the votes, as Joe Manchin (D-WV) has openly opposed the idea and others are leery—but they want to keep the threat of killing it to prevent McConnell and the Republicans from abusing it and stopping all Democratic legislation.

    This impasse means that senators are not organizing the Senate. New senators have not been added to existing committees, which leaves Republicans in the majority in key committees. This is slowing down Biden’s ability to get his nominees confirmed.

    What’s at stake here is actually quite an interesting question. While the new Senate is split evenly—50 Democrats, 50 Republicans—the 50 Democrats in the Senate represent over 41.5 million more people than the 50 Republicans represent. The filibuster means that no legislation can pass Congress without the support of 10 Republicans. Essentially, then, the fight over the filibuster is a fight not just about the ability of the Democrats to get laws passed, but about whether McConnell and the Republicans, who represent a minority of the American people, can kill legislation endorsed by lawmakers who represent quite a large majority.

    We are in an uncomfortable period in our history in which the mechanics of our democracy are functionally anti-democratic. The fight over the filibuster might seem dull, but it’s actually a pretty significant struggle as our lawmakers try to adapt the rules of our system to our changing nation.

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,556
     January 22, 2021 (Friday)

    For all that the news has gotten much calmer and more straightforward since Wednesday, we did indeed get an old-fashioned (or at least a past-administration typical) news dump tonight.

    It turns out that, in the last, desperate days of his attempt to keep his grip on the presidency, Trump plotted with a lawyer in the Department of Justice, Jeffrey Clark, to oust the acting attorney general. The plan was to replace Jeffrey A. Rosen, who replaced Attorney General William Barr when he left on December 23, with Clark himself. Clark would then press Trump’s attacks on the election results.

    A story by Katie Benner in the New York Times explains that as soon as Rosen replaced Barr, Trump began to pressure Rosen to challenge the election results, appoint special counsels to investigate disproven voter fraud, and look into irregularities in the Dominion voting machines (Dominion is now suing pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell for defamation). Rosen refused. He told Trump the Justice Department had found no evidence of anything that would have changed the election results.

    Trump complained about Rosen and moved to replace him with Clark, who promised to stop Congress from counting the certified Electoral College votes on January 6. This struggle came to a crisis on Sunday, January 3, 2021, when the news broke that Trump had called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to pressure him to “find” the votes Trump needed to win the state. That evening, the senior officials at the Department of Justice agreed to resign as a group if Trump put Clark in as the new acting attorney general.

    The vow that the leaders of the Department of Justice would quit if Trump tried to demote Rosen and put Clark in his place made Trump back off from his plan to pervert the Department of Justice. Three days later, rioters stormed the Capitol.

    In addition to this bombshell story, there is more news about the Capitol attack. Court documents filed on Tuesday reveal that some of the rioters had made plans ahead of time to attack the Capitol, and had planned to “arrest” lawmakers on charges of “treason” and “election fraud.”

    An investigation by NPR reveals that nearly 1 in 5 of the rioters charged so far have a history of serving in the military (only about 7% of Americans in general are military veterans). Prosecutors have indicated they are planning to bring charges of seditious conspiracy against some of the suspects, charges that, if proven, bring up to 20-year jail terms.

    President Biden has asked new Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines to assess the dangers of domestic violent extremism. Press Secretary Jen Psaki today said of the effort: "We are committed to developing policies and strategies based on facts, on objective and rigorous analysis and on our respect for constitutionally protected free speech and political activities."

    Congress today set the calendar for the impeachment trial of the former president for incitement of insurrection. The House will formally deliver the article of impeachment to the Senate on Monday evening. The senators will be sworn in as jurors on Tuesday, and then the Senate will turn to confirming Biden’s nominees and considering the coronavirus stimulus package Biden wants while Trump’s lawyers and the House impeachment managers prepare their briefs and arguments. The trial will begin February 9, and is expected to be shorter than Trump’s first impeachment trial, since the charges are simpler and the evidence clearer.

    At stake in this impeachment trial is more than the fate of Donald Trump, who is, after all, no longer president. At stake is, in part, the fate of the Republican Party. A number of Republicans who themselves egged on the rioters by claiming to distrust the election results are trying to discredit the trial and say it is pointless.

    This wing of the party is led by former chair of the Judiciary Committee Lindsey Graham, who is especially eager to have the issue go away since one of its charges reflects on him. The article of impeachment notes that Trump had tried “to subvert and obstruct the certification of the results of the 2020 Presidential election” with, among other things, “a phone call on January 2, 2021, during which President Trump urged the secretary of state of Georgia, Brad Raffensperger, to ‘find’ enough votes to overturn the Georgia Presidential election results and threatened Secretary Raffensperger if he failed to do so.”

    We know about that phone call because Raffensperger recorded it, and Raffensperger said he did so because Lindsey Graham had made a similar call. Raffensperger said he wanted some insurance in case Trump misrepresented his call as Graham had.

    As pro-Trump Republicans are defending the former president and downplaying the attempted coup, along with their own role in the discrediting of Biden’s victory, other party members would very much like to see the party purged of the Trump element. With his speech condemning Trump for feeding lies to the rioters and provoking them, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) seems to be trying to lead his party away from the Trump personality cult.

    Meanwhile, the Senate still has not begun to organize since McConnell is insisting on a promise from Democrats that they will not end the filibuster. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) says that proposal is unacceptable.

    Press Secretary Psaki reiterated today that Biden’s position on the filibuster hasn’t changed; he does not want to end it. But she tied that declaration to his desire to get a coronavirus relief package through Congress on a bipartisan basis. There is a carrot and a stick in that statement: the carrot is that Biden is offering to share the credit for such a package with Republicans; the stick is that if they block such a measure entirely, Biden will likely back whatever Schumer does to get a bill through.

    There are two places where lawmakers have agreed lately, though. Last night, the leadership of the Capitol Police abruptly moved National Guard soldiers to a garage for their break time. These troops are deployed to protect Washington, D.C., against domestic insurrectionists and have worked grueling hours. When news of the soldiers lying down in parking spaces reached lawmakers of both parties, they rushed to get the service members back indoors.

    This morning, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden visited the troops bearing chocolate chip cookies. This move was reminiscent of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt’s 1933 visit to the Bonus Marchers after the Herbert Hoover administration had tried to destroy their encampment with troops. Dr. Biden thanked the soldiers and recalled her son Beau’s time with the Delaware Army National Guard in Iraq. “The National Guard always holds a special place in the hearts of all the Bidens,” she told them. Dr. Biden’s visit was an important indicator of the tenor of this White House.

    In another bipartisan move, lawmakers of both parties have introduced measures in both houses of Congress to award Officer Eugene Goodman a Congressional Gold Medal. Goodman is the Capitol Police officer who led rioters away from the Senate chamber on January 6 and thus bought enough time for the senators there to escape to safety. The Congressional Gold Medal is one of the two highest civilian awards in the United States. In our history, only 163 of them have been cast.

    The Senate bill reads: “By putting his own life on the line and successfully, singlehandedly leading insurrectionists away from the floor of the Senate Chamber, Officer Eugene Goodman performed his duty to protect the Congress with distinction, and by his actions Officer Goodman left an indelible mark on American history.”

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
  • brianluxbrianlux Moving through All Kinds of Terrain.Posts: 33,819
    I'll leave it to M to post today's letter.  What a read this one- wow!
    “In all human affairs there are efforts, and there are results, and the strength of the effort is the measure of the result.”
    -James Allen










  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,556
    brianlux said:
    I'll leave it to M to post today's letter.  What a read this one- wow!
    ummmm ^^^^^^^

    _____________________________________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
  • g under pg under p Surfing The far side of THE Sombrero GalaxyPosts: 17,884
    It is utterly amazing how desperate Trump became in trying EVERYTHING and ANYTHING to overturn the election. Its shocking, he most certainly should be convicted in the Senate the evidence is clear.

    Peace
    *We CAN bomb the World to pieces, but we CAN'T bomb it into PEACE*...Michael Franti

    *MUSIC IS the expression of EMOTION.....and that POLITICS IS merely the DECOY of PERCEPTION*
    .....song_Music & Politics....Michael Franti

    *The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite INSANE*....Nikola Tesla(a man who shaped our world of electricity with his futuristic inventions)


  • Merkin BallerMerkin Baller Posts: 5,334
    g under p said:
    It is utterly amazing how desperate Trump became in trying EVERYTHING and ANYTHING to overturn the election. Its shocking, he most certainly should be convicted in the Senate the evidence is clear.

    Peace
    Yeah, I’m genuinely baffled by people who don’t think he should be impeached. 

    The man should be thrown in f’ing prison. 

  • brianluxbrianlux Moving through All Kinds of Terrain.Posts: 33,819
    mickeyrat said:
    brianlux said:
    I'll leave it to M to post today's letter.  What a read this one- wow!
    ummmm ^^^^^^^


    I'm sorry, did someone say, "Dude, you need to  get new glasses"?  :lol:      
    Boy do I feel dumb!
    “In all human affairs there are efforts, and there are results, and the strength of the effort is the measure of the result.”
    -James Allen










  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,556
     January 23, 2021 (Saturday)

    Three days into the Biden administration and lots of commenters are noting the return of calm in the media, and the return of a sense of stability in the government. People are sleeping so much better that the word “slept” trended on Twitter the day after the inauguration.

    President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris appear to be eager to reestablish expertise as the foundation for public service. Biden is appointing what the Washington Post calls “technocrats” and what others have called “nerds” to public service. The former president tried to “burrow” his loyalists into office, politicizing positions that were supposed to be nonpartisan. Biden asked for the resignations of those political appointees and, when they refused to resign, fired them.  

    While some right-wing Republicans have howled that Biden’s firing of burrowing Trump loyalists betrays his promise of “unity,” in fact the new administration’s quick restoration of a qualified, nonpartisan bureaucracy is an attempt to stabilize our democracy.

    Democracy depends on a nonpartisan group of functionaries who are loyal not to a single strongman but to the state itself. Loyalty to the country, rather than to a single leader, means those bureaucrats follow the law and have an interest in protecting the government. It is the weight of that loyalty that managed to stop Trump from becoming a dictator—he was thwarted by what he called the “Deep State,” people who were loyal not to him but to America and our laws. That loyalty was bipartisan. For all that Trump railed that anyone who stood up to him was a Democrat, in fact many—Special Counsel Robert Mueller and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, for example—are Republicans.

    Authoritarian figures expect loyalty to themselves alone, rather than to a nonpartisan government. To get that loyalty, they turn to staffers who are loyal because they are not qualified or talented enough to rise to power in a nonpartisan system. They are loyal to their boss because they could not make it in a true meritocracy, and at some level they know that (even if they insist they are disliked for their politics).

    In the previous administration, the president tried to purge the government of career officials, complaining they were not loyal enough to him. In their place, he installed people like acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf, who had been a lobbyist before his meteoric elevation to a Cabinet-level position and whose appointment a court ruled illegal. Wolf was never confirmed in his position by the Senate. He was dependent on the goodwill of the president and, deeply loyal, was a key player in the deployment of law enforcement personnel against the Black Lives Matter protesters last summer.

    Another example of a functionary loyal to a person, rather than to the government, is Jeffrey Clark, identified last night as the relatively unknown lawyer in the Department of Justice who aspired to replace the acting attorney general by helping Trump overturn the results of the 2020 election. We have another example of such a character tonight: Pennsylvania Representative Scott Perry, who brought Clark to Trump’s attention. Perry is a conspiracy theorist who suggested that ISIS was behind the mass shooting in Las Vegas, and who joined the chorus falsely claiming the election had been fraudulent. These are not people who would be serious players in a nonpartisan, merit-based bureaucracy, but they came within a hair’s breadth of enabling Trump to overturn the election. What stopped them was bureaucrats loyal not to Trump, but to our laws.

    Trump’s politicization of the government during his term is a problem for the success of the Biden administration as well as for American democracy. Trump supporters in the government remain loyal to the man himself, rather than to the country. Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson has suggested that the Senate will not confirm Biden’s Cabinet appointments if the Democrats proceed with the Senate trial to decide whether Trump is guilty of inciting the deadly riot on the Capitol on January 6. Johnson is explicitly threatening to prevent the confirmation of “the Biden admin’s national security team” if the trial proceeds. “What will it be” he tweeted. “[R]evenge or security?”

    That lawmakers tried to keep Trump in office by discrediting our electoral system was a terribly dangerous attack on our democracy. That they are threatening to leave the country vulnerable to foreign and domestic threats in order to try to stop the Senate impeachment trial--the constitutional process for evaluating the president’s role in overturning our election-- is alarming.

    The attempt of Trump and his supporters to overturn our democracy has created a split in the Republican Party. Strongmen demand loyalty from their followers, who give it because their leader is their only hope of advancement. But loyalty to an individual, rather than to laws, means that supporters’ jobs, finances, and possibly lives all depend on the leader’s good graces. This is no environment for legitimate businesses, whose operators certainly want laws that benefit them as a group but cannot operate in a world in which the leader can tank their stock with a tweet, or destroy their businesses on a whim.

    The business wing of today’s Republican Party has preserved its power with the votes of Trump supporters but appears to be eager to get back to a system based in the law rather than on a single temperamental leader. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is under enormous pressure from business leaders who were appalled not only by Trump’s attack on the election but also by the Republican lawmakers who objected to the count of the certified electoral votes. Those business leaders want to purge the party of the Trump faction.

    But there is one more complicating factor in this volatile mix. While Biden is trying to restore the merit-based bureaucracy that stabilizes our democracy, he is also honoring the original Democratic philosophy that a truly democratic government ought to look like the people it governs. His appointments are exceedingly well qualified institutionalists… and they are also the most diverse in history.

    It is reasonable to think that, along with Biden and Harris, Biden’s Cabinet and administration officers will try to change the direction of the government, defending the idea that it has a role to play regulating business, providing a basic social safety net, and promoting infrastructure. Certainly, they have promised to do so.

    The trick for business Republicans will be to see whether they can get rid of the authoritarian Trump supporters without enabling Democrats to rebuild the New Deal state the Republicans have just spent decades gutting. Hence McConnell’s desperate ploy to get the Democrats to promise not to touch the filibuster, which enables the Republicans to block virtually all Democratic legislation.

    Reporters for the Washington Post called it “obfuscation” when Press Secretary Jen Psaki refused to say what Biden’s position was on whether Trump should be convicted of inciting the Capitol riot. “Well, he’s no longer in the Senate, and he believes that it’s up to the Senate and Congress to determine how they will hold the former president accountable and what the mechanics and timeline of that process will be,” Psaki said.

    In fact, Biden, a long-time institutionalist, seems to be trying scrupulously to restore the precise functions of different branches of government, as well as the nonpartisan civil bureaucracy that, so far, has protected our democracy from falling to a dictator.

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,556
     January 24, 2021 (Sunday)

    A peaceful, oh-so-quiet day in the cold of a Maine January. First peaceful day since I don't know when. I don't know about you, but I'm starting to feel like I've got bandwidth again.

    Lots of interesting things going on in the news, but all parts of longer trends. Nothing that won't keep for a day.

    So I'm going to take an early night, and we'll pick it all up again tomorrow.

    [Photo by Buddy Poland.]



    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,556
     January 25, 2021 (Monday)

    My guess is that the story of today that will stand the test of time is that President Biden is governing according to our traditional practices while he pushes the country into the future.

    Biden hit the ground running. In the first three days of his presidency, he has taken 30 executive actions (these are orders, memoranda, and directives). Most of these are directed toward fighting the coronavirus pandemic, but he has also overturned some of Trump’s policies: he has stopped construction of the border wall, ended the Muslim travel ban, cancelled the Keystone XL pipeline, rejoined the Paris climate accord, and rejoined the World Health Organization. He also ended the ban on transgender soldiers in the military. These measures fulfill campaign promises and are widely popular.

    Today, Biden also launched out in a new direction. He signed an executive order requiring the federal government to buy more of the things it needs here in the United States, rather than buying cheaper products overseas. The directive is a middle ground between protectionism and free trade. The plan is to protect the supply chains for goods the federal government sees as vital, thus bolstering manufacturing in crucial areas.

    Recently, the United States has been more willing than other nations to buy foreign goods for government contracts in the interests of keeping federal costs down. This measure will increase costs, but will give that money to Americans. The president of the labor organization the AFL-CIO called the measure “a good first step in revitalizing U.S. manufacturing,” but the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said it would increase the costs of government procurement and was unlikely to create jobs.

    Today the new administration also swore in the first Black secretary of defense, retired general Lloyd Austin, and the Senate confirmed Janet Yellen as the first woman to hold the position of treasury secretary.

    But what is taking oxygen today is the war between the two factions of the Republican Party: the Trump faction and the business faction. Republican leaders embraced Trump—unwillingly—in 2016 because he promised to bring energized voters to a party whose pro-business policies were increasingly unpopular.

    During his presidency, Trump delivered to business Republicans their wish list: tax cuts and appointments of right-wing judges who are generally opposed to federal government power, which will benefit the businesses who oppose regulation. Trump played to his base and did his best to politicize the U.S. government and make it loyal to him. He seemed eager to turn the government into an oligarchy overseen by him and his children. Business Republicans looked the other way, refusing to convict him in his first impeachment trial.

    But when Trump botched the coronavirus response, tanking the economy and turning the U.S. into an international laughingstock, business Republicans began to slide away from the Trump administration. His increasingly unhinged behavior over the course of the past year increased their discomfort. And then, his refusal to accept the outcome of the 2020 election sparked their alarm.

    In contrast, Republicans who were hoping to pick up Trump’s supporters in future elections signed on to his challenge of the election outcome. For some of them, pushing the idea that there were questions about the election was a safe way to signal support for Trump and his supporters, knowing that argument would fail. Others, though, apparently intended to take that idea forward to attack our government.

    The January 6 attack on the Capitol split the party. It was a profound attack on our government, in which a group of the president’s supporters overpowered police, broke into the Capitol while Congress was counting the electoral votes, and threatened the lives of the elected representatives who refused to throw out the results of the election and name Trump president.

    The attack implicated a number of Republicans: the president, of course, and also Senators Josh Hawley (R-MO), who was the first senator to agree to challenge the counting of the certified electoral votes for Biden, and Ted Cruz (R-TX), who jumped on board the challenge, along with about ten other senators. More than 100 Republican representatives also signed onto the challenge.

    Arizona Republican representatives Paul Gosar and Andy Biggs reportedly asked Trump for pardons before he left office because of their participation in the events leading up to the attack on the Capitol. Seven Democratic senators filed a complaint with the Senate Committee on Ethics asking for an investigation of how Hawley and Cruz might have contributed to the January 6 attack. Hawley is trying to brazen it out: today he filed a counter-complaint continuing his objection to the election results and attacking the seven senators who asked for the investigation.

    The actions of the insurgents spurred corporate donors to flee, refusing to donate money either to them or to the Republican Party, at least in the short term. Today, Dominion Voting Systems, the company Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani and other supporters accused of falsifying the election results, announced it was suing Giuliani for defamation, seeking damages of more than $1.3 billion.

    In contrast, Republicans who care about the survival of our democracy joined Democrats to impeach Trump for inciting an insurrection. Some Republicans are taking a principled stand. Others are aware that Trump’s attack on our government destabilizes the country and hurts business. Further, they are aware that, if Trump or his supporters do manage to put a dictator in charge, the end to the rule of law would make it impossible to do business in this country. Finally, some business Republicans—like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell—are furious with Trump for working against Republican Senate candidates in Georgia in his attempt to pressure party members to overturn the election results for him. Trump now has nothing to offer that they want.

    The two Republican factions are struggling for control over the party. The Trump faction is organizing around the former president, who is launching broadsides at business Republicans he fears will vote to convict him in his upcoming impeachment trial. Over the weekend, he threatened to start a new political party—the Patriot Party—with the idea of backing Trump challengers to Republican politicians in upcoming Republican primaries. He took in a lot of money after the election on the promise to fight for his reelection; he may or may not have significant money to spend on new candidates. Determined to continue to pressure Republicans, today he launched an unprecedented “Office of the Former President.”

    His supporters—including the Republicans implicated in the January 6 insurrection—are downplaying the attack on our government and suggesting that impeaching the president or holding accountable the lawmakers who helped the attack is “cancel culture.” They are insisting that questioning the election is simply free speech. “Give the man a break… move on,” former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley said in opposition to Trump’s conviction in the Senate.

    With Trump blocked from most major social media channels, state Republican parties are acting on his behalf. This weekend the Arizona Republican Party voted to censure Republicans Jeff Flake, the former Senator; Cindy McCain, Senator John McCain’s widow; and current Governor Doug Ducey, who got swept up in their dislike of Trump opponents because he didn’t try to switch the state’s electoral votes to Trump. The Oregon Republican Party did them one better, suggesting that the January 6 insurrection was a “false flag” operation by Democrats to discredit Trump. The Texas Republican Party is now openly supporting the QAnon conspiracy theorists.

    Other Republicans are running away from the party as it becomes a personality cult. More than 2000 Florida Republicans switched parties after January 6, and today former Representative David Jolly of Florida, a Republican who has criticized Trump, floated the idea of running for Congress as an independent. About 7500 Republicans switched parties in Arizona. In North Carolina, 6000 Republicans switched out. An ABC News/Washington Post poll from January 10-13 discovered that almost 70% of Americans said the Republican Party should move away from Trump.

    But business Republicans still need Trump voters, and the Wall Street Journal today urged them back into the fold. It will not be an easy sell: they are now wedded to Trump, not the party, and his interests are in pressuring Republican senators not to convict him in his upcoming impeachment trial and in keeping his supporters loyal to whatever he decides to do next.

    Republicans have a problem. As an aide to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told Alayna Treene of Axios, “We’re eating sh*t for breakfast, lunch, and dinner right now.”

    Lawmakers will soon have to make a choice about where they stand. The House managers took the article of impeachment to the Senate this evening.

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,556
     January 26, 2021 (Tuesday):

    We are now a week into the Biden administration, and President Biden has set some clear and surprisingly dominant markers at the beginning of his presidency.

    He has kept firmly to his constitutional responsibilities in what appears to be an attempt to remind Americans of the official roles in our democracy. He has deliberately refused to intrude on the Department of Justice, saying he would leave up to it which cases to pursue. When a reporter asked Press Secretary Jen Psaki whether Biden believes the Senate should convict the former president of incitement of insurrection in his upcoming Senate trial, Psaki answered: “Well, he’s no longer in the Senate, and he believes that it’s up to the Senate and Congress to determine how they will hold the former president accountable and what the mechanics and timeline of that process will be.”

    Within his sphere in the executive branch, though, Biden is carving out a distinctive presidency. He is restoring the norms and guardrails of the office. We have had daily press briefings all week, which is the way things used to be done. The press secretary either answers questions respectfully or dodges them, as is her job, but there are no insults or accusations of “fake news.” We also get the traditional “readouts” when the president speaks to a foreign leader, giving us a sense of where the country stands with regard to its allies and rivals.

    But Biden is also striking out in a surprisingly authoritative way. He has hit the ground running. He began work on the very afternoon of his inauguration and has not let up since. He has signed a pile of executive measures, seemingly adapting the policy of the Trump administration to change the direction of the nation quickly through executive actions.

    But while Trump introduced measures that were applauded by his base but widely opposed, Biden’s measures are genuinely popular. Many of them rescind policies of the previous administration, but others move the country in a new direction, resurrecting the idea that the government has a role to play in regulating our economy and protecting individuals in our society. He has rejoined the World Health Organization and the Paris climate accords, scrapped the transgender ban in the military, expanded food assistance programs, and created new mechanisms to fight Covid-19. Today, he directed the Department of Justice not to renew contracts with private prisons, which prospered under the previous administration.

    Biden has also made a mark already in foreign affairs. Exactly four years ago today, the entire senior administrative team of the State Department resigned, unwilling or unable to stay in office under the Trump administration and its original secretary of state Rex Tillerson, the former chief executive officer of ExxonMobil. In foreign affairs, Trump tried to reassert American power unilaterally, much as the nation had been able to do during the Cold War, but weakened traditional alliances in Europe and instead turned the nation toward Russia and Saudi Arabia.

    Today, the Senate confirmed Biden’s nominee for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, a deeply experienced diplomat who was first the deputy national security advisor and then the deputy secretary of state under President Barack Obama. “This is the man for the job,” the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Jim Risch (R-ID), told Lara Jakes of the New York Times. Blinken set out immediately to rebuild alliances that were weakened over the past four years, recognizing that the world is now a multilateral one.

    Notably, the Biden administration immediately parted from its predecessor with its approach to Russia. While Trump refused to question Russian President Vladimir Putin, Biden has taken a much more traditional position, one that reflects the position of both the Democrats and the Republicans of four years ago. Just three days before Biden took office, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny returned to his homeland after a near fatal poisoning in August by Putin’s operatives. Navalny’s return forced the hands of both Putin and, within days, Biden. Putin had Navalny arrested, sparking nationwide protests by Russians who are tired of the nation’s poor economy and like Navalny’s skewering of Russian government corruption.

    The collision of Putin and Navalny just as Biden took office permitted Biden to use the moment to indicate the direction of his own foreign policy. Just three days after Biden took office, the State Department released a statement condemning the Russian government’s suppression of its people and its media and calling both for Navalny’s release and for an explanation of his poisoning. It concluded, “The United States will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our allies and partners in defense of human rights – whether in Russia or wherever they come under threat,” a statement that indicates America is resuming its traditional stance.

    Today, Biden and Putin spoke for the first time, and the readout indicates that the equation of the last four years has changed. The leaders talked of extending nuclear and arms control treaties. Then Biden reaffirmed U.S. support for Ukraine and called out the recent Russian hack on U.S. businesses and government departments, the reports of Russian bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, Navalny’s poisoning, and interference in the 2020 U.S. election. According to the readout, “President Biden made clear that the United States will act firmly in defense of its national interests in response to actions by Russia that harm us or our allies.”

    Biden has refused to get drawn into the drama taking place in Congress, simply forging ahead with his own agenda. Congress, meanwhile, is also adjusting to having a new game in town. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) tried to gum up the works, refusing to permit the Democrats to organize the Senate unless they promised not to end the filibuster, the Senate rule that enables a minority to stop any measure that can’t command 60 votes. New Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said he had no plans to end the old rule (for legislation—it is already gone for judicial appointments) but refused to make any such promise. The filibuster would permit McConnell to stop any Democratic legislation, and Schumer needs at least the threat of it to prevent McConnell from abusing the rule. Last night, McConnell backed down.

    Interestingly, though, tonight McConnell tweeted, “Today, I made clear that if Democrats ever attack the key Senate rules, it would drain the consent and comity out of the institution. A scorched-earth Senate would hardly be able to function. It wouldn’t be a progressive’s dream. It would be a nightmare. I guarantee it.” McConnell is, of course, the person primarily responsible for the current scorched-earth Senate, so his comment was a bit rich, but it was nonetheless an interesting statement. It is a truism that threats are a sign of weakness.

    Today, as state-level Republicans embraced Trump and QAnon, 45 Republican Senators led by Rand Paul (R-KY) agreed that the former president should not be tried for inciting the January 6 insurrection or trying to overturn the 2020 election results. Also today, Google joined the many other corporations that say they will not give money to any Republicans who voted against the counting of the certified ballots on January 6. The collision between these two warring groups cannot be avoided once the Senate impeachment trial starts two weeks from today.

    While the Republicans split and congress people struggle for power, Biden has stayed strictly within his constitutional role, where he has worked at breakneck speed. Staying out of the partisan fray in Congress, he has earned good marks from Americans for his first week, ending it with an approval rating of 56%.

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,556
     January 27, 2021 (Wednesday)

    The contours of politics today look much like they did yesterday. President Biden is forging ahead through executive actions—today pausing oil and gas leases while switching the government to electric vehicles— while the two factions in the Republican Party claw for supremacy.

    Dead center of both of these political fights is the future of this country. Will Trump and his supporters seize control of the government—by means legal or illegal—or will the country steer itself back to the norms and values of democracy?

    The dangers of Trumpism are becoming clearer each day. Today, for the first time, the Department of Homeland Security issued a national terrorism bulletin that warned of violence from domestic extremists angry over “perceived grievances fueled by false narratives” and emboldened by the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. The bulletin expires at the end of April.

    Law enforcement has moved National Guard troops to Washington, D.C., in part to guard against violence on March 4, a day that QAnon supporters who still believe Trump is part of an elaborate trick to reclaim the nation from the Democrats think will be the day on which the former president is finally sworn in for his second term. (March 4 was the nation’s original inauguration date; it changed under Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1937.)

    In testimony yesterday, the acting chief of the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington told the House Appropriations Committee that at least 65 officers filed reports of injury after the January 6 attack. The chair of the Capitol Police officers’ union, Gus Papathanasiou, put the number closer to 140. "I have officers who were not issued helmets prior to the attack who have sustained brain injuries. One officer has two cracked ribs and two smashed spinal discs. One officer is going to lose his eye, and another was stabbed with a metal fence stake," he said. One officer died of injuries sustained on January 6. Two officers have since taken their own lives.

    Meanwhile, a video emerged today of the new Republican representative from Georgia, Marjorie Taylor Greene, harassing David Hogg, who survived the mass shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Valentine’s Day 2018. Greene followed Hogg down the street in Washington, D.C., in March 2019, with an accomplice filming as she badgered him, called him a crisis actor paid by George Soros, told him she was armed, demanded he talk to her, and called him a coward. He walked on, without engaging her.

    The video emerged the day after reporters discovered old Facebook activity on Greene’s page in which she responded positively to a commenter talking of hanging former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama and another talking of killing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

    While Representative Jimmy Gomez (D-CA) has called for Greene’s expulsion from Congress, leading Republicans in the House responded to the Facebook news simply by saying they condemned violent rhetoric on both sides. Today, Republican House leadership assigned her to the Education and Labor Committee.

    Republican lawmakers seem to be siding with Trump’s supporters, turning against the ten House Republicans who voted for Trump’s impeachment. In the House, Trump supporters are trying to throw Liz Cheney (R-WY) out of her spot in the party’s leadership, and the former president’s new political action committee is ginning up anger against her as it urges primary challengers to jump into the race in 2022.

    Increasingly, Republican lawmakers are pushing to let Trump off the hook on impeachment. In the Senate yesterday, Rand Paul (R-KY) insisted that a former president could not be tried on an impeachment charge, and 45 Republicans agreed with him. This is not necessarily a signal of how the eventual Senate vote will go, but Paul said it was: he insisted this was a sign that Trump would not be convicted. Republican lawmakers seem to be coming down on Trump’s side as polls show that while most Americans are horrified by the attack on the Capitol and blame Trump for it, most Republicans- 78%-- don’t blame him. Republican lawmakers are accusing Democrats of divisiveness in their move to hold the president accountable.

    Some Republicans are, though, alarmed at the idea that a president might get away with inciting an insurrection that endangered our elected representatives and our government itself—remember the next three people in line for the presidency were in the Capitol when the rioters stormed it—and which came perilously close to making good on threats against individuals, including then-vice president Mike Pence.

    Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) dismissed the idea that the country could have unity without addressing the causes of the current anger. “I say, first of all, have you gone out publicly and said that there was not widespread voter fraud and that Joe Biden is the legitimate president of the United States? If you said that, then I’m happy to listen to you talk about other things that might inflame anger and divisiveness,” he explained to Dennis Romboy of Deseret News. “But if you haven’t said that, that’s really what’s at the source of the anger right now.”

    Also notable is the firm stance of Representative Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), who has bucked his party to speak out against the former president’s attacks on the election and incitement of the rioters. “I’ve felt very isolated in my party,” Kinzinger told Ellen McCarthy of the Washington Post.

    While the Republican Party’s apparent embrace of Trump and all he now stands for is grabbing headlines, Biden and his administration officials are taking on the radicalization of his opponents in a new and promising way. They are demonstrating an approach to sidelining Trumpism by shifting the focus off the exhausting drama of the former president and his supporters and onto a functioning government that is working for ordinary Americans.

    When a reporter today asked White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki if the administration had any comment on Greene, Psaki made it clear the administration was not going to give any oxygen to her or those like her. “We don’t, and I am not going to speak further about her, I think, in this briefing room,” Psaki said.

    While Biden is starving the Republicans of oxygen, he is also working to address the conditions that have fed desperate conspiracy theories and divisions. In America, such societal breakdown is associated with periods in which ordinary people face economic hardship. Biden is moving quickly on a range of issues that are popular among ordinary voters of both parties, including addressing the country’s extreme inequality. After all, one of the complaints that drew voters to an outsider in 2016 was the belief that government no longer worked for the people and needed to be shaken up.

    Today’s executive order on addressing climate change talks at length about creating “good-paying union jobs” and “tapping into the talent, grit, and innovation of American workers.” It calls for the government to buy zero-emission vehicles made in the U.S., and to rebuild federal infrastructure, creating construction, manufacturing, engineering, and skilled-trades jobs. Job creation and infrastructure development were both promises the previous president made in 2016 that boosted his support but which never really came to pass. If Biden can actually deliver on them, he could reclaim those Trump voters for the Democrats, as well as addressing climate change and our failing infrastructure.

    Biden’s people are also making sure we see a White House that is addressing issues that created concern in the past administration. They are upholding old norms—holding daily press briefings, for example—honoring science, restoring government websites, and treating members of the media with respect.

    They seem to be trying to remind us how our democracy is supposed to work.

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,556
     January 28, 2021 (Thursday)

    It has been just three weeks and a day since a crazed mob, egged on by the former president and his supporters, stormed the U.S. Capitol to overturn the outcome of the 2020 election.

    They smashed into the building, carrying handcuffs and searching for our elected officials, whom they threatened to harm. They killed one police officer and wounded 140 more. Our vice president, senators, and representatives, along with their staff, had to be evacuated to secure quarters, and then to hide, while rioters took over the building, rifling through their offices and smearing excrement on the floors.

    That anyone is trying to downplay that attempt to destroy the central principle of our democracy—fair elections and the peaceful transfer of power-- is appalling.

    And yet, Republican lawmakers are doing just that. Within the party, the pro-Trump faction and the business faction are struggling to take control. Those in the business wing of the party are not moderates: they are determined to destroy the government regulation, social welfare legislation, and public infrastructure programs that a majority of Americans like. But they are not openly white supremacists or adherents of the QAnon conspiracy, the way that Trump’s vocal supporters are.

    Members of that second faction have risen to power by grabbing headlines with more and more outrageous statements that play well on right-wing media, although they appear to have no program except hatred of the “libs.” Members of this faction are going after the business wing of the party, seemingly with glee. Today Florida Representative Matt Gaetz held a rally outside the Wyoming state capitol to lead a challenge against Wyoming Republican Liz Cheney, the third most powerful Republican in the House of Representatives. Cheney was one of ten Republicans who voted to impeach Trump for inciting the January 6 riot.

    Cheney is no “lib”: she is a hard line right-winger. Trump and his supporters are targeting her to make it clear that no one is too powerful for them to go after. The former president wants loyalists across the Republican leadership. The dividing line in the party now is not between moderates and extremists; they are all extremists. It is whether a lawmaker supports the former president and his false accusation that the Democrats “stole” the 2020 election from him.

    As if to underscore this reality, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who originally blamed the former president for the January 6 insurrection, has backed down and caved to the Trump wing of the party. Over the past two days, McCarthy met with Trump at Mar-a-Lago, apparently discussing how to retake the seven seats the Republicans need to regain the House majority in 2022. To accomplish that, Republicans in Georgia as well as other states are backing laws to suppress voting.

    Today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi acknowledged that in this atmosphere Democratic members of Congress and staffers are facing harassment and violent threats. Representatives wrote a letter to leadership asking for stronger security measures, and Pelosi responded by agreeing that “the enemy is within the House of Representatives.” When asked to clarify her statement, she said: “[W]e have members of Congress who want to bring guns on the floor and have threatened violence on other members of Congress.”

    We’ll see how this plays out in the next two weeks as Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate approaches. Mounting evidence suggests that at least some members of the president’s circle planned for trouble on January 6—presidential adviser Steve Bannon, for example, and new representative Lauren Boebert from Colorado, both recorded on social media their expectation that January 6 would see a fight or a revolution—and it seems unlikely that an examination of the president’s behavior before and during the attack of January 6 will bear close scrutiny.

    News broke yesterday that extremists began planning for an attack on the Capitol in November. The Alabama Political Reporter broke the story on Tuesday that new Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) met on January 5 at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., with the then-director of the Republican Attorneys General Association, an organization that backed the January 6 rally, and with members of the Trump family and the family’s advisors, including Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn and 2016 campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. One of the attendees wrote on Facebook that he was standing “in the private residence of the President at Trump International with the following patriots who are joining me in a battle for justice and truth.”

    Former director of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center Robert Grenier noted yesterday in the New York Times that the United States is facing a violent insurgency and should apply the lessons we have learned about counterinsurgency to head off political violence. Grenier notes that the nation must insist on criminal justice, tracking and trying those responsible for crimes. We must also return the nation to a fact-based debate about issues.

    Crucially, Grenier noted that it is a national security imperative to convict the former president and bar him from future elective office. “I watched as enraged crowds in the streets of Algiers, as in most Arab capitals, melted away when Saddam Hussein was ignominiously defeated in the Persian Gulf war,” Grenier wrote. “Mass demonstrations in Pakistan in support of Osama bin Laden fell into dull quiescence when he was driven into hiding after Sept. 11. To blunt the extremists, Mr. Trump’s veneer of invincibility must similarly be crushed.”

    In all my years of studying U.S. politics, seamy side and all, I never expected to see the name of an American president in the New York Times in a list comparing him to Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. But then, I never expected to see an American president urge a mob to storm the U.S. Capitol to overturn an election, either.

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
  • brianluxbrianlux Moving through All Kinds of Terrain.Posts: 33,819

    These last three paragraphs paint a surreal picture of the extent of extremism to which the radical right has gone.  Eye opening to say the least!


    "Former director of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center Robert Grenier noted yesterday in the New York Times that the United States is facing a violent insurgency and should apply the lessons we have learned about counterinsurgency to head off political violence. Grenier notes that the nation must insist on criminal justice, tracking and trying those responsible for crimes. We must also return the nation to a fact-based debate about issues.

    Crucially, Grenier noted that it is a national security imperative to convict the former president and bar him from future elective office. “I watched as enraged crowds in the streets of Algiers, as in most Arab capitals, melted away when Saddam Hussein was ignominiously defeated in the Persian Gulf war,” Grenier wrote. “Mass demonstrations in Pakistan in support of Osama bin Laden fell into dull quiescence when he was driven into hiding after Sept. 11. To blunt the extremists, Mr. Trump’s veneer of invincibility must similarly be crushed.”

    In all my years of studying U.S. politics, seamy side and all, I never expected to see the name of an American president in the New York Times in a list comparing him to Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. But then, I never expected to see an American president urge a mob to storm the U.S. Capitol to overturn an election, either."


    “In all human affairs there are efforts, and there are results, and the strength of the effort is the measure of the result.”
    -James Allen










  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,556
     January 29, 2021 (Friday)

    While the anti-democracy crusaders in the Republican Party are drawing headlines, President Biden has resolutely refused to engage with the craziness and has instead continued to move forward at a pace that feels remarkable after years of what seemed to be governmental inaction on matters ordinary people care about.

    Pressed again today to speak about Republican congress members who are in the news for their antisocial behavior, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki refused to comment. “We don’t want to elevate conspiracy theories further in the briefing room, so I’m going to leave it at that,” she said.

    The White House has also declined to comment on Congress, taking the constitutional position that the president should stay in the executive branch’s lane and let the legislative branch handle its own affairs.

    Instead, Biden is moving his agenda forward quickly. He has signed at least 33 executive actions that direct the members of the executive branch on how they should implement laws. In addition to the military, the executive branch has more than 4 million people in it, and it includes the State Department, the Department of Education, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, the Interior Department, and so on—a lot of people in a lot of positions.

    The breadth of the executive branch is enabling Biden to turn the direction of the government by coordinating changes across a number of departments. So, for example, in an article in the New Yorker, environmentalist Bill McKibben called out Wednesday, January 27, as “the most remarkable day in the history of America’s official response to the climate crisis…. The Biden Administration took a series of coordinated actions that, considered together, may well mark the official beginning of the end of the fossil-fuel era.”

    McKibben notes that Biden adjusted rules in the Justice Department, the Department of Energy, and the Environmental Protection Agency, and involved the Pentagon by making climate change a national-security priority. He also asked the Secretary of Agriculture to confer with farmers and ranchers on how to encourage adoption of “climate-smart” agricultural practices. Anticipating the usual accusations that ending the fossil-fuel industry will cost jobs, he explicitly tied jobs to the new measures, ordering new, American-made, electric vehicles for the government and promising “good-paying” union jobs in construction, manufacturing, engineering and the skilled-trades as the nation switches to clean energy.

    Biden is using executive orders to undercut the partisanship that has ground Congress to a halt for the past several years. While Biden’s predecessor tended to use executive actions to implement quite unpopular policies, Biden is using them to implement policies that most Americans actually like but which could never make it through Congress, where Republicans hold power disproportionate to their actual popularity.

    According to a roundup by polling site FiveThirtyEight, Biden’s executive actions cover issues that people want to see addressed. Eighty-three percent of Americans—including 64% of Republicans—support a prohibition on workplace discrimination over sexual identification, 77% (including 52% of Republicans) want the government to focus on racial equity, 75% want the government to require masks on federal property, and 68% like the continued suspension of federal student loan repayments. A majority of Americans also favor rejoining the World Health Organization and the Paris climate accords, and so on.

    Republicans are insisting that Biden is not practicing the unity he promised in his campaign, but here’s the interesting thing: work by political scientists Dr. Shana Gadarian and Dr. Bethany Albertson shows that most Americans actually agree on problems and solutions so long as politicians do not take on those issues as partisan ones. But as soon as politicians adopt a partisan stance on an issue, voters polarize over it. So it is possible that by keeping these issues out of the current partisanship in Congress and handling them from the White House, Biden is doing exactly what he promised: creating unity. He is also making Americans feel like the government is doing something for them again.

    This attempt to avoid partisan polarization will be tested by his determination to pass a new, $1.9 trillion economic aid package through Congress. Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen, the former chair of the Federal Reserve and the chair of President Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisors, has urged a fast injection of stimulus into the economy after it slowed down significantly at the end of 2020. Republicans have expressed concern at the passage of another large spending bill, but some are willing to negotiate, especially since the Democrats can pass a bill without them through a process called reconciliation (it will almost certainly be significantly pared down from this first version).

    Today, as he went to the Walter Reed hospital to visit wounded soldiers, Biden said, "I support passing COVID relief with support from Republicans if we can get it…. But the COVID relief has to pass. No ifs, ands or buts." Psaki said that the White House would not agree to breaking the package up and passing only the parts the Republicans like. "But the size and the scope of the package – this is the legislative process, this is democracy at work now."

    The Democrats’ hand has likely been strengthened this week by the media frenzy over the so-called “GameStop short squeeze,” in which hedge fund managers got squeezed by ordinary investors driving up the price of the stock of a video game retailer so that the hedge funds could not cover short sales. Investment firms promptly cried foul, only to be greeted with derision, since it is not at all clear that their own stock purchases have a better effect on the markets than those of the smaller investors, and since they made huge money betting on the Covid-19 crisis. Observers see the short squeeze as a populist attack on unscrupulous Wall Street types.

    While the entire story behind the short squeeze is not yet clear, it does already have a political meaning. The GameStop story reinforced the growing sense that the system has been rigged for the wealthy. People from across the political spectrum are demanding more thorough regulation of the stock market, a dramatic cultural change.

    It didn’t help that Leon Cooperman, a hedge fund trader worth $2.5 billion, took to CNBC to vent his fury. “The reason the market is doing what it’s doing is, people are sitting at home, getting their checks from the government, basically trading for no commissions and no interest rates,” he said, referring to relief for people thrown out of work by the pandemic.

    With calls for unity in the air, Cooperman offered his own definition. Democrats’ suggestion that the rich should pay their “fair share” of taxes is “bullsh*t,” he said. “It’s just a way of attacking wealthy people, and you know I think it’s inappropriate…. We all got to work together and pull together.”

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
  • brianluxbrianlux Moving through All Kinds of Terrain.Posts: 33,819
    Reading Heather's words about Bill McKibben and what he said about the Biden Admin's support for environment thrilled me so much and gave me so much hope I could turn cartwheels.  And believe me, that's no small matter.  :smile:
    “In all human affairs there are efforts, and there are results, and the strength of the effort is the measure of the result.”
    -James Allen










  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,556
     January 30, 2021 (Saturday)

    No news dump last night, no big breaking news today.

    I could learn to like this.

    Tonight is an early night for me... and it's a lovely one here on the coast of Maine.

    Sleep well, everyone. I'll see you tomorrow.

    [photo by Buddy Poland]

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,556
     January 31, 2021 (Sunday)

    The most prominent story these days is that the Republican Party is sliding toward a full-on embrace of authoritarianism. Former president Trump’s exit and ban from his favorite social media outlets has left a vacuum that younger politicians imitating Trump’s style are eager to fill by rallying people to the former president’s standard.

    Notably, Representatives Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) have tried to step into the former president’s media space by behaving outrageously and becoming his acolytes. Gaetz last week traveled to Wyoming to attack Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY), the third most powerful Republican in the House, for her vote in support of Trump’s impeachment. Not to be outdone, yesterday Greene tweeted that she had spoken to Trump and has his support, although neither her camp nor his would comment on her statement.

    Republican state parties have also thrown in their lot with the former president. In Arizona, the state party voted to censure former Senator Jeff Flake, the late Senator John McCain’s wife Cindy, and Governor Doug Ducey for criticizing the former president. In South Carolina, the state party formally censured Representative Tom Rice for voting to impeach Trump, and Republican lawmakers are starting to consider stripping Cheney of her party position, a development that led former President George W. Bush to indicate his support for her this weekend. She has already drawn a primary challenger.

    Across the country, Republican-dominated legislatures are trying to suppress the voting that led to the high voter turnout that fueled Democratic victories in 2020. According to the Brennan Center, which tracks voting rights, 28 states have put forward more than 100 bills to limit voting. Arizona, Georgia, and Pennsylvania, whose voters chose Biden this year after going for Trump in 2016, all have introduced plans to lower voting rates. So have other states like Texas, which have voted Republican in recent years but show signs of turning blue.

    The former president would like to solidify power over the party, but he has his own problems right now. The top five lawyers in his team defending him against the article of impeachment in his Senate trial all quit this weekend. Trump apparently wanted them to argue that the attack on the Capitol was justified because Democrats stole the election from him. Recognizing that this is pure fantasy—courts have already thrown this argument out more than 60 times—which could put them in legal jeopardy, the lawyers instead wanted to argue that it is unconstitutional to try a former president on charges of impeachment.

    Tonight, Trump’s office announced that David Schoen and Bruce L. Castor, Jr., will lead his defense. Schoen represented Trump advisor Roger Stone when he challenged his convictions; Castor was the district attorney who promised actor Bill Cosby he would not be prosecuted for indecent assault. The impeachment trial is scheduled to start on February 9.

    There are signs that some Republicans have finally had enough of their party’s march toward authoritarianism, especially as pro-Trump Republicans grab headlines for their outrageous behavior, including shutting down a mass vaccination effort at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles for about an hour yesterday.

    Representative Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), a 2010 Tea Partier but now one of the ten Republicans in the House to vote in favor of impeachment, told Anthony Fisher of Business Insider that “My dad’s cousins sent me a petition — a certified letter — saying they disowned me because I’m in ‘the devil’s army’ now….”

    Kinzinger announced today that he has started a political action committee (PAC) to finance a challenge to Trump’s takeover of the Republican Party. Calling Trump’s loyalists in the Republican caucus “political terrorists,” Kinzinger said in the video launching the PAC, “Republicans must say enough is enough. It’s time to unplug the outrage machine, reject the politics of personality, and cast aside the conspiracy theories and the rage.”

    It also appears to be sinking in to Republicans that momentum is on the side of the Democrats. Biden’s executive actions have generally been popular, and his support for workers threatens to shift a key constituency from the Republicans to the Democrats.

    Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus proposal offers to give to ordinary Americans, hurting badly from the coronavirus recession, the kind of government attention that has lately gone to wealthier Americans. Among other things, it calls for $1400 stimulus payments, extends unemployment benefits, provides funds for state and local governments, and establishes a higher minimum wage. While Biden has said repeatedly that he would like Republican support for this measure, the Democrats have enough votes to pass a version of it without Republican support.

    This would put Republicans in the position of voting against a measure that promises to be popular, and at least ten Republican senators would prefer not to do that. Today, they offered their own $600 billion counterproposal, and asked for a meeting with President Biden to discuss it.

    In their letter to the president, they hinted that they think the nation has devoted enough money to the economic crisis already, noting that there is still money unspent from the previous coronavirus packages. But they did not state that reasoning explicitly, perhaps recognizing that this argument will not be popular from people who voted for Trump’s 2017 tax cut, which disproportionately benefited the wealthy, when one in seven adults say their households don’t have enough food to eat.

    “We want to work in good faith with you and your administration to meet the health, economic and societal challenges of the covid crisis,” the senators wrote. After years in which Republican senators refused to discuss bills with the Democrats, this is a change indeed.

    But perhaps not enough of one. In the Washington Post, James Downie noted that a proposal that is less than a third of Biden’s package is not a compromise. It also cuts stimulus checks down to $1000, cuts supplemental unemployment insurance, gives no local or state aid, and kills the minimum wage increase.

    When asked why Democrats should compromise rather than go ahead without them, as Republicans repeatedly did when they held the majority, Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) told “Fox News Sunday” and CNN’s “State of the Union,” respectively, that Biden should honor his call for unity and that refusing to do so would kill future hopes for bipartisanship.

    In an article in The Guardian today, former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich dismissed Republican concerns about the national debt, noting that if they were worried about it, they could just tax the very wealthy. “The total wealth of America’s 660 billionaires has grown by… $1.1 [trillion] since the start of the pandemic, a 40% increase,” he noted. Those billionaires could fund almost all of Biden’s proposal and still be as rich as they were before the pandemic hit.

    Reich suggested that “[t]he real reason Republicans want to block Biden is they fear his plans will work.” A successful government response to coronavirus, the economic crisis, inequality, the climate crisis, and poverty would devastate modern-day Republicans’ insistence that the solution to every problem is tax cuts and private enterprise. If Biden’s plans succeed, Reich wrote, Americans’ faith in government, and in our democracy, will be restored.

    Tonight, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced that Biden has spoken with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and has invited her and the other nine signers of the letter to the White House (we later learned they will meet tomorrow).

    But Psaki’s statement did not give ground. It reiterated the need for fast action, and noted that “$1400 relief checks, a substantial investment in fighting COVID and schools, aid to small businesses and hurting families, and funds to keep first responders on the job (and more) – is badly needed. As leading economists have said, the danger now is not in doing too much: it is in doing too little. Americans of both parties are looking to their leaders to meet the moment.”

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  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,556
     February 1, 2021 (Monday)

    Today’s two big domestic stories are developments that will help to determine the future of our democracy: President Biden’s insistence on a major new coronavirus relief bill and Trump’s role in the January 6 insurrection.

    President Biden has proposed a $1.9 trillion economic relief bill, called American Rescue Plan, to get the country over the economic downturn caused by the pandemic. This is a bold move that rests on the idea that the government must help to manage the economy. Republicans abandoned this idea in the 1980s and even today continue to insist that tax cuts and private enterprise are the keys to a secure economy.

    But that theory took a beating even among previous adherents under the previous president, as corporate leaders invested money from tax cuts into stock buybacks, driving money upward, and as the administration refused to coordinate a coronavirus response and thus helped to create a disaster that has led more than 440,000 Americans to their deaths. Biden’s attempt to pass a big coronavirus bill that supports ordinary Americans, as well as cities and states, contradicts the Republican orthodoxy that has come to dominate the nation.

    Republicans don’t like the plan, and even the Republicans willing to entertain the idea of another relief bill think Biden’s proposed number is far too high. For nearly two hours today, Biden met with ten Republican senators who offered a $618 billion counterproposal. This was Biden’s first meeting with lawmakers of either party, and giving that first meeting to Republicans was a sign that he is willing to entertain good-faith bipartisanship. After the meeting, Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) expressed optimism that the two sides could continue to work together.

    But the tide seems to be running away from Republicans toward the Democratic plan. On Friday, a bipartisan group of more than 400 mayors across the country begged Congress to provide aid to cities, aid that is in Biden’s package and not in the plan of the Republican senators. Mayors and governors actually have to make government work and thus are often more practical and less ideological than national lawmakers.

    Explicitly calling for Congress to pass Biden’s plan, the mayors noted that “American cities and our essential workers have been serving at the frontlines of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic for nearly a year” without direct federal assistance. Because cities and states cannot borrow to cover budget shortfalls, they look to the federal government—which can—to tide them over in times of crisis. This time, though, that aid was not forthcoming. Left with no choice, local governments have cut nearly a million local government jobs. Direct, flexible aid to cities will help suffering families and fuel a recovery, the mayors say, as well as enabling cities to vaccinate people. “Your quick action on President Biden’s plan is a crucial step to making meaningful progress in one of the most challenging moments in our country’s history,” the mayors wrote to congressional leadership.

    This morning, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice, a Republican, also backed the larger coronavirus package. “I absolutely believe we need to go big…. We need to quit counting the egg-sucking legs on the cows and count the cows and just move. And move forward and move right now.” Justice’s interview on CNN puts pressure on West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat, who has expressed concerns about a big relief package.

    Meanwhile, Democratic leaders began the process of advancing the Senate process that will enable the Democrats to pass their own proposal without Republican votes. This process is known as “budget reconciliation,” and it requires only a simple majority to pass. When they were in power, the Republicans used it to advance policies like ending the Affordable Care Act, so the Democrats’ invoking of this rule is not unprecedented.

    “Congress has a responsibility to quickly deliver immediate comprehensive relief to the American people hurting from covid-19,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said in a statement. “The cost of inaction is high and growing, and the time for decisive action is now.” Later Schumer tweeted: “Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen just told us: ‘The smartest thing we can do is act big.’ And that is just what this Senate is going to do: Act Big.”
     
    Tonight, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki issued a statement that gave generous credit to the ten Republican senators who offered the counterproposal for “a substantive and productive discussion” and a “shared… desire to get help to the American people, who are suffering through the worst health and economic crisis in a generation.”

    But the statement also gave notice to the Republicans that the Democrats were willing to go it alone on a bold package. It noted that Biden had told them Congress must respond “boldly and urgently,” and that their proposal did not address major issues. He told them he is eager to find common ground and to strengthen the measure, but he is willing to pass it with Democratic votes alone if he must. “He reiterated… that he will not slow down work on this urgent crisis response, and will not settle for a package that fails to meet the moment.”

    If Biden gets this bill passed and Americans feel that it relieves the economic crunch, it will go a long way toward erasing people’s distrust of government action to regulate the economy.

    While the Biden administration moves forward with an aid package, a clearer picture is emerging of the events of January 6, as well as of the road to them. Yesterday, the New York Times published a long exploration of the relationship between the Trump campaign and the January 6 rally that led to the attack on the Capitol; today it published a shorter synopsis of that material. The shorter article, written by Matthew Rosenberg and Jim Rutenberg, began: “For 77 days between the election and the inauguration, President Donald J. Trump attempted to subvert American democracy with a lie about election fraud that he had been grooming for years.”

    The picture they paint is of a man who insisted on a lie—that he really won an election he clearly lost—until he found enablers who would agree with him. Key lawmakers, including former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, indulged the former president because he wanted Trump’s help electing two Republicans to the Senate in the Georgia runoffs. As reality-based Republicans backed away from the challenge to the election outcome, more radical lawyers and financiers stepped in to support the former president.

    A coalition put together by activists in a group called Women for America First, funded by Trump advisor Stephen Bannon and the founder of the MyPillow company, Mike Lindell, pressured key senators to contest the election outcome. Women for American First began to organize the January 6 rally, but Trump decided to take it over. Several former members of the Trump campaign and the administration—including the former president-- began to work on the event. They were the ones who added a march from the rally to the Capitol.

    The nonpartisan Coup D’état Project at the Cline Center of the University of Illinois, which analyzes and categorizes political violence, last week determined that the storming of the Capitol "was an attempted coup d’état: an organized, illegal attempt to intervene in the presidential transition by displacing the power of the Congress to certify the election.” Its statement about the coup warns that “coups and attempted coups are among the most politically consequential forms of destabilizing events tracked by the Cline Center.”

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  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,556
     February 2, 2021 (Tuesday)

    Today, on the same day that the remains of Capitol Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick, who was killed in the January 6 insurrection, lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda, the House impeachment managers filed their trial brief for the upcoming Senate impeachment trial of former president Donald Trump. The charge is that he incited the insurrection attempt of January 6, 2021, in which a mob stormed the Capitol to stop the counting of the certified electoral ballots for the 2020 election.

    Led by Representative Jamie Raskin (D-MD), a former professor of constitutional law, the managers laid out Trump’s refusal to accept the results of the 2020 election and his incitement of a violent mob to stop Congress from confirming the victory of Joseph Biden in the election. They note that Trump bears “singular responsibility” for the tragedy of January 6 and dismiss his argument that the Senate cannot convict him now because he is no longer in office, countering that such an understanding would give a president “a free pass to commit high crimes and misdemeanors near the end of their term.”  

    The managers detailed Trump’s deliberate attempt to convince his followers of a lie: that he won the election in a “landslide,” and that Democrats had “stolen” the apparent victory. They say he “amplified these lies at every turn, seeking to convince supporters that they were victims of a massive electoral conspiracy that threatened the Nation’s continued existence.” But the courts rejected his arguments, and state and federal officials refused to cave to his demands that they break the law to alter the election results. So Trump announced a “Save America Rally,” urging his supporters to come to Washington, D.C., to “fight” for his reelection. He promised the rally would be “wild.”

    Trump, they note, “spent months insisting to his base that the only way he could lose the election was a dangerous, wide-ranging conspiracy against them that threatened America itself.” He urged them to stop the counting on January 6, “by making plans to ‘fight like hell’ and ‘fight to the death’ against this ‘act of war’ by ‘Radical Left Democrats’ and the ‘weak and ineffective RINO section of the Republican Party.’”

    On January 6, he urged his supporters to go to the Capitol to stop what he called the massive fraud taking place there. He told them, “if you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore.”

    Carrying Trump flags, the mob marched to the Capitol and broke in, searching specifically for Vice President Mike Pence, whom Trump blamed for counting the votes accurately, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. One shouted, “What are we waiting for? We already voted and what have they done? They stole it! We want our f*cking country back! Let’s take it!” Others shouted, “Hang Mike Pence!” and “Tell Pelosi we’re coming for that b*tch.”

    Allegedly “delighted” at the interruption to the vote count, Trump retweeted a video of his rally speech telling his supporters to be “strong” and, even as Pence and his family were hiding from the violent mob, tweeted, “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution.” This sent the mob into a frenzy.

    Then, while the Senate was evacuated, Trump tried to reach the new senator from Alabama, Tommy Tuberville, to urge him to continue to delay the counting of the electoral votes.

    Members of both houses from both parties called the president to urge him to call off the mob, but for more than three hours, he refused. When he finally issued a video telling his followers to go home, he said, “[i]t was a landslide election and everyone knows it, especially the other side.” He told them: “We love you, you’re very special.”

    Later that night he tweeted: “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!”

    Trump’s new legal team issued its response to the House impeachment managers today, as well. They stand on the ground that, because Trump is no longer president, it is unconstitutional to try him on an article of impeachment. They also deny that the former president incited the insurrection and say he was simply exercising his First Amendment rights when he repeatedly attacked the legitimacy of the 2020 election.

    Far from backing down from his position, Trump is continuing to assert his argument that he won the election. “With very few exceptions,” his lawyers’ response reads, “under the convenient guise of Covid-19 pandemic ‘safeguards’ states [sic] election laws and procedures were changed by local politicians or judges without the necessary approvals from state legislatures. Insufficient evidence exists upon which a reasonable jurist could conclude that the 45th President’s statements were accurate or not, and he therefore denies they were false.”

    Trump’s argument has been dismissed in more than 60 court cases, so there is plenty of evidence to conclude that it is false. But he is doubling down on what scholars of authoritarianism call a “big lie:” that he was the true winner of the 2020 election, and that the Democrats stole it. The big lie, a key propaganda tool that is associated with Nazi Germany, is a lie so huge that no one can believe it is false. If leaders repeat it enough times, refusing to admit that it is a lie, people come to think it is the truth because surely no one would make up anything so outrageous.

    In this case, Trump supporters insist that there was massive fraud in the 2020 election (there wasn’t) and that Trump really won (he didn’t). As Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) pointed out last week, the Republicans who supported Trump’s big lie and challenged the counting of the electoral votes on January 6 still have not admitted they were lying.

    Big lies are springboards for authoritarian politicians. They enable a leader to convince followers that they were unfairly cheated of power by those that the leader demonizes. That Trump and his supporters are continuing to advance their big lie, even in the face of overwhelming proof that it is false, is deeply concerning.

    If there is any need to prove that Trump’s big lie is, indeed, a lie, there is plenty of proof in the fact that when the leader of the company Trump surrogates blamed for facilitating election fraud threatened to sue them, they backed down fast. The voting machine company Dominion Voting Systems was at the center of Trump supporters’ claims of a stolen election, and its leadership has threatened to sue the conservative media network Newsmax for its personalities’ false statements. When the threat of a lawsuit first emerged, Newsmax issued an on-air disclaimer.

    Today, even as Trump’s lawyers were reiterating his insistence that he really won the election, the issue came up again. When MyPillow founder Mike Lindell began to spout Trump’s big lie on a Newsmax show, the co-anchor tried repeatedly to cut him off. When he was unsuccessful, the producers muted Lindell while the co-anchor said, “We at Newsmax have not been able to verify any of those kinds of allegations…. We just want to let people know that there’s nothing substantive that we have seen.”

    He read a legal disclaimer: “Newsmax accepts the [election] results as legal and final. The courts have also supported that view.” And then he stood up and left the set.

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  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,556
     February 3, 2021 (Wednesday)

    While Republican lawmakers continue to grab headlines with outrageous behavior and obstructionism, President Biden has been derailing them in the only way no one has tried yet: ignoring them and governing. Only two weeks into his administration, this approach appears to be enormously effective.

    The two Republican factions continue to compete for control of the party. That struggle has been personified this week by the relative standing of new Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene and established Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney, the House Republican Conference Chair, who is the third person in the line of Republican House leadership.

    In her two weeks in Congress, Greene has made the news with her support for the extremist QAnon movement, harassment of school shooting survivor David Hogg, and past support for executing Democratic politicians, among other things. After news emerged that she had agreed with a Facebook commenter that the 2018 Parkland school shooting was a “false flag” operation, Democrats were outraged that Republican leadership assigned her to the House Education and Labor Committee. They demanded House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy strip her of committee assignments.  

    Meanwhile, Cheney has won the ire of pro-Trump Republicans by voting to impeach the former president for instigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol. Trump’s supporters, including Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH), want to strip Cheney of her leadership role in the party, and Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) traveled to her home state of Wyoming to urge voters to turn her out of office. Still, some observers think the Trump faction is attacking Cheney simply to provide the kind of sound bites that will please their voters.

    Today, McCarthy said he would not punish Greene for her statements, and the Republicans on the House Rules Committee said they would not strip her of committee assignments (although McCarthy stripped former Representative Steven King [R-IA] of his assignments after racist comments). Later, when the House Republicans met for the first time this session, about half of them gave Greene a standing ovation when she rose to speak.

    Thrilled at the attention she is getting, Greene told the Washington Examiner that there is no difference between establishment Republicans and the Democrats, and she is eager to bring more action-oriented people like her to Congress to help Trump with his plan, “whenever he comes out with [it.]”

    And yet, at the same meeting, when party members held a secret vote on leaving Cheney in her leadership position after she voted to impeach Trump, they did so, by a vote of 145-61-1. Increasing numbers of Republicans—including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell—are eager to put daylight between themselves and the Trump wing, likely because they know that the political and legal calculus has changed now that the Democrats are in power.

    Biden continues to put the government on firm footing. He came into office with a series of executive actions at hand to do exactly what he promised during the campaign: combat the coronavirus pandemic and bolster the weakening economy.

    To that end, he is moving forward quickly with a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. Today, the Democratic Congress took steps to prepare the way to pass the measure without Republican votes if necessary, although Biden met yesterday with ten Republican senators and says he is willing to talk with Republicans if they are serious. What he refuses to do, though, is what tripped up President Barack Obama, who negotiated with Republicans for months over the Affordable Care Act, only to have all but one of them refuse to vote for the measure.

    Biden has also launched a sweeping set of plans to combat climate change—including today calling on Congress to end the $40 billion taxpayer subsidies to fossil fuels-- bringing a wide range of interests behind the plans.

    The new administration has also reestablished norms. Yesterday, for example, the Senate confirmed Alejandro Mayorkas as the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. This is a big deal because it gives DHS an actual Senate-confirmed head, which it has not had since at least 2019 as Trump appointed various acting heads, including Chad Wolf. According to the Government Accountability Office and a number of judges, Wolf was in the office illegally.

    Biden has also reinstituted the oversight that was largely ignored by the previous administration. Today, Robert Stewart Jr., who won more than $38 million in federal contracts to deliver N95 masks despite the fact he had none and had no way of getting any, pleaded guilty to three counts of making false statements, wire fraud, and theft of government funds. Also today, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen announced the hiring of a number of officials who will be part of a crackdown on enforcement of tax laws both at home and abroad; the Internal Revenue Service estimates that about $441 billion a year in taxes owed are not collected.

    Also today, in his first interview since taking office, Biden promised that none of his family members will work at the White House.

    Biden has moved quickly to get rid of the political appointees Trump tried to burrow into the federal government. Yesterday, Biden fired all ten of the anti-labor activists Trump had put on the Federal Service Impasses Panel, the panel in charge of resolving disputes between unions and federal agencies when they cannot resolve issues in negotiations. The head of the union of federal employees, representing 700,000 federal employees, thanked Biden for his attempt to “restore basic fairness for federal workers.” He said, “The outgoing panel, appointed by the previous administration and stacked with transparently biased union-busters, was notorious for ignoring the law to gut workplace rights and further an extreme political agenda.”

    The two themes of Republican factionalism and the Democrats’ return to American norms came together today. After negotiating for weeks, McConnell and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) finally came up with a plan to organize the Senate, which will turn the chairs of committees over to the Democrats.

    This means that Biden’s pick for attorney general, Merrick Garland, should finally get a hearing for his confirmation. The attorney general is a leading figure in our national security apparatus, overseeing our legal system as well as the FBI. Former Senate Judiciary Chair Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was slow walking a hearing for him, but as soon as Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) takes the gavel, Garland will be on the schedule.

    If he is confirmed, Garland will oversee the prosecution of those involved in the attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Garland is known as a straight shooter who will uphold the law impartially.

    Today, Reuters broke the news that the Justice Department is considering charging those engaged in the Capitol riot under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). RICO cases are complicated and take a long time to put together, but the law was designed to enable prosecutors to reach those, like criminal ringleaders, who keep their own hands clean but tell others to commit crimes.

    If the Department of Justice is indeed considering RICO, which sweeps in a wide range of participants in a crime, Republicans not associated with the attack on the Capitol might have good reason to back away from those who are.

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  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,556
     February 4, 2021 (Thursday)

    Today Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) proposed giving at least $3000 annually per child to American families. This suggestion is coming from a man who, when he ran as the Republican candidate for president in 2012, famously echoed what was then Republican orthodoxy. He was caught on tape saying that “there are 47 percent of the people who… are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.”  

    Romney’s proposal indicates the political tide has turned away from the Republicans. Since the 1980s, they have insisted that the government must be starved, dismissing as “socialism” Democrats’ conviction that the government has a role to play in stabilizing the economy and society.

    And yet, that idea, which is in line with traditional conservatism, was part of the founding ideology of the Republican Party in the 1850s. It was also the governing ideology of Romney’s father, George Romney, who served as governor of Michigan from 1963 to 1969, where he oversaw the state’s first income tax, and as the secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Richard Nixon, where he tried to increase housing for the poor and desegregate the suburbs. It was also at the heart of Romney’s own record in Massachusetts, where as governor from 2003 to 2007, he ushered in the near-universal health care system on which the Affordable Care Act was based.

    But in the 1990s, Republican leadership purged from the party any lawmakers who embraced traditional Republicanism, demanding absolute loyalty to the idea of cutting taxes and government to free up individual enterprise. By 2012, Romney had to run from his record, including his major health care victory in Massachusetts. Now, just a decade later, he has returned to the ideas behind it.

    Why?

    First, and most important, President Joe Biden has hit the ground running, establishing a momentum that looks much like that of Democratic President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1933. Roosevelt had behind him stronger majorities than Biden’s, but both took office facing economic crises—and, in Biden’s case, a pandemic as well, along with the climate crisis--and set out immediately to address them.

    Like FDR, Biden has established the direction of his administration through executive actions: he is just behind FDR’s cracking pace. Biden arrived in the Oval Office with a sheaf of carefully crafted executive actions that put in place policies that voters wanted: spurring job creation, feeding children, rejoining the World Health Organization, pursuing tax cheats, ending the transgender ban in the military, and reestablishing ties to the nation’s traditional allies. Once Biden had a Democratic Senate as well as a House—those two Georgia Senate seats were huge—he was free to ask for a big relief package for those suffering in the pandemic, and now even Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), who had expressed concern about the package, seems to be on board.

    FDR’s momentum increased in part because the Republicans were discredited after the collapse of the economy and as Republican leaders turned up as corrupt. Biden’s momentum, too, is likely gathering steam as the Republicans are increasingly tainted by their association with the January 6 insurrection and the attack on the Capitol, along with the behavior of those who continue to support the former president.

    The former president’s own behavior is not helping to polish his image. In their response to the House impeachment brief, Trump’s lawyers made the mistake of focusing not on whether the Senate can try a former president but on what Trump did and did not do. That, of course, makes Trump a witness, and today Jamie Raskin (D-MD), the lead impeachment manager, asked him to testify.

    Trumps’ lawyers promptly refused but, evidently anticipating his refusal, Raskin had noted in the invitation that “[i]f you decline this invitation, we reserve any and all rights, including the right to establish at trial that your refusal to testify supports a strong adverse inference regarding your actions (and inaction) on January 6, 2021.” In other words: “Despite his lawyers’ rhetoric, any official accused of inciting armed violence against the government of the United States should welcome the chance to testify openly and honestly—that is, if the official had a defense."

    The lack of defense seems to be mounting. This morning, Jason Stanley of Just Security called attention to the film shown at the January 6 rally just after Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani spoke. Stanley explained how it was an explicitly fascist film, designed to show the former president as a strong fascist leader promising to protect Americans against those who are undermining the country: the Jews. Stanley also pointed out that, according to the New York Times, the rally was “a White House production” and that Trump was deeply involved with the details.

    Trump’s supporters are not cutting a good figure, either. Today, by a vote of 230-199, the House of Representatives voted to strip new Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) of her assignments to the Budget Committee and the Education and Labor Committee. It did so after reviewing social media posts in which she embraced political violence and conspiracy theories. This leaves Greene with little to do but to continue to try to gin up media attention and to raise money.

    House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) had declined to take action against Greene—although in 2019 he stripped assignments from Steve King (R-IA) for racist comments-- and only eleven Republicans joined the majority. The Republican Party is increasingly associated with the Trump wing, and that association will undoubtedly grow as Democrats press it in advertisements, as they have already begun to do.

    McConnell has called for the party’s extremists to be purged out of concern that voters are turning away from the party. Still, the struggle between the two factions might be hard to keep out of the news as the Senate turns to confirmation hearings for Biden’s nominee to head the Department of Justice, Merrick Garland.

    Going forward, the attorney general will be responsible for overseeing any prosecutions that come from the attempt to overturn the election, and the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will question Garland, has on it three Republican senators involved in that attempt. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has been accused by Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger of calling before Trump did to get him to alter the state’s vote count. Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Josh Hawley (R-MO) both joined in challenging the counting of the electoral votes.

    It is hard to imagine the other senators at the hearing will not bring the three compromised senators into the discussion. The Republicans have so far refused to schedule Garland’s hearing, although now that the Senate is organized under the Democrats, it will happen soon.

    Trump Republicans are betting the former president’s endorsement will win them office in the future. But with social media platforms cracking down on his disinformation, his ability to reach voters is not at all what it used to be, making it easier for members of the other faction to jump ship.

    In addition, those echoing Trump’s lies are getting hit in their wallets. Today, the voting systems company Smartmatic sued the Fox News Channel and its personalities Maria Bartiromo, Lou Dobbs, and Jeanine Pirro, along with Giuliani and Trump’s legal advisor Sidney Powell, for at least $2.7 billion in damages for lying about Smartmatic machines in their attempt to overturn the election results.

    Republicans rejecting the Trump takeover of the party are increasingly outspoken. Not only has Romney called for a measure that echoes Biden’s emphasis on supporting children and families, but also Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) today released a video attacking the leaders of his state’s Republican Party after hearing that they planned to censure him for speaking out against the former president.

    “If that president were a Democrat, we both know how you’d respond. But, because he had ‘Republican’ behind his name, you’re defending him,” Sasse said. “Something has definitely changed over the last four years … but it’s not me.”

    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

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  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,556
     February 5, 2021 (Friday)

    Yet another Friday without a news dump from the federal government (woo hoo!) means that I have the room to highlight something really interesting that was buried in President Biden’s speech at the State Department yesterday afternoon. Not surprisingly, Biden announced a return to a more traditional foreign policy than his predecessor’s. But he did more than that: he tied foreign policy to domestic interests in a way that echoed Republican president Theodore Roosevelt when he helped to launch the Progressive Era of the early twentieth century.

    Biden’s predecessor wrenched U.S. foreign policy from the channel in which it had operated since WWII, replacing it with a new focus on the economic interests of business leaders. Trump chose as Secretary of State the former chief executive officer of ExxonMobil, Rex Tillerson, who oversaw the gutting of career officers in the State Department. When the department lost 12% of its foreign-affairs specialists in the first eight months of 2017, it was clear that the Trump administration was abandoning a foreign policy in which the United States tried to defend the idea of democracy and to advance its interests through diplomacy.

    Instead, in his first trip overseas, the former president traveled to Saudi Arabia, where he announced the largest single arms deal in American history, worth $110 billion immediately and more than $350 billion over ten years. The White House noted that the deal was “a significant expansion of… [the] security relationship” between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.

    "That was a tremendous day. Tremendous investments in the United States," Trump told reporters. "Hundreds of billions of dollars of investments into the United States and jobs, jobs, jobs." Lockheed Martin, one of the world’s largest defense contractors, cheered the sale.

    It was a public relations victory for Mohammed bin Salman, often referred to as MBS and the deputy crown prince of Saudi Arabia at the time, coming as it did just a year after Congress voted to allow the families of those killed in the 9/11 attacks to sue the country from which 15 of the 19 hijackers came. It also would increase the U.S. supply of arms to his country’s intervention in Yemen, the country to its south, where a pro-Saudi president had been ousted in 2015 by the Houthi movement, whose members accused him of corruption and ties to Saudi Arabia and the U.S.

    In his remarks during his May visit to Saudi Arabia, Trump backed away from the role the United States had claimed to take on since its war with Spain in 1898, aiming to defend democracy around the world. “We are not here to lecture—we are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be, or how to worship,” Trump said. “[W]e are here to offer partnership-- based on shared interests and values—to pursue a better future for us all.”

    For the rest of his presidency, Trump worked to weaken the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a military alliance among 30 nations of Europe, the U.S., and Canada, formed in 1949 to stop the spread of Soviet, and now Russian, aggression in Europe. Instead, he worked to strengthen U.S. ties to countries with strongman leaders, such as MBS and Russia’s Vladimir Putin. He sidestepped career diplomats to run his own, shadow diplomacy out of the White House, tapping his son-in-law Jared Kushner to secure peace in the Middle East, for example, and asking administration officials to pressure Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to announce an investigation into Joe Biden’s son Hunter.

    And he continued to sell billions worth of arms to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, even after Congress halted such transfers as indiscriminate Saudi bombing in Yemen created a deadly humanitarian crisis.

    One of the first things Biden did when he took office was to freeze for review $23 billion in pending arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates negotiated by his predecessor (including 50 Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets). Yesterday, he announced he was ending U.S. support for the Saudi war in Yemen.

    In his speech to the State Department yesterday Biden immediately indicated that he was restoring traditional American diplomacy. The first thing he did was to acknowledge his secretary of state, Antony Blinken, a career diplomat with a degree from Columbia Law School and a long and impressive resume including work on U.S. policy in Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan.

    The next thing Biden said was to assure the world that diplomats around the world spoke for the country again: “when you speak, you speak for me.” Later on, he reiterated that idea: “I value your expertise and I respect you, and I will have your back. This administration is going to empower you to do your jobs, not target or politicize you.”  

    Biden emphasized that he had spoken to “the leaders of many of our closest friends — Canada, Mexico, the UK, Germany, France, NATO, Japan, South Korea, Australia — to [begin] reforming the habits of cooperation and rebuilding the muscle of democratic alliances that have atrophied over the past few years of neglect and, I would argue, abuse.” The message he wants the world to hear is: “America is back.  America is back. Diplomacy is back at the center of our foreign policy.”

    Also back at the center of American diplomacy are “America’s most cherished democratic values,” Biden said, “defending freedom, championing opportunity, upholding universal rights, respecting the rule of law, and treating every person with dignity.” The case of Alexei Navalny, the Russian opposition leader who was poisoned in August and returned to Russia in mid-January only to be thrown into jail, has enabled Biden to illustrate how dramatically his foreign policy differs from that of his predecessor. Biden called on Putin to release Navalny “immediately and without condition.”

    Biden outlined his approach to Yemen, China, and Russia… and then he said something that jumped out.

    Biden argued that foreign policy is an integral part of domestic policy. It requires that the government address the needs of ordinary Americans. “We will compete from a position of strength by building back better at home,” he said. “That’s why my administration has already taken the important step to live our domestic values at home — our democratic values at home.”  

    This idea—that the U.S. must reform its own society in order to extend the principles of democracy overseas-- was precisely the argument Theodore Roosevelt and other reformers made in the late 1890s when they launched the Progressive Era. When Roosevelt became president in 1901, he used this rationale to take the government out of the hands of business interests and use it to protect ordinary Americans.

    Roosevelt argued that the government must clean up the cities, educate children, protect workers and consumers, support farmers, and make business pay its fair share. Biden shared his own list on Thursday: ending the so-called Muslim ban, reversing the ban on transgender troops, defending the free press, respecting science, addressing systemic racism and white supremacy, and rebuilding the economy.

    “All this matters to foreign policy,” he said, “because when we… rally the nations of the world to defend democracy globally, to push back… authoritarianism’s advance, we’ll be a much more credible partner because of these efforts to shore up our own foundations.”

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  • Halifax2TheMaxHalifax2TheMax Posts: 27,274
    Seems to me, the repubs have a lot of great ideas and policy proposals. Seems to me being how they won so many state legislatures and the Congress, they’re the party of principled tax cuts AND deficit reduction, not to mention, delivery of services, you know, for the people. I digress or BLATHER, as some may accuse. Sexy.  Seems to me, both parties are the same but tax cuts, with no means testing, no, what do you call it, analysis, no thought other than, hell yea, trickle it down and blow the fucking roof off the deficit, and give it to those poor, poor suckers who need it the least. Amen brother but you know? Deficits. 

    And people wonder why a vaccine can’t be distributed? 
    09/15/1998, Mansfield, MA; 08/29/00 08/30/00, Mansfield, MA; 07/02/03, 07/03/03, Mansfield, MA; 09/28/04, 09/29/04, Boston, MA; 09/22/05, Halifax, NS; 05/24/06, 05/25/06, Boston, MA; 07/22/06, 07/23/06, Gorge, WA; 06/29/08, 06/30/08, Mansfield, MA; 08/18/08, O2 London, UK; 10/30/09, 10/31/09, Philadelphia, PA; 05/15/10, Hartford, CT; 05/17/10, Boston, MA; 05/20/10, 05/21/10, NY, NY; 06/22/10, Dublin, IRE; 06/23/10, Northern Ireland; 09/03/11, 09/04/11, Alpine Valley, WI; 09/11/11, 09/12/11, Toronto, Ont; 09/14/11, Ottawa, Ont; 09/15/11, Hamilton, Ont; 07/02/2012, Prague, Czech Republic; 07/04/2012 & 07/05/2012, Berlin, Germany; 07/07/2012, Stockholm, Sweden; 09/30/2012, Missoula, MT; 07/16/2013, London, Ont; 07/19/2013, Chicago, IL; 10/15/2013 & 10/16/2013, Worcester, MA; 10/21/2013 & 10/22/2013, Philadelphia, PA; 10/25/2013, Hartford, CT; 11/29/2013, Portland, OR; 11/30/2013, Spokane, WA; 12/04/2013, Vancouver, BC; 12/06/2013, Seattle, WA; 10/03/2014, St. Louis. MO; 10/22/2014, Denver, CO; 10/26/2015, New York, NY; 04/23/2016, New Orleans, LA; 04/28/2016 & 04/29/2016, Philadelphia, PA; 05/01/2016 & 05/02/2016, New York, NY; 05/08/2016, Ottawa, Ont.; 05/10/2016 & 05/12/2016, Toronto, Ont.; 08/05/2016 & 08/07/2016, Boston, MA; 08/20/2016 & 08/22/2016, Chicago, IL; 07/01/2018, Prague, Czech Republic; 07/03/2018, Krakow, Poland; 07/05/2018, Berlin, Germany; 09/02/2018 & 09/04/2018, Boston, MA;

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  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,556
    edited February 7
    seems an answer in a different thread.
    Post edited by mickeyrat on
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  • brianluxbrianlux Moving through All Kinds of Terrain.Posts: 33,819
    Seems to me, the repubs have a lot of great ideas and policy proposals. Seems to me being how they won so many state legislatures and the Congress, they’re the party of principled tax cuts AND deficit reduction, not to mention, delivery of services, you know, for the people. I digress or BLATHER, as some may accuse. Sexy.  Seems to me, both parties are the same but tax cuts, with no means testing, no, what do you call it, analysis, no thought other than, hell yea, trickle it down and blow the fucking roof off the deficit, and give it to those poor, poor suckers who need it the least. Amen brother but you know? Deficits. 

    And people wonder why a vaccine can’t be distributed? 
    Wait a minute!  Stop the presses! 
    Hear ye, hear ye!  @Halifax2TheMax said "both parties are the same".  It's right there in black and white!
    You read it here first!  :wink: 
    :lol:
     


    “In all human affairs there are efforts, and there are results, and the strength of the effort is the measure of the result.”
    -James Allen










  • Halifax2TheMaxHalifax2TheMax Posts: 27,274
    brianlux said:
    Seems to me, the repubs have a lot of great ideas and policy proposals. Seems to me being how they won so many state legislatures and the Congress, they’re the party of principled tax cuts AND deficit reduction, not to mention, delivery of services, you know, for the people. I digress or BLATHER, as some may accuse. Sexy.  Seems to me, both parties are the same but tax cuts, with no means testing, no, what do you call it, analysis, no thought other than, hell yea, trickle it down and blow the fucking roof off the deficit, and give it to those poor, poor suckers who need it the least. Amen brother but you know? Deficits. 

    And people wonder why a vaccine can’t be distributed? 
    Wait a minute!  Stop the presses! 
    Hear ye, hear ye!  @Halifax2TheMax said "both parties are the same".  It's right there in black and white!
    You read it here first!  :wink: 
    :lol:
     


    I speak the truth, Mr. Lux.
    09/15/1998, Mansfield, MA; 08/29/00 08/30/00, Mansfield, MA; 07/02/03, 07/03/03, Mansfield, MA; 09/28/04, 09/29/04, Boston, MA; 09/22/05, Halifax, NS; 05/24/06, 05/25/06, Boston, MA; 07/22/06, 07/23/06, Gorge, WA; 06/29/08, 06/30/08, Mansfield, MA; 08/18/08, O2 London, UK; 10/30/09, 10/31/09, Philadelphia, PA; 05/15/10, Hartford, CT; 05/17/10, Boston, MA; 05/20/10, 05/21/10, NY, NY; 06/22/10, Dublin, IRE; 06/23/10, Northern Ireland; 09/03/11, 09/04/11, Alpine Valley, WI; 09/11/11, 09/12/11, Toronto, Ont; 09/14/11, Ottawa, Ont; 09/15/11, Hamilton, Ont; 07/02/2012, Prague, Czech Republic; 07/04/2012 & 07/05/2012, Berlin, Germany; 07/07/2012, Stockholm, Sweden; 09/30/2012, Missoula, MT; 07/16/2013, London, Ont; 07/19/2013, Chicago, IL; 10/15/2013 & 10/16/2013, Worcester, MA; 10/21/2013 & 10/22/2013, Philadelphia, PA; 10/25/2013, Hartford, CT; 11/29/2013, Portland, OR; 11/30/2013, Spokane, WA; 12/04/2013, Vancouver, BC; 12/06/2013, Seattle, WA; 10/03/2014, St. Louis. MO; 10/22/2014, Denver, CO; 10/26/2015, New York, NY; 04/23/2016, New Orleans, LA; 04/28/2016 & 04/29/2016, Philadelphia, PA; 05/01/2016 & 05/02/2016, New York, NY; 05/08/2016, Ottawa, Ont.; 05/10/2016 & 05/12/2016, Toronto, Ont.; 08/05/2016 & 08/07/2016, Boston, MA; 08/20/2016 & 08/22/2016, Chicago, IL; 07/01/2018, Prague, Czech Republic; 07/03/2018, Krakow, Poland; 07/05/2018, Berlin, Germany; 09/02/2018 & 09/04/2018, Boston, MA;

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

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  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,556
     February 6, 2021 (Saturday)

    A year ago yesterday, on February 5, 2020, the Republican-dominated Senate acquitted President Donald J. Trump of two charges for which the House had impeached him: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in order to rig his own reelection.

    A year ago today, February 6, 2020, 57-year-old Patricia Dowd of San Jose, California, died suddenly after feeling ill for several days. She is the nation's first known victim of coronavirus.

    Now, a year later, on February 6, 2021, the official count of coronavirus deaths in the United States is more than 460,000, significantly more Americans than died in World War Two.

    And on Tuesday, February 9, 2021, the second impeachment trial of former president Donald J. Trump will begin in the Senate. This time, the House impeached him for incitement of insurrection in a desperate attempt to retain control of the presidency despite losing the 2020 election.

    It's been quite a year.

    I'm going to take the night off. I'll catch you tomorrow.

    [Photo by Peter Ralston, of Rockland, Maine, "Coming and Going."]

    _____________________________________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
  • Halifax2TheMaxHalifax2TheMax Posts: 27,274
    mickeyrat said:
     February 6, 2021 (Saturday)

    A year ago yesterday, on February 5, 2020, the Republican-dominated Senate acquitted President Donald J. Trump of two charges for which the House had impeached him: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in order to rig his own reelection.

    A year ago today, February 6, 2020, 57-year-old Patricia Dowd of San Jose, California, died suddenly after feeling ill for several days. She is the nation's first known victim of coronavirus.

    Now, a year later, on February 6, 2021, the official count of coronavirus deaths in the United States is more than 460,000, significantly more Americans than died in World War Two.

    And on Tuesday, February 9, 2021, the second impeachment trial of former president Donald J. Trump will begin in the Senate. This time, the House impeached him for incitement of insurrection in a desperate attempt to retain control of the presidency despite losing the 2020 election.

    It's been quite a year.

    I'm going to take the night off. I'll catch you tomorrow.

    [Photo by Peter Ralston, of Rockland, Maine, "Coming and Going."]

    The chem trails did it.
    09/15/1998, Mansfield, MA; 08/29/00 08/30/00, Mansfield, MA; 07/02/03, 07/03/03, Mansfield, MA; 09/28/04, 09/29/04, Boston, MA; 09/22/05, Halifax, NS; 05/24/06, 05/25/06, Boston, MA; 07/22/06, 07/23/06, Gorge, WA; 06/29/08, 06/30/08, Mansfield, MA; 08/18/08, O2 London, UK; 10/30/09, 10/31/09, Philadelphia, PA; 05/15/10, Hartford, CT; 05/17/10, Boston, MA; 05/20/10, 05/21/10, NY, NY; 06/22/10, Dublin, IRE; 06/23/10, Northern Ireland; 09/03/11, 09/04/11, Alpine Valley, WI; 09/11/11, 09/12/11, Toronto, Ont; 09/14/11, Ottawa, Ont; 09/15/11, Hamilton, Ont; 07/02/2012, Prague, Czech Republic; 07/04/2012 & 07/05/2012, Berlin, Germany; 07/07/2012, Stockholm, Sweden; 09/30/2012, Missoula, MT; 07/16/2013, London, Ont; 07/19/2013, Chicago, IL; 10/15/2013 & 10/16/2013, Worcester, MA; 10/21/2013 & 10/22/2013, Philadelphia, PA; 10/25/2013, Hartford, CT; 11/29/2013, Portland, OR; 11/30/2013, Spokane, WA; 12/04/2013, Vancouver, BC; 12/06/2013, Seattle, WA; 10/03/2014, St. Louis. MO; 10/22/2014, Denver, CO; 10/26/2015, New York, NY; 04/23/2016, New Orleans, LA; 04/28/2016 & 04/29/2016, Philadelphia, PA; 05/01/2016 & 05/02/2016, New York, NY; 05/08/2016, Ottawa, Ont.; 05/10/2016 & 05/12/2016, Toronto, Ont.; 08/05/2016 & 08/07/2016, Boston, MA; 08/20/2016 & 08/22/2016, Chicago, IL; 07/01/2018, Prague, Czech Republic; 07/03/2018, Krakow, Poland; 07/05/2018, Berlin, Germany; 09/02/2018 & 09/04/2018, Boston, MA;

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  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,556
     February 7, 2021 (Sunday)

    Pundits are saying that the Senate will vote to acquit former president Donald Trump at the end of his second impeachment trial, set to start on Tuesday.

    I’m not so sure.

    After the January 6 attack on the Capitol, the House of Representatives passed an article of impeachment against Trump for “incitement of insurrection.” The article accuses the former president of engaging in high crimes and misdemeanors “by inciting violence against the Government of the United States.” It charges him with lying about voter fraud, trying to get the Georgia secretary of state to falsify election results, and encouraging his supporters to attack the Capitol to stop the process that would certify Biden’s victory.
     
    The article charges that the former president “has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security, democracy, and the Constitution… and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law…. [He] warrants… disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States.”

    The House passed this article of impeachment with 232 representatives voting yes and 197 voting no. Ten Republicans joined 222 Democrats to impeach Trump in his last days in office. The Senate will hold a trial to determine whether to convict the former president of this charge. If all 100 senators are present, the number needed to convict is seventeen. But there is no requirement that all senators be present.  

    Pundits are basing their belief that senators will vote to acquit on the fact that 45 Republican senators voted against a motion proposed by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), calling for a debate over the constitutionality of trying a former president. Paul insisted that vote was a proxy for conviction, but a vote immediately after that one, on the structure for the trial, drew only 17 no votes from Republicans. Thirty-three voted yes. My guess is that neither vote is a definitive sign of what is to come.

    There are a number of things going on.

    This trial brings into public view the fight for control of the Republican Party. Business Republicans, led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), have run the Republican Party since the 1980s. They cultivated the populists for their votes, but business Republicans never intended to give them power.

    The two wings jockeyed along together because both like tax cuts and originalist judges, who reject the idea of business regulation and government protection of civil rights. But that uneasy alliance is wrenching apart. Trump gave his populist supporters a taste of power, and they do not want to give it up. The Trump wing has become a personality cult, embracing violence and an attack on the rule of law in order to keep the former president in office.

    Business Republicans cozied up to the Trumpers because they need the votes Trump turned out and the money he raised. But it is no longer clear that he can keep commanding votes or raising big money.

    Since the January 6 coup attempt, social media giants Twitter and Facebook, as well as others, have banned the former president, taking away his ability to marshal his troops. Lawsuits from voting machine companies that Trump surrogates attacked have shut up media personalities, hampering the Trump team’s ability to spread their narrative.

    Trump and his inner circle have also lost their access to major publishing venues: the last major publisher willing to buy books from Trump’s people turned away from them after January 6, handing them back to smaller publishers.

    At the same time, Trump supporters increasingly look unhinged. Their face is the new Georgia representative who has, in the past, embraced political violence and QAnon. Since January 6, Republican voters have been leaving the party. Their timing is a red flag: voters usually only change parties before an election.

    Voters are not the only ones disgusted by the riot. Major Republican donors have announced that they will not donate to anyone who voted to challenge the counting of the electoral votes on January 6 and 7. Others have announced at least a temporary hold on political donations.

    So for a Republican senator, what’s the political calculation on impeachment?

    The course for Trump Republicans is easy: they will defend their man. Today, in what appeared to be a coordinated publicity maneuver, Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) and former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows tried to argue that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is to blame for the January 6 attack on the Capitol. (Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani blamed “Antifa” and “BLM.”)

    But the calculation for the business Republicans is not so clear. They don’t want to alienate either Trump voters or anti-Trump voters, and they need to raise money.

    Trump and his supporters have tried to lock up the party apparatus. The former president controls money and email lists, and is trying to put his people into positions of power at the state level. They are publicly challenging the ten Republican representatives who voted to impeach Trump. Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) actually traveled to Wyoming to urge voters to turn Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY), the third-ranking member of the Republican House leadership, out of office. It is likely the Trump wing will launch primary challengers against anyone who votes to convict the former president.

    At the same time, Trump’s support is falling. An ABC News/Ipsos poll released today shows that 56% of Americans believe that Trump should be convicted and barred from ever holding office again. By a 17-point margin, Americans say that the Republican Party has more radical extremists than the Democrats.

    There is another problem: it is likely that the more we learn about what happened on January 6, the worse the participants are going to look. And, if indeed the Department of Justice decides to use RICO, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, against those who participated in the insurrection, it might well sweep in Republican lawmakers or operatives who spoke at, raised money for, or planned the January 6 rally. In that case, a vote to acquit the president would tie a senator who is not associated with the rally to those that are.

    Republican senators have tried to stay quiet about the upcoming trial. When forced to comment, some leading business Republicans have pushed back against the Trump wing. McConnell has called the right-wing fringe a cancer that must be cut out, and today Cheney—who won Gaetz’s challenge to remove her from leadership by a 2-1 vote-- went for Trump himself, saying he “does not have a role as a leader of our party going forward.” On “Fox News Sunday,” Cheney told host Chris Wallace that Trump lied when he said the election had been rigged. She warned that Republicans had to face reality or face defeat in the future.

    In contrast, Democrats are operating from a position of strength. It seems likely they will use the impeachment trial to explain to the American people what happened on January 6. Using videos and the words of those who were in the Capitol when the mob stormed in, they will paint a picture of an attempted coup, incited by a former President of the United States.

    _____________________________________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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