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“Late Term Abortion”

The Washington Post points out there is no precise medical or legal definition of “late-term,” and “many doctors and scientists avoid that language, calling it imprecise and misleading.”

The Daily Beast also notes that only 1.3 percent of abortions are performed after 21 weeks of gestation, and the idea that a woman can get an abortion moments before giving birth is “not how medical care works.”

The use of “dog whistles” aka “coded” labels has been common for many years but until recently has been out of the mainstream of conversation. The current administration aided by a neer do well Congress has brought these “coded” statements and words to common use. Along with this common usage the administration has trashed agreements put in place to prevent war and improve trade. Tariffs (taxes) put in place to offset the “tax” policy that was supposed to benefit everyday Americans and threats to bad actors who were in a state of containment with the approval of our now alienated allies. The administration has in a few years undermined our economy, foreign affairs and put us on an isolation footing all because of “dog whistles”.

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Both political parties and their subsets are about one thing and one thing only and that is power! No matter the good intentions and accidental good works, I would not let either of them hold my wallet! Instead of doing what they were elected to do they spend time dragging the others ideas down and appearing on TV shows often ranting and raving while many times presenting nothing of substance. The selected information that is “leaked” or presented is often just enough information to get voters to choose sides or at the least lean towards their re election runs. Many voters are intelligent enough to find the correct information on anything that is uttered by politicians and elected officials. Some of the more notable or well known voices are just barely more than talking heads that want us geeked up against the “other” side. MA.

June 22, 2021Heather Cox RichardsonJun 23There were three important takeaways from today’s Senate vote on whether to begin debate on S1, the For the People Act, the bill that would protect voting rights, end partisan gerrymandering, establish new ethics rules for federal officials, and curb big money in politics.The first is that Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) voted with the rest of the Democrats to move the measure forward. This means that he is confident that his compromise ideas will be inserted into the final bill and that the Democrats are united. Tonight, the White House nodded to Manchin when it applauded “efforts in the Senate to incorporate feedback that refines and strengthens the bill, and would make its reformers easier for the states to implement.”The same White House statement offered strong support for the For the People Act, saying, “Democracy is in peril, here, in America. The right to vote—a sacred right in this country— is under assault with an intensity and an aggressiveness we have not seen in a long time.” It pointed to the 2020 election and the January 6 insurrection to remind us that “our democracy is fragile” and that we need legislation to “repair and strengthen American democracy.”The second takeaway is that all 50 of the Republicans voted against the measure, which would have helped to combat the voter suppression laws being enacted by Republican-dominated legislatures across the country. According to the nonpartisan Voting Rights Lab, 18 states have put in place more than 30 laws restricting access to the ballot. These laws will affect around 36 million people, or about 15% of all eligible voters.Led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Republicans insist that federal protection of voting rights is federal overreach; that the states should be in charge of their own voting rules. As Susan Collins (R-ME) put it: “S. 1 would take away the rights of people in each of the 50 states to determine which election rules work best for their citizens.”And the third takeaway is that the Republicans are defending the same principle that Senator Stephen A. Douglas advanced when he debated Senate candidate Abraham Lincoln in Illinois in 1858.Four years before, Douglas had led Congress to throw out the 1820 Missouri Compromise, a federal law that kept the system of Black enslavement out of the land above the southern border of the new slave state of Missouri, in land the U.S. had acquired through the 1803 Louisiana Purchase. Eager to enable a transcontinental railroad to run west of Chicago, Douglas introduced a bill to organize a territory in that land in 1854 but, knowing that southern senators would never permit a new free territory that would eventually become a free state without balancing it with a slave state, he wrote a bill for two new territories, not one.Both were in territory covered by the Missouri Compromise and thus should have been free under federal law. But Douglas insisted that true democracy meant that the people in the territories should decide whether or not they would welcome slavery to their midst.Working as a lawyer back in Illinois, Lincoln recognized that this “popular sovereignty” would guarantee the spread of Black enslavement across the West, since under the Constitution, even a single enslaved Black American in a territory would require laws to protect that “property.” Slave states would eventually outnumber free states in Congress, and their representatives would make human enslavement national.In 1858, when Lincoln, now a member of the new Republican Party, challenged Democrat Douglas for his Senate seat, the key issue was whether Douglas’s “democracy” squared with American principles.Lincoln said it didn’t. Local voters should not be able to carry enslavement into lands that a majority of Americans wanted free. He did not defend civil rights, but he insisted that the framers had deliberately tried to advance the principles of the Declaration of Independence by using the federal government to limit the expansion of enslavement.Douglas insisted it did. In his view, democracy meant that voters in the states and territories could arrange their governments however they wished.But central to that belief was who, exactly, would be doing the arranging. “I hold that this Government was made on the white basis, by white men, for the benefit of white men and their posterity forever, and should be administered by white men and none others,” he said. Claiming that he, not Lincoln, was “in favor of preserving this Government as our fathers made it,” he told an audience in Jonesboro, Illinois, “we ought to extend to the negro every right, every privilege, every immunity which he is capable of enjoying, consistent with the good of society. When you ask me what these rights are, what their nature and extent is, I tell you that that is a question which each State of this Union must decide for itself.” His own state of Illinois, he pointed out, rejected Black enslavement, “but we have also decided that… that he shall not vote, hold office, or exercise any political rights. I maintain that Illinois, as a sovereign State, has a right thus to fix her policy….”I found it chilling to hear Douglas’s argument from 1858 echo in the Senate today, for after seeing exactly how his argument enabled white southern legislators to cut their Black neighbors out of the vote in the 1870s and then pass Jim Crow laws that lasted for more than 70 years, our lawmakers should know better. How is it possible to square states’ rights and equality without also protecting the right of all adult citizens to vote? Unless everyone has equal access to the ballot, what is there to stop Douglas’s view of “the good of society” from coming to pass yet again?Congress will recess after Thursday and won’t resume business until July 12. The big push to pass a voting rights measure will happen then.—-
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Heather Cox Richardson from Letters from an AmericanMon 6/21/202

June 21, 2021Heather Cox RichardsonJun 22

Lawmakers today are jockeying before tomorrow’s test vote in the Senate on S1, the For the People Act. This is a sweeping bill that protects the right to vote, ends partisan gerrymandering, limits the influence of money in politics, and establishes new ethics rules for presidents and other federal officeholders.Passing election reform is a priority for Democrats, since Republican-dominated legislatures across the country have gerrymandered states to make it almost impossible for Democrats to win majorities and, since President Biden took office, have passed laws suppressing the vote and making it easier for Republican state officials to swing elections to their candidates no matter what voters want.But it is not just Democrats who want our elections to be cleaner and fairer. S1 is so popular across the nation—among voters of both parties—that Republican operatives agreed in January that there was no point in trying to shift public opinion on it. Instead, they said, they would just kill it in Congress. This conversation, explored in The New Yorker by Jane Mayer, happened just after it became clear that Democrats had won a Senate majority and thus Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who had previously been Senate Majority Leader, would no longer be able to stop any legislation Republicans didn’t like.Still, Republican senators can deploy the filibuster, which permits just 41 of the 50 Republican senators to stop the act from passing. It is possible for the Democrats to break a filibuster, but only if they are all willing. Until recently, it seemed they were not. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), a conservative Democrat in a Republican-dominated state, opposed some of the provisions in S1 and was adamant that he would not vote for an election reform bill on partisan lines. He wanted bipartisan support.Last week, Manchin indicated which of the measures in the For the People Act—and in the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act—he will support. In a mixture of the priorities of the leadership of each party, he called for expanding access to voting, an end to partisan gerrymandering, voter ID, automatic registration at motor vehicle offices, making Election Day a holiday, and making it easier for state officials to purge voters from the rolls.Democrats across the ideological spectrum immediately lined up behind Manchin’s compromise. Republican leadership immediately opposed it, across the board. They know that fair voting practices will wreck them. Today, McConnell used martial language when he said he would give the measure “no quarter.”Tomorrow, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) will bring up for a vote not the measure itself, but whether to begin a debate on such a measure. “Tomorrow, the Senate will also take a crucial vote on whether to start debate on major voting rights legislation,” Schumer said today. “I want to say that again—tomorrow the Senate will take a vote on whether to start debate on legislation to protect Americans’ voting rights. It’s not a vote on any particular policy.”Republicans can use the filibuster to stop a debate from going forward. Getting a debate underway will require 60 votes, and there is currently no reason to think any Republicans will agree. This will put them in the untenable spot of voting against talking about voting rights, even while Republicans at the state level are passing legislation restricting voting rights. So the vote to start a debate on the bill will fail but will highlight the hypocrisy of Republican lawmakers.Perhaps more to the point in terms of passing legislation, it will test whether the work the Democrats did over the weekend incorporating Manchin’s requests to the measure have brought him on board.If so, and if he gets frustrated with Republican refusal to compromise at all while the Democrats immediately accepted his watering down of their bill, it is possible he and Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), who has also signaled support for the filibuster in its current form, will be willing to consider altering it. The Senate could, for example, turn it back into its traditional form—a talking filibuster—or carve out voting rights bills as they have carved out financial bills and judicial nominations.There are signs that the Democrats are preparing for an epic battle over this bill. Today White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki indicated that the administration hopes the vote will show that all 50 Senate Democrats are now on board and that they will find a new way forward if the Republicans do not permit a debate.More telling, perhaps, is an eye-popping op-ed published yesterday in the Wall Street Journal by Mike Solon, a former assistant to McConnell, and Bill Greene, a former outreach director for former House Speaker John Boehner; both men are now lobbyists. In order to defend the filibuster, they argue that the measure protects “political nobodies” from having to pay attention to politics. If legislation could pass by a simple majority, Americans would have to get involved. The system, they suggest, is best managed by a minority of senators.“Eliminating the Senate filibuster would end the freedom of America’s political innocents,” they write. “The lives that political nobodies spend playing, praying, fishing, tailgating, reading, hunting, gardening, studying and caring for their children would be spent rallying, canvassing, picketing, lobbying, protesting, texting, posting, parading and, above all, shouting.”The authors suggest misleadingly that the men who framed the Constitution instituted the filibuster: they did not. They set up a Senate in which a simple majority passed legislation. The filibuster, used to require 60 votes to pass any legislation, has been deployed regularly only since about 2008.But that error is minor compared to the astonishing similarity between this op-ed and a speech by South Carolina Senator James Henry Hammond in 1858, when he rose to explain to his colleagues that the American system was set up to make sure lawmakers could retain control no matter what a majority of Americans wanted. Hammond was one of the nation’s leading enslavers and was desperate to make sure his party’s policies could not be overridden by the majority.Voting only enabled people to change the party in charge, he said. “It was not for the people to exercise political power in detail… it was not for them to be annoyed with the cares of government.”Hammond explained that the world is made up of two classes: those who ”do the menial duties… perform the drudgery of life. That is, a class requiring but a low order of intellect and but little skill….. It constitutes the very mud-sill of society and of political government.” On them, he explained, rests “that other class which leads progress, civilization, and refinement.”It was imperative, he said, to retain these distinctions in politics. The South had managed such a thing, while the North, he warned, had not. “Our slaves do not vote. We give them no political power. Yours do vote, and, being the majority, they are the depositaries [sic] of all your political power. If they knew the tremendous secret, that the ballot-box is stronger than ‘an army with banners,’… where would you be? Your society would be reconstructed, your government overthrown, your property, divided, not… with arms in their hands, but by the quiet process of the ballot-box.”—-
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Dilbert Classics Comic Strip for June 22, 2021

WE had four years of U.B.R.

 

Thanks you Scott Adams

 

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The ongoing and frequently altered GOP positions on Covid, infrastructure and denials of accountability should be on the minds of voters now and during the upcoming elections. After 4 years of lies, denials, bridge burnings the GOP appears to be the party of conspiracies’ rather than addressing legislation to help the voters (who put them in office). There seems to be a trend that attacking Medical experts and pushing for solutions to made up problems is better than actually understanding the issues and finding solutions for what’s known. Jim Jordan of Ohio is a prime example of a ‘heat seeking missle searching for a target in the dessert”! Then we have Bitch McConnell “boldly going where he has gone before” in stating President Biden will get nothing done, this is who supposedly works for us as a country. The current legislature has shown us that the problems facing the country as a whole are not what interests them. They have the sole purpose of being the major party in the Whitehouse, Congress and the judiciary which would be a disaster for all of us. We the people have the right to good government but only if we pay attention to who we elect and be prepared to replace them when required. Right now the political system is not serving us at all. The obstructive members of Congress do not think we deserve good roads so perhaps they deserve to be replaced. It’s remarkable how thick the “wall of lies” is and how deceptive they are.

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Christopher Staudinger for the Louisiana Illuminator and Floodlight

Fri 18 Jun 2021 06.00 EDT

Marathon Petroleum received more tax benefits than any other US oil company while also cutting about 9% of its workforce    

One morning in September, word of layoffs began to spread quickly through Marathon Petroleum’s refinery in the small industrial community of Garyville, Louisiana.

Seven months into the pandemic, workers at the oil refining plant thought they would be spared the fate of their colleagues at other facilities, who had already been jettisoned into a daunting job market.

“Through the morning, we were seeing people get the phone call and not come back,” said one maintenance engineer, who lost his job after nearly a decade at the facility. “Everybody was on pins and needles waiting for the call.”

Last year, Marathon laid off 1,920 workers across the US despite taking $2.1bn in federal tax benefits meant to cushion the pandemic’s blow to the economy, according to a report from BailoutWatch. The worker interviewed for this story, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of difficulty finding a job, is still unemployed. He and his wife had plans to start a family, which are now on hold. And he is competing with more than 18,000 oil, gas and manufacturing workers in Louisiana who lost jobs last year.

“I’m a born and raised Louisianan. So I’m very much trying to stay in the area,” he said.

Over a year after Congress approved the Cares Act to provide emergency economic relief in response to Covid-19, the oil and gas industry has emerged as a major recipient of stimulus funds, despite heavy job cuts. Marathon Petroleum received more tax benefits under the legislation than any other US oil company, according to BailoutWatch, while also cutting about 9% of its workforce, including 45 Garyville workers.

The company spent millions lobbying in Washington, including on specific Cares Act provisions. Marathon is also defending local government tax breaks it receives as part of a controversial Louisiana subsidy program and meant to create jobs. According to SEC filings examined by BailoutWatch, Marathon came to receive roughly $1.1m in federal dollars for every job the company eliminated.

The Garyville refinery – located along the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge – is the third largest in the country. It can process 578,000 barrels of oil a day into gasoline, asphalt, propane and other substances. It has long received local tax subsidies, some of which have stirred recent controversy in a parish known for heavy industry and a high risk of air pollution.

By the time Marathon made its fall layoffs, it had already quietly announced that it would claim a $1.1bn tax refund, thanks to Cares Act provisions which gave companies tax benefits based on net operating losses.

“Understanding the benefits that Marathon received to presumably stimulate them into maintaining full employment, it’s frustrating to have still been chopped,” the laid-off worker said.

He expressed regret that the company had invested much of its cash flow in recent years in an “aggressive stock buyback program” rather than protecting workers during economic downturns.

During the pandemic, oil corporations have received billions of dollars in taxpayer money from multiple programs, “with no strings attached”, said Jesse Coleman, a senior researcher at Documented Investigations.

These companies decimated their workforce with layoffs while maximizing profits for executives and shareholders

Jesse Coleman

“Executives receiving this bailout did nothing to address the industry’s fundamental unsustainability. Instead, these companies decimated their workforce with layoffs while maximizing profits for executives and shareholders,” Coleman said.

Marathon in an email defended its federal pandemic tax breaks. Spokesman Jamal Kheiry said the Cares provision “helps companies hard-hit by the pandemic’s significant effects on the economy”.

Kheiry noted that the company lost $9.8bn after taxes last year and faced uncertainty over demand for gasoline and other refined products, which were needed less during the pandemic. Marathon idled its refineries in Gallup, New Mexico, and in Martinez, California, he added.

“We also made the very difficult decision to reduce our workforce, including reductions associated with the idlings,” he said. “To help affected employees transition, we provided severance, bonus payments, extended healthcare benefits at employee rates, job placement assistance, counseling and other provisions.”

The public dollars Marathon took were made possible by Congress’ changes to federal tax law, which allowed companies to deduct previous years’ financial losses from taxes that the company already paid. That means that the more Marathon lost in 2020 – as well as in losses unrelated to the pandemic in 2019 and 2018 – the more they were refunded from previous years’ tax payments.

BailoutWatch found that the fossil fuel industry was more likely than other sectors to benefit from the tax changes in the Cares Act because of their financial losses in 2019 and 2018, when refining margins were already in decline during those less profitable years. The watchdog group also found that fossil fuel companies lobbied heavily for these changes during the drafting of the legislation. Marathon spent $2.6m on lobbying in Washington in 2020, including to increase Cares Act tax deductions.

In all, the report found that 77 oil and gas companies received $8.24bn from the Cares Act tax refunds while laying off nearly 60,000 employees. Marathon’s federal tax breaks are in addition to state and local tax incentives that the company receives in Louisiana.

Jan Moller, director of the tax policy-focused Louisiana Budget Project, said Louisiana law provides major benefits for the industry. “The thing that makes Louisiana unique is we have the most generous tax exemption scheme in the country for industrial or manufacturing corporations,” he said.

The Industrial Tax Exemption Program (ITEP) exempts businesses from paying certain parish property taxes in exchange for investments that create or maintain jobs.

“That’s where Louisiana communities end up losing an awful lot of revenue,” Moller said. “A global corporation comes in and spends, you know, $2bn to build an oil refinery or chemical plant … and they don’t have to pay 80 to 100% of property taxes on that investment for 10 years. And by the time 10 years is up, a lot of that investment has depreciated.”

Until recent changes, these exemptions were easily renewed. As late as 2017, 40 years after the Garyville refinery was built, Marathon was exempt from paying taxes on 88% of its property as a result of ITEP.

Because of 2016 rule changes to the tax exemption program signed by the Democratic governor, John Bel Edwards, in an executive order, Marathon Petroleum’s tax bill to St John the Baptist Parish increased dramatically this year.

Marathon paid $57m in 2020 property taxes, up from $16m in 2019. Their taxes represent about 59% of the parish’s property tax base. However, Marathon still has an estimated $711m worth of property exempted in St John, which saves the company about $12m in local taxes each year, according to data from Louisiana Economic Development, which oversees the tax exemption program.

These taxes would otherwise be split between St John schools, law enforcement, and parish government. The exemptions have incentivized three thousand temporary construction jobs and one permanent job, according to the data.

Together Louisiana, a statewide network of congregations and civic organizations that has fought to overhaul the exemptions, found that the state allocated $23bn in subsidies to companies which in turn cut net employment by 26,082 jobs over about two decades.

In 2020, Marathon was also accused of fraudulently applying for $43m in ITEP exemptions. After an internal investigation by the state, the company dropped its application.

Broderick Bagert, an organizer with Together Louisiana, said the governor’s 2016 changes to ITEP require companies to either maintain current levels of employment or create new jobs in order to qualify for the exemptions, but enforcement of those rules has been lax.

“The practice of awarding gigantic, you know, hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies to companies that are not only not creating jobs, but that are actively cutting jobs, is continuing,” Bagert said.

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Help Poor Jews in Israel with The International Fellowship of Christian and JewsHelp Poor Jews in Israel with The International Fellowship of Christians & Jews.

ifcj.org has been visited by 10K+ users in the past month. Brands: Stand for Israel, Isaiah 58, Guardians of Israel, On Wings of Eagles

Would you trust Mike Huckabee? An avowed evangelical whose prime claim to fame is lie as much as possible in the name of religion. Now Mike is backing a “charity” purporting to aid Jewish and Christian folks in Europe. This is a failed politician who raised a daughter who sole claim to fame is TOTUS’s press secretary or better described as lie purveyor for the President.

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Robert Reich

Sun 13 Jun 2021 01.00 EDT

House Republicans are blaming Democrats for the rise in Chipotle burrito prices.

You heard me right. The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) issued a statement on Wednesday claiming that Chipotle’s recent decision to raise prices on their burritos and other menu products by about 4% was caused by Democrats.

“Democrats’ socialist stimulus bill caused a labor shortage and now burrito lovers everywhere are footing the bill,” said an NRCC spokesman, Mike Berg.

It seems Republicans have finally found an issue to run on in the 2022 midterm elections. Apparently Dr Seuss and Mr Potato Head weren’t gaining enough traction.

The GOP’s tortured logic is that the unemployment benefits in the American Rescue Plan have caused workers to stay home rather than seek employment, resulting in labor shortages that have forced employers like Chipotle to increase wages, which has required them to raise their prices.

Hence, Chipotle’s more expensive burrito.

This isn’t just loony economics. It’s dangerously loony economics because it might be believed, leading to all sorts of stupid public policies.

Start with the notion that $300 per week in federal unemployment benefits is keeping Americans from working.

Since fewer than 30% of jobless workers qualify for state unemployment benefits, the claim is that legions of workers have chosen to become couch potatoes and collect $15,000 a year rather than get a job.

Republicans have found an issue to run on. Apparently Dr Seuss and Mr Potato Head weren’t gaining enough traction

I challenge one Republican lawmaker to live on $15,000 a year.

In fact, evidence suggests that workers who are holding back from re-entering the job market don’t have childcare or are still concerned about their health during the pandemic.

Besides, if employers want additional workers, they can do what they necessarily do for anything they want more of but can’t obtain at its current price – pay more.

It’s  called capitalism. Republicans should bone up on it.

When Chipotle wanted to attract more workers, it raised its average wage to $15 an hour. That comes to around $30,000 a year per worker – still too little to live on but double the federal unemployment benefit.

Oh, and there’s no reason to suppose this wage hike forced Chipotle to raise the prices of its burrito. The company had other options.

Chipotle’s executives are among the best paid in America. Its chief executive, Brian Niccol, raked in $38m last year – which happens to be 2,898 times more than the typical Chipotle employee. All Chipotle’s top executives got whopping pay increases.

So, it would have been possible for Chipotle to avoid raising its burrito prices by – dare I say? – paying its executives less. But Chipotle decided otherwise.

I’m not going to second-guess Chipotle’s business decision – nor should the NRCC.

By the way, I keep hearing Republican lawmakers say the GOP is the “party of the working class”. If that’s so, it ought to celebrate when hourly workers get a raise instead of howling about it.

Everyone ought to celebrate when those at the bottom get higher wages.

The typical American worker hasn’t had a real raise in four decades. Income inequality is out of control. Wealth inequality is into the stratosphere (where Jeff Bezos is heading, apparently).

If wages at the bottom rise because employers need to pay more to get the workers they need, that’s not a problem. It’s a victory.

Instead of complaining about a so-called “labor shortage”, Republicans ought to be complaining about the shortage of jobs paying a living wage.

Don’t hold your breath, or your burrito.

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McConnell: “Highly unlikely” he would allow Biden to fill Supreme Court vacancy in 2024

Orion RummlerMon, June 14, 2021, 10:58 AM

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told radio host Hugh Hewitt on Monday that it is “highly unlikely” a Supreme Court nominee picked by Biden would be confirmed in 2024 if Republicans take control of the Senate.

Why it matters: record number of judges, plus three Supreme Court justices, were confirmed under Trump. Democrats have pledged to “restore the balance” of the courts.

What they’re saying: Hewitt asked if McConnell would block Biden from filling a 2024 Supreme Court vacancy as he blocked Obama from replacing the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

  • “Well, I think in the middle of a presidential election, if you have a Senate of the opposite party of the president, you have to go back to the 1880s to find the last time a vacancy was filled,” McConnell said.
  • “So I think it’s highly unlikely. In fact, no, I don’t think either party if it controlled, if it were different from the president, would confirm a Supreme Court nominee in the middle of an election. What was different in 2020 was we were of the same party as the president.”
Rob Rogers Comic Strip for June 15, 2021
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Matthew Rozsa  1 day ago

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As my colleague Amanda Marcotte frequently points out, conservative ideology these days seems to boil down to little more than “owning the libs.” If you manage to achieve “triggering a lib,” maybe you get imaginary bonus points — perhaps the Star Theme from Super Mario Bros. plays in your head.

Well, I think it’s time for liberals to return the favor. We should repeatedly bring up the fact that America’s most important founding father, George Washington, warned us about the rise of Donald Trump.

No, he didn’t know the man’s name, of course — he wasn’t a time traveler or a clairvoyant — but he described Trump’s personality and actions in detail. Washington was president as the United States prepared to hold its first contested presidential election — he was elected twice without opposition — and wanted to make sure it would run smoothly. More than that, he wanted to make sure all future elections ran smoothly. So in his famous Farewell Address, he outlined what an enemy of this democratic process might look like. The speech was published during the 1796 election between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the two great rivals of early American politics.

The most relevant section of the document (most of which reads as fairly antiquated today) is pretty much a giant spoiler alert for everything Trump did to undermine the results of the 2020 election, an effort that began long before a single ballot had been cast. When you get right down to it, one of the likeliest ways for American democracy to reach its breaking point would be if a presidential candidate refused to accept the will of the people. More than two centuries before that happened, Washington foresaw exactly how it would go down.

Although the ideas were entirely Washington’s the address was largely written by Alexander Hamilton. At one point, the man on the one dollar bill warns that partisanship could lead to the rise of a dictator. Decrying the “baneful effects of the spirit of party generally,” he argued that if partisanship reaches a fever pitch, it could “gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual.”

Washington also warned that hyper-partisanship “opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions.” He was worried that these factors could facilitate the rise of “cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men” who would manipulate partisan anger to “subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”

Does any of that sound familiar? Trump has close and somewhat mysterious ties to Vladimir Putin’s government, and former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report demonstrated that his campaign worked with individuals connected to Russia during the 2016 presidential election. When Trump abused his power in an effort to pressure Ukraine into opening an investigation into Joe Biden, Senate Republicans — intimidated by a voter base that, intoxicated by “the baneful effects of the spirit of party,” had come to value defeating Democrats over everything else — rigged his impeachment trial so that partisanship would prevail over justice.

Then Republicans did it again when, after years of conditioning his supporters to believe that any election he loses has been stolen, he became the first defeated president to refuse to accept his loss — and led an insurrection attempt as a result. (After John Tyler, who sided with the Confederacy during the Civil War, Trump became the second president to indisputably betray the Constitution.) Now Republicans have allowed Trump to transform the party in his image, not caring that he put many of their own lives in danger. They are using a Big Lie to erode democracy.

And what did Washington think the climax of all of this hyper-partisanship — as manifested in the above “hypothetical” examples — would be?

The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.

Trump is, to a T, what the Father of His Country predicted. Opponents of Trump, Trumpers and Trumpism need to bring this up waaaaaaay more often.

For what it’s worth, I was tempted to bring up two other relevant sections of Washington’s Farewell Address. One, which pertains to foreign policy, prophesied the rise of American imperialism and is interesting for that reason, but isn’t directly relevant here. The other, which denounces “all obstructions to the execution of the laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities,” I simply don’t support. True, that suggests Washington would clearly have disapproved of the Jan. 6 rioters and their defenders, but not necessarily for the right reason. The problem with the Capitol attack, at its core, is that it was a battle for a baseless and unjust cause. If the rioters had been fighting for human rights rather than fascism — like the civil rights protests of the 1960s, or at least a cause better than shared omnipotence with a malignant narcissist — their actions might have been theoretically defensible.

In any case, those who fight for democracy today should embrace Washington’s Farewell Address. We don’t need to pretend that Washington was an impeccable and virtuous hero, or look past his numerous flaws. But he wasn’t wrong about democracy. His greatest achievement was not defeating the British in the Revolutionary War. It was leaving office in 1797 and handing the reins to Adams, his elected successor — establishing a precedent that Adams knew he had to follow four years later, when he lost his rematch with Jefferson in the bitterly contested election of 1800. It was the precedent that every president followed until Trump lost to Biden in 2020. Washington showed that democratic government could function, for the first time in modern history, because the nation’s leaders would respect the will of the people. 

I once attended a reenactment of Adams’ inauguration as part of my journey covering Barack Obama’s second inauguration for Mic (then PolicyMic) in 2013. When the tour guide read from a contemporary account describing the tension in the room as people wondered whether Washington’s troops would arrest Adams so the first president could stay in power, it felt like a bizarre account from ancient history. Only eight years later, the very people who would claim to venerate Washington’s footsteps have made that 1797 report seem like this week’s headlines.

Washington stepping down from power was the first thing that made America great. If Republicans really want to Make America Great Again, they need to heed Washington’s message — and dump the “cunning, ambitious and unprincipled man” on whose behalf they seem willing to destroy democracy.

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Go Kevin

Erin Donnelly

Sun, June 13, 2021, 1:06 PM

According to Kevin Hart, he “personally [doesn’t] give a s***” about so-called cancel culture — but he certainly has a lot to say on the matter.

The comedian and star of the upcoming Netflix film Fatherhood, who weathered his own backlash after old homophobic jokes resurfaced and resulted in him stepping down from his Oscars hosting gig in 2019, spoke out about internet outrage in a raw new interview with the Sunday Times.

“If somebody has done something truly damaging then, absolutely, a consequence should be attached,” Hart told the U.K. newspaper. “But when you just talk about… nonsense? When you’re talking, ‘Someone said! They need to be taken [down]!’ Shut the f*** up! What are you talking about?

“When did we get to a point where life was supposed to be perfect?” the Get Hard star continued. “Where people were supposed to operate perfectly all the time? I don’t understand. I don’t expect perfection from my kids. I don’t expect it from my wife, friends, employees. Because, last I checked, the only way you grow up is from f***ing up. I don’t know a kid who hasn’t f***ed up or done some dumb shit.”

The 41-year-old touched on his own controversies, saying he didn’t let the backlash affect him. He went on to argue that those who do make mistakes be given the opportunity to learn, grow and move on. 

“I’ve been canceled, what, three or four times? Never bothered,” he said. “If you allow it to have an effect on you, it will. Personally? That’s not how I operate. 

“I understand people are human,” he added. “Everyone can change. It’s like jail. People get locked up so they can be taught a lesson. When they get out, they are supposed to be better. But if they come out and people go, ‘I’m not giving you a job because you were in jail’ — then what the f*** did I go to jail for? That was my punishment — how do you not give those people a shot? They’re saying that all life should be over because of a mistake? Your life should end and there should be no opportunity to change? What are you talking about? And who are you to make that decision?”

According to Hart, comedians like himself are holding themselves back for fear of running afoul of a sensitive climate. 

“You’re thinking that things you say will come back and bite you on the ass,” he said of censoring his material. “I can’t be the comic today that I was when I got into this.”

He later clarified that ruffling feathers with an off-color joke is “not necessarily about cancel culture, it’s backlash. 

“It’s about the intent behind what you say — there’s an assumption it’s always bad and, somehow, we forgot comedians are going for the laugh. You’re not saying something to make people angry. That’s not why I’m on stage. I’m trying to make you laugh and if I did not make you laugh I failed. That’s my consequence.”

Ultimately, Hart feels that society should be able to have disagreement without division or backlash. 

“If there’s a message to take from anything I’ve said, it’s that in this world of opinion, it’s OK to just disagree,” he told the paper. “It’s OK to not like what someone did and to say that person wasn’t for me. We are so caught up in everybody feeling like they have to be right and their way is the only way. Politics is f***ed up because, if you don’t choose our side, you’re dumb.

“It’s a divide. It’s f***ed up. But I’m not about to divide. I don’t support the divide! I put everybody in the f***ing building. We all come into this building Kevin Hart is in and we all laugh. I bring people together — like it or not.”

The father of four also addressed the controversy surrounding his Oscars announcement and his past jokes about the LGBTQ community. 

“If people want to pull up stuff, go back to the same tweets of old, go ahead,” he said. “There is nothing I can do. You’re looking at a younger version of myself. A comedian trying to be funny and, at that attempt, failing. Apologies were made. I understand now how it comes off. I look back and cringe. So it’s growth. It’s about growth.”

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