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Monthly Archives: December 2021


December 30, 2021
Heather Cox Richardson. Dec 31.
January 6, insurrectionists trying to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election stormed the U.S. Capitol and sent our lawmakers into hiding. Since President Joe Biden took office on January 20, just two weeks after the attack, we have been engaged in a great struggle between those trying to restore our democracy and those determined to undermine it. Biden committed to restoring our democracy after the strains it had endured. When he took office, we were in the midst of a global pandemic whose official death toll in the U.S. was at 407,000. Our economy was in tatters, our foreign alliances weakened, and our government under siege by insurrectionists, some of whom were lawmakers themselves. In his inaugural address, Biden implored Americans to come together to face these crises. He recalled the Civil War, the Great Depression, the World Wars, and the attacks of 9/11, noting that “[i]n each of these moments, enough of us came together to carry all of us forward.” “It’s time for boldness, for there is so much to do,” he said. He asked Americans to “write an American story of hope, not fear… [a] story that tells ages yet to come that we answered the call of history…. That democracy and hope, truth and justice, did not die on our watch but thrived. ”Later that day, he headed to the Oval Office. “I thought there’s no time to wait. Get to work immediately,” he said. Rather than permitting the Trump Republicans who were still insisting Trump had won the election to frame the national conversation, Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, as well as the Democrats in Congress, ignored them and set out to prove that our government can work for ordinary Americans. Biden vowed to overcome Covid, trying to rally Republicans to join Democrats behind a “war” on the global ​​pandemic. The Trump team had refused to confer during the transition period with the Biden team, who discovered that the previous administration had never had a plan for federal delivery of covid vaccines, simply planning to give them to the states and then let the cash-strapped states figure out how to get them into arms. “What we’re inheriting is so much worse than we could have imagined,” Biden’s coronavirus response coordinator, Jeff Zients, said to reporters on January 21. Biden immediately invoked the Defense Production Act, bought more vaccines, worked with states to establish vaccine sites and transportation to them, and established vaccine centers in pharmacies across the country. As vaccination rates climbed, he vowed to make sure that 70% of the U.S. adult population would have one vaccine shot and 160 million U.S. adults would be fully vaccinated by July 4th.   At the same time, the Democrats undertook to repair the economy, badly damaged by the pandemic. In March, without a single Republican vote, they passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan to jump-start the economy by putting money into the pockets of ordinary Americans. It worked. The new law cut child poverty in half by putting $66 billion into 36 million households. It expanded access to the Affordable Care Act, enabling more than 4.6 million Americans who were not previously insured to get healthcare coverage, bringing the total covered to a record 13.6 million. As vaccinated people started to venture out again, this support for consumers bolstered U.S. companies, which by the end of the year were showing profit margins higher than they have been since 1950, at 15%. Companies reduced their debt, which translated to a strong stock market. In February, Biden’s first month in office, the jobless rate was 6.2%; by December it had dropped to 4.2%. This means that 4.1 million jobs were created in the Biden administration’s first year, more than were created in the 12 years of the Trump and George W. Bush administrations combined. In November, Congress passed a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that will repair bridges and roads and get broadband to places that still don’t have it, and negotiations continue on a larger infrastructure package that will support child care and elder care, as well as education and measures to address climate change.Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal report that U.S. economic output jumped more than 7% in the last three months of 2021. Overall growth for 2021 should be about 6%, and economists predict growth of around 4% in 2022—the highest numbers the U.S. has seen in decades. China’s growth in the same period will be 4%, and the eurozone (the member countries of the European Union that use the euro) will grow at 2%. The U.S. is “outperforming the world by the biggest margin in the 21st century,” wrote Matthew A. Winkler in Bloomberg, “and with good reason: America’s economy improved more in Joe Biden’s first 12 months than any president during the past 50 years….” With more experience in foreign affairs than any president since George H. W. Bush, Biden set out to rebuild our strained alliances and modernize the war on terror. On January 20, he took steps to rejoin the World Health Organization and the Paris Climate Accords, which his predecessor had rejected. Secretary of State Antony Blinken emphasized that Biden’s leadership team believed foreign and domestic policy to be profoundly linked. They promised to support democracy at home and abroad to combat the authoritarianism rising around the world. “The more we and other democracies can show the world that we can deliver, not only for our people, but also for each other, the more we can refute the lie that authoritarian countries love to tell, that theirs is the better way to meet people’s fundamental needs and hopes. It’s on us to prove them wrong,” Blinken said. Biden and Blinken increased the use of sanctions against those suspected of funding terrorism. Declaring it vital to national security to stop corruption in order to prevent illicit money from undermining democracies, Biden convened a Summit for Democracy, where leaders from more than 110 countries discussed how best to combat authoritarianism and corruption, and to protect human rights. Biden began to shift American foreign policy most noticeably by withdrawing from the nation’s twenty-year war in Afghanistan. He inherited the previous president’s February 2020 deal with the Taliban to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan by May 1, 2021, so long as the Taliban did not kill any more Americans. By the time Biden took office, the U.S. had withdrawn all but 2500 troops from the country. He could either go back on Trump’s agreement—meaning the Taliban would again begin attacking U.S. service people, forcing the U.S. to pour in troops and sustain casualties—or get out of what had become a meandering, expensive, unpopular war, one that Biden himself had wanted to leave since the Obama administration. In April, Biden said he would honor the agreement he had inherited from Trump, beginning, not ending, the troop withdrawal on May 1. He said he would have everyone out by September 11, the 20th anniversary of the al-Qaeda attacks that took us there in the first place. (He later adjusted that to August 31.) He promised to evacuate the country “responsibly, deliberately, and safely” and assured Americans that the U.S. had “trained and equipped a standing force of over 300,000 Afghan personnel” who would “continue to fight valiantly, on behalf of the Afghans, at great cost. ”Instead, the Afghan army crumbled as the U.S began to pull its remaining troops out in July. By mid-August, the Taliban had taken control of the capital, Kabul, and the leaders of the Afghan government fled, abandoning the country to chaos. People rushed to the airport to escape and seven Afghans died, either crushed in the crowds or killed when they fell from planes to which they had clung in hopes of getting out. Then, on August 26, two explosions outside the Kabul airport killed at least 60 Afghan civilians and 13 U.S. troops. More than 100 Afghans and 15 U.S. service members were wounded. In the aftermath, the U.S. military conducted the largest human airlift in U.S. history, moving more than 100,000 people without further casualties, and on August 30, Major General Chris Donahue, commander of the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division, boarded a cargo plane at Kabul airport, and the U.S. war in Afghanistan was over. (Evacuations have continued on planes chartered by other countries.) With the end of that war, Biden has focused on using financial pressure and alliances rather than military might to achieve foreign policy goals. He has worked with North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies to counter increasing aggression from Russian president Vladimir Putin, strengthening NATO, while suggesting publicly that further Russian incursions into Ukraine will have serious financial repercussions.In any ordinary time, Biden’s demonstration that democracy can work for ordinary people in three major areas would have been an astonishing success. But these are not ordinary times.Biden and the Democrats have had to face an opposition that is working to undermine the government. Even after the January 6 attack on the Capitol, 147 Republican members of Congress voted to challenge at least one of the certified state electoral votes, propping up the Big Lie that Trump won the 2020 presidential election. Many of them continue to plug that lie, convincing 68% of Republicans that Biden is an illegitimate president. This lie has justified the passage in 19 Republican-dominated states of 33 new laws to suppress voting or to take the counting of votes out of the hands of non-partisan officials altogether and turn that process over to Republicans. Republicans have stoked opposition to the Democrats by feeding the culture wars, skipping negotiations on the American Rescue Plan, for example, to complain that the toymaker Hasbro was introducing a gender-neutral Potato Head toy, and that the estate of Dr. Seuss was ceasing publication of some of his lesser-known books that bore racist pictures or themes. They created a firestorm over Critical Race Theory, an advanced legal theory, insisting that it, and the teaching of issues of race in the schools, was teaching white children to hate themselves. Most notably, though, as Biden’s coronavirus vaccination program appeared to be meeting his ambitious goals, Republicans suggested that government vaccine outreach was overreach, pushing the government into people’s lives. Vaccination rates began to drop off, and Biden’s July 4 goal went unmet just as the more contagious Delta variant began to rage across the country. In July, Biden required federal workers and contractors to be vaccinated; in November, the administration said that workers at businesses with more than 100 employees and health care workers must be vaccinated or frequently tested. Rejecting the vaccine became a badge of opposition to the Biden administration. By early December, fewer than 10% of adult Democrats were unvaccinated, compared with 40% of Republicans. This means that Republicans are three times more likely than Democrats to die of Covid, and as the new Omicron variant rages across the country, Republicans are blaming Biden for not stopping the pandemic. Covid has now killed more than 800,000 Americans. While Biden and the Democrats have made many missteps this year—missing that the Afghan government would collapse, hitting an Afghan family in a drone strike, underplaying Covid testing, prioritizing infrastructure over voting rights—the Democrats’ biggest miscalculation might well be refusing to address the disinformation of the Republicans directly in order to promote bipartisanship and move the country forward together. With the lies of Trump Republicans largely unchallenged by Democratic lawmakers or the media, Republicans have swung almost entirely into the Trump camp. The former president has worked to purge from the state and national party anyone he considers insufficiently loyal to him, and his closest supporters have become so extreme that they are openly supporting authoritarianism and talking of Democrats as “vermin. ”Some are talking about a “national divorce,” which observers have interpreted as a call for secession, like the Confederates tried in 1860. But in fact, Trump Republicans do not want to form their own country. Rather, they want to cement minority rule in this one, keeping themselves in power over the will of the majority. It seems that in some ways we are ending 2021 as we began it. Although Biden and the Democrats have indeed demonstrated that our government, properly run, can work for the people to combat a deadly pandemic, create a booming economy, and stop unpopular wars, that same authoritarian minority that tried to overturn the 2020 election on January 6 is more deeply entrenched than it was a year ago. And yet, as we move into 2022, the ground is shifting. The House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol is starting to show what it has learned from the testimony of more than 300 witnesses and a review of more than 35,000 documents. The fact that those closest to Trump are refusing to testify suggests that the hearings in the new year will be compelling and will help people to understand just how close we came to an authoritarian takeover last January. And then, as soon as the Senate resumes work in the new year, it will take up measures to restore the voting rights and election integrity Republican legislatures have stripped away, giving back to the people the power to guard against such an authoritarian coup happening again. It looks like 2022 is going to be a choppy ride, but its outcome is in our hands. As Congressman John Lewis (D-GA), who was beaten almost to death in his quest to protect the right to vote, wrote to us when he passed: “Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part.”—
Notes:​​https://khn.org/morning-breakout/covid-deaths-skew-higher-than-ever-in-red-states/https://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/581708-unvaccinated-adults-more-than-three-times-as-likely-to-lean-republican-kffhttps://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/11/04/fact-sheet-biden-administration-announces-details-of-two-major-vaccination-policies/https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/11/10/why-do-some-still-deny-bidens-2020-victory-heres-what-data-says/https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/01/07/us/elections/electoral-college-biden-objectors.htmlThe “vermin” and “national divorce” quotations are tweets from Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) but I didn’t want to spread them on social media. They were retweeted by several other Republicans. httpshttps://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/30/opinion/john-lewis-civil-rights-america.html
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Looking at all of the “news” regarding Nato, Russia, Afghanistan and Federal Government, there is one connection among all of them: President Biden. Aside from the garbage left by the former guy, we have Russia, the Taliban, Iran and China all vying for word wide attention as they ply their trade in aggression at home and abroad. These being normal things in the grand scheme of things. In the US we have the aftermath of January 6th which has shown how divided we are as a country with a raging pandemic assisted by folks who refuse to get the jabs because of previous harm done by the medical community and mass media mis information. Years ago, when Polio, smallpox, measles and chickenpox were prevalent, there were mandates to get vaccinated, we went willingly without a whimper, and we were better for it (we still have those mandates in order for children to begin school). According to the experts who are studying this onslaught of disease daily, if we have at least 70% of the population vaxxed we stand a chance of curbing it’s spread. We have Political leaders (who have gotten their shots) railing against mandated vaccination while their constituents are falling ill in 100’s and thousands around them. WE have a Congress blocking legislation that would provide work and income for the unemployed while rebuilding infrastructure, but a so-called Tax reform took money from those who made less than $400,000 annually (90% or more of Americans) was passed with no regard to how much the deficit grew. This fiasco was sold as a win for the working class, don’t see that yet. We as voters need to stop the current GOP from gaining power in the Congress or Whitehouse as this will maintain the status quo while doing nothing to improve current conditions HealthWise and financially. This is not to say the Democrats will necessarily do better but on the face of what we see now, they may be an improvement. On the subject of Russia, I am not an ambassador, politician or military expert but I believe it is NATO’s job to deal with Russia, Iran, the Taliban and China. First make Ukraine and Taiwan members of Nato, that will end the Russian and Chinese threats, then impose more severe sanctions on Iran, the Taliban to bring them to the table. This is my take on what should be considered or done.

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NPR

By Domenico MontanaroPublished December 29, 2021 at 4:00 AM CST

A pro-Trump mob gathers in front of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 in an effort to disrupt the ratification of Joe Biden's Electoral College victory. So far, more than 700 people have been charged with crimes due to their actions that day.
A pro-Trump mob gathers in front of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 in an effort to disrupt the ratification of Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. So far, more than 700 people have been charged with crimes due to their actions that day.

This year was supposed to be one of recovery, but it has been far from that.

It began with the insurrection at the Capitol, a second impeachment of then-President Donald Trump and President Biden’s inauguration. As the year went on, Trump continued to lie about the election results while he remained one of the most popular figures among Republicans.

With new coronavirus variants, the deadly pandemic has continued to drag on. And even though the stock market has boomed and unemployment is down, Americans have felt the pinch of rising prices. Biden has paid the political price, ending the year with his approval ratings at their lowest point since he took office.

As we count down to the new year, we asked our readers what they thought were the top political stories of 2021. More than 1,000 responded. Here’s what they picked:

10. Afghanistan withdrawal

As he promised on the campaign trail, Biden ended the United States’ almost 20-year war in Afghanistan, America’s longest war. But the withdrawal of troops was chaotic and deadly with 13 U.S. servicemembers and some 170 Afghans killed in a suicide bombing by the Kabul airport. The U.S. and its Afghan allies didn’t foresee the speed at which the Taliban would take control of the country. It has meant a reversal of years of progress for women’s rights in Afghanistan, and it hurt U.S. credibility abroad and Biden’s credibility at home that he could govern competently.

9. Extreme weather events

The Windy Fire blazes through the Long Meadow Grove of giant sequoia trees on Sept. 21 near California Hot Springs.
The Windy Fire blazes through the Long Meadow Grove of giant sequoia trees on Sept. 21 near California Hot Springs.

Floods, tornadoes, fires and drought — all were too common in 2021. Multiple one-in-1,000-year events aren’t supposed to happen in a single year, but that’s exactly what happened in 2021 as the climate continues to change and legislators appear paralyzed to find solutions. And as global emissions and temperatures rise, the number of weather disasters is likely only to increase.

8. Rise of the far right in the House

This year has seen the Trump wing of the Republican Party continue to be ascendant, led by brash and controversial far-right voices in the House. GOP members like Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado seem more in touch with the base than Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.

The intraparty divisions came to a head with an altered anime video by Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., that portrayed him killing New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and attacking Biden with knives. The House censured Gosar, but only two Republicans voted with Democrats — Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, both of whom have already broken with Trump.

7. Biden and Harris take office

President Biden and Vice President Harris arrive on the South Lawn of the White House on Nov. 15 for a signing ceremony for the infrastructure bill.
President Biden and Vice President Harris arrive on the South Lawn of the White House on Nov. 15 for a signing ceremony for the infrastructure bill.

They were elected largely in response to Trump and the coronavirus pandemic. Trump was one of the most divisive figures in the history of the office, and Biden ran as something of a panacea. And his running mate, Kamala Harris, was a historic pick: the first woman, first Asian American and first Black vice president.

Their supporters saw a brighter day on the horizon, but that would soon dim. Biden was able to get through a COVID-19 relief bill and eventually infrastructure legislation, but Democratic infighting got most of the attention. The right found its footing in opposition to Biden; Biden’s popularity hit its lowest point at the end of the year; and Harris’ favorability ratings tanked. The duo has to hope for a turnaround in the pandemic and for inflation to recede to turn around their prospects.

6. Jan. 6 committee investigation

The Democratic-led congressional committee looking into what happened on Jan. 6 hit its stride toward the end of the year. It issued dozens of subpoenas, held Trump officials who didn’t cooperate in contempt, and read explosive text messages from the former president’s son and Fox News personalities, all urging Trump’s then-chief of staff to get him to call off the insurrection. The clock is ticking on the committee, however, if it hopes to piece together all of what was happening behind the scenes. Republicans are favored to take back control of the House in 2022 and in all likelihood would shut down the investigation.

5. Trump’s continued lies about the election

Trump lost the 2020 presidential election, but he was never able to accept that. For a man who built his brand on “winning,” losing was unacceptable. He’s lost plenty in his life. He’s taken businesses into bankruptcy and written off almost $1 billion in losses. But he was always able to spin his way out of those things. That was far more difficult to do with a presidential election. So his only off-ramp was to lie about what happened. Trump has continued to falsely assert that he won when he didn’t and managed to convince millions of his followers of the same — the first time since the Civil War that there wasn’t a peaceful transfer of power with both sides accepting the outcome.

4. New restrictive voting laws

Demonstrators gather outside of the Texas State Capitol in Austin during a voting rights rally on July 8.
Demonstrators gather outside the Texas State Capitol in Austin during a voting rights rally on July 8.

States have moved in opposite directions this year when it comes to voting laws: Democratic-led states like Nevada or California have codified expansions offered during the pandemic, while Republican-led states have enacted new restrictions on voting. The most notable changes have happened in those GOP-led states, like Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Iowa and Montana. Most of these states enacted an omnibus package with many new restrictions, such as to mail-in voting, all in the name of “restoring election integrity.” Some other key states would have joined them, had they not had Democratic governors veto the legislation.

3. Ongoing coronavirus pandemic

More than 800,000 Americans have now died from COVID-19. Biden was close to declaring independence from the coronavirus in July as a result of widespread distribution of the vaccine and dropping case numbers. But the delta variant led to more infections and more restrictions, and fears began to rise again toward the end of the year with the massive surge in cases due to the omicron variant, which has infected many who are vaccinated.

2. Abortion restrictions and court battles

Demonstrators gather in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 1 as the justices hear arguments in a key case about a Mississippi abortion law.
Demonstrators gather in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 1 as the justices hear arguments in a key case about a Mississippi abortion law.

The landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal in this country appears in jeopardy. Trump’s appointment of three conservative-leaning justices has meant that this year the high court took steps to gut Roe v. Wade. All indications are that it will uphold restrictions, like a 15-week ban in Mississippi, and it has so far let a Texas law stand that has all but shut down access to abortion in the state.

1. Jan. 6 insurrection

No shock here. This was an unprecedented event that capped off a chaotic Trump presidency. A mob of pro-Trump supporters breached the Capitol building and marauded through the halls in an attempt to disrupt the ceremonial counting of states’ votes that confirmed Biden’s victory in the 2020 election. Despite the violent images broadcast on television, the handful of deaths, 140 members of law enforcement who were injured and more than $1 million in damage as a result, some on the right continue to dismiss what happened, calling it a peaceful protest. So far, more than 700 people have been charged with crimes due to their actions that day.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


From the Capitol riot to abortion rights, here are the


From the Capitol riot to abortion rights, here are the top political stories of 2021

NPR

By Domenico MontanaroPublished December 29, 2021 at 4:00 AM CST

A pro-Trump mob gathers in front of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 in an effort to disrupt the ratification of Joe Biden's Electoral College victory. So far, more than 700 people have been charged with crimes due to their actions that day.
A pro-Trump mob gathers in front of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 in an effort to disrupt the ratification of Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. So far, more than 700 people have been charged with crimes due to their actions that day.

This year was supposed to be one of recovery, but it has been far from that.

It began with the insurrection at the Capitol, a second impeachment of then-President Donald Trump and President Biden’s inauguration. As the year went on, Trump continued to lie about the election results while he remained one of the most popular figures among Republicans.

With new coronavirus variants, the deadly pandemic has continued to drag on. And even though the stock market has boomed and unemployment is down, Americans have felt the pinch of rising prices. Biden has paid the political price, ending the year with his approval ratings at their lowest point since he took office.

As we count down to the new year, we asked our readers what they thought were the top political stories of 2021. More than 1,000 responded. Here’s what they picked:

10. Afghanistan withdrawal

As he promised on the campaign trail, Biden ended the United States’ almost 20-year war in Afghanistan, America’s longest war. But the withdrawal of troops was chaotic and deadly with 13 U.S. servicemembers and some 170 Afghans killed in a suicide bombing by the Kabul airport. The U.S. and its Afghan allies didn’t foresee the speed at which the Taliban would take control of the country. It has meant a reversal of years of progress for women’s rights in Afghanistan, and it hurt U.S. credibility abroad and Biden’s credibility at home that he could govern competently.

9. Extreme weather events

The Windy Fire blazes through the Long Meadow Grove of giant sequoia trees on Sept. 21 near California Hot Springs.
The Windy Fire blazes through the Long Meadow Grove of giant sequoia trees on Sept. 21 near California Hot Springs.

Floods, tornadoes, fires and drought — all were too common in 2021. Multiple one-in-1,000-year events aren’t supposed to happen in a single year, but that’s exactly what happened in 2021 as the climate continues to change and legislators appear paralyzed to find solutions. And as global emissions and temperatures rise, the number of weather disasters is likely only to increase.

8. Rise of the far right in the House

This year has seen the Trump wing of the Republican Party continue to be ascendant, led by brash and controversial far-right voices in the House. GOP members like Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado seem more in touch with the base than Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.

The intraparty divisions came to a head with an altered anime video by Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., that portrayed him killing New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and attacking Biden with knives. The House censured Gosar, but only two Republicans voted with Democrats — Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, both of whom have already broken with Trump.

7. Biden and Harris take office

President Biden and Vice President Harris arrive on the South Lawn of the White House on Nov. 15 for a signing ceremony for the infrastructure bill.
President Biden and Vice President Harris arrive on the South Lawn of the White House on Nov. 15 for a signing ceremony for the infrastructure bill.

They were elected largely in response to Trump and the coronavirus pandemic. Trump was one of the most divisive figures in the history of the office, and Biden ran as something of a panacea. And his running mate, Kamala Harris, was a historic pick: the first woman, first Asian American and first Black vice president.

Their supporters saw a brighter day on the horizon, but that would soon dim. Biden was able to get through a COVID-19 relief bill and eventually infrastructure legislation, but Democratic infighting got most of the attention. The right found its footing in opposition to Biden; Biden’s popularity hit its lowest point at the end of the year; and Harris’ favorability ratings tanked. The duo has to hope for a turnaround in the pandemic and for inflation to recede to turn around their prospects.

6. Jan. 6 committee investigation

The Democratic-led congressional committee looking into what happened on Jan. 6 hit its stride toward the end of the year. It issued dozens of subpoenas, held Trump officials who didn’t cooperate in contempt, and read explosive text messages from the former president’s son and Fox News personalities, all urging Trump’s then-chief of staff to get him to call off the insurrection. The clock is ticking on the committee, however, if it hopes to piece together all of what was happening behind the scenes. Republicans are favored to take back control of the House in 2022 and in all likelihood would shut down the investigation.

5. Trump’s continued lies about the election

Trump lost the 2020 presidential election, but he was never able to accept that. For a man who built his brand on “winning,” losing was unacceptable. He’s lost plenty in his life. He’s taken businesses into bankruptcy and written off almost $1 billion in losses. But he was always able to spin his way out of those things. That was far more difficult to do with a presidential election. So his only off-ramp was to lie about what happened. Trump has continued to falsely assert that he won when he didn’t and managed to convince millions of his followers of the same — the first time since the Civil War that there wasn’t a peaceful transfer of power with both sides accepting the outcome.

4. New restrictive voting laws

Demonstrators gather outside of the Texas State Capitol in Austin during a voting rights rally on July 8.
Demonstrators gather outside the Texas State Capitol in Austin during a voting rights rally on July 8.

States have moved in opposite directions this year when it comes to voting laws: Democratic-led states like Nevada or California have codified expansions offered during the pandemic, while Republican-led states have enacted new restrictions on voting. The most notable changes have happened in those GOP-led states, like Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Iowa and Montana. Most of these states enacted an omnibus package with many new restrictions, such as to mail-in voting, all in the name of “restoring election integrity.” Some other key states would have joined them, had they not had Democratic governors veto the legislation.

3. Ongoing coronavirus pandemic

More than 800,000 Americans have now died from COVID-19. Biden was close to declaring independence from the coronavirus in July as a result of widespread distribution of the vaccine and dropping case numbers. But the delta variant led to more infections and more restrictions, and fears began to rise again toward the end of the year with the massive surge in cases due to the omicron variant, which has infected many who are vaccinated.

2. Abortion restrictions and court battles

Demonstrators gather in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 1 as the justices hear arguments in a key case about a Mississippi abortion law.
Demonstrators gather in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 1 as the justices hear arguments in a key case about a Mississippi abortion law.

The landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal in this country appears in jeopardy. Trump’s appointment of three conservative-leaning justices has meant that this year the high court took steps to gut Roe v. Wade. All indications are that it will uphold restrictions, like a 15-week ban in Mississippi, and it has so far let a Texas law stand that has all but shut down access to abortion in the state.

1. Jan. 6 insurrection

No shock here. This was an unprecedented event that capped off a chaotic Trump presidency. A mob of pro-Trump supporters breached the Capitol building and marauded through the halls in an attempt to disrupt the ceremonial counting of states’ votes that confirmed Biden’s victory in the 2020 election. Despite the violent images broadcast on television, the handful of deaths, 140 members of law enforcement who were injured and more than $1 million in damage as a result, some on the right continue to dismiss what happened, calling it a peaceful protest. So far, more than 700 people have been charged with crimes due to their actions that day.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

A pro-Trump mob gathers in front of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 in an effort to disrupt the ratification of Joe Biden's Electoral College victory. So far, more than 700 people have been charged with crimes due to their actions that day.
A pro-Trump mob gathers in front of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 in an effort to disrupt the ratification of Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. So far, more than 700 people have been charged with crimes due to their actions that day.

This year was supposed to be one of recovery, but it has been far from that.

It began with the insurrection at the Capitol, a second impeachment of then-President Donald Trump and President Biden’s inauguration. As the year went on, Trump continued to lie about the election results while he remained one of the most popular figures among Republicans.

With new coronavirus variants, the deadly pandemic has continued to drag on. And even though the stock market has boomed and unemployment is down, Americans have felt the pinch of rising prices. Biden has paid the political price, ending the year with his approval ratings at their lowest point since he took office.

As we count down to the new year, we asked our readers what they thought were the top political stories of 2021. More than 1,000 responded. Here’s what they picked:

10. Afghanistan withdrawal

As he promised on the campaign trail, Biden ended the United States’ almost 20-year war in Afghanistan, America’s longest war. But the withdrawal of troops was chaotic and deadly with 13 U.S. servicemembers and some 170 Afghans killed in a suicide bombing by the Kabul airport. The U.S. and its Afghan allies didn’t foresee the speed at which the Taliban would take control of the country. It has meant a reversal of years of progress for women’s rights in Afghanistan, and it hurt U.S. credibility abroad and Biden’s credibility at home that he could govern competently.

9. Extreme weather events

The Windy Fire blazes through the Long Meadow Grove of giant sequoia trees on Sept. 21 near California Hot Springs.
The Windy Fire blazes through the Long Meadow Grove of giant sequoia trees on Sept. 21 near California Hot Springs.

Floods, tornadoes, fires and drought — all were too common in 2021. Multiple one-in-1,000-year events aren’t supposed to happen in a single year, but that’s exactly what happened in 2021 as the climate continues to change and legislators appear paralyzed to find solutions. And as global emissions and temperatures rise, the number of weather disasters is likely only to increase.

8. Rise of the far right in the House

This year has seen the Trump wing of the Republican Party continue to be ascendant, led by brash and controversial far-right voices in the House. GOP members like Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado seem more in touch with the base than Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.

The intraparty divisions came to a head with an altered anime video by Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., that portrayed him killing New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and attacking Biden with knives. The House censured Gosar, but only two Republicans voted with Democrats — Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, both of whom have already broken with Trump.

7. Biden and Harris take office

President Biden and Vice President Harris arrive on the South Lawn of the White House on Nov. 15 for a signing ceremony for the infrastructure bill.
President Biden and Vice President Harris arrive on the South Lawn of the White House on Nov. 15 for a signing ceremony for the infrastructure bill.

They were elected largely in response to Trump and the coronavirus pandemic. Trump was one of the most divisive figures in the history of the office, and Biden ran as something of a panacea. And his running mate, Kamala Harris, was a historic pick: the first woman, first Asian American and first Black vice president.

Their supporters saw a brighter day on the horizon, but that would soon dim. Biden was able to get through a COVID-19 relief bill and eventually infrastructure legislation, but Democratic infighting got most of the attention. The right found its footing in opposition to Biden; Biden’s popularity hit its lowest point at the end of the year; and Harris’ favorability ratings tanked. The duo has to hope for a turnaround in the pandemic and for inflation to recede to turn around their prospects.

6. Jan. 6 committee investigation

The Democratic-led congressional committee looking into what happened on Jan. 6 hit its stride toward the end of the year. It issued dozens of subpoenas, held Trump officials who didn’t cooperate in contempt, and read explosive text messages from the former president’s son and Fox News personalities, all urging Trump’s then-chief of staff to get him to call off the insurrection. The clock is ticking on the committee, however, if it hopes to piece together all of what was happening behind the scenes. Republicans are favored to take back control of the House in 2022 and in all likelihood would shut down the investigation.

5. Trump’s continued lies about the election

Trump lost the 2020 presidential election, but he was never able to accept that. For a man who built his brand on “winning,” losing was unacceptable. He’s lost plenty in his life. He’s taken businesses into bankruptcy and written off almost $1 billion in losses. But he was always able to spin his way out of those things. That was far more difficult to do with a presidential election. So his only off-ramp was to lie about what happened. Trump has continued to falsely assert that he won when he didn’t and managed to convince millions of his followers of the same — the first time since the Civil War that there wasn’t a peaceful transfer of power with both sides accepting the outcome.

4. New restrictive voting laws

Demonstrators gather outside of the Texas State Capitol in Austin during a voting rights rally on July 8.
Demonstrators gather outside the Texas State Capitol in Austin during a voting rights rally on July 8.

States have moved in opposite directions this year when it comes to voting laws: Democratic-led states like Nevada or California have codified expansions offered during the pandemic, while Republican-led states have enacted new restrictions on voting. The most notable changes have happened in those GOP-led states, like Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Iowa and Montana. Most of these states enacted an omnibus package with many new restrictions, such as to mail-in voting, all in the name of “restoring election integrity.” Some other key states would have joined them, had they not had Democratic governors veto the legislation.

3. Ongoing coronavirus pandemic

More than 800,000 Americans have now died from COVID-19. Biden was close to declaring independence from the coronavirus in July as a result of widespread distribution of the vaccine and dropping case numbers. But the delta variant led to more infections and more restrictions, and fears began to rise again toward the end of the year with the massive surge in cases due to the omicron variant, which has infected many who are vaccinated.

2. Abortion restrictions and court battles

Demonstrators gather in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 1 as the justices hear arguments in a key case about a Mississippi abortion law.
Demonstrators gather in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 1 as the justices hear arguments in a key case about a Mississippi abortion law.

The landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal in this country appears in jeopardy. Trump’s appointment of three conservative-leaning justices has meant that this year the high court took steps to gut Roe v. Wade. All indications are that it will uphold restrictions, like a 15-week ban in Mississippi, and it has so far let a Texas law stand that has all but shut down access to abortion in the state.

1. Jan. 6 insurrection

No shock here. This was an unprecedented event that capped off a chaotic Trump presidency. A mob of pro-Trump supporters breached the Capitol building and marauded through the halls in an attempt to disrupt the ceremonial counting of states’ votes that confirmed Biden’s victory in the 2020 election. Despite the violent images broadcast on television, the handful of deaths, 140 members of law enforcement who were injured and more than $1 million in damage as a result, some on the right continue to dismiss what happened, calling it a peaceful protest. So far, more than 700 people have been charged with crimes due to their actions that day.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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December 28, 2021
Heather Cox Richardson
Dec 29.
On the clear, cold morning of December 29, 1890, on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, three U.S. soldiers tried to wrench a valuable Winchester away from a young Lakota man. He refused to give up his hunting weapon; it was the only thing standing between his family and starvation. As the men struggled, the gun fired into the sky. Before the echoes died, troops fired a volley that brought down half of the Lakota men and boys the soldiers had captured the night before, as well as a number of soldiers surrounding the Lakotas. The uninjured Lakota men attacked the soldiers with knives, guns they snatched from wounded soldiers, and their fists. As the men fought hand-to-hand, the Lakota women who had been hitching their horses to wagons for the day’s travel tried to flee along the nearby road or up a dry ravine behind the camp. The soldiers on a slight rise above the camp turned rapid-fire mountain guns on them. Then, over the next two hours, troops on horseback hunted down and slaughtered all the Lakotas they could find: about 250 men, women, and children. But it is not December 29 that haunts me. It is the night of December 28, the night before the killing. On December 28, there was still time to avert the Wounded Knee Massacre. In the early afternoon, the Lakota leader Big Foot—Sitanka—had urged his people to surrender to the soldiers looking for them. Sitanka was desperately ill with pneumonia, and the people in his band were hungry, underdressed, and exhausted. They were making their way south across South Dakota from their own reservation in the northern part of the state to the Pine Ridge Reservation. There, they planned to take shelter with another famous Lakota chief, Red Cloud. His people had done as Sitanka asked, and the soldiers escorted the Lakotas to a camp on South Dakota’s Wounded Knee Creek, inside the boundaries of the Pine Ridge Reservation. For the soldiers, the surrender of Sitanka’s band marked the end of the Ghost Dance Uprising. It had been a tense month. Troops had pushed into the South Dakota reservations in November, prompting a band of terrified men who had embraced the Ghost Dance religion to gather their wives and children and ride out to the Badlands. But, at long last, army officers and negotiators had convinced those Ghost Dancers to go back to Pine Ridge and turn themselves in to authorities before winter hit in earnest. Sitanka’s people were not part of the Badlands group and, for the most part, were not Ghost Dancers. They had fled from their own northern reservation two weeks before when they learned that officers had murdered the great leader Sitting Bull in his own home. Army officers were anxious to find and corral Sitanka’s missing Lakotas before they carried the news that Sitting Bull had been killed to those who had taken refuge in the Badlands. Army leaders were certain the information would spook the Ghost Dancers and send them flying back to the Badlands. They were determined to make sure the two bands did not meet.But South Dakota is a big state, and it was not until late in the afternoon of December 28 that the soldiers finally made contact with Sitanka’s band, and it didn’t go quite as the officers planned: a group of soldiers were watering their horses in a stream when some of the traveling Lakotas surprised them. The Lakotas let the soldiers go, and the men promptly reported to their officers, who marched on the Lakotas as if they were going to war. Sitanka, who had always gotten along well with army officers, assured the commander that his band was on its way to Pine Ridge anyway, and asked his men to surrender unconditionally. They did. By this time, Sitanka was so ill he couldn’t sit up and his nose was dripping blood. Soldiers lifted him into an army ambulance—an old wagon—for the trip to the Wounded Knee camp. His ragtag band followed behind. Once there, the soldiers gave the Lakotas an evening ration, and lent army tents to those who wanted them. Then the soldiers settled into guarding the camp. And they celebrated, for they were heroes of a great war, and it had been bloodless, and now, with the Lakotas’ surrender, they would be demobilized back to their home bases before the South Dakota winter closed in. As they celebrated, more and more troops poured in. It had been a long hunt across South Dakota for Sitanka and his band, and officers were determined the group would not escape them again. In came the Seventh Cavalry, whose men had not forgotten that their former leader George Armstrong Custer had been killed by a band of Lakota in 1876. In came three mountain guns, which the soldiers trained on the Lakota encampment from a slight rise above the camp. For their part, the Lakotas were frightened. If their surrender was welcome and they were going to go with the soldiers to Red Cloud at Pine Ridge, as they had planned all along, why were there so many soldiers, with so many guns? On this day and hour in 1890, in the cold and dark of a South Dakota December night, there were soldiers drinking, singing and visiting with each other, and anxious Lakotas either talking to each other in low voices or trying to sleep. No one knew what the next day would bring, but no one expected what was going to happen. One of the curses of history is that we cannot go back and change the course leading to disasters, no matter how much we might wish to. The past has its own terrible inevitability. But it is never too late to change the future.

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BuzzFeed

Sun, December 26, 2021, 10:46 PM

Non-Americans have some strong opinions and questions when it comes to the US, and according to this viral Reddit thread, they’re not afraid to show it.

Freeform

Recently, Redditor u/jaycool74 asked non-Americans, “What’s something us Americans aren’t ready to hear?” and the results are fascinating.

Someone holds an American flag high in the air
Flashpop / Getty Images

Here are some of the top-voted responses:

1.”A lot of your favourite food brands make better versions of their products here. America often gets the short end of the stick.”

u/YodasChick-O-Stick

“American living in Germany — can confirm. Philadelphia cream cheese is so much better here!”

u/bursatella

2.”You are the ‘foreigner’ for me and around 220 countries.”

u/TaikoLeagueReddit

“Apparently, they aren’t ready to hear that people from countries that aren’t ‘America’ don’t consider themselves as being from ‘foreign’ countries.”

u/adlcp

3.”American bathroom stalls are exposed AF. A grown man could crawl under one of ’em, and the vertical gap has a big enough gap to make full-on eye contact with anyone walking by.”

A bathroom stall in a public restroom
u/CowDeerLaura Beach / Getty Images/EyeEm

4.”Many other countries get minimum four weeks of paid vacation leave for employees and paid maternity leave — even for the father.”

u/Zahliamischa

5.”Staying alive isn’t something that should cost more than the person’s net worth.”

u/LorckFrak

“You live in the main global superpower. A country that can wipe a lot of other places off the map. Your country has so much wealth — yet people die of treatable health problems because they can’t afford to go to the doctor.”

u/cloudpeak36

6.”The amount of food you waste is wild.”

—u/Commercial_Quarter_6
u/Commercial_Quarter_6Tim Grist Photography / Getty Images

7.”The way you add tax to everything at the till is mental. Just tell me what it costs on the fricking label!”

u/Sufficient_Vanilla18

8.”Treating your president like someone you worship is bizarre. As an Aussie, I don’t understand worshipping the royals, either.”

u/Appropriate_Sun6311

9.”The US is a great place to be rich and a bad place to be poor.”

u/IllustriousGuard1943

10.”The quality of your fast food is absolutely horrible compared to that of Canada’s. I’m referring to the same chains: Burger King, McDonald’s, etc.”

A fast food chicken sandwich with fries
u/earthmang2twoVladispas / Getty Images/iStockphoto

11.”You DO have an accent.”

u/imakeverylittlemoney

12.”It’s okay to have healthcare not tied to your employment with a massive, fat middleman in between.”

u/yongrii

13.”School shootings are an almost uniquely American problem. The rest of the world is disgusted. Truly. The need for children to practice ‘active shooter drills’ is an unfathomable sci-fi dystopian horror for us.”

u/JessieOwl

14.”TURN THE VOLUME DOWN — YOU’RE TOO LOUD.”

Someone cups their mouth to shout
u/captainsnacks11“Americans can always be identified before you see them by their loud voices. I grew up in America, moved to Ireland around 12 years ago, and have learned quite a bit in my time. Now, I see these fresh-off-the-boat American tourists shouting all the time, and I just think, ‘Was I that bad?’ and ‘Why are they so loud?'”—u/ultratunamanTetra Images / Getty Images/Tetra images RF

15.”Forcing students to go into debt for further education is disgusting. One should be able to get more education without having to risk never financially recovering.”

u/uckin_anti_pope

16.”You all eat too much sugar.”

u/whtsinthename

“I lived in the US for six months. Shortly after moving, I bought a loaf of bread and made a sandwich, but it was so sweet! I told my housemates that I think I’d accidentally bought a dessert bread. They tried it. NOPE — regular bread. It was just FULL of sugar!”

u/goldboldsold

17.”Seriously though, why is it so expensive to call an ambulance?”

u/Single_Ad6775

18.”Tipping in America is BS. Owners of restaurants and places need to pay normal wages.”

A cash tip left on a restaurant table
u/BeastmasterBGNmaxfield / Getty Images / iStockphoto

19.”Your lack of a cohesive trade union movement screws your lowest-income workers and allows/encourages your political parties to pander only to the elite.”

u/juzzy23

20.”Your education system is far worse than you think.”

u/mdsMW

“Not just worse, but also really, really bad in terms of metrics and history.”

u/BeastmasterBG

21.”The world doesn’t revolve around your country.”

u/rayyfcb19

22.”Not everyone speaks English in the rest of the world. Learn another language; it’s good for the soul and the brain.”

A group of friends having a conversation
u/chillbill1“The worst part is when they make fun of or belittle foreigners for their accents or incorrect choice of vocabulary — when they only speak English and said foreigner speaks two or more languages already.”—u/Its_DizzeeTom Werner / Getty Images

23.”The World Series only happens in the US.”

u/Kommonwealth

24.”If you tell me you’re Polish, but you were born in USA, never went to Poland, never learned the language, and you don’t give a f*ck? Yeah, you’re not Polish — you’re American. Same goes for any other nationality.”

u/Robert_Kurwica

“Just because your grandma or whatever was Irish/Italian/German etc., doesn’t mean you’re Irish/Italian/German etc. — and that’s okay.”

u/TheAndorran

And finally…

25.”We aren’t jealous of you, like, at all.”

u/Junkmatt

YouTube / Rosanna Pansino / Via giphy.com

WHEW. What do you think of these points? Non-Americans, what are some other things Americans aren’t ready to hear? Let us know in the comments below.

Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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December 22, 2021

Heather Cox Richardson5 hr ago273104

Year-end accounts of the U.S. economy are very strong indeed. According to Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal—which are certainly not giddy media outlets—U.S. economic output has jumped more than 7% in the last three months of 2021. Overall growth for 2021 should be about 6%, and economists predict growth of around 4% in 2022—the highest numbers the U.S. has seen in decades. China’s growth in the same period will be 4%, and the eurozone (which is made up of the member countries of the European Union that use the euro) will grow at 2%.

The U.S. is “outperforming the world by the biggest margin in the 21st century,” wrote Matthew A. Winkler in Bloomberg, “and with good reason: America’s economy improved more in Joe Biden’s first 12 months than any president during the past 50 years….”

In February, Biden’s first month in office, the jobless rate was 6.2%; today it has dropped to 4.2%. This means the Biden administration has created 4.1 million jobs, more than were created in the 12 years of the Trump and George W. Bush administrations combined. Wages in America are growing at about 4% a year, compared with less than 1% a year in the eurozone, as worker shortages and strikes at places like Deere & Co. (which makes John Deere products) and Kellogg’s are pushing wages up and as states increase minimum wages.

The American Rescue Plan, passed by Democrats in March without a single Republican vote, cut child poverty in half by putting $66 billion into 36 million households. More than 4.6 million Americans who were not previously insured have gotten healthcare coverage through the Affordable Care Act, bringing the total covered to a record 13.6 million. When Biden took office, about 46% of schools were open; currently the rate is 99%. In November, Congress passed a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that will repair bridges and roads and get broadband to places that still don’t have it.

Support for consumers has bolstered U.S. companies, which are showing profit margins higher than they have been since 1950, at 15%. Companies have reduced their debt, which has translated to a strong stock market.

The American economy is the strongest it’s been in decades, with the U.S. leading the world in economic growth…so why on earth do 54% of Americans disapprove of Biden’s handling of the economy (according to a CNN/SSRS poll released yesterday)?

That disapproval comes partly from inflation, which in November was at 6.8%, the highest in 39 years, but inflation is high around the world as we adjust to post-pandemic reopening. Gas prices, which created an outcry a few weeks ago, have come down significantly. Patrick De Haan, an oil and refined products analyst at GasBuddy, an app to find cheap gas prices, tweeted today that average gas prices have fallen under $3 a gallon in 12 states and that in 36 U.S. cities, prices have fallen by more than $0.25 a gallon in the past 30 days. Falling prices reflect skyrocketing gasoline inventories.

Respondents also said they were upset by disruptions in the supply chain. But in fact, the much-hyped fear that supply chain crunches would keep packages from being delivered on time for the holidays has proved to be misguided: 99% of packages are arriving on time. This is a significant improvement over 2020, and even over 2019. It reflects that companies have built more warehouse space and expanded delivery hours, that people have shopped early this year, and that buyers are venturing back into stores rather than relying on online shopping.

What it does not reflect is a weakened retail market. Major ports in the U.S. will process almost one-fifth more containers in terms of volume than they did in 2019. Container traffic at European ports has stayed flat or declined. Consumer goods are flying off the shelves at a rate about 45% higher than they did in 2018: it looks like Americans will spend about 11.5% more in this holiday season than they did in 2020. Indeed, according to Tom Fairless in the Wall Street Journal, American consumer demand was the key factor in the global supply chain bottlenecks in the first place.

And yet 63% of the poll’s respondents to the CNN/SSRS poll said that the nation’s economy is in poor shape. And here’s why: 57% of them say that the economic news they’ve heard lately has been mostly bad. Only 19% say they are hearing mostly good news about the economy.

How people think about the country depends on the stories they hear about it.

Those maintaining the Big Lie that Trump won the 2020 election know that principle very well.

Yesterday, former national security advisor Michael Flynn filed a request for a restraining order against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and a temporary injunction against a subpoena from the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Today, U.S. District Judge Mary Scriven of Tampa denied Flynn’s request, noting that his lawyers had not followed correct procedure. On Twitter today, legal analyst Teri Kanefield pointed out that, like so many others launched by Trump loyalists, Flynn’s lawsuit was not an actual legal argument but part of the false narrative that Trump and his loyalists are being persecuted by Democrats, led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who stole the election.

That was the strategy behind the sixty or more lawsuits over the election—Trump won only a single minor one—and behind the continuing demands of Trump loyalists to relitigate the 2020 election. They have produced no evidence of the rampant fraud they allege, but the constant demand that election officials defend the results sows increasing distrust of our democratic system.

Douglas Frank, an associate of Trump loyalist and MyPillow founder Mike Lindell, has pressed claims across the country and told the staff of Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, a Republican, that he was launching lawsuits across the country and that LaRose’s office had better cooperate.

“I’m warning you that I’ve been going around the country. We’re starting lawsuits everywhere,” Frank said, according to a recording reported on by the Washington Post’s Amy Gardner, Emma Brown, and Josh Dawsey. “And I want you guys to be allies, not opponents. I want to be on your team, and I’m warning you.” Frank has called for “firing squads” for anyone found guilty of “treason,” by turning “a blind eye to the massive election fraud that took place in 2020.”

And yet, we continue to learn about the reality of the effort to overturn the election. Today the January 6 committee asked Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH) to provide information about his conversations with Trump on January 6—a topic that has made Jordan noticeably uncomfortable whenever it comes up—as well as any other discussions the two men had about overturning the election results, and whether Trump talked about offering pardons to those involved in the insurrection. In October, Jordan said he would be happy to talk to the committee.

Also today, Proud Boy Matthew Greene pleaded guilty to conspiring with others to obstruct law enforcement on January 6 and has agreed to cooperate with law enforcement. His guilty plea and testimony that he helped to program handheld radios for the Proud Boys on January 5 establishes that there was a shared plan and preparation to attack the Capitol.

There are signs that some Republicans might want to get out from under whatever might be coming. Representative Tom Rice (R-SC) today said he regrets voting against counting the electoral votes of two states that voted for Biden, although he continued to say there were problems with the election. “In retrospect I should have voted to certify,” Rice told Olivia Beavers of Politico. “Because President Trump was responsible for the attack on the Capitol.”

And in a new interview, quite casually, when talking about his border wall rather than about the election itself, Trump himself undercut the Big Lie altogether: “We built almost five hundred miles of wall,” he said, “and had we won the election it would…be completed by now.”

Notes:

https://www.politico.com/minutes/congress/12-22-2021/mcconnells-plea/Kaivan Shroff @KaivanShroffBiden has the best first year economic indicators of any president over the last 4 decades…but the worst first year economic poll ratings of any president over that same period. Only explanation? A mainstream media dedicated to pushing false narratives abt this administration.December 22nd 20211,656 Retweets4,249 Likes

https://www.wsj.com/articles/booming-u-s-economy-ripples-world-wide-straining-supply-chains-and-driving-up-prices-11640082604President Biden @POTUSAs 2021 draws to a close, I am proud to say that more than 4.6 million Americans have gained health coverage through the Affordable Care Act since I took office. From November 1st to December 15th alone, more than 13.6 million Americans signed up — an all-time high.December 22nd 20212,263 Retweets13,413 Likes

https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2021-12-20/president-biden-s-economic-performance-has-proved-unbeatable

https://www.cnn.com/2021/12/15/politics/cnn-poll-economy/index.html

https://www.cnn.com/2021/12/21/politics/joe-biden-jimmy-carter-economic-ratings/index.htmlPatrick De Haan ⛽️📊 @GasBuddyGuyGasBuddy now counts 12 states with average #gasprices under $3/gal and 36 US cities where prices have fallen by over 25c/gal in the last 30 daysDecember 22nd 20211,557 Retweets5,862 Likes

https://www.wsj.com/articles/as-inflation-rises-cost-of-living-raises-gain-popularity-11640092736

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/judge-denies-michael-flynn-s-request-restraining-order-against-jan-n1286507

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/muckraker/jim-jordan-jan-6-committee-letterTeri Kanefield @Teri_KanefieldThere is a Twitter consensus that the purpose of all these lawsuits (like the one Flynn filed seeking an injunction against the select committee) is to “run out the clock.” This makes no sense because the clock runs until at least 2024 and the cases are moving quickly. 1/December 22nd 2021493 Retweets2,112 LikesRon Filipkowski @RonFilipkowskiIn a new interview, Trump admits he lost the 2020 election. December 23rd 20212,883 Retweets8,718 Likes

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-election-officials-pressure-campaign/2021/12/22/8a0b0788-5d26-11ec-ae5b-5002292337c7_story.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2021/12/22/matthew-greene-proud-boy/

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Bill AlstromWrites Bill’s Focus ·2 min agoBad news sells better than good news. What to do? Be part of a chorus that re-posts and repeats the information in letters like this and Hubbell’s. Make some noise. Each of us is just a little peep. But if we all do it…it can become a roar.Reply
Jim Carmichael28 min agoGreat economic news. It sounds like reality s starting to emerge from under the ice of The Big Lie. Hearing the truth is the best Christmas present anyone could wish for. Thank you, Heather for keeping us focussed on reality in 2021!8Reply
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December 20, 2021
Heather Cox Richardson Dec 21
On Fox News Sunday yesterday, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) said he could not support the Build Back Better infrastructure bill, a measure that is central to President Joe Biden’s vision for America. Negotiators have been working on the measure for months. At the end of March, Biden called for the American Jobs Plan, a $2.3 trillion bill designed to support well-paid American jobs by investing in a wide range of projects, both taking care of long-deferred maintenance on roads, bridges, pipes, and our electrical grid, for example, and also investing in education, elder care, and alternative energy to help address the climate crisis. Republicans refused to get behind such a sweeping package, so to get Republican buy-in to a measure that would spend federal money, rather than cutting taxes, negotiators broke Biden’s initial measure into two bills. One was a $1.2 trillion package that focused on hard infrastructure like rebuilding roads and bridges, and bringing broadband to communities that still don’t have it. About $550 billion of that money comes from new appropriations, and the rest is regular spending that Congress moved into the measure. Some Republicans were willing to support this bill, but it was too small to win the full support of progressive Democrats, who wanted a much bigger package. This bill is now commonly known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill (although its name is actually the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act). The other measure is the Build Back Better bill, which focuses on human infrastructure like childcare, eldercare, lower drug prices, universal preschool, the Child Tax Credit, and measures to address the effects of climate change. This bill began at $3.5 trillion. Republicans said no across the board to this one. Conservative Democrats Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) also said they could not support it without significant cuts, and so negotiators whittled it down to $1.75 trillion. To get both measures through required a delicate balance. On the one hand, progressive Democrats refused to agree to the bipartisan bill unless conservative Democrats agreed to pass the larger bill. On the other hand, Republicans refused to have anything at all to do with the larger bill but would not give enough votes to the bipartisan bill to pass it without the help of the progressive Democrats. So Democratic leadership made a deal that the two bills would move forward together, but then conservative Democrats wanted to move forward with the bipartisan bill and to wait for a score from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to see how much the larger bill would cost. Finally, in November, the Democratic leaders got a firm promise from the conservative Democrats that they would pass a version of the larger bill. On that promise, the progressive Democrats agreed to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which they did, and Biden signed it on November 15.  So when Manchin announced on the Fox News Channel that he would no longer support the Build Back Better bill in any form, the wrath of the betrayed fell on him. Manchin cited concerns about the cost of the bill, but he used the CBO analysis of what the bill would cost if its provisions were all renewed for the next decade, an analysis requested by Senate Republicans, rather than what is actually in the current bill. While long-term concerns are not necessarily illegitimate, concerns about extensions not yet voted into law contrast strikingly with a lack of concern over the 2017 Republican corporate tax cut and 2018 budget, which were projected to cost $5.5 trillion if all aspects were extended for ten years, and which passed nonetheless.  Those who had relied on Manchin’s promise, including the White House, were furious. “If his comments on FOX and written statement indicate an end to that effort, they represent a sudden and inexplicable reversal in his position, and a breach of his commitments to the President and the Senator’s colleagues in the House and Senate,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.The death of the Build Back Better bill would have huge repercussions. First of all, infrastructure spending is popular in general, both because of the projects it would accomplish and because of the jobs it would provide. Second, without the extension provided in the Build Back Better bill, the child tax credit that has lifted so many children out of poverty will expire, and the child tax credit is very popular (not least in West Virginia, where 181,000 families with 305,000 children benefited from the payments). The president of the West Virginia AFL-CIO, Josh Sword, asked Manchin to get back to the bargaining table, pointing out that the Build Back Better bill would not only lower the cost of health care and child care, but also shore up the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund, which provides benefits to thousands of coal miners. It also protects workers’ right to organize and bargain collectively, creates jobs for home care workers, expands care for seniors and those disabled, and invests $4 billion in coal communities “to attract manufacturing companies that will provide good-paying, union jobs.”Tonight, Manchin appears to have put negotiations back on the table, tweeting: “President Biden’s framework is the product of months of negotiations and input from all members of the Democratic Party who share a common goal to deliver for the American people…. As we work through the text of the legislation I would hope all of us will continue to deal in good faith and do what is right for the future of the American people.”The reason all this matters so much is that Biden and the Democrats are trying to restructure the nation around ordinary Americans rather than the wealthy. Since 1981, when Ronald Reagan took office after telling Americans, “[i]n this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem,” the prevailing pressure on the American government has been to cut taxes and slash government regulations and investment in order to free up private capital to invest in a growing economy. But while those who pushed so-called supply-side economics promised it would create widespread prosperity, their system never delivered. Instead, the rate of economic growth did not increase dramatically, while, as the country cut taxes again and again, wealth moved upward. Meanwhile, as deficits and the national debt mounted, Congress cut social welfare programs and investment in infrastructure, and the country has fallen behind other nations.Republicans insist that investing in the country is socialism that will destroy the economy, but in fact, Congress’s investment in the economic recovery through the American Rescue Plan, passed by the Democrats in March without a single Republican vote, has created the fastest rate of economic growth the country has seen in decades. Growth in the first two quarters of the year, before the Delta variant started to spread, was over 6%. That investment has created more than 6 million jobs since January, the highest rate in history, and new unemployment claims are the lowest they’ve been in more than 50 years. When Manchin said he would stop this investment by killing the Build Back Better bill, Goldman Sachs immediately predicted 1% less growth in the economy, saying that failure to pass the bill had “negative growth implications.” The bank cited the end of the child tax credit, along with the loss of other spending, as central to its analysis.The Build Back Better bill, along with the other initiatives of the Biden administration, is not simply the pre-1981 government resurrected. It reworks the old New Deal government that focused on good jobs for men who headed households into a modern vision centered on children and families and the communities that support them. It is no wonder that the Republicans have refused to deal with the measure at all, and that the Democrats have had to—and likely will continue to have to—devote a lot of time and energy to pass it into law.

Notes:Senator Joe Manchin @Sen_JoeManchinPresident Biden’s framework is the product of months of negotiations and input from all members of the Democratic Party who share a common goal to deliver for the American people.October 28th 2021719 Retweets5,149 Likeshttps://www.crfb.org/blogs/tax-cut-and-spending-bill-could-cost-55-trillion-through-2029https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/586450-manchin-says-he-will-not-vote-for-build-back-better-this-is-a-nohttps://www.wvaflcio.org/media-center/recent-press/79-recent-press/369-a-statement-from-west-virginia-afl-cio-president-josh-sword-on-senator-joe-manchin-s-position-on-the-build-back-better-act.htmlhttps://apnews.com/article/joe-biden-business-poverty-west-virginia-joe-manchin-86da79b1a683de87c4a45c90c96cab52https://www.eurasiareview.com/15122021-robert-reich-bidens-last-stand-oped/https://www.cnn.com/2021/12/20/investing/premarket-stocks-trading/index.htmlhttps://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/10/28/gdp-q3-economy-delta/
Apparently, Mr. Manchin cannot stand manking ptogress after allowing the GOP to increase the defict by 5.5 Trillion with little or no benefit for the voters. MA
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