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Monthly Archives: January 2022


Mike Thompson, USA TODAY
Rob Rogers Comic Strip for January 28, 2022
Drew Sheneman Comic Strip for January 27, 2022
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January 29, 2022
Heather Cox Richardson
Jan 30
I’ve thought a lot lately about Representative Lauren Boebert’s (R-CO) tweet on January 6, 2021, saying, “Today is 1776.” It’s clear that those sympathetic to stealing the 2020 election for Donald Trump over the will of the majority of Americans thought they were bearing witness to a new moment in our history.But what did they think they were seeing?Of course, 1776 was the year the Founders signed the Declaration of Independence, a stunning rejection of the concept that some men are better than others and could claim the right to rule. The Founders declared it “self-evident, that all men are created equal” and that ordinary people have the right to consent to the government under which they live.But that declaration was not a form of government. It was an explanation of why the colonies were justified in rebelling against the king. It was the brainchild of the Second Continental Congress, which had come together in Philadelphia in May 1775 after the Battles of Lexington and Concord sparked war with Great Britain. At the same time they were declaring independence, the lawmakers of the Second Continental Congress created a committee to write the basis for a new government. The committee presented a final draft of the Articles of Confederation in November 1777. Written at a time when the colonists were rebelling against a king, the new government decentralized power and focused on the states, which were essentially independent republics. The national government had a single house of Congress, no judiciary, and no executive.“Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom and independence, and every Power, Jurisdiction and right, which is not by this confederation expressly delegated to the United States,” it read. The organization of the new government was “a firm league of friendship” entered into by the states “for their common defence.” With the weight of governance falling on the states, the confederation languished. It was not until 1781 that the last of the states got around to ratifying the articles, and in 1783, with the end of the Revolutionary War, the government began to unravel. The Congress could make recommendations to the states but had no power to enforce them. It could not force the states to raise tax money to redeem the nation’s debts, and few of them paid up. Lacking the power to enforce its agreements, the Congress could not negotiate effectively with foreign countries, either, and individual states began to jockey to get deals for themselves.As early as 1786, it was clear that the government was too decentralized to create an enduring nation. Delegates from five states met in September of that year to revise the articles but decided the entire enterprise needed to be reorganized. So, in May 1787, delegates from the various states (except Rhode Island) met in Philadelphia to write the blueprint for a new government. The Constitution established the modern United States of America. Rather than setting up a federation of states, it united the people directly, beginning: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” It corrected the weakness of the previous government by creating a president with explicit powers, giving the government the power to negotiate with foreign powers and to tax (although it placed the power of initiating tax bills in the House of Representatives alone), and creating a judiciary. Those still afraid of the power of the government pushed the Framers of the Constitution to amend the document immediately, giving us the Bill of Rights that prohibits the government from infringing on individuals’ rights to freedom of speech and religion, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures, and so on. The catch-all Tenth Amendment stated that “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”That reservation of powers to the states created a crisis by the 1830s, when state leaders declared they would not be bound by laws passed in Congress. Indeed, they said, if voters in the states wanted to take Indigenous lands or enslave their Black neighbors, those policies were a legitimate expression of democracy. To defend their right to enslave Black Americans, southern leaders took their states out of the Union after the election of 1860.In the wake of the Civil War, Americans gave the federal government the power to enforce the principle that all people are created equal. In 1868, they added to the Constitution the Fourteenth Amendment, which declared that “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” It gave the federal government—Congress—the power to enforce that amendment.It seemed that the Fourteenth Amendment would finally bring the Declaration of Independence to life. Quickly, though, state legislatures began to discriminate against the minority populations in their borders—they had always discriminated against women—and the American people lost the will to enforce equality. By the early twentieth century, in certain states white men could rape and murder Black and Brown Americans with impunity, knowing that juries of men like themselves would never hold them accountable.Then, after World War II, the Supreme Court began to use the due process and the equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to overrule discriminatory laws in the states. It ended racial segregation, permitted interracial marriage, gave people access to birth control, permitted reproductive choice, and so on, trying to enforce equality before the law.But this federal protection of civil rights infuriated traditionalists and white supremacists. They threw in their lot with businessmen who hated federal government regulation and taxation. Together, they declared that the federal government was becoming tyrannical, just like the government from which the Founders declared independence. Since the 1980s, the Republican Party has focused on hamstringing the federal government and sending power back to the states, where lawmakers will have little power to regulate business but can roll back civil rights.That effort includes rewriting the Constitution itself. In San Diego, California, last December, attendees at a meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s policy conference announced they would push a convention to amend the U.S. Constitution to limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, returning power to the states. ALEC formed in 1973 to bring businessmen, the religious right, and lawmakers together behind legislation. So far, 15 Republican-dominated states have passed legislation proposed by ALEC to call such a convention. In another nine similar states, at least one house has passed such bills, and lawmakers have introduced such bills in 17 other states.The insurrectionists’ cries of 1776 remind me not of the Founding era, but of 1860. In that time, too, people believed they were creating a new country and recorded their participation. In that time, too, the rebels wanted a country with a weak federal government, so they could be sure people like them would rule forever.—
Notes:https://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/584835-conservatives-prepare-new-push-for-constitutional-convention?rl=1https://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=false&doc=3&page=transcript
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January 27, 2022Heather Cox Richardson
Jan 28
Numbers released today by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, which is part of the U.S. Federal Statistical System producing data and official statistics, show that the U.S. economy grew by an astonishing 6.9 percent annual rate from October to December 2021. That puts the growth of the U.S. economy for 2021 at 5.7 percent in 2021. Despite the ongoing pandemic, this is the fastest full-year growth since 1984.At the same time, the U.S. added 6 million jobs in 2021, pegging the unemployment rate below 4%.Economists predict that in 2022 the economy will continue to grow at a much higher rate than the 1.8% policymakers generally expect, expanding at 3.9%.This growth is the outcome of a dramatic change in economic policy launched by the Biden administration through measures like the American Rescue Plan and the bipartisan infrastructure law.On January 21, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen explained to the World Economic Forum that the Biden administration rejected Republican supply-side economics, ushered in during the Reagan administration. That system relied on tax cuts and aggressive deregulation to spark private capital—the supply side—to drive the economy. Supply-side economics has not increased growth, Yellen said, while it has failed to address climate change and has shifted money upward as it moved the burden of taxes from capital and put it on workers.Biden’s economic policy, Yellen explained, rejected this philosophy in favor of what she calls “modern supply-side economics.” This term appears to be intended to suggest a middle ground between the supply-side economics of the 1980s, which focused on putting money in the hands of the wealthy, and the post–World War II idea that the government should manage the economy by investing in infrastructure and a social safety net.Biden’s plan, Yellen explained, has focused on “labor supply, human capital, public infrastructure, R&D, and investments in a sustainable environment.” Rather than focusing on putting money into the hands of the “demand side” of the economy—consumers—it focuses on developing a strong labor force in a strong democracy to create growth through hard work and innovation.In its emphasis on education and access to resources, the Biden administration’s economic policy echoes the ideology Abraham Lincoln articulated in 1859. Wealthy southern enslavers insisted the government should simply defend the property rights of the wealthy, who would amass wealth that they would then put to its best use to develop the country. But Lincoln argued that the government should nurture the country’s laborers, who were the nation’s true innovators and hardest workers and who, if properly supported, would move the country forward much faster than a few wealthy men would.Yellen said, “A country’s long-term growth potential depends on the size of its labor force, the productivity of its workers, the renewability of its resources, and the stability of its political systems.” The administration plans to increase growth by increasing the labor supply and productivity while reducing inequality and environmental damage. “Essentially,” she said, “we aren’t just focused on achieving a high topline growth number that is unsustainable—we are instead aiming for growth that is inclusive and green.”This new approach is designed to address the problem of a limited labor force. Yellen noted that for decades now, the U.S. has underinvested in public infrastructure, and in education and training for children and for those who are not college-bound. That underinvestment has widened the wealth gap between people with and without specialized training or college degrees. Biden’s policies would address that gap.Yellen identified investment in children as central to the administration’s policies. Universal childhood education, a cap on childcare costs, and expanded eldercare to relieve pressures on families are designed to enable younger people to join the workforce and boost growth.When the numbers underlining the success of his policies came out today, President Biden tweeted: “Last year, we had the fastest economic growth in 38 years. While there is still more work to do, it’s clear we are finally building an American economy for the 21st century.”In contrast, when asked earlier this week about childcare in this moment when the pandemic has created a severe childcare shortage—a gap Biden’s Build Back Better bill is designed in part to address—Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) made it clear that he saw no such role for government. “People decide to have families and become parents, that’s something they need to consider when they make that choice,” Johnson said. “I’ve never really felt it was society’s responsibility to take care of other people’s children.”That attitude, the idea behind forty years of supply-side economics and the tax cuts that were its centerpiece, is showing up in opposition to the extension of the Child Tax Credit that lifted more than 30% of America’s children from poverty in the past year. Studies show the Child Tax Credit was enormously effective. It enabled families to buy food and clothing and to pay off debt. But the measure expired in December. Negotiations over the Build Back Better Act continue, but Congress has dropped the Child Tax Credit from the plan. All of the Republicans in the Senate stand against it, as well as at least one Democratic Senator: Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who wants a work requirement added before he will agree to an extension of the policy.And yet, stories of the end of the new Child Tax Credit system focus not on the Republicans, who oppose it across the board, but on Democrats, who are doing their best to put their new system in place permanently. A piece in Politico today suggested that angry voters who counted on the Child Tax Credit are blaming the Democrats for its demise, and that as families suffer, they too will blame Democrats, who will pay in the 2022 midterms.Similarly, the media seems to be downplaying the extraordinary success of the Democratic policies and instead focusing on their possible downsides. Today, the Washington Post ran a story that began: “Even as the U.S. economy grew at its fastest pace in decades in 2021, the recovery has more recently flashed troubling warning signs, with soaring inflation, whipsawing financial markets and slowing consumer spending complicating the rebound.”It was a surprising way to introduce the best economic growth since 1984.—
Notes:https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2022/01/27/gdp-2021-q4-economy/https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy0565https://www.politico.com/news/2022/01/27/bidens-signature-legislation-child-tax-credit-00002560https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/20210929_Hamilton_stevenson_womenWorkFamilies.pdfhttps://www.cnbc.com/2022/01/04/manchin-wont-support-enhanced-child-tax-credit-without-work-requirement.htmlhttps://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2022/01/27/omicron-economy-gdp-2022/
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January 25, 2022
Heather Cox Richardson
Jan 26
Tonight is not an imperative read, if you need a break from politics. It’s just more details emerging in ongoing stories.Today, the White House told reporters that it is preparing severe economic reprisals for any new Russian movement into Ukraine. Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo told Bloomberg Television that the sanctions are prepared; he did not deny that Russia might be expelled from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), a system that facilitates international money transfers. The White House is also working with energy-producing nations in the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia to see if it will be possible to ease shortages of liquefied natural gas in Europe if Russia invades Ukraine and sanctions fall into place.Administration officials noted that the Russian economy is already taking a hit from the threatened economic sanctions. Indeed, Russian stocks sank 8% today, and the ruble has dropped to a 14-month low. Today the JPMorgan Chase bank stopped handling the ruble. It closed all its positions in Russian currency, saying that the buildup of troops made the currency too risky. The Moscow Times today reported that Russian businesses are preparing for heavy losses. When a reporter today asked President Biden if he would consider placing sanctions on Russian president Vladimir Putin himself if he invaded Ukraine, Biden responded: “Yes. I would see that.” There was a sign today that Putin’s position at home is not as strong as his military stance is designed to project. Russian authorities are cracking down on opposition to Putin’s leadership, and now they have added Alexei Navalny and some of his allies to a registry of terrorists. Putin had Navalny poisoned and then, when he survived to return to Russia, had him imprisoned. And yet, despite his removal from active politicking, Putin appears still to consider him a threat. Another major story developing today is the story of the attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis last week asked for a special grand jury to investigate former president Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election. Willis has said she needs the grand jury because a number of potential witnesses for Trump’s actions refuse to testify without subpoenas, which the grand jury can provide. The judges on Fulton County’s Superior Court agreed to a grand jury to be impaneled May 2.This is the only investigation we know of that is focusing directly on Trump himself and his part in trying to steal the election. Observers say that he is at risk of being charged with racketeering or conspiracy; Willis hired an outside expert in state racketeering back in March. Trump was recorded on January 2, 2021, trying to bully Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, asking him to “find 11,780 votes” to override the will of the voters and deliver the state to Trump. A number of people joined then-president Trump on the call, including then–White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and several lawyers, among them longtime right-wing attorney Cleta Mitchell, whose law firm distanced itself from her after Raffensperger made the call public (when she resigned days later, she blamed “left-wing pressure groups” for the need to resign).  Curiously, Trump released a statement blasting the Georgia investigation and complaining that he is being investigated for “asking an Attorney General…to look for corruption.” But, so far as we know, he was being investigated for pressuring Georgia’s secretary of state. They are two different positions, two different men. Was Trump just confused when he issued the written statement, or was there another conversation? The House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol is also in the news. On Sunday, committee member Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) told CNN’s Jim Acosta that Trump’s attorney general William Barr had appeared voluntarily before staff attorneys for the January 6 committee. Trump announced Barr’s resignation on Twitter on December 15, 2020, minutes after Congress counted in the Electoral College ballots certifying Biden as president. On December 14, false electors had met in seven states to declare for Trump; the plan to use those false votes to throw out the real ones may have been connected to Barr’s sudden removal. Also on Sunday, on the Fox News Channel, former Republican representative from Georgia Newt Gingrich attacked the January 6 committee as a lawbreaking lynch mob and said that when the Republicans retake the house and the Senate in fall 2022, the committee’s members will face “a real risk of jail.”And yet, today a federal judge in California strongly rejected the argument that the committee is not legitimate, an argument Trump loyalists have made as they have ignored subpoenas. At issue was the attempt of lawyer John Eastman, who wrote the infamous memo outlining how then–vice president Mike Pence could steal the election for Trump, to keep his former employer from turning documents over to the committee. Eastman invoked his Fifth Amendment’s right to silence to avoid self-incrimination 146 times in his own responses to the committee, and when it then subpoenaed his former employer, Chapman University, for the material it wanted, Eastman tried to stop the university from turning over nearly 19,000 of his emails that pertain to the insurrection. Eastman argued that the committee was illegitimate.Federal Judge David Carter rejected that argument. “The public interest here is weighty and urgent,” Carter wrote. “Congress seeks to understand the causes of a grave attack on our nation’s democracy and a near-successful attempt to subvert the will of the voter.”The committee appears to be getting answers. Today, right-wing personality Alex Jones of InfoWars told his followers that he met with the committee virtually on Monday and that he had taken the Fifth “almost 100” times, claiming he was worried he would misspeak and the misstatement would be used against him. He seemed taken aback to learn that the committee had his text messages and emails.Today, Jones walked back his rhetoric from early January and appeared to want to distance himself from the events of January 6. “Let’s get something clear for the committee and my audience and everybody else,” he said, “I don’t want a civil war in this country, and that’s a terrible idea…. And I don’t want lawlessness by anybody. And I don’t want anybody attacking anybody, OK?”—
Notes:https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/01/25/background-press-call-by-senior-administration-officials-on-russia-ukraine-economic-deterrence-measures/https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-01-25/u-s-treasury-s-adeyemo-says-russia-sanctions-at-the-ready​​https://www.cnbc.com/2022/01/24/russian-stocks-sink-ruble-plunges-as-conflict-fears-intensify.htmlJason Corcoran @jason_corcoranGoodbye #ruble Tuesday: JP Morgan has completely withdrawn from the Russian ruble. The largest US bank has closed all remaining positions in Russian currency, citing unforeseeable risks in connection with the buildup of Russian forces on the border with Ukraine.January 25th 20222,389 Retweets8,141 Likeshttps://www.themoscowtimes.com/2022/01/25/as-markets-crash-and-war-fears-grow-russias-business-elite-suffers-in-silence-a76142Reuters @ReutersPresident Joe Biden said that he would consider imposing direct sanctions on President Vladimir Putin if Russia invades Ukraine, as Western leaders stepped up preparations for any Russian military action in Ukraine reut.rs/3IC6LlnImageJanuary 25th 2022239 Retweets646 Likeshttps://www.reuters.com/business/energy/could-more-lng-supplies-get-europe-event-crisis-2022-01-25/https://www.businessinsider.com/trump-lawyer-cleta-mitchell-quits-law-firm-2021-1https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-raffensperger-call-transcript-georgia-vote/2021/01/03/2768e0cc-4ddd-11eb-83e3-322644d82356_story.htmlhttps://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/24/us/politics/trump-grand-jury-fani-willis-georgia.htmlhttps://apnews.com/article/business-europe-russia-media-vladimir-putin-9f74f41fb73884ab2362e4436c2553c6https://www.nytimes.com/live/2022/01/25/world/ukraine-russia-ushttps://www.ajc.com/news/atlanta-news/breaking-fulton-judges-greenlight-special-grand-jury-for-trump-probe/DEBK3IQKLZHLBO6EYBGDXAHAU4/https://www.cnn.com/2020/12/14/politics/william-barr-out-as-attorney-general/index.htmlJoyce Alene @JoyceWhiteVanceEastman is a lawyer who is smart and experienced enough to understand how the 5th Amendment works & nonetheless felt compelled to assert it to protect himself. I wonder what he had to say about the other people in the room? Could be a compelling witness in public hearings. https://t.co/RBztNJmQpYMichael Isikoff @IsikoffAt hearing on John Eastman’s efforts to block 1/6 committee from getting his emails, Doug Letter, House counsel, reveals that Eastman, law prof who authored memo on how Pence could block certification of Electoral College vote, invoked 5th Amendment 146 times.January 25th 2022552 Retweets1,963 LikesTeri Kanefield @Teri_KanefieldIn John Eastman’s application for TRO fighting the Jan6 committee’s subpoena, he argued that (1) the committee lacked authority to issue the subpoena, and that the subpoena violated his 1st and 4th Amendment rights. As expected, he lost. 1/ January 25th 2022122 Retweets539 Likeshttps://www.cnn.com/2022/01/24/politics/eastman-january-6-committee-subpoena-chapman-university/index.htmlhttps://www.cnn.com/2022/01/25/politics/alex-jones-january-6-plead-fifth/index.htmlKatelyn Polantz @kpolantzJohn Eastman is in court right now trying to challenge a House Jan 6 subpoena for ~19,000 of his emails, including ones related to Trump So far: -Chapman U, his employer, says he worked for Trump w/o permission -His lawyer says he was working for Trump at MANY relevant momentsJanuary 25th 20222,087 Retweets8,139 LikesMichael Isikoff @IsikoffAt hearing on John Eastman’s efforts to block 1/6 committee from getting his emails, Doug Letter, House counsel, reveals that Eastman, law prof who authored memo on how Pence could block certification of Electoral College vote, invoked 5th Amendment 146 times.January 24th 20226,156 Retweets19,169 LikesShareLi
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January 22, 2022
Heather Cox Richardson
Jan 23
Joe Biden’s presidency is just over a year old. Biden has embraced the old idea, established by the Democrats under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the Republicans under President Dwight D. Eisenhower, that in a democracy, the federal government has a responsibility to keep the playing field level for all. It must regulate business to maintain competition and prevent corporations from abusing their employees, protect civil rights, provide a basic social safety net, and promote infrastructure. Our forty-sixth president came into office in the midst of crisis. The coronavirus pandemic had killed more than 407,000 Americans, and the previous president’s quest to radicalize voters in spring 2020 had led to angry mobs rejecting the preventive measures other countries took. The economy was bottoming out as the pandemic killed workers, discombobulated workplaces, and disrupted supply chains. And the previous president was so determined not to give up power that he had incited his followers to attack Congress and the U.S. Capitol during the formal ceremony acknowledging Biden’s victory. Even after the horrors of that day, 147 members of the Republican Party doubled down on the lie that Trump had really won the election. And when the Democratic House impeached Trump for inciting the insurrection, ending our country’s 224-year tradition of a peaceful transition of power, Republican senators acquitted him. Republican lawmakers’ support for the Big Lie indicated how they would approach Biden’s presidency. They stand diametrically opposed to Biden, rejecting Democrats’ vision of the federal government. They are eager to return power to the states to do as they will, recognizing that the end of federal regulation will give far more freedom to people of wealth and that the end of federal protection of civil rights will, in certain states, permit white evangelical Christians to reclaim the “traditional” society they crave. Biden set out to use government to make people’s lives better and, apparently, believed that successful policies would bring enough Republicans behind his program to ease the country’s extreme partisanship. He fought the pandemic by invoking the Defense Production Act, buying more vaccines, working with states to establish vaccine sites and transportation to them, and establishing vaccine centers in pharmacies across the country. Vaccinations took off, and 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, Democrats passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan to jump-start the economy by putting money into the pockets of ordinary Americans. 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 and bringing the total covered to a record 13.6 million. Money from those programs bolstered household savings and fired up consumer spending. By the end of the year, U.S. companies were showing 15% profit margins, higher than they have been since 1950. 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. Then, 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. 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, and higher than any other country in the world. Despite the increased spending, the federal budget deficit in the first quarter of fiscal year 2022 dropped 33% from that of 2021. The downside of this growth was inflation of up to 7%, but this is a global problem and exactly why it’s happening is unclear—increased spending has created pent-up demand, and prices have been unstable because of the pandemic. Biden reoriented U.S. foreign policy to defend democracy. He immediately took steps to rejoin the World Health Organization and the Paris Climate Accords, and he and Secretary of State Antony Blinken worked hard to rebuild the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and to replace our outdated focus on combating terrorism on the ground with combating it by defunding terrorists. Biden ended the unpopular 20-year war in Afghanistan and negotiated the exit of U.S. combat troops from Iraq, where we had been for more than 18 years. About 2500 U.S. personnel remain alongside their Iraqi counterparts to hold back remaining ISIS terrorists. The end of those wars has also given Biden the room virtually to eliminate the U.S. use of drone strikes and airstrikes. In Trump’s first 11 months he authorized more than 1600 airstrikes; Biden has significantly tightened the process of authorization and has authorized 4. Instead of focusing on soldiers, Biden dramatically increased the use of economic sanctions on international criminals and prosecutions for international criminal behavior to stop the flow of money to terrorists. Biden’s Treasury secretary, Janet Yellen, also helped to hammer out an international minimum tax that will help to close foreign tax shelters. Biden is turning to these financial tools and the strength of NATO to try to stop another Russian incursion into Ukraine. He has warned Russian president Vladimir Putin that military aggression into a sovereign country will lead to crippling economic backlash, and U.S. ally Germany has put off approval of the valuable Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline Russia has constructed to Europe, worth tens of billions of dollars. By any historical measure, Biden’s first year has been a roaring success, proving that democracy can, in fact, provide better lives for its people and can protect the rule of law internationally. And yet Biden’s popularity hovers in the low 40s.Biden’s worldview demands that government accomplish things; the Republicans simply have to say no. They have focused on stopping Biden and the success of his view of government, and because it is only the Democrats who are in the arena, as President Theodore Roosevelt put it, Democrats are bearing the weight of popular discontent. When the withdrawal from Afghanistan initially produced chaos as the Afghan government collapsed, Republicans hammered on the idea that Biden—and by extension a Democratic government—was incompetent. His numbers began to plummet, and the subsequent success of the largest human airlift in history did not change that narrative. If Afghanistan happened organically, criticism of government could also be manufactured. In July, as the vaccination program appeared to be meeting Biden’s goals, Republicans began to insist that government vaccine outreach was government tyranny. Vaccination rates began to drop off just as the contagious Delta variant began to rage. When Biden tried to address the falling vaccination rates by requiring that federal workers and contractors, health care workers, and workers at businesses with more than 100 employees be vaccinated or frequently tested, Republicans railed that he was destroying American freedom. Their argument took hold: by early December, 40% of Republican adults were unvaccinated, compared with fewer than 10% of adult Democrats, making Republicans three times more likely than Democrats to die of Covid. Rather than ending and giving Biden a historical success, the pandemic has continued on, weakening the economy and sparking chaos over masks and school reopenings as Republicans radicalize. Just last week, a woman in Virginia threatened to come to her child’s school with “every single gun loaded and ready” if the school board required masks. That radicalization, stoked by Republican leaders, is at the point of destroying, once and for all, the idea of a government that works for the people. Republican leaders have stood by as Trump and his lackeys goaded followers into believing that Democratic governance is illegitimate and that Democrats must be kept from power. Following a playbook Republicans have used since 1994, Trump and his loyalists insisted—and continue to insist—on ongoing “audits” of the 2020 vote, knowing that seeing such “investigations” in the news would convince many voters that there must be something there, just as the 2016 ruckus over Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails convinced many Americans that she had done something illegal. It has worked. Although there is zero evidence of significant voter fraud, so far, 19 Republican-dominated states have passed 33 laws to make it harder for Democrats to vote, or to turn over the counting of votes to partisan Republicans. When Democrats tried to stop such a takeover of our democracy, all 50 Republicans in the Senate opposed federal protection of the right to vote. (Two Democrats joined them in refusing to overrule the filibuster, thus dooming the law to fail.) Now Republicans in three states have proposed election police forces to stop what they continue to insist—without evidence—are voting crimes. And so, at the end of Biden’s first year—a year that by any standard must be called a success—Republicans are at the verge of achieving, at least for now, the end of the liberal democracy Americans have enjoyed since FDR and the Democrats embraced it in the 1930s, instead eroding the federal government and turning power over to the states. In a two-hour press conference at the end of his first year, Biden said he did not anticipate the degree of obstruction he would face, and he expressed regret that he hadn’t “been able to…get my Republican friends to get in the game of making things better in this country….” “Think about this,” he said, “What are Republicans for? What are they for? Name me one thing they’re for. ”Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that Senate Republicans will offer no legislative agenda before the 2022 elections and that he is “100 percent” focused “on stopping” Biden. From the other side, Biden’s inaugural committee is celebrating the president’s first year in office with a video narrated by actor Tom Hanks in which ordinary Americans try to reclaim an older vision of an America in which we worked together for the good of all. They talk about how in the past year more than 200 million Americans have been vaccinated, how we have created more jobs in 2021 than in any year in the previous 80, how we lifted children out of poverty and are rebuilding roads and bridges, and how, historically, America is strong, courageous, resilient, and optimistic and can do anything, if only we will work together.—Notes: https://www.cbo.gov/publication/57667https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/08/us/politics/biden-nominees-senate-confirmation.htmlhttps://www.axios.com/biden-one-year-inaugural-committee-ad-3c7597b5-490c-4f23-b919-5b97e10785db.htmlhttps://www.wabe.org/kemp-says-3b-budget-boost-will-bring-a-lot-of-good-things/https://theweek.com/foreign-policy/1007579/biden-nearly-ended-the-drone-war-and-nobody-noticedhttps://www.military.com/daily-news/2022/01/21/dozens-of-democrats-call-out-biden-over-drone-strikes-kill-civilians.htmlhttps://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/7/26/biden-kadhimi-seal-agreement-to-end-us-combat-mission-in-iraqhttps://www.cnbc.com/2022/01/05/nord-stream-2-is-a-major-item-of-leverage-against-russia-ex-german-ambassador.htmlhttps://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/01/07/republicans-big-lie-trump/https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/2021/1208/Why-GOP-is-stepping-up-fight-against-vaccine-mandateshttps://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2021/11/24/inflation-has-risen-around-the-world-but-the-u-s-has-seen-one-of-the-biggest-increases/https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/joe-biden/mcconnell-says-he-s-100-percent-focused-stopping-biden-s-n1266443https://www.axios.com/mcconnell-no-agenda-midterms-91c73112-0a2e-441b-b713-7e8aa2dad6bf.htmlhttps://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/01/19/biden-asks-what-are-republicans-republicans-have-already-chosen-not-answer/https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/20/us/voting-rights-election-police.htmlhttps://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/documents/address-the-sorbonne-paris-france-citizenship-republic
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Heather Cox Richardson- 01/22/2022Jan 21

In the year that it has been in office, the Biden administration has had to deal with something unprecedented in our history: a former president who refused to admit he lost the election and who has worked ever since, alongside allies, to undermine the administration of his successor.

Trump’s plot to overturn the election and undermine our democracy continues to become clearer. This morning, The Guardian’s Hugo Lowell revealed that former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham, who was Melania Trump’s chief of staff before resigning on January 6, had news for the House Select Committee Investigating the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol. She told the committee that in the days before the insurrection, then-president Trump held secret meetings in the White House residence. Trump’s White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, arranged the meetings, and the former chief usher, a Trump loyalist named Timothy Harleth, would send the participants upstairs.

The committee wants to know whether Trump actually planned to walk to the Capitol with the rally attendees as he promised. If he told the crowd he was going but did not actually intend to go, it would offer evidence that he was hoping to incite an insurrection. Grisham told them the president was deeply involved in the plans for the rally and that any plan to walk to the Capitol would be outlined in the presidential line-by-line, a document sent to the Secret Service.

The January 6 committee is also focusing on who originated and executed the plan to create seven fraudulent slates of electors on December 14, 2020. At the time, that effort seemed frivolous, but the events of January 6, when Trump and his allies tried to make Vice President Mike Pence reject the real electors on the grounds there were competing slates, made it clear that the false documents were part of the plot to overturn the election.  

Both CNN and the Washington Post reported today that the Trump campaign was behind the effort to create the fake electoral slates. Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, helped on at least one occasion by Christina Bobb, an anchor from the right-wing network One America News, distributed language for the drafts, found people to replace real electors who refused to participate in the forgeries, and helped electors get into state capitols to craft the false documents. 

The co-chair of the Michigan Republican Party, Meshawn Maddock, was recorded speaking to a group about the election, attributing the push for the fake documents to the Trump campaign. Another one of the 16 Republicans who signed Michigan’s fake document, Shelby Township Clerk Stan Grot, told the Detroit News that he had gotten a call asking him to go to Lansing and sign the document; he believed the call came from a lawyer working for the Trump campaign.

Today the January 6 committee asked Ivanka Trump, the daughter of the former president, to testify voluntarily about the events surrounding January 6. The committee’s 8-page letter laid out more information about those days, demonstrating that it has heard quite a bit about her presence in the White House on January 6 and that Trump’s loyalists that day thought that she alone had the influence to get her father to call the rioters off. 

The letter from the committee explained how, exactly, electors are certified. Then, it laid out the White House plan to overturn that legal system, a plan that has led lawyer John Eastman, who outlined it, to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination rather than testify about it because he fears criminal prosecution. 

The committee said it knew that “in the days before January 6th, a member of the House Freedom Caucus with knowledge of the President’s planning for that day sent a message to the White House Chief of Staff with this explicit warning: ‘If POTUS [meaning President Trump] allows this to occur…we’re driving a stake in the heart of the federal republic….’”

The committee called attention to Trump’s 2:24 p.m. tweet saying, “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!” It listed statements from rioters describing how that tweet set them off: “Once we found out Pence turned on us and that they had stolen the election, like officially, the crowd went crazy….” “Then we heard the news on pence… And lost it… So we stormed.” 

The committee asked Ivanka about discussions in the White House after that tweet, as she allegedly tried to get her father to tell the rioters to stop. Why, the committee asked, “didn’t White House staff simply ask the President to walk to the briefing room and appear on live television—to ask the crowd to leave the Capitol?” An interview with someone who had been there suggested, the committee wrote, “certain White House staff believed that a live unscripted press appearance by the President in the midst of the Capitol Hill violence could have made the situation worse.”

The committee noted that when Trump did speak in a video from the Rose Garden, released at 4:17, he told the rioters “We love you, you’re very special….” The committee wants to know what Ivanka has to say about the process of getting Trump to deliver that message.

Committee members also want to know more about Trump’s lack of effort to deploy the National Guard to protect the lawmakers in the Capitol. “Acting Secretary Chris Miller, who was in the chain of command and reported directly to the President, has testified under oath that the President never contacted him at any time on January 6th, and never, at any time, issued him any order to deploy the National Guard,” it wrote. Apparently, Miller did speak with Pence that day, but not with Trump.

Finally, the committee provided more information about the degree to which Fox News Channel personality Sean Hannity participated in White House planning. The information it revealed emphasized the gulf between the support Trump loyalists have shown for the former president in public and their deep concerns in private. 

Hannity texted both White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany describing his conversations with Trump, warning: “No more stolen election talk,” and “impeachment and 25th amendment are real, and many people will quit….” (The 25th Amendment provides for the emergency removal of an incapacitated president.) McEnany responded: “Love that. Thank you. That is the playbook. I will help reinforce….”

When Hannity texted to McEnany, “Key now. No more crazy people,” McEnany answered: “Yes 100%.” 

On January 10, Hannity wrote to Meadows and Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH): “Guys, we have a clear path to land the plane in 9 days. He can’t mention the election again. Ever. I did not have a good call with him today. And worse, I’m not sure what is left to do or say, and I don’t like knowing if it’s truly understood. Ideas?”

The committee has proposed February 3 or 4 as the date for Ivanka’s testimony. 

The January 6 committee is only one of the investigations into Trump’s attempt to steal the election. Today, Fulton County, Georgia, District Attorney Fani T. Willis asked the chief judge of Fulton County’s Superior Court to convene a special grand jury to help in her investigation of whether former president Trump and his loyalists committed crimes when they pressured Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” the 11,780 votes Trump needed to win the state. Burned when South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham denied having made a similar phone call, Raffensperger recorded the call with Trump and his allies, creating a damning piece of evidence. 

Willis asked for the special grand jury because a “significant number of witnesses and prospective witnesses have refused to cooperate with the investigation absent a subpoena requiring their testimony,” including Raffensperger. 

Legal analyst and former U.S. attorney Joyce White Vance noted that one of the advantages of a special grand jury is that it has an assigned judge who knows the case and “can be available to make prompt rulings if any witnesses defy subpoenas.”

After news of Willis’s request broke, Trump issued a statement calling the investigation a witch hunt and continuing to insist—despite all the recounts—that the vote in Georgia in 2020 was characterized by “massive voter fraud.” He said: “my phone call to the Secretary of State of Georgia was perfect, perhaps even more so than my call with the Ukrainian President, if that’s possible.”

Notes:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/01/20/georgia-da-seeks-special-grand-jury-trump/

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/jan/20/trump-secret-meetings-january-6-capitol-attack-stephanie-grishamJoyce Alene @JoyceWhiteVanceOne advantage to using a special grand jury is that it comes with a permanently assigned judge who is familiar with all the issues that come up & can be available to make prompt rulings if any witnesses defy subpoenas NYT Politics @nytpoliticsA district attorney in Atlanta on Thursday asked a judge to convene a special grand jury to help a criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia. https://t.co/ZJw7CJLbUfJanuary 21st 2022211 Retweets1,143 LikesFred Wellman @FPWellmanEvery single Trump impersonator does a bit about his “perfect phone call” line. It was literally the base joke of @AVindman on ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’. The guy is such a freaking moron and he’s absolutely terrified because no one is scared of him anymore. Spiro Agnew’s Ghost @SpiroAgnewGhostThis is beyond any parody of what anyone would have expected his reaction to be to the news today of the GA grand jury being formed by the Fulton County DA. It speaks for itself. The man is so consistently insane that it is still difficult to grasp the level of it. https://t.co/WviiTfGLuWJanuary 20th 2022202 Retweets1,300 Likes

https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/electors-giuliani-trump-electoral-college/2022/01/20/687e3698-7587-11ec-8b0a-bcfab800c430_story.html

https://www.cnn.com/2022/01/20/politics/trump-campaign-officials-rudy-giuliani-fake-electors/index.html

https://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/politics/2022/01/20/michigan-gop-meshawn-maddock-trump-campaign-asked-gop-electors/6600843001/

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Stuart Carlson Comic Strip for January 21, 2022
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January 14, 2022
Heather Cox Richardson Jan 15 Yesterday, by a vote of 6 to 3, the Supreme Court struck down the Biden administration’s requirement that businesses with more than 100 employees address the coronavirus pandemic by making employees either get vaccines or, if they choose not to be vaccinated, to test weekly and wear a mask at work. Employees who work exclusively at home or mostly outside were exempted from the requirement, as were those with a religious exemption. President Joe Biden took office vowing to get the coronavirus pandemic under control. By April 2021, his administration’s efforts to make vaccines available and get them into people’s arms were so successful that in early May he vowed to reach a 70% vaccination rate among those then eligible for the vaccine by July 4. Promptly, political opponents began to undermine confidence in the vaccine, and vaccination rates fell off dramatically.In July, the administration tried to encourage vaccinations by requiring vaccines or testing for federal workers and for those contracting with the federal government. In November, the administration expanded those requirements with a new one under the authority of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), established in the Department of Labor under Republican President Richard M. Nixon in 1970 to “assure safe and healthy working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.” OSHA announced a vaccine or testing requirement for businesses with more than 100 employees.  The mandate would have covered about 84.2 million Americans (our population is about 332 million). OSHA estimated (before Omicron) that the rule would save 6,500 lives and prevent 250,000 hospitalizations over a six-month period. Employers claimed that the mandate would cost billions of dollars to implement and hundreds of thousands of employees would quit (although the actual numbers of those quitting their jobs over vaccine mandates turned out to be significantly lower than threatened). A number of Republican-dominated state legislatures, including those of Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, and Tennessee, fought the mandate by extending unemployment benefits to those fired for refusing to get the vaccine.Those objecting to the mandate got the extremely conservative U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which covers Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas and which Trump skewed even more extremely to the right, to stop it.  The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, also right-leaning but less extreme, lifted the stay, permitting the rule to go into effect. Now, in a case titled National Federation of Independent Business v. Department of Labor, the Supreme Court has restored the stay.The six justices in the majority ruled that OSHA did not have the authority to require vaccinations or masks and testing because the coronavirus is not specific to the workplace. OSHA’s responsibility is only to make sure that conditions related to the workplace are safe; it cannot regulate a workplace for a virus that is everywhere, even if people catch it at work.The three justices who dissented, Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan, seemed incredulous: “COVID-19 poses grave dangers to the citizens of this country—and particularly, to its workers,” they wrote. “The disease has by now killed almost 1 million Americans and hospitalized almost 4 million. It spreads by person-to-person contact in confined indoor spaces, so causes harm in nearly all workplace environments. And in those environments, more than any others, individuals have little control, and therefore little capacity to mitigate risk. COVID-19, in short, is a menace in work settings. The proof is all around us: Since the disease’s onset, most Americans have seen their workplaces transformed. So the administrative agency charged with ensuring health and safety in workplaces did what Congress commanded it to: It took action to address COVID-19’s continuing threat in those spaces.” At stake in the case is not only many thousands of American lives and restoring the stability of society, but also the same issue at the heart of our current struggle over voting rights: the relationship of the federal government to the states.Justices Neil Gorsuch, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito began their decision opposing the mandate by saying, “The central question we face today is: Who decides?” Can a federal agency charged with workplace safety mandate vaccines, or should the work of combating coronavirus belong to state and local governments and Congress? The right-wing justices came down firmly against the federal government, using two doctrines that, if fully deployed, will destroy the modern U.S. system.In his opinion, Gorsuch explicitly raised the concept of the “nondelegation doctrine” and the related concept of the “major questions doctrine.” The nondelegation doctrine relies on our government’s separation of powers. It says that, as its own branch of government, Congress cannot delegate regulatory authority to the executive branch, where agencies like OSHA live.But, since Congress has, in fact, been delegating authority to the executive branch since the administration of President George Washington, those who want to reduce federal authority sometimes rely instead on the more limited major questions doctrine, which says that although Congress can delegate minor authority to administrative agencies, it cannot delegate major questions (although just how to define a major question is unclear). A recent study by University of Southern California professor of public policy Dr. Pamela Clouser McCann and University of Michigan professor of social science Dr. Charles R. Shipan, both experts on intergovernmental delegation, found that 99% of today’s federal laws involve delegation. Unwinding them and requiring Congress to make all its own regulatory decisions would paralyze the modern government.Those who support the idea of nondelegation argue that it guarantees government by the people rather than by an unelected bureaucracy, and this is a worthy thought. But unfortunately, it depends on the goodwill of those elected to state legislatures, and because those lawmakers also get to decide who votes in their states, that goodwill can be thin on the ground. At heart, this is the same states’ rights argument that the U.S. has grappled with since the 1830s. Since that time, while some state legislatures have used their power to reflect the will of the people, others have limited the vote, putting a small group of people into power. Once in power, they have used the state government to promote their own interests. States’ rights advocates have consistently said that any federal interference with a state’s unfair laws is tyranny.Since the 1930s, though, lawmakers have used the federal government to combat unfair state laws. They have regulated businesses when state lawmakers wouldn’t, protected civil rights from discriminatory state laws, and, ultimately, guaranteed the right to vote in states that kept their citizens from the polls, with the expectation that if everyone could vote, they would, indeed, create state governments that reflected the will of the majority.The Supreme Court—which, in an ironic echo of Gorsuch’s complaints about unelected bureaucrats, is not elected—is working with today’s Republicans to dismantle this modern system, yesterday embracing the nondelegation doctrine to undercut federal regulation, even though this decision clearly will cost American lives. Also yesterday, the court upheld a mandate from the Department of Health and Human Services requiring vaccination for healthcare workers in facilities that accept Medicare and Medicaid, both of which are funded by the federal government. It supported that mandate only by a vote of 5 to 4; four of the justices did not believe the Department of Health and Human Services has the right to require vaccines in a healthcare facility.Meanwhile, Biden is deploying another 1000 military personnel to hospitals, which are overwhelmed with unvaccinated coronavirus patients.—
Notes:https://www.reuters.com/world/us/biden-require-all-federal-workers-be-vaccinated-source-2021-09-09/https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/supreme-court-biden-vaccine-agency-powerhttps://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/551741-biden-to-set-goal-of-at-least-one-shot-to-70-percent-of-adults-by-july-4?rl=1https://www.theguardian.com/law/2021/nov/15/fifth-circuit-court-appeals-most-extreme-ushttps://www.npr.org/2021/11/16/1056121842/biden-lawsuit-osha-vaccine-mandate-court-lotteryhttps://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/13/us/politics/supreme-court-biden-vaccine-mandate.htmlhttps://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/12/27/5-gop-led-states-extend-unemployment-aid-workers-who-lose-jobs-over-vaccine-mandates/https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/10/29/supreme-court-just-took-case-epas-authority-its-decision-could-undo-most-major-federal-laws/https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2022/01/13/1072902744/ers-are-overwhelmed-as-omicron-continues-to-flood-them-with-patientshttps://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/21pdf/21a240_d18e.pdfhttps://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/21pdf/21a244_hgci.pdfShare
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Phil Hands Comic Strip for January 13, 2022
9 to 5 Comic Strip for January 13, 2022
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January 12, 2022
Heather Cox Richardson
Jan 13The struggle between the Trump-backed forces of authoritarianism and those of us defending democracy is coming down to the fight over whether the Democrats can get the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act through the Senate. It’s worth reading what’s actually in the bills because, to my mind, it is bananas that they are in any way controversial. The Freedom to Vote Act is a trimmed version of the For the People Act the House passed at the beginning of this congressional session. It establishes a baseline for access to the ballot across all states. That baseline includes at least two weeks of early voting for any town of more than 3000 people, including on nights and weekends, for at least 10 hours a day. It permits people to vote by mail, or to drop their ballots into either a polling place or a drop box, and guarantees those votes will be counted so long as they are postmarked on or before Election Day and arrive at the polling place within a week. It makes Election Day a holiday. It provides uniform standards for voter IDs in states that require them. The Freedom to Vote Act cracks down on voter suppression. It makes it a federal crime to lie to voters in order to deter them from voting (distributing official-looking flyers with the wrong dates for an election or locations of a polling place, for example), and it increases the penalties for voter intimidation. It restores federal voting rights for people who have served time in jail, creating a uniform system out of the current patchwork one. It requires states to guarantee that no one has to wait more than 30 minutes to vote.Using measures already in place in a number of states, the Freedom to Vote Act provides uniform voter registration rules. It establishes automatic voter registration at state Departments of Motor Vehicles, permits same-day voter registration, allows online voter registration, and protects voters from the purges that have plagued voting registrations for decades now, requiring that voters be notified if they are dropped from the rolls and given information on how to get back on them. The Freedom to Vote Act bans partisan gerrymandering.The Freedom to Vote Act requires any entity that spends more than $10,000 in an election to disclose all its major donors, thus cleaning up dark money in politics. It requires all advertisements to identify who is paying for them. It makes it harder for political action committees (PACs) to coordinate with candidates, and it beefs up the power of the Federal Election Commission that ensures candidates run their campaigns legally. The Freedom to Vote Act also addresses the laws Republican-dominated states have passed in the last year to guarantee that Republicans win future elections. It protects local election officers from intimidation and firing for partisan purposes. It expands penalties for tampering with ballots after an election (as happened in Maricopa County, Arizona, where the Cyber Ninjas investigating the results did not use standard protection for them and have been unable to produce documents for a freedom of information lawsuit, leading to fines of $50,000 a day and the company’s dissolution). If someone does tamper with the results or refuses to certify them, voters can sue.  The act also prevents attempts to overturn elections by requiring audits after elections, making sure those audits have clearly defined rules and procedures. And it prohibits voting machines that don’t leave a paper record. The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (VRAA) takes on issues of discrimination in voting by updating and restoring the 1965 Voting Rights Act (VRA) that the Supreme Court gutted in 2013 and 2021. The VRA required that states with a history of discrimination in voting get the Department of Justice to approve any changes they wanted to make in their voting laws before they went into effect, and in the 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision, the Supreme Court struck that requirement down, in part because the justices felt the formula in the law was outdated.The VRAA provides a new, modern formula for determining which states need preapproval, based on how many voting rights violations they’ve had in the past 25 years. After ten years without violations, they will no longer need preclearance. It also establishes some practices that must always be cleared, such as getting rid of ballots printed in different languages (as required in the U.S. since 1975). The VRAA also restores the ability of voters to sue if their rights are violated, something the 2021 Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee decision makes difficult. The VRAA directly addresses the ability of Indigenous Americans, who face unique voting problems, to vote. It requires at least one polling place on tribal lands, for example, and requires states to accept tribal or federal IDs. That’s it. It is off-the-charts astonishing that no Republicans are willing to entertain these common-sense measures, especially since there are in the Senate a number of Republicans who voted in 2006 to reauthorize the 1965 Voting Rights Act the VRAA is designed to restore. McConnell today revealed his discomfort with President Joe Biden’s speech yesterday at the Atlanta University Center Consortium, when Biden pointed out that “[h]istory has never been kind to those who have sided with voter suppression over voters’ rights. And it will be even less kind for those who side with election subversion.” Biden asked Republican senators to choose between our history’s advocates of voting rights and those who opposed such rights. He asked: “Do you want to be…on the side of Dr. King or George Wallace? Do you want to be on the side of John Lewis or Bull Connor?  Do you want to be on the side of Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis?Today, McConnell, who never complained about the intemperate speeches of former president Donald Trump, said Biden’s speech revealed him to be “profoundly, profoundly unpresidential.”The voting rights measures appear to have the support of the Senate Democrats, but because of the Senate filibuster, which makes it possible for senators to block any measure unless a supermajority of 60 senators are willing to vote for it, voting rights cannot pass unless Democrats are willing to figure out a way to bypass the filibuster. Two Democratic senators—Krysten Sinema (D-AZ) and Joe Manchin (D-WV)—are currently unwilling to do that. Nine Democratic senators eager to pass this measure met with Sinema for two and a half hours last night and for another hour with Manchin this morning in an attempt to get them to a place where they are willing to change the rules of the Senate filibuster to protect our right to vote. They have not yet found a solution.This evening, Senate Majority Leader Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced that he would bring voting rights legislation to the Senate floor for debate—which Republicans have rejected—by avoiding a Republican filibuster through a complicated workaround. When the House and Senate disagree on a bill (which is almost always), they send it back and forth with revisions until they reach a final version. According to Democracy Docket, after it has gone back and forth three times, a motion to proceed on it cannot be filibustered. So, Democrats in the House are going to take a bill that has already hit the three-trip mark and substitute for that bill the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. They’ll pass the combined bill and send it to the Senate, where debate over it can’t be filibustered.And so, Republican senators will have to explain to the people why they oppose what appear to be common-sense voting rules.—Notes:https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/freedom-vote-acthttps://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/john-lewis-voting-rights-advancement-acthttps://talkingpointsmemo.com/live-blog/senate-schumer-voting-rights-filibuster-sinema-manchinDemocracy Docket @DemocracyDocket🚨BREAKING: Senator Schumer announces plan to push through filibuster and proceed with voting rights legislation using a procedure known as “messages between the Houses” in a caucus memo. Here’s what you need to know🧵👇January 12th 20227,125 Retweets25,023 Likes​​https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/07/us/cyber-ninjas-arizona-vote-review.htmlEric Michael Garcia @EricMGarciaMcConnell calls Biden “profoundly, profoundly unpresidential” and says “I did not recognize the man at the podium” yesterday when Biden said people who oppose voting rights were akin to Jefferson Davis and Bull ConnorJanuary 12th 202224 Retweets218 LikesDemocracy Docket @DemocracyDocket🚨BREAKING: Senator Schumer announces plan to push through filibuster and proceed with voting rights legislation using a procedure known as “messages between the Houses” in a caucus memo. Here’s what you need to know🧵👇January 12th 20227,125 Retweets25,023 LikesShare
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