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Monthly Archives: June 2022



McConnell Says Blocking Obama Supreme Court Pick Led to Overturning Roe

Laura Litvan – 1h ago

(Bloomberg) — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said his decision to block former President Barack Obama from filling a Supreme Court vacancy after conservative Justice Antonin Scalia died in 2016 led directly to the reversal of the Roe v Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

© BloombergMitch McConnell

“It’s the single-most consequential decision I’ve made in my public career,” McConnell said Wednesday in remarks at a local Chamber of Commerce luncheon in his home state of Kentucky.

McConnell said his refusal to consider Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the court 11 months before Donald Trump took office cleared the way for Trump to put conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch on the bench. Trump’s subsequent nominations of Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett — have transformed the court’s rulings by creating a court with a 6-3 conservative majority, he said.

He spoke just days after that Supreme Court majority overturned the 49-year-old Roe v. Wade. McConnell said Roe “had no basis in the Constitution whatsoever,” and said last week’s ruling “was a huge step in the right direction.”

He also praised two of the court’s recent 6-3 rulings, one that for the first time held that the Second Amendment protects gun rights outside the home and another in favor of a high school football coach who lost his job for conducting post-game prayers on the 50-yard line.

McConnell made his remarks as Democrats are working to use the court’s abortion decision as a cornerstone of efforts to try to keep control of the Senate in this fall’s midterm elections. Polls have shown that soaring inflation is the top issue for voters, but the court’s decision is seen as one that could help energize Democrats in battleground states.

McConnell’s role in altering the court is a significant one. He kept the Scalia seat vacant by urging Senate Republicans to refuse to even meet with Obama’s pick. He also permanently changed Senate rules to end filibusters in Supreme Court confirmations, enabling Gorsuch to fill the Scalia court seat after a 54-45 vote.

Kavanaugh and Barrett, who also were narrowly confirmed, benefited from the same rule change.

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Heather Cox RichardsonJun 27

Defenders of the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade insist that Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health does not outlaw abortion but simply returns the decision about reproductive rights to the states.

“It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote. He quoted the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote: “The permissibility of abortion, and the limitations, upon it, are to be resolved like most important questions in our democracy: by citizens trying to persuade one another and then voting.” This, Alito wrote, “is what the Constitution and the rule of law demand.”

The idea that state voters are the centerpiece of American democracy has its roots in the 1820s, when southern leaders convinced poorer Americans that the nation was drifting toward an aristocracy that ignored the needs of ordinary people. The election of 1824, when established politicians overrode the popular vote to put John Quincy Adams into the presidency, seemed to illustrate that drift. Supporters of Adams’s chief rival, Andrew Jackson, complained that a wealthy elite was taking over the country and, once in charge, would use the power of the federal government to cement their control over the country’s capital, crushing ordinary Americans.

The rough, uneducated Andrew Jackson, who promised to break the hold of northeastern elites on the government and return democracy to the people, began to articulate a new vision of American government. He insisted that democratic government should actually look like a democracy: it should be formed by the votes of local people, not those from some far-off capital, and it should be made up of those same ordinary voters, not eastern elites like Adams, whose wealthy president father, John, had reared his son to follow in his footsteps.

Jackson’s new vision made ordinary Americans central to the democratic system. Democratic government put the power into the hands of individual voters. Local and state government was the most important stage of this system; the federal government always ran the risk of being taken over by an elite cabal that could override the will of the people. It must always be kept as small as possible.

But there was a power play in this argument. By the time Jackson was elected president in 1828, white southerners already knew they were badly outnumbered in the nation as a whole. In that year, quite dramatically, a congressional fight over tariffs ended up with a strong bill that hurt the South in favor of northern manufacturing. Outraged, southern leaders with Vice President John C. Calhoun of South Carolina at their head claimed the right to “nullify” federal laws. (Jackson later said that one of the two regrets he had at the end of his term was that he “was unable to…hang John C. Calhoun.”)

Congress lowered the tariff and the southerners backed down, but the idea that states were superior to the federal government only gained strength among southern enslavers as they felt the heat of a growing movement to abolish slavery. When it became clear that the U.S. might well acquire territory in Latin America, Democrats sympathetic to the South pushed back against the national majority that wanted to stop the spread of slavery into those lands by insisting on the doctrine of “popular sovereignty”: permitting the people who lived in a territory to decide for themselves whether or not to permit enslavement in it (although Mexico had outlawed enslavement in 1829). The U.S. acquired the vast territory of the American West in 1848, and two years later, Congress turned to popular sovereignty to try to avoid a fight about enslavement there.

The issue turned volatile in 1854 when Illinois Senator Stephen A. Douglas pushed through Congress a law overturning the 1820 Missouri Compromise and organizing two super-states out of the remaining land of the 1803 Louisiana Purchase. Rather than being free as the Missouri Compromise had promised, those huge states of Kansas and Nebraska would have enslavement or not based on the votes of those who lived there. This, Douglas insisted in his debates with Illinois lawyer Abraham Lincoln in 1858, was the true meaning of democracy:

“I deny the right of Congress to force a slaveholding State upon an unwilling people,” he said, “I deny their right to force a free State upon an unwilling people…. The great principle is the right of every community to judge and decide for itself, whether a thing is right or wrong, whether it would be good or evil for them to adopt it…. It is no answer to this argument to say that slavery is an evil, and hence should not be tolerated. You must allow the people to decide for themselves whether it is a good or an evil….” “Uniformity in local and domestic affairs,” he said, “would be destructive of State rights, of State sovereignty, of personal liberty and personal freedom.”

A strong majority in the U.S. opposed the extension of enslavement, but Douglas’s reasoning overrode that majority by carving the voting population into small groups the Democrats could dominate by whipping up voters with viciously racist speeches. Then, in the 1857 Dred Scott decision, a stacked Supreme Court blessed this plan by announcing that Congress had no power to legislate in the territories. In our system, this would mean that states taken over by pro-slavery zealots would eventually win enough power at the federal level to make enslavement national.

“A house divided against itself cannot stand,” Lincoln warned Americans. “I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved—I do not expect the house to fall—but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery, will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new—North as well as South.”

After the Civil War had proved the power of the federal government to defend the will of the majority from the tyranny of the minority, Congress found itself once again forced to override the will of state governments. When state legislatures put in place the Black Codes, which created a second-class status in the South for Black Americans, Congress passed and the states ratified the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, overriding the Dred Scott decision to make Black Americans citizens, and establishing that “[n]o 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.”

Almost 80 years later, it was this amendment—the Fourteenth—to which the Supreme Court turned to protect the rights of Black and Brown Americans, women, LGBTQ, and so on, from state laws that threatened their health and safety or treated them as second-class citizens. In using the power of the federal government to guarantee “the equal protection of the laws,” it made sure that a small pool of voters couldn’t strip rights from their neighbors. It is this effort today’s Supreme Court is gutting.

When today’s jurists talk of sending decisions about civil rights back to the states, they are echoing Stephen Douglas. “Citizens trying to persuade one another and then voting” is indeed precisely how democracy is supposed to work. But choosing your voters to make sure the results will be what you want is a different kettle of fish altogether.

Notes:

https://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/minute/Attempt_to_kill_King_Andrew.htm

https://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/lincoln/speeches/house.htm

https://digital.lib.niu.edu/islandora/object/niu-lincoln%3A36302

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We still didn’t learn, much like today. MA

Heather Cox RichardsonJun 26CommentShare

Today marks the anniversary of the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876, when Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer, who led the 7th Cavalry, lost his entire command to Lakota warriors after falling on them unexpectedly in their own territory. The only army survivor of the battle from Custer’s immediate command was a horse, Comanche, who became the 7th Cavalry’s mascot, trotted out draped in ceremonial black for years after the event itself.

The road to the Little Bighorn started during the Civil War. In 1862, Santee warriors in Minnesota rose up against settlers there after the U.S. government, financially strapped by the Civil War, stopped providing the food promised to the Santee by treaty. Soldiers put down the “Santee Uprising”—now known as the Dakota War—brutally, and terrified survivors fled west to what is now Montana to take shelter with their relatives, the Teton Lakotas.

The Lakotas welcomed their eastern relatives but discounted their horrific tales of the revenge enacted on the Santee insurgents (although the army had, in fact, hanged 38 Santee in December 1862 in the largest mass execution in American history). The Lakotas rarely saw an American, and they could not believe the lone traders who passed through their territory were a threat.

Lakota nonchalance ended abruptly in November 1864, when Northern Cheyennes, their allies to the south, straggled into Lakota villages with even worse stories than the Santees had told: stories of the massacre of women and children at Colorado’s Sand Creek, where drunken soldiers first killed surrendering Cheyennes and then mutilated their bodies, taking human remains as trophies. By 1864, American miners were pushing into Lakota territory over the new Bozeman Trail that stretched from the old Oregon Trail up to the Montana gold fields. Stories of the Sand Creek Massacre convinced the Lakotas that the interlopers must be resisted.

By 1865, the conflicts, now known as the Lakota War, had escalated to the point that after Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House, army leaders transferred General William Tecumseh Sherman from the southern battlefields to the Plains. To his intense frustration, he found it impossible to protect both the Union Pacific Railroad, which stretched across the middle of the country, and the Bozeman Trail, which went north, from Lakota attacks.

Caught between these two demands, the government chose to protect the railroad. In 1868, it abandoned the Bozeman Trail, giving the Lakotas control of what became known as the Great Sioux Reservation. This reservation covered most of the land from the Missouri River that runs through the center of what is now South Dakota west to the Big Horn Mountains. The treaty each side signed guaranteed that land to the Lakotas forever.

Forever turned out to be short.

Rising Lakota leaders Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse vowed to keep Americans off their land, but miners wanted gold and businessmen wanted railroads. By 1874, army officers decided to build a fort in the Black Hills to intimidate the warriors skirmishing with intruders. In 1875, they sent out the Boy General, George Armstrong Custer, along with a thousand soldiers, teamsters, scouts, and reporters, to find a place to build. Custer brought back ideas for a fort, but, more importantly, he also brought back news of gold in “them thar hills”—hills that belonged to the Lakotas.

Within months, prospectors in the Black Hills had thrown up boomtowns like Deadwood, which attracted about twenty thousand people in its first year. The government tried to buy the Black Hills, but Lakota leaders refused. “We want no white men here,” Sitting Bull said. “The Black Hills belong to me. If the whites try to take them, I will fight.”

Government officials interpreted Lakota refusal to sell as hostility. In December 1875, authorities told Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, and other “hostiles” to report to agencies more than 250 miles away on the eastern side of the reservation by the end of January, or to expect war. For their part, Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, who had never frequented the agencies, made no attempt to set off on a long journey in the brutal cold of a Dakota winter. It’s not clear they even got the message.

So on February 1, 1876, the War Department commanded the army to subdue the “hostile” Lakota. A month later, General George Crook led 800 men into Lakota territory, hoping to fight the Indigenous Americans while their ponies were still weak from the winter. In mid-March, half of Crook’s men attacked a camp of Cheyennes on the Powder River, mistaking it for a village of Crazy Horse’s men. Cheyenne survivors took refuge with Sitting Bull, who had had enough. “We are an island of Indians in a lake of whites,” he told his people. “We must stand together, or they will rub us out separately. These soldiers have come shooting; they want war. All right, we’ll give it to them.”

Sitting Bull sent runners across the reservation, calling men who wanted to fight to meet at the Rosebud River to stand against the soldiers. By spring 1876, thousands of men had rallied to him. In early summer 1876, Sitting Bull’s camp was the largest in Lakota history; there were at least 1400 lodges, with individual men sleeping on their own or as guests in others’ tepees.

Badly underestimating the number of warriors he faced, Crook planned a three-pronged attack. Columns from west, east, and south would converge where the Lakotas were hunting. Crook’s plan was crippled on June 17, when his own column, moving up from the south, crossed Lakota warriors near the Rosebud River. In a confusing battle obscured by dust and gunpowder, the Lakotas managed to knock Crook’s men out of the campaign for the next six weeks.

Those weeks would prove crucial. As the other two columns continued their march, Indigenous Americans celebrating the outcome of the Battle of the Rosebud continued to pour into Sitting Bull’s camp, bringing the numbers up to about 7000 people, 1800 of whom were warriors. In the vibrant atmosphere, families visited, couples courted, and warriors danced. The numbers meant that the Lakotas and their allies had to keep moving to provide enough food for the horses. By June 24, they had settled on the river they called the Greasy Grass, the one soldiers knew as the Little Bighorn.

Unaware of the two columns approaching, the Lakotas were watching Crook’s soldiers but knew his battered troops were hunkered down. On June 25, a hot, buggy day, the Lakotas were lazing, the women digging wild turnips and the men swimming and lying about in the heat, when Custer’s troops fell on one end of their mile-long encampment. The soldiers cut down some women and children, but the Lakotas mounted their horses quickly.

Custer had divided his men into three battalions. He had sent one under Captain Frederick Benteen up the valley and out of action, and sent one under Major Marcus Reno to attack the camp. Recovering from their initial surprise, the Lakotas chased Reno and his men into the bluffs on the other side of the river. Then Custer’s battalion entered the fight. Custer ordered his men to dismount. The Lakotas promptly stampeded the army horses. Then, surrounding the desperate troops, the Lakotas killed the soldiers to a man. The U.S. Army lost 263 men that day, the Lakotas about 40.

“I feel sorry that too many were killed on each side,” Sitting Bull said, “but when Indians must fight, they must.”

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It appears that no matter how much we try to elect good representatives, we still fall prey to the poLItical ads that lie unceasingly, and we still elect and reelect the same people. As much as I would like to believe we as voters are smart, I see more and more that we are more complacent than smart. That complacency is more valuable to the bad actors in “public service” than your vote. We need to stop being the “band aid” and start being the cure.

Note: I spell PoLItical with a capital “LI” to denote what poLiticians do daily.

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June 14, 2022Heather Cox Richardson
Jun 15Today the White House announced that President Joe Biden will visit the Middle East next month. His first stop will be in Israel, and then he will go to Saudi Arabia, where he will meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), the man responsible for the murder and dismemberment of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. MBS recently invested $2 billion in Jared Kushner’s new investment fund against the advice of the funds’ advisors.In 2019, Biden promised to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” in part because of the Khashoggi killing, but administration officials have been quietly visiting for months, in part to urge Saudi Arabia to increase oil production to help ease gas prices in the U.S. While the White House maintains that it is looking for a “reset” with the Saudis in order to promote peace talks between Israel and Palestine, end the war in Yemen, and address human rights violations, it acknowledges that oil production is on the table. Inflation is high in the U.S., as it is all over the world, because of demand, supply chain problems, the soaring costs of transportation as the world’s few carriers jack up prices, and so on. But that inflation is driven in large part by higher oil prices, which have driven up the price of gasoline and diesel in the U.S., which in turn makes everything more expensive. Since the first public hearing of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol last week, much of the traffic on right-wing social media has been about gas prices, blaming them on President Biden. Republicans see gas prices and inflation as key issues both to distract from the hearings and to enable Republicans to take over control of Congress in the November midterm elections. In fact, according to a piece by E. Rosalie in the newsletter Hoaxlines, U.S. production of crude oil during Biden’s first year was actually higher than it was in Trump’s first year. To encourage production, Biden’s officials have issued more permits on federal lands than were issued in the Trump administration’s first three years, at a pace that approaches that of George W. Bush’s administration. Only 10% of all U.S. drilling takes place on federal land, but the Bureau of Land Management confirms that more than 9000 drilling permits on public land are currently approved. Not all would be productive if they were developed, and none of them could start producing immediately, but this undercuts the argument that gas prices are high because the Biden administration has choked off permits.  Russia’s war on Ukraine has also driven up global oil prices, but the U.S. gets less than 2% of its oil from Russia. What appears to be driving U.S. gas prices is the pressure investors are putting on oil companies, whose officers answer to their investors. Limited production creates higher prices that are driving record profits. In a March 2022 survey of 141 U.S. oil producers asking them why they were holding back production, 59% said they were under investor pressure. Only 6% blamed “government regulations” for their lack of increased production. Oil companies are seeing huge profits and are using the money for stock buybacks to raise stock prices. BP, Shell, ExxonMobil, Chevron, TotalEnergies, Eni, and Equinor will give between $38 and $41 billion to shareholders through buyback programs this year. As EOG Resources wrote to its shareholders: “2021 was a record-setting year for EOG. We earned record net income of $4.7 billion, generated a record $5.5 billion of free cash flow, which funded record cash return of $2.7 billion to shareholders. We doubled our regular dividend rate and paid two special dividends, paying out about 30% of cash from operations…. This period of high oil prices allows us to further bolster the balance sheet. To support our renewed $5 billion buyback authorization and prepare to take advantage of other countercyclical opportunities, we plan to build and carry a higher cash balance going forward….”But congressional Republicans appear uninterested in adjusting the disjunction between supply and demand that is creating such high consumer prices. In May the House passed the Consumer Fuel Price Gouging Prevention Act by a vote of 217 to 207 with only Democrats in the yes column and all Republicans and four Democrats voting no. The bill provided a vague warning that it is unlawful to charge “unconscionably excessive” prices for consumer fuel during presidentially declared energy emergencies, and it gave the Federal Trade Commission more power to punish price gouging. The Senate has not moved forward with the bill. Republicans there can kill it with the filibuster and will do so, despite the fact that a Morning Consult/Politico poll shows that 77% of registered voters—including 76% of Republicans—like such a measure. Only 13% of voters outright oppose such a law (10% have no opinion). Biden has sought to address the issue with the tools at his command. After trying to ease pressure by releasing oil from the strategic reserve, he has set out to reduce the nation’s demand for oil products by identifying the conversion to clean energy as a national security issue. On June 6 he vowed to “continue…pushing Congress to pass clean energy investments and tax cuts” but also authorized the use of the Defense Production Act to speed up the domestic production of solar panel parts, building insulation, heat pumps, and power grid infrastructure like transformers. He will also lower tariffs on solar technology coming to the U.S. from Southeast Asia for two years. These measures should ensure a reliable supply of solar panels while creating more jobs in the green energy sector, which currently employs more than 230,000 people in the solar industry alone.  In addition to Biden’s measures to ease oil prices, lawmakers are trying to curb inflation by imposing the sorts of limits on carrier prices that they refuse to on oil prices. On Monday the House passed the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022 to hamper unfair business practices among shipping carriers. The measure passed the Senate in March. Although the bills were introduced by Democrats, the votes that passed them were bipartisan, reflecting, perhaps, that the nine shipping companies that dominate the world market are multinational rather than domestic. According to Representative John Garamendi (D-CA), shippers have raised prices on U.S. businesses and consumers by more than 1000% on goods coming from Asia, enabling them to make $190 billion in profits last year, a sevenfold increase in one year. This bill, he said, “will help crush inflation and protect American jobs.” Biden has praised the bill and promises to sign it. And tomorrow the Federal Reserve is expected to announce an interest rate hike of three quarters of a percentage point, its highest since 1994, to combat inflation. Higher interest rates will make it more expensive to borrow money, which should cool down the economy, although getting inflation down to the 2% the Fed prefers will likely slow consumer spending, dampen wage increases, and slow economic growth. And of course, next month, Biden will visit the Saudis, who can increase oil supplies quickly if they believe it is in their best interest to do so. And finally, a heads up: tomorrow’s hearing of the January 6 committee has been postponed. The next hearing is now scheduled for Thursday at 1:00 pm.—
Notes:HoaxlinesWhat to know about gas prices, what’s driving up the price, and a future threat lurking thereinTable of contents Prices mostly follow supply and demand but not right now Gas production is the highest it’s been in decades What actions have lawmakers taken to lower prices? What does the oil industry say is the cause? Where is all this extra cash going? Buybacks, of course…Read more2 days ago · 1 like · Hoaxlineshttps://www.nbcnews.com/politics/white-house/biden-meet-mohammed-bin-salman-july-visit-saudi-arabia-rcna33400https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/06/14/biden-saudi-arabia-israel/https://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/hist/LeafHandler.ashx?n=pet&s=mcrfpus2&f=ahttps://www.verifythis.com/article/news/verify/national-verify/oil-permits-9000-unused-fact-check/536-2a657e09-856b-436c-a55d-df1cdf2acb3fhttps://www.npr.org/2021/07/13/1015581092/biden-promised-to-end-new-drilling-on-federal-land-but-approvals-are-upRon Filipkowski 🇺🇦 @RonFilipkowskiLiterally 80% of the social media traffic from right wingers across multiple platforms is gas prices. Since the day before the first J6 hearing.June 14th 2022719 Retweets4,614 Likeshttps://apnews.com/article/politics-business-inflation-be1b698e48327d3a33847be25aba3e3dhttps://www.cbsnews.com/news/house-gas-price-gouging-bill/https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/7688/texthttps://morningconsult.com/2022/05/25/gas-price-measures-survey/https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/10/us/jared-kushner-saudi-investment-fund.htmlhttps://landline.media/congress-passes-ocean-shipping-reform-act/https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/06/13/statement-by-president-joe-biden-on-congressional-passage-of-ocean-shipping-reform-act/https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/senate-bill/3580/texthttps://www.cantwell.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Ocean%20Shiping%20Reform%20Act%20of%202022%20One-Pager.pdfhttps://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/06/06/fact-sheet-president-biden-takes-bold-executive-action-to-spur-domestic-clean-energy-manufacturing/

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The GOP’s unconscionable resistance to any commonsense measures on what is good for the oft cited American people has risen to new lows. To gain control of federal legislation the GOP has and continues to lie, subvert while smiling in the faces of Americans who are suffering tragedies. This GOP is comprised of the same types of Republicans whose mindset put us into a civil war. It is my belief that save a few this GOP is beyond redemption. All of this aided and abetted by radical news sources, the likes of which have not been seen in decades. Why has the GOP not seen fit to condemn the raft of mass shootings across the country? It can’t be just the NRA donations so there are more ominous factions in play. The bottom line here appears to be how much money can be made by allying with big business whether you agree with them or not. The cure is the vote and until voters ignore the hype and BS spouted by Congressional members, the radical media whether left or right we will continue to be supplied with the poison fruit of pay to play politicians. Lest we forget, a war was fought over the same issues. America will never be free unless all are free and our federal legislators are working to maintain the status quo where they have the keys to the kingdom aka our Democracy!

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Tom Campbell

Opinion by Wilmington Star News – 20m ago

Bob Gibson was in the second wave of troops storming Normandy’s beaches on D-Day. Now 100 and wheelchair bound, NBC Nightly News filmed his return 78 years later. Bob reminisced about the estimated 4,400 Americans who died on June 6, 1944.

The television interviewer asked his reactions upon returning. “I done this for you people,” he emphatically responded. “Don’t screw it up!”

Are we? For more than 50 years, I have been observing, reporting on, writing about and moderating TV talk shows on public policy issues. What I am seeing currently is a disillusioned, disgusted, discouraged, distrustful, disbelieving and disunited people. It is disturbing to see.

How bad is it? A University of Maryland/Washington Post poll reported in January of this year that  one in three adults say violence against government can be justified. 30 years ago, some 90 percent said violence against government was never justified; now it’s just 62 percent. Repeated testimony and evidence regarding the Jan. 6 attack confirms the poll’s accuracy.

I don’t care what party you belong to, what philosophy you espouse, the color of your skin or your net worth, there is no other way to describe January 6th than to say it was an act of sedition to overthrow our government. What amazes me is that far too many political, business, religious and civic leaders have sat quietly without expressing outrage at what happened, those who conceived it and the people who did it. Far too many of us have seemingly accepted that this is just how things are.

Is that what Bob Gibson risked his life on the beaches of Normandy for? Our acquiescence?

How did we get from a people who believed in our system, trusted our leaders and (even with political differences) were willing to unite to continue our way of life?

Issues like guns, abortion, voting rights, gender issues, race, education policies and a host of others divide us. Where once we were willing to participate in reasonable conversations and come up with compromise solutions, whoever disagrees with us now is an enemy, not just on that one position but on all. The political culture is so toxic that most just withdraw entirely instead of engaging and sticking with it until solutions are found.

Demagogues, who have personal agendas for power, sow seeds of distrust and vitriol towards our government, the media, healthcare, education and our election process. They know, from examples like Hitler, Putin and other autocrats that if you repeat claims frequently and with conviction, you can whip up fears and win increasing numbers into your cult. Allow me to pause here. Some have taken offense in my calling Donald Trump the leader of a cult. The Oxford dictionary defines a cult: “a misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular person or  thing.” Satisfied? The so-called “silent majority” has implied acceptance to bullying, lies, distrust and our unity.

Presidential historian Michael Beschloss said that 2022 could be the year that we lose democracy. “Things we assumed were permanent in America are falling apart,” he said. “Americans are resilient, but only resilient when Americans roll into action.”

I was encouraged and inspired by comments from actor Matthew McConaughey, following the Robb Elementary shooting in his hometown of Uvalde, Texas. He said, “We are not as divided as we are being told we are,” adding that we need to return to “the common table that represents the American people.” He continued we need to reclaim the middle ground, “where most of us Americans live anyway.” As he stood at the White House briefing room podium, he implored us to “re-brand ourselves on what we truly value.” We’ve got to find some real courage to “honor our moral obligation instead of our party affiliation.”

McConaughey concluded, “let’s start giving us – all of us – good reason to believe that the American dream is not an illusion.”

I like to believe he is right. That there is a majority who still believe in our country, our government and are willing to do our patriotic duty to support and defend it. There are plenty willing to sacrifice to support the common good, to trust leaders and each other until they prove we can’t. But we’ve got to stop fighting with each other and start fighting for each other.

That’s exactly what men and women who wore the uniform in World War II and in the years following fought for. Let’s not allow this generation to be the ones who “screw it up.”

Tom Campbell is a Hall of Fame North Carolina Broadcaster and columnist who has covered North Carolina public policy issues since 1965. He recently retired from writing, producing and moderating the statewide half-hour TV program NC SPIN that aired 22 ½ years. Contact him at tomcamp@carolinabroadcasting.com.

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Why would you vote for these people? It has been apparent for the past 50 years that the GOP has shifted in favor of big money donors while schmoozing the voters. There should be no doubt when voting if we (voters) adhere to 1 standard: tell the truth and do your job! The Congress has become a cash barrel for folks who have reverted to the 1880’s style of legislation and that is what benefits them and their benefactors. Remember: PoLItician has the description in the middle “LI” or lie!

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Fight to vote:
Republicans keep passing extreme anti-abortion bans without popular support. Here’s why Most Americans don’t want abortion bans but gerrymandering allows politicians to face little accountability
 
Sam Levine in New York

Hello, and Happy Thursday, As states have passed a wave of increasingly extreme abortion restrictions in recent years, a sort of puzzling contradiction has emerged. The American public broadly supports the right to an abortion, public polling has shown, yet politicians who pass these controversial restrictions are consistently re-elected. Why is that? Yesterday, we published a story that seeks to answer that question. A big part of why politicians face little accountability is gerrymandering. State lawmakers, who have the power to draw the boundaries of their own districts in most places, can pick which voters they represent and virtually guarantee their re-election. It’s more important than ever to understand this dynamic. In his draft opinion overturning Roe v Wade, Justice Samuel Alito wrote that abortion is an issue that should be resolved by the political process, not the courts. By insulating politicians from accountability, extreme gerrymandering prevents the political process from doing that. In 2019, Alito joined four of the court’s conservative justices in saying there was nothing federal courts could do to police even the most extreme gerrymandering. Few places better capture the link between partisan gerrymandering and extreme anti-abortion measures than Ohio. In 2010, Republicans won control of the Ohio legislature and drew new maps that allowed them to hold a veto-proof majority for the next decade. In 2011, the legislature began to pass a series of restrictions on abortion. Republicans enacted a new law that banned abortion after a fetus was viable and required viability testing after 20 weeks. They passed another measure that prohibited taxpayer-funded hospitals from entering into patient transfer agreements with clinics, making it harder for the clinics to operate. In 2019, the state had banned abortion after six weeks, one of the most restrictive laws in the country. (The Ohio Policy Evaluation Network, which tracks abortion access in Ohio has a good timeline of these bills). When Ohio lawmakers were passing these measures, there wasn’t overwhelming public support for them. Ohio voters are closely divided on abortion and a majority did not support the six week ban (one poll after it passed in 2019 showed that a majority of people opposed it). Even so, Ohio Republicans have maintained their majorities in the state legislature. “That mismatch between what we see in public opinion and what we see at the statehouse, really suggests that what citizens are thinking about abortion access really is not reflected in their statehouse,” Danielle Bessett, a sociology professor at the University of Cincinnati, who closely studies abortion care in Ohio, told me. “That suggests that there isn’t a concern about this being sort of something that they’re going to get held accountable for at the polls.” It’s an imbalance that exists across the country. Nationally, 61% of Americans say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, but states are enacting a blitz of increasingly extreme restrictions, including several that are considering outright bans. Republicans continue to control more state legislative chambers than Democrats do, and very few are expected to flip partisan control (fewer than 1 in 5 state legislative districts are estimated to be competitive this year). In Ohio, Republicans have once again engineered maps that preserve their advantage. After the state supreme court struck down five proposals for a new legislative map because they were too gerrymandered, lawmakers ran out the clock. They convinced a federal court to impose a map for the 2022 elections that will allow them to maintain, at minimum, 54% of the seats in the state legislature. “It’s frustrating. In some ways it’s hopeful that people do think that abortion should be a right and should exist for people in Ohio,” Sri Thakkilapati, the interim executive director of PreTerm, an abortion clinic in Cleveland told me. “It’s helpful to know that there are more of us. But in some ways it’s very disheartening…It feels like it’s not gonna make a difference.” Also worth watching… Jim Marchant, a QAnon linked candidate running to be Nevada’s chief election official, is seeking his party’s nomination in the GOP primary on Tuesday.Voters with disabilities are suing Alabama for offering inadequate access to absentee ballots for people who are blind   Thank you for turning to the Guardian Tens of millions have placed their trust in the Guardian’s high-impact journalism since we started publishing 200 years ago, turning to us in moments of crisis, uncertainty, solidarity and hope. More than 1.5 million readers, from 180 countries, have recently taken the step to support us financially – keeping us open to all, and fiercely independent.

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Heather Cox RichardsonJun 10

“Tonight, I say this to my Republican colleagues who are defending the indefensible: There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain.”

So Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY), vice chair of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, damned her Republican colleagues at tonight’s first hearing on the January 6 insurrection.

And that was only a piece of what we heard tonight.

Calmly, carefully, convincingly, and in plain, easy to understand language, committee leaders Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and Cheney placed former president Donald Trump at the center of an attempt to overturn our democracy. They were very clear that what happened on January 6 was an attempted coup, an “attempt to undermine the will of the people.” All Americans should remember, they reminded us, that on the morning of January 6, Donald Trump intended to remain president, despite his loss in the 2020 election and his constitutional obligation to step down in favor of President-elect Joseph R. Biden, as every president before him had done.

The committee established that there was no fraud in the 2020 election that would have changed the results of the election, showing testimony from Trump’s attorney general Bill Barr that the argument that Trump had won was “bullsh*t.” The committee presented testimony from other administration figures, including Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows and his daughter Ivanka, that Trump had been told repeatedly that he had lost. And yet, even with his inner circle telling him he had lost, and even with more than 60 failed lawsuits over the election, Trump continued to lie that he had been cheated of victory.

It was Trump who “summoned the mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame” for January 6, the committee says. Unable to accept his loss and determined to remain in power, Trump organized and deployed an attack on our democracy.

The committee established that the attack on the Capitol was not a random, spontaneous uprising. The rioters came at Trump’s invitation. While they had been muttering about the results since immediately after the election, it was Trump’s tweet of December 19, 2020, that lit the fuse. That night, the former president met with lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, former national security advisor Michael Flynn, and others at the White House. Shortly after the meeting, Trump tweeted that it was “[s]tatistically impossible to have lost the 2020 election. Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”

Members of the extremist organizations the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers took Trump’s December 19th tweet as a call to arms. On December 20, they began to organize to go to Washington. These radical white supremacists had taken great pride in Trump’s shout-out in a presidential debate on September 29 that the Proud Boys should “stand back and stand by.” After that comment, membership in the Proud Boys had tripled.

Members of the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers testified that they went to Washington because Trump personally asked them to. “Trump has only asked me for two things,” one man testified: “my vote, and he asked me to come on January 6.”

The committee provided evidence that 250 to 300 Proud Boys arrived in Washington to stop the counting of the electoral votes. Nick Quested, a documentary filmmaker working to film the gang, testified that the riot was not spontaneous: the Proud Boys, who were allegedly in Washington to hear Trump speak, walked away from the rally at the Ellipse even before then-president Trump spoke, walking to the Capitol and checking out the police presence there. The Oath Keepers, too, were in Washington to stop the count and were expecting Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act, enabling them to fight for him to remain president.

The groups quite deliberately fought their way into the Capitol in a planned and coordinated attack. Meanwhile, Trump continued to stoke the crowd’s fury at then–vice president Mike Pence for refusing to overturn the election in his role as the person in charge of counting the certified electoral votes. The rioters stormed the Capitol and went in search of Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), their calls for “Oh, Nancy,” echoing like the singsong chant from a horror movie. When he learned that the rioters were chanting “Hang Mike Pence,” the president said: “Maybe our supporters have the right idea.” He said that Pence “deserves it.”

Videos of the violence outside the Capitol further undercut the attempt of Republicans to downplay the rioters as “tourists.” Asked by Thompson if any one memory from January 6 stood out to her, Officer Caroline Edwards, who fought to protect the Capitol, said yes: the scene of “carnage” and “chaos.” It was like a war scene from the movies, she said, with officers bleeding on the ground, vomiting. She was slipping in people’s blood, catching people as they fell. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think… I would find myself in the middle of a battle,” she said. More than 100 police officers were wounded in the fighting, attacked with cudgels and bear spray, and at least nine people died then and immediately after.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was only one of many people caught up in the violence to contact Trump and beg him to call off the rioters. Clearly, Republicans as well as Democrats knew the mob were his people and that they would respond to his instructions. And yet, he refused. He did nothing to call out the military or the National Guard to defend the Capitol.

Ultimately, those requests came from Vice President Pence, in what appears so far to be an unexplained breakdown in the usual chain of command. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley testified that Pence was very clear that the military needed to turn up and fast to “put down this situation.” In contrast, Meadows talked to Milley not about protecting the Capitol, but to say “we have to kill the narrative that the vice president is making all the decisions.” Milley said he saw this as “politics, politics, politics.”

After the attempt to overturn the election and keep Trump in power had failed, according to Cheney, Representative Scott Perry (R-PA) and “multiple other Republican congressmen” tried to get Trump to pardon them for their participation. While they are now insisting they did nothing wrong, the requests for a presidential pardon show that they were aware that they were in trouble.

After the hearing, CNN congressional correspondent Ryan Nobles talked to Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA), who is on the committee. “It’s actually a pretty simple story of a president who lost, who couldn’t stand losing, who cared nothing about the constitution and was determined to hold on to power and who incited a mob when everything else failed,” Schiff said.

The hearing provided some new information about the January 6 coup attempt that had not previously been publicly available. It also put what we already knew into a clear and compelling narrative using the words of Trump’s own advisors, including his daughter, and video previously unseen by the public. That story singled Trump out as the author of an attack on our democracy and isolated him even from those in his inner circle in a way that could weaken his influence in his party.

At the same time, the committee’s presentation was horrifying, reviving the pain of January 6 and clarifying it by bringing together the many different storylines that we have previously seen only in isolation. The timeline juxtaposed the mob violence with Trump’s own statements about how Pence was letting them down, for example. It showed Officer Edwards being knocked unconscious while Trump claimed the mob was made up of “peaceful people… great people,” and described “the love in the air, I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Pundits had speculated before tonight’s televised hearing that it would not make compelling television, but they could not have been more wrong. The Fox News Channel, some of whose personalities were involved in the events surrounding January 6, refused to air the proceedings. Nonetheless, that channel inadvertently proved just how powerful the hearing was when it ran Tucker Carlson’s show without commercial breaks, apparently afraid that if anyone began to channel surf they might be drawn in by the hearing on other channels.

Veteran reporter Bob Woodward called the evening “historic.” Looking back at the 1954 hearings that destroyed the career of Senator Joe McCarthy by revealing that he was lying to the American public, Woodward said that tonight’s event “was the equivalent of the Army-McCarthy hearings.”

Notes:

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