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Monthly Archives: July 2022

Opinion: The propaganda campaign to wreck Social Security is right on track

Last Updated: July 30, 2022 at 12:07 p.m. ETFirst Published: July 29, 2022 at 10:32 a.m. ET


Brett Arends

The defeatism about America’s retirement plan is getting worse

Some 70% of adults now worry about Social Security running out of funding during their lifetimes, including not just 78% of Generation X but even 64% of baby boomers, who are already 57 or older.

And a third of adults fear they will not see “a dime” of the Social Security benefits they have earned, including 15% of non-retired boomers, 30% of Generation X, and 47% of millennials.

So reports the Nationwide Retirement Institute’s 2022 Social Security Survey, a poll of nearly 2,000 adults conducted by Harris Insights & Analytics.

And the defeatism about America’s retirement plan is getting worse (or, if you consider Social Security akin to communism and want to destroy it, better). The survey shows a big bump compared with last year in the number of people who expect to have to keep working in retirement because Social Security won’t be able to support them, and a big bump in the numbers planning to start claiming benefits early even while working. Some 42% now plan to file for benefits early, up from 36% just a year ago.

If you figure the system is about to go broke, you’d want to start claiming as soon as possible so you at least get something, right? Especially if you are genuinely worried you won’t see “a dime” of the benefits you’ve earned.

The propaganda scam against Social Security is proving to be a master class. It is and has always been a massively popular government program, right from when it was started. Politicians used to call Social Security the third rail of American politics: “Touch it and die.” So how do you persuade people to kill off a popular program? Simple: You persuade them it’s already dead!


This is how people like senators Lindsey Graham and Mitt Romney can hold out the prospect of cutting back on Social Security benefits if their party wins the midterm elections and apparently nobody cares.

After all, it’s already dead, right?

(There is something especially ironic about being told that Social Security can’t be saved by a multi, multimillionaire senator who pays 14% tax, while people busing tables pay 15.3% FICA, plus whatever in income tax.)

Actually, this isn’t reality at all. Social Security is still on track to pay about 80% of expected benefits. And even this anticipated funding shortfall is purely political. It could be avoided by ending the cap on incomes subject to payroll taxes, taxing the gigantic sums of untaxed capital gains, or just investing Social Security in stocks like any normal pension plan.

Saving the program would interfere with the campaign to persuade people it’s already dead. And we can’t have that.





July 29, 2022 Heather Cox Richardson Jul 30

Democrats continue to illustrate the difference between them and the Republicans in the lead-up to the 2022 midterms. Today, Americans continued to spit fury over the Republican senators’ destruction of the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) bill, which would provide medical benefits for veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxins during their military service, after previously passing the measure.  That destruction has added to the growing list of unpopular positions Republicans are taking as Democrats are forcing votes on them. Republicans have voted against protecting the right to abortion, the right to use birth control, the right to cross state lines to obtain reproductive health care, and gay marriage, all of which are very popular. Today, the House of Representatives passed a measure to ban assault weapons. The vote was 217 to 213, mostly along party lines: two Republicans voted yes, and five Democrats voted no.. Since the horrific massacre of 19 schoolchildren and 2 of their teachers, along with the wounding of 17 others, at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, in May, support for a ban on assault-style weapons has climbed to 67%.  Also today, oil giants ExxonMobil and Chevron reported historic profits from the last three months. Exxon made $17.9 billion (not a typo) last quarter, up 273% from the same time last year, while Chevron made $11.6 billion. Exxon’s rate of income was $2,245.62 every second of every day for the past 92 days; Chevron made $1,462.11 per second. Together, BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell, and TotalEnergies are expected to announce $60 billion in profits for the past three months. They plan to spend much of the profit not on reinvesting in their businesses, but on stock buybacks, which drives up the price of the stock.  These record profits came at the same time that American consumers were staggering under high gas prices, which made up almost half of the increase in inflation of the past few months.    The record profits of oil companies made a perfect backdrop to early discussions of the Inflation Reduction Act advanced by Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV). If passed, that measure will be a sea change in the nation’s economic policy. Its $385 billion devoted to addressing climate change will be the nation’s largest ever investment in clean energy, and it will incentivize cutting carbon emissions, delivering 40% cuts by 2030, which is close to Biden’s stated goal.  The Inflation Reduction Act will also expand healthcare subsidies, lowering healthcare premiums, and will enable Medicare to negotiate the prices of certain drugs with pharmaceutical producers. It calls for a 15% corporate minimum tax, the closure of the carried interest loophole, and increased spending on the IRS so it can enforce tax laws. It leaves Trump’s 2017 tax cuts for corporations and the wealthiest individuals because Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) insisted they stay in place. But the measure would raise about $470 billion, about $300 billion of which would go toward reducing the federal deficit over the next decade. After decades of tax cuts that have helped wealth to concentrate among the very wealthy, this measure would set out to begin the process of restoring fairness in our revenue system.   Another gulf between Republicans and Democrats is their approach to the events of January 6, 2021. Tonight Maria Sacchetti and Carol D. Leonnig of the Washington Post reported that the inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security, Joseph V. Cuffari, who was appointed by Trump, knew last December that the texts between Secret Service agents had been deleted. Not only did he neglect to tell Congress that those messages were missing, but also when his investigative team set out to recover the messages, he told them not to. Moreover, he neglected to tell Congress that the text messages from the acting homeland security secretary, Chad Wolf, and acting deputy secretary, Ken Cuccinelli, from that same period were also missing. Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, today said in a statement: “The destruction of evidence that could be relevant to the investigation of the deadly attack on our Capitol is an extremely serious matter.  Inspector General Cuffari’s failure to take immediate action upon learning that these text messages had been deleted makes clear that he should no longer be entrusted with this investigation.” Durbin says he has asked Attorney General Merrick Garland to get to the bottom of what happened to the missing messages and hold those responsible accountable. Finally, today, the Department of Justice unsealed an indictment against Aleksandr Viktorovich Ionov of Moscow, who, along with at least three other Russian officials, it says “engaged in a years-long foreign malign influence campaign targeting the United States.” Allegedly, Ionov recruited political groups in the U.S. and, with the supervision of the Russian government, illegally used their members to “sow division and spread misinformation inside the United States.” The targeted groups were located in Florida, Georgia, and California, and Ionov allegedly worked closely with them, directing and controlling their leaders, who appear to have been aware of his connection to the Russian government, since at least December 2014. FBI special agent in charge David Walker today told reporters that Ionov’s actions were “some of the most egregious and blatant violations that we’ve seen by the Russian government in order to destabilize and undermine trust in American democracy…. The Russian intelligence threat is continuing and unrelenting.” “This indictment is just the first of our responses, but it will not be the last,” Walker said, and before the day was over, the U.S. State Department had placed sanctions on two people and four entities that work with the Russian government to influence other countries and interfere in their elections. These sanctions are separate from those related to the sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.  “The Russian Federation has demonstrated determination in its attempts to undermine the democratic processes and institutions essential to the functioning of our democracy and that of other countries. It is crucial for our democracy, and democracies around the globe, to hold free and fair elections without malign outside interference,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.  The new sanctions come a day after the State Department offered a reward of up to $10 million for information on the Internet Research Agency, a troll farm linked to Yevgeniy Prigozhin, an ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin, and other Russian entities and individuals “for their engagement in U.S. election interference.” The Internet Research Agency, the State Department spokesperson said, “is a Russian entity engaged in political and electoral interference operations. Beginning as early as 2014, IRA began operations to interfere with the U.S. political system, including the 2016 U.S. presidential election, with a strategic goal to sow discord.” The reward offer “is part of [the] United States Government’s wider efforts to ensure the security and integrity of our elections and protect against foreign interference in our elections.”  “The United States will continue to act to deter and disrupt these efforts [in order] to safeguard our democracy, as well as help protect the democracies of our allies and partners,” Blinken said. — Notes: Cory Titus @corytitus For those following the SFC Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act, the comprehensive toxic exposure bill for our veterans, A LOT happened in the past few days. I want to take a minute to break down what happened and why. Here’s a deep dive thread on #PACTAct July 29th 2022 577 Retweets1,284 Likes




Opinion by John Kenneth White, Opinion Contributor – 2h ago

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At the conclusion of the Jan. 6 select committee’s summer hearings, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) admonished his fellow Republicans supporting former President Trump, saying, “Oaths matter more than party tribalism or the cheap thrill of scoring political points.”

© Provided by The HillMitch McConnell’s historic miscalculation

But one Republican who repeatedly ignored that message during the Trump years is Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). After opposing Trump’s conviction following his impeachment by the House in 2021, McConnell took to the Senate floor and attempted to cast aside his not guilty vote by excoriating Trump: “Jan. 6 was a disgrace. American citizens attacked their own government. They used terrorism to try to stop a specific piece of domestic business they did not like. … There is no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day.”

McConnell’s words were just that — words. Instead of convicting Trump, which would have forever disqualified him from holding “any Office of honor, Trust, or Profit under the United States,” McConnell let Trump off on a technicality that a former president could not be impeached and convicted. McConnell also gave Trump other off-ramps, including lobbying against a bipartisan commission to investigate the Capitol riot.

Today, McConnell says of the Jan. 6 hearings, “It will be interesting to reveal all the participants that are involved,” but then immediately changes the subject to other issues he wants to discuss — inflation, crime, immigration and the southern border.

After Jan. 6, an “exhilarated” McConnell concluded that Trump was a spent force who had “totally discredited himself.” This was an error of historic proportions. Today, Trump is the country’s most powerful Republican and the odds-on favorite to be the party’s 2024 presidential nominee. Trump’s imprimatur is a powerhouse in Republican contests. His successes include a Trump acolyte winning the Republican gubernatorial nomination in Maryland over a candidate backed by Trump’s Republican nemesis, Gov. Larry Hogan; Rep. Liz Cheney’s (R-Wyo.) likely defeat at the hands of a Trump-endorsed candidate; and winning Senate nominations for Herschel Walker, J.D. Vance and Mehmet Oz. Sixty percent of Republicans want their party to follow Trump’s leadership, and 55 percent of Republicans have an unfavorable opinion of McConnell — thanks, in part, to Trump’s calling him a “disloyal sleazebag” and an “old, broken down crow.”

Mitch McConnell’s sole focus is power — how to seize it and use it for partisan ends. After the Republican Party’s 2010 landslide victories, McConnell announced that his top priority was to make Barack Obama a one-term president. When a Supreme Court seat became available in February 2016 after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, McConnell kept it in abeyance for a year so Trump could name his successor. And when Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died in September 2020, McConnell rushed the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett, giving conservatives a 6-3 supermajority.

While McConnell would like to be remembered for transforming the federal judiciary, his enduring legacy will be the damage he has done to the institutions of government. For example, public approval of the court has fallen to 38 percent. By contrast, the court’s approval numbers in September 2020, just before McConnell’s Supreme Court packing, stood at a healthy 66 percent.

We have learned that Donald Trump’s dereliction of duty and support for overturning the 2020 presidential election represents the worst betrayal of a president’s constitutional oath since James Buchanan allowed the southern states to secede in 1861. Instead of defending Congress’s institutional prerogatives, McConnell put partisanship above country while cynically hoping that Trump’s actions on Jan. 6, 2021, would ensure his fall from grace.

Instead, Trump’s unprecedented dominance of the Republican Party makes it an ongoing danger to our constitutional republic. As Liz Cheney told a captive audience at the Reagan Library, “We are confronting a domestic threat that we have never faced before. And that is a former president who is threatening to unravel the foundations of our constitutional republic. And he is aided by Republican leaders and elected officials who made themselves willing hostages to this dangerous and irrational man.”

When the history books are written, Donald Trump is likely to hover somewhere in James Buchanan territory. And unlike past Republican senatorial giants, including Arthur Vandenberg (R-Mich.), who helped Harry Truman win the Cold War; Everett Dirksen (R-Ill.), who played a vital role in passing the civil rights legislation of the 1960s; Howard Baker (R-Tenn.), whose incisive Watergate questioning — “What did the president know and when did he know it?” — helped end the Nixon presidency; and Bob Dole (R-Kan.), who was instrumental in passing the Americans with Disabilities Act and food stamp school lunch programs, Mitch McConnell will be remembered as the man who helped destroy the Senate. When McConnell decided in 2021 to absolve Trump, he should have heeded Niccolo Machiavelli’s purported advice, “If you’re going to shoot the king, don’t miss.”

John Kenneth White is a professor of politics at The Catholic University of America. His latest book, co-authored with Matthew Kerbel, is “American Political Parties: Why They Formed, How They Function, and Where They’re Headed.”

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Heather Cox RichardsonJul 24

Thursday’s public hearing by the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol brought to its logical conclusion the story of Trump’s attempt to overturn our democracy. After four years of destroying democratic norms and gathering power into his own hands, the former president tried to overturn the will of the voters. Trump was attacking the fundamental concept on which this nation rests: that we have a right to consent to the government under which we live.

Far from rejecting the idea of minority rule after seeing where it led, Republican Party lawmakers have doubled down.

They have embraced the idea that state legislatures should dominate our political system, and so in 2021, at least 19 states passed 34 laws to restrict access to voting. On June 24, in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health decision, the Supreme Court said that the federal government did not have the power, under the Fourteenth Amendment, to protect the constitutional right to abortion, bringing the other rights that amendment protects into question. When Democrats set out to protect some of those rights through federal legislation, Republicans in Congress overwhelmingly voted to oppose such laws.

In the House, Republicans voted against federal protection of an individual’s right to choose whether to continue or end a pregnancy and to protect a health care provider’s ability to provide abortion services: 209 Republicans voted no; 2 didn’t vote. That’s 99% of House Republicans.

They voted against the right to use contraception: 195 out of 209 Republicans voted no; 2 didn’t vote. That’s 96% of House Republicans.

They voted against marriage equality: 157 out of 204 Republicans voted no; 7 didn’t vote. That’s 77% of House Republicans.

They voted against a bill guaranteeing a woman’s right to travel across state lines to obtain abortion services: 205 out of 208 Republicans voted no; 3 didn’t vote. That’s 97% of House Republicans.

Sixty-two percent of Americans believe abortion should be legal. Seventy percent support gay marriage. More than 90% of Americans believe birth control should be legal. I can’t find polling on whether Americans support the idea of women being able to cross state lines without restrictions, but one would hope that concept is also popular. And yet, Republican lawmakers are comfortable standing firmly against the firm will of the people. The laws protecting these rights passed through the House thanks to overwhelming Democratic support but will have trouble getting past a Republican filibuster in the Senate.

When he took office, Democratic president Joe Biden recognized that his role in this moment was to prove that democracy is still a viable form of government.

Rising autocrats have declared democracy obsolete. They argue that popular government is too slow to respond to the rapid pace of the modern world, or that liberal democracy’s focus on individual rights undermines the traditional values that hold societies together, values like religion and ethnic or racial similarities. Hungarian president Viktor Orbán, whom the radical right supports so enthusiastically that he is speaking on August 4 in Texas at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), has called for replacing liberal democracy with “illiberal democracy” or “Christian democracy,” which will explicitly not treat everyone equally and will rest power in a single political party.

Biden has defended democracy across the globe, accomplishing more in foreign diplomacy than any president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Less than a year after the former president threatened to withdraw the U.S. from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken pulled together the NATO countries, as well as allies around the world, to stand against the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The new strength of NATO prompted Sweden and Finland to join the organization, and earlier this month, NATO ambassadors signed protocols for their admission. This is the most significant expansion of NATO in 30 years.

That strength helped to hammer out a deal between Russia and Ukraine with Turkey and the United Nations yesterday to enable Ukraine to export 22 million tons of grain and Russia to export grain and fertilizer to developing countries that were facing famine because of Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian ports. An advisor to the Ukrainian government called the agreement “a major win for Ukraine.” When a Russian attack on the Ukrainian port of Odesa today put that agreement under threat, U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Bridget A. Brink called the attack “outrageous.”

Biden has also defended democracy at home, using the power of the federal government to strengthen the ability of working Americans to support their families. As soon as Biden took office, Democrats passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan to rebuild the economy. It worked. The U.S. has added 10 million new jobs since Biden took office, and unemployment has fallen to 3.6%. That strong economy has meant higher tax revenues that, combined with the end of pandemic spending, have resulted in the budget deficit (the amount by which the government is operating in the red each year and thus adding to the national debt) dropping considerably during his term.

The strong economy has also led to roaring inflation, fed in part by supply chain issues and high gas prices. During the pandemic, as Americans turned to ordering online at the same time that factories closed down, shipping prices went through the roof. In the past year or so, outdated infrastructure at U.S. ports has slowed down turnaround while a shortage of truckers has slowed domestic supply chains. Biden’s administration worked to untangle the mess at ports by getting commitments from businesses and labor to extend hours, and launched new programs to increase the number of truckers in the country.

While oil companies are privately held and thus have no obligation to lower their prices rather than pocket the record profits they have enjoyed over the past year, Biden has nonetheless tried to ease gas prices by releasing oil from the strategic reserve and by urging allies to produce more oil for release onto the world market. Gas prices have declined for the past month and now average $4.41 a gallon, down from a high of more than $5 last month.

Last month, on June 25, Biden signed into law the first major gun safety bill in almost 30 years, having pulled together the necessary votes despite the opposition of the National Rifle Association. On July 21, he signed the bipartisan FORMULA (which stands for “Fixing Our Regulatory Mayhem Upsetting Little Americans”—I’m not kidding) Act to drop tariffs on baby formula for the rest of the year to make it easier to get that vital product in the wake of the closure of the Sturgis, Michigan, Abbott Nutrition plant for contamination, which created a national shortage. The Biden administration has also organized 53 flights of formula into the country, amounting to more than 61 million 8-ounce bottles.

While we have heard a lot about Biden’s inability to pass the Build Back Better part of his infrastructure plan because of the refusal of Republicans and Democratic senator Joe Manchin (WV) to get on board, Biden nonetheless shepherded a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill through this partisan Congress, investing in roads, bridges, public transportation, clean energy, and broadband. Last Thursday, Vice President Kamala Harris announced that 1 million households have signed up for credits to enable them to get broadband internet, a program financed by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

Love or hate what Biden has done, he has managed to pull a wide range of countries together to stand against Russian president Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian attack in Ukraine, and he has managed get through a terribly divided Congress laws to make the lives of the majority better, even while Republicans are rejecting the idea that the government should reflect the will of the majority. That is no small feat.

Whether it will be enough to prove that democracy is still a viable form of government is up to us.



Chris Murphy @ChrisMurphyCTWhat if two years ago, I told you that by the end of Biden’s first two years: – 10 million new jobs – 3.6% unemployment – 86% drop in COVID death rate – biggest ever infrastructure bill PASSED – first gun safety bill in 30 yrs PASSED (wait, just getting started…keep reading)July 21st 202213,209 Retweets47,445 Likes

KD @Fly_SistahOnly President Biden could create 9 million jobs, get unemployment to 3.6%, end a 20 year war in Afghanistan, sign a $1.9T American Rescue Plan, sign a $1.2T infrastructure law, sign the 1st major gun law in 30 years, confirm 69 federal judges & be told he’s failing as president. July 11th 20227,925 Retweets21,344 Likes

Kyle Cheney @kyledcheneyAUSA VAUGHN: “He thinks his authroity as one man is greater than our government’s, the one that we have all consented to. THat’s not the way this works. He doens’t get to dtell the committee that it’s beneath his compliance and they need to appeal to another power or person.”July 22nd 202292 Retweets564 Likes

David Rothschild 🇺🇦 @DavMicRot77% of Republicans in House voted to not protect LGBTQ marriage 96% of Republicans in House voted to not protect access to birth control Republican agenda is super dangerous & unpopular, it is extremistJuly 21st 2022197 Retweets554 Likes

Tymofiy Mylovanov @MylovanovSo, ukraine has not made any political, territorial, military or other concessions. The UN is the party to the initiative. …July 22nd 202229 Retweets225 Likes

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Research and Coffee


Kat Bouza

Wed, July 20, 2022 at 11:18 PM

Days after meeting with the Jan. 6 House committee, a former Trump administration aide published a bizarre, sexist and homophobic tirade on Telegram where he attacks the ongoing investigation and the committee’s star witnesses, calling the operation “anti-white.”

In the rambling 27-minute recording, Garrett Ziegler, who served as an aide to ex-trade adviser Peter Navarro, accuses the politicians leading the Jan. 6 investigation of being “Bolsheviks” who “hate the American founders and most white people.” (The committee, it’s worth noting, is headed up by Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), who is Black.) “This is a Bolshevistic anti-white campaign. If you can’t see that, your eyes are freaking closed,” Ziegler says. “I am the least racist person that many of you have ever met, by the way. I have no bigotry. I just try to see the world for where it is.”

Apparently Zieg (heil Zieg?) forgot that if you have to explain your statement in the face of it then it must be your belief and not a mistake in saying it. We should not forget the lessons of the past from the Civil War up to and including the red scare of Joe McCarthy. It is unfortunate that we had a Radical right long before the Left became radical. Now we have a similar situation that preceded the “Civil War” with the stakes being much higher.

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Heather Cox RichardsonJul 21

Today, documents released by the House Oversight and Reform Committee confirmed that the Trump administration’s attempt to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census was a strategy to skew population data to benefit Republicans. Trump had refused to turn over the documents, but the Biden administration agreed to allow the House committee to see them.

U.S. censuses, which are required every 10 years under our Constitution, have always counted “persons,” and both voting and public monies are proportioned according to those numbers. Under Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, the Trump administration wanted to include a question about citizenship, and administration officials first suggested that they would count citizens, rather than legal residents and undocumented immigrants, for purposes of representation, and then said they needed citizenship information to enforce the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Opponents claimed the proposed new question was designed to scare immigrants, who tend to vote Democratic, away from being counted, which would have shifted representation and government monies toward Republicans.

A district court said Secretary Ross’s action was “arbitrary and capricious, based on a pretextual rationale, and violated certain provisions of the Census Act,” and the Supreme Court added that the administration’s claim to need citizenship information to enforce the 1965 Voting Rights Act was “contrived.” It blocked the administration from including that question on the census.

Now, we have documents showing that Ross and other Trump administration officials actively sought to exclude undocumented immigrants from the census in the hope that their erasure would also make legal immigrants avoid being counted, and thus cut representation for and funding to Democratic districts. One handwritten note suggests using the Voting Rights Act as cover.

This is a stark example of the dangers of turning our government over to an authoritarian leader who will use our fundamental governmental systems to draw power to himself. This census question had the potential to affect our governmental system profoundly. Even without the census question, the U.S. Census Bureau in March 2022 said a quality check revealed that Black Americans, Indigenous Americans, and Hispanic or Latino Americans were undercounted in 2020, while white inhabitants and Asian inhabitants were overcounted.

This is just the latest example of Trump and his allies trying to use our government to cement their power, among others that reached from Trump’s attempt to weaponize funds approved by Congress for Ukraine to fight off Russian incursions so as to damage likely Democratic opponent Joe Biden, to the January 6 attempt to stop Biden’s certification as president-elect.

These attempts appear to have reached deep into the Secret Service as well, and today we learned that the Department of Homeland Security itself might have played along. Carol D. Leonnig and Maria Sacchetti of the Washington Post today reported that whistleblowers have revealed that DHS inspector general Joseph Cuffari, a Trump appointee, learned in February that nearly all text messages from around the time of the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol had been deleted from Secret Service agents’ cell phones but elected to keep that information from Congress. The inspector general’s office also declined to tell Congress that the Secret Service was refusing to turn over records from that period.

And yet, for all the efforts of officials in the Trump administration to seize power by compromising our national systems, a Trump-era White House aide who testified before the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol claimed that it is he and his colleagues who are victims of a strong state. In a webcast after his testimony, Garrett Ziegler, an aide to trade advisor Peter Navarro who appears to have been the person who admitted Trump allies to the White House for the shocking meeting of December 18 where they discussed martial law, continued to claim that the 2020 election was stolen.

As for the January 6 committee: “They’re Bolsheviks,” he said, in an echo of Republican rhetoric calling all opponents communists, “so, they probably do hate the American Founders and most White people in general. This is a Bolshevistic anti-White campaign. If you can’t see that, your eyes are freaking closed. And so, they see me as a young Christian who they can try to basically scare, right?” He attacked the women who have cooperated with the committee with offensive language.

Meanwhile, the January 6 committee continues to bear down on the Trump administration. Amy Gardner, Josh Dawsey, and Paul Kane of the Washington Post reported tonight that at tomorrow night’s public hearing, the committee is planning to show outtakes from Trump’s reluctant video of January 7, when there was talk of removing him from office.

While the struggle between the Trump team and those trying to bring them to justice continues, President Biden is trying to move the country forward to address the existential crisis of climate change. Europe is suffering under a terrible heat wave; Britain has declared a climate emergency and, with airstrips softened by extreme heat, grounded the Royal Air Force; and 100 million Americans are under emergency heat warnings.

On Monday, the secretary-general of the United Nations, António Guterres, warned world leaders gathered at the Petersberg Climate Dialogue in Berlin, where they are gathered to advance multilateral climate negotiations: “Half of humanity is in the danger zone from floods, droughts, extreme storms and wildfires. No nation is immune. Yet we continue to feed our fossil fuel addiction…. What troubles me most is that, in facing this global crisis, we are failing to work together as a multilateral community. Nations continue to play the blame game instead of taking responsibility for our collective future. We cannot continue this way,” he said. “We have a choice. Collective action or collective suicide. It is in our hands.”

In the U.S., the recent West Virginia v. EPA decision of the Supreme Court, weakening the ability of the government to shift the country toward clean energy by regulating carbon dioxide emissions, has limited the government’s ability to address climate change. So, too, has the insistence of Republican senators, as well as Democratic senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, that short-term economic interests outweigh the imperatives of climate change. Days ago, Manchin said he would not support new investment in clean energy out of concern over inflation. Without him, the Democrats’ plans for addressing climate change through legislation can’t move forward, since no Republicans are on board.

So President Biden is working around them. Today, he traveled to Somerset, Massachusetts, to reiterate that climate change is an emergency and to illustrate that combating it offers us a new, innovative economy. As National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy explained to reporters, until 2017, Somerset was the site of one of the biggest and oldest coal-fired power plants in New England. Now that plant will be making cable to anchor offshore wind turbines.

Hoping to bring that innovation to the nation more widely, Biden noted that extreme weather events—wildfires, droughts, hurricanes, and floods—cost the U.S. $145 billion last year alone. They damage our economy and our national security. “As President, I have a responsibility to act with urgency and resolve when our nation faces clear and present danger,” he said today. “And that’s what climate change is about. It is literally, not figuratively, a clear and present danger.”

Biden is planning to invest more than $2 billion from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and $385 million from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program to help people cool their homes. In early June, Biden used the Defense Production Act to speed up the domestic manufacture of solar equipment. The bipartisan infrastructure law has added $3.1 billion to the mix to weatherize homes and make them more energy efficient, and the American Rescue Plan provided $16 billion to clean up methane leaking from capped oil wells, abandoned when they stopped making money.

Biden vowed that addressing the climate crisis would provide good manufacturing jobs, repair supply chains, and clean up the environment. He promised to use the power of the presidency to do what Congress currently is not. “[I]n the coming weeks, I’m going to use the power I have as President to turn these words into formal, official government actions through the appropriate proclamations, executive orders, and regulatory power that a President possesses,” he said.

“[W]hen it comes to fighting…climate change, I will not take no for an answer. I will do everything in my power to clean our air and water, protect our people’s health, to win the clean energy future,” he said. “We have an opportunity here.”




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Heather Cox RichardsonJul 19

On Saturday, Maggie Haberman and Luke Broadwater of the New York Times reported that yet another right-wing lawyer was urging former president Trump to overturn the election in late 2020. William J. Olson, who now represents MyPillow chief executive Mike Lindell, a conspiracy theorist and key Trump ally, wrote to Trump on December 28. In his letter, he referred to a call between himself and Trump on the afternoon of Christmas Day and to a call between Trump and Mark Martin, the former chief justice for the state of North Carolina, who Olson said backed the filing of a lawsuit to withhold the certified votes from Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin because those states had changed their election procedures during the pandemic.

The case, Texas v. Pennsylvania, argued that those four states, whose voters had chosen Biden and whose electoral votes would give Biden the presidency, had violated the novel “independent state legislature doctrine,” which says state legislatures alone have the right to determine election procedures. This doctrine defies history by saying that when the Framers of the Constitution said that “[t]he Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing [sic] Senators,” they literally just meant the legislatures, without any check by the state constitutions or courts. This would enable a legislature to override the will of the people entirely, but, its adherents insist, that was the Framers’ plan.

In fact, the Framers were so leery of state legislatures’ oversight of elections that James Madison insisted on giving Congress the power to overrule them. Since the Civil War, until very recently, the word “legislatures” has been interpreted to mean the state government, so that a state’s legislature cannot, for example, act in ways that the state courts find violate the state constitution. But since the 2000 Bush v. Gore case, in which the Supreme Court overruled the Florida Supreme Court to stop a recount of the votes in four Florida counties when Chief Justice William Rehnquist suggested limits to the power of state judges, those interested in reducing the power of the voters in favor of the state legislatures have focused on honing this argument.

In his December letter, Olson maintained that the election had been stolen from Trump, and he insisted that “the very existence of our Constitutional Republic is slipping away.” Olson’s plan, which he called “Preserving Constitutional Order,” called for Trump to fire the acting attorney general, Jeffrey A. Rosen, who had replaced William Barr when he resigned on December 23. Then, the document suggests, Trump could use “the powers of the Presidency…to ensure that the People receive a fair election count…. The media will call this martial law, but…that is ‘fake news,’” Olson wrote.

In other words, Olson called for Trump to dissolve the federal judiciary and for the president “armed with all of the executive power vested in the office of the presidency…to act decisively to ‘preserve, protect, and defend’ the U.S. Constitution from threats, whether they be domestic, foreign, or both.”

This was noble language for an effort pushed by fringe theorists and rejected by state and federal courts, as well as by the Supreme Court, more than 60 times. But this new piece of evidence suggests just how deep the antidemocratic impulse in this country currently runs.

Now, of course, Trump’s allies appear to be concerned that the information turned up by the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol shows them in a less noble light. Today Representative Ronny Jackson (R-TX), formerly Trump’s White House physician and the man mentioned by the Oath Keepers on January 6, today tweeted: “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the WITCH HUNT Committee of unselects needs to be DISSOLVED!” On January 6, a group text message among the Oath Keepers said of Jackson: “Needs protection. If anyone inside cover him. He has critical data to protect.”

Yesterday, Asawin Suebsaeng and Adam Rawnsley of Rolling Stone reported that Trump says he wants to run again to avoid criminal indictments. They say the former president has spoken to at least four associates “about how when you are the president of the United States, it is tough for politically motivated prosecutors to ‘get to you.’… He says when [not if] he is president again, a new Republican administration will put a stop to the [Justice Department] investigation that he views as the Biden administration working to hit him with criminal charges—or even put him and his people in prison.”

Today, Fulton County, Georgia, district attorney Fani Willis subpoenaed Trump ally Representative Jody Hice (R-GA) for testimony before the special grand jury in the investigation into the attempt to overturn the Georgia 2020 election results and declare that Trump had won the state’s electors. As a federal official, Hice has filed to move his case to federal court, where he will challenge it.

It’s important to remember that Republicans who were willing to sign on to Trump’s attempt to overturn our democracy are attempting to enforce minority rule on the majority in the U.S. It is no accident that in the election of 1860, there was only one state whose legislature chose electors directly: the state of South Carolina. And as soon as those legislators realized that Abraham Lincoln had won the election, they promptly called for secession from the United States.

The extremism of today’s Republican Party shows most clearly in the party’s stance after the Supreme Court—itself packed with extremists by former president Trump and then–Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell—overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

The overturning of settled law itself was radical. That it tries to strip away a constitutional right for the first time in our history is radical. And the way it is playing out demonstrates just how radical the current Republican Party is. The recent case in Ohio in which a 10-year-old rape victim could not obtain an abortion, horrific as it was, only started the firestorm, as Republican lawmakers first denied the case was real—it was—and then called for prosecuting the Indiana doctor who performed the procedure, which she did entirely legally.

Some lawmakers went on to say they wanted legislation that would have prohibited the child from traveling across state lines to get medical treatment.

Since then, we have seen exactly what the 62% of Americans who supported Roe v. Wade said would happen: women are unable to get medical care after miscarriages, leaving them in pain, or with developing infections, or with dangerous blood loss. And yet, on Friday, by a 4-to-1 margin, delegates to the Republican Party convention in Idaho rejected an amendment to their platform that would have permitted an abortion to save the life of the mother. The platform considers any fertilized egg a person from the moment of fertilization, even before implantation, and criminalizes abortion from that moment on as murder. The delegates did agree to exempt miscarriage from criminalization.

In an echo of the past, they also declared that “Idaho has the sovereign authority to defy the federal judiciary should they once again propose the fiction that abortion is a federal constitutional right.”

For their part, Mothers Against Greg Abbott, a political action committee of Democrats, Independents, and moderate Republicans, has recorded a viral video suggesting that there is significant pushback from those who recognize the extremism of today’s Republican Party, embodied by those like the Texas governor.

“They say nothing changes in Texas politics until it does,” the video begins. Women call out the state’s failed electric grid, the removal of Black and Brown history from the classroom, the permitless and open carry laws that put guns on the streets, the $10,000 bounty for turning in anyone who helps a woman obtain an abortion, the investigation of parents who seek gender-affirming care for transgender children as child abusers, the banning of books by Black and LGBTQ authors, and the deaths of loved ones after lawmakers lifted mask mandates during the worst pandemic in 100 years. “We want real change for Texas, now,” they say, “and we’re ready to fight.” “We live in suburbs, in big cities, and on farms and ranches,” they warn. “We are the Mothers Against Greg Abbott. Let’s make Texas a safe place where all families can thrive again.”


Mothers Against Greg Abbott PAC @MomsAGAbbottThey say nothing happens in Texas politics, till it does. Till you piss off the Texas Women! And now we are ready to fight! #Nothingchanges July 15th 20225,715 Retweets12,151 Likes


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Heather Cox RichardsonJul 11

With the recent Supreme Court decisions gutting federal enforcement of civil rights and business regulation and the public hearings of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, economic news has been pushed out of the center of public conversation. That’s a shame for two reasons.

First, Democratic president Joe Biden appears to be centering his presidency around the idea of rebuilding the middle class through government investment in ordinary Americans. This is a major shift—a sea change—from the past 40 years of Republican policy saying that the economy would prosper if only the government slashed taxes and regulation, leaving more money and power in the hands of business leaders, those “makers” who would invest in new industries and provide more jobs. Watching the effect of his policies is a window into what works and what doesn’t.

Second, the Republicans are counting on anger over inflation, shortages, and gas prices to win control over the House of Representatives and the Senate in the fall elections. It’s worth paying attention to what’s really going on with those issues, as well as to what policies the Democrats and the Republicans are putting on the table to address them.

On the first point: Biden has focused on rebuilding the American middle class that has been so terribly hollowed out in the past 40 years. While he appears to be driven by his belief in the dignity of all Americans and their right to be able to make ends meet with a decent job, historians will tell you that in the U.S., race and gender tensions are significantly lower when income and wealth are more evenly distributed than when a few people at the top of the economic ladder control most of the nation’s capital. The rise of lynching in the U.S. in the late 1880s, just as trusts came to monopolize the economy, was not a coincidence.

The Republican economic promise since Reagan has been that cutting regulation and taxes would create a healthy economy in which everyone who is willing to work can thrive. But political commentator Thom Hartmann marshaled the statistics in a crystal clear Twitter thread a week ago, revealing just how badly that argument has failed.

Hartmann noted that after World War II, “the nation had hummed along for 40 years on a top income tax bracket of 91% and a corporate income tax that topped out around 50%.” Business was growing faster than at any other previous time, and businessmen stayed out of politics. The country had great public schools, research laboratories, trade schools, airports, interstate highways, and small businesses, as well as unions that protected America’s workers.

The election of Ronald Reagan meant radical tax cuts (from a top marginal rate of 74% in 1980 to the 27% it is today), business deregulation, and the gutting of social safety nets. Forty-two years later, Hartmann notes, more than $50 trillion has been transferred from the bottom 90% to the top 1%. In 1980, 60% of us were in the middle class; now fewer than half of us are. Republicans promised that permitting business concentration would lead to innovation and opportunity; instead, we have seen an end to competition, along with price gouging and profiteering from the giant companies that choke out small business. Stock buybacks were supposed to mean that senior executives would care more about the future of their companies, but instead they have become a means for them to pocket cash.

Since the beginning of his term, Biden has tried to take on the concentration of wealth and power among a few elites. Biden’s investment in the U.S. economy through the American Rescue Plan and the bipartisan infrastructure bill has produced significant results. On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the nonfarm job numbers for June, which show that employment continues to rise. The economy added 372,000 jobs in June, mostly in “professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, and health care.” We are still 524,000 jobs down from February 2020, before the pandemic. Unemployment remains at 3.6%, with about 5.9 million folks unemployed.

There were some interesting trends in the data. There are 880,000 more jobs in business, computer design, administration, and research than there were in February 2020. There are 260,000 more jobs in outpatient health care now than in February 2020, but hospitals have lost 57,000 workers, and nursing and residential care have lost 379,000. Leisure and hospitality—restaurants, for example—have lost a whopping 1.3 million jobs, or 7.8% of their workers, since February 2020 (although the sector is growing again).

But look at this: transportation and warehousing have grown fast, with 759,000 more jobs than in February 2020. Manufacturing is back to where it was in February 2020, suggesting that President Joe Biden’s emphasis on repairing supply chains is paying off.

And in the past year, wages have gone up 5.1%. That, along with increased pressure for unionization, suggests workers have more power than they did before the pandemic.

This data suggests that people are moving away from work in restaurants, leisure, and nursing—all professions hit terribly hard during the pandemic—and toward transportation and office work. The increase in wages reflects more bargaining power on the part of employees. All of this is hardly rocket science, I know, but it does suggest that the economy is reorganizing at least temporarily into new forms since the pandemic.

This is of interest as we try to figure out what’s going on with inflation, which is currently afflicting not just the U.S. but the rest of the world as well. That story tells us something about the success of the Republican program Hartmann identified.

One of the reasons for inflation has been the concentration of corporate power since the 1980s. A June report by three economists for the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston noted that “[t]he US economy is at least 50 percent more concentrated today than it was in 2005,” and that such concentration amplifies the degree to which companies pass price hikes onto consumers as businesses overcompensate for rising production costs. In the oil industry, the report notes, as prices have spiked, companies have posted jaw-dropping profits.

The price of gasoline has been coming down from its crazy high for the past 25 days. In the past two weeks, the average price of gas has dropped 19 cents a gallon, and as the price of crude oil continues to fall, consumers can expect to see prices continue to fall as well, although they fall more slowly than they rise in a phenomenon researchers call “rocket and feathers.” That term refers to the fact that gas prices go up like a rocket along with the cost of crude oil but fall more slowly as the cost of crude oil comes down, in part because consumers are so happy to see any relief at the pump that they don’t shop around to drive prices lower.

One of the reasons for the crazy highs is speculation by largely unregulated energy traders that creates massive volatility in prices. Lack of regulation is in the news today in another industry, too, as journalists from media organizations including the Guardian, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, and the Washington Post revealed how Uber evaded regulators by using a “kill switch” that shut down regulators’ access to the files they needed to monitor the company.

There is a coming showdown between the Democrats’ approach to the economy and the old Republican approach. Biden and the Democrats are trying to pass a $52 billion U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) that would invest in U.S. science and technology to boost American industry, support research, and fund the manufacture of semiconductor chips to free the U.S. from relying on Chinese products. But Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has vowed to kill the measure unless the Democrats back off on a budget package that would fund Medicare by placing a 3.8% tax on income “pass throughs” taken by individuals making more than $400,000 a year and would allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices, significantly lowering costs to consumers.


Thom Hartmann @Thom_Hartmann1/ Dear Republicans: We Tried Your Way and It Does Not Work (a thread):July 3rd 202224,445 Retweets74,571 Likes

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Not very tolerant considering the millions paid out by the church for sexual abuse. MA

Bishop says school no longer Catholic after flying Black Lives Matter, Pride flags


Thu, June 16, 2022, 4:09 PM

A bishop has declared that a central Massachusetts school “may no longer identify itself as Catholic” because it refuses to remove Black Lives Matter and Pride flags it began flying on campus last year.

Arguing that the flags “embody specific agendas and ideologies (that) contradict Catholic social and moral teaching,” Bishop Robert McManus of the Diocese of Worcester issued a decree on Thursday punishing the Nativity School of Worcester, a tuition-free private middle school that serves about 60 boys from under-resourced communities.

The decree prohibits the school from calling itself Catholic and prevents Mass and sacraments from taking place on school grounds. In a statement, the school said it began displaying the flags in Jan. 2021 at the request of its students, the majority of whom, it noted, are people of color.

“As a multicultural school, the flags represent the inclusion and respect of all people. These flags simply state that all are welcome at Nativity and this value of inclusion is rooted in Catholic teaching,” said the school.

According to the school, when McManus became aware of the flags in March of this year, he asked the school to take them down. Later that month, an unknown person removed them, the school said, “[causing] harm to our entire community. The flags were later raised again.

In May, McManus threatened to punish the school in an open letter, where he claimed the Church is “100% behind the phrase ‘black lives matter’” but accused “a specific movement with a wider agenda” of “co-opt[ing] the phrase.”

The school said it would seek to appeal the bishop’s decision while continuing to fly the flags.

A spokesperson for the diocese did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

Bishop says school no longer Catholic after flying Black Lives Matter, Pride flags originally appeared on

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