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Category Archives: Information

Apparently, it’s a trait of elected officials not to live up to the reputation we have thought they had. They seem to mis speak with regularity as opposed to telling the voters what is happening not what they (the electeds) think we want to hear. They have mastered the craft of “artful” dodging of questions with unrelated answers that cause us to go “what”? It seems that the GOP has adopted the “TOTUS” speak with a vengeance against the TRUTH that is seen by millions while tacitly implying that we should not believe our eyes but believe their outright misinformation about the former guy and his massively incompetent tenure which was used to cover their own mis deeds. I would like to think that the people we elected entered the office with “good” intentions however in this age of mass communication “that ship has sailed”. It is quite odd that Congressional members who were under attack on January 6 are against investigating that assault and even denying it because the “former guy” lied about it, calling it a friendly gathering that resulted in broken windows, trashed Congressional offices, several deaths and numerous injuries. All of this on live TV yet what we saw is not what we saw according to a group of less than truthful Congressional members. So it appears that we have elected a group of liars who assume(*) that we wouldn’t notice the lies and overlook them.

  • Assume- “Makes an ass out of you and me”

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The modern political system has devolved into systemic power brokering and self interest. The electeds have put party interests and backing over service to the voters and the country. Voters have ONE job, vet anyone running for office, the first time or for retention. Billions of dollars are spent to gain or retain an office that pays under 200 thousand dollars annually yet the people we elected leave the job millionaires and sometimes Billionaires. How does this happen? The cause is that the morals and ethics of the people we elect being bought by financial entities with agendas that which impact ALL citizens no matter their social status. An ironic comparative comes to mind when thinking about this. In 1933 Adolph Hitler came to power and proceeded to dominate the country while building a war machine to take over the world. In 2016 Donald J. Trump won the presidential election and proceeded to act in similar ways as Hitler with the backing of the “new” GOP which is powered by the ultra conservative “right”. Now we have a GOP that denies the attack on the capital much like the “former Guy” while slow walking to snail pacing legislation that is designed to put the country back on track financially and health wise. The GOP is concerned as they say that the deficit is ballooning to non viable limits. The economic community has shown time after time that this is not true. Each time a reasonable and rational solution is offered the TGOP (TOTUS Party) spews more disinformation which by the way has created more harm to the public and slowed the control of the current pandemic. There is no way to overcome this other than listening to the experts and paying particular attention to the loudest government voices (which are often less than truthful).

Clay Bennett Comic Strip for July 27, 2021

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The Nazi Party, officially the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, was a far-right political party in Germany active between 1920 and 1945, that created and supported the ideology of Nazism. Its precursor, the German Workers’ Party, existed from 1919 to 1920. Wikipedia.

The party of TOTUS is considered a Nationalist or Populist movement which each by definition is not inclusive of ALL citizens of the country. The definition of Nazi party above is merely to explain its definition. TOTUS has been called a populist meaning he resonated with many people not so much for a well-defined message but more of an assailing raging rhetoric that evinced cheers and agreement over perceived injustices by the then current government and previous ones. The underlying message for TOTUS was his perceived personal value in spite of his dearth of knowledge of administration. His rise was presaged by the outrageous actions and statements of former Alaskan governor Sarah Palin who campaigned in the same style with the same un substantiated statements and bravado that earned the cheers and support of many of the same people who eventually lined up behind TOTUS. In essence Sarah Palin cracked the “Populist” door open and TOTUS kicked it wide open! TOTUS took the worst of his own personal (fallacious) beliefs mainstream creating a more divided country not unlike the immediate post-civil war era.  And the pre-World War II German Republic (as constructed by Hitler). The worst of it is the support (overt and covert) by members of congress for their own ends, not for the country and people they swore an oath to protect and support. With the current GOP having a thin edge (not a majority) in the Congress we are in for another year of unsubstantiated claims that play into the beliefs and fears of TOTUS’ supporters whose support they need to remain in office. It is unfortunate that these base supporters are literally “cutting off their noses to spite their faces” by continuing to follow the political demagogues (aka Congress) who will all retire better than 5 to 6 of the average American families who follow and support them. The past has and always will dictate the present and possibly the future if we as voters do not watch our elected leaders closely. Those we have elected are not our friends , they are OUR Employees!


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There is much speculation and many voices heard over the US withdrawal of troops and support from Afghanistan. the truth seems to be in the facts that the Taliban has support that can outspend the US and NATO in supplying the Afghan government and its troops. The Taliban itself has a substantial income from the drug trade and it is supplemented by support in funds and materiel from the following:

The Taliban receives support from:

  1. Organs of the Pakistani state
  2. The Qatari state
  3. Some quarters of the Iranians state
  4. Some quarters of the Russian state
  5. Some influential conservative people in the gulf namely the UAE and Saudi Arabia
  6. From a minority of the Afghan population
  7. Possibly some support from China

Against these players there will be no win unless these influences reduced or eliminated.


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90 years ago the seed and subsequent growth of the Hitlerian era of history engulfed Europe and affected the globe much like Covid has currently. The united states is in the grips of a political party whose de facto leader is a failed businessman and former President. There have been several Congressional members whose only attributes seem to be the ability to spin a tale of woe that doesn’t exist. This followed by an intransient Congressional leader whose sole objective is to turn back the clock to pre civil war times where the least of us are restricted and even constrained from exercising the right to vote. All of this to aid and abet the baser elements of the country while lining their own pockets. The worst of it is that their followers do not realize their complicity in their own misfortunes by supporting these self serving “leaders”. The high court seemingly has abdicated its duties to the voters with recent rulings effectively rolling back established voting initiatives and allowing restrictive voting laws enacted by several states under GOP leadership. It is ironic that the high court appears to be decidedly conservative in nature effectively making them partisan rather than apolitical in their judgements. Too many of us have in some respects watched silently while our fellow Americans suffer from the centuries old “White European” style of governing which is to overwhelm all “lesser” folks and people of color with might and or lies. The current political climate is skewed by “conservatives” whose objectives are decidedly not conservative, liberal or any of the other commonly used sobriquets but based in the pursuit of power and money on the backs of the greater segment of society. This is how America was built and how the baser elements of the political system continues to work. We in America fought a war over this to the tune 100’s of thousand lives thrown away, in todays dollars Billions in property loss. It seems that WE have not fully recovered since “Jim Crow” apparently has been in evidence since the civil war tacitly and overtly with impunity. As the well worn statement proclaims: “we have one job”, that is to vote for the best available people to administer our country for the good of us all yet we are still being distracted by “shiny objects” and missing the evil deeds done to us and in our names. Information on the people we elect is our only and most valuable tool in building the envisioned government of 1776. It must be pointed out that the signers and crafters of the declaration and it’s amendments had hoped that future generations would execute the promise of that document but left us a number of unresolved issues that plague us today. Our method of correction is the vote and we must become smarter about it and not be led by rhetoric and lies but pragmatically listen and observe-remember the truth never changes but lies shift by the minute.


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Recent high court ruling upholding voting rights rollbacks and alterations show that Clarence Thomas is no Thurgood Marshall. Thomas’ siding against voting rights which affect folks of color primarily is a slap in the face of Thurgood Marshall’s lifetime fight against injustice and racism. Shall we call him Uncle?. These actions of gutting voting rights affect us all no matter the color and too many Americans still fail to see the forest for the trees.
The high court has effectively negated the 1965 voting rights act which made the right to vote available for all eligible Americans regardless of race or ethnicities. This has bolstered the false claims of a failed president and his backers about election fraud which has been proven to be unfounded and contrived. We now have the task of looking closely and understanding that our Congressional members have failed us in general for their own purposes. It is time for all voters to understand what the Declaration Of Independence actually means and apply it to the present


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June 28, 2021 Heather Cox Richardson

Jun 29This evening, President Joe Biden published an op-ed in Yahoo News about the infrastructure bill now moving forward on its way to Congress. He called the measure “a once-in-a-generation investment to modernize our infrastructure” and claimed it would “create millions of good-paying jobs and position America to compete with the world and win the 21st century.”The measure will provide money to repair roads and bridges, replace the lead pipes that still provide water to as many as 10 million households and 400,000 schools and daycares, modernize our electric grid, replace gas-powered buses with electric ones, and cap wells leaking methane that have been abandoned by their owners in the private sector to be cleaned up by the government. It will invest in railroads, airports, and other public transportation; protect coastlines and forests from extreme weather events; and deliver high-speed internet to rural communities.    “This deal is the largest long-term investment in our infrastructure in nearly a century,” Biden wrote. “It is a signal to ourselves, and to the world, that American democracy can work and deliver for the people.”Biden is making a big pitch for this infrastructure project in part because we need it, of course, and because it is popular, but also because it signals a return to the sort of government both Democrats and Republicans embraced between 1945 and 1980. In that period after World War II, most Americans believed that the government had a role to play in regulating business, providing a basic social safety net, investing in infrastructure, and promoting civil rights. This shared understanding was known as the “liberal consensus.”With the election of Ronald Reagan to the presidency in 1980, the Republican Party rejected that vision of the government, arguing that, as Reagan said, “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” But while Reagan limited that statement with the words “in this present crisis,” Republican leaders since the 1980s have worked to destroy the liberal consensus and take us back to the world of the 1920s, a world in which business leaders also ran the government. For the very reason that Biden is determined to put through this massive investment in infrastructure, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) would like to kill it. Until recently, he has presided over the Senate with the declared plan to kill Democratic bills. He opposes the liberal consensus, wanting to get rid of taxes and stop the government from intervening in the economy. But today’s Republican lawmakers are in an awkward place: by large margins, Americans like the idea of investing in infrastructure.So the Republicans have engaged in a careful dance over this new measure. Biden wants to demonstrate to the country both that democracy can deliver for its people and that the two parties in Congress do not have to be adversarial. He wanted bipartisan support for this infrastructure plan. A group of Democrats and Republicans negotiated the measure that is now being prepared to move forward. Last week, five Republican negotiators backed the outline for the measure. They, of course, would like to be able to tell their constituents that they voted for what is a very popular measure, rather than try to claim credit for it after voting no, as they did with the American Rescue Plan.Negotiators were always clear that the Democrats would plan to pass a much larger bill under what is known as a “budget reconciliation” bill in addition to the infrastructure plan. Financial measures under reconciliation cannot be killed by filibuster in the Senate, meaning that if the Democrats can stand together, they can pass whatever they wish financially under reconciliation. Democrats planned to put into a second bill the infrastructure measures Republicans disliked: funding to combat climate change, for example, and to promote clean energy, and to invest in human infrastructure: childcare and paid leave, free pre-kindergarten and community college, and tax cuts for working families with children. Crucially, that bigger measure, known as the American Families Plan, will also start to dismantle the 2017 Republican tax cuts, which cut the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%. Biden wants to return the corporate tax rate to 28%, still lower than it was before 2017, but higher than it is now. To keep more progressive Democrats on board with the bipartisan infrastructure bill, Democrats need to move it forward in tandem with the larger, more comprehensive American Families Plan. This has been clear from the start. After announcing the bipartisan deal, Biden reiterated that he would not sign one without the other.And yet, although he himself acknowledged the Democratic tandem plan on June 15, McConnell pretended outrage over the linkage of the two bills. McConnell and some of his colleagues complained to reporters that Biden was threatening to veto the bipartisan bill unless Congress passed the American Families Plan too. It appears McConnell had hoped that the bipartisan plan would peel centrist Democrats off from the larger American Families Plan, thus stopping the Democrats’ resurrection of the larger idea of the liberal consensus and keeping corporate taxes low. Killing that larger plan might well keep progressive Democrats from voting for the bipartisan bill, too, thus destroying both of Biden’s key measures. If he can drive a wedge through the Democrats, he can make sure that none of their legislation passes.Over the weekend, Biden issued a statement saying that he was not threatening to veto a bill he had just worked for weeks to put together, but was supporting the bipartisan bill while also intending to pass the American Families Plan. McConnell then issued a statement essentially claiming victory and demanding control over the Democrats’ handling of the measures, saying “The President has appropriately delinked a potential bipartisan infrastructure bill from the massive, unrelated tax-and-spend plans that Democrats want to pursue on a partisan basis.” He went on to demand that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) agree to send the smaller, bipartisan bill forward without linking it to “trillions of dollars for unrelated tax hikes, wasteful spending, and Green New Deal socialism.” McConnell is trying to turn the tide against these measures by calling the process unfair, which might give Republicans an excuse to vote no even on a bill as popular as the bipartisan bill is. Complaining about process is, of course, how he prevented the Senate from convicting former president Trump of inciting the January 6 insurrection, and how he stopped the establishment of a bipartisan, independent committee to investigate that insurrection.  But McConnell no longer controls Congress. House Speaker Pelosi says she will not schedule the bipartisan bill until the American Families Plan passes. Pelosi also announced today that the House is preparing legislation to establish a select committee to investigate the January 6 attack on the Capitol. She had to do so, she noted, because “Senate Republicans did Mitch McConnell a ‘personal favor’ rather than their patriotic duty and voted against the bipartisan commission negotiated by Democrats and Republicans.  But Democrats are determined to find the truth.”The draft of the bill provides for the committee to have 13 members. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), himself likely to be called as a witness before the committee, will be able to “consult” with the Speaker on five of the members, but the final makeup of the committee will be up to the Speaker. This language echoes that of the select committee that investigated the Benghazi attack, and should prevent McCarthy from sabotaging the committee with far-right lawmakers eager to disrupt the proceedings rather than learn what happened. Instead, we can expect to see on the committee Republicans who voted to establish the independent, bipartisan commission that McConnell and Republican senators killed.Biden’s op-ed made it clear that he intends to rebuild the country: “I have always believed that there is nothing our nation can’t do when we decide to do it together,” he wrote. “Last week, we began to write a new chapter in that story.”

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June 23, 2021

Heather Cox Richardson9 hr ago520227

When voters elected Democrats to take charge of the national government in 2020—despite the efforts of some Trump supporters to stop that from happening—Republican lawmakers built on the anger the former president had whipped up among his supporters to impose a Trumpian vision on their states.

They reworked election laws to solidify their hold on their state governments. According to the nonpartisan Voting Rights Lab, so far 18 states have put in place more than 30 laws restricting access to the ballot. These laws will affect around 36 million people, or about 15% of all eligible voters. In Georgia, a new law means that county election boards will no longer be bipartisan but will be appointed by Republicans; other states are similarly stripping power from Democrats to put Republicans in charge.

In some cases, state governors appear to be jockeying to run for president in 2024 as the new “Trump” of the party. In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott has defunded the legislature to punish Democrats for leaving the session and thus keeping Republicans from passing an extreme elections bill, even though Republicans themselves later said they had not intended to pass all of the provisions in the bill. Abbott has recently announced that Texas will build its own border wall, trying to elevate the issue of immigration at a time when his own handling of two crises in Texas’s electrical grid have been attracting criticism.

Not to be outdone, in Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis today signed a law requiring that public colleges and universities survey students, faculty, and staff about their beliefs in order to make sure the institutions support “intellectual diversity.” The law does not say what the state will do with the survey results, but sponsors—and DeSantis—suggested that the legislature might cut budgets for any schools found to be “indoctrinating” students. Without citing any evidence, Republican lawmakers have warned that there are “socialism factories” in the state universities. The law permits students to record lectures without the consent of the professor or other students to be used in legal cases against the school.

Lawmakers in these Republican-dominated states are focusing on cultural issues, apparently trying to keep Trump voters, angry because they believe (falsely) that the former president won the 2020 election, fired up enough to continue to support Republicans. They have expanded the rights of gun owners, restricted abortion to the point it is virtually outlawed, targeted transgender athletes, and refused both coronavirus guidelines and federal unemployment benefits.

But their biggest public relations angle has been the attack on Critical Race Theory, a theory conceived in the 1970s by legal scholars trying to understand why the civil rights legislation of the past twenty years had not eliminated racial inequality in America. They argued that general racial biases were baked into American law so that efforts to protect individuals from discrimination did not really get at the heart of the issue. While this theory focused on the law, it echoed the arguments historians have made—and proved—since the 1940s: our economy, education, housing, medical care, and so on, have developed with racial biases. This is not actually controversial among scholars.

While CRT explicitly focuses on systems, not individuals, and while it is largely limited to legal theory classes rather than public schools, Republicans have turned this theory into the ideas that it attacks white Americans and that history teachers are indoctrinating schoolchildren to hate America. In the past three and half months, the Fox News Channel has talked about CRT nearly 1300 times.

Republicans are open about their hopes that pushing cultural issues, especially CRT, will win them control of Congress in 2022. “This is the Tea Party to the 10th power,” Steve Bannon, Trump’s former adviser, said in an interview with Politico reporters Theodoric Meyer, Maggie Severns, and Meridith McGraw. “I look at this and say, ‘Hey, this is how we are going to win.’ I see 50 [House Republican] seats in 2022. Keep this up,” Bannon said. “I think you’re going to see a lot more emphasis from Trump on it and DeSantis and others. People who are serious in 2024 and beyond are going to focus on it.”

But the extreme stances of the Trump Republicans are not going unchallenged. A new Monmouth poll shows that the numbers of Americans who believe that Biden won the election have not moved since November. Most Americans think continued agitation is an attempt to undermine the results of the election.

In Arizona, as the so-called “audit” by the inexperienced Cyber Ninjas company hired by the Republican-dominated state senate has become embroiled in controversy—one of the theories investigated was that a Maricopa supervisor fed 165,000 chickens at his egg farm shredded ballots and then burned down the barn to kill them all—Republicans are distancing themselves from it. Arizona talk show host Mike Broomhead, who initially supported the investigation, now says it has become partisan and biased and should end.

Today, in Michigan, the Republican-led Michigan Senate Oversight Committee released a 55-page report summarizing their 8 months of research into alleged voter fraud: “This Committee found no evidence of widespread or systematic fraud in Michigan’s prosecution of the 2020 election,” it concluded. The report added, “The Committee strongly recommends citizens use a critical eye and ear toward those who have pushed demonstrably false theories for their own personal gain.”

This month, the Southern Baptist Convention veered away from its formerly hard-right stance to elect as president Ed Litton, senior pastor of Redemption Church in Saraland, Alabama, who has focused since at least 2014 on racial reconciliation.

Most dramatic, though, was today’s testimony of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, at a House Armed Services Committee hearing to discuss the 2022 Defense Department budget. When Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) suggested that Critical Race Theory was weakening the U.S. military, the general responded sharply.

“A lot of us have to get much smarter on whatever the theory is,” he began, “but I do think it’s important, actually, for those of us in uniform to be open minded and be widely read.” He got more specific: “I want to understand white rage, and I’m white, and I want to understand it. So what is it that caused thousands of people to assault this building and try to overturn the Constitution of the United States of America? What caused that? I want to find that out….” Our military, he said, comes from the American people, “so it is important that the leaders, now and in the future, do understand it. I’ve read Mao Zedong. I’ve read Karl Marx. I’ve read Lenin. That doesn’t make me a communist. So what is wrong with understanding—having some situational understanding about the country for which we are here to defend?” Milley said.

“And,” he continued, “I personally find it offensive that we are accusing the United States military, our general officers, our commissioned, noncommissioned officers of being, quote, ‘woke’ or something else, because we’re studying some theories that are out there.” He went on to outline, in broad strokes, the historical power differential between Black and white Americans.

Meanwhile, the stories of Trump, embittered and still haranguing people with the Big Lie, indicate his star is falling. This morning, CNN’s Kate Bennett and Gabby Orr published a piece suggesting that Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner, once the former president’s right-hand man, are distancing themselves from him—a sure sign that they see him as toxic.

It appears that people are turning against the extremists who seized power in the states early this year on a wave of pro-Trump anger. But many of the new laws that tilt elections in their favor are now on the books, and Republicans in Congress have no intention of giving them up.


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

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

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Heather Cox Richardson from Letters from an AmericanMon 6/21/202

June 21, 2021Heather Cox RichardsonJun 22

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

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