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EXPLAINER

The 2010 Supreme Court decision further tilted political influence toward wealthy donors and corporations.

PUBLISHED: December 12, 2019

January 21, 2020 will mark a decade since the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, a controversial decision that reversed century-old campaign finance restrictions and enabled corporations and other outside groups to spend unlimited funds on elections.

While wealthy donors, corporations, and special interest groups have long had an outsized influence in elections, that sway has dramatically expanded since the Citizens United decision, with negative repercussions for American democracy and the fight against political corruption.

What was Citizens United about?

A conservative nonprofit group called Citizens United challenged campaign finance rules after the FEC stopped it from promoting and airing a film criticizing presidential candidate Hillary Clinton too close to the presidential primaries.

A 5–4 majority of the Supreme Court sided with Citizens United, ruling that corporations and other outside groups can spend unlimited money on elections.

What was the rationale for the ruling?

In the court’s opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that limiting “independent political spending” from corporations and other groups violates the First Amendment right to free speech. The justices who voted with the majority assumed that independent spending cannot be corrupt and that the spending would be transparent, but both assumptions have proven to be incorrect.

With its decision, the Supreme Court overturned election spending restrictions that date back more than 100 years. Previously, the court had upheld certain spending restrictions, arguing that the government had a role in preventing corruption. But in Citizens United, a bare majority of the justices held that “independent political spending” did not present a substantive threat of corruption, provided it was not coordinated with a candidate’s campaign. 

As a result, corporations can now spend unlimited funds on campaign advertising if they are not formally “coordinating” with a candidate or political party. 

How has Citizens United changed elections in the United States?

The ruling has ushered in massive increases in political spending from outside groups, dramatically expanding the already outsized political influence of wealthy donors, corporations, and special interest groups.

In the immediate aftermath of the Citizens United decision, analysts focused much of their attention on how the Supreme Court designated corporate spending on elections as free speech. But perhaps the most significant outcomes of Citizens United have been the creation of super PACs, which empower the wealthiest donors, and the expansion of dark money through shadowy nonprofits that don’t disclose their donors.

A Brennan Center report by Daniel I. Weiner pointed out that a very small group of Americans now wield “more power than at any time since Watergate, while many of the rest seem to be disengaging from politics.“

“This is perhaps the most troubling result of Citizens United: in a time of historic wealth inequality,” wrote Weiner, “the decision has helped reinforce the growing sense that our democracy primarily serves the interests of the wealthy few, and that democratic participation for the vast majority of citizens is of relatively little value.”

An election system that is skewed heavily toward wealthy donors also sustains racial bias and reinforces the racial wealth gap. Citizens United also unleashed political spending from special interest groups.

What are PACs and super PACs?

Political action committees, or “PACs,” are organizations that raise and spend money for campaigns that support or oppose political candidates, legislation, or ballot initiatives. Traditional PACs are permitted to donate directly to a candidate’s official campaign, but they are also subject to contribution limits, both in terms of what they can receive from individuals and what they can give to candidates. For example, PACs are only permitted to contribute up to $5,000 per year to a candidate per election. 

In the 2010 case Speechnow.org v. FEC, however, a federal appeals court ruled — applying logic from Citizens United — that outside groups could accept unlimited contributions from both individual donors and corporations as long as they don’t give directly to candidates. Labeled “super PACs,” these outside groups were still permitted to spend money on independently produced ads and on other communications that promote or attack specific candidates.

In other words, super PACs are not bound by spending limits on what they can collect or spend. Additionally, super PACs are required to disclose their donors, but those donors can include dark money groups, which make the original source of the donations unclear. And while super PACs are technically prohibited from coordinating directly with candidates, weak coordination rules have often proven ineffective.

Super PAC money started influencing elections almost immediately after Citizens United. From 2010 to 2018, super PACs spent approximately $2.9 billion on federal elections. Notably, the bulk of that money comes from just a few wealthy individual donors. In the 2018 election cycle, for example, the top 100 donors to super PACs contributed nearly 78 percent of all super PAC spending.

What is dark money?

Dark money is election-related spending where the source is secret. Citizens United contributed to a major jump in this type of spending, which often comes from nonprofits that are not required to disclose their donors.

In its decision, the Supreme Court reasoned that unlimited spending by wealthy donors and corporations would not distort the political process, because the public would be able to see who was paying for ads and “give proper weight to different speakers and messages.” But in reality, the voters often cannot know who is actually behind campaign spending.

That’s because leading up to Citizens United, transparency in U.S. elections had started to erode, thanks to a disclosure loophole opened by the Supreme Court’s 2007 ruling in FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life, along with inaction by the IRS and controversial rulemaking by the FEC.

Citizens United allowed big political spenders to exploit the growing lack of transparency in political spending. This has contributed to a surge in secret spending from outside groups in federal elections. Dark money expenditures increased from less than $5 million in 2006 to more than $300 million in the 2012 election cycle and more than $174 million in the 2014 midterms. In the top 10 most competitive 2014 Senate races, more than 71 percent of the outside spending on the winning candidates was dark money. These numbers actually underestimate the impact of dark money on recent elections, because they do not include super PAC spending that may have originated with dark money sources, or spending that happens outside the “electioneering communications window” 30 days before a primary or 60 days before a general election.

Finally, because they can hide the identities of their donors, dark money groups also provide a way for foreign countries to hide their activity from U.S. voters and law enforcement agencies. This increases the vulnerability of U.S. elections to international interference.

How can reformers address the consequences of Citizens United?

In the short term, a Supreme Court reversal or constitutional amendment to undo Citizens United is extremely unlikely, and regardless, it would leave many of the problems of big money in politics unsolved. But even without a full reversal of Citizens United in the near future, there are policy solutions to help combat the dominance of big money in politics and the lack of transparency in the U.S. campaign finance system.

First, publicly funded elections would help counter the influence of the extremely wealthy by empowering small donors. Specifically, a system that matches small-dollar donations with public funds would expand the role of small donors and help candidates rely less on big checks and special interests. In recent years, public financing has gained support across the United States. As of 2018, 24 municipalities and 14 states have enacted some form of public financing, and at least 124 winning congressional candidates voiced support for public financing during the 2018 midterm election cycle.

Lawmakers on the national, state, and local level can also push to increase transparency in election spending. For example, the DISCLOSE Act, which has been introduced several times in Congress, would strengthen disclosure and disclaimer requirements, enabling voters to know who is trying to influence their votes. Congress could also pass stricter rules to prevent super PACs and other outside groups from coordinating directly with campaigns and political parties. 

Fixing the U.S. elections system will also require fixing the FEC.

Long dysfunctional thanks to partisan gridlock, the FEC is out of touch with today’s election landscape and has failed to update campaign finance safeguards to reflect current challenges. For example, FEC rules do not even include the term “super PAC,” and it has declined to find violations or even open an investigation in high-profile allegations of coordination. The agency’s failure to enforce federal disclosure laws helped allow dark money to pour into U.S. federal elections since 2010.

In an April 2019 report, the Brennan Center outlined a number of structural reforms that Congress can pursue to help tackle dysfunction in the FEC. 

Finally, addressing the impacts of Citizens United requires building a movement in favor of campaign finance reform. There’s public support for such reforms. In recent polls, 94 percent of Americans blamed wealthy political donors for political dysfunction, and 77 percent of registered voters said that “reducing the influence of special interests and corruption in Washington” was either the “single most” or a “very important” factor in deciding their vote for Congress.

Citizens United was a blow to democracy — but it doesn’t have to be the final word. Politicians can listen to what the vast majority of the public wants, even if big donors don’t like it.

Note: Our Congress has been lax in doing their job of representing their constituents as shown by the past resistance to standing up to big money. MA

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Heather Cox RichardsonOct 16
 
 
The highlighted area shows the deliberate attempt of the former guy to sabotage America. MA

At Thursday’s meeting of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, as Representative Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) showed that former president Trump both recognized that he had lost the election and intended to leave the White House, he noted that on November 11, just four days after Democrat Joe Biden had been declared the winner of the 2020 election, Trump had abruptly ordered U.S. troops to leave Somalia and Afghanistan by January 15. 

Indeed, according to an Axios investigation by Jonathan Swan and Zachary Basu last May, two days before that order, on November 9, 2020, John McEntee, Trump’s hand-picked director of the Presidential Personnel Office, told retired Army Colonel Douglas Macgregor that Trump wanted him to “Get us out of Afghanistan. Get us out of Iraq and Syria. Complete the withdrawal from Germany. Get us out of Africa.” When Macgregor, who was brought on to the administration on November 11, said he didn’t think that was possible, McEntee told him to “do as much as you can.” 

Kinzinger’s point was that Trump clearly knew he was leaving office because he was deliberately trying to create chaos for his successor. When he abruptly pulled the U.S. out of northern Syria in October 2019, he abandoned our Kurdish allies, forcing more than 160,000 Syrians from their homes and making them victims of extraordinary violence. The Pentagon considered Trump’s November 11 instructions “a rogue order,” since they had not gone through any of the appropriate channels, and disregarded them.

The release of the Biden administration’s annual National Security Strategy (NSS) on Wednesday, October 12, 2022, highlights just how big a catastrophe we dodged. 

Just as Trump’s abrupt withdrawal from Syria left a vacuum for Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian president Vladimir Putin, and as Trump’s planned but not executed withdrawal of troops from Germany would have hamstrung the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) so it could not have countered Putin’s Russia, so would the abrupt disengagement of the U.S. around the world have created a giant vacuum for authoritarian countries to fill.

Biden’s National Security Strategy reiterates his belief that we are in a global struggle between democracy and rising autocracy and that the world is at an inflection point that will determine “the security and prosperity of the American people for generations to come.”

The document makes a strong call for American leadership to defend democracy and to reinforce the rules-based international system on which the world has depended since World War II. This system is now under attack as Russia has claimed the right to invade a neighboring country and redraw its boundaries by force, and as authoritarian governments seek to control global trade and power by withholding key resources—like energy—from other nations.  

The NSS promises that the U.S. will work to strengthen democracy around the world “because democratic governance consistently outperforms authoritarianism in protecting human dignity, leads to more prosperous and resilient societies, creates stronger and more reliable economic and security partners for the United States, and encourages a peaceful world order.” It also calls for the domestic development of key resources, especially energy, to reduce the ability of other nations to pressure us. 

Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have made rebuilding NATO, reinforcing our traditional partnerships like those with the “Quad”—which, in addition to the U.S., includes Australia, Japan, and India—and advancing our alliances in the Indo-Pacific a top priority. On Thursday, Biden said his staff had calculated that he had spent about 220 hours talking directly with the heads of state at NATO and the European Union, “just holding it together” after Putin counted on NATO splitting up. Biden and Blinken have emphasized security, trade, and technology to knit the world together. 

The NSS notes that “we are creating a latticework of strong, resilient, and mutually reinforcing relationships that prove democracies can deliver for their people and the world.” Unified international support for Ukraine illustrates just how successful they have been. The NSS also emphasizes the importance of working with countries in Latin America to improve conditions in the western hemisphere in general and to weaken corruption, improve security, and strengthen democracy there. It calls for closer relations with African nations and African regional institutions, and it calls for a peaceful Arctic. 

The NSS notes that Iran interferes in the internal affairs of its neighbors and is advancing a nuclear program and that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, or North Korea) is also expanding its illicit nuclear weapons. But above all, the NSS calls out Russia and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as key destabilizers of the international order. It notes that they are increasingly aligned with each other but present very different challenges to the U.S.

China is the only power able to reshape the international order, the NSS states, and is using technology to gain sway over international institutions to advance its authoritarian model, which in the past has provided a rising standard of living in exchange for a loss of freedom. The PRC has been able to use that economic power to pressure other countries to become dependent on it.

The NSS calls for strengthening the U.S. at home to compete with the PRC, working with allies and partners, and competing with the PRC in the Indo-Pacific region to strengthen the autonomy of countries there. (The recent U.S. demonstration of support for Taiwan was part of this demonstration, and it had the effect of prompting the PRC to overreact, demonstrating an instability that weakened ties to regional neighbors.)

And yet the NSS emphasizes that while the U.S. has “profound differences” with the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese Government, those differences are not “between our people.” “Ties of family and friendship continue to connect the American and the Chinese people. We deeply respect their achievements, their history, and their culture. Racism and hate have no place in a nation built by generations of immigrants to fulfill the promise of opportunity for all. And we intend to work together to solve issues that matter most to the people of both countries.”

Turning to Russia, the NSS condemns “its longstanding efforts to destabilize its neighbors using intelligence and cyber capabilities, and its blatant attempts to undermine internal democratic processes in countries across Europe, Central Asia, and around the world,” and notes that “Russia has also interfered brazenly in U.S. politics and worked to sow divisions among the American people.” The U.S. will continue to lead “a united, principled, and resolute response to Russia’s invasion” of Ukraine.

But the last several months have indicated that autocracies have their own problems. The PRC has doubled down on a zero-Covid policy that has hurt its economy and sparked internal protest. Tomorrow, the Communist Party will begin its 20th National Congress (congresses are held every five years). It is expected that President Xi Jinping will win a third term to consolidate his grip on power just as the U.S has unveiled strict controls on selling semiconductors and chip-making equipment to China, restrictions that appear to be an attempt to kneecap Chinese advances in artificial intelligence and military capabilities.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has proved disastrous for Putin. As supplies and soldiers have drained into Ukraine, Russia’s control of the lands around it has faltered, while his recent mobilization of the Russian population to fight in Ukraine has created extraordinary unrest at home. Putin is pressing Belarus’s president, Aleksandr Lukashenko, to join the war, but Lukashenko appears hesitant, likely suspecting that joining the disastrous war will mean his own political end.

For its part, Iran is facing internal protests sparked by the murder of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, known to her family by her Kurdish name Zhina, in the custody of “morality police” for violating the country’s dress code. Saudi Arabia is not necessarily as strong as it has appeared lately, either. When its leaders recently sided with Russia by pushing OPEC+ to cut oil production and thus support gas prices, other OPEC+ countries told the U.S. that the Saudis had pressured them to do so. Saudi Arabia has suddenly offered Ukraine $400 million in humanitarian aid, evidently trying to regain the goodwill of Europe and the U.S., since it imports almost all of its weapons from that bloc.   

“The post-Cold War era is definitively over and a competition is underway between the major powers to shape what comes next,” the NSS says. “No nation is better positioned to succeed in this competition than the United States, as long as we work in common cause with those who share our vision of a world that is free, open, secure, and prosperous. This means that the foundational principles of self-determination, territorial integrity, and political independence must be respected, international institutions must be strengthened, countries must be free to determine their own foreign policy choices, information must be allowed to flow freely, universal human rights must be upheld, and the global economy must operate on a level playing field and provide opportunity for all.”

Notes:

https://www.cnn.com/2022/10/12/politics/joe-biden-nuclear-message-putin-cnntv-analysis/index.html

https://www.cnn.com/2021/09/14/politics/woodward-costa-book-trump-afghanistan-memo/index.html

https://www.axios.com/2021/05/16/off-the-rails-trump-military-withdraw-afghanistan

https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/why-trump-decision-abandon-kurds-syria-disaster-898493/

https://apnews.com/article/joe-biden-donald-trump-military-facilities-europe-lloyd-austin-ff57f288a1bb3e5a38e3253ea0b94d80

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speeches-remarks/2022/10/14/remarks-by-president-biden-at-a-democratic-congressional-campaign-committee-reception/

https://www.reuters.com/world/china/xi-set-open-party-congress-challenging-time-china-2022-10-14/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/10/15/xi-china-party-congress/

https://www.reuters.com/world/china/xi-set-open-party-congress-challenging-time-china-2022-10-14/

https://www.wired.com/story/us-chip-sanctions-kneecap-chinas-tech-industry/

https://www.cnn.com/2022/10/14/politics/joe-biden-iran-protests/index.html

https://oec.world/en/profile/bilateral-product/weapons/reporter/sau

https://www.reuters.com/technology/us-aims-hobble-chinas-chip-industry-with-sweeping-new-export-rules-2022-10-07/

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It should be apparent that the GOP has regressed back to their mindsets immediately after the “war between the states”. The GOP has ascribed the actions they took while in the majority to what the DEMs are doing or want to do. They have stated that the DEM’s will “pack” SCOTUS among other actions (we currently have Amy, Brett, Samuel and Clarence). It is unfortunate that too many Americans take no notice of the damage done by the GOP for the past 50 plus years when they were in the majority. It is time to revisit history to understand that the post-civil war mindsets are alive and well in spite of evidence showing the error of their ways.MA

August 9, 2022
Heather Cox Richardson
Aug 10This afternoon, Representative Scott Perry (R-PA) said the FBI has confiscated his phone after presenting him with a search warrant.

Perry was deeply involved in the attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election. He connected former president Trump with Jeffrey Clark, the environmental lawyer for the Department of Justice (DOJ) who supported Trump’s claims and who would have become acting attorney general if the leadership of the DOJ hadn’t threatened to resign as a group if Trump appointed him. Cassidy Hutchinson, former top aide to Trump’s White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, told the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol that Meadows burned papers after a meeting with Perry.

The DOJ searched Clark’s home in June. On the same day, it seized the phone of John Eastman, the author of the memo laying out a plan for then–vice president Mike Pence to refuse to count presidential electors for Democratic candidate Joe Biden and thus throw the election to Trump.

Eastman sued to get his phone back and to force the government to destroy any information agents had taken from it; the Department of Justice says the phone was obtained legally and that purging it would be “unprecedented” and “would cause substantial detriment to the investigation, as well as seriously impede any grand jury’s use of the seized material in a future charging decision.” A court hearing on the matter is scheduled for early September.

Trump and his supporters have spent the day complaining bitterly about yesterday’s search of Mar-a-Lago by the FBI, painting it an illegal “witch hunt” and threatening to launch a “revolution” over it. A search warrant requires a judge to sign off on the idea that there is probable cause to believe a crime has been committed and that a search will provide evidence of that crime. While the FBI cannot release the search warrant, Trump has a copy of it and could release it if he wanted to.

Legal analyst Andrew Weissmann, who spent 20 years at the Department of Justice, pointed out on Twitter that the law requires the FBI to give Trump an inventory of what they found. If indeed he wants to claim the search was a witch hunt and he had no government property in his home, he should release the search inventory.

Kyle Cheney at Politico noted that on January 19, 2021, the day before he left office, Trump revoked the authority he had previously given and named seven new loyalists as his representatives to the National Archives with regard to his presidential records. They were Meadows; then–White House counsel Pat Cipollone; then–deputy White House counsel Patrick Philbin; lawyer John Eisenberg, who as legal advisor to the National Security Council tried to keep the story about Trump’s call to Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky under wraps; Scott Gast, also of the White House counsel’s office during Trump’s term; lawyer Michael Purpura; and lawyer Steven Engel, who argued that Congress could not subpoena White House advisors.

Meanwhile, Sadie Gurman, Alex Leary, and Aruna Viswanatha of the Wall Street Journal reported today that the Mar-a-Lago search came out of the concern of federal agents that Trump had not returned all the classified documents he took from the White House. In January of this year, the National Archives and Records Administration retrieved 15 boxes of material, including records that had been torn into pieces. Yesterday, federal officials retrieved about 10 more boxes.

Tonight, Representative Jim Banks (R-IN) told Fox News Channel personality Laura Ingraham that 12 Republican members of the House of Representatives met with Trump tonight, told him they stand with him, and urged him to run for president in 2024. They want to see Representative Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) as speaker of the house and Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH) as chair of the Judiciary Committee.

Three judges from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals today upheld a ruling from a lower court that said the House Ways and Means Committee can see Trump’s tax returns. The committee began the journey to look at them back in 2019. Trump can appeal to the full bench or to the Supreme Court. The House Ways and Means Committee said it expects “to receive the requested tax returns and audit files immediately.”

Today, President Biden signed the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 into law. The new measure will provide $52.7 billion in subsidies to semiconductor production in the U.S. and invest in science and technology. Biden noted that with signing of the bill into law, Micron would announce a $40 billion investment in new chip-manufacturing facilities in the United States through the end of the decade, and GlobalFoundries and Qualcomm “announced yesterday a $4 billion partnership to produce chips in the U.S. that would otherwise have gone overseas.”

“Fundamental change is taking place today—politically, economically, and technologically—change that can either strengthen our sense of control and security, of dignity and pride in our lives, in our nation; or—or change that weakens us so that people are left behind, causing them to question whether or not the very institutions—our economy, our democracy itself — can still deliver for them, for everybody,” Biden said.

Pleased to be signing the bill that invests in our technological future into law, Biden said: “[D]ecades from now, people are going to look back at this week, with all we’ve passed and all we’ve moved on, that we met the moment at this inflection point in history—a moment when we bet on ourselves, believed in ourselves, and recaptured the story, the spirit, and the soul of this nation. We are the United States of America, a singular place of possibilities…. I promise you, we’re leading the world again for the next decades.”—Notes: Andrew Weissmann @AWeissmann_The FBI is required to give to Trump an inventory of what was found in the search; if Trump claims he had no govt property in his home and this is a witch hunt, then he should release the search inventory. Time to put up or shut up……August 9th 202212,948 Retweets61,873 Likeshttps://www.wsj.com/articles/fbi-search-of-trumps-florida-home-mar-a-lago-is-criticized-by-republicans-11660049490https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/appeals-court-house-ways-and-means-committee-trump-tax-returnsWays & Means Committee @WaysMeansCmte🚨 🚨 🚨 BREAKING: The DC Court of Appeals has just ruled that the law is on our side in seeking Trump’s tax returns. We expect to receive the requested tax returns and audit files immediately. cadc.uscourts.gov/internet/opini…August 9th 20226,697 Retweets28,575 Likeshttps://www.nbcnews.com/politics/donald-trump/trump-allied-lawyer-pushed-pence-overturn-election-says-federal-agents-rcna35601https://www.politico.com/news/2022/08/08/doj-pushes-against-eastman-cellphone-00050419https://lawandcrime.com/2020-election/trump-lawyer-john-eastmans-request-for-destruction-of-evidence-could-impede-future-charging-decision-doj-says/Kyle Griffin @kylegriffin1In the wake of President Biden signing the CHIPS bill, Micron announced that it will spend $40 billion on new chip-manufacturing facilities in the United States through the end of the decade.August 9th 20224,538 Retweets25,101 Likeshttps://www.reuters.com/technology/biden-sign-bill-boost-us-chips-compete-with-china-2022-08-09/https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speeches-remarks/2022/08/09/remarks-by-president-biden-at-signing-of-h-r-4346-the-chips-and-science-act-of-2022/Barb McQuade @BarbMcQuadeThe law prohibits DOJ from discussing a search warrant that is under seal. Secrecy rules are designed to protect the person under investigation. You know who could discuss it? Donald Trump, who would have received a copy of the inventory of items seized. Hugo Lowell @hugolowellNew: Senate GOP Leader McConnell: “The country deserves a thorough and immediate explanation of what led to the events of Monday. Attorney General Garland and the Department of Justice should already have provided answers to the American people and must do so immediately.”August 10th 20222,798 Retweets8,821 LikesAaron Rupar @atruparJim Banks tells Ingraham that a dozen House Republicans met with Trump tonight at Bedminster, told him they stand with him & encouraged him to run for POTUS. He says they talked about Kevin McCarthy being Speaker and Jim Jordan being chair of the Judiciary Committee. God forbid. August 10th 2022245 Retweets1,089 Likeshttps://www.archives.gov/files/foia/wh-ltr-to-u.s.-archivist-trump-pra-rep-1.19.2021.pdf

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Heather Cox RichardsonAug 8

“The yeas are 50; the nays are 50. The Senate being equally divided, the vice president votes in the affirmative, and the bill, as amended, is passed.”

So spoke Vice President Kamala Harris this afternoon as, after an all-night session, her vote passed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 through the Senate. It will now go to the House, where it is expected to pass.

The measure devotes more than $300 billion to addressing climate change and energy reform, the largest federal investment in climate change in U.S. history. It will make it easier and cheaper to get electric cars and to heat and cool homes without fossil fuels—Environmental Protection Agency administrator Michael Regan says families will save an average of $500 a year on energy costs—while also creating new jobs in these fields.

It extends for three years the subsidies for healthcare under the Affordable Care Act that Congress originally passed during the pandemic. 

It will invest about $300 billion toward reducing the deficit.

The money for these programs will come from several places. The bill will lower the cost of certain prescription drugs by enabling the government to negotiate the prices of expensive drugs for Medicare, a policy most nations already have. It also caps the cost of insulin at $35 a month for people on Medicare (Republicans stripped out of the bill a similar protection for those on private insurance). 

It makes corporations making $1 billion or more in income pay a 15% minimum tax, and it will tax stock buybacks at 1%.

And it will invest more than $100 billion in enforcing the existing tax laws on the books, laws that are increasingly ignored as the IRS has too few agents to conduct audits of large accounts. 

Senate Democrats passed the measure by using the process of budget reconciliation, which covers certain revenue measures and which cannot be filibustered. Although the pieces of the measure have bipartisan support in the country, every Republican voted against the bill; Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) called it an “economic disaster” that will exacerbate inflation (the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office disagrees). 

Republicans used reconciliation to pass their own signature measure in December 2017: the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. This law cut the corporate tax rate from about 35% to 21% with the now-traditional Republican expectation that such a cut would spur economic growth, although the Congressional Budget Office estimated the measure would add about $2 trillion to the national debt over ten years. The Tax and Jobs Act did not increase employment or wages as the Republicans expected; those actually dipped slightly as corporations used the tax cuts primarily to buy back their stock, making it more valuable. That measure was the signature piece of legislation during the Trump administration. 

In contrast, in the past 18 months, Democrats have rebuilt the economy after the pandemic shattered it, invested in technology and science, expanded the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to stand against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, eliminated al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, pulled troops out of Afghanistan, passed the first gun safety law in almost 30 years, put a Black woman on the Supreme Court, reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act, addressed the needs of veterans exposed to toxic burn pits, and invested in our roads, bridges, and manufacturing. And for much of this program, they have managed to attract Republican votes.

Now they are turning to lowering the cost of prescription drugs—long a priority—and tackling climate change, all while lowering the deficit. 

Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne noted accurately today that what these measures do is far more than the sum of their parts. They show Americans that democracy is messy and slow but that it works, and it works for them. Since he took office, this has been President Joe Biden’s argument: he would head off the global drive toward authoritarianism by showing that democracy is still the best system of government out there.

At a time when authoritarians are trying to demonstrate that democracies cannot function nearly as effectively as the rule of an elite few, he is proving them wrong. 

This is a very big deal indeed.

Notes:

Acyn @AcynThe tie breaker from Kamala Harris makes it official. The bill is passed. August 7th 20224,037 Retweets29,080 Likes

Leader McConnell @LeaderMcConnellDemocrats have proven over and over they simply do not care about middle-class families’ priorities. Only 18% of Americans are happy with this Democrat-run economy.   And they just spent hundreds of billions of dollars more of your money to prove it yet again. My full statement: August 7th 2022249 Retweets816 Likes

https://www.npr.org/2022/08/07/1116190180/democrats-are-set-to-pass-a-major-climate-health-and-tax-bill-heres-whats-in-it

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/08/07/senate-democrats-pass-infrastructure-reduction-act-reconciliation-bill-strike-blow-against-cynicism/

Michael Regan, U.S. EPA @EPAMichaelReganThe Inflation Reduction Act just passed the Senate! This is a big deal for all people and our planet. 🧵 Here’s how this bill delivers for Americans across the country👇🏾August 7th 2022548 Retweets1,962 Likes

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2022/08/07/insulin-cap-budget-congress/

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/senate-passes-inflation-reduction-act-vote/

https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2021/01/18/trump-presidency-administration-biggest-impact-policy-analysis-451479

My Opinion based on Republican actions over the past 10 years. 

The GOP fought so called Obama care tooth and nail, yet they adopted the parts they liked to their own healthcare. The GOP used TOTUS aka the former guy to pass their own tax reform and install conservative judges in lifetime positions and install unqualified conservative judges to the high court, it is not a stretch that this directly led to overturning ROE V. Wade. The GOP over many years has never been pro U.S. citizen unless it benefitted them directly or indirectly. Pay careful attention to what is happening primarily GOP states. MA 


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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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

WILL MCDUFFIE

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 abcnews.go.com

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Jan 6 facts and the recent Scotus decision are explained, SCOTUS decision (highlighted below) could be examined more closely.MA


July 6, 2022
Heather Cox Richardson Jul 7
Eighteen months ago today, rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to stop Congress from counting the electoral votes that would make Democrat Joe Biden president. Thanks to the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, we are learning more about just how deep that plot ran, and more evidence is dropping almost daily. Yesterday, for example, Politico revealed a two-minute trailer for the documentary about the Trump family by British filmmaker Alex Holder. With extraordinary access to the family, Holder witnessed what the trailer portrays as the attempt of the Trump family to create an American dynasty, and its determination to hold onto power even if it meant the destruction of American democracy.     Today, Maggie Haberman and Luke Broadwater of the New York Times reported that the committee has secured an agreement with Trump’s White House counsel Pat A. Cipollone to testify in a videotaped, transcribed interview. Last week’s testimony by Cassidy Hutchinson put great pressure on Cipollone to testify. She said that she and Cipollone had had several conversations about the illegality of the things Trump and his chief of staff Mark Meadows were doing.  She recounted Cipollone’s determination to prevent Trump from going to the Capitol with the rioters he sent there, alleging that if Trump went, Cipollone said, “We’re going to get charged with every crime imaginable.” He also insisted that Trump must call off the rioters, even after Meadows said the president didn’t want to.  He will testify privately the day after the January 6 committee’s next public hearing. There is movement on other issues surrounding the attempt to overturn the 2020 election, as well. Yesterday, a Fulton County, Georgia, grand jury issued a subpoena for Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), among others, and today Graham’s lawyers said they will challenge the subpoena. They say the investigation is a “fishing expedition” and that any information it turns up would go straight to the January 6th committee. They assert that as then-chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Graham “was well within his rights to discuss with state officials the processes and procedures around administering elections.”  The subpoena refers not to processes and procedures around administering elections, of course, even if it were in fact appropriate for a senator from South Carolina to ask questions about such procedures in Georgia. It refers to at least two phone calls Graham made to Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger or his staff in which Graham apparently asked about “reexamining certain absentee ballots cast in Georgia in order to explore the possibility of a more favorable outcome for former President Donald Trump.” And, in November 2021, Graham admitted he reached out not only to officials in Georgia, but to those in Arizona and Nevada as well. This outreach had nothing to do with the Senate Judiciary Committee; Graham was plainly working for Trump’s campaign. Further undercutting this argument is that it is not the Senate Judiciary Committee that oversees elections; it is the Senate Rules Committee.  Former federal prosecutor Shanlon Wu tweeted that Graham is challenging the subpoena on the grounds that the grand jury is working for the congressional committee, and thus the subpoena will “erode the constitutional balance of power and the ability of a Member of Congress to do their job.” Wu said the legal course is as follows: Graham’s challenge will lose in state court and then his lawyers will try to get a federal court to stop the enforcement of a state subpoena. Wu said that the Supreme Court is unlikely to agree that the state of Georgia is a branch of the federal government. He called it “an arrogant[,] pompous and legally weak argument from Graham [that] should be slam-dunk rejected by any court that hears it.” Representative Eric Swalwell (D-CA) was more succinct. He tweeted: “It’s a subpoena. Not a request to RSVP.” There are more subpoenas in the news. Today, New York state judge Arthur F. Engoron held Cushman & Wakefield, the real estate firm that valued the Trump properties under investigation by New York attorney general Letitia James, in contempt of court for failing to comply with subpoenas about the valuation of certain Trump properties. A spokesperson for the company says that the company has gone to “extreme lengths” to comply with the subpoena, although it has not managed to produce the documents yet. The delay of the documents is crucial because Trump and two of his children are scheduled to testify about the valuations next week under oath.  The firm will be fined $10,000 a day until it provides the documents the subpoenas require. What all these demands for information under oath do is establish what really happened, in contrast to the false narratives political operatives have spun in front of television cameras and on the internet, where they are not bound by any requirement to tell the truth.  The slow accumulation of facts over fiction might well become a financial crisis for those who participated in Trump’s narrative. The Fox News Corporation, One America News Network, and Newsmax are currently facing multibillion dollar lawsuits from Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic, a voting machine company and an election software company, that those channels claimed had stolen the 2020 election for Biden.  Smaller companies OAN and Newsmax are financially vulnerable to lawsuits alone, to say nothing of an adverse judgment, but according to an article by Adam Gabbatt in The Guardian, FNC has more to worry about than money. We already know that FNC hosts and White House officials were in contact about the January 6 insurrection, and in the discovery phase of a lawsuit, FNC could have to hand over documents that might tell us more about that connection.  Angelo Carusone, chief executive officer of Media Matters for America, told Gabbatt: “I think once you start to pull the discovery material, what you’re going to find is there was a lot of communication between the Trump people both internally and externally about pushing very specific lies and narratives.”  The role of fact versus narrative is on display elsewhere in our government as well.  Both the Organization of American Historians and the American Historical Association, the flagship organizations of professional historians in the U.S., along with eight other U.S. historical associations (so far), yesterday issued a joint statement expressing dismay that the six Supreme Court justices in the majority in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health decision that overturned Roe v. Wade ignored the actual history those organizations provided the court and instead “adopted a flawed interpretation of abortion criminalization that has been pressed by anti-abortion advocates for more than thirty years.” Although the decision mentioned “history” 67 times, they note, it ignored “the long legal tradition, extending from the common law to the mid-1800s (and far longer in some states, including Mississippi), of tolerating termination of pregnancy before occurrence of ‘quickening,’ the time when a woman first felt fetal movement.” The statement focuses less on politics than on the perversion of history, noting that “[t]hese misrepresentations are now enshrined in a text that becomes authoritative for legal reference and citation in the future,” an undermining of the “imperative that historical evidence and argument be presented according to high standards of historical scholarship. The Court’s majority opinion…does not meet those standards.”
Notes: Scott MacFarlane @MacFarlaneNews NEW: Sen Lindsey Graham (R-SC) will go to court to challenge the subpoena from grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia Statement from attorney accuses grand jury of working “in concert” with House January 6 Select Committee Image July 6th 2022 2,017 Retweets5,665 Likes   https://www.oah.org/insights/posts/2022/july/joint-oah-aha-statement-on-the-dobbs-v-jackson-decision/ Rep. Eric Swalwell @RepSwalwell It’s a subpoena. Not a request to RSVP. The Hill @thehill Graham plans to challenge subpoena: “This is all politics” https://t.co/dzKLK1oTdy https://t.co/mUQEfXUZCq July 6th 2022 7,543 Retweets56,494 Likes   https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/06/nyregion/trump-contempt-cushman-wakefield.html https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/06/us/politics/pat-cipollone-jan-6-testimony.html https://www.politico.com/news/2022/07/05/trailer-trump-documentary-january-6-committee-holder-00043960 https://www.cnbc.com/2022/07/06/lindsey-graham-to-fight-subpoena-in-trump-georgia-election-probe.html Shanlon Wu @shanlonwu Lindsay Graham now claims he can’t be subpoenaed by Georgia state grand jury b/c of separation of powers? Since Georgia is NOT a part of the federal government then Graham’s argument depends entirely on his baseless claim that Fulton County DA is just a Jan 6 agent. Confirmed – July 6th 2022 3,102 Retweets18,203 Likes   https://www.rules.senate.gov/about/purpose-and-jurisdiction https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2020/11/17/politics/graham-nevada-arizona-elections/index.html https://www.theguardian.com/media/2022/jul/04/fox-oan-newsmax-lawsuits-election-fraud-claims

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Heather Cox RichardsonJun 27

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

After the Civil War had proved the power of the federal government to defend the will of the majority from the tyranny of the minority, Congress found itself once again forced to override the will of state governments. When state legislatures put in place the Black Codes, which created a second-class status in the South for Black Americans, Congress passed and the states ratified the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, overriding the Dred Scott decision to make Black Americans citizens, and establishing that “[n]o state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

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

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

Notes:

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

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

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

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

Heather Cox RichardsonJun 26CommentShare

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

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

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

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

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

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

Forever turned out to be short.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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