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Category Archives: politricks


September 23, 2022
Heather Cox Richardson
Sep 24
 Today, House minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Representative Elise Stefanik (R-NY), who took over as the chair of the House Republican Conference after the party rejected Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) for her refusal to back the January 6 insurrection, released the House Republicans’ plan for the country.

Covering just a single page, it presents vague aspirations—many of which Biden has already put in place—but focuses on the radical extremes of the MAGA party while trying to make those extremes sound mild.

The so-called “Commitment to America” calls for a strong economy, a safe nation, a free future, and an accountable government. So far, so good.

But the first topic—making the economy strong—is a paraphrase of what the Biden administration has been doing. The Republicans call for fighting inflation and lowering the cost of living, making America energy independent, bringing down gas prices, strengthening the supply chain, and ending the country’s dependence on China.

This is quite literally the platform of the Democrats, but while the Republicans offer no actual proposals to contribute to these goals, Biden has taken concrete steps to address inflation by taking on the shipping monopolies that hiked transportation costs, for example, while Democrats in Congress have passed legislation capping the cost of certain prescription medications. Biden has released reserves to help combat high gas prices, which have now fallen close to their cost last March—a barrel of oil is now under $80—while expanding our nation’s pool of truck drivers and just last week averting a train strike that would have endangered supply chains. The incentives in the Inflation Reduction Act are designed specifically to make America energy independent while addressing climate change, and Biden’s extraordinary efforts to support economic development in the Indo-Pacific region, along with the CHIPS and Science Act, were explicitly designed to reduce U.S. dependence on China.

It feels rather as if the Republicans recognize that Biden’s policies are popular, and are hoping that voters haven’t noticed that he is actually putting them in place.

Then the document gets to the heart of its argument, recycling MAGA talking points in language that makes it very attractive. Who doesn’t want national safety, for example?

But national safety is described here as securing the border and combatting illegal immigration (something already in place), adding 200,000 police officers through recruiting bonuses, cracking down on prosecutors and district attorneys who refuse to prosecute crimes (this is likely directed at those who say they will not prosecute women for obtaining abortions), criminalizing all fentanyl, and supporting our troops and exercising peace through strength (which likely means reversing Biden’s emphasis on multilateral diplomacy to return to using the U.S. military as a global enforcer)— all MAGA demands.

“A Future That’s Built on Freedom” is a similar sleight of hand, meaning something far from the freedom of the recent past. Here it means giving parents control over their childrens’ education (more book banning and laws that prohibit teaching subjects that make students “uncomfortable”), “defend[ing] fairness by ensuring that only women can compete in women’s sports” (there’s the anti-trans statement), achieving “longer, healthier lives for Americans” by what appears to be getting rid of the Affordable Care Act, and what appears to be a defense of the use of ivermectin and other quack cures popular on the right (“lower prices through transparency, choice, and competition,” “invest in lifesaving cures,” and “improve access to telemedicine”). It also demands confronting “Big Tech” to make it fair, which is likely a reference to the right wing’s conviction that social media discriminates against it by banning hate speech.

The section about accountable government calls for preserving constitutional freedoms, which they interpret as an apparent national ban on abortion—a constitutional right until this past June—saying they will “protect the lives of unborn children and their mothers.” They defend “religious freedom,” which the right wing, including the Supreme Court, has interpreted as freedom for Christian schools to receive public tax money and for Christian coaches to pray with students. The document also calls for safeguarding the Second Amendment, which the right wing has increasingly interpreted since the 1970s to mean that the government cannot regulate gun ownership.

This section of the document calls for rigorous oversight of the government “to rein in government abuse of power and corruption,” providing “real transparency,” and requiring the White House “to answer for its incompetence at home and abroad.” It also says Republicans will “save and strengthen Social Security and Medicare.”

While the part of this section that calls for stopping government abuse and incompetence seems rich coming from the MAGA Republicans, the statement that they intend to protect Social Security and Medicare strikes me as I felt when hearing Trump tell voters in 2020 that he would protect Obamacare at the very time his lawyers were in court trying to overturn the law. Now, in this moment, leading Republicans have vowed to get rid of Social Security and Medicare, which is an interesting way to “save and strengthen” them.

Similarly, the section promising to “restore the people’s voice” calls for voting restrictions.

In short, the document feels like the doublespeak from George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984. To defend the indefensible, Orwell wrote in an essay titled “Politics and the English Language,” “political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness…. The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns, as it were, instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink.”

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA), who focused on the power of language to alter reality and who helped to write the 1994 Contract with America that enabled the Republicans to take control of the House for the first time since 1954, worked on this document. The Contract with America, which party leaders called a contract as a promise that it would be binding, led the Republicans to shut down the government for 28 days between November 1995 and January 1996 to get their way before they entirely abandoned the “contract.”

To sell today’s document to voters, Republicans used a slick video, but Jennifer Bendery of HuffPost noted that the film uses stock videos from Russia and Ukraine in its “Commitment to America.” When Bendery reached out to McCarthy for comment, his spokesperson Mark Bednar responded: “Interesting how you guys aren’t remotely interested in the issues facing the American people in the video.”

But will it work? The document tries to win Trump voters without actually mentioning Trump, who now alienates all but his fervent supporters. But he continues to dominate the Republican Party and to grab the headlines. Tonight, 60 Minutes teased a story that will broadcast on Sunday and is already raising eyebrows. In it, Denver Riggleman, former senior tech advisor for the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, said that the White House switchboard connected a call to a rioter’s phone while the Capitol was under siege on January 6, 2021.—Notes:https://www.huffpost.com/entry/house-republicans-commitment-to-america-stock-footage-russia-ukraine_n_632dc7afe4b0d12b5404bab160 Minutes @60MinutesThe White House switchboard connected a call to a rioter while the Capitol was under siege on January 6, 2021, according to former January 6 committee staffer Denver Riggleman. “I only know one end of that call,” Riggleman said. cbsn.ws/3BDxkopImageSeptember 23rd 202213,260 Retweets32,088 Likeshttps://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/gop-leaders-roll-out-commitment-to-america-midterm-election-agenda-but-challenges-remainRonald Klain @WHCOSOil has fallen below $80/barrel today. This makes this @POTUS message from yesterday even more compelling. President Biden @POTUSGas prices fell by $1.30 this summer, that’s good news for families. But energy companies are making record profits and retailer margins are 30% above normal. That’s money that should be in folks’ pockets. Industry must pass savings on to consumers by lowering prices. Now.September 23rd 2022593 Retweets2,240 LikesShareLikeCommentShare

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Heather Cox RichardsonSep 20
 
 

On Saturday, the anniversary of the day in 1787 on which the Framers signed the U.S. Constitution, Attorney General Merrick Garland administered the oath of allegiance to 200 immigrants in the Great Hall at Ellis Island. From 1892 to 1954, nearly 12 million immigrants stopped on the island as part of their journey to the United States, and from 1900 to 1924, the Great Hall was filled with as many as 5000 new arrivals a day, sitting on benches under the high ceiling that had been tiled in the spectacular patterns of Spanish-born architect Rafael Guastavino—who came to the U.S. in 1881—where they awaited health inspections and registration. 

“It is my great honor to welcome you as the newest citizens of the United States of America,” Garland said. “Congratulations!… Just now, each of you took an oath of allegiance to the United States. In so doing, you took your place alongside generations who came before you, many through this very building, seeking protection, freedom, and opportunity. This country—your country—wholeheartedly welcomes you.”

As an introduction to the message he wanted to deliver, both to the new citizens and to old ones, Garland spoke of his own history as the grandson and son-in-law of those fleeing religious persecution, who came to the U.S. for the protection of our laws.  

“The protection of law—the Rule of Law—is the foundation of our system of government,” the attorney general said.

“The Rule of Law means that the same laws apply to all of us, regardless of whether we are this country’s newest citizens or whether our [families] have been here for generations.

“The Rule of Law means that the law treats each of us alike: there is not one rule for friends, another for foes; one rule for the powerful, another for the powerless; a rule for the rich, another for the poor; or different rules, depending upon one’s race or ethnicity or country of origin.

“The Rule of Law means that we are all protected in the exercise of our civil rights; in our freedom to worship and think as we please; and in the peaceful expression of our opinions, our beliefs, and our ideas.

“Of course, we still have work to do to make a more perfect union. Although the Rule of Law has always been our guiding light, we have not always been faithful to it. 

“The Rule of Law is not assured. It is fragile. It demands constant effort and vigilance.

“The responsibility to ensure the Rule of Law is and has been the duty of every generation in our country’s history. It is now your duty as well. And it is one that is especially urgent today at a time of intense polarization in America.”

Garland went on to ask the people in the room to share a promise “that each of us will protect each other and our democracy,” that “we will uphold the Rule of Law and seek to make real the promise of equal justice under law,” and that “we will do what is right, even if that means doing what is difficult.”

It is hard to imagine that his words were not intended to convey that he intends to follow the legal trails left behind by the former administration wherever they lead. 

Certainly, the former president, who is under scrutiny for stealing national secrets, scheming to overturn the results of the 2020 election, and inciting mob violence against the U.S. government, appears to be concerned.

Over the weekend, in a rally on Saturday in Ohio, Trump made it clear that he is no longer playing with a violent, extremist base, but rather cultivating it. In the days before the event, he “retruthed” posts from the conspiracy theory QAnon, whose followers believe that he is leading a secret war against pedophiles and cannibals and that he will soon be placed back into power, arrest his Democratic enemies, try them, and execute some of them. That moment of his return is called “the Storm,” and one of his “retruths” assured his audience that “The Storm is Coming.” The rally played the QAnon theme song—or something so like it as to be indistinguishable from it—and featured other QAnon-adjacent politicians. 

Trump seems to know he is down to his last line of supporters, and he is rallying them to be ready to commit violence on his behalf, much as he did in the weeks before January 6, 2021. But the rally appeared to have attracted only a few thousand people, a far cry from the crowds he commanded when he was in office. His power resides now primarily in his ability to deliver or withhold his supporters, whom the party desperately needs. In exchange for delivering his supporters, Greg Sargent of the Washington Post points out, Trump seems to be demanding that a Republican Congress put an end to his legal troubles. 

Those legal troubles are mounting. 

On September 5, 2022, Judge Aileen Cannon granted Trump’s request for a special master to review the materials FBI agents seized in their search of Mar-a-Lago on August 8. Those  materials included more than 100 that bore classified markings, some at the highest levels. Cannon ordered the Department of Justice to stop its criminal investigation of Trump until the special master reviews the material. The DOJ asked Cannon to reconsider, because its ongoing review of the national security damage is tied to the criminal investigation. She refused and, at Trump’s team’s suggestion, appointed Judge Raymond Dearie special master. 

Legal scholars say Cannon’s rulings are deeply problematic, but they looked as if they would buy Trump time until after the midterms, when Republicans might have control of one or both houses of Congress to help him out. While they are appealing the ruling, the DOJ is also responding to it.

A filing tonight shows that Dearie has ordered all inspection and labeling done by October 7, rather than the November 30 date the Trump team expected. It also shows that Dearie has asked Trump to specify which documents he claims to have declassified before claiming them as his property. Trump’s lawyers say they don’t want to tell the judge anything specific about what Trump might or might not have declassified, suggesting they want to reserve that for a possible criminal case.

Former U.S. attorney and legal commenter Joyce White Vance noted that he is “presumably avoiding the need to acknowledge he lied until after the midterm elections.” 

As Trump faces legal trouble, Florida governor Ron DeSantis appears to be trying to gather Trump’s voters to himself with his stunt of sending migrants to Martha’s Vineyard off Massachusetts with a camera crew that gave video footage to the Fox News Channel but without telling Massachusetts authorities the migrants were coming. It was performative cruelty designed to show “liberals” rejecting immigrants in their backyards, and the fact that the people of Martha’s Vineyard welcomed them and got them back to the mainland and to shelter did not change that narrative in right-wing media: officials have been swamped with angry phone calls about their “hypocrisy,” and today a small plane towed a banner over the island reading, “Vineyard Hypocrites.” 

But Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo noted all along that DeSantis’s story didn’t add up. He is a Florida governor, but he moved people from Texas, and the story is hardly one that looks like a government operation. It appears that a tall, blonde woman going by “Perla” worked with two men and two other women to find migrants to move, promising them work and housing in Massachusetts and putting them up in a hotel until they got 48 people to go. 

Judd Legum of Popular Information added the piece that the migrants were not undocumented, as DeSantis repeatedly claimed, but in fact are here legally after applying for asylum. Someone gave them brochures promising 8 months’ cash assistance, food, housing, clothing, job training, and so on, benefits available only to a specific and small category of refugees, which they are not. 

If they were misled about either their destination or their opportunities, those lying to them might run up against legal charges. For their part, DeSantis and Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez say it is “categorically false” that they were misled.  

Tonight, the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office in Texas announced it has opened up a criminal investigation.

There is one man tonight who is not worried about further legal troubles, though. The administration today secured the release of Mark Frerichs, kidnapped in Afghanistan in January 2020 and held for 31 months, by exchanging him for Bashir Noorzai, who was sentenced to life in prison for drug trafficking in 2009. 

[Guastavino ceiling at Ellis Island:]

Notes:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/09/19/trump-qanon-conspiracy-theories/

https://gothamist.com/news/us-attorney-general-merrick-garland-swears-in-hundreds-of-new-citizens-at-ellis-island

https://www.architecturaldigest.com/gallery/guastavino-tile-arches

https://www.justice.gov/opa/speech/attorney-general-merrick-b-garland-administers-oath-allegiance-and-delivers

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/09/19/trump-ohio-rally-investigations-mar-a-lago-jd-vance/

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2022/9/15/23355813/trump-judge-aileen-cannon-special-master-order-justice-department

Kyle Cheney @kyledcheneyJUST IN: Special Master Dearie has asked Trump’s team for declarations about any acftions he’s taken to declassify material. Trump’s team says i n a filing tonight that it is resisting that request — because it could be a defense to any criminal cahrges. storage.courtlistener.com/recap/gov.usco…

Image

September 19th 20223,377 Retweets11,201 Likes

https://www.politico.com/news/2022/09/19/trump-mar-a-lago-probe-00057621

Joyce Alene @JoyceWhiteVanceMy favorite part is that Trump doesn’t want to have to provide any information about his supposed declassifications under early November-presumably avoiding the need to acknowledge he lied until after the midterm elections. https://t.co/4bM8kYjARNKatie S. Phang @KatiePhangNEW: Trump’s defense team in panic mode: Special Master demanding Trump “disclose specific information regarding declassification to the Court and to the Government…will force [Trump] to fully and specifically disclose a defense to the merits of any subsequent indictment…”September 20th 20221,314 Retweets5,727 Likes

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/09/15/ron-desantis-migrants-marthas-vineyard-fox-news/

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/the-search-for-perla

Judd Legum @JuddLegumUPDATE: The Bexar County Texas Sheriff has launched a criminal investigation into DeSantis’ scheme facebook.com/BexarCoSheriff…

Judd Legum@JuddLegum1. https://t.co/JhoV1QDaTS has obtained documentary evidence that migrants from Venezuela were provided with false info to induce them to board flights chartered by @RonDeSantisFL The documents suggest that the flights violated criminal law. 🧵 https://t.co/MXdhOY0s89

September 19th 2022277 Retweets1,128 Likes

Popular Information

The smoking gun in Martha’s Vineyard

Popular Information has obtained documentary evidence that migrants from Venezuela were provided with false information to convince them to board flights chartered by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R). The do…

Read more

19 hours ago · 330 likes · 76 comments · Judd Legum

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/09/19/taliban-prisoner-exchange-mark-frerichs/

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/09/19/statement-by-president-biden-on-the-release-of-mark-frerichs/

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Confederates, socialists, Capitol attackers: A 14th Amendment history lesson

 

The Washington Post

Gillian Brockell – 32m ago

A New Mexico judge ruled this week that a county commissioner was disqualified from holding office because he participated in the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

In ordering Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin removed from office, the judge cited a section of the 14th Amendment disqualifying any elected official “who, having previously taken an oath … to support the Constitution of the United States,” has then “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.” The advocacy group that filed the lawsuit is also considering attempting to use it to disqualify former president Donald Trump from the 2024 presidential contest, according to the New York Times.

The disqualification clause, as it is sometimes called, was written in the post-Civil War Reconstruction era, in the brief period when Radical Republicans — some of the most progressive lawmakers in American history — held a majority and were determined to stop high-ranking Confederate traitors from returning to public office.

The amendment doesn’t specify who’s supposed to be enforcing it, so the responsibility has fallen to different bodies. Griffin was disqualified in court, but historically, Congress itself has sometimes taken votes to prevent elected members from being seated.

Two of those instances highlight the inconsistency of the clause’s application: the last time it was used successfully, nearly a century ago against antiwar lawmaker Victor Berger (who was not, by any standard definition, an insurrectionist), and when it was applied against former Confederate Zebulon Vance — who, like Berger, was allowed to waltz back into office once the political winds had shifted in his favor.

Sen. Zebulon Vance circa 1875.© Mathew Brady/Library of Congress

Vance grew up in a well-connected family that struggled financially but still enslaved more than a dozen people. After law school, he rose in the political ranks, first in the state senate and eventually as the youngest member of the 36th Congress, representing Asheville and the surrounding areas.

(Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), who currently represents Asheville and was also the youngest member of his Congress, faced a lawsuit trying to disqualify him from Congress under the 14th Amendment. The lawsuit was dismissed as moot after Cawthorn lost his primary in May.)

As the march toward the Civil War escalated, Vance initially opposed secession but eventually served in the Confederate Army. He also served as the Confederate governor of North Carolina.

After the war, in 1870, he was appointed senator from North Carolina, but the Senate refused to seat him, citing the 14th Amendment. After spending two years in Washington trying to get an amnesty, he gave up.

Capitol statue collection gets first Black American, replacing Confederate

But only a few years later, Washington was handing out amnesty like candy, defeating the whole purpose of the clause. Vance got his in 1875 and was elected to the Senate three years later. Not only did he serve until his death in 1894; in a sense, he is still there today: A statue of Vance stands in National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol, a 1916 gift from North Carolina that Congress cannot legally remove unless the state decides to replace it.

Berger had a very different story, though he ended up in the same pickle as Vance. Born into a Jewish family in the Austrian empire, he immigrated to the United States as a young man in 1878. He became a successful publisher in Milwaukee of both English- and German-language newspapers.

Berger was a leading voice of the “Sewer Socialists,” who believed socialist objectives could be achieved through elections and good governance, no violent revolution necessary. Today, we would call this a “roads and bridges” platform; back then, it was working sewers and clean, city-owned water.

Socialists were winning U.S. elections long before Bernie Sanders and AOC

Berger served one term in Congress — the first-ever Socialist Party member — from 1911 to 1913, the high point being when he introduced the first bill for an old-age pension. (Nowadays we call that Social Security.) He didn’t win reelection, but he stayed active in Wisconsin politics and in publishing.

Then World War I began, and with it came the First Red Scare. Berger was against the war and said so in his editorials, and in 1918 that was enough for him to be charged with “disloyal acts” under the Espionage Act. He was running for Congress again while under indictment, and soon after he won the election that November, he was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in federal prison.

The socialist who ran for president from prison — and won nearly a million votes

While out on appeal, Berger showed up in Washington to be sworn in. The House refused to seat him by a vote of 309-1, saying his words had “given aid or comfort” to enemies of the nation, and he was thus barred under the 14th Amendment.

In December 1919, he ran in the special election to replace himself, and incredibly, he won. The House refused him a second time. In 1921, Berger’s conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court, and he returned unfettered to Congress in 1922, where he served three terms, pushing legislation to crack down on lynching and to end Prohibition.

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Heather Cox RichardsonAug 28

In a speech Thursday night, President Joe Biden called out today’s MAGA Republicans for threatening “our personal rights and economic security…. They’re a threat to our very democracy.” When he referred to them as “semi-fascists,” he drew headlines, some of them disapproving.

A spokesperson for the Republican National Committee called the comment “despicable,” although Republicans have called Democrats “socialists” now for so long it passes as normal discourse. Just this week, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) called Democrats “radical left-wing lunatics, laptop liberals, and Marxist misfits.”

Biden’s calling out of today’s radical Republicans mirrors the moment on June 21, 1856, when Representative Anson Burlingame of Massachusetts, a member of the newly formed Republican Party, stood up in Congress to announce that northerners were willing to take to the battlefield to defend their way of life against the southerners who were trying to destroy it. Less than a month before, Burlingame’s Massachusetts colleague Senator Charles Sumner had been brutally beaten by a southern representative for disparaging slavery, and Burlingame was sick and tired of buying sectional peace by letting southerners abuse the North. Enough, he said, was enough. The North was superior to the South in its morality, loyalty to the government, fidelity to the Constitution, and economy, and northerners were willing to defend their system, if necessary, with guns.

Burlingame’s “Defense of Massachusetts” speech marked the first time a prominent northerner had offered to fight to defend the northern way of life. Previously, southerners had been the ones threatening war and demanding concessions from the North to preserve the peace. He was willing to accept a battle, Burlingame explained, because what was at stake was the future of the nation. His speech invited a challenge to a duel.

Southerners championed their region as the one that had correctly developed the society envisioned by the Founders. In the South, a few very wealthy men controlled government and society, enslaving their neighbors. This system, its apologists asserted, was the highest form of human civilization. They opposed any attempt to restrict its spread. The South was superior to the North, enslavers insisted; it alone was patriotic, honored the Constitution, and understood economic growth. In the interests of union, northerners repeatedly ceded ground to enslavers and left their claim to superiority unchallenged.

At long last, the attack on Sumner inspired Burlingame to speak up for the North. The southern system was not superior, he thundered; it had dragged the nation backward. Slavery kept workers ignorant and godless while the northern system of freedom lifted workers up with schools and churches. Slavery feared innovation; freedom encouraged workers to try new ideas. Slavery kept the South mired in the past; freedom welcomed the modern world and pushed Americans into a new, thriving economy. And finally, when Sumner had spoken up against the tyranny of slavery, a southerner had clubbed him almost to death on the floor of the Senate.

Was ignorance, economic stagnation, and violence the true American system?

For his part, Burlingame preferred to throw his lot with education, morality, economic growth, and respect for government.

Burlingame had deliberately provoked the lawmaker who had beaten Sumner, Preston Brooks of South Carolina, and unable to resist any provocation, Brooks had challenged Burlingame to a duel. Brooks assumed all Yankees were cowards and figured that Burlingame would decline in embarrassment. But instead, Burlingame accepted with enthusiasm, choosing rifles as the dueling weapons. Burlingame, it turned out, was an expert marksman.

Burlingame also chose to duel in Canada, giving Brooks the opportunity to back out on the grounds that he felt unsafe traveling through the North after his beating of Sumner made him a hated man. The negotiations for the duel went on for months, but the duel never took place. Instead, Brooks, known as “Bully” Brooks, lost face as a man who was unwilling to risk his safety to avenge his honor, while Burlingame showed that northerners were eager to fight.

Forgotten now, Burlingame’s speech was once widely considered one of the most important speeches in American history. It marked the moment when northerners shocked southerners by calling them out for what they were, and northerners rallied to Burlingame’s call.

President Biden’s Twitter account has recently been taken over by new White House’s Deputy Director of Platforms Megan Coyne, who garnered attention when she ran the official New Jersey Twitter account with attitude, and it seems as if the administration is taking the new saltiness out for a spin. “All the talk about the deficit from the same folks that gave an unpaid-for $2 trillion tax cut to the wealthy and big corporations. It makes you laugh,” the account said tonight. “Under my Administration, the deficit is on track to come down by more than $1 trillion this year.”

Notes:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/08/25/fiery-midterm-speech-biden-says-gops-turned-toward-semi-fascism/

https://www.texastribune.org/2022/08/11/beto-orourke-greg-abbott-motherfucker-heckler/

The Recount @therecountSen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), lacking any party introspection, slams Democrats as “radical left-wing lunatics, laptop liberals, and Marxist misfits”: “I wish this country had two normal political parties … We debate crazy things, insanity.” August 24th 202265 Retweets255 Likes

President Biden @POTUSAll the talk about the deficit from the same folks that gave an unpaid-for $2 trillion tax cut to the wealthy and big corporations. It makes you laugh. Under my Administration, the deficit is on track to come down by more than $1 trillion this year.August 27th 202211,144 Retweets51,394 Likes

https://www.northjersey.com/story/news/new-jersey/2022/08/26/white-house-nj-twitter-thread-megan-coyne-student-loan-debt-forgiveness/65458123007/

https://quod.lib.umich.edu/m/moa/aar7990.0001.001/1?page=root;rgn=subject;size=100;view=image;q1=Slavery

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Heather Cox RichardsonAug 26

Today, legal news about the former president and members of his team revealed a group of people who appear to have ignored the law.  

The stories began with the release of the Department of Justice (DOJ) memo written for Trump’s attorney general Bill Barr arguing that Trump should not be charged with obstruction of justice over his attempts to shut down the Russia investigation despite his firing of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) director James Comey, urging of witnesses not to “flip,” hints of pardons to those who stayed quiet, and so on. The memo seems clearly to have been a whitewash to justify Barr’s predetermined decision not to prosecute, illustrating the dangerous politicization of the DOJ.  

The memo argued that because special counsel Robert Mueller did not find enough evidence to charge Trump with conspiring with Russia, there was no crime committed, and thus Trump could not be charged with obstruction. In fact, Mueller noted in the report that the investigation was hampered by the president’s allies who refused to cooperate. Andrew Weissman, a 20-year veteran of the Department of Justice who worked on the Mueller investigation, concluded: “Key ‘reasoning’ of…memo: if you successfully obstruct an investigation, you cannot be charged with obstruction as you were not charged with the crime under investigation. Future defendants will have a field day with this memo unless DOJ repudiates it soon.”

Harry Litman, former U.S. attorney and now legal affairs columnist for the Los Angeles Times, noted that the principal author of the memo, Steven Engel, “is too good a lawyer not to have known what was going on. In a way, the most important words in the memo are the first 3: ‘at your request.’ This was a political mission.” 

And then there is the attempt of Republican operatives to smear their opponents. Today, the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York announced that two people have pleaded guilty to stealing the diary and other personal property of then-candidate Joe Biden’s daughter and selling it for $40,000 to James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas. In the process, they transported the material across state lines and then, at the request of the person to whom they sold it, went back to get more. They pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit interstate transportation of stolen property, and will cooperate with authorities.

The attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election results is also in legal news. 

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is arguing in court that the judge should not let a grand jury question the senator “on all the topics” covered by its recent subpoena of his testimony in the investigation of the Trump campaign’s attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia. Graham argues that the Speech or Debate Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which says that congress members “shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place,” means he cannot be questioned about his two phone calls to Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger about throwing out mail-in ballots in that state. 

For Graham’s argument to prevail, he will have to convince the court that his calls to Raffensperger were part of his legitimate congressional work, rather than part of the efforts of Trump’s campaign to overturn the election, actions outside the scope of Graham’s congressional duties. 

Lawyer Kenneth Chesebro, who helped to invent the false electors plan to overturn the results of the 2020 election, is refusing to talk to the grand jury, arguing that he has an attorney-client relationship with the Trump campaign and saying the campaign had “instructed” him to maintain confidentiality. But Chesebro never received any payment, and it is unclear whether he was officially working for the campaign. 

Meanwhile, Fulton County, Georgia, district attorney Fani Willis filed petitions today to require Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows, Trump lawyer Sidney Powell, Meadows ally James “Phil” Waldron, and Trump campaign advisor Boris Epshteyn to testify before the special grand jury next month. 

Finally, the top secret documents Trump stole from the government: Today the DOJ submitted to the court a redacted version of the affidavit it used to obtain a search warrant for Trump’s Florida property Mar-a-Lago earlier this month. The judge has ordered the release of the document by noon tomorrow. Trump had publicly demanded the release of the affidavit but had not actually asked the court to release it. Instead, he has whipped up his followers against the FBI. 

With these headlines from the Republican Party, and coming on the heels of a spectacular few months for the Democrats, the Biden administration came out today swinging against MAGA Republicans.

First, after a day of Republican congress members railing against yesterday’s educational loan forgiveness of up to $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients and $10,000 for others, the White House tweeted a thread of those members alongside the amount of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) money those individuals were forgiven. 

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) said: “For our government just to say ok your debt is completely forgiven.. it’s completely unfair.” Greene had $183,504 in PPP loans forgiven.

Representative Vern Buchanan (R-FL) said: “Biden’s reckless, unilateral student loan giveaway is unfair to the 87 percent of Americans without student loan debt and those who played by the rules.” Buchanan had more than $2.3 million in PPP loans forgiven.

Representative Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) said: “We do not need farmers and ranchers, small business owners, and teachers in Oklahoma paying the debts of Ivy League lawyers and doctors across the U.S.” Mullin had more than $1.4 million in PPP loans forgiven.

Representative Kevin Hern (R-OK) said: “To recap, in the last two weeks, the ‘Party of the People’ has supercharged the IRS to go after working-class Americans, raised their taxes, and forced them to pay for other people’s college degrees.” Hern had more than $1 million in PPP loans forgiven.

Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA) said: “Asking plumbers and carpenters to pay off the loans of Wall Street advisors and lawyers isn’t just unfair. It’s also bad policy.” Kelly had $987,237 in PPP loans forgiven.

Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) said: Everyone knows that in a $60 Billion+ European land war, it’s always the last $3 Billion that kicks in the door….” Gaetz had $482,321 in PPP loans forgiven. 

Then Biden gave a barn-burning speech to the Democratic National Committee in Rockville, Maryland, clearly dividing the Republican Party between the MAGAs and mainstream Republicans. The MAGA philosophy is “semi-fascism,” he said, and we are seeing either its beginning or death knell. 

“I want to be crystal clear about what’s on the ballot this year. Your right to choose is on the ballot this year. The Social Security you paid for from the time you had a job is on the ballot. The safety of our kids from gun violence is on the ballot…. The very survival of our planet is on the ballot. Your right to vote is on the ballot. Even…democracy.”

“The MAGA Republicans don’t just threaten our personal rights and economic security,” he said. “They’re a threat to our very democracy. They refuse to accept the will of the people. They embrace…political violence. They don’t believe in democracy.”

“This is why in this moment, those of you who love this country—Democrats, Independents, mainstream Republicans—we must be stronger,” he said.

Notes:

Andrew Weissmann 🌻 @AWeissmann_Key “reasoning” of Barr/Engel/O’Callaghan memo: if you successfully obstruct an investigation, you cannot be charged with obstruction as you were not charged with the crime under investigation. Future defendants will have a field day with this memo unless DOJ repudiates it soon.August 25th 20221,712 Retweets5,539 Likes

https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/pr/florida-residents-plead-guilty-conspiracy-commit-interstate-transportation-stolen

The White House @WhiteHouseCongressman Matt Gaetz had $482,321 in PPP loans forgiven. Rep. Matt Gaetz @RepMattGaetzEveryone knows that in a $60 Billion+ European land war, it’s always the last $3 Billion that kicks in the door… https://t.co/VwyJUgLCvYAugust 25th 202250,543 Retweets207,424 Likes

Charlie Savage @charlie_savageBREAKING: DOJ has released the full memo to then Attorney General Bill Barr analyzing why Trump should not be charged with obstruction-of-justice based on the Mueller report. DOJ had fought but lost a @CREWcrew FOIA lawsuit seeking this disclosure. August 24th 20223,998 Retweets11,563 Likes

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/08/23/lindsey-graham-georgia-speech-or-debate/

https://www.cnn.com/2022/08/24/politics/lindsey-graham-georgia-election-investigation/index.html

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/georgia-prosecutor-in-2020-election-probe-seeks-testimony-from-meadows-powell

https://www.politico.com/news/2022/08/25/trump-attorney-fake-electors-subpoena-00053765

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/08/25/fiery-midterm-speech-biden-says-gops-turned-toward-semi-fascism/

Harry Litman @harrylitmanSteven Engel, the principal author of the memo, is too good a lawyer not to have known what was going on. In a way, the most important words in the memo are the first 3: “at your request.” This was a political mission.August 25th 20221,628 Retweets9,356 Likes

https://www.politico.com/news/2021/05/04/trump-obstruction-justice-doj-485360

https://www.c-span.org/video/?522491-1/president-biden-remarks-democratic-national-committee-rally

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Heather Cox RichardsonAug 12

Since Monday’s search of former president Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property by the FBI, Trump, Trump supporters, and right-wing media have all been accusing the government of executing a political vendetta and speculating that FBI agents might have planted evidence on the property. 

This afternoon, Attorney General Merrick Garland gave a brief press conference in which he announced that the unjustified attacks on the Department of Justice (DOJ) have led it to file a motion to unseal the search warrant the FBI used and a redacted version of the receipt for the things removed from the premises. He also confirmed that copies of the warrant and the property receipt were left with Trump, as regulations require. Had Trump wanted to release them, he could have…and he still can, at any time.

Contrary to right-wing reports, Trump’s lawyer was at Mar-a-Lago during the search, which a federal court authorized after finding probable cause. Garland said that he personally approved the decision to seek a search warrant, and he also pointed out that the Department of Justice did not publicize the search; the former president did. Because of the public interest in the matter—and to clear up confusion over it—the department is asking a judge to unseal the documents.

Garland also defended FBI agents against attacks on them, saying, “The men and women of the FBI and the Justice Department are dedicated, patriotic public servants. Every day they protect the American people from violent crime, terrorism, and other threats to their safety while safeguarding our civil rights. They do so at great personal sacrifice and risk to themselves.” 

Garland explained the principle at stake. “Faithful adherence to the rule of law is the bedrock principle of the Justice Department and of our democracy. Upholding the rule of law means applying the law evenly, without fear or favor. Under my watch that is precisely what the Justice Department is doing. All Americans are entitled to the evenhanded application of the law, to due process of the law, and to the presumption of innocence.” 

He also reminded people that “the Department of Justice will speak through its court filings and its work.”

The DOJ motion to unseal the search warrant tells us a bit more. It was signed by U.S. Attorney Juan Gonzalez and by Jay Bratt, the chief of the department’s counterintelligence section. The motion also throws the ball into Trump’s court, saying “the former President should have an opportunity to respond to this Motion and lodge objections….” This boxes Trump in. He and his supporters have been demanding the documents be released, although  the DOJ cannot release them and Trump can. This motion means that the DOJ has made a strong case to get permission to release them…unless Trump objects. Essentially, the DOJ just called his bluff. 

At the New York Times, Katie Benner reported that already “Trump allies are discussing the possibility of challenging the Justice Department’s motion to unseal the Mar-a-Lago search warrant. They have contacted outside lawyers about helping them.” 

This should play out quickly: a judge this afternoon told the DOJ to discuss with Trump’s lawyer whether Trump objects to unsealing the documents and to let the judge know by 3:00 tomorrow afternoon. Tonight, Trump said he would not oppose the document’s release, but he didn’t release them himself, so we’ll see what tomorrow brings.

Another right-wing talking point about the search fell apart today as well. Fox News Channel personalities have argued that the Justice Department should simply have issued a subpoena for the material. “Get a subpoena, he will give it back,” Jesse Watters said. “It’s not like Trump won’t cooperate.” But in fact it turns out the DOJ did deliver a subpoena two months ago, and the former president did not comply.

For all the loud protests of Trump supporters over the search, other Republicans—even ones who were previously Team Trump—seem to be backing away. Today, Fox News Channel contributor and former White House press secretary for President George W. Bush Ari Fleischer tweeted: “One thing I can’t wrap my arms around: If Trump had classified documents, why didn’t he give them back? Maybe he thought they were declassified. Maybe he thought it was government overreach. But if, for whatever reason, you have a classified document at home, you give it back.” 

For his part, Trump tried to suggest his own retention of documents was not nearly as bad as that of former president Barack Obama, who, Trump alleged, took “33 Million pages of documents…to Chicago.” He is referring to the materials for the Obama presidential library, which have been moved from the National Archives and Records Administration with its permission and cooperation.

Tonight, Devlin Barrett, Josh Dawsey, Perry Stein, and Shane Harris at the Washington Post broke the story that the FBI agents at Mar-a-Lago were looking for documents relating to nuclear weapons, underscoring that the search was imperative. We don’t know any more than that, and heaven knows that’s bad enough. 

But what springs to mind for me is the plan pushed by Trump’s first national security advisor, Michael Flynn, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, and fundraiser and campaign advisor Tom Barrack, to transfer nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia. In 2019, whistleblowers from the National Security Council worried that their efforts might have broken the law and that the effort to make the transfer was ongoing. The plan was to enable Saudi leaders to build nuclear power plants, a plan that would have yielded billions of dollars to the investors but would have allowed Saudi Arabia to build nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile, Zachary Cohen, Jamie Gangel, Sara Murray, and Pamela Brown of CNN report that the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol has interviewed the former secretary of transportation in the Trump administration, Elaine Chao, and is in discussions with former education secretary Betsy DeVos and former national security advisor Robert O’Brien. Former secretary of state Mike Pompeo met with the committee on Tuesday. At least nine Cabinet-level officials either have talked to the committee or are negotiating the terms of interviews. One of the topics has been the attempt to remove Trump through the 25th Amendment after the events of January 6. 

The lies about the FBI and the January 6th attack on the Capitol came together today and took a life. Ricky Walter Shiffer, who appears to have been at the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, shot into the FBI field office in Cincinnati with a nail gun this morning while brandishing an AR-15-style weapon. After the attack, he took refuge in a cornfield, where law enforcement officers killed him this afternoon.

Notes:

Kyle Cheney @kyledcheneyMORE: The motion to unseal was signed by U.S. Attorney Juan Gonzalez and Jay Bratt, chief of DOJ’s counterintelligence section. DOJ is also moving to unseal a “redacted Property Receipt listing items seized pursuant to the search.”August 11th 2022559 Retweets2,087 Likes

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/armed-man-shoots-fbi-cincinnati-building-nail-gun-flees-leading-inters-rcna42669

https://www.cnn.com/2022/08/11/politics/elaine-chao-trump-cabinet-january-6-25th-amendment/index.html

Ari Fleischer @AriFleischerOne thing I can’t wrap my arms around: If Trump had classified documents, why didn’t he give them back? Maybe he thought they were declassified. Maybe he thought it was government overreach. But if, for whatever reason, you have a classified document at home, you give it back.August 11th 20221,000 Retweets10,579 Likes

Chris Jansing @ChrisJansingThe suspect who attacked the FBI field office in Cincinnati has been killed by law enforcement, according to two officials familiar with the matter. His name is Ricky Walter Shiffer. He was at the Capitol on Jan. 6. @NBCNewsAugust 11th 20229,214 Retweets31,950 Likes

https://www.mediamatters.org/fox-news/fox-complained-feds-should-have-subpoenaed-trumps-documents-seeking-search-warrant-they

Charlie Savage @charlie_savageThe judge says he wants DOJ to give a copy of its motion to Trump’s lawyer and then to tell him by 3 p.m. tomorrow whether Trump objects to unsealing the docs. August 11th 2022399 Retweets1,317 Likes

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/08/11/garland-trump-mar-a-lago/

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/flynn-backed-plan-transfer-nuclear-tech-saudis-may-have-broken-n973021

​​

https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/5743767-House-Oversight-Whistleblowers-Saudi-Nuclear.html

Maggie Haberman @maggieNYTTrump not opposing warrant release August 12th 20221,007 Retweets3,583 Likes

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Heather Cox RichardsonAug 7

On this day in 1880, the Republican candidate for president, James A. Garfield, spoke to thousands of supporters from the balcony of the Republican headquarters in New York City. Ten years before, in 1870, Americans had added the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution, making sure that Black men could vote by guaranteeing that “the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”

As soon as the amendment was ratified, though, white southerners who were dead set against their Black neighbors participating in their government began to say that they had no problem with Black men voting on racial grounds. Their objection to Black voting, they claimed, was that poor, uneducated Black men just out of enslavement were voting for lawmakers who promised them public services, like roads and schools, that could be paid for only with taxes levied on people with the means to pay, which in the post–Civil War South usually meant white men.

Complaining that Black voters were socialists—they actually used that term in 1871—white southerners began to keep Black voters from the polls. In 1878, Democrats captured both the House and the Senate, and former Confederates took control of key congressional committees. From there, in the summer of 1879, they threatened to shut down the federal government altogether unless the president, Republican Rutherford B. Hayes, agreed to end the federal protection of Black Americans in the South. 

The congressional leader who eventually forced them to back down was James A. Garfield (R-OH). Impressed by his successful effort to save the country, in 1880, party leaders nominated him for president. 

Garfield was a brilliant and well-educated man and had served in the Civil War himself. On August 6 in New York City, he singled out the veterans in the crowd to explain how he saw the nation’s future.

“Gentlemen,” he said, “ideas outlive men; ideas outlive all earthly things. You who fought in the war for the Union fought for immortal ideas, and by their might you crowned the war with victory. But victory was worth nothing except for the truths that were under it, in it, and above it. We meet tonight as comrades to stand guard around the sacred truths for which we fought.” 

“[W]e will remember our allies who fought with us,” he told them. “Soon after the great struggle began, we looked beyond the army of white rebels, and saw 4,000,000 of [B]lack people condemned to toil as slaves for our enemies; and we found that the hearts of these 4,000,000 were God-inspired with the spirit of liberty, and that they were all our friends.” As the audience cheered, he continued: “We have seen white men betray the flag and fight to kill the Union; but in all that long, dreary war we never saw a traitor in a black skin.” To great applause, he vowed, “[W]e will stand by these [B]lack allies. We will stand by them until the sun of liberty, fixed in the firmament of our Constitution, shall shine with equal ray upon every man, [B]lack or white, throughout the Union.” As the audience cheered, he continued: “Fellow-citizens, fellow-soldiers, in this there is the beneficence of eternal justice, and by it we will stand forever.” 

Garfield won the presidency that year, but just barely. The South went solidly Democratic, and in the years to come, white northerners looked the other way as white southerners kept Black men from voting, first with terrorism and then with state election laws using grandfather clauses that cut out Black men without mentioning race by permitting a man to vote if his grandfather had voted, literacy tests in which white registrars got to decide who passed, poll taxes that were enforced arbitrarily, and so on. States also cut up districts unevenly to favor the Democrats, who ran an all-white, segregationist party. In 1880, the South became solidly Democratic, and with white men keeping Black people from the polls, it would remain so until 1964.

But then, exactly 85 years after Garfield’s speech, on August 6, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act. The need for the law was explained in its full title: “An Act to enforce the fifteenth amendment to the Constitution, and for other purposes.”

Black Americans had never accepted their exclusion from the vote, and after World War II, they and other people of color who had fought for the nation overseas brought home their determination to be treated equally. White reactionaries responded with violence, but Black Americans continued to stand up for their rights. In 1957 and 1960, under pressure from President Dwight Eisenhower, Congress passed civil rights acts designed to empower the federal government to enforce the laws protecting Black voting.

In 1961 the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO) began intensive efforts to register voters and to organize communities to support political change. Because only 6.7% of Black Mississippians were registered, Mississippi became a focal point, and in the “Freedom Summer” of 1964, volunteers set out to register voters. On June 21, Ku Klux Klan members, at least one of whom was a law enforcement officer, murdered organizers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner near Philadelphia, Mississippi, and, when discovered, laughed at the idea they would be punished for the murders.

That year, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which strengthened voting rights. On March 7, 1965, in Selma, Alabama, marchers led by John Lewis (who would go on to serve 17 terms in Congress) headed for Montgomery to demonstrate their desire to vote. Law enforcement officers stopped them on the Edmund Pettus Bridge and beat them bloody.

On March 15, President Johnson called for Congress to pass legislation defending Americans’ right to vote. “There is no constitutional issue here,” he told them. “The command of the Constitution is plain. There is no moral issue. It is wrong—deadly wrong—to deny any of your fellow Americans the right to vote in this country. There is no issue of states’ rights or national rights. There is only the struggle for human rights.” Congress passed the measure. And on this day in 1965, Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law. 

“Today is a triumph for freedom as huge as any victory that has ever been won on any battlefield,” he told the country. “I pledge [to] you that we will not delay, or we will not hesitate, or we will not turn aside until Americans of every race and color and origin in this country have the same right as all others to share in the process of democracy.” 

“[M]en cannot live with a lie and not be stained by it,” he said. “The central fact of American civilization…is that freedom and justice and the dignity of man are not just words to us. We believe in them. Under all the growth and the tumult and abundance, we believe. And so, as long as some among us are oppressed—and we are part of that oppression—it must blunt our faith and sap the strength of our high purpose.” 

Notes:

“Speech of General James A. Garfield delivered to the ‘boys in blue.’” New York, August 6, 1880, at Library of Congress: https://www.loc.gov/resource/rbpe.12900200/?sp=1.

https://millercenter.org/the-presidency/presidential-speeches/august-6-1965-remarks-signing-voting-rights-act

https://www.cnn.com/2022/08/06/us/voting-rights-by-the-numbers-2022/index.html

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July 29, 2022 Heather Cox Richardson Jul 30

Democrats continue to illustrate the difference between them and the Republicans in the lead-up to the 2022 midterms. Today, Americans continued to spit fury over the Republican senators’ destruction of the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) bill, which would provide medical benefits for veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxins during their military service, after previously passing the measure.  That destruction has added to the growing list of unpopular positions Republicans are taking as Democrats are forcing votes on them. Republicans have voted against protecting the right to abortion, the right to use birth control, the right to cross state lines to obtain reproductive health care, and gay marriage, all of which are very popular. Today, the House of Representatives passed a measure to ban assault weapons. The vote was 217 to 213, mostly along party lines: two Republicans voted yes, and five Democrats voted no.. Since the horrific massacre of 19 schoolchildren and 2 of their teachers, along with the wounding of 17 others, at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, in May, support for a ban on assault-style weapons has climbed to 67%.  Also today, oil giants ExxonMobil and Chevron reported historic profits from the last three months. Exxon made $17.9 billion (not a typo) last quarter, up 273% from the same time last year, while Chevron made $11.6 billion. Exxon’s rate of income was $2,245.62 every second of every day for the past 92 days; Chevron made $1,462.11 per second. Together, BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell, and TotalEnergies are expected to announce $60 billion in profits for the past three months. They plan to spend much of the profit not on reinvesting in their businesses, but on stock buybacks, which drives up the price of the stock.  These record profits came at the same time that American consumers were staggering under high gas prices, which made up almost half of the increase in inflation of the past few months.    The record profits of oil companies made a perfect backdrop to early discussions of the Inflation Reduction Act advanced by Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV). If passed, that measure will be a sea change in the nation’s economic policy. Its $385 billion devoted to addressing climate change will be the nation’s largest ever investment in clean energy, and it will incentivize cutting carbon emissions, delivering 40% cuts by 2030, which is close to Biden’s stated goal.  The Inflation Reduction Act will also expand healthcare subsidies, lowering healthcare premiums, and will enable Medicare to negotiate the prices of certain drugs with pharmaceutical producers. It calls for a 15% corporate minimum tax, the closure of the carried interest loophole, and increased spending on the IRS so it can enforce tax laws. It leaves Trump’s 2017 tax cuts for corporations and the wealthiest individuals because Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) insisted they stay in place. But the measure would raise about $470 billion, about $300 billion of which would go toward reducing the federal deficit over the next decade. After decades of tax cuts that have helped wealth to concentrate among the very wealthy, this measure would set out to begin the process of restoring fairness in our revenue system.   Another gulf between Republicans and Democrats is their approach to the events of January 6, 2021. Tonight Maria Sacchetti and Carol D. Leonnig of the Washington Post reported that the inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security, Joseph V. Cuffari, who was appointed by Trump, knew last December that the texts between Secret Service agents had been deleted. Not only did he neglect to tell Congress that those messages were missing, but also when his investigative team set out to recover the messages, he told them not to. Moreover, he neglected to tell Congress that the text messages from the acting homeland security secretary, Chad Wolf, and acting deputy secretary, Ken Cuccinelli, from that same period were also missing. Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, today said in a statement: “The destruction of evidence that could be relevant to the investigation of the deadly attack on our Capitol is an extremely serious matter.  Inspector General Cuffari’s failure to take immediate action upon learning that these text messages had been deleted makes clear that he should no longer be entrusted with this investigation.” Durbin says he has asked Attorney General Merrick Garland to get to the bottom of what happened to the missing messages and hold those responsible accountable. Finally, today, the Department of Justice unsealed an indictment against Aleksandr Viktorovich Ionov of Moscow, who, along with at least three other Russian officials, it says “engaged in a years-long foreign malign influence campaign targeting the United States.” Allegedly, Ionov recruited political groups in the U.S. and, with the supervision of the Russian government, illegally used their members to “sow division and spread misinformation inside the United States.” The targeted groups were located in Florida, Georgia, and California, and Ionov allegedly worked closely with them, directing and controlling their leaders, who appear to have been aware of his connection to the Russian government, since at least December 2014. FBI special agent in charge David Walker today told reporters that Ionov’s actions were “some of the most egregious and blatant violations that we’ve seen by the Russian government in order to destabilize and undermine trust in American democracy…. The Russian intelligence threat is continuing and unrelenting.” “This indictment is just the first of our responses, but it will not be the last,” Walker said, and before the day was over, the U.S. State Department had placed sanctions on two people and four entities that work with the Russian government to influence other countries and interfere in their elections. These sanctions are separate from those related to the sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.  “The Russian Federation has demonstrated determination in its attempts to undermine the democratic processes and institutions essential to the functioning of our democracy and that of other countries. It is crucial for our democracy, and democracies around the globe, to hold free and fair elections without malign outside interference,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.  The new sanctions come a day after the State Department offered a reward of up to $10 million for information on the Internet Research Agency, a troll farm linked to Yevgeniy Prigozhin, an ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin, and other Russian entities and individuals “for their engagement in U.S. election interference.” The Internet Research Agency, the State Department spokesperson said, “is a Russian entity engaged in political and electoral interference operations. Beginning as early as 2014, IRA began operations to interfere with the U.S. political system, including the 2016 U.S. presidential election, with a strategic goal to sow discord.” The reward offer “is part of [the] United States Government’s wider efforts to ensure the security and integrity of our elections and protect against foreign interference in our elections.”  “The United States will continue to act to deter and disrupt these efforts [in order] to safeguard our democracy, as well as help protect the democracies of our allies and partners,” Blinken said. — Notes: Cory Titus @corytitus For those following the SFC Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act, the comprehensive toxic exposure bill for our veterans, A LOT happened in the past few days. I want to take a minute to break down what happened and why. Here’s a deep dive thread on #PACTAct July 29th 2022 577 Retweets1,284 Likes   https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/russian-national-charged-conspiring-have-us-citizens-act-illegal-agents-russian-government https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/07/29/russia-influence-ionov-florida-uhuru/ https://www.state.gov/targeting-russias-global-malign-influence-operations-and-election-interference-activities/ https://www.state.gov/rewards-for-justice-reward-offer-for-information-on-russian-interference-in-u-s-elections/ https://www.cnn.com/2022/07/29/energy/exxonmobil-chevron-earnings/index.html https://www.cnn.com/2022/07/29/politics/us-russia-sanctions/index.html https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/07/29/statement-from-president-biden-on-house-passage-of-assault-weapons-ban/ https://www.npr.org/2022/07/29/1114417097/veterans-burn-pit-bill-republican-senators https://www.waaytv.com/news/new-polling-on-guns-shows-majority-of-americans-support-bans-on-assault-style-weapons/article_45dec676-ddff-11ec-9496-a30ac6a6d0af.html https://www.politico.com/newsletters/playbook/2022/05/26/new-poll-shows-huge-support-for-gun-restrictions-00035349 https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/29/business/oil-company-buybacks.html https://www.businessinsider.com/why-is-inflation-high-causes-gas-price-outlook-forecast-2022-7 https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2022/07/28/manchin-schumer-climate-deal/ https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/press/dem/releases/durbin-calls-for-justice-department-to-investigate-missing-text-messages-from-trumps-homeland-security-leadership-and-secret-service-in-lead-up-to-january-6-insurrection https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/07/29/homeland-inspector-general-texts/

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