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Slate

The Historians Take a First Crack at Donald J. Trump

Paul M. Renfro – 52m ago

© Provided by Slate

With the end of each presidency in the 21st century, historian Julian Zelizer has assembled a cast of colleagues to evaluate the outgoing administration. The first two installments in this series focused on George W. Bush (2010) and Barack Obama (2018) and featured essays by Nelson Lichtenstein, Mary Dudziak, Kevin Kruse, and other major names in the historical profession.

In the new volume The Presidency of Donald J. Trump: A First Historical Assessment, Zelizer and more than a dozen other historians offer their insights on the Trump administration. The project captured the former president’s attention last year, after he had begrudgingly left office. Trump requested—and secured—a Zoom meeting with Zelizer and the other authors attached to the project, during which he hoped to “tighten up some of the research” they were conducting. Fortunately, Trump’s attempt at meddling failed. Although the essays included here are fair and thoughtful, they also don’t pull any punches.

They do, however, reveal some of the challenges inherent in the project of what historians call “recent history”—the study of events and processes that have unfolded over the past several years or decades. “Recent history” differs from journalism in its emphasis on historical analysis and context. Because its practitioners want to determine how and why contemporary phenomena came to be, they home in on the linkages, and discontinuities, between the distant past, the more recent past, and the present. And, as historians Claire Potter and Renee Romano explain in a book on the topic, recent history “talks back,” as circumstances change and living subjects, like Trump, vie to control the dominant narrative. Since these scholars are analyzing ongoing developments—and doing it in the rigid format of a published book, no less—some of their assessments are already outdated or, at the very least, incomplete.

This particular “recent history” is even more difficult, given historians’ visceral (yet varied) responses to Trump’s candidacy and presidency. His emergence in 2015 and 2016 raised major philosophical, definitional, and strategic questions within the historical profession. How, and to what extent, many historians wondered, should we “resist” Trumpism? Some historians—including several featured in Zelizer’s new volume—wrote, circulated, and signed online petitions highlighting the existential threat that Trump ostensibly posed to U.S. democracy. Now-familiar names like Heather Cox RichardsonJoanne Freeman, and Kruse became influential public intellectuals during Trump’s term, sharing their historical wisdom with hundreds of thousands of online #Resisters, many of whom believed that Trump and the contemporary GOP were subverting otherwise noble American institutions and traditions. Other academics, coming from the left, criticized historians like Timothy Snyder for their attempts to characterize Trump as a fascist and to frame his popularity as an exceptional phenomenon, rather than a logical outgrowth of racism, capitalism, xenophobia, sexism, and other malign forces that have long defined the American experience.

If this crisis in the historical profession sounds familiar, it’s because it paralleled the reckoning faced by news media organizations struggling to define their role during the Trump years. And because Zelizer’s study extends the analysis provided in contemporaneous journalistic accounts, it occasionally reproduces the reductive partisan framing seen in so much American political reporting. Writing about the state of U.S. political history amid the Tea Party insurgency in 2011, historian Matt Lassiter—who, by the way, contributed a sharp critique of Obama’s drug policies to Zelizer’s 2018 volume—lamented the ways some of his fellow political historians seemed to reinforce the crude “red–blue binaries reflected in the national maps of presidential election returns.” While several of the essays in The Presidency of Donald J. Trump locate the 45th president firmly within the American conservative tradition, few consider in any serious depth the continuities between Trump, his predecessors (from both political parties), and his Democratic successor.

Indeed, despite the rancor and fear it provoked outside of MAGA Nation (and within the historical profession), Trump’s presidency and its immediate aftermath didn’t solely illuminate continuities between the past and present, the historian’s stock in trade; it also revealed tremendous overlap between American liberalism and conservatism. After all, relatively few Democrats objected when Trump called for historically large defense budgets, and in 2020, the party ultimately rallied behind a “safe” candidate—one with a deeply troubling record on foreign policy, race, the criminal legal system, and immigration. With early hopes for a “new FDR” now thoroughly dashed, President Joe Biden’s proposed 2023 budget would further increase military, immigration enforcement, and police spending. He has also fared just as poorly as Trump on COVID-19, while simultaneously perpetuating unspeakably cruel immigrationasylum, and counterterrorism policies. And yet Biden has received a much warmer reception among professional historians. This paradox suggests that scholars of the recent past should pay closer attention to the structural processes and forces—capitalism, carceralism, white supremacy, militarism—that cut across presidential administrations and blur the lines between the nation’s political parties.

That said, The Presidency of Donald J. Trump is an ambitious and compelling book, one that covers a great deal of territory. The contributors grapple with Trump’s record on climate change (Bathsheba Demuth), his posture toward Big Tech (Margaret O’Mara), his foreign policy and attempts at diplomacy (Jeffrey Engel, Daniel C. Kurtzer, James Mann), his mishandling of the pandemic (Merlin Chowkwanyun), his relationship with right-wing media outlets and with conservatism itself (Nicole Hemmer, Zelizer), his investment in white supremacy and exclusionary nationalism (Kathleen Belew, Mae Ngai, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor), his penchant for lying (Angus Burgin), his sexism and its effect on feminist activism (Leandra Zarnow), his support among Latinx voters (Geraldo Cadava), his (surprisingly successful) use of the language of “infrastructure” (Jason Scott Smith), his impeachments (Gregory P. Downs), his hostility toward the FBI and the administrative state (Beverly Gage), and his galvanizing effect on Democrats and the left (Michael Kazin). Several major themes run through many of these chapters: the role of racism and xenophobia in Trump’s rise and (later) his policymaking, the tension between “disruption” and stability in Trump’s rhetoric and approach to governing (or not governing), and the polarization caused or exacerbated by Trump and Trumpism. There’s a lot to chew on here, and the book can sometimes feel like a bit of a grab bag as a result. But that’s to be expected with edited anthologies as expansive and impressive as this one.

Unsurprisingly, COVID-19 looms over the book, just as it continues to loom over all of our lives. However, since most of the anthology was probably finalized last fall—as the delta wave ravaged the country and before omicron unleashed its wrath—the book too often betrays the very 2021 notion that the worst is behind us. At times, the authors subtly relegate to the past the mass death and misery wrought by the pandemic. The book is dedicated, for example, to “all the people whose lives were lost during the COVID-19 pandemic,” even though hundreds of people continue to die from the illness in the U.S. daily. Zelizer and contributors Chowkwanyun and Hemmer, among others, rightly condemn former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and other Republicans for praising Trump “[d]espite a devastating pandemic that left more than a half million people dead.” But now that COVID-19 has claimed more than 1 million lives in the U.S. alone, the narrow focus on Trump and his disciples feels inadequate. More people have died of COVID under Biden than under Trump.

The volume’s treatment of COVID, which was not even “recent history” at the time of the book’s writing, shows how an analytical approach that stresses partisan and ideological cleavages can obscure continuities between the nation’s major political parties. Most of the authors featured here consider Trump to be a product of the modern Republican Party and conservative movement. Zelizer, for one, calls Trump “the culmination of more than three decades in the GOP’s evolution.” In his view—which reflects the historical profession’s dominant interpretation of the trajectory of U.S. conservatism, at least until recently—the midcentury Republican Party beat back the far-right challenges posed by Barry Goldwater and “veer[ed] toward the middle,” where the votes supposedly were. Only with Reagan’s capture of the party in the 1980s, the story goes, did the shift rightward (in both political parties) begin in earnest. “Powerful Democrats facilitated this rightward drift” in American politics “by redefining their agenda within the parameters Reagan had set,” Zelizer contends. “Reagan’s political success provoked imitation,” Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor writes in her chapter. “Casting about as their electoral fortunes continued to diminish, the leadership of the Democratic Party began adapting to the prevailing antiwelfare and pro-criminal justice system and policing logics.” Michael Kazin strikes similar notes, pinning the Democrats’ move rightward on the electoral successes of Reagan and George H. W. Bush.

These characterizations miss critical transformations and tensions within liberalism before Reagan’s presidency and the supposed fall of the New Deal order. Historians such as Lily Geismer and Brent Cebul have traced the liberal and Democratic embrace of the so-called new economy (driven by the real estate, financial, and tech sectors), “market-based” solutions to social problems, and professional-class voters back to at least the 1960s and 1970s. After all, Jimmy Carter, despite his latter-day iconic status on the left (solar panels on the White House!), helped usher in the neoliberal age through deregulation and supply-side economics, and the military-industrial complex was very much a New Deal liberal project. Naomi MurakawaElizabeth Hinton, and Heather Schoenfeld have also shown that liberal reform efforts in the mid-20th century laid the physical and intellectual groundwork for racialized mass incarceration. Rather than being just a response to the so-called Reagan Revolution, Democrats’ and liberals’ rightward lurch in the late 20th century resulted from contradictions within liberalism itself and from broad structural processes in the national and global economies.

This interpretive disagreement notwithstanding, The Presidency of Donald J. Trump is essential reading for historians of the United States and anyone who hopes to understand, on a more fundamental level, the antecedents to and potential consequences of the Trump years. All of the essays here are sharp and incisive, although standouts include Angus Burgin’s chapter on the “ongoing epistemological crisis” triggered by Trump, Nicole Hemmer’s exploration of the right-wing media ecosystem in the Trump era, Kathleen Belew’s examination of white power rhetoric and organizing during the Age of Trump, and Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor’s meditation on the fall of racial “colorblindness” and the reemergence of a viable left wing in American politics. As challenging as the study of the recent past can be, these four essays—and, indeed, this entire volume—demonstrate that it is a vital project, especially in this moment of national and global uncertainty. Scholars and other commentators must continue to undertake this kind of work—hopefully concentrating more on state power, political culture, and political economy and less on the reductive red–blue, conservative–liberal paradigms that inform (and inhibit) far too much political analysis.

© Princeton UPPrinceton UP

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Opinion by Michael Hiltzik – LA Times Wednesday February 16.2022

The final tally is in, and the numbers are grim: Donald Trump’s huge trade deal with China — the deal he trumpeted as a “transformative” victory for the U.S. — turned out to be a massive bust.

The deal, it may be remembered, required China to make $200 billion in new purchases of agricultural and manufactured goods, services and crude oil and other energy.

The idea floated by Trump was that the deal would end the trade war he had started with China, while producing a massive infusion of new income for American manufacturers and growers.

Today the only undisputed ‘historical’ aspect of that agreement is its failure.

Today the only undisputed ‘historical’ aspect of that agreement is its failure.

Chad P. Bown, Peterson Institute for International Economics

None of those outcomes happened. Although the trade war stopped escalating, most of the tariffs Trump had imposed on Chinese goods remained in place, as did retaliatory tariffs China imposed.

More to the point, “China bought none of the additional $200 billion of exports Trump’s deal had promised.”

That’s the finding of a study just published by Chad P. Bown of the Peterson Institute of International Economics, who has assiduously tracked China trade since the deal was reached.

Trump called the deal a “historical” agreement — and even bragged that China would buy not $200 billion in new goods and services but $300 billion. As Bown writes, however: “Today the only undisputed ‘historical’ aspect of that agreement is its failure.”

In the end, Bown calculates, China bought only 57% of all the exported goods and services it had committed to purchase under the deal, “not even enough to reach its import levels from before the trade war.”

If you’re looking for more evidence that Trump’s vaunted negotiating skills were a sham from the start, there you have it.

It’s proper to look back at the trade atmosphere that prevailed when the deal was announced, and the skepticism that met the deal from the start.

Trump launched his trade war under the influence of Peter Navarro, an intensely anti-Chinese economist on the White House staff. He consistently proclaimed that the tariffs would cost China billions, but that notion was ridiculed by trade experts, who were virtually unanimous in concluding that they’ve been paid entirely by Americans.

A paper issued in 2019 by trade economists from the Federal Reserve and Columbia and Princeton universities reported that the trade war was costing the U.S. economy $1.4 billion per month by the end of 2018.

That was the consequence of higher prices for U.S. consumers, lower manufacturing growth and the cratering of agricultural exports, all driven by Trump policies.

American exports to China fell because of retaliatory tariffs imposed by Beijing on more than $110 billion in goods such as steel, aluminum and agricultural products.

The farm economy was profoundly harmed; for example, purchases of soybeans by China, formerly the leading export partner of U.S. soybean farmers, fell to zero in November 2018. The Trump administration announced roughly $28 billion in emergency aid to farmers affected by the trade war — another bill falling on U.S. taxpayers.

The tariffs covered Chinese-made parts needed by U.S.-based auto manufacturers, which increased the price of the vehicles exported to China. To circumvent the costs, manufacturers including Tesla and BMW moved production out of the U.S. and into China.

Even after the agreement, the average U.S. tariff on China imports remained at about 19.3%, more than six times its level of 3% before Trump launched the tariff war.

There were always doubts that China could absorb imports on the scale that the deal called for. The arrangement required China to import $52 billion in oil over two years. But the country was then importing about $8 billion a year in crude oil, liquefied natural gas and other energy products from the U.S. Experts were dubious that Chinese energy imports could more than triple, considering that the country has other import sources and was trying to develop domestic exploration. In any event, soon after the deal’s announcement, oil industry leaders told Trump’s aides they couldn’t provide products at the level the deal required.

An unanticipated factor contributed to the deal’s failure, Bown writes: the pandemic, which struck both countries about the time it was announced, shutting down both economies and cross-border trade. The pandemic shuttered the tourist trade, a major component of China’s pledge to step up service purchases. Business travel fell by 90%.

“The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic undermined any chance of success,” Bown acknowledges. But it was not the only factor. Others included the relocation of U.S. auto manufacturing to China and elsewhere to avoid the tariffs. The collapse of U.S. aircraft sales in the wake of the 2018 and 2019 crashes of Boeing’s 737 MAX airliner also contributed.

But China was never on track to meet its commitment — a fact that both countries probably knew at the time of the deal.

In the end, however, it turned out worse than even some of its doubters expected. Trump’s trade war was disastrous for the U.S. almost any way one calculates.

Bown reckons that the trade war caused export losses of $119 billion from 2018 through 2021. That’s not counting the higher prices American consumers had to pay for imported goods, parts and raw materials, along with the farm subsidies.

In the final analysis, Bown writes, Trump did succeed in setting the U.S.-China trade relationship “on a new path.” But not the right path. “Nearly four years later,” he concludes, “different terms for the trade relationship are still needed.”

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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February 14, 2022
Heather Cox Richardson
Feb 15
It appears there was a reason for the former president’s unhinged rant of yesterday suggesting that members of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign had spied on him and that “in a stronger period of time in our country, this crime would have been punishable by death.” Trump is likely unhappy because of a letter his accountants, the firm Mazars, sent to the Trump Organization’s chief legal officer on February 9. That letter came to light today when New York Attorney General Letitia James, who is investigating the finances of the Trump Organization, filed new court documents to explain why she wanted to question Trump and his adult children under oath. The Mazars letter told the Trump organization that Trump’s financial statements from years ending June 2011 through June 2020 could not be relied upon to be accurate, and that it should tell anyone relying on those documents—banks, for example—that they were not reliable. It went on to say there was now a “non-waivable conflict of interest” with the Trump Organization that meant that Mazars was “not able to provide new work product” for the organization. Lawyer George Conway interpreted the letter for non-lawyers. He tweeted:“‘decision regarding the financial…statements’=they are false because you lied‘totality of the circumstances’=the D.A. is serious ‘non-waivable conflict of interest’=we are now on team D.A.‘not able to provide new work product’=sorry we’re not going to jail for you”That is, it appears that Mazars is now working with James’s office. Last month, James’s office alleged that there is “significant” evidence that the Trump Organization manipulated asset valuations to obtain loans and avoid taxes. Now Trump’s accountants appear to be working with her office and have said that Trump’s past ten years of financial statements “should not be relied upon.”This will probably be a problem for the banks that have loaned money to Trump. Their officers have likely relied on the accuracy of the information Trump provided, and according to lawyer Tristan Snell, the lenders could now call in loans early or otherwise change the terms of their agreements.The Trump Organization jumped on the statements in the Mazars letter that “we have not concluded that the various financial statements, as a whole, contain material discrepancies,” and that “Mazars performed its work in accordance with professional standards” to claim that it is exonerated from any wrongdoing. “This confirmation,” it wrote, “effectively renders the investigations by the DA and AG moot.” NBC legal analyst Glenn Kirschner tweeted: “Trump Org[anization] tries to spin it as a complete exoneration (& G[eorge] Orwell blushes).” Orwell was famous for identifying “doublespeak,” language that reverses the meaning of words.But while the fear of what it means for him that his accountant has dropped him might have inspired Trump’s rants about executing Hillary, the same does not hold for Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH), who on Sunday’s Fox & Friends broadcast agreed with Trump that Clinton’s aides had spied on him, and implied the punishment for such alleged espionage should be death. The normalization of violence as part of the mainstream Republican Party is cause for concern.—

Notes:https://www.thedailybeast.com/jim-jordan-says-trump-is-right-on-target-to-suggest-executions-for-clinton-campaign-aidesGeorge Conway @gtconway3d”decision regarding the financial financial statements”=they are false because you lied “totality of the circumstances”=the D.A. is serious “non-waivable conflict of interest”=we are now on team D.A. “not able to provide new work product”=sorry we’re not going to jail for you https://t.co/jbK2WUjncy Maggie Haberman @maggieNYTAG James’ office has submitted a court filing Re Trump case that includes a letter from his company’s accounting firm saying nearly a decade worth of financial statements can no longer be relied upon. https://t.co/sDUcDF1BEdFebruary 14th 20221,509 Retweets6,248 Likeshttps://www.cnn.com/2022/02/14/politics/trump-mazars/index.htmlTristan Snell @TristanSnellBigger problem for Trump: The loan agreements relying on the fraudulent financial reports likely have “representations and warranties” — including one in which Trump was vouching for the accuracy of all info he provided. So Trump may now be in breach of the lending agreements.February 14th 20223,376 Retweets17,944
LikesGlenn Kirschner @glennkirschner2So w/Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars, walking away from Trump Org. & declaring that 10 years of their accounting work cannot be viewed as reliable (obviously because Trump & Co. fed Mazars false info), Trump Org. tries to spin it as a complete exoneration (& G. Orwell blushes). February 15th 2022791 Retweets2,680 Likeshttps://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/feb/14/us-congressman-jim-jordan-echoes-trump-clinton-aides-executed
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Drew Sheneman Comic Strip for February 09, 2022
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Heather Cox RichardsonFeb 6

Just for fun, because today feels like a good day to talk about Grover Cleveland….

The economy has boomed under President Joe Biden, putting the lie to the old trope that Democrats don’t manage the economy as well as Republicans.

This should not come as a surprise to anyone. The economy has performed better under Democrats than Republicans since at least World War II. CNN Business reports that since 1945, the Standard & Poor’s 500—a market index of 500 leading U.S. publicly traded companies—has averaged an annual gain of 11.2% during years when Democrats controlled the White House, and a 6.9% average gain under Republicans. In the same time period, gross domestic product grew by an average of 4.1% under Democrats, 2.5% under Republicans. Job growth, too, is significantly stronger under Democrats than Republicans.

“[T]here has been a stark pattern in the United States for nearly a century,” wrote David Leonhardt of the New York Times last year, “The economy has grown significantly faster under Democratic presidents than Republican ones.”

The persistence of the myth that Democrats are bad for the economy is an interesting example of the endurance of political rhetoric over reality.

It began in the postwar years: the post–Civil War years, that is. Before the Civil War, moneyed men tended to support the Democrats, for the big money in the country was in the cotton enterprises of the leading enslavers in the American South, and they expressed their political power through the Democratic Party, which promised to protect and nurture the institution of human enslavement. Indeed, when soldiers of the Confederacy fired on Fort Sumter in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina, in April 1861, it was not clear at all whether bankers in New York City would back the United States or the southern rebels. After all, the South was the wealthiest region of the country, and the North had just undergone the devastating Panic of 1857. Southern leaders laughed that without the South, northerners would starve.

The economic policies of the war years, including our first national money, national taxation, state universities, and deficit spending, created a newly booming industrial North, but many moneyed men resented the Republican policies they felt offered too much to poor Americans (the Homestead Act was a special thorn in their sides because it meant that western lands taken from Indigenous Americans would no longer be sold to bring money into the Treasury but would be given away to poor farmers). When the government established national banks, establishing regulations over the lucrative banking industry, state bankers were unhappy.

Whether moneyed men would stay loyal to Lincoln in 1864 was an open question. In the end, they did, but their loyalty after the war was up for grabs.

Democrats’ postwar financial policies drove moneyed men to give their allegiance to the Republican Party. Eager to make inroads on the Republicans’ popularity, northern Democrats pointed out that the economic gains of the war years had gone to those at the top of the economy, and they called for financial policies that would level the playing field. Notably, they wanted to pay the interest on the war debt with greenbacks rather than gold, which would make the bonds significantly less valuable. The alteration would also establish that political parties could take office and change government financial engagements after they were already in force.

Republicans recognized that if a change of this sort were legitimate, the government’s ability to borrow in the future—say, to put down another rebellion—would be hamstrung. They were so worried that in 1868, they protected the debt in the Fourteenth Amendment itself, saying: “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.”

When it looked as if a coalition including the Democrats might win the presidency in 1872, leaders from Wall Street publicly threw their weight behind the Republicans, and in exchange, the Republicans backed away from supporting the workers who had made up their initial voting base.

Southern white supremacists had begun to charge that permitting poor men to vote would lead to a redistribution of wealth as they voted for roads and schools and hospitals that could only be paid for by tax levies on those with property. Such a system was, they charged, “socialism.”

While southern whites directed their animosity toward their formerly enslaved Black neighbors, northerners of means adopted their ideas and language but targeted immigrants and organized workers. If those people came to control government and thus the economy, wealthier Americans argued, they would bring socialism to America, and the nation would never recover.

Increasingly, power shifted to wealthy industrialists who, after 1872, were represented by the Republican Party. They demanded high tariffs that protected their industries by keeping out foreign competition and thus permitted them to collude to raise prices on consumers. By the 1880s, Republican senators were openly serving big business; even the staunchly Republican Chicago Tribune lamented in 1884 that “[b]ehind every one of half of the portly and well-dressed members of the Senate can be seen the outlines of some corporation interested in getting or preventing legislation.”

As money moved to the top of the economy, Democrats pushed back, calling for government to restore a level playing field between workers and their employers. As they did so, Republicans howled that Democrats advocated socialism.

Finally, after the spectacularly corrupt administration of Republican Benjamin Harrison, which businessmen had called “beyond question the best business administration the country has ever seen,” the unthinkable happened. In the election of 1892, for the first time since the Civil War, Democrats took control of the White House and Congress. They promised to rein in the power of big business by lowering the tariffs and loosening the money supply. This, Republicans insisted, meant financial ruin.

Republicans warned that capital would flee the markets and urged foreign investors—on whom the economy depended—to take their money home. They predicted a financial crash as the Democrats embraced socialism, anarchism, and labor organization. Money flowed out of the country as the outgoing Harrison administration poured gasoline on the fires of media fears and refused to act to try to turn the tide. Harrison’s secretary of the Treasury, Charles Foster, said his job was only to “avert a catastrophe” until March 4, when Democratic president Grover Cleveland would take office.

He didn’t quite manage it. The bottom fell out of the economy on February 17, when the Reading Railroad Company could not make its payroll, sparking a nationwide panic. The stock market collapsed. And yet the Harrison administration refused to do anything until the day Cleveland took office, when Foster helpfully announced the Treasury “was down to bedrock.”

To Cleveland fell the Panic of 1893, with its strikes, marchers, and despair, all of which opponents insisted was the Democrats’ fault. In the midterm election of 1894, Republicans showed the statistics of Cleveland’s first two years and told voters that Democrats destroyed the economy. Voters could restore the health of the nation’s economy by electing Republicans again. In 1894, voters returned Republicans to control of the government in the biggest midterm landslide in American history, and the image of Democrats as bad for the economy was cemented.

From then on, Republicans portrayed Democrats as weak on the economy. When the next Democratic president to take office, Woodrow Wilson, undermined the tariff as soon as he took office, replacing it with an income tax, opponents insisted the Revenue Act of 1913 was inaugurating the country’s socialistic downfall. When Democratic president Franklin Delano Roosevelt pioneered the New Deal, Republicans saw socialism. Over the past century, that rhetoric has only grown stronger.

And yet, of course, it has been Republican economic policies that opened up the possibility for Democrats to try new approaches to the economy, to make it serve all Americans, rather than a favored few. As FDR put it: “It is common sense to take a method and try it: If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something. The millions who are in want will not stand by silently forever while the things to satisfy their needs are within easy reach.”

In the end, that’s what the economists Leonhardt interviewed last year think is behind Democrats’ ability to manage the economy better than Republicans. Republicans tend to cling to abstract theories about how the economy works—theories about high tariffs or tax cuts, for example, which tend to concentrate wealth upward—while Democrats are more pragmatic, willing to pay attention to facts on the ground and to historical lessons about what works and what doesn’t.

Notes:

https://www.cnn.com/interactive/2019/business/stock-market-by-president/index.html

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Heather Cox RichardsonDec 12

The picture of what was happening at the White House in the days before the January 6 insurrection is becoming clearer. (While we also have a decent idea of what was happening at the Department of Justice, what was happening at the Pentagon remains unclear.)

Shortly after Trump’s White House chief of staff Mark Meadows announced on Tuesday that he would no longer cooperate with the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, committee chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) wrote a letter noting that Meadows had already shared material—thus indicating he did not consider it privileged—that he is now saying he won’t discuss. Thompson identified some of that material. 

He said Meadows had provided the committee with an “email regarding a 38-page PowerPoint briefing titled ‘Election Fraud, Foreign Interference & Options for 6 JAN’ that was to be provided ‘on the hill’; and, among others, a January 5, 2021 email about having the National Guard on standby.”

Journalists immediately began looking for that PowerPoint. Slides began to surface, and then a whole slide deck appeared on the internet. The Guardian’s Hugo Lowell verified it on Friday. The fact that members of the president’s inner circle actually prepared a presentation for an audience about how to overturn an election crystallized just how close the nation came to a successful coup on January 6. 

The PowerPoint presented three ways for then–Vice President Mike Pence to overturn Biden’s election and hand the presidency back to Trump. Pence could simply seat the slates of electors Trump supporters had organized to replace the official slates certified by the states. Pence could insist on rejecting all electronic ballots. Or Pence could delay the counting of the ballots long enough to throw the election into the House of Representatives, where each state gets one vote. Since there were more Republican-dominated states than Democratic-dominated states, Trump would be reelected.

Then, also on Friday, news dropped that Trump campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis had produced two memos—one previously unknown—outlining far-fetched legal arguments to justify Pence throwing the election to Trump. One, dated December 31, said he could simply refuse to open the envelopes containing the electoral votes of states whose results Trump contested. 

A second, dated January 5, made a more complicated argument claiming for Pence more authority to determine the outcome of the election than the vice president has exercised since the 1887 Electoral Count Act.

Today, Robert Costa, the Washington Post reporter who wrote the book Peril with veteran journalist Bob Woodward about the fraught weeks surrounding the January 6 insurrection, laid out the timeline for early January in the White House. 

In December, right-wing lawyer John Eastman began drafting the Eastman Memo calling for Pence to refuse to count electors from states Biden won and laying out a number of ways Pence could throw the election to Trump. (Trump’s own loyal attorney general, William Barr, and his deputy Jeffrey Rosen, who replaced Barr when he resigned on December 23, 2020, had already concluded the election was not fraudulent.) The plan, as Costa and Woodward put it in Peril, was: “Either have Pence declare Trump the winner, or make sure it is thrown to the House where Trump is guaranteed to win.” 

The White House had the memo by January 1. Meadows was working with the Trump team to push the ideas in it. Someone in the White House gave it to Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) and others on January 2. Meadows met with both Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani in Meadows’s office on January 2 to brief Graham, who was then the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, on what they claimed was voter fraud. Graham demanded proof.

On January 3, Pence conferred with the Senate parliamentarian, who told him he was simply there to count the votes. It was clear he was not on board with Trump’s plan.

On January 4, Trump called Pence to the Oval Office to pressure him. Eastman presented his case to Pence; Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short; and Pence’s legal counsel, Greg Jacob. On that day, someone presented the PowerPoint to a number of Republican senators and members of the House. 

Apparently, none of the people briefed called the attention of the FBI to the coming attempt to overturn the election.

On the evening of January 5, Trump called Pence to a meeting as his supporters were gathering on Freedom Plaza near the White House. The people in the streets were cheering and waving “Make America Great Again” flags. Trump asked Pence to throw the election to the House of Representatives; Pence again said he did not have authority to do anything other than count the certified electoral votes. 

And then, according to Costa and Woodward in Peril, Trump asked: “Well, what if these people say you do?” gesturing to the crowds outside. “If these people say you had the power, wouldn’t you want to?”

Pence, who would have been the face of the insurrection if he had done as he was asked, still said no.

That night, Trump called his people in the so-called “war room” at the Willard Hotel, where loyalists had been trying to figure out a way to delay certification if Pence didn’t cave. He called the lawyers and the non-lawyers separately, since Giuliani wanted to preserve attorney-client privilege. “He’s arrogant,” Trump told his lieutenant Stephen Bannon. 

They appear to have settled on a plan to get Republican lawmakers to raise enough objections that it would delay the counting long enough to throw the election into the House of Representatives. (This squares with the voicemail Giuliani left for newly elected Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) in the midst of the insurrection, saying: “The only strategy we can follow is to object to numerous states and raise issues so that we get ourselves into tomorrow—ideally until the end of tomorrow.”)

Since his memo became public, John Eastman has said it “was not being provided to Trump or Pence as my advice…. The memo was designed to outline every single possible scenario that had been floated, so that we could talk about it.” When subpoenaed by the January 6 committee, Eastman declined to appear, asserting his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.  

Since journalist Lowell broke the story of Trump’s calls to the Willard the night of January 5, Trump’s spokesperson has said that the account “is totally false” but provided no more information.

Since the story of the PowerPoint dropped, retired U.S. Army colonel Phil Waldron, who was working with the Trump team to challenge the election results, claimed authorship of it. Waldron told the Washington Post that he met with Meadows “maybe eight to 10 times” and was the one who briefed several members of Congress about the information in his presentation on January 5.

Since Politico dropped the story about her memos, Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis said: “At no time did I advocate for overturning the election or that Mike Pence had the authority to do so…. As part of my role as a campaign lawyer and counsel for President Trump, I explored legal options that might be available within the context of the U.S. Constitution and statutory law.”

Yesterday, the January 6 committee subpoenaed six more people who had been involved in planning the rallies in Washington on January 5 and January 6. Some of them communicated with Trump directly; one communicated with Representative Mo Brooks (R-AL). Subpoenas went to Bryan Lewis, Ed Martin, Kimberly Fletcher, Robert “Bobby” Peede Jr., Max Miller, and Brian Jack. 

On Monday, December 6, we learned that Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, has been cooperating with the January 6 committee.

Notes: January 6th Committee @January6thCmteBREAKING: The Committee subpoenas individuals involved in the planning of January 5th and 6th rallies, including individuals who worked directly with the former President: • Bryan Lewis • Ed Martin • Kimberly Fletcher • Robert “Bobby” Peede, Jr. • Max Miller • Brian Jack December 10th 20212,351 Retweets8,385 LikesHugo Lowell @hugolowellBreaking: Jan. 6 committee subpoenas Trump aides Max Miller, who took part in a private meeting about organizing the Ellipse rally with Trump himself, and Brian Jack, who communicated with GOP Rep. Mo Brooks December 10th 20212,643 Retweets10,534 Likes

https://january6th.house.gov/news/press-releases/select-committee-subpoenas-individuals-involved-planning-january-5th-and-januaryRobert Costa @costareports(thread) Based on our reporting, Eastman begins drafting his memo in late Dec. and Trump WH has it by the new year. WH then gives it to Sen. Lee and others on Jan. 2, as we document in “Peril.” But by Jan. 3, after Pence meets w/ Sen. Parliam., it’s clear he’s not coming along.December 11th 20214,820 Retweets11,323 Likes

Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, Peril (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2021), p. 212, 229.January 6th Committee @January6thCmteThe witnesses we subpoenaed apparently worked to stage the rallies on January 5th and 6th, and some had direct communication with the former President regarding the rally at the Ellipse directly preceding the attack on the U.S. Capitol. December 11th 20211,633 Retweets4,501 Likes

https://www.politico.com/news/2021/12/10/trump-lawyer-pence-biden-524088

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/nov/30/donald-trump-called-top-aides-capitol-riot-biden

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/dec/10/trump-powerpoint-mark-meadows-capitol-attack

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/11/01/what-did-john-eastman-really-want-have-happen/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2021/12/03/clark-eastman-fifth-amendment/

https://www.politico.com/news/2021/12/03/eastman-takes-the-fifth-with-jan-6-committee-523712

https://www.cnn.com/2021/12/03/politics/john-eastman-defying-subpoena/index.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/phil-waldron-mark-meadows-powerpoint/2021/12/11/4ea67938-59df-11ec-9a18-a506cf3aa31d_story.html

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November 14, 2021

Heather Cox Richardson

 November 14, 2021

Comment: The GOP (in all of its iterations) which has done nothing for the people since the 1800’s. It has continuingly lied about everything to keep power and enable its big money donors. The GOP did not want social security to become law (where would a lot of us be without it?) Right now, they are backing the insurrectionists and Trumpian lies to gain and maintain power. With the upcoming midterm elections, they are obstructing any initiatives that will gain votes and make the current administration look bad. We should all remember that what they do affects all of for better (if you make 500 thousand annually or more) or worse if you earn $150 thousand and less annually. MA

Last night, Trump’s disgraced former national security advisor Michael Flynn spoke at the “Reawaken America” conference in San Antonio, Texas, designed to whip up supporters to believe the 2020 election was stolen and that coronavirus vaccines are an infringement on their liberty. Flynn told the audience: “If we are going to have one nation under God, which we must, we have to have one religion. One nation under God, and one religion under God.”This statement flies in the face of our Constitution, whose First Amendment reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof….” James Madison of Virginia, the key thinker behind the Constitution, had quite a lot to say about why it was fundamentally important to make sure the government kept away from religion.

In 1772, when he was 21, Madison watched as Virginia arrested itinerant preachers for attacking the established church in the state. He was no foe of religion, but by the next year, he had begun to question whether established religion, which was common in the colonies, was good for society. By 1776, many of his broad-thinking neighbors had come to believe that society should “tolerate” different religious practices; he had moved past tolerance to the belief that men had a right of conscience.

In that year, he was instrumental in putting Section 16 into the Virginia Declaration of Rights on which our own Bill of Rights—the first ten amendments to the Constitution—would be based. It reads, “That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity toward each other.”

In 1785, in a “Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments,” he explained that what was at stake was not just religion, but also representative government itself. The establishment of one religion over others attacked a fundamental human right—an unalienable right—of conscience. If lawmakers could destroy the right of freedom of conscience, they could destroy all other unalienable rights. Those in charge of government could throw representative government out the window and make themselves tyrants.

Madison believed that a variety of religious sects would balance each other out, keeping the new nation free of the religious violence of Europe. He drew on that vision explicitly when he envisioned a new political system, expecting that a variety of political expressions would protect the new government. In Federalist #51, he said: “In a free government the security for civil rights must be the same as that for religious rights. It consists in the one case in the multiplicity of interests, and in the other in the multiplicity of sects.”

Right on cue, Flynn’s call for one religion runs parallel to modern Republican lawmakers’ determination to make their party supreme.

The 13 Republicans in the House who were willing to vote yes and give Democratic president Joe Biden a win with the popular bipartisan infrastructure bill are now facing increasing harassment, including death threats from Trump supporters. Although he talked about passing his own infrastructure bill, former president Trump opposed the measure on Biden’s watch, and Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene called those voting for it “traitor Republicans.”

Meanwhile, Republicans remain silent about the video released by Representative Paul Gosar (R-AZ), showing a cartoon version of himself killing a Democratic congresswoman. Sixty Democratic representatives are sponsoring a bill to censure Gosar; not even the Republican Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), has condemned the video.

It turns out the plot to overturn the election of a Democratic president was wider than we knew. New information from a forthcoming book by ABC News chief Washington correspondent Jonathan Karl reveals that Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows was deeply involved. On New Year’s Eve, Meadows emailed to then–vice president Mike Pence’s top aide a memo outlining how Pence could steal the election for Trump.

On Friday, Meadows refused to testify before the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, ignoring a subpoena. His lawyer, George Terwilliger III, said that Trump had told him not to testify on the grounds of executive privilege, but as far as I can tell, Trump has not actually made that claim over Meadows’s testimony.

That did not stop Meadows’s lawyer from taking to the pages of the Washington Post to try to defend his client. His op-ed was quite misleading both about precedent and about the limits of executive privilege: as the committee chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and vice-chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) said, “there’s nothing extraordinary about the Select Committee seeking the cooperation of a former senior administration official. Throughout U.S. history, the White House has provided Congress with testimony and information when it has been in the public interest. There couldn’t be a more compelling public interest than getting answers about an attack on our democracy.”

But Terwilliger insisted the committee was out of bounds in demanding that Meadows testify. He indicated that the only reasonable compromise between the committee and Meadows was for the former chief of staff to answer written questions.

Terwilliger seems concerned that Meadows will get caught in lies if he testifies. The select committee says that “Meadows has failed to answer even the most basic questions, including whether he was using a private cell phone to communicate on January 6th, and where his text messages from that day are.” That sure makes it sound like they have information on his actions that day, leaving him open to getting caught if he tries to lie. Written answers are much safer.

Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA), chair of the House Intelligence Committee and member of the select committee, said today the committee would move forward quickly to refer Meadows to the Department of Justice for criminal contempt of Congress.

As Madison foresaw, the Republicans’ attempt to cement their power endangers the country. On Friday, the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis released transcripts of interviews with officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledging that Trump administration officials stopped them from talking to the public and altered their scientific guidance about the coronavirus, accusing them of trying “to harm our commander in chief, the President.” More than 750,000 Americans have now died from COVID.

Their power play hurts us abroad, as well. Tensions surrounding Russia remain high. Yesterday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken talked to Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau to reaffirm U.S. support for Poland—a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization—as Belarus’s leader Alexander Lukashenko tries to destabilize Europe by forcing migrants over the Polish border. The State Department noted that the turmoil on the Polish border “seeks to threaten security, sow division, and distract from Russia’s activities on the border with Ukraine,” where Russian president Vladimir Putin has recently pushed a large military buildup.

But, as Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) pointed out this morning, “Senate Republicans are blocking the confirmation of our NATO and EU Ambassadors so as to deliberately hamper global security…because they believe global instability will hurt Biden, and hurting Biden is all that matters.”

Notes:

[I corrected the spelling of “practice” in Madison’s quotation.]

https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/memo-trump-attorney-outlined-pence-overturn-election-book/story?id=81134003

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/sep/03/trump-loyalists-doctors-ministers-reawaken-america-tour

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/11/12/trump-white-house-chief-of-staff-mark-meadows-ducks-jan-6-riot-panel-.html

https://january6th.house.gov/news/press-releases/thompson-cheney-statement-mark-meadows-0

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/11/13/abandoning-executive-privilege-biden-rejects-200-years-history/

https://www.cnn.com/2021/11/12/politics/house-committee-cdc-covid-trump-administration-response/index.html

https://www.businessinsider.com/bipartisan-infrastructure-bill-death-threat-andrew-garbarino-arrest-gop-pressure-2021-11

Twitter avatar for @ianbassin

Ian Bassin

@ianbassin

New documents show Trump Admin silenced CDC at start of pandemic, tried to alter expert scientific reports, and then tried to delete evidence they were doing so. We were the most prepared nation in the world but now more than 750,000 Americans have died.

House committee releases new evidence from investigation into Trump administration interference with CDC during Covid-19 pandemic

Dr. Jonathan Reiner reacts to President Donald Trump telling the Wall Street Journal that he “probably won’t” get a Covid-19 vaccine booster.

cnn.com

November 13th 2021

18,529 Retweets37,358 Likes

Twitter avatar for @hugolowell

Hugo Lowell

@hugolowell

New: Lawyer for Trump WH chief of staff Mark Meadows says in WaPo Op-Ed that one solution to standoff with Jan. 6 committee is written questions — appearing to suggest Meadows is afraid of perjuring himself

November 14th 2021

2,879 Retweets11,964 Likes

https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Madison/01-01-02-0027

https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/virginia-declaration-of-rights

https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Madison/01-08-02-0163#JSMN-01-08-02-0163-fn-0014-ptr

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Robert Reich, a former US secretary of labor, is professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley and the author of Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few and The Common Good. His new book, The System: Who Rigged It, How We Fix It, is out now. He is a Guardian US columnist. His newsletter is at robertreich.substack.com

OpinionEconomic policy

Corporate giants are raising prices even as they rake in record profits. How can this be? Because of their unchecked power

Thu 11 Nov 2021 09.14 EST

On Wednesday, the US labor department announced that the consumer price index – a basket of products ranging from gasoline and health care to groceries and rents – rose 6.2% from a year ago. That’s the nation’s highest annual inflation rate since November 1990.

Republicans are hammering Biden and Democratic lawmakers over inflation – and attacking his economic stimulus plans as wrongheaded. “This will be a winter of high gas prices, shortages and inflation because far left lunatics control our government,” Marco Rubio, the Republican senator from Florida posted on Twitter Thursday.

A major reason for price rises is supply bottlenecks, as Jerome Powell, chair of the Federal Reserve, has pointed out. He believes they’re temporary, and he’s probably right.

But there’s a deeper structural reason for inflation, one that appears to be growing worse: the economic concentration of the American economy in the hands of a relative few corporate giants with the power to raise prices.

If markets were competitive, companies would keep their prices down in order to prevent competitors from grabbing away customers.

But they’re raising prices even as they rake in record profits. How can this be? They have so much market power they can raise prices with impunity.

Viewed this way, the underlying problem isn’t inflation per se. It’s lack of competition. Corporations are using the excuse of inflation to raise prices and make fatter profits.

In April, Procter & Gamble announced it would start charging more for consumer staples ranging from diapers to toilet paper, citing “rising costs for raw materials, such as resin and pulp, and higher expenses to transport goods”.

But P&G is making huge profits. In the quarter ending 30 September, after some of its price increases went into effect, it reported a whopping 24.7% profit margin. It even spent $3bn during the quarter buying its own stock.

It could raise prices and rake in more money because P&G faces almost no competition. The lion’s share of the market for diapers, to take one example, is controlled by just two companies – P&G and Kimberly-Clark – which roughly coordinate their prices and production. It was hardly a coincidence that Kimberly-Clark announced price increases similar to P&Gs at the same time P&G announced its own price increases.

Or consider another consumer product duopoly – PepsiCo (the parent company of Frito-Lay, Gatorade, Quaker, Tropicana, and other brands), and Coca-Cola. In April, PepsiCo announced it was increasing prices, blaming “higher costs for some ingredients, freight and labor”. Rubbish. The company didn’t have to raise prices. It recorded $3bn in operating profits through September.

If PepsiCo faced tough competition, it could never have gotten away with this. But it doesn’t. To the contrary, it appears to have colluded with Coca-Cola – which, oddly, announced price increases at about the same time as PepsiCo, and has increased its profit margins to 28.9%.

You can see a similar pattern in energy prices. If energy markets were competitive, producers would have quickly ramped up production to create more supply, once it became clear that demand was growing. But they didn’t.

Why not? Industry experts say oil and gas companies saw bigger money in letting prices run higher before producing more supply. They can get away with this because big oil and gas producers don’t operate in a competitive market. They can manipulate supply by coordinating among themselves.

Since the 1980s, two-thirds of all American industries have become more concentrated

In sum, inflation isn’t driving most of these price increases. Corporate power is driving them.

Since the 1980s, when the US government all but abandoned antitrust enforcement, two-thirds of all American industries have become more concentrated.

Monsanto now sets the prices for most of the nation’s seed corn.

The government green-lighted Wall Street’s consolidation into five giant banks, of which JP Morgan is the largest.

Airlines have merged from 12 in 1980 to four today, which now control 80% of domestic seating capacity.

Boeing and McDonnell Douglas have merged, leaving the US with just one large producer of civilian aircraft: Boeing.

Three giant cable companies dominate broadband: Comcast, AT&T and Verizon.

A handful of drug companies control the pharmaceutical industry: Pfizer, Eli Lilly, Johnson & Johnson, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Merck.

All this spells corporate power to raise prices.

So what’s the appropriate response to the latest round of inflation?

The Federal Reserve has signaled it won’t raise interest rates for the time being, believing that the inflation is being driven by temporary supply bottlenecks.

Meanwhile, Biden administration officials have been consulting with the oil industry in an effort to stem rising gas prices, trying to make it simpler to issue commercial driver’s licenses (to help reduce the shortage of truck drivers), and seeking to unclog overcrowded container ports.

But none of this responds to the deeper structural issue – of which price inflation is a symptom: the increasing consolidation of the economy in a relative handful of big corporations with enough power to raise prices and increase profits.

This structural problem is amenable to only one thing: the aggressive use of antitrust law.

These are the Companies that received the benefit of the 2017 tax breaks that never reached the average taxpayers as promised by TOTUS MA

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November 8, 2021Heather Cox Richardson Nov 9

The big news of the day is the Biden administration’s ongoing efforts to combat international terrorism and lawlessness through cybersecurity and international cooperation. Today the Department of Justice, the State Department, and the Treasury Department together announced indictments against two foreign actors for cyberattacks on U.S. companies last August. They announced sanctions against the men, one of whom has been arrested in Poland; they seized $6.1 million in assets from the other. The State Department has offered a $10 million reward for information about other cybercriminals associated with the attack. Treasury noted that ransomware attacks cost the U.S. almost $600 million in the first six months of 2021, and disrupt business and public safety.  The U.S. has also sent Special Envoy Jeffrey Feltman to Ethiopia and neighboring Kenya to urge an end to the deadly civil war in Ethiopia, where rebel forces are close to toppling the government. A horrific humanitarian crisis is in the making there. The U.S. is interested in stopping the fighting not only because of that, but also because the Ethiopian government has lately tended to stabilize the fragile Somali government. Without that stabilization, Somalia could become a haven for terrorists, and terrorists could extort the global shipping industry.  Meanwhile, it appears that Biden’s big win on Friday, marshaling a bipartisan infrastructure bill through Congress, has made Republicans almost frantic to win back the national narrative. The National Republican Congressional Committee has released an early ad for the 2022 midterm elections titled “Chaos,” which features images of the protests from Trump’s term and falsely suggests they are scenes from Biden’s America. As Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and other Republican leaders today attacked the popular Sesame Street character Big Bird today for backing vaccinations—Big Bird has publicly supported vaccines since 1972—they revealed how fully they have become the party of Trump.Excerpts from a new book by ABC News chief Washington correspondent Jonathan Karl say that Trump was so mad that the party did not fight harder to keep him in office that on January 20, just after he boarded Air Force One to leave Washington, he took a phone call from Ronna McDaniel, the chair of the Republican National Committee, and told her that he was quitting the Republicans to start his own political party.McDaniel told him that if he did that, the Republicans “would lose forever.” Trump responded: “Exactly.” A witness said he wanted to punish the officials for their refusal to fight harder to overturn the election.Four days later, Trump relented after the RNC made it clear it would stop paying his legal bills and would stop letting him rent out the email list of his 40 million supporters, a list officials believed was worth about $100 million.Instead of leaving the party, he is rebuilding it in his own image. In Florida, Trump loyalist Roger Stone is threatening to run against Governor Ron DeSantis in 2022 to siphon votes from his reelection bid unless DeSantis promises he won’t challenge Trump for the Republican nomination in 202Washington Post by Michael Kranish today explored how, over the course of his career, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has singlemindedly pursued power, switching his stated principles to their opposites whenever it helped his climb to the top of the Senate. Eventually, in the hope of keeping power, he embraced Trump, even acquitting him for his role in inciting the January 6 insurrection. The former president is endorsing primary candidates to oust Republicans he thinks were insufficiently loyal. In Georgia, he has backed Herschel Walker, whose ex-wife got a protective order against him after he allegedly threatened to shoot her. In Pennsylvania, Trump has endorsed Sean Parnell, whose wife testified that he choked her and abused their children physically and emotionally. Although such picks could hurt the Republicans in a general election with the women they desperately need to attract (hence the focus on schools), the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Rick Scott (R-FL), did not feel comfortable today bucking Trump to comment on whether Parnell was the right candidate to back. Scott said he would focus on whoever won the primary. The cost of the party’s link to Trumpism is not just potential 2022 voters. In the New York Times today, David Leonhardt outlined how deaths from the novel coronavirus did not reflect politics until after the Republicans made the vaccines political. A death gap between Democrats and Republicans emerged quickly as Republicans shunned the vaccine.Now, only about 10% of Democrats eligible for the vaccine have refused it, while almost 40% of Republicans have. In October, while about 7.8 people per 100,000 died in counties that voted strongly for Biden, 25 out of every 100,000 died in counties that went the other way. Leonhardt held out hope that both numbers would drop as more people develop immunities and as new antiviral drugs lower death rates everywhere. And yet, Republicans continue to insist they are attacking the dangerous Democrats. Quite literally. Representative Paul Gosar (R-AZ), who has ties to white supremacists and who has been implicated in the January 6 attack, yesterday posted an anime video in which his face was photoshopped onto a character that killed another character bearing the face of New York Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The Gosar character also swung swords at a Biden character and fought alongside Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Lauren Boebert (R-CO). In response to the outcry about the video, Gosar’s digital director, Jessica Lycos, said: “Everyone needs to relax.” The House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol is not relaxing. Today it issued six new subpoenas. The subpoenas went to people associated with the “war room” in the Willard Hotel in the days leading up to the events of January 6. The subpoenas went to William Stepien, the manager of Trump’s 2020 campaign which, as an entity, asked states not to certify the results of the election; Trump advisor Jason Miller, who talked of a stolen election even before the election itself; Angela McCallum, an executive assistant to Trump’s 2020 campaign, who apparently left a voicemail for a Michigan state representative pressuring the representative to appoint an alternative slate of electors because of “election fraud”; and Bernard Kerik, former New York City police commissioner, who paid for the hotel rooms in which the plotting occurred.Another subpoena went to Michael Flynn, who called for Trump to declare martial law and “rerun” the election, and who attended a December 18, 2020, meeting in the Oval Office “during which participants discussed seizing voting machines, declaring a national emergency, invoking certain national security emergency powers, and continuing to spread the false message that the November 2020 election had been tainted by widespread fraud.” The sixth subpoena went to John Eastman, author of the Eastman memo saying that then–vice president Mike Pence could reject the certified electors from certain states, thus throwing the election to Trump. Eastman was apparently at the Willard Hotel for a key meeting on January 5, and he spoke at the rally on the Ellipse on January 6. None of these people are covered by executive privilege, even if Trump tries to exercise it. The 2022 midterm elections, scheduled for November 8, 2022, are exactly a year away.—

Notes:https://january6th.house.gov/news/press-releases/select-committee-subpoenas-additional-witnesses-tied-efforts-overturn-electionhttps://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/08/briefing/covid-death-toll-red-america.htmlhttps://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/11/08/mitch-mcconnell-trump-impeachment-insurrection-senate/https://abcnews.go.com/US/trump-told-rnc-chair-leaving-gop-create-party/story?id=80979889https://www.npr.org/2021/11/08/1053548074/big-bird-covid-19-vaccine-conservative-backlash-ted-cruzhttps://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/nrsc-chair-scott-condemn-parnell-domestic-abusehttps://www.npr.org/2021/11/07/1051940127/rebels-are-closing-in-on-ethiopias-capital-its-collapse-could-bring-regional-chahttps://www.state.gov/visit-of-special-envoy-for-the-horn-of-africa-feltman-to-ethiopia-and-kenya/https://www.cnn.com/2021/11/08/politics/fact-check-house-republican-ad-trump-images-2020/index.htmlhttps://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/ukrainian-arrested-and-charged-ransomware-attack-kaseyahttps://www.state.gov/reward-offers-for-information-to-bring-sodinokibi-revil-ransomware-variant-co-conspirators-to-justice/https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy0471https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/580351-senate-gop-worries-trump-could-derail-bid-for-majorityhttps://www.businessinsider.com/roger-stone-run-governor-desantis-pledges-not-to-run-president-2021-11https://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/op-ed/ej-montini/2021/01/10/reps-andy-biggs-paul-gosar-implicated-capitol-insurrection/6614177002/https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/republicans-gosar-trump-ocasio-cortez/2021/11/08/ead37b36-40ca-11ec-9ea7-3eb2406a2e24_story.html
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