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Category Archives: Trumpedation


October 16, 2021Heather Cox Richardson

On October 8, the executive director of curriculum and instruction for the Carroll Independent School District in Southlake, Texas, told a teacher to make sure to follow Texas’s new law requiring teachers to present opposing views on controversial subjects. The Carroll school board had recently reprimanded a fourth-grade teacher who had kept an anti-racism book in her classroom, and teachers wanted to know what books they could keep in their own classrooms. “Just try to remember the concepts of [House Bill] 3979,” the curriculum director said. “And make sure that if you have a book on the Holocaust,” the director continued, “that you have one that has an opposing, that has other perspectives.”The Holocaust was Nazi Germany’s systematic murder of about two thirds of Europe’s Jewish population—about six million people—during World War II. “How do you oppose the Holocaust?” one teacher said. “Believe me,” the director said. “That’s come up.”The Texas legislature passed another law that is going into effect in December. S.B. 3, known as the Critical Race Theory bill. It specifies what, exactly, social studies courses should teach to students. Those guidelines present a vision of how American citizens should perceive their nation. They should have “an understanding of the fundamental moral, political, and intellectual foundations of the American experiment in self-government; the history, qualities, traditions, and features of civic engagement in the United States; the structure, function, and processes of government institutions at the federal, state, and local levels.” But they should get that information in a specific way: through the Declaration of Independence; the United States Constitution; the Federalist Papers, including Essays 10 and 51; excerpts from Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America; the transcript of the first Lincoln-Douglas debate; and the writings of the founding fathers of the United States; the history and importance of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964; and the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Nineteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.While they managed to add in de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America—and I would be shocked if more than a handful of people have ever read that account of early America—there are some pointed omissions from this list. The Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which guarantees Black voting, didn’t make it, although the Nineteenth Amendment, which grants women the right to vote, did. Also missing is the Voting Rights Act of 1965, although the Civil Rights Act of the previous year is there. Topics explicitly eliminated from the teaching standard are also instructive. Those things cut from the standards include: “the history of Native Americans,” and “[founding] mothers and other founding persons.” Under “commitment to free speech and civil discourse,” topics struck from the standards include  “the writings of…George Washington; Ona Judge (a woman Washington enslaved and who ran away); Thomas Jefferson, Sally Hemings (the enslaved woman Jefferson took as a sexual companion after the death of his wife, her half-sister),” and “any other founding persons of the United States.” The standards lost Frederick Douglass’s writings, the Fugitive Slave Acts of 1793 and 1850, the Indian Removal Act of 1830 that forced Indigenous Americans off their southeastern lands, and Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists defending the separation of church and state. The standards lost “historical documents related to the civic accomplishments of marginalized populations” including documents related to the Chicano movement, women’s suffrage and equal rights, the civil rights movement, Indigenous rights, and the American labor movement.The standards also lost “the history of white supremacy, including but not limited to the institution of slavery, the eugenics movement, and the Ku Klux Klan, and the ways in which it is morally wrong” and “the history and importance of the civil rights movement.” The legislature took three pages to outline all the things that teachers may not teach, including all the systemic biases the right associates with Critical Race Theory (although that legal theory is not taught in K–12 schools), and anything having to do with the 1619 Project.Teachers cannot be forced to teach current events or controversial issues, but if they choose to do so, they must “strive to explore that topic from diverse and contending perspectives without giving deference to any one perspective.” Supporters of the measure said that teachers should teach facts and not “choose sides.” The lawmakers who wrote the new standards said they had been crafted to eliminate redundancy. In 2019, the state wrote standards to teach character traits—courage, integrity and honesty—and instructions to include particular people or events could simply duplicate those concepts. “If you want to talk about courage, talk about George Washington crossing the Delaware, or William Barret Travis defending the Alamo,” a member of the state board of education said. Editing from our history Dolores Huerta, who co-founded the National Farmworkers’ Association—she was eliminated by name—as well as Abigail Adams and Frederick Douglass and the 1924 Snyder Act (by which the nation recognized Indigenous citizenship) does more than whitewash our history. That editing warps what it means to be an American. Our history is not about individual feats of courage or honesty in a vacuum. It is about the efforts of people in this country to determine their own fate and to elect a government that will enable them to do that. A curriculum that talks about individual courage and integrity while erasing the majority of us, as well as the rules that enable us to have a say in our government by voting, is deliberately untethered from national democratic principles.It gives us a school that does not dare take a position on the Holocaust.—Notes:https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/southlake-texas-holocaust-books-schools-rcna2965https://capitol.texas.gov/tlodocs/871/billtext/pdf/SB00003I.pdfhttps://www.kvue.com/article/news/politics/texas-legislature/critical-race-theory-senate-texas-legislature/269-9e40d158-a700-437b-8bf0-8d8a2aaeec92
Kevin Kallaugher Comic Strip for October 17, 2021
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Jacob Jarvis  1 hr ago


Former President Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and pointed towards the cost of equipment left behind in the hands of the Taliban.

The Claim

In an interview with Fox News‘ Sean Hannity on October 7, Trump criticized President Joe Biden‘s handling of the American withdrawal from Afghanistan.

At one point, Trump said: “We left $85 billion worth of equipment in the hands of the Taliban.”

Trump has made this claim previously, and in a statement on August 30 said: “Never in history has a withdrawal from war been handled so badly or incompetently as the Biden Administration’s withdrawal from Afghanistan.

In addition to the obvious, ALL EQUIPMENT should be demanded to be immediately returned to the United States, and that includes every penny of the $85 billion dollars in cost.”

The Facts

The figure touted by Trump is near those which came from a July 30 report from by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).

This detailed that “as of June 30, 2021, the United States government had appropriated or otherwise made available approximately $144.98 billion in funds for reconstruction and related activities in Afghanistan since FY 2002.”

Breaking down these funds, it detailed “$88.61 billion for security (including $4.60 billion for counternarcotics initiatives).”

That figure, minus the counternarcotics initiatives funds, would be $84 billion for security.

It also detailed $82.9 billion appropriated for the Afghanistan Security Forces

Fund (ASFF) which provided funds to “train, equip, and provide related assistance to” the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF). Around $75 billion had been disbursed.

While those figures are around the $85 billion mark, the money was not spent on equipment alone. The SIGAR report says that between 2005 and the third quarter of 2021, $18.56 billion from the ASFF was spent on “equipment and transportation.”

A Government Accountability Office report from 2017 said around 29 percent of the funds allocated to the ASFF, since it was set up in 2005, were spent on equipment and transportation between 2005 and 2016.

Dan Grazier, a defense policy analyst at the Project on Government Oversight, previously told the Associated Press: “We did spend well over $80 billion in assistance to the Afghan security forces. But that’s not all equipment costs.”

Over time, some of the equipment bought might also have become obsolete, further reducing the value of what was left behind. Some unwanted gear has also been sold off as scrap.

While the amount may not be $85 billion, a U.S. defense official told the Associated Press in August that the Taliban’s “sudden accumulation of U.S.-supplied Afghan equipment is enormous.”

Newsweek has contacted SIGAR for comment on estimates of the amount of equipment left behind. The office of the former president has also been contacted for comment.

The Ruling

False.

FACT CHECK BY NEWSWEEK

While the U.S. did spend upwards of $80 billion on security and security forces in Afghanistan, this was not all on equipment.

The figure also covered costs such as training and other assistance. The number for equipment may indeed run into billions of dollars, but not $85 billion as Trump has suggested.

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Fact Check: Donald Trump’s Claim U.S. Left $85 Billion of Equipment With Taliban

Jacob Jarvis  1 hr ago


 

Former President Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and pointed towards the cost of equipment left behind in the hands of the Taliban.

The Claim

In an interview with Fox News‘ Sean Hannity on October 7, Trump criticized President Joe Biden‘s handling of the American withdrawal from Afghanistan.

At one point, Trump said: “We left $85 billion worth of equipment in the hands of the Taliban.”

Trump has made this claim previously, and in a statement on August 30 said: “Never in history has a withdrawal from war been handled so badly or incompetently as the Biden Administration’s withdrawal from Afghanistan.

In addition to the obvious, ALL EQUIPMENT should be demanded to be immediately returned to the United States, and that includes every penny of the $85 billion dollars in cost.”

The Facts

The figure touted by Trump is near those which came from a July 30 report from by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).

This detailed that “as of June 30, 2021, the United States government had appropriated or otherwise made available approximately $144.98 billion in funds for reconstruction and related activities in Afghanistan since FY 2002.”

Breaking down these funds, it detailed “$88.61 billion for security (including $4.60 billion for counternarcotics initiatives).”

That figure, minus the counternarcotics initiatives funds, would be $84 billion for security.

It also detailed $82.9 billion appropriated for the Afghanistan Security Forces

Fund (ASFF) which provided funds to “train, equip, and provide related assistance to” the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF). Around $75 billion had been disbursed.

While those figures are around the $85 billion mark, the money was not spent on equipment alone. The SIGAR report says that between 2005 and the third quarter of 2021, $18.56 billion from the ASFF was spent on “equipment and transportation.”

A Government Accountability Office report from 2017 said around 29 percent of the funds allocated to the ASFF, since it was set up in 2005, were spent on equipment and transportation between 2005 and 2016.

Dan Grazier, a defense policy analyst at the Project on Government Oversight, previously told the Associated Press: “We did spend well over $80 billion in assistance to the Afghan security forces. But that’s not all equipment costs.”

Over time, some of the equipment bought might also have become obsolete, further reducing the value of what was left behind. Some unwanted gear has also been sold off as scrap.

While the amount may not be $85 billion, a U.S. defense official told the Associated Press in August that the Taliban’s “sudden accumulation of U.S.-supplied Afghan equipment is enormous.”

Newsweek has contacted SIGAR for comment on estimates of the amount of equipment left behind. The office of the former president has also been contacted for comment.

The Ruling

False.

FACT CHECK BY NEWSWEEK

While the U.S. did spend upwards of $80 billion on security and security forces in Afghanistan, this was not all on equipment.

The figure also covered costs such as training and other assistance. The number for equipment may indeed run into billions of dollars, but not $85 billion as Trump has suggested.

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Noah Berlatsky  4 days ago

On Friday, congressional representatives got into a screaming match on the Capitol steps about, among other things, Christianity. High-volume theological disputes aren’t generally illuminating. But this one showed how Christianity remains a moral bedrock of political dispute in this country — and why that’s a bad thing.

The argument began following the passage of a House bill that would codify abortion rights into law. Right-wing conspiracy theorist and anti-abortion advocate Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., began to yell somewhat incoherently at gathered lawmakers and demonstrators. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., a supporter of abortion rights, yelled back at Greene that she was being uncivil.

“You should practice the basic thing you’re taught in church: respect your neighbor,” Dingell shouted. Greene blasted back, “Taught in church, are you kidding me? Try being a Christian and supporting life!” Dingell responded, “You try being a Christian… and try treating your colleagues decently!”

Dingell thinks being a Christian means being neighborly and civil. Greene thinks being a Christian means attacking anyone who supports abortion rights. But they both agree that being a Christian is morally good, and that Christianity is virtuous.

For a Jewish atheist like myself, that framework is wearisomely familiar. It’s also disheartening. Despite Dingell’s best intentions, the equation of Christianity and goodness buttresses Greene’s white Christian nationalism and the politics of hate and hierarchy that go along with it.

About two thirds of Americans describe themselves as Christian. So it makes sense that people in public life would frame Christianity as a good thing. Christians may disagree strongly about what the Christian virtues are, but they agree that Christian virtues are, well, virtues. That’s part of what being a Christian means.

Many of us, though, aren’t Christian, and don’t want to try to be Christian. Just to take one example: Jewish people’s experience of Christian morality has not been universally uplifting, to say the least.

Some will argue that antisemitism is not real Christianity. But you can’t just disavow a couple of thousands years of persecution and hate. And if Christianity equals virtue, where does that leave Jewish people — or Muslims, or atheists, or Buddhists, for that matter?

Of course there are good Christians, as there are good people of every faith, and of no faith. But one of the hallmarks of immoral forms of Christianity is a belief that Christianity can only be good — and that the good can only be Christian.

This is the logic of Marjorie Taylor Greene and the rabidly Trumpist politics she represents. Sociologist Philip Gorski argued in a 2019 article that evangelical white Christians loved Trump not despite his violent and scabrous language, but precisely because he told them they were better than everyone else. Evangelicals, Gorski said, responded to “Trump’s racialized, apocalyptic, and blood-drenched rhetoric.” That rhetoric harkened back to the Christian language deployed to justify slavery and Native American genocide.

Trump told white evangelical Christians that they had a right and a duty to impose their morality, through force, on others. Marjorie Taylor Greene is following through on a tradition of dispossession and cruelty when she insults abortion supporters or tries to seize control of people’s bodies in the name of a higher morality.

Deb Dingell’s Christianity would seem to be more inclusive — her definition of loving thy neighbor translates politically into policy (same-sex marriage, abortion rights, etc.) that Marjorie Taylor Greene abhors. But nonetheless, it also, inadvertently, reinforces one of the chief tenets of white Christian nationalism — the idea that Christianity has a monopoly on virtue.

Christianity is a powerful and important tradition in the U.S.; it shouldn’t just be left to the Greene’s and the Trump’s. But part of contesting their hold on Christianity is refusing to acquiesce to Christian supremacy. It means acknowledging non-Christians in discussions of America, and in discussions of goodness.

Marjorie Taylor Greene is, unfortunately, still a Christian when she spews ugly antisemitic conspiracy theories about Jewish space lasers. She’s still a Christian when she attacks her colleagues. She’s still a Christian when she tries to force people to give birth because of her own particular convictions about souls and cell clusters. But being a Christian doesn’t make you a good person, just as being a good person doesn’t make you a Christian. When we, including Dingell, accept that, maybe we’ll be closer to defeating the evil, violent and Christian movement of which Greene is a part.

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Opinion by Richard Galant, CNN  16 mins ago


On November 7, 1962, Richard Nixon met with reporters to concede that he had lost his bid for governor of California — and to grumble about the way the press covered his campaign. It was two years since he had lost his race for president against John F. Kennedy, and few thought Nixon would ever run for office again.

Donald Trump holding a gun: HOLLYWOOD, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 11: Former US President Donald Trump speaks after the fight between Evander Holyfield and Vitor Belfort during Evander Holyfield vs. Vitor Belfort presented by Triller at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on September 11, 2021 in Hollywood, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)© Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images HOLLYWOOD, FLORIDA – SEPTEMBER 11: Former US President Donald Trump speaks after the fight between Evander Holyfield and Vitor Belfort during Evander Holyfield vs. Vitor Belfort presented by Triller at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on September 11, 2021 in Hollywood, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

“Just think how much you’re going to be missing,” the defeated Republican said. “You don’t have Nixon to kick around anymore, because gentlemen, this is my last press conference, and it will be one in which I have welcomed the opportunity to test wits with you.” It turned out to be far from the last press conference for Nixon, who won the presidency in 1968 and in 1972. But its petulant tone made political history.

a close up of a book© David Horsey/Tribune Content Agency

When Larry Elder conceded defeat this week in his bid to unseat California Governor Gavin Newsom, he sounded a different note than Nixon: “Let’s be gracious in defeat,” the talk show host said. Still, at least he and Nixon admitted they were beaten — something former President Donald Trump could never bring himself to do after the 2020 election.

a close up of a sign© Nick Anderson/Tribune Content Agency

Elder’s post-election concession clashed with his earlier embrace of Trump’s “big lie” strategy — the notion of massive election fraud which the former president has been promoting ever since he lost to Joe Biden. “The conservative ecosystem that backed Elder’s run didn’t seem to be simply looking for him to win, even though the uniquely arcane mechanisms of California’s recall politics made it briefly seem as if that might be possible,” wrote Jeff Yang.

“The true goal of Elder’s Republican backers appeared to be for him to at least lose by a margin that would allow them to contest the results in order to claim that Democrats had once again engaged in magical manipulation of ballots, voting machines or the brains of voters themselves, thus making the election seem null and void and expanding already widespread doubt and paranoia about the nature of our democracy.”

That corrosive approach to politics seems certain to survive Elder’s crushing defeat. “Republicans are no longer running against Democrats. They’re running against democracy,” Yang concluded.

Trump’s refusal to concede set the stage for the events of January 6 — a fact that apparently wasn’t lost on former President George W. Bush, who last weekend drew a parallel between the Capitol rioters and the 9/11 attackers. “The 9/11 terrorists and the January 6 attackers do share the same ‘foul spirit,'” Dean Obeidallah wrote, quoting Bush.

But Obeidallah added that “one glaring difference is that the al Qaeda attackers were incited and directed by Osama bin Laden, while the January 6 attackers were incited by an American president, Donald Trump. It was Trump who for the two months after the election radicalized people with a tsunami of lies, claiming that the election was ‘stolen.'”

California’s election results, with Newsom decisively quashing the recall, may have national implications for the 2022 midterms, wrote Lincoln Mitchell. “The recall was a referendum on Newsom, but indirectly on Biden and the Democrats as well. The numbers show that it wasn’t close and that Californians, including the White women whose support is so crucial to the GOP’s future in the state, were not buying whatever the GOP and Elder were selling,” Mitchell noted.

“Who knows what would happen if the GOP were at all interested in trying out good candidates with views that appeal to a wider range of voters, instead of merely identifying the Trumpiest candidate on the menu and letting them run riot,” asked SE Cupp. “But so far, in most cases, the GOP is not interested. It is, in fact, systematically purging those very people from its party. When it comes to 2024, the GOP doesn’t appear to be considering running anyone other than Trump. I wonder how long — and how many failed elections — it will take Republicans to realize that they are shrinking the voter base this way.

It may please the former president, Frida Ghitis observed, but it’s bad news for America: “The example set by Trump — disparaging, assaulting and undercutting a country’s democracy — has now become the template for political players with authoritarian leanings around the globe.”

Gen. Mark Milley’s calls

The continuing cascade of books on the Trump presidency brought forth new revelations this week — some gobsmacking, and others in the “shocking but not surprising” category. As Peter Bergen noted, “in the last few months of Donald Trump’s presidency, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley made two phone calls to reassure his Chinese counterpart that the US was stable and not considering a military strike against China, according to a new book by reporters Bob Woodward and Robert Costa.” Republicans such as Sen. Marco Rubio were quick to accuse Milley of treason, but that charge is very wide of the mark, Bergen said.

“What Milley did was put his country above his commander-in-chief. Given the irrational rage that Trump was exhibiting after his election loss, Milley made the right call to reassure the Chinese about the stability of the US national security apparatus. But Milley’s actions could set a dangerous precedent and we should carefully consider how high-ranking military officers in future administrations might insert themselves into the chain of command under a different president.”

In the Washington Post, Josh Rogin wrote: “The legitimate criticism of Milley is not that he betrayed the country to China. Milley’s failing was that he believed, according to this and many other recent books, that it was his job to save the Republic from the president. Milley’s offense was not treason, it was hubris.

Milley was just doing his job, wrote retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling. “Given that the former president had already made worrisome comments about summarily pulling US forces out of various areas around the world, and given media reports of Trump’s earlier threats to attack other nations, Milley found it necessary to communicate directly with his counterparts overseas, with whom he had a professional relationship.”

“He was right to do so, because he was reacting to the realities on the ground. Straight talk with our allies and partners, lowering the temperature when tensions are rising, is critical to avoiding misunderstandings and perhaps deadly unintentional consequences.”

Melania Trump and Stephanie Grisham’s book

Politico reported that in Stephanie Grisham’s forthcoming book, the former White House press secretary contends that Melania Trump ducked opportunities to condemn the January 6 violence and to invite Jill Biden for the traditional tea provided by outgoing first ladies. (Melania Trump issued a statement condemning the book as untruthful and a “betrayal.”)

“Every word of Grisham’s forthcoming tell-all might be true,” wrote Jill Filipovic. “It might accurately paint Donald, Melania and many of their family members and staffers as among the most deplorable and morally hideous people to ever occupy the White House.

“But don’t forget: Grisham isn’t a light illuminating the Trump administration’s darkness. She is one of them, who pushed Trump’s vile messages and left America cracked and perhaps forever wrecked. …We can be glad the truth about Melania is being told. But we do not have to rehabilitate the reputation of someone who, like the Trumps, has never apologized, never tried to make amends and never been held fully accountable.”

To boost or not to boost?

The Delta variant may finally have peaked in the US, wrote Dr. Kent Sepkowitz. So is it time to declare victory over Covid-19?

“Of course not,” he argued. “The Covid-19 pandemic isn’t going to miraculously disappear…”

“As with the previous claims of victory based on a few weeks of improvement, celebrating any end of the pandemic surely is a mistake. We have new variants to worry about, immunity possibly waning in the elderly, the cruel recalcitrance of those refusing vaccination, the uneven global distribution of the vaccine and roughly 50 million children in the US who aren’t even eligible for vaccine yet.”

Scientists are debating the case for vaccine booster shots. In the Lancet, leading experts, including two scientists who are stepping down from the FDA’s Office of Vaccines Research and Review, said the “current evidence does not … appear to show a need for boosting in the general population, in which efficacy against severe disease remains high.” Other scientists, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, disagreed. On Friday, scientists advising the FDA recommended boosters of the Pfizer vaccine only for those 65 and older or people at high risk of developing a severe case of Covid-19.

Writing for CNN Opinion, William Haseltine, observed that, “for those in the US who received mRNA vaccines, a third dose is the minimum we should pursue for Covid-19 protection, and people should prepare themselves for the possibility that they will need additional doses or annual shots in the months and years to come. For those who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, there is not enough data so far to say with certainty whether a booster is advisable.”

It’s not that the vaccines don’t work well, Haseltine noted, but because “coronaviruses, like influenza viruses, are masters at evading the immune system … SARS-CoV-2 can turn off our body’s ability to mount an innate immune response which means, for protection, vaccine-induced neutralizing antibodies must be significant and powerful.

The school district that serves more than 600,000 students in Los Angeles is requiring vaccinations for in-person classes, as Dr. Smita Malhotra noted. As the district’s medical director, she wrote, “This bold decision by our school board is sound and backed by science. It is one that I hope will spark a trend across the country and the world that emboldens social responsibility. Our school board and superintendent understand that vaccinations will bring back in-person learning in the safest way possible, and more importantly, that it’s the right thing to do for communities and children, especially for those children, like my own, who are too young to receive a vaccine.”

For more:

Nicole HemmerThe tricky agenda behind vaccine resistance

Peggy DrexlerThe real issue with Nicki Minaj

‘Tax the rich’

Covid-19 canceled the Met Gala last year, but it roared back this week as fancifully-dressed celebrities once again dazzled social media at the benefit for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez “made her Met Gala debut in a long white off-shoulder mermaid gown, with ‘Tax The Rich’ scribed across the back in massive, flag-red letters,” wrote Holly Thomas. “It was explicit, as close as you could come to having a placard at the gala without literally bringing one.” It was also controversial. “Donald Trump Jr. led the charge, and Newsmax’s Benny Johnson and actor and comedian Michael Rapaport joined in to complain about the apparent hypocrisy of a politician who’s targeting the rich showing up to a $35,000-per-ticket event almost exclusively populated by the extremely wealthy and/or famous. They appeared unaware of the fact that, as Ocasio-Cortez pointed out on Instagram, New York City’s elected officials are regularly invited to the Met Gala for free,” Thomas noted.

“The general social media backlash also sidestepped the peculiarity in calling a politician who consistently calls for higher taxes on the rich, and is part of the progressive movement pushing a wealth equity agenda as the Democrats’ budget bill moves through Congress, a ‘hypocrite.’ By showing up at the Met showcasing that phrase, she did exactly what she always does when she’s in the spotlight and as a member of the House, hardly new to doing so surrounded by the uber-privileged.”

President Joe Biden is fully in accord with the “tax the rich” idea, but when his allies in the House unveiled their tax proposal this week, it signaled a partial retreat from the President’s agenda.

“Biden’s $400,000 cutoff (which rules out tax hikes on more than 95 percent of Americans) had limited funding options,” wrote Catherine Rampell in the Washington Post. “But Democrats have been reluctant to levy some of the tax hikes that Biden did ask for.

“Yes, Democrats plan to raise top rates on personal and corporate income taxes. That’s not nothing. But it’s not nearly sufficient to pay for the generous welfare state Democrats want to build. Paying for that would ultimately require levying higher taxes on the middle class, too, as other countries with more expansive safety nets do.”

Biden’s trouble

Biden’s declining approval ratings are alarming people on the left and cheering the right.

“For most people Joe Biden was not elected last November to get us out of Afghanistan,” wrote Arick Wierson and Bradley Honan. “His election was not a blank check to oversee a dramatic expansion of the federal government. … Biden’s mandate was to ensure that Trump would never, ever, occupy the White House again — and ideally leave the political stage for good.” But, they added, “through a series of self-inflicted wounds, miscalculations and gaffes, the Biden administration is ‘priming the pump’ for a Trump presidency, part deux.”

Scott Jennings observed that “when you are the president, you have two primary ways to move people to your point of view: inspiration or coercion. It was said that Biden would employ the former, but he has resorted to the latter via a series of executive mandates and scolding speeches as he seeks higher vaccination rates. Gone is the soaring rhetoric of Biden’s campaign, replaced with the kind of bile and disdain many Americans hated about ‘the former guy,’ as Biden would say.”

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US Capitol attack

Hugo Lowell in Washington

Mon 6 Sep 2021 02.00 EDT 

 

Top Republicans under scrutiny for their role in the events of 6 January have embarked on a campaign of threats and intimidation to thwart a Democratic-controlled congressional panel that is scrutinizing the Capitol attack and opening an expanded investigation into Donald Trump.

The chairman of the House select committee into the violent assault on the Capitol, Bennie Thompson, in recent days demanded an array of Trump executive branch records related to the insurrection, as members and counsel prepared to examine what Trump knew of efforts to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s election win.

House select committee investigators then asked a slew of technology companies to preserve the social media records of hundreds of people connected to the Capitol attack, including far-right House Republicans who sought to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

The select committee said that its investigators were merely “gathering facts, not alleging wrongdoing by any individual” as they pursued the records in what amounted to the most aggressive moves taken by the panel since it launched proceedings in July.

But the twin actions, which threatened to open a full accounting of Trump’s moves in the days and weeks before the joint session of Congress on 6 January, has unnerved top House Republicans, according to a source familiar with the matter.

The House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, decried the select committee’s investigation as a partisan exercise and threatened to retaliate against any telecommunications company that complied with the records requests.

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“A Republican majority will not forget,” he warned, in remarks that seemed to imply some future threat against the sector.

The warning from the top Republican in the House amounted to a serious escalation as he seeks to undermine a forensic examination of the attack perpetrated by Trump supporters and domestic violent extremists that left five dead and nearly 140 injured.

But his remarks – which members on the select committee privately consider to be at best, harassment, and at worst, obstruction of justice – reflects McCarthy’s realization that he could himself be in the crosshairs of the committee, the source said.

Most of McCarthy’s efforts to undercut the inquiry to date, such as sinking the prospects of a 9/11-style commission to scrutinize the Capitol attack, have been aimed at shielding Trump and his party from what the select committee might uncover.

But deeply alarmed at the efforts by House select committee investigators to secure his personal communications records for the fraught moments leading up to and during the Capitol attack, McCarthy went on the offensive to pre-emptively protect himself, the source said.

McCarthy was among several House Republicans who desperately begged Trump to call off the rioters as they stormed the Capitol in his name, only to be rebuffed by Trump, who questioned why McCarthy wasn’t doing more to overturn the election.

Thompson previously told the Guardian in an interview that such conversations with Trump would be investigated by the select committee, raising the prospect that McCarthy could be forced to testify about what Trump appeared to be thinking and doing on 6 January.

The statement from McCarthy asserted, without citing any law, that it would be illegal for the technology companies to comply with the records requests – even though congressional investigators have obtained phone and communications records in the past.

The threat is unlikely to be viewed as a violation of federal witness tampering law, which, as part of a broader obstruction of justice statute, makes it a felony under some circumstances to try to dissuade or hinder cooperation with an official proceeding.

Congressman Jamie Raskin, a member of the select committee and the former lead impeachment manager in Trump’s second trial, said that he was appalled by McCarthy’s remarks, which he described as tantamount to obstruction of justice.

“He is leveling threats against people cooperating with a congressional investigation,” Raskin said. “Why would the minority leader of the House of Representatives not be interested in our ability to get all of the facts in relation to the January 6th attack?”

Meanwhile, other members on the select committee have also seized on McCarthy’s threat as a reminder that Republicans could not be trusted to engage in the inquiry in good faith, according to a source connected to the 6 January investigation.

It also underscored to them, the source said, the nervousness among top Republicans as the select committee ramps up its work, even though the inquiry is still in its early days and has yet to sift through thousands of pages of expected evidence.

Emboldened by McCarthy’s combative stance, Trump denounced the select committee as a “partisan sham”, while Republicans under scrutiny by the panel such as Marjorie Taylor Greene threatened any companies that complied with the records requests would be “shut down”.

The chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, Andy Biggs, is now also asking McCarthy to remove from the Republican conference Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger – the two vocal critics of Trump appointed to the select committee – whom he called “spies” for Democrats.

Biggs on Thursday suggested in a letter, first reported by CNN, that Cheney and Kinzinger should be ejected because they are involved in investigating Republicans over 6 January and the party should be able to strategize without having the pair present at conference meetings.

Still, McCarthy remains unable to shape an investigation likely to prove politically damaging to Trump and to Republicans at the ballot box at the midterms next year, a reality that has come largely as a result of his own strategic miscalculations.

The proposed 9/11-style commission into the Capitol attack had envisioned a panel with equal power between Democrats and Republicans, and McCarthy’s decision to boycott the select committee in a flash of anger inadvertently left Trump without any defenders.

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Salon

Chauncey DeVega  21 hrs ago


I had not seen my mother for two years, for reasons we all understand too well. Several weeks ago, I was finally able to journey home.

It was wonderful to see my mother again. Blessed are those who can experience unconditional love, even if for only a few days. As I sat in that old, crooked, comfortable lounge chair in the den I noticed all the friendly “ghosts,” those memories that populate a home.

I was sure I saw the ghosts of our two dogs who passed away almost 10 years ago. I am even more sure I heard one of them bark in the middle of night. He always protected my mother. I’m sure he still is.

A home also consists of the objects that accumulate there. As I always do when I come back home, I hunted through the closets. I found a picture of my father, then 19 or 20-years-old, wearing his World War II U.S. Army service uniform.  

His Colt M1911 service pistol rests in a box nearby along with some ammunition. My father rarely talked about the war. But if prompted he would humbly brag that he was lethal with that pistol, an “A-plus” as he would explain it. Once I asked him to watch “Saving Private Ryan” with me. A few minutes into the film he said, “I saw stuff like this in person” and that there was no purpose in him watching it on TV. My father stood up and walked out of the room. I didn’t bring up the war again. 

I am not sure if we have truly forgotten those things which we “find” in our childhood homes. It seems more likely that our minds “forget” so that we can have the joy of rediscovering those objects again.

After 40 years, my father’s employer “advised” him to “retire.” I told my father that he would be dead in a year from loneliness and boredom and that he should fight to keep his job. Better to die at work while feeling useful than lying in a hospital bed. Almost 80 at the time, my father was tired and convinced himself that “retirement” was a good thing. But I was right: He did not last a year after being forced out of his job.

One day, shortly after that “retirement”, my father was in the kitchen having an enthusiastic conversation with someone on the phone. I thought it was his best friend. I watched until he acknowledged me. “Who was that?” I asked. He said it was a telemarketer and told me they are nice people who have interesting things to say. I realized my father had become one of those older folks who are so lonely they make friends with the telemarketers. I walked into the den, sat down in that old lounge chair and went to sleep.

There are many such people who instead of being “nice” are selling pain, anger, misery, rage, hate and fear to the lonely among us. These voices also promise “solutions,” offering a life of meaning through feelings of community, loyalty and “patriotism”.

I receive dozens of email newsletters and updates every day from right-wing news sources, political action committees, interest groups, think tanks and other parts of the right-wing propaganda machine. I seek out these sources and always make sure to subscribe.

In my public warnings about the Age of Trump and America’s descent into fascism, I have often been far ahead of the hope-peddlers, stenographers and professional centrists of the mainstream news media. But I am no Cassandra or otherwise possess any preternatural gifts. I simply pay close attention to what the Jim Crow Republicans, Trumpists and other neofascists say and do — and I take them at their word.

As a black working-class person in America I do not have the privilege and luxury that many white folks do — especially those with money — of pretending that everything is going to magically be fine, that “the institutions are strong,” that the “norms” of democracy will hold, or that “we are a good people.” I know for certain that the Trumpists and other neofascists are not “exaggerating” or engaging in “hyperbole” in their threats to create a new American apartheid.

To deny reality and embrace such fictions is an example of a particular type of white freedom. On this James Baldwin wrote, “People who shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own destruction and anyone who insists on remaining in a state of innocence long after that innocence is dead turns himself into a monster.”  

What have I “learned” from reading right-wing propaganda emails and other missives in recent weeks and months?

I have learned Joe Biden should be impeached because he is a traitor and perhaps mentally incompetent. Biden and Kamala Harris hate America and are responsible for every “crisis” from Afghanistan to “the border” and the overall downfall of American society. “Critical race theory” is the equivalent of the Taliban. “Liberals,” Democrats and other “America-haters” should be dealt with by “patriots.” 

Donald Trump is perfect and a great leader. America is perfect and divine and should never be criticized.

Trump had a plan to defeat the Taliban, but Biden, the Democrats and the liberal media stabbed our military in the back.

Evil socialists are everywhere. They are plotting and scheming against America and our freedom.

I have also learned, of course, that Democrats and their allies stole the 2020 election from Donald Trump. Black Lives Matter and antifa are terrorists working to destroy the country. Trump’s followers who attacked the Capitol were originally said not to exist at all, but are now described as noble patriots being unjustly incarcerated as political prisoners.

There are also great schools I can enroll in online that will teach me the true history and facts of America and the Constitution from a patriotic perspective.

Through these emails I now know that there are Black conservatives who are not on the Democratic Party’s “plantation.” They love America and are smart enough to know that the Republican Party represents Abraham Lincoln while the Democrats are the party of the Ku Klux Klan and slavery.

COVID-19 is not really a danger to the country or the world — yet somehow Donald Trump also helped create vaccines to defeat the disease.

Donald Trump loves his followers and has issued membership cards that they should carry to prove their loyalty to him. Trump also needs true American patriots to give him their money to defend the country. 

In total, the right-wing echo chamber is a powerful reality-altering propaganda lying-machine for those who choose to live in it. It constitutes a lifeworld, existing in a state of epistemic closure where facts and reality are rejected in favor of lies and myths.

In this most recent iteration, the right-wing echo chamber is now TrumpWorld, revolving around its high priest and cult leader. Its doctrines include fascism, authoritarianism, white supremacy, Christian nationalism, ignorance, misogyny, a veneration of violence and other antisocial beliefs and values.

Liberals, progressives, Democrats and other rational thinkers must accept one crucial reality if they are to save America’s democracy (and themselves): Those who live in the right-wing echo chamber really do believe what they are being told. Those beliefs are now extensions of their core identities.

On the question of such society-wide collective madness, psychologist Erich Fromm warned in his 1955 book “The Sane Society”: “Just as there is a folie à deux there is a folie à millions — the fact that millions of people share the same mental pathology does not make these people sane.”

In a new essay for Mother Jones, Kevin Drum explores the extreme political polarization in America and the role played by Trump’s Republican Party and the right-wing hate media in creating it. He points first of all at Fox News:

And as anyone who’s watched Fox knows, its fundamental message is rage at what liberals are doing to our country. Over the years the specific message has changed with the times — from terrorism to open borders to Benghazi to Christian cake bakers to critical race theory — but it’s always about what liberal politicians are doing to cripple America, usually with a large dose of thinly veiled racism to give it emotional heft. …

Drum observes that the “Fox effect” is real, and that “rage toward Democrats means more votes for Republicans”:

As far back as 2007 researchers learned that the mere presence of Fox News on a cable system increased Republican vote share by nearly 1 percent. A more recent study estimates that a minuscule 150 seconds per week of watching Fox News can increase the Republican vote share. In a study of real-life impact, researchers found that this means the mere existence of Fox News on a cable system induced somewhere between 3 and 8 percent of non-Republicans to vote for the Republican Party in the 2000 presidential election.

The Fox pipeline is pretty simple. Fox News stokes a constant sense of outrage among its base of viewers, largely by highlighting narratives of white resentment and threats to Christianity. This in turn forces Republican politicians to follow suit. It’s a positive feedback loop that has no obvious braking system, and it’s already radicalized the conservative base so much that most Republicans literally believe that elections are being stolen and democracy is all but dead if they don’t take extreme action.

Drum observes that “this is not an exciting conclusion” and that it may sound “more interesting to go after something new, like social media or lunatic conspiracy theories.” But Fox News is the No. 1 perpetrator in stoking discord, division and far-right ideology. 

Tens of millions of Americans are now lost to the right-wing cult. As repeatedly shown throughout the Age of Trump and beyond many of those people are willing to kill or die for a man who in fact despises them. (That is only one of the important facts they do not understand, but a highly salient one.) In that way, Trumpism is a license for a particular type of white rage, directed toward nonwhite people in particular and the other more generally.

Trumpism and other forms of fascism are not abstractions of political theory and philosophy. In practice, they are a force that lives through, by and against actual human beings. As I navigate and document the right-wing echo chamber (and the larger political madhouse of which it is a part), I repeatedly return to the human costs.

In a 2018 interview with Salon, Jen Senko, director of the documentary “The Brainwashing of My Dad” discussed this with me in a conversation that merits extensive quotation. My comment is in bold. We discussed the fact that in Fox News programming, everything is presented as “breaking news” or some kind of “alert.”

This is exciting for older people and it can actually become addictive. Young people are watching Fox News too of course, but it really is targeted at older people. Just think about it. You are an older person, you don’t have that much of a social life and you’re at home. Fox News provides excitement. It provides a purpose. Fox News viewers are on a team. They feel special. There’s like an in-group. Fox News is also like a cult because it’s exclusive and the other side isn’t just wrong, they’re evil. That’s what they have going for them.

After making the documentary you have likely had many people reach out to you. They see their relatives acting like your father.

Every day I get emails from people who want to help their parents or grandparents and other relatives. It is really heartbreaking. People reach out to me after watching my documentary, because for them it was like watching their own family. Most people are relieved that they’re not alone. They tell me, “Now I understand why they’re so angry.” Now these people who have relatives addicted to Fox News know that they don’t have the problem, they are not crazy. It’s like when you’re sick and you have a diagnosis and it makes you feel better. The same applies here.

An acquaintance told me about how when Obama first got in office she went to her uncle and aunt’s house on Thanksgiving. She thought she could talk about the economy, because obviously Obama had just gotten in and he couldn’t have had anything to do with the state of the economy at that point. Her uncle got so mad. He said, “Don’t you talk about that man in my house. Get out!” She said, “No. I’m not leaving.” He goes upstairs, gets a pistol, comes down, points it at her. She’s scared to death. He lowers the gun and then shoots the floor.

Donald Trump’s followers are no longer content with shooting the floor. 

Law enforcement and other experts have warned that the United States is likely to experience a violent right-wing insurgency that could last for years. The FBI and Department of Homeland Security have warned that white supremacists are now a greater threat to the U.S. than Islamic terrorists.

There will be blood. There has already been much blood spilled.

American democracy is facing an existential threat, as seen on Jan. 6, in Trump’s extended coup attempt and in the nationwide campaign by Republicans and the larger white right to restrict the voting rights of Black and brown people. Almost none of this is happening in secret. It is announced and loudly promoted almost every second of every day across the right-wing propaganda echo chamber. You can look away, but you do so at your own peril.

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A well known Faux news Commentator or more a provocateur and consummate liar visited Hungary to meet with Viktor Orban, the President of Hungary who has stolen several if not all of the last “free elections. The last one he lost with 67% of the voters voting against him. He packed the legislature with loyalists who called the election for him. His actions against Muslims, LBGT plus and immigrants (which are similar to the actions what the former guy wanted to do and did in some cases). Carlson being a big booster of the Former guy and as great a liar reported that the President of Hungary was wonderful and not the monster everyone thinks he is in spite of what the world and his countrymen have seen and experienced. This type of reporting ( it is not journalism) is like a fungus, difficult to eliminate or mitigate. We have gone through a 4 year period of of deception and misdirection. This type of information dissemination is “entertainment” not useful facts or information which makes it dangerous. The owner of Faux corporation has admitted that his goal is purely financial and has no concerns over content (a refreshing if callous opinion). This leaves the onus of what is true, false or proper to the public. We (the public) have expand our viewing and listening to other media outlets to get a full and possible correct assessment of world and local events that affect us. That is the way!

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August 3, 2021 Heather Cox Richardson Aug 4

First, let’s get the obvious out of the way: former president Trump has raised $102 million since he left office, but aside from a recent donation of $100,000 to his chosen candidate in a Texas race which is not yet in the public disclosures (she lost), has spent none of it on anything or anyone but himself. Since January, he has convinced donors to fund his challenge to Biden’s election and to fund Trump-like candidates in the midterm elections. But election filings and a release of donors to the Arizona “audit” show he has not put any money toward either. So far, about $8 million has gone to the former president’s legal fees, while funds have also gone to aides. The second piece of news that is surprising and yet not surprising is an ABC story revealing that on December 28, 2020, the then-acting pro-Trump head of the civil division of the Department of Justice, Jeffrey Clark, tried to get then–acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen and acting deputy attorney general Richard Donoghue to sign a letter saying: “The Department of Justice is investigating various irregularities in the 2020 election for President of the United States. The Department will update you as we are able on investigatory progress, but at this time we have identified significant concerns that may have impacted the outcome of the election in multiple States, including the State of Georgia.” It went on to say, “While the Department of Justice believe[s] the Governor of Georgia should immediately call a special session to consider this important and urgent matter, if he declines to do so, we share with you our view that the Georgia General Assembly has implied authority under the Constitution of the United States to call itself into special session for [t]he limited purpose of considering issues pertaining to the appointment of Presidential Electors.” The letter then made the point clearer, saying the Georgia legislature could ignore the popular vote and appoint its own presidential electors. This is classic Trump: try to salt the media with the idea of an “investigation,” and then wait for the following frenzy to convince voters that the election was fraudulent. Such a scheme was at the heart of Trump’s demand that Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky announce an investigation into Hunter Biden, and the discrediting of 2016 Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton over an investigation into her use of a private email server. In this case, Donoghue and Rosen wanted no part of this antidemocratic scheme. Donoghue told Clark that there was no evidence of fraud that would have changed the outcome of the election and wrote: “There is no chance that I would sign this letter or anything remotely like this.” Rosen agreed, saying “I am not prepared to sign such a letter.” The less obvious story today is the more interesting one. Trump and his loyalists feed off Americans who have been dispossessed economically since the Reagan revolution that began in 1981 started the massive redistribution of wealth upward. Those disaffected people, slipping away from the secure middle-class life their parents lived, are the natural supporters of authoritarians who assure them their problems come not from the systems leaders have put in place, but rather from Black people, people of color, and feminist women. President Joe Biden appears to be trying to combat this dangerous dynamic not by trying to peel disaffected Americans away from Trump and his party by arguing against the former president, but by reducing the pressure on those who support him. A study from the Niskanen Center think tank shows that the expanded Child Tax Credit, which last month began to put up to $300 per child per month into the bank accounts of most U.S. households with children, will primarily benefit rural Americans and will give a disproportionately large relative boost to their local economies. According to the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent, “the…nine states that will gain the most per capita from the expanded child allowance are all red states.” The White House noted today that the bipartisan infrastructure deal it has pushed so hard not only will bring high-speed internet to every household in the U.S., but also has within it $3.5 billion to reduce energy costs for more than 700,000 low-income households. Also today, after pressure from progressive Democrats, especially Representative Cori Bush (D-MO), who led a sit-in at the Capitol to call for eviction relief, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that in counties experiencing high levels of community transmission of Covid-19, it is extending until October 3 the federal moratorium on evictions that ended this weekend. It is doing so as a public health measure, but it is also an economic one. It should help about 90% of renters—11 million adults—until the government helps to clear the backlog of payments missed during the pandemic by disbursing more of the $46 billion Congress allocated for that purpose. Today, the president called out Republican governors who have taken a stand against mask wearing and vaccine mandates even as Covid-19 is burning across the country again. Currently, Florida and Texas account for one third of all new Covid cases in the entire country, and yet their Republican governors, Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott, are signing legislation to keep Floridians and Texans unmasked and to prevent vaccine mandates. Biden said that he asks “these governors, ‘Please, help.’ But if you aren’t going to help, at least get out of the way of the people who are trying to do the right thing. Use your power to save lives.” At a Democratic National Committee fundraiser last night, Biden told attendees that Democrats “have to keep making our case,” while Republicans offer “nothing but fear, lies, and broken promises.” “We have to keep cutting through the Republican fog,” he said, “that the government isn’t the problem and show that we the people are always the solution.” He continued, “We’ve got to demonstrate that democracies can work and protect.”
 
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Clay Bennett Comic Strip for June 29, 2021

Could also be : “the McConnell Organization”, The “graham Organization” or perhaps “the GOP Organization”.



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