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Letters from an American by Heather Cox Richardson

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JohnnyBlaze said:^ All encouraging so far. It's so great that Richardson weaves it altogether, because there are elements in these letters that are falling through the cracks of nationally televised news. Like the story of Greene's friend at the Capitol insurrection.

That's not juicy enough I guess. They're focused on her anti-transgender antics. This woman is utterly vile and will stop at nothing to garner attention.

Marjorie Taylor Greene Antagonizes Democratic Colleague With Anti-Transgender Sign

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) mocked her neighbor at the U.S. Capitol — Rep. Marie Newman (D-Ill.) — by erecting an anti-transgender sign outside her office on Wednesday.

Newman, whose daughter is transgender, is an advocate of the Equality Act, a bill that would ban discrimination against people based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The House is expected to vote on the bill this week.

In a video posted to Twitter, Taylor Greene, a QAnon supporter who was stripped of her House committee assignments earlier this month over her bigotry and conspiracy-mongering, can be seen putting up the anti-transgender sign before smiling and dusting off her hands:

[ . . . ]

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/marjorie-taylor-greene-anti-transgender-sign-equality-act_n_6037194ec5b68379f9856731

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February 25, 2021

There are lots of stories in the news tonight, but most of them seem like preludes. What happened today will eventually be overridden by the stories’ outcomes.

So, for example, we learned that former president Trump’s accountants, Mazars USA, turned over Trump’s financial information to the Manhattan district attorney’s office on Monday. This got a lot of headlines, but we had a pretty good sense they would turn over the information just as soon as the Supreme Court said they must, so this part of the story will get forgotten.

What is of more interest is that the district attorney’s office has hired a high-powered outside forensic accounting firm to review the documents, indicating it thinks there is something there.

There is news in the investigation of what happened on January 6 that might lead to later insights. Today, the House Appropriations Committee, which oversees the Capitol Police, heard testimony from acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman. One thing the hearing established was that ex-Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund had requested backup from the National Guard by 12:58 pm on January 6, and had continued to call for the next hour. On Tuesday, the former House sergeant at arms, Paul Irving, insisted he had not received a request for National Guard backup until 1:28.

Pittman also said that 35 officers are being investigated for their behavior on the day of the insurrection. Six have been suspended and had their police powers revoked. The Capitol Police union opposes the investigations, saying they are an attempt to distract from the failures of leadership on January 6.

Also offering hope for future information is news that came from the communications director for Tim Ryan (D-OH), the chair of the committee. Michael Zetts said that security videos of Capitol tours before the insurrection have been turned over to the office of the U.S. Attorney General.

There are stories from today, though, that do have staying power. One is the passage through the House of Representatives of the Equality Act, which prohibits discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. The bill passed by a vote of 224 to 206. Three Republicans joined the Democratic majority to pass the bill.  

Another is that the Biden administration launched an airstrike today on Syrian facilities used by Iran-backed militias that have been attacking U.S. troops in Iraq. The strike was a response to a rocket attack in Iraq that killed a U.S. contractor and wounded coalition troops earlier this month. The airstrike, coming at a time that the U.S. is hoping to get Iran to rejoin talks about the 2015 nuclear deal Trump rejected, was likely a sign that Iran should expect that the U.S. will remain engaged in talks but will still respond to attacks.

Another development that has staying power is the attempt of Democrats to guarantee the right to vote. In the face of voter suppression legislation in Republican legislatures around the country, Democrats in Congress are trying to pass a law, called the For the People Act, to stop partisan gerrymandering, limit money in politics, and expand voting access.

The For the People Act, numbered in Congress as H.R. 1 and S. 1, would provide for automatic voter registration across the country and would require paper ballots. It would require that early voting be made available, and would expand mail-in voting. It would authorize $1 billion for upgrades to state voting systems.

Polling by Data for Progress and Vote Save America shows that the principles in H.R. 1 are very popular, across parties. Sixty-eight percent of Americans approve of the reforms in the bill. Sixteen percent oppose the measure. The items within the bill are also popular. Eighty-six percent of Americans support a plan to prevent foreign interference in our elections; 7% oppose it. Eighty-five percent of us want to limit the amount of politics; 8% oppose that idea. Eighty-four percent of us want more election security; 8 percent do not.

Seventy-four percent of us want to see nonpartisan redistricting; 11% do not. Sixty-eight percent want to see 15 days of early voting; 19% do not. Sixty percent want same-day voter registration; 29% do not. Fifty-nine percent want automatic voter registration; 29% do not. Even with the Republican attacks on mail-in voting, fifty-eight percent of us want to be able to vote by mail; 35% do not.

Democrats passed a version of H.R. 1 in the previous Congress, but then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to take it up. Now, every House Democrat supports the bill, while Republican lawmakers oppose it.

To try to stop the bill from becoming law, Republicans are launching a full-throated defense of the filibuster, a tradition that enables a minority in the Senate to stop legislation unless it can command 60 votes. Republican objections to this popular, and seemingly vital, measure will test whether the Senate will protect the filibuster or continue to chip away at it.

Of all today’s news, then, this issue—the fate of the For the People Act—is one that most certainly will matter in the future.

—-

Submitted February 25, 2011

Notes:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/trump-tax-returns-manhattan-district-attorney/2021/02/25/be61b6b4-7779-11eb-8115-9ad5e9c02117_story.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/trump-tax-returns-new-york-investigation/2020/12/29/11c43a38-43c8-11eb-b0e4-0f182923a025_story.html

polling on H.R. 1:

Jon Favreau
@jonfavs
We also tested support for each of the bill's provisions, which are all wildly popular:
February 25th 2021

237 Retweets1,030 Likes

https://www.axios.com/equality-act-lgbtq-discrimination-house-5d69118f-1b71-48ff-97e9-646b18b4e2ab.html

https://www.cnn.com/politics/live-news/capitol-riot-house-hearing-02-25-20/index.html

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/fivepoints/capitol-insurrection-january-6-house-hearing-police

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/u-s-bombs-facilities-syria-used-iran-backed-militia-n1258912

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/biden-administration-conducts-strike-on-iranian-linked-fighters-in-syria/2021/02/25/7ff2447e-77ca-11eb-ae66-8b9e3c6918a1_story.html

https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/1/text

https://crooked.com/articles/for-the-people-act/

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February 26, 2021

There are a number of very different stories swirling out there this Friday. I have been trying to make sense of them and will tell you what I see, with the warning that I could very easily be wrong, so ignore at will.

One of today’s biggest stories is that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence today released its assessment of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018 at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. Khashoggi was a Saudi Arabian journalist whose criticism of his country’s government had driven him into exile in the U.S., where he worked for the Washington Post. The DNI placed blame for the murder on Saudi Arabia’s current crown prince, Muhammad bin Salman, whose name is often abbreviated as MBS.

By law, the Trump administration was supposed to release the intelligence community’s assessment of the killing, but it refused. In her confirmation hearings, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines promised she would do so. The report was delayed until President Biden could speak to King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, the king of Saudi Arabia. MBS is the king’s son and is the third crown prince Salman has named since becoming king in 2015. Biden has made it a point to refuse to communicate with MBS, despite the Trump administration’s willingness to treat him as the country’s de facto ruler. Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner apparently considered MBS a friend. Biden will speak only with the king.

The readout of the conversation said Biden spoke with the king “to address the longstanding partnership between the United States and Saudi Arabia.” They discussed ending the war in Yemen, “and affirmed the importance the United States places on universal human rights and the rule of law.”  Earlier this month, Biden ended U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s military engagement in Yemen, a fight launched by MBS, which has led to a humanitarian crisis there. The Trump administration’s huge arms sales to Saudi Arabia, including top-line F-35 fighters, were widely seen as a way to support the Saudi war effort; Biden has frozen the sales for review.

Now he has added sanctions to the former deputy Saudi intelligence chief and to the Saudi Royal Guard’s rapid intervention force, whose members have been identified as those behind the murder. Their assets in the U.S. are frozen, and they cannot deal with Americans. The U.S. also restricted the visas of 76 Saudi citizens and some of their family members.

Also yesterday, Biden launched an air strike against the facilities of Iran-backed militias in Syria that have been launching rocket attacks against U.S. targets in Iraq. When asked today what message he was sending, he said: “You can’t act with impunity. Be careful.”

Also yesterday, the FBI Washington Field Office tweeted a thread noting that 13 Russians are wanted by the FBI for participating in a “conspiracy to defraud US by impairing, obscuring & defeating the lawful functions of FEC [Federal Election Commission], DOJ [Department of Justice] & Dept of State” between 2014 and 2018. It explained: “These individuals allegedly took actions to reach significant numbers of Americans for the purposes of interfering w/ US political system, includ[ing] the 2016 Presidential Election.”

The FBI also offered $250,000 for information leading to the arrest of Ukrainian Konstantin V. Kilimnick, whom the Senate Intelligence Committee identified as a Russian operative. Kilimnick is wanted by the FBI for obstruction of justice and for engaging in a conspiracy to obstruct justice between February and April 2018, persuading someone not to testify in an official proceeding.

Kilimnick was the business partner of Paul Manafort, Trump’s 2016 campaign manager; Manafort handed over detailed and private campaign polling data to Kilimnick in 2016.

So, what have we got going on here?

At the very least, it seems the Biden administration is sending a signal to other countries that there is a new administration in America, one that will not tolerate foreign intrusions into U.S. affairs the same way its predecessor did.

[ Continued below ]


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But I wonder if the inclusion of the wanted posters on those Russians accused of interfering with the 2016 election, including one who worked closely with Trump’s campaign manager, is a signal to the Saudis, along with the rest of the world, not to support Trump’s continuing attempt to undermine our democracy.

Today, the White House issued a statement noting that it was seven years ago that Russia violated international law by invading Ukraine. President Biden reiterated that the U.S. stands with Ukraine and its attempt to shore up democracy to withstand the aggression of oligarchy.

“The United States does not and will never recognize Russia’s purported annexation of the peninsula, and we will stand with Ukraine against Russia’s aggressive acts.  We will continue to work to hold Russia accountable for its abuses and aggression in Ukraine,” the statement reads.

But it is a message not just of warning, but also of hope:

“We will also continue to honor the courage and hope of the Revolution of Dignity, in which the Ukrainian people faced down sniper fire and enforcers in riot gear on the Maidan and demanded a new beginning for their country. The United States still believes in the promise of Ukraine and we support all those working towards a peaceful, democratic, and prosperous future for their country.”

—-

Submitted February 27, 2021

Notes:

https://int.nyt.com/data/documenttools/the-report-on-jamal-khashoggi-killing/ddc9578e0994f690/full.pdf

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-biden-iran-idUSKBN2AQ31W

readout:

Natasha Bertrand
@NatashaBertrand
POTUS spoke to King Salman of Saudi Arabia today and “affirmed the importance the United States places on universal human rights and the rule of law,” per readout. Still awaiting release of declassified report on Khashoggi’s murder
February 25th 2021

265 Retweets734 Likes
/photo/1


https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/18/world/middleeast/saudi-prince-yemen-emirates.html

FBI Washington Field
@FBIWFO
Additionally, Konstantin Viktorovich Kilimnik is also wanted by the #FBI for obstruction of justice & engaging in a conspiracy to obstruct justice btwn Feb 2018 & April 2018.
fbi.gov/wanted/counter…

February 25th 2021

3,670 Retweets5,230 Likes


https://thehill.com/policy/national-security/540620-fbi-offers-250k-reward-for-russian-figure-kilimnik

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-saudi-khashoggi-sanctions-idUSKBN2AQ2QI

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-saudi-khashoggi-statement/saudi-arabia-rejects-us-intelligence-report-on-khashoggis-killing-statement-idUSKBN2AQ30L

https://www.axios.com/khashoggi-report-365166be-7092-483c-b739-411193a91d2a.html

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/02/26/statement-by-president-biden-on-the-anniversary-of-russias-illegal-invasion-of-ukraine/

https://www.intelligence.senate.gov/sites/default/files/documents/report_volume5.pdf

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Psych!

Happy Sunday from the Blue Ridge Mountains!

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Ahavati said:Psych!

Happy Sunday from the Blue Ridge Mountains!


* waves to da Man in da Moon *


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February 28, 2021

In the wee hours of Saturday morning, the House of Representatives passed the American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill requested by the Biden administration. The vote was 219 to 212, with two Democrats—Jared Golden (D-ME) and Kurt Schrader (D-OR)—voting no. Not a single Republican voted for the bill.

The coronavirus relief bill illustrates a crisis in our democracy.

This measure is enormously popular. On Thursday, the day before the House took up the bill, a poll by Morning Consult/Politico showed that 76% of Americans liked the measure, including 60% of Republicans. It includes $1400 stimulus checks which, together with the $600 checks in the previous package, get us to the $2000 checks that former president Trump, a Republican, demanded.

It includes increased unemployment benefits of $400 weekly, provides $350 billion in aid to state and local governments, establishes tax credits for children, provides money to reopen schools, funds $8.5 billion to distribute vaccines, and gives small business relief.

The bill is popular among Republican mayors and governors, whose governments cannot borrow to make up for tax revenue lost because of the pandemic and who are facing deficits of $80 to $100 billion even with money from the last relief packages. The deficits will require devastating cuts on top of the 1.3 million jobs that have already been cut in the past year. Relief is “not a Republican issue or a Democrat issue,” Fresno, California, mayor Jerry Dyer told Griff Witte of the Washington Post earlier this month. “It’s a public health issue. It’s an economic issue. And it’s a public safety issue.”

Those in favor of the measure note that while there is still close to $1 trillion unspent from previous coronavirus relief bills, currently unspent money has been assigned already: it is distributed among programs that are designed to spend it over a period of time. This includes federal employment benefits, which are distributed weekly; the Paycheck Protection Program, which is held in reserve for employers to apply for funds from it; enhanced medical matching funds to be distributed as the pandemic requires; and tax breaks to be spent as people file their tax returns.

The chair of the Federal Reserve, which oversees our banking system, Jerome H. Powell, has backed the idea of increased federal spending; so has Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. Powell was nominated to his current position by Trump (he was nominated to the Federal Reserve Board by President Barack Obama); Yellen is a Biden appointee.

This is a bill that should have gotten some Republican votes in the House of Representatives.

But it didn’t. Republican lawmakers are complaining about the partisan vote and scoffing that President Biden promised to unify the country. But the problem is not the bill. The problem is the Republican lawmakers, who are determined to oppose anything the Democrats propose.

The American Rescue Plan bill now goes to the Senate, where Republican senators appear to be united against it. In a statement, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) complained about the Democrats’ “deliberately partisan process” in writing the bill, but the Republicans willing to meet with President Biden—McConnell was not one of them-- proposed a measure that provided less than one-third the relief in the present bill. There is enormous urgency to passing the bill quickly, since current federal unemployment benefits expire on March 14.

The Senate is evenly split between the Democrats and the Republicans, with each party holding 50 seats (technically, Senators Angus King of Maine and Bernie Sanders of Vermont are Independents, but they currently work with the Democrats). Although each party effectively holds 50 seats, the Democrats represent 41.5 million more Americans than the Republicans do, in nation that has 328.2 million people.

In addition to their disproportionate power in the Senate, the Republicans can stop legislation through the filibuster. This is a holdover from an earlier era, in which a senator could stop a bill approved by a majority by refusing to stop talking about it, which would prevent the bill from coming to a vote unless senators voted to invoke “cloture,” a process that limits consideration of a pending bill to 30 additional hours. Today, cloture requires 60 votes.

The filibuster was rarely used before about 1960; in the early twentieth century, southern senators used it primarily to stop civil rights legislation. But as the volume of business in the Senate raised the need to streamline debate, the Senate reformed the filibuster so that a senator could simply threaten a filibuster to kill a bill.

[ Continued below ]

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Our current Republican lawmakers use these “holds” to kill any measure that cannot muster 60 votes, effectively turning the Senate into a body that requires not a majority to pass legislation, but rather a supermajority. Those who defend the filibuster argue that this supermajority requirement will make senators create bills that are bipartisan, but in fact it has meant that a small minority controls the Senate.

So Democrats will have to pass the American Rescue Plan through a procedure known as “reconciliation,” which enables certain budget bills to pass with a simple majority rather than the 60 votes currently necessary for a regular bill. But the Senate can only pass three bills a year through this process, and there are strict limits to what can be in them. The Senate parliamentarian, a nonpartisan judge of the procedural rules of the Senate, has decided that the $15-an-hour federal minimum wage in the current bill does not meet the requirements of reconciliation. Fifty-nine percent of Americans like the idea of raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2025, as the bill sets out, but the hike cannot be included in the convoluted process necessary to get the bill through without the supermajority the current filibuster system requires.

Senate leadership can overrule or fire the parliamentarian, but that really doesn’t matter in this case because at least one Democrat, Senate Joe Manchin (D-WV), opposes the increased minimum wage. His opposition would sink the entire measure because the Democrats need every one of their 50 votes.

The American Rescue Plan will likely pass—without the increased minimum wage—but it will do so only because the Democrats won both Georgia Senate seats in January, giving them an equal number of senators to the Republicans.

The Democrats will be able to pass a bill popular with more than 3 out of 4 of us only because they have a slight majority in the House and can use a special budget measure to work around the Republican senators who represent 41.5 million fewer Americans than the Democrats do.

The coronavirus relief bill illustrates just how dangerously close we are to minority rule.

—-

Submitted March 01, 2021

Notes:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/12/22/trump-stimulus-video-bill/

list of bill characteristics:

Matt McDermott
@mattmfm
Every House Republican voted against:

— $1,400 stimulus checks
— Increased unemployment benefits
— State & local government aid  
— $3,000+ child tax credits
— Funds to reopen schools
— Funds for vaccine distribution
— Funds for rental assistance
— Small business relief
February 27th 2021

14,419 Retweets35,692 Likes

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jan/13/us-state-local-governments-covid-pandemic-economic-impacts

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/local-republicans-support-biden-covid-relief-plan/2021/02/14/9791d4ba-6d65-11eb-9ed1-73d434b5147f_story.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2021/02/28/fed-biden-inflation-19-trillion-stimulus/

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/02/11/covid-stimulus-updates-nancy-pelosi-says-relief-bill-will-pass-by-march.html

https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/27/gop-coronavirus-stimulus-471815

https://www.vox.com/2020/10/26/21534358/supreme-court-amy-coney-barrett-constitution-anti-democratic-electoral-college-senate

https://www.vox.com/2020/11/6/21550979/senate-malapportionment-20-million-democrats-republicans-supreme-court

https://www.npr.org/2021/02/26/971793277/who-the-senate-parliamentarian-who-ruled-against-a-minimum-wage-increase

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/the-politics-of-the-tug-of-war-over-the-minimum-wage

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March 1, 2021

This morning, conservative pundit William Kristol wrote in The Bulwark what a number of us have been saying for a while now, and it dovetails cleanly with the current Republican attempt to suppress voting.

Kristol warns that our democracy is in crisis. For the first time in our history, we have failed to have a peaceful transfer of power. The Republican Party launched a coup—which fortunately failed—and “now claims that the current administration is illegitimately elected, the result of massive, coordinated fraud. The logical extension of this position would seem to be that the American constitutional order deserving of our allegiance no longer exists.”

“So,” he notes, “we are at the edge of crisis, having repulsed one attempted authoritarian power grab and bracing for another.”

Claims that American democracy is on the ropes in the face of an authoritarian power grab raise accusations of partisanship… but in this case, the person making the claim is a conservative, who goes on to urge conservatives to join behind President Joe Biden to try to save democracy. Kristol warns that “a dangerous, anti-democratic faction” of the Republican Party “is not committed in any serious way to the truth, the rule of law, or the basic foundations of our liberal democracy.”

Kristol’s call is notable both because of his position on the right and because he warns that we are absolutely not in a moment of business-as-usual. Perhaps because it is impossible to imagine, we seem largely to have normalized that the former president of the United States refused to accept his loss in the 2020 election and enlisted a mob to try to overturn the results. Along with his supporters, he continues to insist that he won that election and that President Joe Biden is an illegitimate usurper.

This big lie threatens the survival of our democracy.

At the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) conference this weekend in Orlando, Florida, Trump supporters doubled down on the lie that Biden stole the 2020 election. From a stage shaped like a piece of Nazi insignia, speakers raged that they were victims of “cancel culture” on the part of Big Tech and the left, which are allegedly trying to silence them. To restore fairness, they want to stop “voter fraud” and restore “election integrity,” and they want to force social media giants to let them say whatever they want on social media.

In the Washington Post, commentator Jennifer Rubin said the modern conservatives at CPAC had no policy but revenge, “resentment, cult worship and racism," and no political goal but voter suppression. It is “the only means by which they seek to capture power in an increasingly diverse America,” she notes. A poll showed that “election integrity” was the issue most important to CPAC attendees, with 62% of them choosing it over “constitutional rights” (which got only 48%).

Trump himself packaged this lie in words that sounded much like the things he said before the January 6 insurrection. He claimed that he had won the election, that the election was “rigged,” and that it was “undeniable” that the rules of the election were “illegally changed”—although none of his many court challenges stuck. He attacked the Supreme Court in language that echoed the attacks on his vice president, Mike Pence, that had rioters searching him out to kill him. “They didn’t have the guts or the courage to make the right decision,” Trump said of the justices.

The purpose of this big lie is not only to reinforce Trump’s hold on the Republican Party, but also to delegitimize the Democratic victory. If Democrats cheat, it makes sense to prevent “voter fraud” by making it harder to vote. “We must pass comprehensive election reforms, and we must do it now,” Trump said.

Republican reforms, though, mean voter suppression. Currently, Republican legislators in 43 states have introduced more than 250 bills to restrict voting. They want to cut back early voting and restrict mail-in voting, limit citizen-led ballot initiatives, and continue to gerrymander congressional districts. Arizona is trying to make it possible for state legislatures, rather than voters, to choose the state’s presidential electors. Rather than try to draw voters to their party’s candidates by moderating their stances, they are trying to win power by keeping people from voting.

I cannot emphasize enough how dangerous this is. We have gone down this road before in America, in the South after 1876. The outcome was the end of democracy in the region and the establishment of a single, dominant party for generations. In those decades, a small body of men ruled their region without oversight and openly mocked the idea of justice before the law. A member of the jury that took only 67 minutes to acquit Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam for murdering 14-year-old Emmett Till in 1955 famously said, “We wouldn’t have taken so long if we hadn’t stopped to drink pop.” White men dominated women and their Black and Brown neighbors, but their gains were largely psychological, as the one-party system created instability that slowed down economic investment, while leaders ignored education and infrastructure.

Tomorrow, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in a lawsuit concerning Arizona election laws. The case is from 2016, when Democrats argued that two Arizona voting laws discriminated against Hispanic, Black, and Indigenous voters in violation of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which prohibits laws that hamper voting on the basis of race. The laws called for ballots cast in the wrong precinct to be thrown away and allowed only election officials, letter carriers, household family members, or caregivers to return someone else’s mail-in ballot. A violation could bring a $150,000 fine. The court’s decision in this case will have big implications for the legitimacy of the restrictions Republican legislatures are trying to enact now.

[ Continued below ]

Ahavati
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Meanwhile, Democrats are trying to shore up voting rights with H.R. 1, the For the People Act of 2021. This sweeping measure would make it easier to vote, curtail gerrymandering, make elections more secure, and reform the campaign finance system.

They are also proposing the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act, H.R. 4, which would restore the parts of the Voting Rights Act the Supreme Court gutted in 2013 in the Shelby v. Holder decision, limiting changes to election laws that disproportionately affect people of color. After Shelby v. Holder, a number of states immediately enacted sweeping voter suppression laws that disproportionately hit minorities, the elderly, and the young, all populations perceived to vote Democratic.

Neither of these bills will pass the Senate unless the Democrats modify the filibuster rule, which permits Republicans to stop legislation unless it can muster not just a majority, but a supermajority of 60 votes.

Today the Senate Judiciary Committee voted in favor of Judge Merrick Garland for Attorney General. Garland is noted for supervising the prosecution of the men who bombed the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in 1995, hoping to topple the federal government. In his opening remarks to the Senate Judiciary committee last week, Garland vowed that, if confirmed, he “will supervise the prosecution of white supremacists and others who stormed the Capitol on January 6—a heinous attack that sought to disrupt a cornerstone of our democracy: the peaceful transfer of power to a newly elected government.” He promised that he would follow where the investigation led, even if it went “upstream” to those who might not have been in the Capitol, but who nevertheless were participants in the insurrection.

The vote to move Garland’s nomination to the full Senate was 15 to 7, with Ben Sasse (R-NE), Mike Lee (R-UT), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Tom Cotton (R-AR), John Kennedy (R-LA), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) all voting no.

With the exception of Sasse, all those voting no have signed on to the big lie.

—-

Submitted March 02, 2021

Notes:

https://thebulwark.com/the-facts-of-life/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/cpac-trump-election/2021/02/27/669c1ab2-791f-11eb-948d-19472e683521_story.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/03/01/jordans-false-claim-that-pelosi-denied-request-national-guard-troops/

https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/28/trump-gop-cpac-voter-integrity-restrictions-471831

https://www.vox.com/2021/2/28/22306318/trump-cpac-2021-speech-election-lies

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/03/01/trumps-biggest-cpac-lie-unmasks-vile-truth-democrats-ignore-it-their-peril/

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Alex Howard
@digiphile
The @WhiteHouse has issued a statement of support for #HR1/#S1 (aka the #ForThePeopleAct) as a PDF, but has not tweeted it yet:
whitehouse.gov/wp-content/upl…
These should go in the briefing room - or (better yet) narrated on a blog. (The WH website kind of IS a blog now, but still.)ImageImage
March 1st 2021

25 Retweets78 Likes
/photo/1


https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/03/01/worst-kept-secret-conservatism-has-no-values/

https://indivisible.org/resource/democracy-reform-john-lewis-voting-rights-act

https://www.leahy.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/John%20Lewis%20Voting%20Rights%20Advancement%20Act%20one%20pager.pdf

https://lawandcrime.com/high-profile/judge-merrick-garland-approved-by-judiciary-committee-for-senate-vote-on-u-s-attorney-general/

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/27/us/republican-voter-suppression.html

CPAC poll:

Twitter avatar for @RyanGirdusky
Ryan James Girdusky
@RyanGirdusky
#CPAC2021 poll on the most important issues... re-opening the economy was fourth Image
February 28th 2021

291 Retweets902 Likes
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/supreme-court-arizona-voting-rights-case/


https://indivisible.org/resource/democracy-reform-john-lewis-voting-rights-act

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/senate-committee-advances-garland-nomination-attorney-general-n1259139

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/03/01/cpac-stage-nazi-symbol-hyatt/

JohnnyBlaze
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^ It just blows my mind how people these days are incapable of indistinguishing between the two parties and not seeing the importance in paying forward the facts for future voters.

Ahavati
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This is a brief analysis regarding the rise of authoritarianism written a few years back. Some of the related posts are also very interesting.

The Rise of Authoritarianism

https://evolutioncounseling.com/the-rise-of-authoritarianism/



JohnnyBlaze
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Ahavati said:This is a brief analysis regarding the rise of authoritarianism written a few years back. Some of the related posts are also very interesting.

The Rise of Authoritarianism

https://evolutioncounseling.com/the-rise-of-authoritarianism/


Good read!

Ahavati
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March 2, 2021

[ . . . ]

Three big stories today:

The first is that President Biden announced today that Merck, the pharmaceutical company, will pitch in to help make the Johnson & Johnson single-shot coronavirus vaccine. Along with high production rates from the other manufacturers, this should enable the government to produce vaccines for all U.S. adults—300 million of us-- by the end of May, two months ahead of the previously projected schedule. The administration has facilitated this rate of production by using the Defense Production Act, a 1950 law that enables the government to manage production of materials deemed necessary for national defense. That law is used quite frequently, but while the previous president used it repeatedly during his administration, he was curiously reluctant to use it to address the coronavirus pandemic.

The vaccines will come none too soon for people in Texas, where Governor Greg Abbott today announced he will end the statewide mask mandate and permit all businesses to reopen without coronavirus restrictions. He says that “people and businesses don’t need the state telling them how to operate” any longer.

In the last week, Texas reported more than 200 deaths a day from Covid-19 and only 6.5% of Texans have been fully vaccinated. Although case rates have been declining across the country, the declines stopped this week, and cases in Texas actually increased. Currently, more than 6,000 people in Texas are hospitalized with Covid-19.

Houston, Texas, is the first city in the U.S. to report infections from all of the major new coronavirus variants, and they appear to be widespread. The White House has asked Abbott to reconsider ending measures designed to slow the spread of coronavirus.

In Mississippi, Governor Tate Reeves (R) also ended the mask mandate.

In Washington, D.C., the Biden administration announced new sanctions against Russian officials in retaliation for poisoning Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. The sanctions freeze assets belonging to seven of the top figures around Russian President Vladimir Putin. Biden’s position against chemical weapons and the silencing of political opposition indicates that he will take a stance toward Putin in line with the traditional U.S. insistence on the rule of law, rather than adopting the friendly approach that his predecessor used.

In Washington, D.C., FBI Director Christopher A. Wray testified for nearly four hours today before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the January 6 insurrection. Questioning him were Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Josh Hawley (R-MO), both of whom endorsed the Big Lie that motivated the insurrectionists: that Biden was not legitimately elected.

Wray divided the rioters into three groups: some who showed up to protest and did so lawfully if loudly; protesters who got caught up in the moment and committed minor, non-violent offenses; and a group in paramilitary gear who had planned ahead of time to do whatever it took to stop the counting of the certified electoral ballots for Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

He said that white supremacists and other domestic terrorists are the “top threat” facing America today. The FBI now lists white supremacist organizations next to ISIS in its top priority level of threat. Wray noted that the FBI is currently tracking about 2000 cases of domestic terrorism, up from about 850 two years ago.

Under pressure from Republicans to shore up their theories that the insurrectionists were not Trump supporters, but rather were undercover leftists, Wray shot those theories down. Pressed by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Wray declined to place “Antifa” in the same category of threat as domestic terrorists. Under pressure from Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), Wray rejected the idea that the January 6 insurrection was precipitated by people pretending to be Trump supporters.

According to the FBI director, domestic terrorism “has been metastasizing around the country for a long time now, and it’s not going away anytime soon.”

And not a major story but an interesting one: A new survey by Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll says that 61% of voters approve of Biden’s performance so far. Fifty-five percent of respondents also approve of the Democratic Party, a number that is up 7 points since January. Confidence in the economy and in the future of the country are both growing, as well.

—-

Submitted March 03, 2021

Notes:

https://www.texastribune.org/2021/03/02/greg-abbott-texas-announcement/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/03/02/coronavirus-covid-live-updates-us/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/02/05/biden-vaccines-tests-gloves/

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/31/us/politics/coronavirus-defense-production-act.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/03/02/merck-johnson-and-johnson-covid-vaccine-partnership/

https://khn.org/morning-breakout/cities-starting-to-detect-multiple-covid-variants/

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/wray-senate-hearing-capitol-riot-white-supremacists-b1810615.html

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/fbi-capitol-riot-wray-hearing-takeaways-b1810895.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/christopher-wray-fbi-capitol-riot/2021/03/01/a49d177a-7ae7-11eb-85cd-9b7fa90c8873_story.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/russia-biden-navalny-sanctions/2021/03/02/4367d342-7b5e-11eb-85cd-9b7fa90c8873_story.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/03/02/wray-gop-capitol-conspiracies/

https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/541032-bidens-approval-tops-60-percent-in-new-poll

JohnnyBlaze
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^ That's great news about Merck since their attempts at a vaccine didn't pan out and they were attempting an antibody serum instead which is really no longer necessary now that we have a few viable vaccines.

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