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Letters from an American by Heather Cox Richardson

Ahavati
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JohnnyBlaze said:^

Jesus. I wasn't aware of this part.


Note his defense attorneys ( not the four who resigned last week but the two now holding the banner ) are referring to Trump's comments as free speech. . .they're not saying he didn't incite the siege ( they know he did ); but, rather, that he was simply exercising his right of free speech.

Trump’s new legal team issued its response to the House impeachment managers today, as well. They stand on the ground that, because Trump is no longer president, it is unconstitutional to try him on an article of impeachment. They also deny that the former president incited the insurrection and say he was simply exercising his First Amendment rights when he repeatedly attacked the legitimacy of the 2020 election.

JohnnyBlaze
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I would agree with that if Trump was a moderator in an internet forum, not the President of the United States. Pah-leaze.


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February 3, 2021

While Republican lawmakers continue to grab headlines with outrageous behavior and obstructionism, President Biden has been derailing them in the only way no one has tried yet: ignoring them and governing. Only two weeks into his administration, this approach appears to be enormously effective.

The two Republican factions continue to compete for control of the party. That struggle has been personified this week by the relative standing of new Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene and established Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney, the House Republican Conference Chair, who is the third person in the line of Republican House leadership.

In her two weeks in Congress, Greene has made the news with her support for the extremist QAnon movement, harassment of school shooting survivor David Hogg, and past support for executing Democratic politicians, among other things. After news emerged that she had agreed with a Facebook commenter that the 2018 Parkland school shooting was a “false flag” operation, Democrats were outraged that Republican leadership assigned her to the House Education and Labor Committee. They demanded House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy strip her of committee assignments.

Meanwhile, Cheney has won the ire of pro-Trump Republicans by voting to impeach the former president for instigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol. Trump’s supporters, including Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH), want to strip Cheney of her leadership role in the party, and Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) traveled to her home state of Wyoming to urge voters to turn her out of office. Still, some observers think the Trump faction is attacking Cheney simply to provide the kind of sound bites that will please their voters.

Today, McCarthy said he would not punish Greene for her statements, and the Republicans on the House Rules Committee said they would not strip her of committee assignments (although McCarthy stripped former Representative Steven King [R-IA] of his assignments after racist comments). Later, when the House Republicans met for the first time this session, about half of them gave Greene a standing ovation when she rose to speak.

Thrilled at the attention she is getting, Greene told the Washington Examiner that there is no difference between establishment Republicans and the Democrats, and she is eager to bring more action-oriented people like her to Congress to help Trump with his plan, “whenever he comes out with [it.]”

And yet, at the same meeting, when party members held a secret vote on leaving Cheney in her leadership position after she voted to impeach Trump, they did so, by a vote of 145-61-1. Increasing numbers of Republicans—including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell—are eager to put daylight between themselves and the Trump wing, likely because they know that the political and legal calculus has changed now that the Democrats are in power.

Biden continues to put the government on firm footing. He came into office with a series of executive actions at hand to do exactly what he promised during the campaign: combat the coronavirus pandemic and bolster the weakening economy.

To that end, he is moving forward quickly with a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. Today, the Democratic Congress took steps to prepare the way to pass the measure without Republican votes if necessary, although Biden met yesterday with ten Republican senators and says he is willing to talk with Republicans if they are serious. What he refuses to do, though, is what tripped up President Barack Obama, who negotiated with Republicans for months over the Affordable Care Act, only to have all but one of them refuse to vote for the measure.

Biden has also launched a sweeping set of plans to combat climate changeincluding today calling on Congress to end the $40 billion taxpayer subsidies to fossil fuels-- bringing a wide range of interests behind the plans.

The new administration has also reestablished norms. Yesterday, for example, the Senate confirmed Alejandro Mayorkas as the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. This is a big deal because it gives DHS an actual Senate-confirmed head, which it has not had since at least 2019 as Trump appointed various acting heads, including Chad Wolf. According to the Government Accountability Office and a number of judges, Wolf was in the office illegally.

Biden has also reinstituted the oversight that was largely ignored by the previous administration. Today, Robert Stewart Jr., who won more than $38 million in federal contracts to deliver N95 masks despite the fact he had none and had no way of getting any, pleaded guilty to three counts of making false statements, wire fraud, and theft of government funds. Also today, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen announced the hiring of a number of officials who will be part of a crackdown on enforcement of tax laws both at home and abroad; the Internal Revenue Service estimates that about $441 billion a year in taxes owed are not collected.

Also today, in his first interview since taking office, Biden promised that none of his family members will work at the White House.

Biden has moved quickly to get rid of the political appointees Trump tried to burrow into the federal government. Yesterday, Biden fired all ten of the anti-labor activists Trump had put on the Federal Service Impasses Panel, the panel in charge of resolving disputes between unions and federal agencies when they cannot resolve issues in negotiations. The head of the union of federal employees, representing 700,000 federal employees, thanked Biden for his attempt to “restore basic fairness for federal workers.” He said, “The outgoing panel, appointed by the previous administration and stacked with transparently biased union-busters, was notorious for ignoring the law to gut workplace rights and further an extreme political agenda.”

[ Continued below ]

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The two themes of Republican factionalism and the Democrats’ return to American norms came together today. After negotiating for weeks, McConnell and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) finally came up with a plan to organize the Senate, which will turn the chairs of committees over to the Democrats.

This means that Biden’s pick for attorney general, Merrick Garland, should finally get a hearing for his confirmation. The attorney general is a leading figure in our national security apparatus, overseeing our legal system as well as the FBI. Former Senate Judiciary Chair Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was slow walking a hearing for him, but as soon as Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) takes the gavel, Garland will be on the schedule.

If he is confirmed, Garland will oversee the prosecution of those involved in the attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Garland is known as a straight shooter who will uphold the law impartially.

Today, Reuters broke the news that the Justice Department is considering charging those engaged in the Capitol riot under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). RICO cases are complicated and take a long time to put together, but the law was designed to enable prosecutors to reach those, like criminal ringleaders, who keep their own hands clean but tell others to commit crimes.

If the Department of Justice is indeed considering RICO, which sweeps in a wide range of participants in a crime, Republicans not associated with the attack on the Capitol might have good reason to back away from those who are.

—-

Submitted February 04, 2021

Notes:

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/prime/dhs-wraps-up-2-years-during-which-it-was-unclear-who-was-actually-legally-in-charge

FSIP:

Mark Joseph Stern
@mjs_DC
Biden just fired all 10 of Trump’s appointees on the Federal Service Impasses Panel. Trump had stacked the panel with anti-labor activists who rewrote union contracts to undermine collective bargaining and strip protections from workers. Now all his holdovers are gone.


https://twitter.com/mjs_DC/status/1356787125975449603

https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/26/politics/marjorie-taylor-greene-democrats-violence/index.html

https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/26/politics/marjorie-taylor-greene-democrats-violence/index.html

https://www.thedailybeast.com/trump-wants-liz-cheney-gone-but-will-the-house-gop-obey

https://www.npr.org/2021/02/02/963014373/how-fast-will-biden-need-to-move-on-climate-really-really-fast

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2021/01/27/denouncing-handouts-big-oil-biden-calls-congress-end-40-billion-taxpayer-subsidies

https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/03/biden-dems-call-stimulus-checks-465484

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/mccarthy-greene-punish-resolution

standing ovation:

Jake Tapper
@jaketapper
A source confirms this to me as well. Standing O from roughly half the House GOP for a woman who trafficked in anti Semitic and racist conspiracy theories, who questioned whether 9/11 and mass shootings were real events.
Cameron Joseph @cam_joseph

Source tells me that roughly half the House GOP conference gave Marjorie Taylor Greene a standing ovation after she rose to speak a few min ago.
February 4th 2021


https://twitter.com/jaketapper/status/1357125057408098306

https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/03/politics/marjorie-taylor-greene-committee-assignments/index.html

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/greene-celebrates-backlash-claims-democrats-helping-her

https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/03/schumer-and-mcconnell-agree-to-organizing-resolution-for-50-50-senate-465444

https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/537113-biden-pledges-no-family-members-will-work-at-the-white-house?rl=1

https://www.propublica.org/article/contractor-masks-guilty-plea#1049488

https://www.cnn.com/politics/live-news/congress-trump-impeachment-2-03-21/h_bb0b9b9967fca5ff70ef7561ba6c6c00

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-treasury-tax-idUSKBN2A330Y

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-capitol-rico-exclusive-idUSKBN2A32W2

JohnnyBlaze
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^ This is like reading the daily news on steroids. I'm learning things that aren't even made available on televised news because of the need for fluff and filler.

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JohnnyBlaze said:^ This is like reading the daily news on steroids. I'm learning things that aren't even made available on televised news because of the need for fluff and filler.

President Biden is kicking ass and taking names while staying in his own lane.

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February 04, 2021

Today Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) proposed giving at least $3000 annually per child to American families. This suggestion is coming from a man who, when he ran as the Republican candidate for president in 2012, famously echoed what was then Republican orthodoxy. He was caught on tape saying that “there are 47 percent of the people who… are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.”

Romney’s proposal indicates the political tide has turned away from the Republicans. Since the 1980s, they have insisted that the government must be starved, dismissing as “socialism” Democrats’ conviction that the government has a role to play in stabilizing the economy and society.

And yet, that idea, which is in line with traditional conservatism, was part of the founding ideology of the Republican Party in the 1850s. It was also the governing ideology of Romney’s father, George Romney, who served as governor of Michigan from 1963 to 1969, where he oversaw the state’s first income tax, and as the secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Richard Nixon, where he tried to increase housing for the poor and desegregate the suburbs. It was also at the heart of Romney’s own record in Massachusetts, where as governor from 2003 to 2007, he ushered in the near-universal health care system on which the Affordable Care Act was based.

But in the 1990s, Republican leadership purged from the party any lawmakers who embraced traditional Republicanism, demanding absolutely loyalty to the idea of cutting taxes and government to free up individual enterprise. By 2012, Romney had to run from his record, including his major health care victory in Massachusetts. Now, just a decade later, he has returned to the ideas behind it.

Why?

First, and most important, President Joe Biden has hit the ground running, establishing a momentum that looks much like that of Democratic President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1933. Roosevelt had behind him stronger majorities than Biden’s, but both took office facing economic crises—and, in Biden’s case, a pandemic as well, along with the climate crisis--and set out immediately to address them.

Like FDR, Biden has established the direction of his administration through executive actions: he is just behind FDR’s cracking pace. Biden arrived in the Oval Office with a sheaf of carefully crafted executive actions that put in place policies that voters wanted: spurring job creation, feeding children, rejoining the World Health Organization, pursuing tax cheats, ending the transgender ban in the military, and reestablishing ties to the nation’s traditional allies. Once Biden had a Democratic Senate as well as a House—those two Georgia Senate seats were huge—he was free to ask for a big relief package for those suffering in the pandemic, and now even Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), who had expressed concern about the package, seems to be on board.

FDR’s momentum increased in part because the Republicans were discredited after the collapse of the economy and as Republican leaders turned up as corrupt. Biden’s momentum, too, is likely gathering steam as the Republicans are increasingly tainted by their association with the January 6 insurrection and the attack on the Capitol, along with the behavior of those who continue to support the former president.

The former president’s own behavior is not helping to polish his image. In their response to the House impeachment brief, Trump’s lawyers made the mistake of focusing not on whether the Senate can try a former president but on what Trump did and did not do. That, of course, makes Trump a witness, and today Jamie Raskin (D-MD), the lead impeachment manager, asked him to testify.

Trumps’ lawyers promptly refused but, evidently anticipating his refusal, Raskin had noted in the invitation that “[i]f you decline this invitation, we reserve any and all rights, including the right to establish at trial that your refusal to testify supports a strong adverse inference regarding your actions (and inaction) on January 6, 2021.” In other words: “Despite his lawyers’ rhetoric, any official accused of inciting armed violence against the government of the United States should welcome the chance to testify openly and honestly—that is, if the official had a defense."

The lack of defense seems to be mounting. This morning, Jason Stanley of Just Security called attention to the film shown at the January 6 rally just after Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani spoke. Stanley explained how it was an explicitly fascist film, designed to show the former president as a strong fascist leader promising to protect Americans against those who are undermining the country: the Jews. Stanley also pointed out that, according to the New York Times, the rally was “a White House production” and that Trump was deeply involved with the details.

Trump’s supporters are not cutting a good figure, either. Today, by a vote of 230-199, the House of Representatives voted to strip new Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) of her assignments to the Budget Committee and the Education and Labor Committee. It did so after reviewing social media posts in which she embraced political violence and conspiracy theories. This leaves Greene with little to do but to continue to try to gin up media attention and to raise money.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) had declined to take action against Greene—although in 2019 he stripped assignments from Steve King (R-IA) for racist comments-- and only eleven Republicans joined the majority. The Republican Party is increasingly associated with the Trump wing, and that association will undoubtedly grow as Democrats press it in advertisements, as they have already begun to do.

[ Continued below ]

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McConnell has called for the party’s extremists to be purged out of concern that voters are turning away from the party. Still, the struggle between the two factions might be hard to keep out of the news as the Senate turns to confirmation hearings for Biden’s nominee to head the Department of Justice, Merrick Garland.

Going forward, the attorney general will be responsible for overseeing any prosecutions that come from the attempt to overturn the election, and the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will question Garland, has on it three Republican senators involved in that attempt. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has been accused by Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger of calling before Trump did to get him to alter the state’s vote count. Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Josh Hawley (R-MO) both joined in challenging the counting of the electoral votes.

It is hard to imagine the other senators at the hearing will not bring the three compromised senators into the discussion. The Republicans have so far refused to schedule Garland’s hearing, although now that the Senate is organized under the Democrats, it will happen soon.

Trump Republicans are betting the former president’s endorsement will win them office in the future. But with social media platforms cracking down on his disinformation, his ability to reach voters is not at all what it used to be, making it easier for members of the other faction to jump ship.

In addition, those echoing Trump’s lies are getting hit in their wallets. Today, the voting systems company Smartmatic sued the Fox News Channel and its personalities Maria Bartiromo, Lou Dobbs, and Jeanine Pirro, along with Giuliani and Trump’s legal advisor Sidney Powell, for at least $2.7 billion in damages for lying about Smartmatic machines in their attempt to overturn the election results.

Republicans rejecting the Trump takeover of the party are increasingly outspoken. Not only has Romney called for a measure that echoes Biden’s emphasis on supporting children and families, but also Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) today released a video attacking the leaders of his state’s Republican Party after hearing that they planned to censure him for speaking out against the former president.

“If that president were a Democrat, we both know how you’d respond. But, because he had ‘Republican’ behind his name, you’re defending him,” Sasse said. “Something has definitely changed over the last four years … but it’s not me.”

—-

Submitted February 5, 2021

Notes:

Raskin response:

Kyle Griffin
@kylegriffin1
New response from lead impeachment manager Jamie Raskin: "Despite his lawyers’ rhetoric, any official accused of inciting armed violence against the government of the United States should welcome the chance to testify openly and honestly—that is, if the official had a defense."
February 5th 2021


https://twitter.com/kylegriffin1/status/1357504328613781506

Romney Quotation

b-boy bouiebaisse
@jbouie
@EricLevitz @hamandcheese this prompted me to revisit those remarks and on rereading them they’re even worse than i remembered
February 5th 2021


https://twitter.com/jbouie/status/1357521558902870017

https://www.npr.org/2021/02/03/963380189/with-28-executive-orders-signed-president-biden-is-off-to-a-record-start

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/02/04/sen-ben-sasse-slams-nebraska-gop-committees-plans-censure-him-criticizing-trump/

Greene vote:

Yamiche Alcindor
@Yamiche
The House voted to strip Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of her committee assignments, 230-199.

.@LisaDNews notes the final slate showed 11 Republicans voting with Democrats which is one more than voted to impeach former President Trump.
February 4th 2021


https://twitter.com/Yamiche/status/1357477598402654209

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/04/business/media/smartmatic-fox-news-lawsuit.html

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/profoundly-concerned-pelosi-rebukes-gop-leaders-ahead-vote-remove-greene-n1256737

https://www.politico.com/story/2019/02/04/congress-house-republicans-committee-assignments-stripped-1145320

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/campaigns/mcconnell-john-birch-society-2022-backlash

https://www.cnn.com/2020/11/16/politics/georgia-secretary-of-state-lindsey-graham-ballots-cnntv/index.html

https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/about/members

https://www.justsecurity.org/74504/movie-at-the-ellipse-a-study-in-fascist-propaganda/

https://judiciary.house.gov/uploadedfiles/president_trump_letter.pdf

Kyle Griffin
@kylegriffin1
New response from lead impeachment manager Jamie Raskin: "Despite his lawyers’ rhetoric, any official accused of inciting armed violence against the government of the United States should welcome the chance to testify openly and honestly—that is, if the official had a defense."
February 5th 2021


https://twitter.com/kylegriffin1/status/1357504328613781506

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February 5, 2021

Yet another Friday without a news dump from the federal government (woo hoo!) means that I have the room to highlight something really interesting that was buried in President Biden’s speech at the State Department yesterday afternoon. Not surprisingly, Biden announced a return to a more traditional foreign policy than his predecessor’s. But he did more than that: he tied foreign policy to domestic interests in a way that echoed Republican president Theodore Roosevelt when he helped to launch the Progressive Era of the early twentieth century.

Biden’s predecessor wrenched U.S. foreign policy from the channel in which it had operated since WWII, replacing it with a new focus on the economic interests of business leaders. Trump chose as Secretary of State the former chief executive officer of ExxonMobil, Rex Tillerson, who oversaw the gutting of career officers in the State Department. When the department lost 12% of its foreign-affairs specialists in the first eight months of 2017, it was clear that the Trump administration was abandoning a foreign policy in which the United States tried to defend the idea of democracy and to advance its interests through diplomacy.

Instead, in his first trip overseas, the former president traveled to Saudi Arabia, where he announced the largest single arms deal in American history, worth $110 billion immediately and more than $350 billion over ten years. The White House noted that the deal was “a significant expansion of… [the] security relationship” between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.

"That was a tremendous day. Tremendous investments in the United States," Trump told reporters. "Hundreds of billions of dollars of investments into the United States and jobs, jobs, jobs." Lockheed Martin, one of the world’s largest defense contractors, cheered the sale.

It was a public relations victory for Mohammed bin Salman, often referred to as MBS and the deputy crown prince of Saudi Arabia at the time, coming as it did just a year after Congress voted to allow the families of those killed in the 9/11 attacks to sue the country from which 15 of the 19 hijackers came. It also would increase the U.S. supply of arms to his country’s intervention in Yemen, the country to its south, where a pro-Saudi president had been ousted in 2015 by the Houthi movement, whose members accused him of corruption and ties to Saudi Arabia and the U.S.

In his remarks during his May visit to Saudi Arabia, Trump backed away from the role the United States had claimed to take on since its war with Spain in 1898, aiming to defend democracy around the world. “We are not here to lecture—we are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be, or how to worship,” Trump said. “[W]e are here to offer partnership-- based on shared interests and values—to pursue a better future for us all.”

For the rest of his presidency, Trump worked to weaken the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a military alliance among 30 nations of Europe, the U.S., and Canada, formed in 1949 to stop the spread of Soviet, and now Russian, aggression in Europe. Instead, he worked to strengthen U.S. ties to countries with strongman leaders, such as MBS and Russia’s Vladimir Putin. He sidestepped career diplomats to run his own, shadow diplomacy out of the White House, tapping his son-in-law Jared Kushner to secure peace in the Middle East, for example, and asking administration officials to pressure Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to announce an investigation into Joe Biden’s son Hunter.

And he continued to sell billions worth of arms to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, even after Congress halted such transfers as indiscriminate Saudi bombing in Yemen created a deadly humanitarian crisis.

One of the first things Biden did when he took office was to freeze for review $23 billion in pending arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates negotiated by his predecessor (including 50 Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets). Yesterday, he announced he was ending U.S. support for the Saudi war in Yemen.

[ Continued below ]

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In his speech to the State Department yesterday Biden immediately indicated that he was restoring traditional American diplomacy. The first thing he did was to acknowledge his secretary of state, Antony Blinken, a career diplomat with a degree from Columbia Law School and a long and impressive resume including work on U.S. policy in Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan.

The next thing Biden said was to assure the world that diplomats around the world spoke for the country again: “when you speak, you speak for me.” Later on, he reiterated that idea: “I value your expertise and I respect you, and I will have your back. This administration is going to empower you to do your jobs, not target or politicize you.”  

Biden emphasized that he had spoken to “the leaders of many of our closest friends — Canada, Mexico, the UK, Germany, France, NATO, Japan, South Korea, Australia — to [begin] reforming the habits of cooperation and rebuilding the muscle of democratic alliances that have atrophied over the past few years of neglect and, I would argue, abuse.” The message he wants the world to hear is: “America is back.  America is back. Diplomacy is back at the center of our foreign policy.”

Also back at the center of American diplomacy are “America’s most cherished democratic values,” Biden said, “defending freedom, championing opportunity, upholding universal rights, respecting the rule of law, and treating every person with dignity.” The case of Alexei Navalny, the Russian opposition leader who was poisoned in August and returned to Russia in mid-January only to be thrown into jail, has enabled Biden to illustrate how dramatically his foreign policy differs from that of his predecessor. Biden called on Putin to release Navalny “immediately and without condition.”

Biden outlined his approach to Yemen, China, and Russia… and then he said something that jumped out.

Biden argued that foreign policy is an integral part of domestic policy. It requires that the government address the needs of ordinary Americans. “We will compete from a position of strength by building back better at home,” he said. “That’s why my administration has already taken the important step to live our domestic values at home — our democratic values at home.”  

This idea—that the U.S. must reform its own society in order to extend the principles of democracy overseas-- was precisely the argument Theodore Roosevelt and other reformers made in the late 1890s when they launched the Progressive Era. When Roosevelt became president in 1901, he used this rationale to take the government out of the hands of business interests and use it to protect ordinary Americans.

Roosevelt argued that the government must clean up the cities, educate children, protect workers and consumers, support farmers, and make business pay its fair share. Biden shared his own list on Thursday: ending the so-called Muslim ban, reversing the ban on transgender troops, defending the free press, respecting science, addressing systemic racism and white supremacy, and rebuilding the economy.

“All this matters to foreign policy,” he said, “because when we… rally the nations of the world to defend democracy globally, to push back… authoritarianism’s advance, we’ll be a much more credible partner because of these efforts to shore up our own foundations.”

—-

Submitted February 6, 2021

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/02/tillerson-trump-state-foreign-service/553034/

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/05/20/us-saudi-arabia-seal-weapons-deal-worth-nearly-110-billion-as-trump-begins-visit.html

https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/trump-s-first-foreign-trip/trump-speech-muslims-we-are-not-here-lecture-n762631

https://www.forumarmstrade.org/resource-page---trump--saudi-arms-sales.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/14/us/politics/nato-president-trump.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/14/us/politics/nato-president-trump.html

https://theweek.com/speedreads/700428/trump-signs-largest-arms-deal-american-history-saudi-arabia

https://www.forumarmstrade.org/resource-page---trump--saudi-arms-sales.html

https://www.stateoig.gov/system/files/isp-i-20-19.pdf

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/05/world/middleeast/yemen-saudi-biden.html

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speeches-remarks/2021/02/04/remarks-by-president-biden-on-americas-place-in-the-world/


Ahavati
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February 6, 2021

A year ago yesterday, on February 5, 2020, the Republican-dominated Senate acquitted President Donald J. Trump of two charges for which the House had impeached him: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in order to rig his own reelection.

A year ago today, February 6, 2020, 57-year-old Patricia Dowd of San Jose, California, died suddenly after feeling ill for several days. She is the nation's first known victim of coronavirus.

Now, a year later, on February 6, 2021, the official count of coronavirus deaths in the United States is more than 460,000, significantly more Americans than died in World War Two.

And on Tuesday, February 9, 2021, the second impeachment trial of former president Donald J. Trump will begin in the Senate. This time, the House impeached him for incitement of insurrection in a desperate attempt to retain control of the presidency despite losing the 2020 election.

It's been quite a year.

I'm going to take the night off. I'll catch you tomorrow.

[Photo by Peter Ralston, of Rockland, Maine, titled "Coming and Going."]

JohnnyBlaze
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Ahavati said:It's been quite a year.

Yep. Now it should more of a breeze!

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February 7, 2021

Pundits are saying that the Senate will vote to acquit former president Donald Trump at the end of his second impeachment trial, set to start on Tuesday.

I’m not so sure.

After the January 6 attack on the Capitol, the House of Representatives passed an article of impeachment against Trump for “incitement of insurrection.” The article accuses the former president of engaging in high crimes and misdemeanors “by inciting violence against the Government of the United States.” It charges him with lying about voter fraud, trying to get the Georgia secretary of state to falsify election results, and encouraging his supporters to attack the Capitol to stop the process that would certify Biden’s victory.

The article charges that the former president “has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security, democracy, and the Constitution… and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law…. [He] warrants… disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States.”

The House passed this article of impeachment with 232 representatives voting yes and 197 voting no. Ten Republicans joined 222 Democrats to impeach Trump in his last days in office. The Senate will hold a trial to determine whether to convict the former president of this charge. If all 100 senators are present, the number needed to convict is seventeen. But there is no requirement that all senators be present.

Pundits are basing their belief that senators will vote to acquit on the fact that 45 Republican senators voted against a motion proposed by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), calling for a debate over the constitutionality of trying a former president. Paul insisted that vote was a proxy for conviction, but a vote immediately after that one, on the structure for the trial, drew only 17 no votes from Republicans. Thirty-three voted yes. My guess is that neither vote is a definitive sign of what is to come.

There are a number of things going on.

This trial brings into public view the fight for control of the Republican Party. Business Republicans, led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), have run the Republican Party since the 1980s. They cultivated the populists for their votes, but business Republicans never intended to give them power.

The two wings jockeyed along together because both like tax cuts and originalist judges, who reject the idea of business regulation and government protection of civil rights. But that uneasy alliance is wrenching apart. Trump gave his populist supporters a taste of power, and they do not want to give it up. The Trump wing has become a personality cult, embracing violence and an attack on the rule of law in order to keep the former president in office.

Business Republicans cozied up to the Trumpers because they need the votes Trump turned out and the money he raised. But it is no longer clear that he can keep commanding votes or raising big money.

Since the January 6 coup attempt, social media giants Twitter and Facebook, as well as others, have banned the former president, taking away his ability to marshal his troops. Lawsuits from voting machine companies that Trump surrogates attacked have shut up media personalities, hampering the Trump team’s ability to spread their narrative.

Trump and his inner circle have also lost their access to major publishing venues: the last major publisher willing to buy books from Trump’s people turned away from them after January 6, handing them back to smaller publishers.

At the same time, Trump supporters increasingly look unhinged. Their face is the new Georgia representative who has, in the past, embraced political violence and QAnon. Since January 6, Republican voters have been leaving the party. Their timing is a red flag: voters usually only change parties before an election.

Voters are not the only ones disgusted by the riot. Major Republican donors have announced that they will not donate to anyone who voted to challenge the counting of the electoral votes on January 6 and 7. Others have announced at least a temporary hold on political donations.

So for a Republican senator, what’s the political calculation on impeachment?

The course for Trump Republicans is easy: they will defend their man. Today, in what appeared to be a coordinated publicity maneuver, Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) and former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows tried to argue that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is to blame for the January 6 attack on the Capitol. (Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani blamed “Antifa” and “BLM.”)

But the calculation for the business Republicans is not so clear. They don’t want to alienate either Trump voters or anti-Trump voters, and they need to raise money.

[ Continued Below ]

Ahavati
Ahavati
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Trump and his supporters have tried to lock up the party apparatus. The former president controls money and email lists, and is trying to put his people into positions of power at the state level. They are publicly challenging the ten Republican representatives who voted to impeach Trump. Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) actually traveled to Wyoming to urge voters to turn Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY), the third-ranking member of the Republican House leadership, out of office. It is likely the Trump wing will launch primary challengers against anyone who votes to convict the former president.

At the same time, Trump’s support is falling. An ABC News/Ipsos poll released today shows that 56% of Americans believe that Trump should be convicted and barred from ever holding office again. By a 17-point margin, Americans say that the Republican Party has more radical extremists than the Democrats.

There is another problem: it is likely that the more we learn about what happened on January 6, the worse the participants are going to look. And, if indeed the Department of Justice decides to use RICO, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, against those who participated in the insurrection, it might well sweep in Republican lawmakers or operatives who spoke at, raised money for, or planned the January 6 rally. In that case, a vote to acquit the president would tie a senator who is not associated with the rally to those that are.

Republican senators have tried to stay quiet about the upcoming trial. When forced to comment, some leading business Republicans have pushed back against the Trump wing. McConnell has called the right-wing fringe a cancer that must be cut out, and today Cheney—who won Gaetz’s challenge to remove her from leadership by a 2-1 vote-- went for Trump himself, saying he “does not have a role as a leader of our party going forward.” On “Fox News Sunday,” Cheney told host Chris Wallace that Trump lied when he said the election had been rigged. She warned that Republicans had to face reality or face defeat in the future.

In contrast, Democrats are operating from a position of strength. It seems likely they will use the impeachment trial to explain to the American people what happened on January 6. Using videos and the words of those who were in the Capitol when the mob stormed in, they will paint a picture of an attempted coup, incited by a former President of the United States.

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Submitted February 8, 2021

Notes:

https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-resolution/24/text

https://clerk.house.gov/Votes/202117

https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/26/politics/rand-paul-test-vote-impeachment-trial-constitutionality/index.html

Rudy W. Giuliani

@RudyGiuliani
Antifa and BLM attack DC like they helped organize the January 6 attack on Congress. However, so far their role is being concealed.


https://twitter.com/RudyGiuliani/status/1358485526421110789?s=09

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/07/business/media/hachette-book-group-trump.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/02/06/wyoming-gop-censures-rep-liz-cheney-voting-impeach-trump/

https://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=117&session=1&vote=00009

https://thehill.com/homenews/house/536850-mcconnell-says-taylor-greene-a-cancer-to-gop-country

Ahavati
Ahavati
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February 8, 2021

The news today centers on the Senate impeachment trial for the former president, which begins tomorrow, and the Democrats’ maneuvering to pass a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package.

Both of these issues deal with vital immediate questions. Will there be consequences for Trump’s refusal to accept the results of the 2020 election, a refusal that led to a coup attempt? And will the government help out those suffering from the economic dislocation caused by the pandemic? Behind those immediate questions, though, is a larger question: what direction will the nation take in the years to come?

In both of these issues, Trump supporters on the one hand, and Democrats on the other, appear to be very aware they will be making an appeal to voters in the future based on their actions today. Trump’s lawyers are teeing up the idea that the former president is a victim of Democratic obsession and that the Democrats are wastrels. The Democrats are setting up the idea that the Republicans are a danger to the nation and its people.

Today Trump’s lawyers submitted a 78-page trial brief to the Senate, arguing that it is unconstitutional to try a former president on articles of impeachment, that Trump’s speech at the January 6 rally urging his supporters to “fight” was rhetorical, and that the former president was well within his First Amendment rights to speak as he did. It blames the attack on the Capitol not on Trump’s incitement of violence over time—as the article of impeachment does—but on “a small group of criminals.”

The document seems designed to appeal to an audience of one: Trump himself. It repeatedly uses “Democrat” as a derogatory adjective, accusing “Democrat members” of Congress of “Trump Derangement Syndrome.” It calls the House impeachment managers intellectually dishonest and fact free. Curiously, in what is perhaps a nod either to his vanity or to the QAnon believers who think Trump is still president, it never acknowledges him as a former president, repeatedly referring to him simply as “the 45th President.”

Trump’s lawyers throw Trump’s supporters under the bus, saying “the people who criminally breached the Capitol did so of their own accord and for their own reason,” and that their actions “were utterly inexcusable and deserve robust and swift investigation and prosecution.”

They examine Trump’s words at the rally, noting that he used the word “fight” “little more than a handful of times and each time in the figurative sense that has long been accepted in public discourse when urging people to stand and use their voices to be heard on matters important to them: it was not and could not be construed to encourage acts of violence.” “He simply called on those gathered to peacefully and patriotically use their voices[italics and boldface in original].[/i]

The document blames House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and her allies for trying “to callously harness the chaos of the moment for their own political gain.” Democrats, it says, are “never willing to allow a ‘good crisis’ to go to waste.”

This document tries to rewrite what we all saw with our own eyes. It will not convince anyone who has been paying attention to what happened on January 6, but that’s clearly not its purpose. Instead, it reinforces the narrative that Trump has been persecuted by his enemies, and that he was not responsible for the most serious attack on Congress and on our democracy in our history. That attack was simply the bad actions of “a small group of criminals.”

This account will please Trump and those of his supporters it does not throw under the bus, but it puts Republican senators who are not aligned with Trump in a perilous position.

The Democrats, who are famous for their measured attempts to argue about policy, appear recently to have adopted the Republicans’ advertising tactics, pushing a single, strong narrative theme.

What if Republican senators vote to acquit Trump, only to have more information drop that associates him even more closely with the insurrection? Today, Georgia’s secretary of state’s office began an investigation into Trump’s phone call pressuring Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to overturn Georgia’s election results, a call mentioned in the House’s impeachment article.

Also today, Proud Boy Ethan Nordean, under arrest for his role in the January 6 riot, was transferred from the state of Washington to Washington, D.C., to face federal charges. It seems likely that arrests will continue and information will continue to come in. It is unclear how many people will be swept into this story, but it is not impossible that people close to the former president, and even the former president himself, will find themselves in jeopardy.

If this happens after senators vote to acquit, the Democratic ads in 2022 and 2024 will virtually write themselves.

[ Continued on next page ]

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