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Gender: Male
Home country: USA
Current location: PA
Member since: Wed May 11, 2005, 10:48 PM
Number of posts: 10,577

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I love spending time with my grandchildren and gardening.

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The Supreme Court's Conservatives Have Laid the Groundwork for the Devastation to Come

The Supreme Court’s Conservatives Have Laid the Groundwork for the Devastation to Come


Look a bit closer at the court’s two bitterly divided voting rights cases this term, and we can see where this Supreme Court is headed next. Back in October, before Barrett joined the bench, the justices split 4–4 over the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s modest extension of the deadline for mail ballots. At the time, it was easy to see what the four hardcore conservatives were teeing up: A postelection Bush v. Gore–style case in which the Supreme Court handed itself the power to nullify thousands of legal ballots. To do so, they tried to stop state judiciaries from protecting voting rights under their state’s constitution—a notion that was too radical even for the Bush v. Gore majority and constituted a direct assault on states’ rights to set their own election rules. They also floated Trumpian conspiracy theories designed to undermine public confidence in the integrity of the election. And they even suggested that Democratic election administrators were meddling with ballot.

But the Four Horsemen lost, and Donald Trump lost much too decisively for them to get a rematch. In the months that followed, Republicans flooded the courts with frivolous lawsuits attempting to overturn the election. These challenges, it cannot be stressed enough, were meritless nonsense—a symptom of the rot at the heart of the conservative legal movement that never stood a chance in court. Yet when the Supreme Court predictably turned them away, the conservative justices received praise for staying out of the election. Even Justice Stephen Breyer lauded the court for staying out of the conflict. But the Supreme Court did get involved in the 2020 election. The conservative justices fought hard to disqualify a huge number of valid mail ballots in swing states like Pennsylvania and North Carolina. Just because they did not succeed, and declined to hop on Sidney Powell’s crazy train to Kraken town afterward, does not mean they didn’t try.

Now fast-forward to Thursday’s 6–3 decision in Brnovich v. DNC mangling what remains of the Voting Rights Act beyond all recognition. As Justice Elena Kagan wrote in dissent, the majority opinion is a “law-free zone.” It rewrote the VRA to strip protections from racial minorities who are currently being targeted by voter suppression laws around the country. Roberts and Barrett sided with the rest of the conservatives to ensure that a substantial number of minorities will struggle to access the ballot in 2022 and beyond—if they manage to cast a vote at all. There was no compromise here, as in Fulton, no 3-3-3 split that divided the conservatives. When it came to eviscerating the VRA, the Republican-appointed justices spoke with one voice
Decisions like Brnovich hedge against the necessity of a future Bush v. Gore. Why wait until the eve of an election to disenfranchise voters when you can do it in the middle of the summer of an off year? If we pluck out these two major voting cases and examine them side by side, we see an alarming trend: an overt hostility to democracy and to equal access to the ballot. If we look at Brnovich sandwiched in between compromises like Fulton, by contrast, it might not seem that bad—a conservative victory, yes, but one of just a few decisions that fractured the court along ideological lines.

Decisions like Brnovich hedge against the necessity of a future Bush v. Gore. Why wait until the eve of an election to disenfranchise voters when you can do it in the middle of the summer of an off year? If we pluck out these two major voting cases and examine them side by side, we see an alarming trend: an overt hostility to democracy and to equal access to the ballot. If we look at Brnovich sandwiched in between compromises like Fulton, by contrast, it might not seem that bad—a conservative victory, yes, but one of just a few decisions that fractured the court along ideological lines.





Yes, there are Republicans who oppose Donald Trump's assault on democracy. But how many of these Republicans -- how many Republicans anywhere -- oppose the assault on democracy in GOP-run state legislatures, and in the courts?


There's no Liz Cheney or Adam Kinzinger for legalized suppression of the Democratic vote -- no Republican in D.C. has a problem with this, and objectors in the states are rare. As I keep telling you, all Republicans oppose democracy, but "mainstream" Republicans want to tilt democracy in the GOP's favor in ways that maintain the appearance of legitimacy. S

So they won't say anything about these suppression laws (or they'll express support for them, as Cheney did in May after the Georgia law passed), and they won't object in the future when GOP-run states purge voter rolls of Democrats, close precincts in Democratic strongholds, and close motor vehicle offices in areas where Democrats need to obtain photo IDs for voting.

Opposing Trump is good, but it's not the same as favoring democracy. No nationally prominent Republican appears to be genuinely in favor of fair elections.






Now that we know about the Rudy search in November 2019, the effect of this memo is clear: it limited the SDNY investigation to the scope of the investigation as it existed at that time, into the Lutsenko attempt to fire Yovanovitch (which was included in the original Parnas indictment), but not Rudy’s meeting with a Russian agent to help Trump win re-election.

Instead, EDNY presided over all the Ukraine goings-on during the election, during which time they could have done something about ongoing tampering. Indeed, after Geoffrey Berman succeeded in ensuring that Audrey Strauss would replace him after Barr fired him to try to shut down ongoing investigations (including, undoubtedly, the one into Rudy and Barr’s friend Victoria Toensing), Barr and Rosen replaced Donoghue with another trusted flunky, Seth DuCharme. Under DuCharme, then, EDNY sat and watched while Derkach interfered in the election and did nothing until — per yesterday’s NYT story — “the final months of the Trump administration.” According to the public timeline, it appears that they just let a known Russian agent play around in our democracy.

There is plenty of risk for Rudy in the existing SDNY investigation. But what Rudy did in response to Lutsenko’s entreaties amounts to lobbying, and so is probably most likely be charged as a FARA case (though Foreign Agent charges are on the table).

With Derkach, however, Rudy was affirmatively attempting to launder Russian-backed disinformation to affect the election. There’s no way that can be charged as lobbying. Plus, the government understood Derkach to be a Russian agent when Rudy attended that meeting (though Rudy claims he was not warned in advance). If Derkach were part of the SDNY investigation, in which Rudy is a subject, then treating Rudy as the Russian agent he has served as in recent years would be on the table.


Google, Deloitte, and Citigroup quietly collaborate with GOP group pushing voter suppression

Google, Deloitte, and Citigroup quietly collaborate with GOP group pushing voter suppression

Several large corporations that have recently issued public statements supporting voting rights — including Google, Deloitte, and Citigroup — are also funding and collaborating with a top Republican group advocating for new voter suppression laws. Internal documents obtained by Popular Information and Documented reveal the corporations participated in a "policy working group" on "election integrity" with the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC), a party organization that is actively supporting new voter suppression bills. Participation in the roundtable required a minimum annual contribution of $15,000 to the RSLC.

For example, on March 31, Google's SVP for Global Affairs, Kent Walker tweeted that the company is "concerned about efforts to restrict voting at a local level" and "strongly support[s] the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act."

A week later, Google's State Policy Manager, Joe Dooley, was listed as a participant in a private RSLC policy working group led by the organization's "Election Integrity Committee." The April 6 presentation, obtained by Popular Information and Documented, details an array of proposals to suppress voting, including purging of voting lists, more stringent voter ID requirements, and targeting of voting centers. The RSLC also opposes any federal action to protect voting rights. The meeting was run by Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill (R), who has embraced Trump's lies and conspiracies about election fraud.

The RSLC presentation deck makes clear that the purpose of restricting voting under the guise of "election integrity" is to elect more Republicans. One slide asserts that Republican control of state legislatures is the "last line of defense for the Republican Party." The RSLC argues that Republicans must act "now" because "2022 is just over the horizon — election integrity is likely to have a major impact.


How Liz Cheney and Her Dad Paved the Way for the Big Lie

How Liz Cheney and Her Dad Paved the Way for the Big Lie
She says Donald Trump crossed a line. But the Bush-Cheney aadministration didn't?


Cheney does these days look like a courageous truth-teller, defying the cultism and alternative-fact addiction that has taken over her Grand Old Party. But, in a way, she is the victim of her own success–that is, the success of her family. In particular, the success her father had in lying to the American public.

In the 21st century, American presidents have at least twice tried to shape the world with a lie of enormous impact. Trump attempted to demolish the nation’s constitutional order and retain power with his false claim that the 2020 election was rigged and Joe Biden did not truly receive more votes. As Cheney points out, this lie delegitimizes the essence of the American political system. And two decades ago, another Big Lie was concocted and pushed by a Republican president that resulted in profound (and lethal) consequences. Her dad was its main architect..


One lesson of the Iraq war is that a big lie can work. Liz Cheney, who was deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs during this stretch, supported the war—and has defended it ever since. (She co-wrote a 2015 book with her dad on US foreign policy.) She even insisted that one of the main lies of the Bush-Cheney fraudulent case for war—that there had been a significant connection between al-Qaeda and Iraq—was true. (She also hawkishly defended a sordid chapter of that sordid war: torture, saying it was “libelous” to call waterboarding “torture.”)

There was another odious lie that Liz Cheney also defended—or played footsie with: the racist conspiracy theory that President Barack Obama was born in Kenya. Asked about birtherism in 2009, she replied, “I think the Democrats have got more crazies than the Republicans do. But setting that aside, one of the reasons you see people so concerned about this, I think this issue is, people are uncomfortable with having for the first time ever, I think, a president who seems so reluctant to defend the nation overseas.” Without endorsing the conspiratorial and disproven details of this nutty notion, Cheney was providing moral support to its adherents. (Trump’s championship of this lie helped turn him into a right-wing hero and set up the foundation for his 2016 presidential bid.)


Still, Liz Cheney deserves hardly a cheer, for it ought to be remembered that Trump is pushing his Big Lie in the wake of other big lies—and that Cheney, her father, and so many other Republicans not so long ago did much to blaze the path for the dangerous political villainy she now decries

Wow, the Bushes and Cheneys Have Become the "Reasonable Right

Wow, the Bushes and Cheneys Have Become the “Reasonable Right”
This does not bode well for the GOP nor for America

Oh, now we like Dubya? And the Cheneys? How quickly we forget the past. The media has held both families up this week as respectable old-guard traditionalists — masked and responsible — celebrating their outspoken defenses of democracy against the modern GOP crazies: Trump, Boebert, Cruz, Taylor Green, and the rest. I am not the first one to say it, by any means, but I may be the first one to say it on your screen today, my friends. I call bullshit. This is dangerous. These people are just an inch north of crazy themselves. They’re also responsible for getting us here.


Let us not forget, though, that George Bush left the country on the verge of collapse in 2009. The economy was in tatters. No one went to jail. The financial crisis was not just a problem on paper. People’s retirement accounts were nearly wiped out. Families lost their homes, their livelihoods. There was great suffering in this country. This was after he spent his presidency lying to the American people, waging an illegitimate war in the name of 9/11, draining the country’s coffers, and demonizing gays and lesbians. Most of which was architected by Dr. Evil himself, Dick Cheney.


Same for Liz. Liz Cheney, the third-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives, who is about to be ousted from her leadership role in the party, has consistently held that Trump crossed a line by inciting the Capitol Riot, and by trumpeting The Big Lie. I agree. That line is dark and clear, and crossing it is egregious. What we all saw, with our own eyes, on video on January 6, was a disgusting spectacle. But the Cheneys have crossed many a line in the last 20 years in this country. They moved the line.

Not only was Dick architecting and doctoring (see above), but Liz, herself, threw her own sister under the bus during the marriage equality debates, excusing her lack of support for her sister’s marriage as simply a “disagreement” — as if policy doesn’t have real-world effects on people’s lives. In 2009, she was such a strong advocate for torture, that it is one reason she became a rising star in the party. She may be the more approachable Cheney, but she is a Cheney nonetheless.

I am sure Mitt is happy to have company on the Reasonable Right as the Bushes and the Cheneys try to hold the center and prevent the party from freefall. (Aren’t we kind of there already?) But let’s not — in conversation, in the media, online, and elsewhere — hold these people up as heroes. They may be speaking out now to save their party, but if we excuse them their own serious offenses, we’ll be looking at a post-pandemic political field where Democrats and Republicans are suddenly on the same moral plane. The Bushes and the Cheneys watered the soil in which Donald Trump and his new brand of extremism have grown. We may forgive, but we ought not forget.

The politicians who tried to overturn an election -- local news team that won't let anyone forget it

The politicians who tried to overturn an election — and the local news team that won’t let anyone forget it

The journalists at WITF, an all-news public radio station in Harrisburg, Pa., made a perfectly reasonable decision a few months ago.

They decided they wouldn’t shrug off the damaging lies of election denialism.

They wouldn’t do what too many in Big Journalism have done in recent months: shove into the memory hole the undemocratic efforts by some Republican elected officials to delegitimize or overturn the 2020 presidential election.

Too many Sunday news shows repeatedly book the likes of Kevin McCarthy, Ted Cruz and Ron Johnson without reminding viewers how these members of Congress tried to undo the results of the election — and encouraged the Trumpian lies about election fraud that led to the violent assault on the U.S. Capitol less than four months ago. A rare exception is CNN’s “State of the Union,” which hasn’t booked a single member of the so-called Sedition Caucus since January.


Months before the election, the station’s reporters and editors were already deeply alarmed by what they saw unfolding. “We could see the disinformation really taking hold, this idea that the only way President Trump could lose is if the election were rigged,” Tim Lambert, the station’s news director, told me last week.

The pro-Trump media world peddled the lies that fueled the Capitol mob. Fox News led the way.

The deadly culmination of that anti-democratic lie, the Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6, solidified their thinking. In late January, the station — whose newsroom includes six reporters and two editors — posted an explanatory story stating that they would be regularly reminding their audience that some state legislators signed a letter urging Congress to vote against certifying the Pennsylvania election results, and that some members of Congress had voted against certifying the state’s election results for President Biden, despite no evidence to support their election-fraud claims.


You Don't Actually Need to Reach Across the Aisle, Mr. Biden

You Don’t Actually Need to Reach Across the Aisle, Mr. Biden

President Biden’s first address to a joint session of Congress, on Wednesday night, will be scrutinized to assess his commitment to working with Republicans. There is nothing wrong with reaching across the aisle to seek common ground.

But insisting on bipartisanship — given the major policy divide between the parties on economic recovery, tax reform, climate change and health care — usually guarantees gridlock (which promotes voter cynicism) or actions that are watered down and ineffective (which are condemned by everyone, right and left).

There is nothing wrong with being partisan. Over a century ago, Representative Jacob Fassett, a New York Republican, counseled, “We were all elected by partisans because we were partisans, and as such represented party purposes as expressed by party platforms,” adding that a politician should “have opinions and convictions” and not “be a political chocolate éclair.”

In the decades after World War II, bipartisan policymaking became the norm because the ideological divisions within both parties — for example, there were numerous liberal Republicans who, since Reconstruction, supported civil rights — compelled cross-party alliances. Most issues did not break down ideologically by party. In fact, for much of the 20th century, supporters of political reform, environmentalism and civil rights could be found as easily in the Republican as in the Democratic Party.

A sizable cohort of moderate to liberal Republicans like Jacob Javits, Clifford Case and Mark Hatfield provided the votes to pass progressive legislation. Similarly, during periods of conservative activism, Republicans could reach across the aisle to find conservative Democrats (like “boll weevils”) to help pass their priorities.

But those circumstances no longer exist, and as a result, bipartisanship has become the Sasquatch of American politics: rarely seen but fervently sought. The opportunities for finding cross-party support for significant legislation, except in response to a national calamity, like the Troubled Asset Relief Program for the financial crisis, have evaporated. The parties have fundamentally changed — there are now very few liberal Republicans or conservative Democrats — and that transformation has hollowed out the middle ground of American politics. Continuing to demand bipartisanship as the validator of sound policy is not only fanciful but also self-defeating.


Why the body count hasn't slowed down America's gun industry

Why the body count hasn't slowed down America's gun industry


The number of guns sold has increased dramatically in recent years. A record 39,695,315 guns were sold to civilians in 2020. By comparison, there were 15 million guns sold in 2011 and 9 million in 1999.

Remarkably, this spike has occurred as the number of people interested in owning guns has declined. In 1977, more than 50% of all households in the United States owned a gun. By 2018, just 34% of American households reported having a gun in the home. Gun manufacturers have made up for this decline by selling a larger number of more deadly firearms to a smaller number of people.


Teddy Bears versus AK-47s

Nearly every product — from toasters to lawnmowers to teddy bears — must comply with standards set by the government to ensure the item is safe for public use. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) regulates household goods and recreational products. The Food and Drug Administration regulates food and prescription drugs. And the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regulates motor vehicles. But there is one category of products that is not regulated for consumer safety by any government agency: guns and ammunition.

The Second Amendment has been in place since 1788, but the consumer protection exemption for guns came much later, in 1972. A law passed that year explicitly forbids the CPSC from evaluating the safety of guns. As a result, there "is not a single federally mandated safety standard or child-proofing requirement for firearms made in the United States."

The exemption was spearheaded by the late Congressman John Dingell (D-MI). At the time, Dingell was both the ranking member of the Commerce Committee, which was considering the legislation, and a board member of the NRA. The exemption means that the CPSC can regulate toy guns but not actual guns. The agency can mandate a recall of a doll, due to safety concerns, but not a semi-automatic rifle.

Currently, firearm safety is regulated by the firearm industry, through a group called the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute (SAAMI). The industry has established some useful regulations, including maximum pressure standards so that guns do not explode during use. But SAAMI operates much differently than a government agency. Specifically, "it does not solicit feedback from the public."


The regulation of guns as a consumer product could save lives without imperiling Second Amendment rights. Similarly, the application of consumer safety standards to cars, another dangerous product, has not restricted the ability of people to drive. But it has saved countless drives by ensuring that cars are designed to be as safe as possible for drivers, passengers, and the public.

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