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Monitoring Biden and other Contemporary Events

 
 
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hightor
 
  3  
Reply Wed 22 Jun, 2022 04:39 am
Quote:
Today, the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol held its fourth public hearing. The agenda was to lay out the scheme to pressure swing state electors to switch their states’ votes to Trump and then, when that failed, to get state operatives to create a false slate of electors to submit to Congress and the National Archives to set up an argument that there was confusion about who had won. That, Trump’s operatives hoped, would give then–vice president Mike Pence an excuse either to refuse to count Biden votes on the grounds that there was confusion over which slate was legitimate (there was no confusion: the Biden votes were certified and the Trump votes were not), or to send the certified electoral votes back to the state legislatures, where Republican-dominated bodies could recertify for Trump.

The scheme was illegal across the board.

It failed, committee chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) pointed out, because the system held. But that system has been under attack by Trump supporters for the past year and a half, and it is no longer clear that it will continue to hold. As proof, Thompson offered the case of the New Mexico panel that refused to certify the results of the recent election there. While two of the three panel members finally agreed to certify the results after pressure the state courts demanded they do so, one continued to refuse, citing “his gut feeling” that the results were wrong. That man was at the January 6th attack on the Capitol.

The theme of the day was our election systems, and how Trump’s attack on them continues to threaten our democracy.

The panel laid out how Trump and his people tried to get state legislators to throw out Biden votes and certify electoral votes for Trump, calling the lawmakers, inviting them to the White House, and, finally, threatening them over social media and sending protesters to their homes. When that didn’t work, they urged pro-Trump state politicians to produce alternative, false, slates of electors, promising that those slates would be used only if courts ruled the certified votes illegitimate. That promise, though, was a lie. Trump’s team planned to use the existence of two sets of electoral votes to justify throwing out both, thereby getting rid of legitimate Biden electors and giving the election to Trump.

The committee’s first panel included officials who had borne pressure from the Trump camp: Russell “Rusty” Bowers, the speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives; Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s secretary of state; and Gabriel Sterling, the chief operating officer in the office of the Georgia secretary of state, responsible for overseeing elections.

All three are Republicans, at least two of whom supported Trump in the election but refused to do his illegal bidding after it. Once again, the committee told its story using only Republican testimony, making it hard for opponents to argue that the hearings are a political hit job. Schiff made a point of asking Bowers about his admiration for President Ronald Reagan, and Bowers talked about Reagan’s celebration of the orderly transfer of power in the United States, a tradition that Trump, of course, shattered.

The three men detailed pressure from Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis, from lawyer John Eastman, from Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows, and from Trump himself.

Bowers outlined weeks of pressure to produce a competing set of electors or to decertify the existing ones, even as Giuliani and Ellis refused to produce any evidence to back up their wild claims. Bowers refused to go along. Today, he testified passionately about the importance of his oath to the Constitution and his duty to the state of Arizona, and how Trump and his people were asking him to break an oath to a document he considers divinely inspired for the benefit of one man. Giuliani tried to convince him that, as Republicans, they should stick together to put their man back into the White House.

It wasn’t going to happen. Bowers wrote in his diary: “It is painful to have friends…turn on me with such rancor.” But “I do not want to be a winner by cheating. I will not play with laws I swore allegiance to.”

Raffensperger explained that the claims of fake “suitcases” of ballots in Georgia and other irregularities were false, that the election was “remarkably smooth,” and that two recounts produced the same results as the original counting of the votes. He talked of pressure from the Trump camp over its election lies. Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA), who was directing the proceedings today, noted that Meadows reached out 18 times to set up a phone call between Raffensperger and then-president Trump.

Once underway, the call took an extraordinary 67 minutes, as Trump repeatedly pushed Raffensperger to “find” 11,780 votes, one more than Biden had won in the state. Trump told Raffensperger that it was “very dangerous” for him to say there was no fraud, a suggestion Raffensperger interpreted as a threat. “Why wouldn’t you want to find the right answer, Brad?” Trump demanded.

Sterling walked us through the “suitcases” allegation again, but his testimony focused on his anger at the disinformation coming from the Trump campaign and then-president Trump himself. He asked Trump directly, on camera, to stop inciting violence. “It’s not right,” he said. Rather than backing off, Trump escalated his pressure on Georgia, alleging “massive voter fraud” there.

The witnesses told the committee that Trump had tried to pressure them by whipping up his followers to harass them at home, terrifying them and their families. Bowers said he is still harassed every week, with people staking out his home and calling him a pedophile and a pervert. Raffensperger detailed the threats coming to him and his wife, and said that people broke into his widowed daughter-in-law’s home.

The threats provided the introduction to the next witness, who sat before the committee alone. After Thompson dismissed the first panel, the committee swore in Wandrea ArShaye “Shaye” Moss. Moss and her mother, Ruby Freeman, were the two Georgia election workers Trump and Giuliani targeted as rigging the vote. If Bowers represented the heights of political lawmaking, and Raffensperger and Sterling the bureaucracy of it, Moss and her mother, who was sitting behind her, represented the rest of us.

But Moss was not at all ordinary. She gave a passionate account of why she had chosen to become an election worker and how she had loved helping older people—people who had not been able to vote when they were young—submit their ballots. On the anniversary of the 1964 murder of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner for their efforts to register Black voters in Mississippi, Ms. Moss articulated just what the struggle for voting rights continues to mean.

Her testimony also outlined what that struggle continues to cost. Both she and her mother explained how they and Moss’s grandmother had been doxxed and harassed until they are now virtual prisoners in their homes—when they can be in them at all. The FBI warned Ms. Freeman to leave her home for two months around the time of January 6 because agents worried for her safety.

“Do you know how it feels to have the president of the United States target you?” Freeman said on video. “The President of the United States is supposed to represent every American. Not target one. But he targeted me: Lady Ruby, a small business owner, a mother, a proud American citizen, who stood up to help Fulton County run an election in the middle of the pandemic."

Taken together, today’s testimony showed the human side of the rule of law in the United States, and how Trump’s pressure on officials and weaponization of gangs to harass them threatens to destroy the system. Both Moss and Freeman have had to quit their jobs, along with all the permanent workers in the Georgia counting venue Trump and Giuliani attacked.

The committee revealed some other interesting information today. It said that protests at state houses, organized by Trump people, had some of the same characters who later showed up in Washington on January 6, including Jacob Chansley (the “QAnon Shaman” who showed up on January 6 in an animal headdress) and various Proud Boys.

It showed testimony from Ronna McDaniel, the head of the Republican National Committee, confirming that the RNC helped the Trump campaign collect the false electoral slates.

It named two lawmakers who appeared to participate in the attempt to overthrow the election. Representative Andy Biggs (R-AZ) apparently called Bowers to pressure him, and Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) wanted to hand the fake slates of electors from Michigan and Wisconsin to Pence on January 6.

Striding quickly past reporters today, Johnson told CNN’s chief congressional correspondent Manu Raju that he had “no idea” who asked him to share the fake electors with Pence. He said he had “no involvement” in the attempt to provide fake electors to overturn the legitimate outcome of the 2020 election and claimed he didn’t know who handed his office the envelope that was supposed to go to Pence. It was, he said, “some staff intern” who handed another staff member the envelope. When asked if he would try to find out, he said, “No. No, because there’s no conspiracy here. This is a complete non-story, guys. Complete non-story.”

hcr
0 Replies
 
MontereyJack
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Jun, 2022 06:58 am
@Builder,
do try to stop making idiotic posts.
snood
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Jun, 2022 09:11 am
@MontereyJack,
Idiots are gonna idiot.
0 Replies
 
revelette1
 
  2  
Reply Wed 22 Jun, 2022 11:06 am
Quote:
The Supreme Court Just Forced Maine to Fund Religious Education. It Won’t Stop There.

Chief Justice John Roberts’ opinion has the potential to dismantle secular public education in the United States.

The Supreme Court’s conservative supermajority effectively declared on Tuesday that the separation of church and state—a principle enshrined in the Constitution—is, itself, unconstitutional. Its 6–3 decision in Carson v. Makin requires Maine to give public money to private religious schools, steamrolling decades of precedent in a race to compel state funding of religion. Carson is radical enough on its own, but the implications of the ruling are even more frightening: As Justice Stephen Breyer noted in dissent, it has the potential to dismantle secular public education in the United States.

Carson challenges Maine’s effort to provide quality civic education to every child in the state. The government created a tuition assistance program to help families who live in remote, sparsely populated regions without any public schools. Under the program, parents can send their kids to certain private schools, and the state covers the cost of tuition. To qualify, these schools must give students a secular education. They may be affiliated with, or even run by, a religious organization. But their actual curricula must align with secular state standards.

Two families challenged this limitation, arguing that it violated the First Amendment’s free exercise clause. Just two decades ago, this claim would’ve been laughed out of court: SCOTUS only permitted states to subsidize religious schools in 2002; at the time, it would’ve been absurd to say that states have a constitutional obligation to subsidize them. Beginning in 2017, the court began to assert that states may not exclude religious schools from public benefits that are available to their secular counterparts. And in 2020, the conservative justices forced states to subsidize religious schools once they began subsidizing secular private education.

Tuesday’s decision in Carson takes this radical theory to a new extreme, ordering Maine to extend public education funds to religious indoctrination.

The upshot of Chief Justice John Roberts’ opinion for the court is that states have no compelling interest in providing public, secular education to children. Indeed, Roberts suggests that the very concept of secular schooling is a smokescreen for “discrimination against religion”—a pretext for unconstitutional animus toward pious Americans. His opinion reaches far beyond Maine. About 37 states have amendments to their constitutions that bar government funding of religious institutions, including schools. Carson essentially invalidates those laws while undermining the broader constitutional basis for the nation’s public school system.

Roberts reached this astonishing result by overruling broad swaths of precedent respecting states’ authority to separate church and state more strictly than the U.S. Constitution requires. The court previously upheld states’ interest in avoiding the “establishment” of religion by refusing to underwrite the indoctrination of students into a particular faith. No longer. Roberts condemned Maine’s efforts to guard against religious establishment as nothing more than “discrimination against religion”—an effort to “exclude some members of the community” from public benefits “because of their religious exercise.” He also overruled a line of cases that let the government withhold funding on the basis of religious use (like indoctrination) but not religious status (like affiliation with a church). That distinction, he wrote, “lacks a meaningful application not only in theory, but in practice as well,” tossing it in the precedential dumpster.

The chief justice maintained that Carson’s rule only kicks in once a state starts sending taxpayer dollars to private schools through vouchers, tax credits, or scholarships. So, in theory, a state can send all its money to public schools and avoid constitutional concerns. Even if that’s true, the consequences are sweeping: Most states offer at least one of these programs, so Carson gives millions of families an opportunity to bail out of the public school system and demand public money for parochial education.

But can this distinction hold? Roberts’ bright line dims under scrutiny: Maine, after all, wanted private schools to replace public education for some students, not supplement it. And yet the court found no good reason for the state to insist that these substitute schools adhere to secular standards. Indeed, the chief justice’s rhetoric depicts education not as a state-sponsored benefit for all, but rather as a personal matter best left up to parents. There is, he claimed, no “historic and substantial state interest” in preserving secular education. If that’s true, how can any state refuse to fund religious schooling?

Breyer raised these questions in dissent. Does Carson, he asked, “mean that a school district that pays for public schools must pay equivalent funds to parents who wish to send their children to religious schools?” In other words, must every state begin cutting checks to parents who want to give their kids a Christian education? Does Carson mean “school districts that give vouchers for use at charter schools must pay equivalent funds to parents who wish to give their children a religious education?” Can states even mandate secular curricula at charter schools any more? Who knows? In the end, the only limit on Carson is whatever five justices want it to be.

It’s worth pausing, as both Breyer and Justice Sonia Sotomayor did in dissent, to reflect on the victims of Tuesday’s decision. The two Maine schools that may now receive public funding are openly discriminatory, expelling students and teachers who do not adhere to evangelical Christianity. LGBTQ students, as well as straight children of same-sex couples, are not welcome, nor are LGBTQ teachers. Even custodians must be born-again Christians. One school teaches students to “refute the teachings of the Islamic religion” and believe that men serve as the head of the household. Another requires students to sign a “covenant” promising to glorify Jesus Christ and attend weekly religious services.

“Legislators,” Breyer wrote, “did not want Maine taxpayers to pay for these religiously based practices,” as doing so might violate their own faith or conscience. The majority tells these Mainers their own views don’t matter
, because the First Amendment forces them to foot the bill for other people’s religious indoctrination. Doing so creates a “serious risk of religion-based social divisions,” Breyer explained, exacerbating the “religious strife” that the religion clauses “were designed to prevent.” Sotomayor put the point more sharply: “While purporting to protect against discrimination of one kind,” she wrote, “the court requires Maine to fund what many of its citizens believe to be discrimination of other kinds.”

The conservative majority, however, has perfected the art of ignoring genuine discrimination while perceiving anti-Christian persecution where none exists. In the process, they are elevating the rights of one sect over all others. Carson will not benefit any religious minorities; there are not enough Muslims or Jews to create a school in the far-flung corners of Maine. Every time Roberts uses the word “religion,” he might as well be saying “Christian.” The right will praise Carson as a triumph of religious liberty. But if you practice a religion that does not stand to gain from the ruling, your liberty does not matter to this Supreme Court.


Slate
izzythepush
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Jun, 2022 11:24 am
@revelette1,
Until very recently the only compulsory subject in UK schools was RE.

The National Curriculum was only introduced under Margaret Thatcher.

When I was at school the teachers loved telling us RE was the only compulsory subject, and watching our collective jaws drop.

In reality we had one lesson of RE a week compared to five for English and Maths.

When I was 15 "RE" became other things like talks on drugs, alcohol, smoking and sex education.

I remember the sex education lesson very vividly. It was one slide after another of graphic images of syphillitic genitals.

It was a hot summer's day in a classroom with little ventilation.

Half way through I ran out and threw up in the bogs.
MontereyJack
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Jun, 2022 01:12 pm
@izzythepush,
I give up. For us Yanks,What is RE? Rdligious Euphoyia? RAndom Enlkghtenment?
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Jun, 2022 01:14 pm
@MontereyJack,
Religious education. (As opposed to "religious instruction", which is the teaching of a particular religion.)
MontereyJack
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Jun, 2022 01:17 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
I think i would prefer Rapid Euphoria.
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Jun, 2022 01:26 pm
@MontereyJack,
Well, I've leant a lot in my religious classes about the various religions worldwide. (We can and could op-out here at the age of 14 as well as decide, if we want to go to Catholic, Protestant/Evangelical, Muslim, Orthodox, Jewish, or Agnostic classes [if offered at that school].)

Add.: since education is state affairs, it differs - some states have "ethic education" instead.
0 Replies
 
izzythepush
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Jun, 2022 01:31 pm
@revelette1,
revelette1 wrote:

The Supreme Court Just Forced Maine to Fund Religious Education.
0 Replies
 
Mame
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Jun, 2022 01:43 pm
@izzythepush,
Public schools didn't teach RE in Canada... and they stopped having students recite the Lord's Prayer in homeroom. I wouldn't have minded learning what Walter got taught - teachings about many religions - it would have helped us understand our friends better, plus, it's interesting to compare similarities and differences.
izzythepush
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Jun, 2022 01:56 pm
@Mame,
We got Buddhism but that was about it.

What was absurd was being examined in it. RE was an O level, but only if taken as an option, the stuff we did didn't count for anything so nobody took it seriously, wrote a load of old bollocks which probably best sums up what RE is.

Now it's better, pretty much most religions are looked at across the board. Walter is right, it is education, not instruction.
0 Replies
 
revelette1
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Jun, 2022 02:46 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
True, tax dollars of everyone has to pay their own money to fund church doctrine, which would discriminate against gays and perhaps even go against their own church doctrine. For instance, our particular church does not believe in funding anything other than our own particular church and no things which are not mentioned in the gospels of the first churches, which would include schools.
0 Replies
 
snood
 
  1  
Reply Thu 23 Jun, 2022 03:07 pm
Question: If Trump was ever brought up on charges and prosecuted, do you think there’s a good chance that Biden would pardon him?

My first thought is no - when I recall all of Biden’s tough talk about accountability when he was running for president, and in early interviews in his first days in office.

But when I consider Biden’s tendency to try to be conciliatory and his often unrealistic notions of bipartisanship, I don’t know…
Region Philbis
 
  1  
Reply Thu 23 Jun, 2022 04:59 pm
@snood,

either way it would put Biden in an extremely awkward position -- to pardon or not to pardon the man who might be running against him in '24...
snood
 
  1  
Reply Thu 23 Jun, 2022 05:41 pm
@Region Philbis,
Well I hope he sees a bigger picture than just what it means to the next election. I hope he understands it’s about holding a corrupt former president accountable for trying to overthrow the US government. And I hope he thinks about what letting him get away with it will mean for future insurrections.
0 Replies
 
BillW
 
  1  
Reply Thu 23 Jun, 2022 05:42 pm
@Region Philbis,
I think it is a no brainer and Biden would spend zero time in making a decision of Trump spending the rest of his miserable life in prison. No Napoleon here, no second chance to bring our democracy to a halt!
snood
 
  2  
Reply Thu 23 Jun, 2022 05:56 pm
@BillW,
As I always say to you Bill, I hope you’re right.

Biden worries me when he tries to reason with some people who are beyond reason.

Obama used to worry me in the same way.
BillW
 
  1  
Reply Thu 23 Jun, 2022 06:13 pm
@snood,
Key word was "think", or, it could have been " hope". I agree with your take though.

That said, I have been trying to figure out how Justice can stick a felony guilty verdict on Trump in a little over two years. US Justice is too slow; but, what about Georgia? A state felony would also preclude Trump in running for office again. Just keep it to one quick, small felony conviction. Then go for the big ones later with him behind bars!
 

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