Monitoring Biden and other Contemporary Events

Reply Tue 11 Jun, 2024 03:54 am
Former president Trump met with a New York City probation officer today for a pre-sentencing interview. They met over video for a first step in the sentencing process, in which an officer assesses the convicted criminal’s living situation, finances, mental health, addiction, and criminal record. Trump was expected to have his lawyer, Todd Blanche, with him when he linked in from Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach. Judge Juan Merchan will take the information from the interview into account when he sentences Trump. He will also consider that Trump was held in contempt 10 times during the trial for violating the gag order designed to stop him from attacking witnesses and court personnel and their families.

Ever since a New York jury unanimously found the former president guilty of 34 felonies on Thursday, May 30, he and his supporters have tried to assert that he is, in fact, in a strong position for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination and for the November election itself. First, they insisted that his convictions made him more popular than ever, an assertion undermined by their own desperate avoidance of other trials and the demands of both Trump and House speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) to have the Supreme Court somehow step in to overturn a conviction by a state court.

Trump has also tried to reassert dominance by insisting in at least five interviews that he will seek “revenge” on Democrats for prosecuting him, and MAGA loyalists have echoed this threat. But as Greg Sargent pointed out today, this, too, is spin.

There is a big difference between a prosecution advancing on the basis of evidence gathered by law enforcement, evidence that prompted grand juries to indict Trump, and his own threats to prosecute President Joe Biden and other Democrats simply because he had to endure a prosecution, not because there is any evidence that they have committed crimes. The first serves the rule of law, the second shatters it.

Since the conviction, as political analyst Simon Rosenberg points out, the right-wing Murdoch media empire “has gone into hyperdrive.” That empire, which includes the Fox News Channel, supports Trump and knowingly lied that the 2020 election had been stolen. On June 4, the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal printed a story saying that “behind closed doors, Biden shows signs of slipping,” but the piece quoted only former House speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who previously had hammered Biden in public but privately assured colleagues he was mentally sharp.

One of the authors of the piece sparked outrage in October 2021 by tweeting that Biden, who was visiting the graves of his dead children and wife, “goes to church and walks through a graveyard in Wilmington as his legislative agenda is dying in Washington.”

In November 2021, Biden signed into law the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act. In June 2022 he signed into law the Safer Communities Act, a gun safety law. In August 2022 he signed into law the CHIPS and Science Act that invested billions in semiconductor manufacturing and science, and the Inflation Reduction Act that provided record funding for addressing climate change and permitted Medicare to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies over drug prices. Together, those legislative accomplishments rival those of Presidents Lyndon Baines Johnson and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, whose congressional majorities were far stronger than Biden’s.

The Republicans’ frantic pushback on Trump’s conviction reveals both that it has hurt him badly, and that without Trump projecting the dominance of a strongman, they have little to fall back on except for personal attacks on Biden.

Trump had counted on using immigration against Biden and ordered his loyalists to scuttle the bipartisan immigration measure the Senate hammered out in February in order to keep the issue alive. Swing voters took notice: in March a focus group showed that 9 out of 13 Wisconsin swing voters blamed Trump for killing the bill.

As soon as that measure failed, the administration began to talk of what Biden could do through an executive order, despite believing that such an order would be challenged in the courts. At the same time, Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris continued their pressure on the Mexican government to increase its own immigration enforcement. That process worked, and undocumented migration has dropped sharply at the southern border. Meanwhile, the administration’s parole program for people from Venezuela, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Cuba has cut undocumented migration from those countries by almost 90%.

Then on Tuesday, June 4, likely trying to get ahead of the usual summer rise in immigration, and after Senate Republicans once again killed the bipartisan border measure, Biden issued an executive order permitting him to seal the southern border temporarily when undocumented crossings surge to more than 2,500 a day, a restriction stricter than that negotiated in the Senate measure Trump scuttled. This order looks more like Trump’s effort to curb migration—one that courts blocked—at least in part because without legislation, there is no new funding to provide the additional courts the administration wants in order to move asylum cases faster.

As predicted, the order is likely to face legal challenges. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), who worked with Senator James Lankford (R-OK) on the Senate immigration bill, wrote in a statement: “I am sympathetic to the position the administration is in, but I am skeptical [that] the executive branch has the legal authority to shut down asylum processing between ports of entry on its own. Meaningful asylum reform requires a bipartisan solution in Congress.”

Nonetheless, while Trump continues to demagogue immigration issues, the charge that Biden wants “open borders”—which was always disinformation—is now harder to make.

Meanwhile, the measures Democrats advocate are so popular that Republican legislators are taking credit for projects funded by them even though they voted against the laws themselves. Katherine Tully-McManus of Politico pointed out today that Representative Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA) voted against the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that will deliver nearly $470 million to her district. She has attended a highway ribbon cutting and boasted of the modernization of locks and dams on the Mississippi River in her district despite her “no” vote.

Representative Nancy Mace (R-SC) called the infrastructure law a “socialist wish list” and a “fiasco” but nonetheless celebrated a federal grant for nearly $26 million to invest in public transit in her district.

This credit-taking is widespread among those who opposed the law. Just this weekend, Trump falsely asserted that it was he, not Biden, who lowered the cost of insulin to $35 a month. In fact, it was Biden who signed into law the Inflation Reduction Act that made such negotiations possible.

There is little else for Trump to stand on. The Republicans’ position on abortion is so unpopular that when Trump spoke today to the Danbury Institute, which calls for abortion to be “eradicated entirely,” he never mentioned the word abortion. Instead of delivering a keynote address, he spoke for less than two minutes and said that the attendees “can’t vote Democrat” because “[t]hey’re against religion.”

Democrats pushed back on the Wall Street Journal’s article attacking Biden, calling it a “hit piece” and noting that their own quotations did not make the cut. Observers pointed out that reporters jump on Biden’s speech while Trump’s jumbled and offensive statements—like his crazy hash of MIT, electric batteries, boats, and sharks yesterday—rarely get reproduced.

The Biden campaign is addressing that lack with a new ad campaign, one that deliberately punctures the idea of Trump as a strongman. One ad shows foreign leaders laughing at Trump’s statements, and another, directed at Latino voters, shows Trump last week kissing former Maricopa County, Arizona, sheriff Joe Arpaio, whom Trump pardoned after his conviction related to racial profiling. Another ad from the Biden campaign in the wake of the 80th anniversary of D-Day focuses on Trump’s quotations mocking the military as suckers and losers and quoting some of his other offensive statements about those who serve.

Finally, the Biden team rushed to produce an ad today using Trump’s own words from a rally this weekend in the broiling Nevada desert in which he said he didn’t want people to keel over because: “We need every voter. I don’t care about you. I just want your vote. I don’t care.”

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Region Philbis
Reply Tue 11 Jun, 2024 06:37 am

Violent crime down and US murder rate plunging, FBI stats show
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Harry B
Reply Tue 11 Jun, 2024 06:30 pm
This was from April, it's even higher now!

Poll: Half of Americans Support Mass Deportations of Illegal Immigrants

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bobsal u1553115
Reply Tue 11 Jun, 2024 08:55 pm
Bullshit, Obama kept your bankers from turning hard working middle class home loans and savings accounts into crap.

Your banking morons under GWB decided to create derivitives: a way of breaking up mortgages so that every body could make out. They discovered what Vegas knew: in a trillion dollar plus business 1-3% made people billions. They knew that the majority of debtors paid their bills (one thing Americans are noted for, that's why 30year t-notes are great investments) so on paper there was money for everyone because no one owned the paper on losing loans - it was mixed into the good loans. Unfortunately there was no way to pull a single loan out of the bundle which led banks to repo-ing homes that were paid for and a lot of others who weren't behind on their loans. That's Republicans who did this, you blithering idiot. Obama saved people their homes and the very ******* lying conniving Republican assholes who caused this **** did not go to jail. Once again a Democrat saved the nation from the GOP. To my shame, a Republican. Both Clinton and Obama were more good, moderate, pro-business, Republicans than Democrats.

What you don't have clues about was covered thoroughly in the news. And in front of Congressional committees. There is no excuse for your ignorance unless it's congenital.

Reply Tue 11 Jun, 2024 09:48 pm
@bobsal u1553115,
Obama kept your bankers from turning hard working middle class home loans and savings accounts into crap.

Australia rode out the crisis better than any western nation, so I am not sure what drum you're beating there. Perhaps you need to watch the very well researched Sony production, narrated by Matt Damon, where they go into a lot of detail about how Obama "handled" the crisis, and how he did nothing to prevent it from happening again, which is why the other nations are going with the BRICS path, or the crypto avenue, and dropping the bogus petro dollar.

Reply Wed 12 Jun, 2024 04:00 am
“We’re producing more energy than ever before in this nation. We have the strongest economy in the world, and we are beating China for the first time in decades. More people went to work this morning in America than at any other time in our nation’s history. So I’ve got a message to Donald Trump and all his negativity and his whining: Stop sh*t talking America. This is the greatest country on earth, and it’s time that we all start acting like it.”

Pennsylvania governor Josh Shapiro’s words to Jen Psaki on MSNBC yesterday illustrated that Democrats are flipping the script on the MAGA Republicans.

Since he decided to run for president in 2015, almost exactly nine years ago, Trump’s narrative has been that the United States is in terrible decline and that only he can “make America great again.” In his speech announcing his candidacy on that June day in 2015, he claimed that “our country is in serious trouble” and complained that China, Japan, and Mexico were all “beating” the U.S. and “laughing at us, at our stupidity…. The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems,” he said before launching into the idea that Mexico was sending criminals and rapists across the border. “Our enemies are getting stronger and stronger…, and we as a country are getting weaker,” he said. “Even our nuclear arsenal doesn’t work.”

Trump claimed—falsely—that the nation’s gross domestic product was below zero, that the labor participation rate was “the worst since 1978,” that unemployment was between 18 and 20 percent, and that while Obamacare was “amazingly destructive,” he would replace it with something cheaper and better.

Trump continued this theme of decline and what he called “American carnage” in his inaugural address. He described “[m]others and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our Nation; an education system, flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge; and the crime and the gangs and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.”

Trump initially seemed to blame inept politicians and bureaucrats for what he claimed was America’s decline, assuring the audience at his 2015 campaign announcement: “Well, you need somebody, because politicians are all talk, no action. Nothing’s gonna get done. They will not bring us—believe me—to the promised land. They will not.” But when then–FBI director James Comey refused to drop the investigation into the relationship between Russian operatives and the 2016 Trump campaign, Trump and his loyalists began to warn of a secretive “deep state” that was working to undermine Trump and, with him, the nation.

Trump’s narrative that he is the true defender of the United States, under attack by dark forces, maps beautifully over white evangelical narratives of religious decline. Trump continued that storyline even after voters turned him out of the White House, insisting that a nefarious conspiracy of Democrats, undocumented immigrants, and foreigners stole the election from him.

The House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol estimated that Trump raised $250 million in donations from supporters for an “election defense fund” to pay the legal fees to overturn the results of the 2020 election. But the Trump team never actually set up that fund. Instead, the money went to the Save America political action committee founded and controlled by Trump, and from there the money went to Trump loyalists and pro-Trump organizations.

And therein lies a key reason for Trump’s story of an apocalyptic America: describing the nation as a hellhole that only he can fix also maps over a common pattern of American grifters. So long as supporters send him money, he claims, they will be able to defend the country against dark forces: communists, Marxists, atheists, immigrants, pedophiles, feminists—just what the dark forces are matters far less than that they are a foil for the grifter.

When Trump made that argument in 2015, it was not all that far-fetched. Economists estimate that the supply-side economics of the past 40 years had shifted $50 trillion dollars from the bottom 90% of Americans to the top 1%, hollowing out the middle class. Schools had been chronically underfunded, and the opioid epidemic, which began in 1999, was claiming more than 10,000 Americans a year (a number that has continued to rise ever since). And by weaponizing the filibuster and gerrymandering states, Republicans had made it extraordinarily difficult for Congress to accomplish anything that would address these issues.

When Biden took office, he was in the unusual position of signing executive orders to establish policies that were not unpopular, like Trump‘s, but that were extraordinarily popular. This began the process of showing that the government could, in fact, represent the people.

Then, thanks to the election of Georgia senators Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff in a runoff election on January 6, 2021—that was the seismic shift of January 6, 2021, that is often forgotten—the Democrats continued to demonstrate that the government could work for the people. They passed the American Rescue Plan to shore up the U.S. economy after the pandemic shutdowns, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act to rebuild roads and bridges and improve broadband access, the CHIPS and Science Act to promote semiconductor manufacturing, the Inflation Reduction Act to invest in climate change mitigation and permit the government to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies over drug prices, and the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act to close loopholes in gun purchases.

Those changes have created a roaring economy with an unemployment rate that has just last month ticked up to 4% after 27 months below that number, with wages growing faster than the inflation that plagued the U.S.—and the world—after the pandemic eased. The highest wage growth has gone to the lowest earners, helping to cut the nation’s extreme wealth inequality.

That booming economy might be partly what’s behind another significant change: for all that Trump and MAGA Republicans still talk about Democratic cities as hellholes, the FBI yesterday released a report showing that violent crime in fact dropped by more than 15% in the U.S. during the first three months of 2024. As Jim Sciutto of CNN pointed out today, “Murders fell 26.4% and rapes decreased by 25.7%. Aggravated assaults decreased by 12.5%, according to the data, robberies fell 17.8%.” In his own assessment, Biden attributed those dropping numbers to “putting more cops on the beat, holding violent criminals accountable, and getting illegal guns off the street.”

On June 1, top sports talk host Colin Cowherd anticipated Shapiro’s pro-American stance when he pushed back on the Republican idea that the country is a dystopian nightmare. “[Trump’s] trying to sell me an America that doesn’t exist,” he said. “Stop trying to sell me on ‘everything’s rigged, the country’s falling into the sea, the economy’s terrible,’” he continued. “The America that I live in is imperfect. But compared to the rest of the world, I think we’re doing okay.”

Today, Biden pointedly illustrated one more difference between Trump and the real world. In the wake of his own conviction on 34 criminal counts, Trump has amped up his insistence that the Department of Justice is rigged against him and must be purged of nonpartisan civil servants and repopulated with his own loyalists. Biden today underscored his own respect for the rule of law.

This afternoon a jury found Biden’s 54-year-old son Hunter Biden guilty on three charges of lying on a form required to purchase a gun in 2018 when he checked the “no” box that asked if he was “an unlawful user of, or addicted to,” drugs. That lie permitted him to buy the gun that he owned for 11 days. His lawyer argued that he did not consider himself an addict because he was trying at the time to end his drug dependence.

The news made the Trump team rush back to their narrative. “This trial has been nothing more than a distraction from the real crimes of the Biden Crime Family, which has raked in tens of millions of dollars from China, Russia and Ukraine,” Trump campaign spokesperson Karoline Leavitt said. Echoing the false allegations MAGA Republicans have made about President Biden, she added: “Crooked Joe Biden’s reign over the Biden Family Criminal Empire is all coming to an end on November 5th, and never again will a Biden sell government access for personal profit.”

But there is no Biden family business, and Hunter Biden is not in the administration. President Biden has kept his distance from the case. Today he said, “I am the president, but I am also a dad. Jill and I love our son, and we are so proud of the man he is today. So many families who have had loved ones battle addiction understand the feeling of pride seeing someone you love come out the other side and be so strong and resilient in recovery. As I…said last week, I will accept the outcome of this case and will continue to respect the judicial process as Hunter considers an appeal. Jill and I will always be there for Hunter and the rest of our family with our love and support. Nothing will ever change that.”

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Reply Wed 12 Jun, 2024 09:01 am
Conservatives are disingenuous and delusional.

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Reply Wed 12 Jun, 2024 06:35 pm
Democracy Docket@DemocracyDocket
Jun 11
Kenneth Chesebro, James Troupis and Michael Roman were each charged with forgery due to an alleged attempt to subvert Wisconsin’s 2020 election results by falsely declaring Trump the winner of the state.
@marceelias explains HERE

As a side point, one of these three, Michael Roman, has tight organizational connections with Canada's last Conservative Prime Minister, Stephen Harper.
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bobsal u1553115
Reply Wed 12 Jun, 2024 07:27 pm
Go ahead. Ignore the inconvenient facts. Matt Damon. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!

Let alone the fact, as you correctly put it (probably by accident), it started in 2006 and and came to a head as you also pointed out, in 2008, Obama's term started January 20, 2009.

Explain how that was Obama's fault. What is your major malfunction?
Reply Thu 13 Jun, 2024 03:40 am
On June 13, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9182, consolidating a number of different government information offices into the Office of War Information (OWI). The mission of the new agency was to gather public information and to spread it across the U.S. and abroad through the press, radio, motion pictures, and other media. Its aim, in the middle of World War II, was to develop “an informed and intelligent understanding, at home and abroad, of the status and progress of the war effort and of the war policies, activities, and aims of the Government.”

The United States had experimented with a government information bureau during World War I. After the U.S. declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917, the Secretaries of State, War, and the Navy asked the president to create a Committee on Public Information (CPI) to unify Americans behind the war. They had watched as artists whipped up enthusiasm for enlisting to fight the Germans as early as 1915, with the sinking of the Lusitania, and wanted to create a similar shared experience over the war itself.

On April 13, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson created the committee through an executive order, then put newspaperman George Creel in charge of it. Creel had organized a committee of friendly newspapermen to promote Wilson's reelection in 1916. Strongly opposed to the idea of government censorship during the war, he instead promised to create an agency that, as he later wrote, would use “every possible media…to drive home the justice of America’s cause. Not to combat prejudices and disaffection at home was to weaken the firing line.” The CPI set out to reach every person in the U.S. by flooding the media zone with pamphlets, newspapers, posters, films, and short speeches given by so-called Four Minute Men, local figures who embellished talking points handed out by the CPI.

In 1940 the Council on Foreign Relations, a nonpartisan foreign relations think tank in New York City that had grown out of Wilson’s internationalism, published a book by Harold Tobin and Percy Bidwell titled Mobilizing Civilian America. It set out plans for putting the nation’s manufacturing and military on a war footing. It also noted that in the modern world, in which war was often about domestic production as much as numbers of troops, “victory may depend not so much on the skill of generals or the fighting quality of their troops, as on the loyalty and stamina of the men and women on the home front.”

With that in mind, the authors examined the Committee on Public Information and concluded that while the committee had done brilliantly at informing the public of the facts, the Four Minute Men and other local writers during World War I had spread “hysterical and fanatical outbursts,” sometimes in connection with bond drives, that had whipped up communities against their foreign-born neighbors and other alleged “spies in our midst.” After the war, Americans were so disgusted by their own campaign of hatred and violence against German-Americans, the authors wrote, that they were hugely resistant to anything they saw as propaganda.

Nonetheless, the authors said, if the U.S. got involved in another war, the government must be prepared for a public relations campaign. In such a case, they said, it was crucial for the government to make sure it stuck firmly to the truth and did not permit the kind of freelancers whose extreme rhetoric had hurt the CPI.

That advice seemed prescient in the months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor ushered the U.S. into World War II. Information came from different departments and bureaus, but no one seemed to be explaining what America’s goals were or what it was doing to achieve them. FDR was reluctant to set up an agency that his political opponents would charge was a propaganda outlet, but gradually he greenlit small agencies to explain the war to the country.

In June 1942, FDR pulled those agencies together as the Office of War Information, putting popular news commentator Elmer Davis in charge. Davis vowed to focus not on building morale but on delivering news that would enable people to understand what was at stake. OWI officials were chagrined to learn that in summer 1942 almost a third of Americans said they did not know what the country was fighting for, while Representative Joe Starnes (D-AL), for example, complained, “I think it is an insult to the intelligence of the American people to say that we do not know why we are fighting.”

In the three years it operated, the Office of War Information created radio programs that explained to Americans which nations were at war and why and others that portrayed life on the home front, and film documentaries about Japanese American incarceration, military training, and so on. Overseas, the OWI established the Voice of America, which is still the official U.S. international broadcasting service, as well as running secret radio stations and disseminating propaganda to harass enemy forces in combat zones. The OWI also examined scripts for Hollywood movies—1,652 of them before the war ended—to make sure they supported the Allies’ mission.

The OWI ran into trouble quickly as reporters determined to explain facts were overridden by advertising men who wanted to sell the war with positive stories, and both were often tripped up by military leaders who withheld information, especially negative stories, for “public safety.” By 1944, OWI operated mostly overseas, as FDR’s opponents insisted its domestic efforts were designed to help him politically. In September 1945, with the war over, president Harry Truman ended the OWI by executive order after congratulating it for its “outstanding contribution to victory.”

In the years to come, especially after the government’s disinformation regarding the Vietnam War, the idea of government propaganda fell into even more disrepute in the United States than it had in the aftermath of World War II, as the excesses possible under someone like the chief propagandist for Germany’s Nazi Party, Joseph Goebbels, became clear.

But we have been far less guarded against the ways in which other actors shape public opinion.

In February, cyber experts said that Russia was already spreading disinformation to influence the 2024 election, and in April, Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, warned that the U.S. is more susceptible to Russian influence operations than it has ever been, despite the understanding of the importance of Russian influence operations on the 2016 election. “With polarization in this country, and the lack of faith in institutions, people will believe anything or not believe things that come from what used to be viewed as trusted sources of information,” Warner told Julian E. Barnes of the New York Times. “So there’s a much greater willingness to accept conspiracy theories.”

Also in April, Microsoft said it had uncovered fake social media profiles run by Chinese operatives to destabilize U.S. politics, and in May, TikTok said it took down thousands of accounts from fifteen covert influence operations in the first four months of 2024. Last week, NewsGuard reported on a network of 167 Russian disinformation sites fronted by a former deputy sheriff from Florida.

On June 6 the State Department’s top official on digital and cyber policy, Nate Fick, told an audience: “I don’t think most American citizens really viscerally understand how much of the content they see on social platforms is actually a foreign intelligence operation…. I just don’t think we viscerally get how much of what we see is bot-generated or foreign intelligence service–generated.”

Today, officials from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) told lawmakers that Russian influence operations aimed at undermining support for Ukraine and faith in democratic institutions provide the top threat to the upcoming U.S. election. China is the second-greatest threat but is more cautious because it is concerned about U.S. blowback, while the third, Iran, acts primarily as a “chaos agent,” trying to confuse voters. The ODNI officials said they have been issuing warnings to political candidates, government officials, and others targeted by foreign groups.

Senator Angus King (I-ME) urged Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines to make threats known to the public. “I’m worried that you may be overly concerned with appearing partisan and that that will freeze you in terms of taking the actions that are necessary,” he said. “Please ramp it up. We’ve got about six months and...we know that these adversaries are going to be coming at us.”

The modern propaganda flooding the U.S. portrays us as bitterly divided along lines of race and gender, religion and ethnicity. In contrast to this version of America is the one portrayed during World War II by the OWI documentary photography unit. Photographers who had been moved into the agency from the Farm Security Administration documented war work, women in the factories, and civil rights struggles, including those of the incarcerated Japanese Americans as well as Black and brown Americans, showing them at work or in their small towns or cities. The images were of ordinary Americans, often singled out as heroic individuals in their own frames, to represent the American people as a whole.

And these images were some of the most lasting and vital elements of the OWI’s work. If the hero of the military was the ordinary soldier, the G.I., as newspaper reporters wrote, the hero of the home front was the ordinary American who, in order to make sure that the G.I. had supplies, went to work in a factory or on a farm.

That image was central to the shaping of postwar America.
[Alfred T. Palmer, Operating a hand drill at Vultee-Nashville, woman is working on a "Vengeance" dive bomber, Tennessee, 1943, Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Color Photographs, Library of Congress]

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Reply Thu 13 Jun, 2024 08:51 am
Republican's ain't the party of Law and Order. They're the party of Crime and Disorder.

Republicans ain't the party of Compassionate Conservatism. They're the party of Divisiveness and Bigotry.

Republicans ain't the party of the 1st Amendment. They're the party that bans books and bans what history that can be taught in schools.

Republicans ain't the party of the Free Market.
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Reply Thu 13 Jun, 2024 09:11 am
@bobsal u1553115,
bobsal u1553115 wrote:

......................What is your major malfunction?

Plain ole stupidity!
0 Replies
Walter Hinteler
Reply Thu 13 Jun, 2024 11:38 am
Disclaimer: the beginning of my post (also on one of her favourite topics) is stolen from a sometimes frequent, momentarily silent again A2K'er.

Trending on X (formerly twitter):
Sanctions against the Moscow Exchange definitely have a psychological effect. Suddenly, dollar and euro exchange rates have disappeared or are frozen on many websites. Kommersant shows only Yuan where all three currencies used to be.
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Reply Fri 14 Jun, 2024 04:21 am
The Port of Baltimore reopened yesterday, fewer than 100 days after a container ship hit the Francis Scott Key Bridge on March 26, collapsing it into the channel. The port is a major shipping hub, especially for imports and exports of cars and light trucks—about 750,000 vehicles went through it in 2022. It is also the nation’s second-biggest exporter of coal. In 2023 it moved a record-breaking $80 billion worth of foreign cargo.

After the crash, the administration rushed support to the site, likely in part to emphasize that under Democrats, government really can get things done efficiently, as Democratic Pennsylvania governor Josh Shapiro demonstrated in June 2023 when he oversaw the reopening of a collapsed section of I-95 in just 12 days. Reopening the Port of Baltimore required salvage workers, divers, crane operators, and mariners to clear more than 50,000 tons of steel.

Yesterday, at the reopening, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg noted the “whole of government” response. State leadership under Maryland governor Wes Moore worked with those brought together by the Unified Command set up under the National Response System to coordinate the responses of the local government, state government, federal government, and those responsible for the crisis to make them as effective and efficient as possible; the Coast Guard; the Army Corps of Engineers; the first responders; and the port workers.

Buttigieg noted that the response team had engaged all the stakeholders in the process, including truck drivers and trucking companies, trade associations, and agricultural producers. He gave credit for that ability to the administration’s establishment of the White House Supply Chains Disruptions Task Force, which, he said, “put us in a strong place to mitigate the disruptions to our supply chain and economy.”

Clearing the channel was possible thanks to an immediate down payment of $60 million from the Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration. The department estimates that rebuilding the bridge will cost between $1.7 billion and $1.9 billion. President Joe Biden has said he wants the federal government to fund that rebuilding as it quickly did in 2007, when a bridge across the Mississippi River in Minneapolis suddenly collapsed. Within a week of that collapse, Congress unanimously passed a measure to fund rebuilding the bridge, and President George W. Bush signed it into law. But now some Republicans are balking at Biden’s request, saying that lawmakers should simply take the money that has been appropriated for things like electric vehicles, or wait until insurance money comes in from the shipping companies.

Meanwhile, former president Trump traveled to Capitol Hill today for the first time since the January 6, 2021, riots. Passing protesters holding signs that said things like “Democracy Forever, Trump Never,” Trump met first with Republican lawmakers from the House and then with Republican senators, who, according to Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), gave him “a lot of standing ovations.” Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) called it “bring your felon to work day.”

Republicans billed the visit as a brainstorming session about Trump’s 2025 agenda, but no discussions of plans have emerged, only generalities and the sort of cheery grandstanding McConnell provided. The meeting, along with a press appearance at which Trump made a short speech but did not take questions before shaking a lot of Republican hands, appeared to be an attempt to overwrite the news of his conviction by indicating he is popular in Congress.

The news that has gotten traction is Trump’s statement that Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where the Republicans are holding their convention in July, is a “horrible city.” Republicans are trying hard to spin this comment as a misunderstanding, but their many different attempts to explain it away—as meaning crime, or elections, or Pere Marquette Park (!)—seem more likely to reinforce the comment than distract from it.

Indeed, it’s possible that the agenda had more to do with Trump than with the nation. Anna Massoglia of Open Secrets reported today that Trump’s political operation spent more than $20 million on lawyers in the first four months of 2024, and Rachel Bade of Politico reported hours before the House meeting that Trump has been obsessed with using the powers of Congress to fight for him and to, as she puts it, “go to war against the Democrats he accuses of ‘weaponizing’ the justice system against him.”

Bade said that after his May 30 conviction by a unanimous jury on 34 criminal counts, Trump immediately called House speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), insisting in a profanity-laden rant that “We have to overturn this.” Johnson is sympathetic but has too slim a House majority to deliver as much fire as both would like, especially since vulnerable Republicans aren’t eager to weaponize the nation’s lawmaking body for Trump.

As David Kurtz of Talking Points Memo explained this morning, House Republicans “are already advancing Trump’s campaign of retribution.” Yesterday they voted to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress and recommended his prosecution for refusing to hand over an audio recording of special counsel Robert Hur’s interview with President Biden. Biden, who was not charged over his retention of classified documents as vice president, has provided a transcript of the interview but has exerted executive privilege over the recording.

The demand for the audio is particularly galling, considering that Biden voluntarily testified while Trump refused to be interviewed by either special counsel Robert Mueller or special counsel Jack Smith. But Biden has a well-known stutter, and having hours of testimony in his own voice might offer something that could be chopped up for political ads.

Indeed, former Republican representative Ken Buck (R-CO) acknowledged that Republicans are “just looking for something for political purposes,” and House Oversight Committee chair James Comer (R-KY) sent out a fundraising appeal promising that the audio recording “could be the final blow to Biden with swing voters across the country.”

White House Counsel Edward Siskel wrote to Comer and Judiciary Committee chair Jim Jordan (R-OH) saying that the administration “has sought to work in good faith with Congress.” It released Hur’s long report editorializing on Biden’s mental acuity without redacting it, allowed Hur to testify publicly for more than five hours, and provided transcripts, emails, and documents. “The absence of a legitimate need for the audio recordings lays bare your likely goal,” Siskel wrote, “to chop them up, distort them, and use them for partisan political purposes.”

The attack on Garland, journalist Kurtz notes, continues the steady stream of disinformation the House Republicans have been producing through their “investigations” and impeachment hearings and press conferences.

In the Senate, six MAGA Republicans demonstrated their support for Trump by threatening to block Biden’s key nominees in protest of the New York jury’s conviction of Trump, although they are trying to frame the convictions as “the current administration’s persecution of” Trump. The senators are J. D. Vance (R-OH), Mike Lee (R-UT), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), and Eric Schmitt (R-MO).

While MAGA Republicans show their reverence for Trump, Democrats are working to get them on the record on issues the American people care about.

Today, Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) held a vote on whether to advance a bill that would provide federal protection for in vitro fertilization (IVF), an infertility treatment in which a human egg is fertilized outside the body and then placed in a human uterus for gestation. IVF is popular: a March poll by CBS News/YouGov found that 86% of Americans think it should be legal, while only 14% think it should be illegal. But the white evangelical Christians who make up the Republicans’ base are increasingly demanding that the nation’s laws recognize “fetal personhood,” the idea that a fertilized egg has the full rights of a living human. This would end all abortion, of course, as well as birth control that prevents implantation, such as IUDs and Plan B. And, if fertilized eggs are fully human, it would also end IVF because the procedure often results in some fertilized eggs being damaged or discarded.

This is a vote Republicans did not want to take because voting to protect IVF will infuriate their base and voting to end it will infuriate the 86% of Americans who support it. So they tried to get around it by signing a statement noting that IVF is legal and that they “strongly support continued nationwide access to IVF.” While it is true that IVF is currently legal, the Alabama Supreme Court in February ruled that frozen embryos should be considered unborn children and their destruction could be prosecuted under the state’s Wrongful Death of a Minor Act. In the wake of that decision, two of Alabama’s eight fertility clinics paused their IVF treatments.

In today’s vote, all but three Republicans voted against taking up the bill protecting IVF. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska voted in favor of it; Eric Schmitt of Missouri did not vote. All the Democrats voted in favor, although Schumer changed his vote to a “no” so he could bring the vote up again later.

Regarding the difference between the statement and the votes, Leah Greenberg of Indivisible posted: “Who are you gonna believe, me or my voting record?”

In another window onto the future of reproductive rights, the Supreme Court today unanimously decided that the antiabortion groups trying to get the drug mifepristone banned did not have standing to bring the case. This preserves access to mifepristone, commonly used to induce medical abortions, but as legal observers point out, the court ruled only on standing, meaning that others, who do have standing, could bring a similar case.

This afternoon, Biden posted: “Kamala and I stand with the majority of Americans who support a woman’s right to make deeply personal health care decisions. And our commitment to you is that we will not back down from ensuring women in every state get the care they need.”

And so, going into the 2024 election, the question of abortion is on the table.

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