Good Day Sky Dancers!
It’s finally warmed up around here again! I’m still thinking about all of our Sky Dancers–including BB–that got slammed by that wicked snowstorm over the weekend. I hope it’s melting faster than the wicked witch of the west after that bucket of water hit her!
We’re gearing up for Mardi Gras. I’m still hoping that turns out okay but I’m not going to head someplace and wallow in crowds that likely include folks from the plague rat states and our surrounding rural areas. I know the city needs the cash and folks need jobs but still, I fret.
There are now two Republican governors who have openly decided to diss a Trump second run for the Presidency. That happens while Susan Collins dithers. Ron DeSantis is getting a little feisty too. It seriously couldn’t happen to a better crowd of turncoats. This is from the New York Times: “Trump’s Grip on G.O.P. Faces New Strains. Shifts in polls of Republicans, disagreements on endorsements and jeers over vaccines hint at daylight between the former president and the right-wing movement he spawned.” It’s written by Shane Goldmacher.
About halfway into his Texas rally on Saturday evening, Donald J. Trump pivoted toward the teleprompter and away from a meandering set of grievances to rattle off a tightly prepared list of President Biden’s failings and his own achievements.
“Let’s simply compare the records,” Mr. Trump said, as supporters in “Trump 2024” shirts cheered behind him, framed perfectly in the television shot.
Mr. Trump, who later went on to talk about “that beautiful, beautiful house that happens to be white,” has left increasingly little doubt about his intentions, plotting an influential role in the 2022 midterm elections and another potential White House run. But a fresh round of skirmishes over his endorsements, fissures with the Republican base over vaccines — a word Mr. Trump conspicuously left unsaid at Saturday’s rally — and new polling all show how his longstanding vise grip on the Republican Party is facing growing strains.
In Texas, some grass-roots conservatives are vocally frustrated with Mr. Trump’s backing of Gov. Greg Abbott, even booing Mr. Abbott when he took the stage. In North Carolina, Mr. Trump’s behind-the-scenes efforts to shrink the Republican field to help his preferred Senate candidate failed last week. And in Tennessee, a recent Trump endorsement set off an unusually public backlash, even among his most loyal allies, both in Congress and in conservative media.
The most appalling Trump event speech hit when Orange Caligula offered up pardons to his insurrectionists.
The Justice Department is navigating unique and profound logistical problems with its January 6 cases. The D.C. federal courthouse remains closed to jury trials through at least February 7, due to COVID risks. Most hearings are occurring virtual, through Zoom and phone connections. But trials must occur in person inside the courthouse, which is a short walk from the U.S. Capitol.
The agency is also trying to corral an unprecedented avalanche of evidence. The U.S. Capitol riot prosecution, which the agency has characterized as one of the largest criminal cases in U.S. history, is saturated with tips and possible evidence.
In a series of recent court filings, the Justice Department said there are 14,000 hours of Capitol surveillance video, 250 terabytes of data and more than 200,000 tips from the public. Along with a growing collection of social media posts, phone videos and witness interviews, federal prosecutors are trying to manage and organize a growing tower of evidence and materials.
This week, the agency notified a judge there is still “work to do” in preparing the evidence for the court, defense lawyers, defendants and trial.
“This investigation has generated an enormous amount of evidence,” the Justice Department said in a court filing Thursday, as part of its request for a time extension in the case of a defendant from New Jersey.
Judges have set some trial dates, including in the high-profile cases against accused. Some of those trials are scheduled to begin in April, while others are expected in July and September. The later dates include defendants charged with seditious conspiracy, some of whom are in pretrial detention.
CBS News has learned approximately 40 defendants in January 6 cases are in pretrial detention in the Washington, D.C., jail, some of whom have spent nearly a year behind bars, without firm trial dates. Judges have said the cases involving defendants in pretrial custody should be prioritized for the earlier trial dates.
Could a president pardon people involved in a crime he incited? Remember, Nixon secretly promised pardons to the Watergate instigators and those active in the cover-up. Haldeman eventually asked for a pardon. Nixon, however, would’ve directly implicated himself in the crime and he resigned quickly after the request.
Trump, however, is openly offering pardons. This is from The Guardian: Trump pardon promise for Capitol rioters ‘stuff of dictators’ – Nixon aide.”
John Dean, 83, was White House counsel from 1970 to 1973 before being disbarred and detained as a result of the Watergate scandal, which led to Nixon’s resignation in 1974. Dean responded to Trump on Twitter.
“This is beyond being a demagogue to the stuff of dictators,” he wrote. “He is defying the rule of law. Failure to confront a tyrant only encourages bad behaviour. If thinking Americans don’t understand what Trump is doing and what the criminal justice system must do we are all in big trouble!”
Trump was generous with pardons in office, recipients including Steve Bannon and Michael Flynn, both now targets of the House committee investigating January 6 and with Trump in its sights. On Sunday morning, the New Hampshire governor, Chris Sununu, widely seen as a relative moderate in Trump’s Republican party, was asked if pardons should be offered to Capitol rioters.
“Of course not,” he told CNN’s State of the Union. “Oh, my goodness. No.”
Even Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina senator and dogged Trump ally, said the former president was wrong.
“I don’t want to send any signals that it was OK to defile the Capitol,” he told CBS’s Face the Nation. “I want to deter what people did on January 6, and those who did it, I hope they go to jail and get the book thrown at them because they deserve it.”
But a moderate Republican, Susan Collins of Maine, indicated the hold Trump has on the party.
Appearing on ABC’s This Week, the senator said Trump should not “have made that pledge to do pardons. We should let the judicial process proceed.”
But Collins, who voted to convict Trump over the Capitol attack, would not say that she would not support him if he ran for president again.
“Well certainly it’s not likely given the many other qualified candidates that we have, that have expressed interest in running,” she said. “So it’s very unlikely.”
Dither away, Susan. We see you.
We need people to fight all this Trumpism in the trenches of Main Street. I found this article in TNR to be invigorating.
These folks–retired election auditors–protected the Arizona election results. We may need more like them throughout many states.
Trump’s agents were plotting to fabricate a favorable vote count. But they were stymied by their vast inexperience in elections. As important, they were boxed in at key junctures by three retired election technologists who used public records to hold them accountable. The trio warned the pro-Trump contractors and their legislative sponsors that their “audit” was being watched, repeatedly reported why it was a propaganda-filled hoax, and gradually won local and national press coverage.
Most strikingly, it was the technologists—not Arizona’s Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, nor Democratic Party lawyers, experts in policy circles and academia, or journalists—who showed that tens of thousands of loyal Republican voters from Phoenix’s suburbs did not vote for Trump. That pattern alone, based on hard data, confirmed his loss in Arizona.
The retirees did more. They rebutted the lie from Trump’s noisemakers that tens of thousands of dead people and made-up people voted, by pairing every ballot cast with a legal voter. They showed that there was no collusion to alter vote counts when local election officials reviewed sloppily marked ballots to determine a voter’s intent, again using public data that tracked the officials’ actions.
And months after Arizona Senate Republicans hired the Cyber Ninjas, a data security firm led by a Trump cultist with no experience in elections, to oversee its 2020 election review in Maricopa County (greater Phoenix), the retirees boxed the Ninjas into revealing that they could not accurately recount votes—again using public records. That strategy culminated last September, when Cyber Ninja CEO Doug Logan testified that Biden had won Arizona, after all.
Read more at the link.
So, I have to adult today. I can no longer be completely feral as I’ve got places to go outside my neighborhood where they are used to me. I may even cut my hair again! Y’all take care and be safe if you’re going to venture out. The Covid-19 numbers are not looking good. Oh, btw my less evil Senator did something positive with Senator Tammy Baldwin today so I sent him a nice note.
This is the most disturbing news. I would just like to say Fuck you to all those anti-Vaxxers.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
And just a small tribute to Neil Young who lived as a child with polio and epilepsy and whose children all have challenging diseases present from childhood. His daughter has epilepsy and his two sons have cerebral palsy. This comes from his album Trans. The music was to help Young communicate with his youngest son who could not speak. Young has a foundation to help children live with long-term health disabilities. I have left Spotify.
Goodfellas, the clown version… Cartoons from Cagle:
And with that, I will end it. This is an open thread.
The big nor’easter moving up the East Coast appears to be behaving as predicted. We are still under a blizzard warning and the snow is coming down steadily outside my windows. In fact, I can’t see much but white out there. The Boston Globe: Blizzard warning in effect for much of Eastern Mass., all of R.I., with predicted totals of up to two feet.
A snowstorm that could bring up to two feet to some Eastern Massachusetts communities is barreling down on Southern New England, with blizzard conditions expected in the eastern third of the state and all of Rhode Island, the National Weather Service said.
The “significant winter storm” arrived after midnight and is expected to stick around through Saturday night. It will bring heavy snowfall, near hurricane-force wind gusts, and power outages, according to the weather service. The greatest snowfall amounts are expected across Eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
The weather service expanded its blizzard warning Friday to include not just coastal areas but much of Eastern Massachusetts and all of Rhode Island. The warning is in effect from midnight Friday through early Sunday morning. A winter storm warning was also issued for much of Central Massachusetts.
Eastern portions of the state are expected to be hit the hardest. In Boston, Plymouth, and parts of Cape Cod at least 18 to 24 inches of snow is likely, forecasters said. Depending on the location of isolated snow bands, some areas could see up to 30 inches, with forecasters predicting that snow totals in certain spots will break records or come close.
From 7 p.m. on Friday through 7 a.m. on Sunday, forecasters anticipate 24.7 inches in Boston, while South Shore communities could see higher amounts of 26 inches or more. like Plymouth are expected to see the highest amounts, with 26.8 inches.
As long as the power doesn’t go out, I’m just going to be cozy and warm in my apartment, sipping tea and reading a good book.
Republicans and right wing media are attacking President Biden’s commitment to appointing the first Black woman to the Supreme Court. From Media Matters: Biden pledged to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court. Right-wing media are rushing to dismiss the idea.
Following the news that Justice Stephen Breyer is retiring from the Supreme Court, right-wing media began launching racist attacks at the yet-unnamed nominee who would replace him based solely on President Joe Biden’s campaign pledge that he would nominate a Black woman.
Biden is not the first president who committed to diversity in his judicial selection. Ronald Reagan also made a similar pledge during his presidential campaign in 1980, saying he would nominate a woman to “one of the first Supreme Court vacancies in my administration.” Biden himself has already diversified appellate courts, nominating eight Black women so far to serve in the nation’s second highest courts.
However, once the news of Breyer’s retirement broke, right-wing media were quick to attack Biden’s promise. Through outright racist language, tangential broadsides at Vice President Kamala Harris, and far-fetched comparisons between Biden’s pledge and affirmative action, right-wing figures have been dismissing the future nominee.
— The Cato Institute’s Ilya Shapiro, in a set of since-deleted tweets, claimed that Biden’s selection process would result in him selecting a “lesser black woman” even though there are more deserving candidates. Shapiro also claimed that because of Biden’s pledge, his nominee “will always have an asterisk attached.”
— On Fox’s Outnumbered, guest and conservative radio host Leo Terrell claimed the “racial component” of the nomination process would mean “the race card is going to be played if you vote against this particular nominee.”
— Tom Elliot, the founder of right-wing news aggregation website Grabien, tweeted, “If only Biden could perform a vivisection, assembling a SCOTUS nominee” from Rep Maxine Waters’ (D-CA) “black skin,” Sen. Mitt Romney’s (R-UT) “Boy Scout background,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-NY) “insane politics,” Vice President Kamala Harris’ “vagina,” comedian Benny Drama’s “ambiguous sexuality,” and Justice Stephen Breyer’s “disdain for the Constitution.”
— Fox host Dan Bongino asserted on his radio show that nominating a Black woman meant she “could come out and say anything she wants — anything you say against it, you will automatically be deemed a racist.”
— Infowars’ Owen Shroyer, in discussing Biden’s pledge, said Democrats were “destroy[ing] everything with their commitment to diversity” and that Biden’s pledge to nominate a Black woman is “illegal and racist.”
This is hilarious from Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker. Ashton Pittman at the Mississippi Free Press: Wicker: Black Woman Supreme Court Pick An Affirmative Action ‘Beneficiary’
The first Black woman to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court in history will be a “beneficiary” of affirmative action, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker told a radio show this afternoon. The senior Republican senator from Mississippi made clear that he has no plans to vote for Biden’s yet-to-be-announced pick.
Biden has vowed to select a Black woman to replace outgoing Justice Stephen Breyer, who announced his retirement yesterday.
“The irony is that the Supreme Court is at the very time hearing cases about this sort of affirmative racial discrimination while adding someone who is the beneficiary of this sort of quota,” Wicker told host Paul Gallo on SuperTalk Mississippi Radio today, referring to a pending U.S. Supreme Court case challenging affirmative action in college admissions.
“The majority of the court may be saying writ large that it’s unconstitutional. We’ll see how that irony works out.”
Wicker notably did not raise an objection when former President Donald Trump vowed to appoint a woman to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg when she died weeks before the 2020 election. Instead, the GOP senator enthusiastically supported Trump’s choice, Amy Coney Barrett, despite having stated in 2016 that then-President Barack Obama should not be allowed to appoint a U.S. Supreme Court justice in an election year
Despite not knowing who Biden will nominate, Mississippi’s senior senator predicted that Biden’s pick will be less palatable to Republicans like himself than the white, male justice who currently holds the seat. He compared the unannounced nominee to Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who became the high court’s first Latina justice when former President Barack Obama appointed her in 2009.
“We’re going to go from a nice, stately liberal to someone who’s probably more in the style of Sonia Sotomayor,” Wicker said. “… I hope it’s at least someone who will at least not misrepresent the facts. I think they will misinterpret the law.”
Then, he lamented that more Republicans did not turn out to help re-elect former President Donald Trump in 2020.
The Washington Post on one potential SCOTUS nominee: White House confirms South Carolina judge is under consideration for Supreme Court.
Happy Friday Sky Dancers!
I am sorry to be so late today but I had a lot of errands to run this morning! I even had the topic I wanted to cover today by last night but just couldn’t get to it until this afternoon! I’d like to introduce you to all the wonderful black women Judges that are potential Supreme Court Nominees.
The First on the list is Federal Appeals Court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson who replaced Merrick Garland when he became AG. This is an excerpt from an NPR interview with her by Nina Totenberg last June.
BROWN JACKSON: I am a federal judge, which means people generally treat me with respect. But in the evenings, when I leave the courthouse and go home, all of my wisdom and knowledge and authority evaporates. My daughters make it very clear that as far as they’re concerned, I know nothing. I should not tell them anything, much less give them any orders, that is if they talk to me at all.
She’s got all the receipts and still gets “oh mother!” from her daughters!
Ketanji Brown Jackson, 51, serves as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. She was born in Washington, the daughter of two graduates of historically Black colleges and universities who instilled in her a sense that she could do or be anything she set her mind to, she recalled in a speech in March.
In June, Biden nominated Jackson to fill Merrick Garland’s seat on the D.C. Circuit after Garland was confirmed as attorney general. This fueled speculation that she was on the president’s shortlist for potential justices because the D.C. court is considered the second-most powerful in the country and because high court nominees are traditionally chosen from the federal appeals bench.
Jackson has clerked for Breyer and for two other federal judges. She attended Harvard University as an undergraduate and a law student, serving as an editor for the Harvard Law Review. And her experience as a public defender has endeared her to the more liberal base of the Democratic Party.
The US Senate confirmed Jackson in 2013 to the federal trial court in Washington, DC, where she served for eight years before Biden put her on the powerful US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, a court that has served as a launch pad to the Supreme Court.
Jackson’s tenure as a federal district court judge was highlighted by an opinion in which she ordered former Trump White House counsel Donald McGahn to comply with a House Judiciary Committee subpoena to testify as part of the first impeachment inquiry into the former president. In a more than 100-page opinion, she forcefully rejected the Trump administration’s claims that a president’s close advisers are absolutely immune to demands for testimony before Congress.
The decision made waves with a single line: “Presidents are not kings.”
Jackson brings not just experience on the federal bench but a background that the Biden administration has sought out in its push to fill judicial vacancies.
Before she served on the US Sentencing Commission and on the federal bench, Jackson— a Harvard Law School graduate — worked as an assistant federal public defender in the District of Columbia.
“There could not be a better choice than her. She’s extremely intelligent, very hard-working, and — most importantly in my line of work — she’s compassionate and truly cares about the individuals who come before her,” said Jon Jeffress, who worked with Jackson in the federal public defender’s office in Washington, DC.
Next on the list is Leondra Kruger. This is from the WaPo link above too.
Leondra Kruger, 45, is a California Supreme Court justice. At the U.S. Department of Justice, she served as deputy solicitor general, the federal government’s second-ranking representative in arguments at the Supreme Court, before becoming one of the youngest people ever nominated to the high court in California, taking her seat in 2015.
During her tenure in the Office of the Solicitor General, Kruger argued 12 cases before the Supreme Court, according to her court biography.
She has previously rebuffed offers from the White House to take a job in the administration.
This is from the Reuters Tweet above.
Before she turned to law and became one of the youngest justices ever appointed to the California Supreme Court, Leondra Kruger had journalism in her blood.
Kruger, considered a potential U.S. Supreme Court nominee for President Joe Biden to replace the retiring Justice Stephen Breyer, was editor-in-chief of her high school’s newspaper. Later, at Harvard University, she wrote for the daily student paper, the Crimson. While attending Yale Law School, she became editor-in-chief of the Yale Law Journal.
The reputation she gained as a young journalist for being thoughtful and careful has followed her to the judiciary, where the 45-year-old jurist has become known for her incremental approach to deciding cases.
Her moderate approach might help her win confirmation in a U.S. Senate evenly split between Democrats and Republicans if Biden chooses her to replace Breyer. Kruger would make history as the first Black woman to serve on the top U.S. judicial body.
Vox has a deep list of impressive black women serving as judges that make for a very long and deep bench. Vox is looking strictly at women younger than 55 which automatically means Lawyer Sharon Ifill — the former President and Director of NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund–did not make their cutoff.
Here are the justices proposed by VOX.
Judge Candace Jackson-Akiwumi — whom Biden appointed to the Seventh Circuit, which oversees federal litigation in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin — is a Yale law graduate who clerked for a federal circuit judge before entering practice. Although she was a partner at a large law firm immediately before her elevation to the bench, she spent 10 years as a public defender.
Similarly, Judge Eunice Lee, a Biden nominee to the Second Circuit, also graduated from Yale Law School and clerked for a federal appellate judge (Lee clerked for Judge Eric Clay of the Sixth Circuit, who I also clerked for). She has more than two decades of experience arguing appeals for indigent criminal defendants.
Christina Swarns, executive director of The Innocence Project, tweeted in support of Lee’s confirmation. Swarns called Lee “absolutely brilliant” and “an exceptional addition” to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. Lee and Swarns previously served together at the Office of the Appellate Defender in New York.
Judge Michelle Childs is getting a lot of attention for being from South Carolina and championed by Representative James Clyburn. She is still considered a long shot.
Judge J. Michelle Childs, a federal district judge in South Carolina. Appointed to the bench by President Obama in 2009, Childs was the first Black woman to become a partner in one of South Carolina’s major law firms, according to the New York Times. She also held various positions in state government. Biden recently nominated her to a seat on the DC Circuit.
Childs’s best shot at a Supreme Court nomination stems from the fact that she has a powerful advocate. Rep. Jim Clyburn, a senior House Democrat who played a significant role in helping Biden win the presidential primary in South Carolina that reinvigorated his 2020 campaign, reportedly floated Childs as a potential Supreme Court justice.
The same New York Times article that reported Clyburn’s interest in Childs also mentioned two other names that “have caught the eye of lawmakers” — Danielle Holley-Walker, the young dean of Howard University’s law school, and Leslie Abrams Gardner, a federal district judge who is also the younger sister of Georgia politician and voting rights activist Stacey Abrams.
And, of course, there’s the Fox News Wipipo Outrage from their Talking Dickheads.
This is from the Huffpost link in the above Tweet. It’s written by Lee Moran.
“The Daily Show” host Trevor Noah on Thursday pointed out the basic flaw in an argument Fox News personalities are pressing against President Joe Biden’s promise to nominate a Black woman to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.
But being a Black woman isn’t the sole qualification for the job, Noah noted.
“Biden is going to pick a Black woman who is also qualified,” he said. “These people act like Biden is just going to show up to the mall and be like, ‘Yo, Shaniqua, come with me.’”
“And why not try to make the Supreme Court a little more representative of the country it represents?” the comedian asked. “I mean, their rulings impact the lives of every person in the country.”
From Chait at New York Magazine:
President Biden has not named his choice to fill Stephen Breyer’s vacancy on the Supreme Court, but the first major talking point against her has already emerged: She is the unqualified product of affirmative action.
“Biden has unwisely limited his options by preemptively declaring during the 2020 campaign that his first Supreme Court nominee would be a black woman,” editorializes National Review. “In a stroke, he disqualified dozens of liberal and progressive jurists for no reason other than their race and gender. This is not a great start in selecting someone sworn to provide equal justice under the law.”
The Wall Street Journal editorial page clucks, “Mr. Biden’s campaign promise that he’d appoint a black woman to the Supreme Court is unfortunate because it elevates skin color over qualifications.” Cato’s Ilya Shapiro complained, before deleting the tweet, “Because Biden said he’s only consider black women for SCOTUS, his nominee will always have an asterisk attached.” Even grosser versions of the same basic idea are already emanating from the likes of Tucker Carlson.
Somehow the idea has taken hold that, before Biden came along and junked the standards, nominations to the Supreme Court used to be awarded solely on the basis of merit. The pick would go to the finest and most accomplished jurist in the land, like a law review editorship for the entire court system.
But when exactly did this era exist? Was it before 1967, when the most qualified judges were all white men? No, there was widely held to be a “Jewish seat” and a “Catholic seat” on the Court for decades during that time.
The basis for identity representation on the Court widened after the 1960s. Ronald Reagan promised during his 1980 campaign to appoint a woman to the Supreme Court. George H.W. Bush did not openly say he needed a Black jurist to replace Thurgood Marshall, but it would take heroic levels of delusion to believe Clarence Thomas was selected on the basis of his career accomplishments.
Their hypocrisy and ability to lie know no boundaries.
Meanwhile, I’ll be looking forward to hearing a lot more about these fantastic judges!
Have a great weekend!
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
It looks like we finally might get a big winter storm here in New England. This one is supposed to have a bomb cyclone, a lot of snow, and possible blizzard force winds. Now that I live in a warm apartment and don’t have to go out and shovel, I’m kind of looking forward to it. I have a grocery delivery coming this afternoon, so I should be all set.
A powerful nor’easter will develop in the western Atlantic beginning late Friday, bringing heavy snow, strong winds and coastal flooding to parts of the East Coast, but there remains a larger than usual amount of uncertainty in the forecast for this storm.
Winter storm watches have been issued by the National Weather Service for Friday night and Saturday from parts of southern New England southward through the coastal mid-Atlantic as far south as eastern North Carolina. This includes Boston, Providence, New York City, Philadelphia and Norfolk.
The winter storm watches outline the areas where there is the possibility of significant snowfall and strong winds from this storm. It does not mean all of those locations will see moderate to heavy snowfall, but rather the potential is there.
The setup begins Friday with a cold front moving across the Northeast that will haul in a fresh blast of chilly air prior to this storm’s potential impact. Then, low pressure will strengthen as it tracks off the East Coast late Friday through Saturday in response to an upper-level disturbance tracking through the central and eastern United States.
It’s likely this storm will become a “bomb cyclone” – a term meteorologists use for a low-pressure system associated with fronts with a central pressure that plunges at least 24 millibars in 24 hours or less. A storm with a lower pressure is stronger.
But what’s still in doubt is the exact track of this bomb cyclone in relation to the East Coast. That future track will have a domino effect for what areas will see the most significant snowfall, high winds and/or coastal flooding.
Portions of southern and eastern New England continue to have the highest probability of seeing heavy snow and strong winds. Areas farther south from around the New York tri-state area to the coastal mid-Atlantic could also see significant snow and gusty winds, but the confidence in the forecast for those areas is lower.
It’s difficult to understand why President Biden’s poll numbers are so low. Check this out:
The U.S. economy grew last year at the fastest pace since Ronald Reagan’s presidency, bouncing back with resilience from 2020′s brief but devastating coronavirus recession.
The nation’s gross domestic product — its total output of goods and services — expanded 5.7% in 2021. It was the strongest calendar-year growth since a 7.2% surge in 1984 after a previous recession. The economy ended the year by growing at an unexpectedly brisk 6.9% annual pace from October through December as businesses replenished their inventories, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.
“It just goes to show that the U.S. economy has learned to adapt to the new variants and continues to produce,″ said Beth Ann Bovino, chief economist at Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings.
Squeezed by inflation and still gripped by COVID-19 caseloads, the economy is expected to slow this year. Many economists have been downgrading their forecasts for the current January-March quarter, reflecting the impact of the omicron variant. And for all of 2022, the International Monetary Fund has forecast that the the nation’s GDP growth will slow to 4%….
Many U.S. businesses, especially restaurants, bars, hotels and entertainment venues, remain under pressure from the omicron variant, which has kept millions of people hunkered down at home to avoid crowds. Consumer spending, the primary driver of the economy, may be further held back this year by the loss of government aid to households, which nurtured activity in 2020 and 2021 but has mainly expired.
What’s more, the Federal Reserve made clear Wednesday that it plans to raise interest rates multiple times this year to battle the hottest inflation in nearly four decades. Those rate increases will make borrowing more expensive and perhaps slow the economy this year.
Growth last year was driven up by a 7.9% surge in consumer spending and a 9.5% increase in private investment. For the final three months of 2021, consumer spending rose at a more muted 3.3% annual pace. But private investment rocketed 32% higher, boosted by a surge in business inventories as companies stocked up to meet higher customer demand. Rising inventories, in fact, accounted for 71% of the fourth-quarter growth.
Slowing to 4 percent growth doesn’t sound that bad. I’ll have to see what Dakinikat thinks. More from The Washington Post: U.S. economy grew 5.7 percent in 2021, fastest full-year clip since 1984, despite ongoing pandemic.
The U.S. economy grew by 5.7 percent in 2021, the fastest full-year clip since 1984, roaring back in the pandemic’s second year despite two new virus variants that rocked the country.
The growth was uneven, with a burst of government spending helping propel a fast start, even as a surge in new cases and deaths in the second half of the year created new pressures. The economy grew by 6.9 percent from October to December, the Bureau of Economic Analysis said Thursday, a sharp acceleration from 2.3 percent in the previous quarter.
In a powerful rebound from 2020, when the economy contracted by 3.4 percent — its worst result since 1946 — 2021′s strong growth created a record 6.4 million jobs. But it also brought a host of complications, helping fuel the highest inflation in 40 years and creating supply chain snarls as consumers hungry for products overwhelmed the global delivery system. To beat back rising prices, the Federal Reserve is now shifting its strategy and preparing for interest rate hikes this year, convinced it has given enough support to help the labor market and now must keep the economy from overheating even further.
While the omicron variant had begun its vicious surge by the end of 2021, economists didn’t expect to see any fallout in Thursday’s data. Rather, forecasters anticipated that the GDP report would represent a year of blockbuster growth despite the unpredictability of the pandemic economy, from labor shortages to supply chain backlogs to inflation.
Earlier in the year, economists worried that global supply chain problems would keep businesses from being able to fully stock shelves. But a rush by companies in the final months of 2021 to bolster their inventories ultimately drove GDP much higher, as companies started to refill empty storerooms.
It’s actually kind of complicated, so if you want more, head over to the WaPo.
Yesterday’s big news was the upcoming retirement of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.
Moira Donigan at The Guardian: Liberals across America are sighing with relief about Justice Breyer’s retirement.
That sound you hear is Democrats in Washington and across the country letting out a sigh of profound relief: Associate Justice Stephen Breyer is retiring in June, at the end of the US supreme court’s current term. News of the 83-year-old’s choice to step down broke on Wednesday – evidently a little earlier than the man himself would have liked – giving President Biden his first opportunity to fill a vacancy on the nation’s highest court.
The decision from Breyer ends months of speculation and a determined pressure campaign to convince the ageing liberal justice to retire while Democrats still held both the White House and the Senate, that rare and precarious circumstance that is now required for any Democratic president to see his federal court nominees confirmed. Breyer’s decision to step down this summer gives the Democrats a narrow window to appoint his replacement before they are expected to lose control of the Senate in the November midterms.
Breyer’s retirement, after nearly 30 years as a justice, will not change the balance of power on the supreme court, which has heaved dramatically rightward since Justice Anthony Kennedy chose to retire under Donald Trump in 2018. Nor will his exit mitigate what are likely to be ruinous outcomes in this term’s major rulings, which include the hateful Dobbs v Jackson, the case that is almost certain to overturn Roe v Wade. The benefits of his timely exit aren’t so much ameliorative as preventive: because he has retired under a Democratic trifecta, he has ensured that the supreme court’s conservative 6-3 supermajority will at least stay 6-3, and not become and insurmountable 7-2. But the extremist makeup of an increasingly maximalist rightwing court will continue.
Read about Breyer’s record on the Court at The Guardian link.
President Joe Biden received a much-needed political opening on Wednesday. But neither he, nor anyone close to him, appeared ready to celebrate it.
Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer’s retirement plans were publicly revealed before the White House or the justice himself was expecting it, leading to a muted response from Biden and his aides. The White House — which had learned of Breyer’s plans last week, though the justice did not inform the President directly — had been preparing for the moment for more than a year. But a subdued reaction from Biden was indicative of something he has made clear for months: He won’t abide any pressure from his team, however subtle, on Breyer to step down.
“Let him make whatever statement he’s going to make,” the President said in the State Dining Room as a group of chief executives looked on. “And I’ll be happy to talk about it later.”\The awkward moment — with Biden remaining mum even as many Democrats were celebrating news that could provide him a badly needed political boost — reflected an announcement that had not come as many had planned, least of all the President.
Biden’s calculated silence over the past months has not stopped the process of selecting Breyer’s successor from quietly taking shape. Groundwork has been carefully laid for a process that will unfold over the coming weeks, which the President hopes will lead to a confirmed justice by spring.
Biden’s White House has created a judicial nomination machine during the President’s first year in office, vetting and selecting a raft of diverse candidates to fill open spots on the federal bench at a pace that outstrips most of Biden’s most recent predecessors. The President also has a deeply experienced player in a key role for the coming high-stakes process — his top adviser, chief of staff Ron Klain, has played a major part in nine different Supreme Court nominations over the last several decades.
Read the rest at CNN. Breyer will join Biden at the White House today for the official announcement. Biden is still committed to appointing a Black woman to replace Breyer.
Two more articles to check out:
Dozens of local and state Republican leaders who showed their loyalty to Donald Trump by casting fake electoral votes for him a year ago may now face prison time in return for that devotion.
Because as the House select committee investigating the U.S. Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021, starts to look into the origins of the scheme to send “alternate” ballots to Congress from states narrowly won by Joe Biden, the 59 ersatz Trump electors who claimed to be “duly elected and qualified” could face federal charges ranging from election fraud to mail fraud, in addition to a range of state-level charges.
And in two of the states, the Democratic attorneys general are openly calling on the Department of Justice to act.
“I believe it’s critical that the federal government fully investigates and prosecutes any unlawful actions in furtherance of any seditious conspiracy,” said Josh Kaul, attorney general of Wisconsin, where 10 Republicans filed papers claiming to be the state’s electors even though Biden narrowly won there.
“This is a crime,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel told reporters earlier this month, adding that calling the elector slate “alternate” did a disservice and that it should be called a “false, counterfeit, fake slate of electors.”
In her state, 16 Republican office holders and party officials filed paperwork claiming then-President Trump had won the state even though he had lost it by 154,000 votes. “This is election fraud, and it’s many other crimes as well, both, I believe, at the state and the federal level.”
Deputy U.S. Attorney General Lisa Monaco on Tuesday confirmed to CNN that Justice Department prosecutors “are looking at those” but would not comment further.
Arizona, where 11 Republicans filed papers falsely claiming to be the state’s electors; Georgia, which had 16; and Nevada, which had six, account for the rest of the 59.
Greg Sargent at The Washington Post: Opinion: What would a 2024 Trump coup look like? A new paper offers a worrying answer.