Sunday Reads: Hells Bells Kansas

Good morning…starting with the cartoons via Cagle:

I think a bit of history is repeating itself at CPAC this week.

This is an open thread…


Thursday Reads: Jan. 6 Committee Hearing Tonight

Good Morning!!

Tonight is the final January 6 Committee hearing, at least for this month. It should be a blockbuster. There are plenty of predictions about what will happen tonight. There is also more news about the Secret Service deleting text messages from January 5 and 6. I’ll get to those stories in a minute, but first some breaking news.

Despite his advanced age, Biden appears to be healthy and fit. Here’s hoping his symptoms stay mild.

Tonight’s January 6 Committee Hearing

Hugo Lowell at The Guardian: January 6 panel to show Trump violated law by refusing to stop Capitol attack.

The January 6 House select committee is expected to make the case at its hearing on Thursday that Donald Trump potentially violated the law when he refused entreaties to take action to stop the 2021 attack on the US Capitol by a mass of his supporters, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

The panel will demonstrate that the former Republican president was “derelict in his duty” to protect the US Congress and might have also broken the federal law that prohibits obstructing an official proceeding before Congress, which had gathered to certify Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election.

Matthew Pottinger

Matthew Pottinger

Trump could have called on national guard troops to restore order when he saw on TV the melee unfolding at the Capitol, the panel is expected to argue, or he could have called off the rioters via a live broadcast from the White House press briefing room, but he did not. Or he could have sent a tweet trying to stop the violence far earlier than he actually did, during the 187-minute duration of the Capitol attack.

The former president instead only reluctantly posted a tweet in the afternoon of January 6, hours after his top advisors at the White House and Republicans allies in Congress repeatedly implored him to intervene, the select committee will show….

The sources described what the select committee sees as potential legal culpability for the former president, speaking on the condition of anonymity ahead of the prime time hearing.

Two insider witnesses, “former deputy national security advisor Matthew Pottinger and former Trump press aide Sarah Matthews,” will testify in the hearing.

The two witnesses with inside knowledge of how the West Wing operated on January 6 are expected to narrate how that day unfolded, starting with how desperately Trump did not want to return to the White House after delivering his speech at the rally at the nearby Ellipse, where he had urged supporters to “fight like hell” to overturn his election defeat….

Sarah MatthewsThe Guardian has learned, according to a person directly familiar with the matter, that in a previously unreported incident, the fracas [described in testimony by Cassidy Hutchinson” about going to the Capitol, after Trump told his supporters at the rally to go to Congress and “I’ll be there with you”, continued when he arrived back at the White House, and the argument spilled into the West Wing driveway.

Pottinger and Matthews are expected to testify about what happened when Trump was back at the White House, including details on Trump in his dining room off the Oval Office, where he watched the Capitol attack erupt on TV, transfixed by the images as rioters overran police and rampaged through the halls of Congress, the sources said.

The select committee will show through videotaped testimony from the Trump White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, and other aides, that the former president ignored repeated entreaties from advisers to help stop the Capitol attack, the sources said.

Rolling Stone: Exclusive: Jan. 6 Committee Plans to Humiliate MAGA Lawmakers Who Cowered During Capitol Attack.

The Jan. 6 committee plans to use its Thursday-night hearing to call out insurrection-friendly lawmakers who cowered during the Capitol attack but have since downplayed the insurrection’s severity, according to two sources familiar with the committee’s planning.

“They have plans to paint a really striking picture of how some of Trump’s greatest enablers of his coup plot were — no matter what they’re saying today — quaking in their boots and doing everything shy of crying out for their moms,” one source tells Rolling Stone. “If any of [these lawmakers] were capable of shame, they would be humiliated.” [….]

The committee has at times switched plans at the last minute, and it remains unclear which specific lawmakers the committee could call out. But at least some Republicans have already had their attempts to downplay or justify the attempted coup undone by footage from the day of the attack. When Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.) claimed the insurrection “a normal tourist visit,” social media users quickly located photos of the Georgia Republican gasping in terror and hiding behind an armed Capitol police officer pointing a handgun at a barricaded entrance to the Senate floor.

In the 18 months since the insurrection, Republican lawmakers have tried to whitewash it through a series of contradictory talking points. Republicans have alternately downplayed the attack by calling it “a peaceful protest,” claimed it was violent but that the violence was carried out solely by nonexistent “antifa” or federal informants at the Capitol, or that Democrats were to blame for failing to adequately defend the Capitol against the protesters they variously claim weren’t violent or a threat.

Republicans like Reps. Matt Gaetz, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and Paul Gosar have gone so far as to cast alleged rioters held in pretrial detention as unjustly accused political prisoners.

Read more at Rolling Stone.

The Washington Post: Even a day after Jan. 6, Trump balked at condemning the violence.

One day after the last rioter had left the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, President Donald Trump’s advisers urged him to give an address to the nation to condemn the violence, demand accountability for those who had stormed the halls of Congress and declare the 2020 election to be decided.

He struggled to do it. Over the course of an hour of trying to tape the message, Trump resisted holding the rioters to account, trying to call them patriots, and refused to say the election was over, according to individuals familiar with the work of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack.

The public could get its first glimpse of outtakes from that recording Thursday night, when the committee plans to offer a bold conclusion in its eighth hearing: Not only did Trump do nothing despite repeated entreaties by senior aides to help end the violence, but he sat back and enjoyed watching it. He reluctantly condemned it — in a three-minute speech the evening of Jan. 7 — only after the efforts to overturn the 2020 election had failed and after aides told him that members of his own Cabinet were discussing invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office.

“This is what he wanted to happen,” Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.), who is scheduled to lead the questioning Thursday along with Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), said in an interview this week. “You might have earlier on said, ‘Was he incompetent? Was he someone who freezes in a moment when they can’t react to something? Or was it exactly what he wanted to have happened?’ And after all of this, I’m convinced that this is exactly what he wanted to have happen.”

 

CNN: Trump had ‘extreme difficulty’ with his speech on the day after January 6.

The House committee investigating the insurrection plans to show footage at Thursday’s hearing of then-President Donald Trump having difficulty working through efforts to tape a message to his supporters on January 7, 2021, the day after the Capitol riot, sources familiar with the committee’s plans tell CNN….

Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat who is a member of the committee, confirmed Wednesday night to CNN’s Anderson Cooper that the panel has the outtakes and plans to share some of them during the hearing.

“The President displayed extreme difficulty in completing his remarks,” Raskin said on “Anderson Cooper 360.”

“It’s extremely revealing how exactly he went about making those statements, and we’re going to let everybody see parts of that,” he added.

Rep. Adam Schiff, another committee member, told CNN’s Don Lemon later Wednesday that the outtakes “will be significant in terms of what the President was willing to say and what he wasn’t willing to say.”

The California Democrat said the outtakes will show “all of those who are urging him to say something to do something to stop the violence. You’ll hear the terrible lack of a response from the President, and you’ll hear more about how he was ultimately prevailed upon to say something and what he was willing to say and what he wasn’t.”

The video tape outtakes will be one part of a larger presentation during which the committee plans to detail Trump’s lack of attention to the ongoing riot. The committee has said it will focus on the 187 minutes that Trump sat back, refusing to act, as the Capitol was under siege. Some committee members have described this as Trump’s “dereliction of duty.”

The Secret Service and the Missing Text Messages

This shocking story broke last night. Carol Leonig and Maria Sacchetti at The Washington Post: Secret Service watchdog knew in February that texts had been purged.

A watchdog agency learned in February that the Secret Service had purged nearly all cellphone texts from around the time of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, but chose not to alert Congress, according to three people briefed on the internal discussions.

Joseph Cuffari, Homeland Security Inspector General

Joseph Cuffari, Homeland Security Inspector General

That watchdog agency, the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General, also prepared in October 2021 to issue a public alert that the Secret Service and other department divisions were stonewalling it on requests for records and texts surrounding the attack on the Capitol, but did not do so, the people briefed on the matter said. They spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive internal investigations.

The previously unreported revelation about the inspector general’s months-long delay in flagging the now-vanished Secret Service textscame from two whistleblowers who have worked with Inspector General Joseph V. Cuffari, the people knowledgeable about the internal discussions said.

In recent days, one former employee approached the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), an independent government-accountability group, and described the decision from Cuffari’s office not to promptly disclose that Secret Service records had been wiped from agency phones starting in January 2021. The group relayed the information to congressional staff, who independently corroborated the account with a second whistleblower.

The congressional staff and two whistleblowers shared a concern that Cuffari’s office not alertingcongressional investigators to the missing records reduced the chances of recovering critical pieces of evidence related to the Jan. 6 attack.

The purged texts of Secret Service agents — some of whomplanned President Donald Trump’s movements on Jan. 6 and shadowed Trump as he sought to overturn the election results — could shed light on what Trump was planning and saying.

This story broke this morning on CNN.

(CNN)The Department of Homeland Security inspector general has directed the Secret Service to stop its internal investigations into what happened to text messages related to January 6 that may have been deleted, according to a letter reviewed by CNN.

The inspector general wrote that the Secret Service should stop investigating the matter because it could interfere with the inspector general’s own investigation into what happened to the agency’s text messages.

The letter adds to the growing tension between the Secret Service and the DHS inspector general over the potentially missing text messages, which are being sought by the House select committee as part of its investigation into former President Donald Trump’s actions and movements on January 6, 2021.

“To ensure the integrity of our investigation, the USSS must not engage in any further investigative activities regarding the collection and preservation of the evidence referenced above,” DHS deputy inspector general Gladys Ayala wrote in a letter to Secret Service Director James Murray on Wednesday evening. “This includes immediately refraining from interviewing potential witnesses, collecting devices or taking any other action that would interfere with an ongoing criminal investigation.”

The inspector general wrote that the Secret Service should explain what interviews had already been conducted related to the text messages, along with the “scope off the questioning, and what, if any, warnings were given to the witness(es).” The inspector general told the Secret Service to respond by Monday.

Today should be interesting for politics junkies. All of the big news organizations are jockeying for scoops about tonight’s hearing. I’m really looking forward to it. 

Have a great Thursday, Sky Dancers!


Monday Reads: And the Beat Goes On …

Good Day Sky Dancers!

I’ve been staring at this white page on my computer screen for several hours now. I’m going back and forth between Twitter and Memeorandum, sorting out the headlines we’ve lived with for over a year. It’s just a riff on the days and months before.

The news on the Insurrectionists continues to be grim, with yet another Republican refusing to testify before a committee. This time it’s Gym Jordan who swears he knows nothing, nothing! This is from Steve Benen, writing for MSNBC.

It was nearly three weeks ago when the bipartisan panel first reached out to Jordan, not with a subpoena, but with a written request for information. The far-right congressman soon after appeared on Fox News, saying he was unlikely to cooperate. “I got real concerns about any committee that will take a document and alter it and present it to the American people — completely mislead the American people like they did last week,” he argued.

In reality, the committee did not actually mislead anyone and Jordan’s complaint was difficult to take seriously.

Yesterday, Jordan moved on to a new list of concerns, claiming in a written response that the request from investigators “is far outside the bounds of any legitimate inquiry, violates core constitutional principles and would serve to further erode legislative norms.”

So much for “if they call me, I got nothing to hide.”

In case this isn’t obvious, the Republican is in a unique position to help shed light on the events surrounding last year’s political violence. The New York Times recently reported, for example, that Jordan attended crisis meetings at Trump campaign headquarters as early as Nov. 9, just two days after Joe Biden became president-elect.

Nicolas Wu reports this bit of breaking news today in Politico. As we all know, Trump was a very busy boy trying to dump election results. Now, we are beginning to see the extent of it.

.

The public focus of Congress’ Jan. 6 investigation, so far, is what happened in Washington, D.C. Behind the scenes, the probe’s state-level work is kicking into overdrive.

The House committee investigating the Capitol attack has gathered thousands of records from state officials and interviewed a slate of witnesses as it attempts to retrace former President Donald Trump’s attempts to subvert the 2020 election, particularly in four key states that swung the presidency to Joe Biden. They’re getting ready to take their work public, possibly as soon as the spring.

“We want to let the public see and hear from those individuals who conducted elections in those states,” select panel chair Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said in an interview. He described those witnesses as particularly important given their mandates to keep elections “fair and impartial” while hailing from one political party.

The voluminous documents state election officials have sent the Jan. 6 committee, obtained by POLITICO through open records requests, underscore the depth of Trump’s pressure campaign directed at the typically lower-level administrators of presidential balloting. The emails, texts and phone recordings also add consequential context to previously reported incidents, such as Trump’s call to Georgia’s top elections investigator and Mark Meadows’ outreach to Georgia election officials.

Trump really mistook all those state public servants as foot soldiers in his campaign to be President-for-Life. It shows how urgent the situation will be if any more Trumpzies get into the office at any level.

The Washington Post has a most exciting database and analysis of ng “Who owned Slaves in Congress.” As a descendent of 6 signers of the Declaration of Independence and two signers of The US Constitution, I continually deal with the idea that my family–at one point–owned people. All of my greats that fought in the Civil War were on the Union side; still, farther back, were everything from prominent plantation families from Virginia and South Carolina to small farmers owning a couple and their children. It’s still something I try to wrap my head around.More than 1,700 congressmen once enslaved Black people. This is who they were and how they shaped the nation”. The Washington Post has compiled the first database of slaveholding members of Congress by examining thousands of pages of census records and historical documents.” This is also how my mother dug up our family history.

The biggest shock came for me after the murder of Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who I realized was most likely a family member. He was murdered in 2015 by a white supremacist along with other parishioners. Mother always was a little weird when explaining the relationship between the signers of the Constitution from South Carolina. She would always point out that the Governor was just a great Uncle while our “direct” ancestor was the other. I’ve known this since high school but only delved deeper into that history after that horrible massacre in the Mother Emanuel AME church. I found that great Uncle Charles Pinckney helped write the Fugitive Slave Act. This haunts me and the knowledge that every black American with that name has ties to that family plantation. It grounds me in history in a significant way. The interactive database is quite interesting.

The country is still grappling with the legacy of their embrace of slavery. The link between race and political power in early America echoes in complicated ways, from the racial inequities that persist to this day to the polarizing fights over voting rights and the way history is taught in schools.

The Washington Post created a database that shows enslavers in Congressrepresented 37 states, including not just the South but every state in New England, much of the Midwest, and many Western states.

While teachers are now discouraged from teaching actual history including our roots in slavery and the slaughter and displacement of Indigenous peoples, one GOP State Senator from Indiana has a really abhorrent policy suggestion. “An Indiana GOP state senator said teachers’ need to be impartial’ during lessons about Nazism and fascism” I’m thrilled my father didn’t live to see this coming out of the Republican Party.

On Wednesday, during an Indiana state Senate committee hearing about a proposed bill that would ban “divisive concepts” in school classrooms, Republican Sen. Scott Baldwin said teachers’ lessons about fascism and Nazismshould be impartial.

“Marxism, Nazism, fascism … I have no problem with the education system providing instruction on the existence of those ‘isms,’ ” said Baldwin, who co-wrote the bill. “I believe that we’ve gone too far when we take a position. … We need to be impartial.”

Baldwin backtracked those comments Thursday following criticism. In an email to the Indianapolis Star, Baldwin said he was focused on the “big picture” of preventing teachers fromtelling students “what to think about politics.”

“Nazism, Marxism and fascism are a stain on our world history and should be regarded as such, and I failed to adequately articulate that in my comments during the meeting,” Baldwin said. “I believe that kids should learn about these horrible events in history so that we don’t experience them again in humanity.”

These are the same people that insist their take on Christianity be forced on everyone, including other Christians. They’re still continuing to try to kill public education.

Here’s why they hate anyone who teaches critical thinking skills like yours truly. (via Eudhanna). This is from the New Daily of Australia. “Conspiracy theorists lack critical thinking skills: New study.” It was initially published last July by John Elder.

The French researchers ran two studies, where they assessed the critical thinking skills of 338 undergraduate students using a French version of a teaching and testing tool known as the Ennis-Weir Critical Thinking Essay Test.

They then scored the students’ tendencies towards conspiracy beliefs and their personal assessment of their critical thinking skills.

Critical thinking is the objective analysis and evaluation of a situation – and requires a number of cognitive skills.

These include the ability to think systematically, see other perspectives, change your mind when new evidence arises, identify relevant versus irrelevant information, identify and discard logical fallacies, be aware of biases and avoid them, and look beyond the obvious.

None of this is particularly easy.

What the researchers found was a strong association between lower critical thinking skills and an increased tendency toward believing conspiracy theories.

This isn’t a new idea – instead, it persuasively builds on previous research.

Meanwhile, the pandemic continues unabated.

.Caitlin Owens–writing for Axiosbelieves that “The Biden administration has a COVID credibility crisis.”

A series of messaging missteps is threatening the credibility of federal health agencies, and critics say the White House isn’t doing enough to manage the fallout.

Why it matters: While much of the unvaccinated population is unlikely to be persuaded by any messenger, large swaths of the public are still receptive to expert guidance, but federal health agencies, particularly the CDC, may be squandering their credibility with this population.

  • “The administration in general has lost the confidence of people who would be their natural supporters,” said Celine Gounder, an infectious disease expert and former Biden administration advisory board member.

State of play: Months of convoluted guidance hit a breaking point over the winter holiday, when the CDC became a viral internet meme amongst frustrated Americans who could no longer take the agency’s guidance seriously.

  • The CDC’s new guidance on how long COVID patients should remain in isolation was mocked by thousands of internet meme-makers. The CDC responded by saying the changing guidelines are motivated by “fast-moving science.”
  • “It’s never good to be the butt of jokes,” former CDC director Tom Frieden said in an interview.

Context: The CDC and the FDA also waited months to make booster shots available to all American adults. Those shots have proven especially important against Omicron, and many states, pharmacies and individual patients ignored the CDC’s more limited initial recommendations.

  • Recommendations about masking have fallen flat for months.

What they’re saying: “The CDC is facing a real crisis of trust,” said Leana Wen, a physician and professor at George Washington University.

  • And some experts say CDC director Rochelle Walensky should shoulder much of the blame for the administration’s messaging mess.
  • “The primary problem is the policy and how insular Walensky has been in setting it,” Wen said. “She and the others are great communicators but no one can communicate a bad policy.”

The next part of the piece is basically a rebuttal if you want to read the counterpoints.

So, you can always take the Q-Anon/Anti-Vaxxer’s take on things, including taking horse pills and drinking piss. This is from the Daily Beast. “Anti-Vax Leader Urges Followers to Drink Their Own Urine to Fight COVID.”

Anti-COVID-19 “Vaccine Police” leader Christopher Key has a new quarter-baked conspiracy theory for his anti-vax followers to use to cure themselves of COVID-19: Drink their own urine. “The antidote that we have seen now, and we have tons and tons of research, is urine therapy. OK, and I know to a lot of you this sounds crazy, but guys, God’s given us everything we need,” Key said in a video posted over the weekend on his Telegram account after being released from jail over a trespassing charge. “This has been around for centuries,” he added. “When I tell you this, please take it with a grain of salt,” the anti-vaccine advocate warned while saying people might now think he is “cray cray.” “Now drink urine!” he continued. “This vaccine is the worst bioweapon I have ever seen,” he concluded. “I drink my own urine!” Reached for comment by The Daily Beast on Sunday night, Key doubled down on what he calls “urine therapy” and railed against “foolish” people who took the COVID-19 vaccine, which is safe and effective.

No critical thinking skills here at all, I’d say!

So, the last thing I want to mention is the Bronx fire that has killed 17 people, including children.

And with that, I leave you.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Friday Reads: To Sir, with Love

Good Day Sky Dancers!

In the last few years, we’ve seen the loss of the cultural and historical icons of the twentieth century.  I’m pretty convinced that we’ve seen the end of American dominance since the World Wars, so this just seals the deal. We’re losing the last of heroes of the American Century.  Sidney Poitier was a fixture in the Civil Rights Movement and one of the stars of the Golden Age of Cinema and TV. He passed quietly yesterday at the age of 94.

I loved many of his movies, but my most vivid memory of him was watching ‘In the Heat of the Night’ in a small downtown theatre in Estes Park, Colorado, with my parents and sister. It was probably the first serious adult movie I’d ever seen with its themes of violence and racism.  Here is an excerpt from his New York Times Obit.

In 1967 Mr. Poitier appeared in three of Hollywood’s top-grossing films, elevating him to the peak of his popularity. “In the Heat of Night” placed him opposite Rod Steiger, as an indolent, bigoted sheriff, with whom Virgil Tibbs, the Philadelphia detective played by Mr. Poitier, must work on a murder investigation in Mississippi. (In an indelible line, the detective insists on the sheriff’s respect when he declares, “They call me Mr. Tibbs!”) In “To Sir, With Love,” he was a concerned teacher in a tough London high school, and in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” a taboo-breaking film about an interracial couple, he played a doctor whose race tests the liberal principles of his prospective in-laws, played by Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn.

Throughout his career, a heavyweight of racial significance bore down on Mr. Poitier and the characters he played. “I felt very much as if I were representing 15, 18 million people with every move I made,” he once wrote.

Mr. Poitier grew up in the Bahamas, but he was born on Feb. 20, 1927, in Miami, where his parents regularly traveled to sell their tomato crop. The youngest of nine children, he wore clothes made from flour sacks and never saw a car, looked in a mirror, or tasted ice cream until his father, Reginald, moved the family from Cat Island to Nassau in 1937 after Florida banned the import of Bahamian tomatoes.

When he was 12, Mr. Poitier quit school and became a water boy for a crew of pick-and-shovel laborers. He also began getting into mischief, and his parents, worried that he was becoming a juvenile delinquent, sent him to Miami when he was 14 to live with a married brother, Cyril.

Mr. Poitier had known nothing of segregation growing up on Cat Island, so the rules governing American Black people in the South came as a shock. “It was all over the place like barbed wire,” he later said of American racism. “And I kept running into it and lacerating myself.”

In less than a year he fled Miami for New York, arriving with $3 and change in his pocket. He took jobs washing dishes and working as a ditch digger, waterfront laborer and delivery man in the garment district. Life was grim. During a race riot in Harlem, he was shot in the leg. He saved his nickels so that on cold nights he could sleep in pay toilets.

US President Barack Obama awards American actor Sidney Poitier the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor, during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, USA, on 12 August 2009.

Sir Sidney was a leading figure in the Civil Rights Movement. He holds a place in the International Civil Rights: Walk of Fame.

Born February 20, 1927, Sidney Poitier’s pioneering career has had a tremendous impact on American culture. In the early ’50s, he was the top and virtually sole African-American film star—the first black actor to become a hero to both black and white audiences. Poitier was also the first black actor to win a prestigious international film award. With his unique career, Sidney Poitier helped change many stubborn racial attitudes that had persisted in this country for centuries. He has built the bridges and opened the doors for countless artists in succeeding generations. He is an actor who stood for hope, for excellence, and who has given happiness to millions of people around the world. Paying tribute to Sidney Poitier in 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “He is a man of great depth, a man of great social concern, a man who is dedicated to human rights and freedom.”

Many things are going on in our country’s governance today. There are discussions about expanding the number of judges on the Supreme Court, reforming the filibuster, the economic boom with the accompanying price increases, and the incredible amount of information the January 6 Committee has received from a variety of former staffers to all levels of Republican Insurrectionists. Let me highlight some of them.

There are many big lies told by Trumperz and Trumpists.

Meadows lied on Fox’s Hannity about Trump’s dealings with troops  to secure the capitol on January 6.:

Just one month after the attack, Meadows appeared on Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures” and made this claim: “As many as 10,000 National Guard troops were told to be on the ready by the secretary of defense. That was a direct order from President Trump.”

Fact Checkers at the Washington Post  fact checked reporting by a Vanity Fair reporter who was there at the time of the discussion. Fox and Meadows are caught in another big lie. It never went anywhere.

It’s always dismaying when false claims that were previously debunked turn up as accepted facts months later. Yet, increasingly, Fox News hosts and their guests appear to live in a world untethered by the truth.

As we have documented before, President Donald Trump never requested 10,000 National Guard troops to secure the Capitol that day. He threw out a number, in casual conversation, that is now regarded by his supporters as a lifeline to excuse his inaction when a mob inspired by his rhetoric invaded the Capitol.

This is an exciting read. I’ve never completely understood the filibuster other than it’s basically a relic of the old south its ongoing problems with slavery and racism.

People often overestimate the depth of the filibuster’s roots. When the Senate voted in 2013 to invoke the “nuclear option” to approve presidential nominees, then-Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) wrote in The Washington Post that sidestepping the filibuster was “the most dangerous restructuring of Senate rules since Thomas Jefferson wrote them.” More recently, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) defended the filibuster in the Charleston Gazette-Mail by saying, “Our founders were wise to see the temptation of absolute power and built in  specific checks and balances to force compromise that serves to preserve our fragile democracy.”

True — but the filibuster was not one of these checks and balances. The Senate did not have any provision for a supermajority on legislation for its first 17 years. Like the House, its rules allowed a “motion for the previous question,” where a majority could move directly to vote. That provision was taken out in 1806, when Vice President Aaron Burr cleaned up what he regarded as extraneous provisions in the Senate’s cluttered rule book. For decades after the change, the status quo largely prevailed — until the 1840s, when John C. Calhoun exploited the motion’s absence to stall anti-slavery action by talking at length on the floor, joined by allies. His adversaries had no ability to stop the talk. From the 20th century on, the rules changed multiple times, always to make it easier for the majority to overcome a filibuster and move to action.

Biden will have some great information on the economy to share but will it really convince those of us that are experiences the challenges of the Covid-19 economy? Economist Noah Smith calls this the “Biden Boom”. 

The official numbers aren’t in yet, but In the 4th quarter of 2021, the United States economy is believed to have grown by about 5.5% or 6% (annualized rate). That’s a pretty incredible number, when you consider that the consensus forecast for China is only 3.5% in the same quarter. But things get even more impressive when you look at the employment numbers. The unemployment rate probably fell to 4.1% in December — a number below what we used to think to think of as the “natural rate” of unemployment.

If you told me in April 2020 that unemployment would be 4.1% by December 2021, I’d have laughed in your face. And yet here we are.

Of course, after the Great Recession, we all got very used to looking past headline unemployment numbers, to see who is actually working. But now when we do that, we see that all the other numbers tell the same story. U6, the broadest measure of unemployment plus underemployment, is down to the level of 2018 or 2006. And my personal favorite labor market indicator, the prime-age employment-to-population ratio, is back to the level of late 2017.

Other indicators also show an extremely healthy labor market. While some have interpreted rising quits as a sign of a “Great Resignation”, the truth is that this mostly just reflects job churn; people are quitting in order to get better jobs, because the opportunities are so good. To see that, check out this graph from the Economic Policy Institute, showing that hires are greater than quits pretty much everywhere:

He’s got some wonky  FRED graphs to back up the analysis.  And, this folks explains why we see some inflation.  But, that’s not a problem; the Fed needs to bump the interest rates up to more normal levels and out of historical lows. This is an economy we haven’t seen for a long time, and it’s kind’ve exciting!

The hearing to sentencing for the three murderers of Ahmaud Arbery is in court right now.  Read more at the ABC link.

Well, I think that’s enough for me today. Happy Carnival Season!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

Oh, it’s so on this year!  There are sights to see and

this song to sing!


Sunday Funnies: Tuna Melts

What’s going on?

Georgia

Insurrection REdirection

Crocodile GOP

So, now for some news links:

I wish this was the latest shocking news story…

But, as you will see…it’s not.

Seriously…though.

This vile Q bitch needs to go:

And I can’t stress this enough….what the fuck?

At least Biden is getting shit done.

This is an open thread.