“I respectfully submit that it is time for you to engage directly with congressional Democrats on this matter,” McConnell told Biden in his letter, a copy of which POLITICO obtained. “Your lieutenants in Congress must understand that you do not want your unified Democratic government to sleepwalk toward an avoidable catastrophe when they have had nearly three months’ notice to do their job.”
The letter, delivered to the White House on Monday, also cites Biden’s past opposition to debt increases while in the minority. McConnell summarized it this way: “The president’s party had to take responsibility for a policy agenda which you opposed. Your view then is our view now.”
Good Day Sky Dancers!
There’s some good news from the Insurrection Investigation and some bad news on the Biden Domestic Plan. Let’s start with the good news. Then, I’ll drag Manchin’s ass to the virtual woodshed.
Let me just start out with one fact. The Secret Service is a mess; maybe Major had a reason for biting some of them. We’ve discovered they deleted texts when the Inspector General of Homeland Security told them not to do so. We’re also finding out they are trying to cover up the Trump Temper Tantrum in his motorcade when the Toddler-in-chief wanted to lead his ugly band of traitors to the Capitol on January 6th. This is from CNN: “First on CNN: DC police officer in Trump Jan. 6 motorcade corroborates details of heated Secret Service exchange to committee.”
A Washington, DC, police officer has corroborated to the House select committee investigating January 6, 2021, details regarding a heated exchange former President Donald Trump had with his Secret Service detail when he was told he could not go to the US Capitol after his rally, a source familiar with the matter tells CNN.
The officer with the Metropolitan Police Department was in the motorcade with the Secret Service for Trump on January 6 and recounted what was seen to committee investigators, according to the source.
A spokesperson for the committee declined to comment. A spokesperson for Metropolitan Police Department did not immediately respond to comment.
The description of the angry exchange between Trump and his Secret Service detail was a striking moment during the June testimony from former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson. Hutchinson said that she heard a secondhand account told to her by then-White House deputy chief of staff Tony Ornato that Trump was so enraged at his Secret Service detail for blocking him from going to the Capitol on the day of the insurrection that “he reached up towards the front of the vehicle to grab at the steering wheel” and “then used his free hand to lunge towards” his Secret Service lead agent Robert Engel. Hutchinson testified that Ornato told her the story in front of Engel and he did not dispute the account.
Neither of the agents named in the testimony have commented publicly on Hutchinson’s testimony. But soon after it, a Secret Service official who would only speak on background, said Engel would deny parts of the story regarding Trump grabbing at the steering wheel and lunging toward an agent on his detail. The agency has said the agents involved would testify to that effect, though they have not yet gone back to the committee to testify.
The committee is also engaging with the driver who was in the presidential SUV regarding possible testimony, the source said. A lawyer for the driver did not respond to a request for comment.
Trump is basically unsuited to be an adult, let alone an officeholder. Let me give you some information on those deleted text messages since I brought up the subject. This is from The Washington Post: “Secret Service erased texts from Jan. 5 and 6, 2021, official says.”
A government watchdog accused the U.S. Secret Service of erasing texts from Jan. 5 and 6, 2021, after his office requested them as part of an inquiry into the U.S. Capitol attack, according to a letter sent to lawmakers this week.
Joseph V. Cuffari, head of the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General, wrote to the leaders of the House and Senate Homeland Security committees indicating that the text messages have vanished and that efforts to investigate the Jan. 6, 2021, attack were being hindered.
“The Department notified us that many U.S. Secret Service (USSS) text messages, from January 5 and 6, 2021 were erased as part of a device-replacement program,” he wrote in a letter dated Wednesday and obtained by The Washington Post. The letter was earlier reported on by the Intercept and CNN.
Cuffari emphasized that the erasures came “after” the Office of Inspector General requested copies of the text messages for its own investigation, and signaled that they were part of a pattern of DHS resistance to his inquiries. Staff members are required by law to surrender records so that he can audit the sprawling national security agency, but he said they have “repeatedly” refused to provide them until an attorney reviews them.
“This review led to weeks-long delays in OIG obtaining records and created confusion over whether all records had been produced,” he wrote, and offered to brief the House and Senate committees on the “access issues.”
Writing for Axios, Andrew Solender believes the “Jan. 6 panel aims to “reconstruct” deleted Secret Service texts.”
“It’s concerning, obviously. If there’s a way we can reconstruct the texts or what have you, we will,” Thompson, who also chairs the House Homeland Security Committee, told Axios at the Capitol on Thursday.
Thompson said the inspector general “was not clear as to how” the texts were deleted, adding that the committee “asked them some time ago to look at it.”
Asked if the committee would bring in Secret Service agents to try to reconstruct the texts, he said, “I think it’s important for us to get as much information about how this discrepancy occurred.”
Thompson said the Jan. 6 panel has not yet interviewed Ornato and Robert Engel, another agent mentioned in Hutchinson’s testimony, but said, “We’ve been talking to them.”
So, Senator Joe Manchin did it again. He basically stopped the Biden Domestic plan from become anything more than a few healthcare items. He tanked the climate change agenda.
From The New York Times article in the above tweet: “How One Senator Doomed the Democrats’ Climate Plan. Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia led his party and his president through months of tortured talks, with nothing to show for it as the planet dangerously heats up.”
First, he killed a plan that would have forced power plants to clean up their climate-warming pollution. Then, he shattered an effort to help consumers pay for electric vehicles. And, finally, he said he could not support government incentives for solar and wind companies or any of the other provisions that the rest of his party and his president say are vital to ensure a livable planet.
Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, who took more campaign cash from the oil and gas industry than any other senator, and who became a millionaire from his family coal business, independently blew up the Democratic Party’s legislative plans to fight climate change. The swing Democratic vote in an evenly divided Senate, Mr. Manchin led his party through months of tortured negotiations that collapsed on Thursday night, a yearlong wild goose chase that produced nothing as the Earth warms to dangerous levels.
“It seems odd that Manchin would choose as his legacy to be the one man who single-handedly doomed humanity,” said John Podesta, a former senior counselor to President Barack Obama and founder of the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank.
Privately, Senate Democratic staff members seethed and sobbed on Thursday night, after more than a year of working nights and weekends to scale back, water down, trim and tailor the climate legislation to Mr. Manchin’s exact specifications, only to have it rejected inches from the finish line.
“Rage keeps me from tears,” Senator Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts and a longtime advocate for climate legislation, wrote on Twitter late Thursday.
We have to pick up more seats in the Senate this fall to make this jerk irrelevant. We have this piece from Ronald Brownstein from The Atlantic: “Mother Nature Dissents. From Texas to California, voters are enduring rude wake-up calls about the future of our country.”
Mother nature is entering a dissenting opinion on last month’s Supreme Court decision that weakened the federal government’s ability to combat climate change.
With record heat in Texas that is testing the state’s power grid, a California wildfire that has threatened an ancient grove of sequoias considered a foundation stone of the national-park system, and persistent drought across the West that is forcing unprecedented cutbacks in water deliveries from the Colorado River, the summer of 2022 already is shaping up as another season of extreme and dangerous environmental conditions.
The paradox is that precisely as these events are dramatizing the rising costs of inaction on climate change, Washington faces more difficulty in taking action. That’s not only because of the Supreme Court but also because of the resistance to sweeping legislation in the Senate from every Republican as well as Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, who represents one of the top coal-producing states, West Virginia. Adding to the strain: The states most integrated into the existing fossil-fuel economy—almost all of them controlled by Republicans—are escalating their efforts to block action on climate change from the federal government and even the private sector.
In all of these ways, both the magnitude of the threat and the difficulty of responding to it are simultaneously rising—a trend that climate scientists find equally frustrating and frightening.
“In a world where facts are no longer the currency, it actually is very hard to make arguments in favor of doing what seems very logical,” Kathy Jacobs, the director of the Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions at the University of Arizona, told me. “People are questioning really fundamental scientific principles and/or just choosing to ignore them. This post-fact world we are operating in makes dealing with this problem much more difficult.”
This is from NBC News: “Manchin balks at climate and tax pieces of Biden agenda bill but backs health care provisions. Manchin’s position leaves Democratic leaders with a grueling choice: They can either drop the package or pass the provisions he supports.”
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and his staff told Democratic leadership on Thursday that he’s not willing to support major climate and tax provisions in a sweeping Biden agenda bill, according to a Democrat briefed on the conversations.
Instead, Manchin, a key centrist who holds the swing vote in the 50-50 Senate, said he is willing to back only a filibuster-proof economic bill with drug pricing and a two-year extension of funding under the Affordable Care Act, the source said.
Manchin’s move upends lengthy negotiations with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., most likely forcing the party to scrap climate change policies and new taxes and delivering a major blow to some of President Joe Biden’s priorities heading into an already challenging midterm election landscape for Democrats this fall.
Manchin “was explicit that he will not support a bill in August” with energy or climate provisions or one “closing tax loopholes exploited by the wealthiest” and large corporations, “despite his support for those specific things throughout the entire negotiation,” said the Democrat briefed about the discussions.
Democrats hope to pass a bill before September to prevent major insurance premium hikes under the Affordable Care Act, which could be difficult to avert if they don’t act quickly.
“Political headlines are of no value to the millions of Americans struggling to afford groceries and gas as inflation soars to 9.1%,” Manchin spokesperson Sam Runyon told NBC News in a statement. “Senator Manchin believes it’s time for leaders to put political agendas aside, reevaluate and adjust to the economic realities the country faces to avoid taking steps that add fuel to the inflation fire.”
A Democratic aide familiar with the talks said Manchin conveyed to Democratic leadership that he could support a package that includes climate and tax provisions as long as they’re paid for — or that he would just want a bill on prescription drugs and ACA money.
I’m not sure how to precisely describe the behavior of the Senator. His actions make him appear quite selfish and power-hungry.
Okay, one more piece of good breaking news then I turn our conversation over to you! “Exclusive: Fulton County DA sends ‘target’ letters to Trump allies in Georgia investigation” as reported by Michael Isikoff and Daniel Klaidman.
In the latest sign that she is moving rapidly in her investigation into Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has sent so-called “target” letters to prominent Georgia Republicans informing them they could be indicted for their role in a scheme to appoint alternate electors pledged to the former president despite Joe Biden’s victory in the state, according to legal sources familiar with the matter.
The move by Willis, a Democrat, threatens to have major political implications in a crucial battleground state with high-profile races for governor and the U.S. Senate this fall. Among the recipients of the target letters, the sources said, are GOP state Sen. Burt Jones, Gov. Brian Kemp’s running mate for lieutenant governor, David Shafer, the chairman of the Georgia Republican Party, and state Sen. Brandon Beach.
Jones and Shafer were among those who participate in a closed-door meeting at the state Capitol on Dec. 14, 2020, in which 16 Georgia Republicans selected themselves as the electors for the state, although they had no legal basis for doing so. Shafer, according to a source who was present, presided over the meeting, conducting it as though it was an official proceeding, in which those present voted themselves as the bona fide electors in Georgia — and then signed their names to a declaration to that effect that was sent to the National Archives.
The offices or spokespersons for Jones, Shafer and Beach did not respond to requests for comment. Willis, in an interview, declined any comment on the target letters. But she confirmed she is considering another potentially controversial move: requesting that Trump himself testify under oath to the special grand jury that is investigating his conduct.
“Yes,” said Willis when asked if there was any chance Trump will be called to testify. “I think it’s something that we’re still weighing and evaluating.” She also said she had spoken to Dwight Thomas, a veteran local defense lawyer who has been retained to represent Trump, as recently as Thursday. She declined to say what they talked about. Thomas did not respond to requests for comment.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
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.
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.
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.
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!
Good Day Sky Dancers!
I hope your week went well and your weekend goes better! I think I’m fully moved into my new phone and zapped then returned the old one. I’m about to start switching over to the new computer tomorrow. I just have a few more adulting things to do and I, fortunately, don’t need the camera and mic until Sunday.
American Life is so abnormal that I am really glad that I don’t have to drag myself into a classroom until January. I’ve dealt with teaching far worse economies and financial markets so that’s not the challenge. Part of me is just bugged by the fact I can’t depend on any American to do the right thing in this latest surge of Pandemic. Indeed, I’m actually thinking I may be back on Zoom instead of behind a podium next year. I think our economy is looking resilient and the financial markets are functional. What I think is dysfunctional is the way America does business. That’s the model that doesn’t work. It’s especially not working now. The extreme nature of the American ideological take on Capitalism is causing all kinds of things just to not work.
Then, there’s the weather situation which was elucidated in an article in The Guardian that BB posted yesterday. We’re not just experiencing extreme weather. It’s extreme and unique. This week we had temperatures never reported before in December in places like St. Paul. We continue to have severe thunderstorms and tornadoes in the midwest in December. These records are not only record-setting. These instances are making records because their occurences are unknown to us in modern times. Between the weather and the global pandemic, we need to strengthen and address flaws in our institutions before it all kills nearly everything.
I do want to address the new push to reinstate and further Voting Rights and why it’s so important. First, I want to address what I’ve said above by sharing this Article in VOX by Anna North. “The world as we know it is ending. Why are we still at work? From the pandemic to climate change, Americans are still expected to work no matter what happens.”
It’s a good question to ask and it’s being asked by the workers at Kellogg’s including the one I spent my teen years viewing out school windows and those of my house on the hill. The plant in Omaha is way across on another hill where you can always see the big ol’ red Kellogg’s signature on the building. My thought was always the same. I’m never going to put myself in a place where I have to endlessly and mindlessly drop trinkets in cereal boxes for at least 8 hours a day. Yesterday, on MSNBC, I heard from Senator Sanders that some workers worked overtime for 100-120 consecutive days at Kellogg’s factories. We also learned that workers at the decimated candle factory in Kentucky were threatened with firing if they didn’t keep working. Are candles and dry cereal really worth this?
We didn’t learn anything from all the workers dropping dead from COVID-19 at meat processing plants? Now, we also find out there’s no shortage of truckers, it’s just how there’s a major difference between how independent truckers are paid and those that are union. It’s basically a problem of driver delays. Nonunion drivers get paid by the mile so they get assigned to places where they have to sit forever. Union drivers are paid by the hour. I’m frankly blessed not to have been pushed prematurely back into the classroom but that’s only because I’m semiretired and can say no without it threatening my work.
So, with that background, let’s read Anna North’s article.
For a moment in early 2020, it seemed like we might get a break from capitalism.
A novel coronavirus was sweeping the globe, and leaders and experts recommended that the US pay millions of people to stay home until the immediate crisis was over. These people wouldn’t work. They’d hunker down, take care of their families, and isolate themselves to keep everyone safe. With almost the whole economy on pause, the virus would stop spreading, and Americans could soon go back to normalcy with relatively little loss of life.
Obviously, that didn’t happen.
Instead, white-collar workers shifted over to Zoom (often with kids in the background), and everybody else was forced to keep showing up to their jobs in the face of a deadly virus. Hundreds of thousands died, countless numbers descended into depression and burnout, and a grim new standard was set: Americans keep working, even during the apocalypse.
Now it’s been nearly two years since the beginning of the pandemic — a time that has also encompassed an attempted coup, innumerable extreme weather events likely tied to climate change, and ongoing police violence against Black Americans — and we’ve been expected to show up to work through all of it. “I don’t think people are well,” says Riana Elyse Anderson, a clinical and community psychologist and professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health. “We are moving along but we are certainly not well.”
For some Americans, working during the apocalypse is fatal — think of the transit workers who died from Covid-19 in 2020, or the Amazon warehouse workers killed by a tornado on December 10 in Illinois. “All disasters are workplace disasters for some people,” said Jacob Remes, a historian and the director of the Initiative for Critical Disaster Studies at New York University. For others, the effects are more of a slow burn; the chronic stress that comes with putting on a game face at work, day in and day out, as the world becomes ever more terrifying.
Of course, Americans haven’t all quietly accepted the demand that we work through the end times. Record numbers are quitting their jobs in search of higher pay and better conditions. After more than 20 months of being asked to keep showing up uncomplainingly while everything crumbles around them, people are demanding a more humane approach to work in the age of interlocking crises.
Please read the full article.
So, the question is how do we get more humane treatment at work, access to educations, and childcare at a reasonable cost? Pharmaceuticals at a reasonable cost? Food at a reasonable cost? How about energy that doesn’t cost too much and kill us at the same time? Fewer wars? Actual customer service instead of automated checkouts and endless phone trees to get to someone that can actually help you? The business model these days is basically about where it was pre-union. Just jack up prices, lower service levels, overwork what employees you have, push a paperwork and surveillance atmosphere, then drive all the profits to the top where no one has to pay taxes on anything or can hide their money. This is not sustainable in this day and age. Where do we get some redress and control?
We should get it through our voter franchise and our democracy and representatives that deliver to voters and not just donors and radical bases. We’re losing all kinds of rights and none of them will return to us unless the majority of the democracy can vote easily and get fair elections, Can we get this done?
Not, when all roads lead to Joe Manchin and there’s a filibuster rule in the Senate for for basic civil, human, constitutional rights. These things should not be left to overturn by a radical minority.
From the AP: “Power of one: Manchin is singularly halting Biden’s agenda.” Let’s be real about this. It’s not just Biden’s Agenda it’s the people’s agenda as demonstrated by poll -after-poll. Joe Manchin is the perfect example of someone that pushes everything that’s not sustainable and mostly because his wealth depends on it and his power.
Sen. Joe Manchin settled in at President Joe Biden’s family home in Delaware on a Sunday morning in the fall as the Democrats worked furiously to gain his support on their far-reaching domestic package.
The two-hour-long session was the kind of special treatment being showered on the West Virginia senator — the president at one point even showing Manchin around his Wilmington home.
But months later, despite Democrats slashing Biden’s big bill in half and meeting the senator’s other demands, Manchin is no closer to voting yes.In an extraordinary display of political power in the evenly split 50-50 Senate, a single senator is about to seriously set back an entire presidential agenda.
Biden said in a statement Thursday night that he still believed “we will bridge our differences and advance the Build Back Better plan, even in the face of fierce Republican opposition.”
But with his domestic agenda stalled out in Congress, senators are coming to terms with the reality that passage of the president’s signature “Build Back Better Act,” as well as Democrats’ high-priority voting rights package, would most likely have to be delayed to next year.
Failing to deliver on Biden’s roughly $2 trillion social and environmental bill would be a stunning end to the president’s first year in office.
Manchin’s actions throw Democrats into turmoil at time when families are struggling against the prolonged COVID-19 crisis and Biden’s party needs to convince voters heading toward the 2022 election that their unified party control of Washington can keep its campaign promises.
This has been pushed to the back burner and now they have decided to shift to voting rights. Look at who’s on the catbird seat again.
President Biden joined a Zoom call with Senate Democrats on Thursday to encourage them to pass voting rights legislation, as the chamber appears poised to leave for the year without a deal.
“Very positive. ‘Good work, guys. Keep at it,’” Kaine said about Biden’s message.
“‘Are you talking, are you taking it seriously, are you trying to get there?’ Yes. So he [was] encouraging us, thanking us and encouraging us,” the Virginia Democrat added.
Tester, asked about Biden’s general message, summed it up as the right to vote is “important for democracy.”
Those included on the call were Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Angus King (I-Maine), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Kaine and Tester, a source familiar told The Hill. Vice President Harris was also on the call.
The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the call.
Biden’s call come as Senate Democrats are poised to wrap their work for the year without a deal on how to move voting rights legislation.
“We don’t have the votes right now to change the rules,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) told reporters after a closed-door caucus lunch, acknowledging the political reality that the party currently faces.
Democrats have been holding a flurry of behind-the-scenes meetings to try to come to a deal that unites all 50 Democrats on changing the Senate rules.
A group of Senate Democrats — Kaine, Tester and King — have been tasked with coming up with a proposal on how to alter the 60-vote legislative filibuster in a way that would allow voting rights legislation to move forward.
Republicans have blocked several voting rights and election bills, fueling calls from within the Senate Democratic caucus to change the rules.
Meanwhile, the Senate is going on holiday. Why can’t we all get paid and have work hours and benefits like them?
From NPC News: Democrats rev up voting rights push to end 2021. But Senate path remains elusive. All 50 Senate Democrats would be needed to change the rules to get around a filibuster. But Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema still don’t support such a move.
Long-simmering frustrations among prominent Black leaders appeared to be boiling over as they pressure President Joe Biden to do more to encourage the Senate to act. Progressive advocacy groups have revved up their pressure campaigns, fearing that time is running out to avert what they see as an existential threat to democracy. Leaders of the effort in the Senate, notably Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia, have held meetings with colleagues to find a path forward.
And moderates like Sens. Mark Warner of Virginia and John Hickenlooper of Colorado, said this week they’re ready to change the Senate rules to allow a vote on an election overhaul. But despite this movement, it may not be enough.
Manchin and Sinema are supportive of the Freedom to Vote Act, which would enshrine a series of voting-access guarantees across all states, and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would impose additional limits on states with a history of discrimination. But neither supports a rule change to get around the 60-vote threshold that is blocking votes on those bills.
Manchin, who spoke to Warnock about the issue and left the Capitol shoulder-to-shoulder with him this week, told reporters he wants support from both parties before establishing new rules.
“All my discussions have been bipartisan, Republicans and Democrats. A rules change should be done to where we all have input in this rules change because we’re going to have to live with it,” he said.
That’s a problem: Republicans are extremely unlikely to sign off on any rule changes that would enable passage of voting rights legislation, which they staunchly oppose. A filibuster change through the regular process require a two-thirds vote, and even moderate Republicans say they’re not interested.
“I don’t see how. Unless Sen. (Chuck) Schumer tries to employ the nuclear option, rule changes require 67 votes,” Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, told NBC News, referring to the Senate majority leader. “I think the rules and traditions of the Senate have generally served us well, and I don’t see the need for rule changes.”
Sinema said through a spokesperson that she still opposes weakening the 60-vote rule to pass a voting bill.
And that Ladies and Gentlemen is how empires and democracies die!
Have a great weekend! I hope you enjoy the soothing colors of Marc Chagall!
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
The mainstream media, led by The New York Times, is writing the Democrat’s obituary after Terry McAuliffe’s loss in the Virginia gubernatorial race, but I don’t feel like writing about that. I have no idea whether the loss will affect the 2022 midterms. I don’t really want to think about it, except that I hope the Democrats will finally do something about the filibuster. There has been some talk of changing Senate rules for voting rights legislation, after Republicans once again blocked debate on the Voting Rights Act.
The New York Times: Republicans Block a Second Voting Rights Bill in the Senate.
Senate Republicans on Wednesday blocked legislation to restore parts of the landmark Voting Rights Act weakened by Supreme Court rulings, making it the second major voting bill to be derailed by a G.O.P. filibuster in the past two weeks.
Despite receiving majority support, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, named for the civil rights activist and congressman who died last year, fell nine votes short of the 60 required to advance over Republican opposition.
In the aftermath of the defeat, Senate Democrats said they would intensify internal discussions about altering filibuster rules or making other changes to allow them to move forward on voting rights legislation despite deep resistance by Republicans, who have now thwarted four efforts to take up such measures.
“Just because Republicans will not join us doesn’t mean Democrats will stop fighting,” said Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, after the vote. “We will continue to fight for voting rights and find an alternative path forward.”
Yesterday the Federal Reserve announced plans to deal with inflation. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been affected by the rising food prices. Even though we’re getting the biggest Social Security increase in a very long time, it isn’t going to be enough. The New York Times: Fed Takes First Step Toward End of Pandemic Measures.
The Federal Reserve on Wednesday took its first step toward withdrawing support for the American economy, saying that it would begin to wind down a stimulus program that’s been in place since early in the pandemic as the economy heals and prices climb at an uncomfortably rapid pace.
Central bank policymakers struck a slightly more wary tone about inflation, which has jumped this year amid booming consumer demand for goods and supply snarls. While officials still expect quick cost increases to fade, how quickly that will happen is unclear.
Fed officials want to be prepared for any outcome at a time when the economy’s trajectory is marked by grave uncertainty. They are not sure when prices will begin to calm down, to what extent the labor market will recover the millions of jobs still missing after last year’s economic slump, or when they will begin to raise interest rates — which remain at rock-bottom to keep borrowing and spending cheap and easy.
So the central bank’s decision to dial back its other policy tool, large-scale bond purchases that keep money flowing through financial markets, was meant to give the Fed flexibility it might need to react to a shifting situation. Officials on Wednesday laid out a plan to slow their $120 billion in monthly Treasury bond and mortgage-backed security purchases by $15 billion a month starting in November. The purchases can lower long term interest rates and prod investors into investments that would spur growth.
Assuming that pace holds, the bond buying would stop altogether around the time of the central bank’s meeting next June — potentially putting the Fed in a position to lift interest rates by the middle of next year.
John Durham’s “investigation” into the origins of the FBI/DOJ investigation of Trump’s ties to Russia is beginning to look like a real witch hunt. The New York Times: Authorities Arrest Analyst Who Contributed to Steele Dossier.
Federal authorities on Thursday arrested an analyst who in 2016 gathered leads about possible links between Donald J. Trump and Russia for what turned out to be Democratic-funded opposition research, according to people familiar with the matter.
The arrest of the analyst, Igor Danchenko, is part of the special counsel inquiry led by John H. Durham, who was appointed by the Trump administration to scrutinize the Russia investigation for any wrongdoing, the people said.
Mr. Danchenko, was the primary researcher of the so-called Steele dossier, a compendium of rumors and unproven assertions suggesting that Mr. Trump and his 2016 campaign were compromised by and conspiring with Russian intelligence officials in Moscow’s covert operation to help him defeat Hillary Clinton.
The people familiar with the matter spoke on condition of anonymity because the indictment of Mr. Danchenko had yet to be unsealed. A spokesman for Mr. Durham did not respond to a request for comment.
So this information was leaked without any indication of what the basis of the arrest was. What laws did Danchenko break? The last Durham arrest was hinky too.
The charges against Mr. Danchenko follow Mr. Durham’s indictment in September of a cybersecurity lawyer, Michael Sussmann, which accused him of lying to the F.B.I. about who he was working for when he brought concerns about possible Trump-Russia links to the bureau in September 2016.
Mr. Sussmann, who then also worked for Perkins Coie, was relaying concerns developed by data scientists about odd internet logs they said suggested the possibility of a covert communications channel between the Trump Organization and Alfa Bank, a Kremlin-linked financial institution. He has denied lying to the F.B.I. about who he was working for.
Today is the hearing about whether Trump has any right to claim executive privilege over documents related to the January 6 insurrection. CNN: High-stakes hearing Thursday in Trump effort to block release of presidential documents.
The power Donald Trump holds as a former president will be put to the test on Thursday, as a federal judge is set to hear arguments on whether Trump can keep secret records from his White House about his attempt to overturn the 2020 election.
Trump has asked the DC District Court to block the National Archives from giving more than 700 pages of documents to the House Select Committee investigating January 6. He’s claimed the House’s investigation is illegitimate, and that his role as a former President should give him control over reviewing and deciding upon access to the records.
The hearing may be the pivotal moment in a potentially historic legal fight about the authority of a former president, the House’s investigative power and the reach of executive privilege….
In the short term, the case also may have huge implications for the bipartisan House investigation, which is pushing for records and witnesses before the midterm elections take place next year. Without access to the documents, the House could be hampered significantly in its fact-finding.
In court, the House has cast its investigation as one of its most critical tasks in history. “In 2021, for the first time since the Civil War, the Nation did not experience a peaceful transfer of power,” lawyers for the House wrote over the weekend. “A peaceful transfer of power from one President to another is crucial to the continuation of our democratic government. It is difficult to imagine a more critical subject for Congressional investigation, and Mr. Trump’s arguments cannot overcome that pressing legislative need.
This happened yesterday in the trial of the Charlottesville rally organizers. Buzzfeed News: A Renowned Holocaust Historian Testified That Charlottesville Rally Organizers’ Messages Were A “Call To Arms”
Neo-Nazis Christopher Cantwell and Matthew Heimbach on Wednesday seemed almost to forget for a moment that they were in a court of law and defendants in a civil case that could potentially bankrupt them and take down the white nationalist groups with which they’re associated.
“What’s your favorite Holocaust joke?” Cantwell, who is representing himself in court, asked Heimbach, who was called to the stand by the plaintiffs as a witness, during cross-examination….
The strategy behind Cantwell’s line of questioning wasn’t immediately clear, and attorneys for the plaintiffs interjected before any jokes were uttered. But Cantwell, who had previously gone on bizarre courtroom tangents, and Heimbach spent nearly an hour talking about their adoration for Nazi Germany, Adolf Hitler, the dictator’s book Mein Kampf, and their belief that the Holocaust was a hoax.
Hitler, Heimbach testified, “did nothing wrong” in murdering some 6 million Jews.
The exchange between the two neo-Nazis contrasted sharply with the testimony by Deborah Lipstadt, an acclaimed Holocaust scholar and professor of modern Jewish history at Emory University.
Good Day Sky Dancers!
I’m going to go down a rabbit hole today on findings by journalists on a trove of leaked financial information that shows the financial dealings of current and former world leaders in terms of hiding the loot in the world’s Treasure Islands.
Offshore banking has always frustrated many governments in trying to deal with how the rich and powerful hide wealth. This is from The Guardian on what’s being called the Pandora Papers. There’s an accompanying podcast if you’d rather learn about this important trove of leaked offshore papers. These leaks follow the Panama and Paradise papers leaks.
The financial secrets of some of the world’s most rich and powerful people are revealed following one of the biggest leaks of offshore data. The Pandora papers include 35 current and former world leaders and more than 300 public officials.
The Guardian’s Paul Lewis tells Michael Safi how the project came about and the months of work his investigations team has put into the publication. It is the latest offshore leak following previous global journalistic collaborations on the Panama papers and the Paradise papers.
The Guardian’s deputy business editor, Juliette Garside,explains how former British colonial territories have in recent decades used their legal jurisdictions to attract companies and wealthy individuals to register with them as tax havens.
The editor-in-chief, Katharine Viner, tells Michael that there is a clear public interest in publishing this latest investigation and revealing the secrets of prominent politicians at a time when many governments are raising taxes to fund pandemic recovery efforts.
The Washington Post reports the names and country affiliations of those caught in the leak. It includes Putin and many of his minions, the President of Kenya, and the King of Jordan. Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis was also caught up in the investigations. This is the lede: “Governments launch investigations after secret papers show how elite shield riches.” The link is constantly updated with new revelations and responses.
Here’s what we know from our collective reporting
There are short profiles of many of the leaders/elite and their offshore financial activities at the WAPO link. There are also several good links to basics on offshore banking and the small countries around the world that sponsor this very dark corner of the financial sector.
I’ve written about offshore “treasure islands” before as it tickles just about all my Nancy Drew and Financial Economist/Banker fancies. My last post came in 2016 when the Panama Papers were leaked. These leaks do pop up but the dynamics of the system are linked to political and political funding elites. It’s hard to get countries to move on the tax evaders and the public treasury looters. As you can see from the names, many are either doing this or getting money from those who use offshore banking.
CNN analysts believe the Jordan, Pakistan and, Russia releases are most significant. Former UK PM Tony Blair has also been named in the release.
Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife, Cherie Blair, avoided paying £312,000 ($423,000) in stamp duty — a tax on property purchases — when they bought a townhouse in London, the BBC reported. The building now houses Cherie Blair’s law firm.
The Blairs purchased the townhouse in 2017 by buying the offshore firm that owned the property. When the property was put up for sale, its ultimate owners were a family with political connections in Bahrain, according to the BBC.
The Blairs set up a UK company to purchase the offshore firm. Doing so was legal, but it allowed them to avoid paying stamp duty, according to the BBC, because the tax is not charged when a company owning a property is acquired.
“It is not unusual for a commercial office building to be held in a corporate vehicle or for vendors of such property not to want to dispose of the property separately,” Cherie Blair told the BBC.
Cherie Blair also said her husband’s only involvement in the transaction was that the mortgage for the property used their joint income and capital, according to the BBC.
“All the arrangements were made for the express purpose of bringing the company and the building back into the UK tax and regulatory regime, where it has remained ever since. All taxes have been paid ever since and all accounts openly filed in accordance with the law,” Cherie Blair said, according to The Guardian.
It may not be illegal but it certainly sounds and appears dodgy. The real shocking thing is that these kinds of enterprises are setting up in the United States. Notice this little financial firm harkens from South Dakota a state that lured Citibank with its lax banking laws back in the good ol’ days. WAPO has just put up a more current analysis of the overall use of offshore banking. “FOREIGN MONEY SECRETLY FLOODS U.S. TAX-HAVENS. SOME OF IT IS TAINTED.”
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Across from a Holiday Inn, in a red-brick building with a welcome sign that reads “The Heart of America,” a little-known financial firm set up shop seven years ago and extended an invitation to the world’s elite.
Trident Trust promised to protect the fortunes and privacy of its new customers by relying on the laws of a state that had become a global destination for wealth. The company called it “The South Dakota Advantage.”
Among those who answered the call: a Colombian textile magnate caught in a scheme to launder the proceeds of an international drug ring, an orange juice mogul who settled with authorities in Brazil for allegedly colluding to underpay local farmers, and family members of the former president of a sugar producer in the Dominican Republic that has been accused of exploiting laborers and forcibly evicting families from their homes.
The U.S. government has long condemned prominent offshore financial centers, where liberal rules and guarantees of discretion have drawn oligarchs, business tycoons and politicians.
But a burgeoning American trust industry is increasingly sheltering the assets of international millionaires and billionaires by promising levels of protection and secrecy that rival or surpass those offered in overseas tax havens. That shield, which is near-absolute, has insulated the industry from meaningful oversight and allowed it to forge new footholds in U.S. states.
Paging Senator Elizabeth Warren! Clean-up in Aisle South Dakota! And of course, Delaware is also one of the usual suspects too. Just ask Senator MBNA (aka President Joe Biden).
The trust documents come mostly from the Sioux Falls office of Trident Trust, a global provider of offshore services. In a written statement, Trident said it is committed to compliance with all applicable regulations and routinely cooperates with authorities. The company declined to answer questions about its clients.
Other states competing to lure wealth include Alaska, Delaware, Nevada and New Hampshire. In South Dakota, assets in trusts more than quadrupled over the past decade to $360 billion. One of the largest trust companies in the state, the South Dakota Trust Co., boasts a roster of international clients from 54 countries.
The industry’s rapid expansion was led by a group of trust company insiders, who year after year pitched legislative proposals that were highly appealing to customers in the United States and abroad: protecting trusts from creditors, from taxing authorities, from foreign governments.
With little opposition, state legislators turned the proposals into laws — dozens since the late 1990s.
So, not only are we giving these folks lower tax bills than their house staff and employees, we’re letting them dodge even more tax liabilities by just traveling to the usual suspect states.
You may read the original work in the tweet directly above. It’s going to be a week of global intrigue! So, hang on to your best James Bond Villian impression. Mine will continue to be Vladimir Putin who set up a mistress and child to live like Marie Antoinette.
The Debt Ceiling is still in the news too!
Either of these stories could rock the US and Global financial markets! So, I’ll be watching! C’mon Joe! Don’t make me sell the US short to finance my senior days!
Biden did take McConnell to school today. This is from the LA Times.
President Biden on Monday criticized Republicans for not voting to raise the debt ceiling, accusing them of being “reckless and dangerous” in a way that could harm the economy.
“Not only are Republicans refusing to do their job, they’re threatening to use [the filibuster] to prevent us from doing our job — saving the economy from a catastrophic event,” Biden said during a speech at the White House.
The Democrat-controlled House last week passed legislation that temporarily suspends the debt ceiling. Senate Republicans, however, have said they will not vote to approve such a measure. Biden said the Republicans’ stance is “hypocritical, dangerous and disgraceful.”
“Especially as we’re clawing our way out of this pandemic,” Biden said.
Once the Treasury Department runs out of cash, payments to government workers, including military personnel, veterans and Social Security recipients would likely be delayed. A default would also affect taxpayers.
“Savings in your pocketbook could be directly impacted by this Republican stunt,” Biden said.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen previously said the department would run out of “emergency measures” to pay the nation’s debts on Oct. 18. The limit on federal borrowing is currently $28.4 trillion.
McConnell told Biden to find a Democratic Party-based solution in a Dear Joe letter. So, there’s your countdown to doomsday. This is from Politico.
So, Republicans continue to obfuscate the debt ceiling. It’s basically got to be increased because of the last 4 years and all years before. There’s very little Biden spending to this point and his budget is not even in effect at this point.
Don’t let your eyes glaze over on this stuff! This is a shit list of how they’re stealing from us!
What’s on your reading and global intrigue list today?