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Member since: Mon Sep 6, 2004, 09:54 PM
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Journal Archives

Ruben Gallego Teases Challenge to Kyrsten Sinema


Ruben Gallego Teases Challenge to Kyrsten Sinema
July 30, 2022 at 4:29 pm EDT By Taegan Goddard

Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) is campaign fundraising off the prospect of his running against Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) in Arizona’s 2024 Democratic primary, the Arizona Republic reports.
Posted by babylonsister | Sun Jul 31, 2022, 06:49 AM (6 replies)

Concern About Abortion Fuels Push to Vote


Concern About Abortion Fuels Push to Vote
July 31, 2022 at 6:13 am EDT By Taegan Goddard

“Concern about abortion access has exploded among Democratic voters as an election issue over the past month, a new USA Today/Suffolk University Poll finds, as the repercussions of the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade begin to reverberate.”

“Now, 64% of Democrats say the court’s action makes them more likely to vote in November, potentially a crucial factor in midterm elections that traditionally have low turnout. That’s more than double the 29% of Democrats who expressed that view in a USA Today/Suffolk survey taken after a draft of the landmark decision was leaked in June.”
Posted by babylonsister | Sun Jul 31, 2022, 06:44 AM (5 replies)

Dead-Eyed and Cold-Blooded Killers


Dead-Eyed and Cold-Blooded Killers
by Jaime O’Neill | July 30, 2022 - 7:25am

In case you missed it--and it's quite possible you did--a bunch of gun company CEOs (all white, all male, and all very rich) were called before Congress this week to answer questions about gun industry practices. The most pointed question asked of each of them was posed by Carolyn Maloney, who chaired the committee. She wanted to know if any of them thought they bore responsibility for the epidemic of gun violence being endured in the United States, a place that leads the world in a) guns, and b) death by guns. None of accessories to multiple murders could find any reason why they should feel any responsibility whatsoever. Apparently, it's just too much of a stretch to connect guns with death by guns. It's just the shooters who are at fault. As one of them said, as disingenuously as anything has ever been said, that "a gun is an inanimate object," so how could a gun ever be responsible for such horror, let alone really nice guys like him who grow rich by peddling them in ways many people could consider highly irresponsible. Sure, guns are "inanimate objects," but if you sell them, people animate them, and if you sell military style weapons to millions of people, some of those gun animators are going to use them to kill children. How do we know this? Well, we notice things like that.

Five of the largest gun manufacturers failed to appear before the committee at all, offering a middle finger to any sense that they should have to answer to anyone at all, for anything. But not a one of those people who deal in death, and profit so handsomely from it, could find so much as a speck of blame for themselves or their practices. How handsomely do they reap the grim rewards of their bloody business? Well, from sales of assault-style rifles alone, the gun biz harvested more than a billion blood-stained dollars over the last ten years.

But you just can't find more innocent men than these death peddlers and their mostly Republican enablers who simply refuse to see the obvious correlation between the product those guys sell and the harm done when those guns are used for the purpose they were made. You know: killing people. Hunting rabbits with ARs sure as hell isn't why "sportsmen" are buying them. Hell, paint manufacturers are held to greater responsibility for their products than these gun CEOs are. And a bartender who over serves a customer who then dies in a car accident is also held to be liable because, as we know, without the fact of high blood alcohol levels, hardly any of those drinkers would have killed anyone. And though those very rich and protected gun execs who live far removed from the carnage, behind gates, with their own kids in private schools, no doubt, surely enjoy being held guiltless as accessories to the deaths of other people's kids. But if a nickel-and-dime street thug loans a gun to a fellow gang member who commits a crime with it, there will be legal dues to pay. These captains of industry in the gun biz don't face any legal problems from their own gun sales, and can't for the life of us see any way at all they could be blamed for anything.

Nor did the Republicans who served on that committee charged with looking into a serious and severe national problem not found anywhere else in the world on such a scale. The big shot who pointed out that guns don't kill people because they are "inanimate objects" went on to tell the committee that: "We firmly believe that it is wrong to deprive citizens of their constitutional right to purchase a lawful firearm they desire because of the criminal acts of wicked people. A firearm, any firearm, can be used for good or for evil. The difference is in the intent of the individual possessing it, which we respectfully submit, should be the focus of any investigation into the root causes of criminal violence involving firearms.”

Jody Hice, Republican from Georgia and former talk show host, lent support to the gun guys, saying: “My colleagues seem to forget that the American people have a right to own guns." Clay Higgins, Louisiana Republican, accused Democrats of leaving average Americans more vulnerable to gun violence by pushing restrictions to firearm access. "When those gun fights happen," Higgins said to his Democratic Party colleagues, "that blood will be on your hands."

There's a gaping hole in that logic, bigger than a high caliber bullet wound blasted through the body of a third-grade kid.
Posted by babylonsister | Sat Jul 30, 2022, 12:24 PM (13 replies)

This really is the 'most important election in our lifetime,' and Democrats need to explain why


This really is the 'most important election in our lifetime,' and Democrats need to explain why
Thursday July 28, 2022 · 3:31 PM EDT
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The next two national elections will probably decide the fate of the American republic. And that means specifically whether our country continues to operate as a democracy dedicated to the preservation and expansion of human rights, or whether it descends into a quasi-fascist autocracy, seeking to limit and curtail those same rights and freedoms under the thumb of white, evangelical-oriented, right-wing minority rule. Whether one result or the other prevails will obviously depend on which party does a better job at motivating its voters to get to the polls.

Donald Trump has made it clear that he will soon announce his 2024 candidacy. His campaign, modeled on the likes of Hungarian fascist Viktor Orban, will be premised on racism and fear of the LGBTQ population, with a heavy focus on “law and order.” Trumps intends to use the police, the military, and white supremacist groups to intimidate and suppress voters who might be disinclined to support him. Assuming Trump is not prosecuted and imprisoned by the Department of Justice for his actions relating to the Jan. 6 coup attempt, Republicans will once again fall in line behind him. (And neither Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis nor any other Trump clone wannabe will be able to mount a credible challenge to him, for whatever negligible difference in policy that might make.)

Whether President Joe Biden will run for reelection in 2024 is unknown, so there is little use speculating on the outcome of that election at this time. But Republicans have already confirmed that if they obtain control of the House of Representatives in 2022, they will immediately pursue bogus impeachment show trials and pointless, theatrical Benghazi-style “investigations” nonstop through 2024. The investigation into the Jan. 6 insurrection will be shut down and there will be no further inquiry into either Trump’s wrongdoing or the enabling actions of any of their own caucus’ members.

In that event, the face of the GOP will be the current House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, but its primary movers will be the Trump-loyal faction led by the likes of Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, Paul Gosar, and the plethora of other racists and “Christian” white supremacists on the Republican side. While their actual power may be limited by the (hopefully) continued Democratic control of the Senate, their role is essentially to pave the way for Trump’s reelection, not to actually pass legislation.

The corrupt conservative majority of the U.S. Supreme Court has already clearly signaled its intent to operate as an arm of Republican policy. The court will continue to do this by curtailing the power of the executive (when in Democratic hands) to work on behalf of Americans’ interests; countenancing the gerrymandering of continued white minority rule, eliminating protections previously provided in the Voting Rights Act; and, most recently, signaling its willingness to abide by the overthrow of legitimate elections when that overthrow favors the Republican Party. Fortunately the pointed and visible abandonment of its own legitimacy by that court (through its repeal of Roe v. Wade, through its arbitrary extension of access to deadly firearms, and through its hobbling of the Environmental Protection Agency, all of which were accomplished within a period of one week) has alerted millions of Americans to the fact that not only their form of government, but the way they actually want to live their lives is now in serious peril.

As noted by Josh Marshall writing for TalkingPointsMemo, three “generic ballot” polls released in the last two days have shown a remarkable upswing for Democrats since the Supreme Court’s blunt and ham-handed assertion of its political biases last June.

[T]hree new congressional generic polls have come out over the last 24 hours, two of which give the Democrats a six point advantage and one of which gives a 4 point margin. One of those 6 point margins is actually a Republican Party poll.

Various other midterm metrics continue to move slowly but perceptibly in Democrats’ direction. As we’ve discussed at various points over the last few weeks, the House especially is still very much an uphill battle for Democrats. But this trend makes me think Democrats holding the House in November is definitely possible and getting more likely. Not remotely a lost cause.

Marshall notes that the polling signifies an unusual disconnect with the electorate; despite their fairly sour feelings about inflation, the economy, and President Biden’s performance, they are apparently equating the Republican alternative to the (thus far) very unwelcome return of a Donald Trump, whose star has been substantially dimmed by the findings of the Jan. 6 investigation.

… And that’s definitely not the norm. The new Morning Consult poll suggests that the January 6th hearings are seriously souring independents on Donald Trump. And that shift is, in turn, showing up in the generic ballots numbers.

At least according to this one poll, the weight of the January 6th hearings is pushing voters to see the midterms more as a choice between Republicans and Democrats than a referendum on the President or the state of the country generally

So Americans, despite their famous disconnect from politics (particularly during the summer months), have been paying attention. At least enough Americans to potentially make a difference in what originally looked to be an imminent Democratic wipeout in 2022, although it is still early for such predictions.

Along those lines, professor and author Mark Danner, writing for the New York Review of Books, has some sage advice for Democrats: If 2022 indeed represents the most critical election in our nation’’s history (as it seems to be by just about any objective assessment), then the Democrats need to explain that to voters, clearly and loudly.

As Danner writes in an essay appropriately titled We’re in an Emergency—Act Like It!, a confluence of factors, all ultimately traceable to Donald Trump, make the coming election unique.

The 2022 election will be the first held in the shadow of an attempted coup d’état—a nearly successful and still-unpunished crime against the state. It will be the first held after a Supreme Court decision that not only uprooted a half-century-old established right but that threatens the rescinding of other rights as well. And it will be the first in which it is clear that, from Republican legislators’ relentless efforts to change who counts the votes, the very character of American governance is on the ballot.

Danner acknowledges the obvious: Every recent election seems to warrant the cliche of “the most important of our lifetime.” But there is more than enough evidence, he believes, that in the case of 2022 this characterization is not hyperbole in terms of its potential impact on American lives and those of their children and grandchildren.

American voters have not confronted so grave a choice since 1860. Now as then, two dramatically different futures are on offer. By undermining the right to privacy, the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision not only allows government to force women to carry pregnancies to term—as more than half the states will likely soon do—but foreshadows a country in which a state or the federal government can deny people contraception or indeed the right to love or marry whom they choose. By limiting the regulation of firearms, the Bruen decision ensures that increasing numbers of Americans, including children in classrooms, worshipers in churches, and marchers on the Fourth of July, will die in shootings. By calling into question how votes are counted—or whether they should matter at all—the January 6 coup and the persistent “Big Lie” behind it augur a country where the candidate fewer Americans voted for not only can become president (as he did in 2000 and 2016) but can be awarded the electoral votes of a state not as the choice of its people but as a diktat of its legislature.

Danner’s point is that 2022 will be the election that either ushers in and validates a new era of Republican racist autocracy in this country or substantially slows that trend down: “If any election cried out to be nationalized—to be fought not only on the kitchen-table issues of inflation and unemployment but on the defining principles of what the country is and what it should be—it is this November’s.” His advice to Democrats is to make this point crystal clear to voters, again and again.

Danner emphasizes that this is how Democrats should be framing these midterms:

If you don’t want a government that can force you to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term—vote!

If you don’t want a government that can deny you contraceptives—vote!!

If you don’t want a government that can tell you with whom you can make love and whom you can marry—vote!!

If you don’t want a government that will do nothing to protect your child from a troubled teenager with an assault rifle—vote!!

If you don’t want a government that can ignore the people’s voice at the polling place—vote!!

If you don’t want a government that will do nothing about rising temperatures and the danger they pose to all of us—vote!

But beyond this “negative framing,” Danner stresses that the Democratic Party must put itself on the line with exactly what it will do for Americans in order to turn back the Republican assault on their rights: Not only that they will do these things, but how they will do them. That involves a bold, no-nonsense—however scary for some—commitment to eliminating the filibuster with the addition of at least two Democratic senators. It also involves holding the House to continue passing legislation that is so fundamentally important it cannot morally be subject to any arcane Senate procedure designed in an era of comity that no longer exists and never will again.

And every Democratic candidate needs to repeat, over and over, whether they’re running for the House, the Senate or anything else, that when Republicans are taking away our basic rights—such as the right to be protected from mass shooters, the right to control our bodies, buy contraceptives and marry who we want—voting Democratic is the only way to stop them.

Danner wrote his essay before the surprise announcement of a deal on climate and budgetary matters between Sen. Joe Manchin, Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and the Biden administration. Assuming that deal goes forward, it will restore some of the credibility with their base the Democrats have lost due to Manchin’s (and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s) past obstruction, and that is helpful. But it is one thing to point out some modest Democratic success, and another to point to the bare fact that if Republicans take over either legislative branch the future is going to be a lot different than the one most Americans want for themselves, their children, and their country.

And yes, Americans may reject that. As a country we may go right on staring into our smartphones, willing to sacrifice our democracy while complaining mightily about the cost of a gallon of gas. That’s certainly our right. But we won’t be able to say we weren’t warned.
Posted by babylonsister | Sat Jul 30, 2022, 09:39 AM (17 replies)

Russians Want Murderer Added to Prisoner Swap


Russians Want Murderer Added to Prisoner Swap
July 29, 2022 at 3:13 pm EDT By Taegan Goddard

“Russian government officials requested that a former colonel from the country’s domestic spy agency who was convicted of murder in Germany last year be added to the US’ proposed swap of a notorious arms dealer for Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan,” CNN reports.

“The Russians communicated the request to the US earlier this month through an informal backchannel used by the spy agency.”
Posted by babylonsister | Fri Jul 29, 2022, 04:40 PM (10 replies)

Jim Hightower: The Far Right Hates 'Woke' Society Because They Want One That's Asleep


The Far Right Hates ‘Woke’ Society Because They Want One That’s Asleep
by Jim Hightower | July 29, 2022 - 6:57am
— from OtherWords

Although we haven’t even gotten through this year’s midterm congressional elections, it’s still not too early to start examining some of the characters who hope you’ll make them president in 2024.

I know, you don’t want to… but we must.

That’s because corporate elites have already chosen their favorites, and they intend to use massive sums of money, lies, more money, PR slickum, and even more money to slide their toady into the Oval Office — hoping you don’t discover until it’s too late that their chosen one really is a toad.

Take Ron DeSantis. The GOP’s far-right, power-hungry, narcissistic Florida governor promises to be the next Donald Trump — only more effective and not as nice.

His favorite gubernatorial hobby is the Orwellian practice of monitoring and censoring people’s speech and thoughts, culling out ideas he deems objectionable. “Don’t Say Gay” is his most infamous dictate to the state’s teachers, but he has also outlawed any teachings that might “denigrate the Founding Fathers.”

Nor will DeSantis tolerate the study of institutional racism in America. Indeed, he has even mandated that social studies textbooks (get this!) must not even include concepts of social justice.

DeSantis adamantly opposes what right-wingers call a “woke” society — he wants one that’s asleep.

Sound asleep.
He recently rallied his right-wing cadre to ban some math textbooks. Yes, math! They screech that some real-life topics like wage disparities are being used to make math problems relevant to today’s students — so it was Fahrenheit 451 for those books.

Thus far, DeSantis’s censorship binge has nixed 42 math books for “incorporat[ing] prohibited topics.” Imagine what he could ban as president!

Did I mention that DeSantis is also forming his own gubernatorial paramilitary force — a state army that answers to him, which he can deploy in “emergencies”? What’s an emergency? He says he’ll decide.

We’ll need to decide, too.
Posted by babylonsister | Fri Jul 29, 2022, 12:18 PM (13 replies)

Democratic SoS Candidate Destroys Second Amendment Myths


Democratic SoS Candidate Destroys Second Amendment Myths
Former Marine and Arizona Secretary of State candidate Adrian Fontes dismantles some of the right-wing arguments on the Second Amendment.
By Susie Madrak — July 29, 2022

Stephanie Ruehl closed last night with a reality check on the Second Amendment and "a well regulated militia."

"Here is how the Second Amendment puts it. Quote, 'A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.' But what does that really mean? Well, Adrian Fontes is a Democratic candidate for Arizona secretary of state, and a former U.S. Marine marksmanship instructor. And he has taken some time to try and dismantle some of the right-wing Second Amendment lies about the right to bear arms. So for fact's sake, watch this," she said.

"I think there's a lot of people who don't understand what the Second Amendment actually means in context of the whole Constitution. Right? Right. Confusion is, I can just be a militia by myself, and a well regulated militia just means what I want it to mean. That is not true. It's 100 percent not true.

"Here is what it means. 'Congress shall have the power to call for the militia to execute the laws of the Union, suppress interactions and repel invasions.' The militia in the context of our Constitution is enforcing the laws of the Union. They work for the government. Not against some tyrannical fantasy government that you guys are fetishizing against. That is not what it's supposed to mean. It says so right here.

"It also says 'the Congress shall the power to provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia.' That means you get your militia arms from the government. You don't buy them yourself. That is what the Constitution says. Congress provides the rules for the militia. Congress provides the arms for the militia. Congress calls up the militia. You don't just get to be a militia on your own.

"And look at this thing, this is what we had to teach Marines. It's a two-week course, Marines have to go through this every single year to be qualified to shoot with the M-16A2 service rifle. Which is like the AR-15. But an 18-year old in the United States of America, an 18-year-old doesn't have to go through any of that training, can go grab an AR-15, and do damage like they have done, and murder kids in classrooms like they have done. Like they continue to do.

"It's crazy!"

"It is crazy. Adrien Fontes, thank you, thank you for your service, and thank you for that reality check," Ruehl concluded.
Posted by babylonsister | Fri Jul 29, 2022, 09:02 AM (21 replies)

As Jan. 6 probe expands, officials worry DOJ resources are at a breaking point


As Jan. 6 probe expands, officials worry DOJ resources are at a breaking point
"We don't have the manpower," one official said.
July 29, 2022, 4:30 AM EDT
By Ryan J. Reilly


In conversations with NBC News in recent months, more than a dozen sources familiar with the sprawling Jan. 6 investigation expressed varying degrees of worry about whether the resources the Justice Department has allocated to the effort are sufficient for such a vast criminal investigation.

Federal officials have made about 850 arrests in the nearly 19 months since the Capitol attack, but that's still only a minor fraction of the more than 2,500 people who entered the building and the hundreds more who committed serious crimes outside but haven't yet been arrested. The massive trove of evidence — be it body camera and surveillance video or damning content generated by suspects themselves — presents a tremendous challenge for an enormous bureaucracy working with technology that's often a few years behind the times, at best.


The Justice Department has asked for help. Its 2023 budget request asks Congress for more than $34 million to fund 130 employees, including 80 federal prosecutors, to aid the "extraordinary," "unprecedented" and "complex" investigation.

The Justice Department didn't get the requested funding in the omnibus spending bill that passed in March — it was included in a fiscal year 2023 spending bill that passed the House Appropriations Committee last month.

Attorney General Merrick Garland told NBC News’ Lester Holt in an interview this week that he was “confident” that the Justice Department could handle the workload regardless of what Congress does.

Posted by babylonsister | Fri Jul 29, 2022, 08:04 AM (3 replies)

January 6 Hearings Are Changing Republicans' Minds


January 6 Hearings Are Changing Republicans’ Minds
July 29, 2022 at 7:44 am EDT By Taegan Goddard

Sarah Longwell: “I conducted dozens of focus groups of Trump 2020 voters in the 17 months between the storming of the Capitol on January 6 and when the hearings began in June. One measure was consistent: At least half of the respondents in each group wanted Trump to run again in 2024. The prevailing belief was that the 2020 election was stolen—or at least unfair in some way—and Trump should get another shot.”

“But since June, I’ve observed a shift. I’ve conducted nine focus groups during this period, and found that only 14 percent of Trump 2020 voters wanted him to run in 2024, with a few others on the fence. In four of the groups, zero people wanted Trump to run again. Their reasoning is clear: They’re now uncertain that Trump can win again.”
Posted by babylonsister | Fri Jul 29, 2022, 07:58 AM (5 replies)

digby: Have the Democrats actually outsmarted the Grim Reaper?


Have the Democrats actually outsmarted the Grim Reaper?
Published by digby on July 28, 2022
It looks like it …


Update — Dave Dayen on this deal:


For 364 days, Manchin went back and forth on pretty much all of these provisions, rejecting the bill outright, then crawling back to the table, going into bargaining with Schumer, leaving that bargaining, and coming back. And one year to the day later, we have a bill called the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, which includes everything in that previous paragraph and a lot more on energy and climate, plus the ACA insurance exchange subsidies and prescription drug price reforms we knew about. But overall, the bill spends $433 billion, a little over $1 trillion less than that original topline. Much of its revenue goes to deficit reduction.

There is no such thing as a genuine surprise in Washington—usually. This was a genuine surprise. I had been talking to people this week who would or should have known that talks between Manchin and Schumer, thought to be moribund, were taking place. The closest I got to foreknowledge was one source saying that they just didn’t believe it. An army of reporters, lobbyists, and hangers-on didn’t know this was happening.

The reveal was made a few hours after the Senate cleared the CHIPS and Science Act, a bill that offers semiconductor manufacturers subsidies for reshoring and boosts science programs. Mitch McConnell had threatened that bill, something highly cherished by Schumer, if Democrats persisted with a party-line bill that raised taxes and boosted clean energy. When Manchin walked away from negotiations with Schumer just two weeks ago over those two items, McConnell let his guard down and allowed a vote on CHIPS, which was popular with many of his Republican colleagues. Schumer and Manchin waited until that cleared the Senate before announcing a reconciliation deal with taxes and climate back in.

If you told me a cosmic ray hit Washington and flipped everyone’s brains, giving Schumer the Machiavellian cunning of a Republican and giving McConnell the guileless approach of a Democrat, that might be a more plausible explanation for this display than the truth. It’s a near-legendary turn of events that infuriated McConnell so much he took hostage a bill to give dying veterans exposed to toxic burn pits medical care, something Republicans passed overwhelmingly just a few weeks ago (it needed a technical fix). The combination of the revival of the Biden agenda and red-faced Republicans making terrible choices on highly popular legislation is one for the ages.

Can it be that Democrats have finally accepted the nature of their opposition and are willing to govern accordingly?
Posted by babylonsister | Thu Jul 28, 2022, 04:44 PM (8 replies)
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