Super Anarchist
This was my take on the NYT article I posted in the Durham thread:

The NYT has published the eulogy for the Durham “investigation”, and it reads like a tawdry potboiler with brandy shared by then AG Wm Barr and his Special Counsel as they discuss politics & the evil demoncrats.

Yes, normal relations between these two figures should be at arms length, with briefings only occasionally given.

Nothing screams “bias” like a the AG repeatedly commenting about a Special Counsel’s ongoing investigation in manipulative and misleading ways that led to Durham’s partner resigning after firing off a withering memo, except how more prosecutors quit when he decided to charge Sussman.

Yet Barr also misled the public regarding DOJ IG Horowitz’s investigation into the origins of the Russia probe. So there’s something of pattern with that fucktard that only started with the Mueller report.

Someone leaked Dutch closely-held intelligence which revealed they had a source close to Putin. Durham and Barr never made public the financial crimes they ended up investigating Trump for, and they went after George Soros based on evidence written by Russian intelligence agents, even after being told to stop by judges and prosecutors in the DOJ.

Perhaps the “Weaponization of the DOJ” committee being formed in the house should look into the Durham example of how Republicans express their hate for America.

billy backstay

Backstay, never bought a suit, never went to Vegas
..........Perhaps the “Weaponization of the DOJ” committee being formed in the house should look into the Durham example of how Republicans express their hate for America.

Yes they should but it will never happen as their sworn allegiance is only to squashing and owning the libs, and promoting Trump and others who wish to take over the government and make it effectively their oligarchy.

billy backstay

Backstay, never bought a suit, never went to Vegas

January 28, 2023​

Heather Cox Richardson

Two relatively small things happened this week that strike me as being important, and I am worried that they, and the larger story they tell, might get lost in the midst of this week’s terrible news. So ignore this at will, and I will put down a marker.

At a press conference on Thursday, Representatives Jimmy Gomez (D-CA), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Daniel Goldman (D-NY), Andy Kim (D-NJ), Joaquin Castro (D-TX), Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), Joe Neguse (D-CO), Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Colin Allred (D-TX), Mike Levin (D-CA), Josh Harder (D-CA), Raul Ruiz (D-CA), and Senator Rob Menendez (D-NJ) announced they have formed the Congressional Dads Caucus.

Ironically, the push to create the caucus came from the Republicans’ long fight over electing a House speaker, as Gomez and Castro, for example, were photographed taking care of their small children for days as they waited to vote. That illustration of men having to adjust to a rapidly changing work environment while caring for their kids “brought visibility to the role of working dads across the country, but it also shined a light on the double standard that exists,” Gomez said. "Why am I, a father, getting praised for doing what mothers do every single day, which is care for their children?"

He explained that caucus “is rooted in a simple idea: Dads need to do our part advancing policies that will make a difference in the lives of so many parents across the country. We’re fighting for a national paid family and medical leave program, affordable and high-quality childcare, and the expanded Child Tax Credit that cut child poverty by nearly half. This is how we set an equitable path forward for the next generation and build a brighter future for our children.”

The new Dads Caucus will work with an already existing caucus of mothers, represented on Thursday by Tlaib.

Two days before, on Tuesday, January 24, the Women’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor released its initial findings from the new National Database of Childcare Prices. The brief “shows that childcare expenses are untenable for families throughout the country and highlights the urgent need for greater federal investments.”

The findings note that higher childcare costs have a direct impact on maternal employment that continues even after children leave home, and that the U.S. spends significantly less than other high-wage countries on early childcare and education. We rank 35th out of 37 countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) made up of high-wage democracies, with the government spending only about 0.3% of gross domestic product (GDP) compared to the OECD average of 0.7%.

These two stories coming at almost the same time struck me as perhaps an important signal. The “Moms in the House” caucus formed in 2019 after a record number of women were elected to Congress, but in the midst of the Trump years they had little opportunity to shift public discussion. This moment, though, feels like a marker in a much larger pattern in the expansion of the role of the government in protecting individuals.

When the Framers wrote the U.S. Constitution, they had come around to the idea of a centralized government after the weak Articles of Confederation had almost caused the country to crash and burn, but many of them were still concerned that a strong state would crush individuals. So they amended the Constitution immediately with the Bill of Rights, ten amendments that restricted what the government could do. It could not force people to practice a certain religion, restrict what newspapers wrote or people said, stop people from congregating peacefully, and so on. And that was the opening gambit in the attempt to use the United States government to protect individuals.

But by the middle of the nineteenth century, it seemed clear that a government that did nothing but keep its hands to itself had almost failed. It had allowed a small minority to take over the country, threatening to crush individuals entirely by monopolizing the country’s wealth. So, under Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant, Americans expanded their understanding of what the government should do. Believing it must guarantee all men equal rights before the law and equal access to resources, they added to the Constitution the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments, all of which expanded, rather than restricted, government action.

The crisis of industrialization at the turn of the twentieth century made Americans expand the role of the government yet again. Just making sure that the government protected legal rights and access to resources clearly couldn’t protect individual rights in the United States when the owners of giant corporations had no limits on either their wealth or their treatment of workers. It seemed the government must rein in industrialists, regulating the ways in which they did business, to hold the economic playing field level. Protecting individuals now required an active government, not the small, inactive one the Framers imagined.

In the 1930s, Americans expanded the job of the government once again. Regulating business had not been enough to protect the American people from economic catastrophe, so to combat the Depression, Democrats under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt began to use the government to provide a basic social safety net.

Although the reality of these expansions has rarely lived up to expectations, the protection of equal rights, a level economic playing field, and a social safety net have become, for most of us, accepted roles for the federal government.

But all of those changes in the government’s role focused on men who were imagined to be the head of a household, responsible for the women and children in those households. That is, in all the stages of its expansion, the government rested on the expectation that society would continue to be patriarchal.

The successful pieces of Biden’s legislation have echoed that history, building on the pattern that FDR laid down.

But, in the second half of his Build Back Better plan—the “soft” infrastructure plan that Congress did not pass—Biden also suggested a major shift in our understanding of the role of government. He called for significant investment in childcare and eldercare, early education, training for caregivers, and so on. Investing in these areas puts children and caregivers, rather than male heads of households, at the center of the government’s responsibility.

Calls for the government to address issues of childcare reach back at least to World War II. But Congress, dominated by men, has usually seen childcare not as a societal issue so much as a women’s issue, and as such, has not seen it as an imperative national need. That congressional fathers are adding their voices to the mix suggests a shift in that perception and that another reworking of the role of the government might be underway.

This particular effort might well not result in anything in the short term—caucuses form at the start of every Congress, and many disappear without a trace—but that some of Congress’s men for the first time ever are organizing to fight for parental needs just as the Department of Labor says childcare costs are “untenable” strikes me as a conjunction worth noting.

Twitter avatar for @RepRashida
Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib @RepRashida
This week, I had the honor of joining my colleagues as a founding member of the Congressional Dads’ Caucus. As a founder of the Mama’s Caucus, I understand how important it is to support working families. The Dads Caucus will ensure we are advancing policies to do just that.

6:12 PM ∙ Jan 27, 2023



Steam Flyer

Sophisticated Yet Humble
Eastern NC
As Republican bullshit is shown... once again... to be just that, bullshit; President Biden had a quotable moment at his speech in Baltimore: "You can't have a strong modern economy with antiquated infrastructure."

billy backstay

Backstay, never bought a suit, never went to Vegas

January 30, 2023​

Heather Cox Richardson

The news today illustrates a dramatic difference between governing and garnering votes.

President Joe Biden was at the Baltimore and Potomac Tunnel in Baltimore, Maryland, today to celebrate the bipartisan infrastructure law, passed in November 2021, that is investing about $1.2 trillion in fixing our highways, bridges, internet access, and so on. In Maryland it will devote about $4 billion to fixing and expanding the 150-year-old Baltimore and Potomac railroad tunnel, which has become a bottleneck for the 9 million commuters who pass through it as they travel the vital link between Philadelphia and Washington.

The law is formally known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and Biden noted that fixing the tunnel is expected to create 20,000 jobs over the next ten years. He also announced that it, along with all the Amtrak developments on the Northeast Corridor, would be built by union labor.

Tomorrow, Biden will speak at the West Side Rail Yard in New York City to talk about how funding for the Hudson Tunnel Project from the bipartisan infrastructure law will improve reliability for the 200,000 passengers a day who travel through it on Amtrak and New Jersey Transit.

The passage of the measure in late 2021 took months of careful negotiations even as former president Trump—whose own inability to pass an infrastructure measure became a running joke—tried to scuttle the talks. Biden’s victory lap is not undeserved.

The administration today also called attention to the effects of its new border enforcement measures providing migrants from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela a legal path to obtain a two-year visa so long as they have a U.S. sponsor and a thorough background check. The new system will admit up to 30,000 migrants a month.

New data shows that the number of migrants from those four countries has dropped 97% since the program went into effect. Overall, migrant encounters at the border have dropped by half, although migration from Ecuador and Peru, which are growing unstable, has increased. The administration has asked Congress repeatedly to fix our outdated immigration system, but Republicans derailed the effort in the previous Congress when they objected to a path to citizenship for so-called dreamers: people brought to this country as children. Now almost twenty states led by Republicans say the administration’s new program violates the law, and they are suing to stop it.

In charge of the House, Republicans plan to hold hearings on what they call Biden’s border crisis. Today the White House called out “some elected officials” for “trying to block the Administration’s effective measures because they would rather keep immigration an issue to campaign on than one to solve. If those elected officials succeed,” the press office said, “their actions will lead to more illegal immigration."

Actually governing is a lot harder than talking about it. On December 30, House majority leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) promised that the House Republicans would “hit the ground running to do what we promised on the border, crime, energy, inflation, Life, taxpayer protection & more.” He outlined eleven bills the party would bring to the floor in the first two weeks of the new Congress. Half have indeed been voted on by now—the fifth week of Congress—but they were only for show. They will never pass the Senate, and no one is trying to negotiate to pass them. The other half aren’t on the calendar.

Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin noted today that the Republicans have turned to investigations, abortion, threatening the national debt, and trying to defund the Internal Revenue Service rather than dealing with the issues they insisted were vital in 2022: crime and inflation. She also noted that at the very time the Republicans were hyping those issues, both crime rates and inflation were actually falling.

More demonstrations for the extremist base appear to be coming. As Amy B. Wang noted today in the Washington Post, the Republican National Committee is urging lawmakers to “go on offense in the 2024 election cycle” on antiabortion measures, although since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022, voters have made it clear they want abortion rights protected.

Nonetheless, as party leaders have done repeatedly when voters reject their increasingly extremist stands, the RNC suggests that the party did poorly in 2022 not because their stand was too strong but because it was too weak. Candidates were not clear enough about their opposition to abortion. The RNC wants them to demonstrate their conviction by passing strict laws that outlaw abortion at six weeks, before many people know they’re pregnant.

House speaker Kevin McCarthy has, however, backed off on Republican suggestions that they will not agree to raise the debt ceiling without cuts to Social Security and Medicare. On Face the Nation yesterday, he said the party was committed to “strengthening” the programs. In fact, the only proposal on the table right now to strengthen the programs is from the far-right House Republican Study Committee, which calls for strengthening Social Security and Medicare by, among other things, raising the age at which people become eligible for them.

I’d love to hear McCarthy explain how that plan is not a cut in the programs.

Finally, today, former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro has applied for a six-month U.S. tourist visa. Bolsonaro entered the United States when he was still president, two days before his successor took office and a little more than a week before his supporters attacked the government and tried to reinstate him. That timing means he came to the U.S. on an A-1 visa restricted to heads of state, which had to be replaced as soon as he was no longer president.

Bolsonaro’s lawyer told Reuters reporter Daphne Psaledakis that Bolsonaro wants "to take some time off, clear his head, and enjoy being a tourist in the United States for a few months before deciding what his next step will be.” In fact, the right-wing leader has made it clear he is afraid of the many investigations underway in Brazil for fraud and now for inciting the attack on the government that might end up putting him behind bars.

Twitter avatar for @Fritschner
Aaron Fritschner @Fritschner
In December incoming House Republican Majority Leader Steve Scalise announced 11 bills the GOP majority would "bring to the House Floor in the first 2 weeks." Half haven't gotten votes yet, and none are on the schedule for the current week, which is Week 5 of the 118th Congress
Twitter avatar for @SteveScalise
Steve Scalise @SteveScalise
🚨 Sent a letter to my colleagues outlining bills the GOP Majority will bring to the House Floor in the first 2 weeks. We're ready to hit the ground running to do what we promised on the border, crime, energy, inflation, Life, taxpayer protection & more. https://t.co/fL82h0jjQH https://t.co/0FZi3Sp8Cz
5:50 PM ∙ Jan 30, 2023


"Actually governing is a lot harder than talking about it. On December 30, House majority leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) promised that the House Republicans would “hit the ground running to do what we promised on the border, crime, energy, inflation, Life, taxpayer protection & more.” He outlined eleven bills the party would bring to the floor in the first two weeks of the new Congress. Half have indeed been voted on by now—the fifth week of Congress—but they were only for show. They will never pass the Senate, and no one is trying to negotiate to pass them. The other half aren’t on the calendar."

Why are the Republicans wasting time on bills that will never pass the Senate, instead of taking care of the peoples business?
Last edited:


In fact, the only proposal on the table right now to strengthen the programs is from the far-right House Republican Study Committee, which calls for strengthening Social Security and Medicare by, among other things, raising the age at which people become eligible for them.
They call raising the retirement age "strengthening" ??? Fucking morons the GQP are.

billy backstay

Backstay, never bought a suit, never went to Vegas

January 31, 2023​

Heather Cox Richardson

House speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is having to grapple with the difference between the rhetoric that fires up the Republican base and the reality of governance. Since Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) became speaker in 2019, Republican lawmakers have been able to complain and demand without actually having to participate in legislation. Now, though, it is up to
McCarthy to bring the party’s rhetoric into the reality of laws, and so far it’s not going particularly well.

McCarthy won the votes to become speaker by promising the far-right members of the Republican conference a number of things, including that he would not agree to raising the debt ceiling without demanding cuts in federal spending. It was a plan that sounded good to those interested in cutting the government: it would essentially hold the government hostage until they got what they wanted.

But this argument mixed together two separate things: the debt ceiling, which must be lifted to enable the government to pay for money already appropriated, and the budget, which is a plan for spending money in the future. Raising the debt ceiling is about protecting the country’s financial health, and refusing to lift it would throw the country—and possibly the world—into economic chaos. Negotiating over the budget is…normal.

McCarthy is continuing to try to tumble these two things together, demanding cuts to federal spending before he will agree to raise the debt ceiling.

This is awkward for the Republicans for two reasons. First, about $7.8 trillion of the $31.4 trillion debt that now must be paid came from the Trump years, and much of it came from the 2017 Trump tax cuts on corporations and the wealthy. During the Trump years, Congress raised the debt ceiling three times.

The second reason the Republicans’ demands for cuts are awkward is that they will not actually say what cuts they want. Before the 2020 election, party leaders, including Florida senator Rick Scott, then chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee in charge of getting Republicans elected to the Senate, called for cuts to Social Security and Medicare. Those take up a big portion of the annual budget: Social Security alone takes about 21%. Throughout January, Republicans have echoed calls to cut the programs, only to face a backlash.

So they have now backed off on demanding those cuts. On January 20, Trump, who in 2021 pumped up the idea of using the debt ceiling to get their way, warned Republicans not to cut “a single penny” from Social Security and Medicare. On Sunday, McCarthy said that such cuts were “off the table” (although he also insisted that the Republicans simply want to “strengthen” the programs, and Republican proposals that include that language call for raising the age for eligibility, so who knows?).

For their part, President Joe Biden and the Democrats have said that they will not negotiate over the debt ceiling. It is vital to pay the nation’s debts—debts already incurred, many of them under Trump—and the security of that debt must not be questioned.

But they have made it clear they are happy to negotiate the budget, which is, as I say, a normal part of doing business.

McCarthy, in contrast, is caught between the rhetoric of the party for the past several years and the reality of the debt issue. He has to deal with the fact that a few of the farthest right members say they won’t lift the debt ceiling under any circumstances. He also has to appease a number of far-right Republicans who say they will not agree to raising the debt ceiling without negotiating a plan for significant cuts to federal spending going forward. But here’s the kicker: even if the Democrats were willing to let them hold the government hostage to get their way—something the Democrats utterly reject—with Social Security and Medicare apparently off the table, the Republicans cannot agree on any places to cut.

On Wednesday, Biden and McCarthy will meet in person. Yesterday, National Economic Council Director Brian Deese and Office of Management Budget Director Shalanda Young sent a memo to the Republicans pointing out that protecting the security of the national debt has always been a bipartisan commitment. This is actually not true, but the debt fights of 1866 and 1879 are not widely known, and in any case, their next point accurately reflects the outcome of both of those fights: “[T]he United States must never default on its financial obligations,” they said. “Raising the debt ceiling is not a negotiation; it is an obligation of this country and its leaders to avoid economic chaos.”
Deese and Young insisted that McCarthy “commit to the bedrock principle that the United States will never default on its financial obligations.”
They then turned to the budget issue, asking when McCarthy and the House Republicans would release a “detailed, comprehensive” budget. Biden’s will come out on March 9, and normally the two sides would negotiate over the different proposals. But the Republicans won’t say what they’re planning to do.

Deese and Young pressed McCarthy, writing that it is essential for the Republicans to tell the American people their plans so they can see how the Republicans are planning to reduce the deficit, “whether through Social Security cuts; cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Affordable Care Act (ACA) health coverage; and/or cuts to research, education, and public safety—as well as how much their Budget will add to the deficit with tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and large corporations,” which their first bill—to make cuts to the Internal Revenue Service—would have done.

McCarthy's empty response—on Twitter—made clear just what an impossible position he’s in, especially since he had to agree to a rules change in the House that would let a single member launch a challenge to his speakership. “Mr. President,” he wrote, “I received your staff’s memo. I’m not interested in political games. I’m coming to negotiate for the American people.”

Senate Republicans, who are in the minority in their chamber, have made it clear that this is McCarthy’s fight, and they are staying out of it.

At a Democratic National Committee fundraiser today, Biden mourned the loss of the mainstream Republicans of the past and lamented McCarthy’s willingness to cater to extremists for power. He called McCarthy “a decent man,” but noted that it was vital to know “what’s more important than having the job” and to stand firm on those issues.

“I don’t know what’s gone haywire here with this Republican Party,” he said. Looking forward to the 2024 election, he concluded, the Democrats need to be very clear about “what we stand for, what we did, and what we need to do more of, and what we’re unwilling to do under any circumstances.”

Twitter avatar for @SpeakerMcCarthy
Kevin McCarthy @SpeakerMcCarthy
Mr. President: I received your staff’s memo. I’m not interested in political games. I’m coming to negotiate for the American people.

4:01 PM ∙ Jan 31, 2023




Super Anarchist
They are planning the drama now, complete with heroes and villains. Biden is willing to lose some face in order to know how the third act plays out.

Popcorn! Should be a nail-biter. Hope it’s not a box office flop that drives the theater out of business. The team writing the script has a weak link.

To wit; the GOP is America’s greatest threat to national security. And social security.

billy backstay

Backstay, never bought a suit, never went to Vegas

(Bold emphasis mine. Rabid right wing MAGA'ts are fomenting violence, are we okay with this?????)​

February 2, 2023​

Heather Cox Richardson

Today the Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted along party lines to remove Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) from her seat on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. The Republicans voting to remove her justified their action by pointing to language she used that they say was antisemitic. She has apologized for that language.

Earlier, House speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) used his own discretion to remove Democratic California representatives Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from the House Select Committee on Intelligence.

While these removals are often portrayed simply as a quest for revenge after Democrats removed Representatives Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) from committees when they were in charge, there is a crucial difference between the cases. The Democrats removed Gosar and Greene—both members of the far-right group—after they threatened violence against their Democratic colleagues. Republicans removed Schiff and Swalwell over make-believe dangers and now have removed Omar allegedly over policy differences. At the same time, McCarthy reinstated Gosar and Greene to prime committee assignments.

The Republicans have accepted violence among Congress members.

Today’s vote is a window into a larger story. It appears the Republican Party has split, and the far-right wing is making a play to become what amounts to a third party. Its members demanded the removal of Schiff and Swalwell from the intelligence committee and Omar from foreign affairs: Schiff and Swalwell apparently because they have gone after former president Donald Trump, and Omar because she is Muslim and a woman of color.

Removing Schiff and Swalwell was relatively easy, since the speaker can determine the make-up of select committees himself. Removing Omar was dicier, since it required a vote of the House. Today, McCarthy gave the far right what they wanted, getting rid of Omar.

In order to justify it on grounds other than racism, though, he had to pretend the issue was antisemitic words. It’s a hard sell to convince people that the Republican Party cares much about antisemitism when it has embraced the openly antisemitic Ye, also known as Kanye West, and when Trump recently warned Jews that they must “get their act together…before it is too late.” Kevin McCarthy himself in November 2022 indulged in antisemitic tropes when he tweeted: “We cannot allow Soros, Steyer, and Bloomberg to BUY this election! Get out and vote Republican….”

McCarthy catered to far-right members in order to get the votes to become speaker; now he is giving those members what they want in order to keep them from ousting him and to get them on board for imperative legislation like a bill to raise the debt ceiling.

The power the far-right representatives are getting is making them a force distinct from the rest of the Republican Party. They demanded, and got, extraordinary representation on committees apart from the normal party apparatus, power over the Speaker and the introduction of bills, and now have normalized violent rhetoric within the party.

Their rise is a logical outcome of the history of the Republican Party. Back in the 1980s, those Republicans determined to get rid of government regulation of business and social programs did two things.

First, they insisted that any government regulation of business or provision of a basic social safety net was “socialism” because, they claimed, the tax dollars that such government action cost would come from those with money—who they implied would be white people—and thus would redistribute wealth from hardworking white men to those who benefited from such programs. This idea has nothing to do with the modern definition of socialism, which means government ownership of the means of production. Instead, it is a holdover from the Reconstruction years in the United States, when white supremacists insisted that Black voting would mean a redistribution of wealth as formerly enslaved people voted for lawmakers who promised to fix roads, and build schools and hospitals.

Second, Republicans in the 1980s made a deliberate decision to court voters with religion, racism, and sexism in order to hold onto power. Antitax crusader Grover Norquist brought business leaders, evangelicals, and social conservatives into a coalition to win elections in 1985. “Traditional Republican business groups can provide the resources,” he said, “but these groups can provide the votes.” Over the decades their focus on religion, race, and sex ramped up until it took on a power of its own, stronger than the pro-business ideology of those who fed it.

Now, a generation later, that rhetoric has led to its logical conclusion: the Republicans have created a group of voters and their representatives who are openly white supremacists and who believe that any attempt to use the government to hold the economic playing field level is socialism. They are overwhelmingly evangelicals. They back former president Trump or someone like him and are eager to break the power of the current government even if it means defaulting on our debt. They threaten violence.

With the Republican Party just barely in control of the House, that group now wields enough power that it divides the House into three groups: the Democrats, the Republicans who want to cut taxes and gut regulation, and the Republicans who want to destroy the “socialist” government, want to keep white people in charge, support Trump or someone similar, are fervently Christian, and openly court violence.

Today, the House voted to condemn socialism—another attempt to appease that far right—while Republicans then chided those Democrats who refused to vote in favor of that condemnation because they said they thought it was a setup to cut Social Security and Medicare as socialism. (They are not socialism.)

Also today, former president Trump “retruthed” the words of a person who warned that he and “80,000,000” were willing to fight for Trump and were “Locked and LOADED.” In the House, some of the far-right group are wearing AR-15 pins, but when Emine Yücel of Talking Points Memo asked Representative Anna Paulina Luna (R-FL) why she was wearing one, her office answered that it was “about sponsoring a gun bill and has nothing to do with whatever blueanon conspiracy theories are being floated on Capitol Hill,” a reference to the idea that Democrats-- rather than the Republicans like Greene who were QAnon adherents-- are embracing conspiracy theories. The members wearing the pins have not, so far, introduced any gun bills.

This is alarming, but it is not the first time an extremist minority in Congress has organized, determined to control the country. In 1879, for example, before the parties switched into their current arrangement, Democratic former Confederates banded together, demanded the leadership of key committees—which the exceedingly weak speaker gave them—and set out to make the Republican president, Rutherford B. Hayes, get rid of key Republican policies by refusing to fund the government until he caved.

With the support of House minority leader James A. Garfield, Hayes stood firm, recognizing that allowing a minority of the opposition party to dictate to the elected government by holding it hostage would undermine the system set up in the Constitution. The parties fought it out for months until, in the end, the American people turned against the Democrats, who backed down. In the next presidential election, which had been supposed to be a romp for the Democrats, voters put Garfield, the Republican who had stood against the former Confederates, into the White House.

Twitter avatar for @atrupar
Aaron Rupar @atrupar
hi @HouseGOP i found some anti-Semitism
5:41 PM ∙ Feb 2, 2023

Twitter avatar for @petestrzok
Pete Strzok @petestrzok
2 days after saying he still believes Putin more than the US Intel Community, the current Republican front runner for President reposts a message encouraging people to be “locked and LOADED” to “physically fight for him this time.” Normal signs of a well-functioning democracy.
2:34 PM ∙ Feb 1, 2023

Jane Mayer, “Ways and Means Panel’s Tax-Overhaul Proposal Brings ‘Family’ Strife to Conservative Coalition, Wall Street Journal, November 27, 1985, p. 52.
Last edited:

billy backstay

Backstay, never bought a suit, never went to Vegas

February 3, 2023​

Heather Cox Richardson

Last night, former vice president Mike Pence came out and said it: “I think the day could come when we could replace the New Deal with a better deal.”

Pence was talking about Social Security—a centerpiece of the New Deal—saying: “Literally give younger Americans the ability to take a portion of their Social Security withholdings and put that into a private savings account.”

Privatizing Social Security is his plan to address the growing national debt by cutting expenditures, at least in domestic spending. “It’s absolutely essential that we generate leadership in this country that will be straight with the American people, that will take us off this trajectory of massive debt that we’re piling on the backs of those grandchildren,” Pence said at the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors summit in Washington, D.C.

Another way to reduce the debt would be to raise taxes on corporations and the very wealthy, even to where they were before the massive tax cuts Republicans passed in 2017, but current-day Republicans oppose taxes, claiming they redistribute wealth from hardworking people to those who want a handout. They believe that cutting taxes to enable those at the top to accumulate wealth will enable them to invest their money in businesses, creating more jobs. Wealth will trickle down, and everyone will do better.

Republicans like Pence believe the federal government should stay out of economic affairs, letting individuals make their own decisions in free markets (although the concept of a “free market” has always been more theoretical than real). Any federal attempts to regulate business or provide a social safety net are “socialism,” they claim, although they have largely forgotten how that argument was established in the United States.

This argument is what gives us the story Kayode Crown reported yesterday for the Mississippi Free Press: thirty-eight of Mississippi’s rural hospitals, more than half of them, are in danger of collapsing because Governor Tate Reeves refuses to allow the state to accept an expansion of Medicaid. The hospitals are required to treat all patients who need care, but since many patients are uninsured, without the expansion of Medicaid the hospitals don’t get paid.

On Monday, Reeves warned Republican lawmakers not to “cave under the pressure of Democrats and their allies in the media who are pushing for the expansion of Obamacare, welfare, and socialized medicine.” “Instead, seek innovative free-market solutions that disrupt traditional health-care delivery models, increase competition, and lead to better health outcomes for Mississippians.” Last month, in a poll from Mississippi Today/Siena College, about 80% of Mississippi voters wanted Medicaid expansion.

This theory also says that the government should also stay out of the business of protecting civil rights, because state governments are the centerpiece of American democracy. That’s the idea behind yesterday’s decision by a panel of three judges of the right-wing Fifth Circuit. They ruled that a federal law prohibiting people who are under a domestic restraining order from owning a gun is unconstitutional.

In the 2022 New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen decision, the Supreme Court said that the government must prove that any gun regulation is “consistent with this Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation,” and because the Constitution’s Framers didn’t stop domestic abusers from possessing guns, we can’t either. As Ian Millhiser points out in Vox, it was not until 1871 that a state court determined that “a husband has no right” to beat his wife.

Slate’s legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern notes, “There is no real doubt that the 5th Circuit's decision is going to lead to more abusers murdering their wives and girlfriends. It will also increase mass shootings. Domestic abuse[rs] are vastly more likely to commit heinous acts of gun violence.” Millhiser says it is very likely the Supreme Court will take up the case.

Under the Republicans’ theory, the country has seen wealth move upward dramatically, hollowing out the middle class and leaving it vulnerable to leaders who have attracted voters by telling them that minorities and women who want “socialism” are to blame for their loss of power.

Today an audio file from November 5, 2020, just after the presidential election, was leaked that shows members of Trump’s campaign staff in Wisconsin acknowledging Trump’s defeat before Andrew Iverson, who led the Wisconsin team, said, “Here’s the deal: Comms is going to continue to fan the flame and get the word out about Democrats trying to steal this election. We’ll do whatever they need. Just be on standby if there’s any stunts we need to pull.”

Iverson now runs operations in the Midwest region for the Republican National Committee.

In contrast to the Republican theory, President Joe Biden and the Democrats have revived the theory embraced by members of both parties between 1933 and 1981. That theory says that the federal government has a role to play in the economy, regulating business, providing a basic social safety net, investing in infrastructure, and protecting civil rights. Rather than freeing capital for those at the top, Democrats want to invest in ordinary Americans who will, they believe, spend their paychecks, thus building the economy as they move money directly into the hands of their neighbors.

Today at a Democratic National Committee finance event in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Biden explained that “when we build from the bottom up and the middle out, poor folks get a shot, the middle class does well, and the wealthy still do very well.” We have to invest in ourselves again, he said. “How…can you be the most successful, powerful nation in the world and have third-rate infrastructure?... How can you attract business and commerce and keep things moving?”

“[W]e used to invest 2 percent of our G[ross] D[omestic] P[roduct] in research and development…. But about 25 years ago we stopped.” Investment dropped to 0.7 percent of GDP, he said, but now the CHIPS and Science Act will jump-start that research and development again. The administration is also bringing supply chains home and rebuilding foreign alliances. And Biden told the wealthiest people in the room today that they were paying an average of 3% in taxes and needed to pay their fair share. “I don’t want you to pay 90% again”—the top marginal income bracket in the Eisenhower years—but at least 15%, he said.

From the White House, Biden noted that the “strikingly good” new jobs report issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics this morning proved that his vision of society works. It showed an astonishing 517,000 new jobs added in January, the twenty-fifth straight month of job growth. Unemployment fell slightly to 3.4%, a low last seen in May 1969 (not a typo).

Between 1933 and 1981, Americans of both parties shared the idea of using the federal government to level the social, economic, and political playing fields. The current Republicans are rejecting that vision, reclaiming that of the business-oriented Republicans in the 1920s. Under Biden, the Democrats are trying to rebuild that shared vision, returning the parties to fights over the kinds and limits of government policies, rather than fights over whether they should exist at all.

Biden told his audience that “once every three, four, or five generations, there’s a fundamental shift in world politics and national politics” and that we are in such a shift now.

“What will happen [in] the next three or four years [is] going to determine what this country looks like for the next four or five decades…. We’re laying down a foundation, because the world is changing—dramatically changing. And we have a choice.”

Twitter avatar for @steve_vladeck
Steve Vladeck @steve_vladeck
The Fifth Circuit strikes again: Unanimous panel (Jones, Ho, Wilson) strikes down the federal statute prohibiting possession of firearms while subject to a domestic violence-related restraining order; holds it violates the Second Amendment under Bruen:

8:03 PM ∙ Feb 2, 2023


Twitter avatar for @mjs_DC
Mark Joseph Stern @mjs_DC

There is no real doubt that the 5th Circuit's decision is going to lead to more abusers murdering their wives and girlfriends. It will also increase mass shootings. Domestic abuse are vastly more likely to commit heinous acts of gun violence. slate.com/news-and-polit…
An abuser’s access to guns makes it five times more likely that a woman will be killed. More than half of intimate partner homicides are committed with guns. An American woman is shot and killed by an intimate partner every 14 hours. Domestic abusers are also disproportionately likely to commit mass shootings: Nearly a third of mass shooters have a history of domestic violence, while more than half of mass shootings with four or more victims are committed by domestic abusers.

8:23 PM ∙ Feb 2, 2023



Steam Flyer

Sophisticated Yet Humble
Eastern NC

February 3, 2023​

Heather Cox Richardson


“[W]e used to invest 2 percent of our G[ross] D[omestic] P[roduct] in research and development…. But about 25 years ago we stopped.” Investment dropped to 0.7 percent of GDP, he said, but now the CHIPS and Science Act will jump-start that research and development again. ... ...

Reinvestment has been dropping for years before that. It wavered upward during the Bush 1 and early Clinton years, IIRC. This country spent a shitload of money in the post-WW2 era, building schools and highways and sending veterans to college. We spent a lotta money shooting rockets into space and in the process learning a lot of advanced physics as well as geophysics (it's arguable that JUST the amount of money saved from better weather forecasting has paid for the investment in the space program); and of course the showboat accomplishment of sending Man to the Moon. That spun off advanced technology carrying us two generations forward.

Why invest more, we won! The whole paradigm of business became that of the slumlord- gouge every penny possible, reinvest nothing. Let shit fall apart as long as it's profitable, then abandon it.

This applies to everything from infrastructure to employees. Fuck it, and fuck them too. You own it, you can trash it.

Welcome to the USA of 2022. Can we turn it around? I dunno. I am really really glad to see the attempt being made.

February 3, 2023​

Heather Cox Richardson


Between 1933 and 1981, Americans of both parties shared the idea of using the federal government to level the social, economic, and political playing fields. The current Republicans are rejecting that vision, reclaiming that of the business-oriented Republicans in the 1920s. ... ...
This the same "freedom" espoused by Barry Goldwater, the freedom of business to poison it's workers if the owner finds it profitable to use toxic chemicals; the freedom to not hire blacks, the freedom to form unofficial associations to collude on keeping wages low, the freedom to bribe cops and judges.... the freedom for the wealthy to do whatever the fuck they want, and the rest of of us have the freedom to endure it until it's pitchfork & torch time.

billy backstay

Backstay, never bought a suit, never went to Vegas

February 4, 2023​

Heather Cox Richardson

Today, about 6 miles off the South Carolina coast, a pilot flying a U.S. Air Force F-22 fighter jet fired a missile to shoot down what appears to have been a Chinese spy balloon that has flown above the U.S. for the last four days. Such intelligence balloons are not unusual—there were at least three during the Trump administration and one before in the Biden administration, but they were not visible to the public—and U.S. defense officials are accustomed to dealing with them. They “took immediate steps to protect against the balloon’s collection of sensitive information, mitigating its intelligence value.”

Biden proposed shooting it down on Wednesday, but the equipment on it weighed more than 1,000 pounds and was the size of three buses, and bringing it down over the continent risked dropping debris on the people below the balloon’s path. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said, “After careful analysis, U.S. military commanders had determined downing the balloon while over land posed an undue risk to people across a wide area, due to the size and altitude of the balloon and its surveillance payload.”

Defense officials believe the U.S. Navy can recover the equipment from the shallow waters—the depth is only about 47 feet—where it fell.

It seems logical that assessing what information the balloon was trying to gather would tell our intelligence services a great deal about what the Chinese feel unable to gather in less visible ways. This afternoon, senior defense officials seemed to confirm that observation. CNN national security reporter Natasha Bertrand wrote that such officials told reporters: “The surveillance balloon's overflight of US territory was of intelligence value to us... we were able to study and scrutinize the balloon and its equipment, which has been valuable.”

Republicans have used the balloon fiasco to score political points, flooding media with statements about Chinese spying on the U.S. and complaints that no one would have tried such a thing under former president Trump. On Thursday, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) said, “Biden should shoot down the Chinese spy balloon immediately…. President Trump would have never tolerated this. President Trump would have never tolerated many things happening to America.” (In fact, Trump tolerated at least three similar events, and as a member of the Homeland Security Committee, Greene should know this.) Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) complained that “[t]he administration failed to protect our border and now has failed to protect our skies.”

It’s Saturday night, so I will be a bit snarky: they need to get a grip. A key aspect of any country’s national security is spying, and of course China and the U.S. are spying on each other. Shooting the balloon down as soon as it was spotted would have endangered Americans and made learning anything from it more difficult.

That being said, it’s not at all clear to me what this balloon was designed to accomplish politically. Secretary of State Antony Blinken canceled his planned visit to Beijing over it, giving the U.S. a reason to back out of a visit that certainly seemed likely to bolster President Xi Jinping’s government. Scholar of international relations Daniel Drezner notes in his Drezner’s World it appears to have been a screw-up at a level below that of President Xi. China has been trying to cool tensions with America, not heat them up.

That being said, the visible spy balloon predictably sparked Republican attacks on President Biden, so the incident has the potential to weaken the administration’s strong steps to counter the growing power of China.

Biden and Blinken have worked to build Indo-Pacific cooperation that balances the power of China in the region, reinforced U.S. support for Taiwan, established export controls on technology that have hamstrung the Chinese semiconductor industry, and enhanced security cooperation with South Korea and Japan. But the media attention to the balloon has offered Biden’s opponents an opportunity to say he is not countering China strongly enough.

Twitter avatar for @NatashaBertrand
Natasha Bertrand @NatashaBertrand
Senior defense official to reporters just now: "The surveillance balloon's overflight of US territory was of intelligence value to us... we were able to study and scrutinize the balloon and its equipment, which has been valuable."

8:59 PM ∙ Feb 4, 2023


Twitter avatar for @RichardHaass
Richard N. Haass @RichardHaass
Expect many now agree with this argument, as it would be ideal if @SecBlinken were heading to Beijing as planned with the balloon shootdown as backdrop. Hard to imagine a better moment to discuss Taiwan & China's help for Russia. Diplomacy & decisive action go hand in hand.
Twitter avatar for @RichardHaass
Richard N. Haass @RichardHaass
The more I think about it, the best response to the 🎈 would be to shoot it down & to go ahead with @SecBlinken visit. Strength and diplomacy are natural complements. China would then need to make the difficult decision of whether to welcome the secstate or rescind the invite.

9:47 PM ∙ Feb 4, 2023


Drezner’s World
Belated Balloon Thoughts
The hard-working staff here at Spoiler Alerts has been and is still on the road, which means that I missed both the start of the Chinese weather spy balloon kerfuffle and the end of it — for the balloon at least. Thankfully, it appears as though I also missed the last 48 hours of hyperbolic news cycles about it…
Read more
13 hours ago · 18 likes · 4 comments · Daniel W. Drezner


billy backstay

Backstay, never bought a suit, never went to Vegas

February 6, 2023​

Heather Cox Richardson

The Chinese spy balloon shot down off South Carolina on Saturday after spending four days in U.S. airspace will almost certainly make the history books but not because, by itself, it is a hugely significant factor in the changing relationship between the U.S. and China under President Joe Biden. The reason the balloon will be remembered in the future is that the Republican response to it has been so completely unrelated to reality, and has been so magnified by the media, that it has provided a window into the dysfunction of modern politics.

The facts are these: On Saturday, January 28, a Chinese airship entered U.S. airspace north of the Aleutian Islands, then crossed Alaska. It left U.S. airspace, then reentered over northern Idaho on Tuesday, January 31. On February 1 it was over Montana. On February 3 it was near St. Louis, Missouri. On Saturday, February 4, the pilot of an Air Force F-22 shot the airship down in shallow water off the coast of South Carolina, where the wreckage could be recovered.

The Trump administration had an inconsistent relationship with China. Trump attacked China in a trade war early in his presidency, placing tariffs on a range of products (which induced China to retaliate, prompting Trump to pump $28 billion into the U.S. farming sector to compensate for lost revenue). But by 2019, according to Trump’s national security advisor John Bolton, Trump “pleaded” with Chinese leader Xi Jinping to help him get reelected in 2020, and inked a deal for China to buy significant amounts of the farm products it had turned to other countries to provide after the tariffs (that was why Trump downplayed China’s role in hiding Covid in the early months of 2020). According to former representative Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), Trump also asked congressional leaders to “lay off” Xi, because Trump didn’t want to disappoint Xi.

In contrast, Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have worked to counter China by building Indo-Pacific cooperation, reinforced U.S. support for Taiwan, established export controls on technology that have hamstrung the Chinese semiconductor industry, worked to counter Chinese investment in Africa, and enhanced security cooperation with South Korea and Japan.

But the balloon sparked a frenzy from Republicans insisting that Biden had been weak on China or even was working for China: right-wing talk show host Mark Levin said Biden is “bought and paid for by the Communist Chinese government,” and former president Trump said that Biden “has surrendered American airspace to Communist China.” Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) said China was showing “that the United States is once-great superpower that’s hollowed out, it’s in decline.” South Carolina Republican representative Joe Wilson—the man who shouted “You lie” at President Obama—said that Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris should resign from office because of the balloon.

In fact, U.S. standing in the world has strengthened considerably since Biden took office, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which Trump tried to scuttle, is strong enough that Sweden and Finland want to join.

It also turns out that at least three similar balloons crossed into U.S. airspace while Trump was president. Today, General Glen D. VanHerck, who oversees the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, told reporters today that this weekend’s balloon was at least the fifth that had come into U.S. airspace, including at least three during Trump’s presidency, but that NORAD didn’t know about that until the intelligence community—under Biden—notified them.

As for the fact that Biden waited to shoot the thing down until it flew over the water, the administration says it did not want to take the risk of downing it over the American people. VanHerck estimated it weighed about 2,000 pounds, carried equipment the size of a regional jet, and was about 200 feet tall. As terrorism expert Malcolm Nance wrote on Twitter: “WHY let spy balloon in our space? 1) It was 18.5 miles up, almost in space. 2) it sends data link to PRC. We can intercept that & learn what China knows. We can jam it so they see nothing new. 3) The collection system is ours & can reconstruct it. They lose asset & we win spy game[.]” Indeed, U.S. officials say they blocked the instruments from gathering intelligence, and turned the tables to gather intelligence from the equipment itself.

You would think this balloon marks terrible U.S. weakness and is the most important thing to happen in years. But, in fact, the U.S. is stronger internationally than it has been in a while, and the balloon is just one more piece of a larger story about the changing relationship between China and the United States.

The breathless attention paid to the balloon starved a story that mattered far more in the long term: the economy under Biden has shown extraordinary job growth—another 517,000 jobs added in January—and the unemployment rate is at a low that has not been seen since 1969 (not a typo). Inflation is dropping. Today, Carly Wanna at Bloomberg noted that since the Inflation Reduction Act became law, more than 100,000 clean energy jobs have been created in the U.S. After months of reports that we are on the brink of a recession, today Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the chances of a recession are low. “You don’t have a recession when you have 500,000 jobs and the lowest unemployment rate in 50 years,” she said.

This economic news is not a blip; it is proof that Biden’s revival of the traditional understanding of how the economy works, shared by both parties before the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan, works.

Biden has rejected the trickle-down economics of the Republicans, which is based in the idea that moving capital upward will prompt investment in the economy and help everyone. In its place he has revived the older idea that investing in ordinary Americans and infrastructure creates widespread prosperity. His plan is a reversal of 40 years of economic policy, and we need to pay attention to it.

Biden has been crystal clear about the meaning behind his policies and has challenged House speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to lay out for the American people his own policies in a proposed annual budget. Instead, McCarthy is obfuscating, mixing together the debt ceiling, on which Biden refuses to negotiate because it is about funding obligations already incurred—in large part under Trump—and the budget, on which Biden has said he’s quite happy to negotiate.

McCarthy can’t produce a budget because his conference cannot agree on the cuts they insist are imperative. Instead, Republicans are threatening to refuse to lift the debt ceiling, although they lifted it three times under Trump. That refusal would tank the economy just before the 2024 election.

A poll conducted by the Washington Post and ABC News, written up today in the Washington Post, shows that 62% of Americans think Biden has not accomplished much in his two years in office. In fact, his administration ranks as one of the most consequential since the New Deal in the 1930s. Whether you love what he’s done or hate it, to think nothing has happened suggests a terrible disconnect between image and reality. Today at a press briefing, reporters peppered White House Director of the National Economic Council Brian Deese with questions about why that disconnect exists. Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin later tweeted, “Ummm. Heal thyself!”

Two other stories that are in the news today will likely also be remembered. Neo-Nazi leader Brandon Russell, 27, and Sarah Clendaniel, 34, were charged with plotting to bring down the electric power grid in Maryland, hoping to “destroy” Baltimore. In September, Ilana Krill and Bennett Clifford of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University warned that violent extremist white supremacists were focusing on attacking critical infrastructure “in the hopes that it will trigger a cataclysmic confrontation in American society and collapse the country from within.” And attacks on power stations have, indeed, been rising.

Finally, thousands are dead from the 7.8 magnitude earthquake and its strong aftershocks in Turkey and Syria last night. Biden has spoken to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey and pledged to support our NATO ally. U.S. teams will help search and rescue teams, as well as coordinate other assistance.

Twitter avatar for @AdamKinzinger
Adam Kinzinger #fella @AdamKinzinger
I was in a meeting where Donald Trump asked a group of us to lay off XI and China telecom ZTE because he promised XI, and he doesn’t want to disappoint him. Bolton wrote about this, I can confirm. I was shocked. https://t.co/VX54WinVYr
Twitter avatar for @RogerFisk
Roger Fisk @RogerFisk
@MonicaCrowley 1) according to John Bolton trump begged Xi for help in 2020. Tough to be strong when begging. https://t.co/mIhmynRgj7

11:05 PM ∙ Feb 5, 2023


Twitter avatar for @JRubinBlogger
Jennifer "Pro-privacy" Rubin @JRubinBlogger
WH press corps peppered @BrianDeeseNEC with the "disconnect" between the economy and voters' views. Ummm. Heal thyself! The neverending drum beat of recession might have something to do with it.Also with lack of serious coverage of ripple effect from infrast, CHIPs, etc

11:51 PM ∙ Feb 6, 2023


Twitter avatar for @jimsciutto
Jim Sciutto @jimsciutto
Notable: US officials say they were able to block the balloon from gathering intel during its overflight of the US, while the US military was able to turn the tables, so to speak, to gather intel on the balloon itself and its equipment.

9:04 PM ∙ Feb 4, 2023


Thomas Catenacci, “Republican demands Joe Biden, Kamala Harris resign after ‘catastrophic Chinese spy balloon spectacle,’ Fox News, February 4, 2023.

billy backstay

Backstay, never bought a suit, never went to Vegas
"McCarthy can’t produce a budget because his conference cannot agree on the cuts they insist are imperative. Instead, Republicans are threatening to refuse to lift the debt ceiling, although they lifted it three times under Trump. That refusal would tank the economy just before the 2024 election."

I would not put it past the GOP to intentionally tank the economy just before the 2024 election in order to win back the white house.

They care nothing for the country or the American people, only about the power they can amass and wield.
Last edited: