billy backstay

Backstay, never bought a suit, never went to Vegas

March 2, 2023​

Heather Cox Richardson

It’s commonly understood that Republican Rutherford B. Hayes won the electoral votes from three contested southern states in 1876 and thus took the presidency by promising to remove from the South the U.S. troops that had been protecting Black Americans there. Then, the story goes, he removed the troops in 1877 and ended Reconstruction.

But that isn’t what happened.

On March 2, 1877, at 3:50 in the morning, the House of Representatives finally settled the last question of presidential electors and decided the 1876 election in favor of the Republican, Rutherford B. Hayes, just two days before the new president was to be sworn in.

The election had been bitterly contested. Democratic candidate Samuel Tilden appeared to have won the popular vote by about 250,000 votes, but broken ballot boxes and terrorized Black voters in three southern states made it clear the count was suspect. A commission of fifteen lawmakers tried to judge which of the dueling slates of electors from those states were legitimate. In the end, the commission, dominated by Republicans, decided the true electors belonged to Hayes.

To make sure the southerners who were threatening civil war over the election did not follow through, leading industrialists and lawmakers made promises to southern leaders that a Republican president would look favorably on federal grants to southern railroads and would not fill government positions with Republicans in the South, giving control of patronage there to a Democrat.

But what did not happen in 1877, either before or after the inauguration, was the removal of troops from the South.

That legend came from a rewriting of the history of Reconstruction in 1890 by fourteen southern congressmen. In their book Why the Solid South? Or Reconstruction and Its Results, they argued that Black voting after the Civil War had allowed Black people to “dominate” white southerners and virtually bankrupt the region and that virtuous white southerners had pushed them from the ballot box and “redeemed” the South. Contemporaries had identified the end of Reconstruction as 1870, with the readmission of Georgia to the United States. But Why the Solid South identified the end of Reconstruction as the end of Republican rule in each state.

In 1906, former steel baron James Ford Rhodes gave a date to that process. In his famous seven-volume history of the United States, he said that in April 1877, Hayes had ended Reconstruction by returning all the southern states to “home rule.” In his era, that was a political term referring to the return of power in the southern states to Democrats, but over time that phrase got tangled up with what did happen in April 1877.

During the chaos after the election, President U.S. Grant had ordered troops to protect the Republican governors in the Louisiana and South Carolina statehouses. When he took office, Hayes told Republican governors in South Carolina and Louisiana that he could no longer let federal troops protect their possession of their statehouses when their Democratic rivals had won the popular vote.

Under orders from Hayes, the troops guarding those statehouses marched away from their posts around the statehouses and back to their home stations in April 1877. They did not leave the states, although a number of troops would be deployed from southern bases later that year both to fight wars against Indigenous Americans in the West and to put down the 1877 Great Railroad Strike. That mobilization cut even further the few troops in the region: in 1876, the Department of the South had only about 1,586 men including officers. Nonetheless, southerners fought bitter congressional battles to get the few remaining troops out of the South in 1878–1879, and they lost.

The troops did not leave the U.S. South in 1877 as part of a deal to end Reconstruction.

It matters that we misremember that history. Generations of Americans have accepted the racist southern lawmakers’ version of our past by honoring the date they claimed to have “redeemed” the South. The reality of Reconstruction was not one in which Black voters bankrupted the region by taking tax dollars from white taxpayers to fund roads and schools and white voters stepped in to save things; it was the story of an attempt to establish racial equality and the undermining of that attempt with the establishment of a one-party state that benefited a few white men at the expense of everyone else.

Certain of today’s Republican leaders are engaged in an equally dramatic reworking of our history.

When Florida governor Ron DeSantis last March signed the law commonly called the “Don’t Say Gay” law, he justified it by its title: the “Parental Rights in Education” law. It restricted the ability of schoolteachers to mention sexual orientation or gender identity through grade 3, and opponents noted that its vagueness would lead teachers to self-censor.

Under the guise of protecting children, DeSantis echoed authoritarians like Hungary’s Victor Orbán and Russia’s Vladimir Putin, who claim that democracy’s principle that all people are equal—including sexual minorities—proves that democracy is incompatible with traditional religious values. Promising to take away LGBTQ Americans’ rights offered a way to consolidate a following to undermine democracy.

DeSantis sought to shore up his position by mandating a whitewashed version of a mythic past. At his request, in March the Florida legislature approved a law banning public schools or private businesses from teaching people to feel guilty for historical events in which members of their race behaved poorly, the Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees (Stop WOKE) Act.

In July the Florida legislature passed a law mandating that the books in Florida’s public school cannot be pornographic and must be suited to “student needs”; a state media specialist would be responsible for approving classroom materials. An older law makes distributing obscene or pornographic materials to minors a felony that could lead to up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Unsure what books are acceptable and worried about penalties, school officials in at least two counties, Manatee and Duval, directed teachers to remove books from their classrooms or cover them until they can be reviewed.

In January, DeSantis set out to remake the New College of Florida, a public institution known for its progressive values and inclusion of LGBTQ students, into an activist Christian school. He replaced six of the college’s thirteen trustees with far-right allies and forced out the college president in favor of a political ally, giving him a salary of $699,000, more than double what his predecessor made.

On February 28, right-wing activist Christopher Rufo, the man behind the furor over Critical Race Theory and one of DeSantis’s appointees to the New School board, tweeted: “We will be shutting down low-performing, ideologically-captured academic departments and hiring new faculty. The student body will be recomposed over time: some current students will self-select out, others will graduate; we’ll recruit new students who are mission-aligned.”

Then, this Tuesday, the board voted to abolish diversity, equity and inclusion programs at the school. DeSantis has promised to defund all DEI programs at public colleges and universities in Florida.

The attempt to take over schools and reject the equality that lies at the foundation of liberal democracy is now moving toward the more general tenets of authoritarianism. This week, one Republican state senator proposed a bill that would require bloggers who write about DeSantis, his Cabinet officers, or members of the Florida legislature, to register with the state; another proposed outlawing the Democratic Party.

DeSantis and those like him are trying to falsify our history. They claim that the Founders established a nation based on traditional hierarchies, one in which traditional Christian rules were paramount. They insist that their increasingly draconian laws to privilege people like themselves are simply reestablishing our past values.

But that’s just wrong. Our Founders quite deliberately rejected traditional values and instead established a nation on the principle of equality. “We hold these truths to be self-evident,” they wrote, “that all men are created equal.” And when faced with the attempt of lawmakers in another era to reject that principle and make some men better than others, Abraham Lincoln called it out for what it was. “I should like to know,” he said, “if taking this old Declaration of Independence, which declares that all men are equal upon principle, and making exceptions to it, where will it stop?”

To accept DeSantis’s version of our history would be a perversion of our past and our principles.

But it is not unimaginable.

The troops did not leave the South in 1877.

[Photo: Matthew Brady, Rutherford B. Hayes taking the oath of office, March 4, 1877, Library of Congress, public domain.]

New York Times, March 2, 1877, p. 1.
New York Times, March 3, 1877, p. 1.
New York Times, March 12, 1877, p. 1.
Clarence C. Clendenen, “President Hayes’ ‘Withdrawal’ of the Troops: An Enduring Myth,” The South Carolina Historical Magazine 70 (October 1969): 240-250.
Twitter avatar for @prof_gabriele
Matt Gabriele @prof_gabriele
this is Soviet-era shit

7:02 PM ∙ Mar 1, 2023

billy backstay

Backstay, never bought a suit, never went to Vegas
"But that’s just wrong. Our Founders quite deliberately rejected traditional values and instead established a nation on the principle of equality. “We hold these truths to be self-evident,” they wrote, “that all men are created equal.” And when faced with the attempt of lawmakers in another era to reject that principle and make some men better than others, Abraham Lincoln called it out for what it was. “I should like to know,” he said, “if taking this old Declaration of Independence, which declares that all men are equal upon principle, and making exceptions to it, where will it stop?”


Steam Flyer

Sophisticated Yet Humble
Eastern NC

So, this is what Republicans think is supposed to replace universal public education?
A school that drives some students out, and selects who can come in.

Yeah, no


moderate, informed, ex-gunowner
near Seattle, Wa
It is reassuring, and has a grounding effect for me, to find this ugly phenomenon (meaning sweeping, systemic assaults on the rights of minorities) in other times. And I never grasped, until Heather, how clearly Lincoln saw the root problem of any acceptance of others being un-equal.

Good thread. I find it edifying.



So, this is what Republicans think is supposed to replace universal public education?
A school that drives some students out, and selects who can come in.

Yeah, no
They are looking to make this University into a bastion of right wing "christian" indoctrination, modeled after Hillsdale 🙄 It will be the model of what the RWNJ's think higher education should. Not just in Florida, but the nation.

billy backstay

Backstay, never bought a suit, never went to Vegas
They are looking to make this University into a bastion of right wing "christian" indoctrination, modeled after Hillsdale 🙄 It will be the model of what the RWNJ's think higher education should. Not just in Florida, but the nation.

Very glad our kids are grown. I can't imagine having to put them into private secular schools to avoid religious brainwash indoctrination!! :eek: :mad:

billy backstay

Backstay, never bought a suit, never went to Vegas

March 3, 2023​

Heather Cox Richardson

Today the Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee demonstrated that they will actively fight back against Republicans’ false narratives. House Republicans, led by Judiciary Committee chair Jim Jordan (R-OH), have insisted they had evidence of the “weaponization” of the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation against Republicans. Jordan has claimed to have “dozens and dozens of whistleblowers…talking about what is going on, the political nature at the Justice Department.”

These allegations that Republicans are victims of a “deep state” follow Trump’s insistence that the FBI’s investigation of the ties between his 2016 campaign and Russian operatives was “a witch hunt” led by Democrats. Jordan and other Republican members of Congress developed that same theme in their performances defending Trump during his first impeachment trial. Trump defenders continued to say on television and other media that they were victims of the FBI investigation of the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

But now, in charge of the House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, established under the Judiciary Committee, Jordan and the Republicans actually have to produce evidence of their allegations. So far, they have held one hearing. It was a fiasco as the Republicans’ witnesses, including Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), made rambling statements that rehashed old grievances without presenting any new evidence, and Democrats repeatedly accused Republicans of trying to use the powers of the government to advance political talking points.

Recently, Republicans have begun to release pieces of the private interviews they conducted with those claiming they could prove the FBI was persecuting Republicans. Rather than permit them to establish a false narrative, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and the top Democrat on the weaponization subcommittee, Stacey Plaskett (D-Virgin Islands), today released a deeply researched and footnoted 316-page report that shreds the Republicans’ story.

The report reveals the Republicans’ “dozens and dozens of whistleblowers” are, so far at least, three witnesses—whistleblower is actually a specific category and they do not meet that standard—who have left the FBI and have complained that the agency is biased against “conservatives.” Two of them lost their security clearances before they left, and while committee Republicans refused to show Democrats the men’s suspension notices, one revealed in his testimony that the notice arrived after he had improperly accessed documents from the FBI’s classified system. All three embrace a number of conspiracy theories. Under oath, they provided only right-wing accusations of bias without being able to attest to any first-hand knowledge of the things they alleged.

The witnesses did not come forward on their own; they were identified by former administrators in the Trump administration, including fervent Trump loyalists Kash Patel and Russell Vought. Patel provided money and legal services to two of the witnesses and found one of them a job at Vought’s right-wing think tank, the Center for Renewing America, after he left the FBI.

The witnesses were all fervent Trump supporters who were sympathetic to those involved in the January 6th attack. One of them claimed that the January 6th attack was a “set-up” and that it was “a larger #Democrat plan using their enforcement arm, the #FBI.” He described the FBI as “the Brown Shirt enforcers of the @DNC,” a reference to Nazi Storm Troopers. Another has repeatedly called for the FBI to be “defunded,” “dismantled,” “dissolved,” “aborted,” “abolished,” and “completely eliminated and eradicated from the federal government.”

In a section of the report titled “An Analysis of Witness Testimony Shows That Committee Republicans Are Working to Advance a Politically Motivated Messaging Campaign Unsupported by the Evidence,” Nadler and Plaskett show how the witness testimony directly rebutted the Republicans’ talking points. Under examination, the witnesses disproved that the Department of Justice was trying to pad its case numbers regarding domestic violent extremism, that it had diverted resources from child abuse cases to pursue January 6 offenders, and that the FBI had overreacted to threats of violence against school administrators and local political officials, all Republican talking points.

The Democrats provided extensive evidence to suggest that Patel was egging on the witnesses to help push Trump’s fight against the Justice Department, the FBI, and the Biden administration. Now, they said, it appears that he and his allies are trying to use the subcommittee in this same effort. The Democrats expressed “serious concerns” about the possible coordination between Patel and the Republican committee members.

They explained: Patel is currently a senior fellow at the Center for Renewing America (CRA), a MAGA think tank that pushed the House Republicans to establish the subcommittee. The CRA was founded by Christian nationalist Russell Vough—now working with the Republicans on their budget plan—and is funded by the Conservative Partnership institute (CPI), which is run by former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows and former senator Jim DeMint (R-SC).

Axios author Jonathan Swan described CPI as “a who’s-who of Trump’s former administration and the ‘America First’ movement,” “the hub of the hard right in Washington.” Their headquarters is where the right-wing extremist “Freedom Caucus” meets, and the notoriously stingy Trump authorized a $1 million donation to the CPI in 2021.

In short, the Democrats are suggesting that the House Republicans who established the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government are themselves trying to weaponize the government to advance the interests of Trump and the MAGA Republicans. Nadler and Plaskett quoted Jordan’s statement at the August 2022 Conservative Political Action Conference, when he promised that his investigation would “frame up the 2024 race when I hope and I think President Trump is going to run again and we need to make sure that he wins.”

The official Republican House Judiciary Twitter account responded vaguely: “Cherry-picked leaks. Partial transcripts. All to disparage brave whistleblowers. Democrats should be ashamed.”

But, just as they did with the Republicans’ reluctance to show the American people their budget plan, the Democrats are calling the Republicans’ bluff. “We urge Chairman Jordan to schedule the public testimony of these individuals without delay,” Nadler and Plaskett wrote. “The American public should be able to judge for themselves whether these witnesses or their allegations are remotely credible.”


https://oig.justice.gov/node/1100#:~:text=While%20the%20information%20in%20the,and%20with%20 sufficient%20 factual%20 prediction.
https://www.axios.com/2022 look/07/22/trump-2025-radical-plan-second-term
Twitter avatar for @JudiciaryGOP
House Judiciary GOP @JudiciaryGOP
Cherry-picked leaks. Partial transcripts. All to disparage brave whistleblowers. Democrats should be ashamed.
Twitter avatar for @lukebroadwater
Luke Broadwater☀️ @lukebroadwater
New: A 316-page report written by Democrats on the new 'Weaponization' committee details how Republicans' first three witnesses were paid by a top Trump ally and embraced Jan. 6 conspiracy theories See the document here: https://t.co/lSZCBegJlZ

2:09 AM ∙ Mar 3, 2023




moderate, informed, ex-gunowner
near Seattle, Wa
Hmmm. Thanks, HCR. Available transcripts from three evidence-free "whistleblowers" (not dozens and dozens).

Kash Patel groomed two of them. A super-Pac brought each to DC, and Democrats on the committee are doing a pretty good job of exposing the obvious. 316 pages.

Full List of Jim Jordan's 'Whistleblowers' Scrutinized in Bombshell Report​


billy backstay

Backstay, never bought a suit, never went to Vegas

March 5, 2023 (Sunday)​

Heather Cox Richardson

President Joe Biden spoke this afternoon in Selma, Alabama, to commemorate the 58th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when law enforcement officers tried to beat into silence Black Americans marching for their right to have a say in the government under which they lived. Standing at the Edmund Pettus Bridge, which had been named for a Confederate brigadier general, Grand Dragon of the Alabama Ku Klux Klan, and U.S. senator who stood against Black rights, Biden said: “On this bridge, blood was given to help ‘redeem the soul of America.’”

The story of March 7, 1965, commemorated today in Selma, is the story of Americans determined to bring to life the principle articulated in the Declaration of Independence that a government’s claim to authority comes from the consent of the governed. It is also a story of how hard local authorities, entrenched in power and backed by angry white voters, worked to make the hurdles of that process insurmountable.

In the 1960s, despite the fact Black Americans outnumbered white Americans among the 29,500 people who lived in Selma, Alabama, the city’s voting rolls were 99% white. So, in 1963, local Black organizers launched a voter registration drive.

It was hard going. White Selma residents had no intention of permitting their Black neighbors to have a say in their government. Indeed, white southerners in general were taking a stand against the equal right of Black Americans to vote. During the 1964 Freedom Summer voter registration drive in neighboring Mississippi, Ku Klux Klan members worked with local law enforcement officers to murder three voting rights organizers and dispose of their bodies.

To try to hold back the white supremacists, Congress passed the 1964 Civil Rights Act, designed in part to make it possible for Black Americans to register to vote. In Selma, a judge stopped voter registration meetings by prohibiting public gatherings of more than two people.

To call attention to the crisis in her city, voting rights activist Amelia Boynton traveled to Birmingham to invite the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to the city. King had become a household name after the 1963 March on Washington where he delivered the “I Have a Dream” speech, and his presence would bring national attention to Selma’s struggle.

King and other prominent Black leaders arrived in January 1965, and for seven weeks, Black residents made a new push to register to vote. County Sheriff James Clark arrested almost 2,000 of them on a variety of charges, including contempt of court and parading without a permit. A federal court ordered Clark not to interfere with orderly registration, so he forced Black applicants to stand in line for hours before taking a “literacy” test. Not a single person passed.

Then, on February 18, white police officers, including local police, sheriff’s deputies, and Alabama state troopers, beat and shot an unarmed man, 26-year-old Jimmie Lee Jackson, who was marching for voting rights at a demonstration in his hometown of Marion, Alabama, about 25 miles northwest of Selma. Jackson had run into a restaurant for shelter along with his mother when the police started rioting, but they chased him and shot him in the restaurant’s kitchen.

Jackson died eight days later, on February 26. Black leaders in Selma decided to defuse the community’s anger by planning a long march—54 miles—from Selma to the state capitol at Montgomery to draw attention to the murder and voter suppression.

On March 7, 1965, the marchers set out. As they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge, state troopers and other law enforcement officers met the unarmed marchers with billy clubs, bullwhips, and tear gas. They fractured the skull of young activist John Lewis and beat Amelia Boynton unconscious. A newspaper photograph of the 54-year-old Boynton, seemingly dead in the arms of another marcher, illustrated the depravity of those determined to stop Black voting.

Images of “Bloody Sunday” on the national news mesmerized the nation, and supporters began to converge on Selma. King, who had been in Atlanta when the marchers first set off, returned to the fray.

Two days later, the marchers set out again. Once again, the troopers and police met them at the end of the Edmund Pettus Bridge, but this time, King led the marchers in prayer and then took them back to Selma. That night, a white mob beat to death a Unitarian Universalist minister, James Reeb, who had come from Massachusetts to join the marchers.

On March 15, President Lyndon B. Johnson addressed a nationally televised joint session of Congress to ask for the passage of a national voting rights act. “Their cause must be our cause too,” he said. “[A]ll of us…must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice. And we shall overcome.” Two days later, he submitted to Congress proposed voting rights legislation.

The marchers were determined to complete their trip to Montgomery, and when Alabama’s governor, George Wallace, refused to protect them, President Johnson stepped in. When the marchers set off for a third time on March 21, 1,900 members of the nationalized Alabama National Guard, FBI agents, and federal marshals protected them. Covering about ten miles a day, they camped in the yards of well-wishers until they arrived at the Alabama state capitol on March 25. Their ranks had grown as they walked until they numbered about 25,000 people.

On the steps of the capitol, speaking under a Confederate flag, Dr. King said: “The end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience. And that will be a day not of the white man, not of the black man. That will be the day of man as man.”

That night, Viola Liuzzo, a 39-year-old mother of five who had arrived from Michigan to help after Bloody Sunday, was murdered by four Ku Klux Klan members who tailed her as she ferried demonstrators out of the city.

On August 6, Dr. King and Mrs. Boynton were guests of honor as President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Johnson recalled “the outrage of Selma” when he said, "This right to vote is the basic right without which all others are meaningless. It gives people, people as individuals, control over their own destinies."

The Voting Rights Act authorized federal supervision of voter registration in districts where African Americans were historically underrepresented. Johnson promised that the government would strike down “regulations, or laws, or tests to deny the right to vote.” He called the right to vote “the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men,” and pledged that “we will not delay, or we will not hesitate, or we will not turn aside until Americans of every race and color and origin in this country have the same right as all others to share in the process of democracy.”

But less than 50 years later, in 2013, the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act. The Shelby County v. Holder decision opened the door, once again, for voter suppression. Since then, states have made it harder to vote. In the wake of the 2020 election, in which voters handed control of the government to Democrats, Republican-dominated legislatures in at least 19 states passed 34 laws restricting access to voting. In July 2021, in the Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee decision, the Supreme Court ruled that election laws that disproportionately affected minority voters were not unconstitutional so long as they were not intended to be racially discriminatory.

When the Democrats took power in 2021, they vowed to strengthen voting rights. They immediately introduced the For the People Act, which expanded voting rights, limited the influence of money in politics, banned partisan gerrymandering, and created new ethics rules for federal officeholders. Republicans in the Senate blocked the measure with a filibuster. Democrats then introduced the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would have restored portions of the Voting Rights Act, and the Freedom to Vote Act, a lighter version of the For the People Act. Republicans blocked both of those acts, too.

And so, in 2023, the right to vote is increasingly precarious.

As Biden told marchers today, “The right to vote—the right to vote and to have your vote counted is the threshold of democracy and liberty. With it, anything is possible. Without it—without that right, nothing is possible. And this fundamental right remains under assault.”



billy backstay

Backstay, never bought a suit, never went to Vegas

March 6, 2023​

Heather Cox Richardson

The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) met in Washington, D.C., over the weekend, sparking speculation over the 2024 Republican presidential field. Hard-right figures like Donald Trump and his loyalists Mike Lindell, the MyPillow entrepreneur, and Kari Lake, who lost the 2022 race for Arizona governor, attended, along with House Judiciary Committee chair Jim Jordan (R-OH) and right-wing media figure Steve Bannon, but many of those testing the 2024 presidential waters gave it a miss.

CPAC started in 1974, and since then it has been a telltale for the direction the Republican Party is going. This year was no exception.

CPAC was smaller this year than in the past, and it showcased the Republican extremism that is far outside the mainstream of normal American politics. “Feels like MAGA country!” Donald Trump, Jr., told the crowd.

The headliner was former president Trump, twice impeached, deeply involved in an attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election, and embroiled in a range of criminal investigations. In his speech, Trump embraced his leadership of those hardening around a violent mentality based in grievance that echoes that of fascist movements.

“In 2016, I declared: I am your voice,” he said. “Today, I add: I am your warrior. I am your justice. And for those who have been wronged and betrayed: I am your retribution.”

He claimed that he and his followers are “engaged in an epic struggle to rescue our country from the people who hate it and want to absolutely destroy it…. We are going to finish what we started. We started something that was a miracle. We’re going to complete the mission, we’re going to see this battle through to ultimate victory. We’re going to make America great again.” After listing all the “villains and scoundrels” he and his followers would “demolish,” “drive out,” “cast out,” “throw off,” “beat,” “rout,” and “evict,” he continued: “We have no choice. This is the final battle.”

Other Republican hopefuls are waiting in the wings. Trump has, in fact, never won the popular vote, and his leadership has brought historic losses for the party, but his control over his voting base makes him the front-runner for the Republican nomination.

Other candidates seem to be hoping that criminal indictments will knock Trump out of the race and open space for them without making them take a stand against Trump and thus alienate his followers. It seems likely that if such an indictment were forthcoming, they would blame Democrats for Trump’s downfall and hope to ride to office with his voting bloc behind them, without having to embrace that voting blocs’ ideology.

That hope seems delusional, considering the increasing emphasis of the Trump Republicans and their imitators on violence. The Republicans are hitting on a constant refrain that crime is on the upswing in the U.S. Since crime does not, in fact, seem to be rising, it seems worth noting that an emphasis on crime justifies the use of state power to combat that crime and normalizes the idea of violence against “criminals,” a category the Republican Party is defining more and more broadly. This will be an extremely difficult genie to stuff back into a bottle, especially as leading Republican figures are increasingly talking in martial terms and referring to the U.S. Civil War.

That emphasis on violence corresponds with something else on display at this year’s CPAC: how completely the Republican Party now depends on a false narrative constructed out of lies.

CPAC fact checkers had their work cut out for them. Linda Qiu of the New York Times found Trump repeated a number of things previously identified as incorrect as well as adding some new ones. Politifact fact checked other speakers and found they, too, continued to develop the idea of a country run by those who hate it and are eager to undermine it. Various speakers said the Department of Justice is calling parents worried about their kids’ educations “terrorists” (false), fentanyl will kill you if any of it touches your skin, thus putting us all at deadly risk (false), cartels have “operational control” of the U.S.-Mexico border (false), and Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky has said he wants America’s “sons and daughters to go die in Ukraine” (again, false).

Right-wing media amplifies this narrative. Depositions in the Dominion Voting Systems defamation lawsuit against the Fox News Corporation made it very clear that both Fox News executives and hosts work closely with Republican operatives to spread a Republican narrative, even when it is based on lies—in that case, in the lie that Trump won the election, which they privately agreed was ridiculous. So, when House speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) gave to FNC personality Tucker Carlson exclusive access to 44,000 hours of video from the footage from the Capitol on January 6, 2021, he indicated the Republicans will continue to try to garner support with a false narrative.

Carlson’s coverage of the videos started tonight, with him depicting the rioters as “sightseers” and claiming that other media outlets have lied about the violence on January 6. In reality, Carlson simply didn’t show the many hours of violent footage: more than 1,000 people have been arrested on charges relating to their actions surrounding January 6, more than half have pleaded guilty, and around one third of those charged were charged with assaulting, resisting, or impeding police officers.

McCarthy’s desperation to maintain the party’s narrative shows in his unilateral decision to give Carlson exclusive access to that video. A wide range of media outlets are clamoring for equal access to the footage while congressional Democrats are demanding to know on what authority McCarthy gave Carlson that access. The House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol had arranged to transfer the films to the National Archives, but when the Republicans rewrote the rules in January, they instead transferred the video to the House Administration Committee.

McCarthy did not consult the committee when he gave access to the films to Carlson. Nor did he consult House minority leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), who has noted that releasing the films without consultation with the Capitol Police is a security risk. Instead, McCarthy apparently coordinated with Representative Barry Loudermilk (R-GA), chair of the Subcommittee on Oversight. Loudermilk led a tour of the Capitol complex on January 5, 2021.

Representative Norma J. Torres (D-CA), ranking member of the Oversight Subcommittee, told Justin Papp of Roll Call that McCarthy “totally went around, not just the subcommittee, but the entire committee…. I hope Ethics will have something to say about this. I think it needs to be investigated on all different levels.” In contrast, House Administration Committee chair Bryan Steil (R-WI) appeared unconcerned with the end run around the responsible committee, saying that “the key is that we’re balancing the transparency that’s needed for the American people with the security interests of the House.”

Republicans are planning to take this disinformation campaign across the nation. Despite their insistence that they want to slash government spending, Republican leaders are in fact urging their colleagues to engage in “field hearings” that will take their “message” straight to voters at a time when they are not managing to accomplish much of anything at all in Washington. Jordan’s Judiciary Committee has requested a travel budget of $262,000, more than 30 times what it spent on travel last year and 3 times what it spent before the pandemic, and it is not just the Judiciary Committee that is hitting the road.

As Annie Karni and Catie Edmondson of the New York Times noted today, this also means that they speak at the plants of Republican donors, thus giving them free advertising. Congressional Democrats say they received almost no notice of these trips.

News broke today that an Israeli tech firm has uncovered a vast network of as many as hundreds of thousands of fake Twitter accounts designed to promote Trump and his vision, creating the illusion that he is more popular than he is. The analysts at the firm, Cyabra, believe the system was created within the U.S. “One account will say, ‘Biden is trying to take our guns; Trump was the best,’ and another will say, ‘Jan. 6 was a lie and Trump was innocent,’” said the engineer who discovered the network, Jules Gross. “Those voices are not people. For the sake of democracy I want people to know this is happening.”

Republicans have advanced an increasingly false political vision—what theorists call a “virtual political reality”—since the 1980s, and now their base has hardened into true believers who claim to be willing to fight for their vision. But in the years since Trump took office, previously uninterested Americans have seen what it means when those who believe in that vision take power.

Those who believe in equality before the law are standing up for that principle. Tonight, for example, social media is flooded with video clips refuting Carlson’s narrative point by point, suggesting that McCarthy’s decision to help him shore up the Republican narrative might only have strengthened its opponents.



billy backstay

Backstay, never bought a suit, never went to Vegas

March 7, 2023​

Heather Cox Richardson

In a New York Times op-ed today, President Joe Biden offered the opening salvo in his battle with the Republicans over budget measures. He outlined his promise to make the Medicare trust solvent beyond 2050 without cutting benefits. Indeed, he says, his plan will make the program deliver better value on the money Americans invest in it.

Biden noted that both he and former president Barack Obama signed into law the biggest health reforms since the creation of Medicare in 1965. In 2010, Obama established the Affordable Care Act, more popularly known as Obamacare, extending medical coverage to many for whom it was out of reach. That law significantly slowed the growth of healthcare spending.

In 2022, Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act, permitting Medicare officials to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies for lower drug prices and capping the costs of drugs for seniors. This measure is projected to reduce the deficit by $159 billion.

Biden proposes to build on those two measures, increasing the scope of Medicare’s negotiations over drug prices, a process he claims would yield $200 billion in savings that he would put directly into Medicare’s trust fund.

He also proposes to raise the Medicare tax rate on earned and unearned income above $400,000 from its current rate of 3.8% to 5%. That money, too, would go into Medicare’s trust fund. “When Medicare was passed, the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans didn’t have more than five times the wealth of the bottom 50 percent combined,” Biden commented, “and it only makes sense that some adjustments be made to reflect that reality today. Let’s ask them to pay their fair share so that the millions of workers who helped them build that wealth can retire with dignity and the Medicare they paid into.”

Biden wrote that his budget would protect Medicare for more than another generation, beyond 2050. In contrast, he pointed out, MAGA Republicans want to repeal the Inflation Reduction Act, getting rid of drug negotiations and price caps.

Biden promised that this week he will release his “full budget vision to invest in America, lower costs, grow the economy and not raise taxes on anyone making under $400,000. I urge my Republican friends in Congress to do the same—and show the American people what they value.”

The circus at the Conservative Political Action Conference and the outrage when House speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) gave exclusive access to 44,000 hours of videos from the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, have taken oxygen away from what amounts to a crisis in the Republican Party.

Republican leadership has vowed to cut the U.S. budget significantly but has also said publicly that it would not touch Social Security or Medicare. (However, former vice president Mike Pence promptly negated that promise when he said, "While I respect the speaker's commitment to take Social Security and Medicare off the table for the debt ceiling negotiations, we've got to put them on the table in the long term.”) Few Republicans will agree to cuts in the defense budget, either.

So McCarthy is in the impossible position of delivering the budget cuts his conference demands without actually having the room to cut in most of the budget. It’s a circle he is unlikely to be able to square.

Biden seems to be pushing the Republicans to release a budget plan not only to illustrate to the American people that for all their grandstanding they don’t have one, but also because he would like to return to a political norm in which parties actually explain how they would address issues, and then let voters choose which approach they prefer. It’s an old model and one the Republicans, who since 1980 have for the most part simply complained about the government rather than offering positive solutions, have no interest in adopting. Worse for them, polls show that the solutions Democrats want are popular, while their own insistence on privatizing everything is not.

Going forward, I suspect we’ll see a lot of distractions rather than an actual budget plan from the Republicans.

While they try to fudge the budget issue, the Republicans are still vowing to refuse to lift the debt ceiling, which is separate from the budget. The debt ceiling is a holdover from the World War I era, when Congress stopped debating which financial instruments the Treasury should use and instead just set an upper limit on borrowing. Raising the debt ceiling does not create new spending; it simply enables the government to pay for expenses already incurred. If it is not lifted, the U.S. Treasury will default. The U.S. has hit the current limit of $31.4 trillion, and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is using extraordinary measures to pay bills.

Republicans are eager to pin the growing debt on Biden and the Democrats, but as Jim Tankersley noted in the New York Times yesterday, “Republicans bear at least equal blame as Democrats for the biggest drivers of federal debt growth that passed Congress over the last two presidential administrations.” Since early 2017—the start of Trump’s administration—three fifths of the ballooning new debt was signed into law by Trump, and nearly 75% of it came from bills approved by a majority of Republicans in at least one chamber of Congress. In laws passed on strict party-line votes, Republicans added slightly more debt than Democrats did. Notably, the Republicans’ tax cuts for the wealthy and for corporations under Trump cost at least $2 trillion over time.

Today the Senate Subcommittee on Economic Policy, which sits under the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee and is chaired by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), heard from economist Mark Zandi of Moody’s Analytics. Zandi warned that a U.S. default would “be a catastrophic blow to the already fragile economy.”

As Chelsey Cox of CNBC reported, Zandi explained that “[g]lobal financial markets and the economy would be upended, and even if resolved quickly, Americans would likely pay for this default for generations, as global investors would rightly believe that the federal government’s finances have been politicized and that a time may come when they would not be paid what they are owed when owed it.” Zaidi also warned that, considering how much of the budget is now off-limits, the cuts Republicans promise will be so extreme they will prompt a recession that will cost as many as 2.6 million jobs.

The Republican Party is in its current chaos in part because it has been boxed in by the former president. Trump’s base has forced party leaders to take impossible extremists stands like, for example, a showdown over the debt ceiling. New materials released tonight in the Dominion Voting Systems defamation lawsuit against the Fox News Network confirm that Fox News Channel executives and hosts did not believe that Trump won the election in 2020, although they continued to push that lie on their channel to hold Trump viewers.

But tonight’s material went further, suggesting that some of the hosts who were most vocal in promoting Trump were less fond of him in private. On January 4, 2021, host Tucker Carlson tweeted to someone: We are very, very close to being able to ignore Trump most nights. I truly can’t wait…. I hate him passionately.”

Speaking of Trump’s presidency, Tucker wrote: “We’re all pretending we’ve got a lot to show for it, because admitting what a disaster it’s been is too tough to digest. But come on. There really isn’t an upside to Trump.”


billy backstay

Backstay, never bought a suit, never went to Vegas

March 8, 2023​

Heather Cox Richardson

Andrew Restuccia, Richard Rubin, and Stephanie Armour of the Wall Street Journal today published a preview of President Joe Biden’s budget, due to be released tomorrow. Their article’s beginning sent an important message.

Biden’s budget plan, they wrote, will “save hundreds of billions of dollars by seeking to lower drug prices, raising some business taxes, cracking down on fraud and cutting spending he sees as wasteful, according to White House officials.” Those officials said that, over the next ten years, the plan would cut deficits by close to $3 trillion.

Reflecting the needs of Ukraine to fight off the 2022 Russian invasion, as well as tensions with China, Biden will call for a larger defense budget. As he outlined yesterday, part of the budget plan will fund the Medicare trust fund for at least another 25 years, in part by increasing tax rates on people earning more than $400,000 a year.

“That is not going to happen. Obviously he knows that,” Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) told the Wall Street Journal reporters. “Republicans are not going to sign up for raising taxes.”

Without a budget plan of their own to offer, House Republicans appear to be trying to steal the president’s thunder. They told Tony Romm of the Washington Post that they are getting ready for the House Ways and Means Committee to begin consideration tomorrow of a bill to prioritize the national debt in preparation for a national default. House Republicans continue to insist they will not vote to raise the debt ceiling to pay for expenses already incurred—many of them under Trump—thus forcing the U.S. into default for the first time in our history.

They are suggesting they could rank the debts in order of importance, but as Brian Riedl, an economist at the Manhattan Institute, told Romm, the computer systems were written with the assumption the country would, in fact, pay its debts, and they do not have programs that would let them prioritize payments to one group or another.

In any case, the White House has refused to negotiate over paying the nation’s bills. It remains eager to discuss the budget with Republicans and to negotiate over it—which is how the process is supposed to proceed—but insists the Republicans cannot hold the nation hostage by threatening a default that would spark an international financial crisis and destroy the American economy.

Indeed, the willingness of the Republican Party to default on the country’s debt shows how thoroughly radicalized it has become. Even the Republican leaders who do not embrace the racism, sexism, religiosity, nihilism, and authoritarianism of the hard-core MAGA Republicans appear to believe they cannot win an election without the votes of those people. And so the extremists now own the party.

They continue to support former president Trump, who at the Conservative Political Action Conference last weekend promised “those who have been wronged and betrayed: I am your retribution.” The party is now one of grievance and revenge, feeding on their false conviction that Trump won the 2020 election.

The Fox News Channel was key in feeding that Big Lie, of course, and filings from the Dominion Voting Systems defamation lawsuit against the Fox News Network have revealed that Fox executives and hosts alike knew it was a lie. They continued to spread it because they didn’t want to lose their base.

On Monday, Fox News Channel personality Tucker Carlson, who has found himself badly exposed by the Dominion filings, threw himself back into the Trump camp. He showed a false version of the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, suggesting it was a mostly peaceful tourist visit rather than the deadly riot it actually was. Carlson’s false narrative was possible because House speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) gave Carlson exclusive access to more than 40,000 hours of video taken in the Capitol on that fateful January 6, illustrating that there is no daylight between the lies of the Fox News Channel and the House Republican leadership.

Outrage over that transaction has sparked a backlash. Former officer of the Metropolitan Police Michael Fanone, who was badly injured defending the Capitol on January 6, published an op-ed at CNN saying he knew for certain that Carlson’s version of that day was a lie. “I was there. I saw it. I lived it,” Fanone wrote. “I fought alongside my brother and sister officers to defend the Capitol. We have the scars and injuries to prove it.”

Former representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) tweeted that if the House Republicans want new January 6th hearings, “bring it on. Let’s replay every witness & all the evidence from last year. But this time, those members who sought pardons and/or hid from subpoenas should sit on the dais so they can be confronted on live TV with the unassailable evidence.”

Senate Republicans also spoke out against Carlson’s lies. Minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) aligned himself with Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger, who called Carlson’s piece “offensive.” McConnell said: “It was a mistake, in my view, for Fox News to depict this in a way that’s completely at variance with what our chief law enforcement official here at the Capitol thinks.”

Democrats, along with the White House, also condemned Carlson’s video. White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said the White House supported the Capitol Police and lawmakers from both parties who condemned “this false depiction of the unprecedented, violent attack on our Constitution and the rule of law—which cost police officers their lives.” Bates went on: “We also agree with what Fox News’s own attorneys and executives have now repeatedly stressed in multiple courts of law: That Tucker Carlson is not credible.”

But McCarthy says he does not regret giving Carlson access to the tapes, and Carlson indicated that anyone who objected to the false narrative he put forward on Monday had revealed themselves as being allied against the Republican base. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and House Oversight Committee chair James Comer (R-KY) are organizing a visit for members of Congress to visit the jail where defendants charged with crimes relating to the January 6th riot are behind held. In the past, Greene called those defendants “political prisoners of war.”

Today the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released the 2023 Annual Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community. It warned that transnational “Racially or Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremists” (RMVEs) continue to pose a threat more lethal to U.S. persons and interests than do Islamist terrorists.

RMVEs are “largely a decentralized movement of adherents to an ideology that espouses the use of violence to advance white supremacy, neo-Nazism, and other exclusionary cultural-nationalist beliefs. These actors increasingly seek to sow social divisions, support fascist-style governments, and attack government institutions,” the report said. They “capitalize on societal and political hyperpolarization to…mainstream their narratives and conspiracy theories into the public discourse.” They are recruiting “military members” to “help them organize cells for attacks against minorities or institutions that oppose their ideology.”

Finally, John Bresnahan of Punchbowl News reported that 81-year-old Senator Mitch McConnell fell at an event at the Waldorf Astoria in Washington, D.C., tonight and has been hospitalized.

Twitter avatar for @Liz_Cheney
Liz Cheney @Liz_Cheney
If @HouseGOP wants new Jan 6 hearings, bring it on. Let’s replay every witness & all the evidence from last year. But this time, those members who sought pardons and/or hid from subpoenas should sit on the dais so they can be confronted on live TV with the unassailable evidence.

5:51 PM ∙ Mar 8, 2023


Twitter avatar for @bresreports
John Bresnahan @bresreports
NEWS: @LeaderMcConnell has been hospitalized following a fall at a DC hotel. Per a McConnell spokesman: “This evening, Leader McConnell tripped at a local hotel during a private dinner. He has been admitted to the hospital where he is receiving treatment.”

4:40 AM ∙ Mar 9, 2023



billy backstay

Backstay, never bought a suit, never went to Vegas

March 9, 2023​

Heather Cox Richardson

“Show me your budget,” President Joe Biden is fond of saying, “[and] I’ll tell you what you value.” Today, Biden introduced his 2024 budget at the Finishing Trades Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Biden’s 182-page, $6.9 trillion budget plan advances a vision of the United States based on the idea that the government should invest in workers, families, and infrastructure to increase the purchasing power of those on the “demand side” of the economy. It offers a stark contrast to the theory of the Republicans since the 1980s, that the government should cut taxes and slash government spending to free up capital for those at the top of the economy—on the “supply side”—with the idea they will use that money to invest in new business that will then hire more workers.

So-called supply-side economics was championed as a plan that would enable everyone, from workers to financiers, to thrive together as the economy boomed, but it never produced the kind of growth its promoters promised. Instead, when combined with dramatically increased defense spending, it exploded deficits and added dramatically to the national debt.

At the same time, wealth moved upward dramatically. A 2020 Rand Corporation study found that from 1975 to 2018, about $50 trillion moved from the bottom 90% of Americans to the top 1%. The Biden administration has set out to address this inequity by reimposing the rules that used to prevent corporations and the wealthiest Americans from gaming the system, and by making it easier for working men and women to make ends meet.

So far, Biden’s policies have created record numbers of jobs and kept unemployment numbers low, and today’s budget builds on those policies. Director of the Office of Management and Budget Shalanda Young told reporters that the budget plan was based on four values: “lowering costs for families, protecting and strengthening Social Security and Medicare, investing in America, and reducing the deficit by ensuring that the wealthiest in this country and big corporations begin to pay their fair share, and cutting wasteful spending on Big Pharma, Big Oil, and other special interests.” And, she added, “It does all of that while ensuring that no one earning less than $400,000 per year will pay a penny more in new taxes.”

Biden has called for rolling back Trump’s 2017 corporate tax cut, bringing the corporate rate up from 21% to 28% (it was 35% before the 2017 cuts). Biden proposed to raise the tax on capital gains for people earning at least $1 million a year from 20% to 39.6%. He wants a 25% minimum income tax rate for households worth at least $100 million, that is, the wealthiest 0.01% of taxpayers, who currently pay a rate of 8%. The plan calls for reversing the Trump tax for those making more than $400,000 a year, putting the top income tax rate to 39% from 37%. Other increases are all in this same vein: increasing revenue from the wealthiest Americans.

Biden’s budget document is not just about funding the government; it is a signal of the principles he might carry into the 2024 presidential contest. It offers Biden’s own blueprint for improving the lives of children, their caregivers, and other ordinary Americans, then undercuts Republican complaints about such investments by emphasizing that Biden’s plan—unlike anything the Republicans have offered—will cut the deficit over the next decade.

House speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) promptly tweeted that Biden’s budget is “completely unserious. He proposes trillions in new taxes that you and your family will pay directly or through higher costs. Mr. President: Washington has a spending problem, NOT a revenue problem.”

But McCarthy and the Republicans have not been able to agree on any of the cuts they claim they want to make, and so have not released a budget of their own. Biden has repeatedly asked them for one. He said today: “I want to make it clear. I'm ready to meet with the Speaker anytime—tomorrow, if he has his budget. Lay it down. Tell me what you want to do. I'll show you what I want to do. See what we can agree on. What we don’t agree on, let’s see what we—we vote on.”

Instead of offering a budget plan, Republicans appear to be trying desperately to reassert control over the national political narrative, shoring up the virtual political reality that has given them such power even as it continues to take hits.

A number of reporters, including Nicholas Riccardi and David Bauder of the Associated Press and Nicholas Confessore and Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times, are using documents from the Dominion Voting Systems defamation suit against the Fox News Network to show how both Trump and then–Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) appealed directly to Fox News founder Rupert Murdoch for political support on the Fox News Channel (FNC). Murdoch passed the requests on to FNC executives, and FNC hosts promptly began to do as they were asked.

This pipeline from the Republican Party to the FNC included support for Trump’s tax cuts (“Once they pass this bill we must tell our viewers again and again what they will get,” Murdoch wrote), private sharing of Biden’s 2020 ads with Trump’s campaign, and attacks on Biden. (“Just made sure Fox banging on about these issues,” Murdoch advised. “If the audience talks the theme will spread.”) That support included pumping up Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) in his own race (“Could Sean say something supportive? We can’t lose the Senate if at all possible,” Murdoch wrote).

But by 2020 they had created an audience that depended on that narrative, and when they threatened to abandon FNC if it told the truth that Biden won the 2020 election, FNC hosts pushed the lie that Trump won out of fear they would lose their viewers.

The ecosystem that established a virtual political reality is now increasingly under assault.

Today, Bryon M. Large, presiding disciplinary judge of the Colorado Supreme Court, publicly censured Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis for misconduct after she “repeatedly made misrepresentations on national television and on Twitter, undermining the American public’s confidence in the 2020 presidential election.”

Ellis agreed that she had “made…misrepresentations while serving as counsel for the Trump campaign and personal counsel to President Trump.” Top among them was her insistence that the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent, including her statements that “we know the election was stolen from President Trump and we can prove that,” “the election was stolen and Trump won by a landslide,” and so on.

In Congress, Republicans are holding hearings designed to shore up their narrative, but they are not delivering the smooth sound bites the party needs. The Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, chaired by Jim Jordan (R-OH), held another hearing today, this one focused on the idea that the government pressured Twitter to suppress stories about Hunter Biden’s laptop.

But Stacey Plaskett (D-Virgin Islands), the ranking Democratic member of the committee, immediately noted that the Republicans would be using material for the hearing that they had not shared with the Democrats, and Jordan got flustered and angry. Then Aaron Blake of the Washington Post fact checked Jordan’s allegations and noted that his theory that the FBI was secretly strategizing to protect Hunter Biden—during Trump’s administration—ignored key events and that two key witnesses had recently contradicted Jordan’s theory in sworn testimony.

Representative Barry Loudermilk (R-GA), chair of the House Administration Subcommittee on Oversight, said yesterday he is leading an investigation into the last congress’s House Select Committee on the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, as well as on security failures around that event. That investigation, too, might not go well for the Republicans. The January 6th Committee asked Loudermilk to come talk to the committee members voluntarily about a tour he gave of the Capitol complex on January 5, 2021. He refused. Video showed that a man from that tour marched on the Capitol the next day, saying, “There’s no escape, Pelosi, Schumer, Nadler. We’re coming for you.”

Finally, today, Republican reputations took a hit when a jury found Larry Householder, the Republican former speaker of the Ohio House, and Matt Borges, the former leader of the Ohio Republican Party, guilty of racketeering conspiracy. In 2017, FirstEnergy Corporation began to funnel $61 million to Householder through dark money groups to enable him to get allies elected and take power. Once in charge, with the help of Borges—who was then a lobbyist—he got a $1.3 billion law through the House to bail the failing company out. Federal prosecutors say it is the largest corruption case in state history.


https://coloradosupremecourt.com/PD...TO DISCIPLINE PURSUANT TO C.R.C.P. 242.19.pdf
https://coloradosupremecourt.com/PDF/Public/2304 ORDER AND NOTICE OF PUBLIC CENSURE.PDF
Twitter avatar for @ShalandaYoung46
Shalanda Young @ShalandaYoung46
You’ve heard @POTUS say it before: don’t tell me what you value – show me your budget, and I'll tell you what you value. Today, @POTUS laid out a budget that’s built around four key values: (1/6)

5:14 PM ∙ Mar 9, 2023


Twitter avatar for @SpeakerMcCarthy
Kevin McCarthy @SpeakerMcCarthy
President Biden just delivered his budget to Congress, and it is completely unserious. He proposes trillions in new taxes that you and your family will pay directly or through higher costs. Mr. President: Washington has a spending problem, NOT a revenue problem.

5:27 PM ∙ Mar 9, 2023


Twitter avatar for @atrupar
Aaron Rupar @atrupar
I'll be live-tweeting this morning's portion of the House "weaponization" hearing featuring testimony from Matt Taibbi

3:07 PM ∙ Mar 9, 2023



billy backstay

Backstay, never bought a suit, never went to Vegas
40 years on and the GQP is still pushing "supply side economics" which has never worked, except to feather the nests of the wealthiest Americans.

"Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity". Anonymous, but falsely attributed to Albert Einstein.

"Republican reputations took a hit when a jury found Larry Householder, the Republican former speaker of the Ohio House, and Matt Borges, the former leader of the Ohio Republican Party, guilty of racketeering conspiracy. In 2017, FirstEnergy Corporation began to funnel $61 million to Householder through dark money groups to enable him to get allies elected and take power. Once in charge, with the help of Borges—who was then a lobbyist—he got a $1.3 billion law through the House to bail the failing company out. Federal prosecutors say it is the largest corruption case in state history."

Maybe it should be changed to GCP for Grand Corrupt Party??
Last edited:

billy backstay

Backstay, never bought a suit, never went to Vegas

March 10, 2023​

Heather Cox Richardson

At the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) last weekend, Daily Wire host Michael Knowles said that “for the good of society…transgenderism must be eradicated from public life entirely—the whole preposterous ideology, at every level.” He worded his statement in such a way that it would inevitably create outrage that he could then angrily refute by insisting that “eradicating transgenderism” was not the same thing as eradicating transgender people. This sort of word game is a well-known right-wing tactic for garnering media attention.

Make no mistake: this attack on transgender people represents a deadly attack on the fundamental principle of American democracy, the idea that all people are created equal.

CPAC and its representatives have become increasingly close to Hungarian president Victor Orbán as he has asserted autocratic power in his own country. Orbán has explicitly rejected the liberal democracy that his country used to enjoy, saying that its emphasis on multiculturalism weakens national cultures while its insistence on human equality undermines traditional society by recognizing that women and LGBTQ people have the same rights as straight white men. The age of liberal democracy is over, he says, and a new age has begun.

In place of equality, Orbán advocates what he calls “illiberal democracy” or “Christian democracy.” “Christian democracy is, by definition, not liberal,” he said in July 2018; “it is, if you like, illiberal. And we can specifically say this in connection with a few important issues—say, three great issues. Liberal democracy is in favor of multiculturalism, while Christian democracy gives priority to Christian culture; this is an illiberal concept. Liberal democracy is pro-immigration, while Christian democracy is anti-immigration; this is again a genuinely illiberal concept. And liberal democracy sides with adaptable family models, while Christian democracy rests on the foundations of the Christian family model; once more, this is an illiberal concept.”

Orbán has focused on LBGTQ rights as a danger to “Western civilization.” Arguing the need to protect children, his party has made it impossible for transgender people to change their gender identification on legal documents and made it illegal to share with minors any content that can be interpreted as promoting an LBGTQ lifestyle. After Orbán put allies in charge of Hungarian universities, his government banned public funding for gender studies courses. According to his chief of staff: “The Hungarian government is of the clear view that people are born either men or women.”

As the opening speaker at CPAC in Texas last August, Orbán called for the establishment of a global right wing to continue to work together to destroy liberal democracy and establish Christian democracy.

The American right wing has heard the call, openly embracing Orbán’s principles. Vox senior correspondent Zack Beauchamp, who is a crackerjack analyst of right-wing political ideology both in the U.S. and abroad, noted in 2021 the rise of right-wing ideologues who saw themselves as the vanguard of a “post-liberal order.”

Beauchamp explained that these ideologues reject American democracy. They argue that “religious liberty, limited government, ‘the inviolability of private institutions (e.g., corporations),’ academic freedom, constitutional originalism, free markets, and free speech”—all central tenets of democracy—have created “liberal totalitarianism” that has destroyed “all institutions that were originally responsible for fostering human virtue: family, ennobling friendship, community, university, polity, church.”

They see the government institutions that defend these democratic tenets as part of a totalitarian system designed to destroy national virtue. If this were truly the case (it is not), it would be an act of heroism to try to destroy those systems altogether. Right-wing attacks on the FBI, the Department of Justice, and even the government itself over the arrest of January 6th rioters who they insist were peaceful tourists shore up the idea that the FBI and DOJ are part of a government determined to crush Trump supporters. That ideology invites those who believe it to continue to attack our government.

Knowles’s statement last week that transgenderism must be eradicated from public life was not simply an attack on transgender individuals, although it was certainly that. Tapping into the anti-LGBTQ sentiment that Orbán and those like him have used to win voters, the statement was a crucial salvo in the attempt to destroy American democracy and replace it with Christian nationalism.

But there is a very simple answer to the radical right’s attack on LGBTQ people that also answers their rejection of democracy. It is an answer that history has proved again and again.

Once you give up the principle of equality, you have given up the whole game. You have admitted the principle that people are unequal, and that some people are better than others. Once you have replaced the principle of equality with the idea that humans are unequal, you have stamped your approval on the idea of rulers and subjects. At that point, all you can do is to hope that no one in power decides that you belong in the lesser group.

In 1858, Abraham Lincoln, then a candidate for the Senate, warned that arguments limiting American equality to white men and excluding black Americans were the same arguments “that kings have made for enslaving the people in all ages of the world…. Turn in whatever way you will—whether it come from the mouth of a King, an excuse for enslaving the people of his country, or from the mouth of men of one race as a reason for enslaving the men of another race, it is all the same old serpent.”

Either people—men, in his day—were equal, or they were not. Lincoln went on: “I should like to know if taking this old Declaration of Independence, which declares that all men are equal upon principle and making exceptions to it…where will it stop?”


billy backstay

Backstay, never bought a suit, never went to Vegas

March 12, 2023​

Heather Cox Richardson

At 6:15 this evening, Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen, Federal Reserve Board Chair Jerome H. Powell, and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) Chairman Martin J. Gruenberg announced that Secretary Yellen has signed off on measures to enable the FDIC to fully protect everyone who had money in Silicon Valley Bank, Santa Clara, California, and Signature Bank, New York. They will have access to all of their money starting Monday, March 13. None of the losses associated with this resolution, the statement said, “will be borne by the taxpayer.”

But, it continued, “Shareholders and certain unsecured debtholders will not be protected. Senior management has also been removed. Any losses to the Deposit Insurance Fund to support uninsured depositors will be recovered by a special assessment on banks, as required by law.”

The statement ended by assuring Americans that “the U.S. banking system remains resilient and on a solid foundation, in large part due to reforms that were made after the financial crisis that ensured better safeguards for the banking industry. Those reforms combined with today's actions demonstrate our commitment to take the necessary steps to ensure that depositors' savings remain safe.”

It’s been quite a weekend.

On Friday, Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) failed in the largest bank failure since 2008. At the end of December 2022, SVB appears to have had about $209 billion in total assets and about $175 billion in deposits. This made SVB the sixteenth largest bank in the U.S., big in its sector but small compared with the more than $3 trillion JPMorgan Chase. This is the first bank failure of the Biden presidency (while Donald Trump Jr. tweeted that he had not heard of any bank failures during his father’s presidency, there were sixteen, eight of which happened before the pandemic). In fact, generally, a few banks fail every year; it is an oddity that none failed in 2021 or 2022.

The failure of SVB created shock waves for three reasons. First, SVB was the major bank for technology start-ups, so it involved much of a single sector of the economy. Second, only about $8 billion of the $173 billion worth of deposits in SVB were less than the $250,000 that the FDIC insures, meaning that the companies who had made those deposits might not get their money back quickly and thus might not be able to make payrolls, sparking a larger crisis. Third, there was concern that the problems that plagued SVB might cause other banks to fail, as well.

What seems to have happened, though, appears to be specific to SVB. Bloomberg’s Matt Levine explained it most clearly:

As the bank for start-ups, which have a lot of cash from investors and the initial public offering of stock, SVB had lots of deposits. But start-up companies don’t need much in the way of loans because they’ve just gotten so much cash and they don’t yet have fixed assets. So, rather than balancing deposits with loans that fluctuate with interest rates and thus keep a bank on an even keel, SVB’s directors took a gamble that the Federal Reserve would not raise interest rates. They invested in long-term Treasury bonds that paid better interest rates than short-term securities. But when, in fact, interest rates went up, the value of those long-term bonds sank.

For most banks, higher interest rates are good news because they can charge more for loans. But for SVB, they hurt.

Then, because SVB concentrated on start-ups, they had another problem. Start-ups are also hurt by rising interest rates because they tend to promise to deliver returns in the long term, which is fine so long as interest rates stay steadily low, as they have been now for years. But as interest rates go up, investors tend to like faster returns than most start-ups can deliver. They take their money to places that are going to see returns sooner. For SVB, that meant their depositors began to need some of that money they had dumped into the bank and started to withdraw their deposits.

So SVB sold securities at a loss to cover those deposits. Other investors panicked as they saw SVB selling at a loss and losing deposits, and they, too, started yanking their money out of the bank, collapsing it. Banks that have a more diverse client base are less likely to lose everyone all at once.

The FDIC took control of the bank on Friday. On Sunday, regulators also shut down Signature Bank, based in New York, which was a major bank for the cryptocurrency industry. Another crypto-friendly bank, Silvergate, failed last week.

Congress created the FDIC under the Banking Act of 1933 to restore trust in the American banking system after more than a third of U.S. banks failed after the Great Crash of 1929, sparking runs on banks as depositors rushed to take out their money whenever rumors suggested a bank was in trouble, thus causing more failures. The FDIC is an independent agency that insures deposits, examines and supervises banks to make sure they’re healthy, and manages the fallout when they’re not. The FDIC is backed by the full faith and credit of the government, but it is not funded by the government. Member banks pay insurance dues to cover bank failures, and when that isn’t enough money, the FDIC can borrow from the federal government or issue debt.

Over the weekend, the crisis at SVB became a larger argument over the role of government in the protection of the economy. Tech leaders took to social media to insist that the government must cover all the deposits in the failed bank, not just the ones covered under FDIC. They warned that the companies whose deposits were uninsured would fail, taking down the rest of the economy with them.

Others noted that the very men who were arguing the government should protect all the depositors’ money, not just that protected under the FDIC, have been vocal in opposing both government regulation of their industry and government relief for student loan debt, suggesting that they hate government action…except for themselves. They also pointed out that in 2018, under Trump, Congress weakened government regulations for banks like SVB and that SVB’s president had been a leading advocate for weakening those regulations. Had those regulations been in place, they argue, SVB would have remained solvent.

It appears that Yellen, Powell, and Gruenberg, in consultation with the president (as required), concluded that the collapse of SVB and Signature Bank was a systemic threat to the nation’s whole financial system, or perhaps they concluded that the panic over that collapse—which is a different thing than the collapse itself—was a threat to the nation’s financial system. They apparently decided to backstop the banks to prevent more damage. But they are eager to remind people that they are not using taxpayer money to shore up a poorly managed bank.

Right now, this appears to leave us with two takeaways. The Biden administration had been considering tightening the banking regulations that were loosened under Trump, and it seems likely that the need for the federal government to step in to protect the depositors at SVB and Signature Bank will make it much harder for those opposed to regulation to keep that from happening. There will likely be increased pressure on the Biden administration to guard against helping out the wealthy and corporations rather than ordinary Americans.

And, perhaps even more important, the weekend of panic and fear over the collapse of just one major bank should make it clear that the Republicans’ threat to default on the U.S. debt, thus pulling the rug out from under the entire U.S. economy unless they get their way, is simply unthinkable.



billy backstay

Backstay, never bought a suit, never went to Vegas

March 13, 2023​

Heather Cox Richardson

While the failures of the Silicon Valley and Signature Banks got most of the oxygen today, the more important news of the day is likely the meeting in San Diego, California, between President Joe Biden, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese of Australia, and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of the United Kingdom.

These three countries make up the new AUKUS security pact, announced on September 15, 2021, designed to provide a military counter to China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific region. (The Five Eyes alliance of those three countries plus Canada and New Zealand focuses on sharing intelligence.) Today’s meeting, and its announcement that AUKUS will create a new fleet of nuclear-powered (but not nuclear-armed) submarines, brings that pact to a new level.

At the meeting today, the U.S. announced it will share its nuclear propulsion technology with Australia and will increase U.S. submarine construction capacity. The U.K. announced it will increase its defense spending. And Australia will buy at least three nuclear-powered submarines from the U.S.

The U.K. and Australia will build new nuclear-powered submarines for their own navies. Sailors from the fleets will train together, and U.S. and U.K. submarines will increase their visits to Australian ports. Eventually, the alliance will create its own nuclear-powered submarines, the SSN-AUKUS.

Both Biden and Albanese were very clear about the distinction between nuclear-powered and nuclear-armed submarines, and they emphasized that the Australian submarines will not be nuclear armed. “Australia is a proud non–nuclear weapons state and has committed to stay that way,” Biden said. “These boats will not have any nuclear weapons of any kind on them.”

Nuclear-powered submarines are powerful pieces of a country’s arsenal because, unlike diesel-electric submarines, they do not have to surface frequently to refuel and so can travel secretly far longer than traditionally fueled vessels. This is the first time the U.S. has shared its nuclear technology in more than 60 years and illustrates the Biden administration’s focus on oceans, rather than land, for defense.

“This is a genuine trilateral undertaking,” Albanese said. While the U.S., the U.K., and Australia share a long, friendly history, he continued, what they “hold in common is more fundamental and more universal than our shared histories. We are bound, above all, by our belief in a world where the sovereignty of every nation is respected and the inherent dignity of every individual is upheld; where peace, stability, and security ensure greater prosperity and a greater measure of fairness for all; and where all countries are able to act in their sovereign interests, free from coercion.”

As National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan put it, what we are seeing is “a larger long-term investment by the United States in core alliances in the Indo-Pacific and also the actual concrete reflection of President Biden’s strategy of linking allies in the Atlantic with allies in the Pacific. And it also reflects his commitment to ensuring that there is burden-sharing among our allies, as we’ve seen in the way that Europe has stepped up in the war in Ukraine, as we’ve seen how Japan has stepped up with its defense budget.”

It is a message, he said, for the next several decades.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon’s proposed 2024 budget proposal, released today, is the largest peacetime budget in our history. It’s about $25 billion more than the $816 billion budget Congress approved for 2023. It modernizes U.S. weaponry and invests an unprecedented $145 billion in research-and-development projects. It reduces the size of the Army and upgrades Navy ships, scrapping older ships earlier than planned. It adds new aircraft to the Air Force. The budget signals a shift toward Biden’s plan for defense against China.

There was lots of fallout today from the bank collapses of the weekend, but the upshot appears to be that the damage has been contained, leaving plenty of room for finger-pointing over the crisis.

President Biden reassured the American people that the banking system was safe and said he would ask Congress and banking regulators “to strengthen the rules for banks to make it less likely this kind of bank failure would happen again, and to protect American jobs and small businesses.” Observers of Silicon Valley Bank’s failure note that the 2018 loosening of banking regulations that had been imposed after the 2008 crash paved the way for SVB’s troubles. One of the lobbyists for this loosening was Greg Becker, who until Friday was the person in charge of SVB.

Meanwhile, David McIntosh, president of the right-wing Club for Growth, retorted, “Changing the rules after the crash to prop-up liberal investors at the expense of taxpayers is pure crony capitalism,” a sentence that seems to mix a bunch of different concepts together. Florida governor Ron DeSantis and Trump-adjacent figures took a different tack, falling back on the culture-war lens they use for everything, blaming the failure not on the company’s poor business decisions but on “wokeness.”

In an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, Andy Kessler, who writes on technology and markets, echoed the culture warriors, writing that “in its proxy statement, SVB notes that besides 91% of their board being independent and 45% women, they also have ‘1 Black,’ ‘1 LGBTQ+’ and ‘2 Veterans.’ I’m not saying 12 white men would have avoided this mess,” Kessler wrote, “but the company may have been distracted by diversity demands.”

In other news, House Republicans have ended the congressional investigation into former president Trump’s financial records. Representative Jamie Raskin (D-MD), the top Democrat on the Oversight and Accountability Committee, on Sunday accused committee chair James Comer (R-KY) of coordinating with Trump’s lawyers to end the probe into Trump’s finances. On January 19, 2023, Trump’s lawyer Patrick Strawbridge wrote to the lawyer for Trump’s accounting firm, whose records the committee had subpoenaed in 2019, saying “my understanding is that the Committee has no interest in forcing Mazars to complete it and is willing to release it from further obligations under the settlement agreement.”

Instead of pursuing the investigation into Trump, Comer says he plans to look into “money the Bidens received from China.” Trump accused Biden of taking a $1.5 billion payoff from China without any evidence. Now Comer claims to have “documents to prove” that the Biden family has taken illicit money from China, but there is no evidence that this allegation is true. Raskin revealed Sunday that Comer has quietly subpoenaed 14 years of business records from Bank of America for three of Hunter Biden’s business associates.

Finally, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who was hospitalized last Wednesday night after a fall at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Washington, D.C., has been released from hospital to a rehabilitation facility for physical therapy before returning to his home.


billy backstay

Backstay, never bought a suit, never went to Vegas

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