This part will be ignored by the Right to paint it as “we paid ransom” for the US citizens. Push bak is required on this!!
Oh, they are already on it.
September 19, 2023 (Tuesday)
House Republicans appear to be barreling toward a government shutdown, unable to agree even to debate a bill to fund the military. That rejection made Republican leadership pull from the floor a continuing resolution to fund the government into October. Extremist members simply refuse to agree to any bill that doesn’t cave to their demands. And, as NBC News reporters note, “The House [Republican] chaos is worse than it may appear.” The bills over which they are currently fighting cannot possibly pass the Senate. Government funding ends on September 30.
And so a small minority of extremists are threatening to shut down our government. Such a shutdown would have global as well as domestic repercussions: the Pentagon warned that a government shutdown would disrupt U.S. military aid to Ukraine, including training for military forces. Hamstringing our ability to help Ukraine stand against Russia, refusing to fund the Pentagon, and Alabama senator Tommy Tuberville’s hold on military promotions that has left more than 300 top military positions vacant all undermine our national security. This is an astonishing position for Republicans, who used to pride themselves on their support for the military.
That such a small number of extremists can shut down our country speaks to the power of voting. Four days ago, Vice President Kamala Harris kicked off a month-long tour of college campuses to mobilize younger voters to “fight for our freedoms.” Today is National Voter Registration Day, and in Reading, Pennsylvania, she noted that young people have spent their whole lives in the climate crisis, have seen the Supreme Court stop recognizing the constitutional right to abortion, and have spent their earlier years practicing active shooter drills. They are now stepping up to lead the country toward solutions.
Harris told a cheering, overflow audience at the Reading Area Community College that voting “determines whether the person who is holding elected office is going to fight for your freedoms and rights or not. Whether that be the freedom that you should have to just be free from attack, free from hate, free from gun violence, free from bias, free to love who you love and be open about it, free to have access to the ballot box without people obstructing your ability to exercise your civic right to vote, in terms of who will be the people holding elected office and leading your country.”
The political power of young voters will be important in determining the outcome of the 2024 elections. In Pennsylvania today, Democratic governor Josh Shapiro announced automatic voter registration when people are getting or renewing a driver’s license. The governor tweeted: “We got traffic moving on I-95 in just 12 days. We delivered universal free breakfast for 1.7 million students. And today, we implemented automatic voter registration. There’s more to do, but we’re getting stuff done in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”
In Congress today, the Democrats, led by Representative Terri Sewell (D-AL) reintroduced the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which passed the House in 2021 but was stopped by a Republican filibuster in the Senate.
This measure would restore and modernize the 1965 Voting Rights Act after the Supreme Court’s 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision gutted it. Until that decision, Congress had regularly reauthorized the Voting Rights Act on a bipartisan basis, but as soon as the decision was handed down, Republican-dominated state legislatures passed voter suppression laws, gerrymandered their states, and closed polling sites, measures that made it more difficult for Black Americans, many of whom backed Democrats, to vote. In the decade since the decision, Sewell noted, at least 29 states have passed a total of almost 100 laws restricting voting.
Sewell represents Selma, Alabama, where civil rights activist and, later, Georgia representative John R. Lewis was beaten by law enforcement officers when he crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge with other civil rights activists marching for the right to vote. She noted, “Generations of Americans—many in my hometown of Selma, Alabama—marched, fought, and even died for the equal right of all Americans to vote. But today, their legacy and our very democracy are under attack as MAGA extremists target voters with new laws to restrict voting access. Ten years after the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the fight for voting rights has never been more urgent.”
The reason for voter suppression was made clear again today when, in a pattern that has continued since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year, no longer recognizing the constitutional right to abortion, Democrats won two elections. In New Hampshire, Democrat Hal Rafter flipped a state House seat formerly held by a Republican. And in Pennsylvania, Democrat Lindsay Powell won a special election in Pittsburgh, enabling Democrats to hold control of the Pennsylvania House.
Some Dems seem to cling to bipartisanship like it’s a raft going over a waterfall. Well, this is the final test. If they can’t peel off a handful of moderate Republicans in the House to get the (negotiated, compromise) budget approved, then they need to let go of it completely.
There’s another test coming in the Senate, because of this:
I agree with Beau’s take that Democrats should not fall for this, but we’ll see…
September 20, 2023 (Wednesday)
The fight over how we conceive of our federal government was on full display today.
The Biden administration announced the creation of the American Climate Corps. This will be a group of more than 20,000 young Americans who will learn to work in clean energy, conservation, and climate resilience while also earning good wages and addressing climate change.
This ACC looks a great deal like the Civilian Conservation Corps established by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the Democrats in 1933, during the New Deal. The CCC was designed to provide jobs for unemployed young men (prompting critics to ask, “Where’s the She, She, She?”) while they worked to build fire towers, bridges, and foot trails, plant trees to stop soil erosion, stock fish, dig ditches, build dams, and so on.
While the CCC was segregated, the ACC will prioritize hiring within communities traditionally left behind, as well as addressing the needs of those communities that have borne the brunt of climate change. If the administration’s rules for it become finalized, the corps will also create a streamlined pathway into federal service for those who participated in the program.
In January, a poll showed that a climate corps is popular. Data for Progress found that voters supported such a corps by a margin of 39 points. Voters under 45 supported it by a margin of 51 points.
While the Biden administration is establishing a modern version of a popular New Deal program, extremists in the Republican Party are shutting down the government to try to stop it from precisely this sort of action. They want to roll the government back to the days before the New Deal, ending government regulation, provision of a basic social safety net, investment in infrastructure, and protection of civil rights.
Extremists in the House Republican conference are refusing to acknowledge the deal worked out for the budget last spring by President Biden and Republican speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). Instead, in order to pass even a continuing resolution that would buy time for Congress to pass an actual budget, they are insisting on cuts of up to 8% on discretionary spending that Senate Democrats, as well as Biden himself, are certain to oppose.
The White House has noted that the cuts the Republicans demand would mean 800 fewer Customs and Border Protection agents and officers (which, in turn, would mean more drugs entering the United States); more than 2 million women and children waitlisted for the WIC food assistance program; more than 4,000 fewer rail inspection days; up to 40,000 fewer teachers, aides, and key education staff, affecting 26 million students; and so on.
House speaker McCarthy cannot corral the extremists to agree to anything unless they get such cuts, which even other Republicans recognize are nonstarters (those cuts are so unpopular that Jake Sherman of Punchbowl News reported today that Republicans are somewhat bizarrely considering changing their messaging about their refusal to fund the government from concerns about spending to concerns about border security).
Meanwhile, the extremists are threatening to throw McCarthy out of the speakership. There are rumors that Republican moderates are considering working with Democrats to save McCarthy’s job, but Democrats are not keen on helping him when he has just agreed to open a baseless impeachment inquiry into the president in order to appease the extremists.
“If you’d asked about two months ago I would have said absolutely,” Representative Dean Phillips (D-MN) told Manu Raju, Lauren Fox, and Melanie Zanona of CNN. “But I think sadly his behavior is unprincipled, it’s unhelpful to the country,” he said.
As a shutdown appears more and more likely, even Republicans acknowledge that the problem is on their side of the House. Until the 1980s, funding gaps did not lead to government shutdowns. Government agencies continued to work, with the understanding that Congress would eventually work out funding disputes. But in 1980 a fight over funding the 1,600-employee Federal Trade Commission led President Jimmy Carter to ask Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti if the agency could continue to operate when its funding ran out. Civiletti surprised participants by saying no.
Four years ago, Civiletti told Ian Shapira of the Washington Post that his decision was about a specific and limited issue, and that he never imagined that politicians would use shutdowns for long periods of time as a political weapon. And yet, shutdowns have become more frequent and longer since the 1990s, usually as Republicans demand that Congress adopt policies they cannot pass through regular procedures (like the 34-day shutdown in 2019 over funding for the border wall former president Trump wanted).
Many observers note that “governing by crisis,” as President Barack Obama put it, is terribly damaging and that Civiletti’s decision should be revisited. Next month’s possible shutdown has the potential to be particularly problematic because there is no obvious solution. After all, it’s hardly a surprise that this budget deadline was coming up and that the extremists were angry over the deal McCarthy cut with Biden back in May, and yet McCarthy has been unable in all those months to bring his conference to an agreement.
Republicans appear resigned that voters will blame them for the crisis, which, honestly, seems fair. “We always get the blame,” Representative Mike Simpson (R-ID), a senior appropriator, told Katherine Tully-McManus and Adam Cancryn of Politico. “Name one time that we’ve shut the government down and we haven’t got the blame.”
Meanwhile, the House extremists continue to push their vision for the nation by undermining the institutions of the government. The House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH), today held what normally would have been a routine oversight hearing focused on policy, law enforcement, and so on. Instead of that business, though, Jordan and the hard-right Republicans on the committee worked to construct a false reality in right-wing media by attacking Attorney General Merrick Garland over his role in the investigation of President Biden’s son Hunter, begun five years ago under Trump.
Glenn Thrush of the New York Times noted drily that “[m]any of the claims and insinuations they leveled against Mr. Garland—that he is part of a coordinated Democratic effort to shield the Bidens and persecute Mr. Trump—were not supported by fact. And much of the specific evidence presented, particularly the testimony of an investigator who questioned key decisions in the Hunter Biden investigation, was given without context or acknowledgment of contradictory information.”
Instead, Jordan and his extremist colleagues shouted at Garland and over his answers, producing sound bites for right-wing media. Those included the statement from Representative Victoria Spartz (R-IN) that the rioters at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, were actually “good Americans” who brought “strollers and the kids.” Even as both Biden and Garland have prioritized restoring faith in the Justice Department after Trump’s use of it for his own ends, the extremist Republicans are working to undermine that faith by constructing the false image that the Department of Justice is persecuting Trump and his allies.
Their position was not unchallenged on the committee, even within their own party. Representative Ken Buck (R-CO) defended Garland from their attacks, while Democrats on the committee went after the Republicans themselves. Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) accused Jordan of making the Judiciary Committee into a “criminal defense firm for the former president.”
Garland, who is usually soft-spoken, pushed back too. "Our job is not to take orders from the president, from Congress, or from anyone else, about who or what to criminally investigate,” he told the committee. “I am not the president’s lawyer. I will add I am not Congress’s prosecutor. The Justice Department works for the American people.”
“We will not be intimidated,” he added. “We will do our jobs free from outside influence. And we will not back down from defending our democracy.”
Note to future good Americans: please do not bring your kids to a neo-fascist gathering?
Should be signage going along every depiction of Iustitia?
See this right here is why I think it will never be a good idea to put a corporate executive/business owner in a job like President. They think the country should be run like a business. They even literally say that. And in a business, in house counsel does work for the CEO/President of the company. They don’t work for the shareholders. The top executives and the board work for the shareholders, theoretically, but they also are often some of the largest shareholders. So this is how Trump viewed the government. Everyone in the executive branch had to do what he wanted and what he said. He even wanted loyalty pledges from them. And in a corporation, if the General Counsel defies the CEO, he’s going to be fired. But our government can’t operate this way. But Trump, Goetz, MTG, Boebert, Jordan, Gosar, and the rest of that gang thinks that it should run that way. They do not want a Democracy, and their views on everything about how government operates reflect that.
Some of the comments from some more old school Republicans about the pending shutdown give me some hope that they might be close to metaphorically taking the extreme wing of the party out behind the woodshed. If they have the power to do that, great. If not, it may also be great because that party is about to implode. In the short term, that will cause problems, but it may also result in an actual blue wave in 2024, which would be awesome.
“seems fair”? It IS fair. “Name one time we robbed a bank and we haven’t got the blame.” The lack of self-awareness still manages to amaze me.
No, her suggestion is quite the opposite: take your kids and strollers to the next neo-fascist gathering so Victoria can have her sound bite, and Fox can take some video out of context. I’m still laughing over how Fucker Carlson couldn’t find one peaceful tourist in hours of J6 videos.
and don’t bring zip ties either… ( eta: the word cut off is “mom” )
And that title still didn’t capture everything that was going on. Zip tie guy also had a Tazer as he walked through Congress with his mom in tow.
September 21, 2023 (Thursday)
The Senate has confirmed three top defense leaders. Last night it confirmed Air Force General Charles Q. Brown Jr. to replace Army General Mark A. Milley as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff when he retires at the end of the month. Today, it confirmed General Randy A. George as Army chief of staff and General Eric M. Smith as Marine Corps commandant.
The Senate filled the positions at the top of our military by working around the hold extremist senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) has put on more than 300 military promotions, allegedly because he objects to the government’s policy of providing leave and travel allowance for service members who have to travel to obtain abortions.
Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post focused on the House Republicans today, though, when she wrote: “The GOP completely gone off its rocker—incapable of passing House spending, ranting and raving at AG, cooking up ludicrous and baseless impeachment, unable to greet Zelensky with joint session. This is not normal. This is egregious. You’d think the reporting would reflect it.”
Indeed, the House Republicans remain unable even to agree to talk about funding the government, let alone actually passing the appropriations bills Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) agreed to four months ago. Today, right-wing extremists in the House blocked a procedural vote over a Pentagon funding bill, keeping what is normally an easily passed bipartisan bill from even reaching the floor for debate. McCarthy acknowledged to reporters that he is frustrated. “This is a whole new concept of individuals who just want to burn the whole place down. It doesn’t work.”
The extremists do indeed appear unconcerned about the effects of their refusal to fund the government, and since they have the five or six votes they need to sink the measures McCarthy wants to pass with only Republican votes, this handful of representatives are the ones deciding whether the government will shut down.
McCarthy could pass clean funding bills through the House whenever he wishes, but he refuses. To do so would mean working with Democrats, and that would spark a vote to throw him out of the speakership. And so, rather than keep the members in Washington, D.C., to work on the appropriations bills over the weekend, McCarthy recognized he did not have the votes he needs and sent them home.
The extremists are bolstered by former president Donald Trump, who posted on his social media platform today that the Republicans in Congress “can and must defund all aspects of Crooked Joe Biden’s weaponized Government…. This is also the last chance to defund these political prosecutions against me and other Patriots. They failed on the debt limit, but they must not fail now. Use the power of the purse and defend the Country!”
Experts say shutting down the government would not, in fact, end the former president’s legal troubles, but he is actually doing more than that here: he is trying to assert dominance over the country. As Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) said: “Let’s be clear about what the former president is saying here. House Republicans should shut down the government unless the prosecutions against him are shut down. He would deny paychecks to millions of working families & devastate the US economy, all in the service of himself.”
Extremist leader Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) responded to Trump’s statement with his own: “Trump Opposes the Continuing Resolution” to fund the government,” he wrote. “Hold the line.” Ron Filipkowski of MeidasTouch noted: “House Republicans refuse to fund the government to protect Donald Trump.”
Trump’s accusation that President Biden is weaponizing the Justice Department against him and others who tried to overturn the results of the 2020 election is the opposite of what has really happened. Not only has Biden stayed scrupulously out of the Justice Department’s business—leaving in place the Trump-appointed leader of the investigation into Biden’s son Hunter, for example—but also we received more proof yesterday that it was Trump, not Biden, who weaponized the Justice Department against his enemies.
Nora Dennehy, who abruptly resigned from former special counsel John Durham’s investigation into the origins of the FBI’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, explained in her confirmation hearing to Connecticut’s state supreme court yesterday that she quit because Trump’s Department of Justice was tainted by politics. Before joining the probe, she said, “I had been taught and spent my entire career at [the] Department of Justice conducting any investigation in an objective and apolitical manner.”
But Trump and his loyalists expected Durham’s investigation to prove that there was a “deep state” conspiracy against him, and then–attorney general William Barr seemed to be working to support that fantasy, even though there was no evidence of it (as shown by the fact the investigation ultimately fizzled). Barr was, she thought, violating DOJ guidelines in his public comments about the investigation and in his consideration of releasing an interim report before the 2020 election.
“I simply couldn’t be part of it,” Dannehy said. “So I resigned.”
The resistance of the extremists to McCarthy’s leadership is spilling over into foreign affairs as well. Today, Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky was in Washington, D.C., where he met with President Biden at the White House and with leaders at the Pentagon, and spoke to a closed-door session for the Senate. But he did not speak to the House of Representatives. While McCarthy met with him privately, the speaker maintained that “we just didn’t have time” for him to address the House.
As part of their demands, House extremists want to cut funding for Ukraine’s defense. This would, of course, work to strengthen Russian president Vladimir Putin’s hand in his war against Ukraine. Earlier this month, former Central Intelligence Agency director John Brennan told MSNBC that it is “absolutely essential” to Putin that Trump win back the White House in 2024. “I think it is Putin’s main lifeline in order to find some way to salvage what has been a debacle in Ukraine for him," Brennan said. "If Trump is able to return to the White House…Putin could have a like-minded individual that he can work with, detrimental to U.S. interests certainly and detrimental to Western interests overall.” The intelligence community assesses that Putin worked to help Trump in the 2016 and 2020 elections, and is pushing pro-Russia and anti-Ukraine propaganda now.
Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III assured Zelensky that the U.S. will continue to support Ukraine and work with allies and partners to make sure it has the weapons it needs. Lara Seligman of Politico reported today that the Pentagon will continue to fund Ukraine operations even if there is a government shutdown. Military activities deemed crucial to national security can be exempted from being shuttered during a government shutdown.
And finally, 92-year-old Rupert Murdoch announced today that he will be stepping down as chair of his media empire, including both Fox Corporation, which includes the Fox News Channel (FNC), and News Corporation, which owns the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post, among other newspapers. In 1996 the Australian-born mogul launched the Fox News Channel with media specialist Roger Ailes, who had packaged Republican presidential nominee Richard Nixon in 1968 by presenting him to audiences in highly scripted television appearances.
The Fox News Channel initially presented news from a conservative viewpoint, but over time its opinion shows, delivered as if they were news, came to dominate the channel. Those shows presented a simple narrative in which Americans—overwhelmingly white and rural—wanted the government to leave them alone but “socialists” who wanted social welfare programs demanded their tax dollars. Isolated in the fantasy world of FNC, its viewers became such fanatic adherents to right-wing politics that FNC wholeheartedly trumpeted Trump’s Big Lie after he lost the 2020 presidential election because viewers turned away from FNC when some of its personalities acknowledged that Biden had won…
Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters for America, said today that “Murdoch created a uniquely destructive force in American democracy and public life, one that ushered in an era of division where racist and post-truth politics thrive.” Margaret Sullivan, formerly the Washington Post’s media critic, wrote in The Guardian that FNC was “a shameless propaganda outfit, reaping massive profits even as it attacked core democratic values such as tolerance, truth and fair elections.” Murdoch, she wrote, wreaked “untold havoc on American democracy.”
Murdoch sees it differently. In his resignation letter, he attacked “bureaucracies” who wanted to “silence those who would question their provenance and purpose” and “elites” who “have open contempt for those who are not members of their rarefied class.” “Most of the media is in cahoots with those elites, peddling political narratives rather than pursuing the truth,” he wrote.
Forbes estimates that their media empire has enabled Murdoch and his family to amass a fortune of more than $17 billion.
As the famous republican Lois Bourbon once said: l’état, c’est moi.
At some point, failing to utilize 14Asec3 is just irresponsible. These aren’t representatives - they are actively rebelling against the US government.
Throw Tuberville in that pile, too.
Beau says over and over, they don’t want to represent, they want to rule. The idea of “mudsills” having a say in government is absolutely anathema to their whole mindset.
dude. you’re the one that put them on the committees, and you’re surprised to see them using those committees exactly the way they said they would?
did he enable them for the sake of a feeling of power? or because he wanted this situation? or is he just an idiot?
( all of the above? )
Ultimately, he shares their goal of making government dysfunctional as a way of “proving” government is harmful. Which in turn justifies “small government” that doesn’t spend money on the public good, just on the military-industrial complex and corporate subsidies.
Where the conflict lies is that said military-industrial complex supports spending billions on armaments for Ukraine while the Fuckhead Freedom Caucus doesn’t, because they are supported by dark money from Russia. They are being paid from conflicting sources.
September 22, 2023 (Friday)
Two major stories today seem to bring together both the past and the future of the country to chart a way forward.
The first involves a historic workers’ strike. A week ago, on Friday, September 15, after workers’ four-year contracts expired, the United Auto Workers union declared a limited and targeted work stoppage in which about 13,000 workers walked off the job at three Midwestern auto plants. For the first time in history, those walkouts included all three major automakers: workers left a General Motors plant in Missouri, a Stellantis (which includes Chrysler) plant in Ohio, and a Ford plant in Michigan.
Workers accepted major concessions in 2007, when it appeared that auto manufacturers would go under. They agreed to accept a two-tier pay system in which workers hired after 2007 would have lower pay and worse benefits than those hired before 2007. But then the industry recovered, and automakers’ profits skyrocketed: Ford, for example, made more than $10 billion in profits in 2022.
Automakers’ chief executive officers’ pay has soared—GM CEO Mary Barra made almost $29 million in 2022—but workers’ wages and benefits have not. Barra, for example, makes 362 times the median GM employee’s paycheck, while autoworkers’ pay has fallen behind inflation by 19%.
The new UAW president, Shawn Fain, ran on a promise to demand a rollback of the 2007 concessions in this summer’s contract negotiations. He wants a cap on temporary workers, pay increases of more than 40% to match the salary increases of the CEOs, a 32-hour workweek, cost of living adjustments, and an elimination of the tier system.
But his position is not just about autoworkers; it is about all U.S. workers. “Our fight is not just for ourselves but for every worker who is being undervalued, for every retiree who’s given their all and feels forgotten, and for every future worker who deserves a fair chance at a prosperous life,” Fain said. “[W]e are all fed up of living in a world that values profits over people. We’re all fed up with seeing the rich get richer while the rest of us continue to just scrape by. We’re all fed up with corporate greed. And together, we’re going to fight to change it.”
Fain has withheld an endorsement for President Biden out of concern that the transition to electric vehicles, which are easier to build than gas-powered vehicles, will hurt union jobs, and out of anger that the administration has offered incentives to non-union plants. That criticism created an opening for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to announce he would visit Detroit next week to show autoworkers that he has “always had their back,” in hopes of winning back the support of Rust Belt states.
But for all his talk of being pro-worker, Trump recently attacked Fain, saying “The autoworkers are being sold down the river by their leadership, and their leadership should endorse Trump.” Autoworkers note that Trump and the justices he put on the Supreme Court have been anti-union, and that he packed the National Labor Relations Board, which oversees labor laws and union elections, with officials who reduced the power of workers to organize. Before he left office, Trump tried to burrow ten anti-labor activists into the Federal Service Impasses Panel, the panel in charge of resolving disputes between unions and federal agencies when they cannot resolve issues in negotiations.
Fain, no fan of Trump, said: “Every fiber of our union is being poured into fighting the billionaire class and an economy that enriches people like Donald Trump at the expense of workers.”
President Biden prides himself on his pro-union credentials, and as soon as he took office, he fired Trump’s burrowed employees, prompting the head of the union representing 700,000 federal employees to thank Biden for his attempt to “restore basic fairness for federal workers.” He said, “The outgoing panel, appointed by the previous administration and stacked with transparently biased union-busters, was notorious for ignoring the law to gut workplace rights and further an extreme political agenda.”
Today, in the absence of a deal, the UAW expanded the strike to dozens more plants, and in a Facebook live stream, Fain invited “everyone who supports our cause to join us on the picket line from our friends and families all the way up to the president of the United States.” Biden has generally expressed support for the UAW, saying that the automakers should share their record profits with their workers, but Fain rebuffed the president’s offer to send Labor Secretary Julie Su and White House senior advisor Gene Sperling to help with negotiations.
Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and John Fetterman (D-PA) have both visited Michigan to meet with UAW workers, but it was nonetheless a surprise when the White House announced that the president will travel on Tuesday to Michigan, where he will, as he posted on X, “ join the picket line and stand in solidarity with the men and women of UAW as they fight for a fair share of the value they helped create. It’s time for a win-win agreement that keeps American auto manufacturing thriving with well-paid UAW jobs."
If President Biden is showing his support for the strong unions of the past, Vice President Kamala Harris is in charge of the future. The White House today announced the establishment of a National Office of Gun Violence Prevention, to be overseen by the vice president.
Lately, Harris has been taking the lead in embracing change and appealing to younger voters. On September 9 she hosted a celebration honoring the 50th anniversary of hip hop, and she is currently in the midst of a tour of college campuses to urge young people to vote. She has been the administration’s leading voice on issues of reproductive rights and equality before the law, issues at the top of concerns of young Americans. Now adding gun safety to that list, she is picking up yet another issue crucially important to young people.
When 26-year-old Representative Maxwell Frost (D-FL) introduced the president today, he said that he got involved in politics because he “didn’t want to get shot in school.”
If the president and the vice president today seemed to represent the past and the future to carry the country forward, the present was also in the news today, and that story was about corruption and the parties’ different approaches to it.
ProPublica has published yet another piece about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s connections to wealthy donors. Joshua Kaplan, Justin Elliott, and Alex Mierjeski reported that Thomas attended at least two donor summits hosted by the Koch family, acting as a fundraising draw for the Koch network, but did not disclose the flights he accepted, which should have been considered gifts, or the hospitality associated with the trips. His appearances were coordinated with the help of Leonard Leo of the Federalist Society, who has been behind the court’s rightward swing.
The Koch family network funds a wide range of right-wing political causes. It has had interests in a number of cases before the Supreme Court during Thomas’s term, including an upcoming challenge to the government’s ability to regulate businesses—a principle the Koch enterprises oppose.
Republicans have been defending Thomas’s behavior since these stories began to surface.
Also in the corruption file today is Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), who, along with his wife, has been indicted by a federal grand jury in New York on three counts of conspiracy to commit bribery, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, and conspiracy to commit extortion in connection with using his influence to advance the interests of Egypt.
This is Menendez’s second legal go-round: in 2015 he was indicted on unrelated charges of bribery, trading political help for expensive plane flights and luxury vacations. Ten of the twelve members of the jury did not agree with the other two that he was guilty and after the hung jury meant a mistrial, the Department of Justice declined to retry the case.
That the DOJ has indicted Menendez again on new charges undercuts Republicans’ insistence that the department has been weaponized to operate against them alone. And while Menendez insists he will fight the charges, he has lost his position at the head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee under the rules of the Democratic Conference, and New Jersey Democratic leaders have already called on him to resign.
“So a Democratic Senator is indicted on serious charges, and no Democrats attacking the Justice Department, no Democrats attacking the prosecutors, no Democrats calling for an investigation of the prosecution, and no Democrats calling to defund the Justice Department,” wrote former Republican representative from Illinois and now anti-Trump activist Joe Walsh.