Heather Cox Richardson

This also serves the GOP false narrative about elections being rigged and stolen. After being lied to about the likely outcome for months, too many voters see any result that differs from media-driven expectations as evidence of fraud. They’re rarely told that they were misled by pollsters and the media until it is far too late. Those two groups habitually don’t make it clear how few people/groups are really included and they don’t believe their own hype:



Fuck polls. I have never been in one. I don’t trust anything online, half the respondents probably aren’t even real people and even if they are who knows where they are from and what their objectives are. If they are real people and citizens of this country I still don’t trust their reading comprehension against the manipulative way pollsters write. I get very hung up on diction and often don’t know how to answer so this is a real sticking point for me as I do not think such a question should be answered at all these days. Lies and manipulation all the way down.

If some polls are fake news then all polls are fake news until proven otherwise in an election.

Fuck polls :person_shrugging:


I agree, though I think they do matter. A danger of course is not only their unreliable claims, but also how much traction they can have in either motivating or demotivating people to vote, and to help get others to vote.

Oh how I wish corporate media couldn’t succeed in gaining clicks by breathlessly reporting (and so early!) whichever horse is currently and supposedly a nose ahead of the other one!


March 30, 2024 (Saturday)

On Tuesday morning, on his social media outlet, former president Trump encouraged his supporters to buy a “God Bless The USA” Bible for $59.99. The Bible is my “favorite book,” he said in a promotional video, and said he owns “many.” This Bible includes the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, and the Pledge of Allegiance. It also includes the chorus of country music singer Lee Greenwood’s song “God Bless the USA,” likely because it is a retread of a 2021 Bible Greenwood pushed to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of 9-11.

That story meant less coverage for the news from last Monday, March 25, in which Trump shared on his social media platform a message comparing him to Jesus Christ, with a reference to Psalm 109, which calls on God to destroy one’s enemies.

This jumped out to me because Trump is not the first president to compare himself to Jesus Christ. In 1866, President Andrew Johnson famously did, too. While there is a financial component to Trump’s comparison that was not there for Johnson, the two presidents had similar political reasons for claiming a link to divine power.

Johnson was born into poverty in North Carolina, then became a tailor in Tennessee, where he rose through politics to the U.S. House of Representatives and then the Senate. In 1861, when Tennessee left the Union, Johnson was the only sitting senator from a Confederate state who remained loyal to the United States. This stand threw him into prominence. In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln named him the military governor of Tennessee.

Then, in 1864, the Republican Party renamed itself the Union Party to attract northern Democrats to its standard. To help that effort, leaders chose a different vice president, replacing a staunch Republican—Hannibal Hamlin of Maine—with the Democrat Johnson.

Although he was elected on what was essentially a Republican ticket, Johnson was a Democrat at heart. He loathed the elite southern enslavers he thought had become oligarchs in the years before the Civil War, shutting out poorer men like him from prosperity, but he was a fervent racist who enslaved people himself until 1863. Johnson opposed the new active government the Republicans had built during the war, and he certainly didn’t want it to enforce racial equality. He expected that the end of the war would mean a return to the United States of 1860, minus the system of enslavement that concentrated wealth upward.

Johnson was badly out of step with the Republicans, but a quirk of timing gave him exclusive control of the reconstruction of the United States from April 15, 1865, when he took the oath of office less than three hours after Lincoln breathed his last, until early December. Congress had adjourned for the summer on March 4, expecting that Lincoln would call the members back together if there were an emergency, as he had in summer 1861. It was not due to reconvene until early December. Members of Congress rushed back to Washington, D.C., after Lincoln’s assassination, but Johnson insisted on acting alone.

Over the course of summer 1865, Johnson set out to resuscitate the prewar system dominated by the Democratic Party, with himself at its head. He pardoned all but about 1,500 former Confederates, either by proclamation or by presidential pardon, putting them back into power in southern society. He did not object when southern state legislatures developed a series of state laws, called Black Codes, remanding Black Americans into subservience.

When Congress returned to work on December 4, 1865, Johnson greeted the members with the happy news that he had “restored” the Union. Leaving soldiers in the South would have cost tax money, he said, and would have “envenomed hatred” among southerners. His exclusion of Black southerners from his calculus, although they were the most firmly loyal population in the South, showed how determined he was to restore prewar white supremacy, made possible by keeping power in the states. All Republican congressmen had to do, he said, was to swear in the southern senators and representatives now back in Washington, D.C., and the country would be “restored.”

Republicans wanted no part of his “restoration.” Not only did it return to power the same men who had been shooting at Republicans’ constituents eight months before and push northerners’ Black fellow soldiers to a form of quasi-enslavement, but also the 1870 census would count Black Americans as whole people rather than three fifths of a person, giving former Confederates more national political power after the war than they had had before it. Victory on the battlefields would be overturned by control of Congress.

Congressional Republicans rejected Johnson’s plan for reconstruction. Instead, they passed the Fourteenth Amendment in June 1866 and required the former Confederate states to ratify it before they could be readmitted to the United States. The Fourteenth Amendment put the strength of the national government behind the idea that Black Americans would be considered citizens—as the Supreme Court’s 1857 Dred Scott decision had denied. Then it declared that states could neither discriminate against citizens nor take away a citizen’s rights without due process of the law. To make sure that the 1870 census would not increase the power of former Confederates, it declared that if any state kept men over 21 from voting, its representation in Congress would be reduced proportionally.

Johnson hated the Fourteenth Amendment. He hated its broad definition of citizenship; he hated its move toward racial equality; he hated its undermining of the southern leaders he backed; he hated its assertion of national power; he hated that it offered a moderate route to reunification that most Americans would support. If states ratified it, he wouldn’t be able to rebuild the Democratic Party with himself at its head.

So he told southern politicians to ignore Congress’s order to ratify the Fourteenth Amendment, calling Congress an illegal body because it had not seated representatives from the southern states. He promised white southerners that the Democrats would win the 1866 midterm elections. Once back in power, he said, Democrats would repudiate the Republicans’ “radicalism” and put his plan back into place.

As he asserted his vision for the country, Johnson egged on white supremacist violence. In July, white mobs attacked a Unionist convention in New Orleans where delegates had called for taking the vote away from ex-Confederates and giving it to loyal Black men. The rioters killed 37 Black people and 3 white delegates to the convention.

By then, Johnson had become as unpopular as his policies. Increasingly isolated, he defended his plan for the nation as the only true course. In late August he broke tradition to campaign in person, an act at the time considered beneath the dignity of a president. He set off on a railroad tour, known as the “Swing Around the Circle,” to whip up support for the Democrats before the election.

Speaking from the same set of notes as the train stopped at different towns and cities from Washington, D.C., to New York, to Chicago, to St. Louis, and back to Washington, D.C., Johnson complained bitterly about the opposition to his reconstruction policies, attacked specific members of Congress as traitors and called for them to be hanged, and described himself as a martyr like Lincoln. And, noting the mercy of his reconstruction policies, he compared himself to Jesus.

It was all too much for voters. The white supremacist violence across the South horrified them, returning power to southern whites infuriated them, the reduction of Black soldiers to quasi-slaves enraged them, and Johnson’s attacks on Congress alarmed them. Johnson seemed determined to hand the country over to its former enemies to recreate the antebellum world that northerners had just poured more than 350,000 lives and $5 billion into destroying, no matter what voters wanted.

Johnson’s extremism and his supporters’ violence created a backlash. Northerners were not willing to hand the country back to the Democrats who were rioting in the South and to a president who compared himself to Jesus. Rather than turning against the Republicans in the 1866 elections, voters repudiated Johnson. They gave Republicans a two-thirds majority of Congress, enabling them to override any policy Johnson proposed.

And, in 1868, the states ratified the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, launching a new era in the history of the United States.


Oooh, Psalm 109. I had to look it up.

“For he never thought of doing a kindness,
but hounded to death the poor
and the needy and the brokenhearted.
He loved to pronounce a curse—
may it come back on him.”

Right back at ya, don.


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Just wanted to remind you this was out there. If you’re interested, you can visit their website to pick up your card templates and join the campaign that is “saving democracy one card at a time.”


March 31, 2024 (Sunday)

On Wednesday, President Joe Biden issued an executive order instructing the National Park Service to “highlight important figures and chapters in women’s history.” “Women and girls of all backgrounds have shaped our country’s history, from the ongoing fight for justice and equality to cutting-edge scientific advancements and artistic achievements,” the announcement read. “Yet these contributions have often been overlooked. We must do more to recognize the role of women and girls in America’s story, including through the Federal Government’s recognition and interpretation of historic and cultural sites.”

In a time when American women are seeing their rights stripped away, it seems worthwhile on this last day of Women’s History Month to highlight the work of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who challenged the laws that barred women from jobs and denied them rights, eventually setting the country on a path to extend equal justice under law to women and LGBTQ Americans.

Ginsburg was born in Brooklyn, New York, on March 15, 1933, in an era when laws, as well as the customs they protected, treated women differently than men. Joan Ruth Bader, who went by her middle name, was the second daughter in a middle-class Jewish family. She went to public schools, where she excelled, and won a full scholarship to Cornell. There she met Martin Ginsburg, and they married after she graduated. “What made Marty so overwhelmingly attractive to me was that he cared that I had a brain,” she later explained. Relocating to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, for her husband’s army service, Ginsburg scored high on the civil service exam but could find work only as a typist. When she got pregnant with their daughter, Jane, she lost her job.

Two years later, the couple moved back east, where Marty had been admitted to Harvard Law School. Ginsburg was admitted the next year, one of 9 women in her class of more than 500 students; a dean asked her why she was “taking the place of a man.” She excelled, becoming the first woman on the prestigious Harvard Law Review. When her husband underwent surgery and radiation treatments for testicular cancer, she cared for him and their daughter while managing her studies and helping Marty with his. She rarely slept.

After he graduated, Martin Ginsburg got a job in New York, and Ginsburg transferred to Columbia Law School, where she graduated at the top of her class. But in 1959, law firms weren’t hiring women, and judges didn’t want them as clerks either—especially mothers, who might be distracted by their “familial obligations.” Finally, her mentor, law professor Gerald Gunther, got her a clerkship by threatening Judge Edmund Palmieri that if he did not take her, Gunther would never send him a clerk again.

After her clerkship and two years in Sweden, where laws about gender equality were far more advanced than in America, Ginsburg became one of America’s first female law professors. She worked first at Rutgers University—where she hid her pregnancy with her second child, James, until her contract was renewed—and then at Columbia Law School, where she was the first woman the school tenured.

At Rutgers she began her bid to level the legal playing field between men and women, extending equal protection under the law to include gender. Knowing she had to appeal to male judges, she often picked male plaintiffs to establish the principle of gender equality.

In 1971 she wrote the brief for Sally Reed in the case of Reed vs. Reed, when the Supreme Court decided that an Idaho law specifying that “males must be preferred to females” in appointing administrators of estates was unconstitutional. Chief Justice Warren Burger, who had been appointed by Richard Nixon, wrote: “To give a mandatory preference to members of either sex over members of the other…is to make the very kind of arbitrary legislative choice forbidden by the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment” to the Constitution.

In 1972, Ginsburg won the case of Moritz v. Commissioner. She argued that a law preventing a bachelor, Charles Moritz, from claiming a tax deduction for the care of his aged mother because the deduction could be claimed only by women, or by widowed or divorced men, was discriminatory. The United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit agreed, citing Reed v. Reed when it decided that discrimination on the basis of sex violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution.

In that same year, Ginsburg founded the Women’s Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Between 1973 and 1976, she argued six gender discrimination cases before the Supreme Court. She won five. The first time she appeared before the court, she quoted nineteenth-century abolitionist and women’s rights activist Sarah Grimké: “I ask no favor for my sex. All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks.”

Nominated to the Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton in 1993, she was confirmed by a vote of 96 to 3. Clinton called her “the Thurgood Marshall of gender-equality law.”

In her 27 years on the Supreme Court, Ginsburg championed equal rights both from the majority and in dissent (which she would mark by wearing a sequined collar), including her angry dissent in 2006 in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber when the plaintiff, Lilly Ledbetter, was denied decades of missing wages because the statute of limitations had already passed when she discovered she had been paid far less than the men with whom she worked. “The court does not comprehend or is indifferent to the insidious way in which women can be victims of pay discrimination,” Ginsburg wrote. Congress went on to change the law, and the first bill President Barack Obama signed was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

In 2013, Ginsburg famously dissented from the majority in Shelby County v. Holder, the case that gutted the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The majority decided to remove the provision of the law that required states with histories of voter suppression to get federal approval before changing election laws, arguing that such preclearance was no longer necessary. Ginsburg wrote: “Throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.” As she predicted, after the decision, many states immediately began to restrict voting.

Ginsburg’s dissent made her a cultural icon. Admirers called her “The Notorious R.B.G.” after the rapper The Notorious B.I.G., wore clothing with her image on it, dressed as her for Halloween, and bought RBG dolls and coloring books. In 2018 the hit documentary “RBG” told the story of her life, and as she aged, she became a fitness influencer for her relentless strength-training regimen. She was also known for her plain speaking. When asked when there would be enough women on the Supreme Court, for example, she answered: “[W]hen there are nine.”

Ginsburg’s death on September 18, 2020, brought widespread mourning among those who saw her as a champion for equal rights for women, LGBTQ Americans, minorities, and those who believe the role of the government is to make sure that all Americans enjoy equal justice under law. Upon her passing, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton tweeted: “Justice Ginsburg paved the way for so many women, including me. There will never be another like her. Thank you RBG.”

Just eight days after Ginsburg’s death, then-president Donald Trump nominated extremist Amy Coney Barrett to take her seat on the court, and then–Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) rushed her confirmation hearings so the Senate could confirm her before the 2020 presidential election. It did so on October 26, 2020. Barrett was a key vote on the June 2022 Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, the Supreme Court ruling that overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision recognizing the constitutional right to abortion.

Ginsburg often quoted Justice Louis Brandeis’s famous line, “The greatest menace to freedom is an inert people,” and she advised people to “fight for the things you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”

Setting an example for how to advance the principle of equality, she told the directors of the documentary “RBG” that she wanted to be remembered “[j]ust as someone who did whatever she could, with whatever limited talent she had, to move society along in the direction I would like it to be for my children and grandchildren.”


April 1, 2024 (Monday)

On Tuesday, March 26, Judge Juan Merchan, who is presiding over Trump’s election interference case, put Trump under a gag order to stop his attacks on court staff, prosecutors, jurors, and witnesses. On Wednesday, Trump renewed his attacks on the judge and the judge’s daughter. On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton took the unusual step of talking publicly about what threats of violence meant to the rule of law. Walton, who was appointed to the federal bench by President George W. Bush, told Kaitlan Collins of CNN that threats, especially threats to a judge’s family, undermine the ability of judges to carry out their duties.

“I think it’s important in order to preserve our democracy that we maintain the rule of law,” Walton said. “And the rule of law can only be maintained if we have independent judicial officers who are able to do their job and ensure that the laws are, in fact, enforced and that the laws are applied equally to everybody who appears in our courthouse.”

On Friday, former president Trump shared on social media a video of a truck with a decal showing President Joe Biden tied up and seemingly in the bed of the truck, in a position suggesting he was being kidnapped.

A threat of violence has always been part of Trump’s political performance. In 2016 he urged rallygoers to “knock the crap out of” protesters, and they did. They also turned on people who weren’t protesters. Political scientists Ayal Feinberg, Regina Branton, and Valerie Martinez-Ebers studied the effects of Trump’s 2016 campaign rhetoric against marginalized Americans and found that counties where Trump held rallies had a significant increase in hate incidents in the month after that rally.

Trump’s stoking of violence became an embrace when he declared there were “very fine people, on both sides,” after protesters stood up against racists, antisemites, white nationalists, Ku Klux Klan members, neo-Nazis, and other alt-right groups met in August 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia, where they shouted Nazi slogans and left 19 people injured and one protester, Heather Heyer, dead.

In October 2020, Trump refused to denounce the far-right Proud Boys organization, instead telling its members to “stand back and stand by.” The Proud Boys turned out for the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, where they helped to lead those rioters fired up by Trump’s speech at The Ellipse, where he told them: “You’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong. We have come to demand that Congress do the right thing…. And we fight. We fight like hell. And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”

Trump’s appeals to violence have gotten even more overt since the events of January 6.

And yet, on Meet the Press yesterday, Kristen Welker seemed to suggest that there is a general problem in U.S. politics when she described Trump’s attacks on Judge Merchan as “a reminder that we are covering this election against the backdrop of a deeply divided nation.”

But are the American people deeply divided? Or have Trump and his MAGA supporters driven the Republican Party off the rails?

One of the major issues of the 2024 election—perhaps THE major issue—is reproductive rights. But Americans are not really divided on that issue: on Friday, a new Axios-Ipsos poll found that 81% of Americans agree that “abortion issues should be managed between a woman and her doctor, not the government.” That number includes 65% of Republicans, as well as 82% of Independents and 97% of Democrats. The idea that abortion should be between a woman and her doctor was the language of the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, overturned in 2022 with the help of the three extremist justices appointed by Trump.

Last week, the Congressional Management Foundation, which works with Congress to make it more efficient and accountable, released its study of the state of Congress in 2024. It found that senior congressional staffers overwhelmingly think that Congress is not functioning “as a democratic legislature should.” Eighty percent of them think it is not “an effective forum for debate on questions of public concern.”

But there is a significant difference in the parties’ perception of what’s wrong. While 61% of Republican staffers are satisfied that Congress members and staff feel safe doing their jobs, only 21% of Democratic staffers agree, and Democratic staffers are significantly more likely to fear for their and others’ safety. Women and longer-tenured staffers are more likely to be questioning whether to stay in Congress due to safety concerns. Eighty-four percent of Democratic staffers think that agreed-upon rules and codes of conduct for senators and representatives are not sufficient to “hold them accountable for their words and deeds,” while only 44% of Republicans say the same.

Republicans themselves seem split about the direction of their party. Republican staffers were far more likely than Democrats to be “questioning whether I should stay in Congress due to heated rhetoric from my party”: 59% to 16%. “The way the House is ‘functioning,’ is frustrating many members,” wrote one House Republican deputy chief of staff. “We have to placate [certain] members and in my nearly ten years of working here I have never felt more like we’re on the wrong track.”

One Republican Senate communications director blamed extremist political rhetoric for the dysfunction. “[W]ith the nation being in a self-sort mode, it is easy to never hear a dissenting opinion in many areas of the country. People in DC, who work in the Capitol, generally have a collegiate approach to each other. The American people don’t get to see that—at all. From the outside it appears to be a Royal Rumble and bloodsport. It’s reflected in the [way] people, regular citizens, now view one another.”

A Republican House staff director wrote that Congress is “a representative body and a reflection of the people writ large. When they demand something different of their leaders, their leaders will respond (or they will elect different leaders).”

Burgess Everett and Olivia Beavers of Politico reported yesterday that nearly 20 Republican lawmakers and aides have told them they would like Trump to calm down his rhetoric. They appear to think such violent commentary is unpopular and that it will hurt those running in downballot races if they have to answer for it.

It seems unlikely Trump will willingly temper his comments, since threatening violence seems to be all he has left to combat the legal cases bearing down on him. Over the course of Easter morning, he posted more than 70 times on social media, attacking his opponents and declaring himself to be “The Chosen One.”

Tonight, Trump posted a $175 million appeals bond in the New York civil fraud case. He was unable to secure a bond for the full amount of the judgment, but an appeals court lowered the amount. Posting the bond will let him appeal the judge’s decision. If he wins on appeal, he will avoid paying the judgment. If he loses, the bond is designed to guarantee that Trump will pay the entire amount the judge determined he owes to the people of New York: more than $454 million.

Trump and his campaign are short of cash, and there were glimmers last week that the public launch of his media network would produce significant money if he could only hold off judgments until he could sell the stock—six months, according to the current agreement—or use his shares as collateral for a bond. The company’s public launch raised the stock price by billions of dollars.

But this morning the company released its 2023 financial information, showing revenues of $4.1 million last year and a net loss of $58.2 million. The stock plunged about 20%, wiping out about $1 billion of the money that Trump had, on paper anyway, made. The company said it has not made any changes to the provision prohibiting early sales or using shares as collateral.

Tonight, Judge Merchan expanded the previous gag order on Trump to stop attacks on the judge’s family members. Trump has a right “to speak to the American voters freely and to defend himself publicly,” but “[i]t is no longer just a mere possibility or a reasonable likelihood that there exists a threat to the integrity of the judicial proceedings,” Marchand wrote. “The threat is very real.”


April 2, 2024 (Tuesday)

Almost six months have passed since President Joe Biden asked Congress to appropriate money for Ukraine in a national security supplemental bill. At first, House Republicans said they would not pass such a bill without border security. Then, when a bipartisan group of senators actually produced a border security provision for the national security bill, they killed it, under orders from former president Trump.

In February the Senate passed the national security supplemental bill with aid for Ukraine without the border measures by a strong bipartisan vote of 70 to 29. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) cheered its passage, saying: “The national security bill passed by the Senate is of profound importance to America’s security.”

The measure would pass in the House by a bipartisan vote, but House speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) has refused to take it up, acting in concert with Trump.

On March 24, on Washington Week, foreign affairs journalist Anne Applebaum said: “Trump has decided that he doesn’t want money to go to Ukraine… It’s really an extraordinary moment; we have an out-of-power ex-president who is in effect dictating American foreign policy on behalf of a foreign dictator or with the interests of a foreign dictator in mind.”

On Thursday, March 28, Beth Reinhard, Jon Swaine, and Aaron Schaffer of the Washington Post reported that Richard Grenell, an extremist who served as Trump’s acting director of national intelligence, has been traveling around the world to meet with far-right foreign leaders, “acting as a kind of shadow secretary of state, meeting with far-right leaders and movements, pledging Trump’s support and, at times, working against the current administration’s policies.”

Grenell, the authors say, is openly laying the groundwork for a president who will make common cause with authoritarian leaders and destroy partnerships with democratic allies. Trump has referred to Grenell as “my envoy,” and the Trump camp has suggested he is a frontrunner to become secretary of state if Trump is reelected in 2024.

Applebaum was right: it is extraordinary that we have a former president who is now out of power running his own foreign policy.

For most of U.S. history, there was an understanding that factionalism stopped at the water’s edge. Partisans might fight tooth and nail within the U.S., but they presented a united front to the rest of the world. That understanding was strong enough that it was not for nearly a half century that we had definitive proof that in 1968 Republican presidential candidate Richard Nixon had launched a secret effort to thwart incumbent president Lyndon Baines Johnson’s peace initiative to end the Vietnam War; Nixon had tried very hard to hide it.

But the era of hiding attempts to undermine foreign policy ended in 2015, when 47 Republican senators openly warned Iranian officials that they would destroy any agreement Iran made with then-president Barack Obama, a Democrat, over nuclear weapons as soon as a Republican regained the White House. At the time it sparked a firestorm, although the senators involved could argue that they, too, should be considered the voice of the government.

It was apparently a short step from the idea that it was acceptable to undermine foreign policy decisions made by a Democratic president to the idea that it was acceptable to work with foreign operatives to change foreign policy. In late 2016, Trump’s then national security advisor Michael Flynn talked to Russian foreign minister Sergey Kislyak about relieving Russia of U.S. sanctions. Now, eight years later, Trump is conducting his own foreign policy, and it runs dead against what the administration, the Pentagon, and a majority of senators and representatives think is best for the nation.

Likely expecting help from foreign countries, Trump is weakening the nation internationally to gain power at home. In that, he is retracing the steps of George Logan, who in 1798 as a private citizen set off for France to urge French officials to court popular American opinion in order to help throw George Washington’s party out of power and put Thomas Jefferson’s party in.

Congress recognized that inviting foreign countries to interfere on behalf of one candidate or another would turn the United States into a vassal state, and when Logan arrived back on U.S. shores, he discovered that Congress had passed a 1799 law we now know as the Logan Act, making his actions a crime.

The law reads: “Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.”

Trump’s interference in our foreign policy is weakening Ukraine, which desperately needs equipment to fight off Russia’s invasion. It is also warning partners and allies that they cannot rely on the United States, thus serving Russian president Vladimir Putin’s goal of fracturing the alliance standing against Russian aggression.

Today, Lara Seligman, Stuart Lau, and Paul McLeary of Politico reported that officials at the meeting of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) foreign ministers in Brussels on Thursday are expected to discuss moving the Ukraine Defense Contact Group from U.S. to NATO control. The Ukraine Defense Contact Group is an organization of 56 nations brought together in the early days of the conflict by U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and then–Joint Chiefs chair General Mark Milley to coordinate supplying Ukraine.

Members are concerned about maintaining aid to Ukraine in case of a second Trump presidency.

Jim Townsend, a former Pentagon and NATO official, told the Politico reporters: “There’s a feeling among, not the whole group but a part of the NATO group, that thinks it is better to institutionalize the process just in case of a Trump re-election. And that’s something that the U.S. is going to have to get used to hearing, because that is a fear, and a legitimate one.”


Illegal and subject to prosecution, yes? Seriously, how is this guy not under arrest??


If you’re talking about the Logan Act, probably not. That specifically has to do with private citizens negotiating with foreign governments or agents over an actual dispute or controversy with the United States. If all he’s doing is talking to various foreign leaders about what Trump will do for them if he’s elected, that probably isn’t in violation of that law. Also, only two people have ever been charged with violating that law: one in 1802 and one in 1852. Neither were convicted. The law was also amended in 1994 to remove the jail time from the penalties, so it’s only a nominal fine even if someone were charged and convicted.


Seems like a reasonable cause to pull his passport or put him on the no-fly list, though. Tough to meet with foreign dictators outside of the US if you can’t leave…


Ok. But on what legal theory are you going to do that? He likely hasn’t broken any laws. Do you really want the government to be able to pull someone’s passport for this? Keep in mind if you establish this precedent, it will be used against completely different kinds of people the next time Republicans hold the reins of government.


Violation of the Logan Act, which does have value even as a matter of discouragement. Because we know he’s interfering with Ukraine support and NATO, it’s just a matter of confirming it.

And the State Department definitely has authority to suspend the passport of any American citizen deemed working against US interests outside the country. This has already been used in the past by the government against people doing good things; why not use it to stop someone doing objectively bad things?

That’s just not true. Anything they want to do, they’ll do if they can pull it off. They don’t need precedence or evidence. Look at the impeachment effort against Biden (and Obama and Clinton before him). We cannot hesitate to do what’s right out of fear that it will be used to do something wrong. We already know that bad faith actors will do it anyway if they can get away with it.


Please see my other comment about the Logan Act. That law has less teeth than the Comstock Act. What he’s doing doesn’t violate that law. And even if it did and he was prosecuted for it, he’d only be subject to a $5,000 fine. It’s a pointless law, which is why only two people have ever been charged with violating it, and neither were convicted.

We cannot expect or hope for the legal system to protect us from Trump and his cronies. It’s not going to happen prior to the November election. We have one way out of this and that is to vote for Biden and every Democrat on every ballot. Our focus needs to be there.


and later, of course, reagan:

i wonder if this means only republicans have been doing this over the years? :thinking:


Well, Dems do seem to worry more about playing be the rules. Not that they don’t cheat, but at least they worry about getting caught.


April 3, 2024 (Wednesday)

The election of 2000 was back in the news this week, when Nate Cohn of the New York Times reminded readers of his newsletter, using a map by data strategist and consultant Matthew C. Isbell, that the unusual butterfly ballot design in Palm Beach County that year siphoned off at least 2,000 votes intended for Democratic candidate Al Gore to far-right candidate Pat Buchanan.

Those 2,000 votes were enough to decide the election, “all things being equal,” Cohn wrote. But of course, they weren’t equal: in 1998 a purge of the Florida voter rolls had disproportionately disenfranchised Black voters, making them ten times more likely than white voters to have their ballots rejected.

That ballot and that purge gave Republican candidate George W. Bush the electoral votes from Florida, putting him into the White House although he had lost the popular vote by more than half a million votes.

Revisiting the 2000 election reminds us that manipulating the vote through voter suppression or the mechanics of an election in even small ways can undermine the will of the people.

A poll out today from the Associated Press/NORC showed that the vast majority of Americans agree about the importance of the fundamental principles of our democracy. Ninety-eight percent of Americans think the right to vote is extremely important, very important, or somewhat important. Only 2% think it is “not too important.” The split was similar with regard to “the right of everyone to equal protection under the law”: 98% of those polled thought it was extremely, very, or somewhat important, while only 2% thought it was not too important.

Recent election results suggest that voters don’t support the extremism of the current Republican Party. In local elections in the St. Louis, Missouri, area on Tuesday, voters rejected all 13 right-wing candidates for school boards, and in Enid, Oklahoma, voters recalled a city council member who participated in the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and had ties to white supremacist groups.

Seemingly aware of the growing backlash to their policies, MAGA Republicans are backing away from them, at least in public. Earlier this year, Florida governor Ron DeSantis called for making it harder to ban books after a few activists systematically challenged dozens of books in districts where they had no children in the schools—although he blamed teachers, administrators, and “the news media” for creating a “hoax.”

Today, lawyers for the state of Texas told a federal appeals court that state legislators might have gone “too far” with their immigration law that made it a state crime to enter Texas illegally and allowed state judges to order immigrants to be deported. (Mexico had flatly refused to accept deported immigrants from other countries under this new law.) Nonetheless, Arizona legislators have passed a similar bill—that Democratic governor Katie Hobbs refuses to sign into law—and are considering another measure that would allow landowners to threaten or shoot people who cross their property to get into the U.S.

Indeed, the extremists who have taken over the Republican Party seem less inclined to moderate their stances than either to pollute popular opinion or to prevent their opponents from voting.

While Trump is hedging about his stance on abortion—after bragging repeatedly that he was the person responsible for overturning Roe v. Wade—MAGA Republicans have made their unpopular abortion stance even stronger.

Emily Cochrane of the New York Times reported today that the hospital at the center of the decision by the Alabama state supreme court that embryos used for in vitro fertilization have the same rights and protections as children has ended its IVF services. And on Monday, Florida’s supreme court, which Florida governor Ron DeSantis packed with extremists, upheld a ban on abortion after 15 weeks and allowed a new six-week abortion ban—before most women know they’re pregnant—to go into effect in 30 days.

In the past, people seeking abortions had gravitated to Florida because its constitution upheld the right to privacy, which protected abortion. But now the Florida Supreme Court has decided the constitution does not protect the right to abortion. Caroline Kitchener explained in the Washington Post that in the past, more than 80,000 women a year accessed abortion services in Florida. This ban will make it nearly impossible to get an abortion in the American South.

Anya Cook, who in 2022 nearly died after she was denied an abortion under Florida’s 15-week ban, gave Kitchener a message for Florida women experiencing pregnancy complications: “Run,” she said. “Run, because you have no help here.”

Extremist Republicans have managed to put their policies into place not by winning a majority and passing laws through Congress, but by creating cases that they then take to sympathetic judges. This system, known as “judge shopping,” has so perverted lawmaking that on March 12 the Judicial Conference, the body that makes policy for federal courts, announced a new rule that any lawsuit seeking to overturn statewide or national policies would be randomly assigned among a larger pool of judges.

On March 29, the chief judge of the Northern District of Texas, where many such cases are filed, told Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) that he would not adhere to the new rules.

Rather than moderating their stances, extremist Republicans are doubling down on their attempt to create dirt on the president. With their impeachment effort against President Joe Biden in embarrassing ruins, House Republicans are casting around for another issue to hurt the Democrats before the 2024 election.

Jennifer Haberkorn of Politico reported today that in the last month, House Republican Committee chairs have sent almost 50 oversight requests to a variety of departments and agencies. Haberkorn noted that there is “significant political pressure on the party to produce results after months of promising it would uncover evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors involving Biden.”

But it is Trump, not Biden, who is in the news for questionable behavior. In The Guardian today, Hugo Lowell reported that Trump’s social media company was kept afloat in 2022 “by emergency loans provided in part by a Russian-American businessman under scrutiny in a federal insider-trading and money-laundering investigation.”

There is more trouble for the social media company in the news today, as two of its investors pleaded guilty to being part of an insider-trading scheme involving the company’s stock. They admitted they had secret, inside information about the merger between Trump Media and Digital World Acquisition Corporation and had used that insider information to make profitable trades.

Meanwhile, Trump is suing Truth Social’s founders to force them out of leadership and make them give up their shares in the company. His is a countersuit to their lawsuit accusing him of trying to dilute the company’s stock.

Of more immediate concern for Trump, Judge Juan Merchan denied yet another attempt by Trump—his eighth, according to prosecutors—to delay his election interference trial. The trial is scheduled to begin April 15.

Finally, in an illustration of extremists aiming not to moderate their stances but to impose the will of the minority on the majority, Republicans are putting in place rules to make it easier for individuals to challenge voters, removing them from the voter rolls before the 2024 election.

Marc Elias of Democracy Docket noted today that states and local governments have regular programs to keep voter registration accurate, while right-wing activists are operating on a different agenda. In one 70,000-person town in Michigan, a single activist challenged more than a thousand voters, Elias reported, and in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, right-wing activists have already challenged 16,000 voters and intend to challenge another 10,000.

One group boasted that their system “can and will change elections in America forever.”

Rather like the election of 2000.


There was also a Jan. 6 insurrectionist who was running for the school board in St. Joseph, Missouri. She didn’t finish dead last, but she was pretty close. The incumbent board president, a black woman, by far received the most votes, and voter turnout was much higher than usual for a school board election. These are good signs for November, as long as we can make sure everyone can vote.


And keep in mind that the fascist party is also aware of this, and hell bent to make sure that “those” people cannot vote. GOTV is, and always has been, the key to overwhelming the asshole faction. At least for now, they can only chop at the margin, and can be overwhelmed by numbers. If they take control, that will most likely change, and we will face an existential threat.