Heather Cox Richardson

you might be giving them too much credit. they’d surely decide that when gop presidents do something illegal, it’s not actually illegal.


Hmmm, I wonder if we’ll ever find out what the SC thinks about presidential immunity…

Hd Reaction GIF by MOODMAN


Sooner than later. I hope they surprise me, but I don’t have a good feeling about it.


If this isn’t decided this term, then they’re waiting to see who gets elected.


June 17, 2024 (Monday)

Leaders from the Group of Seven (G7) met for their fiftieth summit in Italy from June 13 to June 15. Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States formed the G7 in 1975 as a forum for democracies with advanced economies to talk about political and economic issues. The European Union is also part of the forum, and this June, Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky also attended.

This summit was a particularly fraught one. When it took office, the Biden-Harris administration, along with the State Department under Secretary of State Antony Blinken, set out to reshape global power structures not only in light of Trump’s attempt to abandon international alliances and replace them with transactional deals, but also in light of a larger change in international affairs.

In a speech at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in September 2023, Blinken explained that the end of the Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union had promised a new era of peace and stability, with more international cooperation and political freedom. But while that period did, in fact, lift more than a billion people out of poverty, eradicate deadly diseases, and create historic lows in conflicts between state actors, it also gave rise to authoritarians determined to overthrow the international rules-based order.

At the same time, non-state actors—international corporations; non-governmental organizations, or NGOs, that provide services to hundreds of millions of people across the globe; terrorists who can inflict catastrophic harm; and transnational criminal organizations that traffic illegal drugs, weapons, and human beings—have growing influence.

Forging international cooperation has become more and more complex, Blinken explained, at the same time that global problems are growing: the climate crisis, food insecurity, mass migration and mass displacement of populations, as well as the potential for new pandemics. In the midst of all this pressure, “many countries are hedging their bets.”

They have lost faith in the international economic order, as a handful of governments have distorted the markets to gain unfair advantage while technology and globalization have hollowed out communities and inequality has skyrocketed. “Between 1980 and 2020,” Blinken noted, “the richest .1 percent accumulated the same wealth as the poorest 50 percent.” Those who feel the system is unfair are exacerbating the other drivers of political polarization.

These developments have undermined the post–Cold War political order, Blinken said. “One era is ending, a new one is beginning, and the decisions that we make now will shape the future for decades to come.”

In his inaugural address on January 20, 2021, President Joe Biden vowed to “repair our alliances and engage with the world once again.” Saying that “America’s alliances are our greatest asset” just weeks later at the State Department, the president and officers in the administration set out to rebuild alliances that had fallen into disrepair under Trump. They reinforced the international bodies that upheld a rules-based international order, bodies like the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) organized in 1947 to stand against Soviet aggression and now a bulwark against Russian aggression. They began the process of rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement and the World Health Organization, both of which Trump had abandoned.

Officials also worked to make international bodies more representative by, for example, welcoming into partnerships the African Union and Indonesia. They also broadened cooperation, as Blinken said, to “work with any country—including those with whom we disagree on important issues—so long as they want to deliver for their citizens, contribute to solving shared challenges, and uphold the international norms that we built together.”

At home, they worked to erase the “bright line” between foreign and domestic policy, investing in policies to bring jobs back to the U.S. both to restore the economic fairness they identified as important to democracy and to stabilize the supply chains that the pandemic had revealed to be a big national security threat.

On April 28, 2021, in his first address to a joint session of Congress, President Biden said he had told world leaders that “America is back.” But they responded: “[F]or how long?”

That question was the backdrop to the G7 summit. Trump has said he will abandon international alliances, including NATO, in favor of a transactional foreign policy. He supports Russian president Vladimir Putin’s attempt to replace the rules-based international order with the idea that might makes right and that any strong country can grab the land of weaker states.

Earlier this month, Biden used the occasion of the commemoration ceremonies around the 80th anniversary of D-Day to reinforce the international rules-based order and U.S. leadership in that system. On June 4, before Biden left for France, Massimo Calabresi published an interview with Biden in Time magazine in which Calabresi noted that the past 40 months have tested Biden’s vision. Russia reinvaded Ukraine in February 2022, and Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, 2023. Putin is trying to create “an axis of autocrats,” as Calabresi puts it, including the leaders of China and Iran, the state that is backing the non-state actors Hamas in Gaza, the Houthis of Yemen, and Hezbollah in Lebanon in order to destabilize Israel and the Arab states. China is threatening Taiwan.

Calabresi pointed out that Biden has responded to these threats by shoring up NATO and welcoming to it Finland and Sweden, with their powerful militaries. His support has enabled Ukraine to decimate the Russian military, which has lost at least 87% of the 360,000 troops it had when it attacked Ukraine in February 2022, thus dramatically weakening a nation seen as a key foe in 2021. He has kept the war in Gaza from spreading into a regional conflict and has forced Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza, although the Palestinian death toll has continued to mount as Netanyahu has backed devastating attacks on Gaza. Biden’s comprehensive deal in the Middle East—an immediate ceasefire, the release of all hostages held by Hamas, a big increase in humanitarian aid to Gaza, and an enduring end to the crisis with the security of both Israelis and Palestinians assured—has yet to materialize.

In Italy the leaders at the G7 summit stood firm behind Biden’s articulated vision, saying that the G7 “is grounded in a shared commitment to respect the U.N. Charter, promote international peace and security, and uphold the free and open rules-based international order.” On hot-button issues, the G7 backed Biden’s Middle East deal and support for Ukraine, agreeing to transfer $50 billion to Ukraine from the interest earned on Russian assets frozen in the European Union and elsewhere.

The Biden administration announced additional economic sanctions to isolate Russia even more from the international financial system. At the summit, on June 13, 2024, Presidents Biden and Zelensky signed a ten-year bilateral security agreement that commits the U.S. to supporting Ukraine with a wide range of military assistance but, unlike the NATO membership Ukraine wants, does not require that the U.S. send troops. The agreement is legally binding, but it is not a treaty ratified by the Senate. If he is reelected, Trump could end the agreement.

Immediately after the G7 summit, world leaders met in Switzerland for the Summit on Peace in Ukraine, held on June 15 and 16. Ukraine called the summit in hopes of persuading major countries from the global south to join and isolate Russia, but the group had to be content with demonstrating their own support for Ukraine. Vice President Kamala Harris, who attended the summit, today posted: “The more than 90 nations that gathered at the Summit on Peace in Ukraine hold a diverse range of views on global challenges and opportunities. We don’t always agree. But when it comes to Putin’s unprovoked, unjustified war—there is unity and solidarity in support of Ukraine and international rules and norms.”

Earlier this month, Finnish software and methodologies company Check First released a report exposing “a large-scale, cross-country, multi-platform disinformation campaign designed to spread pro-Russian propaganda in the West, with clear indicators of foreign interference and information manipulation.” The primary goal of “Operation Overload” is to overwhelm newsrooms and fact-checkers and spread “the Kremlin’s political agenda.”

Foreign affairs journalist Anne Applebaum told Bill Kristol of The Bulwark that China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela, and North Korea do not share an ideology, but “they do share a common interest, and the common interest is undermining…America, Europe, the liberal world, the democratic world.” They do this, she said, because the oppositions in their own countries are inspired by and use the democratic language of freedom and liberty and rights and rule of law, and leaders need to undermine that language to hold onto power. They also recognize that chaos and uncertainty give them business opportunities in the West. Disrupting democracies by feeding radicalism makes the democratic world lose its sense of community and solidarity.

When it does that, Applebaum notes, it loses its ability to stand up to autocrats.


I really hope this just awkwardly phrased. Surely Blinken is not blaming those of us who are calling out the robber barons or bothsidesing the issue, is he? Help me out here.


Well that part isn’t in quotes, so it’s HCR paraphrasing whatever Blinken actually said. I read that as just a factual statement that the unfairness of a lot of what’s been going on, institutionally, is making political divisions worse because it makes the people getting hurt distrustful of those institutions. I don’t think it was an attempt to blame both sides.


Yep, that’ssome uncharacteristically bad paraphrasing. Here’s what he said at that point in his remarks:

Countries and citizens are losing faith in the international economic order, their confidence rattled by systemic flaws:

A handful of governments that used rule-shattering subsidies, stolen IP, and other market-distorting practices to gain an unfair advantage in key sectors.

Technology and globalization that hollowed out and displaced entire industries, and policies that failed to do enough to help out the workers and communities that were left behind.

And inequality that has skyrocketed. Between 1980 and 2020, the richest .1 percent accumulated the same wealth as the poorest 50 percent.

The longer these disparities persist, the more distrust and disillusionment they fuel in people who feel the system is not giving them a fair shake. And the more they exacerbate other drivers of political polarization, amplified by algorithms that reinforce our biases rather than allowing the best ideas to rise to the top.


There we go. “They” in question are the income disparities, not the people being hurt by them. HCR usually does much better than that.


Yeah that sounds much better and makes a lot more sense. I’ll cut HCR a little slack, though, because there is a “them” right before the “they”, and the “them” does refer to the people, so, grammatically, it’s not clear who “they” refers to. In context, it’s clear.


June 18, 2024 (Tuesday)

First, a follow-up to last night’s letter on foreign affairs: Russian president Vladimir Putin visited North Korea today for a meeting with leader Kim Jong Un, who greeted his visitor personally as he got off the plane. Putin is looking for more weapons for his war on Ukraine. U.S. national security spokesman John Kirby expressed concern about “the deepening relationship between these two countries.”

At home, news broke on Saturday that Paul Pressler, a major leader of the Southern Baptist Convention and a key Republican activist, died on June 7 at age 94. In 1967, Pressler, a Texas judge, and Paige Patterson, a seminary student, met in New Orleans to plan a takeover of the Southern Baptists, the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S., to rid it of liberals, purging those who believed in abortion rights, women’s rights, and gay rights. By 1979 their candidate was elected head of the organization, and in the 1980s, Southern Baptists, who then numbered about 15 million people, were active in politics and were staunch supporters of the Republican Party.

In Robert Downen’s obituary of Pressler for the Texas Tribune, he notes that as Pressler’s influence in the Republican Party grew, he also allegedly groped, solicited, or raped at least six men, including one who said he was 14 when Pressler first sexually abused him. Pressler denied the allegations, but he and the Southern Baptist Convention settled a lawsuit brought by that accuser just last December. A 2019 investigation by the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News inspired by that lawsuit found more than 400 Southern Baptist church leaders or volunteers had been charged with sex crimes since 2000.

In March 2021 the hugely popular leader Beth Moore, herself a survivor of sexual assault, left the church, saying, “You have betrayed your women.” That May, Russell Moore (no relation to Ms. Moore) left the church leadership and then, the following month, left the church itself over its handling of sexual abuse allegations and racism. A 2022 report on the church and sex abuse was so damning that Russell Moore wrote: “I was wrong to call sexual abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention…a crisis. Crisis is too small a word. It is an apocalypse.” The investigation, he says, “uncovers a reality far more evil and systematic than I imagined it could be.”

The patriarchal model of society embraced by the Republican Party in the 1980s enabled the sorts of abuse uncovered in the Southern Baptist Convention, but Pressler’s death suggests that the era might be ending. Today, Robert Morris, the pastor of Texas megachurch Gateway Church, resigned after news broke on Friday that a woman has accused him of sexually abusing her for several years in the 1980s beginning when she was 12.

The Reagan Republican model started from the proposition that the best way to serve the public good was to slash taxes and regulations because that would enable the very wealthy to accumulate capital that they would then invest more efficiently in the economy, making it grow faster than it ever could when government investments warped markets. Theoretically, this would help everyone.

Former president Trump and MAGA Republicans are still advancing that plan. Trump has promised to cut taxes yet again if he is reelected and has suggested replacing them with tariffs, which are essentially taxes levied on imported goods and then passed on to the consumer. Meanwhile, the Heritage Foundation, which is the major organization behind Project 2025, has called for raising the retirement age for Social Security benefits because of future shortfalls in the program’s financing.

But in 2024 the media is noting ahead of time that Trump’s vow to abolish the income tax and replace it with higher tariffs would raise taxes for a typical American family by $5,000 while raising the incomes of the wealthiest Americans.

And while the Heritage Foundation dismisses out of hand the idea of raising taxes, the Biden administration has noted that we are on the cusp of a generational opportunity to reorient the U.S. tax system.

Yesterday, National Economic Council Deputy Director Daniel Hornung used the Trump tax cuts to skewer the larger argument that tax cuts help everyone. He pointed out that the 2017 Trump tax cuts failed on their own terms. Proponents of those cuts said they would benefit mainly ordinary Americans; instead, the bill gave those in the top 1% a tax cut more than 50 times higher than the cut that fell to middle-income households. Meanwhile, corporations used their tax savings on stock buybacks, dividends, and executive pay. No wage gains trickled down to the bottom 90% of workers.

Furthermore, the proponents of the Trump tax cuts said they would double or triple the economic growth rate. Instead, real GDP and fixed investment stayed at about the same rate as they had been before the tax cuts. Similarly, those behind the bill said it would increase revenues and pay for itself; instead, revenues fell and the deficit increased.

Hornung notes that Republicans want to continue this system, but the Biden administration wants to scrap it in favor of a system that would be “more fair, promoting economic opportunity and work and eliminating preferences for wealth,” and that would raise enough revenue to fund critical national priorities, like Social Security.

The administration would like to see higher taxes on the less than 5% of American households with an income of more than $400,000 a year and on corporations. In addition, it is calling for using the tax code to support middle-class families and those in need, including by restoring the expanded Child Tax Credit, which cut child poverty nearly in half in 2021.

Yesterday, officials from the Treasury Department said they were cracking down on the ability of businesses and the wealthy to manipulate the value of their assets to lower their taxes. Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo estimated that the crackdown should yield about $50 billion in the next decade.

The struggle to resurrect a government that works for ordinary people rather than concentrating power and wealth in the hands of a few was on display in President Biden’s announcement today that, in the absence of congressional legislation, he is trying to streamline the process of applying for U.S. citizenship for certain undocumented spouses and children of U.S. citizens, allowing them to apply for legal permanent residency without leaving the country.

Two weeks ago, Biden announced executive actions to bar undocumented immigrants from claiming asylum when the seven-day average of undocumented crossings is above 2,500 people. At the same time the administration is trying to stop undocumented immigration, it is also trying to make getting permanent residency easier for legal immigrants.

Currently, in order to apply for legal residency, an undocumented person has to leave the United States, leaving jobs and family, and to hope for a chance to come back in. Now people who have lived in the U.S. for at least ten years and are legally married to a U.S. citizen can apply without leaving first. So can those who were brought here as children who have earned a degree at an accredited U.S. institution of higher learning in the United States and who have received a job offer from a U.S. employer in a field related to their degree.

This rule will affect about 500,000 spouses of U.S. citizens and about 50,000 noncitizen children under the age of 21 whose parent is married to a U.S. citizen. It will affect 50,000 to 100,000 “Dreamers.”

“We’re a nation of immigrants,” Biden said as he announced the order. “That’s who we are.”


June 19, 2024 (Wednesday)

Today is the federal holiday honoring Juneteenth, the celebration of the announcement in Texas on June 19th, 1865, that enslaved Americans were free.

That announcement came as late as it did because, while General Robert E. Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia to General Ulysses S. Grant of the U.S. Army on April 9, 1865, it was not until June 2 that General Edmund Kirby Smith surrendered the Trans-Mississippi Department, the last major army of the Confederacy, to the United States, in Galveston, Texas. Smith then fled to Mexico.

Seventeen days later, Major General Gordon Granger of the U.S. Army arrived to take charge of the soldiers stationed in Texas. On that day, June 19, he issued General Order Number 3. It read:

“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor.”

Granger’s order was not based on the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which abolished enslavement except as punishment for a crime. Although Congress had passed that amendment on January 31, 1865, and Lincoln had signed it on February 1, the states were still in the process of ratifying it.

Instead, Granger’s order referred to the Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863, which declared that Americans enslaved in states that were in rebellion against the United States “shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons.” Granger was informing the people of Galveston that, Texas having been in rebellion on January 1, 1863, their world had changed. The federal government would see to it that, going forward, white people and Black people would be equal.

Black people in Galveston met the news Order No. 3 brought with celebrations in the streets, but emancipation was not a gift from white Americans. Black Americans had fought for the United States and worked in the fields to grow cotton the government could sell. Those unable to leave their homes had hidden U.S. soldiers, while those who could leave indicated their support for the Confederacy and enslavement with their feet. They had demonstrated their equality and their importance to the United States.

The next year, after the Thirteenth Amendment had been added to the Constitution, Texas freedpeople gathered on June 19, 1866, to celebrate the coming of their freedom with prayers, speeches, food, and socializing. By the following year, the federal government encouraged “Juneteenth” celebrations, eager to explain to Black citizens the voting rights that had been put in place by the Military Reconstruction Act in early March 1867, and the tradition of Juneteenth began to spread to Black communities across the nation.

But white former Confederates in Texas were demoralized and angered by the changes in their circumstances. “It looked like everything worth living for was gone,” Texas cattleman Charles Goodnight later recalled.

In summer 1865, as white legislators in the states of the former Confederacy grudgingly ratified the Thirteenth Amendment, they also passed laws to keep freedpeople subservient to their white neighbors. These laws, known as the Black Codes, varied by state, but they generally bound Black Americans to yearlong contracts working in fields owned by white men; prohibited Black people from meeting in groups, owning guns or property, or testifying in court; outlawed interracial marriage; and permitted white men to buy out the jail terms of Black people convicted of a wide swath of petty crimes, and then to force those former prisoners into labor to pay off their debt.

At the same time, those determined to preserve their power began to rewrite the history of the Civil War. The war had irrevocably undermined the institution of enslavement in the American South, moving it far beyond the ability of white southerners to reinstate it (although some historians argue that without the Thirteenth Amendment enslavement might have moved into the western mines). So white supremacists began to claim that secession had never been about slavery, despite the many declarations of secession saying the opposite. With the Freedmen’s Bureau, created by Congress in March 1865, defending the rights of Black Americans, certain white southerners began to claim that their “cause” had been to protect the rights of the states against a powerful federal government that was forcing on them a way of life they opposed.

In the 1820s, before he became president, Andrew Jackson argued that true democracy meant honoring the votes of those in the states rather than laws made by Congress. This idea justified minority rule. Under this argument, a state’s voters could choose to take the land of their Indigenous neighbors or enslave their Black neighbors even if the majority of Americans, speaking through Congress, opposed those policies, because what mattered was the local vote. Crucially, states also decided who could participate in voting, and before the Civil War, the body politic was almost exclusively white men.

The Black Codes were a clear illustration of what that system meant. Congress refused to readmit the southern states with the codes, and in 1866, congressmen wrote and passed the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. Its first section established that “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” It went on: “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

That was the whole ball game. The federal government had declared that a state legislature—no matter who elected it or what voters called for—could not discriminate against any of its citizens or arbitrarily take away any of a citizen’s rights. Then, like the Thirteenth Amendment before it, the Fourteenth declared that “Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article,” strengthening the federal government.

The addition of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution in 1868 remade the United States of America.

But those determined to preserve a world that discriminated between Americans according to race, gender, ability, and so on, continued to find workarounds. Key to those workarounds has always been resurrecting the idea that true democracy means reducing the power of the federal government and centering the power of the state governments, where voters—registered according to state laws—can choose the policies they prefer…even if they are discriminatory.

In our era, those discriminatory policies are not just racial. They often center religion and include attacks on women’s healthcare and right to abortion, LGBTQ+ Americans, immigrants, and non-Christians. Just today, Louisiana governor Jeff Landry signed into law a measure requiring that every classroom in Louisiana public schools display the Ten Commandments. Those embracing the law hope to push the question of public displays of their faith to the Supreme Court, where they expect a warmer reception from this court than such discriminatory positions have gotten since the 1950s.

If states get to determine who votes and can pass discriminatory legislation without interference by the federal government, they can construct the kind of world Americans lived in before the Fourteenth Amendment. As several Republican-dominated states have already demonstrated, they can also rewrite history.

In 1865, Juneteenth was a celebration of freedom and the war’s end. In 1866 it was a celebration of the enshrinement of freedom in the U.S. Constitution after the Thirteenth Amendment had been ratified. In 1867, Juneteenth was a celebration of the freedom of Black men to vote, the very real power of having a say in the government under which they lived.

In a celebration of Juneteenth on June 10, 2024, Vice President Kamala Harris noted: “Across our nation, we witness a full-on attack on hard-fought, hard-won freedoms and rights, including the freedom of a woman to make decisions about her own body; the freedom to be who you are and love who you love openly and with pride; the freedom from fear of bigotry and hate; the freedom to learn and acknowledge our nation’s true and full history; and the freedom that unlocks all others: the freedom to vote.”


June 20, 2024 (Thursday)

Yesterday, in North Korea, Russian president Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un signed a security partnership between their countries that said they would “provide mutual assistance in case of aggression.” The two authoritarian leaders essentially resurrected a 1961 agreement between North Korea and the Soviet Union. According to the North Korean News Agency, the agreement also calls for the two countries to work together toward a “just and multipolar new world order.”

The United States and other western allies have been concerned for two years about the strengthening ties between the two countries. Putin needs weapons for the war in Ukraine, and in exchange, he might provide not only the economic support Kim Jong Un needs—North Korea is one of the poorest countries in Asia—but also transfer the technology North Korea needs to develop nuclear weapons.

In the New York Times today, David Sanger pointed out that Putin and China’s leader Xi Jinping have partnered against the West in the past decade but have always agreed that North Korea must not be able to develop a nuclear weapon. Now, it appears, Putin is desperate enough for munitions that he is willing to provide the technologies North Korea needs to obtain one, along with missiles to deliver it.

Meanwhile, Joby Warrick reported yesterday in the Washington Post that Iran has launched big expansions of two key nuclear enrichment plants, and leaders of the country’s nuclear program have begun to say they could build a nuclear weapon quickly if asked to do so. On X, security analyst Jon Wolfsthal recalled the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that successfully limited Iran’s nuclear program and that Trump abandoned with vows to produce something better. Wolfsthal noted that diplomacy worked when “wars and ‘promises’ of a better deal could not.”

Still, the meeting between Putin and Kim Jong Un is a sign of weakness, not strength. As The Telegraph pointed out, just ten years ago, Putin was welcomed to the G8 (now the G7) by the leaders of the richest countries in the world. “Now he has to go cap in hand to the pariah state of North Korea,” it pointed out. National Security Communications Advisor John Kirby added that “Russia is absolutely isolated on the world stage. They’ve been forced to rely, again, on countries like North Korea and Iran. Meanwhile…, Ukraine just organized a successful peace summit in Switzerland that had more than 100 countries and organizations sign up to support President Zelenskyy’s vision for a just peace.”

In that same press conference, Kirby noted that the U.S. is delaying planned deliveries of foreign military sales to other countries, particularly of air defense missiles, sending the weapons to Ukraine instead. Also today, the U.S. emphasized that Ukraine can use American-supplied weapons to hit Russian forces in Russia. This is at least partly in response to recent reports that Russia is pulverizing Ukrainian front-line cities to force inhabitants to abandon them. Ukraine can slow the barrage by hitting the Russian airstrips from which the planes are coming.

China, which declared a “no limits” partnership with Russia in February 2022 just before Russia invaded Ukraine, kept distant from the new agreement between Russia and North Korea. Tong Zhao of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace told Laurie Chen and Josh Smith of Reuters: "China is…careful not to create the perception of a de facto alliance among Beijing, Moscow, and Pyongyang, as this will not be helpful for China to maintain practical cooperation with key Western countries.”

Greg Torode, Gerry Doyle, and Laurie Chen published an exclusive story in Reuters tonight, reporting that in March, for the first time in five years, delegates from the U.S. and China resumed semi-official talks about nuclear arms, although official talks have stalled.

The office of president of the Republic of Korea (ROK), Yoon Suk Yeol, condemned the agreement. “It’s absurd that two parties with a history of launching wars of invasion—the Korean War and the war in Ukraine—are now vowing mutual military cooperation on the premise of a preemptive attack by the international community that will never happen,” it said. An ROK national security official added that the government, which has provided humanitarian aid to Ukraine, will now consider supplying weapons. This is no small threat: ROK is one of the world’s top ten arms exporters.

In the U.S., John Kirby told reporters that while cooperation between Russia and North Korea is a concern, the U.S. has been strengthening and bolstering alliances and partnerships throughout the Indo-Pacific region since President Joe Biden took office. It brokered the historic trilateral agreement between the Republic of Korea, Japan, and the United States; launched AUKUS, the trilateral security partnership between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the U.S.; and expanded cooperation with the Philippines.

On Tuesday, at a joint press conference with U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken in Washington, D.C., NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg explained the cooperation between Russia and North Korea like this. “Russia’s war in Ukraine is…propped up by China, North Korea, and Iran,” he said. “They want to see the United States fail. They want to see NATO fail. If they succeed in Ukraine, it will make us more vulnerable and the world more dangerous.

To that, The Bulwark today added journalist Anne Applebaum’s comments about the determination of those countries to disrupt liberal democracies. Dictators, she said, “are betting that Trump will be the person who destroys the United States, whether he makes it ungovernable, whether he assaults the institutions so that they no longer function, whether he creates so much division and chaos that the U.S. can’t have a foreign policy anymore. That’s what they want, and that’s what they’re hoping he will do.”

Trump himself is a more and more problematic candidate. This week, author Ramin Setoodeh, who has a new book coming out soon about Trump’s transformation from failed businessman to reality TV star on the way to the presidency, has told reporters that Trump has “severe memory issues” adding that “he couldn’t remember things, he couldn’t even remember me.”

Trump is supposed to participate in a debate with President Biden on June 27, and while Biden is preparing as candidates traditionally do, with policy reviews and practice, Trump’s team has been downplaying Trump’s need for preparation, saying that his rallies and interviews with friendly media are enough.

With new polls showing Biden overtaking the lead in the presidential contest, right-wing media has been pushing so-called cheap fakes: videos that don’t use AI but misrepresent what happened by deceptively cutting the film or the shot.

Social media has been flooded with images of Biden appearing to bend over for no apparent reason at a D-Day commemoration; the clip cuts off both the chair behind him and that everyone else was sitting down, too. Another, from the recent G7 summit, appears to show the president wandering away from a group of leaders during a skydiving demonstration; in fact, he was walking toward and speaking to a parachute jumper who had just landed but was off camera. A third appears to show Biden unable to say the name of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas; in fact, he was teasing Mayorkas, and the film cuts off just before Biden says his name.

On Monday, June 17, Judd Legum of Popular information produced a deep report on how the right-wing Sinclair Broadcast Group has been flooding its local media websites with these and other stories suggesting that President Biden is “mentally unfit for office.” Legum noted that these stories appeared simultaneously on at least 86 local news websites Sinclair owns.

Finally, today, in the New York Times, Charlie Savage and Alan Feuer reported that two of Judge Aileen Cannon’s more experienced colleagues on Florida’s federal bench—including the chief judge, a George W. Bush appointee—urged her to hand off the case of Trump’s retention of classified documents to someone else when it was assigned to her. They noted that she was inexperienced, having been appointed by Trump only very late in his term, and that taking the case would look bad since she had previously been rebuked by a conservative appeals court after helping Trump in the criminal investigation that led to the indictment.

She refused to pass the assignment to someone else.

Trump’s lawyers’ approach to the case has been to try to delay it until after the election. Judge Cannon’s decisions appear to have made that strategy succeed.


Ok, color me confused. NK is already in possession of nukes, yes? Not good ones, but still, great big boom ones. I was under the impression thst “keeping them from developing nukes” was already past tense. Am i wrong?


Another, from the recent G7 summit, appears to show the president wandering away from a group of leaders during a skydiving demonstration; in fact, he was walking toward and speaking to a parachute jumper who had just landed but was off camera.

This one and some other deceptively edited ones have been popping up in my feeds. It is a scary-looking moment in which Biden looks completelyout of it, if you’re not already wary of deceptive editing (the hundreds of comment mostly indicated complete belief that the video is real).

We’re of course going to see many more of them, since “Biden is so old and feeble!” is such a constant rightwing message.


here’s the bits from the article

the “could” in both the sub-header and hcr’s summary is doing quite a bit of work. in this context it seems to mean, “may or may not relate to nuclear weapons” … [ eta: but specifically on your question: they still have some ways to go on their delivery systems it seems ]

Mr. Putin … promised unspecified technological help that — if it includes the few critical technologies Mr. Kim has sought to perfect — could help the North design a warhead that could survive re-entry into the atmosphere.

Mr. Putin declared: “Pyongyang has the right to take reasonable measures to strengthen its own defense capability, ensure national security and protect sovereignty” — though he did not address whether those measures included further developing the North’s nuclear weapons.


I don’t think it’s entirely clear whether North Korea has figured out how to make nuclear weapons small enough to put into a missile.

Also, the difference between a fission bomb and a fusion bomb is a thousand fold, and also allows for a lot more power from a smaller bomb, but the process to make a fusion bomb (the details of which are top secret) is orders of magnitude more complex than a fission bomb because you have to control the initial fission explosion precisely at the very first nanoseconds for it to work.


“Developing nukes” doesn’t imply hydrogen bombs, just run of the mill Fat Man will do nicely. Fairly certain they have that. Now, getting it onto a delivery system is a mite different. But i seem to recall that they have the nukes themselves.


They have first generation nukes, but their goal is to have second or even third generation nukes, so the development is still ongoing.

First generation nukes are really heavy (or really low power if made lighter), so they can only really be delivered by big bombers, which are easy to shoot down (especially considering the outdated tech that North Korea possesses).

Although they have attained nuclear weaponry, they still have a lot of work to do to become a major nuclear threat. Russian technical know-how can help them bridge the gap between a bomb that weighs tons and a bomb that can be fitted in an artillery shell, and that’s what makes this so urgent and terrifying…


June 21, 2024 (Friday)

Sixty years ago today, on June 21, 1964, twenty-year-old Andrew Goodman mailed a postcard to his parents in New York City. He had arrived in Meridian, Mississippi, the day before to work with Michael Schwerner, a 24-year-old former New York social worker, and James Chaney, a 21-year-old Black man from Meridian, to register Black voters in what became known as Freedom Summer.

“Dear Mom and Dad,” Goodman wrote. “I have arrived safely in Meridian Mississippi. This is a wonderful town and the weather is fine. I wish you were here. The people in this city are wonderful and our reception was very good. All my love, Andy.”

Mississippi had become a focal point for voter registration because fewer than 7% of Black Mississippians were registered, but members of the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan, dedicated to preserving segregation and to keeping Black people from voting, intended to stop the people challenging their power. They had come to loathe Schwerner— like Goodman, a Jewish man— who along with his wife, Rita, had taken over the field office of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) in Meridian and had begun grassroots organizing.

At meetings, Ku Klux Klan members routinely talked about killing Schwerner, but without authorization from the Klan’s state leader, Sam Bowers, they held off. Several weeks before Goodman arrived in Mississippi, they got that authorization.

On June 21, Schwerner, Chaney, and Goodman set out to investigate the recent burning of a church whose leaders had agreed to participate in voter registration, an arson that, unbeknownst to them, was committed by the same Klan members who had received authorization to kill Schwerner.

After the three men left the burned church, Deputy Sheriff Cecil Ray Price stopped their car, arrested Schwerner for speeding, and held Chaney and Goodman under suspicion that they were the ones who had burned the church. Once night had dropped, after they paid the speeding ticket and left the Philadelphia, Mississippi, jail, Price followed them, stopped them, ordered them into his car, and then took them down a deserted road and turned them over to two carloads of his fellow terrorists. They beat the men, murdered them, and buried them in an earthen dam that was under construction.

Aside from the murderers, no one knew where the three men had gone. Their fellow CORE workers had begun calling jails and police stations as soon as they didn’t turn up according to schedule, but no one told them where the men were. By June 22 the men’s friends had gotten FBI agents from New Orleans to join the search. On June 23 the agents found the station wagon the men had been driving, still smoldering from an attempt to burn it.

As the agents searched—turning up 8 murdered Black men, but not the three they were looking for— President Lyndon B. Johnson, who as Senate majority leader had wrestled the Civil Rights Act of 1957 through Congress and who had pushed hard for a stronger civil rights law since becoming president in November 1963, harnessed the growing outrage over the missing men.

The House had passed a civil rights bill in February 1964, but southern segregationist Democrats in the Senate filibustered it from March until June 18, when news stations covered the story of hotel owner James Brock pouring acid into a whites-only swimming pool at the Monson Motor Lodge in St. Augustine, Florida, after Black and white people jumped into the water together. The water diluted the acid and the swimmers were not injured, but law enforcement arrested them. Seeing a white man pour acid into a swimming pool to drive out Black people created such outrage that senators abandoned their opposition to the measure.

On June 19, Republican Everett Dirksen (R-IL), the Senate minority leader, managed to deliver enough Republican votes to Majority Leader Mike Mansfield (D-MT) to break the filibuster. The Senate passed the bill and sent their version back to the House. Johnson used the popular rage over the three missing voting rights workers to pressure the House to pass the bill, and it did.

Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law on July 2.

Just before he wrote his name, Johnson addressed the American people on television. Tying the new law to the upcoming anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, he noted that “those who founded our country knew that freedom would be secure only if each generation fought to renew and enlarge its meaning…. Americans of every race and color have died in battle to protect our freedom. Americans of every race and color have worked to build a nation of widening opportunities. Now our generation of Americans has been called on to continue the unending search for justice within our own borders.”

Johnson celebrated that the bill had bipartisan support of more than two thirds of the lawmakers in Congress and that it enjoyed the support of “the great majority of the American people.” “[M]ost Americans are law-abiding citizens who want to do what is right,” he said. “My fellow citizens, we have come now to a time of testing. We must not fail.”

Those opposed to Black equality saw the passage of the Civil Rights Act as a call to arms. On July 16, two weeks after Johnson signed the bill and a little more than three weeks after Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner disappeared and while they were still missing, Arizona senator Barry Goldwater strode across the stage at the Republican National Convention to accept the party’s nomination for president. To thunderous applause, he told delegates that “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And…moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.” The votes of the delegates from South Carolina, the state that launched the Civil War in defense of American slavery, were the ones that put his nomination over the top.

On August 4 the bodies of the missing men were found in the dam near Philadelphia, Mississippi.

It turned out that Deputy Sheriff Price, who had arrested Schwerner, Chaney, and Goodman, and his boss, Sheriff Lawrence A. Rainey, were members of the Ku Klux Klan. Price had alerted his fellow Klansman Edgar Ray Killen that he had the three men in custody, and Killen called the local Klan together to attack the men when they got out of jail. Then Price dropped the three civil rights workers into their hands.

While the state of Mississippi would not prosecute, claiming insufficient evidence, in January 1965 a federal grand jury indicted 18 men for their participation in the murders. The Ku Klux Klan members, who were accustomed to running their states as they saw fit, did not believe they would be punished. An infamous photograph caught Price and Rainey laughing during a hearing after their federal arraignment on charges of conspiracy and violating the civil rights of the murdered men.

Ultimately, a jury found seven of the defendants guilty. Killen walked free because in addition to being a Klan leader, he was also a Baptist minister, and a member of the jury would not convict a minister. Price was convicted and sentenced to six years in prison (he served four). Rainey, who was not at the murder scene, was found not guilty, but he lost his job and his marriage and blamed the FBI and the media for ruining his life.

Voters in the 1964 election backed Johnson’s vision of the country, rejecting Goldwater by a landslide. Ominously, though, Goldwater won his own state of Arizona and five states of the Deep South—Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina. The Republican Party had begun to court the segregationist southern Democrats.

In 1980, Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan spoke in Philadelphia, Mississippi, on August 3, sixteen years almost to the day after the bodies of the three men had been found.

“I believe in states’ rights,” he said. “I believe in people doing as much as they can for themselves at the community level and at the private level. And I believe that we’ve distorted the balance of our government today by giving powers that were never intended in the constitution to that federal establishment. And if I do get the job I’m looking for, I’m going to devote myself to trying to reorder those priorities and to restore to the states and local communities those functions which properly belong there.”

In January 2004 a multiracial group of citizens who wanted justice for the 1964 murders met with Mississippi state attorney general Jim Hood and local district attorney Mark Duncan, as well as with Andrew Goodman’s mother Carolyn Goodman and brother David Goodman, to ask Hood to reopen the case. In January 2005 a grand jury indicted Killen, who had organized the Klan to go after Chaney, Schwerner, and Goodman, for their murder.

On June 21, 2005, a jury found the 80-year-old Killen guilty of manslaughter.

He died in prison six years ago.