Heather Cox Richardson

That video of his is heavy fucking duty, and heart- and soul-felt!

The only thing he left out is yankistan’s already having serious form re: genocide - First Nations peoples!

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I would never tell anyone how they must vote. It is a matter of conscience. And for single issue voters, so be it. But understand that a pro-Palestine single issue vote (or not voting) has consequences. Every choice has consequences. In my opinion, for myself, the lives of my trans child, my LGBT relatives and friends, the women in my life and my grandchild’s right to a viable planet make that decision easy. I hate what is happening in Gaza, but allowing what would happen to them under a Trump/2025 regime makes me want to throw up. I have had drilled into me for decades to never let perfect become the enemy of good. Biden is far from perfect, but in the world we live in here and now, he’s the closest thing to good going.

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Like I said, a genocide in Gaza versus genocides in Gaza, America, Ukraine, and so on is an easy trolley problem. Except…easy is the wrong word. Because then you still get to watch the one man go under the trolley, see the red spray of blood all over the wheels, hear the family crying as the mangled corpse is pulled from the track. I want Biden to win, the world needs him to win, but frankly he can also go to hell for making that the “good” choice.

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July 6, 2024 (Saturday)

Happy July 4 weekend, from my home to yours.

Going to sleep for a week. (A nice thought, but actually will be back at it tomorrow.)

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July 7, 2024 (Sunday)

I have spent the weekend struggling mightily with a new manuscript and have had little time to study the news.

The most notable event from the day is that in a stunning upset, French voters have rejected members of Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally party in legislative elections. After the first round of votes, National Rally candidates appeared to be comfortably ahead, but left-wing and centrist candidates combined forces to prevent splitting the vote, and voters then flooded the polls to elect the candidates that coalition fielded.

Le Pen has said her policies are the same ones advanced by Russian president Vladimir Putin and former president Trump.

On Thursday, elections in the United Kingdom saw a landslide victory for the center-left Labour Party for the first time in 14 years. Lauren Frayer and Fatima Al-Kassab of NPR noted that it was the worst defeat for the Conservatives in their almost 200-year history.

There are always many factors that go into any election, but these results at least raise the question of whether western politicians are finding effective ways to counter the techniques of Russian disinformation. France has been flooded with Russian disinformation trying to create divisions in society as Putin seeks to break European support for Ukraine. Russia openly supports Le Pen.

The U.K. also has been similarly flooded with Russian disinformation for years now. Russian trollies lie on social media websites and populate the comments sections of popular websites both to end support for Ukraine and to exploit wedge issues to split people apart.

These efforts were part of what Russian political theorists called “political technology”: the construction of a virtual political reality through modern media. Political theorists developed several techniques in this approach to politics: blackmailing opponents, abusing state power to help favored candidates, sponsoring “double” candidates with names similar to those of opponents in order to confuse voters on the other side and thus open the way for their own candidates, creating false parties to split the opposition, and, finally, creating a false narrative around an election or other event in order to control public debate.

These techniques perverted democracy, turning it from the concept of voters choosing their leaders into the concept of voters rubber-stamping the leaders they had been manipulated into backing.

This system made sense in former Soviet republics, where it enabled leaders to avoid the censorship that voters would recoil from by instead creating a firehose of news until people became overwhelmed by the task of trying to figure out what was real and simply tuned out. But those techniques dovetailed with the rhetoric of homegrown far-right figures as well.

It has always been a question what people who have embraced a virtual world will do when they figure out that the narrative on which they have based their government is fake. It seems possible that they create centrist coalitions and turn out to vote in huge numbers to reassert control over their politics and their country.

The United States has had a similarly contentious relationship with political technology, Russian disinformation, and far-right leaders echoing that disinformation as they seek to take power by dividing the American people.

And long before anyone had begun to call disinformation political technology, the United States had a small group of elite enslavers seeking to take control of the nation by hammering on their narrative that the only true basis for society was racial slavery and using racism to divide their opponents.

When they managed to get Congress and the Supreme Court to give them the right to move slavery into the American West, where new slave states could work with southern slave states to make slavery national, voters woke up. Disagreeing about immigration, internal improvements, public education, tariffs, and finance—all hot-button issues in the 1850s—they nonetheless built a centrist coalition to stop elite enslavers from replacing democracy with an oligarchy.

Indeed, their coalition was so effective that Illinois senator Stephen A. Douglas, who had sponsored the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act that permitted enslavement to move west, objected that it was unseemly for abolitionists who opposed human enslavement in principle to work with those like Illinois lawyer Abraham Lincoln, who focused on the Constitution and argued that it protected enslavement in the slave states.

In 1854, Lincoln answered Douglas: “Our Senator…objects that those who oppose him in this measure do not entirely agree with one another…. [H]e…says it is not quite fair to oppose him in this variety of ways. He should remember that he took us by surprise—astounded us—by this measure. We were thunderstruck and stunned; and we reeled and fell in utter confusion. But we rose each fighting, grasping whatever he could first reach—a scythe—a pitchfork—a chopping axe, or a butcher’s cleaver. We struck in the direction of the sound; and we are rapidly closing in upon him. He must not think to divert us from our purpose, by showing us that our drill, our dress, and our weapons, are not entirely perfect and uniform. When the storm shall be past, he shall find us still Americans; no less devoted to the continued Union and prosperity of the country than heretofore.”

Six years later, that coalition of voters elected Lincoln to the White House.

The French elections left no party in an absolute majority, so governance will be messy. Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez nonetheless cheered tonight’s results: “This week, two of the largest countries in Europe have chosen the same path that Spain chose a year ago: rejection of the extreme right and a decisive commitment to a social left that addresses people’s problems with serious and brave policies,” Sánchez posted on social media.

“The United Kingdom and France have said YES to progress and social advancement and NO to the regression in rights and freedoms. There is no agreement or government with the extreme right.”

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July 8, 2024 (Monday)

On July 9, 1868, Americans changed the U.S. Constitution for the fourteenth time, adapting our foundational document to construct a new nation without systematic Black enslavement.

In 1865 the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution had prohibited slavery on the basis of race, but it did not prevent the establishment of a system in which Black Americans continued to be unequal. Backed by President Andrew Johnson, who had taken over the presidency after actor John Wilkes Booth had murdered President Abraham Lincoln, white southern Democrats had done their best to push their Black neighbors back into subservience. So long as southern states had abolished enslavement, repudiated Confederate debts, and nullified the ordinances of secession, Johnson was happy to readmit them to full standing in the Union, still led by the very men who had organized the Confederacy and made war on the United States.

Northern Republican lawmakers refused. There was no way they were going to rebuild southern society on the same blueprint as existed before the Civil War, especially since the upcoming 1870 census would count Black Americans as whole persons for the first time in the nation’s history, giving southern states more power in Congress and the Electoral College after the war than they had had before it. Having just fought a war to destroy the South’s ideology, they were not going to let it regrow in peacetime.

Congress rejected Johnson’s plan for Reconstruction.

But then congressmen had to come up with their own. After months of hearings and debate, they proposed amending the Constitution to settle the outstanding questions of the war. Chief among these was how to protect the rights of Black Americans in states where they could neither vote nor testify in court or sit on a jury to protect their own interests.

Congress’s solution was the Fourteenth Amendment.

It took on the infamous 1857 Dred Scott v. Sandford decision declaring that Black men "are not included, and were not intended to be included, under the word ‘citizens’ in the Constitution, and can therefore claim none of the rights and privileges which that instrument provides for and secures to citizens.”

The Fourteenth Amendment provides that “[a]ll 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.”

The amendment also addressed the Dred Scott decision in another profound way. In 1857, southerners and Democrats who were adamantly opposed to federal power controlled the Supreme Court. They backed states’ rights. So the Dred Scott decision did more than read Black Americans out of our history; it dramatically circumscribed Congress’s power.

The Dred Scott decision declared that democracy was created at the state level, by those people in a state who were allowed to vote. In 1857 this meant white men, almost exclusively. If those people voted to do something widely unpopular—like adopting human enslavement, for example—they had the right to do so. People like Abraham Lincoln pointed out that such domination by states would eventually mean that an unpopular minority could take over the national government, forcing their ideas on everyone else, but defenders of states’ rights stood firm.

And so the Fourteenth Amendment gave the federal government the power to protect individuals even if their state legislatures had passed discriminatory laws. “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,” it said. And then it went on to say that “Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.”

The principles behind the Fourteenth Amendment were behind the 1870 creation of the Department of Justice, whose first job was to bring down the Ku Klux Klan terrorists in the South.

Those same principles took on profound national significance in the post–World War II era, when the Supreme Court began to use the equal protection clause and the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment aggressively to apply the protections in the Bill of Rights to the states. The civil rights decisions of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, including the Brown v. Board of Education decision outlawing segregation in public schools, come from this doctrine. Under it, the federal government took up the mantle of protecting the rights of individual Americans in the states from the whims of state legislatures.

Opponents of these new civil rights protections quickly began to object that such decisions were “legislating from the bench,” rather than permitting state legislatures to make their own laws. They began to call for “originalism,” the idea that the Constitution should be interpreted only as the Framers had intended when they wrote it, an argument that focused on the creation of law at the state level. Famously, in 1987, President Ronald Reagan nominated Robert Bork, an originalist who had called for the rollback of the Supreme Court’s civil rights decisions, for a seat on that court.

Reacting to that nomination, Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) recognized the importance of the Fourteenth Amendment to equality: “Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of the Government, and the doors of the Federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens for whom the judiciary is—and is often the only—protector of the individual rights that are the heart of our democracy….”

From the perspective of 2024, Kennedy’s comments seem prescient, but the country could go even further backward. The 2024 Republican Party platform, released today, calls for using the Fourteenth Amendment not to protect equal rights for Americans from discriminatory laws, as those who wrote, passed, and ratified the amendment intended. Instead it calls for using the Fourteenth Amendment to protect the rights of fetuses from the time of fertilization. It says that states should start passing laws protecting those rights: so-called fetal personhood laws that have their roots in the 1960s and were considered a fringe idea until about fifteen years ago. Those laws prohibit all abortion, in vitro fertilization (IVF), and several forms of contraception.

Saying states should pass such laws echoes the language Trump has used to try to avoid the Republicans’ extreme and unpopular abortion stance by claiming, as the Supreme Court did in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, that states alone should write laws covering abortion. But in its reaction to the Republican platform today, the antiabortion Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America organization made it clear that the platform’s reference to the Fourteenth Amendment was designed to open the way for a national abortion ban. The Fourteenth Amendment, after all, gives Congress “power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.”

“It is important that the [Republican Party] reaffirmed its commitment to protect unborn life today through the 14th Amendment,” the organization said in a statement. “Under this amendment, it is Congress that enacts and enforces its provisions. The Republican Party remains strongly pro-life at the national level.”

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The 14th Amendment:

Yeah…there is no possible way to interpret the ORIGINAL language of the 14th Amendment to include any entity who has not yet been born. I’m really curious how Thomas, Alito, et al are planning to make the argument that the 14th Amendment includes the “unborn” (aka fetuses).

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isn’t naturalized a synonym of gestated? /s

totally beside the point, but wasn’t it something like the 4th or 5th time? ( or maybe that highlights how big a deal it was to change the constitution? )

i had to wikipedia - but articles 3-12 were adopted as a package deal.

( i was right now years old when i learned that article 2 was finally adopted in 1992, and article 1 is still pending )

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Ok, just so everyone understands, because the terminology can be confusing, There were 12 articles of Amendments proposed along with the original Constitution. Madison wanted them included in the main body of the Constitution, but others didn’t, and so there was compromise. Articles 3-12 of those Amendments were ratified initially, and became the First through Tenth Amendments to the Constitution. They aren’t referred to as articles now, but Amendments. It can get confusing to refer to them as Articles, because the original Constitution is divided into Articles. So once they were ratified, they became Amendments. So yes, articles 3-12 were adopted as a package deal…that’s what we call the Bill of Rights.

However, it’s pretty clear what HCR means when she says “Americans changed the U.S. Constitution for the fourteenth time.” She means that was the 14th Amendment. However, while the Bill of Rights were a package deal, each Amendment was voted on individually. That’s why two of them weren’t ratified in 1791. They weren’t voted on by the states as a package. Each was voted on individually. So I would argue that the Bill of Rights constitutes 10 changes to the Constitution, not one.

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thanks for all the extra info! and:

ah, okay. that makes sense to me.

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July 9, 2024 (Tuesday)

In this morning’s Talking Points Memo, David Kurtz observed that “much of political journalism is divorced from policy and the substance of politics.” It’s all about a horse race, he wrote, while complex questions, competing public interests, and the history of an issue get distilled to “whether it’s good or bad politically.”

Today, he noted, that horse-race coverage means that “[a]n election about whether the United States will continue its two and half century long experiment in representative democracy, where a convicted felon is running to return to the office he tried to seize through extralegal means, where the specter of a new form of fascism looms on the horizon is suddenly consumed by a political death watch for the only person at present standing between democracy and another Trump term in the White House.”

Yesterday, President Joe Biden tried to quell that political death watch by sending a letter to congressional Democrats stating that “despite all the speculation in the press and elsewhere, I am firmly committed to staying in this race, to running this race to the end, and to beating Donald Trump.” He noted that 14 million voters in the Democratic primary chose him, rather than a challenger, adding, “It was their decision to make. Not the press, not the pundits, not the big donors, not any selected group of individuals, no matter how well intentioned…. How can we stand for democracy in our nation if we ignore it in our own party?”

In an apparent attempt to get beyond the horse-race politics Kurtz identified and to make clear the substance of this election, Biden explained: “We have an historic record of success to run on.” He cited his administration’s creation of more than 15 million jobs, leading to historic unemployment lows; revitalization of American manufacturing; expansion of affordable health care; rebuilding the country’s infrastructure; lowering the cost of prescription drugs; providing student debt relief; and making a historic investment in combating climate change.

That vision, Biden wrote, “soundly beats” that of Trump and the MAGA Republicans, who are “siding with the wealthy and big corporations,” while the Democrats are “siding with the working people of America.” Trump and his people want another $5 trillion in tax cuts for the rich, he noted, and they plan to cut Social Security and Medicare, as well as end the ability of the government to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies to bring drug prices into line with prices in other countries. “We are the ones lowering costs for families,” he wrote, “from health care to prescription drugs to student debt to housing. We are the ones protecting Social Security and Medicare. Everything they’re proposing raises costs for most Americans—except their tax cuts which will go to the rich.”

He went on to note that the Democrats are “protecting the freedoms of Americans,” while Trump’s people are “taking them away.” He pointed to the right-wing attacks on abortion rights, IVF, contraception, and gay marriage. Biden reiterated that he will sign a law making Roe v. Wade the law of the land if the nation elects a Democratic House and Senate. Finally, he pointed out that Democrats are protecting the rule of law and democracy, while Trump is actively working to destroy both. Trump, he wrote, has proven himself “unfit ever to hold the office of President.” “My fellow Democrats,” Biden wrote, “we have the record, the vision, and the fundamental commitment to America’s freedoms and our Democracy to win.”

Hours later, the New York Times joined the tabloid New York Post in noting that visitor logs showed that Dr. Kevin Cannard, an expert on Parkinson’s disease, visited the White House eight times between July 2023 and March 2024. After pressing White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre for information beyond her statements that Biden is not being, and has not been, treated for Parkinson’s and that he sees a neurologist as part of his annual physical exams, a CBS News White House reporter accused Jean-Pierre of deliberately withholding information. Jean-Pierre pointed out that “personal attacks” are not appropriate from the press corps and that the press team does its best to give the information they have. She said she took offense at the reporter’s tone.

Last night, White House physician Dr. Kevin O’Connor sent to Jean-Pierre a letter clarifying that the White House Medical Unit serves thousands of patients, many of whom are military personnel with neurological issues related to their service. Cannard was one of the team of specialists that annually examine the president. O’Connor’s office released the results of that examination in a letter dated February 28, he pointed out. It said, “An extremely detailed neurologic exam was again reassuring in that there were no findings which would be consistent with any cerebellar or other central neurological disorder, such as stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s or ascending lateral sclerosis, nor are there any signs of cervical myelopathy.” The president does have “peripheral neuropathy in both feet. No motor weakness was detected. He exhibits no tremor, either at rest or with activity.”

As media attention remains focused on Biden, a Supreme Court decision from last week that upends the modern American state and another that overturns the central concept of our democracy have disappeared from public discussion. In Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo, the court overruled the longstanding legal precedent establishing that courts should defer to a government agency’s reasonable interpretation of a law. Instead, it said, judges themselves will decide on the legality of an agency’s actions.

In Public Notice, Lisa Needham noted that right-wing judges have already blocked Biden administration rules that protect overtime pay for workers, prohibit noncompete clauses for truckers, and prohibit discrimination based on gender identity. As right-wing plaintiffs launch suits challenging rules they dislike, she notes, we should expect to see many more federal judges “deploying junk science and personal opinions to get to their preferred conclusion while ignoring the expertise of agency employees.”

Loper Bright was a slashing blow at the federal regulations that make up the framework of today’s government, but it paled in comparison to the Supreme Court’s decision in Donald J. Trump v. United States. In that stunning decision, the six right-wing justices—three of whom Trump himself appointed—declared that a president is immune from prosecution for crimes committed as part of his “official duties.”

This astonishing decision overturned the bedrock principle of the United States of America: that no one is above the law. But to be clear, the court did not give this power to Biden. Because it is not clear what official acts are—since no one has ever before made this distinction—it claimed for itself the right to decide what illegal behaviors are official acts and which are not. Since at least one of the justices (Samuel Alito) has flown flags demonstrating support for overthrowing Biden’s government and putting Trump back into office, and the wife of another (Clarence Thomas) worked with those trying to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, it seems likely that their decisions will reinforce Trump’s immunity alone.

An extraordinary effort to use the courts to set up a Trump dictatorship appears largely to have been hidden under the horse race.

And now that this scaffolding is in place, Trump’s team has begun to try to make him look more moderate than he is. On July 5, Trump claimed not to know anything about the extremist Project 2025, which calls for an authoritarian leader to impose Christian nationalism on the United States, despite the fact that his own appointees wrote it, his own political action committee advertised it as his plan, and his name appears in it 312 times.

Agenda 47, the official Trump campaign website, has offered more information about how he will wield the absolute power he now claims. As Judd Legum pointed out today in Popular Information, a key author of Project 2025, Christian nationalist Russell Vought, has advanced a plan for killing any aspects of government his people dislike, and Trump has adopted that plan, vowing to cancel agencies or laws he dislikes by refusing to spend money Congress appropriates. This is known as “impoundment,” and Congress made it illegal in 1974 after President Richard Nixon used it to try to bend the government to his will. Trump says the 1974 Impoundment Control Act is unconstitutional because it interferes with the power of the presidency. He promised to use it to “crush the Deep State.” First on the chopping block will be the Department of Education.

The effort to make Trump sound more moderate continued yesterday, when the Republican National Committee released the party’s 2024 platform, in which it tried to fudge the issue of abortion while leaving language that supported a national abortion ban. The New York Times published an article reinforcing the idea that Trump is moderating, reporting: “Following Trump’s Lead, Republicans Adopt Platform That Softens Stance on Abortion.”

In the midst of this political coverage, a key story has been largely overlooked. Not only does the stock market continue to set record highs, but also, as Jim Tankersley of the New York Times reported, the so-called left-behind counties, distressed after the collapse of manufacturing in them, have “added jobs and new businesses at their fastest pace since Bill Clinton was president.” “That turnaround,” he notes, “has shocked experts.” More than 1,000 counties, mostly in the Southeast and Midwest, that grew at less than half the national rate in terms of both people and income from 2000 to 2016, have surged. From 2016 to 2019—mostly during Trump’s administration—those rural left-behind counties, which make up about 18% of the U.S. population, added 10,000 jobs. In 2023 alone, they added 104,000.

Tankersley notes that Trump overwhelmingly won the support of voters in these counties, but their circumstances did not improve during his administration. Under Biden, they added jobs five times faster than they did under Trump. Still, voters there appear to continue to back Trump.

Now that’s a story. Are they backing Trump because they care more about culture wars than their economic security? Or are they ill informed?

Meanwhile, Republicans in the House today passed the Refrigerator Freedom Act and the Stop Unaffordable Dishwasher Standards (SUDS) Act, prohibiting the Secretary of Energy from prescribing or enforcing energy efficiency standards for residential refrigerators, freezers, and dishwashers.

After noting that the average monthly cost of operating a dishwasher is two to four dollars, and establishing that the people pushing this measure had no idea how much a dishwasher costs, Representative Katie Porter (D-CA) said: “This bill… Congress at its worst. A bunch of people who haven’t unloaded a dishwasher ever telling the American people what dishwashers they should or should not have.”

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These both can be factors. Also the measures of economy and the addition of jobs do not necessarily make people in these communities happy and/or they metrics may not reflect people’s actual qol which they may have no social or cultural context for interpreting for themselves either.

Also while some people may have been missing out for the last two decades in those very communities there are sometimes people for whom this very fact is politically/financially/socially desirable and who wish to inhibit economic growth for others to continue to be advantaged this way.

There are so many factors that become apparent the more you look. Dems are going to have to send people into communities to really learn and understand the local perspective even if some of these people mean quite sincerely to kill them. And for that effort what will they get? Probably further contention within the party and good talking points for racists who have an easy problem with a final solution to preach about while shaking a bible.

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This. Many people don’t even care if they are noticeably better off than 4 years ago if their neighbors, especially minorities and women, are also doing better. That decreases their happiness, thanks to how our society values individuality over collective good.

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Doesn’t even have to be that abstract either. Imagine, if you will, the country equivalent of a slumlord.

People may not understand their local economy enough to know what may be holding back one mainstreet vs another in two neighboring small towns. But it’s usually related to building ownership and taxation which are going to be very fraught, often with literal family drama, and will always heavily disadvantage any poorer people in the area regardless of race but can feel like a double-edged sword to them because often rapid growth also disadvantages very poor people even when it is done with great care. Outsiders may be viewed in a weirdly racialized way too. IME this makes for an endless source of dysfunction even when the whole fray is happening between white people who vote Republican.

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July 10, 2024 (Wednesday)

“In 1949, when leaders of 12 countries, including President Truman, came together in this very room, history was watching,” President Joe Biden said yesterday evening at the opening of the 2024 NATO Summit, being held from July 9 through July 12, in Washington, D.C.

“It had been four years since the surrender of the Axis powers and the end of the most devastating world war the world had ever, ever known,” Biden continued.

“Here, these 12 leaders gathered to make a sacred pledge to defend each other against aggression, provide their collective security, and to answer threats as one, because they knew to prevent future wars, to protect democracies, to lay the groundwork for a lasting peace and prosperity, they needed a new approach. They needed to combine their strengths. They needed an alliance.”

That alliance was the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the “single greatest, most effective defensive alliance in the history of the world,” as Biden said.

The NATO collective defense agreement has stabilized the world for the past 75 years thanks to its provision in Article 5 that each of the NATO allies will consider an attack on one as an attack on all, and respond accordingly.

Biden looked back at the alliance’s 75 years. “Together, we rebuilt Europe from the ruins of war, held high the torch of liberty during long decades of the Cold War,” he said. “When former adversaries became fellow democracies, we welcomed them into the Alliance. When war broke out in the Balkans, we intervened to restore peace and stop ethnic cleansing. And when the United States was attacked on September 11th, our NATO Allies—all of you—stood with us, invoking Article 5 for the first time in NATO history, treating an attack on us as an attack on all of us—a breathtaking display of friendship that the American people will never ever, ever forget.”

Biden celebrated that the alliance has continually adapted to a changing world and noted that it has changed its strategies to stay ahead of threats and reached out to new partners to become more effective. Biden noted that leaders from countries in the Indo-Pacific region had joined the leaders of the 32 NATO countries at this year’s summit. So did the leaders of NATO’s partner countries, including Ukraine, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, and the European Union. “They’re here because they have a stake in our success and we have a stake in theirs,” Biden said.

The promise of collective defense was daunting for opponents in 1949, when the treaty had 12 signatories: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom and the United States. It is even more daunting now that there are 32, with both Finland and Sweden having joined the alliance after Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine. Together, the NATO countries can marshal about 3,370,000 active-duty military personnel and have a collective defense budget of more than $1.2 trillion.

In addition, as Jim Garamone of Department of Defense News noted, the NATO countries share intelligence, training, tactics, and equipment, as well as agreements for permitting the use of airspace and bases. “[O]ur commitment is broad and deep,” Biden said. “[W]e’re willing, and we’re able to deter aggression and defend every inch of NATO territory across every domain: land, air, sea, cyber, and space.”

When NATO formed, the main concern of the countries backing it was resisting Soviet aggression, but with the fall of the Soviet Union and the rise of Russian president Vladimir Putin, NATO turned to resisting Russian aggression. “[H]istory calls for our collective strength,” Biden said. “Autocrats want to overturn global order, which has by and large kept for nearly 80 years and counting.”

Biden called out Putin’s war of aggression against Ukraine and recalled that NATO had built a global coalition to stand behind Ukraine, providing weapons and aid while also moving troops into the surrounding NATO countries. He announced that the U.S., Germany, the Netherlands, Romania, and Italy are donating more air defense equipment.

“All the Allies knew that before this war, Putin thought NATO would break,” Biden said. “Today, NATO is stronger than it’s ever been in its history.” Biden noted that the world is in a pivotal moment, and reminded his listeners: “The fact that NATO remains the bulwark of global security did not happen by accident. It wasn’t inevitable. Again and again, at critical moments, we chose unity over disunion, progress over retreat, freedom over tyranny, and hope over fear.
Again and again, we stood behind our shared vision of a peaceful and prosperous transatlantic community.”

He assured the attendees that an “overwhelming bipartisan majority of Americans understand that NATO makes us all safer…. The American people know that all the progress we’ve made in the past 75 years has happened behind the shield of NATO,” understanding that without it, we would face “another war in Europe, American troops fighting and dying, dictators spreading chaos, economic collapse, catastrophe.” He assured allies that Americans understand our “sacred obligation” to NATO, and quoted Republican president Ronald Reagan, who said: “If our fellow democracies are not secure, we cannot be secure. If you are threatened, we are threatened. And if you are not at peace, we cannot be at peace.”

And then Biden surprised NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg, the former Norwegian prime minister who is stepping down from his NATO position after serving since 2014, with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. “Today, NATO is stronger, smarter, and more energized than when you began,” Biden said. “And a billion people across Europe and North America and, indeed, the whole world will reap the rewards of your labor for years to come in the form of security, opportunity, and greater freedoms.”

Today, Biden reiterated the theme that alliances happen not “by chance but by choice.” Before the attendees got to work, he explained that the NATO countries must strengthen their home industrial bases and capacity in order to produce critical defense equipment more quickly, a deficiency made clear in the struggle to get armaments to Ukraine. Such readiness will strengthen security, he said, as well as creating “stronger supply chains, a stronger economy, stronger military, and a stronger nation.”

The Washington Summit Declaration released today reaffirms NATO as “the unique, essential, and indispensable transatlantic forum to consult, coordinate, and act on all matters related to our individual and collective security,” saying “[o]ur commitment to defend one another and every inch of Allied territory at all times, as enshrined in Article 5…is iron-clad.”

It warns that “Russia remains the most significant and direct threat to Allies’ security” and pledges “unwavering solidarity” with Ukraine. It says that “Ukraine’s future is in NATO” and calls out Belarus, North Korea, Iran, and China for enabling Putin’s war. Indeed, the declaration calls out China even more directly, warning that it “continues to pose systemic challenges to Euro-Atlantic security,” especially by flooding other countries with disinformation.

Russian aggression is a deep concern for NATO countries; so is Trump, who worked to take the U.S. out of NATO when he was in office, vowed he will accomplish that in a second term, and in February 2024 told an audience that if he thought NATO countries weren’t contributing enough to their own defense he would tell Russia to “do whatever the hell they want.” (Biden noted yesterday that when he took office, only nine NATO countries met their target goal of spending 2% of their gross domestic product on their defense, while this year, 23 will.)

Biden was key to rebuilding the NATO alliance after Trump weakened it, and the leaders at the NATO summit told foreign policy journalist for The Daily Beast David Rothkopf that they were “not concerned with Biden’s ability to play a leading role in NATO during his second term.” They “express confidence in his judgment” and “have a great deal of confidence in the foreign policy team around him.” But they worry about Trump.

Shortly after Biden gave his powerful speech opening the summit, Trump had his first public event since the June 27 CNN event, at his Doral golf club. It was a wandering rant packed, as usual, with wild lies, but he did touch on the topic of NATO. “I didn’t even know what the hell NATO was too much before, but it didn’t take me long to figure it out, like about two minutes,” he said. Trump’s former national security advisor John Bolton told a reporter that Trump’s willingness to undermine NATO is “a demonstration of the lack of seriousness of the way Trump treats the alliance, because he doesn’t understand it."

Following the NATO summit, Hungary’s right-wing prime minister, Viktor Orbán, who remains an ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin, will visit former president Trump at Mar-a-Lago, just days after meeting with Putin in Moscow and with Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Beijing. There is speculation that Orbán is acting as an intermediary between Trump and Putin, for whom the destruction of NATO is a key goal.

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Yesterday (5pm my time, 11am Eastern) I was on a Zoom call with Heather Cox Richardson with Democrats Abroad. Interesting listening to her, and I’m glad she managed to fit it into her schedule.

The main takeaway is that those of us who live abroad need to point out just how the election looks from abroad. My friends here in Europe think we Americans are fucking nuts to even consider reelecting Trump, for example. And she reminded us that the right to vote whilst living overseas is something we got in the 1970s mainly because Democrats wanted it, but got Republicans to sign on because they wanted the military vote.

So yeah, I just want to reiterate her messages, that we need to talk to people, to not fall into the “oh let’s not talk politics” trap, that historically a party that switched its candidate this late in the game never won, and that if something really does happen to Biden, well, he already has a successor in place.

Now let’s get out there and stop the fascists.

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Truth Reaction GIF by MOODMAN

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sarcastic seth meyers GIF by Late Night with Seth Meyers

Orban should be denied entry to the US on suspicion of espionage…

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July 11, 2024 (Thursday)

Yesterday, Raw Story reported that Ivan Raiklin, Trump’s self-declared “Secretary of Retribution” has compiled a “Deep State target list” of 350 people he wants to see arrested and punished for “treason” if Trump is reelected. The list includes Democratic and Republican elected officials, journalists he considers to be Trump’s enemies, U.S. Capitol Police officers, and witnesses against Trump in his impeachment trials and the hearings concerning the events of January 6, 2021.

Representative Jamie Raskin (D-MD) told Raw Story: “His hit list is a vigilante death warrant for hundreds of Americans and a clear and present danger to the survival of American democracy and freedom.” The Trump campaign did not respond to requests for comment. Raiklin said the list was just the beginning. “This is the scratching of the surface of who is going to be criminalized for their treason, okay?”

Former president Donald Trump, the presumptive 2024 Republican presidential nominee, has tried to distance himself from the radical extremist blueprint outlined in Project 2025, spearheaded by the Heritage Foundation. Today, videos surfaced of Trump cheering the project on from the start. At a Heritage Foundation dinner in 2022, Trump, slurring his words, said: “Our country is going to hell…. This is a great group and they’re going to lay the groundwork and detail plans for exactly what our movement will do…when the American people give us a colossal mandate to save America. And that’s coming.”

On a right-wing podcast yesterday, Heritage Foundation president Kevin Roberts said that Trump’s agenda and Project 2025 have “tremendous” overlap. “There are some quibbles and differences of opinion here and there, which not only is okay, but it’s actually good,” Roberts said. “I mean, we’re gonna be able to sort those out once the presidential administration declares what their priorities are.” He said that Trump’s attempt to distance himself from the project was “a political tactical decision.” Media Matters uncovered a video in which Project 2025 director Paul Dans said that Trump is “very bought in with this.”

The Heritage Foundation, the key author of Project 2025, is a sponsor of the Republican National Convention.

Today the Heritage Foundation preemptively accused the Biden administration of cheating in the 2024 election and warned that Biden might try to hold the White House “by force.” It said that Biden and his administration could “circumvent constitutional limits and disregard the will of the voters should they demand a new president.”

There is no indication that Biden, who has repeatedly said he will accept the election results, will try to launch a coup against the United States government. In contrast, Trump, who has refused to say he will accept the election result unless he agrees with it, has already done exactly what Heritage is trying to pin on Biden: Trump tried to stay in office against the will of the voters in 2021.

Trump is currently under criminal indictment for that attempt, although the Supreme Court’s eye-popping July 1 decision in Trump v. U.S. declaring that a president cannot be prosecuted for crimes committed as part of a president’s “official duties” means Trump can challenge those indictments. Indeed, in the wake of that decision, Trump’s lawyers have filed a motion to vacate the jury’s conviction of Trump on 24 felony counts related to the falsification of business records in his attempt to skew the 2016 election, and to dismiss the indictment.

While the U.S. and our allies celebrated the seventy-fifth anniversary of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Erin Banco of Politico reported yesterday that Trump advisors have told foreign officials that Trump plans to scale back U.S. cooperation and support for NATO, including reducing the sharing of intelligence with NATO countries.

This seems likely to be related to the news that the U.S. intelligence discovered a series of Russian plots to assassinate executives from European defense companies that are supplying arms to Ukraine. Americans took that intelligence to Germany and foiled a Russian plot to kill the chief executive officer of a German arms manufacturer.

Trump has stayed home playing golf for the past two weeks, but on Tuesday he held a rally at his Doral golf club outside of Miami, where he kept the audience waiting outside in 90-degree heat before he showed up an hour late. His 75-minute speech was, as The Guardian’s Richard Luscombe reported, “full of evidence-free claims that his 2020 election defeat was fraudulent; baseless accusations that overseas nations were sending to the US ‘most of their prisoners’; and a laughable assertion that a gathering of supporters numbering in the hundreds was really a crowd of 45,000.” He also claimed that Biden had quadrupled the price of bacon and said, “We don’t eat bacon any more.”

Trump did not mention his vice presidential pick. For the first time since 1988, it appears the Republicans will go into their convention without knowing who that pick will be.

Luscombe reported that the crowd “appeared mostly subdued,” yawning and playing on their phones.

Today, the editorial board of the Los Angeles Times wrote that Trump is “the only candidate in the race who is patently unfit for office—any office—and an imminent threat to democracy.” “If the [Republicans] had any decency left,” it wrote, they would dump him. Voters, the board said, must see the election as “a referendum on our 248-year democracy, and a choice between a trustworthy public servant who upholds American values and a serial liar who wants to push the country into authoritarianism.”

Almost two weeks after calling for Biden to step out of the 2024 race for the presidency, the editorial board of the New York Times also said that Trump is unfit to lead the United States of America, and urged voters “to see the dangers of a second Trump term clearly and to reject it.”

There was continued good news today about the American economy. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen announced that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) had collected more than $1 billion in overdue tax bills from millionaires. That crackdown was possible thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, which funded an initiative to pursue high-income, high-wealth individuals who have an income of more than $1 million and owe more than $250,000 to the IRS.

Republicans have repeatedly tried to cut the funding that made this enforcement possible.

Today’s inflation report for June showed that inflation continues to cool, falling in June for the first time since the start of the pandemic. It declined in June by –0.1%, as gas and electricity prices dropped and as rent had its smallest monthly increase since August 2021. Statistics also show that workers’ wages continue to grow more quickly than prices.

Yesterday, the AFL-CIO executive council voted unanimously to reaffirm its support for President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, saying: “Unions have never wavered in our support of them because they’ve never wavered in their commitment to working people.” The Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers Union quoted that statement and added: “BAC is proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with our brothers and sisters across the labor movement in supporting the Biden-Harris re-election campaign.”

In a press conference this evening, Biden championed the economic boom his policies created for the middle class and reminded attending journalists that “none of you thought that would happen.”

In that press conference, held after he presided over the three-day NATO summit and thus focused on foreign affairs, Biden answered press questions directly and fully, not only on his health but also on foreign affairs. He reiterated the importance of NATO and reminded reporters that he was key to reinforcing the alliance after Trump weakened it, then went on to talk about foreign affairs more broadly. He also noted that “I’ve spent more time with Xi Jinping than any other president,” adding: “And by the way I handed in my notes.” This was a reference to the fact that in an unprecedented move, Trump infamously refused to disclose the notes from one of his conversations with Russian president Vladimir Putin.

At the same time that Biden was holding a press conference that focused on NATO and foreign affairs, Trump was meeting at Mar-a-Lago with Putin ally Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán. On social media this evening, Trump indicated that he is trying to conduct his own foreign policy, although the Logan Act prohibits private citizens from negotiating with foreign governments, and reiterated his support for Putin’s call for “peace” in Ukraine. Their plan calls for giving Putin the western regions of Ukraine that were central to his 2016 support for Trump; Trump’s 2016 campaign manager promised Trump would look the other way as Putin absorbed them.

Orbán, who has openly called for Trump’s reelection, posted: “Peace mission 5.0[.] It was an honour to visit President [Trump] at Mar-a-Lago today. We discussed ways to make [peace]. The good news of the day: he’s going to solve it!”

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No, that’s your guy.

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