Party of the People

The corporations that own the railroads in our country have been playing hardball with the unions representing railroad workers. They have cut 40,000 jobs nationwide and have been demanding increased productivity from the remaining railroad workers (while reaping record profits). Shades of the air traffic controllers demanding safer working conditions back when Reagan smashed PATCO ( the only union, incidentally that endorsed the affable old reactionary).

This time Biden brokered a stopgap deal to avoid a supply chain crippling strike right before Christmas. The worst sticking point was that there was no increase in paid sick leave for the overworked remaining railroad workers. The House of Representatives took up that sticking point, to correct a (literally) fatal defect in Biden’s workaround compromise. Here was the vote today.

Say it with me “USA!! USA!!!”

Party of the people, MAGA, the very best people, the best people.

History of Thanksgiving

HEATHER COX RICHARDSON

The past week has brought seven mass shootings in the United States. Twenty-two people have been killed and 44 wounded. I’ll have more to say later about our epidemic of gun violence, but tonight, on the night before Thanksgiving, when I traditionally post the story of the holiday’s history, I simply want to acknowledge the terrible sorrow behind tomorrow’s newly empty chairs.

Thanksgiving itself came from a time of violence: the Civil War.

The Pilgrims and the Wampanoags did indeed share a harvest celebration together at Plymouth in fall 1621, but that moment got forgotten almost immediately, overwritten by the long history of the settlers’ attacks on their Indigenous neighbors.

In 1841 a book that reprinted the early diaries and letters from the Plymouth colony recovered the story of that three-day celebration in which ninety Indigenous Americans and the English settlers shared fowl and deer. This story of peace and goodwill among men who by the 1840s were more often enemies than not inspired Sarah Josepha Hale, who edited the popular women’s magazine Godey’s Lady’s Book, to think that a national celebration could ease similar tensions building between the slaveholding South and the free North. She lobbied for legislation to establish a day of national thanksgiving.

And then, on April 12, 1861, southern soldiers fired on Fort Sumter, a federal fort in Charleston Harbor, and the meaning of a holiday for giving thanks changed.

Southern leaders wanted to destroy the United States of America and create their own country, based not in the traditional American idea that “all men are created equal,” but rather in its opposite: that some men were better than others and had the right to enslave their neighbors. In the 1850s, convinced that society worked best if a few wealthy men ran it, southern leaders had bent the laws of the United States to their benefit, using it to protect enslavement above all.

In 1860, northerners elected Abraham Lincoln to the presidency to stop rich southern enslavers from taking over the government and using it to cement their own wealth and power. As soon as he was elected, southern leaders pulled their states out of the Union to set up their own country. After the firing on Fort Sumter, Lincoln and the fledgling Republican Party set out to end the slaveholders’ rebellion.

The early years of the war did not go well for the U.S. By the end of 1862, the armies still held, but people on the home front were losing faith. Leaders recognized the need both to acknowledge the suffering and to keep Americans loyal to the cause. In November and December, seventeen state governors declared state thanksgiving holidays.

New York governor Edwin Morgan’s widely reprinted proclamation about the holiday reflected that the previous year “is numbered among the dark periods of history, and its sorrowful records are graven on many hearthstones.” But this was nonetheless a time for giving thanks, he wrote, because “the precious blood shed in the cause of our country will hallow and strengthen our love and our reverence for it and its institutions…. Our Government and institutions placed in jeopardy have brought us to a more just appreciation of their value.”

The next year Lincoln got ahead of the state proclamations. On July 15 he declared a national day of Thanksgiving, and the relief in his proclamation was almost palpable. After two years of disasters, the Union army was finally winning. Bloody, yes; battered, yes; but winning. At Gettysburg in early July, Union troops had sent Confederates reeling back southward. Then, on July 4, Vicksburg had finally fallen to U. S. Grant’s army. The military tide was turning.

President Lincoln set Thursday, August 6, 1863, for the national day of Thanksgiving. On that day, ministers across the country listed the signal victories of the U.S. Army and Navy in the past year and reassured their congregations that it was only a matter of time until the United States government put down the southern rebellion. Their predictions acknowledged the dead and reinforced the idea that their sacrifice had not been in vain.

In October 1863, President Lincoln declared a second national day of Thanksgiving. In the past year, he declared, the nation had been blessed.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, he wrote, Americans had maintained their laws and their institutions and had kept foreign countries from meddling with their nation.

They had paid for the war as they went, refusing to permit the destruction to cripple the economy. Instead, as they funded the war, they had also advanced farming, industry, mining, and shipping. Immigrants had poured into the country to replace men lost on the battlefield, and the economy was booming.

And Lincoln had recently promised that the government would end slavery once and for all. The country, he predicted, “with a large increase of freedom,” would survive, stronger and more prosperous than ever. The president invited Americans “in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea, and those who are sojourning in foreign lands” to observe the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving.

The following year, Lincoln proclaimed another day of Thanksgiving, this time congratulating Americans that God had favored them not only with immigration but also with the emancipation of formerly enslaved people. “Moreover,” Lincoln wrote, “He has been pleased to animate and inspire our minds and hearts with fortitude, courage, and resolution sufficient for the great trial of civil war into which we have been brought by our adherence as a nation to the cause of freedom and humanity, and to afford to us reasonable hopes of an ultimate and happy deliverance from all our dangers and afflictions.”

In 1861, Americans went to war to keep a cabal from taking control of the government and turning it into an oligarchy. The fight against that rebellion seemed at first to be too much for the nation to survive. But Americans rallied and threw their hearts into the cause on the battlefields even as they continued to work on the home front to create a government that defended democracy and equality before the law.

And they won.

My best to you all for Thanksgiving 2022.

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© 2022 Heather Cox Richardson
548 Market Street PMB 72296, San Francisco, CA 94104

Nice nutshell, Maureen Dowd

“As I have said before, the gravest threats to our civilization are not from abroad, but from within,” Trump said at his flaccid, whiny announcement Tuesday night at Mar-a-Lago.

That is actually true, but only because Trump exploited every dark division and base impulse he could find.

He would rather blow up our democracy than admit he’s a loser, and that makes him a traitor.

Trump flaunts his faux Macho Macho Man rhetoric. For decades, Republicans have lectured Americans to quit embracing victimhood and stand on their own two feet, and here’s their leader announcing his presidency on a platform of Woe is me because I’m a fall guy!

“I will tell you I’m a victim,” Trump said to a less-than-festive gathering where Melania seemed like a hostage and Ivanka was a no-show.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/11/19/opinion/trump-special-counsel.html

World’s richest man does what’s best for himself (and the rest of us…)

And, as promised (though minus the input of the ethics team he promised to consult, and then immediately fired) Musk (Elon Mullosk, as a friend called the slimy bastard recently) restored his fellow übercitizen Donald Trump to Twitter.  For Trump to go back on Twitter is to abandon his failing Truth Social but for him not to return to Twitter is to forgo a giant megaphone, which isn’t his way.  An excellent op-ed in the NY Times made some great observations:

As someone who has been studying Mr. Trump’s Twitter use since before he was elected president, I believe that his return would mean the heightened spread of both misinformation and disinformation, the proliferation of degrading and dehumanizing discourse, the further mainstreaming of hate speech and the erosion of democratic norms and institutions. But there is something else: Mr. Trump’s return to Twitter could escalate the likelihood of political violence.

Simply put, if you are surrounded by dry kindling, add an accelerant and light a match, conflagration is the predictable outcome. . .

. . . Twitter and Mr. Trump represent a dangerous fusion of form and content. Social media generally and Twitter specifically lend themselves to simple, urgent, unreflective and emotionally charged communication. When the message is one of intolerance and violence, the result is all but certain.

I Studied Trump’s Twitter Use for Six Years. Prepare for the Worst. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/11/20/opinion/donald-trump-twitter-return.html?unlocked_article_code=AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACEIPuonUktbfqYhlSVUZAybSRdkhrxqAwvTIxrU4ijriNjWQUXNe0OUJH4Wavl3Aebd5YZ0zwzGfDpdnAYMYecZTnKVZLlA_DE6huIeFk5AIZHk4oNm4BDNsms-TArl9rGe7NyzpdupxgefkskOMO2TvDPDahGYzZ1ow-esTflCs330PxqnHA7Q1joE4haF9c8g8ETQQZyCKvO3rCwF-OLiGbxLa7Ao3W4JJSG2Z3I7cu_9bLlIkWR-RR2h_4G089NtcJNoQWa39JBMlc8D-6q4DiWAPjCo4h4AbS8d8a7Sv5g

True dat, as certain as the continued mindless worship of our greediest, most rapacious citizens endangers us all.

Double Standard

One of the most maddening things in life is being subjected to a double standard.   I get to act this way, and you have nothing to say about it, but if you act the same way, I will righteously fucking destroy you.  It happens between parents and children, probably much more frequently than it should.  The parent says:  I am an adult and if I call someone a fucking piece of shit it’s because they deserve it, if you ever fucking talk like that I’ll wash your filthy mouth out with a bar of soap, you understand that, asshole?    

Democrats, as a party, play by the rules, most of the time, and they try to govern by promoting solutions to real problems.  Republicans play only to win, having come to regard the rules as weapons to be used against their political enemies, harnessing the rage of angry citizens to manipulate them. Democrats are the last remaining democratic party in our duopoly, Republicans openly want a one-party state and an above the law strongman to lead our oligarchy.   When a Democrat expresses anger, about anything, particularly if she’s a woman, particularly a woman of color, Republicans attack in a rage, morally scandalized that some loudmouthed bitch feels entitled to such terrible unAmerican anger.    When a Republican is angry it’s because of the horrible people who hate our country, and spit on Christ, that send them into a righteous temper tantrum.   You can observe this cycle daily in the 24 hour news — Republicans vow to take terrible revenge if vengeful Democrats plan to do something they hate.  Democrats generally apologize for saying intemperate things, or more often, just remain as quiet as most Republicans.

Now that we have had an ever-defiant, litigious, openly, proudly, corrupt Republican president, the double standard is more grotesquely in-your-face than we’ve ever seen in this country.   The reputation of the Department of Justice that protected Trump’s colleagues and went after Trump’s enemies under first Jeff Sessions (too racist to get a seat on the federal bench, try to picture that) and eventually the most corrupt AG in American history, Bill Barr, is being rehabilitated under the scrupulous Merrick Garland.  In Trump speak:  Garland has weaponized the DOJ for Democrat [sic] vendettas against innocent and great Americans, with more witch hunts and refusal to give him a pass for trying to overturn a stolen election, inciting totally justifiable mob violence to overturn that election, stealing (and selling) top secret government documents and petty so-called crimes like that. 

Trump’s great strength is using brazeness and every possible delay to avoid accountability for things most of us would be in prison for, waiting for our trials.   Garland’s great weakness is not wanting to look unfair.  That’s a guy Trump can play like an out of tune violin.

Merrick Garland, obeying the time honored democratic/judicial norm of avoiding the “appearance of impropriety”, seems to have just granted the corrupt former president the strategic delay he always seeks, for the sake of avoiding the appearance of political bias.   He announced it would be unfair, days after an election that largely repudiated the march toward autocratic one-party rule, to continue to investigate a man who just declared himself a presidential candidate, since Garland serves another man who has stated his intention to run in 2024.   He said this extraordinary circumstance necessitated the appointment of a famously impartial Special Counsel to conclude whether Trump broke the law, when he plotted to overturn an election he lost, when he unleashed a crowd to lynch his loyal vice president and decapitate the line of succession, when he stole and sold sensitive government documents as he was leaving the White House under protest.

Recall the sequence of events that led to this extraordinary announcement by Garland, who could not have appeared impartial to partisans who have already vowed to impeach him if he’d appointed Kraken lawyer Sydney Powell as Special Counsel (as Trump was reportedly considering, making her Special Counsel to overturn the 2020 election) or Judge Aileen (heavily for the guy who appointed me)  Cannon.   Merrick Garland’s DOJ spent well over a year politely negotiating with a famously untruthful demagogue who special prosecutor Robert Mueller concluded he could not exonerate for obstruction of justice.  Trump claimed complete and total exoneration, as did his Attorney General, supremely corrupt culture warrior Bill Barr.   After losing re-election by over 7,000,000 votes, and by the identical historic landslide (in his estimation) Electoral College margin he’d bragged about winning in 2016, Trump launched a mutli-tentacled conspiracy to stay in power, including coordinating slates of fake electors in several states he lost, repeated illegal attempts to change vote counts, threatening, cajoling and trying to influence public officials, putting innocent poll workers in danger of his mobs by lying about their crimes, by name, fanning an infuriating lie about a stolen election, inciting a violent mob to stop the certification of his loss, kill his Vice President and decapitate Congressional leadership, and lying about it all regularly at rallies he has been holding since.  Also, when he left the White House he took with him hundreds of classified government documents. 

After about a year of bad faith negotiations, with Garland’s DOJ, after subpoenas were ignored, after Trump’s attorney signed a false declaration that all the records NARA sought had been returned, the DOJ got a search warrant, searched Mar-a-Largo on August 8th and recovered a trove of papers the president illegally possessed and kept in unsecured areas of his resort/home.  How many more secret documents he still has, in places not described in the legal search warrant, or how many he’d already sold to Putin, Saudi Arabia and anyone else with a lot of money, the US government is not sure.   

A few weeks after the August 8th “raid” on his resort made MAGA nation mad as hell, his attorneys went to the federal courthouse 70 miles up the coast to get an emergency injunction in front of a judge who Trump had appointed after he lost the election.  She loyally did her benefactor’s bidding, preventing the government from reviewing its own documents and illogically appointing a Special Master, though she was overturned once on appeal regarding the Executive branch’s right to look at its own classified documents.  She is certain to be completely overturned some time next month.  But she bought the boss at least four or five months of delay, which is how quid pro quos (no longer strictly illegal under a recent Supreme Court ruling) work.  The investigation into the evidence seized on August 8th has been hamstrung by protracted legal wrangling over which of its own documents DOJ may review.

Now we have Garland’s announcement that, to avoid the appearance of impropriety in this special and unique case, he has handpicked a guy known for prosecuting Democrats and Republicans alike, who will make the final call about whether Trump needs to be prosecuted for crimes, including the seemingly open and shut one where the search warrant yielded massive evidence of the crime suspected — wait, that call will still be Garland’s, under DOJ procedures.   Since Mueller was unable to charge Trump, he also was scrupulous in bending over backwards to be fair — he could not seem to accuse him of something the president would not be able to defend himself against — and so his famous but forgotten “if we could exonerate him, we would, but we cannot” or whatever his famous but forgotten formulation was in the report Barr and Trump crowed was a complete and total exoneration, with Barr investigating the corrupt oringes of the Mueller probe for several years afterwards (Biden’s DOJ allowed it to continue for almost two years, it probably is still going on, along with a now two year federal investigation into the infamous Hunter Biden). [1]

Republicans, who by a robust handful of seat majority in the 435 member House of Representatives, hold the purse strings in the new Congress, have vowed to defund the Department of Justice’s clearly vindictive investigation and possible prosecution of Trump and henchmen, already pardoned by Trump for other crimes.   Why should men who sat in a command center at the Willard Hotel as the riot was unleashed on Congress be treated like common criminals by a political party that murders babies, after raping them, and drinks their blood?   Defund the DOJ!   And you can take that threat to the bank, Merrick.  Your best best was following the facts and the law without fear or favor.  Being afraid of looking “political” made you as political as it gets, boss.  Now Nancy Pelosi has to scramble to ensure your funding before the lame duck session of Congress ends and you have a narrow Trumpist majority already promising hellish revenge amid constant televised investigations that law-abiding public servants will dutifully attend and endless, baseless, headline grabbing impeachments.

No double standard here!  It’s just power.  Nothing personal, but a lot of you motherfuckers need to be locked up, now that we have the gavel, bitches!

[1]

Mr. Mueller’s report states that “while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him” on the obstruction of justice issue.    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/24/us/politics/mueller-report-summary.html

These, of course, are the first two hits you will find looking up “Mueller report on exonerating Trump”.  The first is from the official government website of a sitting Republican Congressman who was active in planning the January 6th rally and rejection of certified electors during the joint session of Congress that day, ALLEGEDLY:

https://biggs.house.gov › media › press-releases › mueller-report-exonerates-president-trump

Mueller Report Exonerates President Trump | Congressman Andy Biggs

The Mueller Report completely exonerates President Trump and his team. “It is a travesty that my Democrat colleagues are now doing their best to disregard the Mueller investigative team that they put so much faith in for the past two years. They will now continue their own witch hunt to attempt to impeach President Trump.

https://www.judicialwatch.org › mueller-report-exonerates-president-trump

Mueller Report Exonerates President Trump | Judicial Watch

Mueller Never Had a Good-Faith Basis to Pursue President Trump. The fizzling out of the corrupt Mueller investigation is great victory for the rule of law and our constitutional republic. Here is the statement I issued in response Attorney General Barr’s initial summary of the special counsel’s report. The long, national nightmare is over …

From the principled guy who won’t testify

CNN — In a forthcoming memoir about his time in office, former Vice President Mike Pence recounts a conversation he had with Donald Trump.

Here’s the key bit, from an excerpt published in the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday:

“Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert and other Republicans had filed a lawsuit asking a federal judge to declare that I had ‘exclusive authority and sole discretion’ to decide which electoral votes should count. ‘I don’t want to see ‘Pence Opposes Gohmert Suit’ as a headline this morning,’ the president said. I told him I did oppose it. ‘If it gives you the power,’ he asked, ‘why would you oppose it?’”

“If it gives you the power, why would you oppose it?”

If you had only one quote to understand Trump and how he views the world, that would be a pretty good one.

https://www.cnn.com/2022/11/10/politics/pence-book-excerpt-trump-power/index.html