Aftermath of the Trump Administration, December 2021

 

My daily chronicle of news about the Trump administration (20 January 2017 – 20 January 2021), Republicans, Democrats, corporations, courts, resistance, and persistence continues to wind down. I am still posting important articles, especially ones that reflect the differences between the Biden administration and the Trump administration and ones that address the toxic legacy of the Trump administration. I hope to devote more of my time to posting muckraking articles on my site and to working with my local activist group in pursuit of progressive change and a stronger democracy. Thanks for reading!

 

For independent global news, visit Democracy Now!

For a newsletter about the history behind today’s politics, subscribe to Heather Cox Richardson’s newsletter, Letters from an American.

 

Wednesday, 1 December 2021:

 

Supreme Court Appears Open to Upholding Mississippi Abortion Restriction. After two hours of sometimes tense exchanges in one of the most significant abortion cases in years, the court appeared poised to uphold the state law, which bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Wednesday, 1 December 2021: “The Supreme Court seemed poised on Wednesday to uphold a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, based on sometimes tense and heated questioning at a momentous argument in the most important abortion case in decades. Such a ruling would be flatly at odds with what the court has said was the central holding of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that established a constitutional right to abortion and prohibited states from banning the procedure before fetal viability, or around 23 weeks. But the court’s six-member conservative majority seemed divided about whether to stop at 15 weeks, for now at least, or whether to overrule Roe entirely, allowing states to ban abortions at any time or entirely…. Assuming the three most conservative members of the court — Justices Alito, Clarence Thomas and Neil M. Gorsuch — are prepared to overrule Roe entirely, Chief Justice Roberts would need to attract at least two votes for a narrower opinion, one upholding the Mississippi law but not overruling Roe in so many words, to be controlling. But the most likely candidates, Justices Brett M. Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, said little to suggest that they were inclined toward that narrower approach. The court’s three liberal members — Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor — were adamant that Roe should stand. Should Roe be overturned, at least 20 states will immediately or in short order make almost all abortions unlawful, forcing women who can afford it to travel long distances to obtain the procedure. Chief Justice Roberts expressed frustration with Mississippi’s litigation strategy. In the state’s petition seeking Supreme Court review, officials told the justices that ‘the questions presented in this petition do not require the court to overturn Roe or Casey,’ though lawyers for the state did raise the possibility in a footnote. Once the court agreed to hear the case, the state shifted its emphasis and began a sustained assault on those precedents. That amounted to a bait-and-switch, Chief Justice Roberts suggested. The more liberal justices pressed Scott G. Stewart, Mississippi’s solicitor general, on the dangers of overruling a longstanding precedent after changes in the membership of the court…. Justice Sotomayor asked whether the court would ‘survive the stench’ of being considered a political institution, a point echoed by Justice Kagan.” See also, Supreme Court signals willingness to uphold abortion limits in Mississippi case. The Mississippi law bans most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, allowing them only in medical emergencies or cases of severe fetal abnormality. NBC News, Pete Williams and Teaganne Finn, Wednesday, 1 December 2021: “The Supreme Court appeared prepared Wednesday to uphold a Mississippi law that would ban almost all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, which would be a dramatic break from 50 years of rulings. The justices heard 90 minutes of oral arguments in the most direct challenge to Roe v. Wade in nearly three decades. A majority of the court’s conservative justices suggested they were prepared to discard the court’s previous standard that prevented states from banning abortion before a fetus becomes viable, which is generally considered to be at about 24 weeks into a pregnancy. It was unclear after Wednesday’s argument whether the court would take the additional step of explicitly overturning its abortion precedents, including Roe v. Wade. The three more liberal justices warned that the court would appear to be a political body if it tossed out abortion rulings that the country has relied on for decades. ‘It is particularly important to show that what we do in overturning a case is grounded in principle and not social pressure,’ Justice Stephen Breyer warned. Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked, ‘Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts? I don’t see how it’s possible.’ And Justice Elena Kagan said the court must not act in a way that would cause people to think it is ‘a political institution that will go back and forth, depending on what part of the public yells the loudest or changes to the court’s membership.'” See also, Roe v. Wade’s future is in doubt after historic arguments at the Supreme Court, NPR, Nina Totenberg, Wednesday, 1 December 2021: “The right to an abortion in the United States appeared to be on shaky ground as a divided Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday on the fate of Roe v. Wade, the court’s 1973 decision that legalized abortion in the United States. At issue in Wednesday’s case — Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization — was a Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Until now, all the court’s abortion decisions have upheld Roe‘s central framework — that women have a constitutional right to an abortion in the first two trimesters of pregnancy when a fetus is unable to survive outside the womb, roughly 24 weeks. But Mississippi asked the Supreme Court to reverse all its prior abortion decisions and return the abortion question to the states. The court’s three newest justices — Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, all Trump appointees — appeared to signal they are ready to side with Mississippi — but it wasn’t immediately clear if all of them would strike down Roe, as the state of Mississippi has asked.” See also, Supreme Court seems inclined to uphold Mississippi abortion law that would undermine Roe v. Wade, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes, Wednesday, 1 December 2021: “The Supreme Court on Wednesday signaled it is on the verge of a major curtailment of abortion rights in the United States, and appeared likely to uphold a Mississippi law that violates one of the essential holdings of Roe v. Wade established nearly 50 years ago. Whether the court would eventually overrule Roe and its finding that women have a fundamental right to end their pregnancies was unclear. But none of the six conservatives who make up the court’s majority expressed support for maintaining its rule that states may not prohibit abortion before the point of fetal viability, which is generally estimated to be between 22 and 24 weeks of pregnancy. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., often the most moderate of the conservatives, said Mississippi’s law prohibiting most abortions after 15 weeks was not a ‘dramatic departure’ from viability, and gave women enough time to make the choice to end their pregnancies. He added: ‘Why would 15 weeks be an inappropriate line?’ But the other conservatives did not express much interest in rewriting Roe, decided in 1973, or 1992’s affirming decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Rather, they indicated they were open to simply getting rid of both. The court’s liberal justices said the institution’s reputation would be irreparably damaged if nearly a half-century of its abortion jurisprudence were dismantled because of a change in membership.” See also, Supreme Court’s conservatives lean toward limiting abortion rights after dramatic oral arguments on Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks, CNN Politics, Ariane de Vogue, Wednesday, 1 December 2021: “The Supreme Court seemed poised Wednesday to uphold a Mississippi law that bars abortion after 15 weeks, but it is less clear if there is a clear majority to end the right to abortion nationwide, although conservative justices expressed skepticism about the landmark Roe v. Wade decision. The dispute represents the culmination of a decades-long effort on the part of critics of the landmark opinion that legalized abortion nationwide to return the issue to the states, a move that would almost immediately eviscerate abortion rights in large swaths of the South and the Midwest. Chief Justice John Roberts seemed to be looking for a middle ground to allow states to ban abortion earlier — moving up the viability line from the current 22 to 23 weeks — but leaving in place some remnants of a woman’s right to end a pregnancy. He said 15 weeks was not a ‘dramatic departure’ from viability.”

Trump tested positive for Covid a few days before Biden debate, chief of staff Mark Meadows says in new book. Meadows makes stunning admission in new memoir obtained by The Guardian, saying a second test returned negative. The Guardian, Martin Pengelly, Wednesday, 1 December 2021: “Donald Trump tested positive for Covid-19 three days before his first debate against Joe Biden, the former president’s fourth and last chief of staff has revealed in a new book. Mark Meadows also writes that though he knew each candidate was required ‘to test negative for the virus within seventy two hours of the start time … Nothing was going to stop [Trump] from going out there.’ Trump, Meadows says in the book, returned a negative result from a different test shortly after the positive. Nonetheless, the stunning revelation of an unreported positive test follows a year of speculation about whether Trump, then 74 years old, had the potentially deadly virus when he faced Biden, 77, in Cleveland on 29 September – and what danger that might have presented. Trump announced he had Covid on 2 October. The White House said he announced that result within an hour of receiving it. He went to hospital later that day. Meadows’ memoir, The Chief’s Chief, will be published next week by All Seasons Press, a conservative outlet. The Guardian obtained a copy on Tuesday – the day Meadows reversed course and said he would cooperate with the House committee investigating the deadly Capitol attack of 6 January. In a statement on Wednesday, Trump called Meadows’ claims ‘Fake News.'” See also, Three former aides say Trump tested positive for coronavirus before first debate with Biden, The Washington Post, Ashley Parker, Josh Dawsey, Annie Linskey, and Dan Diamond, Wednesday, 1 December 2021: “President Donald Trump tested positive for the coronavirus days before he shared the debate stage with then-Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in late September 2020, according to his former chief of staff and two others familiar with the former president’s test — a stunning revelation that illustrates the dismissive approach to the dangers posed by the virus in Trump’s inner circle. Trump’s positive test for the virus was Sept. 26, 2020, according to an account by former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows in a new book obtained by the Guardian newspaper. The Meadows account of the positive result was confirmed Wednesday by two former aides who requested anonymity to discuss their knowledge of the former president’s health. The timing means Trump would have had reason to believe he was infected with the coronavirus three days before the Sept. 29 presidential debate and six days before he was hospitalized for covid-19 at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. The disclosure also provides new evidence of Trump’s often reckless and cavalier approach to his health and the health of those around him as he struggled through a chaotic response to the pandemic.” See also, Two Ex-Officials Say Trump Tested Positive for Coronavirus Days Before First Debate With Biden, The New York Times, Maggie Haberman, Wednesday, 1 December 2021: “President Donald J. Trump tested positive for coronavirus three days before his first debate with Joseph R. Biden Jr. in 2020, two former administration officials said Wednesday. The White House did not announce the positive test at the time, and the president received a negative result shortly afterward and carried on with a campaign rally and the debate, the officials said. The account was first reported by The Guardian, which cited a forthcoming book by Mr. Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows…. The revelation came more than a year after widespread speculation that Mr. Trump was sick when he first shared a stage with Mr. Biden for their first presidential debate on Sept. 29, months into the pandemic.”

Federal District Judge Amy Berman Jackson says people who spoke at the January 6 ‘Stop the Steal’ rally ‘stoked’ the crowd and should be held accountable, CNN Politics, Hannah Rabinowitz, Wednesday, 1 December 2021: “A federal judge suggested Wednesday that Donald Trump and others who spoke at the “Stop the Steal” rally on January 6 should be held accountable for the US Capitol riot that followed, saying the then-President ‘stoked’ the crowd and ‘might’ve inspired what happened.’ Though she did not refer to Trump by name, District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said during a sentencing for riot defendant Russell Peterson that the former President and other speakers at the Ellipse riled the crowd and ‘explicitly encouraged them to go to the Capitol and fight for one reason and one reason only — to make sure the certification of the election didn’t happen. There may be others who bear greater responsibility and should be held accountable,’ Jackson said to Peterson. ‘But this is not their day in court. It’s yours.’  Jackson joins the ranks of several federal judges in Washington who have sharply criticized Trump for his inflammatory speech at the January 6 rally, with one judge saying last month that rioters were ‘pawns’ provoked into action. While Jackson stopped short of laying full responsibility at the feet of those who spoke at the January 6 rally, she and other judges have lambasted Trump and even suggested he may face legal consequences. Jackson has handled many politically significant court cases from the Trump era and its aftermath, and she’s known for her sharp criticism of his administration. She handles a number of the more than 670 Capitol riot cases, and has repeatedly disavowed attempts to frame rioters as political prisoners and called attention to what she considers dangerous lies about the 2020 election. Jackson also said Peterson should be held accountable, noting that he is an adult and responsible for his own actions on January 6. ‘You did receive a lot of overwhelming inaccurate information on social media,’ Jackson said to Peterson, ‘but you had a choice to reject the lies and not to join the antidemocratic call for martial law.'”

Continue reading Aftermath of the Trump Administration, August-September 2021:

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A Power Struggle Over Cobalt Rattles the Clean Energy Revolution

Dionne Searcey, Michael Forsythe, and Eric Lipton, The New York Times, A Power Struggle Over Cobalt Rattles the Clean Energy Revolution. The quest for Congo’s cobalt, which is vital for electric vehicles and the worldwide push against climate change, is caught in an international cycle of exploitation, greed, and gamesmanship. Saturday, 20 November 2021: “[T]he quest for Congo’s cobalt has demonstrated how the clean energy revolution, meant to save the planet from perilously warming temperatures in an age of enlightened self-interest, is caught in a familiar cycle of exploitation, greed and gamesmanship that often puts narrow national aspirations above all else, an investigation by The New York Times found. The Times dispatched reporters across three continents drawn into the competition for cobalt, a relatively obscure raw material that along with lithium, nickel and graphite has gained exceptional value in a world trying to set fossil fuels aside. More than 100 interviews and thousands of pages of documents show that the race for cobalt has set off a power struggle in Congo, a storehouse of these increasingly prized resources, and lured foreigners intent on dominating the next epoch in global energy. In particular, a rivalry between China and the United States could have far-reaching implications for the shared goal of safeguarding the earth. At least here in Congo, China is so far winning that contest, with both the Obama and Trump administrations having stood idly by as a company backed by the Chinese government bought two of the country’s largest cobalt deposits over the past five years.” See also, Eric Lipton and Dionne Searcey, The New York Times, How the U.S. Lost Ground to China in the Contest for Clean Energy. Americans failed to safeguard decades of diplomatic and financial investments in Congo, where the world’s largest supply of cobalt is controlled by Chinese companies backed by Beijing. Sunday, 21 November 2021: “China’s pursuit of Congo’s cobalt wealth is part of a disciplined playbook that has given it an enormous head start over the United States in the race to dominate the electrification of the auto industry, long a key driver of the global economy. But an investigation by The New York Times revealed a hidden history of the cobalt acquisitions in which the United States essentially surrendered the resources to China, failing to safeguard decades of diplomatic and financial investments in Congo. The sale of … two mines, also flush with copper, highlights the shifting geography and politics of the clean energy revolution, with countries rich in cobalt, lithium and other raw materials needed for batteries suddenly playing the role of oil giants. The loss of the mines happened under the watch of President Barack Obama, consumed with Afghanistan and the Islamic State, and President Donald J. Trump, a climate-change skeptic committed to fossil fuels and the electoral forces behind them. More broadly, it had roots in the end of the Cold War, according to previously classified documents and interviews with senior officials in the Clinton, Bush, Obama, Trump and Biden administrations.”

How Americans’ Appetite for Leather in Luxury SUVs Worsens Amazon Deforestation

Manuela Andreoni, Hiroko Tabuchi, and Albert Sun, The New York Times, How Americans’ Appetite for Leather in Luxury SUVs Worsens Amazon Deforestation. An examination of Brazil’s immense tannery industry shows how hides from illegally deforested ranches can easily reach the global marketplace. In the United States, much of the demand for Brazilian leather comes from automakers. Wednesday, 17 November 2021: “A New York Times investigation into Brazil’s rapidly expanding slaughterhouse industry — a business that sells not only beef to the world, but tons of leather annually to major companies in the United States and elsewhere — has identified loopholes in its monitoring systems that allow hides from cattle kept on illegally deforested Amazon land to flow undetected through Brazil’s tanneries and on to buyers worldwide…. A luxury vehicle can require a dozen or more hides, and suppliers in the United States increasingly buy their leather from Brazil. While the Amazon region is one of the world’s major providers of beef, increasingly to Asian nations, the global appetite for affordable leather also means that the hides of these millions of cattle supply a lucrative international leather market valued in the hundreds of billions of dollars annually.”

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Washington Post investigation finds many countries underreport their greenhouse gas emissions in their reports to the United Nations

Chris Mooney, Juliet Eilperin, Desmond Butler, John Muyskens, Anu Narayanswamy, and Naema Ahmed, The Washington Post Investigations, Washington Post investigation finds many countries underreport their greenhouse gas emissions in their reports to the United Nations, Sunday, 7 November 2021: “Across the world, many countries underreport their greenhouse gas emissions in their reports to the United Nations, a Washington Post investigation has found. An examination of 196 country reports reveals a giant gap between what nations declare their emissions to be versus the greenhouse gases they are sending into the atmosphere. The gap ranges from at least 8.5 billion to as high as 13.3 billion tons a year of underreported emissions — big enough to move the needle on how much the Earth will warm. The plan to save the world from the worst of climate change is built on data. But the data the world is relying on is inaccurate. ‘If we don’t know the state of emissions today, we don’t know whether we’re cutting emissions meaningfully and substantially,’ said Rob Jackson, a professor at Stanford University and chair of the Global Carbon Project, a collaboration of hundreds of researchers. ‘The atmosphere ultimately is the truth. The atmosphere is what we care about. The concentration of methane and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is what’s affecting climate.’ At the low end, the gap is larger than the yearly emissions of the United States. At the high end, it approaches the emissions of China and comprises 23 percent of humanity’s total contribution to the planet’s warming, The Post found.”

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For scores of years, newspapers printed hate, leading to racist terror lynchings and massacres of Black Americans

DeNeen L. Brown, The Howard Center for Investigative Journalism, For scores of years, newspapers printed hate, leading to racist terror lynchings and massacres of Black Americans, Monday, 18 October 2021: “For decades, hundreds of white-owned newspapers across the country incited the racist terror lynchings and massacres of thousands of Black Americans. In their headlines, these newspapers often promoted the brutality of white lynch mobs and chronicled the gruesome details of the lynchings. Many white reporters stood on the sidelines of Jim Crow lynchings as Black men, women, teenagers and children were hanged from trees and burned alive. White mobs often posed on courthouse lawns, grinning for photos that ran on front pages of mainstream newspapers. These racist terror lynchings — defined as extrajudicial killings carried out by lawless mobs intending to terrorize Black communities — evoked horror as victims were often castrated, dismembered, tortured and riddled with bullets before being hanged from trees, light poles and bridges. Lynchings took different forms. Some Black people were bombed, as four little girls were in a church in Birmingham, Alabama. Black men were whipped by mobs to silence them. Emmett Till was kidnapped, tortured, beaten and thrown into the Tallahatchie River with a cotton-gin fan tied around his neck with barbed wire. ‘Printing Hate,’ a yearlong investigation by students working with the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism at the University of Maryland, examines the scope, depth and breadth of newspaper coverage of hundreds of those public-spectacle lynchings and massacres.”

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Black Children Were Jailed for a Crime That Doesn’t Exist. Almost Nothing Happened to the Adults in Charge.

Meribah Knight, Nashville Public Radio, and Ken Armstrong, ProPublica, Black Children Were Jailed for a Crime That Doesn’t Exist. Almost Nothing Happened to the Adults in Charge. Nashville Public Radio and ProPublica, Friday, 8 October 2021. “Judge Donna Scott Davenport oversees a juvenile justice system in Rutherford County, Tennessee, with a staggering history of jailing children. She said kids must face consequences, which rarely seem to apply to her or the other adults in charge…. [On Friday, 15 April 2016] three police officers were crowded into the assistant principal’s office at Hobgood Elementary School [in Murfreesboro, Tennessee], and Tammy Garrett, the school’s principal, had no idea what to do. One officer, wearing a tactical vest, was telling her: Go get the kids. A second officer was telling her: Don’t go get the kids. The third officer wasn’t saying anything…. What happened on that Friday and in the days after, when police rounded up even more kids, would expose an ugly and unsettling culture in Rutherford County, one spanning decades. In the wake of these mass arrests, lawyers would see inside a secretive legal system that’s supposed to protect kids, but in this county did the opposite. Officials flouted the law by wrongfully arresting and jailing children. One of their worst practices was stopped following the events at Hobgood, but the conditions that allowed the lawlessness remain. The adults in charge failed. Yet they’re still in charge. Tennessee’s systems for protecting children failed. Yet they haven’t been fixed.”

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Pandora Papers, A Global Investigation: Billions Hidden Beyond Reach. A trove of secret files details opaque financial universe where global elite shield riches from taxes, investigations, and accountability.

Greg Miller, Debbie Cenziper, and Peter Whoriskey, Pandora Papers, A Global Investigation: Billions Hidden Beyond Reach. The Washington Post, Sunday, 3 October 2021. “A massive trove of private financial records shared with The Washington Post exposes vast reaches of the secretive offshore system used to hide billions of dollars from tax authorities, creditors, criminal investigators and — in 14 cases involving current country leaders — citizens around the world. The revelations include more than $100 million spent by King Abdullah II of Jordan on luxury homes in Malibu, Calif., and other locations; millions of dollars in property and cash secretly owned by the leaders of the Czech Republic, Kenya, Ecuador and other countries; and a waterfront home in Monaco acquired by a Russian woman who gained considerable wealth after she reportedly had a child with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Other disclosures hit closer to home for U.S. officials and other Western leaders who frequently condemn smaller countries whose permissive banking systems have been exploited for decades by looters of assets and launderers of dirty money. The files provide substantial new evidence, for example, that South Dakota now rivals notoriously opaque jurisdictions in Europe and the Caribbean in financial secrecy. Tens of millions of dollars from outside the United States are now sheltered by trust companies in Sioux Falls, some of it tied to people and companies accused of human rights abuses and other wrongdoing. The details are contained in more than 11.9 million financial records that were obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and examined by The Post and other partner news organizations. The files include private emails, secret spreadsheets, clandestine contracts and other records that unlock otherwise impenetrable financial schemes and identify the individuals behind them. The trove, dubbed the Pandora Papers, exceeds the dimensions of the leak that was at the center of the Panama Papers investigation five years ago. That data was drawn from a single law firm, but the new material encompasses records from 14 separate financial-services entities operating in countries and territories including Switzerland, Singapore, Cyprus, Belize and the British Virgin Islands. The files detail more than 29,000 offshore accounts, more than double the number identified in the Panama Papers. Among the account owners are more than 130 people listed as billionaires by Forbes magazine and more than 330 public officials in more than 90 countries and territories, twice the number found in the Panama documents.” See also, Key findings from the Pandora Papers investigation, The Washington Post, Washington Post Staff, published on Tuesday, 5 October 2021.

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Aftermath of the Trump Administration, October – November 2021

 

My daily chronicle of news about the Trump administration (20 January 2017 – 20 January 2021), Republicans, Democrats, corporations, courts, resistance, and persistence continues to wind down. I am still posting important articles, especially ones that reflect the differences between the Biden administration and the Trump administration and ones that address the toxic legacy of the Trump administration. I hope to devote more of my time to posting muckraking articles on my site and to working with my local activist group in pursuit of progressive change and a stronger democracy. Thanks for reading!

 

For independent global news, visit Democracy Now!

For a newsletter about the history behind today’s politics, subscribe to Heather Cox Richardson’s newsletter, Letters from an American.

 

Friday, 1 October 2021:

 

Political Briefing: Biden Meets With Feuding Democrats and Expresses Confidence a Deal Can Be Reached. President Biden said progressives and centrists could come to an agreement on an infrastructure bill and a sweeping social spending and climate package, but said, ‘It doesn’t matter whether it’s in six minutes, six days, or six weeks.’ The New York Times, Friday, 1 October 2021:

  • Biden puts the infrastructure bill on hold, saying Democrats need to unite on social spending.

  • House approves a stopgap bill to revive transportation programs and end furloughs caused by the voting delay.

  • Railroads, climate resilience, electrical upgrades: Here’s what the infrastructure bill would fund.

  • Sinema, a holdout on the social spending bill, returns to Arizona for a doctor’s visit and a scheduled fund-raiser.

  • Progressive Democrats celebrate delaying the vote on the infrastructure bill.

  • Biden tries to broker a deal among Democrats, with prodding and patience.
  • Why does Washington do so many things at the last minute? It’s complicated.

Biden Pulls Back on Infrastructure Bill, Tying It to Social Policy Measure. After pressing toward a vote, Democratic leaders accepted ‘reality’ that the bill could not pass before a broad climate change and safety net measure comes together. The New York Times, Jonathan Weisman and Emily Cochrane, Friday, 1 October 2021: “President Biden, facing an intraparty battle over his domestic agenda, put his own $1 trillion infrastructure bill on hold on Friday, telling Democrats that a vote on the popular measure must wait until Democrats pass his far more ambitious social policy and climate change package. In a closed-door meeting with Democrats on Capitol Hill, Mr. Biden told Democrats for the first time that keeping his two top legislative priorities together had become ‘just reality.’ And he conceded that reaching a deal between the divided factions on his domestic agenda could take weeks.” See also, Progressives Flex Muscles on Biden Agenda, Adopting New Tactics. Their persistence forced Speaker Nancy Pelosi to delay a planned vote on the $1 trillion infrastructure bill, In the end President Biden sided with their position. The New York Times, Luke Broadwater and Michael D. Shear, Friday, 1 October 2021: “Progressive Democrats in Congress, who have long promoted a bold, liberal agenda but often shied away from using hardball tactics to achieve it, did something unusual this week: They dug in. The nearly 100-member caucus refused to support a $1 trillion infrastructure bill that is a major piece of President Biden’s agenda, seeking leverage for a bigger fight. Their stance forced Speaker Nancy Pelosi to delay a planned vote on the measure and ultimately prompted Mr. Biden to side with them in saying that there could be no vote on the infrastructure legislation until agreement on a far broader, multitrillion-dollar social policy and climate measure. The maneuver drew plaudits from liberal activists who had watched with dismay in the past as their allies in Congress caved to pressure from Democratic leaders and surrendered in policy fights. And it signaled that the progressives enjoyed newfound influence, including the backing of a president long associated with his party’s moderates.” See also, Biden urges Democrats to compromise and have patience as he tries to revive economic agenda, The Washington Post, Tony Romm, Mike DeBonis, and Marianna Sotomayor, Friday, 1 October 2021: “President Biden attempted to quell an internal Democratic rebellion on Friday, pleading with lawmakers to compromise and stay patient as he tried to revive a $1.2 trillion infrastructure proposal and salvage his broader economic agenda from imminent collapse. Biden made the overture during a rare meeting on Capitol Hill in the midst of an intense, acrimonious fight over two pieces of legislation that Democrats were struggling to untangle. The first bill would fix the nation’s roads, bridges, pipes, ports and Internet connections. A second package would authorize roughly $3.5 trillion to expand Medicare, combat climate change and boost a wide array of federal aid programs…. To try to break the logjam, Biden channeled his political roots as a seasoned legislator, huddling with Democrats in an attempt to coalesce them around a shared policy vision. But he also made clear that both of the party’s primary factions had no choice but to compromise equally, as they aim to deliver on the electoral promises that helped them secure Washington majorities in the first place.” See also, Biden Says Democrats Should Delay Infrastructure Vote Until Deal Reached. The party seeks agreement between moderate and progressive wings on separate social-policy and climate package. The Wall Street Journal, Andrew Duehren, Kristina Peterson, and Lindsay Wise, Friday, 1 October 2021: “President Biden called on House Democrats to hold off on voting on a roughly $1 trillion infrastructure bill until after they reach an agreement on a separate social-policy and climate bill, moving to again delay final passage of a central piece of his own agenda in a bid to unify restive Democrats. Even as Mr. Biden endorsed progressives’ push to hold up a vote on the infrastructure bill, however, he acknowledged in a closed-door meeting with House Democrats on Friday that the price tag of the social-policy and climate bill would need to drop substantially below $3.5 trillion to closer to roughly $2 trillion, according to lawmakers and aides.”

U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman presses Texas on ‘very unusual’ abortion ban that uses citizen enforcement of its restrictive state law, The Washington Post, Ann E. Marimow, Friday, 1 October 2021: “A federal judge pressed lawyers for the state of Texas on Friday about the ‘very unusual’ design and legality of a ban on abortion as early as six weeks into pregnancy that makes no exceptions for rape or incest. ‘If the state is so confident in the constitutionality of the limitations on a woman’s access to abortion, then why did it go to such great lengths to create this very unusual’ private enforcement mechanism ‘rather than just simply do it directly?’ U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman asked a lawyer for the Texas attorney general during a federal court hearing. Pitman’s question came as he considered the Biden administration’s request to block enforcement of the most restrictive abortion law in the country, which empowers private citizens, rather than state officials, to take civil action against anyone who helps terminate a pregnancy after cardiac activity is detected, usually around the six-week mark.” See also, Texas’ abortion law is back in court, NPR, Ryan Lucas and Carrie Johnson, Friday, 1 October 2021: “A federal judge is weighing arguments on the Justice Department’s emergency request to block Texas’ controversial new abortion law. Department attorneys and lawyers for the state of Texas made their cases on Friday at a virtual hearing before Judge Robert Pitman of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas. At stake is the ability of women in the country’s second-largest state to get an abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy, a time before which many people don’t realize they’re pregnant. ‘The state resorted to an unprecedented scheme of vigilante justice that was designed to scare abortion providers,’ argued Brian Netter, a lawyer for the Justice Department. ‘So far, it’s working. Women have been left desperate, forced under sometimes harrowing circumstances to get out of Texas, if they even can.'” See also, Federal Judge Hears Arguments Over Texas Abortion Law. The Justice Department said the law was intended to ‘violate the Constitution,’ and asked for it to be suspended while the courts determine if it is legal. The New York Times, Katie Benner and Sabrina Tavernise, Friday, 1 October 2021: “A federal judge heard arguments on Friday from the State of Texas and the federal government on whether a Texas law that bans nearly all abortions in the state should be suspended while the courts decide if it is legal. At issue is a restrictive abortion law that Texas enacted in September that uses a unique legal approach — deputizing private citizens to enforce it, instead of the state. The law, also known as the Texas Heartbeat Act and Senate Bill 8, has had a chilling effect, with most of the state’s roughly two dozen abortion clinics no longer offering abortion services in cases in which cardiac activity is detected, which usually begins at around six weeks of pregnancy. The Justice Department sued Texas last month over the law. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland called the enforcement mechanism ‘an unprecedented’ effort to prevent women from exercising their constitutionally protected right to have an abortion. He said that no matter their stand on abortion, Americans should fear that the Texas law could become a model to restrict other constitutionally protected rights.”

Continue reading Aftermath of the Trump Administration, August-September 2021:

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The Facebook Files: A Wall Street Journal Investigation

Jeff Horwitz, Georgia Wells, Deepa Seetharaman, Keach Hagey, Justin Scheck, Newley Purnell, Sam Schechner, Emily Glazer, Wall Street Journal Staff, Stephanie Stamm, John West, The Facebook Files: A Wall Street Journal Investigation. The Wall Street Journal, a series of articles beginning on Monday, 13 September 2021. “Facebook Inc. knows, in acute detail, that its platforms are riddled with flaws that cause harm, often in ways only the company fully understands. That is the central finding of a Wall Street Journal series, based on a review of internal Facebook documents, including research reports, online employee discussions, and drafts of presentations to senior management. Time and again, the documents show, Facebook’s researchers have identified the platform’s ill effects. Time and again, despite congressional hearings, its own pledges, and numerous media exposés, the company didn’t fix them. The documents offer perhaps the clearest picture thus far of how broadly Facebook’s problems are known inside the company, up to the chief executive himself.”

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Aftermath of the Trump Administration, August-September 2021

 

Now that the Biden administration has settled into Washington, D.C., my daily chronicle (20 January 2017 – 20 January 2021) of news about the Trump administration, Republicans, Democrats, corporations, courts, resistance, and persistence is winding down. I will continue to post a few important articles, especially ones that reflect the differences between the Biden administration and the Trump administration.  I hope to devote more of my time to posting muckraking articles on my site and to working with my local activist group in pursuit of progressive change and a stronger democracy. Thanks for reading!

 

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Monday, 2 August 2021:

 

Daily Political Briefing: Senators finish writing bipartisan infrastructure bill in rare weekend session, The New York Times, Monday, 2 August 2021:

The Big Money Behind the Big Lie. Donald Trump’s attacks on democracy are being promoted by rich and powerful conservative groups that are determined to win at all costs. The New Yorker, Jane Mayer, Monday, 2 August 2021: “Although the Arizona audit may appear to be the product of local extremists, it has been fed by sophisticated, well-funded national organizations whose boards of directors include some of the country’s wealthiest and highest-profile conservatives. Dark-money organizations, sustained by undisclosed donors, have relentlessly promoted the myth that American elections are rife with fraud, and, according to leaked records of their internal deliberations, they have drafted, supported, and in some cases taken credit for state laws that make it harder to vote. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat from Rhode Island who has tracked the flow of dark money in American politics, told me that a ‘flotilla of front groups’ once focussed on advancing such conservative causes as capturing the courts and opposing abortion have now ‘more or less shifted to work on the voter-suppression thing.’ These groups have cast their campaigns as high-minded attempts to maintain ‘election integrity,’ but Whitehouse believes that they are in fact tampering with the guardrails of democracy.”

Biden Administration to Keep Using Public Health Rule to Turn Away Migrants, The New York Times, Eileen Sullivan and Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Monday, 2 August 2021: ‘With the number of migrants crossing the southern border surging and the pandemic proving to be far from over, the Biden administration has decided to leave in place for now the public health rule that has allowed it to turn away hundreds of thousands of migrants, officials said. The decision, confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday, amounted to a shift by the administration, which had been working on plans to begin lifting the rule this summer, more than a year after it was imposed by the Trump administration. The C.D.C. said allowing noncitizens to come over the border from either Mexico or Canada ‘creates a serious danger’ of further spread of the coronavirus. President Biden has come under intense pressure for months from some Democrats and supporters of more liberal immigration policies to lift the rule, which critics say has been employed less to protect public health than as a politically defensible way to limit immigration.”

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