People are losing their minds over the Democrats not passing the budget and infrastructure bills yet. LOSING THEIR MINDS. Honestly, I had to stop looking at the news earlier this week because every story was about how incredibly awful things are for Democrats.
Just yesterday morning we had:
Biden Misread His Moderate Mandate, and Missed His Moment
Nancy Pelosi Brought a Teddy Bear to a Knife Fight
Highway to Nowhere: Pelosi Delays Vote Amid Dem Chaos
But here is the thing: this is all most likely going to work out. Is it hard to find a solution that will work for both the left and the right of the party? Yes it is. Does that mean it is not going to happen? No it does not.
Ask yourself this? If Jaypal and her crew were ruining our democracy by not voting for Biden’s plan, don’t you think maybe, just maybe, Biden or Pelosi or Schumer might have leaned on her, just a little?
Jayapal informed them there had been no White House or leadership pressure to vote for the infrastructure bill, the aide confirms.
In the through-the-looking-glass media coverage of the Democrats’ brutal slog to pass President Biden’s agenda, the story has often been that radicalized progressives are threatening to derail the whole thing, because they refuse to accept the “reality” that the final package must be in sync with what the conservative faction of Democrats says is “possible.”
But this gets the story wrong. In fact, the progressives’ stand on Thursday makes successful passage of Biden’s agenda more likely, not less.
By refusing to help pass the infrastructure bill, progressives helped secure more space for negotiations on the reconciliation framework.
But importantly, they all seem to be seriously negotiating. The key nuance here is that Democratic leaders would have preferred the infrastructure bill to pass Thursday, to bank this as a win, but at the same time, they didn’t lean very hard on progressives to help do this. They knew it wouldn’t work, because progressives are dug in, and it’s precisely because Democratic leaders have largely accepted this that success is more likely.
In short, the White House and Democratic leaders aren’t asking the left to function as their bad cop against centrists — but they know having a bad cop is useful. It’s spurring along these negotiations over the reconciliation framework. All this helps explain why that lack of pressure on the left is a critical ingredient.
Of course, this doesn’t mean things are definitely going to work out. This could all fall apart and we could end up with neither bill — infrastructure or reconciliation. But odds are that won’t happen. As much as both ends of the Democratic party want to push to get things there way, no one wants to be the one to sink all this. And as hated as they are by many people reading this, that includes Manchin and Sinema. They have political futures as well.
Biden agrees with me
"We're going to get this done," Biden told reporters. Pressed on a timeline, the President said, "It doesn't matter when. It doesn't whether it's in six minutes, six days, or six weeks -- we're going to get it done."
So when things (likely) turn out just fine, will this make us all less likely to flip out the next time the press manufactures a story for us to worry about?
Why not? Because humans have a tendency to forget that they ever thought things weren’t going to end they way they did. We call this the “I knew it all along effect” or the hindsight bias. So, once things work out, people won’t remember how freaked out they were ahead of time
How do I know? Because this happens all the time. Just in the course of this week we saw the end to a story that had people freaking out for MONTHS. How many stories did you read about the Arizona audit and how crooked it was and all the violence and chaos that would happen when it twisted the results to show that Trump won. They were hiding ballots! They were looking for fake Chinese ballots! The sky is falling!
Until…. it didn’t. What did happen?
Arizona Audit Cost Trump Supporters Nearly $6 Million—Only To Assert Biden Won By Even More
$5.7 million. In July, Cyber Ninjas revealed Trump-supporting groups had spent that much money to help pay for the audit, including organizations led by Michael Flynn, Sidney Powell and One America News Network personalities.
After more than five months of counting and millions of dollars spent, an election audit of more than 2 million Arizona ballots has delivered disappointing results for former President Donald Trump and his supporters, concluding he lost the state to President Joe Biden by an even bigger margin than the final vote count that the state certified in the 2020 election.
So was article after article written about how wrong everyone was to worry about this and what a giant relief it was to have this turn out well?
Nope. People quickly forgot that they hadn’t predicted that this would turn out ok the whole time and moved on.
The media aren’t lying to us. They are prognosticating in the most alarmist ways about future events to keep us interested. Nothing they told us about the Arizona audit was wrong, for example, but the conclusion they kept pushing that it would end in armed conflict turned out to be wrong. When we read the newspapers (and we should still read the newspapers) separate fact from prognostication. The bills are taking longer than we hoped (fact) Biden’s agenda is dead (prognostication). The facts are usually sound. The conclusions are phrased in a way to get your attention and keep you reading. Beware of that.
Here is the thing: there are many, many real things to worry about. The Republican party has become more and more brazen is embracing white supremist ideology. Voter suppression is real. The Supreme Court destroyed Roe V Wade in the middle of the night. Climate change is happening.
So please, don’t borrow things to be worried about. The press isn’t evil — but they are dependent on clicks and eyes to survive. Panic draws clicks and it keeps eyes glued to cable news. The press will always make things seem godawful and catastrophic because otherwise too many people would turn off the news. They literally have to do this to survive.
What can we do? Take a deep breath and stay away from it. Instead, stay focused on the things that we can do. Stay moored in reality. Remember that the time wasted freaking out about things that didn’t happen, can’t be won back.
Focus on the future you want. Think about the things that *You* can do to create that future. Act. Breath and enjoy as much of your life as you can, while working to make sure that our democracy is protected.
What can you do to save democracy?
Most important: DON'T LOSE HOPE. This is a giant and important fight for us but, win or lose, we keep fighting and voting and organizing and spreading truth and light. We never give up.
It is REPUBLICANS who are in disarray
Republicans’ trail of destruction may haunt them
Republicans’ embrace of conspiracy theories, election denial, vaccine mandate opposition and, frankly, nihilism pose real threats to our democracy and to the health of Americans. But just because Republicans delight in “owning the libs” does not mean their behavior helps them politically. To the contrary, Democrats may well make hay out of Republican trail of chaos.
Indeed, part of the lesson of the California recall is that spotlighting Republicans’ extremism is a winner for Democrats.
Republicans and their media surrogates are quick to point out that California is a deep-blue state, but GOP extremism on these issues certainly motivated Democrats to turn out — something Newsom’s campaign worried about for months. There is nothing like the specter of misogynistic antiabortion policy or Republicans’ willful refusal to fight a deadly pandemic to engage the Democratic base. Moreover, in stressing these issues, Democrats do nothing to alienate independents or sane Republicans. To the contrary, there are broad coalitions in favor of mask and vaccine mandates and against spying on and harassing women seeking an abortion.
Trump is the gift that keeps on giving to Democrats
Former president Donald Trump’s obsessive lying about voter fraud helped depress Republican enthusiasm in the 2020 runoff elections for two U.S. Senate seats, lift Democrats Raphael G. Warnock and Jon Ossoff to victory and flip the Senate to Democratic control. Knowledgeable GOP activists and pundits blamed Trump for not just making the races all about himself, but for convincing Republicans that voting was useless. Trump threatens to pull the same stunt in 2022 to the detriment of Republican candidates for state office and for the U.S. Senate (against Warnock, who must stand for reelection).
Democrats relish the reminder to voters that Republicans are a threat to the sanctity of elections and will invite chaos if the races do not go their way. Democrats are happy to talk about Georgians’ future and actual concerns while Republicans wallow in conspiracy theories about the past. And, finally, the more they repeat their voting fraud falsehoods, the more evidence Republicans generate for the Fulton County, Ga., prosecutor looking into possible crimes stemming from Trump’s pressure tactics against Georgia election officials and for lawsuits claiming the new election law was not a rational response to a well-founded concern about voter security.
Why the Fear of Trump May Be Overblown
Writing this week in the Washington Post, neoconservative scholar Robert Kagan assembled a persuasive case that Trump’s continuing campaign of lies and subterfuge could well succeed in breaking our brittle system in 2024, essentially unbuckling democracy and installing Trump in office regardless of who wins.
The Kagan nightmare scenario has triggered a large spasm of liberal panic
But there’s another way to look at it. Is this nighmare scenario really a function of Trump’s power and his dominance over his party? Or do the extra-Constitutional methods Trump might adopt as we enter the 2024 election penumbra reflect his essential weakness, and the continued decay of Republican power? Are we looking at a player holding a set of superior cards or as a weak-hand bluff artist threatening to blow up the casino unless he wins the pot?
If Trump were the Election Day colossus that Kagan and other observers believe he is, wouldn’t the better strategy for 2024 be to run more like he did in 2016—a slightly feral Republican—and less like he did in 2020, as a crackbrained rager? He could just gather all those campaign donations pouring in and launch a solid ground game to win back states he won in 2016 but lost in 2020, and leave the Constitution and the election laws be. But so far, he’s not.
The only person or party that attempts a coup d’etat is the one that cannot win by other means. Gearing up for a coup—which we can concede that Kagan gets right about Trump—is not a sign of political strength but one of political weakness. By signaling an attempt to regain power by any means necessary, Trump essentially confesses that Trumpism is not and is not likely to become a majoritarian movement.
Revising voting laws, having elected state officials commandeer the election process, dispatching activists to harass vote tenders, and the other Trump strategies Kagan predicts in his piece are all very frightful. But they, too, convey the Republican conviction that Republicans can’t win elections unless a fat thumb is placed on the scale. It’s the strategy you’d see from people who know they’re losers and will never be able to summon a majority vote again, so they need to change the rules to institutionalize minority power. The Keystone Cops quality of the Eastman plan, which posits one impossible political pirouette after another, is a pastiche of fantastic thinking by a minority never encountered in American politics before.
Trump and his Republicans fear their own disintegration. That sense of threat gives them power over the voter base, but it has also made them politically desperate. Their lack of scruples doesn’t make them omnipotent: it makes them vulnerable to serious and determined opponents. The wildness of Trump’s last-ditch maneuver, whatever it turns out to be, will require much from us, but above all it will oblige us to keep our cool and just vote. You don’t beat a crazy card player by going crazier.
The Doomers are ignoring a lot of Awesome Biden/Harris stuff
Stop focusing on the negative. Biden and Harris have gotten things done.
Anyone who might have imagined that our oldest president would mostly be a soothing corrective after the insanity of the Donald Trump years was dead wrong.
Look at what Biden and Vice President Harris have done to reshape U.S. foreign policy — an area in which presidents largely have free rein. Previous administrations talked the talk. Biden is walking the walk in ways that have both our allies and our adversaries struggling to keep up.
The Obama administration talked for years about ending the war in Afghanistan and withdrawing American forces, but ended up agreeing to a troop surge instead. The Trump administration signed a bad deal, incompetently negotiated, to bring U.S. troops home but got booted out of office before being able to follow through. Biden could have tried to get out of the bargain. Instead, he went ahead and fulfilled it. This nation’s longest war is over — any way you look at it, that’s a historic milestone, and one Biden has used to reshape U.S. goals abroad.
Biden and Harris are pulling off a shift in our foreign policy orientation that has been talked about for more than a decade — a “pivot” or “tilt” away from our traditional focus on Europe and the Middle East toward the region now called the Indo-Pacific, with an eye toward the rise of China as a competing superpower.
Biden secretly negotiated a new defense pact with Australia and Britain that will give the Australians nuclear-powered submarine technology as a check on China’s growing naval power. He hosted the first in-person summit of the Quad strategic alliance — the United States, Japan, Australia and India — in another initiative aimed at containing China’s regional ambitions. He sent Harris to Southeast Asia to shore up U.S. ties with Singapore and Vietnam.
Biden and Harris have been in office for just eight months. Deduct style points from their score if you like. Acknowledge the failures on issues such as immigration. But they swing for the fences. And they get things done.
Biden administration takes new steps to preserve Obama-era DACA immigration program
The Biden administration Monday morning took steps to save the Obama-era DACA program that shields hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children from deportation.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program has been the subject of ongoing litigation since it was established in 2012. President Donald Trump tried to terminate the program, an effort blocked by the Supreme Court.
For years, Congress has tried and failed to pass legislation
to provide a pathway to citizenship or otherwise address the immigration system. In the absence of legislation, the Obama administration and now, the Biden administration has relied on DACA to ensure the group known as "Dreamers" -- many of whom are now adults -- can stay and work in the US.
Defense officials just debunked much of the criticism of Biden’s Afghanistan withdrawal
Austin effectively conceded in his testimony that three presidents never acknowledged (or at least never appreciated) that the mission of the war — to create a viable Afghan government and military — failed spectacularly.
Biden’s critics will have a hard time explaining why a limited force left indefinitely in Afghanistan would have been a viable alternative. The notion that the Taliban would have halted its advance if the United States kept a few thousand troops in the country defies logic.
The idea that the administration did not prepare for the collapse of the Afghan government was false as well. Both Miley and Austin described the advance planning in detail, including the pre-positioning of troops and rehearsing a noncombatant evacuation.
In sum, the testimony went a long way toward confirming an uncomfortable truth: The 20-year war to create a viable Afghan state was a fruitless, misguided and arrogant undertaking. Biden finally decided not to sacrifice more troops and spend more money on an unwinnable venture. His error may have been in failing to prepare Americans for the ugly, heartbreaking reality of losing a war to no real effect. Those who cheered for the war would do well to engage in some soul-searching.
Biden nominates nine top federal prosecutors; several historic firsts
President Joe Biden on Tuesday nominated a slate of nine people to serve as U.S. attorneys, including several who, if confirmed, would become the first Black women to serve as the top federal prosecutors in their districts.
Biden has in total nominated 25 people to run some of the 93 U.S. attorneys' offices nationally. His latest picks would lead federal prosecutors' offices in Colorado, Hawaii, Rhode Island, North Carolina, Ohio, Vermont and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The Biden Administration Is Providing Legal Representation For Certain Immigrant Children In Eight US Cities
The Biden administration will provide government-funded legal representation to certain unaccompanied immigrant children in deportation proceedings in eight US cities as part of an effort to boost legal access in the immigration court system, according to agency officials.
The new effort, labeled the Counsel for Children Initiative, comes months after the Biden White House dealt with an increase in children arriving at the southern border, leading to overcrowded detention facilities and a scramble to find appropriate locations to hold them. Immigrants in deportation proceedings are generally not provided an attorney by the government if they cannot afford one.
Note: this is WAY better than the Obama administration did on this issue (I don’t even need to get into TFG’s record here, right?!)
Senate confirms Rohit Chopra to lead Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
The Senate voted 50 to 48 to confirm Rohit Chopra to be the next director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, after months of uncertainty for the Biden administration.
Chopra, 39, would serve a five-year term at the helm of the federal consumer watchdog. He has a long history with the CFPB, which was created in the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2007 to 2008. He worked closely with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on establishing the bureau, then joined it in 2011 to investigate industry abuses in the student lending market.
Progressives see him as an experienced and headstrong rulemaker who is not afraid to take a hard line against big banks.
Biden is on track to transform federal courts
Media coverage of the Trump administration often posited that he had transformed the judiciary by appointing 234 federal judges. While it is true his appointees to the Supreme Court have turned that body into an instrument of right-wing policy, the right-wing grip on lower courts is weaker than one might imagine, thanks to the number of Obama appointees (334) and the furious pace of nominees under the current president.
The White House on Thursday announced its eighth slate of nominees to federal courts, raising that total to 53. Of these, 14 have been confirmed. For comparison’s sake, by Sept. 1 of his first year, President Donald Trump had a grand total of six confirmed judges. By the end of the year, he had appointed just 19. Eventually, he was able to appoint 234 federal judges.
The vast majority of cases never reach the Supreme Court, so the composition of lower courts, especially appellate courts that set precedent for lower courts throughout their circuits, is critical in determining the legal landscape.
Very exciting COVID news!
Pill to treat Covid-19 cuts the risk of death by half, says Merck, which will seek its emergency authorization
A pill has cut the risk of hospitalization or death from Covid-19 by half in a study, Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics said Friday.
It would become the first oral medicine that fights viral infection for Covid-19 if approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization.
A pill to treat Covid-19: 'We're talking about a return to, maybe, normal life'
the world's next chance to thwart covid: a short-term regimen of daily pills that can fight the virus early after diagnosis and conceivably prevent symptoms from developing after exposure.
"Oral antivirals have the potential to not only curtail the duration of one's covid-19 syndrome, but also have the potential to limit transmission to people in your household if you are sick," said Timothy Sheahan, a virologist at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill who has helped pioneer these therapies.
At least three promising antivirals for covid are being tested in clinical trials, with results expected as soon as late fall or winter, said Carl Dieffenbach, director of the Division of AIDS at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who is overseeing antiviral development.
"I think that we will have answers as to what these pills are capable of within the next several months," Dieffenbach said.
That would mean millions of Americans soon could have access to a daily orally administered medication, ideally a single pill, that could be taken for five to 10 days at the first confirmation of covid infection.
Even more promising? Studies evaluating whether antivirals can prevent infection after exposure.
"Think about that," said Duke, who is also overseeing a prophylactic trial. "You could give it to everyone in a household, or everyone in a school. Then we're talking about a return to, maybe, normal life."
Surveys have shown that as many as half of unvaccinated workers say they will leave their jobs if they're forced to get the COVID-19 shot, but in reality few of them actually quit. That's according to an article in The Conversation, a nonprofit news organization that covers academic research.
Justice is slow, but she coming...
Donald Trump could be charged with multiple crimes over his attempts to overturn his loss in Georgia, report says
- Donald Trump could be charged with crimes over Georgia election interference, a new report says.
- The report says Trump and his allies pressured Georgia officials to overturn his loss in the state.
- Trump is facing several investigations in relation to his post-election conduct in Georgia.
House GOP aide targeted in latest subpoenas from Jan. 6 select committee
House investigators probing the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol took a rare and little-noticed step on Wednesday, subpoenaing a current House staffer working in the office of Rep. Carol Miller, a West Virginia Republican.
Amid a round of 11 subpoenas targeting the organizers of a rally that preceded the violent attack on the Capitol, the Jan. 6 select committee demanded documents and testimony from Maggie Mulvaney, a former Trump campaign aide who was listed on permitting paperwork as “VIP Lead” for the event.
Legal experts, including former attorneys for the House, say the step by the Jan. 6 committee may set a new precedent. The House has rarely turned its subpoena power on its own, and when it has, it’s been in the context of investigations by the Ethics Committee, a bipartisan panel explicitly charged with internal disciplinary matters.
Infowars host Alex Jones is responsible for damages triggered by his false claims on the Sandy Hook shooting, judge rules
Alex Jones, the conspiracy theorist who hosts the right-wing commentary website Infowars, was found legally responsible in two lawsuits for damages caused by his claims surrounding the 2012 Sandy Hook school mass shooting, according to court documents released Thursday.
Judge Maya Guerra Gamble issued default judgments on Monday against Jones and his outlet for not complying with court orders to provide information for the lawsuits brought against him by the parents of two children killed in the shooting.
The rulings, which were first reported by the Huffington Post,
effectively mean that Jones lost the cases by default. A jury will convene to ascertain how much he will owe the plaintiffs, the report said.
There are Heroes amongst us
Alan Braid is known for defying the Texas abortion law. He’s spent years challenging antiabortion laws.
Earlier this month, Alan Braid did what no other surgeon in Texas had dared: He violated his state’s ban on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. Then he announced it to the world. In a Sept. 18 op-ed in The Washington Post, Braid explained that he’d performed the procedure on a woman who was in her first trimester but beyond the state’s new limit, because she had a “fundamental right to receive this care.”
Braid has stepped up to lead the charge against one of the greatest threats to abortion access in decades.
“I fully understood that there could be legal consequences,” Braid wrote in the op-ed, “but I wanted to make sure that Texas didn’t get away with its bid to prevent this blatantly unconstitutional law from being tested.”
In 1800, the average person on the planet was living on the equivalent of about $3 a day, translated into modern dollars and purchasing power. Living standards for most of the world have risen significantly over those hundreds of years.
This rise in living standards, especially for such a broad part of the population, is absolutely unprecedented in history. It is one of the biggest and most important facts in all of human history.
Life expectancy is something where [the world] made a ton of progress in the last century and a half or so. A lot of that progress came from the conquest of infectious disease. Just about 150 years ago, we figured out germ theory.
We were also able to develop new vaccines — there was a gap of almost a century from the first vaccine for smallpox in 1796 to the second human vaccine for rabies in 1885. After that, we’ve gotten on average one or two vaccines per decade, continuing to the present day.
And then the third major thing really was the antibiotics revolution. The golden age of antibiotics from the late ’30s to the early ’50s or so was huge. Prior to the late ’30s, mortality rates in the US are declining at something like 2.7 or 2.8 percent per year. And then when you hit that period, they start declining at about 8 percent per year. And then after that, again, it goes back to a 2 percent per year decrease until the 1980s.
So those three things — sanitation, vaccines, and antibiotics — were the big things driving life expectancy in the 20th century.
On The Lighter Side
That is it for today.
Keep fighting the good fight. Choose love.
I am so lucky and so proud to be in this with you ✊🏾✊🏻♥💙💚💛💜🧡✊🏽✊🏻