President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, July 12, 2021, in Washington. Evan Vucci/AP
Texas House Democrats fled the state on Monday to block Republicans from passing a sweeping voter suppression bill and traveled to Washington, DC, to lobby their congressional counterparts to pass federal legislation protecting voting rights. “We are living on borrowed time in Texas,” Texas Democratic leaders said in a statement. “We need Congress to act now…to protect Texans—and all Americans—from the Trump Republicans’ nationwide war on democracy.”
Now they want the White House to act with the same urgency.
In a speech on Thursday, Vice President Kamala Harris called voting rights “the fight of our lifetime.” President Biden plans to deliver a major speech in Philadelphia on Tuesday denouncing GOP efforts to make it harder to vote, which White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Monday called “the worst challenge to our democracy since the Civil War.”
Yet voting rights advocates say the White House’s rhetoric about the existential threat to democracy has not been matched by action to solve the problem. Biden, they complain, has been much more engaged in trying to pass an infrastructure plan than in trying to persuade Senate Democrats to pass the For the People Act, the sweeping voting rights measure that was blocked by a GOP filibuster last month.
“Democracy versus autocracy is the battle of our time,” said Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II.
Beginning with a “massive national call-in to every U.S. senator,” the Poor People’s Campaign on Monday launched a monthlong campaign to push Congress to eliminate the 60-vote filibuster, pass the For the People Act, restore the gutted Voting Rights Act, and raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour—progressive goals that have been thwarted by a combination of Republican obstructionism and Democratic acquiescence.
“Democracy versus autocracy is the battle of our time,” Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign, said Monday during an address that kicked off a “season of nonviolent moral direct action to save our democracy.”
“We must engage and escalate the nonviolent moral struggle and direct action for a Third Reconstruction,” Barber said, calling for the reinvigoration of an egalitarian movement to secure liberty and justice for all by building a true political democracy as well as a social and economic democracy that benefits and empowers the nation’s vast working-class majority.
Demonstrators hold up signs as the Declaration for American Democracy coalition hosts a rally calling on the Senate to pass the For the People Act, outside the Supreme Court in Washington on June 9, 2021. | Caroline Brehman / CQ Roll Call via AP
WASHINGTON—It is no surprise that despite a spate of endorsements and a rally of backers Tuesday on Capitol Hill, the Senate sponsor of the For The People Act expects it’ll hit a Republican rock in a Senate vote to bring it up for debate.
Democratic President Joe Biden calls the For The People Act (S1/HR1) the most vital legislation of his presidency, in terms of preserving democracy in the U.S. But in another repeat of the GOP’s all-out assault on freedom, voting rights, and the U.S. Constitution, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky plans to have his entire caucus block it. That will be enough to block a vote from taking place Tuesday but will do nothing to prevent a firestorm of protest to spread across the country in what will be an epic battle to preserve democracy.
Labor and all of its allies, often led by groups like Indivisible, will make July a month of misery for cowardly Republicans who, afraid to separate themselves from Donald Trump and the Big Lie, and now afraid to buck McConnell in his attack on voting rights, will have to face the people they represent during the July Senate break.
Attorney General Merrick Garland, admitting it will be tough, says he is determined to use the power of the Justice Department to fight for the voting rights of the American people. Drew Angerer/Associated Press
WASHINGTON (PAI)—Not waiting for the Republican-clogged U.S. Senate to act, the Democratic Biden administration’s Justice Department will step up voting rights enforcement, big time. And it’ll concentrate its resources—and its lawyers’ talents–on states like Florida and Texas that are the biggest threats to voters, especially voters of color but also working-class voters in general.
And organized labor, led by the AFL-CIO, and 86 other unions, civil rights, and civic groups, all organized by the Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights, is cheering Biden’s Attorney General, Merrick Garland, on.
“Barriers to the ballot box are antithetical to our democracy and must be torn down,” they declared.
Garland’s June 11 speech came as the Senate prepares to vote on the For The People Act (HR1/S1), and as progressive groups, including the Poor People’s Campaign and Our Revolution—the Bernie Sanders supporters—step up their lobbying for it. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., plans to bring it to the floor the week of June 21, even without the votes to pass it.
And he doesn’t have them. In the 50-50 Senate, GOP leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has united almost his entire caucus against it. And Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., the most conservative Senate Democrat has proposed a stripped-down alternative which, he hopes, will bring along the ten Republicans needed to halt the GOP filibuster.
The greatest danger to American democracy right now is not coming from Russia, China, or North Korea. It is coming from the Republican Party.
Only 25 percent of voters self-identify as Republican, the GOP’s worst showing against Democrats since 2012 and sharply down since last November. But those who remain in the Party are far angrier, more ideological, more truth-denying, and more racist than Republicans who preceded them.
And so are the lawmakers who represent them.
Today’s Republican Party increasingly is defined not by its shared beliefs but by its shared delusions.
Last Friday, 54 U.S. senators voted in favor of proceeding to debate a House-passed bill to establish a commission to investigate the causes and events of the January 6th insurrection. This was 6 votes short of the number of votes needed for “cloture,” or stopping debate – meaning any further consideration of the bill would have been filibustered by Republicans indefinitely.
So there will be no investigation.
The 54 Senators who voted yes to cloture – in favor of the commission – represent 189 million Americans, or 58% of the American population. The 35 who voted no represent 104 million Americans, or 32% of the population.
In other words, 32% of American voters got to decide that the nation would not know about what happened to American democracy on January 6.
Furthermore, the 35 who voted against the commission were all Republicans. They did not want such an inquiry because it might jeopardize their chances of gaining a majority of the House or Senate in the 2022 midterm elections. They also wanted to stay in the good graces of Donald Trump, whose participation in that insurrection might have been more fully revealed.
Eight of these Republicans voted against certifying Joe Biden as president on January 6. Some of their constituents were responsible for the insurrection in the first place.
The Republican Party is also pursuing new laws in many states making it harder for likely Democrats to vote and opposing voting reforms in Congress.
It is actively purging any Republican who has temerity to criticize Trump. They have removed from her leadership position Liz Cheney, who called Trump’s efforts to overturn the election and his role in inciting the deadly Jan. 6 riot the greatest “betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”
Local Republicans leaders have either stepped down or been forced out of their party positions for not supporting Trump’s baseless election claims or for criticizing the former president’s role in inciting the deadly Capitol riot.
American democracy is at an inflection point.
Senate Democrats must get rid of the filibuster and push through major reforms – voting rights, as well as policies that will enable more Americans in the bottom half – most of them without college educations, many of whom cling to the Republican Party – to do better.
In the 1930s, Franklin D. Roosevelt noted that the survival of American democracy depended on the adoption of policies that comprised the New Deal. In that Depression decade, democracy was under siege around the world, and dictators were on the rise.
Joe Biden understands that America and the world face a similar challenge. And like FDR, Biden is making a strong case that the adoption of his policies will buttress democracy against the forces of tyranny, not only as an example to the rest of the world but here at home.
People rally outside of the Capitol in Lansing, Mich., April 13, 2021, during a rally to support voting rights and end voter suppression. | Matthew Dae Smith / Lansing State Journal via AP
The country is today faced with a fundamental crisis with the proliferation of voter suppression laws, nullification of votes cast, and the determination of the Republican Party and pro-fascist forces to prevent people—particularly African Americans, Latinx, youth, and seniors—from voting.
The so-called excuse for this proliferation is the myth of voter fraud, the same false excuse made for the last 30 years. The right-wing rationale for this myth is to undermine people’s confidence in the electoral system. This fraud is taking place in Maricopa County, Arizona right now with a fourth, and now secret, recount is being done by a private firm with no accountability or transparency almost six months after the election.
Postal workers sort mail at the U.S. Postal Service processing and distribution center in Oakland, Calif., on April 30, 2020. Trump-imposed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy plans to close 18 such processing centers nationwide. | Ben Margot / AP
WASHINGTON (PAI)—The 10-year U.S. Postal Service “reform” plan unveiled by Trump-imposed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy includes “the good, the bad, and the ugly” among its elements American Postal Workers Union President Mark Dimondstein says.
And right now, he adds, DeJoy is pushing the bad ahead of the good, as the PMG delivered a notice to the nation’s postal unions on April 27 that he intends to close 18 processing centers nationwide, shifting their services elsewhere.
The closures, Dimondstein said in a video Q-and-A with APWU members that night, would slow down service and cost postal workers’ jobs. “Fighting the closures is not easy, but it can be done if we mobilize,” he said.
He’s put union Vice President Debby Szeredy in charge of APWU’s panel of postal craft leaders to deal with DeJoy’s plans and mobilize members against them.
I got a second dose Saturday. I was bed-ridden Sunday. I’m feeling better today, but writing is hard labor. I won’t do the usual dissection of recent events. I’ll instead swing for the fences and see what happens. Even if I strike out, it might prove to be useful.
The president and the vice president were asked last week if Tim Scott is right. In a GOP response to the State of the Union address to the United States Congress, the United States Senator said America is not a racist country. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris agreed. America is not racist country. But, they said, there is work to do.
The state of the Republican Party in the Biden era was the topic of a robust discussion on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on May 3, with a panel of guests agreeing with hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski that the GOP has become increasingly unhinged.
The guests included conservative pundit Charlie Sykes — a blistering critic of former President Donald Trump — Financial Times’ Ed Luce, the Associated Press’s Jonathan Lemire, and Eddie Glaude, Jr., a professor of African-American studies at Princeton University who is often featured as a liberal pundit on MSNBC.
Scarborough, a Never Trump conservative and former GOP congressman, noted that pro-Trump Republicans have been going after Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah and Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming with a vengeance for condemning Trump’s role in the January 6 insurrection — and that in Maricopa County, Arizona, Republicans have been conducting an overtly partisan audit of the votes in the 2020 presidential election. Those things, according to Sykes, not only illustrate “the derangement of the Republican Party” but also, the “acceleration of the derangement of the Republican Party.”
Zero GOP lawmakers have backed the For the People Act, congressional Democrats’ comprehensive plan to strengthen U.S. democracy by making it easier to vote, curbing partisan gerrymandering, and limiting the influence of money in politics.
Republican voters, however, support many of the proposals in the 800-page bill, according to a new poll released Monday.
The survey (pdf) of 1,138 likely voters across the country—conducted from April 16 to April 19 by Data for Progress on behalf of Vox—found that, when presented without partisan cues, the voting rights and election reform bill is popular with voters across party lines. Overall, 69% of the electorate supports the For the People Act, including 52% of Republicans, 70% of Independents, and 85% of Democrats.
Proud Boys in Washington, D.C. (Johnny Silvercloud / Shutterstock.com)
Two leaders of the far-right Proud Boys gang are now being detained ahead of their trial for their roles in the January 6th riots at the United States Capitol building.
As reported by BuzzFeed News’ Zoe Tillman, Proud Boys leaders Ethan Nordean and Joseph Biggs were ordered to go back to jail pending their trials by United States District Judge Timothy Kelly of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.
In his ruling, Kelly emphasized the seriousness of the charges facing Nordean and Biggs, whom he said “stand charged with seeking to steal one of the crown jewels of our country, in a sense, by interfering with the peaceful transfer of power.”
On Sunday evening, Jordan Zarakin of Progressives Everywhere on Substack released an interview with Florida state Rep. Carlos Smith, the first gay Latino member of the Florida legislature, in which they discussed the growing sex trafficking scandal surrounding Rep. Matt Gaetz.
During the segment, Smith noted that the Florida Republican Party, behind the scenes, is terrified that the investigation could sweep up more of their members.
“The web of corruption that Matt Gaetz, Joel Greenberg, and [Ron] DeSantis are all wrapped up in is really a web that appears to tie up the entire Republican Party of Florida,” said Smith. “It seems like everyone in the Capitol is nervous about what the next revelation is going to be and who else is implicated in this sweeping saga of corruption that they’ve been a part of for so long.”
US president Donald Trump. Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP
According to CNN, the Supreme Court has once again declined to take up a lawsuit asserting the 2020 presidential election was tainted by voter fraud.
On Monday, the high court declined to take up a case filed by Republicans that the voting in Pennsylvania was tainted by changes to voting rules.
Noting that the latest dismissal by the court is signal that the justices want no part in Donald Trump’s assertion that he was robbed of his second term, CNN reports, “Before Monday, the justices had already declined several requests to dive into one of the most litigious elections in history, denying petitions from then-President Donald Trump and other Republicans seeking to overturn election result in multiple states President Joe Biden won.”
The union organizing campaign at the Amazon fulfillment center in Bessemer, Ala., was defeated by a vote of 1798 against and 738 in favor. Jane McAlevey argues that the biggest factor in the vote was the laws that give tremendous advantages to the corporate side—but the union itself made a series of tactical and strategic errors. Jane is The Nation’s strikes correspondent.
Also: Hunter Biden was the target of a massive Republican attack campaign for more than a year leading up to the election; at the same time, the gossip pages seized on his disastrous private life. They made the most of his decades of alcohol addiction and drug abuse, and his subsequent affair with the widow of his brother. Now he’s written a book—it’s called Beautiful Things: A Memoir. Amy Wilentz comments.
There’s one political prediction that always comes true: Record turnout in one election will be followed by a tidal wave of voter suppression efforts before the next one. So it’s not surprising that after 2020 had record turnout, 2021 is seeing voting rights under attack nationwide by Republican-controlled state legislatures. Georgia has taken the lead—and Georgia is being challenged in court by the ACLU, along with the the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund and the Southern Poverty Law Center. Dale Ho comments: He’s director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, and supervises the ACLU’s voting rights litigation nationwide.
Also: Joe Biden and Congress should end our forever wars—and they can—by starting with three key steps: Karen Greenberg explains. She is the director of the Center on National Security at Fordham Law School and author, most recently, of Rogue Justice: The Making of the Security State.
A Michigan Man told some armed Boogaloos to get out when they were protesting the arrest of a man after a 36-hour police standoff. Ana Kasparian and Francesca Fiorentini discuss on The Young Turks.
Cops Immediately Arrest Black Man, Not White Suspect
Los Angeles police responded to a call from a white woman about her white ex-boyfriend… and immediately arrest the first black man they see. Jayar Jackson, Benjamin Dixon, and Cenk Uygur discuss on The Young Turks.
McConnell’s Corruption Finally Catches Him
Mitch McConnell is now backtracking on his comments about businesses speaking out against the Georgia Voting Law, in his own corrupt, lying way.
After the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, American conservatives were faced with a stark choice: Recognize that their movement had inspired a seditious attack on democracy itself and work to restore the damage, swallowing the cold blue pill of the reality that they lost the 2020 election; or instead embracing the authoritarianism that had inspired a significant chunk of their base to attempt to lynch members of Congress and overthrow the legitimate counting of ballots, gulping down the red pill of conspiracism that fueled those warped beliefs.