“. . . . There is another, less-known solution in our Constitution to protect the country from Mr. Trump: Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which bars from public office anyone who, “having previously taken an oath” to support the Constitution, “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” or gave “aid or comfort” to America’s enemies.” . . . .
“Normally, one would expect a political party that suffered severe electoral disappointment — falling far short of typical midterm gains despite high inflation and consumer discontent — to moderate its positions, to seek compromise in order to achieve at least some of its policy goals.
But the modern G.O.P., in case you haven’t noticed, isn’t a normal political party. It barely has policy goals, other than an almost reflexive desire to cut taxes on the rich and deny aid to those in need. It certainly doesn’t have policy ideas.
Republicans spent much of the election talking about inflation. But in a news conference just after securing a narrow majority in the House, top Republicans declared that their top priority would be … investigating the Biden family.
So the G.O.P. won’t help govern America. It will, in fact, almost surely do what it can to undermine governance. And Democrats, in turn, need to do whatever they can both to thwart political sabotage and to make the would-be saboteurs pay a price.”
“. . . . . The good news is that Democrats can, as The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent puts it, “crazyproof” policy during the lame duck session, raising the debt limit high enough that it won’t be a problem and locking in sufficient aid for Ukraine to get through the many months of war that surely lie ahead. And Democrats would be, well, crazy not to do these things as soon as possible.
Beyond that, Democrats can and should hammer Republicans for their extremism, for focusing on disruption and fake scandals rather than trying to improve Americans’ lives.” -30-
“. . . . . Saudi Aramco has become a prolific funder of research into critical energy issues, financing almost 500 studies over the past five years, including research aimed at keeping gasoline cars competitive or casting doubt on electric vehicles, according to the Crossref database, which tracks academic publications. Aramco has collaborated with the United States Department of Energy on high-profile research projects including a six-year effort to develop more efficient gasoline and engines, as well as studies on enhanced oil recovery and other methods to bolster oil production.
Aramco also runs a global network of research centers including a lab near Detroit where it is developing a mobile “carbon capture” device — equipment designed to be attached to a gasoline-burning car, trapping greenhouse gases before they escape the tailpipe. More widely, Saudi Arabia has poured $2.5 billion into American universities over the past decade, making the kingdom one of the nation’s top contributors to higher education.
“. . . . Sadly there is little evidence that Democratic leaders in Albany heard the alarm bells ringing on Long Island or saw the Adams victory in the city as a path forward.
Instead, in the face of crime rates rising some 30 percent in New York City, Democrats mostly denied that there was a crime problem on the scale that Republicans portrayed in frequent campaign ads. To the extent that Democrats acknowledged the growing disorder at all, they argued that there was no data showing that bail reforms affected crime — a claim at odds with the desire of many voters for stronger public safety, including locking up potentially dangerous people and giving judges the ability to consider dangerousness in making bail decisions.
Gov. Kathy Hochul, newly elevated after Andrew Cuomo’s implosion and resignation, was able to persuade the legislature to tinker with the bail laws. But the changes were too little and too late, and voters were unconvinced. New York remains the only state in the nation where in setting bail, judges cannot take into account whether a person arrested for a crime is a danger to the community. Democrats in the legislature failed to offer any other alternative solutions to the problem.” . . . . .
“My Thursday column is about the assault on Medicare and Social Security that is almost certain to follow if Republicans prevail on Tuesday. If the G.O.P. wins control of Congress, we can expect it to hold the economy hostage, most obviously by weaponizing the debt ceiling, in an attempt to force big cuts in Medicare and Social Security.
This isn’t an outlandish scenario. It already happened once. In 2011, after taking control of the House, Republicans sought to extort major cuts in the social safety net from the Obama administration — and they almost succeeded. In fact, President Barack Obama agreed to a rise in the age of Medicare eligibility, from 65 to 67. The deal fell through only because Republicans were unwilling to accept even modest tax increases as their part of the bargain.
This time around, the demands are likely to be even bigger. A report from the Republican Study Committee, which probably gives a good idea of where the G.O.P. will go, calls for upping the retirement age and the age of Medicare eligibility to 70.
The report justifies such a rise by pointing to the long-term increase in the number of years Americans can expect to live after age 65, which it calls a “miracle.”
What the report doesn’t note are two probably related caveats for this miracle. First, the increase in seniors’ life expectancy has actually been much smaller here than in other wealthy nations. Second, progress has been very uneven within America, with much bigger gains for groups with high socioeconomic status — precisely the people who need Medicare and Social Security the least — than for the less fortunate.”
“. . . . . . . How does all this bear on Republican proposals to raise the retirement and Medicare eligibility ages? Because seniors’ life expectancy varies so much by class, an increase in the age of eligibility for major programs will take a much bigger bite out of retirement for Americans with low socioeconomic status, and correspondingly fewer years to collect benefits, than it will on those higher on the ladder.
And because disparities have been rising over time, the disproportionality of that effect has been rising, too.
Look back at the figure on life expectancies by quartile. According to these estimates, American men in the bottom quartile born in 1960 can expect to live only 1.9 more years after 65 than their counterparts born in 1928. That’s slightly less than the increase in the retirement age that has already taken place. And even men in that quartile born in 1990 are expected to have only 3.5 years more time after 65 than those born in 1928; meanwhile, Republicans are proposing a rise in the retirement age to 70, a five-year total increase, and an equal rise in the Medicare age.
One way to think about all of this, which is only a slight caricature, is that Republicans are telling janitors in Oklahoma that they can’t get benefits in their 60s — even though their life expectancy hasn’t gone up by much — because lawyers in New York are living longer.
It’s quite a position to take, and it would surely provoke a huge backlash — if voters knew about it, which most of them seem not to.” -30-
“After their party’s disappointing performance in the midterms, Republican elites seem to have decided that Donald Trump is their big problem. The Murdoch media empire has been trashing the former president. Many donors and operatives are reportedly rallying around Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida. But Trump, who is widely expected to announce his 2024 presidential campaign on Tuesday, won’t go quietly.
Will Trump secure the nomination despite elite qualms? If he doesn’t, will a man who has never shown any loyalty to his party or, for that matter, anyone but himself, sabotage the G.O.P. out of spite? I don’t know more than anyone else who follows the news.
Let’s talk instead about how remarkable it is that someone like Trump managed to dominate one of America’s two major political parties and surely retains a substantial base.
I’m not talking about the fact that Trump holds what I consider reprehensible policy views or even the fact that he engaged in several acts, including an attempt to overturn a national election, that can reasonably be described as seditious. Clearly, most of the G.O.P. is OK with all of that.”
” . . . . . . Also, the Republican elites trying to distance themselves from Trump spent years fluffing his image. Until a few days ago Fox News, the main source of political information for much of the G.O.P. base, gave Trump the kind of hagiographic coverage you’d expect from state media in a dictatorship.
And Republican politicians, many of whom knew Trump for what he was, spent years praising him in language reminiscent of Politburo members praising the party chairman.
Now those same elites want to push Trump out of the picture. But while they may be able to deny him the nomination, they probably won’t be able to avoid paying a heavy price for their past cowardice.” -30-
“What will Democrats do when Donald Trump isn’t around to lose elections? We have to wonder because on Tuesday Democrats succeeded again in making the former President a central campaign issue, and Mr. Trump helped them do it.
Trumpy Republican candidates failed at the ballot box in states that were clearly winnable. This can’t be what Mr. Trump was envisioning ahead of his “very big announcement” next week. Yet maybe the defeats are what the party needs to hear before 2024.
Looking at the Senate map, the message could not be clearer. In New Hampshire, the Trump-endorsed Republican Don Bolduc lost to Sen. Maggie Hassan, 53% to 45%, as of the latest data. At the same time voters re-elected Republican Gov. Chris Sununu by 16 points.
“Don Bolduc was a very nice guy, but he lost tonight when he disavowed, after his big primary win, his longstanding stance on Election Fraud,” Mr. Trump said. “Had he stayed strong and true, he would have won, easily.” We doubt New Hampshire voters simply wanted Mr. Bolduc to stay kooky.
In Arizona the Trump-endorsed Republican Blake Masters trails Sen. Mark Kelly, 51% to 47%. This is a state successful Gov. Doug Ducey won by 14 points in 2018. Mr. Ducey could have won the Senate seat, but Mr. Trump pledged to go to war with him because Mr. Ducey refused to entertain 2020 fraud theories.
In Pennsylvania, the Trump-endorsed Republican Mehmet Oz lost to John Fetterman, 51% to 47%. This is a tough state for the GOP. But Mr. Fetterman was a weak candidate: He’s a lefty with a record of wanting Medicare for All and a ban on fracking, and he’s recovering from a stroke. David McCormick would have been a better Republican nominee, but he wouldn’t say the 2020 election was stolen, so Mr. Trump endorsed Mr. Oz.
In Georgia, the Trump-endorsed Republican Herschel Walker trails Sen. Raphael Warnock, 49.4% to 48.5%. This is going to a December runoff, which Mr. Walker could win. But Gov. Brian Kemp won re-election by eight points. Mr. Walker’s flaws as a candidate were obvious, but Mr. Trump helped clear the primary field and other candidates opted out.
In Ohio the Trump-endorsed Republican J.D. Vance won a solid victory over Rep. Tim Ryan, 53% to 47%, while Republican Gov. Mike DeWine won by 26 points. Mr. Vance was a poor fundraiser. As of Oct. 19 he’d pulled in $12 million to Mr. Ryan’s $47 million. What saved him was $32 million from the Senate Leadership Fund (SLF), a Super Pac aligned with Mitch McConnell. Mr. Vance trailed in the polls until mid-October.
Doug Mastriano, Pennsylvania’s Trump-endorsed gubernatorial choice, lost by 14 points. Tim Michels in Wisconsin and Tudor Dixon in Michigan fumbled winnable gubernatorial races. Also in Michigan, Mr. Trump helped John Gibbs beat GOP Rep. Peter Meijer in the primary in the Grand Rapids seat because Mr. Meijer voted to impeach him. Mr. Gibbs lost by 13 points. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler also voted to impeach Mr. Trump, who helped Joe Kent beat her in a primary. Mr. Kent is trailing in that Washington state district.
Mr. Trump could have stayed quiet in the final weeks of the campaign except to spend money to help his candidates. But he did little of the latter and instead staged rallies that played into Democratic hands. His rally in Latrobe last week might have hurt Mr. Oz with suburban voters who cost Mr. Trump the state in 2020.
Since his unlikely victory in 2016 against the widely disliked Hillary Clinton, Mr. Trump has a perfect record of electoral defeat. The GOP was pounded in the 2018 midterms owing to his low approval rating. Mr. Trump himself lost in 2020. He then sabotaged Georgia’s 2021 runoffs by blaming party leaders for not somehow overturning his defeat. That gave Democrats control of the Senate, letting President Biden pump up inflation with a $1.9 trillion Covid bill, appoint a liberal Supreme Court Justice, and pass a $700 billion climate spending hash.
Now Mr. Trump has botched the 2022 elections, and it could hand Democrats the Senate for two more years. Mr. Trump had policy successes as President, including tax cuts and deregulation, but he has led Republicans into one political fiasco after another.
“We’re going to win so much,” Mr. Trump once said, “that you’re going to get sick and tired of winning.” Maybe by now Republicans are sick and tired of losing.” -30-
Peter Goodman reported this article from Los Angeles, New York and Washington.
“Like the rest of the e-commerce world, Jacob Weiss was contending with excruciating difficulties in getting his goods — mostly furniture — across the Pacific from factories in China.
It was April 2021, and the global supply chain was rife with dysfunction because of the pandemic. At ports in China, Mr. Weiss’s usual ocean carrier, Hamburg Süd, was refusing to accept some of his shipping containers at his contracted rates, saying it had no room on its vessels.
These sorts of complaints had become commonplace, given shortages of containers and crippling traffic jams at ports. Most importers avoided conflict, fearing reprisals from the carriers. But Mr. Weiss had his lawyer fire off a menacing letter, demanding that Hamburg Süd “immediately honor” his contract while threatening to file a complaint with the Federal Maritime Commission.
Here was a minnow picking a fight with a whale. Mr. Weiss’s company, OJ Commerce, is modest in size. Hamburg Süd is a subsidiary of Maersk, a publicly traded Danish conglomerate that is the second-largest container shipping company on earth, with annual revenues exceeding $61 billion.”
Great reporting, thank you Peter Goodman. Now I’d like a serious discussion or rounddtable about what can be done about this problem. It seems like many big problems return to, in part, a US Justice system that favors the rich over the poor, but then there is the fact that this was also an anomoly of the pandemic. How do we make the playing field more level. I wonder if the US government could use a part of the Justice Dept or some other agency to fast tract a decsion, and if they find the small American business has a claim, to fund its legal challenge against the giant corporation. David blogs at InconvenientNews.net.
” “Anecdotal data point,” conservative commentator Tom Nichols tweeted this afternoon, “Had lunch with an old friend, a fellow former [Republican] (but not in politics or media or anything) and he said that things feel different after the Pelosi attack. Not sure why. I feel the same thing; not sure that it’ll matter, but have that same sense.”
Perhaps it is the echoes of lawyer Joseph Nye Welch, who in 1954 on television confronted Joseph McCarthy as the Wisconsin senator shredded people’s lives by accusing them of being communists: “Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness…. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”
Perhaps it is the many observers pointing out that in a time when more than half the Republicans running for office have refused to acknowledge that Democratic President Joe Biden won the 2020 election, and when Republican legislatures are claiming the right to choose presidential electors without the input of voters, “American democracy is on the line.”
Or perhaps it is the sheer horror of Republican politicians joking about a brutal attack on the Speaker of the House, the second in line for the presidency, an attack that left her elderly husband with a fractured skull, but Nichols is right: something feels different.
Tonight, President Joe Biden gave a speech on democracy. He began by describing the attack on Paul Pelosi, then noting that the attacker’s demand, “Where’s Nancy?”, echoed the words “used by the mob when they stormed the United States Capitol on January the 6th, when they broke windows, kicked in the doors, brutally attacked law enforcement, roamed the corridors hunting for officials and erected gallows to hang the former vice president, Mike Pence.”
That enraged mob had been whipped into a frenzy by former president Trump’s repeating the Big Lie that the 2020 election had been stolen. That lie, Biden said, has “fueled the dangerous rise in political violence and voter intimidation over the past two years.”
Biden urged us to “confront those lies with the truth,” for “the very future of our nation depends on it.” “We must with one overwhelming unified voice speak as a country and say there’s no place, no place for voter intimidation or political violence in America. Whether it’s directed at Democrats or Republicans. No place, period. No place ever.”
“Democracy itself” is at stake in the upcoming election, Biden said. He appealed “to all Americans, regardless of party, to meet this moment of national and generational importance.” Nothing is guaranteed about democracy in America, he said, “Every generation has had to defend it, protect it, preserve it, choose it. For that’s what democracy is. It’s a choice, a decision of the people, by the people, and for the people.”
“We the people must decide whether we will have fair and free elections and every vote counts. We the people must decide whether we’re going to sustain a republic, where reality’s accepted, the law is obeyed, and your vote is truly sacred. We the people must decide whether the rule of law will prevail or whether we will allow the dark forces and thirst for power put ahead of the principles that have long guided us.”
Biden warned that the same forces that challenged the 2020 election, despite all the confirmations of its results, are setting out to question the legitimacy of the 2022 election. MAGA Republicans are “trying to succeed where they failed in 2020, to suppress the right of voters and subvert the electoral system itself. That means denying your right to vote and deciding whether your vote even counts.” They’ve encouraged violence and intimidation of voters and election workers, Biden said. “It’s damaging, it’s corrosive, and it’s destructive.”
“And I want to be very clear,” Biden said, “this is not about me, it’s about all of us. It’s about what makes America America. It’s about the durability of our democracy. For democracies are more than a form of government. They’re a way of being, a way of seeing the world, a way that defines who we are, what we believe, why we do what we do.”
Biden warned that “we can’t take democracy for granted any longer.”
“Democracy means the rule of the people, not the rule of monarchs or the moneyed, but the rule of the people. Autocracy is the opposite of democracy. It means the rule of one, one person, one interest, one ideology, one party…. [T]he lives of billions of people, from antiquity till now, have been shaped by the battle between these competing forces, between the aspirations of the many and the greed and power of the few, between the people’s right for self-determination and the self-seeking autocrat, between the dreams of a democracy and the appetites of an autocracy.”
“What we’re doing now is going to determine whether democracy will long endure and… whether the American system that prizes the individual bends toward justice and depends on the rule of law, whether that system will prevail. This is the struggle we’re now in, a struggle for democracy, a struggle for decency and dignity, a struggle for prosperity and progress, a struggle for the very soul of America itself.”
Biden listed the “fundamental values and beliefs that unite us as Americans.” First, “we believe the vote in America’s sacred, to be honored, not denied; respected, not dismissed; counted, not ignored. A vote is not a partisan tool, to be counted when it helps your candidates and tossed aside when it doesn’t.” “Second,” he said, “we…stand against political violence and voter intimidation.” “We don’t settle our differences…with a riot, a mob, or a bullet, or a hammer. We settle them peacefully at the ballot box.” Third, he said, “we believe in democracy…. History and common sense tell us that liberty, opportunity, and justice thrive in a democracy, not in an autocracy.”
“At our best,” the president said, “America is not a zero-sum society where for you to succeed, someone else has to fail. A promise in America is big enough…for everyone to succeed…. Individual dignity, individual worth, individual determination, that’s America, that’s democracy and that’s what we have to defend.”
He urged voters to judge the candidates by whether they would accept the legitimate will of the American people. “Will that person accept the outcome of the election, win or lose?” The answer to that question should be decisive. “Too many people have sacrificed too much for too many years for us to walk away from the American project and democracy…. It’s within our power, each and every one of us, to preserve our democracy.”
“You have the power, it’s your choice, it’s your decision, the fate of the nation, the fate of the soul of America lies where it always does, with the people, in your hands, in your heart, in your ballot.” ”
“WASHINGTON — Speaking on a conservative radio talk show on Tuesday, former President Donald J. Trump amplified a conspiracy theory about the grisly attack on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi, that falsely suggested that Mr. Pelosi may not have been the victim of a genuine attack.
“Weird things going on in that household in the last couple of weeks,” Mr. Trump said on the Chris Stigall show, winking at a lie that has flourished in right-wing media and is increasingly being given credence by Republicans. “The glass, it seems, was broken from the inside to the out — so it wasn’t a break-in, it was a break out.”
There is no evidence to suggest that. Mr. Pelosi, 82, was attacked on Friday with a hammer by a suspect who federal prosecutors say invaded the Pelosis’ San Francisco home, bent on kidnapping the speaker and shattering her kneecaps.
But Mr. Trump, a longtime trafficker in conspiracy theories who propelled his political rise with the lie that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States, has never let such facts get in his way.”