Friday, May 24, 2024

Something to Know - 24 May

One would think that not having Trump in the courtroom would make for a quiet media day.   Not to be.  Inquisitive and responsible news scribes probe deeper into the effects of MAGA in the substructure of authoritarian enablers hell-bent on destroying our democracy.   When you get to this level, you need to worry, and determine your own response on how to repel this scourge. 

Heather Cox Richardson from Letters from an American 

12:12 AM (9 hours ago)
to me
Forwarded this email? Subscribe here for more

It turns out that Supreme Court justice Samuel Alito is not the only one flying an "Appeal to Heaven" flag. Leonard Leo, the man behind the extremist takeover of the American judiciary, also flew that flag at his home on Mount Desert Island in Maine. 

So now we have the Appeal to Heaven flag, which represents the idea that the 2020 election was stolen, that the people should engage in armed revolution against tyranny, and that the United States should be a nation based in Christian theology, in front of the office of House speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) and over the houses of Supreme Court justice Samuel Alito and the architect of the right-wing theocratic takeover of the federal courts, Leonard Leo.

Abraham Lincoln's "House Divided" speech of June 16, 1858, is often described as defining the difference between the North, based on the idea of free labor, and the South, based on enslaved labor, and the idea that one or the other must prevail.

But the speech is much more than a simple depiction of the conflict between freedom and slavery. It details a long-standing plan to destroy American democracy. 

Lincoln outlined the steps that the United States had taken away from freedom toward tyranny, and noted: 

"[W]hen we see a lot of framed timbers…which we know have been gotten out at different times and places and by different workmen—Stephen, Franklin, Roger and James, for instance—and we see these timbers joined together, and see they exactly make the frame of a house… we find it impossible not to believe that Stephen and Franklin and Roger and James all understood one another from the beginning, and all worked upon a common plan or draft drawn up before the first lick was struck."

Lincoln did not choose the names of his workmen at random. Stephen was Illinois senator Stephen Douglas, who had popularized the idea that local voters should be able to decide whether their territory would permit slavery, no matter what the majority of Americans wanted; Franklin was Franklin Pierce, who had presided over the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act permitting enslavement to move into the western territories; Roger was Roger Taney, chief justice of the Supreme Court that decided Dred Scott v. Sandford, saying that Congress could not keep slavery out of the territories; and James was President James Buchanan, who urged Americans to accept the judgment of the Supreme Court. By spreading enslavement westward, that judgment would create new slave states that would work with the southern slave states to make slavery national.  

Together, Lincoln said, these four workmen had constructed an edifice to support human enslavement, an edifice working against the nation's dedication to freedom established by the Declaration of Independence. "A house divided against itself cannot stand," Lincoln said. "I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved," he said. "I do not expect the house to fall—but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other."

Today the Supreme Court handed down a decision in the case of Alexander v. South Carolina State Conference of the NAACP. After the 2020 census, when it was clear that a South Carolina district was becoming competitive, the Republican-dominated legislature moved the district lines to cut Black voters out and move white voters in, thereby guaranteeing Democrats would lose. Voting rights advocates sued, saying that moving around voters on the basis of race violated the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. A federal district court agreed.

Today, by a vote of 6–3, the Supreme Court overturned the lower court's decision and signed off on the new South Carolina congressional map that dilutes Black votes. It approved the map because, it said, the gerrymander was politically, rather than racially, motivated. And, it said, "as far as the Federal Constitution is concerned, a legislature may pursue partisan ends when it engages in redistricting." 

From now on, as Mark Joseph Stern noted in Slate, it will be virtually impossible for Black voters to prove that lawmakers targeted their race rather than their politics when redistricting, and partisan gerrymandering has just gotten the Supreme Court's approval (previously, as Stern noted, the court had said federal courts could not intervene even if partisan gerrymandering violates the Constitution; today they said it does not violate the Constitution). Representative James Clyburn (D-SC) said: "Today's U.S. Supreme Court decision…is further affirmation that this Court has chosen to disenfranchise Black voters and rob us of our fundamental access to the ballot box. Equitable representation is the hallmark of a healthy democracy and in this case, the Supreme Court is attempting to steer the country back to a dark place in our history."

Justice Samuel Alito wrote the majority opinion.

In a concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas argued that the Supreme Court has no power to redraw district maps at all. As Stern noted, Thomas places the blame for what he sees as judicial overreach on the Supreme Court's 1954 Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision declaring segregation in public schools unconstitutional. After that decision, Thomas says, the court invented powers to remedy the problem. If Brown invited overreach, all the landmark voting decisions of the 1960s did, too.

And so, almost exactly 70 years after the Supreme Court unanimously decided Brown v. Board, it appears that the framed timbers designed to reverse the expansion of minority rights are falling into place. 

But in 2024, those of us eager to protect the idea of human equality outlined in the Declaration of Independence have an advantage that Lincoln's generation did not. "James"—James Buchanan, who cheerfully backed the Dred Scott decision—is not in the White House. 

Instead of sympathizing with the extremists, as Buchanan did, President Joe Biden has worked to undermine the sense of grievance that has permitted them to amass power. In the 1850s the  federal government had few ways to weaken the ties of ordinary people to the state leaders who were determined to spread the institution of slavery that had made them enormously wealthy, but the modern administrative state has given Biden more options. 

The administration has used the power of the federal government to begin to unwind the trickle-down economy that between 1981 and 2021 transferred $50 trillion from the bottom 90% of the U.S. to the top 1%, hollowing out the middle class. The result has been solid economic growth of  5.7% in 2021, 1.9% in 2022, and 2.5% in 2023. 

The unemployment rate has been at record lows of under 4% for more than two years, the strongest run since the 1960s. Inflation is not rising; it is falling and is now at 3.4%, higher than the Federal Reserve's preferred mark of 2% but down significantly from its high of 9.1% in June 2022, just after the worst of the pandemic eased. At 4.5% growth over 2023, wage growth outpaced inflation, meaning that although prices have risen, workers have come out ahead. The S&P stock market index went up about 24% in 2023 and is up more than 12% this year. 

In the 1930s, under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, federal investment in the impoverished South quieted much of the region's opposition to the federal government. Limiting crops in exchange for subsidies both brought higher prices and helped to repair damaged soil, new labor regulations got children out of factories and raised workers' pay, and the government brought electricity and health care to places private industry wouldn't go.   

Biden appears to be aiming for the same result, but he might be stymied by a news system that has many Americans not just unaware of the good economic news, but believing the opposite. Lauren Aratani of The Guardian reported earlier this week on an exclusive Harris poll showing that 56% of Americans believe incorrectly that the U.S. is in a recession. Those following the stock market are slightly more informed: 49% of them think the S&P stock market index is down for the year. Almost half of those polled—49%—think unemployment is at a 50-year high. Seventy-two percent think inflation is increasing. Fifty-eight percent of those polled blame Biden for mismanaging an economy that is in fact the strongest in the world. 

Tempting as it is to blame the media for its relentless focus on bad news rather than good, a study from NBC News at the end of April showed that those who follow national newspapers and media swing heavily to Biden, while those who either don't follow politics or get their news from YouTube and social media favor Trump or Robert Kennedy Jr. 

Those sources seem unlikely to explain that Leonard, Sam, Clarence, Mike, and Donald have been swinging hammers. 


Civil Discourse with Joyce Vance
Here's the headline: Today, the Supreme Court, In a 6-3 decision split along conservative-liberal lines, reversed the lower court and approved a South Carolina congressional map that the district court previously found was an unconstitutional dilution of Black voting power. The case is…
5 hours ago · 849 likes · 158 comments · Joyce Vance






Juan Matute
     (New link as of 18 May )
 - click on it)
― The Lincoln Project

No comments:

Post a Comment