You are browsing the archive for 2020 December 16.

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GOP Sen. Loeffler weighs subverting democracy in craven effort to win Senate runoff

December 16, 2020 in Blogs

By Daily Kos

Georgia GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler locked herself into an impossible political position Wednesday when she signaled she hadn’t ruled out objecting to the election results on Jan. 6, when Congress meets to officially tally the votes from the Electoral College.

“I haven’t looked at it,” Loeffler told reporters Wednesday, according to Atlanta Journal-Constitution journalist Greg Bluestein. “January 6 is a long way out and there’s a lot to play out between now and then,” she added, while also refusing to acknowledge that President-elect Joe Biden won the race.

Loeffler may have simply been bluffing in a nod to tantalizing Donald Trump’s rabid base, but walking back that potentiality will be next to impossible without thoroughly galvanizing the right wingers against her.

Loeffler’s Democratic challenger, Rev. Raphael Warnock, was quick to respond, tweeting, “Say it with me @KLoeffler: @JoeBiden and @KamalaHarris won the election. It’s disrespectful to Georgia voters to say anything else.”

Warnock’s retort was also targeted at motivating the Democratic base to action on Jan. 5 over Loeffler and her GOP counterpart Sen. David Perdue’s continued refusal to recognize the rightful winners of the state’s presidential contest: Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, who will become the first woman and person of color to serve as the nation’s second in command.

Loeffler’s gambit comes just one day after GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell finally conceded Biden had emerged victorious. McConnell’s acknowledgement came after Senate Republicans had underwritten Trump’s all-out assault on U.S. election for more than five weeks, but it still drew a rebuke from Trump in the wee hours of Wednesday morning claiming he won the election “by a lot.”

“Too soon to give up. Republican Party must finally learn to fight. People are angry!” Trump added.

Following McConnell’s concession to Biden Tuesday, the GOP Senate leadership team had explicitly implored members of their caucus not to contest the election results during congressional certification on Jan. 6—a doomed bid that would require at least one GOP senator to join forces with a Republican representative from the lower chamber. Loeffler clearly decided Trump’s tweet had left her little choice but to continue spinelessly paying lip service to his fascist fantasies and those …read more


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Rand Paul gets hammered after making bogus claim that the election 'was stolen'

December 16, 2020 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

During a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing on Wednesday, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and fellow Republican Christopher Krebs — who formerly led a cybersecurity office at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security — expressed very different views on the security of the 2020 presidential election. Krebs, during his testimony, emphasized that the election was quite secure, while Paul echoed the baseless claims of widespread voter fraud that President Donald Trump’s campaign and legal team have been promoting. And Paul’s comments are getting a lot of reactions on Twitter.

Paul told Krebs and senators on the Senate Homeland Security Committee, “If you’re saying that it’s the safest election based on no dead people voted…. no people broke the absentee rules, I think that’s false. And I think that’s what’s upset a lot of people on our side — is that they’re taking your statement to mean, ‘Oh well, there was no problems in the elections.’ I don’t think that you’ve examined any of the problems that we’ve heard here.”

Paul insisted, “The fraud happened. The election, in many ways, was stolen.”

When Fox News’ Laura Ingraham tweeted Paul’s remarks, former Rep. Joe Walsh — a Never Trump conservative — posted:

Here’s what other Twitter users have had to say in response to Paul’s comments:

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America's survival depends on bankrupting the Republican Party

December 16, 2020 in Blogs

By Thom Hartmann

It’s time to defund the GOP, and there’s precedent and strategy for the effort.

The need to cut the party’s access to both private and government money is seen in the reaction by some extremist Republicans to news like a New York State lawmaker’s proposal to make vaccination against COVID-19 mandatory. Predictably, the far right is freaking out. “Freedom!” they scream as they run around maskless, assaulting their fellow citizens with potentially virus-laden breath.

Large parts of the Republican base now join conspiracists in the misguided belief that vaccine manufacturers are participating in mind-control experiments and that public health measures like masks are “un-American,” while we’re being sickened and dying from the highest rates of COVID-19 infection and death in the developed world.

Republicans on the Supreme Court even say the founders of our republic and the framers of the Constitution would never go along with preventing churches and synagogues from holding superspreader events during a pandemic, but, like so many things GOP, it’s a lie.

In 1798, President John Adams signed the first public health care legislation—it was to pay for medical care and hospitalization not just for the Navy but also for civilian sailors. And both he and President George Washington had participated in quarantine events during epidemics in the summers of 1793 and 1798, and both promoted inoculation against smallpox.

From 1790 to 1800, Philadelphia was the nation’s capital. When the yellow fever epidemic of 1793 recurred in 1798, that city’s board of health, with no objections raised by President John Adams or any member of Congress, ordered a block-by-block evacuation of parts of Philadelphia.

Most signers of the Declaration and Constitution were still alive, and many were in Congress and on the Supreme Court. None opposed the lockdown. Churches not only couldn’t meet; a few in the quarantine areas were closed down entirely for much of the year in America’s capital city.

From their bans on teaching sex education and evolution in our schools, to denying climate change, to this latest campaign against public health, far-right Republicans’ fight against science has damaged America’s standing in the world and destroyed …read more


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'We have to stop this!': Ex-Trump official slams Republicans to their faces over election misinformation

December 16, 2020 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

Republican Christopher Krebs, who formerly headed a cybersecurity agency at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, was among the witnesses who testified on Wednesday during a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing that addressed alleged “irregularities” in the 2020 election. During his testimony, Krebs only made it clear to Republican senators that he saw no evidence of the type of widespread voter fraud that President Donald Trump and his allies have been alleging — he also called out the extremists who have been threatening election officials.

Krebs discussed the voting equipment that was used in the election, emphasizing that there was no reason to believe that such equipment swung votes to President-elect Joe Biden as some Trump allies have been claiming.

“I’m seeing these reports that are factually inaccurate continue to be promoted,” Krebs told Sen. Ron Johnson and other members of the Homeland Security Committee. “That’s what rumor control is all about. That’s what I’m continuing to do today based on my experience and understanding in how these systems work. We have to stop this! It’s undermining confidence in democracy.”

Krebs went on to criticize fellow Republicans who have refused to accept the election results and claim, without evidence, that Trump really won the election.

“The citizens of the United States of America that are responsible for executing this sacred democratic institution of elections are being threatened on a daily basis,” Krebs told senators. “I mean, you name it. Whether it’s emails, whether it’s phone calls, whether it’s people showing up at your house — this is not an America I recognize. And it’s gotta stop. We need everyone across the leadership ranks to stand up. I would appreciate more support from my own party, the Republican Party, to call this stuff out and end it. We’ve gotta move on. We have a president-elect in President-elect Biden. We have to move on.”

Krebs went on to cite Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and other Republican officials in the Peach State as examples …read more


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Sweeping new study shows 50 years of 'trickle-down economics' was a 'sham'

December 16, 2020 in Blogs

By Common Dreams

Neoliberal gospel says that cutting taxes on the wealthy will eventually benefit everyone by boosting economic growth and reducing unemployment, but a new analysis of fiscal policies in 18 countries over the last 50 years reveals that progressive critics of “trickle down” theory have been right all along: supply-side economics fuels inequality, and the real beneficiaries of the right-wing approach to taxation are the super-rich.

The Economic Consequences of Major Tax Cuts for the Rich (pdf), a working paper published this month by the International Inequalities Institute at the London School of Economics and written by LSE’s David Hope and Julian Limberg of King’s College London, examines data from nearly 20 OECD countries, including the U.K. and the U.S., and finds that the past five decades have been characterized by “falling taxes on the rich in the advanced economies,” with “major tax cuts… particularly clustered in the late 1980s.”

But, according to Hope and Limberg, the vast majority of the populations in those countries have little to show for it, as the benefits of slashing taxes on the wealthy are concentrated among a handful of super-rich individuals—not widely shared across society in the form of improved job creation or prosperity, as “trickle down” theorists alleged would happen.

“Our research shows that the economic case for keeping taxes on the rich low is weak,” Hope said Wednesday. “Major tax cuts for the rich since the 1980s have increased income inequality, with all the problems that brings, without any offsetting gains in economic performance.”

In their study, the pair of political economists note that “economic performance, as measured by real GDP per capita and the unemployment rate, is not significantly affected by major tax cuts for the rich.” However, they add, “major tax cuts for the rich increase the top 1% share of pre-tax national income in the years following the reform” by a magnitude of nearly 1%.

The researchers continue:

Our findings on the effects of growth and unemployment provide evidence against supply-side theories that suggest lower taxes on the rich will induce labour supply responses from high-income individuals (more hours of work, more effort etc.) that boost economic activity. They are, in fact, more in line with recent empirical research showing that income tax holidays and windfall gains do not lead individuals to significantly alter the amount they …read more


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6 Things You May Not Know About the White House

December 16, 2020 in History

By Lesley Kennedy

Answers to top questions about the executive residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

As the official workplace and executive residence of the president of the United States, the White House stands as one of the most famous, and recognizable, buildings in the world. But behind its stately neoclassical facade, details of its construction and history are far less well known. Below, find answers to six common questions about the iconic structure that has served as home to all but one U.S. president.

Did Slaves Build the White House?

The U.S. government didn’t own slaves, according to the National Archives, but it did pay slave owners to hire them to help build the White House. According to the White House Historical Association, Washington, D.C.’s city commissioners originally planned to spirit workers from Europe for the construction, which started in 1792 and took eight years to complete. When they got little response, they instead enlisted the labor of both free and enslaved African Americans to work alongside local white laborers and craftsmen, plus a handful of Europeans to build not just the president’s home, but other government buildings such as the U.S. Capitol as well.

James Hoban, an Irish immigrant and architect hand-picked by President George Washington, designed the original building. After the British set fire to it in 1814, during the War of 1812, Hoban led the effort to rebuild the structure.

READ MORE: How Many US Presidents Owned Enslaved People?

View of the south facade of the White House, c. 1840s.

Where is the White House?

The White House is located at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., in Washington, D.C., perhaps the nation’s most famous address. Empowered by the Residence Act of 1790, President George Washington chose the exact spot for the 10-square-mile capital, on the Potomac River’s east bank and near the Capitol building. Builders laid the White House cornerstone on October 13, 1792, with the Capitol cornerstone following soon after on August 18, 1793.

Over the years, the executive mansion has seen multiple renovations, including extensive work by Theodore Roosevelt in 1902, which included the installation of electric lights. In 1948, after engineers discovered the building to be structurally unsound and unsafe for habitation, Harry S. Truman ordered a complete gutting of the interior and a total overhaul of the building’s structure and foundation. Truman and his family lived in Blair House across …read more


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4 Diseases You’ve Probably Forgotten About Because of Vaccines

December 16, 2020 in History

By Becky Little

Vaccines are so effective at fighting disease that sometimes it’s easy to forget their impact.

Widespread vaccination has helped decrease or virtually eliminate many dangerous and deadly diseases in the United States. Yet because vaccines have been so effective at removing threats, it’s sometimes difficult to appreciate just how significant they have been to public health.

“We’re very bad at measuring risk,” says epidemiologist René Najera, editor of The History of Vaccines, an online resource by The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. “And so when we don’t see a lot of people dying from something, we think that it’s not a big deal.”

Here are four major diseases that you may have forgotten about (or downplayed) thanks to how effective vaccines have been at mitigating or eliminating them.

1. Smallpox

English physician Edward Jenner’s first smallpox vaccination, performed on James Phipps in 1796.

Smallpox is the only human disease that has been globally eradicated through vaccines. It’s also responsible for the first known vaccine, created by the English physician Edward Jenner in 1796. After observing that milkmaids who caught cowpox (a milder disease) seemed to gain immunity to smallpox, Jenner inoculated an eight-year-old boy using a milkmaid’s cowpox lesion. He then exposed the boy to smallpox, and when the boy didn’t develop any symptoms of the deadly disease, Jenner realized he’d developed a way to prevent it.

The experiment, while highly unethical by today’s standards, was a big deal. Smallpox could kill up to 30 percent of people who caught it, and had already killed enormous numbers of Native people in North and South America after European colonists brought smallpox and other new diseases to the continents. Shortly after Jenner developed the vaccine, Spain began using it to inoculate people across its empire. The British soon followed, and in the 1850s, Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to mandate smallpox vaccination.

“By the mid-1900s, right after World War II, countries all around the world decide…‘Why don’t we just get rid of smallpox?’” Najera says. “And so they undertake an effort like no other since or before.” This global effort led to the eradication of smallpox by 1979.

READ MORE: The Rise and Fall of Smallpox

2. Rabies

Man standing beside a sign warning about rabies in Chicago, Illinois, 1954.

Rabies has played a large role in American film and literature—think Old Yeller, To Kill a Mockingbird and …read more