You are browsing the archive for 2021 January 14.

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Ivanka Trump and Jared made Secret Service agents go to ridiculous 'extremes' to 'find a bathroom': report

January 14, 2021 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

Most relatives of U.S. presidents would have no problem making it easy for U.S. Secret Service agents to have easy access to bathrooms, which is a small price to pay for being protected from terrorists, political extremists or kidnappers. But Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, according to the Washington Post, have made things as difficult as possible for Secret Service agents when it comes to bathrooms they can use.

Post reporters Peter Jamison, Carol D. Leonnig and Paul Schwartzman explain:

Many U.S. Secret Service agents have stood guard in Washington’s elite Kalorama neighborhood, home over the years to cabinet secretaries and former presidents. Those agents have had to worry about death threats, secure perimeters and suspicious strangers. But with the arrival of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, they had a new worry: finding a toilet.

“Instructed not to use any of the half-dozen bathrooms inside the couple’s house, the Secret Service detail assigned to President Trump’s daughter and son-in-law spent months searching for a reliable restroom to use on the job, according to neighbors and law enforcement officials. After resorting to a porta-potty, as well as bathrooms at the nearby home of former President Barack Obama and the not-so-nearby residence of Vice President (Mike) Pence, the agents finally found a toilet to call their own.

According to the report, the U.S. federal government has, since September 2017, been spending $3,000 per month to “rent a basement studio with a bathroom from a neighbor of the Kushner family.”

A White House spokesperson, the reporters note, “denied” that Trump and Kushner wouldn’t let Secret Service agents enter their home. But according to a law enforcement official the Post interviewed, the agents were kept out of the home at Trump and Kushner’s request.

“Arrangements that allow for some distance between Secret Service agents and those they guard are not unusual, particularly when the agency’s ‘means, methods or resources’ involve indoor plumbing,” Jamison, Leonnig and Schwartzman explain. “The people who qualify for such protection often occupy expensive, sprawling properties where a detail can use a garage, pool house or other outbuilding as a command post, break room and bathroom. The episode in Kalorama is unusual because of the lengths to which the agents’ exile took them.”

A law enforcement official told the Post, “It’s the first time I ever heard of a Secret Service detail having to go to these extremes to find a …read more


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White House consumed by ‘rage and turmoil’ as Trump clings to his election conspiracies: report

January 14, 2021 in Blogs

By Sky Palma

According to a new report from Reuters, President Donald Trump’s world is “crumbling in the final days of his presidency” in the wake of violence perpetrated by a mob at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

Trump now faces a second impeachment — the first time in history a U.S. president has been impeached twice — due to his rhetoric during the buildup to the storming of the Capitol.

“Trump’s last days in the White House have been marked by rage and turmoil, multiple sources said,” Reuters reported. “He watched some of the impeachment debate on TV and grew angry at the Republican defections, a source familiar with the situation said.”

Sources inside the White House said that Trump is “still clinging to unfounded claims of election fraud,” Reuters said.

His split with Vice President Mike Pence, senior advisers fleeing his administration in disgust, a growing number of GOP lawmakers abandoning him, getting banned on Twitter and Facebook, businesses distancing themselves from his family brand — all events that are sending Trump into a state of rage.

“Everybody feels like they’re doing the best job they can to hold it all together until Biden takes over,” one anonymous Trump adviser told Reuters.

…read more


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A psychopathic president's last act

January 14, 2021 in Blogs

By Alan D. Blotcky

Donald Trump’s attempted coup against our government was predictable. He had it all planned out. He would incite thousands of supporters to attack the Capitol, disrupt the proceedings of the Senate and find a way to maintain his grip on power. He knew full well that his violent insurrectionists had blood on their minds and that Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence were in harm’s way. He knew there was a chance that both Pelosi and Pence could be kidnapped or murdered. He did not care one whit. He was partying and celebrating as the attackers formed and began their deadly march. He was inciting an insurrection against the United States for his own personal gain. Democracy and human life were of no concern to him.

But his efforts failed. The Senate was not overtaken. Joe Biden was certified as the next president. Pelosi and Pence were both safe. The attackers are being hunted down one by one and arrested. Trump has now been impeached for the second time, with 10 Republican members of Congress joining with every Democrat. Pence apparently contemplated the possibility of invoking the 25th Amendment (although he has now said he will not do so). The majority of Americans believe that Trump should be removed from office immediately for his treasonous behavior.

After last week’s insurrection attempt, Trump is now trying to act as if nothing out of the ordinary happened. What is the big deal if some looters swarmed through the Capitol? As he has always done, Trump relies on lies, denials, conspiracy theories and fake bravado to skirt through life and through his presidency. But rhetoric and actions are observable truth. And Trump’s clear incitement of insurrection means he is a traitor. It means he disavowed the will of the people and the rule of law. It means his personal gain is more important than the Constitution and his oath of office.

This all makes sense because Donald Trump is a psychopath. He is fueled by his narcissism, his sadism, his paranoia and his antisocial proclivities. We have been eager to ignore these things, but Trump’s sadism and violence have been front and center in his psyche the entire time. This is the man who separated young children from their families at the border. This is the man whose inaction has killed 372,000 Americans due to the coronavirus. This is the man who …read more


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'They're not even trying to stop us': New report exposes alleged communications of Capitol rioters

January 14, 2021 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

Although Twitter and Facebook have been cracking down on some far-right users, extremists have found other ways to communicate — including the smartphone app Zello, which according to the Guardian, was useful to some far-right militia members during the siege of the U.S. Capitol Building last week.

“Zello has avoided proactive content moderation thus far,” Guardian reporters Micah Loewinger and Hampton Stall explain. “Most coverage about Zello, which claims to have 150 million users on its free and premium platforms, has focused on its use by the Cajun Navy groups that send boats to save flood victims and grassroots organizing in Venezuela. However, the app is also home to hundreds of far-right channels, which appear to violate its policy prohibiting groups that espouse ‘violent ideologies.’”

Loewinger and Stall report that one member of the mob “narrated her march toward and into the Capitol” while others on a Zello channel “cheered on the insurrection and called for the kidnapping of politicians.” And the creator of that channel, who went by “1% Watchdog,” said, “You are executing citizen’s arrest. We have probable cause: treason, acts of treason, election fraud, all kinds of felony crimes, no competent authority.”

It was also on Zello that a female voice, the day of the Capitol invasion, was heard saying, “We have a good group: 30 to 40 of us. We’re sticking together and sticking to the plan. The police are doing nothing. They’re not even trying to stop us.”

The report also recounts the following exchange describing the tumult inside the building:

“We are in the main dome right now,” said a female militia member, speaking on Zello, her voice competing with the cacophony of a clash with Capitol police. “We are rocking it. They’re throwing grenades, they’re frickin’ shooting people with paintballs, but we’re in here.”

“God bless and godspeed. Keep going,” said a male voice from a quiet environment.

“Jess, do your shit,” said another. “This is what we fucking lived up for. Everything we fucking trained for.”

Zello, Loewinger and Stall note, has banned the Boogaloo Bois (a far-right extremist group that promotes civil war) and some racist groups from its platform — although the company may need to become more proactive if it wants to avoid the problems that Parler has recently experienced.

“Being slow to respond may threaten the future of Zello, which relies on servers from Amazon Web Services …read more


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Joe Biden has a golden opportunity to strengthen public education

January 14, 2021 in Blogs

By Our Schools

In picking Connecticut Commissioner of Education Miguel Cardona to be his nominee for U.S. secretary of education, President-elect Joe Biden appears to have made a Goldilocks choice that pleases just about everyone. People who rarely agree on education policy have praised the decision, including Jeanne Allen, CEO of the Center for Education Reform, a nonprofit group that advocates for charter schools and school choice, who called Cardona “good news,” and education historian Diane Ravitch, who also called the pick “good news” because he does not seem to be aligned with advocates for charter schools and vouchers. Sara Sneed, president and CEO of the NEA Foundation, a public charity founded by educators, called Cardona an “ideal candidate,” in an email, and hailed him for “his emphasis on the need to end structural racism in education and for his push for greater educational equity and opportunity through public schools.”

But as Biden and Cardona—should he be approved, as most expect—begin to address the array of critical issues that confront the nation’s schools, there’s bound to be more of a pushback. Or maybe not?

After decades of federal legislation that emphasized mandating standardized testing and tying school and teacher evaluations to the scores; imposing financial austerity on public institutions; incentivizing various forms of privatization; and undermining teachers’ professionalism and labor rights, there is a keen appetite for a new direction for school policy.

Due to the disruption forced by the pandemic, much is being written and said about the need to “restart and reinvent” education and a newfound appreciation for schools as essential infrastructure for families and children. With an incoming Biden administration, Democratic majorities in both chambers of Congress, and the influence of incoming first lady Jill Biden, a career educator, we may be on the cusp of a historic moment when the stars align to revitalize public schools in a way that hasn’t happened in a generation.

Among the promising ideas that appear to have growing momentum behind them are proposals to fund schools more equitably, to expand community schools that take a more holistic approach to educating students, to create curriculum and pedagogy that are relevant to the science of how children learn and the engagement of their families, and to reverse the direction of …read more


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Why FDR's Fourth Presidential Inauguration Lasted Only 15 Minutes

January 14, 2021 in History

By Christopher Klein

Security fears and austerity forced a scaled-down presidential inauguration in 1945 as the nation entered its fourth year of fighting in World War II.

As security fears gripped its capital and a global calamity continued to claim the lives of hundreds of thousands of its citizens, the United States prepared for a presidential inauguration unlike any in its history.

With U.S. participation in World War II entering in its fourth year, President Franklin D. Roosevelt believed the times called for a simple ceremony for his fourth inaugural on January 20, 1945. To conserve money and manpower at a time when the country was rationing supplies such as gas and lumber, Roosevelt decided that there would be no gala celebration of his swearing-in. No concerts. No inaugural balls. No marching bands and fancy floats parading down Pennsylvania Avenue. “Who is there here to parade?” he responded to reporters asking about inauguration plans.

Abraham Lincoln had been the only previous president to take the oath of office during wartime, but even his inauguration had included many of the traditional trappings, as did Roosevelt’s first inaugural during the depths of the Great Depression in 1933. This time, though, the president economized.

Although Congress appropriated $25,000 for his inauguration, Roosevelt pledged to spend less than $2,000. Bypassing the traditional inaugural location at the U.S. Capitol, he instead chose to stage the public swearing-in ceremony at the White House. Roosevelt, who was suffering from heart failure, also had his health in mind when deciding to stage a bare-bones inaugural, which would be historic not only for being the first time a president was sworn in four times but for being one of the shortest on record.

READ MORE: How FDR Served Four Terms as U.S. President

Small Crowd Attended FDR’s Fourth Inaugural

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Fourth Inaugural Address (TV-PG; 6:21)

LISTEN: Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Fourth Inaugural Address

The overcast skies that shrouded Washington, D.C. on the morning of January 20, 1945, mirrored the grim wartime mood of the country. Although the rain and sleet that fell on the nation’s capital overnight had ended, Roosevelt wasn’t impressed with the weather conditions. “It’s a lousy day,” the president proclaimed after sticking his head outside.

James Roosevelt didn’t think his father looked so great himself. “Old man, you look like hell,” he said. The president laughed and replied, …read more