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A Republican's attack on Biden’s infrastructure plan shows how the GOP got caught in a bind

April 7, 2021 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick

On Wednesday evening, Tennessee Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn sent out a series of tweets attempting to attack President Joe Biden’s big push for a new infrastructure bill, called the “American Jobs Plan.” But many critics argued that her attacks landed with a thud. Instead of casting Biden or the plan in a negative light, she showed why the GOP will likely find itself in a bind as it tries to attack the Democrats’ next big priority.

Her attacks entailed spelling out components of the package:

While some of these items may rile up the base, which is dismissive of climate change, none of the attacks seem likely to turn the public against the plan. It may be true that President Biden is trying to “push through a liberal agenda,” but isn’t that what one should expect from a Democratic president? Democrats even decided to use her own graphics to promote the plan:

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'She got a snack': Jen Psaki pushes back after right-wing media slam Kamala Harris over bakery visit

April 7, 2021 in Blogs

By David Edwards

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Wednesday pushed back on conservatives who have criticized Vice President Kamala Harris for visiting a bakery while she was in Chicago.

New York Post correspondent Steven Nelson brought up the topic during Wednesday’s White House briefing.

“She hasn’t visited the border or Central America or spoken with leaders of El Salvador or Honduras,” Nelson told Psaki. “She traveled this week, took time to visit a bakery in Chicago. I’m wondering is she still working on this [border issue] and can you address the perception that she’s kind of quietly backing off?”

“There’s a whole lot packed in there,” Psaki replied. “The vice president was visiting Chicago actually to talk COVID and the importance of communities getting the vaccine when it’s available and accessible to them.”

“And so while she was there, like many Americans, she got a snack,” she added. “I think she’s allowed to do that.”

Watch the video below from C-SPAN.


Jen Psaki pushes back after right-wing media slam Kamala Harris over bakery visit

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Source: ALTERNET

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Trump's defense of Matt Gaetz just made life way harder for Republicans and the religious right

April 7, 2021 in Blogs

By Amanda Marcotte

In the days since it’s been revealed that Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., is currently under investigation for sex trafficking of a minor, it seemed like most Republicans were throwing him under the bus. As Politico reported, even though Gaetz was among the most loyal and outspoken Donald Trump supporters on Capitol Hill, “neither Trump nor anyone in the ex-president’s orbit is rushing to Gaetz’s defense.” Trump insiders appear to have gone out of their way to humiliate Gaetz further, leaking reports to the New York Times about Gaetz begging Trump for a pre-emptive pardon in Trump’s last days in office. Gaetz’s Republican colleagues were crawling all over each other to tell embarrassing or damning stories about him, from the time he reportedly showed them nude photos of women on the House floor to his fight against efforts to ban “revenge porn” in Florida. As an analysis from Media Matters shows, Fox News, which used to never get enough of Gaetz, has barely mentioned the congressman in recent days. Even professional troll Jacob Wohl has turned on Gaetz.

But then, like a devil rising up to collect his dues from Faustus, Trump decided to go ahead and personally defend Gaetz. In a statement released on Wednesday, Trump denied that Gaetz had asked him for a pardon, adding: “he has totally denied the accusations against him.”

The entire scandal represents the larger conundrum for Republicans, one that isn’t going away just because Trump is no longer president. Politicians like Gaetz, and like Trump before him, hold the promise of broadening the GOP base to pick up a lot of voters that more traditional conservative politics, especially the kind peddled by the religious right, weren’t appealing to. But while dirtbags like Gaetz and Trump hold a special appeal to previously ungettable voters, their very presence invites scandal.

As I noted in last week’s newsletter, Trump and his “grab ‘em by the pussy” aesthetic clearly had a secularized appeal to creeps and pigs — with the Proud Boys being a shining example — who find the religious right’s approach to politicized sexism too constraining. <a target=_blank href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/~/t/0/0/alternet/~https://www.salon.com/2021/04/02/church-membership-is-in-a-freefall-and-the-christian-right-has-only-themselves-to-blame/" rel="noopener noreferrer" …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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GOP fundraisers threaten to brand donors as 'defectors' to Trump in manipulative and misleading campaign

April 7, 2021 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

Although former President Donald Trump has been gone from the White House since January 20, he continues to aggressively raise funds for his political operation. According to Never Trump conservative pundit Tim Miller, Trump’s fundraising tactics are still as sleazy as they were when he was in the White House — and recent fundraising from the National Republican Congressional Committee, according to Miller, is just as bad.

In an article published by the website The Bulwark this week, Miller describes the NRCC’s offers to join Trump’s “new social media site” — which, Miller stresses, has yet to be created. The anti-Trump conservative notes that on Tuesday, he received a text message from the NRCC that read, “Friend request expiring in 10 minutes! Trump needs to know if you’re joining his new social media site, Timothy. We won’t ask again.”

Miller explains, “For starters, Donald Trump has not started a new social media site yet, he’s just talked about it…. But even if Trump Social does come into existence, the NRCC — which is a Republican Party committee not affiliated with Donald Trump — would have no operating control or ability to sign people up for this private enterprise. Which creates an ontological conundrum: Can an offer that doesn’t exist expire in 10 minutes? “

The Never Trumper notes that he received these NRCC texts only a few days after the New York Times published a “bombshell” article by journalist Shane Goldmacher, who reported that Trump’s campaign was repeatedly billing supporters who had only agreed to single contributions.

Miller observes, “The crux of the grift was the Trump campaign’s deceptive e-mail practices which, among other things, chose to make recurring donations the default setting for supporters who were lured in by the campaign’s hyperbolic and conspiratorial fundraising pitches. As a result, elderly Trump supporters on fixed incomes had their bank accounts depleted, causing their rent and utilities checks to bounce. Altogether the Trump campaign had to refund $122 million in online donations from their own supporters who had been duped.”

In his Bulwark article, Miller also describes an NRCC text in which Trump supporters are insulted as “defectors” if they uncheck a box for recurring donations. That box reads, …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Fox News' Tucker Carlson faces blowback after defending the Capitol rioters as 'sad, disenfranchised people'

April 7, 2021 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

March 6 marked the three-month anniversary of the assault on the U.S. Capitol Building when a mob of far-right insurrectionists hoped to prevent Congress from certifying now-President Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory in the 2020 presidential election. Fox News’ Tucker Carlson discussed that anniversary during his Tuesday night show, implying that the rioters have been unfairly vilified by liberals, progressives and the Democratic Party.

With a mocking tone, the far-right Carlson told viewers, “Today is the three-month anniversary of January 6. For those of you are not good at dates or don’t have calendars, this is the day that we pause to remember the White supremacist QAnon insurrection, that came so very close to toppling our government and ending this democracy forever.”

Carlson, during the segment, didn’t sound like he was genuinely disturbed by the January 6 assault. Instead, he implied that the rioters were patriots who were standing up for the U.S. Constitution.

Carlson said, “They didn’t have guns, but a lot of them had extremely dangerous ideas. They talked about the Constitution and something called their rights. Some of them made openly seditious claims. They insisted, for example, that the last election wasn’t entirely fair.”

This framingly is highly misleading — officials have said some of the people at the riot did have guns and other weapons, and they violently attacked law enforcement.

The far-right Fox News pundit also implied that the rioters have been unfairly vilified because they were from “unfashionable zip codes,” and he said that Ashli Babbitt — a rioter killed inside the Capitol Building on January 6 — has been forgotten because she was “not a Democratic member of Congress or even a Joe Biden voter.”

“When a group of sad, disenfranchised people who have been left out of the modern economy show up at your office, you don’t have to listen to their complaints,” Carlson told viewers. “Not for a second. Why would you?”

Claiming that Democratic reactions to the January 6 siege are overblown has been a recurring theme on Carlson’s show. Carlson also defended two of the Capitol insurrectionists who are facing criminal charges: Lisa Eisenhart and her son, Eric Munchel — who was photographed carrying plastic zip-tie handcuffs inside the Capitol Building on January 6. And Carlson said that the U.S. Department of Justice, under President Joe Biden, is going after them much …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Bleeding Kansas

April 7, 2021 in History

By History.com Editors

Bleeding Kansas describes the period of repeated outbreaks of violent guerrilla warfare between pro-slavery and anti-slavery forces following the creation of the new territory of Kansas in 1854. In all, some 55 people were killed between 1855 and 1859. The struggle intensified the ongoing debate over the future of slavery in the United States and served as a key precursor to the Civil War.

Bleeding Kansas (TV-PG; 1:59)

WATCH: Bleeding Kansas

Passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act

By early 1854, with the United States expanding rapidly westward, Congress had begun debating a proposed bill to organize the former Louisiana Purchase lands then known as the Nebraska Territory. To get crucial southern votes for the bill, Senator Stephen Douglas of Illinois proposed an amendment that effectively repealed the Missouri Compromise, which had outlawed the extension of slavery north of the 36º 30’ parallel (Missouri’s southern border) except in Missouri itself.

Passed over fierce opposition in Congress and signed into law in 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Act created the territories of Kansas and Nebraska, and gave each the right to decide whether or not to permit slavery when it joined the Union. Douglas believed that popular sovereignty, as this idea was known, would resolve the ongoing sectional debate between North and South over slavery’s extension into the territories.

The Kansas-Nebraska Act divided Douglas’ Democratic Party and inspired the formation of the Republican Party, which opposed extending slavery into new territory. While Nebraska was so far north that it was virtually guaranteed to become a free state, Kansas bordered the slave state of Missouri. Over the next seven years, Kansas became a battleground over the future of slavery in the United States.

Missouri Compromise (TV-PG; 2:07)

WATCH: Missouri Compromise

Struggle Over Elections

In New England, a group of abolitionists formed the Emigrant Aid Company, which sent anti-slavery settlers to Kansas to ensure it would become a free territory. On the other side, thousands of pro-slavery Missourians flooded into the new territory to illegally vote in Kansas’ first territorial election in November 1854. Pro-slavery candidate John Whitfield easily defeated two Free Soil candidates to become the territory’s delegate to Congress, with only half the ballots cast by registered voters.

In March 1855, when elections took place for the first territorial legislature, thousands of heavily armed “border ruffians” showed up in Kansas again. Through illegal votes and intimidation of anti-slavery voters, they …read more

Source: HISTORY

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9 New Deal Infrastructure Projects That Changed America

April 7, 2021 in History

By Becky Little

The Hoover Dam, LaGuardia Airport and the Bay Bridge were all part of FDR’s New Deal investment.

The New Deal was a massive effort to lift the United States out of the Great Depression on several fronts. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s plan created the Social Security Administration to protect older Americans financially, and used the Agricultural Adjustment Act to help farmers get out of debt. The New Deal also created new agencies to fund projects across the country that both improved communities and provided jobs at a time when unemployment was high.

During the 1930s, the Public Works Administration, Works Progress Administration (later named the Work Projects Administration) and other New Deal agencies funded projects to build and improve the country’s infrastructure, including roads, dams, schools, airports and parks. Many of the projects funded by the PWA and WPA remain part of the U.S. landscape. Here are nine projects that show how transformative the New Deal was for America.

1. Hoover Dam

Massive steel bar columns rise in the construction of Boulder Dam, now called the Hoover Dam.

Although planning for the Hoover Dam, or “Boulder Canyon project,” started in the 1920s, it was completed with an infusion of funds from the PWA and dedicated in 1935. Its official name changed to “Hoover Dam” during Herbert Hoover’s presidency, but—perhaps owing to Hoover’s unpopularity—was still known as “Boulder Canyon Dam” and “Boulder Dam” into the 1930s and ‘40s.

The Hoover Dam is located in the Colorado River’s Black Canyon, on the border between Nevada and Arizona. At the time of its completion, it was the tallest dam in the world. Today, it generates enough hydroelectric power per year to serve 1.3 million people.

2. Triborough Bridge


The giant Triborough bridge, really four bridges in one, was financed with a PWA grant of $44,200,000, Shown is the view of the bridge under construction across Hell Gate. The finished bridge connects the boroughs of Manhattan, the Bronx and Queens.

One of the major construction projects the PWA helped finance was the New York City’s Triborough Bridge (now the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge), which connected Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx.

The powerful New York City official Robert Moses led construction of the bridge, which opened in 1936. At the dedication ceremony, FDR placed the bridge within the larger context of New Deal projects, …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Kansas-Nebraska Act

April 7, 2021 in History

By History.com Editors

In 1854, Senator Stephen Douglas of Illinois proposed a bill to organize the Territory of Nebraska, a vast area of land that would become Kansas, Nebraska, Montana and the Dakotas. Known as the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the controversial bill raised the possibility that slavery could be extended into territories where it had once been banned. Its passage intensified the bitter debate over slavery in the United States, which would later explode into the Civil War.

Stephen Douglas and Westward Expansion

The discovery of gold in California in 1849, and California’s subsequent request to become a state, sparked a fierce battle in Congress. As California had banned slavery, its admission to the Union would upset the fragile balance between slave and free states. By the end of 1850, Senator Henry Clay (with Douglas’ help) had persuaded Congress to accept the Compromise of 1850. By its terms, California entered the Union as a free state, while the territories of Utah, New Mexico, Nevada and Arizona (all acquired in the Mexican-American War) were left to decide for themselves whether to permit slavery within their borders.

Douglas hoped this idea of “popular sovereignty” would resolve the mounting debate over the future of slavery in the United States and enable the country to expand westward with few obstacles. But the Compromise of 1850 (especially the strict new Fugitive Slave Act it contained) galvanized the abolitionist movement and fueled mounting debate over whether the institution of slavery should be allowed to expand along with the nation.

Introduction of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854

Known as the “Little Giant,” Douglas was one of the country’s most prominent politicians by 1854, and was seen as a likely future president. He was also a big booster of the planned transcontinental railroad, which would provide faster, more reliable transportation across the country. Douglas wanted the railroad to be built along a northern route that would go through Chicago as well as a vast area of land known as the Nebraska Territory, which had been included in the Louisiana Purchase.

Southern slaveholders and their allies in Congress opposed Douglas’ initial bill to organize the Nebraska Territory. In 1821, the Missouri Compromise had outlawed slavery everywhere in the remaining Louisiana Purchase lands north …read more

Source: HISTORY

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How the Erie Canal Was Built With Raw Labor and Amateur Engineering

April 7, 2021 in History

By Dave Roos

The 360-mile canal connecting the Hudson River to the Great Lakes was built in eight years through thick forests and stubborn rock.

In 1809, when President , quotes the lyrics of a popular Irish work song: “We are digging a ditch through the mire, Through the mud and the slime and the mire, dammit! And the mud is our principal hire; In our pants, down our boots, down our necks, dammit!”

Tools Used to Build the Erie Canal

The process of excavation for construction of the Erie Canal.

Much of the planned route for the Erie Canal ran through thickly forested wilderness and the early teams of laborers had nothing more than axes, pickaxes and shovels to fell countless trees and uproot giant stumps. In time, the canal’s amateur engineers devised brilliant contraptions to make the work dramatically faster.

The first was a crank-driven tree feller adapted from European designs. A cable was tied to the top of a large tree and connected to an “endless screw” that was ratcheted and cranked by men, horses or oxen until the tree was ripped from the ground, roots and all.

Another device was invented by Nathan Roberts, a local math teacher who became one of the Erie Canal’s most storied engineers. Some trees were too small to be yanked down with the ratchet and had to be cut, leaving their stubborn stumps. Roberts designed a giant stump remover with 16-foot wheels that could be powered by a team of oxen to pull 40 stumps a day compared to only four a day using conventional labor.

Farm implements were repurposed and redesigned to help with the monumental task of digging the hundreds of miles of canal. An implement called a “plow and scraper” was pulled through the earth by draft horses to break up small roots and loosen tough clay. Another device called a “slip scraper” functioned like a modern-day bulldozer or bucket loader, scraping up rubble and dumping it into debris piles.

But perhaps the simplest and most lasting innovation was conceived by Jeremiah Brainard, a canal contractor who made a small fortune selling his patented “Brainard’s barrow” to workers frustrated with the old style of wheelbarrow that was box-shaped with vertical sides. Brainard’s design had a rounded basin that made it far easier to dump out the wheelbarrow’s contents with one good heave.

The Last Great Obstacle at Lockport


A …read more

Source: HISTORY