“It’s not us, it’s you.”
November 14, 2023
As of Monday evening, Speaker Mike’s Johnson plan for a “laddered continuing resolution” will fail without support from Democrats—the situation that led to the ouster of Kevin McCarthy. Talking Points Memo succinctly summarized the state of play as follows:
At least eight House Republicans, mostly Freedom Caucus members, have come out against the measure, meaning it’ll likely need Democratic help just to clear procedural hurdles on the floor.
At least one House Republican, Rep. Mike Ezell (R-MS), will be absent from Congress Tuesday due to his mother’s death.
Freedom Caucus members are annoyed that it’s a “clean” CR, meaning it’s not been larded up with their demands for spending cuts or stuffed up with unrelated culture war riders.
Democrats, on the other hand, issued measured statements that suggest Democrats will support the laddered continuing resolution in sufficient numbers to allow passage. See The Hill, Democratic leaders suggest party could support GOP stopgap funding bill.
If Democrats are given the opportunity to prevent Republicans from shutting down the government, they will. The burning question on Monday evening is whether Republicans will give Speaker Mike Johnson the votes to bring the laddered continuing resolution to the floor of the House for a vote. Stay tuned!
[Update as of late Monday evening: According to The Hill, Speaker Mike Johnson will attempt to bypass opposition from extremists in the Freedom Caucus by bringing the bill to the floor with substantial support from Democrats. See GOP leaders aim to pass funding bill with help from Democrats amid conservative opposition | The Hill. If that happens, it will be good for all Americans—unless an aggrieved GOP member of the House files a motion to “vacate the chair” in an attempt to remove Johnson as Speaker. Once again: Stay tuned!]
Supreme Court pretends to release code of ethics.
I wrote and deleted the following sentence a half-dozen times but finally concluded that we should not grant respect to Chief Justice John Roberts he is not due: In issuing an unenforceable “code of ethics” for the Supreme Court, John Roberts has flipped the American public a judicial middle finger. The code is a sham. It purports to “collect and summarize” existing rules and regulations followed by the justices, rules the justices interpreted to disregard the appearance and reality of impropriety and to engage in outright corruption over the last two decades.
The alleged “code of conduct” is here: US Supreme Court Code of Conduct.
The Justices of the Supreme Court—all of them—are flouting the rule of law if they believe the non-enforceable code of ethics is a good-faith response to the scandals that have undermined the legitimacy of the Court. John Roberts deserves the lion’s share of the blame, but each of the nine justices who signed the code has failed the American people and the Supreme Court.
In an act of disrespect, the justices blamed the American public for “misunderstanding” the corruption that has plagued the Court. The code begins with this accusatory prologue:
The absence of a Code, however, has led in recent years to the misunderstanding that the Justices of this Court, unlike all other jurists in this country, regard themselves as unrestricted by any ethics rules. To dispel this misunderstanding, we are issuing this Code, which largely represents a codification of principles that we have long regarded as governing our conduct.
In other words, in the view of the nine justices on the Court, “It’s not us, it’s you.”
The prologue is insulting to all Americans because it blames us for allegedly “misunderstanding” that several justices were engaging in flagrant corruption for twenty years.
Let’s cut to the quick: The Court has been corrupted by bribes disguised as “gifts” from political benefactors—extravagant vacations, homes, recreational vehicles, and private travel on luxury jets. What does the new code say about gifts? It says:
A Justice should comply with the restrictions on acceptance of gifts and the prohibition on solicitation of gifts set forth in the Judicial Conference Regulations on Gifts now in effect.
Got that? The justices “should” comply with regulations that are mandatory for all other federal judges. Not “must.” Just “should.” Without getting lost in the intricacies of modal verbs, “should” in this context is a “suggestion.”
By comparison, the Judicial Conference Regulations on Gifts are mandatory prohibitions: “A judicial officer or employee is not permitted to accept a gift . . . .”
John Roberts is a smart guy. He knows how to write a regulation that is mandatory. He chose to write a regulation that is squishy. He chose to omit any enforcement mechanism. So, “No, John, it’s not us. It’s you.”
The media finally gets the message.
After Trump went “full Hitler” over the weekend, major media outlets are unable to ignore the historical parallels between Trump's hate speech and that of Hitler and Mussolini. Although the NYTimes’ headline on Sunday was anodyne, the Times called out Trump on Monday with this headline: After Calling Foes ‘Vermin,’ Trump Campaign Warns Its Critics Will Be ‘Crushed’ (“The former president’s Veterans Day speech used language similar to the dehumanizing rhetoric wielded by dictators like Hitler and Mussolini.”) This article is accessible to all.
Similar headlines appeared in nearly every major media outlet in the US. (Check for yourself; do a Google search for “Trump vermin.” And media outlets are connecting Trump's use of the “vermin” hate speech with his statements earlier this month about immigrants “poisoning the blood” of Americans. See NYTimes (10/5/23), With ‘Poisoning the Blood’ Comment, Trump Escalates Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric.
The rising alarm reached a higher pitch on Monday when several outlets released video statements from Trump's co-conspirators in the Georgia RICO case. Those recorded statements taken as a condition of plea bargains reveal that Trump communicated to others that “he was never leaving” the White House. See ABC News, 'The boss is not going to leave': Proffer videos show ex-Trump lawyers telling Georgia prosecutors about efforts to overturn 2020 election.
In the video of prosecutors' Oct. 23 proffer session with Ellis, she said that one of Trump's top White House aides, Dan Scavino, allegedly told her "in an excited tone" at a White House Christmas party weeks after the 2020 election that "the boss is not going to leave under any circumstances."
Admitting Jenna Ellis’s testimony against Trump will be difficult. But it is possible that Dan Scavino is cooperating with prosecutors, which would allow Scavino to testify against Trump. See Politico (6/3/22) DOJ declines to charge Meadows, Scavino with contempt of Congress for defying Jan. 6 committee.
So, Trump is parroting Hitler’s hate speech in 2023. In 2021, he attempted to remain in power by brute force reminiscent of Hitler’s use of violence and thuggery to force his way into the Chancellorship of Germany. That is why major media outlets can no longer treat Trump as a legitimate participant in the democratic process. He seeks to destroy it. The spate of news stories about Trump’s parallels to Hitler is a sign that some media outlets may have realized their error. Let’s hope that they all awaken from the slumber soon!
Reminder: President Biden will meet President Xi on Wednesday in San Francisco
President Biden will meet with China’s President Xi at the APEC conference in San Francisco on Wednesday. Biden and Xi are expected to discuss resuming military-to-military communications, avoiding confrontation over Taiwan, cooperation on climate change, and reducing fentanyl trafficking from China. Although there are no expectations for new agreements between the US and China, the fact that Biden is meeting with the leader of our largest trading partner is significant.
Some good news about Louisiana’s redistricting maps.
The notoriously conservative Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a surprise win for democracy yesterday when it upheld a trial court’s determination that Louisiana must draw a second Black-majority district. See Ian Millhiser in Vox, Democrats get surprisingly good news from America’s Trumpiest court, in Robinson v. Ardoin.
While the Louisiana legislature may “slow walk” the changes to the district lines until after the 2024 election, the fact that some Fifth Circuit judges are willing to follow binding Supreme Court precedent is worthy of comment. Read Ian Millhiser’s detailed explanation for background.
Sending copies of Heather Cox Richardson’s book to other readers.
Wow! I have a lot to report on the invitation to “match” readers unable to purchase Heather Cox Ricardson’s book, “Democracy Awakening,” with readers who volunteer to send a copy of the book to those readers.
First, we have almost 60 requests to receive copies of the book. I received several heartfelt messages of gratitude from readers who were unable to purchase the book but were excited to receive a gift from another reader. So, on their behalf, thank you!
Second, I received about a dozen enthusiastic emails from readers who would like to send a copy of HCR’s book. Thank you for your enthusiasm. Sign up to send a book here: Volunteer to send a copy of HCR's Democracy Awakening!
Third, Heather Cox Richardson’s publisher, Viking Press, reached out to me and generously offered to provide free books to help in our effort. I didn’t want to take advantage of their generosity, so I accepted the offer of two boxes of books—twenty-four copies in all. I am hoping that readers of this newsletter will volunteer to fulfill the remaining three dozen book requests.
Fourth, members of Heather's Herd have volunteered to mail the two dozen books donated by Heather’s publisher. Heather’s Herd describes itself as “aspiring activists who are inspired by Heather Cox Richardson's "Letters from an American" newsletter.” It is a great group. Click on the link above if you are interested in joining. And thanks to Heather’s Herd for volunteering to send the books donated by Heather’s publisher.
Finally, I want to acknowledge and thank everyone who reminded me that local libraries are wonderful community resources. Some libraries have copies of Heather’s book, while others do not. The reader I described in my original note had tried to obtain Heather’s book from her local library, but it did not have a copy. So, after the reader is finished with my copy, she will donate it to her local library! A win-win-win situation for everyone!
Thanks, everyone. The generosity of the response has been overwhelming and heartwarming. It served as a reminder to me that for many Americans, making it to the library or bookstore is challenging on many levels. If we can help overcome those challenges by small acts of kindness on our part, we should do so with generosity and joy.
Reader Engagement opportunity.
From Dale Smith at Force Multiplier:
Force Multiplier is hosting the leaders of the Democratic Party in three critical states of Wisconsin, Arizona, and North Carolina on Tuesday, November 14 at 7 pm ET on Zoom. State parties are critical to effective organizing. Wisconsin has led the way in building a strong state party that has already produced strong gains in a key battleground state. Other state parties are following that playbook and will be able to do so much good in the 2024 election-- including Arizona and North Carolina.
Force Multiplier will be talking to Ben Wikler, chair of Wisconsin Dems, Anderson Clayton, the new chair of the North Carolina Dems and Yolanda Bejarano, the new chair of the Arizona Dems about how State Parties plan to win in 2024. You can register here.
I often feel conflicted writing about parallels between Trump and Hitler. The comparisons are important and urgent. We cannot look away. At the same time, there are millions of Americans for whom such comparisons raise deep fears and anxieties. I do not want to unnecessarily dwell on Trump's hateful rhetoric mimicking Hitler’s speech, but it would be irresponsible not to address it.
But there is one part of the reporting on the parallels that bothers me. Many outlets talk about Trump's plans to stage a hostile takeover of the DOJ and FBI, to round up millions of immigrants and deport them without due process, and to jail his opponents. Many commentators and activists urge Americans to foil Trump's dark plans by defeating him at the ballot box. That is, of course, Plan A.
What bothers me is the assumption that if Trump wins, we will be like sheep to the slaughter or potted plants or helpless victims. Not true. While I firmly believe that we will defeat Trump, if we don’t, we can bring the US economy to a stop in a week if Trump runs roughshod over the Constitution. We shouldn’t have to go there, but if Trump invokes the Insurrection Act on his first day in office, why would any democracy-loving American go to work? Or pay taxes? Or help keep the government open, the lights on, and the trains running?
Civil rights advocates in the 1950s and 1960s realized the power of boycotting buses and lunch counters. American businesses will not tolerate massive strikes and economic boycotts for a day, much less a week.
My point is this: While we should take the threat posed by Trump seriously, we should not accept the fantasies of obedient surrender by two hundred million Americans that are the premise of the fever dreams of Trump's minions. Trump's sycophants drawing up detailed plans for turning America into a dictatorship have forgotten one detail—the consent (and cooperation) of the governed. We hold ultimate power—a fact that Trump has overlooked.
I don’t believe we will ever get to such a dramatic confrontation. But if we must endure Trump's Hitleresque rhetoric and hear about his plan to turn our democracy into a dictatorship, we should keep top of mind that America’s economy depends on the daily participation and productivity of hundreds of millions of Americans. Take that away and Trump can sit in the dark in the Oval Office with a phone that can’t send tweets, call for a cheeseburger, or arrange for a tee time. He wouldn’t last a week under those conditions.
Stay strong! Talk to you tomorrow!