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Spreading good news!
August 11, 2022
On Wednesday, the Labor Department announced that the month-to-month increase in inflation between June and July was effectively 0%, indicating that inflation may have peaked. Average gasoline prices have dropped by $1.00 per gallon in the last 60 days. President Biden signed the PACT Act on Wednesday, and Speaker Pelosi announced that the House will pass the Inflation Reduction Act on Friday. Earlier in the week, Biden signed protocols admitting Sweden and Finland into NATO, and the FDA approved an emergency strategy to expand the number of available monkeypox vaccinations. Last Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released a stunning jobs report. Per CNN,
The US economy has now regained all jobs lost during the pandemic, after a blowout July jobs report that showed a gain of 528,000 jobs, according to data released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The unemployment rate ticked down to 3.5% after holding at 3.6% for the past four months. The July jobless rate matched the half-century low last seen in February 2020.
That is a lot of good news packed into a single week. Although it has begun to seep into the news ecosystem, it has been overwhelmed by the dramatic events relating to Trump’s rapidly increasing criminal exposure. It is still too early to rely on polls to predict outcomes in the midterms, but it is fair to say that the spate of good news is putting the midterms into play in a way they were not three months ago. They are also acting as a solvent eroding the media’s unrelenting “bad news” narrative.
Yes, it is frustrating that the recent string of successes has been obscured by Trump’s exploding legal troubles, but Biden’s accomplishments are real and permanent. They will remain when today’s “breaking news” alerts have been buried under tomorrow’s “breaking news” alerts. It is up to Democrats to maintain discipline and focus in communicating not only Biden’s accomplishments but also the benefits those accomplishments have bestowed on the American people.
Rather than bemoaning the failure of others to effectively communicate Biden’s successes, why not step into the role of “good news ambassador” for Biden? In your own way, preferably in your own words, tell friends, neighbors, and complete strangers what Biden has done to make their lives better. Or cut and paste the first three paragraphs in this newsletter whenever and wherever possible (no attribution necessary or requested).
Speaking of communicating with voters, a reader (Stephen B.) posted a link in the Comments section to an article about how to talk to people about voting. See Political Charge, How to Convince People to Vote in 2022. The article is excellent, and I highly recommend it—even if you are only talking to people in your immediate family about voting. Every additional voter matters!
Can Trump be disqualified from running for president?
Several commentators have opined that Trump cannot be disqualified from running for president as a penalty for conviction of 18 U.S. Code § 2071. Professor Tribe disagrees. In response to an article in Politico, Tribe tweeted,
18 USC 2071’s text disqualifying anyone guilty of violating it from holding public office is NOT a forbidden addition of “qualifications” to those of Art II but a DISQUALIFICATION, just as if Congress disqualified anyone who’d been convicted of treason.
Professor Tribe’s argument makes sense. Article II sets forth the qualifications necessary to be “eligible” to serve as president (e.g., 35 years old, “natural born citizen,” and fourteen years as a resident of the US). As Professor Tribe notes, Section 2071 does not add to the qualifications for eligibility under Article II. Instead, it disqualifies someone from running for president upon conviction of a felony—a subject not addressed by Article II. (There is more to this argument, and I am still looking for sources I can link to, so please let me know if you encounter any worth mentioning to readers.)
Sadly, there is no guarantee that the force of Professor Tribe’s argument will persuade the reactionary majority of the Court. But, as other commentators have remarked, it is an argument worth making—because it may weaken or complicate Trump’s bid for the presidency in 2024.
The “Mole of Mar-a-Lago”--Trump’s worst nightmare.
Trump has been successful in large part because those around him have maintained unquestioned loyalty and unbroken silence to cover for his misdeeds. But it looks like there is a “mole’ in Mar-a-Lago who tipped the FBI about the existence and location of documents Trump illegally removed from the White House. Gosh! If you can’t trust underpaid and poorly treated staff whose names you haven’t bothered to learn, who can you trust? See CNN Politics, Informant tipped off investigators about more documents at Mar-a-Lago, Wall Street Journal reports.
In a sign of how rattled Trump is by the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, he released a melodramatic response to the search on “Truth Social”—complete with ominous theme music. But as Media Matters for America noted, the soundtrack to his Truth Social rebuttal is a well-known QAnon song that contains the groups slogan in its title. Although most right-wing media outlets have ignored that fact, the QAnon community
has noticed and celebrated the appearance of the song, with supporters writing, “If that’s not a Q proof then I don’t know what is,” [and] “That’s not an accident. Team Trump knows exactly what they’re doing.”
Trump could have responded to the search in many ways—but issuing a rallying cry to QAnon is the looniest option he could have chosen. That fact should cause his GOP defenders in Congress to wonder whether they (and Trump) have more to worry about than Trump is admitting.
Fake Electors investigation is accelerating.
The “fake electors” plot is a fertile ground for DOJ investigation. The plot involved sending falsified documents to the National Archives intended to interfere with the electoral count by Congress. The false certificates themselves are enough to convict. Earlier this week, the FBI served subpoenas on several Pennsylvania Republican lawmakers who participated in the plot. See PennLive News, FBI delivers subpoenas to several Pa. Republican lawmakers: sources say.
In details from the story suggesting that Trump is the real target of the investigation, the Pennsylvania lawmakers were told by the FBI that they were not the targets. Ouch! It appears that several lawmakers are talking to the FBI. Good!
Trump invokes Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in NY civil action.
Although most of the media led with the story of Trump’s invocation of the Fifth Amendment in the NY civil action brought by NY Attorney General Letitia James, I have left it for last. See Trump took Fifth Amendment more than 440 times in refusing to answer New York attorney general’s questions. Trump’s assertion of the Fifth Amendment is historic and sets another new low for Trump’s debasement of the presidency. Given the volumes written about this story, I will defer to others to provide lengthy analysis.
Here’s my take: Trump invoked the Fifth Amendment? Of course, he did! He invoked the Fifth Amendment in his divorce from Ivana nearly 100 times when he was asked about his affairs with other women. This isn’t Trump’s first use of the privilege against self-incrimination—and won’t be his last.
The story isn’t Trump’s assertion of the privilege. The real story is that not a single Republican leader in Congress will pause on that fact before rising to defend Trump against the next credible disclosure of corruption and self-dealing.
The number of articles using the term “civil war” in their titles has ballooned in the last week. In fairness to the authors of those articles, they are at the mercy of headline writers. In many of those articles, the authors are reporting on rash threats made on the internet or using the term “civil war” as shorthand for “scattered violence by Trump supporters.” Even the limited possibility of violence by Christian nationalists and neo-Nazis is reprehensible and should alarm all Americans—up to a point, but no further.
None of the authors claim that the US is headed for a literal civil war in which combatant states or warring partisan armies fight for control of (or to secede from) the United States. If anyone believes that scenario is likely, they need to get in a car and drive across the America that is invisible to them. They will discover the America that exists beyond the opinion pages of major media outlets and the few hundred Twitter feeds that command the media’s attention. It is the America of 320 million people, 99.9% of whom want nothing more than to make a better life for themselves and their families—even if they are angry over politics. They still get up in the morning and go to their jobs, drop their kids off at school and take them to soccer practice. They are not bivouacking in make-believe military exercises with misguided and impotent men looking for a way to release their anger.
The heft and scale and momentum of America are incomprehensible. America will not be derailed by our current political crises; we have endured worse. And those Republicans currently calling to “defund the FBI” and “gut the DOJ and IRS” will be brought to heel by American businesses—who need peace, predictability, and stability to sustain the greatest economic engine in the world.
Those who doubt America’s resilience suffer from a lack of imagination. It is easy to summon catastrophe—Twitter does that for us daily. In contrast, it is nearly impossible to comprehend the hundreds of millions of lives that unfold quietly in peace, motivated by a persistent yearning for a better life. Those Americans have no time for a civil war. They are busy pursuing the American dream.
Talk to you tomorrow!