Discover more from Today's Edition Newsletter
Today’s Edition: Small steps forward.
November 1, 2021
President Biden is attending the G20 conference in Europe, so the red-hot news cycle of the last eight weeks cooled over the weekend. Good. We needed a break. Congress will resume work on the reconciliation bill on Tuesday, so enjoy the interlude while it lasts. We are engaged in a marathon and must pace ourselves if we hope to prevail over the long-term. Robert Reich published an essay last Friday that offers a hopeful perspective about the challenging times in which we find ourselves. His essay, “It's all about resilience,” acknowledges that Biden’s victory wasn’t the “cure all” that many hoped it would be:
We assumed everything would be fine again once these [challenges of the Trump years[ were behind us. But we now find ourselves in a disorienting limbo. There is no clearly‑demarcated “behind us.”
Reich goes on to say that “If you’re not at least a bit disappointed, you’re not human.” But he follows his acknowledgements of disappointment with a passage I wish I had written:
I’ve learned a few things in my half-century in and around politics, and my many years teaching young people. One is that things often look worse than they really are. The media (including social media) sells subscriptions and advertising with stories that generate anger and disappointment. The same goes for the views of pundits and commentators: Pessimists always appear wiser than optimists.
That is a phrase worth remembering: “Pessimists always appear wiser than optimists.” I would add, “And it’s always easier to be a pessimist than an optimist” because the former needs only to identify problems, while the latter must propose solutions.
I recommend that you read Reich’s essay in its entirety. It is a good way to begin another week of the hard work demanded by democracy.
The need to prosecute the coup-plotters becomes more urgent with every passing day.
As the House and Senate committees continue investigating the events of January 6th, it is becoming clearer that the coup-plotters viewed the assault on the Capitol as a direct reaction to Vice President Pence’s refusal to join their effort to overturn the election. New emails reveal that as Pence was pleading for help from inside the besieged Capitol, Trump loyalist and purported constitutional scholar John Eastman was blaming the violence on Pence’s failure to overturn the election. See Washington Post, “John Eastman told Pence team Pence's actions caused attack on Capitol, in email during riot.” Eastman had urged Pence to send the votes of the Electors back to the state legislatures for reconsideration. Eastman wrote to a senior Pence aide,
The ‘siege’ is because YOU and your boss [Pence] did not do what was necessary to allow this to be aired in a public way so that the American people can see for themselves what happened.
In other words, Eastman drew a direct connection between the violence and Pence’s refusal to go along with the coup. Eastman wrote the above email while he was at the “command center” with Rudy Giuliani and others who were attempting to overturn the election. Eastman continued to urge Pence to block the count of the Electors’ ballots even as the Capitol was being assaulted. As described by Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo, this evidence is “the most damning January 6th Revelation yet.”
And, yet, rather than answering in court for his complicity in Trump’s coup attempt, John Eastman is comfortably serving as a board member of The Claremont Institute. Two months ago, Eastman appeared at a Claremont Institute event where he delivered presentations titled, “Restoring the Republic” and “Election Integrity.” Given Eastman’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, those topics sound like training sessions for a “do‑over” coup in 2024. Where is Merrick Garland when we need him?
To similar effect are the recent activities of Michael Flynn, who was another Trump supporter urging Mike Pence to overturn the election. Recall that Flynn pleaded guilty lying to the FBI, only to have Bill Barr’s DOJ argue that Flynn’s lie about his contacts with Russia was not material. So, what is Mike Flynn up to these days? Nothing good, according to Salon, which just published an article titled, “GOP candidate claims Michael Flynn hoped to blackmail U.S. officials into pro-Trump "audits".
Per Salon, a GOP Senate candidate in Pennsylvania, Everett Stern, was approached by two men representing a Flynn-affiliated PAC. Stern runs a private intelligence firm. Per Stern, the men asked him
to gather intelligence on senators, judges, congressmen, state reps, to move them towards the audit. The word 'move' was emphasized tremendously. It was clear to me what they wanted was not traditional opposition research — what they wanted was to extort and to literally move people towards the audit with dirt.
Stern’s charges are extraordinarily serious, i.e., that a Flynn-affiliated PAC is attempting to blackmail public officials to force them to support sham “audits” of the 2020 election. Stern’s charges are unverified but are based on his personal discussions with people claiming to represent Flynn’s PAC. Other outlets appear to be ignoring the story, which might suggest that they don’t view Stern as a reliable source.
Let’s hope that Merrick Garland is only days away from releasing a new indictment of Mike Flynn for his role in the insurrection. By failing to act, Merrick Garland is signaling to Flynn that the government doesn’t view his past or current anti-democratic activities as serious crimes worthy of prosecution. That is not the message Merrick Garland should be sending to Michael Flynn—or to future wannabe insurrectionists.
Republican hypocrisy on taxes.
Senator Rick Scott of Florida is making the rounds on right-wing media claiming that Democrats are irresponsible because they want to increase tax rates to help people. Scott implied (falsely) that the Biden’s Build Back Better agenda will raise the deficit. In an interview on Fox, Chris Wallace asked Scott if he believed the Trump tax cuts should be repealed because they are increasing the deficit by $2 trillion over the next eight years. Scott dodged the question twice. See Rolling Stone, “Chris Wallace Points Out Rick Scott's Deficit Hypocrisy.” The Rolling Stone article includes video of Scott bobbing and weaving to avoid criticizing Trump (from the 4:00-minute mark to 5:30).
Chris Wallace’s question is a good one. It should be a standard part of the Democratic counterattack whenever Republicans claim that Democratic spending plans will raise the deficit. Trump raised the deficit by $2 trillion dollars to give corporations and the wealthiest Americans a tax cut. Democrats should not be defensive about providing benefits that will not raise the deficit. We have the moral high ground. Let’s act like it.
My wife and I spent the evening sitting in our driveway, handing out Halloween candy to ‘trick-or-treaters.” We had double the number of kids this year compared to 2020. Both events were “Covid safe”—but the event this year had a feeling of normalcy and celebration that was missing last year. We have come a long way from the dark days of the pandemic in 2020. There are many reasons for that progress, but chief among those reasons are the leadership and decency of Joe Biden, and the competence of the administration he appointed to help the nation fight its way out of the worst of the pandemic. A “normal” Halloween is a small step forward, but it is one of thousands of signs of return to normalcy that we take for granted. We shouldn’t. It could have been otherwise—and would have been, but for our hard work. Let’s do it again!
Talk to you tomorrow!