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LetMyPeopleVote's Journal
LetMyPeopleVote's Journal
May 24, 2024

Republicans enraged by Biden's efforts to keep gas prices lower

President Joe Biden is taking fresh steps to help keep gas prices from climbing. For Republicans to see this as “disgusting” and “disgraceful” is bizarre.

As Memorial Day weekend arrives, the summer driving season is poised to get underway. In general, American consumers are finding relatively affordable prices at the pump, and as the Associated Press reported, President Joe Biden hopes to take steps to keep it that way.

The Biden administration said Tuesday it is releasing 1 million barrels of gasoline from a Northeast reserve established after Superstorm Sandy in a bid to lower prices at the pump this summer. The sale, from storage sites in New Jersey and Maine, will be allocated in increments of 100,000 barrels at a time. The approach will create a competitive bidding process that ensures gasoline can flow into local retailers ahead of the July 4 holiday and sold at competitive prices, the Energy Department said.

“This builds on other actions by President Biden to lower gas and energy costs — including historic releases from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and the largest-ever investment in clean energy,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre added in a statement.

Evidently, Republicans are not pleased.

Donald Trump published an item to his social media platform describing the Democratic administration’s policy as “DISGUSTING!” Around the same time, House Speaker Mike Johnson condemned the move as “disgraceful.” A report in the conservative Washington Times added:

Republicans slammed President Biden’s decision to sell off 1 million barrels of gasoline over the coming weeks from a strategic reserve as a “desperate” attempt to cover for his environmental policies, which they say caused soaring prices at the pump.

My personal favorite was a written statement from Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, who argued, “Releasing 1 million barrels of gasoline from the Northeast reserve is a desperate move by Joe Biden to lower prices that HE raised.”.....

Politico published a report last summer with a memorable headline: “The U.S. is pumping oil faster than ever. Republicans don’t care.” In context, it wasn’t that Republicans were indifferent to increased energy production; it’s that Republicans apparently didn’t care that their rhetoric was demonstrably false.

But even if we put this aside, let’s also note how odd it is to see leading GOP voices complain bitterly about Biden trying to help consumers by keeping prices down. We can, to be sure, discuss whether the administration’s move will have a dramatic impact on prices at the pump — the effects are likely to be modest — but the obvious goal is to increase supply and offer drivers some relief.

For Republicans to see this as “disgusting” and “disgraceful” is bizarre.

TFG needs high gas prices to try to get re-elected
May 24, 2024

Why Harriet Miers' Supreme Court nomination is relevant anew

As Justice Samuel Alito’s public reputation reaches new depths, it's worth remembering that he wasn't George W. Bush's first choice for the position.

But as I read the Vox piece, I was also reminded of a detail that often goes overlooked: When George W. Bush tapped Alito to succeed Sandra Day O’Connor on the high court in 2005, the far-right jurist was the then-president’s second choice.

Bush’s first choice was Harriet Miers.

Her nomination was, by any fair measure, a tough sell given her professional background — which did not resemble a typical Supreme Court nominee in any way. Miers had served as Bush’s personal attorney during his tenure as governor, for example, when she wrote him charming notes, telling him he was “the best governor ever,” who was “cool” and “the greatest.”

Once in the Oval Office, Bush brought Miers with him to the nation’s capital. In 2001, she was named the White House staff secretary. In 2003, Miers was promoted to deputy chief of staff, and in 2004, she became White House counsel. A year later, Bush took the next step and made his former lawyer a Supreme Court nominee......

I covered the story closely at the time, and there was plenty of mockery of Bush and his poor judgment. But on Capitol Hill, the Democratic message went in the opposite direction. NBC News reported the day after Miers’ nomination was announced:

... Bush insisted that “people are going to be amazed at her strength of character and intellect.” But that left open the question: If Miers is a classy, top-of-the-line conservative, then why was Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., beaming in contentment at his press conference Monday when he proclaimed that in nominating her, Bush had rebuffed “the very extreme wing of his party”?

Democrats didn't belittle Bush for choosing an unqualified Supreme Court nominee; Democrats were relieved that Miers wasn't Alito.

The New York Times’ Ezra Klein noted on Threads yesterday, “There’s a reason [then-Senate Minority Leader] Harry Reid tried damn hard to get Harriet Miers on the Court. He thought anyone else Bush would nominate would be worse, and he was right.”

Rolling Stone’s Tim Dickinson added, “Wonder what life would have been like if Harriet Miers joined the court instead of Alito.” I have the same thought all the time.
May 24, 2024

Wanted for crimes committed at the Capitol on January 6. Contact FBI/Sedition Hunters

There is a push on to identify and arrest the terrorists who attacked our country on January 6

May 24, 2024

Voters still aren't buying GOP's line on Trump's hush money trial

To hear leading Republicans tell it, “everybody in the country” agrees with them about Donald Trump's criminal trial. New polling suggests otherwise.

The more Trump’s legal crises have intensified, the more common this refrain in Republican circles: It’s not just GOP partisans who are siding with Trump and rejecting the criminal allegations, it’s “everybody in the country” reaching the same conclusion. This apparently brings the former president and his allies a degree of comfort.

The trouble, of course, is the evidence pointing in the opposite direction. CBS News reported this week on the results of its latest national poll.

As Donald Trump’s trial in New York City nears closing arguments, most Americans believe he is guilty of a crime in this case. But they are less sure what the jury will do after it deliberates next week. Fifty-six percent — a majority — say Trump is definitely or probably guilty of a crime in this case, in which he has been charged with falsifying business records to hide a “hush money” payment and influence the 2016 election.

Not surprisingly, there’s a sizable partisan gap on the question — the vast majority of Democrats believe the former president is guilty, the vast majority of Republicans believe the opposite — but the bottom line remains the same: For all the GOP assumptions about “everybody in the country” siding with Trump in his ongoing trial, the CBS poll found 56% of Americans agreeing that the presumptive Republican nominee is either definitely or probably guilty......

This was roughly consistent with the latest national survey from the Pew Research Center, which found that 45% of Americans believe that Trump’s actions were illegal. Meanwhile, a New York Times/Siena College poll, conducted shortly before the trial began in earnest, asked respondents, “Thinking about the investigations into Donald Trump, do you think that Donald Trump has or has not committed any serious federal crimes?”

A 54% majority said the presumptive GOP nominee committed serious crimes.

In fairness, some recent polling has also shown some public skepticism about the prosecution’s motivations, but that doesn’t change the bottom line: If Trump and his allies believe they’ve convinced the great American mainstream that he’s an innocent man who shouldn’t be on trial, there’s ample evidence to the contrary.
May 24, 2024

Nikki Haley didn't have to back Trump, but she did it anyway

Nikki Haley could've followed Mike Pence's and Mitt Romney's example and withheld her support from Donald Trump. She instead chose a more craven path.

During Nikki Haley’s Republican presidential campaign, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations had some rather undiplomatic things to say about her principal primary rival. Donald Trump has grown "more unstable and unhinged,” she told an audience in February......

Three months later, the South Carolina Republican did exactly what many expected her to do: NBC News reported:

Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley said Wednesday that she’s planning to vote for former President Donald Trump in November, despite her criticism of him during the campaign for the GOP presidential nomination. Haley made her first public appearance since dropping out of the presidential race with a speech on national security and foreign policy at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C.

It was difficult to find the developments shocking. Haley appears to want a future in Republican politics; Trump is the dominant figure in her party; so it stood to reason that she throw her support behind the GOP’s presumptive nominee.

But let’s not lose sight of the fact that Haley had a principled path. She simply chose not to take it.

Plenty of prominent Republican voices with national profiles — former Rep. Liz Cheney, former Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Mitt Romney, et al. — have said they won’t support Trump’s 2024 candidacy. Mike Pence served as Trump’s vice president for four years, and he publicly declared that he won’t vote for his party’s presumptive nominee, either.

Others in the party, such as former White House National Security Advisor John Bolton and former House Speaker Paul Ryan, have said they’ll write in the name of a different Republican on their 2024 ballot.

May 24, 2024

Tuberville picks a fight over unemployment that the GOP can't win

Sen. Tommy Tuberville wants people to believe the unemployment rate was better during Donald Trump's term than Joe Biden's. That’s demonstrably ridiculous.

Sen. Tommy Tuberville appeared on Fox Business yesterday morning and continued to express great confidence in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. But part of the Alabama Republican’s pitch could use some work:

You know, the unemployment rates of all people in the country were very, very low under Donald Trump, but not under this president. Everybody is looking for a way to get a job.”

He didn’t appear to be kidding.
Look, no administration is perfect, and there are plenty of legitimate criticisms for President Joe Biden’s detractors to present to the public.

But as anyone with a passing familiarity with current events really ought to know, this isn’t one of them. Indeed, it’s not a matter of opinion; it’s a matter of reality......

In fact, in April 2023, the jobless rate fell all the way to 3.4% — a level unseen in the United States since before the Moon landing. What’s more, the unemployment rate has now been below 4% for 27 consecutive months — a streak also unseen since the 1960s.

If Tuberville wants to have a debate about how and why we’re seeing these numbers, that’s fine. If he wants to discuss who deserves credit for encouraging economic data, we can do that, too.

But to argue — out loud and on national television — that the unemployment rate isn’t low under Biden, and that it was actually better under Trump, is demonstrably ridiculous
May 24, 2024

State-level Republican officials continue to reward fake electors

At the state level, Republican officials continue to appear quite comfortable extending rewards to those who were caught serving as fake electors in 2020.

At first blush, it might seem wholly unremarkable that Republican officials in Wisconsin met over the weekend and chose new members to represent the Badger State on the Republican National Committee. But as it turns out, there was a larger significance to one of the selections. WisPolitics reported:

Party activists at the state GOP convention [on Saturday] elected Waukesha County GOP Chair Terry Dittrich and Pam Travis ... to fill two of Wisconsin’s three slots on the Republican National Committee.

Soon after, the Wisconsin Republican Party congratulated Travis on the new gig.And who, exactly, is Pam Travis? I’m glad you asked.

After Donald Trump’s defeat in 2020, Republicans in several states created forged election materials, pretending to be “duly elected and qualified electors,” and sent the documents to, among others, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. Archivist, as if the fake materials were legitimate. They were not......

The Arizona Republic’s Laurie Roberts soon after summarized in a column: “The Arizona Republican Party on Saturday sent a flat out, full-throated, flabbergasting message to the voters of this great state. We be crazy, they proclaimed.”

Two weeks later, several indicted fake electors in Nevada were elected to serve as delegates to the Republican National Convention — and two of them were nominated to be among the party’s presidential electors for Nevada.

To be sure, Wisconsin’s Travis hasn't been indicted, but the larger pattern is nevertheless striking: At the state level, GOP officials appear quite comfortable extending rewards to those who were caught serving as fake electors.
May 24, 2024

For the GOP's Andy Ogles, latest false claims add to his troubles

It’d be an exaggeration to say Rep. Andy Ogles’ many false claims have reached George-Santos-like levels, but the Tennessee Republican is getting there.

Last fall, WTVF, the CBS affiliate in Nashville, reported that Ogles’ finance reports showed that he’d made a $320,000 personal loan to his campaign. That was difficult to believe, since the congressman’s financial disclosures suggested he didn’t have $320,000.

As the local outlet reported this week, Ogles has now effectively conceded that his earlier claims weren’t true.

Tennessee Congressman Andy Ogles filed 11 amendments to his campaign finance reports Wednesday, acknowledging that his claims for the last two years to have loaned $320,000 to his campaign were not true. ... On the 11 amendments filed Wednesday with the Federal Election Commission, revising reports dating back to April 2022, Ogles says that he actually loaned his campaign $20,000, instead of the $320,000 that he had previously claimed.

Where the rest of the money came from, at least for now, remains unclear.

Time will tell what, if anything, congressional ethics investigators have to say about this, but the larger problem for Ogles is his pattern of deceptions. For those who might benefit from a refresher, let’s revisit our earlier coverage and review how we arrived at this point.

It was a couple of years ago when the freshman congressman first faced allegations that he’d wildly inflated his résumé. WTVF uncovered quite a few instances in which the Tennessee Republican falsely described himself as an economist, falsely boasted about his law enforcement career, and even exaggerated his work at a nonprofit organization......

In case that weren’t quite enough, Ogles used a photo of his stillborn baby to raise money for a project he referred to at the time as “Lincoln’s Place.” The Republican ended up collecting tens of thousands of dollars meant for a children’s burial garden, but by all accounts, it was never built, and as WTVF reported, “Ogles has refused to provide evidence of what he did with the money.”

It’s against this backdrop that the GOP congressman claimed he made a $320,000 personal loan to his campaign, and Ogles’ latest paperwork makes clear that this claim wasn’t true, either.

To date, congressional Republican leaders haven’t commented on or expressed any concerns about Ogles’ unfortunate record.
May 24, 2024

Why Trump's appalling line on Evan Gershkovich's detention matters

Donald Trump was silent for a year about Evan Gershkovich’s detainment. It now appears the former president would’ve been better off staying silent.

In March 2023, Russian security forces detained Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich and falsely accused the journalist of espionage. It was the first such arrest of American journalist in Russia since the latter days of the Cold War......

In the same interview, however, the former president declared, in reference to Gershkovich, “I’ll get him released. He’ll be released. Putin is going to release him.”

Yesterday, at 1:30 a.m. eastern, Trump shed additional light on the subject with a curious message published to his social media platform.

Evan Gershkovich, the Reporter from The Wall Street Journal, who is being held by Russia, will be released almost immediately after the Election, but definitely before I assume Office. He will be HOME, SAFE, AND WITH HIS FAMILY. Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, will do that for me, but not for anyone else, and WE WILL BE PAYING NOTHING!

This sparked a considerable amount of speculation as to what in the world Trump was getting at. So far, he hasn’t elaborated, and the subject didn’t come up during the former president’s rally in New York.

But there are basically three possibilities here.

1. Trump was guessing at what Putin is thinking. Perhaps the Republican was merely speculating about future events, effectively guessing in a chest-thumping sort of way. If this interpretation is correct, Trump doesn’t know that Gershkovich will be released sometime between early November and mid-January, but the former president expects that based on his assumptions about Putin and the Russian leader’s eagerness to make him happy.

2. Trump has secret insights into what Putin is thinking. In both the Time magazine interview and his online message, Trump appeared to speak with great confidence about what, exactly, Putin would do in the coming months. Note the declarative sentences about future events: “Putin is going to release him,” and the Russian autocrat “will do that for me.” It raises the unsettling possibility that the presumptive Republican nominee has direct insights into Putin’s plans, and Trump is simply passing along his benefactor’s intentions.

3. Trump was sending a message to Putin. Maybe Trump wasn’t guessing, and perhaps he has no insights into Moscow’s plans, but it’s possible that the Republican was instead trying to let Putin know about his own preferences......

Hanging overhead is a question the former president probably won’t answer: If Trump has unique influence with Putin, and the Russian leader is prepared to release Gershkovich as a favor to the Republican, why doesn’t Trump use that power now and help bring the reporter home immediately?

The presumptive GOP nominee could claim credit, spend the next several months bragging about the feat, and bask in the pre-election praise. So why not pick up the phone and use his leverage now?
May 24, 2024

Second flag takes Justice Alito's mess to a striking new level

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito didn’t need another damaging revelation, but he’s now confronting one anyway. Is Congress prepared to do something?

By any fair measure, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito was already one of the nation’s most controversial jurists, having earned a reputation as the high court’s most reflexively partisan ideologue. But the past week has taken questions about the far-right justice to a striking new level......

The justice didn’t need another damaging revelation, but he’s now confronting one anyway. The Times reported on a new flag controversy, this time related to his vacation house in New Jersey.

This time, it was the “Appeal to Heaven” flag, which, like the inverted U.S. flag, was carried by rioters at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Also known as the Pine Tree flag, it dates back to the Revolutionary War, but largely fell into obscurity until recent years and is now a symbol of support for former President Donald J. Trump, for a religious strand of the “Stop the Steal” campaign and for a push to remake American government in Christian terms.

According to the Times’ account, which has not been independently verified by MSNBC or NBC News, there’s considerable photographic evidence that the “Appeal to Heaven” flag flew at the Alito home in the summer of 2023 — around the time the Supreme Court was considering whether Jan. 6 rioters could be prosecuted for obstruction......

Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee, for example, has introduced a censure resolution targeting Alito, and dozens of other House Democrats have written to the justice, pressing him to recuse himself from Jan. 6–related cases.

As of a couple of days ago, Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told reporters that he wasn’t prepared to hold a hearing on Alito’s controversies, but (a) that was before the Times’ latest reporting, and (b) Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he and Durbin were still “discussing” possible next steps.

My MSNBC colleague Jordan Rubin made a persuasive case the other day that Alito, indifferent to appearances, will almost certainly ignore the calls from congressional Democrats, though I suspect those calls are poised to get quite a bit louder.

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