February 29, 2024

To subscribe to this FREE weekly newsletter simply email jellison@san.rr.com with “subscribe” as the subject.

LITIGATION TRACKER ... Trump Trials Clearinghouse



"I got indicted a second time and a third time and a fourth time, and a lot of people said that that’s why the Black people like me, because they have been hurt so badly and discriminated against, and they actually viewed me as I’m being discriminated against. I’m being indicted for you, the American people. I’m being indicted for you, the Black population. I am being indicted for a lot of different groups by sick people, these are sick, sick people" — Trump in a speech at the Black Conservative Federation's annual gala, at which he received the "Champion of Black America" award. https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/donald-trump/trump-black-people-discriminated-legal-system-rcna140305--

“There’s no question this (he House GOP’s Biden’s impeachment effort) is dead. To the extent that they continue to push forward with it, they are now doing it with a knowing asset of Russian intelligence. It is one thing to lead an investigation where you fail to find evidence to support unfounded conclusions. It is altogether something else when you are acting as an agent of Vladimir Putin.” — Rep. Dan Goldman (D-NY). https://time.com/6767653/biden-impeachment-fbi-informant-russia/

“It won’t be his party forever. Right? It just won’t. At some point, Donald Trump won’t be here forever. Let me put it a different way: Assholes come and go. But America is here to stay.” — Gov. Chris Sununu (R). https://www.politico.com/news/2024/02/22/trump-sununu-republican-party-00142635

“Welcome to the end of democracy. We are here to overthrow it completely. We didn’t get all the way there on Jan. 6, but we will endeavor to get rid of it.” — Conservative activist Jack Posobiec, to cheers, at CPAC: https://www.threads.net/@accountablegop/post/C3qf6bix2Km/

“We’re the one that forced this war, because we kept forcing NATO on Ukraine and showing Russia, hey, we’re going to build military bases on your borders. And Putin said, no, no, you’re not going to do that. A show of strength and if you are going to help, Joe Biden wouldn’t do it, obviously, allowing them to come in. — Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL). https://www.threads.net/@bidenharrishq/post/C3qBsBfv4ju/

“We’re going to take over Washington, D.C. We’re going to federalize… We’re going to have very powerful crime.” — Donald Trump on Fox News: https://twitter.com/Acyn/status/1760467743260758470

“Remember, every communist regime throughout history has tried to stamp out the churches, just like every fascist regime has tried to co-opt them and control them. And, in America, the radical left is trying to do both. They want to tear down crosses where they can, and cover them up with social justice flags. But no one will be touching the cross of Christ under the Trump administration, I swear to you.” — Donald Trump promising to use a 2nd term in the White House to defend Christian values, even suggesting he’d shield the faith’s central iconography. https://apnews.com/article/trump-2024-campaign-religious-broadcasters-convention-7f73f4b27451b514ae7d22093b20d40d


"The way they're walking away from the threat of Russia, the way they're walking away from NATO, the way they're walking away from meeting our obligations, it's just shocking. I’ve been here a while. I've never seen anything like this.” — President Biden about House Republicans. https://www.cbsnews.com/colorado/news/white-house-criticizes-house-republicans-ukraine-aid/

"House Republicans are on an early, undeserved vacation while their inaction does escalating damage to our national security. Russia just saw its most significant gains in Ukraine in nearly a year because Ukraine is running low on supplies and Congress has failed to pass critically needed support. We must stop Putin from continuing to murder innocent women and children while threatening our own national security.” — White House Communications Director Ben LaBolt. https://www.cbsnews.com/colorado/news/white-house-criticizes-house-republicans-ukraine-aid/


“This is the path that they’ve chosen to take, and honestly I’m surprised that they have this high of a threshold for humiliation. Every witness they have called has decimated their argument.” — Fox News anchor Jessica Tarlov mocking House Republicans for their pursuit of impeachment charges against President Biden. https://thehill.com/homenews/media/4481267-fox-news-host-surprised-gop-threshold-humiliation-biden-probe/

“I just thought it was horrendous when a former president could not have condolences to a family that lost a 47 year old husband, a father and a son in a country that basically just eliminates their opposition. And when former President Trump couldn’t even say ‘my heart goes out to the Navalny family’ It’s wrong. There’s nothing right about this. But he keeps very silent and doesn’t say a word. It seems like he kind of admires the people that operate and govern that way, such as Putin. It scares the bejesus out of me.” — Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), explaining why he won’t ever vote for Donald Trump. https://www.npr.org/2024/02/22/1233089937/joe-manchin-third-party-trump-biden


“I’ve watched over the years as politicians get indicted. And they start by going to a microphone about two minutes after that. ‘Ladies and gentlemen, I will be resigning from office today. I will be home go home with my family, my friends, and I will fight for my name.’ Well, that’s the last you ever hear from that poor guy. And with me we have a big voice we have — you can see by this crowd.” — Donald Trump, boasting that he will never resign in the wake of scandal. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/donald-trump-cpac-speech-indictments-b2502204.html

“Netanyahu’s plan for the day after is that there is no plan for the day after. Under Netanyahu, Israelis and Palestinians are destined, like in the movie ‘Groundhog Day,’ to wake up yesterday morning. He wants what he always wanted: to manage the conflict without ever solving it.” —  Haaretz’s Noa Landau. https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/2024-02-25/ty-article-opinion/.premium/netanyahus-day-after-for-gaza-would-be-just-like-the-day-before/0000018d-dc40-d74b-addf-df73565f0000

“I did not involve my father in my business. Not while I was a practicing lawyer, not in my investments or transactions domestic or international, not as a board member, and not as an artist. Never.” — Hunter Biden testifying before the House Judiciary Committee and House Oversight Committee. https://www.axios.com/2024/02/28/hunter-biden-testimony-deposition-congress

Trump campaign staff trashes Governor Ron DeSantis:

“Ron DeSantis failed miserably in his presidential campaign and does not have a voice in selecting the next Vice President of the United States.” — Trump press secretary Karoline Leavitt. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2024/02/22/donald-trumps-campaign-ron-desantis-veep-discussion/72695601007/

“Chicken fingers and pudding cups is what you will be remembered for you sad little man.” — GOP Political Strategist Chris LaCivita on X: https://twitter.com/LaCivitaC/status/1760440085839802489
“We looked past Ron’s half-hearted endorsement and the bullshit trip to South Carolina to try to stay relevant, but if his popping off continues, Thor’s hammer will return.” — Trump adviser Jason Millerhttps://twitter.com/JasonMillerinDC/status/1760652670497390799

“Ron tucked his tail between his legs and he should have scurried off into the shadows of obscurity. Now that he’s dipped his high-heeled toes back in the water, he might just find out our shovel can dig a lot deeper.” — Trump spokesman Steven Cheung. https://twitter.com/TheStevenCheung/status/1760479953273934296


“Get the f*ck off the Supreme Court!” — John Oliver offers Clarence Thomas a luxury motor coach, and $1 million a year, to resign from the Supreme Court. https://twitter.com/MikeSington/status/1759560551590760667

“Well, I’m not going to support a convicted felon. And of course that remains to be seen. So let’s see who comes out of the Republican convention. It’s not done until it’s done. I think what Donald Trump is trying to do is to wrap this nomination up very quickly because he knows the storm clouds are gathering over him with the multiple court cases, with the financial judgments against him, and with 40% of the Republican base saying we want an alternative. And so, let’s wait and see who comes out of the convention. I’m not going to support a convicted felon.” — Former Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R). https://twitter.com/weekendcapehart/status/1761901114239156566

“Please put Lara Trump over there. Please steal every dollar you can get. Every one of these Republican state parties — Michigan, Arizona, all over the country — are falling apart, fighting with each other, underfunded.” — James Carville, endorsing Lara Trump’s bid to become co-chair of the RNC. https://twitter.com/InsideWithPsaki/status/1762293529559105793

“My grandfather always had hundreds of millions of dollars to prop him up. We know that when after my grandfather died, Donald sold the Empire lock stock and barrel at a loss of approximately $300 million… There’s nobody else left to hand Donald a blank check anymore, and that’s what keeps him up at night because he’s terrified of having the truth about him being known.” — Mary Trump about her uncle, Donald Trump. https://twitter.com/MSNBCPR/status/1760875048565420046

Jon Stewart Takes on ‘Something Light’: Israel and Gaza: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K2zbN3AuHG8&t=2s

“A cynical sick political stunt and beyond disgraceful.”— Sean Hannity slamming President Biden on Fox News for visiting the southern border and then, without missing a beat, plugged his upcoming show from the border with Donald Trump. https://twitter.com/Acyn/status/1762668150116491513

Donald Trump, interviewed by Laura Ingraham on Fox News:
INGRAHAM: Does this mean you are not going to defend NATO countries if they haven’t paid their 2-point whatever percent?
TRUMP: Yeah, sort of, it does (audience applauds). https://twitter.com/Acyn/status/1760464070275182823
‘Democrats support the murder of babies after birth .. there is legislation in some states giving you the right to do that.’ — Trump, making this bizarre claim to the National Religious Broadcasters. https://twitter.com/atrupar/status/1760880346378231917

Donald Trump, interviewed by Bret Baier on Fox News:
BAIER: What do you say to that female independent suburban voter who feels that way to win her back?
TRUMP: First of all, I won in 2020 by a lot. Let’s get that straight. If you look at all the tapes… When you have people stuffing the ballot boxes on tape…  https://twitter.com/RpsAgainstTrump/status/1761790337612177863





Russia’s 2024 election interference has already begun

Russia is already spreading disinformation in advance of the 2024 election, using fake online accounts and bots to damage President Joe Biden and his fellow Democrats.

The dissemination of attacks on Biden is part of a continuing effort by Moscow to undercut American military aid to Ukraine and U.S. support for and solidarity with NATO.

Moscow and its proxies have long sought to exploit divisions in American society. But experts and former U.S. officials said Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen, the country's deepening political polarization and sharp cuts in disinformation and election integrity teams at X and other platforms provide fertile ground to spread confusion, division and chaos.

In the U.S., though, Russia’s propaganda themes are now often echoed in comments from some Republican lawmakers and pro-Trump commentators, including the portrayal of Ukraine’s government as deeply corrupt.

The adoption of Russian state rhetoric in America’s political debate is a victory for Moscow, experts said. Putin’s goal is to spread doubt and division among Americans.

“An equally nice outcome for them is just what we had last time, where a third of the country doesn’t believe the vote,” Schafer said. “Democracy is questioned; the system gets questioned. So they don’t necessarily need to see their guy win to have it be a good outcome for them.” https://www.nbcnews.com/investigations/russias-2024-election-\interference-already-begun-rcna134204


Senator calls LGBTQ+ people 'filth,' says most don't want them here

Oklahoma state Sen. Tom Woods (R) said during a public forum that LGBTQ+ people are “filth,” and that he and his constituents don’t want them in “our state.”

The comments came after the death of 16-year-old Nex Benedict, who used the pronouns “they/them” and who recently died a day after being beaten in a school bathroom.  https://www.tahlequahdailypress.com/news/senator-calls-lgbtq-people-filth-says-most-dont-want-them-here/article_c8979398-d260-11ee-9823-973bf20c3730.html

Video at https://twitter.com/AriDrennen/status/1761224802222928188

Trump’s plan to use Judge Cannon to block Judge Chutkan and avoid trial

Donald Trump’s lawyers see a major opportunity this week to use his criminal document mishandling case in Florida to create an impasse on his calendar for the two federal judges overseeing his major criminal cases.

Juggling his campaign and court calendar and playing his cases off one another is a key part of Trump’s legal strategy. The ultimate goal, his team has said openly, is to prevent Trump from being tried in federal court before voters cast their ballots in the 2024 general election.”

A primary aim for Trump’s legal team, according to people familiar with the strategy, is to put the judge in DC overseeing the 2020 federal election obstruction case, Tanya Chutkan, in a position where she can’t start a trial before Election Day. https://www.cnn.com/2024/02/26/politics/trump-judge-cannon-chutkan-trial-plan/index.html

GOP bill would make it easier for AZ ranchers to shoot and kill border-crossers on their property

Arizona Republicans want to let ranchers in southern Arizona legally shoot and kill undocumented immigrants who cross their land..

A bill moving through the state House of Representatives would make changes to the state’s existing ‘Castle Doctrine’ law, which permits Arizonans to use deadly force against people who are trespassing or breaking into their home. https://azmirror.com/2024/02/23/republican-bill-would-let-az-ranchers-shoot-and-kill-border-crossers-on-their-property/

Gavin Newsom Faces Another Recall Attempt

Conservative activists are launching another attempt to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom, seeking to capitalize on anger over the state’s yawning budget deficit and arguing that the top White House surrogate must be stopped before he can make a presidential run of his own. https://www.politico.com/news/2024/02/26/newsom-recall-budget-2024-00143252

Air Force member dies after setting himself on fire outside Israeli Embassy

An active-duty Air Force member who set himself on fire in front of the Israeli embassy in Washington in an act of protest against the war in Gaza on Sunday died from his injuries, an Air Force spokesperson said Monday. https://www.politico.com/news/2024/02/26/air-force-member-fire-death-israeli-embassy-00143269

Republican Opposition to Birth Control Bill Could Alienate Voters

One month after the Supreme Court struck down the right to an abortion, Democrats who then controlled the House pushed through a bill aimed to ensure access to contraception nationwide. All but eight Republicans opposed it.

That vote two years ago, opposing legislation that would protect the right to purchase and use contraception without government restriction, may come back to haunt Republicans in November, as they seek to keep hold of their slim majority at a time when real fears about reproductive rights threaten to drive voters away from them.

A new national poll… found that most voters across the political spectrum believe their access to birth control is actively at risk, and that 80 percent of voters said that protecting access to contraception was ‘deeply important’ to them. Even among Republican voters, 72 percent said they had a favorable view of birth control. https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/26/us/politics/republicans-birth-control-ivf.html

Ignoring Warnings, G.O.P. Trumpeted Now-Discredited Allegation Against Biden

At the center of the Republican’s case was the unsubstantiated accusation that Mr. Biden had taken a $5 million bribe from the executive of a Ukrainian energy company, Burisma.

But what neither Mr. Grassley nor any of the other Republicans who amplified the claims said in their breathless statements was that FBI officials had warned them repeatedly to be cautious about the accusation, because it was uncorroborated and its credibility unknown.

All that the form proved, federal law enforcement officials explained, was that a confidential source had said something, and they had written it down. And now federal prosecutors say the claim was made up. https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/23/us/politics/gop-smirnov-allegation-biden.html

125 House Republicans — including Speaker Mike Johnson — back a 'life at conception' bill without any IVF exception

Most House Republicans have cosponsored a bill declaring that life begins from the moment of conception, a position under increased scrutiny after the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos are ‘unborn children.

This Congress, 125 House Republicans — including Speaker Mike Johnson — have cosponsored the ‘Life at Conception Act,’ which states that the term ‘human being’ includes ‘all stages of life, including the moment of fertilization, cloning, or other moment at which an individual member of the human species comes into being.’ https://www.businessinsider.com/house-republicans-life-at-conception-ivf-exception-2024-2

The RNC Has a Money Problem. Republicans Fear Lara Trump Will Make It Worse

The Republican National Committee’s new leadership isn’t official yet — but Donald Trump’s daughter-in-law and handpicked choice to help lead the Republican National Committee, Lara Trump’s vision for the party to pay Trump's legal bills, is already raising serious unease that the GOP’s coffers could be drained for Donald Trump’s legal fees.

Said former RNC communications director Doug Heye: There is a lot of concern — from donors, state parties and campaigns that important funding could be sucked away by Trump’s mounting legal bills and that there’s nothing they can do about it. https://www.notus.org/republicans/rnc-trump-legal-fees-lara-trump

GOP backs voting by mail, yet turns to courts to restrict it in battleground states

Fearing that Democrats hold a crucial edge in ballots cast before Election Day, national Republicans are working to convince their voters to take advantage of mail and early voting this year.

“We can’t play catch up. We can’t start from behind. We can’t let Dems get a big head start and think we’re going to win it all on Election Day,” Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel said in November on a conference call aimed at promoting the group’s Bank Your Vote initiative to encourage early and mail voting. “Things happen on Election Day."

But the party’s army of lawyers is, more quietly, sending a very different message. The RNC is fighting in courtrooms and legal filings in key election battlegrounds across the country to make it harder to cast a mail ballot and to have it counted. https://iowacapitaldispatch.com/2024/02/23/gop-backs-voting-by-mail-yet-turns-to-courts-to-restrict-it-in-battleground-states/

An ectopic pregnancy put her life at risk. A Texas hospital refused to treat her

A 25-year-old Texas woman’s life was put in grave danger when doctors refused to treat her ectopic pregnancy, fearing criminal charges in a state that has banned abortion. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2024/02/23/texas-woman-ectopic-pregnancy-abortion/

Democrats Move Discharge Petition for Ukraine Aid

Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, the top-ranking Democrat on the House Rules Committee, quietly filed a resolution on Feb. 15 for consideration of a bill to advance responsible policies—a possible vehicle to force a vote on Ukraine aid.

The McGovern resolution started the clock on the ability to gather signatures on a new discharge petition to force a vote on the bipartisan, Senate-passed foreign-aid package if Johnson continues to refuse to put it on the floor for an up-or-down vote.

A discharge petition requires the signatures of 218 House members, regardless of party—a majority—to dislodge a bill from committee and move it to the floor for a vote, circumventing House leadership.

Rep. Mike McCaul (R-TX), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee has referred to the petition as a nuclear option and stressed that it would be used only as a last resort. But at least four other Republicans told The Wall Street Journal last week that they wouldn’t rule out signing a petition to pass Ukraine aid, and hawkish GOP aides and lawmakers on Capitol Hill privately believe it might ultimately be necessary. https://www.wsj.com/politics/policy/with-ukraine-aid-stuck-in-congress-supporters-push-fallback-plans-82f0c06f

Inside the GOP’s State Party Problem

State Republican parties in roughly half of the most important battleground states are awash in various degrees of dysfunction, debt and disarray.

In Arizona, the chairman of the state’s Republican Party recently resigned after a leaked tape surfaced in which he appeared to offer a bribe to persuade a candidate to stay out of a Senate race.

In Georgia, the state party’s treasury has shrunk by more than 75 percent as it has spent more than $1.3 million on legal fees since 2023, largely to defend fake electors facing criminal charges, including the former party chairman. And in Nevada, the party chairman is himself under indictment for his role as a fake elector in the 2020 election.

With former President Donald Trump tightening his grip on the Republican presidential nomination, the widespread problems have caused deepening concern among top Republican officials. There is no one explanation for the disparate party struggles in the swing states that matter most for the presidency. But across the map, state parties have become combat zones for the broader struggles inside the GOP between the party’s old guard and its ascendant Trump wing, with rifts that can prove divisive and costly. https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/22/us/politics/gop-state-party-dysfunction.html

Marjorie Taylor Greene says Judge Engoron ‘should be disrobed’

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) went after New York Judge Arthur Engoron, demanding he be disrobed for his $355 million business fraud verdict against Donald Trump last week. https://thehill.com/regulation/court-battles/4484097-greene-trump-judge-engoron-disrobed/

New York AG says she’ll seize Donald Trump’s property if he can’t pay $454 million civil fraud debt

Donald Trump could be at risk of losing some of his prized properties if he can’t pay his staggering New York civil fraud penalty. With interest, he owes the state nearly $454 million — and the amount is going up $87,502 each day until he pays.

New York Attorney General Letitia James told ABC News on Tuesday that she will seek to seize some of the former president’s assets if he’s unable to cover the bill from Judge Arthur Engoron’s Feb. 16 ruling.

Engoron concluded that Trump lied for years about his wealth as he built the real estate empire that vaulted him to stardom and the White House. Trump denies wrongdoing and has vowed to appeal. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/donald-trump-ap-arthur-engoron-letitia-james-trump-b2500399.html

Democratic operative admits to commissioning fake Biden robocall that used AI

Steve Kramer, a veteran political consultant working for a rival candidate, acknowledged Sunday that he commissioned the robocall impersonating President Joe Biden with artificial intelligence.

Kramer claimed he planned the fake robocall from the start as an act of civil disobedience to call attention to the dangers of AI in politics. He compared himself to American Revolutionary heroes Paul Revere and Thomas Paine. He said more enforcement is necessary to stop people like him from doing what he did. https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2024-election/democratic-operative-admits-commissioning-fake-biden-robocall-used-ai-rcna140402

Justice Who Ruled That Embryos Are ‘Children’ Appeared On QAnon Conspiracist's Show

Alabama Chief Justice Tom Parker, who wrote the concurring opinion in last week’s explosive Alabama Supreme Court ruling that frozen embryos have the same rights as living children, recently appeared on a show hosted by self-anointed ‘prophet’ and QAnon conspiracy theorist.

Over the course of an 11-minute interview, Parker articulated a theocratic worldview at odds with a functioning, pluralistic society.

God created government, he declared, adding that it’s heartbreaking that we have let it go into the possession of others. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/tom-parker-alabama-ivf-embryo_n_65d7ea34e4b0cc1f2f7b3e26


My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell must pay $5 million to election data debunker, federal judge confirms

My Pillow owner and right-wing conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell will have to pay $5 million because of a contest he initiated at one of his cyber symposium events after the 2020 election, a federal judge confirmed Wednesday.

Robert Zeidman, a software developer, took Lindell up on a so-called Prove Mike Wrong challenge at an event the election-denier hosted. Participants in the challenge could win $5 million if they proved data Lindell provided about the 2020 election wasn’t real election data, according to rules the participants agreed to. The contest allowed participants to arbitrate if needed.

Zeidman responded in the challenge with a 15-page report saying that the data Lindell put forth wasn’t complete or representative of possible data that had been captured in real time from the internet, according to a federal court decision Wednesday.

The data was just so obviously bogus, Zeidman previously told CNN. It surprised me. https://www.cnn.com/2024/02/21/politics/mike-lindell-lawsuit-payment/

Wisconsin ethics commission refers Trump fundraising arm for prosecution

Bipartisan ethics regulators in Wisconsin have recommended felony charges against one of Donald Trump’s fundraising arms and other Republicans in a scheme that they say was meant to circumvent campaign finance laws to take out a powerful GOP lawmaker who has turned against Trump.

The prosecution referrals became public Friday and add to the legal troubles of the former president, who is already facing 91 charges in four cases in other jurisdictions. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2024/02/23/wisconsin-ethics-trump-fundraising-charges/

Dems turn to Gov. Wes Moore to weaken Larry Hogan’s surprise Senate bid

Democrats plan to use Maryland Gov. Wes Moore as a first line of attack against Larry Hogan, the state's former Republican governor who is now running for the open Maryland U.S. Senate seat. https://www.axios.com/2024/02/22/maryland-senate-wes-moore-larry-hogan-abortion

Ken Paxton Accuses Biden of Working with Drug Cartels

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton accused the Biden administration of conspiring with drug cartels to create the problems at the southern border.

Said Paxton: “The very first day Joe Biden came into office, he announced there would be no more deportations… Why would he announce that?” Paxton asked Saturday night. “He was sending a signal to the cartels to get these people here as fast as they can. He was running logistics for the cartels.” https://www.sltrib.com/news/politics/2024/02/25/dont-let-utah-become-california/

Nazis mingle openly at CPAC, spreading antisemitic conspiracy theories and finding allies

Nazis appeared to find a friendly reception at the Conservative Political Action Conference this year.

Throughout the conference, racist extremists, some of whom had secured official CPAC badges, openly mingled with conference attendees and espoused antisemitic conspiracy theories.

The presence of these individuals has been a persistent issue at CPAC. In previous years, conference organizers have ejected well-known Nazis and white supremacists such as Nick Fuentes.

But this year, racist conspiracy theorists didn’t meet any perceptible resistance at the conference where Donald Trump has been the keynote speaker since 2017. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/nazis-mingle-openly-cpac-spreading-antisemitic-conspiracy-theories-fin-rcna140335

The economy is roaring. Immigration is a key reason.

Immigration has propelled the U.S. job market further than just about anyone expected, helping cement the country’s economic rebound from the pandemic as the most robust in the world.

That momentum picked up aggressively over the past year. About 50 percent of the labor market’s extraordinary recent growth came from foreign-born workers between January 2023 and January 2024, according to an Economic Policy Institute analysis of federal data. And even before that, by the middle of 2022, the foreign-born labor force had grown so fast that it closed the labor force gap created by the pandemic, according to research from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2024/02/27/economy-immigration-border-biden/

Measles cases continue growing in Florida

More children have come down with measles in Florida after the state's surgeon general defied federal guidelines by not urging parents to vaccinate their children against the highly contagious virus or to keep unvaccinated students at home.

Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo's stand is an escalation of how conservative officials are flouting public health norms as measles cases surge worldwide, with 15 states reporting cases this year. https://www.axios.com/2024/02/26/measles-florida-surgeon-general



Dark Trump at CPAC: "Biden's fast track to hell"
Former President Trump, in a speech to conservatives on Saturday afternoon painted a dark, distorted picture of an America ravaged by crime, violence, bloodshed, chaos and tyranny, sermonizing a vision of himself as "The One, the savior."
"Four years ago," Trump says in prepared remarks, "I told you that if Crooked Joe Biden got to the White House, our borders would be abolished, our middle class would be decimated, and our communities would be plagued by bloodshed, chaos and violent crime. As the saying goes: Trump was right about everything."

"Crooked Joe and his henchmen have you trapped on an express train barreling toward ruin and servitude," Trump continues. "A vote for Trump is your ticket back to freedom. It's your passport out of tyranny. And it's your only escape from Joe Biden's fast track to hell."

"Our country is having its guts ripped out by Chinese espionage — yet meanwhile, our national security class is obsessed with surveilling, censoring, manipulating, and controlling law-abiding citizens," Trump declares in another passage. "These agencies are supposed to be protecting us from Communist China — not turning us into Communist China.” https://www.axios.com/2024/02/24/trump-cpac-speech-excerpt


Violent crime has decreased under Biden, according to FBI figures, and the U.S. economy grew faster than any rival developed country last year, by a wide margin, and is on track to do so again this year.

Tom Nichols: Trump Delivers Another Autocratic Tirade

The former president of the United States went off on an autocratic soliloquy at CPAC this weekend—happily ditching his teleprompter for some of it—to a group that included self-identified Nazis. He again warned that he was the singular figure, the “last chance” standing between ordinary citizens and that “bloodshed, chaos, and violent crime” that he claims has now arrived at the hands of roving gangs of terrorists and criminals. At the ballot box, he said, “they” will get a “reckoning, like they haven’t even imagined before. We’re gonna straighten out our country,” he said.

Who is “they”? you might wonder. “They” are the people, it seems, who do not support Donald Trump, the fellow American citizens who are in his eyes “vermin” and whom he referred to at CPAC as “thugs and tyrants and fascists, scoundrels, and rogues.” Meanwhile, he decried the incarceration of the “hostages” who are serving time for the January 6 insurrection, claiming that “there’s never been in the history of our country a group of people treated the way they’ve been treated.”

Every dictator needs a loyal corpus of people willing to do violence on his behalf, and Trump seems to think he has such brigades, biding their time and stewing in federal prisons, merely awaiting his return. He may well be right. For now, however, too many Americans seem oddly disconnected from these and other authoritarian plans Trump continues to share so openly and candidly. https://www.theatlantic.com/newsletters/archive/2024/02/trump-cpac-speech-autocratic/677577/

Ruth Ben-Ghiat: Trump's Holiness Rises as His Corruption is Revealed, in the Best Authoritarian Tradition

How could anyone believe former president Donald Trump's claim that he, of all people, was chosen by God to lead America? It's a logical question to ask of a man whose voluminous and multi-faceted criminal behavior is hard to keep up with. Many criminals specialize: think of white-collar criminals dedicated to insider trading or Ponzi schemes. Not Trump. His charges, indictments, convictions, and settlements for fraud, serial sexual assault and rape, election interference, retention of national defense information, falsifying business records, inciting insurrection and more span the personal, business, and political realms.

Add in Trump's total lack of empathy and his use-and-discard attitude toward humanity (his request that Iowans caucus even if ill, adding "even if you vote and pass away, it's worth it," is just the most recent example) and Trump might not seem the most obvious individual to be anointed in this fashion.

That's why political enablers with connections to faith communities have long been tasked with proclaiming his sanctity, especially when his corruption is in the news. The more Trump’s crimes come to light, and justice moves to hold him accountable, the more he must be elevated as a being who is in some fashion not bound by the laws of ordinary men.

“I think God calls all of us to fill different roles at different times and I think that he wanted Donald Trump to become President,” said former White House Press Secretary and noted Christian Sarah Huckabee Sanders in Jan. 2019, as special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election came to a close. In 2023, in reward for her good works, Sanders was in turn called to fill the role of Arkansas governor, with Trump's benediction.

For those familiar with authoritarian history, it is no wonder that the talking point of Trump's holiness has become prominent as more of his malfeasance and illegal behavior has been made public. Nor is it surprising that Trump would share a depiction of himself as Jesus-adjacent during his Oct. 2023 civil fraud trial. The image implies that Jesus is with him on his righteous path and that, even in court, Trump thinks holy thoughts. https://lucid.substack.com/p/trumps-holiness-rises-as-his-corruption

Chauncey DeVega: Dr. John Gartner on a tale of two brains: "Biden's brain is aging. Trump's brain is dementing"

Donald Trump has demonstrated, in repeated and dangerous ways, that he appears to be profoundly unwell mentally and emotionally. Some of the country’s and world’s leading mental health professionals have concluded that based on his behavior, Trump is likely a sociopath if not a psychopath.

Whatever one may think about the specifics of his policies, President Joe Biden, on the other hand, is a responsible leader and an institutionalist who believes in America and the democratic experiment. By comparison, Donald Trump hates democracy, attempted a coup on Jan. 6, and is a megalomaniac who believes that he is some type of god or messiah.

The 2024 election might turn on this issue of who is cognitively capable: Biden or Trump? It's a major issue that will affect some people's votes. Not enough people are sounding the alarm, that based on his behavior, and in my opinion, Donald Trump is dangerously demented. In fact, we are seeing the opposite among too many in the news media, the political leaders and among the public. There is also this focus on Biden's gaffes or other things that are well within the normal limits of aging. By comparison, Trump appears to be showing gross signs of dementia. This is a tale of two brains. Biden's brain is aging. Trump's brain is dementing.

I predicted over a year before the 2020 election that Trump wouldn't surrender power willingly. Trump's threats to put immigrants and other "undesirables" in camps is also predictable and not at all surprising. I was warning the public years ago that Trump should be compared to Hitler. The media and other people told me I was exaggerating, and that Trump wouldn't have concentration camps. He did it. He is now promising an even bigger concentration camp system and the largest deportation program in history. When a person tells you who they are, believe them. Trump is now quoting Hitler and Mein Kampf and talking about "vermin" and "poison" in "the blood" of the country. It's not a dog whistle anymore. It's a foghorn. https://www.salon.com/2024/02/23/dr-john-gartner-on-a-tale-of-two-brains-bidens-brain-is-aging-brain-is-dementing/

Eric Tucker: With one single word Trump employs the same old tactic to divert attention

Each time Donald Trump refers to a Georgia prosecutor's colleague as her “lover,” he's invoking a strikingly familiar turn of phrase.

After all, Trump as president repeatedly used the same word to mock two FBI officials, including an agent who helped lead the Russia election interference probe, after revelations that the pair had an extramarital relationship and had traded pejorative text messages about him.

Throughout years of scrutiny from prosecutors, culminating in 91 felony counts, Trump has repeatedly sought to deflect attention from himself by making the personal lives of investigators ripe for derision and ridicule. He's jumped on allegations of affairs and leveled claims of bias against agents, prosecutors and judges. He's also been quick to exploit the sometimes questionable decision-making, or occasional outright protocol breaches, by officials investigating him as a means to try to discredit entire inquiries. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trump-trial-russia-fani-willis-b2490874.html

Mary Trump: Letitia James Is Pushing Trump to the Edge

In case you were worried that Donald might get away with refusing to pay the massive penalties (plus interest) that Judge Engoron levied against him, I wanted to share some good news.

Not only did A.G Letitia James throw cold water over any hope Donald might have of winning an appeal to this historic judgment against him, she also made it clear that she’s prepared to go to great lengths to get every penny he owes in order to satisfy the judgement.

"If [Donald] does not have funds to pay off the judgment,” Letitia James told ABC News' Aaron Katersky, “then we will seek judgment enforcement mechanisms in court, and we will ask the judge to seize his assets."

James implies that there’s a possibility Donald does not have enough cash to satisfy the judgment; that alone is enough to enrage him. Readers of The Good in Us know that Donald is obsessed with his net worth and he goes to great lengths to convince people he is enormously wealthy. It’s a significant part of his identity.

The urgency with which he clings to the the false idea that he is richer, more successful, and more talented than he is serves to hide the truth – not just from us, but from himself – that he is, quite simply, a loser. https://marytrump.substack.com/p/letitia-james-ill-take-40-wall-street

Bill Kristol: Breaking the Bank

We’ve all gotten more or less used to Donald Trump’s robbing his supporters blind with deceptive, aggressive fundraising tactics and using the millions he raises for self-serving purposes—it’s been going on for years now, after all, and the supporters don’t appear to mind. Is there a limit to their tolerance? We may get to find out.

Campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission this week show Joe Biden is in a far stronger financial position than Trump at this point in the race. After raising an eye-popping $42 million in January, Biden’s campaign and its associated committees reported that they entered February with $130 million cash on hand. Team Trump, by contrast, has just $65 million in the bank across its committees going into February.

At this point in the cycle, a certain amount of financial lag from Trump would be expected: The GOP primary hasn’t exactly been competitive to date, but he’s been obliged to spend millions campaigning to make sure it stays that way. Biden hasn’t had those same expenses, and he’s been able to fundraise like crazy off each of Trump’s primary victories: None of the pain, all of the gain.

But the biggest hole in Team Trump’s balance sheets isn’t the primary. It’s the eye-watering amount of money his PACs have pumped into covering his legal bills: nearly $50 million in 2023 alone. https://plus.thebulwark.com/p/in-south-carolina-pro-haley-groups

Jonathan Last: Russia. It's always been Russia

Trump’s political career is inextricably linked to Putin and there are many theories as to why.

The ‘why’ doesn’t really matter. It makes no difference if Putin has been blackmailing Trump with kompromat or if Trump sincerely believes that Russia deserves to dominate Europe.

But all the same, there’s a simple, non-conspiratorial explanation. Russia has a long history of playing spygames and waging information warfare against other states.

In Trump, they saw an American politician who was wholly transactional and they realized that this presented them with an opportunity: If they helped Trump in such a transparent and ostentatious way that it was basically public, then Trump would see Russia as being on his side, and so would treat them as allies. https://plus.thebulwark.com/p/russia-its-always-been-russia

Jonathan Last: Na Zdorovye ("On Health")

America is not taking this Alexander Smirnov story seriously enough.

In a rational world, the revelations about Smirnov should have upended the presidential race and become a crisis for congressional Republicans. Here are the three obvious points of scandal:
  • Russia is trying to interfere in a presidential election (again) on behalf of Donald Trump (again).
  • Elected Republicans were told that Smirnov’s claims were unreliable, unconfirmed, and probably tainted goods. Yet they demanded the FBI give them access to them, and then they went around promoting them.
  • It isn’t enough to say that the Russian government is trying to help Trump—it’s also the case that elected Republicans in Congress were trying to help Russia’s intelligence operation.
Not that anyone should be surprised. Trump owns the Republican party. Russia has a vested interest in electing Trump. Ergo, the Republican party will do whatever it can to help Russia’s intelligence operations.

One other reason not to be surprised: It’s always been about Russia. https://plus.thebulwark.com/p/russia-its-always-been-russia


Michelle Goldberg: Biden Is in Danger of Losing Michigan and, With It, the Whole Election

As infuriated as she is by President Biden’s stalwart support for Israel, Layla Elabed has not ruled out voting for him in November. A progressive Palestinian American community organizer in Dearborn, Mich., a majority Arab American city near Detroit, she doesn’t want to see Donald Trump back in office.

“Donald Trump has never been a friend to our community,” she told me as we sat in an airy, modern Yemeni coffee shop. But to win her back, she said, “the very bare minimum” Biden needs to do is to completely overhaul America’s relationship with Israel, demand a permanent end to hostilities and end American military aid to Israel, at least as long as its war in Gaza drags on.

Given how strong support for Israel is in the Democratic and Republican Parties, I’m fairly confident that an aid cutoff is not going to happen anytime soon. But speaking to Elabed, the younger sister of Rashida Tlaib, a Democratic congresswoman, I sensed a chasm between my resigned assumptions about how American politics works and her convictions about what’s necessary to stave off even more mass death in Gaza.

“We’re looking at unprecedented times where we are watching a genocide unfold in front of our eyes,” said Elabed. Biden’s backing of Israel may be predictable, given both his own avowed Zionism and the political influence of Israel’s American champions, but to her and others like her, it’s become intolerable. That’s why Elabed is managing the Listen to Michigan campaign, which is organizing to get people to protest Biden’s handling of the war by voting “uncommitted” in Tuesday’s Democratic primary.

Biden will most likely never satisfy those most horrified by his Middle East policies, but if he doesn’t do more to try, he’s in danger of losing Michigan in November, which would almost certainly cost him the election. The state has the country’s largest percentage of Arab American voters, and within that community — as well as among many non-Arab Muslims, young people and progressives — there’s a deep sense of betrayal and fury at Biden for standing behind Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as Israel pulverizes Gaza. https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/23/opinion/gaza-biden-michigan.html

Derek Thompson: The Americans Who Need Chaos

Several years ago, the political scientist Michael Bang Petersen, who is based in Denmark, wanted to understand why people share conspiracy theories on the Internet. He and other researchers designed a study that involved showing American participants blatantly false stories about Democratic and Republican politicians, such as Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump. The subjects were asked: Would you share these stories online?

The results seemed to defy the logic of modern politics or polarization. “There were many people who seemed willing to share any conspiracy theory, regardless of the party it hurt,” Petersen told me. These participants didn’t seem like stable partisans of the left or right. They weren’t even negative partisans, who hated one side without feeling allegiance to the other. Above all, they seemed drawn to stories that undermined trust in every system of power.

Petersen felt as though he’d tapped a new vein of nihilism in modern politics—a desire to rip down the Elites, whatever that might mean. He wanted to know more about what these people were thinking. In further research, he and his co-researchers asked participants how much they agreed with several statements, including the following:

  • “We cannot fix the problems in our social institutions, we need to tear them down and start over.”
  • ”I need chaos around me—it is too boring if nothing is going on.”
  • “When I think about our political and social institutions, I cannot help thinking ‘just let them all burn.’”

The researchers came up with a term to describe the motivation behind these all-purpose conspiracy mongers. They called it the “need for chaos,” which they defined as “a mindset to gain status” by destroying the established order. In their study, nearly a third of respondents demonstrated a need for chaos, Petersen said. And for about 5 percent of voters, old-fashioned party allegiances to the Democratic Party or the Republican Party melted away and were replaced by a desire to see the entire political elite destroyed—even without a plan to build something better in the ashes.

“These [need-for-chaos] individuals are not idealists seeking to tear down the established order so that they can build a better society for everyone,” the authors wrote in their conclusion. “Rather, they indiscriminately share hostile political rumors as a way to unleash chaos and mobilize individuals against the established order that fails to accord them the respect that they feel they personally deserve.” To sum up their worldview, Petersen quoted a famous line from the film The Dark Knight: “Some men just want to watch the world burn.”

The need for chaos is not a problem likely to be solved quickly. It might be more like a chronic condition in U.S. politics to be studied and understood. I ultimately see anti-elite sentiment as downstream of several very real elite failures, including the many public-health errors during the coronavirus pandemic. But although burn-it-down sentiment may come from reality, it also feeds off virtual reality, or the stories that people are told about the world. Consumers face a bonanza of news-mediated despondency about quality of life, in part because news outlets are responding to audience negativity bias by telling the worst, most dangerous, and most catastrophic stories about the world. If journalists want to understand the need for chaos, it might be useful for us to scrutinize the ways in which we are partly responsible for growing the public’s taste for narratives that catastrophize without promise of improvement. https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2024/02/need-for-chaos-politicsl-science-concept/677536/

Kelcey Patrick-Ferree and Shannon Patrick: Rural Iowans have nobody to represent them; Republicans certainly aren't doing it

It’s conventional wisdom these days that America is divided between city and country, an urban-rural divide that drives our politics. Urban Democrats and rural Republicans, they say, have different cultures and rarely mingle. In this story, Democrats represent the interests of the cities and Republicans those of rural areas.

How, then, do we explain Iowa’s state government?

The allegedly pro-rural GOP has controlled the governor’s office and both houses of the state Legislature since 2017. So why are state policies so bad for rural Iowa?

Consider a few recent examples:

  • Republicans’ signature accomplishment last year, public funding for private schools, has almost no benefit to Iowa’s rural counties, most of which have zero private schools.
  • Gov. Kim Reynolds’ greatest priority this year has been cutting back the state Area Educational Associations, which primarily benefit smaller school districts. Iowa City can hire a multi-school speech pathologist and make its own bulk purchases; even Mason City needs access to the pooled professionals and purchasing power of the AEAs.
  • Prominent Republicans back CO2 pipelines, despite their unpopularity with farmers.
  • Large rural sections of the state lack mental, maternity, or reproductive health care after Republicans closed regional mental health centers and “reformed” a once-successful state family planning program.
  • Meanwhile, the governor’s budget recommended zero funding for a UI initiative to better provide rural healthcare.
If Republicans are the party for rural Iowans, why are the Democrats the ones trying to protect rural water quality? Why doesn’t the Republican-controlled state government have a meaningful plan to slow or stop population decline in rural counties? Why isn’t the state government doing more to support rural hospitals and small farmers, or reducing Iowa’s reliance on ethanol mandates?

In short, why isn’t the so-called rural party focused on rural issues? https://www.press-citizen.com/story/opinion/contributors/writers-group/2024/02/08/rural-iowa-representation-republican-party/72526367007/

NY Times Editorial Board: A U.S. Call for a Humanitarian Cease-Fire in Gaza

Given the extraordinary record of American support for Israel at the United Nations — demonstrated by dozens of vetoes to block resolutions critical of Israel, including three calling for a cease-fire in Gaza — the fact of the United States is circulating a resolution that mentions the term “cease-fire” should be a signal to Israelis that American leaders are losing patience with Mr. Netanyahu’s forever war.

In the waning days of the Obama administration, the United States also sent a message to Israel when it abstained on a resolution condemning settlement construction in the West Bank, thus allowing it to pass. The resolution had no practical import, but it made an important point — which the Biden administration has reinforced — about settlements as an obstacle to peace with the Palestinians.

Similarly, this resolution, however short-lived, is a moment for the U.S. to make clear to the Israeli people that its enduring support for Israel does not extend to the worst policies of its government. However divided America might be, the United States still wields a powerful voice in Israeli affairs, both as supplier of arms and aid and as its political shield on the world stage. https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/24/opinion/gaza-ceasefire.html