Biden’s Address To Morehouse Grads

Heather Cox Richardson

Delivering the commencement address to the graduating seniors at Morehouse College today, President Joe Biden addressed the nation. After thanking the mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, and all the people who helped the graduates get to the chairs in front of the stage, Biden recalled Morehouse’s history. The school was founded in 1867 by civil rights leader Reverend William Jefferson White with the help of two other Baptist ministers, the Reverend Richard C. Coulter and the Reverend Edmund Turney, to educate formerly enslaved men. They believed “education would be the great equalizer from slavery to freedom,” Biden said, and they created an institution that would make the term “Morehouse man” continue to stand as a symbol of excellence 157 years later. 

Then Biden turned to a speech that centered on faith. Churches talk a lot about Jesus being buried on Friday and rising from the dead on Sunday, he said, “but we don’t talk enough about Saturday, when… his disciples felt all hope was lost. In our lives and the lives of the nation, we have those Saturdays—to bear witness the day before glory, seeing people’s pain and not looking away. But what work is done on Saturday to move pain to purpose? How can faith get a man, get a nation through what was to come?” 

It’s a truism that anything that happens before we are born is equidistant from our personal experience, mixing the recent past and the ancient past together in a similar vaguely imagined “before” time. Most of today’s college graduates were not born until about 2002 and likely did not pay a great deal of attention to politics until about five years ago. Biden took the opportunity to explain to them what it meant to live through the 1960s. 

He noted that he was the first in his family to graduate from college, paid for with loans. He fell in love, got a law degree, got married and took a job at a “fancy law firm.” 

But his world changed when an assassin murdered the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King—a Morehouse man—and the segregated city of Wilmington, Delaware, erupted with fires, looting, fights, and occasional gunfire. For nine months, the National Guard patrolled the city in combat gear,  “the longest stretch in any American city since the Civil War,” Biden recalled.

“Dr. King’s legacy had a profound impact on me and my generation, whether you’re Black or white,” Biden explained. He left the law firm to become first a public defender and then a county councilman, “working to change our state’s politics to embrace the cause of civil rights.” 

The Democratic Party had historically championed white supremacy, but that alignment was in the process of changing as Democrats had swung behind civil rights and the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Biden and his cohort hoped to turn the Delaware Democratic Party toward the new focus on civil rights, he said. In 1972, Biden ran for the Senate and won…barely, in a state Republican president Richard Nixon won with 60% of the vote. 

Biden recalled how, newly elected and hiring staff in Washington, D.C., he got the call telling him that his wife and daughter had been killed in a car accident and that his two sons were gravely injured. The pain of that day hit again 43 years later, he said, when his son Beau died of cancer after living for a year next to a burn pit in Iraq. And he talked of meeting First Lady Jill Biden, “who healed the family in all the broken places. Our family became my redemption,” he said. 

His focus on family and community offered a strong contrast to the Republican emphasis on individualism. “On this walk of life…you come to understand that we don’t know where or what fate will bring you or when,” Biden said. “But we also know we don’t walk alone. When you’ve been a beneficiary of the compassion of your family, your friends, even strangers, you know how much the compassion matters,” he said. “I’ve learned there is no easy optimism, but by faith—by faith, we can find redemption.”

For the graduates, Biden noted, four years ago “felt like one of those Saturdays. The pandemic robbed you of so much. Some of you lost loved ones—mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, who…aren’t able to be here to celebrate with you today….  You missed your high school graduation. You started college just as George Floyd was murdered and there was a reckoning on race. 

“It’s natural to wonder if democracy you hear about actually works for you. 

“What is democracy if Black men are being killed in the street?

“What is democracy if a trail of broken promises still leave[s]…Black communities behind?

“What is democracy if you have to be 10 times better than anyone else to get a fair shot?

“And most of all, what does it mean, as we’ve heard before, to be a Black man who loves his country even if it doesn’t love him back in equal measure?” 

The crowd applauded.

Biden explained that across the Oval Office from his seat behind the Resolute Desk are busts of Dr. King and Senator Robert Kennedy, challenging Biden: “Are we living up to what we say we are as a nation, to end racism and poverty, to deliver jobs and justice, to restore our leadership in the world?” He wears a rosary on his wrist made of Beau’s rosary as a reminder that faith asks us “to hold on to hope, to move heaven and earth to make better days.” 

“[T]hat’s my commitment to you,” he said. “[T]o show you democracy, democracy, democracy is still the way.”

Biden pledged to “call out the poison of white supremacy” and noted that he “stood up…with George Floyd’s family to help create a country where you don’t need to have that talk with your son or grandson as they get pulled over.” The administration is investing in Black communities and reconnecting neighborhoods cut apart by highways decades ago. It has reduced Black child poverty to the lowest rate in history. It is removing lead pipes across the nation to provide clean drinking water to everyone, and investing in high-speed internet to bring all households into the modern era. 

The administration is creating opportunities, Biden said, bringing “good-paying jobs…; capital to start small businesses and loans to buy homes; health insurance, [prescription] drugs, housing that’s more affordable and accessible.” Biden reminded the audience that he had joined workers on a picket line. To applause, he noted that when the Supreme Court blocked his attempt to relieve student debt, he found two other ways to do it. He noted the administration’s historic investment in historically black colleges and universities. 

“We’re opening doors so you can walk into a life of generational wealth, to be providers and leaders for your families and communities.  Today, record numbers of Black Americans have jobs, health insurance, and more [wealth] than ever.”

Then Biden directly addressed the student protests over the Israeli government’s strikes on Gaza. At Morehouse today, one graduate stood with his back to Biden and his fist raised during the president’s speech, and the class valedictorian, DeAngelo Jeremiah Fletcher, who spoke before the president, wore a picture of a Palestinian flag on his mortarboard and called for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza, at which Biden applauded.

“In a democracy, we debate and dissent about America’s role in the world,” Biden said. “I want to say this very clearly. I support peaceful, nonviolent protest. Your voices should be heard, and I promise you I hear them.” 

“What’s happening in Gaza…is heartbreaking,” he said, with “[i]nnocent Palestinians caught in the middle” of a fight between Hamas and Israel. He reminded them that he has called “for an immediate ceasefire…to stop the fighting [and] bring the hostages home.” His administration has been working for a deal, as well as to get more aid into Gaza and to rebuild it. Crucially, he added, there is more at stake than “just one ceasefire.” He wants “to build a lasting, durable peace. Because the question is…: What after? What after Hamas? What happens then? What happens in Gaza? What rights do the Palestinian people have?” To applause, he said, “I’m working to make sure we finally get a two-state solution—the only solution—for two people to live in peace, security, and dignity.” 

“This is one of the hardest, most complicated problems in the world,” he said. “I know it angered and frustrates many of you, including my family. But most of all, I know it breaks your heart. It breaks mine as well. Leadership is about fighting through the most intractable problems. It’s about challenging anger, frustration, and heartbreak to find a solution. It’s about doing what you believe is right, even when it’s hard and lonely. You’re all future leaders, every one of you graduating today…. You’ll face complicated, tough moments. In these moments, you’ll listen to others, but you’ll have to decide, guided by knowledge, conviction, principle, and your own moral compass.”

Turning back to the United States, Biden urged the graduates to examine “what happens to you and your family when old ghosts in new garments seize power, extremists come for the freedoms you thought belonged to you and everyone.” He noted attacks on equality in America, and that extremist forces were peddling “a fiction, a caricature [of] what being a man is about—tough talk, abusing power, bigotry. Their idea of being a man is toxic.” 

“But that’s not you,” he continued. “It’s not us. You all know and demonstrate what it really means to be a man. Being a man is about the strength of respect and dignity. It’s about showing up because it’s too late if you have to ask. It’s about giving hate no safe harbor and leaving no one behind and defending freedoms. It’s about standing up to the abuse of power, whether physical, economic, or psychological.” To applause, he added: “It’s about knowing faith without works is dead.”

“The strength and wisdom of faith endures,” Biden said. “And I hope—my hope for you is—my challenge to you is that you still keep the faith so long as you can.” 

“Together, we’re capable of building a democracy worthy of our dreams…a bigger, brighter future that proves the American Dream is big enough for everyone to succeed.”

“Class of 2024, four years ago, it felt probably like Saturday,” Biden concluded. “Four years later, you made it to Sunday, to commencement, to the beginning. And with faith and determination, you can push the sun above the horizon once more….”

“God bless you all,” he said. “We’re expecting a lot from you.”

TACO TUESDAY AT SILVER DOLLAR RESTAURANT

Hi all,

We are gearing up for our efforts to ensure voter turnout this election. We are inviting all to meet up and share ideas this coming Tuesday May 14th at the Silver Dollar Restaurant/Bar in Lyon Township at 5:00 PM.

We hope you can make it. If not, feel free to contact me if you are interested in contributing you time with our phone banking, postcard writing, office help, or any other assistance you would be able to provide.

We appreciate your support and I will reach out to you again as we plan other events and begin our turnout efforts.

I’ll let you know when the office opens up.

Thanks,

Steve M – Communications Director

Golfnutzm@gmail.com

A Good Week for Biden, Alito The Insurrectionist, Gallego On A Roll

The Hopium Community Gathers This Wednesday at 7pm ET – Register Today!

SIMON ROSENBERG

MAY 17

Happy Friday all. Got a few things for you today: 

The 2 Debates, The 2024 Election, Why I Am Optimistic – As we head into the weekend a few resources: 

Here’s a clip of Lawrence O’Donnell and I talking Wednesday night about why the Biden debate strategy is a smart, and an important new development in our understanding of the 2024 election: 

Remember: 

Joe Biden is a good President. The country is better off. We have a very compelling case for re-election. 

The Democratic Party is strong, winning elections across the US, has huge financial and organization advantages over the GOP and enters the general election unified and fired up. 

And what do Rs have? They have Trump – the ugliest political thing any of us has ever seen, and a party that looks far more like a raging dumpster fire than a well-oiled political machine. 

Subscribed

Biden’s Historic Marijuana Announcement – Here’s a new videofrom President Biden. “This is monumental.” 

Alito Flies An Insurrectionist Flag – From The NYTimes today: 

After the 2020 presidential election, as some Trump supporters falsely claimed that President Biden had stolen the office, many of them displayed a startling symbol outside their homes, on their cars and in online posts: an upside-down American flag.

One of the homes flying an inverted flag during that time was the residence of Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., in Alexandria, Va., according to photographs and interviews with neighbors.

The upside-down flag was aloft on Jan. 17, 2021, the images showed. President Donald J. Trump’s supporters, including some brandishing the same symbol, had rioted at the Capitol a little over a week before. Mr. Biden’s inauguration was three days away. Alarmed neighbors snapped photographs, some of which were recently obtained by The New York Times. Word of the flag filtered back to the court, people who worked there said in interviews.

While the flag was up, the court was still contending with whether to hear a 2020 election case, with Justice Alito on the losing end of that decision. In coming weeks, the justices will rule on two climactic cases involving the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6, including whether Mr. Trump has immunity for his actions. Their decisions will shape how accountable he can be held for trying to overturn the last presidential election and his chances for re-election in the upcoming one.

More on this important but not all shocking development in the coming days. 

On A Roll – Gallego’s Strong Campaign Netting Dollars, GOP Support  – Encouraging news From Politico today

Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego’s Arizona Senate bid is getting a boost from a group of donors who previously backed Republicans likethe late Sen. John McCain and the independent incumbent he hopes to replace, Kyrsten Sinema.

The donors will host a fundraiser Saturday for Gallego, according to an invitation obtained by POLITICO. The event signals Gallego is making inroads in two areas GOP opponent Kari Lake is sharply focused on: money and moderates.

In their key Senate contest, Gallego and Lake are both openly courting a small but important bloc of voters who identify as independents or centrist Republicans.

Among the dozen hosts of Gallego’s Saturday fundraiser: Chuck Coughlin, a longtime Republican political consultant who left the party in the Trump era; Don Budinger, who donated to Sinema, McCain and Pennsylvania GOP Senate nominee Dave McCormick; and David Reese, a longtime GOP donor.

Both candidates have tried to drift toward the center. But Lake has thus far struggled to win over moderate voters despite an attempted pivot from her fiery 2022 campaign for governor…..

……Gallego has posted massive fundraising numbers, ending March with $9.6 million in the bank, compared to Lake’s $2.5 million. And he has used that funding to build an early TV ad advantage, running positive spots to define himself.

Democrats feel optimistic about Arizona because of Gallego’s financial advantage and Lake’s ties to the MAGA wing of the party that may harm her with independents. She’s endorsed by former President Donald Trump.

After telling McCain Republicans to “get the hell out” during her 2022 campaign, Lake has made an attempt to court them in her Senate run. But she has so far gotten few endorsements out of it and Republicans have begun to sound unsure whether they will fully supportLake financially in the fall.

I continue to believe that Arizona and North Carolina are shaping up to be two of the most important Democratic success stories in this critical election year. 

Israel’s Defense Secretary Blasts Netanyahu – From Axios: “Israel’s defense chief warned in a dramatic speech Wednesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s inaction on a post-war plan for Gaza is pushing Israel toward having to impose military and civilian rule over the enclave.

Why it matters: Defense Minister Yoav Gallant’s remarks were a public indictment of Netanyahu’s war policy, exposing some officials’ frustration that he hasn’t set a clear strategy for Gaza’s future.

  • Gallant’s comments also shed light on the deepening political divisions in Israel’s war cabinet, where relations between officials are disintegrating after more than seven months of fighting Hamas.
  • “Indecision is, in essence, a decision,” Gallant said. “This leads to a dangerous course, which promotes the idea of Israeli military and civilian governance in Gaza.”
  • Netanyahu has rejected such calls for action, saying there’s no point in drafting a post-war plan before Hamas is completely defeated.

Zoom in: The main point of contention between Gallant and Netanyahu is whether the Palestinian Authority (PA) is Israel’s partner or an enemy in setting a new course for Gaza.

  • Gallant’s view that the PA should be a partner is shared by most of Israel’s security establishment and its intelligence community, and most of the war cabinet.
  • Netanyahu and his far-right allies see the PA as a supporter of terrorism and are reluctant to have it assume any leadership role in post-war Gaza.

What they’re saying: A senior U.S. official told Axios after Gallant’s speech that the Biden administration agrees with the defense minister’s comments.

  • “We share his concern that Israel has not developed any plans for holding and governing territory the (Israeli Defense Forces) clears, thereby allowing Hamas to regenerate in those areas,” the U.S. official said. “Our objective is to see Hamas defeated.”
  • Secretary of State Tony Blinken said earlier Wednesday the U.S. won’t support an Israeli occupation of Gaza, the continuation of Hamas rule or anarchy and chaos in the enclave.
  • “This emphasizes the need for a clear day-after plan for Gaza,” he said. “Israel should focus on that.”

Gallant said any scenario leading to Israel having to impose military and civilian control in Gaza would erode Israel’s military power and its economy, and cost many Israeli soldiers’ lives.

  • “I call on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to make a decision and declare that Israel will not establish civilian control over the Gaza strip, that Israel will not establish military governance in the Gaza strip, and that a governing alternative to Hamas in the Gaza strip will be raised immediately,” Gallant said.”

Upcoming Events – Got a few things coming up:

  • Wed, May 22nd, 7pm ET – Monthly Hopium Community Wide Get Together w/Simon – Register here. 
  • Thur, May 23rd, 730pm ET – Simon speaks to Northwest Bronx Indivisible via Zoom.  Register here
  • Thur, June 20th Evening – Simon speaks in person at a Wisconsin Democratic Party Event (Madison) – more details soon
  • Fri/Sat, June 28-29 – Simon speaks in person at Network NOVA’s 8th Annual Women’s Summit, Tyson’s Corner, VA – More info, register

I will also note that I’ve been a little slow at getting back to those who’ve requested me for events for this summer. Between my daughter’s lacrosse play offs and graduation festivities this spring, and some critical travel dates that are still getting ironed out, I’ve been unable to commit to as many events as I hoped. Will try to get back to everyone soon – appreciate the patience all!

Let’s Do More, Worry Less – We are still raising money for and supportingthree critical projects:

Thanks to the many thousands of you who have already contributed or volunteered. And also be sure to encourage your friends and family to subscribe to Hopium Chronicles! 

Keep working hard all. Proud to be in this fight with all of you – Simon

The Divorce Between Reality And Beliefs

Heather Cox Richardson

All three of the nation’s major stock indexes hit record highs today after the latest data showed inflation cooling. Standard and Poor’s 500, more commonly known as the S&P 500, measures the stock performance of 500 of the largest companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges. Today it was up 61 points, or 1.2%. The Nasdaq Composite is weighted toward companies in the information technology sector. Today it was up 231 points, or 1.4%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, often just called the Dow, measures 30 prominent companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges. Today it was up 350 points, or 0.9%. The Dow has risen now for eight straight days, ending the day at 39,908, approaching 40,000. 

Driving the hike in the stock market, most likely, is the information released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Labor Department saying that inflation eased in April. Investors are guessing this makes it more likely that the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates this year. 

People note—correctly—that the stock market does not reflect the larger economy. This makes a report released yesterday from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, or CBO, an important addition to the news from the stock market. It concludes that the goods and services an American household consumed in 2019 were cheaper in 2023 than they were four years before, because incomes grew faster than prices over that four-year period. That finding was true for all levels of the economy. 

That is, “for all income groups…the portion of household income required to purchase the same bundle of goods and services declined.” Those in the bottom 20% found that the share of their income required to purchase the same bundle dropped by 2%. For those in the top 20%, the share of their income required to purchase as they did in 2019 dropped by 6.3%. 

These statistics come on top of unemployment below 4% for a record 27 months, and more than 15 million jobs created since Biden took office, including 789,000 in manufacturing. According to Politifact, three quarters of those jobs represented a return to the conditions before the coronavirus pandemic, but the rest are new. Politifact noted that it is so rare for manufacturing jobs to bounce back at all, that the only economic recovery since World War II that beats the current one was in 1949, making the recovery under the Biden-Harris administration the strongest in 72 years. 

And yet, a recent Philadelphia Inquirer/New York Times/Siena College poll found that 78% of Pennsylvania voters thought the economy was “fair” or “poor.” Fifty-four percent of them said they trust Trump to handle the economy better than Biden, compared with just 42% who prefer Biden.

The divorce between reality and people’s beliefs illuminates just how important media portrayals of events are. 

In the landslide election of 1892, when voters elected Democrat Grover Cleveland to the White House for the third time (he won the popular vote in 1888 but lost in the electoral college) and put Democrats in charge of the House of Representatives and the Senate, Republicans insisted that the economy would collapse. The previous administration, that of Republican Benjamin Harrison, had openly and proudly worked for businessmen, and Republicans maintained that losing that administration would be a calamity. Democrats, the Republicans insisted, were really socialists and anarchists who wanted to destroy America. 

As Republican newspapers predicted an impending collapse, fearful investors pulled out of the market. Although economic indicators were actually better in 1892 than they had been for years, as soon as Cleveland was elected, the nation seemed to be in terrible trouble. Money began to flow out of the stock market, and the outgoing Harrison administration refused to reassure investors. By February 1893 the stock market was paralyzed.

In mid-February, financier J. P. Morgan rushed to Washington to urge Harrison to do something, but the calm of the administration men remained undisturbed. Secretary of the Treasury Charles Foster commented publicly that the Republicans were responsible for the economy only until March 4, the day Cleveland would take office. His job was to “avert a catastrophe up to that date.”

He didn’t quite manage it. On Friday, February 17, the stock market began to collapse. By February 23 the slaughter was universal. Investors begged Harrison to relieve the crisis, but with only eight days left in his term, Harrison and his men maintained that nothing important was happening. The secretary of the Treasury spent his last few days in office sitting for his portrait. The New York Times noted that “[i]f the National Treasury Department had been retained especially to manufacture apprehension and create disturbance it could not have done more effective work.” 

Secretary Foster had one more parting shot. When he handed the Treasury Department off to his Democratic successor, he told the newspapers that “the Treasury was down to bedrock.” 

When Cleveland took office on March 4, 1893, a financial panic was in full swing. As he tried to negotiate that crisis, Republicans sagely told voters the crash was the result of the Democrats’ policies. When Democrats turned to an income tax so they could lower the tariffs that were hurting consumers, Republicans insisted they were socialists. When unemployed workers and struggling farmers marched on Washington to ask for jobs or launched railroad strikes, Republicans insisted that Democrats stood with the mob, while Republicans were the party of law and order. 

Republicans promised voters that they would restore the health of the economy. The 1894 midterm elections reversed the landslide of 1892, giving Republicans 130 more seats in the House—a two-thirds majority—and a majority in the Senate. The economy had begun to recover before the election, and that uptick continued. The Democrats had plunged the country into a panic, the Chicago Tribunereported, but now “American manufacturers and merchants and business-men generally will draw a long breath of relief.”

How the media covers events matters. 

Allison Fisher of Media Matters reported today that with the exception of MSNBC, national television news failed to cover the extraordinary story reported by Josh Dawsey and Maxine Joselow on May 9 in the Washington Post that Trump had told oil executives that if they gave $1 billion to his campaign, he would get rid of all the regulations the Biden administration has enacted to combat climate change. 

In the 1920s, President Warren G. Harding’s secretary of the interior, Albert Fall, went to prison for a year for accepting a $385,000 bribe from oilman Edward L. Doheny in exchange for leases to drill for oil on naval reserve land in Elk Hills and Buena Vista, California, and Teapot Dome, Wyoming. Fall was the first former cabinet officer to go to prison, and the scandal was considered so outrageous that “Teapot Dome” has gone down in U.S. history as shorthand for a corrupt presidency.

Alsobrooks Rocks It, Good Inflation Report, 2nd NYT Poll Has Biden Up 3

Biden and Trump are debating on June 27th/Welcome new subscribers! 

SIMON ROSENBERG

MAY 15

Happy Wednesday all. Got a few things for you today: 

Late Breaking News – It appears Trump and Biden are debating on June 27th! More on this tomorrow. 

Subscribed

A Good Inflation Report – From The Washington Post, “US inflation eased last month in first slowdown of 2024” – 

Led by lower food and auto prices, inflation in the United States cooled slightly last month after three elevated readings, likely offering a tentative sigh of relief for officials at the Federal Reserve as well as President Joe Biden’s re-election team.

Consumer prices rose 0.3% from March to April, the Labor Department said Wednesday, down slightly from 0.4% the previous month. Measured year-over-year, inflation ticked down from 3.5% to 3.4%. And a gauge of underlying inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy costs, reached its lowest level in three years…..

……Wednesday’s report provides a dose of reassurance that the pace of price increases may be resuming its slowdown. While the latest figures show inflation still well above the Fed’s 2% target, it’s the first time this year that the year-over-year figure has declined. And price increases cooled in some service industries, such as hotels, health care and auto repairs, that had previously kept inflation elevated.

The report “was a tiny step in the right direction,” said Danielle Hale, chief economist at Realtor.com. “The fight against inflation is not yet over, but the worsening trend observed in the first quarter of 2024 may have ended……

…..Among individual items in April, grocery prices slipped, providing a break to shoppers. Egg prices, which have been volatile after a bout of avian flu, fell 7.3%. New and used car prices also dropped. By contrast, prices for gas and clothing both jumped.

Additional Hopium resources on the strength of the Biden economy:

Alsobrooks Makes A Statement – While votes are still be counted Angela Alsobrooks won what was supposed to be a close Democratic Senate primary in Maryland by more than 10 points last night. It was a very impressive showing for this dynamic new Democratic leader, and suggests she will be a far more formidable opponent for former Governor Larry Hogan who won the GOP primary last night. While the conventional wisdom in Washington in DC is that Alsobrooks should prevail this fall, this impressive showing certainly gives us more reasons to be optimistic about holding this vital Senate seat. 

Trump Continues To Struggle To Pull His Coalition Together – Another Presidential primary, another 20%+ performance by Nikki Haley, another night of Trump struggling to put his general election coalition together. 

The splintering of the GOP and the open rebellion against Trump by prominent party leaders – former VPs, former nominee, former VP nominee, former Speaker, etc – remains to me one of the most consequential stories of the 2024 election. For more on this see this recent Hopium post

NYT Releases A Second Poll, This One Has Biden Up 3 – In the you have to be kidding me category yesterday the NYT released a second national pollconducted with a different pollster, Ipsos. This poll did not find the kind of structural weakness for Biden their big Monday poll did. In this poll Biden leads 45.5% to 42.5% (+3) in their initial head to heads between the two candidates. 

To understand what an outlier Monday’s NYT battleground states poll was let’s look at the other national and state polls released in recent days (Biden-Trump): 

  • NPR/Marist 51%-46% (+5) likely voters
  • ABC News 49%-45% (+4) likely voters
  • NYT/Ipsos 45.5%-42.5% (+3)
  • RMG 44%-42% (+2) likely voters
  • TIPP 42%-40% (+2)
  • Big Village 42%-41% (+1) likely voters
  • Data For Progress 47%-46% (+1)
  • Economist/YouGov 43%-43% (tied)
  • Yahoo/YouGov 45%-45% (tied)
  • USA/Suffolk 37%-37% (tied)
  • Morning Consult 43%-44% (-1) and 43%-43% (tied)
  • Quinnipiac Wisconsin 50%-44% (+6)
  • Orbital Digital Arizona 39%-38% (+1)
  • CBS News MI 51%-49% PA 49%-50% WI 49%-50%

12 national polls. Biden leads in 7, 4 are tied, Trump leads in 1. State polls by serious credible pollsters showing Biden in far better shape than the NYT polls. All of these polls, with the exception of Data For Progress are independent polls, not controlled or paid for left of center organizations. I include DfP because historically their polling has not been favorable to Democrats. 

Part of the reason I got the 2022 election right when so many got it wrong was that I broke out independent polls like these from polling averages which had been influenced by a flood of Republican aligned polls. These Republican funded polls often produced results 3-4 more points more Republican than independent polling. I think we are starting to see something similar happen in this election, with most independent polls finding a close competitive election, perhaps one now where we have a slight advantage; and R funded polling (and NYT/Siena) finding it much more Republican. It’s clear Trump and Republicans think they are seeing a new red wave, and that they lead. I don’t think it’s a fair read of the data, just as I didn’t think the red wave was a fair read of the data in 2022. 

What in the world happened to the NYT/Siena battleground state polls this week? I am going to leave it others more expert than I to dive into their methodology, but something went seriously awry with these polls. 

When you put all this together it suggests that in polls released in recent weeks Biden has opened up a modest lead in national polling; MI/PA/WI are within margin of error and thus Trump is not winning or can be described to be ahead; there are now credible polls showing Biden leading in AZ, MI, WI; we have significant financial and organizational advantages; Trump’s saddled with historic negatives and threatening extremism; and we continue to see Biden doing much better with likely voters, something that I think is a significant development in the 2024 election, and an ominous one for Trump. 

For on my big take on 2024 see this recent Hopium post

All of this is by way of saying that 6 months out, in every way imaginable, I would much rather be us than them. 

Upcoming Events – Got a few things coming up:

  • Wed, May 22nd, 7pm ET – Monthly Hopium Community Wide Get Together w/Simon – Register
  • Thur, June 20th Evening – Simon speaks in person at a Wisconsin Democratic Party Event (Madison) – more details soon
  • Fri/Sat, June 28-29 – Simon speaks in person at Network NOVA’s 8th Annual Women’s Summit, Tyson’s Corner, VA – More info, register

I will also note that I’ve been a little slow at getting back to those who’ve requested me for events for this summer. Between my daughter’s lacrosse play offs and graduation festivities this spring, and some critical travel dates that are still getting ironed out, I’ve been unable to commit to as many events as I hoped. Will try to get back to everyone soon – appreciate the patience all!

Google Search Will Start Changing This Week – I’ve resisted writing about A.I. for it is a complex topic, but with Google’s announcement yesterday that it’s basic search will start changing THIS WEEK it’s time we start learning together about an enormous tech shift that has begun and will impact our lives and politics profoundly. Here’s how the NYT wrote about Google’s announcement: 

Last May, Sundar Pichai, Google’s chief executive, said the company would use artificial intelligence to reimagine all of its products.

But because new generative A.I. technology presented risks, like spreading false information, Google was cautious about applying the technology to its search engine, which is used by more than two billion people and was responsible for $175 billion in revenue last year.

On Tuesday, at Google’s annual conference in Mountain View, Calif., Mr. Pichai showed how the company’s aggressive work on A.I. had finally trickled into the search engine. Starting this week, he said, U.S. users will see a feature, A.I. Overviews, that generates information summaries above traditional search results. By the end of the year, more than a billion people will have access to the technology.

A.I. Overviews is likely to heighten concerns that web publishers will see less traffic from Google Search, putting more pressure on an industrythat has reeled from rifts with other tech platforms. On Google, users will see longer summaries about a topic, which could reduce the need to go to another website — though Google downplayed those concerns.

“The links included in A.I. Overviews get more clicks” from users than if they were presented as traditional search results, Liz Reid, Google’s vice president of search, wrote in a blog post. “We’ll continue to focus on sending valuable traffic to publishers and creators.”

Keep working hard all. Proud to be in this fight with all of you – Simon

If You Think This Election Won’t Have Consequences, Think Again

Heather Cox Richardson

Today the White House announced tariffs on certain products imported from China, including steel and aluminum products, semiconductors, electric vehicles, batteries and battery components, solar cells, ship-to-shore cranes, syringes and needles, and certain personal protective equipment (or PPE). According to the White House, these higher tariffs are designed “to protect American workers and businesses from China’s unfair trade practices.” Tariffs are essentially taxes on imported goods, and altogether the tariff hikes cover about $18 billion in imported goods.

In 2018, Trump abruptly ended the economic era based on the idea that free trade benefited the global economy by putting tariffs of 25% on a wide range of foreign made goods. This was a cap to a set of ideas that had been sputtering for a while as industries moved to countries with cheaper labor, feeding the popular discontent Trump tapped into. Trump claimed that other countries would pay his tariffs, but tariffs are actually paid by Americans, not foreign countries, and his have cost Americans more than $230 billion. Half of that has come in under the Biden administration. 

Trump’s tariffs also actually cost jobs, but they were very popular politically. A January 2024 National Bureau of Economic Research working paper by David Autor, Anne Beck, David Dorn, and Gordon H. Hanson established that the trade war of 2018–2019 hurt the U.S. heartland but actually helped Trump’s reelection campaign. “Residents of regions more exposed to import tariffs became less likely to identify as Democrats, more likely to vote to reelect Donald Trump in 2020, and more likely to elect Republicans to Congress,” they discovered.

Now Trump is saying, that if elected, he will impose a 10% tariff on everything imported into the United States, with a 60% tariff on anything from China and a 100% tariff on any cars made outside the U.S. 

In contrast, the administration’s new tariffs are aimed only at China, and only at industries already growing in the U.S., especially semiconductors. Tariffs will rise to 50% on semiconductors and solar cells, 100% on electric vehicles, and 25% on batteries, a hike that will help the Big Three automakers who agreed to union demands in newly opened battery factories, as well as their United Auto Workers workforce. “I’m determined that the future of electric vehicles be made in America by union workers. Period,” Biden said.

The administration says the tariffs are a response to China’s unfair trade practices, and such tariffs are popular in the manufacturing belt of Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Democratic senators from that region have asked Biden to maintain or increase tariffs on Chinese imports after “[g]enerations of free trade agreements that prioritize multinational corporations have devasted our communities, harmed our economy, and crippled our job market.” 

In other economic news, a new rule capping credit card late fees at $8, about a quarter of what they are now, was supposed to go into effect today, but on Friday a federal judge in Texas blocked the rule. The new cap was set by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the brainchild of Massachusetts Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren, and was part of the Biden administration’s crackdown on “junk fees.” 

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Bankers Association sued to stop the rule from taking effect, and U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman, appointed by Trump, issued a preliminary injunction against it. His reasoning draws from an argument advanced by the far-right Fifth Circuit, which oversees Texas, Mississippi, and Louisiana, arguing that the CFPB itself is unconstitutional because of its funding structure. “Consequently, any regulations promulgated under that regime are likely unconstitutional as well,” Pittman wrote. 

On Friday, major airlines, including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Hawaiian Airlines, and Alaska Airlines—but not Southwest Airlines—sued the U.S. Department of Transportation over its new rule that requires the airlines disclose their fees, such as for checking bags, upfront to consumers. The department says consumers are overpaying by $543 million a year in unexpected fees. 

The airlines say that the rule will confuse consumers and that its “attempt to regulate private business operations in a thriving marketplace is beyond its authority.”

The other big story of the day is the continuing attempt of the MAGA Republicans to overturn our democratic system. 

This morning, House speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), second in line for the presidency and sworn to uphold the Constitution, left his post in Washington, D.C., to appear with former president Trump at his trial for falsifying business records to deceive voters before the 2016 election. The House was due to consider the final passage of the crucially important Federal Aviation Authority Reauthorization Act, but Johnson chose instead to show up to do the work the judge’s gag order means Trump cannot do himself, attacking key witness Michael Cohen, Trump’s former fixer. Johnson described Cohen as “clearly on a mission for personal revenge” and, citing his “history of perjury,” said that “[n]o one should believe a word he says in there.” 

“I do have a lot of surrogates,” Trump boasted this morning, “and they are speaking very beautifully.” Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), who was also at the trial this morning, later said on Newsmax that they had indeed gone to “overcome this gag order.” 

Johnson went on to call the trial “corrupt” and say “this ridiculous prosecution…is not about justice. It’s all about politics.” He left without taking questions. Meg Kinnard of the Associated Press called out the moment as “a remarkable moment in modern American politics: The House speaker turning his Republican Party against the federal and state legal systems that are foundational to the U.S. government and a cornerstone of democracy.”

Peter Eisler, Ned Parker, and Joseph Tanfani of Reuters explained today how those attacks on our judiciary are sparking widespread calls for violence against judges, with social media posters in echo chambers goading each other into ever more extreme statements. According to her lawyer, Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, wore a bullet-proof vest as she came and went from court, an uncanny echo of the precautions necessary in mob trials.   

In a different attack on our constitutional system, House Republicans are trying to replace the administration’s foreign policy with their own. Over the weekend, they introduced a bill to force President Biden to send offensive weapons to Israel for its invasion of Rafah, overruling the administration’s decision to withhold a shipment of 2,000-pound and 500-pound bombs after Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced his government would invade Rafah despite strong opposition from the Biden administration. 

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters: “We strongly, strongly oppose attempts to constrain the president’s ability to deploy a U.S. security assistance consistent with U.S. foreign policy and national security objectives.”

The Constitution establishes that the executive branch manages foreign affairs, and until 2015 it was an established practice that politics stopped at the water’s edge, meaning that Congress quarreled with the administration at home but the two presented a united front in foreign affairs. That practice ended in March 2015, when 47 Republican senators, led by freshman Arkansas senator Tom Cotton, wrote a letter to Iran’s leaders warning that they would not honor any agreement Iran reached with the Obama administration over its development of nuclear weapons. 

The Obama administration did end up negotiating the July 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran and several world powers, under which Iran agreed to restrict its nuclear development and allow inspections in exchange for relief from economic sanctions. In 2018 the extremist Republicans got their way when Trump withdrew the U.S. from the deal, largely collapsing it, after which Iran resumed its expansion of the nuclear enrichment  program it had stopped under the agreement.  

Now extremists in the House are trying to run foreign policy on their own. The costs of that usurpation of power are clear in Niger, formerly a key U.S. ally in the counterterrorism effort in West Africa. The new prime minister of Niger, Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine, whose party took power after a coup d’état threw out Niger’s democratically elected president, defended his country’s turn away from the U.S. and toward Russia in an interview with Rachel Chason of the Washington Post. Recalling the House’s six month delay in passing the national security supplemental bill, he said: “We have seen what the United States will do to defend its allies,” he said, “because we have seen Ukraine and Israel.”

Infrastructure Development On Biden’s Watch vs Republican Pandering To Anti Abortion Crowd

Heather Cox Richardson

Today illustrated that the Democrats have become America’s cheerleaders, emphasizing how investment in the nation’s infrastructure has created jobs and rebuilt the country. This week, the Biden-Harris administration is touting its investments in rebuilding roads and bridges, making sure Americans have clean water, getting rid of pollution, expanding access to high-speed internet, and building a clean energy economy, contrasting that success with Trump’s eternal announcements of an “Infrastructure Week” that never came. 

The White House today announced that it has awarded nearly $454 billion in funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, including more than 56,000 projects across more than 4,500 communities across the nation. Those include fixing more than 165,000 miles of roads and more than 9,400 bridges and improving more than 450 ports and 300 airport terminals. It has funded more than 1,400 drinking water and wastewater projects and projects to replace up to 1.7 million toxic lead pipes, as well as more than 8,000 low- and zero-emission buses. It has funded 95 previously unfunded Superfund projects to clean up contaminated sites. It has improved the electrical grid and funded 12,000 miles of high-speed internet infrastructure, and exposed internet junk fees.  

The White House explained that this investment is making it cheaper to install clean energy technology and lowering families’ monthly energy bills, and highlighted today the available rebates to enable people to take advantage of the new technologies. 

On Wednesday, May 8, a report from the Semiconductor Industry Association and the Boston Consulting Group explored the “breathtaking speed,” as the president of the semiconductor organization put it, at which the industry is growing. In the Financial Times on May 9, John Thornhill reported that the CHIPS and Science Act, which provided a $39 billion investment in  the semiconductor industry, has “primed a torrent of private sector investment.” With the influx of both federal money and an additional $447 billion of private investment in 83 projects in 25 states, the report forecasts that the U.S. will increase its share of global manufacturing capacity for leading-edge chips from today’s rate of 0% to 28% by 2032. Thornhill compared this investment to that spurred by Russia’s 1957 launch of the Sputnik satellite. 

The Economist yesterday announced that the U.S. “is in the midst of an extraordinary startup boom,” and explored “[h]ow the country revived its “go-getting spirit.”

In contrast to the Democrats’ confidence in America, the Republicans are all-in on the idea that the country is an apocalyptic wasteland. At a rally in New Jersey Saturday, Trump announced: “On day one we will throw out Bidenomics and reinstate MAGAnomics.” He promised to extend his 2017 tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations.

But the gist of his speech was an angry, vitriolic picture of a failing nation full of “enemies” that are “more dangerous” than China and Russia and who are “going to destroy our country.” In his telling, the criminal case against him in Manhattan is “bullsh*t,” and President Biden has done more damage than the “ten worst presidents in the history of our country” combined: “[h]e’s a fool; he’s not a smart man…[h]e’s a bad guy…the worst president ever, of any country. The whole world is laughing at him.”

Trump lied that other countries are “emptying out their mental institutions into the United States, our beautiful country. And now the prison populations all over the world are down. They don’t want to report that the mental-institution population is down because they’re taking people from insane asylums and from mental institutions.” Then he riffed into “the late great Hannibal Lecter,” the fictional murderer and cannibal in the film The Silence of the Lambs, apparently to suggest that similar individuals are migrating to the U.S.

House Republicans this week are working to pass a nonbinding resolution to condemn Biden’s immigration policies, although it was Republicans, under orders from Trump, who killed a strong bipartisan immigration bill earlier this year. 

The only way to turn back this apocalypse, Trump and his supporters insist, is to put Trump and his team back into the White House. From there, Republicans will return those they consider “real” Americans to power. 

The last few days have added new information about what that means. On Thursday, May 9, Senators Katie Britt (R-AL), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Kevin Cramer (R-ND) introduced the More Opportunities for Moms to Succeed (MOMS) act. Britt—who is best known for her disastrous response to Biden’s State of the Union speech from her kitchen—said the measure would provide a federal database of resources for pregnant women and women parenting young children, but that information excludes anything that touches on abortion.

The measure is clear that it enlists the government in opposition to abortion, but more than that, it establishes that the government will create a database of the names and contact information of pregnant women, which the government can then use “to follow up with users on additional resources that would be helpful for the users to review.” 

A government database of pregnant women would give the federal government unprecedented control over individuals, and it is especially chilling after the story Caroline Kitchener broke in the Washington Poston May 3, that a Texas man, Collin Davis, filed a petition to stop his ex-partner from traveling to Colorado, where abortion is legal, to obtain an abortion. Should she do so, his lawyer wrote, he would “pursue wrongful-death claims against anyone involved in the killing of his unborn child.” Now Davis wants to be able to depose his former partner along with others he says are “complicit” in the abortion. 

Antiabortion activists are also seeking to make mifepristone and misoprostol, drugs used in many abortions, hard to obtain. In Louisiana, state lawmakers are considering classifying the drugs as “controlled dangerous substances,” which would make possessing them carry penalties of up to ten years in prison and fines of up to $75,000. 

More than 240 Louisiana doctors wrote to lawmakers saying that the drugs have none of the addictive characteristics associated with dangerous controlled substances and warning that the drugs are crucial for inducing routine labor and preventing catastrophic hemorrhage after delivery, in addition to their use in abortions. “Given its historically poor maternal health outcomes, Louisiana should prioritize safe and evidence-based care for pregnant women,” the doctors wrote. 

Louisiana lawmakers also rejected a bill that would have allowed anyone under age 17, the age of consent in Louisiana, to have an abortion if they became pregnant after rape or incest. Passionate testimony from those who suffered such attacks or who treated pregnant girls as young as 8 failed to convince the Republican lawmakers to support the measure. “That baby [in the womb] is innocent.… We have to hang on to that,” said Republican state representative Dodie Horton. 

Today, at the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization promoting Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander participation and representation at all levels of the political process, Vice President Kamala Harris encouraged young people to innovate and to move into spaces from which they have been traditionally excluded. 

“So here’s the thing about breaking barriers,” she said. “Breaking barriers does not mean you start on one side of the barrier and you end up on the other side. There’s breaking involved. And when you break things you get cut. And you may bleed. And it is worth it every time…. We have to know that sometimes people will open the door for you and leave it open. Sometimes they won’t. And then you need to kick that f*cking door down.”

Harris’s advice reflects the history that happened on this date in 1862, when the enslaved mariners on board the shallow-draft C.S.S. Planter gathered up their families, fired up the ship’s boilers, and sailed out of the Charleston, South Carolina, harbor. The three white officers of the ship had gone ashore, leaving enslaved 23-year-old pilot Robert Smalls to take control. Smalls knew how to steer the ship and give the proper signals to the Confederates at Fort Sumter, Fort Moultrie, and three other checkpoints. 

Smalls piloted the Planter, the sixteen formerly enslaved people on it, and a head full of intelligence about the Confederate fortifications at Charleston to the U.S. Navy. In Confederate hands, the Planter had surveyed waterways and laid mines; now that information was in U.S. hands. Smalls went on to pilot naval vessels during the war, and in 1864 he bought the house formerly owned by the man who had enslaved him. 

A natural leader, Smalls went on to become a businessman, politician, and strong advocate for education. After serving in the 1868 South Carolina Constitutional Convention that made school attendance compulsory and provided for universal male suffrage, he went on to serve in the South Carolina legislature from 1868 to 1874, when he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served until 1887. When President Barack Obama signed an executive order establishing the nation’s first national monument concerning Reconstruction, he cited the life of Robert Smalls.

America’s Start Up Boom, Blinken Visits Zelenskky, Biden’s Strength With Likely Voters

Welcome New Subscribers!/Our Next Live Get Together Is Wed, May 22nd at 7pm ET

SIMON ROSENBERG

MAY 14

Happy Tuesday all. Got a few things for you today: 

America’s Start Up Boom – The Wall Street Journal is calling the American economy “the envy of the world.” The stock market is in record territory again. Best job market since 1960s. Lowest uninsured rate ever. Most robust recovery in the G7, lowest inflation rate too. Strong wage and real wage growth. Annual deficit trillions less. The 3 big Biden bills are driving hundreds of billions in new investment, accelerating our energy transition, creating jobs and opportunities for American workers for decades to come. 

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And now, in the Economist, this story – “America is in the midst of an extraordinary start up boom” – full of remarkably good news. An excerpt: 

Although America has a deserved reputation as a country at the cutting-edge of innovation, fuelled by entrepreneurial vim, in recent years some economists have worried that this reputation no longer holds true. Startups have formed a smaller and smaller portion of the business landscape: in 1982 some 38% of American firms were less than five years old; by 2018, 29% were that young. The share of Americans working for startups likewise fell. Silicon Valley sizzled with high-tech wizardry, but its giant companies hoarded the best researchers, leading to a slower spread of new ideas throughout the country. Researchers, including at the Federal Reserve, pointed to this decline in dynamism as a cause of weaker productivity growth.

Suddenly, what was old appears to be new. An array of data indicate that Americans are rediscovering their go-getting spirit. The most striking evidence comes from applications to form businesses, a proxy for startup activity. These soared in mid-2020, when America was still in the grip of covid-19. The initial surge was easy to dismiss: some of the new firms were scams, trying to profit from the government’s financial assistance for small businesses; others reflected the strangeness of the moment, with companies set up to import face masks or flog hand sanitiser.

Chart: The Economist

But now, well after the pandemic has faded away, the surge continues (see chart 1). Last year applications to form businesses reached 5.5m, a record. Although they have slowed a touch this year, the monthly average is still about 80% higher than during the decade prior to covid, compared with just a 20% rise in Europe. Startups normally play an outsized role in creating employment in America, as elsewhere. By definition, every startup job counts as new, whereas mature companies have more churn. That difference has become even starker. In the four years before the pandemic, established firms added one net job for every four created by startups; in the four years since the pandemic, established firms have actually lost one job for every four created by startups (see chart 2).

Chart: The Economist

Perhaps even more important than the numbers is the kind of ventures that are being created. In 2020 and 2021 many startups catered to the working-from-home revolution. These included online retailers, small trucking firms and landscapers. Since mid-2022, however, the baton has been passed to technology firms, according to Ryan Decker of the Fed and John Haltiwanger of the University of Maryland. A paper published in March by the Census Bureau found a particularly sharp increase last year in business applications based around artificial intelligence (AI). For researchers, this carries echoes of the 1990s, when computers and the internet took off. “It feels like a step-change increase across the economy in entrepreneurial potential,” says Kenan Fikri of Economic Innovation Group, a think-tank. “You never know which firm is going to be the next growth firm. So the more shots on goal you have, the better.”

It’s all very encouraging, a remarkable sign of the health and vitality of our economy. The American can do spirit is alive and well today. Much to celebrate here, and a reminder of our basic understanding of the current moment: 

Joe Biden is a good President. The country is better off. 

The Democratic Party is strong, winning elections all across the country, raising tons of money and enters the general election united and ready to go. 

What do they have? They have Trump, the ugliest political thing we’ve ever seen, and a party far more a raging dumpster fire than a well-oiled political machine. 

Additional Hopium resources on the strength of the Biden economy: 

On The 2024 Election – I’ve been diving into polls and the election quite a bit in the last few days (hereherehere) so just two points today: 1) in the last few weeks we’ve seen Biden’s best national polls of the year, and as I write in my posts, Biden’s emerging strength with likely voters is a very important new development in our understanding of the 2024 election. 

All likely voters, Biden-Trump (via 538): 

  • Echelon 49%-46% (+3)
  • ABC News 49%-45% (+4)
  • NPR/Marist 51%-46% (+5)

2) For Trump to be winning the 2024 election he needs to be clearly ahead, outside the margin of error, in MI, PA or WI. If President Biden wins these three states, assuming we also gain the single Nebraska electoral college vote (likely), we hit 270. In the new NYT poll Trump isn’t ahead outside of the margin of error in any of these states among likely voters. Thus, in this poll, despite the headline and framing, Trump is not ahead or winning the election. 

The 2024 election is close and competitive now, with Biden and Dems having gained a few points in recent months. We are seeing encouraging polling in the Senate and House battlegrounds, and we have meaningful financial and organization advantages over the Republicans that will matter over the next six months as voters increasingly check in. We have a long way to go, there will be good days and bad days, we lots and lots of work to do, but today, in every way imaginable, I would much rather be us than them. 

Upcoming Events – Got a few things coming up:

  • Wed, May 22nd, 7pm ET – Monthly Hopium Community Wide Get Together w/Simon – Register
  • Thur, June 20th Evening – Simon speaks in person at a Wisconsin Democratic Party Event (Madison) – more details soon
  • Fri/Sat, June 28-29 – Simon speaks in person at Network NOVA’s 8th Annual Women’s Summit, Tyson’s Corner, VA – More info, register

I will also note that I’ve been a little slow at getting back to those who’ve requested me for events for this summer. Between my daughter’s lacrosse play offs and graduation festivities this spring, and some critical travel dates that are still getting ironed out, I’ve been unable to commit to as many events as I hoped. Will try to get back to everyone soon – appreciate the patience all!

Kennedy Seeks Ballot Access In CA On Far-Right Party Line Which Backed Trump in 2016 – Kennedy was a Trump appointee. His campaign is staffed by Republican staffers, paid for by Republican donors. He parrots Putin talking points, and has defended Russian-backed Julian Assange and Edward Snowden. Here’s some new lovely stuff from this fraud, liar and MAGA-scam candidate via The Washington Post

Independent presidential candidateRobert F. Kennedy Jr. said this week that he has qualified to be on the ballot in California and will accept the nomination of the American Independent Party, which has a history of associating itself with far-right figures and individuals who have expressed racist views.

Kennedy’s alliance with the American Independent Party, which has previously supported segregationist and former Alabama governor George Wallace as well as Donald Trump in 2016, is part of his campaign’s attempt to get access on states’ ballots through gathering signatures or receiving the nominations of minor parties.

The American Independent Party’s recent former chairman, Robert J. Walters, wrote a book in 2015 that claimed genetic differences rather than discrimination led to Black students performing worse in schools compared with White students. The party promoted his book to their Facebook followers in 2022.

Three states — Utah, Michigan and Hawaii — confirmed that Kennedy is on the ballot, and he hinted at a recent event that more announcements were imminent. The California secretary of state’s office confirmed that it received the paperwork from the party, which now only exists in California, but the state will not certify candidates until Aug. 29, after its deadline to receive requests for ballot access.

Blinken Visits Zelenskyy – The Ukrainian government released this short video recapping the opening remarks by President Zelenskyy and Secretary of State Blinken. It is well worth watching. 

Zelenskyy’s office released the following statement with the video: 

Today, I hosted Secretary Blinken for a detailed discussion of the battlefield situation, support for our soldiers, and ongoing defense cooperation. 

We discussed the need for Patriot systems in Ukraine to protect our cities and communities, such as Kharkiv and the surrounding region. Two Patriots for the Kharkiv region could significantly contribute to the protection of lives from Russian terror. 

We also talked about preparations for the Global Peace Summit. It is important for us that the United States and President Biden participate and that America’s role in maintaining rules-based international order does not weaken. 

I am grateful to the American people, the United States Congress, and President Biden and his team for their support in our fight for freedom and independence. We appreciate the United States’ decision to continue its support for Ukraine, and we discussed how to best implement the announced aid packages and get weapons into the hands of our warriors as soon as possible.

In related news, the The Financial Times has posted this story, “Russian planning sabotage across Europe, intelligence agencies warn.”  An excerpt: 

Assessments suggest Kremlin agents preparing covert bombings, arson and attacks on infrastructure

European intelligence agencies have warned their governments that Russia is plotting violent acts of sabotage across the continent as it commits to a course of permanent conflict with the west. 

Russia has already begun to more actively prepare covert bombings, arson attacks and damage to infrastructure on European soil, directly and via proxies, with little apparent concern about causing civilian fatalities, intelligence officials believe. 

While the Kremlin’s agents have a long history of such operations — and launched attacks sporadically in Europe in recent years — evidence is mounting of a more aggressive and concerted effort, according to assessments from three different European countries shared with the Financial Times. 

Intelligence officials are becoming increasingly vocal about the threat in an effort to promote vigilance. 

“We assess the risk of state-controlled acts of sabotage to be significantly increased,” said Thomas Haldenwang, head of German domestic intelligence. Russia now seems comfortable carrying out operations on European soil “[with] a high potential for damage,” he told a security conference last month hosted by his agency, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution. 

Haldenwang spoke just days after two German-Russian nationals were arrested in Bayreuth, Bavaria, for allegedly plotting to attack military and logistics sites in Germany on behalf of Russia. 

Two men were charged in the UK in late April with having started a fire at a warehouse containing aid shipments for Ukraine. English prosecutors accuse them of working for the Russian government. 

In Sweden, security services are meanwhile investigating a series of recent railway derailments, which they suspect may be acts of state-backed sabotage. 

Russia has attempted to destroy the signalling systems on Czech railways, the country’s transport minister told the FT last month. 

In Estonia, an attack on the interior minister’s car in February and those of journalists were perpetrated by Russian intelligence operatives, the country’s Internal Security Service has said. France’s ministry of defence also warned this year of possible sabotage attacks by Russia on military sites. 

“The obvious conclusion is that there has been a real stepping up of Russian activity,” said Keir Giles, senior consulting fellow at Chatham House, the think-tank. “One cannot tell if that’s a reflection of the fact that the Russians are throwing more resources at it; whether they are being more sloppy and getting caught; or whether western counter-intelligence has simply become better at detecting and stopping it,” he added. “Whatever it is though — there is a lot going on.” 

A defendant alleged to have violated EU trade restrictions in connection with deliveries of electronic components for military equipment to Russia enters the courtroom at the Higher Regional Court A defendant in Baden-Württemberg who is alleged to have violated EU trade restrictions in connection with deliveries of electronic components for military equipment to Russia. 

One senior European government official said information was being shared through Nato security services of “clear and convincing Russian mischief”, which was co-ordinated and at scale. The time had come to “raise awareness and focus” about the threat of Russian violence on European soil, he added. Nato issued a statement on Thursday declaring its deep concern about growing “malign activities on allied territory” by Russia, citing what it said was an “intensifying campaign . . . across the Euro-Atlantic area”.

Everyday I take inspiration from the courage and resilience of the Ukrainian people, and know their fight is our fight too. 

Keep working hard all. Proud to be in this fight with all of you – Simon

Biden Moves Away From Trickle-Down And Into Jobs

Heather Cox Richardson

Today, in Racine, Wisconsin, President Joe Biden announced that Microsoft is investing $3.3 billion dollars to build a new data center that will help operate one of the most powerful artificial intelligence systems in the world. It is expected to create 2,300 union construction jobs and employ 2,000 permanent workers. 

Microsoft has also partnered with Gateway Technical College to train and certify 200 students a year to fill new jobs in data and information technology. In addition, Microsoft is working with nearby high schools to train students for future jobs. 

Speaking at Gateway Technical College’s Racine campus, Biden contrasted today’s investment with that made by Trump about the same site in 2018. In that year, Trump went to Wisconsin for the “groundbreaking” of a high-tech campus he claimed would be the “eighth wonder of the world.” 

Under Republican governor Scott Walker, Wisconsin legislators approved a $3 billion subsidy and tax incentive package—ten times larger than any similar previous package in the state—to lure the Taiwan-based Foxconn electronics company. Once built, a new $10 billion campus that would focus on building large liquid-crystal display screens would bring 13,000 jobs to the area, they promised. 

Foxconn built a number of buildings, but the larger plan never materialized, even after taxpayers had been locked into contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars for upgrading roads, sewer system, electricity, and so on. When voters elected Democrat Tony Evers as governor in 2022, he dropped the tax incentives from $3 billion to $80 million, which depended on the hiring of only 1,454 workers, reflecting the corporation’s current plans. Foxconn dropped its capital investment from $10 billion to $672.8 million.  

In November 2023, Microsoft announced it was buying some of the Foxconn properties in Wisconsin.

Today, Biden noted that rather than bringing jobs to Racine, Trump’s policies meant the city lost 1,000 manufacturing jobs during his term. Wisconsin as a whole lost 83,500. “Racine was once a manufacturing boomtown,” Biden recalled, “all the way through the 1960s, powering companies—invented and manufacturing Windex…portable vacuum cleaners, and so much more, and powered by middle-class jobs.

“And then came trickle-down economics [which] cut taxes for the very wealthy and biggest corporations…. We shipped American jobs overseas because labor was cheaper. We slashed public investment in education and innovation. And the result: We hollowed out the middle class. My predecessor and his administration doubled down on that failed trickle-down economics, along with the [trail] of broken promises.” 

“But that’s not on my watch,” Biden said. “We’re determined to turn it around.” He noted that thanks to the Democrats’ policies, in the past three years, Racine has added nearly 4,000 jobs—hitting a record low unemployment rate—and Wisconsin as a whole has gained 178,000 new jobs. 

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS and Science Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act have fueled “a historic boom in rebuilding our roads and bridges, developing and deploying clean energy, [and] revitalizing American manufacturing,” he said. That investment has attracted $866 billion in private-sector investment across the country, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs “building new semiconductor factories, electric vehicles and battery factories…here in America.” 

The Biden administration has been scrupulous about making sure that money from the funds appropriated to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure and manufacturing base has gone to Republican-dominated districts; indeed, Republican-dominated states have gotten the bulk of those investments. “President Biden promised to be the president of all Americans—whether you voted for him or not. And that’s what this agenda is delivering,” White House deputy chief of staff Natalie Quillian told Matt Egan of CNN in February. 

But there is, perhaps, a deeper national strategy behind that investment. Political philosophers studying the rise of authoritarianism note that strongmen rise by appealing to a population that has been dispossessed economically or otherwise. By bringing jobs back to those regions that have lost them over the past several decades and promising “the great comeback story all across…the entire country,” as he did today, Biden is striking at that sense of alienation.

“When folks see a new factory being built here in Wisconsin, people going to work making a really good wage in their hometowns, I hope they feel the pride that I feel,” Biden said. “Pride in their hometowns making a comeback. Pride in knowing we can get big things done in America still.” 

That approach might be gaining traction. Last Friday, when Trump warned the audience of Fox 2 Detroit television that President’s Biden’s policies would cost jobs in Michigan, local host Roop Raj provided a “reality check,” noting that Michigan gained 24,000 jobs between January 2021, when Biden took office, and May 2023.

At Gateway Technical College, Biden thanked Wisconsin governor Tony Evers and Racine mayor Cory Mason, both Democrats, as well as Microsoft president Brad Smith and AFL-CIO president Liz Schuler. 

The picture of Wisconsin state officials working with business and labor leaders, at a public college established in 1911, was an image straight from the Progressive Era, when the state was the birthplace of the so-called Wisconsin Idea. In the earliest years of the twentieth century, when the country reeled under industrial monopolies and labor strikes, Wisconsin governor Robert “Fighting Bob” La Follette and his colleagues advanced the idea that professors, lawmakers, and officials should work together to provide technical expertise to enable the state to mediate a fair relationship between workers and employers. 

In his introduction to the 1912 book explaining the Wisconsin Idea, former president Theodore Roosevelt, a Republican, explained that the Wisconsin Idea turned the ideas of reformers into a workable plan, then set out to put those ideas into practice. Roosevelt approvingly quoted economist Simon Patten, who maintained that the world had adequate resources to feed, clothe, and educate everyone, if only people cared to achieve that end. Quoting Patten, Roosevelt wrote: “The real idealist is a pragmatist and an economist. He demands measurable results and reaches them by means made available by economic efficiency. Only in this way is social progress possible.”

Reformers must be able to envision a better future, Roosevelt wrote, but they must also find a way to turn those ideals into reality. That involved careful study and hard work to develop the machinery to achieve their ends. 

Roosevelt compared people engaged in progressive reform to “that greatest of all democratic reformers, Abraham Lincoln.” Like Lincoln, he wrote, reformers “will be assailed on the one side by the reactionary, and on the other by that type of bubble reformer who is only anxious to go to extremes, and who always gets angry when he is asked what practical results he can show.” “[T]he true reformer,” Roosevelt wrote, “must study hard and work patiently.” 

“It is no easy matter actually to insure, instead of merely talking about, a measurable equality of opportunity for all men,” Roosevelt wrote. “It is no easy matter to make this Republic genuinely an industrial as well as a political democracy. It is no easy matter to secure justice for those who in the past have not received it, and at the same time to see that no injustice is meted out to others in the process. It is no easy matter to keep the balance level and make it evident that we have set our faces like flint against seeing this government turned into either government by a plutocracy, or government by a mob. It is no easy matter to give the public their proper control over corporations and big business, and yet to prevent abuse of that control.”

“All through the Union we need to learn the Wisconsin lesson,” Roosevelt wrote in 1912.

“We’re the United States of America,” President Biden said today, “And there’s nothing beyond our capacity when we work together.”

Who’s Next?

AG Nessel Charges Attorney Stefanie Lambert and Former Adams Township Clerk Scott for 2020 Election Voter Data Breach

AG Nessel Charges Attorney Stefanie Lambert and Former Adams Township ClerkScott for 2020 Election Voter Data Breach

LANSING– Today, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced charges against former Adams Township Clerk Stephanie Scott, 52, and her private attorney Stefanie Lynn Junttila, 42, also known as Stefanie Lambert, for allegedly permitting an unauthorized computer examiner access to voter data, including non-public voter information, concerning the 2020 General Election.

The Department contends that Scott intentionally disregarded numerous instructions from the Director of Elections, acting on behalf of the Secretary of State, to present the Adams Township voting tabulator to an authorized vendor for maintenance and testing and withheld the tabulator until it was seized by Michigan State Police pursuant to a search warrant. The Department also alleges Lambert illicitly transmitted data from the Adams Township Electronic Poll Book concerning the 2020 General Election under the direction of Scott.

“Ensuring election security and integrity stands as the cornerstone of our democracy,” Nessel said. “When elected officials and their proxies use their positions to promote baseless conspiracies, show blatant disregard for voter privacy, and break the law in the process, it undermines the very essence of the democratic process. Those who engage in such reckless conduct must be held accountable for their actions.”

Scott is charged with:

  • One count of Using a Computer to Commit a Crime, a seven-year felony;
  • One count of Computers – Unauthorized Access, a five-year felony;
  • One count of Conspiracy to Commit the Offense of Computers -Unauthorized Access, a five-year felony;
  • One count of Misconduct in Office, a five-year felony;
  • One count of Concealing or Withholding a Voting Machine, a five-year felony; and
  • One count of Disobeying a Lawful Instruction or Order of the Secretary of State as Chief Election Officer, a 90-day misdemeanor.

Lambert is charged with:

  • One count of Using a Computer to Commit a Crime, a seven-year felony;
  • One count of Computers – Unauthorized Access, a five-year felony; and
  • One count of Conspiracy to Commit the Offense of Computers -Unauthorized Access, a five-year felony.

The Michigan State Police referred this matter to the Department of Attorney General, following its investigation into possible election law violations by the former Adams Township Clerk.

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Please note: For all criminal proceedings, a criminal charge is merely an allegation. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. The Department does not provide booking photos.