This Friday, the House committee investigating the Capitol riot has issued 14 subpoenas to people who falsely claimed to be electors for former President Donald Trump in the 2020 election.
The individuals who were subpoenaed submitted false Electoral College certificates in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, New Mexico, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin -- all states that were won by President Joe Biden.
“The select committee is seeking information about attempts in multiple states to overturn the results of the 2020 election, including the planning and coordination of efforts to send false slates of electors to the National Archives,” Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the chairman of the committee, said in a statement. “We believe the individuals we have subpoenaed today have information about how these so-called alternate electors met and who was behind that scheme.”
The names of those subpoenaed on Friday were: Nancy Cottle and Loraine B. Pellegrino of Arizona; David Shafer and Shawn Still of Georgia; Kathy Berden and Mayra Rodriguez of Michigan; Jewll Powdrell and Deborah W. Maestas of New Mexico; Michael J. McDonald and James DeGraffenreid of Nevada; Bill Bachenberg and Lisa Patton of Pennsylvania; and Andrew Hitt and Kelly Ruh of Wisconsin.
In a tweet this Friday, The Trace's Will Vant Sant said that on of those subpoenaed, Bill Bachenberg, has been an NRA board member since 2005.
According to The New York Times, the scheme to employ the fake electors was one of Trump’s "most expansive efforts to overturn the election, beginning even before some states had finished counting ballots and culminating in the pressure placed on Vice President Mike Pence to throw out legitimate votes for Mr. Biden when he presided over the joint congressional session. At various times, the gambit involved lawyers, state lawmakers and top White House aides."
Read more at The New York Times.
When Republicans across the nation started storming school board meetings, in full-blown hysterics about something called "critical race theory," the initial reaction of the non-Fox News-watcher was confusion. Very few even know what critical race theory is. It is not being taught to the vast majority of public school children, as it's a high level academic theory used by legal scholars and sociologists, not 8th graders. But soon it became clear that "critical race theory" was being invoked as a scare term, exploiting this multisyllabic academic jargon as cover for what was, in actuality, an effort to censor any curricula or educational materials that taught kids unpleasant truths about the history of fascism, the struggle for civil rights, or the existence of LGBTQ people.
Republicans, unsurprisingly, faked umbrage at this claim, insisting repeatedly that they had no intention of removing standard classroom lessons on matters like the Holocaust, Brown vs. the Board of Education, or the March on Washington. Instead, their talking points were a jumbled, bad faith explosion of claims that they were actually against racism and just worried about "divisive" lessons. They kept this patter of nonsense up, even as Virginia's successful GOP gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin ran ads celebrating a right-wing mother who tried to keep her son from reading "Beloved" by Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison, a book that was clearly only objectionable because it portrayed slavery in a bad light.
It turns out that liberal critics were right and conservatives were lying. "Critical race theory" was, in fact, just a scare term the right was using as cover for what is an all-out, nationwide war on teaching very basic lessons to kids about important historical events — including the civil rights movement and the Holocaust.
A national scandal erupted this week when it was discovered that a Tennessee school board pulled the famous graphic novel "Maus," by Art Spiegelman, from their curriculum. The book is rightly regarded as a classic for its depiction not just of the brutalities of the Holocaust, but the lingering impacts on the survivors and their families. In response to the criticism, right-wing activist Christopher Rufo — who has bragged about inventing the use of "critical race theory" as a scare term for exactly this purpose — tried to deny that the book was being yanked for Holocaust denialism reasons. He insisted they just wanted a "better book" to teach.
Rufo's dishonesty should be apparent to anyone who has read "Maus," as there really is no better book to teach. But reading the minutes of the meeting erases all doubt that the objections to the book were rooted in a belief that the truth of the Holocaust should remain hidden. One board member, Tony Allman, explicitly said educators "don't need to enable or somewhat promote this stuff," because it "shows people hanging, it shows them killing kids," and "it is not wise or healthy." Another member complained that the book showed a suicide caused by survivor's guilt, claiming it somehow undermined efforts to teach "ethics to our kids."
Needless to say, "Maus" does not "promote" killing kids or suicide. Insofar as it "promotes" anything, it's an understanding of the dangers of fascism, and the inhumanity that racism breeds. And it's those truths that clearly rattled the school board members. That's what they don't want young people exposed to.
The "Maus" scandal is just the tip of the iceberg, of course.
In Florida, the legislature is pushing through a ban of history education that causes "discomfort," and despite claims to the contrary, there's simply no way to teach about the history of lynching or slavery or Jim Crow without said discomfort. As Kathryn Joyce reported for Salon, one of the most immediate results was a school district in central Florida canceling a training seminar for teachers on how to teach subjects such as the March on Washington, Brown v. Board of Education, and the Montgomery bus boycott.
The behavior of Florida's Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, makes quite clear that the intent here is to make it too fraught for teachers to discuss any history of race in America at all. He's been pushing for a law that would allow parents to comb over school curricula and sue school districts if they find anything they don't like. That may sound "empowering" initially, but, as the fight over "Maus" demonstrates, the reality is that there are always people out there who simply don't think any unpleasant facts about history should be taught. And giving parents this level of veto power would mean erasing any history but the occasional lesson about George Washington and the cherry tree. (Which didn't actually happen.)
As Jon Skolnik reports for Salon, a Missouri school district banned "The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison, using the usual bad faith claims that the objections were somehow about graphic sex. But, of course, this fits the larger pattern of white parents throwing fits about books and lessons that tell the truth about racism, and especially about books like Morrison's, which humanize the victims of racism.
In Williamson County, Tennessee, Moms for Liberty — a laughably false name for this pro-censorship group — tried to ban 31 books. It's not hard to detect the history they're trying to erase. Books that were targeted include "Martin Luther King, Jr. and the March on Washington," "We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball," and "Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family's Fight for Desegregation." A couple of books about Greek mythology were also tossed on the list because heaven forbid kids learn about lost religions and start to ask hard questions about existing ones. Of the challenged books, one was outright banned — Newberry winner "Walk Two Moons," which clearly offends by humanizing Native Americans. Seven other books are being hobbled with "restrictions" on what parts of the book kids are allowed to read. Targeted for censorship: Admitting that male seahorses nurture their young, a book that says it's okay to have feelings, a book about the fight to desegregate schools, a book about how it's okay for boys to like poetry, and a book that features interracial relationships.
So now the truth is out: Republicans weren't upset about "critical race theory" or anything like it. It was a fake panic, propped up to cover for what they really want to do: Erase the history of racism from schools. As a side bonus, they also wish to force extremely rigid gender roles on children. It's not just about attacking LGBTQ kids. This hysteria has reached the point of refusing to admit boys can like poetry or that fathers can care for babies.
Still, this exposure isn't slowing Republicans down one bit.
Youngkin, who won by pretending to be a moderate who was opposed to fictional leftist extremism, is already showing his true colors as a Virginia governor. He's calling on right-wing parents to report teachers for any lessons they deem "divisive." As these previous reports show, that's an expansive ask, as many parents clearly think it's "divisive" to admit segregation happened, slavery was real, or the Holocaust was horrific. Youngkin's intent is quite clearly to scare teachers into simply not teaching history, at least not in any way that's truthful or remotely educational. Or to scare teachers into not teaching literature that humanizes people of color or LGBTQ people, or men who like poetry for that matter. As usual, despite their denials, Republicans really are behaving like the deplorables their critics say they are.
As the Federal Reserve signals it will raise interest rates in March, we talk to Christopher Leonard, author of the new book “The Lords of Easy Money,” about how the Federal Reserve broke the American economy. He details the issues with quantitative easing, a radical intervention instituted by the federal government in 2010 to encourage banks and investors to lend more risky debt to combat the recession. “The Fed’s policies over the last decades have stoked the world of Wall Street,” says Leonard. “It has pumped trillions of dollars into the banking system and thereby inflated these markets for stocks, for bonds. And that drives income inequality.”
"The Lords of Easy Money": How the Federal Reserve Enriched Wall Street & Broke the U.S. Economy www.youtube.com
TranscriptThis is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh.
Amidst growing concerns about inflation in the U.S., the Federal Reserve announced Tuesday it will start hiking interest rates in March. To look at what this will mean for working people and everyone beyond the 1%, we’re joined by Christopher Leonard, longtime business reporter. His new book is out this week, The Lords of Easy Money: How the Federal Reserve Broke the American Economy.
Welcome to Democracy Now! It’s great to have you with us, Christopher. If you can start off with a Federal Reserve 101: What does it mean to lift interest rates? And why do you say it’s broken, the American economy?
CHRISTOPHER LEONARD: Yes. Thank you. Great question. And, you know, the Federal Reserve can seem like this very kind of obscure and highly technical institution that only matters to Wall Street, but I really think that’s not the case. It is critical to understand what this central bank does and how it has affected our economy. You know, one of my central preoccupations as a business reporter is trying to understand growing income inequality in the United States and why we live in this sort of funhouse-type economy where we can see stock markets breaking records, corporate debt markets breaking records, while the middle class is really treading water with stagnant wages and falling further behind. What the Federal Reserve has done over the last decade helps explain why this is happening.
So, you know, at the root level, we created the Federal Reserve as the central bank to do one key thing: It creates our currency. The Federal Reserve literally creates and manages our currency. That thing we call a U.S. dollar is in reality a Federal Reserve note. So, the central bank’s job is to make sure that the dollar retains its value. So that’s why you always hear this talk about, you know, the Federal Reserve hiked interest rates today, or it cut interest rates today. What they’re doing is expanding or contracting the supply of money.
So, why does that matter? Well, here’s why. Over the last decade, the Fed has really moved itself to the center of American economic life. The Fed has engaged in an unprecedented series of experiments in printing new money. Let me put it this way: In the first century of its existence, the Fed expanded the pool of base money — you know, what the economists called the monetary base. The Fed expanded that pool of money to about $900 billion. So, that’s a trillion dollars in printing money over a century. But then, after the crash of '08, between 2008, 2014, the Fed prints $3.5 trillion. So that's three-and-a-half centuries’ worth of money printing in a few short years.
Now, that money is not a neutral force. When the Fed creates new dollars, it doesn’t create them in the checking account of normal people, right? It creates new dollars — specifically and by design, it creates new dollars on Wall Street in the bank accounts of 24 select institutions. And they’re the folks you’d suspect: you know, JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo. That’s where the Fed is creating these new dollars. So the Fed’s policies over the last decades have stoked the world of Wall Street. It has pumped trillions of dollars into the banking system, and thereby it’s inflated these markets for stocks, for bonds. And that drives income inequality, because, you know, just the tiny 1% at the top of our wealth ladder controls 40% of all the assets, whereas the bottom half of Americans, you know, those of us who earn a living by getting a paycheck rather than by owning assets — the bottom half of Americans only own about 5% of all the assets. So the Fed’s policies have enriched the very rich, the biggest of the big banks, while leaving the middle class behind.
And now we find ourself in this position, that’s really actually quite a dangerous moment, in 2022, where we’re seeing price inflation start to increase dramatically. So, the Fed is being forced to tighten the money supply and to try to back off these stimulus programs it’s created. The real risk here, I think, for everybody in America is that as the Fed does this, as it hikes rates and pulls back on the stimulus, it’s going to cause those asset markets to fall. And, you know, to put that in common parlance, it’s risking creating a financial market crash as the Fed is forced to hike interest rates. And again, to me, one of the key problems with this is that over the decade of these easy money policies, the middle class has really been left out. And once again, it will be the middle class that’s going to have to pay the bill if we see another financial market crash.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, Chris, could you respond to what we see everywhere in the media, namely that inflation rates now are almost at 7%, higher than they’ve been since the 1980s? I mean, that level of inflation also impacts the vast majority of Americans adversely. What other steps could be taken to reduce inflation?
CHRISTOPHER LEONARD: So, it’s just fascinating. And one key thing I would really like to point out, that I learned while reporting this book, is that we should, I think, think about two kinds of inflation. There’s inflation of prices, which is what we’re talking about right now, that really sharp increase in the price of food, fuel, television sets, cars. That’s price inflation. But then you’ve got inflation of assets, which is what the Fed has been pushing so hard for decades. So, that’s a rise in the value of homes and stocks and corporate bonds. So we’ve actually had runaway asset inflation for a decade, but we haven’t seen price inflation. And we’re starting to see it now.
And as you point out, price inflation can just, frankly, be devastating for the middle class, if wages don’t keep up with the increase in prices — which, unfortunately, is exactly what we’re seeing now. So, wages are kind of creeping up a little bit, but we’re seeing this runaway increase in prices, which presents us with a terrible dilemma. And to be blunt, the Federal Reserve is responsible for the price inflation, at least to a certain degree, by pumping all of this money into the economy.
So, you know, your question is: How can you fight it, and what can you do?
AMY GOODMAN: We have 30 seconds.
CHRISTOPHER LEONARD: Quite unfortunately, one of the few ways to do this is to hike interest rates, which is going to create damage to our economy. Many other important measures will take a lot of time, such as improving the supply chain or cracking down on monopolies. So, we’re going to see interest rates hiked, and it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, we clearly have to come back to this conversation, Christopher Leonard, business reporter and author. New book out this week, it’s called The Lords of Easy Money: How the Federal Reserve Broke the American Economy.
And that does it for our show. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh. Remember, wearing a mask is an act of love.