SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California lawmakers this year set out to advance bills that would require COVID-19 vaccines for more people and would make them easier to access. They have largely failed on the vaccine mandate front. This spring, Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, and Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks, D-Oakland, pulled bills that would have required vaccines for all California workers and would have added the COVID-19 shot to a list of immunizations students need to attend school. Now, just one major vaccine bill remains. The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved Senate Bill 866 from Sen...
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On CNN Saturday afternoon, conservative commentator S.E. Cupp insisted the Supreme Court ruling dismantling Roe v Wade after 50 years of allowing women to make choices about their reproductive freedom no matter where they live, will come back the haunt the Republican Party in the 2022 midterms.
As Cupp explained, combined with the battle over gun laws, the unpopular 6-3 decision by the conservative court could be a defining issue that increases voter turnout that will, in turn, cripple GOP efforts to reclaim both chambers of Congress.
Speaking with CNN hosts Christ Paul and Boris Sanchez, Cupp insisted the past week's news has benefitted Democrats as they make their case for November 2022 and beyond.
"Yeah, I think the Roe ruling was a huge -- they [Republicans] might like the outcome, but politically I can't imagine a better turnout engine than this ruling for democrats," Cupp claimed. "And you can make the argument that the Republicans' legislative victories and the Supreme Court victory by a conservative court are regressive, they're taking us backwards. Whether you like them or not, you can't deny the fact that they're going backwards, right? They're taking us back to a different time when these weren't rights."
"Republicans are banning books," she continued. "I mean, it really does feel anachronistic where the country is, so I think that's a good message for Democrats."
"You know, look, the economy is still going to be a huge driver for the election but I absolutely think the Democrats got a big boost from both of these rulings, I feel like, and they needed it, politically," she added.
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Trump's lawyers could be the first indicted due to the Jan 6th hearings -- and that's very bad news for him
In a column for Politico, former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti suggested that a quintet of lawyers who attempted to help Donald Trump steal the 2020 presidential election could be the first major players in the former president's orbit to be hit with criminal conspiracy charges due to revelations from the House Jan 6th committee hearings thus far.
According to Mariotti, the actions of John Eastman, Rudy Giuliani, Sydney Powell, Jenna Ellis and Jeffrey Clark seem to be a major focus of the bi-partisan select committee, and that the evidence presented makes a strong case against each of them.
"Of all the evidence uncovered by the committee, what jumps out to me as a former federal prosecutor are the 'fake elector' certificates signed by Trump electors and submitted to former Vice President Mike Pence in an effort to delay the certification of the electoral votes on January 6. Those certificates contained statements that are easily proven false," he wrote before adding, "Typically, lawyers are not a weak link. In my experience, lawyers have been the most difficult defendants to convict. They’re usually careful about what they say and what they write down. But Trump’s coterie of dishonest legal advisers — John Eastman, Rudy Giuliani, Sydney Powell, Jenna Ellis and Clark — weren’t careful. In their attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, they said things that were demonstrably false and were personally involved in lies told to government officials."
Writing, "If prosecutors can prove that one or more of them created the false certificates, and knew that doing so was illegal, they may have criminal liability," he suggested that testimony given so far has demonstrated that they knew they were lying and that could be used against them in a trial where, by virtue of the fact that they are also attorneys, makes the case against them even easier.
"Because the statute criminalizing false statements requires knowledge that the statement was false and that the defendant was doing something illegal, the attorneys are the easiest targets for DOJ," he wrote before elaborating, "As attorneys, it will be hard for Eastman, Giuliani and Ellis to claim that they had no idea that they were acting outside the four corners of state law by convening 'alternative' electors and submitting them to the Senate even though the state had already submitted official electors. It will also be hard for Clark to argue that he had no idea that what he was doing was illegal, given that his superiors forcefully told him so."
Calling the cases against them the easiest path for prosecutors eager to head to court, Mariotti added, "But if federal prosecutors build a case against Giuliani, Eastman or Clark first, they could potentially flip one of them and have a key cooperator against Trump. Presumably Trump had forthcoming one-on-one conversations with those attorneys, believing that they were protected by attorney-client privilege."
"If one of them agreed to cooperate, DOJ could go to a judge seeking an order permitting disclosure of Trump’s statements under the crime-fraud exception to attorney-client privilege, which permits disclosure of private communications between an attorney and client if they were about ongoing crimes," he predicted.
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When Jimmy Carter was president in the late 1970s, America faced a crippling energy crisis, and inevitably Carter was blamed for it by the American people. Given that he later lost to Ronald Reagan in the 1980 election, commentators have held ever since that presidents who preside over gas price hikes face political doom — regardless of whether it is their fault.
This article first appeared in Salon.
Yet it turns out that, much as is the case with climate change, the best way to understand gas price fluctuations is as a global phenomenon — one in which the inherently unsustainable way that people continue to live inflicts unnecessary pain on everyone.
Let's go back half a century and start with perhaps the most infamous energy crisis, the one prompted by the Yom Kippur War in 1973. Although there had been a series of energy crises starting in the late 1960s due to production peaks and geopolitical tensions, the first significant catastrophe happened after a coalition of Arab states led by Egypt and Syria launched a surprise attack on Israel during the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur. A number of nations expressed solidarity with Israel, including the United States (under notoriously anti-Semitic president Richard Nixon), and as a result the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC) proclaimed an oil embargo against pro-Israel countries.
In addition to causing skyrocketing gas prices during a period of high inflation, the embargo that began in 1973 had a profound policy legacy that continues to provide a rhetorical framework for American energy policy.
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"On a policy basis, the embargo — and the oil price/disruption shocks following the Iranian Revolution and the Iran-Iraq War in the late 1970s — created an energy policy framework for the United States built on the dual notions of resource scarcity and growing demand (as well as increased concern about undue import reliance) that has been memorialized in legislation and regulation over the past 40 years," writes Frank A. Verrastro and Guy Caruso of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "Every U.S. president since Richard Nixon has committed the nation, at least rhetorically, to energy independence."
Much as is the case with climate change, the best way to understand gas price fluctuations is as a global phenomenon.
Sometimes internal affairs in one Middle Eastern nation could send shockwaves throughout the petroleum-consuming world. After strikes broke out in Iran's oil fields as part of a larger revolution in 1978 and 1979, crude oil production plummeted by an amount equal to roughly 7% of world production at that time. Gas prices surged and Americans, scarred by interminable lines at the gas station pumps, turned out Carter and replaced him with Reagan. Shortly thereafter the Iranian revolution calmed down and Americans were treated to roughly two decades of comparatively stable gas prices.
By the time the 21st century rolled around, there were an entirely different set of variables leading to gas price increases. Economic growth in China and India was fueling demand for gasoline in those nations and for a while gas prices seemed poised to reach Carter-era heights, but gas prices cratered in late 2008 as part of the larger trend of economic collapses accompanying the onset of the Great Recession.
If all of this seems arbitrary, there is one key common theme: Gas prices in the United States are inextricably tied to international events entirely outside the purview of any president, whether Carter or Joe Biden. And this brings us to the causes of the current gas price increases: You can start with the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused crude oil prices to drop as demand fizzled and is now causing a surge as production strains to keep apace of consumption (and particularly demand in nations like China, which is ending its lockdown). Russia's oil exports have been significantly reduced due to that nation's invasion of Ukraine, and the subsequent blowback from the international community. Finally, while demand for gas has increased, it is still not back to the levels that existed before the pandemic.
Much like the climate, gas prices exist in a complex and planet-wide system in which it is virtually impossible for any single American official to significantly alter what happens. Even as Biden calls on Congress to suspend the federal gas tax, it does little more than nibble at the edges of the problem.
"He has no real effect on world oil prices," Christopher Knittel, an energy economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told USA Today. He later added, "Even the things he has already done and has suggested are short-term, marginal impacts on the price of gasoline. It's hard for Americans to see this, but the world market is so big and so vast, it's hard for even a big country and an economic powerhouse like ourselves to have a large impact" on gas prices.