How is manufactured outrage working out for Fox News?
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Tyre Nichols: We’ve Seen Too Many People Murdered By American Police. It’s Time for Genuine Reform. American exceptionalism strikes again. We live in the only developed country in the world where families go bankrupt simply because somebody got sick or went to college. We’re the only nation with a major political party that denies climate change. America, with 4 percent of the world’s population, has more people in prison than the total population of all prisoners in every other developed country together: fully a quarter of the world’s prisoners are held in US institutions. And now we find we lead the world in police killings of civilians. As I noted yesterday, you and I are 30 times more likely to be killed by police than are citizens of Germany or Great Britain. In 2018, for example, police killed over 1000 people in America. In Germany cops killed 11; in Australia 8; in Sweden 6; in the UK it was 3 people; and cops killed only 1 person in New Zealand. There are solutions but they require an honest political process, something that won’t happen this year or next while the GOP runs the House of Representatives. But, still, we should be preparing for the day we have an opportunity to elevate this country into 21st-century standards of civilization.

Can the debt ceiling be abolished or will the GOP dig in on slashing Social Security & Medicare? Back in 1917 when Congress authorized the government to issue special “Liberty Bonds” to finance WWI, they created a ceiling for our debt, largely as a sop to those legislators who today we’d call “deficit hawks.” It’s been routinely raised during every presidential administration from then until 1995 when Newt Gingrich discovered that old law and realized he could use it as a cudgel to hit Bill Clinton upside the head. Since then Republicans also attacked Obama with the debt ceiling and now are trying again with Biden, demanding the administration go along with drastic cuts to “entitlements” aka Social Security and Medicare. So far, Biden and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen have gone along with Republicans, stopping payments for non-essential government functions and deferring payments that can be put off. But soon the time will come when hard decisions must be made. Will Biden continue to refuse to negotiate with these economic terrorists? If he does, will Republicans really force America into default, crashing our economy and throwing the nation into a second Republican Great Depression? Will he mint a trillion-dollar coin to solve the problem? Or — my suggestion — will Biden at some point simply call their bluff and order Yellen to resume making payments and let the Republicans in Congress sue him before the Supreme Court to enforce the debt limit, a law that clearly conflicts with Section 4 of the 14th Amendment and is thus unconstitutional? And, regardless of how this plays out, now that Americans know the GOP wants to gut entitlement programs, what kind of political damage will that do to Republicans running for re-election in 2024? At the moment there are no clear answers, but these are the most salient questions.

— Bill Barr was the most corrupt Attorney General in modern American history, both when he helped George HW Bush avoid prosecution for Iran/Contra in 1992 and when he helped cover up Trump’s multiple connections to Russia and that nation’s help for him in the 2016 election. Claiming that the Obama administration, with help from the FBI, had “spied on” the Trump campaign and falsely tried to tie him to Russia, Barr appointed John Durham to get to the bottom of the “scandal.” Durham then proceeded to do just that, spending $6 million and 4 years to discover that there was absolutely no such spying or other efforts by the Obama administration. Durham did, however, discover at least one major crime. Italian authorities tipped him and Barr off to “financial crimes” committed by Donald Trump himself. Durham has not, as of yet, disclosed what those crimes were, and refused to prosecute Trump. But the other shoe is almost certain to drop soon.

— How is the manufactured outrage going for Fox-So-Called-News? Are you hearing from your friends & family about how Xbox is grooming kids over the energy savings mode? Or concerns about the M&M spokespeople? Or gas stoves? When you’re supposed to legislate in ways that will improve the lives of average Americans but instead take money from the morbidly rich to cut their taxes and protect their polluting industries, what do you do to keep voters from realizing how corrupt you are? Republicans and Fox “News” have embarked on a scheme of perpetual distraction with one phony scandal after another. Tucker Carlson complains that female M&Ms aren’t sexy enough. Fox hosts warn viewers that the new “sleep” mode for the XBox game console — designed to save electricity (and thus reduce emissions) — is really part of a conspiracy to indoctrinate children about climate change. And when multiple scientific studies show that at least 600,000 cases of childhood asthma every year are caused by a gas stove in the house, Fox and the GOP warned that Biden was going to send the oven police to rip your stove out of your house. I imagine myself working as a producer at Fox, trying to come up with a new phony outrage every day. Are they laughing themselves silly? Sure seems like it.

Hispanic voters are the target of a new multi-million dollar effort to swing that voting block to the right. Wealthy conservatives are buying up radio and TV stations, hiring staff, and preparing for the national launch of a Spanish language imitator of Fox “News.” Will Democrats figure out how badly this will hurt them in time to get their own donors on the stick (pun intended), buying up stations and transmitters that can broadcast a progressive message? Or will the Hispanic vote continue to swing to the right? More than a decade ago the DNC and its donors ceded rural America to the GOP and its 1500 rightwing radio stations. Sadly, it looks like they’re preparing to lose Hispanic voters next.

How is Chevron getting away with a $75 billion stock buyback after price-gouging Americans & slamming the climate crisis? After spending a year price-gouging Americans at the pump with the goal of hurting the Democrats in the 2022 election, the fossil fuel industry is now spending their ill-gotten profits. Chevron, BP, ExxonMobil, TotalEnergies, and Shell made a record $199 billion in profits in 2022, half again higher than any fossil fuel profit record in the history of the world. Chevron just announced they’re going to recycle $75 billion of that profit back to their senior executives and wealthy stockholders by buying back stock in that amount, according to Bloomberg. Unsurprisingly, there’s almost no coverage of this in the mainstream media, although they were all over the high gas prices leading up to the November election when that information had a political impact.

Fascism Alert! Major corporations are backing book-banning politicians. While New York City libraries are offering free digital library cards to students across the nation, some of America’s largest corporations continue to shovel money at book-banning politicians. America is increasingly being split by the culture warriors of the right into a nation of the educated versus the uneducated, the gun-owning versus the unarmed, and the straight white men versus everybody else. All to gain political power to please and impress the billionaires who own the GOP. It’s a true American tragedy.

Students are suing Ron DeSanctimonious over AP African American studies. The College Board, the group that administers the SAT tests and approves courses for college credit, approved a national African American studies course that was eligible for advanced placement credits. Trump Mini-Me Ron DeSantis is now threatening teachers who try to teach the course, clinging to the Lost Cause Confederate white supremacist ideology of his white redneck base. But some students aren’t taking it: they’ve joined up with attorney Ben Crump to sue the Florida governor. As Florida House Minority Leader Fentrice Driskell (D-63) told a press conference announcing the lawsuit:

“He wants to control what our kids can learn based on politics, not on sound policy. He repeatedly attacks the First Amendment rights of Floridians with books being banned from libraries and classrooms and now throwing his weight against this AP African-American history course. He is undermining the rights of parents and students to make the best decisions for themselves. He wants to say that I don't belong. He wants to say you don't belong... But we are here to tell him, we are America. Governor, Black history is American history and you are on the wrong side of history.”

— Crazy Alert! You’d think George Santos would be more careful now that everybody in the country has figured out that he lies almost as often as Donald Trump, but…no. Santos’ biggest vulnerability right now is prosecution for violating campaign finance laws. Some $700,000 that ended up in his campaign — helping him win his seat — apparently has sketchy origins. Nobody’s sure if it came from the Russian oligarch who was supporting him or from the Ponzi scheme he was running before he joined up with the New York GOP, but odds are it’s one or the other. In either case, he could be looking at jail time, so he recently amended his campaign disclosure forms to acknowledge the money was not a “loan” from himself to his campaign. He neglected, however, to list where the money came from! This is far from over, but it begs the larger question: why is the GOP so enthusiastically embracing a con artist? Oh, yeah, sorry…it’s the GOP.