The folk musician Eliza Carthy has asked fans for financial support to aid her parents, celebrated musicians Martin Carthy and Norma Waterson, after their income from live performances “dried up” during the Covid-19 crisis.
Waterson has long been unable to perform owing to illness, Eliza wrote on the fundraising website Ko-Fi, and is currently hospitalised with pneumonia.
“Right now the Carthy family, as many others, is struggling to survive the pandemic,” wrote Eliza, who moved closer to her parents 11 years ago in order to help care for Waterson.
“They urgently need funds to tide them over until the pandemic lifts and Martin and Eliza can return to touring and again become self-sufficient.”
Martin Carthy, 80, is one of the most influential musicians in British folk. He has released more than 40 albums as a solo artist, a member of Steeleye Span and the Albion Country Band, in collaboration with the late fiddle player Dave Swarbrick and with his wife and daughter as Waterson-Carthy.
In 2014, he received the lifetime achievement award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. He was named “arguably the greatest English folk song performer, writer, collector and editor of them all” by Q magazine, and inspired peers such as Bob Dylan and Paul Simon.
Waterson, 82, is one of the original members of traditional group the Watersons and a collaborator with Richard Thompson and members of Pentangle along with her family members. She received the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards lifetime achievement prize in 2016.
In December, UK Music chief executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin wrote to chancellor Rishi Sunak about “the devastating impact the growth of the omicron variant is having on the UK music industry”.
Many musicians have felt no choice but to postpone their immediate forthcoming tours given uncertainty over safety, including UK bands Wolf Alice and Blossoms, despite a lack of government support for cancelled events.
A UK Music report published in October said that one in three jobs in the UK music industry were lost during the preceding 18 months of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Martin and Eliza Carthy are due to play live throughout the UK this winter, with an intermittent run of dates kicking off in Durham on 27 January. Eliza wrote that she had recorded a new album during the pandemic, proceeds from which would also help the family.
More than 2,500 people had supported the Carthy campaign at the time of publication. “I am a long-standing folk traditionalist,” wrote supporter Stephen Lyons. “Where would we be without these two? Eh? Love to them.”
The famed producer Van Dyke Parks also voiced his support on Twitter: “I am asking all who can help to contribute. These two are the key to what’s left of Celtic culture –and innocence – in the UK. I admire Martin so … Let’s make this an end-game victory, as a folk dynasty appeals for financial support.”
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell testified today before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, saying that although the rise in COVID cases due to the Delta variant had slowed recovery, the gross domestic product is still on track to grow about 5% in 2021. According to Christine Romans, CNN’s chief business correspondent, the last time we had that kind of growth was under the Reagan administration forty years ago.
Unemployment is also down. The economy added 531,000 jobs in October, dropping the unemployment rate to 4.6 percent, the lowest rate since November 1969. The recovery is not even, though, with jobs harder to find for Black and Brown Americans than for White Americans.
Meanwhile, the American Rescue Plan is restoring the nation’s basic social safety net. According to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, food insecurity dropped 24% for families as a result of Biden’s Child Tax Credit, creating “a profound economic and moral victory for the country.”
Powell also noted that inflation is up, from the 2% level for which administrations aim to about 5%. He predicted that inflation will ease as supply chains smooth out and as the administration takes measures at its disposal.
In illustration of what sort of measures those might be, Biden released 50 million barrels of the nation’s oil reserves to combat the rising gas prices that have grabbed headlines. Other nations, including India, the United Kingdom, and China, released some of theirs as well, and the price of WTI Crude has dropped back to what it was in early September. That fix may very well be temporary as economic growth puts pressure on oil supplies.
The success of the Democrats’ measures illustrates the effectiveness of the “liberal consensus” of the years between World War II and the Reagan Revolution, when members of both parties believed the government should promote economic growth by supporting those at the demand side of the economy. That meant giving those just starting out access to resources which they would, in turn, reinvest in the economy, helping all to rise.
The Reagan years reversed this popular understanding as lawmakers claimed instead that the best way to nurture the economy was to focus on the “supply side”—those wealthy people who, officials argued, would invest their money in the economy and create jobs. To free up capital for those people, Republicans focused on cutting taxes.
But while that system never worked as promised, Republicans have come to believe that tax cuts are the most important way to expand the economy. With the American Rescue Plan helping the U.S. to recover from the economic crunch of the pandemic faster than other nations, and with the extraordinary numbers we’re now seeing, Biden’s plan has once again illustrated the power of supporting ordinary Americans.
And such legislation is popular, so popular that, right on cue, Republicans who voted against the American Rescue Plan and the bipartisan infrastructure bill are advertising its benefits to their constituents as if they were responsible for it. Representative Rob Wittman (R-VA) has a new ad out boasting that “Congressman Rob Wittman is Bringing Broadband to the Northern Neck.” “It’s the future,” the ad reads, and Wittman “has helped bring broadband to thousands of homes and businesses. And he will not stop until every Virginian is given an equal opportunity to connect to the future.”
Wittman voted against the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
The headline-grabbing news today, though, came from investigations into the events surrounding the January 6 insurrection.
Early this morning, Hugo Lowell of The Guardian reported that multiple sources told him that Trump had called the “war room” at the Willard Hotel several times on January 5 to talk about how they could stop Congress from counting the certified ballots that would make Joe Biden president. The team at the Willard was led by lawyers Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, and Boris Epshteyn and Trump loyalist Steve Bannon. Trump called the lawyers separately from the others, trying to keep from jeopardizing claims of attorney-client privilege.
Although those at the war room have maintained that they were acting only on the wishes of state legislators who worried about voter fraud, reports of phone calls from the president challenge that position. Lowell wrote: “Trump’s remarks reveal a direct line from the White House and the command center at the Willard. The conversations also show Trump’s thoughts appear to be in line with the motivations of the pro-Trump mob that carried out the Capitol attack and halted Biden’s certification, until it was later ratified by Congress.”
After the story came out, Trump’s spokesperson said, “This is totally false,” but offered no more information.
The House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol is looking into the Willard meetings. Today, though, it interviewed Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger, the man who recorded a phone call with Trump as the then-president tried to get him to overturn the results of the election. Raffensperger testified for five hours.
Also today, Trump’s former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, dropped his refusal to answer the January 6th committee’s subpoena and has begun to cooperate, providing records and agreeing to be interviewed. Meadows had refused to participate in the process, citing Trump’s order that he stay silent. But after a grand jury found Trump adviser Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress, and as the House considers charging former Justice Department lawyer Jeffrey Clark, who came up with a scheme to overturn the election and who has also refused to answer a subpoena, with criminal contempt of Congress, Meadows has apparently reconsidered his position.
Former federal prosecutor and legal analyst Renato Mariotti notes that this is a good move on Meadows’s part because it means that any future refusals will go to court, not criminal prosecution. Meadows is the highest-ranking official to testify before the committee and has made it clear he continues to expect to keep mum about what he considers sensitive material. Still, his participation will indicate to others that they should tell their stories before someone else’s testimony makes their information worthless as a bargaining chip.
The House committee today voted to hold Clark in contempt of Congress and passed the resolution on to the full House. The committee wrote: “The Select Committee believes that Mr. Clark had conversations with others in the Federal Government, including Members of Congress, regarding efforts to delegitimize, disrupt, or overturn the election results in the weeks leading up to January 6th,” and it expects him to comply with the subpoena. It rejects Clark’s contention that his conversations with Trump were a “sacred trust” and wrote that Trump had not, in fact, tried to assert executive privilege over Clark’s testimony. The committee noted that “the willful refusal to comply with a congressional subpoena is punishable by a fine of up to $100,000 and imprisonment for up to 1 year.”
In the weeks after the January 6 insurrection, one of the things that struck me as an odd political calculation was how quickly Republican lawmakers fell back into line behind former president Trump. Anyone watching could see that the information about Trump’s involvement in that insurrection that would come out by, well, right about now—about a year before the midterm elections—was going to be bad.
And here we are, and yes it is.
Today the Washington Post published a long report about the events before, during, and after January 6, compiled by a team of more than 25 reporters and additional staff who reviewed video and court transcripts, followed social media posts, and interviewed more than 230 people. The report lays the blame for January 6 on Trump and warns that we are in a fight for the survival of democracy.
The report is horrific, full of images, tapes, and timelines of a far more violent attack on our government than has previously been put together. It shows how very close the insurrectionists came to getting their hands on then–Vice President Mike Pence, who Trump told them was the architect of their disappointment.
What might have happened is the stuff of nightmares.
The report concludes: “Trump was the driving force at every turn as he orchestrated what would become an attempted political coup in the months leading up to Jan. 6, calling his supporters to Washington, encouraging the mob to march on the Capitol and freezing in place key federal agencies whose job it was to investigate and stop threats to national security.” It notes that the former president did not make any effort to stop the attacks until it was clear they wouldn’t succeed, and that lawmakers assumed he was backing the rioters.
The report lays out how, on January 6, Trump and his loyal lawyer John Eastman, the author of the infamous memo outlining a six-point plan for overturning the 2020 election, continued to try to steal the election even as rioters were running amok in the Capitol. As then–Vice President Mike Pence and his family were hiding for their safety from the mob, Eastman blamed Pence for the insurrection, saying that if he had only done as the memo suggested, the riot wouldn’t have happened.
Then, when Congress resumed to count the certified ballots, Eastman argued that the delay in debate caused by the insurrection meant that Congress had run out of time to count the certified votes, as established by the Electoral College Act, so that the election should be thrown back to the states.
The Washington Post report places the insurrection into context: “The consequences of that day are still coming into focus, but what is already clear is that the insurrection was not a spontaneous act nor an isolated event. It was a battle in a broader war over the truth and over the future of American democracy,” it says. “Since then, the forces behind the attack remain potent and growing.”
The Washington Post series raises a lot of questions. It notes both that FBI officials ignored a lot of red flags before January 6 and that Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller, whom Trump put into office immediately after the election after firing Defense Secretary Mark Esper, refused to approve the use of the D.C. National Guard to defend the Capitol for more than two hours after Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund requested help.
Other news from the weekend suggests that there are things Trump does not want us to know about the insurrection. This weekend we learned that he is trying to block the National Archives and Records Administration from giving to the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol information that includes call records from that day, information about visitors to the White House around then, and so on: material that is generally a matter of public record. Only the current president can invoke executive privilege, and President Joe Biden has declined to do so over these materials.
An older story involving the former president is also suddenly in the news. In October 2016, four computer scientists noticed unusual activity between the Trump organization; Russia’s Alfa Bank, which was connected to the Kremlin; and Spectrum Health, a Michigan-based healthcare organization connected to the DeVos family. The computer folks took their information to the FBI, which was already engaged in its own investigation of the ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. The story got folded into all the other material about the campaign and its ties to Russia, and was largely forgotten.
Then, earlier this month, a special counsel appointed by Trump’s Attorney General William Barr to investigate the Russia investigation indicted a cybersecurity lawyer for lying to the FBI. In the indictment, Special Counsel John Durham accused those computer scientists of advancing a story they did not believe in order to hurt Trump’s 2016 presidential bid.
The computer scientists have come out swinging. They reject the idea that they were advancing a political attack and maintain that the weird connections they saw did, indeed, show coordination between Trump and the Russian-based Alfa Bank. They believed there was enough evidence to open a criminal investigation. They have accused Durham of misrepresenting their debates over the material, and they say their evidence is solid and reproducible.
It is this mess to which Republican lawmakers have tied themselves.
The Washington Post suggests that they made that calculation in the immediate aftermath of January 6 because Trump continued to command his base and they worried about being primaried from the right if they didn’t support Trump’s Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen. And so they acquitted him in his second impeachment trial and supported the “audits” of state election results that had already been proved secure.
But that leaves a circle to be squared.
Winning a primary by staking out turf as a Trump supporter would mean losing in the general election… unless state legislatures fixed elections so that Republicans would win, no matter who the Republican candidate happened to be.
I had planned to post a picture tonight, but this evening Rolling Stone dropped an exclusive, blockbuster story from reporter Hunter Walker that demands attention.
The story says that two sources who are talking to the January 6th committee about planning the January rallies in Washington, D.C., have talked to Rolling Stone as well. They say they worked with congressional lawmakers and White House officials to plan rallies both in Washington, D.C., and around the country. They deny that they intended to storm the Capitol and imply they got used, which points to the sources being from within Women for America First, the organization that sponsored a bus tour and rallies around the country before heading to Washington for January 6.
They allegedly named Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Mo Brooks (R-AL), Madison Cawthorn (R-NC), Andy Biggs (R-AZ), and Louie Gohmert (R-TX), as people with whom they planned. They also claim that Gosar promised them a blanket presidential pardon, although they do not say for what.
From the White House team, they singled out then–chief of staff Mark Meadows. “Meadows was 100 percent made aware of what was going on,” one of the sources said.
Katrina Pierson was a key figure in both accounts. She was on Trump’s campaign teams in 2016 and 2020, and worked with the organizers of the rallies before the mob stormed the Capitol.
One of those talking to Rolling Stone said: “It’s clear that a lot of bad actors set out to cause chaos…. They made us all look like s**t.” This person included Trump on their list of bad actors and described feeling used by him and then abandoned. “I’m actually pretty pissed about it and I’m pissed at him.”
Nick Dyer, who is communications director for Greene, said the congresswoman was only involved in planning to refuse to accept certified ballots, nothing more. He tried to compare Greene’s actions with those of Democrats who objected to Donald Trump’s 2016 win, and said that no one cares about the events of January 6 amongst what he suggests is the disaster of the Biden presidency.
No other spokespeople for the lawmakers involved answered requests for comment.
Between this, and the stories that continue to drop about Facebook, and the infrastructure bill, and voting rights measures… it seems likely to be a big week in Washington.
The fight over raising the debt ceiling reveals that the Trump wing has taken control of the Republican Party.
Defaulting on our debt for the first time in our history would have crushed our economy and forfeited our international standing. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned that a default would be “catastrophic,” creating “a permanently weaker nation.”
Financial analysts at Moody’s Analytics noted that when a problem with word-processing equipment at the Treasury led it inadvertently to miss payments on Treasury bills in 1979, the resulting jump in interest rates ultimately cost taxpayers tens of billions of dollars.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin warned that default would undermine our international reputation.
But when the House passed a bill to raise the debt ceiling, Senate Republicans killed the measure with the filibuster, the Senate rule that allows debate to continue without a vote until 60 members of the Senate vote to end debate—a rule that essentially means it takes 60 votes, rather than a simple majority, to pass any bill the minority wants to block.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) agreed that the ceiling must be raised. But then he insisted he would not allow Democrats to pass the bill with a simple majority. He told them they must pass a measure raising the debt ceiling in a reconciliation package, which cannot be filibustered but which would make it harder for Democrats to pass their popular infrastructure measures. Democrats noted that the Republicans ran up the debt and now should agree to pay it, and they refused to try to rush through a reconciliation package to shield the Republicans from their responsibility.
And then, as business leaders began to map out a pressure campaign to get McConnell to drop the filibuster, he backed down and agreed…not to allow a simple majority vote, but to find ten votes to break a filibuster.
As co-host of Pod Save America Dan Pfeiffer noted in his newsletter The Message Box, that approach suggested that McConnell has lost control of his caucus. Any senator can vote against allowing a simple majority, and it seems McConnell could not trust the other Republican senators to permit a vote and so had to try to force the Democrats to do things his way. But Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called his bluff.
McConnell scrounged up the votes he needed but then wrote a scathing letter to President Joe Biden, announcing he would “not provide such assistance again if your all-Democrat government drifts into another avoidable crisis.” But the truth is that he is putting the best spin he can on the fact he can’t help even if he wanted to: he no longer controls the caucus.
Immediately, former president Trump issued a statement blaming McConnell for “folding to the Democrats, again. He’s got all of the cards with the debt ceiling, it’s time to play the hand. Don’t let them destroy our country!”
On September 22, Trump explained that to stop the Democrats, the Republicans might have to burn down the country: “The way I look at it,” he wrote, “what the Democrats are proposing, on so many different levels, will destroy our country. Therefore, Republicans have no choice but to do what they have to do, and the Democrats will have no choice but to concede all of the horror they are trying to inflict upon the future of the United States.”
Those who agree with Trump are now in charge of the Republican Party.
Today, on Fox News Sunday, the second-ranking Republican in the House, Steve Scalise (R-LA), refused repeatedly to say that Biden had won the 2020 election. Although then–attorney general and Trump loyalist Bill Barr said there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud, and state election officials and judges have all agreed there were no irregularities that would have changed the outcome, Scalise backed Trump’s Big Lie that he actually won the 2020 election.
He did so by arguing that certain states had not followed the Constitution when state judges, governors, and election officials expanded mail-in voting during the pandemic. There is no indication that those adjustments changed the outcome of the election, but in summer 2020 Trump became fixated on the idea that mail-in voting hurt his reelection campaign.
As soon as Trump lost the election, he began to try to get officials to cheat to say he won, and then to replace officials who refused with those he thought would help him keep the presidency. On January 2, he tried to browbeat Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger into “finding” 11,780 votes in Georgia—one more than Biden’s margin of victory. Then he fired the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, BJay Pak, because he would not produce evidence of fraud, replacing him with someone Trump hoped would.
Now, across Republican-dominated states, Trump Republicans are doing the same thing: attacking those Republican officials who refuse to say the 2020 election was stolen and replacing them with partisans who will. In Hood County, Texas, where Trump won 81% of the vote, his supporters are trying to get rid of the Republican elections official who is trying to preserve the security of elections by, for example, excluding from a private meeting a journalist from One America News.
At the local level, anti–mask mandate and anti-vaccine protesters are bullying school board members and town officials to demand that local leaders bow to their wishes, and they are threatening violence in a way that looks much like the rise of anti-socialist gangs in the 1930s that fed the rise of fascism.
Last week, Trump adviser Steve Bannon, who is currently defying a subpoena from the House select committee investigating the January 6th attack on the Capitol, told an audience that he would have 20,000 “shock troops” on hand to take over the government and deconstruct it as soon as Republicans again are in charge. “We control this country,” he said. “We have to start acting like it.”
Today, on the birthday of Ashli Babbitt, who was shot by an officer as she tried to break through a barricaded door to stop the counting of the ballots that would make Biden president, Trump recorded a video for a family event saying: “There was no reason Ashli should have lost her life that day. We must all demand justice for Ashli and her family.”
Last night, in Iowa, Trump held a “rally.” Mainstream Republican officials, including Senator Chuck Grassley, Governor Kim Reynolds, and Representatives Mariannette Miller-Meeks and Ashley Hinson, attended. Right on cue, a Trump supporter told a reporter: “We’re just sick of it, you know, and we’re not going to take it any more. I see a civil war coming….”
Today’s split in the Republican Party mirrors the split in the Democrats in 1860. The leadership is made up of extremists who consider their opponents illegitimate, maintain they alone understand the Constitution, and are skewing the mechanics of our electoral system to keep themselves in power. In 1860, the Democratic Party split, its moderates joining with the fledgling Republicans to defend the United States of America.
Then, as now, the radicals calling for the destruction of the nation were a shrinking minority desperate to cling to power. Then they took up arms to divide the nation in two and keep power in their part of it; now they are launching a quieter war simply by rigging future elections to conquer the whole nation.