The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Tag: kamala harris

Bidens Report $600k In 2021 Income, Paid $150K Taxes

Washington (AFP) - US President Joe Biden -- who pledged transparency around his personal finances while in office -- and his wife Jill Biden reported a bit more than $600,000 on their federal tax returns for 2021, the White House said Friday.

The couple paid $150,439 in taxes on $610,702, for a tax rate of 24.6 percent, the White House said.

In publishing their tax information, the president and first lady -- the first to work outside the White House, as a professor -- are bringing back a custom dating back to the 1970s but interrupted by previous president Donald Trump.

Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff declared a 2021 income of $1.6 million on their federal returns, and paid a tax rate of 31.6 percent, or $523,371.

Carlson Scapegoats Harris To Justify Craven Flip-Flop On Ukraine

Fox News host Tucker Carlson previously defended Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin’s aggression against Ukraine, and his work has been promoted by Kremlin-backed media as he’s opposed economic sanctions and denigrated Ukraine. But amid continued Russian atrocities, such as the attack on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Carlson is now trying to find a scapegoat for his having gotten the entire situation completely wrong.

It should come with little surprise that he picked out a woman of color to be that scapegoat: Vice President Kamala Harris.

Carlson has a long history of making disgusting sexist comments – while claiming that criticism of his misogyny is evidence of the decline of civilization. He is also the single biggest champion of white nationalism in the media landscape today. When it comes to his attacks on Harris, Carlson’s penchant for racism and misogyny often become intertwined.

Carlson declared Thursday night that Harris’ involvement in rallying America’s allies ahead of the Russian invasion of Ukraine “appeared to be proof this could not really be a big deal,” as “if things were dire, serious people would be involved in fixing them.” Carlson continued, “If the future of Europe and the world hung in the balance as now, so obviously, it does, of course, the Biden administration would not have sent Kamala Harris to fix it.” Apparently, Carlson seems to think the vice president of the United States is capable of engaging only in frivolities.

In the real world, two weeks ago, Harris had in fact warned Russia that the global community would “impose far-reaching financial sanctions” if it invaded Ukraine as she worked to rally America’s partners and allies to deter Russian aggression. She also informed the public in no uncertain terms about the seriousness of the situation, bluntly stating that it involved “the real possibility of war in Europe.” In the time since, the United States has led the global effort to impose economic sanctions against Russia and hold the line in defense of NATO allies.



Over the course of his ranting monologue, Carlson denigrated Harris’ efforts at diplomacy in starkly misogynistic terms. “Imagine being first in line for a shoe sale on Black Friday. Kamala Harris had that look: She knew what she wanted and she knew where to find it.” He also returned to his ongoing obsession with Harris’ love life, proclaiming “So if you're looking for someone to date Montel Williams, well, maybe she’s the person you would choose. She could be a solid choice for that, she has done it before. Dating Montel Williams, you know, is something that’s within her range of experience” then adding that he could not say whether or not she was “good at it.”


Carlson also told a blatant lie based on a selectively edited quote, claiming that Harris had “explicitly encouraged Ukraine to join NATO. Quote, ‘I appreciate and admire President Zelensky's desire to join NATO.’ She said that at a press event.”

Carlson went on to falsely allege that “the idea that Ukraine might join NATO obviously caused this crisis in the first place, whatever you think of it. … So obviously, no sane person would say something like that with Russian troops massed on the Ukrainian border. You'd have to want an invasion of Ukraine to say something like that.” (Russia caused this crisis, not NATO, and not Ukraine.)

Carlson quoted Harris saying, “I appreciate and admire President Zelensky's desire to join NATO,” while leaving out everything else she said while speaking to reporters in Munich, Germany, on February 20. Harris acknowledged Ukraine’s publicly established desire to join NATO’s alliance of democracies — in contrast to Russia’s attempt to dictate domestic and foreign policy to Ukraine — while also balancing that desire with NATO’s established processes of determining new membership. From the White House (emphasis added):

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Let me start by saying I appreciate and admire President Zelenskyy’s desire to join NATO. And one of, again, the founding principles of NATO is that each country must have the ability — unimpaired, unimpeded — to determine their own future, both in terms of their form of government and, in this case, whether they desire to be a member of NATO.
And I’ll put that in context, because the obvious is also the point, which is that: and therefore no other country can tell anyone whether they should or should not join NATO. That should be their independent choice. That is the point of sovereignty. So I respect President Zelenskyy’s desire to be a member of NATO.
NATO is a membership. It is about nations coming together as a group, making decisions collectively around, again, principles and what will be, then, the conditions and — and the standards of membership. And so that is the process.
It doesn’t happen overnight. No one country can say “I want to be, and therefore I will be.” And no one country can say “You can’t be.” And isn’t that at the heart of the very issue we’re presented with in terms of Russia’s aggression, or stated aggression, toward Ukraine?

Of course, acknowledging Harris’ full statement would not only have run completely counter to what Carlson was trying to allege she had said — it would also demonstrate the extent of her knowledge and involvement with the complex policies involved, thus disproving his entire attempt to turn her into a scapegoat for his own propaganda campaign in favor of Russian dictatorship.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Carlson Joins Far-Right Media To Push January 6 FBI Bomb Conspiracy

Fox News prime-time host Tucker Carlson and top right-wing media allies in his propaganda campaign claiming the January 6 insurrection was a false flag operation are now pushing a new set of conspiracy theories focused on the pipe bombs discovered that day outside both the Republican and Democratic national committee offices — which they want you to believe may have been planted by the FBI.

CNN and Politico reported this past January that Vice President Kamala Harris, then the vice president-elect, had to be evacuated from the DNC headquarters when a pipe bomb was discovered outside. CNN later added more to the story, revealing that Harris had been within yards of the bomb when she initially arrived at the building.

About a month after this news broke, Carlson and his compatriots in the January 6 Truth movement began to push back with unfounded conspiracies. Carlson insinuated the reports about the pipe bombs were false on the February 9 edition of his Fox show: “Now, everyone has assumed those bombs were planted by a Trump supporter. The media have told us that. But who was this person?”

During a more than eight-minute rant, Carlson suggested virtually every detail of the pipe bomb news was suspicious, including the placement of the bombs, the construction of the devices, and the facts of their discovery. He even implied it was suspicious that the bomb suspect had still not been caught. Furthermore, according to Carlson, there must be some crucial information that Kamala Harris hasn’t been talking about — and “this is not a conspiracy theory.”

TUCKER CARLSON (HOST): What we can confirm is that Kamala Harris was not chased into danger on January 6 by insurrectionists. No, she was driven to danger by a government chauffeur. And then, critically, Kamala Harris hid that fact for more than a year. Why is that?

We have a right to know the answer to that question. It's not a conspiracy theory. It's an entirely legitimate question. Maybe someone could ask Kamala Harris.

Contrary to Carlson’s conspiracy theory, the FBI has publicly said that both bombs found at the DNC and RNC offices “were viable and could have been detonated, resulting in serious injury or death.” Carlson falsely claimed the bombs had been “designed to be found, not to explode” and misleadingly used quotes from police officials in 2021, who said that the bombs had potentially been meant to be a diversion to draw police away from the Capitol.

In Carlson’s telling, “the bomb couldn't have been the diversion that the Capitol Police Department said it was” unless the person planting it knew beforehand that Harris would be at the DNC. Carlson never mentioned, however, that a bomb was also found at the RNC office — a place Harris obviously would never have been in the first place — but such a fact would interfere with his own narrative. He also never acknowledged that the would-be bomber didn’t even need to have been targeting anyone specifically, and could simply have been targeting whichever people happened to be at either of those respective national headquarters that day.

A few days after Carlson delivered this monologue, his right-wing compatriot Julie Kelly published her own piece declaring the bombs were an FBI-perpetrated hoax. Her February 14 post to the right-wing website American Greatness declared “No one still trying to convince the public that two pipe bombs were planted near the Capitol in advance of January 6 can be believed.” Kelly’s post also dabbled in a number of other conspiracy theories that Carlson and his allies have pushed about January 6, including the purported involvement of Arizona man Ray Epps and claims that the storming of the Capitol involved a “still-unknown number of FBI informants.”

Kelly also appeared Wednesday, February 16 on One America News, where host Kara McKinney claimed “we have the makings of yet another hoax perpetrated by the FBI.” Kelly, in turn, falsely declared, “The FBI is not trustworthy. It is wholly an enforcement arm, a surveillance arm of the Democratic Party.”

Kelly had been working for months on this false-flag story. In November 2021, she wrote “So a fleet of bomb-squad trucks just happened to be on the east side of the Capitol complex, which happens to be the location of both the RNC and DNC headquarters, at exactly the same time a device is found?” (Emphasis in original.)

Keep in mind that such security services would have been in place near the Capitol, because there were certainly reasons for police to be on high alert for possible trouble on the date of January 6, a day that culminated in a mob of insurrectionists storming the Capitol to interrupt the presidential transition in an attempt to overthrow the government. Of course, the denial of this obvious fact is what the efforts by Carlson, Kelly, and key players on the far right is really all about. (And it’s also not any kind of magical coincidence that both the DNC and RNC normally have their offices right near the Capitol, which is the most obvious location for them in the first place.)

In the weeks in between the CNN and Politico reports, and then Carlson’s segment, Kelly posted a number of tweets about the bomb plotline, connecting it to what she falsely claims was a government-fomented breach of the Capitol.

Kelly also publicly applauded Carlson’s February 9 segment, and did some further promotion of the conspiracy theory in the days until her own post went live. For example, she seemingly branched out into yet another false-flag claim about an act of right-wing political violence from years ago — perhaps as a way of rhetorically planning ahead for any future arrest in the pipe bombs case:

screen grab



Cesar Sayoc is the so-called “MAGA Bomber,” who was arrested in October 2018 and pleaded guilty in March 2019 for sending mail bombs to a variety of liberal political figures including Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, George Soros, multiple members of Congress, actor Robert De Niro, and the CNN offices in both Atlanta and New York City. At his sentencing, Sayoc attributed his crimes in part to mental illness and decades of steroid abuse, also describing his political obsession with then-President Donald Trump as “this new found fun drug.” Sayoc was sentenced to 20 years in prison, and currently has a projected release date in November 2035.

At the time of Sayoc’s arrest, a number of right-wing media figures spread claims that the entire incident had been a false flag, on the grounds that Sayoc’s van — which was covered in pro-Trump stickers — purportedly looked too new and not sufficiently worn down for him to have been a real Trump supporter.

Right-wing commentators like Kelly and Carlson are now going back to this familiar well, insisting that right-wing political violence is never genuine and must be an elaborate hoax.

Can Kamala Harris Break A Tied Senate Vote On Biden's Supreme Court Nominee?

With a Democrat in the White House and Democrats effectively controlling the Senate, Republicans might have figured they were bound to lose the coming Supreme Court battle. But last Thursday, they found a glimmer of hope in one of their favorite places: the opinion pages of The Wall Street Journal.

Democrats have shown that if they stick together, they can get their way in the Senate without a single Republican. They have 50 senators, as does the GOP. But in cases of a tie, the vice president, as president of the Senate, casts the deciding vote. Kamala Harris has done it several times, just as Mike Pence did.

But the Journal unearthed an article, written in 2020 by the renowned Harvard constitutional law professor Laurence Tribe, contending that in the case of a Supreme Court nomination, the vice president should have no vote.

Noting that no judicial appointment was ever decided this way until 2018, Tribe argued that allowing this practice would "break the Framers' careful constitutional structure." He cited Alexander Hamilton who in The Federalist Papers said that "if the Senate should be divided, no appointment could be made."

If Tribe is right, Joe Biden could find himself powerless to fill the vacancy left by the departing Stephen Breyer with a justice agreeable to Democrats. Republicans in the Senate could block any nominee until such time as they regain a majority in the Senate. The crowning irony would be doing it on the authority of one of the nation's premier liberal legal minds.

But embracing this argument would require Republicans to discard one of the fundamental concepts of conservative constitutional interpretation. Known as textualism and championed by the late Justice Antonin Scalia, it says that the most important consideration in such matters is the plain language of the Constitution.

Constitutional language doesn't get much plainer than Article I, Section 3: "The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided." If the Senate is equally divided, the vice president has a vote. The provision mentions no exceptions.

Tribe, however, notes that the Constitution says judicial nominees are subject to "the advice and consent of the Senate." If the Senate "cannot muster a majority to 'consent' to the appointment," he says, the framers meant for it to fail.

But what the framers had in mind doesn't necessarily support this argument. Hamilton may have agreed, but one of the experts Tribe cites, Samuel Morse, acknowledges that only a minority of those at the Constitutional Convention took that view.

Michael McConnell, an influential conservative legal scholar at Stanford and a former federal appeals court judge who was appointed by George W. Bush, is not persuaded by Tribe's argument. The provision giving the vice president a vote, he told me, "applies whenever the Senate is equally divided. If Section 3 did not apply to the advice and consent function, then the vice president would not only not be able to vote, but would not preside, which is contrary to historical practice."

There is also the matter of longstanding historical understanding and practice, which count for a lot in applying the Constitution. Vice presidents have cast many deciding votes for executive branch nominees, going back at least to 1832. Betsy DeVos became secretary of Education in 2017 only because Mike Pence broke a tie vote on her nomination.

Nor would Harris be the first vice president to determine the fate of a judicial nominee. In 2018, Pence voted to confirm Jonathan Kobes for the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Tribe is correct that "no vice president in our history has ever cast a tie-breaking vote to confirm an appointment to the Supreme Court." But that fact is not as revealing as it may appear. To his knowledge, says McConnell, until 2018 "there was never an occasion when the issue arose."

That's because close votes for Supreme Court nominees are a rare and mostly recent phenomenon. For much of our history, they were usually confirmed by voice vote, the functional equivalent of unanimous approval. Stephen Breyer, chosen by Bill Clinton, carried the Senate by 87-9.

If Republicans hope to block Biden's nominee, they will have to unite all their senators and coax at least one Democrat to join them. If not, Kamala Harris will be ready to cast the deciding vote, and nothing is going to stop her.

Follow Steve Chapman on Twitter @SteveChapman13 or at https://www.facebook.com/stevechapman13. To find out more about Steve Chapman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Martin Luther King's Family Joins Call For US Voting Reform

Washington (AFP) - Members of Martin Luther King Jr's family joined marchers Monday in Washington urging Congress to pass voting rights reform as the United States marked the holiday commemorating the slain civil rights leader.

King's son Martin Luther King III spoke at the march, warning that many states "have passed laws that make it harder to vote" more than half a century after the activism of his father.

The march's message was aimed at boosting support for the Freedom to Vote Act currently before the Senate, and which passed in the House of Representatives last week.

But the bill faces an uphill battle as President Joe Biden negotiates with two holdout senators in his own Democratic Party to change a procedural rule that would allow Congress to pass the law without Republican support.

Biden argues the bill is vital to protecting American democracy against Republican attempts to exclude Black and other predominantly Democratic voters through a spate of recently enacted laws at state and local levels.

Marchers at Monday's Peace Walk echoed demands made by MLK more than 60 years ago as they chanted, "What do we want? Voting rights! When do we want it? Now!"

Many carried posters printed with King's image and his famous 1957 appeal to "Give us the ballot," which called on the federal government to enforce Black Americans' right to vote nationwide, including in the heavily segregated South.

"We march because our voting rights are under attack right now," pastor Reverend Wendy Hamilton told AFP at the demonstration.

"As a matter of fact, our democracy is very fragile," said Hamilton, a local politician in Washington, whose residents themselves do not have full representation in Congress.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and members of the Congressional Black Caucus, such as Terri Sewell from Alabama and chairwoman Joyce Beatty from Ohio, also spoke at the march -- as did King's 13-year-old granddaughter Yolanda Renee King.

King's daughter Bernice King also took to the social media platform to call for the Senate to pass voting reform.

"If these state voter suppression laws persist, the America my father dreamed about will never come to be," she wrote.

At the White House, Vice President Kamala Harris urged senators to pass the Freedom to Vote Act in honor of King's legacy.

King "pushed for racial justice, for economic justice and for the freedom that unlocks all others: the freedom to vote," she said.

She denounced bills under consideration or already passed in state legislatures that she said could make it harder for 55 million Americans to cast ballots.

"To truly honor the legacy of the man we celebrate today, we must continue to fight for the freedom to vote, for freedom for all," Harris said.

Biden and Harris last week visited the crypt where King -- who was assassinated in 1968 at age 39 -- and his wife, Coretta Scott King, are buried in Atlanta.

How The New York Times Covered (White Male) Veeps Before Kamala

Reprinted with permission from PressRun

For anyone not convinced that the Beltway press is using a new double standard to cover Vice President Kamala Harris, and has subjected her to an unprecedented level of scrutiny, the proof is in the print.

Here is a sample of New York Times headlines from the daily’s coverage of white, male VPs, taken from their first year in office:

• “The Education of Dan Quayle

• “Cheney Ever More Powerful As Crucial Link to Congress

• “Speaking Freely, Biden Finds Influential Role

• “Amid White House Tumult, Pence Offers Trump a Steady Hand

And then there’s the Times’ recent Harris entry: “Kamala Harris’s Allies Express Concern: Is She an Afterthought?”

In the Times’ view, the white, male VP’s were “steady hands” with “influential” roles who were busy getting an “education” and “speaking freely.” Impressive, right? Harris, the first woman VP and first person of color in that historic role, might be an “afterthought” who, according to the Times article, is “falling short” and “struggling to define herself.”

There’s nothing subtle happening here, folks.

The Times’ recent take-down of Harris was the latest from the genre, as the press piles on. The Beltway media aggressively agrees there’s something wrong with the vice president, even though she’s fulfilling her duties exactly as she’s been asked to, and has represented the United States honorably on the global stage.

Still, there’s something not quite right, the media’s theater critics agree, as they put her vice presidency under the microscope in a way that’s never been done before. It all runs counter to how the press, and specifically the Times, covered previous VPs as they navigated their first year in office.

Just take a look.

“More than any vice president before him, Mr. Cheney has emerged as a supreme power broker within the Bush administration and between the White House and Capitol Hill,” was how the Times toasted Dick Cheney’s arrival as VP in May 2001, in a puff piece that read like it was written by his communications staff: “As President Bush's consigliere, Mr. Cheney helps connect the dots for the administration as he zigzags all day long from hot-button issue to high-level meeting, discreetly imparting advice whenever his boss asks or needs to know.”

The newspaper’s Mike Pence valentine from 2017 (co-written by Maggie Haberman) was just as effusive, as the Times tried to use Pence’s role in corralling votes for the GOP’s health care initiative at the time as the centerpiece of his administration involvement. But the White House lost that vote in spectacular fashion.

Can you imagine the Beltway coverage if Harris had served as a point-person for a crucial House vote and then lost it? I guarantee you the Times wouldn’t soon run a gentle piece describing her as “an effective wingman” the way the newspaper did with Pence after the White House’s botched health care vote.

According to the Times’ telling in 2017, Pence was practically running the West Wing, “sounding out lawmakers for inside information, providing the president with tactical counsel, quietly offering policy tweaks during negotiations.” That’s because Pence possesses “shrewd political intelligence,” according to the Times reporters, who made sure to harvest lots of glowing quotes from Pence’s pals for the piece — “He’s doing exactly what he should be doing.” This, while the newspaper today portrays Harris as a possible “afterthought.”

We’ve seen this trend for decades. Soon after Dan Quayle was sworn into office, the Times swooped in with a loving profile informing readers that the 42 year-old Republican was devouring serious biographies of historical figures. “The Vice President was particularly struck by the description of Napoleon's military technique in Charles de Gaulle's discourse on war,” the Times reported, stressing Quayle was “keen on self-improvement.” And this was after Quayle had blurted out as VP, “What a waste it is to lose one's mind or not to have a mind is being very wasteful. How true that is.''

For the record, the exception to the Times’ white, male VP rule was its relentlessly negative coverage of Al Gore, which began before he was even sworn into office.

Today, Harris continues to be hit with bad press — The Atlantic has dismissed her as “uninteresting” and “having a hard time making her mark on anything” — even though reporters can’t find substantive defects in her job performance. “Exasperation And Dysfunction: Inside Kamala Harris' Frustrating Start as Vice President,” was the shrieking CNN headline for a recent 5,000-word hit piece that failed to detail meaningful exasperation or dysfunction.

Part of the eagerly negative coverage stems from the media’s beloved Dems in Disarray storyline, where the party has to be perpetually portrayed as being undone by internal strife. It’s also fueled by the media’s need to create drama so they can present current events with a dramatic arc, as a way to keep news consumers tuned in. Reporters are frustrated by the No Drama Biden approach to governance and have taken it upon themselves to create conflict.

Harris has become a favorite prop in a way that white, male VP’s were never used in the past.

For 2024, Don't Be Too Quick To Displace Biden With Harris

The year 2022 should be too early to get into heated speculation about the Democrats' 2024 candidate for president. But since it's already begun, now would be a good time to resist arguments for making Vice President Kamala Harris the nominee.

First off, the current president, Joe Biden, has not ruled out seeking reelection. Though up in years, Biden is overseeing a functional presidency. The economy is boffo. And he got passed a desperately needed infrastructure plan that eluded his predecessor, forceful tweets notwithstanding.

Such a program, Donald Trump tweeted in March 2020, "should be VERY BIG & BOLD, Two Trillion Dollars, and be focused solely on jobs and rebuilding the once great infrastructure of our Country!"

So where was it?

A second term for Biden is not to be dismissed, especially if Republicans decide to choose another whack job more intent on dismantling the democracy than rebuilding roads, bridges and water systems. Or the same whack job, for that matter.

But we digress. As Biden's vice president, Harris has not done anything very objectionable, and she's brilliant in some ways. But her political skills are plainly lacking. That's why her Democratic cheering squad needs to be countered.

Harris's penchant for identity politics is both dated and political poison. Recall her performance in the first Democratic presidential debate, back in 2020, when she all but called Biden a racist for allegedly being against busing children to desegregate schools. Declaring herself "the only black person on this stage" was her claim to authority on such matters.

As it turned out, the federally mandated busing in the '70s was roundly disliked by whites and Blacks alike. She also misrepresented Biden's position. He was opposed to forced busing, not the voluntary kind. Harris later said that this was, actually, her position as well.

Harris' obvious mission was to unfairly smear a primary opponent, and the hell with Democratic solidarity. Although she self-dramatized as a member of a disadvantaged racial minority, her mother was, in fact, a medical researcher from India, and her Jamaican father was a professor of economics at Stanford University. (That Biden made her his running mate surprises me to this day.)

Even now Harris is doing the identity thing, complaining that the news coverage of her would be different if she were white and male like the other vice presidents. You don't hear that victim talk from Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina born to Indian immigrants — and possible member of the Republican ticket in 2024. The busing issue was long ago, but Republicans would undoubtedly move it front and center should Harris be the nominee.

As vice president, Harris had been tasked with addressing border issues. But when Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Texas Democrat representing part of the Rio Grande Valley, had staff call Harris' office to discuss her upcoming visit, no one bothered to call him back. He said that from now on, he'd go directly to the president's office to discuss problems at the border rather than the vice president's.

Harris is very much a product of the coastal liberal establishment in a party whose House leader is from San Francisco and Senate leader is from New York City. Democrats badly need voices from the rest of the country in positions of prominence. That and Harris' lack of nuance in dealing with genuinely complicated issues should prompt Democrats to look elsewhere for their next presidential candidate. All this assumes, of course, that Biden doesn't run again. He very well might.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.