JOE BIDEN IS JON MEACHAM’S PLAYTHING… MEACHAM HELPED WRITE BIDEN’S BLOOD-RED RANT… POLITICO: The seeds of Biden’s democracy speech sprouted long before the Mar-a-Lago search
Aides said that Biden had been planning to give a version of Thursday night’s address since this past June, relaying he wanted to speak on what he saw as increasingly grave threats to the nation’s democracy. But events continued to get in the way of its delivery. Pressure built over the past few weeks, they said, amid a number of developments.
GOP primary victories of a number of 2020 election-denying candidates in state and federal contests, combined with the consolidation of support around Trump, jolted the White House. Biden told associates that he barely recognized the Republican Party with which he could once work, seeing a personality cult instead.
Threats made against federal agents in the aftermath of the FBI’s search in Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home also outraged the president. Biden saw echoes of what happened 18 months ago, when officers lost their lives defending the U.S. Capitol. The actual writing of the speech started about three weeks ago, with Jon Meacham, the historian who has had a hand in a number of Biden’s most sweeping speeches, helping the framing.
WHITE HOUSE CALLED THE SPEECH ‘THE CONTINUED BATTLE FOR THE SOUL OF THE NATION’ … MEACHAM’S 2018 BOOK — AND HBO DOCUMENTARY — IS ENTITLED ‘THE SOUL OF AMERICA: THE BATTLE FOR OUR BETTER ANGELS’ …
THE COVER ART FOR THAT BOOK, A 1917 PAINTING BY CHILDE HASSAM, NOW HANGS IN THE OVAL OFFICE… GUESS WHO HELPED DESIGN THE OVAL OFFICE? … JON MEACHAM…
ATTORNEY ANN ALTHOUSE HAS DESCRIBED THE BIDEN/MEACHAM ‘SOUL OF AMERICA’ DISCOURSE AS HAVING ‘A FASCISTIC QUALITY TO IT, ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU’RE NOT ACKNOWLEDGING THE SOUL OF INDIVIDUAL PEOPLE…’ (AUDIO, STARTS AT 21:40)
What do you think of the idea that a country has a soul?… I like to think of the idea that individual human beings have a soul, and when I hear of this composite soul of an entire country, I’m skeptical…. That’s what makes me think of fascism…. especially if you’re not acknowledging the soul of individual people, and so often, from the Democratic side, I get the sense that they view their opponents as being soulless… and I feel that they’re also antagonistic to individualism. Everyone needs to think the same thing, and people should be cancelled if they don’t all say the same thing…. I read that as a rejection of the sense that individual people have a soul, and then you come at this with the idea that America has a soul. There’s just an Oversoul to America….
FLASHBACK… ON TV, MEACHAM PRAISED A BIDEN SPEECH WITHOUT ADMITTING HE WROTE IT… NOV 10 2020… Here’s MSNBC’s Jon Meacham Reacting To A Biden Speech He Reportedly Helped Write Live On Air (VIDEO)
Historian Jon Meacham reacted to President-elect Joe Biden’s win and acceptance speech on MSNBC – after secretly helping craft the speech, according to reports.
Meacham reportedly helped with multiple speeches for Biden, according to the The New York Times – while working at MSNBC as a contributor. In particular, Meacham worked on Biden’s Saturday acceptance speech, although he did not disclose this during discussions on MSNBC.
In one such discussion, Meacham was asked following Biden’s speech if he agrees “that is the way we are used to hearing from our presidents.”
“Absolutely,” Meacham replied regarding the speech he reportedly helped make. “Tonight marks the entire election results. Marks a renewal of an American conversation where we’re struggling imperfectly to realize the full implications of the Jeffersonian promise of equality that has taken us too long. Our work has been bloody and tragic and painful and difficult and Lord knows it is unfinished. But at our best we try and at our best we are.”
AND DURING THE 2020 CAMPAIGN… NOV 2020… NYT: Helping to Shape the Words of the President-Elect: A Presidential Historian
Mr. Biden’s speech-writing process is run by Mike Donilon, his longtime adviser. But behind the scenes, Mr. Meacham has been playing a larger role than was previously known, writing drafts of speeches and offering edits on others, including one Mr. Biden gave in Gettysburg, Pa., last month and his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in August.
JUST WEEKS AGO, BIDEN ASSEMBLED A GROUP OF OBSEQUIOUS HISTORIANS… INCLUDING MEACHAM… AUG 10, 2022… WAPO: Historians privately warn Biden that America’s democracy is teetering
President Biden paused last week, during one of the busiest stretches of his presidency, for a nearly two-hour private history lesson from a group of academics who raised alarms about the dire condition of democracy at home and abroad.
The conversation during a ferocious lightning storm on Aug. 4 unfolded as a sort of Socratic dialogue between the commander in chief and a select group of scholars, who painted the current moment as among the most perilous in modern history for democratic governance, according to multiple people familiar with the discussions who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe a private meeting.
Comparisons were made to the years before the 1860 election when Abraham Lincoln warned that a “house divided against itself cannot stand” and the lead-up to the 1940 election, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt battled rising domestic sympathy for European fascism and resistance to the United States joining World War II. […]
Following a similar meeting with Biden last spring, the Aug. 4 gathering was distinguished by its relatively small size and the focus of the participants on the rise of totalitarianism around the world and the threat to democracy at home. They included Biden’s occasional speechwriter Jon Meacham, journalist Anne Applebaum, Princeton professor Sean Wilentz, University of Virginia historian Allida Black and presidential historian Michael Beschloss. White House senior adviser Anita Dunn and head speechwriter Vinay Reddy also sat at the table. […]
During the discussion, a loud crack of thunder could be heard, which the participants later found out coincided with a lightning strike that killed three people in Lafayette Square, across the street from the White House.
NPR NOTICED ALL OF THIS, AND GUESS WHAT THEY CONCLUDED? … RACISM! … NPR: Historians advise the president. The problem? The scholars were all white.
After The Washington Post reported on the historians meeting, it didn’t take long for some to raise questions, not about the fact that democracy is in peril, but about the monochromatic makeup of those delivering that message.
It seemed the Biden administration had only invited white experts to advise the president[…]
DEM VOTE MACHINE SPINS UP… HILL: AFL-CIO announces largest ever voter mobilization ahead of midterms
The AFL-CIO on Friday launched an organizing drive that will aim to connect more than 100,000 volunteers with nearly 8 million voters ahead of November’s midterms.
The mobilization effort is the largest in the history of the labor federation, which represents more than 12.5 million workers. AFL-CIO volunteers will meet with workers in person and send a flurry of texts, phone calls and digital messages in a bid to shore up support for pro-union candidates. […]
Volunteers will focus on reaching out to voters in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The AFL-CIO will lean on in-person meetings with union members and other workers, which it believes will be more effective than TV ads and other forms of communication.
FLASHBACK… AFL-CIO RAN POINT ON ‘WELL-FUNDED CABAL’ TO OUST TRUMP… FEB 2021… TIME: The Secret History of the Shadow Campaign That Saved the 2020 Election
Sometime in the fall of 2019, Mike Podhorzer became convinced the election was headed for disaster–and determined to protect it.
This was not his usual purview. For nearly a quarter-century, Podhorzer, senior adviser to the president of the AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest union federation, has marshaled the latest tactics and data to help its favored candidates win elections. […]
In April, Podhorzer began hosting a weekly 2½-hour Zoom. It was structured around a series of rapid-fire five-minute presentations on everything from which ads were working to messaging to legal strategy. The invitation-only gatherings soon attracted hundreds, creating a rare shared base of knowledge for the fractious progressive movement. “At the risk of talking trash about the left, there’s not a lot of good information sharing,” says Anat Shenker-Osorio, a close Podhorzer friend whose poll-tested messaging guidance shaped the group’s approach. “There’s a lot of not-invented-here syndrome, where people won’t consider a good idea if they didn’t come up with it.”
The meetings became the galactic center for a constellation of operatives across the left who shared overlapping goals but didn’t usually work in concert. The group had no name, no leaders and no hierarchy, but it kept the disparate actors in sync. “Pod played a critical behind-the-scenes role in keeping different pieces of the movement infrastructure in communication and aligned,” says Maurice Mitchell, national director of the Working Families Party. “You have the litigation space, the organizing space, the political people just focused on the W, and their strategies aren’t always aligned. He allowed this ecosystem to work together.”
Protecting the election would require an effort of unprecedented scale. As 2020 progressed, it stretched to Congress, Silicon Valley and the nation’s statehouses. It drew energy from the summer’s racial-justice protests, many of whose leaders were a key part of the liberal alliance. And eventually it reached across the aisle, into the world of Trump-skeptical Republicans appalled by his attacks on democracy.
GOV RACE TIGHTENS IN NY? … NY POST: Lee Zeldin trails Gov. Kathy Hochul by just 4 points, new poll finds
Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin is closing in on incumbent Gov. Kathy Hochul in New York’s tightening gubernatorial race, a poll released Saturday found.
The survey, conducted by the independent Trafalgar Group, found Hochul with just a 4 percent lead over the Long Island congressman — a significant narrowing in a race that has seen Hochul with a lead of up to 24 points.
The poll of 1,091 likely general election voters, conducted on Wednesday and Thursday, pegged Hochul at 47.8% — and Zeldin, at 43.4%, nipping at the Democrat’s heels.
HILLARY SELLS ‘BUT HER EMAILS’ MERCHANDISE WHILE TRUMP AWAITS DOJ… JONATHAN TURLEY: Hats off to Hillary: Prosecuting Trump in the shadow of Clinton’s emails
Hillary Clinton recently hawked a line of hats with a mocking logo — “But her emails.” The taunt was directed at Donald Trump, who faces a real possibility of a criminal charge after the FBI’s search of his Mar-a-Lago residence.
While Clinton considers her prior conduct a subject of mirth, the FBI’s handling of her case will cast a long shadow over any potential prosecution of the former president, including the recent focus on an obstruction charge. There likely would be an assortment of “but her emails” objections to a charge that could have been made as readily against Clinton or her associates.
Hillary Clinton told CBS News she began wearing pantsuits after photographers shot “suggestive” photos of her during a trip to Brazil.
“I was sitting on a couch and the press was let in, there were a bunch of them shooting up,” Clinton told CBS News’s Norah O’Donnell.
“All of a sudden, the White House gets alerted to these billboards that show me sitting down with — I thought my legs [were] together, but the way it’s shot, it’s sort of suggestive,” Clinton added.
The photos were used to sell lingerie. Clinton said the incident and the constant photography of her led her to switch to pantsuits, which have become a staple of the ex-first lady’s fashion.
HERE’S THE 1995 COVERAGE FROM THE AP’S ARCHIVE… BRAZIL: ADVERTISEMENT FEATURING HILLARY CLINTON WITHDRAWN (VIDEO)
KEEP THAT STOMACH EMPTY… CBS: Barack Obama wins Emmy for narrating Netflix national parks series
Barack Obama is halfway to an EGOT.
The former president won an Emmy Award on Saturday to go with his two Grammys.
Obama won the best narrator Emmy for his work on the Netflix documentary series, “Our Great National Parks.”
RUSSIAN ENERGY SUPPLIER TURNS OFF THE SPIGOT TO EUROPE… GUARDIAN: Nord Stream 1: Gazprom announces indefinite shutdown of pipeline
The Russian energy major Gazprom extended the shutdown of gas flows through its key Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany on Friday evening, providing no timeframe for a reopening.
The move came hours after G7 countries agreed to impose a price cap on Russian oil in an attempt to stem the flow of funds to Vladimir Putin’s regime.
Gazprom, the state-owned oil and gas firm, said supplies would remain halted indefinitely after a leak was detected. It said the pipeline would not restart until repairs were fully implemented.
Nord Stream 1 is the single biggest pipeline for gas from Russia to Europe […]
The timing of the move will raise questions over whether Putin was responding to the impending imposition of a cap on Russian oil. Finance ministers from the UK, US, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Canada on Friday agreed a plan to put a ceiling on Russian oil prices.
The proposal would mean importers seeking shipping services and insurance cover from companies based in G7 and EU countries would need to adhere to a price cap to transport Russian oil. It is likely to be introduced from December.
EURO GETS WALLOPED… CNBC: Euro slides below 99 cents after Russia halts gas supplies to Europe
LONDON — The euro fell below 99 cents for the first time in 20 years Monday, after Russia said it would shut off its main gas supply pipeline to Europe indefinitely.
The EU’s common currency was trading around 0.9911 versus the dollar by 10:00 a.m. London time (5:00 a.m. ET), having climbed off lows of $0.9881 hit earlier in the day.
PUTIN TO ATTEND JOINT CHINA-RUSSIA WAR GAMES… FOX: Putin to attend war games with China and other allied nations, expert warns of ‘dangerous’ time
Russian President Vladimir Putin will attend the Vostok-2022 war games that Russia is hosting in coordination with China and other Moscow-allied nations, reports said Friday.
According to Russia state owned broadcasting network RT, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Putin will visit the active phase of the military drills on Sept. 6.
The trip will come ahead of his impending travel plans to Central Asia in mid-September, when he may meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping and other nation’s leaders for a regional summit.
FLASHBACK… LAST WEEK… AP: Russia launches war games with China amid tensions with US
The Russian Defense Ministry said that the Vostok 2022 (East 2022) exercise will be held until Sept. 7 at seven firing ranges in Russia’s Far East and the Sea of Japan and involve more than 50,000 troops and over 5,000 weapons units, including 140 aircraft and 60 warships.
Russian General Staff chief, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, will personally oversee the drills involving troops from several ex-Soviet nations, China, India, Laos, Mongolia, Nicaragua and Syria.
The Defense Ministry noted that as part of the maneuvers, the Russian and Chinese navies in the Sea of Japan will “practice joint action to protect sea communications, areas of marine economic activity and support for ground troops in littoral areas.”
BIDEN CLEARS ARMS SALE FOR TAIWAN… AP: US OKs $1B arms sale to Taiwan as tensions rise with China
The Biden administration on Friday announced a more than $1 billion arms sale to Taiwan as U.S.-China tensions escalate over the status of the island.
The $1.09 billion sale includes $355 million for Harpoon air-to-sea missiles and $85 million for Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, the State Department said.
The largest portion of the sale, however, is a $655 million logistics support package for Taiwan’s surveillance radar program, which provides air defense warnings. Early warning air defense systems have become more important as China has stepped up military drills near Taiwan, which it regards as a renegade province.
The State Department said the equipment is necessary for Taiwan to “maintain a sufficient self-defense capability.” The administration notified Congress of the sale after close of business on Friday.
MORE CRAZY LOCKDOWNS FOR CHINA… NYT: As China Imposes More Covid Lockdowns, ‘Everyone Is Scared’
The number of infections remains relatively small, with about 1,500 new cases on Sunday. Yet some 60 million people across China are facing partial or full lockdowns, according to Chinese media, from Chengdu to the southern economic powerhouse of Shenzhen to the oil-producing city of Daqing near Russia.
The challenges in enforcing such extensive controls are daunting, perhaps more so now than at any other point in the pandemic. Nearly three years of on-and-off lockdowns have lashed the economy, sending unemployment soaring, especially among young people. The country is increasingly isolated, as the rest of the world largely abandons Covid restrictions. New subvariants are ever more transmissible. And the seemingly endless restrictions leave more ordinary Chinese people wearier by the day.
But the stakes have also reached new heights. The ruling Communist Party is scheduled to hold an important congress on Oct. 16, where China’s leader, Xi Jinping, is expected to claim a third term. Mr. Xi has given his personal imprimatur to “zero Covid,” casting it as proof of the party’s strength — and by extension, his own leadership. Any local official seen as weakening that claim could face serious consequences.
The overriding imperative of wiping out infections was evident in the speed with which cities moved to shut down recently, despite the huge economic and social toll.
CHINA HAS SCRUBBED XINJIANG OF ‘VISIBLE SIGNS OF REPRESSION’… TOURISTS FLOCK TO ‘EXOTIC’ REGION… AP: Beijing taps into anti-West resentment to counter UN report
As criticism mounted, Xinjiang authorities also moved quietly to scale down the most visible signs of repression. Though unclear whether it was due to global scrutiny or planned all along, the result was the same: It hid the intensity of the crackdown from outside visitors.
They took down barbed wire, dismantled some of the camps, and ripped out surveillance cameras peering over city streets, bare wires still dangling on poles overhead. They replaced the region’s hard-line leader with one from a wealthy coastal province, known more for developing economies than for brutal policing.
Then, they took journalists to vineyards and banquets, dance shows and historic mosques, with a clear, underlying message: Xinjiang is open for business.
Today, Xinjiang’s tourism industry is booming. Travelers stuck inside China because of its harsh “zero-COVID” policies are flocking to the region’s deserts, mountains and bazaars, lured by what they see as its exotic, Islam-infused character.
Though hundreds of thousands still languish in prison on secret charges, they’re tucked away in facilities behind forests and desert dunes, far from city centers and prying eyes. Voices that cut against the party line are silenced, with fear and sometimes with prison sentences.
As a result, ex-camp detainee Bekali said, “people inside China, they don’t know what’s really going on.”
BED BATH & BEYOND EXEC LEAPS TO HIS DEATH… WSJ: Bed Bath & Beyond Finance Chief Gustavo Arnal Found Dead
Bed Bath & Beyond Inc.’s Chief Financial Officer Gustavo Arnal died by suicide Friday after jumping from a New York building.
Mr. Arnal, 52 years old, died two days after he had briefed investors on the retailer’s plans to secure new financing, slash jobs and close about a fifth of its namesake stores. The finance veteran had been with the company for about two years. […]
Mr. Arnal lived in a 57-story Manhattan skyscraper known as the Jenga Tower for its shape of misaligned apartments stacked on top of each other.
The New York City medical examiner’s office said on Sunday it determined he had died by suicide. The New York Post reported earlier on Mr. Arnal’s death.
ACCUSED OF ‘PUMP AND DUMP’ SCHEME… FOX BUSINESS: Bed Bath & Beyond CFO who leapt to his death accused of ‘pump and dump’ to inflate company’s stock value
The executive vice president and chief financial officer of Bed Bath & Beyond who plunged to his death from the 18th floor of a New York City skyscraper on Friday was the subject of a class-action lawsuit alleging that he and majority shareholder, GameStop Chairman Ryan Cohen, had artificially inflated the company’s value in a “pump and dump” scheme.
According to the lawsuit, Cohen approached Gustavo about his plan to accumulate shares of BBBY and assume command of the company’s publicly available shares.
TICKET DEAL GAVE MOVIE THEATERS THEIR BIGGEST DAY OF THE YEAR… CNBC: Nationwide $3 movie ticket deal draws 8.1 million moviegoers, with sales topping $24 million
A $3 movie ticket promotion meant to boost sales across cinemas during a typically sleepy weekend for the business has drawn in 8.1 million customers, according to the National Association of Theater Owners.
By those numbers, Saturday was the best day of the year for movie theater attendance, the group said.
Movie theaters pulled in $24.3 million in ticket sales from the National Cinema Day promotion, according to Comscore. The media analytics company said that was a 9% increase from the previous week.
More than 3,000 cinemas and 30,000 screens in the U.S. participated in the initiative, including major chains like AMC Entertainment and Regal Cinemas as well as independent theaters. Featured films included Paramount’s “Top Gun: Maverick,” Warner Bros Discovery’s “DC League of Super-Pets” and Sony’s “Bullet Train.”