Comments

  1. says

    Oh, FFS.

    Rep. Alex Mooney (R-W.Va.) unveiled a resolution this morning calling on House Republicans to formally condemn any GOP member who encourages Donald Trump to concede the election he lost. The House Freedom Caucus announced the resolution during a House Republican Conference phone meeting this morning.

    Summary is from Steve Benen.

    Here is the Politico link to the whole story. The article is accompanied by a photo of Alex Mooney looking like a supremely self-satisfied white man.

    […] it has little chance of being adopted and was referred to committee since there is no requirement that the resolution receive a vote in conference.

    [… Mooney’s resolution could earn him major points with Trump and with conservatives back home in West Virginia, which is getting a new congressional map in 2022. The state’s three House seats will likely be condensed into two — and Mooney’s district in the central portion of the state would be impacted. […]

    Last week, Trump publicly praised Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), who indicated he intends to challenge Biden’s Electoral College votes when they are officially certified by Congress on Jan. 6. […]

    Raw power, no integrity, politics.

  2. says

    Politico – “Judge tosses criminal charge against Flynn following Trump pardon”:

    A federal judge has closed the four-year-old criminal case against former national security adviser Michael Flynn, acknowledging the pardon that President Donald Trump issued last week to the only Trump administration official charged in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

    U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan — who’d been wrestling for months with a highly unusual request from Attorney General William Barr to drop the prosecution — said Tuesday that bid was rendered moot by Trump’s decision to grant Flynn a sweeping pardon for his alleged lies to the FBI and any other offenses he may have committed in connection with Mueller’s probe.

    “The history of the Constitution, its structure, and the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the pardon power make clear that President Trump’s decision to pardon Mr. Flynn is a political decision, not a legal one,” Sullivan wrote in a 43-page opinion. “Because the law recognizes the President’s political power to pardon, the appropriate course is to dismiss this case as moot.

    Although Sullivan ultimately ended the case, he lambasted the Justice Department for what he said was a highly questionable, if not indefensible, decision to drop the charges against Flynn. Sullivan also asserted that judges have the power to reject the dismissal of charges in a criminal case when the government’s actions are called into question.

    Sullivan declared that the explanations Barr offered through his deputies for the decision to abandon the case were “dubious to say the least” and would arguably overcome the long-held “presumption of regularity” that government officials are generally afforded by the courts.

    Sullivan said many of the rationales offered by the government “appear pretextual, particularly in view of the surrounding circumstances.”

    “For example, Mr. Flynn was serving as an adviser to President Trump’s transition team during the events that gave rise to the conviction here, and, as this case has progressed, President Trump has not hidden the extent of his interest in this case,” Sullivan said.

    Sullivan also noted that Flynn’s attorney, Sidney Powell, had acknowledged conferring with Trump about the status of the case in the weeks preceding a September hearing.

    Sullivan noted questions some critics have raised about whether Trump’s pardon sought to rule out future charges against Flynn. While a president can block future charges for past conduct, the pardon power does not permit clemency for future actions.

    But the judge said the intricacies of those issues would be left for another day, if they arise….

  3. says

    Update regarding Michael Flynn’s legal status:

    Following […] Trump’s controversial pardon, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan dismissed the pending criminal case against former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, bringing to a close one of the most dramatic episodes in the Russia investigation and subsequent interference at the Justice Department to undercut it.

    In an order Tuesday, Sullivan said he was granting the motion to dismiss the case as moot due to last month’s pardon. The order was accompanied by a 43-page opinion

    Wow! That’s a long opinion for a fairly simple matter. The full opinion is available at the link.

    “Because the law recognizes the President’s political power to pardon, the appropriate course is to dismiss this case as moot,” Sullivan said. Quoting another court case, however, Sullivan said that, “pardon ’does not, standing alone, render [Mr. Flynn] innocent of the alleged violation.’”

    Trump’s pardon came after the Justice Department spent months trying to get the case dismissed on the grounds that it no longer believed Flynn’s prosecution was warranted.

    Sullivan’s efforts to probe the reasons for the Justice Department’s sudden and highly unusual reversal — rather than immediately grant its request to drop the case — prompted a protracted court battle over the limits of executive and judicial power under the Constitution.

    […] Much of the Sullivan’s written opinion explores his thinking about the Justice Department’s shocking May request to drop the case. The Justice Department reversal came after it had long defended the Flynn prosecution, even as Flynn himself tried to walk away from his guilty pleas. Sullivan writes that the reasons DOJ gave at the time for wanting the case dropped were “pretextual, particularly in view of the surrounding circumstances.”

    The two main rationales the Justice Department gave to explain the dismissal “were dubious to say the least, arguably overcoming the strong presumption of regularity that usually attaches to prosecutorial decisions,” Sullivan writes.

    The argument that the Justice Department made about Flynn’s lies to the FBI not being material to the investigation was a “perplexing” argument, Sullivan writes, as it was at odds with previous claims the government made in the case. The Justice Department could not “direct the Court’s attention to any other case in which it has advanced this highly-constrained interpretation of materiality as applied to a false statements case,” Sullivan writes.

    Sullivan, addressing the second rationale the Justice Department provided, questions its suggestions that the government was no longer confident that Flynn willingly lied.

    Sullivan also questions the the argument the Justice Department made when supporting Flynn’s bid to get an appeals court to intervene in Sullivan’s handling of the matter. […]

    TPM link

  4. says

    Here’s a link to the December 8 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog. (Support the Guardian if you can, especially now while they’re doing their end-of-year fundraising!)

    From their summary:

    Coronavirus surge in US. Deaths from Covid-19 in the US have soared to more than 2,200 a day on average, matching the frightening peak reached last April.Cases per day have eclipsed 200,000 on average for the first time on record, with the crisis all but certain to get worse because of the fallout from Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s.

    UK reports 616 more Covid-linked deaths and 12,282 more cases. The UK government said a further 616 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Tuesday, bringing the UK total to 62,033.As of 9am on Monday, there had been a further 12,282 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK.It brings the total number of cases in the UK to 1,750,241.

    Germany moving towards stricter measures. Germany inched towards stricter measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus, as an eastern region said it would close schools and most businesses and the health minister warned a partial lockdown had not stopped the disease.Europe’s biggest economy is struggling to squash new infections in a second wave of Covid-19 that is both proving far more difficult to tame than the first one and extracting a heavier human toll as daily deaths hit record highs….

    Also from there:

    Canada is confident there will be no disruption of Covid-19 vaccine supplies even if the United States blocks their export because vaccines are manufactured in several countries, a minister said.

    This comes ahead of an expected US executive order meant to ensure Americans’ priority access to the shots.

    President Donald Trump’s executive order is intended to ensure priority access for Covid-19 vaccines procured by the US government, ahead of other nations, senior administration officials said on Monday.

    Asked about the impact of any executive order on those deliveries at a media briefing, a Canadian minister said Canada’s purchases are not tied to any one manufacturing site, and noted that Pfizer Inc is manufacturing in Europe as well as the United States.

    “We’re very confident that Pfizer and other vaccine makers that are contractually obligated to deliver vaccine doses to Canada will be able to meet those obligations,” said Dominic LeBlanc, minister of intergovernmental affairs.

  5. says

    Ten months later, Republicans are still filling the Senate with anti-science lies that kill

    […] Any pining for the days when Donald Trump was promoting a ineffective and dangerous drug in the face of a surging pandemic is about to get a fresh whiff of nostalgia tinged by Lovecraftian horror, as the Senate invites a range of cranks and quacks to testify on Tuesday.

    Thanks to Vladimir Putin’s other favorite American, Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, the Senate will be hearing from a fan of (brace yourself) hydroxychloroquine. That’s right, the drug that has been found ineffective in multiple international trials—and which the FDA cautioned against back in June—is going to get another day in the Senate. And if that’s not enough damage, the “experts” Johnson has invited to speak are also expected to slam vaccines.

    Republicans in the Senate are continuing to promote outrageous lies and dangerous nonsense in the midst of a still mounting plague. In doing so, they are causing American deaths as surely as the virus itself.

    […] In addition to the hydroxychloroquine promoter, who still insists on treating COVID-19 with a malaria drug, Johnson has invited at least two vaccine critics. Also on board, a “critic of masking and social distancing.” Meaning that Johnson’s traveling medicine show has quacks ready to kill Americans both now and later.

    Ten months into the worst pandemic since 1918, Johnson continues to insist that this entire coronavirus thing has been “overblown.” In addition to the hearing on Tuesday, Johnson has repeatedly used his position at the head of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to elevate what the Times kindly calls “fringe beliefs,” but which are better explained as ridiculous and dangerous medical quackery whose promotion costs lives.

    With every bang of his chairman’s gavel, Johnson is cutting off responsible scientists and keeping alive false beliefs that there is still a “scientific debate” over where masks and social distancing are effective. Still a debate over a series of treatments that have been tested and dismissed. Still a debate over whether COVID-19 itself is actually generating hundreds of thousands of deaths and leaving millions of Americans with long-term debilitating illness.

    The preposterousness and irresponsibility of Johnson’s action at this point are impossible to exaggerate.

    […] choices such as putting an anti-vaxxer in front of the Senate at a time when it’s important to build public support for the vaccine campaign that will unfold in just the next few weeks, have consequences. […]

    On Monday, the nation remembered the devastating attack on Pearl Harbor. Seventy-nine years later, America is facing a casualty rate from COVID-19 that exceeds that attack every single day. And Ron Johnson is not on the side of Americans. It’s often pointed out that the crime of “treason” is strictly defined in the Constitution of the United States to limit the charge to those “levying war against the United States or adhering to its enemies.” But not every enemy is an enemy nation.

  6. says

    SC @4, Trump is signing yet another ineffectual and basically meaningless executive order. He can’t really make up for his earlier mistake of passing on the opportunity to buy more Pfizer vaccine. We the people may not have access to that vaccine until June. All credit for the delay goes to Trump.

  7. says

    After Trump Loosened the Rules of Engagement, Civilian Casualties in Afghanistan Rose by 95 Percent

    The United States has aggressively escalated its air war in Afghanistan since Trump took office.

    More than three years ago, […] Trump announced that he would “lift restrictions and expand authorities” for United States troops in Afghanistan—giving the military a freer hand to order airstrikes. Now the cost of that lax approach is becoming clear.

    Since 2017, the United States, its international allies, and the Afghan government have killed an average of 1,134 civilians per year, a nearly 95 percent increase from the average between 2007 and 2016, according to report released Monday from Brown University and Boston University’s Costs of War Project. The bulk of that increase has come from an aggressive escalation of the Defense Department’s air war and a greater handoff of responsibilities to the Afghan Air Force.

    […] After Trump took office, the Pentagon escalated its air war against the Taliban and the Islamic State in Afghanistan, leading to a historic increase in civilian casualties. […] Trump congratulated himself for loosening the military’s rules of engagement. “What I do is I authorize my military,” Trump said. “We have given them total authorization and that’s what they’re doing and, frankly, that’s why they’ve been so successful lately.”

    […] under Trump, the US military was pursuing a strategy that tolerated a higher risk of bloodshed as the cost of putting more pressure on Taliban negotiators. […] the number of Afghan civilians killed by international airstrikes increased by 330 percent from 2016 to 2019, the most recent year for which complete data is available. “Civilians have paid the price for this doctrine, this theory of victory,” Crawford said, comparing it to the similar, failed strategies employed by the United States military in Vietnam and Korea. “It doesn’t accomplish much more than increasing the will to resist.”

    […] After signing the peace deal with the Taliban in February, which included conditions for withdrawing US troops, the Pentagon stopped releasing certain figures crucial to understanding the war effort, including monthly summaries of airstrikes and information about Taliban attacks against the Afghan government.

  8. says

    From Wonkette: “Sean Hannity: Why Must The Law Apply To White Guys I Like?”

    Conservative working-class hero Danny Presti refused to shut down his Staten Island bar, which is located in a COVID-19 hotspot. He’d been arrested and fined for violating state guidelines intended to keep people from dying. Naturally, the Fox News crowd adored him.

    We imagined this love affair might end when Presti literally ran over a cop. Protesters of police violence have been dismissed as violent thugs after simply bumping into officers or just looking at them the wrong way. They were often beaten and even hospitalized, as a result.

    From the New York Post:

    Danny Presti, co-owner of Mac’s Public House, allegedly slammed his new Jeep into sheriff’s sergeant Kenneth Matos, fracturing both of his tibias, while fleeing an attempt to arrest him for illegally operating the rogue Grant City watering hole in defiance of COVID-19 restrictions […]

    As someone who has to live in this country as a Black man, here’s my description of events: Presti — who has a record so is “no angel” — fled the scene of his ongoing criminal enterprise and struck a police officer while resisting arrest. I’m hardly the most obvious source to find sympathy for the police, but damn, Petri drove around with the cop as a hood ornament.

    This would arguably qualify as the attempted murder of a police officer in performance of his duties. […] It’s a miracle Presti even survived his arrest, and that miracle is whiteness.

    Conservative media hasn’t abandoned Presti, who’s still their personal COVID-19 Rosa Parks, if Rosa Parks had tried to run over cops with a bus. Presti appeared with his lawyer, who he’ll need, on Sean Hannity’s show Monday night. Hannity treated someone he’d normally consider an attempted cop killer (if he were Black) like he was a celebrity guest pitching his new project […]

    Before the interview, Hannity derided New York’s “draconian” COVID-19 restrictions.

    HANNITY: Everybody at this point knows about masks and social distancing. Some people have an appetite for more risk than others. There’s still freedom in this country.

    COVID-19 restrictions have clearly fallen into a special classification of “laws/rules white people feel they are entitled to break.” It’s not civil disobedience when you keep your hair salon open during a pandemic. It’s a temper tantrum, and Republicans have only indulged these idiots. Now a cop has skid marks on him because Presti refused to follow the law, but Hannity wants to make sure we hear Presti’s side of the story.

    HANNITY: The arrest occurred following this chase by several deputies. By the way, they’re not in uniform. Presti claims that they were dressed in black clothes and didn’t identify themselves.

    […] Hannity continued to defend Presti, claiming the cop was the one who jumped on his car while he was simply trying to escape arrest. Presti and his attorney, Lou Gelormino, joined Hannity from his bar, and Hannity all but wept over how Presti can no longer greet the public and serve them coronavirus.

    Hannity also spread more disinformation about how COVID-19 spreads: He suggested Presti’s patrons could just avoid their grandparents […] However, the problem is these dummies could infect someone else who might inadvertently expose their own loved ones. And they never even enjoyed the Tuesday happy hour.

    Gelormino bashed the cops for a bit, which is always fun to hear. (He’s also claimed the department is lying about the officer’s broken legs.) Then Hannity interjected with some peak grossness:

    HANNITY: You know what was wrong with the Eric Garner case, counselor?

    Garner was brutally killed on a city street like a wild animal. Next question?

    HANNITY: Why are they arresting a guy over selling a loose cigarette to begin with? How stupid is that with limited police resources, alright? Okay, you’re going to your own car. Now, I’m sure they’ll say they did identify themselves. I don’t know if we have audio that backs you up. But the bottom line is the way I saw you pulling away you’re trying to say, “Get out of the way.” And you’re going slow to start so obviously, you’re scared here too.

    Yes, Presti was terrified — probably like Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend when the Louisville police broke into her house. George Floyd was also scared when he begged for his life. Jacob Blake is still afraid he might never walk again after police shot him in the back.

    Cops and conservatives rarely acknowledge the human fear Black people feel before their beatdowns.

    Presti didn’t look scared last night on Hannity. He looked pissed that laws he doesn’t like and considers unfair still apply to him. Fox News might still treat him like a hero, but he’s behaved like a common criminal.

    Like

  9. says

    How A Lawyer For Eastern European Oligarchs Fueled The Fever Dream Of An Election Reversal

    Bruce Marks has a story to tell.

    He’s been a litigator this year on […] Trump’s futile and ham-handed bid to overturn the results of the election in Pennsylvania.

    But Marks, a 63-year old attorney to oligarchs in the former Soviet space and a one-time Pennsylvania state senator, says that he got there by a weird and circuitous path, one that involved Don McGahn, a stolen election, and Trump himself on a helicopter.

    Of course there would be a Russian connection in Trump’s bid to overturn the election results.

    Marks represents Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky, and, through his firm Marks & Sokolov, has made a career of representing moneyed interests in Ukraine, Russia, and Kazakhstan […]

    FEC records show that the Trump campaign paid $161,841 to Marks’ firm in the 2020 campaign.

    […] it was a bizarre 1994 episode of electoral fraud that led to a unique episode in the annals of American political history: the federal judiciary overturning the results of an already-certified election.

    The 1994 absentee ballot fraud scheme bears no resemblance to anything that happened in the 2020 election, but the outcome of the case bears a striking resemblance to what the Trump campaign sought to achieve in federal court: a federal judiciary willing to overturn the results of an already-certified election.

    […] Marks ran for state senator as a Republican in 1993 after, Marks told TPM, leading “the legal fight against forced busing in Northeast Philadelphia.”

    It was a special election, a low-turnout affair with a high-stakes twist: control of the state Senate, long held by the Democratic party, would hinge on the result.

    Local Democrats nominated William Stinson […] “They came up with a scheme to steal the election with absentee ballots,” Marks told TPM.

    According to a subsequent ruling from a federal district judge, that “scheme” involved hundreds of residents submitting fraudulent absentee ballots in favor of Marks’ opponent, allegedly abetted by campaign volunteers.

    Two election commissioners later admitted under oath to being aware of the fraud, and a federal court found that the election had been stolen.

    […] What resulted was a once-in-a-blue-moon case that was buttressed in part by extensive investigative reporting from the Philadelphia Inquirer […]

    Elections officials gave the paper access to 1,757 absentee votes cast in the election, Marc Duvoisin, a former Philadelphia Inquirer reporter who covered the scandal, told TPM.

    Reporters tracked down and interviewed more than 1,500 of the voters — an effort that Duvoisin said involved the paper’s entire metro desk.

    Eventually, the Inquirer concluded that 540 of the absentee votes had been contaminated. […]

    Duvoisin, now the editor-in-chief of the San Antonio Express-News, emphasized that the case bore little resemblance to 2020, in part because absentee voting is much more widely accepted and because the Trump campaign, unlike Marks in 1994, was unable to substantiate any of its claims and has been roundly rejected by the courts.

    […] Marks was seated in the middle of the term, giving Republicans control of the Pennsylvania state Senate.

    “That’s being cited in a lot of these pleadings,” Duvoisin told TPM, referring to a federal judge overturning the result in 1994. “The court can do that, but the difference in the Marks case was that there was an abundance of testimony in court by voters.”

    After Marks’ victory, Marks invited Trump to a 1994 fundraiser for his re-election.

    Trump, Marks said, arrived on a black helicopter, with Trump emblazoned on both sides.

    “When it landed, it almost took the tents down,” said Marks, who recalled being awestruck by his appearance. […]

    it wasn’t Marks’ connections to the Trumps that led to the President’s campaign becoming a client. Instead, Marks said, it was Don McGahn.

    The 1994 case attracted a lot of attention in GOP circles. Among those who took notice was McGahn, then a law student at Widener University, who came to help, Marks said.

    In 2016, McGahn would ask Marks to help the Trump campaign on a Pennsylvania lawsuit brought by the state Democratic party. In 2020, Marks took Trump’s campaign on as a client once again.

  10. says

    McConnell’s grasp on Republican Senate shows signs of weakening. COVID-19 aid could actually happen

    “Nearly 12 million renters will owe an average of $5,850 in back rent and utilities by January, Moody’s Analytics warn,” The Washington Post reports. The measly $1,200 stimulus check they got months ago is a mere memory, and the Senate is still hamstrung by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s insistence that letting employers off the hook for sickening or killing their workers is the most important thing to do right now. […]

    with dozens of programs that are keeping millions of people from total ruin expiring in the next few weeks and lawmakers furiously working to try to find a way around McConnell, we have this headline: “Senate stimulus negotiations at risk of collapsing over whether companies can be sued for outbreaks.” That headline alone might have been enough to finally make Senate Republicans push back against McConnell, because now we’re seeing a tiny bit of movement from him.

    McConnell has been insisting for months that there will be a “flood” of coronavirus-related lawsuits and that American business as we know it will be utterly destroyed or some damn thing if they don’t receive this liability shield for treating their workers as disposable. The reality is that there have been just 116 lawsuits filed by employees over negligence on the part of employers to protect them, or over exposure to infections at work, or death from infection contracted at work. There have been another 29 cases filed by consumers for personal injury or wrongful death from coronavirus. That’s 145 suits. “That’s like two to four lawsuits per state,” Hugh Baran, an expert on legal recourse for employees at the worker-focused National Employment Law Project, told the Post. “That’s a trickle. It’s not a flood. … This whole immunity bill that’s been proposed by McConnell and Cornyn is really a solution in search of a problem.”

    This isn’t just about this pandemic. McConnell has pushed these blanket protections, overriding any state law, to last for a full five years. He wants them to become established and to become permanent. […]

    It might be that McConnell has gone too far in this demand for even his own conference, finally. Because, for the first time, there’s a sliver of an opening, according to CNN’s Manu Raju and Politico’s Burgess Everett. McConnell told reporters Tuesday that the issues of liability protections and the other thing he’s been railing against—aid to state and local governments—should be set aside and dealt with next year, allowing the rest of the provisions to pass.

    If that state and local aid was repurposed to provide direct payments to people right now—at least $1,200 per person—Democrats should take it. There is next year to deal with state and local aid, and potentially a Democratic Senate to pass it. That aid can always happen. McConnell’s liability shield could be forever, and it would be disastrous for American workers.

  11. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 114.

    From Aaron Rupar’s coverage:

    it’s sorta weird for Trump to take a coronavirus vaccine victory lap before, you know, hardly any Americans have been vaccinated

    “In just a few minutes I will sign an Executive Order to ensure that the United States government prioritizes the getting out of the vaccine to American citizens before sending it to other nations” — Trump

    It’s so weird to listen to Trump deliver a campaign-style speech when voters have already rejected his sales pitch

    “the numbers should skyrocket downward”

    Trump on the percentage of Americans who had contracted coronavirus: “I hear we’re close to 15 percent. I’m hearing that, and that’s terrific.”

    (The idea is that we’re approaching herd immunity.)

    Asked why the White House is holding in-person parties in violation of CDC guidance, Trump says, “well, they’re Christmas parties.”

    “Well, we’re gonna have to see who the next administration is … hopefully the next administration will be the Trump administration … we were rewarded with a victory” — Trump is still lying about his election loss

    Trump calls for judges and Republican legislators to have the “courage” to help him overthrow the election, then says, “I’ll tell you what, life will be much easier for this country.” He then exits the White House event to cheers.

    https://twitter.com/atrupar/status/1336389143526567939

    Video snippets of Trump speaking are available at the link. They are all nightmare-inducing.

  12. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Brazil registers highest daily death toll in almost a month

    Brazil reported another 51,088 confirmed coronavirus infection in the past 24 hours and a further 842 fatalities from Covid-19, its health ministry said on Tuesday, marking the highest daily death tally since 14 November.

    The country has now registered 6,674,999 cases since the pandemic began, while its official death toll has risen to 178,159, according to ministry data. Brazil has the world’s third highest case count and second highest death toll.

  13. tomh says

    Supreme Court Rejects Pro-Trump Lawmaker’s Bid to Overturn the Pa. Election and Doesn’t Bother to Comment
    ADAM KLASFELD Dec 8th, 2020

    The Supreme Court unceremoniously rejected Rep. Mike Kelly’s (R-Pa.) bid to overturn federal election results in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, a request that would have blocked his own victory on the altar of delaying outgoing President Donald Trump’s defeat.

    “The application for injunctive relief presented to Justice Alito and by him referred to the Court is denied,” the high court’s one-sentence order states.
    […]

    Trump loyalists placed their hopes in Justice Samuel Alito to turn the tide, as the archconservative justice hears applications within the Third Circuit’s jurisdiction. Alito referred the matter to the court, which declined to consider it. There were no dissents.
    […]

  14. says

    Marc Elias:

    BREAKING: US Supreme Court, without any noted dissent, REJECTS Republican effort to block Pennsylvania election results.

    Trump and his allies remain 1-50 in post-election litigation.

    :

    BREAKING: Michigan Federal Court DENIES Republican motion to maintain and preserve election data and machines for inspection.

    Trump and his allies are now 1-51 in post-election litigation.

  15. says

    Quoted by tomh @19, “The application for injunctive relief presented to Justice Alito and by him referred to the Court is denied.” Ha! Best unanimous Supreme Court statement ever. There was no dissent, not even Trump tweeting laser-eyed Amy Coney Barrett images affected the outcome.

    SC @20, thanks for the update. That is quite the win/loss record for Trump. Ha!

    I love the timing of the Supreme Court statement. It was made public today, the safe harbor deadline. Federal law requires that Congress recognize the slates of electors chosen by states that have resolved legal fights, recounts and other election disputes by this date.

    Just today, Trump claimed again that he had won the election. He said that publicly, in front of cameras, twice. He looked and sounded even more foolish than usual, considering that Supreme Court statement. It’s over, Trump.

  16. says

    Meanwhile, over on planet-Parler, the Supreme Court’s decision is being met (as many things there are) with calls for martial law and armed insurrection.

    [screenshots at the link]

    People are making a lot of money off this election-fraud fiction, but good luck trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube.”

    Trump doesn’t care at all about any terroristic violence he’s inciting (quite the contrary), and I haven’t seen any real indications his allies/enablers/fellow grifters are concerned.

  17. says

    Eric Holder: “Back to normal in Georgia. Closing polling places in those areas with high numbers of African Americans and most likely to vote Democratic. Will the Republican ‘heroes’ who stood up to Trump stand up for democracy here? No. This is what they do. This is who they are.”

  18. says

    Manu Raju:

    #Breaking: The House, in a major rebuke to Trump, easily passes defense bill with veto-proof majority on a 335-78 vote with one member voting “present.” Trump plans to veto the bill over his unrelated concerns that it doesn’t roll back protections for social media firms.

    The question is whether enough Republicans flip back and vote to sustain veto. McCarthy, who voted for the bill, said he would vote to sustain the veto. Others in leadership, such as Liz Cheney, have said they would vote to override veto.

  19. says

    Marc Elias:

    BREAKING: A unanimous Arizona Supreme Court AFFIRMS “the trial court decision and confirming the election of the Biden Electors under A.R.S. § 16-676(B).”

    Arizona is DONE!!!

    Trump and his allies remain 1-51 in post-election litigation.

  20. KG says

    I’ve just listened to Mark Carney, former governor of the Bank of England, and this year’s Reith Lecturer on the BBC, flapping his gums for half an hour about the “reforms” to the global financial system since the crash of 2007-8. He assured us that banks now have to keep larger reserves, that (I think this is in the UK) senior executives have to defer some of their gargantuan rewards for seven whole years to prevent short-termism, etc., while also warning that “over-regulation” would be as bad as “light-touch”, because reasons. He wants a change of culture inside finance, so that “values” (other than making as much money as possible as fast as possible) guide and restrain bankers. Not a word about the speed with which the concentration of wealth and the growth of “executive compensation” resumed, about tax havens, about the growth of “Big Tech” monopolies – although I suppose these things might get a mention somewhere in the series (this was the second of I think six, I didn’t hear the first).

  21. says

    AJC – “Loeffler, Perdue side with Texas lawsuit that Georgia AG says is ‘wrong’”:

    After the state of Texas filed a brazen lawsuit asking the U.S. Supreme court to toss out Georgia’s election results, Republican Attorney General Chris Carr’s office called it “constitutionally, legally and factually wrong.” He didn’t get much backup from other senior Republicans.

    Nearly half of the Georgia Senate’s GOP members issued a statement siding with the Texas lawsuit that seeks to help President Donald Trump undo his defeat here. So did U.S. Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, who said they both “fully support” the complaint filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

    It was the latest reflection of a deepening divide in Georgia over PTrump’s false narrative of a “rigged” election. While some state officials have urged Trump to focus on the Jan. 5 Senate runoffs and acknowledge defeat, others have echoed his calls to overturn the election results.

    In the joint statement, the two senators say Trump has the right to ensure “full transparency and uniformity in the counting process.”

    “This isn’t hard and it isn’t partisan. It’s American,” said the senators. “No one should ever have to question the integrity of our elections system and the credibility of its outcomes.”

    The statement by 16 GOP state senators went a step further. It claimed a” systemic failure to follow the law has allowed misconduct, fraud and irregularities throughout the voting process of this state” without citing substantiated evidence that’s withstood court scrutiny.

    Georgia Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs said the allegations in the lawsuit “are false and irresponsible.”

    “Texas alleges that there are 80,000 forged signatures on absentee ballots in Georgia, but they don’t bring forward a single person who this happened to,” she said. “That’s because it didn’t happen.”

    Maddow last night – “Legally Troubled Texas A.G. Concocts Absurd Election Lawsuit As Trump Muses About Pardons”:

    Rachel Maddow explains some of the troubled legal backstory behind Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and notes recent reporting about Donald Trump considering passing out pardons like Halloween candy as Paxton files a bizarre and very unlikely election lawsuit of the kind that humors Trump’s upset over his election loss.

    5-minute video atl.

  22. says

    Rhode Island doctor:

    Last night, one of my (many) patients with COVID told me she had a large Thanksgiving dinner with family—22 people. The day after, one family member tested positive. Since then (according to my patient) *ALL* 22 people have developed symptoms, some severe.

    We are so tired.

    Photo atl.

  23. says

    TPM – “Total Breakdown: There’s Still No Money For Mass COVID Vaccinations”:

    Guilford County, North Carolina’s positivity rate is ticking up.

    As public health chief for the county of 530,000, it’s Iulia Vann’s job to fight it with any tool she has.

    The most effective option — a COVID-19 vaccine — is about to come online. But for Vann and many others in her position around the country, the question of how to get the shot into the arms of 330 million Americans remains unaddressed.

    Congress has yet to appropriate any money for vaccine distribution. While the federal government has spent billions of dollars developing vaccines to prevent COVID-19, not a single federal dollar has been passed for the purpose of conducting the inoculation campaign itself.

    Guilford County, which received $94 million in CARES Act funding that expires Dec. 31, expects to scrape together $1.2 million for public health in 2021.

    “We’re trying to get it done, but it’s going to be hard,” Vann told TPM. “It’s disheartening to see that we don’t have that support to do our work without having to worry.”

    In many cases, TPM found, local public health departments are in a similar place to Guilford County’s: they’ve spent months focused on fighting the pandemic, but have only just begun to plan for distributing the COVID-19 vaccine en masse. As they turn to that task, they face little help from the federal government; as the months have gone by, Congress has been unable to reach a deal on money for vaccine distribution.

    Already burdened by limited budgets and what CDC Director Robert Redfield described as the “the most difficult” months in the history of U.S. public health, local departments could face delays in getting the life-saving shot out to their populations absent federal support as they lack cash to hire vaccinators, spread the word about how to get the vaccine and ensure that people show up for both shots of the two-dose inoculation.

    The Department of Health and Humans Services and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have doled out around $340 million to the states in funding for vaccine distribution. But that falls far short of the $8.4 billion that state officials say is needed to effectively deploy the vaccine.

    “It’s going to show itself in a slower response, potentially missing the folks who are oftentimes missed when it comes to efforts like this,” Adriane Casalotti, chief of government relations at the National Association of City and County Health Officials, told TPM.

    Casalotti, the NACCHO official, told TPM that even if Congress were to fund the effort tomorrow, it could take weeks for the money to arrive due to red tape and the lack of a clear mechanism on how to move federal funds to the country’s disparate 3,000 public health departments.

    “So much of this response has been in crisis mode, asking how to fund what should have already been going on, how do we put out fires,” Casalotti said. “We’ve been asking for months and months now to make these investments as one area where we wouldn’t have to put out a fire after it started. But we’re now at a place where it’s past time.”

    Much more atl. (I would have preferred the article point out that congressional Democrats have consistently been pushing for state and local funding while Republicans have been refusing it rather than the boilerplate “congress has yet to reach a deal” language.)

  24. says

    This clip is amazing because the morons on the curvy couch manage to criticize NBC, Dr. Fauci, wearing masks and Democrats.”

    Video atl. (They’re also lying about Fauci. He appeared at the Biden announcement via video because he wanted to stay at the NIH to celebrate his colleague Harvey Alter being awarded the Nobel Prize. Sometimes I can’t even laugh at F&F. Look at what they’re making of these holidays in the middle of a pandemic and economic crisis.)

  25. tomh says

    Trump EPA finalizes rollback making it harder to enact new public health rules
    By Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis
    Dec. 9, 2020

    The Trump administration finalized a rule Wednesday that could make it more difficult to enact public health protections, by changing the way the Environmental Protection Agency calculates the costs and benefits of new limits on air pollution.

    The new cost-benefit requirements, which apply to all future Clean Air Act rules, instruct the agency to weigh all the economic costs of curbing an air pollutant but disregard many of the incidental benefits that arise, such as illnesses and deaths avoided by a potential regulation. In other words, if reducing emissions from power plants also saves tens of thousands of lives each year by cutting soot, those “co-benefits” should be not be counted.
    […]

    The move is one of several major environmental rollbacks that the administration is pushing through before President Trump leaves office next month. Earlier this week, it rejected calls to tighten national standards for fine particle pollution, known as PM 2.5, which ranks as the country’s most widespread deadly air pollutant. The EPA also plans to finalize a rule in coming weeks that will restrict the kinds of scientific studies the agency can use in crafting public health rules.
    […]

    The incoming administration is also likely to overturn the rule, although this would take time because there are legal procedures that must be followed to eliminate an existing regulation…

    “A lame duck Trump EPA is exiting with a legacy of lawbreaking and lying about the health benefits of clean air and climate safeguards, to hamstring future EPAs and thwart stronger protections,” said John Walke, clean air director for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “The president’s minions know this midnight rollback will be reversed by an incoming Biden administration or the courts; so this cynical act is sheer sabotage, designed to waste resources and the time it will take to reverse it.”

  26. KG says

    The UK government has dropped its plan to break international law by reneging on aspects of the EU Withdrawal Agreement relating to Northern Ireland, after reaching agreement with the EU. The hard Brexiteers of the ERG won’t like it, as it leaves Northern Ireland subject to aspects of EU law. The UK government is of course hailing it as a success, but my guess is that Biden’s people told Johnson he could abandon any hope of a free trade agreement with the USA if he didn’t back down.

    This doesn’t mean there will be a free trade agreement between the EU and UK – Johnson and von der Leyen are to negotiate about that in Brussels. Both sides are sounding downbeat, but they probably would whatever the actual probabilities.

  27. says

    1 in 3 South Dakotans has now been infected with Covid. Stunning.”

    WaPo (link atl) – “We are slaughtering ourselves. A shivery dispatch from a small town in S.D. where community leaders are dropping dead and the mayor isn’t sure about masks and 1,400 covid patients who should be hospitalized are receiving care at home because beds are full.”

    CBS Minnesota – “Noem Builds Profile In Texas, Georgia As COVID Surges In South Dakota.”

  28. says

    John Hudson:

    I was on the party beat last night … Despite health concerns, State Dept went ahead with hosting 200 guests for a Blair House & White House holiday tour. Bartenders w/ face shields served drinks. For kids, they handed out Melania’s leftover “Be Best” swag

    In the absence of a second Trump term, officials need to find a home for the surplus of “Be Best” merchandise, one U.S. official said.

    “It’s time to get rid of the leftovers,” the official said.

    WaPo link atl.

  29. says

    Brad Heath:

    Seventeen states filed a brief in the Supreme Court just now in support of Texas’ request that the justices throw out the results of the presidential election in four other states that didn’t support President Trump….

    With a few additions and subtractions, this maps the Confederacy pretty closely.

  30. says

    SC @37, regarding that amazing video clip: why do the Fox & Friends hosts refer to holiday trees as “patriotic,” saying “the tree is patriotic.” Makes no sense.

  31. says

    Salon – “DeSantis appointee resigns in protest of ‘unconscionable’ raid on COVID whistleblower “:

    A Republican official in Florida resigned on Tuesday in protest of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the police raid on whistleblower Rebekah Jones, a Florida data scientist who accused the state of manipulating coronavirus data.

    Ron Filipkowski, a lifelong Republican appointed by DeSantis to the 12th Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission, which selects judges, resigned from the panel on Tuesday after reviewing the search warrant used to seize electronic devices from Jones….

    Filipkowski, a former state and federal prosecutor, said in his resignation letter that he was “increasingly alarmed” by DeSantis’ “reckless and irresponsible” pandemic response but the raid on Jones was “unconscionable.”

    Filipowski, a Marine veteran, said that even if Jones was behind the message he would “still call her a hero.” He added that he found the governor’s office claim that DeSantis was unaware of the raid “not credible.”

    The Tallahassee Democrat reported that the search warrant used to seize Jones’ electronics was signed by Circuit Judge Joshua Hawkes, who was appointed by DeSantis in September.

    “The judge who signed the search order of my house was appointed by Governor Desantis and sworn in less than a month before he signed that warrant. In civil court,” Jones wrote on Twitter. “He’s not even a criminal court judge. It was one of his first actions as judge.”

    Filipowski, who was twice appointed to the panel by former Gov. Rick Scott and once by DeSantis before going on an anti-Trump bend and working with The Lincoln Project in support of Joe Biden, told CNN that he watched the video of the raid and “couldn’t believe what I was seeing.”

    “Then I read the search warrant, and I’m a criminal lawyer, and I couldn’t believe what I was reading in the search warrant about how broad it was, about what they were alleging as a supposed crime,” he said. “I was just really outraged by the whole situation. And then the final straw was hearing Gov. DeSantis’ spokesman… say he didn’t know anything about the raid… Which I found to be fantastical. Just not credible.”

    Filipowski said there was “no way” a “small” law enforcement agency like the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which reports directly to DeSantis, went ahead with the raid without clearance.

    The lifelong Republican told the Tampa Bay Times that he felt DeSantis was abusing his power to retaliate against a whistleblower who has been a “thorn in his side” for months.

    “You’re using law enforcement in intimidating people who are trying to tell the truth and now we are crossing over to my whole life as a prosecutor, employer, crusader,” he said. “This is wrong. He is taking it to a different level. ”

    He added that he hoped his resignation “in my own little way could draw some more attention to it” and “to the plight of the people of Florida who I feel are not being told the truth about COVID.”

    Democrats in Florida have also spoken out against the raid and called for an investigation….

    According to what a reporter was just saying on CNN, the judge who signed off on the warrant is long on political connections and short on qualifications.

  32. says

    Email to every member of House GOP from ⁦@RepMikeJohnson, R-LA, soliciting signatures for an amicus brief in the longshot Texas lawsuit seeking to invalidate electoral college votes from GA MI PA and WI. Trump is ‘anxiously awaiting the final list’ to see who signs on….”

    He’s “anxiously awaiting the final list.” This is like a scammy Trump campaign email from Don Jr. or Eric. How fucking pathetic.

  33. says

    When GOP legislators fear their homes may be ‘bombed’ over election

    As post-election threats become more common, a GOP lawmaker said refusing to go along with Trump’s lies would “get my house bombed.”

    Last week, leaders of Pennsylvania’s Republican-led legislature showed no interest in nullifying their state’s election results, even after Donald Trump pressed them to do exactly that. But GOP leaders in Harrisburg also felt as if they had to do something to satisfy the party and its base.

    And so, on Friday, dozens of Republican state legislators signed a joint statement, calling on Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation to object to their own state’s electoral college votes.

    This won’t amount to anything, but Pennsylvania Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward (R) — one of the recipients of a presidential lobbying call — acknowledged the pressure Republicans are feeling from the party’s rabid base. Ward told the New York Times she didn’t see her colleagues’ joint statement before its release, but she added that openly defying Trump’s anti-election crusade might have led to her house being “bombed.”

    […] Ward’s candor is emblematic of a larger truth: Trump’s lies are being embraced with unnerving vigor by far-right activists, who in turn are creating real-world threats. The New York Times reported in a separate article today:

    Despite his clear loss, Mr. Trump has shown no intention of stopping his sustained assault on the American electoral process. But his baseless conspiracy theories about voting fraud have devolved into an exercise in delegitimizing the election results, and the rhetoric is accelerating among his most fervent allies. This has prompted outrage among Trump loyalists and led to behavior that Democrats and even some Republicans say has become dangerous.

    So predictable. It’s what Trump wanted. It’s what he was aiming for.

    […] the list includes some frightening examples. Armed men gathered outside Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s home, for example, and made loud threats. Officials in Georgia, Arizona, Michigan and Vermont have also reportedly been the target of violent threats from right-wing radicals.

    The Times’ new report added to the list, including Ann Jacobs, the chair of the Wisconsin Elections Commission, explaining that extremists have begun posting photographs of her home online. One of the threats she received specifically referenced her children.

    […] Something the Washington Post’s Michael Gerson wrote in a column last week stood out for me: “By claiming the plot against his rightful rule was successfully coordinated across several states, Trump is not merely claiming instances of election fraud. He is alleging that the American system of democratic government has failed, which implies a right to revolution. By demanding specific, unlawful acts to overturn results in a fair election, he is urging authoritarian solutions to his political problems.”

    And the outgoing president’s followers, unaware of the fact that Trump is lying to them about the election results, aren’t just hearing the undemocratic signals from their leader, some are acting on them.

    In theory, Republican Party leaders could send a reality-based message to their base, telling them the truth about the integrity and reliability of their own country’s electoral system, but they don’t want to. Some GOP officials agree with the outgoing president’s nonsense, some see value in an enraged and agitated base, and some are simply too cowardly to do the right thing.

    […] There was a school of thought in GOP circles last month that Trump’s anti-election tantrum was meaningless theater. He’d stomp his feet, raise some money, and file pointless lawsuits, but the world would move on without him.

    Trump’s followers […] believe the lies, and some of them are engaging in dangerous intimidation campaigns.

    […] Republican leaders apparently don’t care.

  34. says

    Summary from Steve Benen:

    Donald Trump had a busy morning on Twitter, declaring his desire to “overturn” the 2020 presidential election, insisting he won more votes despite winning fewer votes, and announcing his intervention in support of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s (R) ridiculous lawsuit.

    Trump is using #OVERTURN.

    He couldn’t be more pathetic, or more obvious.

  35. says

    From Steve Benen:

    […] the outgoing president also claimed via Twitter, “No candidate has ever won both Florida and Ohio and lost. I won them both, by a lot! #SupremeCourt” First, I don’t know what this has to do with the Supreme Court. Second, trivia isn’t evidence. And third, Richard Nixon won both Florida and Ohio in 1960, but nevertheless lost the election.

  36. says

    From Steve Benen:

    As Joe Biden taps sitting U.S. House members for his team, it appears increasingly likely that the next House Democratic majority will be down to 220 seats next year. A majority is 218. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) conceded this morning that he’s “certainly concerned about the slimming of the majority,” and he’s been in touch with Team Biden.

    I guess we do need more Democrats in the House.

  37. says

    How Did Rudy Get Trump’s Velvet-Rope COVID Treatment?

    […] Rudy Giuliani, currently convalescing in a Georgetown hospital bed from COVID-19, called into his native WABC radio station on Tuesday for an update on his treatment for the deadly virus.

    […] “[Trump]’s doctor sent me here, he talked me into it,” Giuliani said. “I didn’t really want to go to the hospital and he said, ‘don’t be stupid, we can get it over with in three days if we send you to the hospital.’”

    […]Trump himself in October got the same course that Giuliani says he received: remdesivir, dexmethasone, and, to top it off, the most promising of them all, regeneron — a newly developed monoclonal antibody treatment that beefs up the body’s immune response to the virus.

    “The minute I took the cocktail yesterday, I felt 100 percent better,” Giuliani said. “It works very quickly. Wow!”

    How did Rudy manage to get these drugs?

    After all, they’re in extremely short supply. Monoclonal antibodies, which medical science generally agrees are the best shot at an effective treatment for the disease, are expensive and rare. One Florida hospital reported that its phone lines have been “bombarded” by people wanting the drug.

    What’s more, all of the doses in circulation currently belong to the U.S. government.

    The government bought 300,000 doses at around $1,500 a pop earlier this year. Those are the only doses being distributed in the United States at the moment, and are available for free per the Department of Health and Human Services.

    Okay. So did Rudy get one via normal allocation from HHS?

    HHS, for its part, tersely says that its providing “weekly allocations” of the drug to the states, “proportionally based on confirmed COVID-19 cases in each state and territory over the previous seven days.”

    […] the question is intriguing: 286,000 deaths into the pandemic, is the President using the perks of his office to grant his friends medical help?

  38. says

    Sheesh. More drunk-girl-at-the-party/legislative-hearing developments:

    A witness whose dramatic testimony about alleged voter fraud in Michigan went viral last week [and was mocked on SNL] has said she is not self-quarantining and has not been tested for the coronavirus even after Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who accompanied her at a legislative hearing, tested positive earlier this week and was later hospitalized to treat the virus […]

    Neither Mellissa Carone nor Giuliani wore a mask while seated side-by-side at a hearing in Lansing, Michigan, last week. According to the Post, Carone had also posed for photos with Giuliani, who health officials later said was “extremely likely” to have been contagious at the time.

    Carone’s refusal to take precautions amid likely exposure to coronavirus comes as local health officials on Monday issued an order requiring anyone who had been in close contact with the Trump lawyer for more than 15 minutes to self-quarantine following reports of his infection.

    […] Carone had become a low-level technician at a Detroit elections center shortly after concluding 12 months of probation after pleading guilty to disorderly conduct in Michigan’s Wayne County, according to court records reviewed by the Post. Those allegations involved sending sexually explicit messages to her boyfriend’s ex-wife.

    While both Trump and Giuliani boasted that Carone was a top witness in their efforts to overturn election results in the battleground state, a judge ruled that her allegations “simply are not credible.”

    In the wake of her dismissed testimony, Carone told the Post in a phone interview that she was conducting her life in the same way she had prior to accompanying the now ill Giuliani in court and did not have plans to change course. She also claimed that she was unaware of the health advisory and rebuffed concerns that she had might have contracted coronavirus.

    “I would take it seriously if it came from Trump, because Trump cares about American lives,” Carone told the Post, suggesting that if conservative television networks like One America News or Newsmax which have often been sympathetic to Trump’s defiance of health guidelines “told me to go get tested, I would do it.”

    “It is not that I don’t believe in getting tested. I don’t trust the tests,” Carone told the Post.

    Link

    All the best people.

  39. says

    Follow-up to comment 58.

    From Mark Sumner:

    Mellissa Carone’s testimony before the Michigan state house panel made her an instant meme across the nation and more than earned her a parody on Saturday Night Live that was, if anything, less bizarre than her actual statements. The aspiring actress put on a one-woman show of conspiracy theories that included food trucks full of ballots and poll books that contained 100,000 fake names. It took just two days for a Wayne County judge to rule that Carone’s statements—statements that she included on a signed affidavit—were “simply not credible,” making this another chapter in the ongoing saga “Say, just what do these guys have to do before they’re charged with perjury?”

    While Carone’s house testimony might have been lifted from the b-plot of bad sitcom, what she’s doing now isn’t nearly so hilarious. After sitting next to a highly infectious Rudy Giuliani for a mask-free day of testimony, Carone joined America’s major embarrassment for some post-testimony mugging for the camera. All of which came just hours before Giuliani tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Which means that Mellissa Carone was parked next to someone during their peak period of potential contagion. Naturally, she’s doing the wrong thing. […]

    She does the wrong thing frequently … and then she lies about it.

    […] Giuliani’s star witness recently completed probation for another starring role in a series of sex videos which she emailed to her fiance’s ex-wife.

    Unsurprisingly, when she was caught and brought in for an interview by police, Carone denied having ever sent the emails. It wasn’t until she was actually presented with the evidence that the videos were sent from her computer and her IP address that Carone confessed. […]

    According to the AJC, a police investigator said, “Mellissa [Carone] then confessed to sending the videos because she wanted to send (the ex-wife) ‘over the top.’” Instead they earned Carone a conviction and a year of probation for “disorderly conduct”—a pretty good deal considering that the original charges could have both landed her in prison and on the sex offender registry.

    In response to the news coming out, Carone made a statement just as coherent as any she made during her House testimony, “But one thing that that anybody that knows me, or people that don’t even know me, cannot and will never be able to ever claim about me is that I’m a liar. I am not a liar. I’ve never been known to be a liar. I am not a liar. And I am the most honest person.”

    Which pairs perfectly with the statement of the Wayne County judge, which stated that Carone “made numerous demonstrably false allegations” and was “not credible.”

    Honestly, Rudy Giuliani and Mellissa Carone are right … when they say that Carone’s past actions should not be taken as an excuse to either impugn her character or deny her testimony. Unfortunately for Giuliani and Carone, the character that she demonstrated in her testimony was more than enough to show that probation was ineffective in changing her behavior.

    Even more unfortunately, Carone is confirming that character by her cavalier treatment of her COVID-19 exposure and her willingness to endanger those around her.

    Link

  40. says

    Ammon Bundy’s organization descends on Idaho official’s home in latest misguided anti-mask protest

    As cases of the novel coronavirus continue to increase at an alarming rate nationwide, many people still refuse to wear masks and follow safety precautions. As of this report, more than 15.2 million people in the U.S. have been infected with COVID-19 and at least 286,400 have died as a result […] As the Trump administration continues to disregard the severity of this pandemic, local and state officials are taking matters into their own hands—but not without opposition.

    Anti-maskers are stooping to lower levels as they protest mandates put in place for their own safety. Within minutes of the start of a public health district meeting in Idaho regarding a local mask mandate, anti-maskers swarmed the home of some local health officials attending the virtual meeting. Among the officials targeted was Ada County Commissioner Diana Lachiondo, who feared for her son’s safety.

    Lachiondo had learned anti-mask protesters had gathered outside her home through a phone call, which quickly made her visibly upset. “My 12-year-old son is home by himself right now, and there are protesters banging outside the door,” Lachiondo told the Central District Health’s Board of Health in tears before excusing herself. “I’m going to go home and make sure he’s okay.” […]

    After Lachiondo left the meeting her colleagues learned that protesters had gathered outside of the Central District Health office and one other board member’s home as well. […]

    “I’m a father and that’s just unbelievable,” David Peterman, a doctor present during the virtual meeting, said after Lachiondo left.

    Because of the protests taking place less than 15 minutes after the meeting began, both Mayor Lauren McLean and Boise police requested that the board cancel it. […]

    McLean also faced protesters outside her home, some of whom carried Tiki torches and other items as weapons, KTVB reported. […]

    Protesters blamed the safety precautions the mayor enforced for a struggling economy and yelled worrisome threats like, “Snitches get stitches,” according to KTVB7. […] McLean’s statement continued. “It’s especially concerning right now, as we head into a long, dark winter with our case numbers rising rapidly and our hospital systems on the brink of having to ration care.”

    The anti-mask protests were organized by People’s Rights, an organization founded by alt-right activist Ammon Bundy. Through text messages, individuals were encouraged to protest a public health order that limited gatherings to fewer than 10 people and required face masks to be worn in both public and private settings where non-household members were gathered and social distancing was not possible. […]

    The second official whose home protesters gathered outside of was Ted Epperly, a physician in Ada County. Epperly told The Idaho Statesman that about 15 people were gathered outside his home, “beating garbage cans and flashing strobe lights through my windows. Two came up and knocked on my door during the meeting.” He added that he was “disappointed that we had to table the vote.”

    In response to the protests, Gov. Brad Little issued a statement on Twitter Tuesday night calling the actions of these anti-maskers “reprehensible.” “It is nothing more than a bullying tactic that seeks to silence. […] “There is no place for this behavior in Idaho. I urge calm among Idahoans so we can get through the pandemic together, stronger.”

    […] “Our community is being severely impacted by this virus and our team members and board are working tirelessly to protect our community’s health,” Russ Duke, district director for Central District Health, said in a statement Tuesday. “We simply ask that those who may disagree with these difficult discussion points and decisions do so in a way that is respectful and does not endanger our staff, board of health members, and our law enforcement, all who are critical in this response.”

  41. says

    Katie Porter has had enough of McConnell COVID-19 relief hostage taking

    Rep. Katie Porter is a bona fide hero of good governance. And she’s fearless and whip smart […] Mitch McConnell is lucky that she took aim at him on Twitter instead of in person. Because. She’s. Had. Enough. Of. Him. “When I came to Congress,” she started, “I knew I had a responsibility to pull back the curtain for the American people and expose corruption in real time. So, I’m filling you in on Senator McConnell’s attempts over the last 8 days to tank a bipartisan COVID relief bill.”

    “Everyone at the negotiating table—including Senate Rs—has agreed to a compromise,” she continued. “Except one. Mitch McConnell is refusing to bring it to the floor unless it wipes away all COVID-related lawsuits filed that ‘allege injury or death’ due to corporate negligence.” That’s the liability shield McConnell has insisted be included in any bill since last April, when he point-blank stopped considering any more legislation that would actually help people. “These lawsuits represent the worst of the worst examples of disregard for human life—cases filed on behalf of nursing home patients and grocery store workers who died because the company in charge of keeping them safe prioritized cutting costs over protecting them,” Porter explained.

    Then the shiv: “The same McConnell who said that President Trump is ‘100% within his rights’ to pursue baseless lawsuits alleging election fraud is now refusing to pass urgently-needed relief unless it strips those same rights from the most vulnerable among us. This must be exposed.” Consider it exposed, Rep. Porter, and thank you. (By the way, McConnell is still refusing to publicly acknowledge that Joe Biden is President-elect.)

  42. says

    How Kelly Loeffler’s Firm Facilitated an Enron-Like Scandal

    Intercontinental Exchange provided a platform for “excessive speculation” that cost Georgians millions of dollars.

    At a debate on Sunday night, Sen. Kelly Loeffler, the Republican vying in one of the two critical January 5 Senate run-offs in Georgia, declared that she has been using her “private sector experience to make sure that Georgians get back to work.” But one of her private sector experiences was an episode in which her company provided a platform for highly speculative unregulated energy trading that ended up causing an Enron-like scandal and costing residents of Georgia millions of dollars.

    […] Loeffler, a prominent Republican donor, spent 16 years working in the corporate management of Intercontinental Exchange, a Fortune 500 company that owns the New York Stock Exchange and other financial markets, as well as other businesses, including digital mortgage services. The CEO of the company, Jeffrey Sprecher, is her husband, and together they are worth $800 million. (Loeffler, who has been dogged by questions about her controversial stock trading, is the wealthiest member of Congress.) When she left Intercontinental—which is known as ICE—in 2018, a press release noted that Loeffler had led “all aspects of ICE’s investor relations, communications, marketing strategy, brand, digital platforms and sustainability efforts, among many other contributions.” She still holds between $5 million and $25 million in ICE stock, according to her most recent financial disclosure.

    At one point while Loeffler was helping to run ICE, the firm was involved in a financial controversy that was emblematic of the unrestrained corporate wheeling-and-dealing of the 2000s that led to the economic collapse of 2008. And Georgia homeowners paid a price.

    Here’s what happened. In 2006, a giant hedge fund called Amaranth Advisors accumulated massive natural gas holdings on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) and was dominating the natural gas market. It held up to 70 percent of natural gas commodities on the exchange and, consequently, was able to manipulate prices by buying or selling large chunks of its holdings. (Amaranth’s energy and commodities trading desk had been set up by a former Enron trader who had gone to work for the hedge fund.) According to a subsequent Senate investigation, Amaranth’s moves “constituted excessive speculation” and “had a direct effect on U.S. natural gas prices and increased price volatility in the natural gas market.”

    In August of that year, NYMEX, concerned about Amaranth’s trading, directed the fund to reduce its natural gas positions. Amaranth did so on NYMEX, but it increased its natural gas holdings on an unregulated energy exchange run by ICE—Sprecher and Loeffler’s firm. “NYMEX’s instructions to Amaranth did nothing to reduce Amaranth’s size, but simply caused Amaranth’s trading to move from a regulated market to an unregulated one,” according to the Senate report. And the hedge fund kept on trading its natural gas holdings.

    […] There were no trading limits on ICE’s exchange, and no routine government oversight. […] the ability of an investor to shift to the market run by ICE impeded regulators’ “authority to detect, prevent, and punish market manipulation and excessive speculation.”

    […] operating an unregulated exchange was good business for ICE. […]

    Amaranth’s natural gas skullduggery in 2006 went too far. During a sell-off, the firm ended up losing $6 billion and experienced a stunning crash. The firm had to shut down.

    ICE publicly said this debacle wouldn’t hurt its own prospects, maintaining, “Amaranth‘s business is not individually material to ICE’s revenues.” But others incurred a cost. […] purchasers of natural gas that year were hit with inflated prices. […]

    The Industrial Energy Consumers of America estimates that Amaranth’s speculation alone cost consumers of natural gas as much as $9 billion from April to August […]

    The Municipal Gas Authority of Georgia calculated that 243,000 of its customers collectively had to pay an extra $18 million in the winter of 2006 and 2007

    Those machinations were partly made possible by ICE, which profited off Amaranth’s unregulated trading. […]

    Naturally, ICE had previously opposed efforts to allow the CFTC to regulate its energy exchange […] In other words, ICE would lose money if trading on its exchange was monitored to safeguard against the sort of speculation and abuse that occurred in the Amaranth case and that posed an estimated $9 billion cost to American families and consumers.

    […] After the Amaranth disaster, ICE did begin sharing information on traders’ positions with the CFTC. In 2009, after Congress took steps to close the Enron loophole […]

    During the Amaranth episode, ICE was not accused of any wrongdoing. But the firm that has brought Loeffler and her husband into the ranks of near-billionaires did provide a trading venue for a rapacious hedge fund whose misdeeds ended up forcing families in Georgia and elsewhere to pay more to heat their homes. […]

  43. tomh says

    Hunter Biden Confirms He’s Under Federal Investigation in Delaware
    JERRY LAMBE Dec 9th, 2020, 4:35 pm 9

    Hunter Biden, the son of President-elect Joe Biden, confirmed on Wednesday that his finances are being investigated by federal prosecutors in Delaware.

    “I learned yesterday for the first time that the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Delaware advised my legal counsel, also yesterday, that they are investigating my tax affairs,” Hunter Biden said in a statement. “I take this matter very seriously but I am confident that a professional and objective review of these matters will demonstrate that I handled my affairs legally and appropriately, including with the benefit of professional tax advisors.”…

    Earlier this year the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and Senate Committee on Finance, led by Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) respectively, obtained some of Hunter Biden’s extremely sensitive and confidential financial data through the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN)…

    The U.S. Attorney for the District of Delaware is David C. Weiss, who was appointed by President Donald Trump in Feb. 2018.

  44. says

    Landlords Have Filed More Than 150,000 Eviction Notices Already. By January It Will Get Much Worse.

    A nationwide ban on evictions is the only thing standing between millions of jobless Americans and homelessness—and it’s set to expire Dec. 31, weeks before President-Elect Joe Biden takes the oath of office.

    Donald Trump’s administration could extend the moratorium on evictions in his final days in office, the lame duck Congress could pass a bill that temporarily halts evictions, or Biden could issue a new ban after he is sworn in on Jan. 20.

    But for millions of Americans who collectively may be as much as $24 billion behind in rent payments to their landlords by January, the ban is only a temporary fix for an impending economic calamity.

    Without widespread rent relief for low-income Americans who lost their jobs and had little or no financial buffer before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, landlords everywhere almost certainly will try to force their tenants to move out the moment an eviction moratorium is lifted.

    The people most likely to be affected by mass evictions are non-white Americans, the same people who are more likely to die or lose their jobs because of the coronavirus.

    The mountain of debt afflicting many Americans is potentially life-altering on an individual level, experts say, and will affect the economy for years to come as the racial wealth gap widens.

    […] By November, renters were estimated to be $17 billion to $18.8 billion behind in payments to their landlords. The consulting firm that prepared the report, STOUT, estimates by January, renters will be up to $24.5 billion behind.

    […] Months ago, as the coronavirus pandemic began to tear through the country, Congress passed an eviction moratorium in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, signed by President Trump on March 27.

    But the ban only protected about a third of the nation’s renters, and landlords continued to file eviction paperwork against their tenants. In July, a Center for Public Integrity analysis of court filings showed that nearly two-thirds of the eviction cases filed during the pandemic were against tenants living in Black and brown communities.

    During the pandemic, landlords have filed more than 150,000 eviction cases against tenants in the 25 cities tracked by Princeton University’s Eviction Lab, despite various national, state and local moratoriums.

    […] “What kind of country are we that will allow this wave of evictions in the middle of the winter, in the middle of a pandemic?” Brown said in a Nov. 9 call with the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “That’s just morally indefensible.”

    […] Renters around the country are struggling, as are the landlords to whom they owe several months’ worth of rent, said Greg Brown, senior vice president of government affairs for the National Apartment Association. The association, which represents more than 82,000 landlords, joined the lawsuit challenging the CDC’s eviction moratorium.

    Congress’s failure to act has left millions of Americans on a financial cliff, Brown said in an emailed statement, jeopardizing 40 million apartment homes, 17.5 million jobs and a $3.4 trillion industry. Rental assistance is “the only responsible and sustainable solution,” he said.

  45. says

    Senate rejects attempt to block Trump’s UAE arms sale

    The Senate on Wednesday rejected a bipartisan effort to block President Trump’s $23 billion arms sale to the United Arab Emirates.

    Senators voted on two resolutions to block the arms sale, with both failing to get the simple majority to advance over the initial procedural hurdles in 46-50 and 47-49 votes, respectively.

    The administration notified Congress last month that it approved selling the UAE up to 50 F-35s worth $10.4 billion, up to 18 MQ-9B drones worth $2.97 billion and a package of air-to-air and air-to-ground munitions worth $10 billion.

    […] In 2019, Congress voted to block arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE amid outrage over the death of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. But there was not enough support to override Trump’s vetoes. Seven Republicans voted for all or part of the resolutions blocking the arms sale at the time.

    Lawmakers have expressed concerns that the sale to the UAE could result in U.S. technology being given to adversaries like China or erode Israel’s military advantage in the region. […]

    “Simply put, many aspects of this proposed sale remain conceptual. We are being asked to support a significant transfer of advanced U.S. technology, without clarity on a number of key details regarding the sale, or sufficient answers to critical national security questions,” Menendez, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, said ahead of the vote.

    “There are simply too many outstanding questions about the protection of critical U.S. military technology, the broader implications of these sales to U.S. national security regarding the UAE’s relationships, for example, with Russia and China, as they exist today,” he added. […]

  46. says

    From Wonkette: Patriotic Idaho Jackholes Delay Mask Mandate By Terrorizing Health Board Members’ Kids

    […] It’s like what Thomas Jefferson said: The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the tears of terrified children and their office-holding parents.

    You can see video of the meeting going to pieces at the Idaho Statesman […]

    The meeting, which had already been postponed once due to protests, was called to discuss and vote on new public health measures for the district, which covers four counties, including Ada County, the state’s largest. (Boise, in Ada County, already has a mask mandate, but it applies only within city limits.)

    Shortly after the meeting began, Commissioner Diana Lachiondo said she needed to step away from her screen to call police after a neighbor let her know people were pounding on her front door. She then returned, interrupting pediatrician David Peterman, who was testifying about local effects of the pandemic. Lachiondo said, in tears, that she had to go home, because her 12-year-old son was alone with an angry mob pounding on the front door.

    Just a few moment later, after Dr. Peterman said perhaps eight more words, CDH Director Russ Duke broke in again to say that he’d been contacted by Boise Mayor Lauren McLean and Boise Police Chief Ryan Lee, who requested the meeting be ended in the interests of safety.

    Dr. Ted Epperly, another board member, said protesters gathered at his house as well. He told the Statesman that about 15 people were outside his home, “beating garbage cans and flashing strobe lights through my windows. Two came up and knocked on my door during the meeting.”

    […] So hooray for the brave child-scaring protesters! They delayed a mask mandate and some new business occupancy restrictions, and presumably church bells rang out across Idaho to celebrate the temporary victory over tyranny.

    In a press release issued later Tuesday, Duke claimed — as tyrants always do — that the district health board is “working tirelessly to protect our community’s health,” if you can believe that monster. He also suggested that maybe the anti-mask protestors try a little fucking civility please:

    We simply ask that those who may disagree with these difficult discussion points and decisions do so in a way that is respectful and does not endanger our staff, Board of Health members, and our law enforcement, all who are critical in this response.”

    OK, but these protesters had no choice, because basic matters of liberty, like the right to spew an incurable virus in public, are at stake. […]

    The Central District Health Board hasn’t yet rescheduled the meeting; it will likely announce a new time soon, once it can figure out a way to hold a goddamned Zoom meeting without leaving members’ families in danger from anti-mask lunatics.

  47. says

    Humor/satire from Andy Borowitz:

    A furious Donald J. Trump attempted to fire the Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, sources report.

    According to the sources, Trump was so irate about the Supreme Court’s dismissal of his election challenge on Tuesday that he phoned Barrett directly to inform her that she was “history.”

    “I hired you to get a job done, and you didn’t get it done,” Trump angrily informed Barrett. “You’re out of here.”

    Sources say that Barrett had the unenviable task of informing Trump that Supreme Court Justices are appointed for life and therefore cannot be fired, a revelation that left Trump “flabbergasted.”

    “If I can’t fire anybody I want, maybe I don’t want to be President anymore,” he reportedly muttered.

    New Yorker link

  48. tomh says

    Sen. Johnson announces hearing on election ‘irregularities’ two days after electoral college is scheduled to vote
    By John Wagner

    Sen. Ron Johnson, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, announced Wednesday that he would hold a hearing next week, two days after the electoral college votes on the next president, to examine “irregularities” in the November election.

    “I am mindful that many of the issues that have been raised have been, and will continue to be, appropriately resolved in the courts,” Johnson (R-Wis.) said in a statement. “But the fact remains that a large percentage of the American public does not view the 2020 election result as legitimate because of apparent irregularities that have not been fully examined. That is not a sustainable state of affairs for our country.”

    Johnson, a frequent ally of Trump, said the “only way to resolve suspicions is with full transparency and public awareness.”

    He said additional details of the Dec. 16 hearing, including witnesses, would be announced later.

  49. says

    ‘God be with us’
    Washington Post link
    Covid-19 becomes personal in a South Dakota town as neighbors die and the town debates a mask mandate.

    A cold wind whipped through the prairie as they laid Buck Timmins to rest.

    Timmins, a longtime coach and referee, was not the first person in Mitchell, S.D., pop. 15,600, to die of the coronavirus. He was not even the first that week.

    As the funeral director tucked blankets over the knees of Timmins’s wife, Nanci, Pastor Rhonda Wellsandt-Zell told the small group of masked mourners that just as there had been seasons in the coach’s life — basketball season, football season, volleyball season — Mitchell was now enduring a phase of its own.

    Pandemic season.

    In a state where the Republican governor, Kristi L. Noem, has defied calls for a statewide mask mandate even as cases hit record levels, many in this rural community an hour west of Sioux Falls ignored the virus for months, not bothering with masks or social distancing. Restaurants were packed. Big weddings and funerals went on as planned.

    Then people started dying. The wife of the former bank president. A state legislator. The guy whose family has owned the bike shop since 1959. Then Timmins, a mild-spoken 72-year-old who had worked with hundreds of local kids during six decades as a Little League and high school coach and referee.

    His death shook Mitchell just as its leaders were contemplating something previously denounced and dismissed: a requirement that its staunchly conservative residents wear masks.

    […] In Mitchell, the medical emergency helicopter, once a rare occurrence, now comes nearly every day, ferrying the growing number of people desperately ill with covid-19 to a hospital that might be able to save them.

    […] Oh, my God, here we go again, Wellsandt-Zell thought. Another one.

    […] McCardle had a yellow legal pad under his arm with his daily tally of coronavirus cases in Davison County since March. The growth he had been so carefully recording had exploded in recent weeks, with 359 cases Oct. 1 to 1,912 that morning, a 433 percent increase. […]. South Dakota now has the largest increase in deaths per capita in the nation […]

    The positivity rate at two local testing sites — a key indicator of the virus’s hold on a community — was 33 percent at the beginning of November and would soar to 49 percent near the end of the month, according to Avera Queen of Peace Hospital in Mitchell.

    Queen of Peace, which only has eight ICU beds, became overwhelmed and sometimes had to turn patients away, opening up a second covid-19 wing Nov. 8 that filled quickly. Doctors warned of a 50 to 100 percent increase in hospitalizations in the weeks to come. “GOD BE WITH US,” the pandemic-inspired sign outside a feed store read.

    […] Then there were the patients who didn’t even believe the coronavirus was real. That week, a patient in his 40s came in for a physical — he was high-risk and asthmatic […] He said he couldn’t breathe in it and didn’t believe the whole pandemic thing anyway. People were dying from pneumonia because they were being forced to wear masks, he told her.

    OMG, that kind of misguided thinking is so disheartening!

    “The next thing you’re going to be calling me to come in and take the vaccine, and I’m telling you right now I’m not going to get it,” he told her.

    Kenkel told him calmly that the research he was reading was flawed. […]

    “To have people say it’s not real, that’s just unbelievable,” she said. “Well, they haven’t seen what I’ve seen. So maybe it is unbelievable. They just want to believe it’s not true.”

    […] The anti-mask forces sat with naked faces, defying the mayor’s order. One by one, they got up to air their grievances. They wept. They swore. They cited junk science: Positivity defeats the virus. So does a healthy lifestyle, eating wild-caught sardines, pasture-raised beef liver and drinking raw organic kombucha. A young mother stood up and compared anti-maskers to Jews persecuted in the Holocaust: “The bare face is the new yellow star of Nazi Germany,” she said.

    […] As the evening wore on, members of the beleaguered medical community could not hide their distress.

    “I cannot even remember how many death certificates I have signed in the last few days,” Buck Timmins’s doctor, Lucio N. Margallo II, told the crowd. […]

    “Ladies and gentlemen, the virus is real. It’s not a fantasy. It’s deadly, and it’s surging out of control. Scared? Yes I’m scared. … I’m scared for everybody and scared for myself.” […]

    Much more at the link.

  50. says

    “House approves one-week spending bill as stimulus talks drag on”
    Washington Post link

    The House of Representatives on Wednesday approved a one-week extension in funding for the federal government, a move aimed at giving lawmakers more time to hammer out agreements on spending bills and emergency economic relief.

    Congressional leaders advanced the short-term extension in federal funding as negotiations over an emergency economic relief package appeared to falter and prospects of a major breakthrough dimmed. The measure passed by a 343-to-67 vote.

    Appropriators have continued to make progress on a set of spending bills to fund federal agencies, with only a few outstanding policy issues left to be resolved by congressional leaders, aides involved in deliberations say. But talks on the broader stimulus package seemed at risk of breaking down after the White House on Tuesday proposed a relief bill that would offer only minimal benefits to unemployed Americans, a nonstarter for congressional Democrats.

    More at the link.

  51. tomh says

    Spree of federal executions during Trump’s lame-duck period and pandemic is unprecedented
    Dec. 9, 2020
    By Erik Ortiz

    Brandon Bernard was 18 when he was arrested as an accomplice in the 1999 kidnapping and murder of two youth ministers on a secluded stretch of the Fort Hood military reservation in Texas.

    On Thursday evening, Bernard, now 40, is set to become the youngest person, based on the age when the crime occurred, in nearly seven decades to be executed by the federal government.

    Of the next five scheduled federal executions, four of them, including Bernard’s, involve Black men; the fifth person, Lisa Montgomery, would be the first woman to be executed by the federal government in nearly 70 years.

    Already in 2020, the federal government has put eight people to death, including the only Native American on federal death row…

    A Death Penalty Information Center report released in September examined the historical context of how capital punishment has been a tool for authority over Black Americans. Since executions were reintroduced in the United States in 1977, nearly 300 Black defendants have been executed for the murder of a white victim, while only 21 white defendants have been executed for the murder of a Black victim…

  52. lumipuna says

    A young mother stood up and compared anti-maskers to Jews persecuted in the Holocaust: “The bare face is the new yellow star of Nazi Germany,” she said.

    Now that’s a funny analogy, aside from it being wrong and offensive.

    The yellow star was intended for Jews specifically, and its only purpose was to visibly distinguish Jews from other people.

    The Covid-19 mask is literally intended for everyone in a given community, and its purpose is entirely unrelated to singling people out for their political beliefs or anything else. If you refuse the mask, it may visibly indicate something about your political beliefs (together with some other factors that might possibly make you unwilling or unable to wear a mask). But then the government will try to persuade or outright force you to wear the mask, coincidentally ensuring you won’t stand out.

  53. stroppy says

    Pretty good overview of the situation from the 1A at NPR.

    “Are We Living Through A Coup? Or Something Else?”
    https://the1a.org/segments/coup-trump-election-biden-overturn/

    The situation is bad, very bad as you know. But it’s sobering that NPR has decided it’s time to lay it all out like this. They still have to talk around the “H” name when drawing parallels, but the implications aren’t excluded, IMO.

  54. stroppy says

    Commentary from Juan Cole.

    “Ritual Coup: Republicans hope that by Performing a One-Party State, they will one Day Achieve it”
    https://www.juancole.com/2020/12/republicans-performing-achieve.html

    …Scientists have shown that people were wrong when they thought wolves howl at the full moon. Wolves howl at each other, communicating over long distances in their territory about where they are, and where prey or enemies are. Republicans are not baying at the moon with their endless ritual votes. They are reinforcing their loyalty to the one-party state and triangulating the position of enemies and prey…

    …This Republican detachment from reality is not going anywhere good, and if party leaders do not pull back from the brink, I am not joking or exaggerating when I say that there will be blood in the streets. Mostly the blood of the Democrats who are viciously attacked. It is only one step from denying that they can legitimately win elections to denying that they can legitimately breathe air.

  55. says

    Máté Varga in the Guardian – “As Poles and Hungarians, we urge the EU to stand firm on the rule of law”:

    As European leaders gather in Brussels this week municipal buildings and monuments in Warsaw and Budapest have been lit up in blue. The illuminations, organised by campaign groups and the mayors of these cities, are meant as a powerful reminder of the dark path ahead if the EU stands aside while the rule of law is extinguished in Poland and Hungary. The lights are a call for solidarity with the millions of citizens of both countries who argue that EU funding should be conditional on their governments upholding these fundamental rights.

    The release of €1.8tn in EU funds for rebuilding after the pandemic and the EU’s 2021-2027 budget is at stake. So far agreement has been derailed by Hungary’s Viktor Orbán and Poland’s Mateusz Morawiecki because of their unwillingness to accept that membership of the EU depends on upholding democratic values.

    This, of course, is not a new fight for these two leaders. For years now, we in Poland and Hungary have had to contend with our national governments undermining the fundamental values: democracy and human rights that underpin membership of the EU. Hundreds of thousands of us have taken to the streets, year after year, to fight their attempts to control our country’s media, judiciary, and democratic political systems.

    EU leaders face a choice. They can appease Orbán and Morawiecki and let down the citizens of Hungary and Poland who are concerned about basic freedoms. This would embolden the two leaders and show other nationalist leaders that the tactics of blackmail can be effective. It would fuel a further shift to authoritarianism, not just in Hungary and Poland, but across Europe, and cause unnecessary fracturing of the EU27. An alternative would be to face down these “paper tigers” and stand with the citizens of these two countries for the defence of our values, as Europeans.

    We, and hundreds of thousands of citizens from Hungary and Poland, urge them to stand firm against the bullying tactics of Orbán and Morawiecki, and to set an example of how Europe treats autocrats. There is no east and west divide among the populations of the EU27. We are as committed to democracy and rule of law, and have as much right as western Europeans to demand our leaders leave them intact. We need the support of the rest of the EU to defend the values we share.

  56. says

    Guardian – “Has Modi finally met his match in India’s farmers?”:

    The scene is almost festive. Kanwar Grewal, a popular Punjabi singer, is on the stage performing in front of a spellbound audience….

    This scene is neither exceptional nor limited to one artist. It has become commonplace in the past months, especially in the Indian states of Punjab and Haryana, as massive protests mount against the deregulation of the agricultural sector. The vast assembly of protesters during a relentless pandemic might seem reckless. But it is more a sign of desperation that thousands of famers and workers have camped for weeks at the borders of Delhi during a harsh winter and the risk of contagion. They show no sign of turning back.

    The determination of protesters has put India’s ruling party in a tight spot. It was clearly not expecting a nationwide strike during the pandemic. The “world’s strictest lockdown” and the public fear of contagion have been readily leveraged to limit democratic expression of dissent. With various restrictions in place, the Modi government has viewed the pandemic as a rare opportunity to muscle through a number of “tough” market reforms. The guiding principle has been that the crisis is a “time for bold decisions and bold investment … to prepare a globally competitive domestic supply chain”.

    The rationale is that the pandemic offers a moment in which global investments could potentially be diverted from China to India…. As the US has spoken of the prospect of decoupling from China, a new vacancy as the world’s “next factory” seems to have opened up, a vacancy India is eager to fill.

    This crisis-as-opportunity approach is accelerating the speed of market reforms that big capital has long demanded. First there was the highly publicised Make in India programme. Earlier this year, it was repackaged as the Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India): a competitive and resilient manufacturing hub in the global economy. Its most recent iteration is One Nation, One Market, which envisages India as a consolidated economic unit governed by a strong centralised state – a step that undermines India’s federal state structure. Articulated in the language of empowerment and progress, it positions the Indian nation as a single market, with economic resources and activity under the auspices of the state.

    This vision requires India to be made market-ready, a site of production in which all national territory and inhabitants are available as factors of production. Seen from this vantage point, the new market reforms are the logical steps designed to upgrade India’s global ranking on the “ease of business” index. Hence the new farm laws – on pricing, sale of agricultural produce, and storage – which remove safeguards that have protected the agricultural sector from the vagaries of the free market.

    The Modi government rushed these laws through without heed to the opposition, which is outnumbered in parliament. And this is where the farmers’ protest assumes significance.

    On 8 December, more than 450 farmers’ and workers’ unions called for a nationwide one-day strike to push for a repeal of the new laws. The protests themselves continue to grow across class and caste, city and countryside. This is the most major mass resistance that the Modi government has faced, and the protesters are prepared for a long haul. As one farmer said: “We are fully prepared to stay here for six months and can stay longer if we are not heard and our demands are not met.”

    More atl.

  57. says

    Here’s a link to the December 10 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    It could be too late for any kind of fair distribution of coronavirus vaccines because of the deals already made by rich countries, according to Mark Suzman, chief executive of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

    Despite the unprecedented pace of scientific progress on the development of vaccines, he said it remains “really, really complicated” to ensure they are produced and distributed fairly.

    Suzman announced on Wednesday the foundation is to give an extra $250m (£188m) to support the research, development and equitable delivery of tests, treatments and vaccines against coronavirus, bringing its total commitments to tackling the disease to $1.75bn.

    Rich countries with just 14% of the world’s population have secured 53% of the most promising coronavirus vaccines, according to an alliance of campaigners which this week warned that deals already done could leave nine out of 10 of the world’s poorest unvaccinated next year. Canada has secured enough doses to vaccinate its citizens many times over.

    Funding from the Gates Foundation has come at a pivotal moment, Suzman said. The first vaccinations began in the UK this week, while US regulators appear ready to approve emergency use of two vaccines. A second wave of vaccines is in advanced trials.

    Asked if deals done by western governments with vaccine companies meant it was already too late for an equitable rollout, Suzman said: “At the moment, as you say, it definitely is a risk and that’s why we think it’s so important to be taking action now.”

  58. says

    lumipuna @72, excellent analysis. Thanks for posting that.

    In other news, an update on the batshit bonkers claims from Hair Furor, from Steve Benen:

    On Twitter yesterday, Donald Trump suggested the presidential election should be “immediately overturned” so that he can remain in power. This morning, the outgoing president added that his successor will be “illegitimate.”

  59. says

    Say, what now?

    Trump lawyers switch gears, claim fraud is ‘undetectable’

    At his campaign rally in Georgia over the weekend, Donald Trump acknowledged the reports that he lacks any evidence of actual fraud in the 2020 elections. The outgoing president, however, insisted his detractors are wrong.

    “We have so much evidence,” [Trump] claimed, adding, “They say, ‘Oh, he doesn’t have the evidence.’ We have so much evidence, we don’t know what to do with it.”

    Trump pushed a related message via Twitter yesterday morning, insisting there’s “massive evidence of widespread fraud” in the states targeted by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s lawsuit.

    But a funny thing happened a few hours later. [Trump] and his controversial lawyer released a court filing making largely the opposite point:

    “Despite the chaos of election night and the days which followed, the media has consistently proclaimed that no widespread voter fraud has been proven. But this observation misses the point. The constitutional issue is not whether voters committed fraud but whether state officials violated the law by systematically loosening the measures for ballot integrity so that fraud becomes undetectable.”

    Oh. So the initial claim was Team Trump has evidence of fraud, but the new claim is that the evidence is “undetectable,” which is why no one can see it.

    Let’s back up for a moment. Let’s say I told you that Bigfoot is real. To be sure, Bigfoot is not real, but for the sake of conversation, let’s say I was trying to convince you otherwise.

    You’d naturally ask for some kind of evidence. Initially, I’d respond by saying I have so much evidence of Bigfoot’s existence that I hardly know what to do with all of it. But once the conversation progresses, I’d switch gears and say, “You know, asking for evidence misses the point. Bigfoot covers his tracks, making his existence undetectable, which I believe is itself proof that Bigfoot is real.”

    […] this is the point at which we’ve arrived with Donald Trump and his claims about voter fraud.

    As a Washington Post analysis added this morning, “It’s not the first time the Trump team has watered down its claims of fraud when actually faced with vouching for them in legal proceedings…. But it’s certainly telling that it’s now proactively dispatching with that question and shifting its legal argument in a completely different direction. If this was truly what happened, after all, why spend weeks talking about evidence of fraud rather than that? The reason: It wanted to prove fraud, but it couldn’t. So now it’s doing this other thing.”

  60. says

    From Steve Benen:

    […] 1. Republican officials launch an aggressive effort to undermine public confidence in their own country’s electoral system.

    2. Far-right voters, discouraged after a defeat, believe transparent lies.

    3. Republican officials insist their lies have merit because of the number of far-right voters who believe them.

    This is mind-numbing, but more importantly, it’s not a coherent approach to a political debate.

    As Jamison Foser put it yesterday, “A political party that spends a month falsely encouraging its supporters to see an election result as illegitimate cannot honestly use the resultant concern about illegitimacy to overturn the election, or to change election rules going forward.”

    Link

  61. says

    Yet another Trump cabinet secretary caught up in scandal

    As Donald Trump’s presidency comes to an ignominious end, it’s apparently not too late for one more cabinet controversy.

    […] The Washington Post reported late yesterday:

    The Veterans Affairs inspector general informed federal prosecutors this fall of possible criminal conduct by Secretary Robert Wilkie stemming from an investigation into whether he worked to discredit a congressional aide who said she was sexually assaulted, according to three current and former federal officials.

    It’s important to emphasize that federal prosecutors did not pursue charges against the VA secretary, but as the article added, the fact that the department’s inspector general reached out to the Justice Department reinforces concerns about the seriousness of the allegations.

    All of this comes less than a month after the New York Times reported the Justice Department also investigated criminal allegations against former Interior secretary Ryan Zinke, as part of a case referred to prosecutors from the Interior Department’s inspector general.

    Around the same time, we also learned about the Justice Department’s review of former Labor Secretary Alex Acosta’s role in the Jeffrey Epstein scandal, for which Acosta received a slap on the wrist.

    Given what we know of Attorney General Bill Barr and the White House’s efforts to politicize federal law enforcement, it’s an open question as to whether these matters were dealt with an even-handed way. [understatement]

    But it’s the sheer volume of controversies surrounding members of the Republican president’s cabinet that continues to amaze.

    Former Energy Secretary Rick Perry, for example, resigned under a cloud of scandal, as did former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, former HHS Secretary Tom Price, and former VA Secretary David Shulkin.

    Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao has faced ethics allegations. So has HUD Secretary Ben Carson. David Bernhardt, a former corporate lobbyist for the oil industry, became the subject of an ethics investigation immediately after becoming the nation’s Interior secretary. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is facing so many ethics controversies, it’s been difficult to keep up with each of them.

    While we’re at it, let’s also not overlook controversies surrounding Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

    As regular readers may recall, Trump declared with pride last year, “There are those that say we have one of the finest cabinets.” No one has ever made such an assessment. No one ever should.

  62. says

    The best medical care is being given to people like Rudy Giuliani. As for the rest us, what can we hope for?

    […] Rudy Giuliani, a Trump lawyer and a member of the president’s inner circle, boasted yesterday that he received special hospital care because of his “celebrity” status. The former mayor added that he received “exactly the same” drug “cocktail” that Trump took at Walter Reed. […]

    Similarly, Ben Carson, a member of the president’s cabinet, recently conceded Trump “cleared” him for a monoclonal antibody therapy most Americans won’t have access to.

    It led the New York Times to report:

    Mr. Giuliani’s candid admission once again exposes that Covid-19 has become a disease of the haves and the have-nots. The treatment given to Mr. Trump’s allies is raising alarms among medical ethicists as state officials and health system administrators grapple with gut-wrenching decisions about which patients get antibodies in a system that can only be described as rationing.

    The article added that leading FDA officials have “privately expressed concern in recent months that people with connections to the White House appeared to be getting access” to special antibody treatments that are in short supply nationwide.

    The scarcity is such a problem, the Times noted, that the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine is “holding a session next week to help medical professionals sort their way through rationing questions.”

    […] TPM had a related item along these lines yesterday, asking how Giuliani gained access to “exactly the same” drug “cocktail” Trump received.

    After all, they’re in extremely short supply. Monoclonal antibodies, which medical science generally agrees are the best shot at an effective treatment for the disease, are expensive and rare. One Florida hospital reported that its phone lines have been “bombarded” by people wanting the drug. What’s more, all of the doses in circulation currently belong to the U.S. government. The government bought 300,000 doses at around $1,500 a pop earlier this year. Those are the only doses being distributed in the United States at the moment, and are available for free per the Department of Health and Human Services.

    Link

  63. says

    Ugly spike in unemployment claims reinforce need for aid package

    The new total is the worst since mid-September, reinforcing fears that the economy that was already struggling is taking a turn for the worse.

    […] the new report from the Labor Department pointed in an ugly direction.

    In the week ending December 5, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 853,000, an increase of 137,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised up by 4,000 from 712,000 to 716,000. The 4-week moving average was 776,000, an increase of 35,500 from the previous week’s revised average.

    […] It’s also the 38th consecutive week in which the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits was worse than at any time during the Great Recession.

    […] the country still needs economic relief as the coronavirus pandemic continues to take a brutal toll.

    What the nation needs and what the nation might get are, however, two very different things.

    Yesterday, the bipartisan group of lawmakers who negotiated a compromise package unveiled the details of their blueprint, which Democratic leaders are prepared to accept as the basis for additional talks. Nevertheless, key issues, most notably Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) demand for a multi-year corporate liability shield, are not close to being resolved.

    The Hill reported yesterday, “Momentum appeared to stall Wednesday on a COVID-19 relief bill amid differences not only between the parties, but between Senate Republicans and the White House over what should be included in the legislation.” […]

  64. tomh says

    NYT:
    As Trump Disputes Election Results, Republicans Target Voting by Mail

    President Trump’s barrage of losses in court cases trying to undermine the election has not stopped Republicans from turning to battles they might be able to win — attempts to limit or undermine the future use of the vote-by-mail ballots that so infuriated Mr. Trump.

    Absentee ballots constituted nearly half the votes cast in the 2020 election, and the experiment in mass voting by mail has been viewed by election experts as a remarkable success, one that was less prone to errors than expected and had almost no documented fraud. But that has not stopped Republican critics eager to follow the president’s lead.

    This week in Georgia, as the president rages against the election he lost and the members of his party who oversaw it there, Republican state senators promised to make getting and casting mail ballots far more difficult.

    The Georgia state senators pledged on Tuesday to eliminate no-excuse absentee voting, require a photo ID to obtain a ballot, outlaw drop boxes and scrap a court agreement to quickly tell voters about signature problems on ballots so that they could be fixed….

    And Georgia has company. In Pennsylvania, Republicans preparing for the legislative session that convenes on Jan. 11 are seeking co-sponsors for bills to stiffen identification requirements for mail ballots, tighten standards for signature matching and, in one case, to repeal the law that allows anyone to vote absentee without an excuse.

    Michigan Republicans have signaled that they want to review a 2018 ballot initiative approved by two-thirds of voters that authorized no-excuse absentee balloting as well as same-day registration and straight-ticket voting….

    “The campaign to delegitimize and overturn the election has become a convenient justification for those who want to restrict access to voting,” said Wendy R. Weiser, who directs the democracy program at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University. “Even those who acknowledge that the president lost the election are using the same kinds of allegations to roll back voting rights.”

  65. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    The World Trade Organization has failed to agree on a proposal to exempt Covid-19 vaccines from intellectual property rights – an idea staunchly opposed by pharmaceutical giants.

    The plan aims to facilitate greater knowledge sharing and the rapid scale-up of production sites for urgent Covid-19 medical goods, including vaccines.

    The notion was brought forward by India and South Africa, countries which want to boost the global production of vaccine doses to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

    It is supported by around 100 countries, according to the medical charity Doctors Without Borders, and by the World Health Organization.

    However, “WTO members failed to reach a consensus on the proposal,” a Geneva trade official said.

    “Members agreed to keep this item in the agenda of future… meetings to allow for further consideration of the waiver request.

    “An oral status report will be presented at the next General Council meeting on 16-17 December 16-17 indicating the need for further discussions on this issue.”

    The General Council is the organisation’s supreme decision-making body. WTO member states take decisions by consensus, meaning an agreement was unlikely, given the opposition in the room.

    The trade official said members offered no indication of change in their well-known positions or of a likely consensus in the future.

  66. says

    Redfield Allegedly Ordered Evidence Of Interference In COVID Report Be Deleted

    CDC director Robert Redfield ordered the deletion of an email showing political interference in COVID-19 guidance deemed damaging to […] Trump, according to Jim Clyburn (D-GA), head of the House Subcommittee on Coronavirus.

    In a new letter, Clyburn charges that Redfield directed Dr. Charlotte Kent, editor-in-chief of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, to delete a previously reported email in which Dr. Paul Alexander, senior adviser to HHS Secretary Alex Azar, attacks a report on COVID-19 spread among children as designed to hurt the administration.

    “CDC tried to report as if once kids get together, there will be spread and this will impact school reopening,” Alexander wrote in the now-deleted email, sent in August. “Very misleading by CDC and shame on them. Their aim is clear. . . . This is designed to hurt this Presidnet [sic] for their reasons which I am not interested in.”

    […] Kent testified to the committee on Monday that she was on vacation in early August when the command from Redfield came down, but that the email had already been deleted by the time she was looking for it.

    […] “The Subcommittee’s characterization of the conversation with Dr. Kent is irresponsible,” a spokesperson for HHS told TPM. “We urge the Subcommittee to release the transcript in full which will show that during her testimony Dr. Kent repeatedly said there was no political interference in the MMWR process.”

    Clyburn alleged that the deletion request is just one link in a chain of political interference by Redfield and HHS in the CDC’s COVID-19 guidance.

    Kent also testified that the CDC delayed publishing a report on COVID-19 spread at a Georgia summer camp until after Redfield’s scheduled testimony to the subcommittee in July, during which he advocated that schools open for face-to-face learning in the fall.

    […] “[…] hours after Dr. Kent’s interview in which she revealed she was instructed to delete a key document, your staff wrote to Select Subcommittee staff that the Department is ‘cancelling the interviews that were scheduled for this week,’ baselessly attacking the Select Subcommittee staff’s integrity as a pretextual justification for doing so,” Clyburn wrote.

    […] Clyburn ended his letter demanding an interview with Redfield, plus that the originally scheduled interviews with CDC officials be reinstated. He also requested a tranche of documents related to the specific incidents Kent described, in addition to any others related to the department’s obstruction of the subcommittee’s attempts to investigate.

    “I am deeply concerned that the Trump Administration’s political meddling with the nation’s coronavirus response has put American lives at greater risk, and that Administration officials may have taken steps to conceal and destroy evidence of this dangerous conduct,” Clyburn wrote. […]

  67. lumipuna says

    Re 79:

    Oh. So the initial claim was Team Trump has evidence of fraud, but the new claim is that the evidence is “undetectable,” which is why no one can see it.

    Let’s back up for a moment. Let’s say I told you that Bigfoot is real. To be sure, Bigfoot is not real, but for the sake of conversation, let’s say I was trying to convince you otherwise.

    You’d naturally ask for some kind of evidence. Initially, I’d respond by saying I have so much evidence of Bigfoot’s existence that I hardly know what to do with all of it. But once the conversation progresses, I’d switch gears and say, “You know, asking for evidence misses the point. Bigfoot covers his tracks, making his existence undetectable, which I believe is itself proof that Bigfoot is real.”

    I suppose in this analogy you’d elaborate on the possibilities of a Bigfoot-like creature hiding in a mature forest, then conclude, “We must cut down the forest because we cannot exclude the possibility of Bigfoot hiding in there”

  68. says

    Jacob Kornbluh:

    VIDEO: Trump tells the crowd at the [indoor, mask-lite] Hanukkah party that with the help of “certain very important people, if they have wisdom and if they have courage, we are going to win this election.” — remarks followed with loud chants of “four more years.”

    Trump told crowd contesting the election is “an historic fight — it’s really for the soul of our country — because if somebody wins an election by a lot and they take the election away and they give it to people that shouldn’t be there, I think that’s a problem for our country.”

    Trump spoke for 6 minutes. Only mention about Hanukkah was at start when he said, “I want to wish everyone a very Happy Hanukkah.” The rest was about the election

  69. says

    Sen. Schatz: “Mitch McConnell is blocking bipartisan aid. Any characterization of this situation as ‘Congress at an impasse’ is a lie. There is a bipartisan, bicameral agreement. The President even wants something. The problem is McConnell. He’s blocking the deal.”

  70. says

    Mich, Pa, Ga and Penn says Scotus should toss Trump/Texas effort to overturn results: ‘The court should not abide this seditious abuse of the judicial process, and . . . send a clear and unmistakable signal that such abuse must never be replicated’.

    Since Election Day, State and Federal courts throughout the country have been flooded with frivolous lawsuits aimed at disenfranchising large swaths of voters and undermining the legitimacy of the election. The State of Texas has now added its voice to the cacophony of bogus claims. Texas seeks to invalidate elections in four states for yielding results with which it disagrees. Its request for this Court to exercise its original jurisdiction and then anoint Texas’s preferred candidate for President is legally indefensible and is an af[f]ront to principles of constitutional democracy.

  71. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    The number of deaths from all causes recorded in Russia in October rose by nearly 50,000 on the previous year, the country’s statistics agency said on Thursday.

    According to the Rosstat agency, 205,500 people died in Russia in October, a rise of 47,800 on October 2019.

    It did not give any explanation for the excess mortality in its latest monthly report, but said 22,761 people died in October who were either among confirmed or suspected Covid-19 cases.

    These included 11,630 cases where the primary cause of death was Covid-19.

    The numbers are higher than AFP’s own count of 7,274 coronavirus deaths in October, based on official figures.

    Between April and the end of October 2020, excess mortality in Russia now stands at almost 165,000 deaths compared to last year.

    Since the start of the pandemic, only 45,280 deaths from Covid-19 have been officially recorded.

    Russia has been criticised for its methodology in calculating coronavirus deaths with authorities only listing deaths which after post-mortem are considered to have had coronavirus as the primary cause.

    The last time Russia recorded such a high monthly figure was in August 2010, a period that saw huge fires and the subsequent air pollution affect Moscow.

    In many countries, especially in western Europe, almost all deaths of patients with a positive coronavirus test are included in the national Covid-19 death toll.

    Russia was one of the first countries to announce the development of a vaccine which it named Sputnik V after a Soviet-era satellite.

    It launched a mass vaccination programme last week with developers saying the vaccine is 95 percent effective based on interim trial results.

    Despite the start of Russia’s vaccination campaign, however, Sputnik V is yet to complete its third and final phase of trials involving some 40,000 volunteers….

  72. says

    southpaw:

    A majority of the Republicans members in the House and Republican Attorney Generals in about one third of the states are sending the Supreme Court a giant political signal that they’d like the election overturned. There’s no merit whatsoever to their legal arguments.

    The only thing that’s potent about their filings is who signs them. But in this process, the Republican coup plotters may be doing more than making a show of force to the Justices. They may be discovering their numbers for themselves.

  73. says

    Rep. Schiff:

    This isn’t a game. Trump lost. End of story.

    But he’s still trying to drag down our democracy, invalidate millions of votes, and overturn the election.

    And for what? To raise money? To run again?

    These members of Congress should be ashamed. History will remember the enablers.

  74. says

    Tony Plohetski:

    NEW: FBI agents delivered at least one federal subpoena to the Texas Attorney General’s office Wednesday for information in an ongoing investigation involving AG Ken Paxton, three sources confirm, indicating the seriousness with which they are taking allegations against Paxton.

    It is not clear what records FBI agents sought. Their visit came on a week when Paxton has been in the national spotlight for his lawsuit concerning election results in four battleground states. He also met with President Trump today….

  75. says

    Helen Prejean: “Today will be Brandon Bernard’s last. No matter what crime a person has committed, the act of taking a healthy, breathing, conscious, aware being, strapping him down and snuffing out his life with a lethal injection, is a stain on us all. We must learn to be better than this.”

    This is crazy.

  76. says

    Marc Elias:

    I am shaken by this Texas case. Not because it will prevail (it won’t) but because something is seriously wrong with our democracy that these elected leaders, who know better, are using the courts to spread lies and undermine our elections.

    That makes me very worried.

  77. says

    NPR – “Joe Biden, Kamala Harris Named ‘Time’ Person Of The Year”:

    President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris defeated Donald Trump twice this year: Once at the polls and again for Time‘s ‘Person of the Year.’

    Time‘s choice to name Biden and Harris over Trump, who was also shortlisted, marks the first time a president-elect and vice president-elect have appeared together on a Person of the Year cover. Harris is also the first vice president-elect to get the designation.

    Biden and Harris made the cut after topping a shortlist that included the movement for racial justice, Dr. Anthony Fauci and front-line workers in the fight against COVID-19.

    But the choice of Biden isn’t exactly a surprise, as selecting a president-elect for Person of the Year is a nearly nine-decade-old tradition at the magazine. The first president-elect named Person of the Year (then “Man of the Year”) was Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in 1932, for his New Deal plan to bring America out of the Great Depression.

  78. says

    Ari Berman:

    House Dems should refuse to seat the 106 House Republicans who tried to overturn the results of the 2020 election

    15 House Republicans who signed letter represent states of GA, MI, WI, PA where they claim elections were rigged. What about their elections then?

    GOP Reps Rick W. Allen, Jack Bergman, Buddy Carter, Drew Ferguson, Bill Huizenga, John Joyce, Fred Keller, Mike Kelly, Dan Meuser, John Moolenaar, Scott Perry, Guy Reschenthaler, Austin Scott, GT Thompson, Tom Tiffany, Tim Walberg represent GA/WI/MI/PA. Should their votes count?

  79. says

    CNN – “Utah Sen. Mike Lee blocks votes to establish Smithsonian museums for Latinos and women”:

    Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah on Thursday blocked consideration for legislation to establish a National Museum of the American Latino and an American Women’s History Museum as part of the Smithsonian Institution, reasoning that the US does not need “separate but equal museums.”

    The National Museum of the American Latino legislation had passed the House by voice vote in July following decades of efforts to establish the museum.

    “I understand what my colleagues are trying to do and why. I respect what they’re trying to do. I even share their interests in ensuring that these stories are told. But the last thing we need is to further divide an already divided nation with an array of segregated, separate-but-equal museums for hyphenated identity groups,” Lee said.

    “At this moment in the history of our diverse nation, we need our federal government and the Smithsonian Institution itself to pull us closer together and not further apart.”

    The Smithsonian Institution, Lee maintained, “should not have an exclusive museum of American Latino history or a museum of women’s history or museum of American men’s history or Mormon history or Asian-American history or Catholic history. American history is an inclusive story that should unite us.”

    There are museums dedicated to African Americans — the National Museum of African American History and Culture — and Native Americans — the National Museum of the American Indian.

    Lee’s opposition to the bill drew immediate scorn from Sen. Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat and longtime advocate for a Latino museum, who called his approach “pretty outrageous.”

    “The House of Representatives passed this on voice. The Rules Committee passed it on voice in a bipartisan manner. And tonight, one colleague stands in the way. One Republican colleague from Utah stands in the way of the hopes and dreams and aspirations of seeing Americans of Latino descent having their dreams fulfilled and being recognized,” he said. “Just being recognized.”

    That message was echoed by GOP Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who said, “I could not help but wonder as I heard the comments of my colleague from Utah whether he also tried to block the museum celebrating and telling the history of African Americans.”

    She added: “It seems wrong that one senator can block consideration of a bill that would have overwhelming support by a majority of this body.”

    After Lee blocked the legislation to establish the American Women’s History Museum, Collins said, “Surely in a year where we’re celebrating the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, this is the time, this is the moment to finally pass the legislation unanimously recommended by an independent commission to establish an American Women’s History museum in our nation’s capital.”

    “I regret that that will not occur this evening, but we will not give up the fight,” she said….

  80. says

    CNN – “State Department watchdog steps down after Pompeo rails at report on investigation into wife’s travel”:

    State Department acting Inspector General Matthew Klimow is leaving his post earlier than expected after just a few months on the job, he told colleagues in a memo, a source at the Office of the Inspector General told CNN on Thursday.

    Klimow announced his departure the same day Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s department offered a combative response to an inspector general report on an investigation into travel by the secretary’s wife, Susan.

    The independent watchdog found that the majority of trips by Susan Pompeo over a two-year period had taken place without written approval from the State Department, despite the fact that her trips were considered official travel and paid for by US taxpayers.

    Klimow is now the third head of the State Department’s Office of the Inspector General to leave early on Pompeo’s watch. His departure is just the latest sign of friction between the top US diplomat and the independent watchdog assigned to look into waste, fraud and abuse at the agency. The Washington Post first reported Klimow’s departure.

    Pompeo and his wife have generated a slew of inspector general investigations while at the State Department and the secretary has drawn scrutiny for asking President Donald Trump to fire an inspector general who was looking into his use of taxpayer resources at the oldest US Cabinet agency.

    The top US diplomat is also being investigated by the Office of Special Counsel, an independent federal investigative agency, for possibly violating a federal law that forbids federal employees from engaging in political activity while on duty. And Pompeo raised the concerns of Navy lawyers in 2018 with a request for military housing that raised “factual, legal, fiscal and ethical issues.”

    Pompeo has refused to sit for interviews with the inspector general’s office and bristled when asked publicly about the oversight.

    Klimow, who took over as acting inspector general in late August, cited the Vacancies Reform Act, which allows officials to serve in an acting capacity for 210 days after a vacancy is declared, as the reason for his departure, a source familiar with the memo told CNN.

    Klimow is also the US ambassador to Turkmenistan and maintained that role while he was at the Office of the Inspector General. Part of his calculation for leaving now is that he is trying to get back to the US Embassy in Ashgabat to provide leadership there, the source said….

    The picture of her getting off the government plane with her blingy sunglasses speaks volumes.

  81. says

    Reuters – “Website targeting U.S. election officials draws attention of intelligence agencies”:

    The harassment campaign against U.S. election officials following President Donald Trump’s defeat took an ominous turn on Thursday after a website surfaced that accused them of “treason” and included photographs and home addresses, drawing the attention of U.S. intelligence agencies.

    The site, along with several associated social media accounts, included photographs of Republican and Democratic officials, with rifle crosshairs superimposed on them.

    The FBI said on Thursday that it was aware of the issue. U.S. intelligence agencies are also looking into the website and its origins, a source said on Thursday.

    Several of the officials targeted said the messaging amounted to a call for violence against those who worked to oversee the Nov. 3 election, which Trump lost to Democratic President-elect Joe Biden. They urged Trump to denounce it.

    “If anyone needs to be reminded that public calls for violence beget violence, this is the clarion call. If blood is spilled, it is on the hands of the president, his campaign, his lawyers, and the silent Republicans standing in the president’s shadow,” said Jim Walden, a lawyer for Christopher Krebs, who oversaw cybersecurity at the Department of Homeland Security until he was fired by Trump after the election.

    Georgia’s deputy secretary of state, Jordan Fuchs, likewise pointed the finger at the president.

    “Trump and U.S. senators have refused to condemn these death threats,” she told Reuters. “In fact, he continues to support those who are actively calling for elections officials to be shot.”

    Experts who track right-wing extremists said they did not know who was behind the online effort, which includes several websites and associated social media accounts. But they described it as a serious threat.

    “This is absolutely terrifying,” said Heidi Beirich, co-founder of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism. “This is among the most threatening websites I’ve seen.”

    Internet records hide the identity of whoever set up the site. Cybersecurity experts helping with election security said one of the pages was hosted in Russia, and some records include accounts registered through Yandex, a Russian email platform. Those links do not necessarily mean that the Russian government is behind the effort, the experts said.

    As of early Thursday afternoon, associated accounts on Facebook and Twitter had been taken down, but remained active on Parler and Gab, two social media networks favored by right-wing activists.

    The site also targeted several employees of Dominion Voting Systems, a voting-machine vendor that has been subject to unsubstantiated conspiracy theories of vote manipulation.

    A Dominion spokeswoman said those false claims have resulted in dangerous threats to the company and its workers.

  82. KG says

    I honestly don’t understand the compulsion to add “working” – or “families,” for that matter – to every statement like this. Just talk about people. – SC@98

    My guess is that it’s “bigot-friendly” terminology. All the racists, misogynists, homophobes… (even if they live alone on social security) can interpret it to mean “not those people“.

  83. stroppy says

    “Working families”

    It’s a layered and carefully triangulated and targeted buzz phrase that has been overused to the point of being almost meaningless. It is first and foremost about class –excluding both the rich and, disturbingly, the poor–and secondarily the implications that follow from that. One more reminder of the death of the “War on Poverty.”

    It is twisty in that it’s also an attempt to remind and reinforce the point that the marginal lower middle class is not composed of a bunch of immoral, lazy ne’er-do-wells sucking off the welfare state.

  84. stroppy says

    @ 116
    Ugh, I should have put
    “a bunch of immoral, lazy ne’er-do-wells sucking off the welfare state.”
    in quotes.

  85. says

    SC @113, He even misspelled his own name in that brief, (“Woods” instead of “Wood”). There are several errors that fall into the WTF category.

  86. says

    Trump tweeted, fascistically: “Now that the Biden Administration will be a scandal plagued mess for years to come, it is much easier for the Supreme Court of the United States to follow the Constitution and do what everybody knows has to be done. They must show great Courage & Wisdom. Save the USA!!!”

    CONCESSION is now trending on Twitter.

  87. says

    SC @108, quoting AOC: “You want to know who’s actually trying to defund the police? Republicans.” All too true. They are also refusing to send funds to states that would help to keep firefighters, EMTs and other essential personnel on the job.

  88. says

    South Dakota’s Noem scrambles to defend pandemic failures

    South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) wants to put a positive spin on her state’s experiences with the pandemic. It’s not going especially well.

    South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) is acting like someone who’s eager to run for a different job. Shortly before Election Day, the Republican governor was in New Hampshire. Shortly after Election Day, Noem was in Texas, and this past weekend, she was in Georgia, hoping to help her party’s U.S. Senate candidates.

    The Argus Leader in Sioux Falls noted this week that the first-term governor — and former congresswoman — has made “dozens of out-of-state outings” in recent months.

    There is, however, a rather dramatic problem likely to interfere with Noem’s national ambitions: South Dakota has suffered brutally with the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, it’s been one of the worst places on the planet for COVID-19, and the Republican governor’s response has provided a model of what not to do.

    Given that it’s difficult to parlay failure into a bid for national office, Noem has begun trying to put a positive spin on South Dakota’s tragedy. Just this week, the governor wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed, effectively boasting about her state’s rejection of “harsh rules,” “lockdowns, and “mask mandates.” She added:

    Many in the media have criticized this approach, labeling me ill-informed, reckless and even a “denier.” Some have asserted that South Dakota is “as bad as it gets anywhere in the world” when it comes to Covid-19 — a demonstrably false statement.

    The trouble is, it’s really not a demonstrably false statement. A Washington Post analysis explained this week:

    Data from the Federation of American Scientists in mid-November showed South Dakota’s per capita death rate was the third-highest of any hot spot worldwide in its data set. And Washington Post data show South Dakota has by far the highest per capita death rate in the country — 18.7 deaths per 100,000 people over the past seven days.

    The New York Times’ tally found the same result: per capita, South Dakota’s COVID-19 fatality totals are the worst in the United States.

    Noem’s op-ed proceeded to try and draw favorable comparisons between her state and others, prompting the Post’s analysis to add, “You can cherry-pick data to tell pretty much any story you want. But focusing on momentary increases (which are happening pretty much everywhere, to some degree or another) and ignoring South Dakota’s even worse increases and the overall picture of the past two-plus months is really to miss the forest for the trees.”

    Something to keep in mind as the governor engages in out-of-state travel and prepares to ask for a promotion.

  89. says

    When China amplifies Trump’s anti-election message

    Trump is eager to delegitimize his own country’s democracy, and no one’s happier about that than the rivals of the United States.

    It didn’t generate as much attention as it probably should have, but Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe was unexpectedly candid last week — in ways that didn’t do his boss any favors.

    In an interview with CBS News that aired last Friday, Ratcliffe conceded that the United States’ foreign adversaries are amplifying his party’s bogus voter-fraud allegations. The DNI added that our adversaries are pushing the claims in order to “undermine public confidence in our democratic processes.”

    This was far more startling than Ratcliffe seemed to realize. The intelligence chief was effectively admitting that Donald Trump’s rhetoric was being weaponized by U.S. adversaries in order to undermine our electoral system. […]

    A few days later, Trump published a tweet that read, “If somebody cheated in the Election, which the Democrats did, why wouldn’t the Election be immediately overturned? How can a Country be run like this?” If Ratcliffe’s right, and our foreign foes are exploiting election lies to “undermine public confidence in our democratic processes,” the outgoing president’s tweet seemed custom made to make U.S. adversaries happy.

    Take a wild guess what happened next.

    The Twitter account of the Chinese Embassy in the United States on Wednesday shared a post by […] Trump falsely claiming that the Democrats “cheated” in the election and that the results should be overturned — only to undo the retweet hours later and claim that its account had been hacked.

    It was quite a sequence of events. First, Trump attacked our electoral system. Then, the Chinese embassy promoted the Republican’s criticism of his own country. Finally, the Chinese embassy blamed unidentified hackers […]

    Link

  90. says

    Trump Is Having A Meltdown About Being Kept In The Dark About Hunter Biden Probe

    […] Trump is fuming that he apparently didn’t know about ongoing federal investigations involving Hunter Biden that pre-date last month’s general election. […]

    Trump’s meltdown over the investigations, which have been kept quiet for years, comes after the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday night that Attorney General Bill Barr had known about investigations involving Hunter Biden’s business and financial dealings since at least this spring and had worked to keep them out of public view in an effort to avoid appearing to impact the outcome of the Nov. 3 presidential election. The probe, which began in 2018, predates Barr’s tenure as attorney general.

    “Why didn’t the Fake News Media, the FBI and the DOJ report the Biden matter BEFORE the Election,” Trump wrote in a Thursday night tweet.

    By Friday morning, Trump went so far as to assert in another tweet that news of the Hunter Biden investigations exonerated the President and his infamous July 2019 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Trump said that call, in which he attempted to extort the Ukranian leader to dig up dirt on the Biden son and announce an investigation, was now “even better” than perfect. The pressure campaign ultimately led to Trump’s impeachment.

    The investigation in Delaware into the younger Biden’s financial and business dealings that made headlines this week as part of a criminal tax investigation does not implicate President-elect Joe Biden, who Trump has taken great pains to smear.

    Another investigation involving Hunter Biden in Manhattan is part of a broader criminal investigation and, in spite of Trump’s longstanding ambition to condemn Biden for “corruption,” its outcome is unknown. According to the Journal’s reporting, Hunter Biden was not a specific target for criminal prosecution in the probe.

    Minutes later on Friday morning, Trump tweeted that the U.S. Supreme Court should get involved — presumably suggesting that, in light of the investigations and so-called “scandal” surrounding Hunter Biden, the high court now had reason to “do what everybody knows has to be done.”

    […] Trump has had little luck with Barr, who notably broke from Trump when he told the Associate Press in an interview that he had not seen enough evidence of fraud that would overturn election results.

    […] Trump appears to be making an even more absurd plea to use news of the investigations to justify his effort to swindle last month’s election, which he decisively lost.

  91. says

    Guardian – “An EU travel ban for Britons brings home the sad reality of Brexit”:

    No one expects a joyous new year in 2021. Covid-19 will ensure that. Yet news that a collision between the pandemic and Brexit may also see Britons barred from entering the European Union for nonessential travel from 1 January has now added to the misery.

    As things now stand, EU rules that ask member states to ban citizens of high-risk Covid countries from entering should be applied to UK citizens when Big Ben stops chiming 11pm (marking midnight in Brussels). This might change by then, or not. But why the surprise?

    The idea that ending “freedom of movement” simply prevented a one-way traffic of Polish plumbers and Romanian fruit pickers into Britain was always absurd.

    From the very beginning, Theresa May made “reciprocity” the mantra of Brexit negotiations. If Britain “cracks down” – to use a term favoured by migrant-bashers – on the travel freedoms of European citizens then British people must pay a price too.

    “It’s a two-way thing. We’ve always warned about that,” said Jane Golding, the Berlin-based co-chair of the British in Europe group.

    This is now dawning on those who make occasional trips to the EU – meaning much of the UK population.

    The new reality is this: travel to France is not an absolute right. Nor are trips to Spain, Greece, most of Europe’s best resorts, or anywhere else British people love to go in the EU. Among many other things, that is what losing European citizenship means.

    Tourism must now take place under different conditions. That does not make them impossible, or even difficult. But it does mean they can be stopped at any moment. Covid is one of those moments.

    Everywhere, there is a pecking order among those who enjoy freedoms, with citizens at the top. This is a principle the UK loves to apply, as the Windrush generation, or the 3 million EU citizens in Britain forced to fill out a settled status form, know full well.

    Brexit, then, always meant curtailing the rights and freedoms of Britons in Europe. The surprise is that some people are only just waking up this. Perhaps no one bothered to tell them.

    A wider inability to see migration as anything but a one-way process that threatens the British way of life ignores fundamental truths about Britons as migrants.

    In fact, 5 million British people – or 8% of us – live elsewhere. In percentage terms, Britain is the world’s 10th biggest exporter of emigrants and the largest in the European Union. Some 350,000 British people live in Spain. They are the third largest immigrant community, after Moroccans and Romanians. The UK’s head-in-the-ground attitude to emigrants, however, means it cannot be counted on to help or protect them.

    The truth is that Spain needs British tourists. Its economy is 12% dependent on tourism, and in provinces such as Alicante, much of that comes from Britain. A fifth of its annual visitors hold UK passports.

    Spain will bend over backwards to let British visitors in and to treat them well. It is worth remembering, though, that it can only bend as far as any EU-UK agreement allows it to. Or Covid restrictions.

    There is also a sting in the tail. Before the EU introduced express extraditions, Spain’s Mediterranean coast was also known as the Costa del Crime, since British crooks loved to hole up there. As of 1 January, when extradition becomes more complex, that part of British migration is quite likely to pick up again.

  92. says

    Follow-up to comment 126.

    From comments posted by readers of the TPM article:

    And this whole time, I had thought Joe Biden had won the election. And now to find out it was Hunter who may be not qualified to be President…I had no idea.
    ————————
    As I recall Hunter Biden wasn’t on the ticket, so exactly how would this have impacted the race.
    I remember when tRump was running and all that scummy talk about women came out and I thought this is it, it will do him in. Things just don’t work like that any more.
    ————————–
    We are so past meltdown. He melted down before the votes were even finished counting and has, at no time, cooled enough to use remelt as a metaphor. At this point he is a greasy puddle of lard, petroleum jelly and creosote, smoldering at the smoke point and ready to burst into acrid flames and spitting bits of tar and ash
    —————–
    We know Trump had a fake Time “Man of the Year” cover made for him. Today should be a five-star meltdown. If it goes well, he will replace Barr with Lou Dobbs, if it goes badly, he will invite Putin’s troops into the streets of Washington to restore order and democracy.

  93. says

    From an article written by Jane Mayer for The New Yorker before the November election:

    Cohen is so certain that Trump will lose that he recently placed a ten-thousand-dollar bet on it. “He’ll blame everyone except for himself,” Cohen said. “Every day, he’ll rant and rave and yell and scream about how they stole the Presidency from him. He’ll say he won by millions and millions of ballots, and they cheated with votes from dead people and people who weren’t born yet. He’ll tell all sorts of lies and activate his militias. It’s going to be a pathetic show. But, by stacking the Supreme Court, he’ll think he can get an injunction. Trump repeats his lies over and over with the belief that the more he tells them the more people will believe them. We all wish he’d just shut up, but the problem is he won’t.”

  94. says

    From Mark Sumner: “Republicans are engaged in an act of sedition, and no one should pretend this is just politics”

    […] By any definition, what Texas asked of the court was for an immediate end to democracy in America and its replacement by single party rule. Then seventeen more Republican-controlled states signed on to this overt act of sedition.

    On Thursday, 106 Republican members of the U.S. House added their names to this declaration that they’re done with the whole concept of representative government. […] Republicans are levying war against the people, institutions, and foundations of the United States.

    This is not a partisan dispute. There is no coming back from this. Certainly it should never be forgotten. Neither should there be any forgiveness. Republicans have launched a second civil war in the courts, and it should be treated no more kindly than any launched on the battlefield.

    […] As the secretary of state for Pennsylvania wrote, “Texas seeks to invalidate elections in four states for yielding results with which it disagrees. Its request for this Court to exercise its original jurisdiction and then anoint Texas’s preferred candidate for President is legally indefensible and is an affront to principles of constitutional democracy,” wrote Shapiro. “Texas’s effort to get this Court to pick the next President has no basis in law or fact. The Court should not abide this seditious abuse of the judicial process, and should send a clear and unmistakable signal that such abuse must never be replicated.”

    For the attorney generals who have signed their names to this blatant effort to overthrow the duly elected government of the United States, the Supreme Court should send a powerful rebuke. […] every bar association should seek the disbarment of every one of these attorneys general for an act that involves signing on in support of statements they know to be false. This is an illegal, immoral, amoral, and insupportable attempt to break the nation. It should be treated as such.

    And then every member of the House of Representatives who put their name to this document should be expelled. So 106, or 107. Republicans might have signed on to this atrocity. But there are 233 Democratic members, and 89 Republicans who did not rush to anoint themselves Traitors for Trump. Let the House put their integrity to the test by calling for the expulsion, one at a time, of every member who attempted to destroy the nation’s most foundational institution. And let them start with Minority Whip Steve Scalise.

    It does not matter that the text and assertions of the Texas suit are ludicrous. It does not matter that they’re certain to fail. In many ways, that only makes things worse. […]

    The only thing more ridiculous than the suit issued by Texas, is the idea that these people might take this action and then carry on as if it never happened.

    Link

  95. says

    Update to #75 above – Guardian – “Rule of law fears remain in Poland despite EU compromise”:

    The compromise between the EU and Hungary and Poland on establishing a link between budget payments and member states maintaining the rule of law – agreed on Thursday night – allows the bloc to move ahead with a new seven-year budget and coronavirus recovery fund, but is unlikely to be the end of the story.

    The compromise pushes back to a later date a clause that would make some EU funds conditional on rule-of-law criteria. Judit Varga, justice minister for Hungary’s rightwing government immediately declared “victory”, and also said the Hungarian government would challenge the new provision in the European court of justice.

    Hungary and Poland had promised to veto the budget if it contained the clause, while other EU leaders had threatened the remaining 25 countries could push ahead with a separate budget without them. Despite the loud threats of a veto, both governments were under pressure at home not to use it.

    “The money in this recovery fund is so huge and we are in such a bad economic shape that they wouldn’t risk not getting it,” said Adam Bodnar, Poland’s human rights ombudsman, in an interview.

    Economists and business groups in both countries had pleaded with the governments not to use the veto, and risk a situation where 25 European countries work on a separate recovery package without Hungary and Poland, citing the potentially devastating effects of the coronavirus crisis on the country’s economy.

    Opposition forces in both Poland and Hungary are likely to debate in coming days whether the rule-of-law compromise is a victory or a defeat for the two governments. Some focussed on the positives while others felt let down by the EU’s German presidency for agreeing to the compromise.

    “Today’s agreement is a political decision to push through the budget and sadly, the rule of law mechanism has been sacrificed. It’s almost toothless now,” said a joint statement from the Hungarian citizens organisation aHang and Polish citizens movement Akcja Demokracja, which had previously asked the EU to stand firm.

  96. says

    From Jeb Bush:

    This [Texas lawsuit filed in the Supreme Court against Michigan, Georgia, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania] is crazy. it will be killed on arrival. Why are smart people advancing this notion? Let it go. The election is over.

  97. says

    Lynna @ #129, Cohen has been predicting since shortly after the election that Trump will go down to Mar-a-Lago for Christmas and not return to DC. I hope he’s as right about that.

  98. says

    […] “The Trump administration’s policy regarding a death penalty is just historically abhorrent,” said Robert Dunham, executive director of Death Penalty Information Center, a bipartisan organization that does not take a position for or against the death penalty, but rather is critical of the way capital punishment is administered.

    If the remaining executions in December are carried out — making a total of 10 for 2020 — it will mark more civilian executions in a single calendar year than any other presidency in the 20th and 21st centuries. “No one has conducted this number of federal civilian executions in this short period of time in American history,” Dunham added.

    […] “The fact that we’re having a record-high number of federal executions, at the same time that we’re near a record low in state executions, in the middle of a pandemic, shows how much the Trump administration is either out of touch or that it cannot resist gratuitous acts of cruelty,” Dunham said, adding that only seven state executions will occur this year — the lowest since states began carrying out executions in colonial times. “Nobody needs to carry out an execution during a pandemic.” […]

    https://www.vox.com/21736993/trump-federal-execution-december

  99. says

    Here’s a link to the December 11 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    Genetic mutations discovered which could aid Covid treatments

    Scientists have identified mutations in five genes associated with the development of life-threatening illness in patients with Covid-19.

    UK researchers said their work, published in the journal Nature, sheds light on the mechanisms that underpin severe coronavirus symptoms and could lead to potential new drug treatments for the disease.

    Dr Kenneth Baillie, the project’s chief investigator and senior research fellow at University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute, said: “This is a stunning realisation of the promise of human genetics to help understand critical illness…

    “Our results immediately highlight which drugs should be at the top of the list for clinical testing. We can only test a few drugs at a time, so making the right choices will save thousands of lives.”

    Dr Baillie and his team performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) on 2,244 critically ill patients with Covid-19 from 208 intensive care units (ICU) in the UK.
    GWAS is a commonly used study design which allows scientists to identify which genes are involved in human disease.

    Working with experts from the GenOMICC consortium, a global collaboration looking into the links between genetics and critical illness, the researchers compared the genetic information of Covid-19 patients in ICU with samples provided by healthy volunteers from other studies.

    The team found that variations in five genes – IFNAR2, TYK2, OAS1, DPP9 and CCR2 – was associated with the development of severe illness in Covid-19 patients.

    The scientists said that they were able to pinpoint two molecular processes – antiviral immunity and lung inflammation – associated with the genes.

    Innate antiviral defences are known to be important early in the disease while the inflammatory processes triggered by the infection are a key feature of severe Covid-19, the researchers said.

    But the team said the research was not aimed at predicting who is likely to get critically ill with Covid-19 but focuses more on finding “biological clues that will lead us to effective treatments”.

  100. says

    SC @133, I also hope Cohen is right about that. At the very least, it would give people in hazmat suits plenty of time to clean the White House before Biden moves in.

  101. says

    From Wonkette:

    […] the Supreme Court docket has been flooded with batshit amicus briefs from a dozen “interested” parties. Officials in Alaska, Idaho, and Arizona claim “credible allegations of cabal and oligarchy in the four Defendant states, which threaten the operation and integrity of the nationwide Republican Form of Government.” […] The Christian Family Coalition argues that the election must be voided because “each defendant State failed ‘to make a choice’ of Presidential electors on the election day,” and if the count takes too long, the court must toss out all the votes. That’s just the law, obviously. Even that loony lawyer Lin Wood is back, filing something which he characterizes as both a motion for certiorari from his own case and an “amici” brief in which he actually manages to misspell his own name. (Also amici is plural, but that’s really the least of the problem here.) […]

    Not to get too legalistic here, but the technical term for this is a “total fucking clownshow.” Literally none of what the Texas Attorney General is alleging in his complaint is new — it’s all been adjudicated in lower courts and tossed out. The only reason we’re having this discussion at all is that Paxton had the bright idea to exploit a shortcut to the Supreme Court, which has original jurisdiction over interstate lawsuits.

    In plain English, after literally dozens of federal and state courts said these claims were garbage, Paxton brought a suit that starts out at the Supreme Court because it involves hot state-on-state-action, and so he got to skip the part where he’d get tossed out by a federal trial judge for lack of standing, mootness, laches, failure to state a redressable claim, federal abstention from state law issues, and the fact that his evidence is gobbledygook. And even though it’s highly, highly unlikely to work — the claim is dogshit, and it would take five justices to agree to hear it — the entire GOP has signed onto it because it’s the last case standing and the Dec. 14 Electoral College vote is bearing down on us. Also because they’re craven, anti-democratic demons who are perfectly happy to toss acid in the face of America’s body politic.

    […] Hang in there, we’re almost through the woods.

    Link

  102. says

    TPM – “Manhattan Prosecutor Bears Down On Trump”:

    State prosecutors with the Manhattan district attorney’s office have issued subpoenas to President Trump’s insurance broker and lender, the New York Times reports.

    The moves mark an escalation of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s investigation into President Trump’s financial affairs which, unlike federal probes, could result in charges that are immune from the President’s pardon power.

    Prosecutors have reportedly brought new witnesses before a grand jury empaneled in Manhattan.

    In court documents filed against President Trump’s long-running efforts to litigate a criminal subpoena for his taxes, state prosecutors suggested that the probe encompasses allegations of tax, bank, and insurance fraud, based on public reports about the Trump organization’s conduct….

  103. tomh says

    NYT
    This is what it’s come to in America.

    Michigan’s 16 electors have been assured that they will receive a police escort from their cars to the state’s Capitol on Monday when they cast their votes in the Electoral College for President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.

    And because Michigan is an open-carry state, demonstrations at the Capitol often include armed protesters both inside the building and on the grounds outside…

    Mark E. Miller, the clerk for the Kalamazoo Township, is looking forward to Monday despite the prospects for chaos at the Capitol.

    “We will be doing our duty,” he said. “And while you’ve had armed people coming into the Capitol, there is no law against it, but that is strange to a lot of us.

    “I’m trusting that the situation will be under control, so I’m not really worried,” he added. “But perhaps I’m being naïve.”

  104. says

    Statement released yesterday from the DC AG – “AG Racine Leads Coalition of 23 Attorneys General Opposing Texas AG’s Baseless Effort to Invalidate 2020 Election Results in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin”:

    Attorney General Karl A. Racine today led a coalition of 23 Attorneys General urging the Supreme Court to reject Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s request that the Court overturn election results in four states critical to President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. In an amicus brief filed in Texas v. Pennsylvania, the coalition argues that Texas’s unprecedented suit depends on a misreading of the Constitution’s Electors Clause—one that clashes with a century of precedent, denies states’ power to make their own decisions about election administration and oversight, and threatens to upend the basic notions of federalism and states’ rights. Further, the suit depends on dubious claims of voter fraud, offering no evidence whatsoever of systemic fraud in the November election. The coalition is asking the court to throw out Texas’s suit against the four states….

  105. says

    Raw Story – “GOP candidate who pushed QAnon conspiracy theory gets arrested for child pornography”:

    Ben Gibson, who unsuccessfully ran for Congress in November, was arrested in Louisiana this Wednesday and booked on four counts of child pornography, WGNO reports.

    Gibson, who was an active Airman at Barksdale Air Force Base, was a challenger in a four-way race for the U.S. House Dist. 4 Congressional seat and lost to Rep. Mike Johnson, who won re-election. Jared Kutz, 30, of Bossier City was also arrested as a result of the investigation and charged with two counts of pornography.

    As Media Matters pointed out in January, Gibson has endorsed the “QAnon” conspiracy theory, using its hashtag multiple times on his Facebook campaign page and other social media accounts. The QAnon cult believes that there’s an underground network of Satanic pedophiles who are being covertly pursued by President Trump….

  106. says

    More re #144:

    The House Republicans just updated their SCOTUS brief to make clear that it’s not actually 107 Republican House members who want the Supreme Court to overturn Trump’s defeat by discarding millions of votes.

    It’s 126.

    (Almost 2/3 of the GOP caucus.)

    Including the top two Republican leaders in the House.

  107. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Indoor dining restrictions will be reinstated indefinitely in New York City, governor Andrew Cuomo announced as coronavirus cases and hospitalisations continue climbing in the city and throughout the state.

    As of Monday, only takeout orders and outdoor dining will be allowed in the city, one of the world’s great cuisine capitals, the governor said at a news conference in Albany.

    The Democrat had been hinting at a clampdown on indoor dining for a week, saying he was waiting to see if hospitalization rates stabilized.

    They have not, and Cuomo said that despite the economic pain to one of the city’s biggest and most vital industries, he needed to act.

    “In New York City, you put the CDC caution on indoor dining together with the rate of transmission and the density and the crowding, that is a bad situation,” he said.

  108. says

    Steve Vladeck:

    #SCOTUS doesn’t move fast. Ever. The fact that it hasn’t said anything yet about Texas’s overturn-the-election suit is evidence of exactly *nothing*, and folks telling you otherwise are wrong. The anxiety is understandable, but don’t read things into silence here.

  109. says

    Sorry – I cut ff the beginning of his tweet.

    Steve Vladeck:

    Dear Internet:

    #SCOTUS doesn’t move fast. Ever. The fact that it hasn’t said anything yet about Texas’s overturn-the-election suit is evidence of exactly *nothing*, and folks telling you otherwise are wrong. The anxiety is understandable, but don’t read things into silence here.

  110. says

    Follow-up to comments 146 and 147.

    From The Atlantic’s David Graham:

    [Republicans have] gone from coddling a sore loser to effectively abandoning democracy.”

    Commentary:

    […] Many of the ballots that helped shrink the Democratic majority in the House are now being targeted by the GOP’s own leadership as part of a bonkers pro-Trump scheme.

    It’s easy to imagine the political landscape a year from now, with pundits asking, “Why aren’t President Biden and Democratic leaders working well and striking deals with congressional Republicans?” The answer is already clear: GOP leaders who question the value of democracy are not easily dealt with.

    […] the idea that “all cases should be heard” is silly: the Supreme Court couldn’t possibly hear every case appealed to it, which is why the justices turn away roughly 90% of the cases that reach the high court. Second, the idea that frivolous cases deserve serious scrutiny from the federal judiciary — because some Republicans say so — is absurd.

    But let’s also not forget that Team Trump and its allies have had their day in court. They’ve filed dozens of cases and had ample opportunity to produce evidence. They’ve also failed spectacularly, which is hardly a justification for asking Supreme Court justices to take a look.

    […] GOP [Congress critters] haven’t just as the high court to “make a determination.” They’ve explicitly argued in their filing that the justices should block the electoral college process or allow state legislators to override the will of voters.

    […] what these Republicans believe is less important than what these Republicans have done. An organized attack on our democracy is underway, and 106 [107 now] elected federal lawmakers made a conscious and deliberate choice to stand on the wrong side.

    In the not-too-distant past, news consumers routinely saw headlines saying, “House Republicans support [crazy thing].” We’d click the link, read the article, and see that the GOP lawmakers in question were really just Michele Bachmann and Louie Gohmert, at which point we’d shake our heads, shrug our shoulders, and move on.

    Those days are over. On Capitol Hill, the Republican fringe is now — quite literally — the Republican majority.

    […] They’re watching Donald Trump and his pals challenge the foundations of our system of government, and they decided to help his crusade.

    There is a toxicity in the body politic, and it’s poisoned roughly two-thirds of the House Republican conference.

    Link

  111. says

    OMG, even more of “the best people” are being appointed by Trump.

    John Yoo, a conservative law professor at UC Berkeley, is perhaps best known as the principal author of the Bush/Cheney “torture memos” — defending the so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” — during Yoo’s tenure at the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel. Yesterday, Donald Trump rewarded Yoo with an appointment to the National Board for Education Sciences.

    Michael Anton, a former George W. Bush speechwriter who worked in 2017 on the National Security Council, has a record of publishing ugly commentary, especially related to diversity. Yesterday, the outgoing president named Anton to the National Board for Education Sciences, too.

    […] There were nine more yesterday, bringing this week’s total to 35 such appointments.

    Part of the problem in the appointments is the question of merit. Douglas Macgregor, for example, was named to the Board of Visitors to the United States Military Academy, despite (or perhaps because of?) his inflammatory rhetorical background: during Fox News appearances, Macgregor peddled strange conspiracy theories about George Soros, criticized Europe for being welcoming toward “Muslim invaders,” and spoke in support of using deadly force against those who try to immigrate to the United States illegally.

    American Conservative Union Chairman Matt Schlapp, whom the president has seen repeatedly toeing the White House line on Fox News, was just named to the Library of Congress Trust Fund Board.

    But there’s also the matter of duration: the Republican president will exit the White House in 40 days, but many of these appointees will remain at their posts for several years to come.

    Trump will be gone, but his appointed pals will be in official positions for quite a while.

    Link

  112. says

    WTF?

    ‘New’ Nevada And ‘New’ California Ask Supreme Court To Overturn Election

    The GOP’s desperate attempt to have the Supreme Court overturn the results of the presidential election has attracted powerful support from … states that have yet to come into being, according to a Thursday court filing.

    The “states” of New California and New Nevada filed an amicus brief in support of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s attempt to have the Supreme Court block states that voted for Joe Biden from casting their electoral votes for the president-elect.

    […] For now, New Nevada and New California are represented by Pahrump, Nevada attorney Robert E. Thomas, III.

    From his erstwhile capital of Pahrump, Thomas has been nurturing the fledging state of New Nevada since the 2018 midterms.

    According to Thomas’s website for the “New Nevada” State Movement, he began to assemble insurrectionists after being angry about GOP losses in the 2018 midterms.

    The movement’s slogan is “What Would You Change, If You Could Do It Over Again?,” […]

    Armed with that slogan and his website, Thomas has been fighting for nearly two years to divorce Nevada’s rural counties from Las Vegas, leaving the gambling mecca (home to a Trump hotel and top GOP fundraiser Steve Wynn) to wither on the vine as the state’s bucolic heartland presumably unites under the banner of New Nevada.

    Thomas channels the Founding Fathers, citing a number of “grievances” that have led him down the path not of secession, but apparently of replacement.

    They include impingement on Second Amendment rights, rule by a “rebellious” state government, and “irrational taxation.”

    Now, in the Supreme Court brief, Thomas has added New California to his coalition of fake states. He cited the conduct and outcome of the 2020 elections as another grievance spurring his revolution of state replacement.

    “An opinion by this Court affirming a national, uniform rule of law reestablishing the supremacy of The Electors Clause of Article II, § 1 of the United States Constitution will resolve some of the complaints causing the establishment of these new States,” the filing reads.

    Thomas added that “lawless actions of Governors Newsome California and Sisolak (Nevada) (sic)” had contributed to their own formation.

    According to the website and to Thomas’ past public statements, his movements’ particular beef seems to be based on the idea that rural Nevadans should have greater voting power than that of Las Vegas.

    “Clark County has a larger population than all the rural counties of Nevada combined,” Thomas wrote. “Thus, what Clark County desires, Rural Nevada must accept, like it or not.” […]

    The Pahrump Valley Times reported in January 2019 that Thomas was particularly enraged by the 1964 Reynolds v. Sims Supreme Court decision, which held that districts in state legislatures should have roughly equal population.

    “This decision created what our Founding Fathers feared; a tyranny of the majority (‘mob rule’),” Thomas told the paper. “Now, large population centers out-vote all the rest of rural Nevada with distressing regularity. That injustice can be corrected by the formation of a New Nevada State.”

    As of this writing, the borders of the newly declared states were unclear. Whether they are simply “New California” and “New Nevada” or are “New California State” and “New Nevada State” also remains unclear. […]

  113. says

    Follow-up to comment 153.

    Comments posted by readers of the article:

    The most salient aspect of this new filing is that it reduces the already minimal credibility of the underlying lawsuit. Basically, if you have a bunch of bozos flocking to your flag, it’s not good for your credibility. At least in court, if not in poltiics.
    ——————-
    Well, I hereby declare that my state of New Real American Texas has 100,000 electoral votes – and they’re all going to Biden!
    ————————-
    New New York says “F off!”
    —————–
    What was that thing about one person, one vote? You’d like to change that to 1.5 votes for you, .5 for Clark County, and 2 for Bundys?

  114. says

    Rep. Pascrell:

    Today I’m calling on House leaders to refuse to seat any Members trying to overturn the election and make donald trump an unelected dictator.

    Section 3 of the 14th Amendment was written after the Civil War to bar from government any traitors who would seek to destroy the Union.

    My letter to House leadership today demands that 126 Republicans (and counting) are violating the Constitution.

    The text of the 14th Amendment expressly forbids Members of Congress from engaging in rebellion against the United States. Trying to overturn a democratic election and install a dictator seems like a pretty clear example of that.

  115. says

    White House orders FDA chief to authorize Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine Friday or submit his resignation

    The message from a top Trump aide prompted the agency to accelerate its announcement, which had been planned for early Saturday.

    White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on Friday told Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, to submit his resignation if the agency does not clear the nation’s first coronavirus vaccine by day’s end, according to people familiar with the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss what happened.

    The threat came on the same day that […] Trump tweeted that the FDA is “a big, old, slow turtle” in its handling of vaccines, while exhorting Commissioner Stephen Hahn to “get the dam vaccines out NOW.” He added: “Stop playing games and start saving lives!!!” [fascist dictator]

    It also led the FDA to accelerate its timetable for clearing America’s first vaccine from Saturday morning to later Friday, according to two people familiar with the process who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters.

    The White House actions once again inject politics into the vaccine race, potentially undermining public trust in one of the most crucial tools to end the pandemic that has killed more than 290,000 Americans.[…]

    A White House official declined to comment, saying “we don’t comment on private conversations, but the Chief regularly requests updates on progress toward a vaccine.”

    “This is an untrue representation of the phone call with the Chief of Staff,” Hahn said in a statement. “The FDA was encouraged to continue working expeditiously on Pfizer-BioNTech’s EUA request. FDA is committed to issuing this authorization quickly, as we noted in our statement this morning.”

    […] Meadows’ threat and the president’s tweets constituted the latest attack by Trump, who has complained vociferously that the vaccine wasn’t authorized before Election Day, blaming it on the ‘Deep State’ inside the agency that he accused of working against his reelection. Trump was also said to be upset that Britain cleared the vaccine before the United States, although the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been developed and reviewed in record time.

    With the timetable apparently accelerated from Saturday morning, the FDA and Pfizer were rushing to complete the paperwork needed for the authorization, according to another individual who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he didn’t have authority to discuss the plans.

    […] Pushing up authorization is not expected to change the timing of delivery of doses to vaccination sites or their readiness to give people shots, according to a person familiar with the distribution plans, not authorized to speak. […]

    Washington Post link

  116. says

    Lynna @ #160, the only explanation I can come up with for why Trump is so fixated on rushing the authorization is that he’s somehow come to believe that the Supreme Court will think “Oh, he has to stay in power now, so we’ll need to overturn the election” or something. What does he care whether it’s authorized tonight or tomorrow morning?

  117. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Lynna@155,156, and as I pointed out last week, if just 50000 votes had been changed in the swingiest of the swing states (AZ, WI and GA), we’d be looking at 4 more years of Darth Cheeto, despite Biden winning the popular by over 7 million votes. American democracy\sarc.

  118. says

    Absurd:

    Trump just announced that he’s appointing Dr. Oz and Bill Belichick to members of the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition. Two-year terms.

    In related news… here are eight times Dr. Oz made false, baseless or misleading scientific claims….

  119. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    It is obvious that the Hair Furor has no idea of who runs drug companies. It isn’t the CEO, it’s the Quality Assurance (QA) department. In fact, the CEO can be criminally liable if they try to overrule the QA department, by say ordering product to be shipped that has not be approved by QA. This is all part of the ICH guidelines, which guarantees the safety and integrity of the drug products for most of the first world countries. No vaccine will move from Pfizer until the the QA department approves, and that won’t happen until they have the FDA/CDC approvals in hand.

  120. says

    Trump tweeting some more:

    “If the two Senators from Georgia should lose, which would be a horrible thing for our Country, I am the only thing that stands between “Packing the Court” (last number heard, 25), and preserving it. I will not, under any circumstances, Pack the Court!”

    “If the Supreme Court shows great Wisdom and Courage, the American People will win perhaps the most important case in history, and our Electoral Process will be respected again!”

  121. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    The US government has exercised its option to purchase an additional 100 million doses of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate, bringing its confirmed order commitment to 200 million doses.

    In a statement to investors, Moderna said about 20 million doses of the vaccine would be delivered “by the end of December 2020”.

    The remaining 80m will be delivered in the first quarter of 2021, while the additional 100m announced today would come in the second quarter of 2021.

  122. says

    Humor/satire from Andy Borowitz: “White House Offers Curbside Pickup of Pardons”

    In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the White House is offering curbside pickup for Republican officials and other cronies who have ordered pardons from Donald J. Trump.

    The White House made the decision to offer the contactless pardon-pickup option to accommodate the surging number of stooges and lackeys who have been shopping for pardons this holiday season.

    Republicans looking to pick up their pardons may do so at a drive-through window outside the Oval Office from eight in the morning until nine at night, the White House announced.

    Donald J. Trump or Mike Pence will personally dispense the pardons through the window, enabling pardon-seekers to remain safely in their cars.

    The White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, urged Trump’s toadying enablers to pick up their pardons as early as possible. “Get your pardon first thing in the morning, and you’ll still have plenty of time to get to the Supreme Court to try to throw out the election,” she said.

    New Yorker link

  123. says

    Link to the order here.

    Texas has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another State conducts its elections. All other pending motions are dismissed as moot.

  124. says

    Brad Heath:

    …After all that, not one of the three Supreme Court justices nominated by President Trump made even a squeak in public to support this breathtaking attempt to invalidate the election he lost.

    Again – this is over.

    Trump and his allies have lost dozens of cases trying to overturn the result of the election he lost. In state courts, federal courts, in front of Trump appointees, in the Supreme Court. That kind of record should send a very clear signal about the merit of these claims.

    But no, planet-Parler has already moved on to martial law and special prosecutors.

  125. says

    SC @172, that made me laugh. Ha!

    This is the Washington Post headline: “Supreme Court dismisses bid led by Texas attorney general to overturn the presidential election results, blocking Trump’s legal path to reverse his loss”

    Trump may have been right when he tweeted earlier that this case was the “big one.” It’s just not big in the way he imagined.

    Bigly ludicrous. Bigly stupid.

  126. says

    Ha! This is a good summary from Joan McCarter:

    The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to take part in Donald Trump and the Republican Party of the United State’s coup attempt despite a final round of frivolous unicorn poop and pixie dust briefs from, including and I am not making this up, “New California State” and “New Nevada State.” (Alternately, “New Nevada Sate” because spelling is optional in the new civil war.)

    Texas filed its reply brief, responding to the blistering briefs from the four states—Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—whose citizens’ votes Texas (and 17 other states and 126 Republican House members) wanted to have wiped out. They did so with nonsense: “Texas ask this Court to recognize that Defendant States’ maladministration of the 2020 election makes it impossible to know which candidate garnered the majority of lawful votes.” They also added a big ol’ dollop of racism just so the Court would know what they meant by “lawful votes” in arguing that “a few urban centers” stole the election and that if the Court doesn’t act those “few urban centers will manufacture an unlawful and insuperable vote margin,” ruining elections forever. Also, lots of gibberish and already litigated, disproven, and dismissed allegations.

    The Court was not convinced. […]

  127. tomh says

    The Kraken Goes to SCOTUS and Argues: Voting Is a ‘Sacrament,’ So Certification of Georgia Election Should Be Overturned
    COLIN KALMBACHER Dec 11th, 2020

    Attorney and alleged Kraken whisperer Sidney Powell filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court late Friday in a last-ditch effort to revive her repeatedly-failed legal efforts at overturning Georgia’s certification of the 2020 election results.

    One of the more extreme arguments Powell makes is that U.S. citizens are not actually entitled to vote for president. Rather, in a version of the GOP’s recently failed argument (advanced by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton) before the Supreme Court, Powell argues that this is the sole right of state legislatures and claims that right was usurped by various officials and bodies in the Peach State…

    The 97-page filing is styled as an “emergency writ of injunction” that aims to force various Georgia officials “to de-certify the results of the November 3, 2020 general election and to enjoin them from taking any further action to perfect the certification of the results of the 2020 General Election or permit Georgia’s presidential electors to cast their votes for [Joe] Biden in the Electoral College.”

    [Excerpts from the filing at the link]

  128. says

    Jake Tapper:

    I don’t think we as a nation have ever seen someone lose so spectacularly, decisively, pathetically, over and over.

    I don’t think we’ve ever seen a leader lose so methodically, so ridiculously, so masochistically.

    And have we ever before seen so many officials say “hey! That losing you’re doing so hideously, so flailingly, so spasmodically — that looks like something I want to be a part of!

    “This effort, based on nonsense and lies, to disenfranchise millions of Americans, sign me up!”

  129. says

    BREAKING: The Supreme Court has rejected Texas’ lawsuit to overturn the results of the election. These are the 126 GOP members of Congress who supported it….”

    Video atl. Quite the parade of paleness.

    Still can’t believe Trump tweeted yesterday “If the two Senators from Georgia should lose, which would be a horrible thing for our Country, I am the only thing that stands between ‘Packing the Court’ (last number heard, 25), and preserving it. I will not, under any circumstances, Pack the Court!” I think he really believed they were reading his tweets and would be swayed by this to back a coup.

  130. says

    Re #185, I’ve come to understand that the restrictions are extended to the 21st of each month, so the date is a coincidence.

    (…Or is it? Did someone have January in mind months ago? ;))

  131. says

    Tiffany Cross and Jonathan Capehart are taking over the weekend slots on MSNBC when AM Joy previously aired. Cross’s new show, The Cross Connection, is starting right now (10 AM ET). She’ll be interviewing three members of the squad today. Jonathan Capehart’s new show, The Sunday Show, premieres tomorrow at the same time.

  132. says

    Here’s a link to the December 12 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    Relaxing coronavirus restrictions throughout the UK over Christmas is a mistake which will have consequences, a public health expert has said.

    Linda Bauld, a professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh, said she was concerned about the impact of people travelling from areas with high infections to areas with lower rates of transmission, and taking the virus with them.

    In the UK, three households are allowed to meet between December 23 and 27.

    “From a public health perspective, I have to be perfectly honest, I think this is a mistake,” Prof Bauld said. “I think people have to think very carefully whether they can see loved ones outside, or do it in a very modest way.”

    Bauld said she understood why governments had chosen to make the move, because people were “fed up”, but that it was a risk.

    Bauld is not the only expert to raise concerns about the policy; a number of scientists and government advisers have urged people to rethink Christmas plans and ignore the easing of regulations amid fears over rising cases and hospitalisations….

    Listen to Linda Bauld.

  133. says

    Trump is on a Twitter tear this morning, including retweeting two tweets from Todd Starnes calling on Trump to “declassify everything” and to fire Bill Barr “by the end of business today” (setting aside that it’s Saturday and Trump doesn’t do any work anyway).

  134. says

    Natasha Bertrand at Politico – “Durham sought records belonging to British ex-spy Chris Steele”:

    The prosecutor appointed by Attorney General Bill Barr to investigate the intelligence community’s handling of the Russia probe has been searching for evidence that FBI agents mishandled classified information, according to court records and people familiar with his investigation.

    John Durham, whose investigation began in early 2019, has specifically zeroed in on records belonging to Christopher Steele, the British former MI6 officer and longtime FBI source. Four years ago, Steele alerted the bureau to information he had collected about the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia in the course of opposition research paid for by Democrats. Steele’s dealings with the FBI have been a source of great consternation and speculation among Republicans, all the way up to President Donald Trump.

    In a previously unreported move, Durham enlisted a British law firm over the summer to take Steele to court in London, aiming to compel him to turn over notes he had taken of his meetings with the FBI in 2016, according to people with direct knowledge of the episode.

    The underlying context for the request, the people said, is that Durham believes Steele’s notes could contain evidence that FBI agents improperly disclosed classified information about Crossfire Hurricane, as the bureau dubbed its Russia probe, in the course of questioning Steele about his own findings regarding a potential conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia, the people said.

    For the U.S. government to hire a commercial litigator overseas and request documents in a civil case is in itself highly unusual, legal experts said, and suggests the British government was not involved in, or cooperating with, Durham’s criminal investigation.

    A sealed court filing dated July 21, 2020 and obtained by POLITICO shows that John Fordham, a lawyer for the London-based Stephenson Harwood law firm, moved on behalf of the United States to lift a protective order on evidence that had been gathered in a separate lawsuit brought against Steele in Britain by the founders of Russia’s Alfa Bank. (The U.S. Justice Department does not have jurisdiction over Steele — a British citizen — or his firm, so cannot directly compel him to turn over any evidence.)

    The evidence in the Alfa case, which was tried and decided in March, included a memo Steele wrote on July 5, 2016 documenting his meeting with FBI officials at his offices in London, as well as Steele’s notes from an Oct. 3, 2016 meeting in Rome with several agents involved in Crossfire Hurricane.

    A few months after the Alfa trial concluded, lawyers from Stephenson Harwood approached lawyers for Steele’s firm Orbis Business Intelligence Ltd., asking for the notes directly since they had been used as exhibits in the trial. But when the law firm declined to disclose who its client was, Orbis’ attorneys in turn declined the firm’s request and were later taken to court, according to the people familiar with the episode. Stephenson Harwood disclosed in a subsequent court order, which is not publicly available but was described to POLITICO, that the Justice Department was its client.

    The British legal team’s efforts on Durham’s behalf have so far failed, however — Steele agreed to provide his witness statements from the Alfa case, but has not been compelled to turn over his notes documenting his meetings with the FBI.

    Barr indicated in an interview last week that Durham had narrowed his focus to the conduct of the FBI agents who worked on the Russia probe, but did not elaborate. People familiar with his investigation, however, say Durham has been examining whether the FBI agents who met with Steele in Rome in 2016 divulged classified information about the counterintelligence probe targeting former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos. A DOJ Inspector General investigation, which ended in December 2019, concluded that one of the FBI case agents did disclose classified information about Papadopoulos to Steele without prior authorization.

    But the inspector general, Michael Horowitz, concluded that the case agent should not be faulted — firstly, because he never tried to hide that he’d revealed the information to Steele, and secondly because the FBI does not have any established guidelines for how to address the disclosure of sensitive or classified information to sources. How much to reveal to a source when “tasking” them is subjective and usually at the agent’s discretion, and depends on how much the agent believes the source needs to know about an investigation in order to collect relevant intelligence, according to former FBI officials.

    Horowitz ultimately recommended only that “the FBI establish guidance for sharing sensitive information with [confidential human sources],” but did not recommend that the case agent be charged with any crimes.

    Nevertheless, Durham appears to have continued investigating the issue….

    So…they’re sneaking around in other countries “investigating” whether something happened which people already know did happen, and which is neither illegal nor improper in any event. Sounds legit.

  135. blf says

    SC@193, Thank you ! That is very kind.
    I am well, albeit in (another) lockdown / curfew, with the general area (this time) being one of the more-affected areas of France.

    Part of the reason for my “disappearance” (which I hinted-at prior) was computer problems. They are now mostly resolved, with perhaps the main remaining issue a large pile of wax and wax-paper used to cover cheese — not to mention a surfeit of paper bags formerly containing MUSHROOMS! (this has been a bumper year), vin corks and bière bottle caps, and penguin feathers — covering every available surface, including those areas too small for nano-particles to enter. The spider who lives behind the video display has been complaining most vigorously, as has the water heater, which exploded in support. A walrus crashed through one of the skylights, albeit that was probably a coincidence — it seemed to be aiming for different skylight.

    2020 has been a most interesting orbit… !

  136. lumipuna says

    Re: 127 and 185

    It was mentioned upthread that when the Brexit transition ends, UK travelers might be banned from the EU due to Covid-19 caution. Most outside countries have been blocked from EU travel for this reason through the pandemic.

    Last summer, it was apparently agreed that free travel within the EU/Schengen must be allowed no matter what. I find this slightly odd, as if travelers from the UK suddenly pose a substantially greater risk after Jan 1, or as if their economic contribution is suddenly irrelevant. OTOH, I’m not sure how helpful it is to block travel between countries/regions with more or less equal levels of Covid-19 spread.

    In Finland we’ve banned travelers from the UK and many EU countries through the pandemic, despite criticism for breaking free travel rules. I don’t know if this is actually the secret (or part of it) for us having somewhat lower infection rates than most of Europe. Anyway, it might not be practically/economically feasible for small countries in Central Europe, surrounded by heavily trafficked land borders. It might be feasible between the UK and the continent, Ireland notwithstanding.

    I predict Canada will likely extend its US border closure for some months from January, unless some miracle happens and the US Covid-19 situation starts improving soon. Biden’s inauguration won’t make much difference, at least initially.

  137. says

    CNN – “Iran executes dissident journalist Rouhollah Zam”:

    Dissident Iranian journalist Rouhollah Zam was hanged in Iran on Saturday morning, according to state television IRIB.

    Zam was found guilty of “corruption on earth,” a charge that does not specify a crime​ but is sometimes used by the Iranian government for alleged attempts to overthrow it.

    Zam ran the ​online opposition news site Amad News, which was accused by Tehran of inciting violence during deadly protests in 2017 and 2018, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported in 2019.

    Reporters Without Borders said Saturday it was “outraged at this new crime of Iranian justice.” The group had been campaigning for Zam’s death sentence to be overturned, alleging he was “illegally kidnapped and arrested” and “tried in a grossly unfair manner.”

    Zam had been living in exile in France when he was arrested by Iranian authorities in October 2019. The circumstances of how and where he was detained remain unclear. The journalist left France on October 11, according to the French foreign ministry. Three days later, Iran’s ​Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps released a statement saying it had detained him.

    Iran had accused Zam of working with US, French and Israeli intelligence that provided him with “overt and covert” protection, according to ​Iran’s semi-official Fars ​news agency.

    Reporters Without Borders says Iran has been one of the world’s most repressive countries for journalists for 40 years. The group says at least 860 journalists and citizen-journalists have been imprisoned or executed in Iran since 1979.

  138. says

    Following up on earlier stories, in earlier chapters of this thread, about the trumpification of the Voice of America.

    Trump appointee pushes out career journalist so a flaming bigot can head Voice of America

    Team Trump’s ongoing efforts to remake the entire U.S. government in the image of Donald Trump before he’s forced out of office on Jan. 20 are now putting a major bigot in charge of Voice of America. Michael Pack, the Trump-appointed CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, is reassigning the acting director of VOA, a career journalist, and replacing him with Robert Reilly, the author of books like Making Gay Okay: How Rationalizing Homosexual Behavior is Changing Everything and The Closing of the Muslim Mind.

    Yikes! Confirmed bigot.

    Elez Biberaj, the acting director being forced out of the role, was blunt about what’s going on in an email to staff.

    “The last six months have perhaps been the most challenging period in VOA’s recent history,” he wrote. “Regrettably, this period was characterized by an adversarial relationship between VOA and USAGM. Some agency officials failed to respect rules, protocols and processes that I considered inviolable, and displayed an indifference to the disruptive impact their actions and decisions had on VOA’s operations and mission.”

    It’s not just managerial disruption. “Attempts to trample VOA’s journalistic independence threatened to undermine our hard-won credibility at a time of global democratic backsliding and increased international threats to America’s values and moral leadership.”

    Those threats include an effort to kill off the military newspaper Stars & Stripes and an attack by political appointees on an experienced VOA reporter for insufficient loyalty to Trump. And now: Robert Reilly. But don’t for a minute think that the elevation of a bigot like Reilly is specific to Trump—he was previously the director of VOA under George W. Bush.

    When Joe Biden is inaugurated, he’ll easily be able to replace Pack as the head of the Agency for Global Media, but replacing Reilly may actually be more difficult because of provisions the House put in the defense spending bill to rein in Pack’s abuses. Go figure.

  139. says

    From Mark Sumner:

    […] Just because the Supreme Court promptly ended this effort to terminate democracy doesn’t make it any less seditious of an attempt. It doesn’t make everyone involved in this sorry affair any less of a traitor. And it doesn’t lessen the requirement that there be consequences for everyone who thought they could get away with an attempted government overthrow just to score brownie points with extremists.

  140. says

    From House Speaker Nancy Pelosi:

    The U.S. Supreme Court has rightly dismissed out of hand the sham GOP lawsuit to overturn the will of millions of American voters.

    The 126 Republican Members that signed onto this unlawful & undemocratic GOP lawsuit have brought dishonor to the House and must once and for all end their election subversion – immediately.

    From Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer:

    Exactly how many times does Donald Trump want Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to win this election?

    From Democratic Representative Adam Schiff:

    Republicans who supported it compromised their beliefs, ideology, and oaths. They stand for nothing. Care about nothing. Except themselves.

    From Republican Senator Ben Sasse:

    Since Election Night, a lot of people have been confusing voters by spinning Kenyan Birther-type, “Chavez rigged the election from the grave” conspiracy theories, but every American who cares about the rule of law should take comfort that the Supreme Court — including all three of President Trump’s picks — closed the book on the nonsense.

    From Democratic Representative Eric Swalwell:

    It’s official: @GOPLeader McCarthy cemented his role in history next to Confederate leader Jefferson Davis. He fought the will of the American people and lost. #SCOTUS ruled against McCarthy’s effort to steal your vote.

    From Republican dunderhead Representative Mo Brooks:

    @laurenboebert
    is right! Congress is the ultimate arbiter of who wins presidential contests, not the Supreme Court.

    America’s Founders didn’t want unelected, dictatorial judges making these decision. Judiciary isn’t equipped or empowered to decide contested federal elections.

    Mo Brooks has said that he will vote to challenge the certification of election results. (The states send the results to Congress, and Congress certifies them.)

  141. says

    […] Trump escalated his criticism of Attorney General William Barr on Saturday [today], calling him “a big disappointment” and raising the prospect of a high-profile shake-up in the waning days of his administration.

    Trump has railed against Barr’s decision to publicly declare that the Department of Justice (DOJ) found no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the election, despite claims made by the president and his allies.

    [Trump] launched a series of fresh broadsides against Barr on Saturday after it became clear that the Supreme Court would not intervene in a challenge by Trump’s allies to overturn the election results.

    Trump shared a tweet that called for Barr to be quickly fired over reports that the attorney general was aware of a DOJ probe into President-elect Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden in the spring but worked to keep it private.

    “A big disappointment!” Trump wrote in response to the tweet.

    “IF Biden gets in, nothing will happen to Hunter or Joe. Barr will do nothing, and the new group of partisan killers coming in will quickly kill it all,” Trump followed up in another tweet. […]

    Link

    The investigation into Hunter Biden began in 2018, before Barr’s tenure. Barr has probably seen that there is no there there. Perhaps Barr is just letting FBI and IRS investigations play out … and Barr’s Department of Justice has very little to do with that.

    I don’t think Barr had anything substantive to announce before the election. And, he is supposed to keep investigations private.

  142. tomh says

    WaPo:
    Trump’s spin on his big Supreme Court failure is as bad as his legal case
    By Aaron Blake, Dec. 12, 2020

    …Beginning Friday night, Trump’s aides and supporters set about arguing two things:

    1. The court made no ruling on the merits of the suit — that they essentially punted on a technicality — and that this means the claims could still have merit.

    2. That the dissents of Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas suggest there was some merit. Indeed, some have even hailed Alito and Thomas as heroes, in contrast to the three Trump-appointed justices who declined to take a stand.

    White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany summarized the former argument Friday night on Fox News.

    “There’s no way to say it other than they dodged,” McEnany said. “They dodged, they hid behind procedure and they refused to use their authority to enforce the Constitution. … This was on standing, dismissed on standing. None of the justices gave a view on the facts of the case …”

    Trump on Saturday morning also promoted the idea that Alito’s and Thomas’s dissents rendered them defiant defenders of his rightful election. He retweeted a user who said, “Thank you, Justice Alito. Thank you, Justice Thomas.” In another tweet, he quoted Sean Hannity saying, “Justices Alito and Thomas say they would have allowed Texas to proceed with its election lawsuit.”

    “Never even given our day in Court!” Trump proclaimed.

    …as many others noted, the dissents echoed the long-standing positions of the two justices, which is that the court’s “original jurisdiction” means it must accept such a case involving conflicts between states…

    … they actually made a pretty significant statement about the substance…“I would therefore grant the motion to file the bill of complaint but would not grant other relief,” Alito said…Legal experts argued this essentially meant they would have dismissed the case as well — just that they didn’t believe the court could decline to accept it in the first place….

    But while that argument misunderstands (however deliberately) how the Supreme Court works, the first one — that there was some merit to the suit even though it wasn’t considered — might be more insidious. Given the Supreme Court decided not to consider the case, Trump’s allies are suggesting, it means the claims therein haven’t actually been evaluated. So even when Joe Biden is elected, they’ll argue, it’ll only be because of some kind of technicality.

    This is bogus. While Paxon’s lawsuit advanced an extremely novel legal theory in seeking to overturn the election results — and even seemed to throw in the towel at actually proving fraud — it recycled claims from many cases that came before it. And those specific claims have been roundly rejected by courts across the country, at both the federal and state level…

    The argument of Trump and his supporters moving forward is going to be that, without a Supreme Court ruling on the merits, we’ll never truly know whether Biden’s win was legitimate. Trump will use this to claim he never truly lost, which certainly plays into his post-presidency plans.

    But that ignores how our legal system works.

  143. says

    Crazy pants Trump tweeted:

    I WON THE ELECTION IN A LANDSLIDE, but remember, I only think in terms of legal votes, not all of the fake voters and fraud that miraculously floated in from everywhere! What a disgrace! [flagged by Twitter as disputed]

    Who is a worse governor, @BrianKempGA of Georgia or @dougducey of Arizona??? These are two RINO Republicans who fought against me and the Republican Party harder than any Democrat. They allowed states that I won easily to be stolen. Never forget, vote them out of office! [flagged by Twitter as disputed]

    WE HAVE JUST BEGUN TO FIGHT!!!

    The Supreme Court had ZERO interest in the merits of the greatest voter fraud ever perpetrated on the United States of America. All they were interested in is “standing”, which makes it very difficult for the President to present a case on the merits. 75,000,000 votes! [flagged by Twitter as disputed]

    Then Trump invited Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio to the White House for some reason.

    From Wonkette:

    […] Over on Parler, Milo Yiannopoulos wailed into the night, calling for secession and talking about how he “lost everything helping to put Trump in office” and now feels “utterly betrayed.”

    I am dedicating the rest of my life to the destruction of the Republican Party.

    I lost everything helping to put Trump in office. My life and career were completely destroyed. Was it worth it? No. I feel utterly betrayed. I will have vengeance.

    The South must rise again.

    Secession is preferable.

    There are only two options now. Secession or war.

    Trump’s SCOTUS appointments were pointless. We defended a selfish clown for nothing. [ummm … speaking of selfish clowns …]

    BURN THE REPUBLICAN PARTY TO THE FUCKING GROUND.
    […]
    Christendom has fallen.

    Milo isn’t the only one on Parler talking about a civil war, either. [snipped other examples]

    […] Surely, conservatives have long been living in a bubble of their own — one in which, by the way, they are constantly reassured that they are the Real Americans and the Patriots and that the Second Amendment guarantees them the right to overthrow the government if they don’t like it. […]

    Anyway, Sidney Powell is gonna drop some more lawsuits, because she’s still not giving up. She is now hoping to get to the Supreme Court herself, which will almost definitely not happen. They may not have yet “begun to fight,” but that doesn’t really matter so much when the fight is over and no one really cares if you want to try to throw a few more punches, because you’re the only one standing in the ring.

    I’m … not good at sports analogies. But you get what I’m saying. They’re welcome to keep trying and keep trying, they’re welcome to keep trying, but at the end of the day, they aren’t gonna eke out a win here. Which, frankly, is quite a relief.

    Link

  144. says

    As Germany awaits vaccine, mass vaccination centers are built in less than a week.

    Washington Post link

    Under the curved brick-and-glass roof of the Arena Berlin, which began its life as a 1920s bus depot, workers raced to lay flooring and rig wiring for the building’s newest metamorphosis: a mass vaccination center.

    The 70,000-square-foot space on Berlin’s River Spree is one of scores of vaccination sites German authorities were scrambling to finish before a Tuesday deadline. Albrecht Broemmer is in charge of getting six in Berlin ready, and it’s tight.

    “That’s my duty, but it’s hard work to get to it,” he said.

    The string of vaccination centers being built across the country come before Germany even has a vaccine to distribute. European approval of the Pfizer vaccine is expected sometime this month.

    The German approach could be watched closely by the United States and other countries around the world as they eye ways to vaccinate their populations as speedily as possible. […]

  145. says

    Sidney Powell’s secret ‘military intelligence expert,’ key to fraud claims in election lawsuits, never worked in military intelligence.

    Washington Post link

    The witness is code-named “Spyder.” Or sometimes “Spider.” His identity is so closely guarded that lawyer Sidney Powell has sought to keep it even from opposing counsel. And his account of vulnerability to international sabotage is a key part of Powell’s failing multistate effort to invalidate President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

    Powell describes Spyder in court filings as a former “Military Intelligence expert,” and his testimony is offered to support one of her central claims. In a declaration filed in four states, Spyder alleges that publicly available data about server traffic shows that voting systems in the United States were “certainly compromised by rogue actors, such as Iran and China.”

    Spyder, it turns out, is Joshua Merritt, a 43-year-old information technology consultant in the Dallas area. Merritt confirmed his role as Powell’s secret witness in phone interviews this week with The Washington Post.

    Records show that Merritt is an Army veteran and that he enrolled in a training program at the 305th Military Intelligence Battalion, the unit he cites in his declaration. But he never completed the entry-level training course, according to Meredith Mingledorff, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence, which includes the battalion.

    “He kept washing out of courses,” said Mingledorff, citing his education records. “He’s not an intelligence analyst.”

    […] even by his own account, he was only a trainee with the 305th, at Fort Huachuca in Arizona, and for just seven months more than 15 years ago.

    His separation papers, which he provided to The Post, make no mention of intelligence training. They show that he spent the bulk of his decade in the Army as a wheeled vehicle mechanic. He deployed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he said he worked in security and route clearance. He held the rank of specialist when he was honorably discharged in 2013 […]

  146. says

    Follow-up to comment 200.

    “I was Voice of America’s director. Trump’s latest pick to run the organization is dangerous.”

    For almost 80 years, Voice of America has shown the best of America and our values to millions of people around the world. It has told people living on a diet of state propaganda things they wouldn’t otherwise know.

    Without VOA, people in Iran would have heard only one side of the story when an American drone strike killed Qasem Soleimani. Without VOA, Chinese citizens would have been unaware of the full text of an address by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, only a censored version edited to remove all criticism of Beijing.

    Now the Trump administration is doing its best to destroy this national treasure and the respect it has earned for itself and our country.

    Earlier this year, Trump installed Michael Pack as chief executive of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, which oversees VOA and affiliate services such as Radio Free Europe and Radio Free Asia. Pack promised to make the agency more effective and raise morale.

    He has done none of this.

    Instead, he has sown destruction. He doled out harsh firings and suspensions for a single news segment that unfairly favored then-candidate Joe Biden and removed career civil servants who tried to moderate his actions. He silently allowed visas of foreign journalists VOA depends on for daily broadcasts in 47 languages to expire, sending them back to possible danger in the hostile countries VOA covers. His office is understood to be compiling “dossiers” — files that can be used to terminate civil servants and journalists alike, including VOA’s respected White House correspondent.
    Worst, with just a few weeks remaining in the president’s term, Pack has appointed a new VOA director, Robert R. Reilly, who served briefly as director 20 years ago.

    Expecting to be fired, I resigned as VOA director in June. Normally, I never would — and never have in previous positions — spoken out against my successor. A new administration has the right to a new director, even one with whom I might disagree.

    But this is not normal. Reilly is a dangerous choice. His views are not conservative — they are extreme. As head of one of America’s most powerful voices to the world, he risks causing reputational damage that will be hard to repair.

    In 2014, Reilly published “Making Gay Okay: How Rationalizing Homosexual Behavior Is Changing Everything,” a book describing homosexual acts as “habitual moral failure” and lamenting the “legitimization of homosexual behavior.” Reilly argued, “ ‘Coming out of the closet’ can mean only an assent at the level of moral principle to what would otherwise be considered morally disordered.”

    Imagine how Reilly’s views will be greeted by governments in countries that ostracize or even murder gays.
    In an earlier book, “The Closing of the Muslim Mind: How Intellectual Suicide Created the Modern Islamist Crisis,” Reilly asserted that Islam abhors reason and has committed “intellectual suicide.” Reilly has every right to hold and even promulgate such views — just not at the head of America’s news organization.

    Reilly has argued for years that VOA is not an ordinary news organization. “VOA’s job should be to advance the justice of the American cause while simultaneously undermining our opponents,” he wrote in a 2017 Wall Street Journal essay, comparing VOA’s role to that of the Pentagon. […]

    a news organization is exactly what VOA is, representing America’s free press by embodying it. VOA has long been required to practice “the highest standards of professional journalism” — words that are repeated over and over again in the laws, regulations and other official documents that have defined VOA over decades. Reilly wants VOA — or some version of it — instead to report to the president and to work cooperatively with the State Department. Yet it is VOA’s independence from political influence that sets it apart from state propaganda outlets such as Russia’s RT or China’s CCTV. Independence gives VOA credibility.

    Without quick action, Reilly could be around for a very long time — indeed long after President-elect Joe Biden takes office and Pack himself is gone. A recent Supreme Court decision made it possible for Biden, upon assuming office, to immediately remove Pack despite his three-year term. Yet new legislation is doing exactly the opposite for Reilly. Under legislation just being finalized, a VOA director can only be named or removed by a Senate-confirmed bipartisan board — a board that doesn’t yet exist.

    Pack’s last-minute appointment of Reilly could have a silver lining. There are dozens of people on both sides of the aisle who understand and celebrate VOA’s mission and independence and who have decried the destruction of the past few months. The need to quickly remove this dangerous choice should spur the next president to nominate, and Congress to confirm, a respected, ethical, bipartisan board as soon as possible.

    Washington Post link

  147. says

    From Susan B. Glasser, writing for The New Yorker:

    […] rather than merely taking a few days to come to terms with his loss, and then sulk off to Florida once the courts threw out his lawsuits, Trump has escalated and escalated, culminating on Wednesday with a single-word tweet announcing his new goal: not to win the election but to “#OVERTURN” the results. Even more strikingly, while his allies have lost fifty-plus cases since the election, Trump has convinced millions of Americans to believe that the election was rigged against him—seventy-seven per cent of Republicans now say mass fraud occurred, according to a new Quinnipiac poll out Thursday—and enlisted virtually the entire national leadership of the Republican Party in his concerted attack on the legitimacy of the results.

    This week, twenty-seven House Republicans asked the Justice Department to appoint a special counsel to investigate the election—the same number as House and Senate Republicans who, as the Post found in a survey, will publicly recognize Biden’s victory. Not only have both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy refused to recognize his win; they both voted against a ceremonial motion of the committee organizing the January 20th handover of power to “notify the American people” of plans to inaugurate Biden. […]

    Somehow, that’s the part I was not entirely prepared for, even after all the Republican enabling and excuses of the past four years. The ballots that Trump and his allies are attacking, after all, are the same that elected Trump’s allies, if not Trump himself. The votes that they want thrown out were cast not only by evil Democrats in faraway cities but by their friends and, in some cases, neighbors. They were counted and recounted and certified by Republican officials in many of the places that sealed Trump’s defeat. On Tuesday evening, the Supreme Court rebuffed the Trump team’s Pennsylvania lawsuit, an evidence-free concoction demanding that every single mail-in ballot from the state be thrown out. It did so in a single-sentence order: “The application for injunctive relief presented to Justice Alito and by him referred to the Court is denied.” No need even to rule on the merits of such an absurdity.

    That should have been the end of the line for Trump. Tuesday, after all, was also, by federal law, the national “safe harbor” date—the deadline by which states certify their election results in advance of the Electoral College’s upcoming meeting, on December 14th. Despite all of Trump’s pressure, in fact, every battleground state met the deadline and certified its results. Under the law, that means they are not subject to any challenge. The law does not appear to give Trump any further room to maneuver.

    Undaunted, in the space of a few hours on Wednesday, Trump had his campaign join an even more far-fetched lawsuit, by Texas, asking the Court to throw out millions of votes in battleground states that decided the election’s outcome—Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—all of which have already certified their results. A few hours after this news, Hunter Biden, the son of the man who did win the election, announced that Trump’s appointee as U.S. Attorney for Delaware had opened a federal criminal investigation of his tax dealings. Here, too, you could say it was all just a predictable mess. Trump has been obsessed with Hunter Biden for years; he pushed Ukraine to launch a politically harmful investigation of Biden so hard that he got impeached over it. So why wouldn’t the President join the Texas case, even though it is, as the election lawyer Rick Hasen put it, more press release than legal argument? Trump certainly has never minded losing in court.

    What came as a gut punch, though, and still, even after all this time, a real surprise to me, was the announcement that seventeen other states—or at least their attorneys general—had filed a brief supporting the spurious Texas lawsuit, representing, from South Carolina to Utah, an array of pro-Trump red states. Eighteen states, in other words, are making the preposterous—and democratically devastating—argument that the Supreme Court should throw out other states’ votes because they do not like the results. So much for federalism and states’ rights and all those other previously cherished Republican principles. Up on Capitol Hill, meanwhile, […] House Republicans filed an amicus brief of their own supporting the Texas lawsuit. […] This has gone far beyond just humoring Trump for a few days.

    In its response to the Texas case, filed Thursday afternoon, Pennsylvania called the lawsuit’s claims “moot, meritless, and dangerous,” and said that its Trump-inspired assault on results in states where Biden won amounts to a “seditious abuse of the judicial process.” The Supreme Court, Pennsylvania argued, should not only reject the Texas case but in so doing “send a clear and unmistakable signal that such abuse must never be replicated.”

    […]Trump has produced an unintended result: a resounding judicial affirmation of the integrity of our system. Trump appointees have rejected his cases; Obama appointees have rejected his cases. State courts have rejected them. The Supreme Court has, too.

    But is that what we will remember of this covid-and-constitutional-crisis season? I’m quite sure we will remember that Donald Trump is a sore loser; the sorest loser, in fact, who ever was President. But what about the Republican Party—is this the moment when the G.O.P. abandons its belief in democracy and the simple nonnegotiable principle that the losing party must accept the results of an election? On Monday, there will be another test, another chance to finally, belatedly, get it right. The Electoral College will meet, and it will give Joe Biden a victory, with three hundred and six electoral votes. Will that be enough to end this?

    New Yorker link

  148. says

    From a new article written by Amy Davidson Sorkin, writing for The New Yorker:

    […] There is no forum or venue, under our Constitution, to do what Texas and Trump wanted, because what they wanted was utterly unconstitutional. […]

    [Even] Alito added that he would have granted Texas no “other relief”—the state had asked for an injunction to halt the Electoral College’s vote counting, among other things—and that he expressed “no view on any other issue.”

    Even the Court’s conservatives, then, seemed to recognize that this was not a constitutional controversy that merited its involvement but a crude power grab. […] all the state officials who put their names to it rushed to do something shameful. So did the members of the House of Representatives who similarly expressed their support. […] Why were they so willing to treat a system that, for all its flaws, has proved sturdy even in the Trump years as a disposable partisan toy? How could they, without mortification, back a brief that included the suggestion that the election must be crooked, because the chance that Trump’s opponent could have won the four states was less than one in “a quadrillion”? [PZ posted about a good debunking of the ridiculous application of statistics.]

    There is no acceptable justification. There needs to be a real reckoning; if prominent Republicans do not now use the Court’s decision to renounce Trump’s campaign to overturn the election, they will do real and lasting harm to the country. The early signs are not good. The head of the Texas G.O.P. put out a statement suggesting that “law-abiding states” might want to form their own “Union of states,” while others, as of Saturday morning, were silent. Trump, of course, is unrepentant. […]

    It was never enough for Republicans who supported the suit to tell themselves that they could be as ridiculous as they liked, because the Supreme Court wouldn’t go for the argument, anyway. If they didn’t know how much Trump’s efforts had eroded his supporters’ faith in the integrity of the electoral system, they should have realized it from reading the briefs that Texas and Trump filed, which, perversely enough, cited those doubts as a rationale for why the Supreme Court should intervene. […] “The fact that nearly half of the country believes the election was stolen should come as no surprise,” it said, arguing that, by ruling in Texas’s favor, the Court would allow voters to “find solace” in an election result that excluded “illegal votes.” [There are no illegal votes, no evidence] In short, Trump argued that because he threw mud on the election system’s machinery, the Court was obliged to junk it.

    That paragraph above is a good summary.

    […] There is so much that is wrong with the Texas and Trump filings—not just legally but factually. The Pennsylvania reply referred to a “cascading series of compounding defects,” and a “surreal alternate reality.” […]

    Each of the four states replied that Texas was factually wrong about what the actual practices in their states were. Texas’s “basic arguments about how Wisconsin state law works are flat out wrong,” Wisconsin wrote in its reply. Pennsylvania put it even more bluntly when addressing Texas’s list of the supposedly murky practices there: “untrue,” “false,” “utterly false,” “nonsense.” And Texas was legally wrong, because any changes were, in fact, in keeping with the existing laws of those states. “Texas’s suggestion of a wide-ranging conspiracy is a fantasy,” Pennsylvania’s brief said. […]

    The Supreme Court didn’t even get to those arguments. It stopped at the first major flaw it came to in the case: standing. […]

    “Texas suffered no harm because it dislikes the results in those elections,” Pennsylvania replied. “Texas has no legitimate interest in overturning the will of Wisconsin’s voters,” that state said. “There is no allegation that Georgia targeted Texas,” Georgia’s reply said, […] Michigan, too, said that Texas was attempting to “disenfranchise millions of Michigan voters in favor of the preferences of a handful of people who appear to be disappointed with the official results.” Disappointment is not a legally cognizable injury. […]

    Courts obviously have a role in protecting election integrity and insuring that individual voting rights are not violated. But Texas is not, say, a voter who has wrongly been subjected to a poll tax. And, as each of the four sued states noted, Trump and his allies have brought dozens of suits in courts across the country, many of which judges have heard, and some of which have reached the Supreme Court. He just keeps losing them. The Supreme Court was the “only” place the President and his allies could go—because they’d already gone everywhere else. Most important, Trump went to the voters on Election Day. And they chose Joe Biden.

    New Yorker link

  149. says

    Attorneys General In Battleground States Laud SCOTUS Dumping ‘Junk Lawsuit’ In Texas

    Attorneys general in three of the battleground states that were targeted amid a brazen and increasingly desperate lawsuit out of Texas to wage war on American democracy by challenging election results in their states, expressed elation on Friday when the U.S. Supreme Court shot down the effort.

    “We have a court of law that has seen through what this President is trying to do in this country and instead of siding with him, the court sided with the rule of law,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D) told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Friday […]

    Shapiro said on Friday that while he was “pleased” at the decision, he was also troubled by the premise of the effort — backed by the Trump campaign, 18 attorneys general and more than 100 GOP members of Congress — and was baffled by how many had “jumped so quickly on a junk law suit.” […]

    Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul (D) was pointed in his criticism as he celebrated the court’s rejection of the suit on Friday. The Wisconsin official appeared to take jabs at GOP leaders who had targeted elections in his state when he tweeted that a “troublingly large number” of Republicans had sought to seize power from voters. […]

    Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) on Friday who recently compared Trump’s post-election effort to swindle votes to a “‘Friday the 13th’ movie,” implied that the decision was obvious after claims in dozens of court cases preceding the Texas lawsuit that had alleged elections in her state and others had not followed federal laws had been repeatedly ruled as “without merit.”

    “Whether it’s state or federal court, whether they were judges that were appointed by Democrats or judges that were appointed by Republicans, they all found these lawsuits were without merit,” Nessel [said]

    Nessel’s comments come after she issued a statement on Friday saying the Supreme Court’s order was a reminder that “though some may bend to the desire of a single individual, the courts will not.” In the statement she urged Americans to “move forward” as united states rather than divisive political factions in spite of the ongoing and baseless attacks on democracy by […] Trump and his GOP allies.

    The White House, angered by the majority ruling, immediately began flooding conservative news networks with a counter narrative. […]

    The “counter narrative” is all lies.

  150. tomh says

    Maskless Trump supporters descend on D.C. to protest election results
    Axios

    Thousands of protesters, including many not wearing face masks despite a citywide mandate, rallied in Washington, D.C., Saturday, refusing to accept that President Trump lost the 2020 election…

    Waving Trump flags and chanting “four more years,” groups are rallying and marching at different spots around the nation’s capital to show their support for Trump…

    At least five people were arrested Friday night into Saturday morning, D.C. police said. Local media reported that some fights between Trump supporters and counter-protesters broke out.

    Many photos at the link.

  151. tomh says

    Michael Flynn Tells ‘Stop the Steal’ Rally That On a 1-10 Scale, His Confidence That Trump Will Remain President is ‘a 10’
    JERRY LAMBE Dec 12th

    Fresh off his presidential pardon, former national security advisor Michael Flynn on Saturday joined throngs of Donald Trump supporters in Washington, D.C. for a series of so-called “Stop the Steal” rallies to protest of the official results of the 2020 election.

    Flynn started his speech with a plug for Mike Lindell and his MyPillow products…“[Trump] knows—he knows—that the people that he can trust are people that he’s never met. And that’s you. He trusts you because he knows you know what’s going on and you will not allow what’s going on to happen in our country,” Flynn said.

    “I will tell you one more time—because I’ve been asked—on a scale of one to ten, who will be the next president of the United States, and I say Donald Trump. Ten. A ten.”

    Flynn came under fire earlier this month when he voiced his support for the We the People Convention, which called for President Trump to declare martial law and have the military oversee a new presidential election.

  152. says

    Where’d Sidney Powell Come From?

    This is an interesting article written by Josh Marshall.

    […] Sidney Powell, pardon-play attorney for Mike Flynn and now Trump election steal lawyer, seems to go back a ways in the Trump world. MA notes that she wrote with some frequency in The New York Observer, then owned by Jared Kushner. She even co-bylined one piece on criminal justice reform with Bernard Kerik, a top and perpetual Rudy Giuliani crony in addition to being an ex-con.

    During these years the Observer was edited by a guy very close to Rudy Giuliani. I assume that’s where Kerik comes in. Powell’s first piece is in 2014 and she writes very regularly right up until February 2017, which I think is when Kushner sold the paper.

    As MA puts it in his note, “Even after all of the recent reporting I didn’t realize that while Powell is obviously nuts, she’s not fringe. Andrew Weissman mentioned her in passing in his book on the Mueller investigation, because she apparently trashed him in an article in the Observer, which Kushner then tried to use as an excuse to prevent the DOJ from using Weissman to investigate Kushner.”

    Now, I’m not suggesting this unlocks some vast conspiracy or secret. But I had no sense of and hadn’t give much thought to where Powell comes from in the Trump world. She just shows up as a Fox News guest who takes over Flynn’s case and then it’s off to the races. Given the various players in the question this makes it pretty clear she’s fairly plugged in in the New York/Giuliani and Trump worlds for at least a couple years before Trump’s run for President. The Giuliani tie is key.

    TPM link

  153. says

    Follow-up to tomh’s comments 212 and 213.

    At Least Four Stabbed After Thousands Swarmed DC During Pro-Trump Rally

    […] the falsehood-filled spectacle on Saturday began with rallygoers roaming from the Capitol to the Mall and back again. They cheered on for the newly pardoned former national security adviser Michael Flynn, marched alongside conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and reveled over a flyover from what appeared to be Marine One.

    At nightfall, however, the scene escalated with the stabbing of at least four people near Harry’s Bar at 11th and F streets NW — a gathering point for the extremist group known as the Proud Boys, which Trump refused to condemn during a presidential debate in September by telling them to “stand back and stand by.”

    D.C. fire spokesman Doug Buchanan said the victims were hospitalized and possibly suffered life-threatening injuries. It has not been determined which groups the attackers or the injured may have affiliations with.

    According to the Post, the violence escalated after rallygoers sparred with counterprotesters near Harry’s Bar, Black Lives Matter Plaza, Franklin Square, and other spots in the downtown area.

    “Both sides of the aisle hate you now. Congratulations,” a Proud Boy shouted at officers in riot gear who tried to block their course while marching through downtown in military-like rows, according to the Post.

    The Post reported that punching, kicking and wrestling amongst agitators ensued as officers swarmed the scene and pulled instigators apart. Chemical irritants were fired and lines were formed between the sides. The amount of injuries is unclear.

    According to the Post, soon after a fight was tamped down, another started in a different part of town.

    D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham told protesters: “We’re doing the best we can,” according to the Post.

    Newsham told the Post that police units were deployed across downtown to separate groups, but that smaller segments of people who broke from larger gatherings appeared “intent on conflict.”

    As of 9 p.m. Saturday, D.C. police reported the arrests of 23 people. Ten were charged with misdemeanor assaults, six with assaulting police officers and four with rioting. Police said one person had an illegal Taser.

    Police also reported that two officers were hospitalized with moderate injuries from clashes at 16th and K streets NW. Police said eight people — including the four stabbing victims and the two officers — were injured.

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/pro-trump-rally-dc-stabbing

  154. says

    From former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie:

    Listen, the legal theory put forward by his] legal team and by the president is an absurdity. And the reason why the Supreme Court didn’t take it is because it’s an absurd idea to think that any state, or any number of states, no matter how good they are, can challenge another state’s right to run the election as they see fit. And also there’s no evidence.

    The reason the Supreme Court is not taking this is not because of a lack of courage. It’s for the same reason that every court has thrown this out. It’s a lack of evidence and a lack of any type of legal theory that makes any sense.

  155. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 191.

    From Wonkette:

    Joseph Epstein […] wrote an op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal imploring Dr. Jill Biden to pretty please stop calling herself by her own name, which is “Dr. Jill Biden.” Certainly, this is an issue of great consequence and it must be taken just as seriously as it was intended.

    “Is There a Doctor in the White House? Not if You Need an M.D.,” is the title of the screed. This is true. Jill Biden is not a medical doctor. She has, however, earned her doctorate in Education, which also makes her a doctor, just a different kind of doctor. But according to Epstein, she “should think about dropping the honorific, which feels fraudulent, even comic.”

    It is, of course, entirely appropriate for Dr. Jill Biden to call herself Dr. Jill Biden. She earned a doctoral degree, and has earned the title. Etiquette experts, including Letitia Baldridge, Emily Post and myself all agree that those who have earned doctoral degrees, including Ph.D.’s and Ed.D.’s like Dr. Biden have a choice on whether or not to use the title. […]

    Here is what Emily Post has said on the subject:

    Socially as well as professionally, medical doctors, dentists, and other professionals are addressed by, and introduced with, their titles. People who have earned a Ph.D. or any other academic, nonmedical doctoral degree have the choice of whether to use “Dr.” both professionally and socially. If, when meeting people with doctorates, you’re unsure how to address them, “Dr.” is always correct. If they’d rather the title be dropped, they will let you know. […]

    […] But perhaps Epstein can convince us all to change our minds on this very important issue! Let’s dive in!

    Madame First Lady—Mrs. Biden—Jill—kiddo: a bit of advice on what may seem like a small but I think is a not unimportant matter. Any chance you might drop the “Dr.” before your name? “Dr. Jill Biden ” sounds and feels fraudulent, not to say a touch comic. Your degree is, I believe, an Ed.D., a doctor of education, earned at the University of Delaware through a dissertation with the unpromising title “Student Retention at the Community College Level: Meeting Students’ Needs.” A wise man once said that no one should call himself “Dr.” unless he has delivered a child. Think about it, Dr. Jill, and forthwith drop the doc.

    Ooh! It’s an open letter! An open letter which he opens by acknowledging that Dr. Jill Biden — whom he feels comfortable calling kiddo — has earned a doctor of education, meaning that she is in fact a doctor. He then, however, mocks the dissertation she wrote to earn that doctorate and implores her to not use the title because no one should call himself “Dr.” unless he has delivered a child. No subtlety there, eh?

    […] This logic does not track very well! There are lots of medical doctors, even, who have not delivered babies, because that is not their area of expertise. I doubt that few, if any, oncologists have delivered babies. And yet they are doctors. Medical doctors, with M.D.s and everything! […]

    Epstein then goes on to explain how he, graciously, tells his students not to call him doctor. This makes sense, because unlike Jill Biden, he has not earned a doctorate.

    I taught at Northwestern University for 30 years without a doctorate or any advanced degree. I have only a B.A. in absentia from the University of Chicago—in absentia because I took my final examination on a pool table at Headquarters Company, Fort Hood, Texas, while serving in the peacetime Army in the late 1950s. I do have an honorary doctorate, though I have to report that the president of the school that awarded it was fired the year after I received it, not, I hope, for allowing my honorary doctorate. During my years as a university teacher I was sometimes addressed, usually on the phone, as “Dr. Epstein.” On such occasions it was all I could do not to reply, “Read two chapters of Henry James and get into bed. I’ll be right over.”

    Oh boy, this man who is not a doctor certainly is very fancy. Henry James! That is … definitely a person people casually bring up in conversation when they are not being super pretentious.

    […]

    The prestige of honorary doctorates has declined even further. […]

    At Northwestern, recent honorary-degree recipients and commencement speakers have included Stephen Colbert and Seth Davis. I sent a complaining email to the school’s president about the low quality of such men as academic honorands, with the result that the following year the commencement speaker and honorand was Billie Jean King —who, with the graduating members of the school’s women’s tennis team, hit tennis balls out to the audience of graduating students and the parents who had paid $70,000 a year for their university education, or perhaps I should say for their “credential.”

    […] His reasoning is that while a Ph.D. might once have been fancy and difficult to obtain, it’s not any more. By his personal standards.

    The Ph.D. may once have held prestige, but that has been diminished by the erosion of seriousness and the relaxation of standards in university education generally, at any rate outside the sciences. Getting a doctorate was then an arduous proceeding: One had to pass examinations in two foreign languages, one of them Greek or Latin, defend one’s thesis, and take an oral examination on general knowledge in one’s field. At Columbia University of an earlier day, a secretary sat outside the room where these examinations were administered, a pitcher of water and a glass on her desk. The water and glass were there for the candidates who fainted. A far cry, this, from the few doctoral examinations I sat in on during my teaching days, where candidates and teachers addressed one another by first names and the general atmosphere more resembled a kaffeeklatsch. Dr. Jill, I note you acquired your Ed.D. as recently as 15 years ago at age 55, or long after the terror had departed.

    OK, so in order to be a doctor you either have to deliver a baby or faint during your examination? These are very unusual standards! […]

    Epstein concludes his little essay by imploring Dr. Jill Biden to think of him, his wants, his needs, his whims, and consider dropping the title — which he believes she holds onto just for the thrill of it.

    As for your Ed.D., Madame First Lady, hard-earned though it may have been, please consider stowing it, at least in public, at least for now. Forget the small thrill of being Dr. Jill, and settle for the larger thrill of living for the next four years in the best public housing in the world as First Lady Jill Biden.

    What? Why? What is it that Joseph Epstein believes this will accomplish? Where does he get the idea that he ought to be able to tell Dr. Jill Biden — or anyone — what they ought to call themselves? I cannot imagine having that level of entitlement, and I tell people what to do all the time!

    And so, I hereby implore Joseph Epstein to forget the small thrill of going by the name of Joseph Epstein and settle for the larger thrill of being called an absolute fucking shithead. It feels less fraudulent.

    Link

  156. says

    George P. Shultz is a former U.S. secretary of labor, treasury and state, and was director of the Office of Management and Budget. He is a distinguished fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He wrote an opinion piece for The Washington Post.

    Dec. 13 marks my turning 100 years young. I’ve learned much over that time, but looking back, I’m struck that there is one lesson I learned early and then relearned over and over: Trust is the coin of the realm. When trust was in the room, whatever room that was — the family room, the schoolroom, the locker room, the office room, the government room or the military room — good things happened. When trust was not in the room, good things did not happen. Everything else is details.

    […] As a graduate student at MIT in the late 1940s, I worked with Joe Scanlon, a former research director for the United Steelworkers union. He would visit steel plants where costs were out of control and rearrange their practices, giving workers a voice in how their jobs were set up and, in many cases, a chance to receive a bonus based on increased productivity. This was later called the Scanlon Plan. I saw how Joe rebuilt bonds of trust between the workers and management that had been frayed or broken. Ultimately, both sides benefited, as did the country.

    […] Trust is fundamental, reciprocal and, ideally, pervasive. If it is present, anything is possible. If it is absent, nothing is possible. The best leaders trust their followers with the truth, and you know what happens as a result? Their followers trust them back. With that bond, they can do big, hard things together, changing the world for the better.

    Washington Post link

  157. says

    Update from Belarus, in the form of an article written by Masha Gessen for The New Yorker:

    Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya has spent more than half of her short political career in exile. Six months ago, the former English teacher was a stay-at-home mom. Her husband, the businessman Siarhei Tsikhanouski, often used his popular YouTube channel to criticize the regime of the dictator Alexander Lukashenka, who has ruled Belarus for twenty-six years.

    In May, as Belarus prepared for the quinquennial ritual that Lukashenka calls a Presidential election, Tsikhanouski, who had planned to run, was arrested. So was another opposition candidate, Viktar Babaryka. A third, Valery Tsepkalo, was not allowed on the ballot. Three women—Tsepkalo’s wife, Veronika; Babaryka’s campaign director, Maria Kalesnikava; and Tsikhanouskaya—joined forces and put Tsikhanouskaya forward as the opposition candidate for President. She was allowed on the ballot, apparently because Lukashenka didn’t take her seriously. On Election Day, August 9th, she appeared to get a majority of the vote. Lukashenka claimed victory, however. Hundreds of thousands of Belarusians took to the streets in protest and have continued protesting since. Every weekend for the last eighteen weeks, people have marched in the streets of Minsk, the Belarusian capital, and other cities and towns. Lukashenka’s forces have cracked down brutally, jailing upward of a thousand protesters some weekends, but the demonstrations continue.

    The day after the election, Tsikhanouskaya entered the building of the central election commission in Minsk; the following day, she posted a video in which she said that she had been forced to leave the country. Since then, she has been based in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. (The two women who aided her are in exile and jail. Veronika Tsepkalo left Belarus just before the election. Kalesnikava was arrested after she refused to leave the country.) The United States and the European Union have not recognized Lukashenka’s claim to have won the election, and Tsikhanouskaya has become her country’s representative to the world. She and I talked over Zoom during the last week of November. Our conversation has been translated from Russian and slightly condensed.

    Have you congratulated President-elect Joe Biden?

    Yes, we congratulated him as soon as the results were announced. My team sent a letter. We have a lot of hope for the Biden Presidency. He took a strong stand on Belarus, even before the election, and we are confident that he will be true to his word.

    How do you sign your letters?

    I write “leader of democratic Belarus.” I’ve decided not to identify myself as the President-elect, because I feel that I don’t have the moral authority to do so. All the documentation of the election has been destroyed, so I can no longer obtain proof. A lot of people have asked me, and some demanded, that I call myself the President-elect, but I’m a stickler for rules, maybe too much of one. I might be wrong to say no. Some people call me the leader of the opposition, but that’s inaccurate, because we are the majority. I think “leader of democratic Belarus” is the best description, because it reflects what we are trying to build together.

    The prime ministers, foreign ministers, and diplomats that I meet with know that I represent the people of Belarus. My role is no more and no less important than that of any Belarusian today—it’s just that the Belarusian people have given me the right to speak for them on the world stage and to make certain decisions. We keep in constant touch with people in Belarus—students, teachers, factory workers, doctors and nurses—to insure that we know what they are feeling and what they want. […]

    New Yorker link

    More at the link.

  158. tomh says

    From Election Law Blog

    The WI District Court’s Important Decision on the Independent State Legislature Issue
    Posted on December 13 by Richard Pildes

    I know it can be difficult to believe important legal issues are being resolved in some of this last flurry of cases, but they are. Yesterday’s federal district court decision in WI in Trump v. The Wisconsin Election Commission is an important decision on several aspects of the so-called “independent state legislature” (ISL) debates.

    I want to highlight those issues. I also want to comment that, while we are fully aware of the courts uniformly rejecting the lawsuits the Trump campaign and its allies have brought, we have not said as much about the impressively high quality of many these opinions, particularly given the extraordinary time pressures under which they have been produced.

    This decision was written by Judge Brett H. Ludwig, a Trump appointee just confirmed in September. These are the important issues his opinion addresses and how he resolved them:
    [There follows five issues that come up in many of the election cases, and how this judge resolved them.]
    As the court said in conclusion: “This Court has allowed plaintiff the chance to make his case and he has lost on the merits.”

    Poor Trump. It turns out that if you give someone a lifetime appointment you just can’t count on them to do your bidding anymore.

  159. says

    Follow-up to comment 221.

    The whole show was good, and included interviews with Jon Ossoff and with Rachel Maddow.

    Capehart revealed nervousness just a few times, and he could use some practice handling large panels of experts. With too many people on a panel, he came close to losing control of the conversation.

    All in all, I think Capehart will add valuable insights when it comes to political commentary on MSNBC.

  160. says

    tomh in comment 220: “Poor Trump. It turns out that if you give someone a lifetime appointment you just can’t count on them to do your bidding anymore.”

    Ha! Quite true. In a recent interview, Michael Cohen said that Trump really expected that when he engineered a lifetime appointment for a judge, that judge should do his bidding. Or, to put it another way, Trump thought that judge would always have his back. Trump simply does not understand human beings who act on something other than a transactional basis. Trump is incapable of understanding that. Trump was genuinely surprised, (and probably personally hurt/insulted), by the recent Supreme Court decision not to even hear that stupid Texas case. Trump must feel the same way about Judge Brett H. Ludwig.

  161. says

    Azar Dismisses Bipartisan Report On Govs Urging More Fed Funding On COVID As ‘Partisan Sniping’

    HHS secretary Alex Azar on Sunday dismissed a bipartisan report by the National Governors Association last week, which found that governors requested at least $8.4 billion in federal funds to conduct COVID-19 vaccination program activities, as “partisan sniping” during an interview on CBS.

    When asked about why states have received $200 million from the federal government that is specifically allocated for COVID-19 vaccination efforts, falling short of governors’ request, Azar insisted “we are getting them the money.”

    Azar pointed to New York state and New York City as an example by saying that they “haven’t drawn down a penny of the money” that the federal government made available for vaccine distribution efforts.

    “I think we’ve had one percent of the moneys available, drawn down,” Azar said.

    Azar argued that “there’s a bit of partisanship going on” before going to dismiss the NGA’s report by ranting about how “states need to operate as air traffic controllers.”

    After CBS anchor Margaret Brennan interjected by pointing out that the NGA is a bipartisan group, Azar once again asserted that funding for COVID-19 vaccine operations have “been worked out” and that anyone who doesn’t agree with his assessment is guilty of “partisan sniping.”

    “There’s just a lot of partisan sniping going on right now when we ought to be celebrating the fact that we’ve got millions and millions of doses of FDA safe and effective vaccine going out,” Azar said. “Our governors have this.”

    Azar added that the federal government has “worked out comprehensive plans” with all 64 public health jurisdictions in the country by providing “feedback back and forth.”

    “At the actual technical level this is working. It will work. It’s under control,” Azar said. “We’re leveraging the private distribution system that works every year for flu vaccines and other vaccines.”

    Azar is bullshitting.

  162. says

    Follow-up to comment 224.

    From comments posted by readers of the TPM article:

    So partisan, in fact, that governors from both parties are in on it!
    ———————-
    hey. he has to set this up so the states take the rap if this whole vaccine distribution goes wrong.
    It will be like, trump made the vaccine, trump put it on the trucks and it’s been delivered to the states.
    what more could he have done, give the shots himself?

    [I agree with the assessment above. Trump is setting the states up to take the fall if anything goes awry when it comes to actually vaccinating people. Trump has used this tactic before.]
    ———————
    Isn’t Azar the guy who didn’t buy enough vaccines for the country? And didn’t he refuse to call Biden, “President-elect” last week on Fox? Please, do tell me more about this “partisan sniping”, Mr. Azar.
    ———————
    “states need to operate as air traffic controllers.”

    There’s a reason air traffic control is federalized: airplanes are indifferent to borders just like plague you sorry ass!
    ——————–
    Thirty-nine more days in Office. long long way to go and the monster still breathes.
    ——————-
    This is what you might call the mother of all unfunded mandates.
    ————————
    Someone needs to remind Azar – shouting in his face perhaps – that te vaccines are on the trucks, in the planes, and on their way to points all over the country. Without adequate funding, the states may well be unable to dispense all the vaccines BEFORE THEY SPOIL!!!

    No Mr. Azar, we do not expect you and your overseer Trump to deliver and inject the vaccines, what we do expect is that your administration make possible – by funding – the states’ ability to deliver the vaccines into the arms of real people. Is that clear enough for you, jackass?

  163. tomh says

    CBS News poll: Most feel election is “settled” but Trump voters disagree

    Is Joe Biden the legitimate winner of the 2020 Presidential Election:
    Republican voters…No–82%

    Republicans in Congress should…Try to Keep Trump in Power:
    Republicans voters…Yes–75%

    Trump is claiming Election Fraud Because He has Hard Evidence:
    Republicans voters…Yes–85%

    Were Republicans the legitimate winners of the House and Senate seats they won:
    Republicans voters…Yes–98%

  164. says

    Trump simply does not understand human beings who act on something other than a transactional basis.

    What’s really weird is that Trump doesn’t understand people reneging on their side of a deal. After all, he does it often enough himself.

  165. blf says

    LykeX@227 et al., Back in March 2016, Adam Davidson in the NYT published What Donald Trump Doesn’t Understand About ‘the Deal’, which basically argued his entire mind-set, his world-view, is as an extreme rent-seeker in a zero-sum game. Loosely translated, that means for every “winner” there is a “looser” (zero-sum game), and a very good way to win is to extract as much money / whatever using whatever means possible (“extreme rent-seeker”). It was then, and still is today, perhaps the best analysis of hair furor’s “understanding” of just about everything I’ve read.

    With that insight into his world-view, may I suggest he does understand people reneging on their side of the deal; and what he doesn’t understand is people holding-to their side (i.e., not reneging or otherwise “working” (cheating) to get yet more). Not reneging, not cheating, is not what a “true” (extreme) rent-seeker would do… so being honest (or believing there is such a thing as a mutually-beneficial agreement) simply, for him, “does not compute”. He’ll then whine cry and moan about being cheated (real or not), possibly because he can’t seem to stand being considered a “looser” or for other reasons (e.g., back to that world-view, not getting all the rent he could of…?).

  166. says

    Trump tweeted late last night: “What a fool Governor @BrianKempGA of Georgia is. Could have been so easy, but now we have to do it the hard way. Demand this clown call a Special Session and open up signature verification, NOW. Otherwise, could be a bad day for two GREAT Senators on January 5th.”

    Lynna @ #223:

    Trump simply does not understand human beings who act on something other than a transactional basis. Trump is incapable of understanding that. Trump was genuinely surprised, (and probably personally hurt/insulted), by the recent Supreme Court decision not to even hear that stupid Texas case.

    I know I’ve linked to it several times, but from my 2017 post:

    …Trump’s irrationally jaded outlook prevents him from understanding human motivations that don’t comport with his neurotic framework….

    The point isn’t that everyone who poses an obstacle to Trump acts out of only the purest and noblest of motives, but that the aggressive type is simply incapable of understanding human motives that differ from their own. Because of this, Trump will continually try to reframe genuinely virtuous, principled, or professional behavior in terms he can grasp….

    But outside of dictatorships, the inability to understand and need to distort people’s motivations in this way has serious practical consequences. The aggressive type is bound to run into problems when he’s facing people who won’t be bullied, bribed, or cajoled, who are driven by genuine selflessness, professionalism, or patriotism or a mission to get at the truth or inform the public; when Trump attempts to deal with people on the basis of his assumptions, he tends to make things far worse for himself. In addition to the fact that his efforts often fail to achieve their ends, they also tend to arouse the suspicions of more decent people. In turn, those he’s trying to manipulate, having come to appreciate that he and his crew aren’t, in James Comey’s (reported) words, honorable people, will alter their behavior accordingly – becoming hyperaware of his manipulation in other contexts, documenting their interactions and telling colleagues, etc. If they’re professional investigators or journalists, naturally this will work to his detriment….

    It’s a highly distorted view of the world. I think he truly believed on Friday that the Supreme Court would overturn the election and install him as a dictator. It’s the only thing that explains tweets like those @ #166 above.

    Speaking of reneging – ABC7 – “Wisconsin election recount: Lawmakers withhold funds to counties for recounts”:

    The Republican-led Wisconsin Legislature’s budget committee is withholding reimbursements to two counties for their election recount costs.

    President Donald Trump’s campaign paid $3 million for recounts in Dane and Milwaukee counties, Wisconsin’s two most Democratic areas. Two Republican lawmakers said Friday that they were holding back the money from the counties for now but did not explain why, The Journal Sentinel reported.

    A member of the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee objected to making the reimbursements, according to a letter released by the Republican leaders of the committee, Sen. Alberta Darling of River Hills and Rep. Mark Born of Beaver Dam. The proforma letter did not say who on the 16-member committee objected or why.

    The letter said a meeting on the payments would be held but did not say when.

    Aides to Darling and Born did not immediately respond to questions….

    I read on Twitter that the money could theoretically be returned to the Trump campaign (!), but I don’t know if that’s correct. In any case, I suspect Trump is behind this latest bit of Republican pettiness and bad faith.

  167. johnson catman says

    re SC @230:

    In any case, I suspect Trump is behind this latest bit of Republican pettiness and bad faith.

    I suspect that The Orange Toddler-Tyrant thought of the $3 million as a “bribe” of sorts, and since he did not receive the outcome that he “paid for”, he wants his money back. And the fucking republicans in the Legislature may go along with it.

  168. KG says

    I suggest he does understand people reneging on their side of the deal; and what he doesn’t understand is people holding-to their side (i.e., not reneging or otherwise “working” (cheating) to get yet more). – blf@228

    But that does make his failure to understand why the Supremes rejected the Texas nonsense strange. After all, the (In)Justices he appointed don’t need him any more – they are set up for life. It’s not even plausible (contra his threat/promise in #166) that if the Dems win both Georgia seats Biden will be able to “pack” (i.e., rebalance) the court even if he wanted to – there are certainly DINOs who would not support it. The risk of that is far less than the risk they’d have run by voting to install him as dictator, which was effectively the only other choice: once they’d overturned the election, there would be no going back.

  169. tomh says

    Even with Three Trump-Appointed Justices on the Bench, SCOTUS Declines to Roll Back Marriage Equality
    ELURA NANOS Dec 14th, 2020

    The Supreme Court of the United States denied certiorari Monday in a case that threatened to chip away at marriage equality. The Court’s denial will disallow Indiana’s effort to discriminate against same-sex couples, and will continue to preserve the meaning of Obergefell v. Hodges.

    Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill (R) took the position in Box v. Henderson that same-sex spouses should not have the same rights to be listed on state-issued birth certificates as opposite-sex spouses. The case arose as the result of several lesbian couples who conceived via artificial insemination; Indiana refused to list birth mothers’ wives on their children’s official birth certificates, but regularly listed birth mothers’ husbands on birth certificates without additional requirement.
    […]

    The Supreme Court’s denial of certiorari in Box v. Henderson means the Seventh Circuit’s decision stands. Advocates for LGBTQ+ rights have praised the Court’s denial not only for its practical implications, but also for its signal that the Court will uphold the Obergefell precedent.

  170. tomh says

    Election Law Blog
    Supreme Court Will Not Hear Kansas Case (Formerly Known as Fish v. Kobach) Striking Down Law Requiring Documentary Proof of Citizenship Before Registering to Vote
    Posted on December 14, 2020 by Rick Hasen

    This is great news. No noted, dissents, and Justice Gorsuch did not participate (perhaps he dealt with the case earlier on the 10th Circuit).

    In my book Election Meltdown, I talked about how the trial in the case was the most important one so far this century, because it was the chance for members of the Fraudulent Fraud Squad to come up with evidence to actually prove in court under the rules of evidence that voter fraud is a major problem.

    They came up totally empty.

    The law had already disenfranchised 30,000 Kansans before a federal court stopped it and prevented no appreciable amount of fraud.

    It’s a great day for Dale Ho and his ACLU team, and a greater day for American democracy.

  171. says

    Reuters – “Suspected Russian hackers spied on U.S. Treasury emails – sources”:

    Hackers believed to be working for Russia have been monitoring internal email traffic at the U.S. Treasury and Commerce departments, according to people familiar with the matter, adding they feared the hacks uncovered so far may be the tip of the iceberg.

    The hack is so serious it led to a National Security Council meeting at the White House on Saturday, said one of the people familiar with the matter.

    U.S. officials have not said much publicly beyond the Commerce Department confirming there was a breach at one of its agencies and that they asked the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the FBI to investigate.

    The U.S. government has not publicly identified who might be behind the hacking, but three of the people familiar with the investigation said Russia is currently believed to be responsible for the attack. Two of the people said that the breaches are connected to a broad campaign that also involved the recently disclosed hack on FireEye, a major U.S. cybersecurity company with government and commercial contracts.

    In a statement posted here to Facebook, the Russian foreign ministry described the allegations as another unfounded attempt by the U.S. media to blame Russia for cyberattacks against U.S. agencies.

    The cyber spies are believed to have gotten in by surreptitiously tampering with updates released by IT company SolarWinds, which serves government customers across the executive branch, the military, and the intelligence services, according to two people familiar with the matter. The trick – often referred to as a “supply chain attack” – works by hiding malicious code in the body of legitimate software updates provided to targets by third parties.

    In a statement released late Sunday, the Austin, Texas-based company said that updates to its monitoring software released between March and June of this year may have been subverted by what it described as a “highly-sophisticated, targeted and manual supply chain attack by a nation state.”

    The company declined to offer any further detail, but the diversity of SolarWind’s customer base has sparked concern within the U.S. intelligence community that other government agencies may be at risk, according to four people briefed on the matter.

    SolarWinds says on its website that its customers include most of America’s Fortune 500 companies, the top 10 U.S. telecommunications providers, all five branches of the U.S. military, the State Department, the National Security Agency, and the Office of President of the United States.

    The breach presents a major challenge to the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden as officials investigate what information was stolen and try to ascertain what it will be used for. It is not uncommon for large scale cyber investigations to take months or years to complete.

    “This is a much bigger story than one single agency,” said one of the people familiar with the matter. “This is a huge cyber espionage campaign targeting the U.S. government and its interests.”

    The full scope of the breach is unclear. The investigation is still its early stages and involves a range of federal agencies, including the FBI, according to three of the people familiar with the matter.

    There is some indication that the email compromise at NTIA dates back to this summer, although it was only recently discovered, according to a senior U.S. official.

  172. says

    Stephen Miller eyes ‘alternate’ electors, distinct from real ones

    It seems oddly fitting that a presidency that began with a reference to “alternative facts” is ending with references to “alternate” electors.

    Reality has painted an unfortunate picture for Donald Trump. The vote counts proved Joe Biden won, as did the recounts and the certification process. Republican lawsuits have failed, and members of the electoral college will make Biden’s victory official today.

    It was against this backdrop that Stephen Miller, an influential White House official, appeared on Fox News this morning and assured the hosts, “[W]e have more than enough time to right the wrong of this fraudulent election result and certify Donald Trump as the winner of the election.”

    Oh, FFS. Miller is such an evil man.

    I’ll confess, seeing Miller said there’s “more than enough time” immediately brought to mind Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and the scene in which the Black Knight keeps insisting he can prevail against King Arthur, even as he’s slowly dismembered.

    But that’s not all Miller said.

    “As we speak, today, an alternate slate of electors in the contested states is going to vote and we’re going to send those results up to Congress,” he continued. “This will ensure that all of our legal remedies remain open. That means that if we win these cases in the courts, that we can direct that the alternate state of electors be certified.”

    WTF!?

    […] The problem, of course, is that Miller is pointing to a made-up political mechanism. There is nothing in the American electoral system that allows for both real electors and “alternate” electors that the defeated president likes better. One will arrive at Congress with states’ legal backing; the other will be utterly meaningless.

    As Rick Hasen, an expert in election law, explained this morning, “These [Miller-backed alternate] electors have neither been certified by state executives nor purportedly appointed by state legislators. They don’t have legal authority and so this does not affect the counting of Electoral College votes. But it does show that the Trump campaign will continue to try to delegitimize the Biden presidency and the American election system.”

    Of course, it’s an open question as to how many congressional Republicans will try to recognize the fake electors instead of the real ones […]

    This is, of course, part of a larger and unsettling pattern. There are actual facts, and then there are Trump-approved “alternative” facts. […].

    Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick wrote last week, “Eventually, we’ll have to deal with our lack of shared reality.” I agree. As Stephen Miller made clear this morning, however, today is not that day.

    Link

    Trump is going to continue to raise money on this. He will continue to scam his supporters.

  173. says

    Saying the quiet part out loud … again:

    […] former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) over the weekend lashed out at Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) for making it too easy for the state’s voters to cast ballots. “Why is Georgia Secretary of State Raffensperger working so hard to add drop boxes and take other steps to make it harder for Republicans to win?” Gingrich asked via Twitter

  174. says

    From Josh Marshall:

    Today we’re watching truly exciting, genuinely joyous images of people receiving the first non-trial study COVID vaccine injections in the United States. […] Trump is predictably crowing about it as though he produced it in his study in the living quarters of the White House. […] it is at least fair to say that providing financial back up that allowed vaccine makers to go big on vaccine development is the one area of COVID response Trump didn’t clearly screw up or sabotage.

    But lost in the mix is that through a mix of malice and indolence President Trump has organized things so that the funding to actually get the country vaccinated peters out within days of his leaving the White House. That’s a potential disaster in the making for public health, needlessly delaying an end to the pandemic in the United States. But it also seems like a political time bomb, left as a Trumpian house-warming gift for President Biden during his first weeks and months in office.

    […] As we learned last week the Trump White House skimped on actually buying enough doses of vaccine from Pfizer. But the federal government will cover the actual purchase of vaccines. The White House says the military is in charge of and has a plan to actual get the supplies to the states. And though we don’t know all the details let’s assume they have that covered. But that only appears to be getting the crates of supplies to a central staging point in each state. That’s not a negligible job. But it’s only a relatively small part of actually getting the country vaccinated. You need public health campaigns. You need staging areas and distribution from wherever the military drops it off to actual health centers and vaccination centers around each state. And finally you need a small army of medical professionals to actually administer the doses. It’s a big job and the Trump administration hasn’t funded any of that or devised any national plan.

    In the absence of any federal plan or budget the CDC and HHS have cannibalized existing budgets to get some money to states for planning. But the sums are by most estimates an order of magnitude less than the amount needed.

    State governments would be hard pressed to fund an operation like that during the best of times. […]

    What the White House has arranged funding for is a critical but relatively small part of the vaccination effort: vaccinations for people in assisted living facilities and health care workers. Those are the two most critical populations. They should go first, and the plan is to get those people vaccinated in December and January. But that leaves the great bulk of the population unvaccinated. The plan is for that phase to end around Feb 1. Meanwhile CARES Act funding, which states can use for various purposes, has to be spent by Dec. 31.

    […] today’s excitement and anticipation over the vaccine is cued up to turn sharply to disappointment in February when people start asking where their shots are and blame the train wreck on President Biden. No plan. And no funding to implement a plan. Of course that is potentially catastrophic in human terms. [and in economic terms]

    […] an epic dirty trick the defeated President and his allies on Capitol Hill have waiting for the new President.

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/trumps-last-con

  175. says

    Loeffler’s campaign makes predictable excuses after photograph with former KKK leader goes viral

    Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s campaign claims she had no idea she was posing for a photo with a former Ku Klux Klan leader who was once convicted of a violent assault on a Black man. Loeffler was photographed beaming alongside Chester Doles at a Friday campaign event.

    “Kelly had no idea who that was, and if she had she would have kicked him out immediately because we condemn in the most vociferous terms everything that he stands for,” a campaign spokesman told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. But Loeffler was at a September event for QAnon candidate Marjorie Taylor Greene that Doles attended—and was kicked out of. You’d think that someone being a no-go for Greene would stick in the mind. After that event, a Loeffler campaign spokesperson said Loeffler didn’t know who Doles was. But again, that was her opportunity to learn. Apparently she didn’t bother.

    [photo at the link]

    The Loeffler campaign’s denial of her interest in posing with a former KKK leader also leaves unaddressed the question of why she’s an appealing candidate to someone like Doles, who said in a 1998 interview: “I definitely follow the Nazis. National Socialism is my religion.”

    In short: “While Kelly Loeffler runs a campaign based on dividing and misleading Georgians, she is once again trying to distance herself from someone who is a known white supremacist and former KKK leader who nearly beat a Black man to death,” as a campaign spokesman for the Rev. Raphael Warnock put it. “There’s no acceptable explanation for it happening once, let alone a second time.”

  176. says

    Exclusive: Read Elizabeth Warren’s Scathing Report on “Corrupt” Prison Audits

    “The result has been the rubber-stamping of dangerous facilities and the waste of millions of taxpayer dollars.”

    The organization responsible for accrediting US prisons, jails, and detention centers runs a “corrupt” process that puts a “rubber stamp” on dangerous facilities while taking in millions from the private prison industry, according to a scathing report from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), shared exclusively with Mother Jones.

    The report, the result of a nearly 19-month investigation by the senator’s office, examined the American Correctional Association (ACA), a nongovernmental organization that acts simultaneously as a professional association and an oversight body for prison and detention systems. Federal, state, and local governments pay the ACA to audit the facilities where they keep people incarcerated and issue its stamp of approval on their operations. Qualifying facilities must meet the standards ACA spells out in its published manuals, covering everything from fire code compliance to officer gun training. Private prisons and detention centers, meanwhile, are often required to get accredited by the ACA to access lucrative government contracts, according to Warren’s report—and when scrutinized, they point to their accreditation status as a defense. After all, the ACA’s website says, accreditation is awarded to the “best of the best.”

    The problem, Warren’s report found, is that the “best of the best” includes virtually every facility that pays its accreditation fees. The ACA currently counts over 1,200 accredited facilities; since 2007, only four have been denied accreditation. The group provides three months’ notice and preparation tools for audits, “essentially providing the answers to the test in advance,” as the report puts it. And the ACA’s seal of approval lasts three years, with facilities conducting “self-reporting” in the interim.

    “A review of available evidence suggests that that accreditation has little to no correlation with detention facility conditions and practices, and therefore little to no value whatsoever,” the report states. “The result has been the rubber-stamping of dangerous facilities and the waste of millions of taxpayer dollars.” Warren recommends that the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security stop paying the ACA for accreditation and instead establish a “rigorous, independent, and transparent” oversight process. […]

    More at the link.

  177. says

    […] Over the weekend, the Trump campaign began airing television ads amplifying his fabricated claims of election fraud, urging voters to “stop the steal.” Both ads were immediately removed from YouTube for violating its new policies on election-related content […]

    Link

  178. says

    Public transit in the US is already underfunded. The pandemic has made it worse.

    Transit officials in Boston, New York, and DC are reducing service, eliminating routes, and laying off employees to shrink budgets.

    […] Through the CARES Act in March, local agencies received $25 billion in aid — bailout money that was crucial to keep networks operating through the summer despite steep declines in revenue from riders, advertisers, and taxes as people stayed home.

    The good news for mass transit is that the next round of coronavirus relief is probably coming. […] The bad news is, according to transportation experts and transit advocates, $15 billion won’t be nearly enough. Agencies will still have to reduce service, eliminate routes, and lay off employees to make ends meet. […]

    That’s cause for concern, as economic recovery in major cities and their encompassing regions depend on mass transit to shuttle around office workers, students, tourists, and local residents. Once a vaccine is distributed, people’s old commuting patterns will ideally resume, and businesses are expecting to grow from the reactivation of social activity. What happens, then, when a transit network doesn’t have the budget to boost their service or accommodate an influx of passengers?

    “[…] this budget crisis is not only seen in devastating service cuts, but deferred maintenance, layoffs, and cutbacks that can have long-term problems,” said Ben Fried of Transit Center, a research and advocacy organization.

    The American Public Transportation Association originally called for at least $32 billion in emergency transit funding, but as Mitch McConnell and his fellow Senate Republicans mull over the bipartisan proposal, it’s uncertain whether transit networks will receive any money at all: The Republican counterproposal doesn’t appear to allocate any funding for mass transit. That’s concerning to transit officials, who believe there’s no adequate substitute for federal action.

    “Transit is going through a catastrophic moment, and it’s hard to overstate how challenging the threats are,” said Robert Puentes, president and CEO of the Eno Center for Transportation, an independent nonprofit think tank. “Federal money is urgently needed right now. The CARES Act money helped keep agencies afloat through the summer, and while the $15 billion in the current package is helpful, it’s not nearly enough.”

    Transit advocates have reason to worry: Significant service cuts could trap agencies in a downward spiral. With less reliable service and shortened routes, more people will simply stop taking transit, which means less fare money will be brought in. As Matthew Yglesias previously wrote for Vox, “agencies will have no alternative but to respond to financial pressure by scaling back service … but cutting frequency makes a transit network much less useful, ensuring that ridership doesn’t bounce back even when restrictions on activity fade away.”

    If emergency aid doesn’t arrive, it’s likely that transit networks will be stuck in a cycle of decline. “Once these cuts are triggered, it’s not an easy thing to bring back, at least in the next year,” Fried told me. […]

    More at the link.

  179. blf says

    Another entry in the “Uh, what’s this ‘logic’ stuff?” experiment as to which breaks first, your desk or your head, God Told Johnny Enlow Trump Got 88 Million Votes, Won 45 States Including California and New York /em> (RWW edits in {curly braces}):

    QAnon conspiracy theorist Johnny Enlow […] declared that he had been told by God that any presidential election vote total showing President [sic] Donald Trump receiving fewer votes than he has followers on Twitter is fraudulent.

    Robots vote! Maybe the ‘bots are responsible for all those deviously hidden fraudulently-cast / -counted ballots?

    Please put on a high-grade tinfoil helmet and other suitable PPE before continuing…

    Enlow [alleged] was a red tsunami in the 2018 midterm elections in which Republicans made massive gains, only to have those gains wiped out by Democratic voter fraud. Enlow claimed that the Trump campaign was aware of the rampant fraud, and rather than contest or expose it, they set up a sting operation for the 2020 election.

    According to Enlow, the Trump campaign did not want to win the presidential election outright because that would have foiled its plans to expose the widespread fraud. And Enlow knows this, he claims, because God told it to him.

    It was a sting operation, Enlow said. They knew {the Democrats} had to cheat, and they knew they had to cheat a lot. They already knew they were going to cheat at least 15 percent, because that’s what they did last time. What they ended up having to do is to cheat by every means known to man. They had to do the Dominion software, they had to enter into the new algorithms, they had to freeze the election, produce new ballots, pull them out of suitcases. It’s the most flagrant cheating in history.

    A lot of people in Belarus might like to have a discussion with you about rampant flagrant election cheating.

    Until we see at least 88 million votes show up for Trump and 45 states, it will not have been {legitimate}, Enlow added. The numbers are actually greater than that. I don’t know why the Lord gave me two sets of numbers […]

    It’s hard to remember teh grate insite of hallucinations?

  180. says

    Electors in six of the states in which Trump contested his defeat cast ballots for Biden as president.

    Washington Post link

    […] Already, six of the states in which Trump contested his defeat — Nevada, Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan — have cast their electoral votes for Biden. […]

  181. says

    SC @251, it is possible that Trump is the one who transmitted COVID-19 to the White House security officer.

    Anyway, I’ll bet Trump didn’t make sure that Crede Bailey got the monoclonal antibody treatment that Trump and Giuliani received. Trump has never mentioned Crede Bailey’s illness.

  182. blf says

    Lynna@253, “Trump has never mentioned Crede Bailey’s illness.” In a rarity, hair furor may have been paying attention here. According to the Grauniad (quoting Bloomberg News), “Bailey’s family has asked the White House not to publicize his condition” (from the Grauniad’s current failing coup live blog).

  183. says

    From Paul Waldman, writing for The Washington Post: “How Trump’s fake 2024 candidacy will freeze the GOP in place.”

    Donald Trump may not be performing the duties of the president, but he is spending a lot of time thinking about the office — how the American people stole it from him by cruelly voting in larger numbers for Joe Biden, and how he might get it back. […] Trump is preoccupied with the idea of pulling a Grover Cleveland and trying to win back the White House in 2024:

    The president has spent days calling a dozen or more allies to ask what they think he needs to do over the next two years to “stay part of the conversation,” according to two people, including one who spoke to the president. And while Trump has told allies he plans to run for president again, he has also indicated he could back out in two years if he determines he’ll have a tough time winning, said three people familiar with the discussions. [quoting text from Politico]

    As I’ve argued all along, Trump is not actually going to run again, but he will keep saying he’ll run, because that will keep people’s attention on him, which in turn will help his business and his terribly fragile ego. It will also, of course, affect other Republicans and American politics in profound ways.

    Many have noted that keeping a 2024 run alive will “freeze” the race in place, with other potential candidates left unable to begin their bids so long as people assume the nomination is Trump’s if he wants it. But it’s not just poor Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) and Sen. Tom Cotton (Ark.) who will be affected. A potential Trump run will freeze the Republican Party as well, in ways that are terrible for our democracy.

    [… For instance, how should the party confront its rapid loss of ground in many of the fastest-growing states, including Georgia, Arizona, Nevada and Texas? Does it need to devise new policy solutions on issues such as health care and college affordability that voters might find appealing, or is it enough to just keep saying that Democrats are radical socialists bent on destroying America? How many more election wins can it squeeze out of White grievance and voter suppression?

    […] Republicans can’t have any debate at all with Trump as the party’s de facto leader, which he absolutely will be so long as there’s any chance he’ll run again.

    Which, from his perspective, is the whole point. He still has the loyalty of most Republican voters, who feel far more strongly about him than they do (or will) about any of the other potential candidates. According to a new CBS News poll, 82 percent of Trump voters say Biden is not the legitimate winner of the election, and as long as the stolen-election myth persists in the GOP, the party will be seeking a restoration, not a revision.

    For Trump, retaining that position atop the party has all kinds of benefits; most importantly, it gives everyone a reason to keep paying attention to him. It could also be essential to saving his business from ruin. Once he’s an irrelevant ex-president, nobody will have reason to book events at his struggling properties or buy whatever junky licensed products he comes up with next […]

    To be clear, I’m not arguing that if Trump departed quickly, then Republicans would quickly turn the page, speak forthrightly about how he debased the presidency and mount a vigorous debate about the most worthwhile policy solutions for a changing America. But at least without him there might be a space to begin contemplating the next phase of their party’s evolution.

    As it stands now, it looks like that’s going to have to wait at least another four years.

    In my opinion, Waldman did not focus enough on how Trump is using his fake 2024 candidacy to steal money from his cult followers.

  184. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    I also think that Darth Cheeto views a putative 2024 bit as a way to perhaps stay out of jail by claiming that any prosecutions are politically motivated.

  185. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current failing coup live blog:

    John Fetterman, the Democratic lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania, mocked the state’s Republican party for trying to circumvent the electoral vote count that took place earlier today.

    As the state cast its 20 electoral votes for Joe Biden, the Pennsylvania GOP said it had conducted a procedural vote in favor of Donald Trump in an effort to keep the president’s [sic] legal challenges alive, even though dozens of the Trump campaign’s lawsuits have already been withdrawn or dismissed.

    Fetterman responded by joking that he would also be carrying out a procedural reenactment of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ game yesterday against the Buffalo Bills. (The Bills won that football game by a score of 26–15.) “BREAKING: I will also be reenacting the Steelers/Bills game in my back yard and submitting the new, certified score to the NFL.”

    Hopefully, the new corrected and certified score will be something like 50–1 or whatever it is, coincidentally exactly the same “score” as hair furor’s coup-de-lawsuit. (Is it even possible to score just one point in gridiron?)

  186. says

    Dave Jamieson, HuffPo:

    The McConnell-Cornyn “liability protection” proposal is pretty radical. Not only would it block lawsuits over COVID exposure, it would make it just about impossible for OSHA to enforce basic workplace safety laws. They couldn’t even dole out the tiny fines they’ve been doing.

    I guess they need to make sure Smithfield doesn’t get hit with another monster $13,494 fine after some workers die from coronavirus.

    The proposal would also protect corporations from enforcement/lawsuits related to a host of other employment laws: FLSA (wage theft), WARN (notice ahead of layoffs), Civil Rights Act and ADA (discrimination)

    To be clear, this stuff comes from the McConnell-Cornyn text from the summer that, far as we know, they are still standing by. Here is the relevant section:…

    If you’re wondering what the hell wage theft has to do with the pandemic…. Workplaces have had to make a lot of changes (temperature checks, donning/doffing new equipment etc) and workers might not get paid for that time. That’s how the FLSA ends up in here.

    As you can see from the text, the bar to clear for immunity looks awfully low — employers have to have been aware of govt guidelines (toothless CDC recommendations, basically) and making an effort. You could drive a truck sideways through the phrase “exploring options to comply”

    Important context when it comes to workplace safety… There’s a lot of pressure on Biden to quickly institute an emergency safety standard thru OSHA for COVID-19. If this language became law, it would it would make such a standard close to unenforceable.

  187. says

    Middle East Eye – “Loujain al-Hathloul: Saudi Arabia uses tweets supporting women’s rights as evidence”:

    The Saudi public prosecutor on Monday cited tweets about a campaign to let women drive and the kingdom’s guardianship system as evidence against jailed rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul, her family said.

    Hathloul, 31, appeared at a Saudi terrorism court on Monday, accused of harming the kingdom’s interests and collaborating with foreign agents.

    The women’s rights activist was arrested in May 2018 with at least a dozen other women activists, just weeks before the decades-long ban on female drivers was lifted.

    Her sister, Lina, said on Twitter that Monday’s hearing was the first time Hathloul had heard the alleged evidence against her.

    “Loujain’s hearing today: she handed in her defence and got what the public prosecutor considers evidence of her alleged crimes,” Lina al-Hathloul wrote on Twitter.

    “They include tweets about the Women2Drive campaign and audios of her explaining the male guardianship system.”

    Her next hearing is set for Wednesday.

    Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has presented himself as a reformer but has overseen a brutal crackdown on dissidents or independent Saudis, previously claimed there were videos of Hathloul proving she worked as a spy.

    However, Hathloul’s brother Walid noted that no such evidence was presented:

    [His tweet: “No evidences were provided that are related to providing information to foreign hostile, recruiting people in sensitive positions.

    Also MBS’ evidence (the video) was not provided.

    All they have are a bunch of tweets that they did not like.]

    Hathloul was transferred late last month to the Specialised Criminal Court (SCC), Saudi Arabia’s terrorism court, which is notorious for giving dissidents lengthy prison sentences.

    She and other imprisoned activists are being charged under the country’s anti-cybercrime law on allegations that they “communicated with people and entities hostile to the king”, “cooperated with journalists and media institutions hostile to the king”, “provided financial support to foreign adversaries” and “recruited persons for information detrimental to the security of the kingdom”….

  188. says

    More re #238:

    ON REUTERS WIRE – another SolarWinds/RU hacking op victim:

    Department of Homeland [Security] was compromised through the Russian hacking op we reported yesterday. Added alongside Treasury and Commerce. First reported by Reuters. Third agency now.

  189. says

    a_ray @260 good point.

    SC @261, holy shit.

    SC @263, I have been wondering if Mitch McConnell just wants to give one more outrageous gift to big business before he becomes completely irrelevant.

    SC @265, May Mitchell be the first of many.

    SC @267, California’s 55 electoral votes put Biden way over the 270 threshold. Trump and Miller are planning some kind of theatrical challenge in Congress on January 6th, but I think it will play as a farce.

    tomh @268, Yes, Barr did actually resign. He was not, technically speaking, fired. In fact, Trump sounded relatively gracious in praising Barr on his way out. My feeling is that Barr must have bargained hard for that.

  190. says

    Coverage of Barr resigning:

    Attorney General William Barr will step down from his position in the coming days, leaving the Trump administration about a month before Joe Biden’s inauguration.

    President Trump announced Barr’s decision on Twitter after a meeting with him at the White House, saying that the two had a “very good” relationship and praising Barr for doing an “outstanding job.” Trump had sharply criticized Barr in recent days, prompting talk that he could be fired.

    Barr plans to leave the Justice Department on Dec. 23, according to his resignation letter.

    “As discussed, I will spend the next week wrapping up a few remaining matters important to the administration and depart on December 23rd,” Barr wrote.

    Trump said that Jeffrey Rosen, the current deputy attorney general, will take over Barr’s role atop the Justice Department and that Richard Donoghue, who over the summer moved to a role at main justice from the Eastern District of New York, would be deputy attorney general. Biden, who was affirmed the winner of the presidential race by the Electoral College earlier Monday, will be inaugurated on Jan. 20. […]

    Link

  191. says

    Humor/satire from Andy Borowitz, “Trump Orders Space Force to Discover Other Planets with Courts.”

    In a sign that he is not ready to give up his legal challenge to the 2020 election, Donald J. Trump has ordered the United States Space Force to discover other planets that have courts.

    With his legal options on this planet dwindling, Trump is placing all of his hopes on identifying another planet that might have intergalactic jurisdiction over Earth.

    On the heels of his Space Force announcement, astronomers expressed deep skepticism that a planet with a functioning legal system could be located before the Electoral College casts its votes on Monday.

    But, in a sentiment shared by many Republicans, Senator Kelly Loeffler, of Georgia, said that she “totally supports” Trump’s decision to seek justice on another planet. “Let’s let the process play out,” she said.

    New Yorker link

  192. says

    Joyce Vance:

    Not a single career prosecutor at DOJ will miss Bill Barr.

    Barr’s “letter of resignation” characterizes the Trump administration’s “accomplishments” as accurately as his summary of the Mueller Report characterized the results of that investigation.

  193. says

    Politico – “In final years at Liberty, Falwell spent millions on pro-Trump causes”:

    After shocking many in the evangelical movement by endorsing Donald Trump over other Republicans for the 2016 presidential nomination, Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. pumped millions of the nonprofit religious institution’s funds into Republican causes and efforts to promote the Trump administration, blurring the lines between education and politics.

    The culmination of his efforts was the creation of a university-funded campus “think tank” — which has produced no peer-reviewed academic work and bears little relation to study centers at other universities — that ran pro-Trump ads, hired Trump allies including former adviser Sebastian Gorka and current Trump attorney Jenna Ellis to serve as fellows and, in recent weeks, has aggressively promoted Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud.

    The think tank — called the Falkirk Center, a portmanteau of Falwell’s name and that of GOP activist Charlie Kirk, who co-founded it — purchased campaign-season ads on Facebook, at least $50,000’s worth of which were designated by the network as political ads, that promoted Trump and other Republican candidates by name.

    “Pray For Our President,” declared one, featuring a photo of Trump with his hands clasped in prayer.

    “Be a radical for our republic,” said another Facebook ad that ran over the summer with a photo of a beaming Madison Cawthorn, the rising GOP star and congressional candidate from North Carolina who spoke at Trump’s convention.

    Liberty’s actions, detailed for the first time by POLITICO, suggest the university is pushing the boundaries of its status as a nonprofit organization under Section 501c(3) of the federal tax code, which forbids spending money on political campaigns. Liberty’s actions also go well beyond the traditional role of a university as a politically neutral institution of higher learning.

    “The apparatus of the university has turned more and more towards political ends and concerns,” said Marybeth Baggett, a Liberty graduate who taught at the school from 2003 until this past spring. “Obviously the school is conservative, yes. But I don’t feel like it was ever so agenda-driven as it was in the last four of five years.”

    Falwell resigned from his post in August, in the wake of a series of reports about his and his wife’s personal lives and use of university funds on businesses associated with friends and family members. Now, Liberty’s board of trustees appears torn over his use of Liberty resources for political activities….

    Much more atl.

  194. says

    McConnell – on the Senate floor – and some other Republicans have now acknowledged the Biden-Harris win.

    The FDA is expected to grant an EUA to the Moderna vaccine soon. The panel meets on Thursday.

  195. says

    Rep. Pascrell:

    With bill barr leaving we can never forget barr’s constitutional crime spree and rampage against the rule of law.

    This thread provides some lowlights.

    Barr lied about the contents of the Mueller Report’s findings to the public right out of the gate and repeatedly lied about them under oath.

    Barr intervened to let trump’s convicted friend slimeball roger stone off scot-free after stone coordinated with putin vessels to leak dirt during the 2016 election

    Barr was a point person ordering police to tear gas protestors so trump could take a photo-op

    Barr abused taxpayer resources to turn DOJ into trump’s personal law firm to defend trump in a rape[-related] lawsuit

    Barr fired a top federal prosecutor who was probing a shady foreign bank in the dead of night and then lied about it.

    Barr worked to dismiss the conviction of trump’s felon friend mike flynn who was on putin’s payroll and was labeled a traitor by a federal judge

    Barr repeatedly attacked democracy with scurrilous lies about nonexistent voter fraud

    Barr obstructed legislative oversight and was only the second AG ever held in contempt of Congress.

    Barr installed cronies in top positions to undermine impartial justice and help protect trump’s crooked pals

    So while bill barr may be leaving as the nation’s top law enforcement official, his fanatical assaults on the rule of law are chilling.

    Barr should be stripped of his law licenses for life so he can never practice law again.

    Links for each item atl.

  196. blf says

    Some snarking from the Grauniad’s current live sinking coup blog:

    The president [sic] re-tweeted a conservative lawyer [Lin Wood] who suggested Trump jail Georgia’s governor, Brian Kemp, and secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, after they certified Biden’s victory in the state.

    [… cookie-cutter demented rants omitted…]

    Trump has been pressuring the justice department for years to prosecute his political foes, including his Democratic opponent, Biden, and his predecessor, Barack Obama.

    Often, these brazen directives are treated as the rantings of a leader railing against his fate, rather than an extraordinary attempt by a democratically-elected president to exert his authority over the criminal justice system. Nevertheless, his attorney generals have ignored the president’s calls to jail political opponents while a number of Trump associates and allies have been convicted of crimes during his presidency.

  197. says

    Trump retweeted a tweet from Lin Wood reading:

    President Trump @realDonaldTrump is a genuinely good man. He does not really like to fire people. I bet he dislikes putting people in jail, especially “Republicans.”

    He gave @BrianKempGA & @GaSecofState every chance to get it right. They refused. They will soon be going to jail.

    It features pictures of Kemp and Raffensperger with photoshopped face masks and lapel pins with the Chinese flag. Republicans are silent.

    (Twitter needs to stop calling Trump’s lies about election fraud “disputed” and adding the message “Multiple sources called this election differently” to his claims that he won. The Electoral College has voted. It’s over.)

  198. says

    As Barr and Kemp now know, Trump has no use for limited loyalty

    Trump sees limited loyalty as no different from wholesale betrayal. It’s a lesson Barr, Kemp, and Fox News are learning. And, think about it, he must have drilled that lesson into the brains of his children as they were growing up.

    By any fair measure, Bill Barr was the nation’s most radical attorney general since Watergate. Barr used federal law enforcement to serve Donald Trump’s interests, directly intervening in cases of political interest to the White House. Barr’s efforts were as brazen as they were corrupt.

    But for [Trump], they weren’t quite corrupt enough. Donald Trump envisioned a system of government in which he was effectively his own attorney general, and the person with the title was merely an instrument of the president’s will. Trump would decide what the law said. Trump would decide who was worthy of prosecution. Trump would decide which investigations had merit. It was the attorney general’s job to say, “Yes, sir,” and carry out the president’s wishes.

    And while Barr was comfortable with elements of this dynamic, he was not without some limits. The attorney general, for example, could not prove true Trump’s lies about election fraud, just as he couldn’t manufacture a criminal case against the president’s 2020 opponents, simply to satisfy the incumbent’s desperation. As Jon Chait noted, this proved untenable.

    Barr tried everything Trump wanted: He sicced his prosecutors on Trumps’ enemies and called them off on his criminal friends. But in the waning days of his corrupt reign, Barr reached the limits of his capacity as Trump’s bureaucratic functionary. His loyalty never wavered, but his powers failed him.

    For Trump, this plainly wasn’t acceptable. He said Barr had an opportunity to be “the greatest of all time,” but in order to achieve such an exalted status, the attorney general would need to act on Trump’s every partisan whim — without regard for the law or the limits of our system of government. When Barr struggled to keep up with the president’s hysterical demands, his usefulness ran its course.

    […] The outgoing president expects and demands total allegiance, even when his requests are ridiculous, even when the law requires a different course.

    The attorney general isn’t alone in learning this lesson. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) positioned himself as a staunch Trump loyalist and steadfast White House ally, who has since become a villain in the president’s eyes. The Washington Post had a detailed look at the conflict over the weekend:

    In phone calls and conversations with allies and advisers, Trump has griped that Kemp was not pushing Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to do more to reverse President-elect Joe Biden’s victory; that Kemp was not defending the president on television; and, perhaps most indefensible in Trump’s mind, that Kemp moved forward with certifying the results of the election. “Republicans fell into a trap by expecting Brad Raffensperger and Brian Kemp to cheat for them,” said Jordan Fuchs, a longtime Republican strategist in Georgia who is a deputy secretary of state under Raffensperger.

    […] This dynamic even applies to institutions. It’s no secret that the president has valued his partnership with Fox News, but when the network failed to meet each of his expectations, Trump began railing against it, too. Axios reported overnight:

    [Trump] has been telling confidants that “people at the highest levels of Fox” have reached out to his people to try to repair the relationship but that he has no desire to do that. “He wants to make them pay,” said a source who discussed Fox News with Trump in recent days.

    […] It’s an updated version of the Bush Doctrine for a new era of Republican politics: either you’re with Trump or you’re against him, and to be with him means to be subservient to his every impulse.

    Trump is actually running out of the power he needs to demand absolute loyalty. His impotence grows.

  199. says

    More grifting, more scams: On Trump’s Georgia runoff fundraising, the fine print matters

    Those who give Trump money, assuming it’ll go the Senate races in Georgia, may not realize where the funds are actually going.

    Donald Trump has engaged in all kinds of outrageous post-election activities — including, of course, an unprecedented gambit to overturn the results of an election he lost — but only one of them seems to be annoying his Republican allies.

    Trump and his operation have focused considerable attention on raking in as much money as humanly possible. […] Trump has been on “a relentless, misleading and highly lucrative fundraising drive since losing reelection, telling supporters that they can help overturn the results if they donate while directing the bulk of the cash to his newest political group instead of the entities fighting in court.”

    [Trump] has brazenly lied to his followers, telling them not only that the election was marred by fraud, but also that they can help combat this imagined injustice by sending Trump their money — much of which can go in his pocket, and very little of which will go toward anti-election litigation.

    As it turns out, this isn’t his only financial scam. Politico also reported overnight on the president bombarding his supporters with messages about the important U.S. Senate runoff elections in Georgia on Jan. 5. […]:

    There’s just one hitch: Trump’s new political machine is pocketing most of the dough — and the campaigns of the Georgia senators competing in the Jan. 5 races aren’t getting a cent. […] the fine print shows that most of the proceeds are going toward Trump’s newly launched PAC, which he plans to use to fund his future political activities. [text quoted from Politico]

    Trump thinks tweeting, eating and whining are political activities. He will use the funds to maintain his lifestyle and to foster his brand.

    The article added that the ploy hatched by the president’s operation has “rankled senior Republicans,” who actually care about directing those resources to Georgia Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. The National Republican Senatorial Committee has even “reached out to the White House and RNC to express its concern and to question the decision.”

    “The reality is Donald Trump does not care about the future of the Republican Party, so if he can raise money off of the Georgia runoffs but keep the money for his own purposes, he will do so,” veteran GOP strategist Doug Heye told Politico.

    A Washington Post analysis recently noted the extent to which Trump has proven “how lucrative it can be to put all shame aside.” Evidence to bolster the point is clearly abundant.

  200. blf says

    Damn… I almost forgot… About the time of election, I’d purchased a specially-selected bottle of Champagne for a celebration once hair furor had either conceded, or the Electoral College had voted, either event effectively putting the result beyond dispute. (YES, I am aware there is at least one legal maneuver hair furor could try — and apparently may be tried — plus the possibility of illegal or exceptional attempts to revive his sinking coup attempt, but neither the experts nor I see them as being anything more than the annoying bellows of a donkey being told there’s no more hay.) Anyways, taking into account the time difference, tonight is the night to enjoy the Champagne with / after dinner…

    And I just realised I forgot to put it in the cooler to chill down! Sort-of. It’s been (deliberately) stored in a very cool area, and so doesn’t have to chill down much, so I, er, well, it, should be Ok… Whew!

    Since I’m not much of a Champagne drinker, I asked the owner of the local vin shop for help. He suggested one… his suggestion, and the name (and style) made it seem ideal: Champagne Tarlant ZÉRO Brut Nature. Zéro. Hair furor. Perfect. (What the Zéro really refers to is a style of Champagne-making without any added dosage (sweet wine and/or sugar).)

    Heh heh heh. Yum yum. Hic! I’m rather looking forward to this… (Dinner will be fresh seafood with anchovy-rice and artichokes.)

  201. says

    Turns out that dishonesty is lucrative

    The link above is to an article written by Philip Bump, and published by The Washington Post.

    Excerpts:

    […] Trump’s embrace of conservative media tropes, willingness to buck the party and constant dishonesty endeared him to a large chunk of the Republican base. Party loyalty did the rest, bringing him to the White House in January 2017.
    That Trump was willing to buck conventional wisdom and conventional rhetoric was clearly part of his appeal to his most energetic supporters. But so was what Vox’s Ezra Klein astutely described in February 2016 as his utter lack of shame.

    “[S]hame is our most powerful restraint on politicians who would find success through demagoguery,” Klein wrote. “Most people feel shame when they’re exposed as liars, when they’re seen as uninformed, when their behavior is thought cruel, when respected figures in their party condemn their actions, when experts dismiss their proposals, when they are mocked and booed and protested.”

    But, he correctly noted, Trump doesn’t.

    […] Bob Woodward […] articulates Trump’s approach explicitly, quoting advice Trump gave a friend who had been accused (like Trump) of “bad behavior toward women.”

    “You didn’t come out guns blazing and just challenge them,” Trump said. “You showed weakness. You’ve got to be strong. You’ve got to be aggressive. You’ve got to push back hard. You’ve got to deny anything that’s said about you. Never admit.”

    This was the approach he brought to the White House. Nothing bad was his fault; everything which was good, from vaccines to airline safety, was to his credit. Any allegations levied against him were uniformly false even when they obviously weren’t. Trump lied and misrepresented his actions and positions and those of his opponents without regard for accuracy and inevitably doubled down on his claims when questioned.

    […] [Trump’s] team reported on Friday that nearly half a billion dollars had been donated to various Trump-linked political committees since mid-October. Much of that followed the election and the campaign’s breathless insistences that only cash contributions could keep President-elect Joe Biden from being inaugurated. The campaign sent nearly as many emails in the three weeks after the election as it had in the three weeks prior, with most of those emails directing money to a pool of funds Trump can access directly.

    […] “But you know what? At the end of the day, it’s great for news. The news cycle is red-hot, and Newsmax is getting one million people per minute, according to Nielsen, tuning into Newsmax TV. I think it’s good.”
    Sure, accuracy is nice — but viewers are better.

    This is the core trade-off that Trump made long ago.

    […] Trump has rewarded OAN’s willingness to elevate random accusations. On Nov. 24, he retweeted someone who claimed that “6K fake Biden votes found in Arizona” meant that Biden’s “lead” — the scare quotes were the writer’s — had fallen to 4,000. Her source? OAN’s news crawl. The report, predictably, was wrong.

    But what does OAN care? Trump proved that a certain segment of the country prefers comforting nonsense to uncomfortable realities. OAN and Newsmax, like post-election Trump, are using that as a revenue engine. If the only constraint is a set of archaic norms such as credibility and integrity, why be constrained? […]

  202. says

    Ah, well. More of the same from the bloviating, orange Schoolyard Bully in Chief: “This Fake Election can no longer stand. Get moving Republicans.” That’s what he tweeted.

    Trump also retweeted some nonsense from a conservative radio host calling on followers to “ignore” the electoral college outcome. His cult followers might do that, but Mitch McConnell did not. [smile]

    From Steve Benen:

    Unlike four years ago, there were no “faithless electors” yesterday, which means Biden ended up with 306 electoral votes. That technically means he fared better than Trump did four years ago: the Republican was supposed to receive 306, but he ended up with 304.

    Ha! Schadenfreude moment.

    After Biden’s electoral college victory, the Trump administration filed a new lawsuit in New Mexico, challenging the state’s law on ballot drop boxes. FFS.

  203. says

    Another schadenfreude moment: A new national Fox News poll shows President-elect Biden with a 59% favorability rating. (That’s a favorability rating Trump has never reached.) Vice President-elect Kamala Harris has a 54% favorability rating. Off to a good start then. [smile]

  204. blf says

    Lynna@298, Thank you !
    My latest absence had its root-cause in computer problems. I’m using a brand new machine, my first-ever custom-(and mostly maxed-out-)specification unit, albeit the old machine is still alive & kicking, but could catastrophically fail at any moment.

    The food is out of reasons I like living in France. I’ve always been a bit of a foodie, and learned about good vins at home in California when my father was the engineer for a winery. There’s a tradition in the wine industry of, when visiting other wineries, to bring a gift of “your” wine(s) — so there was always a collection at home… Cheese and the mildly deranged one are well, ah, a different story. Very different…

  205. says

    Trump is slipping and sliding from one failure to another:

    First, […] Trump threatened to veto the annual defense bill because lawmakers wanted the names of Confederate generals removed from US Army bases. Then, he said he’d torpedo the bipartisan legislation unless it repealed an internet free-speech law, allowing him to spew conspiracy theories on the internet unchallenged. And on Sunday, he pledged to block the bill because it’s not tough enough on China, despite it having what one Democratic Congressional aide described to me as “the strongest provisions ever to address the rising power.”

    Link

    Commentary from Steve Benen:

    […] Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colo.), a House Armed Services Committee member and former Army Ranger, told Vox, in reference to the president’s latest nonsense, “I don’t think Donald Trump knows what he’s talking about.”

    It is, alas, a quote with broad applicability.

    So, what does Trump do now, after backing himself into a corner for no reason and with no easy way out? Circling back to our earlier coverage, there are basically three ways forward:

    1. Trump may back down and look weak in the last legislative fight of his presidency.2. Trump may veto, leading Congress to override him for the first time in his presidency.

    3. Trump may veto, leading to a failed override vote in Congress, at which point things will get even messier.

    Roll Call added yesterday the president has until Dec. 23 to make a decision. The article added, “If Congress were to adjourn during the 10 days, the bill could get scuttled in a so-called pocket veto, but Congress is expected to take procedural steps to avoid that scenario.”

    Link

    Congress is finding ways to skirt the orange toddler’s temper tantrums.

  206. says

    Fauci ‘Strongly’ Recommends That Biden Receive COVID Vaccine ASAP ‘For Security Reasons’

    […] Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House’s COVID-19 expert and President-elect Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, said on Tuesday morning that Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris ought to receive the vaccine for COVID-19 as soon as possible.

    “This a person who very soon will be the president of the United States. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will very soon be the vice president of the United States,” Fauci told “Good Morning America” anchor George Stephanopoulos.

    “For security reasons, I really feel strongly that we should get them vaccinated as soon as we possibly can,” the doctor continued. “You want [Biden] fully protected as he enters into the presidency in January, so that would be my strong recommendation.” […]

  207. says

    From Mark Sumner: “Electoral college stamps Biden’s win, as Republicans find new ways to retreat from painful reality”

    In a rational world, it would be unnecessary to write articles about whether Republicans were willing to concede the election on December 15. […] However, back here on the planet where Donald Trump continues to occupy the White House, the Electoral College voted on Monday to hand Joe Biden a decisive 306 to 232 victory. As a result, those Republicans who had previously used the ridiculous standard of insisting on waiting for the electors before acknowledging Biden’s win, demonstrated that their days of being ridiculous have come to a definite middle. [Ha!]

    Despite the last “faithless electors will save him” nail going into Trump’s reelection coffin, multiple Republicans in House and Senate continued to mealy mouth their way around admitting that Biden was the president-elect. And even those who did admit it, often did so in the way that demonstrates how fear of Trump occupies 90% of their waking thoughts.

    The New York Times notes that some Republicans “warily” acknowledged the outcome of the Electoral College vote. That acknowledgement came in the form of statements like those of Lindsey Graham who declared that there was now “a very, very narrow path” for Trump to keep his feet on the Resolute Desk. And that’s pretty much it. The list of Republicans who stood up to make a definitive “The college has voted, Joe Biden is the 46th president” statements seems to be about as long as those willing to admit that their tax cut for billionaires will never, ever come close to paying for itself.

    Instead, as Buzzfeed News reports, there are a whole list of Republicans who, like Graham, were willing to confess that things were getting tough for Trump, what with running up a 1-59 record in the courts and getting definitively turned down in every effort to corrupt state officials and legislators. Asked whether they were ready to declare Joe Biden the winner of the election, Sen. John Barrasso called it a “gotcha question.” Sen. Thom Tillis acknowledges the vote “pending any lawsuits that could change it.” Sen. Kevin Cramer debated whether there was such a thing as “president-elect.” And Sen. Chuck Grassley said simply that he doesn’t have to acknowledge anything. […]

    The problem also confronted Trump-flavored media outlets, who were faced with the difficult decision of determining how much reality they need to admit into their programming.

    As The Washington Post reports, OANN and Newsmax did not join other networks in providing regular updates on the progress of the Electoral College vote. Instead, OANN spent four hours on a live-feed of a hearing in the Arizona legislature, where Republicans were discussing voting procedures. […] Newsmax [talked] about slates of “alternative electors.” At the same time other networks were declaring Biden had passed the 270 mark to secure the win, Newsmax was claiming that the whole thing still has “several weeks here for this thing to play out.”

    Maybe Trump supporters shouldn’t be talking about how they secede from the United States. Since they already seem well on their way to a schism with reality.

    Link

  208. says

    Biden hails U.S. democracy after Electoral College vote, but doesn’t let Republicans off the hook

    […] Biden hailed the work of so many people in making the elections run smoothly during the coronavirus pandemic, and in standing firm after the election to defend its result. “It was truly remarkable because so many of these patriotic Americans were subjected to so much: enormous political pressure, verbal abuse, and even threats of physical violence,” he said. “While we all wish that our fellow Americans in these positions will always show such courage and commitment to free and fair elections, I hope we never again see anyone subjected to the kind of threats and abuse we saw in this election.”

    The election’s results were thoroughly tested, he emphasized. Trump’s challenges “were heard by more than 80 judges across the country,” and key states were recounted—in Georgia’s case, twice—with Biden’s win standing in every case.

    This speech saw Biden more willing than he often is to directly confront not just Trump but the rot at the heart of the Republican Party.

    ”Even more stunning” than Trump’s “baseless claims about the legitimacy of the results,” Biden said, “17 Republican Attorneys General and 126 Republican Members of Congress actually signed on to a lawsuit filed by the State of Texas. It asked the United States Supreme Court to reject the certified vote counts in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.”

    “This legal maneuver was an effort by elected officials in one group of states to try to get the Supreme Court to wipe out the votes of more than twenty million Americans in other states and to hand the presidency to a candidate who lost the Electoral College, lost the popular vote, and lost each and every one of the states whose votes they were trying to reverse,” he continued. “It’s a position so extreme we’ve never seen it before. A position that refused to respect the will of the people, refused to respect the rule of law, and refused to honor our Constitution.”

    Biden did, though, extend a hand to congressional Republicans, saying “I am pleased—but not surprised—that a number of my former Republican colleagues in the Senate have acknowledged the results of the Electoral College.”

    ”I thank them,” he added. “I am convinced we can work together for the good of the nation.” And he reiterated his consistent promise to “be a president for all Americans.”

    ”I will work just as hard for those of you who didn’t vote for me, as I will for those who did,” Biden said.

    Biden closed by acknowledging the passage of the “grim milestone” of 300,000 COVID-19 deaths. […]

  209. blf says

    The French being, well, French… Paris city hall fined for putting too many women in senior roles:

    Paris mayor to pay fine of €90,000 for breaking national rules in 2018 on gender parity

    Paris city authorities have been fined for employing too many women in senior positions, a decision mocked as absurd by the mayor, Anne Hidalgo, on Tuesday.

    The fine of €90,000 […] was demanded by France’s public service ministry on the grounds that Paris city hall had broken national rules on gender parity in its 2018 staffing.

    “I am happy to announce that we have been fined,” Hidalgo, a member of the Socialist party, told a city council meeting, adding that she had been filled with joy when she learned of the penalty.

    Hidalgo said she was faulted because 11 women and only five men were named to management positions in city hall in 2018, meaning that 69% of the appointments went to women.

    “The management of the city hall has, all of a sudden, become far too feminist,” said Hidalgo […]

    Apparently, the rule dates only to 2013 and “stipulates one sex should not account for more than 60% of nominations to management positions”, but has since been repealed. (Ironically, whilst I’m writing this, I’ve got a video on of an (almost-)all-female band, The While and Matthews Big Band at Shrewsbury Folk Festival 2019; I happen to be slightly acquainted with Julie Matthews, one of the two leads.)

  210. says

    Biden’s inaugural committee tells Americans to stay home for his swearing-in.

    That’s wise.

    President-elect Joe Biden’s inaugural committee on Tuesday advised Americans against traveling to attend his swearing-in ceremony and related activities next month, instead rolling out initial public health protocols for the quadrennial event and previewing a “reimagined” parade.

    The committee said in a news release that it was working “in close coordination” with the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies “to ensure that the inauguration … honors and resembles sacred American traditions while keeping Americans safe and preventing the spread of COVID-19.”

    The committee also revealed that Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris plan to take their oaths of office on Jan. 20 at the Capitol — the traditional site for the swearing-in — and that Biden will deliver an inaugural address.

    “The ceremony’s footprint will be extremely limited […]

    Link

  211. says

    GOP gubernatorial candidate in Virginia calls on Trump to declare martial law

    State Sen. Amanda Chase (R), a Republican candidate for governor in Virginia, called on […] Trump to declare martial law to keep Joe Biden from being sworn in as the next president.

    Writing in a Facebook post early in the morning on Tuesday, Chase said Biden is “not my president and never will be,” while linking to a New York Times story detailing how the Electoral College had certified Biden’s election victory.

    She echoed Trump’s unsubstantiated claim that Biden had “cheated to win” and said she and many other Americans will “never accept these results.”

    “Fair elections we can accept but cheating to win; never. It’s not over yet. So thankful President Trump has a backbone and refuses to concede. President Trump should declare martial law as recommended by General Flynn,” Chase wrote.

    […] Chase says she’s working with pro-Trump attorney Sidney Powell “to expose what I and others believe is extensive fraud here in Virginia.”

    Of course she’s working with Sidney Powell.

    These effing dunderheads are going to foment more violence.

  212. says

    Trump claims new fraud evidence as Michigan officials push back on disputed report

    Yeah, he made a bunch of claims. The link above repeats Trump’s specious claims, but it also debunks them.

    […] The report [which Trump used to make his claims] from the Allied Security Operations Group (ASOG) argues that Dominion Voting Systems, which supplies election voting machines across the country, “is intentionally and purposefully designed with inherent errors to create systemic fraud and influence election results.”

    According to the Detroit Free Press, Michigan Elections Director Jonathan Brater condemned the ASOG report, arguing that it “makes a series of unsupported conclusions, ascribes motives of fraud and obfuscation to processes that are easily explained as routine election procedures or error corrections, and suggests without explanation that elements of election software not used in Michigan are somehow responsible for tabulation or reporting errors that are either nonexistent or easily explained.”

    Dominion also denied the claims in a press release, writing that the election software company “has been the target of a continuing malicious and widespread disinformation campaign aimed at eroding confidence in the integrity of the 2020 presidential election.”

    “There were no software ‘glitches’ that ‘switched’ votes in Antrim County or anywhere else,” the statement added. “The errors identified in Antrim County were isolated human errors not involving Dominion.”

    […] Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Attorney General Dana Nessel condemned the ASOG report in a joint statement Monday, with Benson saying, “If the Trump campaign had any actual evidence of wrongdoing — or genuine suspicion thereof — they could have requested a hand recount of every ballot in the state.”

    “They did not, instead choosing to allow shadowy organizations claiming expertise to throw around baseless claims of fraud in an effort to mislead American voters and undermine the integrity of the election,” she added. “Their actions are a corruption of the courts and the rule of law, as the release of today’s report clearly demonstrates.” […]

  213. says

    From Wonkette: “Jilted Trump Gonna Set Fire To Georgia With Loeffler, Perdue Trapped Inside”

    Republicans are desperate to hold onto two US Senate seats in Georgia next month, but one-term loser Donald Trump appears more interested in attacking Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who he won’t forgive for not helping him steal the state’s 16 electoral votes.

    What a fool Governor @BrianKempGA of Georgia is. Could have been so easy, but now we have to do it the hard way. Demand this clown call a Special Session and open up signature verification, NOW. Otherwise, could be a bad day for two GREAT Senators on January 5th.

    Trump leans into his mob boss bit at the end of his tweeted cry for help: Act NOW, Kemp, or it could be a “bad day” for Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, who both suck. But that was the height of class compared to what President Coup Coup retweeted this morning. [Tweet screen grab is available at the link.]

    Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger hasn’t committed any actual crimes, to our knowledge, aside from letting (Black) people vote, which these days is more like using the wrong fork at dinner or not writing a prompt thank-you note. That’s progress for you. Kemp’s near criminal incompetence has led to skyrocketing COVID-19 cases with almost 10,000 deaths, but Trump doesn’t care about boring pandemics.

    The Jan. 5 runoff, which will determine if Mitch McConnell will continue giving America an atomic wedgie, has driven historic levels of spending, and Trump has put his personal vendettas aside long enough to raise money like a team player and then take his cut.

    Politico reports:

    President Donald Trump couldn’t make it any clearer: He needs his supporters to fork over cash for the all-important Georgia Senate runoff elections.

    “We MUST defend Georgia from the Dems!” he wrote in one recent text message. “I need YOU to secure a WIN in Georgia,” he said in another. “Help us WIN both Senate races in Georgia & STOP Socialist Dems,” he pleaded a few days later.

    However, it appears that the Loeffler and Perdue Olive Oil Emporium is a front organization and Trump is pocketing most of the cash like a common goodfella.

    Sure, it seems like Trump’s “aggressive fundraising blitz” is all about the Georgia Senate races, and you can certainly get that impression from the words he uses in his pitch. But that’s only if you’re dumb enough not to read the fine print: Most of the free money he’s taking from fools goes directly to his new PAC, which he plans to use to pay down his mountain of debt “fund his future political activities,” which will mostly involve whining on Twitter and at his hate rallies about how the election was “stolen” from him.

    Senior Republicans are reportedly “rankled” over Trump’s grift. […]

    Trump’s PAC, Save America gobbles up 75 percent of every donation up to the first $5,000 given. The remaining 25 percent goes to the Republican National Committee, which in turn paid for Trump’s recent Valdosta whine fest. Not a cent goes directly to the Republican Senate candidates.

    Meanwhile, President-elect Joe Biden has personally raised $10 million for Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, who are outspending Loeffler and Perdue on TV $131 million to $86 million. Republicans have outright begged for access to Trump’s prized small donor list, but his advisers have so far refused, claiming Trump needs that money for his reelection campaign, which is non-existent because he lost.

    Trump has offered to help in other, more pointless, ways, such as signing emails for Loeffler and Perdue, whose campaigns can send them out to their dozens of loyal supporters. He’s also sent in his “top surrogate” Larry Kudlow. The chief White House economist hosted a thrilling online fundraiser for the Republican senators.

    It’s also possible that Trump’s fragile ego couldn’t survive losing Georgia while punk ass candidates Loeffler and Perdue prevailed. It would single him out as a failure. Better to just torch the place and run off with the insurance money.

    Link

  214. says

    As open-enrollment period nears its end, ACA popularity climbs

    Over the last four years, the Trump administration has taken a variety of steps to undermine the Affordable Care Act, outside of legal efforts to tear down the existing health care system altogether. As a political matter, the sabotage campaign hasn’t made “Obamacare” any less popular.

    Gallup reported last week that Americans’ support for the ACA “has increased to a record-tying high of 55% after averaging 51% from 2017 through 2019.” This is entirely in line with the latest tracking poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation, which showed nearly identical results.

    […] what matters more than the polls is the policy. And as the open-enrollment period nears its end across the country, many throughout the industry are keeping an eye on the total number of consumers.

    A crush of sign-ups expected Tuesday on the last day of open enrollment for HealthCare.gov could help solidify the standing of “Obamacare” as an improbable survivor in the Donald Trump years. In 36 states that use HealthCare.gov, Dec. 15 is deadline day for coverage that starts Jan. 1, while another 14 states and Washington, D.C., have later dates. Analysts and advocates who follow the annual insurance sign-ups say interest has gotten stronger with the coronavirus pandemic gripping the nation.

    NBC News had a good report along these lines today, noting many consumers would likely take advantage of coverage opportunities through the Affordable Care Act, if only they knew more about them.

    People working to enroll Americans through HealthCare.gov, the federal website for the insurance marketplace, say they’re worried that the program’s benefits aren’t reaching as many people as they could, especially in a pandemic and an economic crisis. That’s thanks in part to a 90 percent cut in funding for marketing since […] Trump took office and additional cuts to navigator programs, which assist people trying to sign up.

    Joshua Peck, co-founder of Get America Covered, an advocacy group that promotes enrollment, told NBC News, “[…] awareness about open enrollment remains incredibly low. This year, with a lot of new people in the system, that’s likely to be a particularly acute gap.”

    […] Legislating on health care over the next couple of years will be extremely difficult, in part because of the incredibly narrow Democratic majority in the U.S. House, and in part because of possible Republican control of the U.S. Senate. But the incoming Biden/Harris administration doesn’t need Congress to start making health care coverage options easier and more available to Americans and their families.

    I have a hunch they’ll be eager to do exactly that. […]

  215. says

    Vladimir Putin and Mitch McConnell had something in common today.

    None of us needed this in order to move on with our lives. And McConnell deserves no praise for waking up to reality nearly six weeks after Joe Biden officially became president-elect. But thanks, I guess.

    Since the Senate majority leader came to grips with the reality of December 2020 this morning and acknowledged from the Senate floor that Biden was the president-elect — but not before giving a lengthy speech praising […] Trump’s vast accomplishments for the GOP — we will likely see a snowball effect. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has been fueling Trump’s baseless election delegitimization crusade with winks and nods for weeks, refusing to outright acknowledge Biden’s victory until last night when the Electoral College results were cemented.

    Perhaps this speaks to something broader. There are systems in place that have guided the existence of our nation since its founding. Maybe one of them — like the Electoral College — is too precious to Republicans to tarnish now. Or, perhaps they know questioning it for too long invalidates Trump’s own electoral victory in 2016 — and future victories it may deliver to them. […]

    Link

  216. says

    Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) on Tuesday predicted that there will be a domino effect of more Republicans finally publicly acknowledging President-elect Joe Biden’s victory after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) arrived on Planet Earth to congratulate Biden during a floor speech, a day after the Electoral College sealed Biden’s victory.

    When asked whether Republicans will follow suit in recognizing Biden’s victory now that McConnell has done so — which follows the Senate majority leader’s monthlong stint of being a quiet foot soldier in […] Trump’s delusional efforts to undermine democracy — Romney told CNN that he predicts “more and more people indicate” that Biden is the president-elect.

    Romney argued that a “different” and “important question” is how many Republicans will call out Trump for his “simply wrong and dangerous” election fraud falsehoods.

    “The continued attack on our elections system and the calls that suggest that it’s been fraudulent or stolen — that these things are not accurate, they’re not true, there’s been no evidence of substantial fraud of the nature that would be necessary to overturn an election,” Romney said, while describing the dangers of egging on Trump’s baseless fraud claims.

    Romney added that even Attorney General Bill Barr — who Trump announced will resign next week — couldn’t find evidence supporting Trump’s unsubstantiated claims.

    […] “But some of those that are really identified as being strong Trump supporters, they’d make a real difference if they came out and spoke and said, ‘You know what, we got to get behind this new President-elect. He was legitimately elected. Let’s move on,’” Romney said. […]

    Link

  217. says

    Joe Biden is going to be president in January, but it’s too early to act as if Trump is gone

    On Monday, The New York Times ran an editorial from columnist Michelle Goldberg in which she let out a big sigh of relief. Donald Trump, according to Goldberg, tried to overthrow the election and was basically a fascist, but he “failed to bend the state to his will” so writers on the left who have, for the last four years, warned that Trump might destroy the nation overplayed the threat. [I didn’t come to that conclusion. Not so sure Goldberg made that last point.]

    On Tuesday, the Times followed up with a column from Bret Stephens arguing that none of the things people worried about actually happened. Hey, we didn’t have a nuclear war with North Korea, the free press is still there—even if Trump has spent half his time demeaning their integrity and sowing distrust, and the Supreme Court didn’t actually overturn the outcome of the election so … no harm, no foul. The problem with both of these columns is not just that they underplay the enormous damage done to every American institution during Trump’s time, but they ignore the fact that Trump’s time is not yet over. Joe Biden might take office in just over a month, but a month is plenty of time to destroy … almost anything. [True.]

    Goldberg’s argument appears to be that everything was okay because Trump was ineffective. [Overstated.]

    He put children in cages, but was pressured to let them out. And in the end, he lost an election and will have to leave.

    Which would be news to the children and families still being tortured by Trump’s brutalizing Immigration and Customs Enforcement. However, Goldberg does admit that Trump has left behind a trail of destruction, especially when it comes to simply getting Americans to participate together in the same view of reality.

    Stephens, as might be expected, is far more dismissive of the idea that Trump ever was a threat. Sure, “bad things happened under Trump,” wrote Stephens, “but nothing so bad that it couldn’t be stopped by courts.” However, Stephens, the eternal apologist, is extraordinarily quick to paint Trump as if he was just jabbering to himself. For example, he says that Trump’s coronavirus misinformation was “corrected by civil servants,” which rather seems to ignore the 308,000 dead Americans who were lost not just because of Trump’s words but his actions in failing to treat the pandemic as real. [True.]

    Ultimately, Stephens admits that Trump was “corrosive” and that it may take decades for the nation to find ways to heal from the last four years. And Goldberg acknowledges that Trump’s time in office has “concluded with America a smoking ruin. Only Trump has ensured that nearly half the country doesn’t see it.” Both of these conclusions are accurate … to a point. The point being that Trump’s time in office has not concluded. [True.]

    […] Trump didn’t just allow Americans to die from incompetence—he caused Americans to die, because that was his plan. Trump was convinced that allowing thousands of Americans in blue states to die was a good thing, something that would be helpful to him politically. So he deliberately, with malice of forethought, scrapped the plans for testing and case tracing so that more Americans would die.

    That crime—that not just attempted but actual genocide—is ongoing. So are Trump’s efforts to tear down America’s vital institutions.

    That destruction of media, which is still in high gear, may be far more disastrous to the notion of press freedom than simply locking journalists up. When the state takes control of the media and inserts its own message, citizens can understand that what they are being fed is a stream of propaganda. But Trump has simply worked to unbalance the media by diminishing the impact of serious news and playing up the importance of commentary favorable to himself. The result is that Trump followers have self-isolated from facts and voluntarily submitted themselves to a propaganda bath.

    […] Trump is now exploiting the schism he created to carry his supporters into a frenzy where calls for martial law are coming from Republican legislators and political parties across the Trump states. […]

    Republicans in the House just voted to support Trump’s attempt at a government overthrow. Republicans in the Senate proved back in January that they won’t hold him accountable for any action, no matter how obviously criminal. Where is the downside to Donald Trump in doing something even more extreme than the actions he has already taken?

    It may not happen. It probably won’t happen. Then both Goldberg and Stephens can scoff at me as one of those leftists who cited dire warnings that did not come to pass. But I’m not writing Trump’s obituary until I see Joe Biden’s right hand go up and this nightmare is really behind us.

  218. says

    Melania Trump removes mask to read to young patients, breaking hospital’s rules

    First Lady Melania Trump took off her mask to read to children at the Children’s National Hospital on Tuesday, breaking state and hospital rules that require visitors wear a mask.

    […] Trump entered the hospital wearing a mask, but took it off after sitting in front of the Christmas tree while practicing social distancing, according to the news outlet.

    The hospital’s policy states, “Everyone must wear a mask at all times while in any Children’s National facility to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

    Upon arriving Trump said, “It is wonderful to be here. This is one of my favorite events during the holiday time and I’m very excited and looking forward to reading a book.”

    “I’m thinking of you all. Stay strong and well and Merry Christmas and happy holidays,” she said.

    Most children attended the reading virtually, but Trump did arrive to the hospital with two children who sat in front of her while she read. She read “Oliver the Ornament Meets Marley & Joan and Abbey” by Todd Zimmerman.

    She did not put her mask back on as she left the hospital.

    […] The first lady has likely developed coronavirus antibodies, though health experts are unsure how long this immunity lasts. Even after infection, health experts recommend wearing a mask. […]

  219. blf says

    Apropos of nothing, I can confirm the dinner was great, and the hair furor is ZÉRO Champagne worked brilliantly — the somewhat salty rice with anchovies nicely balanced by the somewhat sweet (but not too sweet, as it is zéro-dosage) Champagne — nearly perfectly accompanying the fish and artichokes. Burp ! Hic !! Great Fecking RIDDANCE to hair furor !!! Please let the prison door hit yer arse on the way out !!!!

    Dessert will probably be coconut ice cream, followed by stuffing pins in Stephen Miller voodoo dolls (yes, I realise that does nothing practical, but it’s a lot more fun that stuffing pins in a Covid-19 voodoo doll!).

  220. blf says

    me@311, Please let the prison door hit yer arse on the way out !!!! → way inside
    Sorr—hic!—rry…

  221. tomh says

    The most religion-friendly SC in living memory…and beyond.

    Justices revive religious groups’ attempts to block COVID-related restrictions in Colorado, New Jersey
    Amy Howe Dec 15, 2020

    The Supreme Court on Tuesday tossed out a pair of lower-court rulings that had permitted states to enforce COVID-related restrictions at worship services. The two brief orders from the justices instruct the lower courts to take another look at religious groups’ challenges to restrictions in Colorado and New Jersey – and this time, the justices indicated, the lower courts should decide the challenges in light of the Supreme Court’s Nov. 25 ruling that lifted New York’s COVID-related limits on attendance at worship services.

    Tuesday’s orders are further evidence of the broader impact of the New York ruling, which the justices have now invoked three times in three weeks to tell lower courts around the country that they should be more solicitous of religious groups seeking to worship without restrictions during the pandemic.

    Details of both cases at the link.

  222. blf says

    In addition to Putin, both Jair Bolsonaro (Brazil) and Andrés Manuel López Obrador (Mexico) have finally congratulated Biden on winning, leaving only(?) Kim Jong-un (N.Korea) & hair furor (Delusional) as having a great sulk.

  223. blf says

    The Grauniad may be able to explode from an excess of snarksagrees (from the current sinking coup live blog):

    Agreeing to agree here that we agree that no one is leaving until we all agree on how many more times we can say the word agree when it comes to the Covid package [… examples…]

    Amusingly, I only counted one “agree” in their quoted examples, suggesting either their (presumably safe) seasonal party has started, or I’ve been ZÉROed, or both.

  224. says

    Update to #76:

    Today marks 20 days since the farmer protests in India began.

    They fight for a living wage & against corporate abuse, and have faced police brutality & torture for exercising their rights.

    It’s the largest strike in history & an inspiration to the world. The struggle continues.

  225. tomh says

    Mitch McConnell’s Senate Confirms Amy Coney Barrett’s Successor at U.S. Court of Appeals for Seventh Circuit
    MATT NAHAM Dec 15th, 2020

    The Republican-led Senate majority confirmed Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s successor at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, just under two months after announcing his nomination and during a lame-duck session.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is undoubtedly pleased that he was able to fill the vacant seat with Thomas L. Kirsch II, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana. The vote in the Senate was 51-44.

    As we move quickly towards a Joe Biden–Kamala Harris administration, McConnell and his Republican majority will likely try and fill as many other vacancies as possible.
    […]

    In the meanwhile, Republicans got themselves a new circuit judge on Tuesday…

    The seat Kirsch will fill has already been the scene of another Merrick Garland-esque situation; President Barack Obama nominated Myra Selby for the seat in January of 2016. Selby had served, since 1995, on the Indiana Supreme Court; there, she served as both the first African-American and first woman on the highest state court in Indiana. Had Selby had been confirmed to the Seventh Circuit, she would have been the first African-American and the first woman from Indiana on that circuit court as well.

    Senate Republicans, however, refused to hold a confirmation hearing for Selby.

    After a vote on Selby’s nomination was denied, the seat eventually went to Amy Coney Barrett [nominated by Trump]. Now the seat is going to Barrett’s GOP-approved successor.

  226. says

    Update to #258: “Scoop: Hundreds of people skipped Mike Pompeo’s indoor holiday party today, in wake of health concerns, per two U.S. officials. 900+ invites went out, roughly 70 RSVP’d, fewer actually showed up, per sources.

    Pompeo was supposed to give a speech at the event but he cancelled. The State Department did not respond to questions about why he cancelled and whether it was due to his own health concerns about holding a large indoor event.”

    WaPo link atl.

  227. johnson catman says

    re SC @324: One of the replies to the tweet:

    Wait if it can’t be his legal residence, how can he legally be registered to vote there?

    Seems that The Orange Toddler-Tyrant possibly perpetrated some voter fraud of his own.

  228. says

    Sen. Blumenthal:

    Stunning. Today’s classified briefing on Russia’s cyberattack left me deeply alarmed, in fact downright scared. Americans deserve to know what’s going on. Declassify what’s known & unknown.

    Meanwhile… – NBC – “White House counsel’s office warned Trump not to fire Chris Wray”:

    President Donald Trump has come so close to firing FBI Director Christopher Wray in recent months that the White House counsel’s office has warned him not to do so because it could put him in potential legal jeopardy, according to a senior administration official with direct knowledge of the discussion and a U.S. official familiar with the discussion.

    White House lawyers “strongly” advised Trump against firing another FBI director out of concern that doing so would risk creating the perception that a “loyalty test” was being imposed on a position that traditionally has maintained independence from the White House, according to the senior administration official.

    The lawyers, led by White House counsel Pat Cipollone, specifically said that firing Wray could spark legal issues similar to those raised after Trump ousted James Comey as FBI director in 2017 in the midst of the Russia investigation, the officials said.

    Their concern was that firing Wray could be seen as retaliation because the president has publicly pressured him to take specific actions on certain investigations — such as announcing a probe into President-elect Joe Biden’s son — and then expressed frustration that Wray has not followed his suggestions.

    …Multiple current and former senior administration officials said firing Wray does not appear imminent, but they also point out that the president could make such a decision on a whim at any time. Indeed officials said they are prepared for Trump to go on a firing spree before leaving office next month.

    “I wouldn’t take anything off the table in coming weeks,” the senior administration official said of personnel changes, as well as presidential pardons. The official said to expect “some more fairly significant terminations in the national security or intelligence community.”

    Trump also recently threatened to fire acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, according to two senior administration officials. The president blamed Wolf for the public statements from Christopher Krebs, the former head of the agency in charge of election security at the Homeland Security Department….

    CIA Director Gina Haspel was so convinced she might be fired that she was seen cleaning personal items out of her office at CIA headquarters last month after Trump ousted Defense Secretary Mark Esper, according to three former and current administration officials familiar with the matter….

  229. says

    johnson catman @ #325, I was thinking about that, too. People were talking about it in the run-up to the election (as I recall, there were several people involved with the campaign whose voting was sketchy), but for some reason the media never really picked up on it and then they lost interest entirely after the election.

  230. says

    AP – “Kansas mayor resigns after threats over backing mask mandate”:

    A western Kansas mayor announced her immediate resignation Tuesday because of threats she has received after publicly supporting a mask mandate.

    Dodge City Mayor Joyce Warshaw said she was concerned about her safety after encountering aggression, including threats via phone and email, after she was quoted in a USA Today article Friday supporting a mask mandate, The Dodge City Globe reported.

    “I understand people are under a lot of pressure from various things that are happening around society like the pandemic, the politics, the economy, so on and so forth, but I also believe that during these times people are acting not as they normally would,” Warshaw said.

    The commission voted 4-1 on Nov. 16 to impose a mask mandate, with several exceptions.

    Ford County, where Dodge City is located, has recorded 4,914 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, according to the state health department. The county has about 33,600 residents.

    Warshaw said despite the threats, she doesn’t regret voting in favor of the mask mandate.

    “This is harder for me than people realize,” Warshaw said as she began to cry. “I really love this city with all my heart. I still believe in this city, and I believe in their ability to not harm one another.”

    Dodge City Police Chief Drew Francis said the department is looking into the communications to determine its response.

  231. says

    Shameless:

    The TRUMP-allied group TURNING POINT USA is holding its winter donor gala at Mar-a-Lago on Friday night featuring @RandPaul, @IngrahamAngle & @charliekirk11.

    For $100k platinum sponsors get:
    2 tables at the gala
    meet & greets with speakers
    photo opps with speakers

    Here are the sponsorship benefits for @TPUSA’s winter gala at Mar-a-Lago on Friday….

    The funniest “benefit” is a bunch of signed books by Charlie Kirk.

  232. tomh says

    California Stocking Up on Body Bags as Covid Deaths Hit New Highs
    December 15, 2020 NICK CAHILL

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) — Reacting to a devastating number of post-Thanksgiving deaths, California Governor Gavin Newsom said Tuesday the state is quickly stockpiling body bags and prepping emergency morgues to aid hospitals swamped with Covid-19 patients.

    Adding another 142 on Tuesday, the Golden State’s average daily death toll has quadrupled from 41 to 163 in just the last month. Newsom said the alarming rate of death and spread of the coronavirus in the Golden State means hospitals will likely remain stressed until at least February.

    After consulting in recent days with county coroners, Newsom said the state will add 5,000 body bags to its stockpile and begin distributing them to places like San Diego and Los Angeles. In addition, Newsom said dozens of 53-foot refrigerated trailers are being prepped as makeshift morgues to store bodies if the surge continues.

    … According to Johns Hopkins University, California now has 54 deaths per 100,000 residents and has overtaken Texas as the state with the most cases at 1.6 million and climbing.

    Meanwhile the total of Californians hospitalized has jumped 68% over the last two weeks for a record high of over 14,000. Intensive care unit patients have similarly spiked 54% during the same stretch and Newsom said statewide ICU capacity sits at just 5.7%.

    The numbers have state officials forecasting another brutal stretch for the health care system as the residual infections from the holidays pile up. According to modeling used by the state, the current surge could continue for another 45-60 days…

  233. says

    From livetweeting of the Senate Homeland Security hearing “Examining Irregularities in the 2020 Election”:

    … “This is not disinformation, this hearing today,” Johnson says, sounding angry after Peters and Krebs warn against promoting disinformation.

    Intense argument just now between Johnson and Peters.

    “You lied repeatedly in the press that I was spreading Russian disinformation,” Johnson says, “and that was an outright lie, and I told you to stop lying, and you continued doing it.”

    Peters said he didn’t know what “rabbit hole” Johnson was going down.

    As experts have shown, Johnson’s claims have leaned on Russian disinformation, and his fellow Republican senators have urged him to stop….

    I believe Romney said he wouldn’t be there because he didn’t see the purpose.

  234. lumipuna says

    The replies to this tweet are a flood of memories.

    https://twitter.com/ddale8/status/1338885184410820609

    What do you think are the most memorable Trump lies since his inauguration? Most egregious, confusing, funny, pointless, offensive – whatever stands out.

    There’s literally thousands of replies, and less repetition than you’d think. I didn’t see the one that first came to my own mind, though.

    Remember when some US athlete got into legal trouble in Sweden, and Trump boasted (almost certainly bullshitting) that he was calling the Swedish prime minister to negotiate some special treatment for this American? I’m not Swedish (pretty close, though), but at the time I sensed a strong vibe of “old white man wants to talk to the manager”.

  235. says

    Politico – “‘We want them infected’: Trump appointee demanded ‘herd immunity’ strategy, emails reveal”:

    A top Trump appointee repeatedly urged top health officials to adopt a “herd immunity” approach to Covid-19 and allow millions of Americans to be infected by the virus, according to internal emails obtained by the House Oversight Committee and shared with POLITICO.

    “There is no other way, we need to establish herd, and it only comes about allowing the non-high risk groups expose themselves to the virus. PERIOD,” then-science adviser Paul Alexander wrote on July 4 to his boss, Health and Human Services assistant secretary for public affairs Michael Caputo, and six other senior officials.

    “Infants, kids, teens, young people, young adults, middle aged with no conditions etc. have zero to little risk….so we use them to develop herd…we want them infected…” Alexander added.

    “[I]t may be that it will be best if we open up and flood the zone and let the kids and young folk get infected” in order to get “natural immunity…natural exposure,” Alexander wrote on July 24 to Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn, Caputo and eight other senior officials. Caputo subsequently asked Alexander to research the idea, according to emails obtained by the House Oversight Committee’s select subcommittee on coronavirus.

    Alexander also argued that colleges should stay open to allow Covid-19 infections to spread, lamenting in a July 27 email to Centers for Disease Control Director Robert Redfield that “we essentially took off the battlefield the most potent weapon we had…younger healthy people, children, teens, young people who we needed to fastly [sic] infect themselves, spread it around, develop immunity, and help stop the spread.”

    Alexander was a top deputy of Caputo, who was personally installed by President Donald Trump in April to lead the health department’s communications efforts. Officials told POLITICO that they believed that when Alexander made recommendations, he had the backing of the White House.

    “It was understood that he spoke for Michael Caputo, who spoke for the White House,” said Kyle McGowan, a Trump appointee who was CDC chief of staff before leaving this summer. “That’s how they wanted it to be perceived.”

    Senior Trump officials have repeatedly denied that herd immunity — a concept advocated by some conservatives as a tactic to control Covid-19 by deliberately exposing less vulnerable populations in hopes of re-opening the economy — was under consideration or shaped the White House’s approach to the pandemic. “Herd immunity is not the strategy of the U.S. government with regard to coronavirus,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar testified in a House Oversight hearing on Oct. 2.

    In his emails, Alexander also spent months attacking government scientists and pushing to shape official statements to be more favorable to President Donald Trump.

    For instance, Alexander acknowledged in a May 30 email that a draft statement from the CDC about how Covid-19 was disproportionately affecting minority populations was “very accurate,” but he warned HHS and CDC communications officials that “in this election cycle that is the kind of statement coming from CDC that the media and Democrat [sic] antagonists will use against the president.” The problems were “due to decades of democrat neglect,” Alexander alleged.

    Alexander also appeared to acknowledge that the White House’s own push to let states wind down their Covid-19 restrictions was leading to a spike in cases.

    The emails represent an unusual window on the internal deliberations of the Trump administration, and the tensions between political appointees like Alexander – a part-time professor at a Canadian university – and staff members in health agencies. On Sept. 16, HHS announced that Alexander would be leaving the department, just days after POLITICO first reported on his efforts to shape the CDC’s famed Morbidity and Mortality and Weekly Reports and pressure government scientist Anthony Fauci from speaking about the risks of Covid-19 to children….

    More atl.

  236. says

    A few bits and pieces of news, as summarized by Steve Benen:

    * Early voting in Georgia’s U.S. Senate runoff elections continues to be quite robust, including thousands of votes from Georgians who did not participate in last month’s general elections.

    * During his 2014 campaign, Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) ran an ad stressing his experience in Asia, including a photograph of him at the Great Wall of China. As the Huffington Post noted today, Perdue is running a very similar ad this year, except he’s removed references to his background in Asia. [LOL. “Communist” China ties.]

    * Following a lengthy career in politics, including work with George W. Bush and John McCain, strategist Steve Schmidt this week announced that he’s changing his voter registration to become a Democrat. […]

    […] * In Virginia, state Sen. Amanda Chase (R) — a 2021 gubernatorial candidate — wrote this week that she’d like to see Donald Trump “declare martial law” in response to the 2020 elections. In North Carolina, state Sen. Bob Steinburg (R) similarly wants the outgoing president to suspend civil rights and remain in power, despite his defeat.

    * Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R), who’s made little effort to hide his national ambitions, agreed this week to serve as a national co-chair of a bipartisan group called No Labels. He’ll work alongside the organization’s other national co-chair: former Sen. Joe Lieberman.

    Link

  237. says

    SC @337, no we do not “want them infected.” Dunderheads.

    In other news, Republican state AG uses anti-election lawsuit for fundraising

    Many Republican officials in key offices are under the impression that going after the 2020 election results is a lucrative enterprise.

    […] Trump-led attempts to challenge the election results — no matter how far-fetched they may be — have turned into veritable cash cows for office-holders associated with them. […]

    Daily Beast link

    Commentary:

    […]The fundraising appeal is itself distasteful. As Missouri’s Eric Schmitt and his team no doubt knew, the recent anti-election litigation was ridiculous — a fact that would not be changed by generous contributions from unsuspected donors.

    But the pitch is emblematic of a larger issue: some Republicans, including the one in the Oval Office, see the baseless attacks on our democracy as sources of political revenue.

    Indeed, The Daily Beast article added, “Similar state-level political fundraising efforts have invoked Trump’s cause in attempts to solicit contributions, even as their own stake in the supposed election fraud conspiracy is at best tenuous. The Republican Party of Florida has sought to invoke GOP complaints about supposed election irregularities to fill its own coffers, despite Trump having won the state.”

    It’s an ugly one-two punch: Republicans start by convincing their base there were problems with the election, which is followed by a request for money, as if the donations might somehow undo the problems that don’t exist in reality.

    The result is a profoundly unhealthy set of incentives: many GOP officials in key offices are under the impression that lying about the election is a lucrative enterprise. Between Nov. 3 and Dec. 3, Donald Trump’s operation raised more than $207 million, largely because the outgoing president bombarded his followers with claims about imagined “fraud.” […]

  238. says

    To satisfy Trump, Energy Dept finalizes foolish showerhead policy

    There is no reason to do this. There’s no evidence of public demand for such a change, and it serves no policy purpose to abandon the existing standards.

    The Trump administration only has five weeks remaining, but officials throughout the executive branch are hardly taking a passive approach to the outgoing president’s preferences. Reuters reported late yesterday, for example, on a new regulatory policy designed to make Donald Trump happy.

    The U.S. Energy Department on Tuesday finalized two rules easing energy standards on consumer fixtures and appliances, including one on shower heads after […] Trump complained some showers don’t adequately rinse his hair. The rules are part of Trump’s last-minute efforts to roll back rules that limit production or consumption of oil, gas and coal as part of his “energy dominance” policy.

    […] In January, as the U.S. House prepared to send articles of presidential impeachment to the U.S. Senate, Trump headlined a campaign rally in Wisconsin where he reflected on the issue that was foremost on his mind: water, or more specifically, household devices that use water.

    The president specifically complained about dishwashers, toilets, and showerheads that only provide a “drip, drip, drip.” Trump added that modern showerheads are inadequate when washing what he described as his “beautiful head of hair.”

    […] The Associated Press had a related report, noting that consumer and conservation groups believe changing the existing standards is “silly, unnecessary and wasteful, especially as the West bakes through a historic two-decade-long megadrought.” The same article explained the practical implications of the change:

    Since 1992, federal law has dictated that new showerheads shouldn’t pour more than 2.5 gallons of water per minute (9.5 liters). As newer shower fixtures came out with multiple nozzles, the Obama administration defined the showerhead restrictions to apply to what comes out in total. So if there are four nozzles, no more than 2.5 gallons total should come out between all four. The new proposal Wednesday would allow each nozzle to spray as much as 2.5 gallons, not just the overall showerhead. With four or five or more nozzles, “you could have 10, 15 gallons per minute powering out of the showerhead, literally probably washing you out of the bathroom,” said Andrew deLaski, executive director of the energy conservation group Appliance Standards Awareness Project.

    […]

    Let’s get a firehose and wash Trump out of the White House.

  239. says

    DeVos pleads for ‘resistance’ at Dept of Education after her exit

    DeVos urged officials to “be the resistance” following Biden’s inauguration, which sounds quite a bit like an ironic call for some kind of “deep state.”

    […] Politico reported overnight on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos urging career officials at the Department of Education to “be the resistance” once the Biden/Harris administration takes office next month.

    During a department-wide virtual meeting to discuss the shift to the new administration, DeVos acknowledged that most of the agency’s thousands of career employees “will be here through the coming transition and beyond.” … “Let me leave you with this plea: Resist,” DeVos said. “Be the resistance against forces that will derail you from doing what’s right for students. In everything you do, please put students first — always.”

    Betsy Devos has never put students first. She puts her personal money-making opportunities first. She puts knifing public education in the back first. She puts restricting the rights of LBGTQ students first. She puts going easy on college students who commit sexual assault first. She puts her cronies in private education businesses/scams first.

    So, as far as the beleaguered and controversial Secretary of Education is concerned, the key to serving students’ interests is to fight against her successor, whoever that might be.

    Part of what makes comments like these so odd is DeVos’ apparent belief that career officials at the Department of Education will rally to the Michigan Republican’s cause, even after she’s exited the building. […]

  240. says

    Trump lashes out at McConnell for acknowledging election reality

    McConnell probably isn’t pleased to be on the receiving end of an anti-election Trump tantrum, but the GOP leader should know he helped create this mess.

    […] Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), six weeks after Election Day, grudgingly spoke on his chamber’s floor, congratulating the winner of the 2020 election.

    Under normal circumstances, this wouldn’t have been an especially provocative step, but in the waning weeks of Donald Trump’s presidency, nothing is normal. With this in mind, McConnell took great care yesterday, alerting the White House to his intentions in advance. Politico reported, “What might have been a pro forma congratulatory speech had morphed into an exceedingly delicate issue in GOP politics: finally admitting that Biden won.”

    The efforts apparently went unappreciated in the Oval Office.

    […] “Mitch, 75,000,000 VOTES, a record for a sitting President (by a lot). Too soon to give up,” the president tweeted at nearly 1 a.m. Wednesday. “Republican Party must finally learn to fight. People are angry!”

    The individual elements are notable in their own right. For example, if some people are “angry” about the election results, it’s because Trump has spent a ridiculous amount of time lying to them. What’s more, the outgoing president may be impressed by the 74.2 million votes he received, but the tally would be more impressive if Joe Biden hadn’t earned 81.2 million votes.

    But stepping back, it’s the bigger picture that’s more notable.

    First, it was on Thanksgiving when a reporter asked Trump whether he’d prepare to exit the White House if members of the electoral college backed Biden. “Certainly, I will,” the Republican replied. “Certainly, I will. And you know that.” The outgoing president’s perspective has clearly changed: “Too soon to give up” suggests Trump intends to keep his crusade going, through efforts unknown, on a timetable only he’s aware of.

    [McConnell] spent six weeks indulging the outgoing president’s fantasy, playing along with the dangerous charade, refusing to honor the will of his own country’s voters.

    Maybe McConnell saw a fundraising opportunity for his party. Perhaps he thought agitating far-right voters would help give Republicans a better chance in Georgia’s Senate runoff elections. Maybe he simply lacked the courage to do the right thing.

    Whatever the motivation, McConnell had ample opportunity to steer the GOP away from its anti-democracy campaign, and he chose not to. […]

    […] Update: Greg Sargent had a good piece along these lines, explaining, “McConnell is trying to prevent any and all Senate Republicans from endorsing the idea that Trump actually won the election, but not because he thinks GOP voters deserve the basic respect of being told the truth. With some notable exceptions, most Republicans, McConnell included, treated it as simply unthinkable that they would tell their voters the truth about Trump’s loss until they absolutely had to. After cynically feeding the lie that Biden wasn’t the clear winner for as long as he personally could, McConnell is only trying to get fellow Republicans to refrain from further feeding that beast because the alternative will give birth to a beast that’s even worse. Their contempt for their own voters is bottomless.”

  241. says

    Oh, FFS.

    Ex-Cop Held AC Repairman At Gunpoint, Convinced He Was Voter Fraud Kingpin allegedly.

    A former Houston police captain convinced of a vast conspiracy to steal the election allegedly ran a man off the road and held him at gunpoint, believing there were thousands of illegal ballots in the back of the man’s box truck.

    In fact, Mark Anthony Aguirre’s alleged victim was an ordinary air conditioner repairman, prosecutors say. There was nothing fishy in the back of his truck, nor in the repairman’s home in a nearby mobile home community in Houston, which Aguirre said he and others had surveilled for four days straight, police said.

    But it gets stranger: The day after the ex-cop allegedly held the terrified repairman at gunpoint, convinced of a massive election conspiracy that did not exist, he received a wire transfer for $211,400, according to prosecutors. The money came from a conservative group that’s pumped up election fraud conspiracy theories, and which is led by prominent right-wing activists in Texas.

    All that — the alleged car ramming, brief hostage-taking, and wire transfer — happened in late October […]

    Police knew about Aguirre’s alleged actions within minutes. In fact, according to a police officer’s affidavit, he had called them three days before the incident, urging them to conduct a traffic stop for his voter fraud investigation. When police refused, Aguirre said he would conduct his own “citizen’s arrest,” according to the affidavit.

    Officers were on the scene in time to see that “citizen’s arrest” for themselves, according to the affidavit: The first cop on the scene found Aguirre with his knee on the repairman’s back. Police interviewed the repairman and Aguirre, and even searched the repairman’s home, with his permission, to investigate Aguirre’s claims of a voter fraud conspiracy.

    Among other things, according to a police affidavit, Aguirre stated that the repairman had 750,000 fraudulent mail ballots, that Mark Zuckerberg had given $9.37 million for ballot harvesting, and that the repairman was “using Hispanic children to sign the ballots because the children’s fingerprints would not appear in any databases.”

    After initially claiming to be working with others, Aguirre changed his story and refused to name them, police said in the affidavit. He refused to say who moved the repairman’s box truck after he’d run into it — though the repairman told police he’d heard Aguirre order another unnamed suspect to search his box truck and then move it away from the scene.

    […] “The defendant told [another officer], ‘I just hope you’re a patriot.’”

    Patriot or not, that officer eventually referred the incident to the public corruption division of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.

    […] The conservative group that allegedly funded Aguirre’s private investigative work this year, the Liberty Center for God and Country, wired Aguirre $266,400 between September and October, according to grand jury records described by police. [See the link for screen grab of: “The Communist Democrats have perpetrated a massive ballot by mail and computer election fraud scheme upon America. Because election fraud occurred during federal elections, it is treason. Treason is punishable by the death penalty.”]

    […] Aguirre is scheduled to appear in court Thursday.

  242. says

    TX Doctor Says Half Of Nurses In His Unit Won’t Get Vaccine For ‘Politically Motivated’ Reasons

    A critical care doctor in Houston has said that more than half of the nurses in his unit won’t get the coronavirus vaccine for political reasons, even as medical facilities bend under the pressure of record-high hospitalizations as coronavirus cases surge across the country.

    Dr. Joseph Varon, chief of the United Memorial Medical Center’s critical care unit, learned that staff at his hospital would be among the first in line to be offered Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine, which received emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration last week, but many won’t be stepping up to get it.

    “I had a friendly argument with more than 50 percent of my nurses in my unit telling me that they would not get the vaccine,” Varon told NPR in an interview published Wednesday.

    He said that while some staff were elated about news of early access to the vaccine, he has concerns about colleagues who have said they have no plans to get vaccinated even though they are among the groups most at risk for contracting the virus as they treat COVID-19 patients.

    “At the end of the day, like I have said before, coronavirus has become a political toy,” Varon told NPR. “Most of the reasons why most of my people don’t want to get the vaccine are politically motivated.” […]

  243. says

    Ron DeSantis gave Trump a last-minute boost by covering up Florida COVID-19 deaths before election

    From the start of the pandemic, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has been committed to the idea of mushroom management — he’s kept Florida citizens in the dark and fed them bullshit. In April, Florida began hiding the list of deaths from county medical examiners, which had always been public before that point. In May, DeSantis fired data scientist Rebekah Jones after she refused to stop posting data that was both accurate and public. Jones created her own dashboard in June, in hopes of giving Florida residents a more accurate view of what was going on. However, since then the state has been making it harder to get basic information on topics like hospitalization rates, and persecuting Jones—ending with a raid on her home in which weapons were pointed at her children. In the wake of that raid, a Republican official resigned his position, saying he no longer wished to serve Florida’s current government in any capacity.

    But even if Jones’ computers were carried away in this politically motivated raid, the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel couldn’t help but notice another … oddity in Florida’s COVID-19 data. This particular strangeness was a sudden and unexplained gap in reporting of deaths related to COVID-19, one that began just days before the election.

    […] what the Sun-Sentinel shows is that Florida announced that it was making a change in how it was handling “backlogged deaths” on Oct. 24, just 10 days before the election. These are deaths that had been recorded on previous dates, but not yet reported on the state’s official site. According to the state, it wanted to make sure that deaths logged to COVID-19 really were directly attributable to the disease, and couldn’t be assigned to some other cause. Florida officials didn’t resume reporting these deaths until Nov. 17, and when they did numbers were surprisingly down, even though case counts and hospitalizations were up. […]

    So what were Florida voters seeing when they looked at COVID-19 deaths in the days leading up to the election? That things were great. On Oct. 7, there had been 119 deaths reported in a day. But after Oct. 20, the number of deaths reported in a day never reached double-digits until well after the election.

    […] Starting on Oct. 22, just as the reported deaths from COVID-19 made this unexplained drop, DeSantis went dark on COVID-19 statements. Even though case counts were rising in the state all through this period, and COVID-19 was dominating the conversation in other states, DeSantis didn’t make a statement about the state of the pandemic. […]

    It seems that DeSantis contrived to make sure that when people went to the polls across his state, COVID-19 wasn’t on their minds. And if it was, they could be expected to be comforted by how the state was seeing a plummeting death toll even as the numbers were soaring across the nation. In short—Florida voters were sent a false message that the pandemic was under control in their state, and that the “open everything” policies advocated by DeSantis and Donald Trump had been successful.

  244. says

    Trump demanding that Barr’s replacement appoint a special counsel to investigate Hunter Biden

    Well, that’s pretty much what we expected.

    I think Barr was allowed to resign instead of being fired, but part of the price Barr had to pay was that embarrassingly sycophantic resignation letter in which he kissed Trump’s ass multiple times and then knelt at Trump’s feet to lick his shoes clean.

    […] Trump wants the Justice Department to appoint a special counsel to investigate Hunter Biden. Why is Trump doing this? Because he wants to leave behind as much ongoing damage as possible to hamper Biden’s work over the next four years. Why now? Because Bill Barr is helpfully stepping aside so that Trump can get his own personal Christmas gift from incoming acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen.

    Trump’s push to appoint a special counsel to investigate Hunter Biden makes no sense. Even should Biden’s sole surviving son turn out to have problems with his taxes, that issue is already under investigation with absolutely zero indication that it has any ties to any action by his father or any government official. Hunter Biden’s taxes are under examination. Period. Just as Donald Trump’s taxes are also under examination. Source have said that Hunter is not the target of a criminal investigation, and he has publicly admitted that his tax returns are being reviewed. […]

    Trump doesn’t want a special counsel because he believes that Hunter Biden did something wrong. He wants it because, as he tweeted himself, he wants to see that Biden’s term is “plagued by scandal.” […]

    Trump isn’t stopping with just one special counsel. He wants another to investigate his claims of election fraud—the same claims that have been rejected in court 60 times. Trump knows this counsel wouldn’t be doing anything that would actually affect the election outcome in 2020. […]

    If Trump can’t get Rosen to misuse his very temporary office for blatantly political purposes, Trump has a plan for that as well: just keep replacing the AG until he finds someone who will give him everything he wants. Trump is even looking into whether he can just skip the entire farce that this is something originating in the Justice Department and simply appoint a special counsel himself.

    The answer to that question is: Of course he can. It may not be legal, but considering that a majority of House Republicans just signed on to an attempt to overthrow the election, what has legal got to do with any of this?

  245. says

    It’s kind of a good news/bad news day for economic coronavirus relief:

    Senate and House leaders are on the cusp of a coronavirus relief deal that will include direct $600 to $700 direct stimulus payments and $300-per-week supplemental unemployment assistance, according to sources familiar with the talks.

    The $900 billion package is the result of months of stop-and-start negotiations […]

    The emerging deal, however, will not include $160 billion in new state and local aid or liability protection for businesses and other organizations — two of the most contentious issues of the talk.

    It’s bad news that state and local aid is missing. That missing element could, potentially, negatively affect vaccine distribution. It’s good news that Mitch McConnell did not succeed in making it impossible to sue businesses if they do something that harms their employees.

    […] In a win for Republicans, the cost of the COVID-relief portion of the package is below $1 trillion, an upper boundary set by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans earlier this year.

    […] While the package does not include the $160 billion tranche for state and local government, a person familiar with the negotiations says it includes “other avenues to deliver aid to states, localities, territories and tribes” […]

    It would provide between $320 billion and $330 billion for the second round of Paycheck Protection Program small-business loans, according to sources familiar with the talks, as well as money for broadband Internet services, food assistance and rental insurance.

    […] Schumer acknowledged that “we Democrats would have liked to go considerably further,” alluding to the lack of another substantial tranche of federal aid to state and local governments, but he pledged “this won’t be the last time Congress speaks on COVID relief.”

    “Make no mistake, we will work in the future to provide additional relief as the country requires but we need to provide a platform to build on, we need to address this emergency right now,” he said. […]

    Link

  246. says

    HuffPo – “Christmas Covid Relaxations Should Be Cancelled To Protect NHS, Doctors Urge”:

    Boris Johnson should protect the NHS and save “many lives” by scrapping plans to allow households to mix this Christmas, two respected medical journals have urged.

    In only their second joint editorial in 100 years, the British Medical Journal (BMJ) and Health Service Journal (HSJ) called on the prime minister to change tack because of rising cases of coronavirus across parts of England.

    The BMJ is published by the doctors’ union the British Medical Association, and the HSJ is read by NHS staff, managers and professionals.

    They both warned that hospital bed capacity risked being overwhelmed if there was a Christmas relaxation, calling on the government to “reverse its rash decision to allow household mixing […] in order to bring numbers down in the advance of a likely third wave”.

    Crucially, the journals say a third wave would hit non-Covid treatments hardest, as it “could wipe out almost all the reductions in waiting times for elective procedures achieved in the past 20 years”.

    “This joint editorial is only the second in the more than 100-year histories of The BMJ and HSJ,” they write.

    “We are publishing it because we believe the government is about to blunder into another major error that will cost many lives. If our political leaders fail to take swift and decisive action, they can no longer claim to be protecting the NHS.”

    The urgent plea came amid growing alarm that the health service is at risk of being overwhelmed in the new year, a time when it traditionally comes under most pressure because of winter flu and other diseases.

    The PM is planning on a five-day Christmas relaxation of the Covid rules to allow up to three different households to mix from December 23 to December 28. Overnight stays will be allowed as part of the festive changes.

    But with London and key parts of the south-east being put into the highest tier of restrictions from Wednesday, and falling Covid case rates beginning to flatten off in other parts of England, the whole plan is now under intense scrutiny.

    Labour leader Keir Starmer demanded on Tuesday that the PM convene an emergency Cobra committee meeting to urgently review the Christmas rules.

    BMJ editor in chief Fiona Godlee told BBC’s Radio 4 that unless action was taken “we will have people sitting in ambulances, we will have people in corridors, we will have people who can’t get the emergency care that they need,”

    The joint BMJ/HSJ editorial warns that on current projections, “hospitals in England will have just short of 19,000 Covid patients on New Year’s Eve”.

    “This figure, derived by extrapolating a straight line from December 5 to December 14 through to December 31, would be almost exactly the same as the 18,974 peak of the first wave on April 12,” it states.

    Both magazines are also scathing about Johnson’s Test and Trace service and about plans to use controversial rapid testing to replace more reliable tests….

    Full editorial atl.

  247. says

    Daily Beast – “Ex-Hill Staffer Linked to Veselnitskaya Dies Suddenly After Fall Near His Home”:

    The longtime aide to “Putin’s Congressman” Dana Rohrabacher died suddenly from a head injury over the weekend.

    Paul Behrends was found by emergency responders close to his home on Friday night with severe head trauma. He was taken to a local hospital where surgeons fought to save him, but he passed away on Saturday, according to a spokesman for Rohrabacher.

    Behrends was a controversial figure on Capitol Hill who lost his job as staff director for the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee after The Daily Beast reported on his links to Trump Tower lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya’s operation in the U.S.

    Rohrabacher’s former congressional spokesman Ken Grubbs told The Daily Beast that Behrends died at the hospital. “I did actually call Dana and he confirmed it,” he said. “What I’ve heard is that he slipped… hit his head, and died in surgery.”

    Grubbs said there was no reason to think anything suspicious had happened to Behrends or that there was any link to his associations with Russia. “No, no, not at all,” he said.

    Behrends’ son Josef Behrends told The Daily Beast that no one had seen his father fall at around 10 p.m. on Friday night [10 PM?!] but that his older brother, also called Paul, had rushed to the scene just four blocks from the family home when police came to the house.

    “He was walking through the neighborhood and then he went to the hospital from there,” he said. “And then he passed away on Saturday. Early morning.”

    Behrends made headlines for the first time in July 2017, after Veselnitskaya’s explosive June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr., and then Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was exposed. The meeting subsequently shone a light on Behrends’ own Russian entanglements….

    More background atl.

  248. tomh says

    ‘Kraken’ Concerned About ‘Elementh Amendment’ Lands on SCOTUS Docket, Asks Court: Do What the ‘Ghosts’ on Other Side of Potomac Would Have Wanted
    COLIN KALMBACHER Dec 16th, 2020

    MAGA-adjacent attorney Sidney Powell just got her Michigan Kraken lawsuit docketed with the U.S. Supreme Court, which, as we saw with the Texas Attorney General’s lawsuit, is no guarantee that this case (or any of the other ones) will be heard.

    The latest effort from Powell is about what one might come to expect from the former “elite strike force” member given recent events.

    [Details of the conspiracy and typo-filled lawsuit at the link.]

    Late Tuesday, the City of Detroit moved for a hefty suite of sanctions against Powell and her team over their flailing and overwrought claims of fraud–none of which, to date, have been supported with an iota of reliable evidence in court.

    In their motion for sanctions, the Motor City asked a federal judge to fine the entire team of Kraken lawyers, ban them from ever practicing in the Eastern District of Michigan court system and to refer each of them to the State Bar of Michigan.

    Powell, for her part, appeared to suggest that this move from Detroit indicated she was getting closer to victory.

    “We are clearly over the target…”

  249. says

    SC @355 and 356, Trump should use some of that money he scammed from his cult followers to hire a proofreader for Sidney Powell.

    “Elementh Amendment” is funny.

    I saw Marc Elias being interviewed by Nicolle Wallace. Elias confirmed that so far team Trump has lost 59 post-election court cases, (a number you noted earlier). He thinks they’ll hit 60 loses soon.

  250. says

    Revisiting Mike Pence’s premature victory lap, six months later

    Mike Pence’s premature victory lap on the coronavirus response was a mess when it was published six months ago today. It’s vastly worse now.

    It was six months ago today when Vice President Mike Pence, in his capacity as the head of the White House’s coronavirus taskforce, wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal. The message was simple: thanks to Donald Trump, “we are winning the fight against the invisible enemy.”

    […] at the half-year mark, it’s striking to see just how much conditions in the United States have deteriorated since Pence took his premature victory lap.

    “While talk of an increase in cases dominates cable news coverage, more than half of states are actually seeing cases decline or remain stable.”

    Most states are seeing increases in coronavirus cases.

    “Cases have stabilized over the past two weeks, with the daily average case rate across the U.S. dropping to 20,000 — down from 30,000 in April and 25,000 in May.”

    Over the last week, we’ve seen totals of over 200,000 cases per day — roughly 10 times the figure Pence bragged about six months ago today.

    “[I]n the past five days, deaths are down to fewer than 750 a day, a dramatic decline from 2,500 a day a few weeks ago — and a far cry from the 5,000 a day that some were predicting.

    The fatality totals recently reached an all-time high, with daily death tolls reaching 3,000 last week. Late last week, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield conceded, “We are in the timeframe now that probably for the next 60 to 90 days we’re going to have more deaths per day than we had at 9/11 or we had at Pearl Harbor.”

    What’s more, with the total number of American fatalities topping 3,000,000, we’ve easily crossed Trump’s own threshold for failure.

    “The media has tried to scare the American people every step of the way, and these grim predictions of a second wave are no different. The truth is, whatever the media says, our whole-of-America approach has been a success.”

    Within weeks of Pence’s boast about the absence of a second wave, the number of U.S. coronavirus cases reached a brutal second peak that was even higher than the totals from April. And though that subsided in time, we’re now seeing a third peak that’s even more drastic than the first two.

    […] the truth, whatever the White House says, is that the administration’s approach has been a failure.

  251. tomh says

    Senate Confirms Another Trump Nominee, 36, to Lifetime Judgeship During Lame Duck Session
    MATT NAHAMDec 16th, 2020

    The Republican-led U.S. Senate on Wednesday, during a lame duck session, confirmed Department of Justice lawyer Katherine A. Crytzer, 36, to a lifetime judgeship on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee.

    The vote was 48-47.

    Crytzer has been working as Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General at the DOJ’s Office of Legal Policy, where her duties include providing legal and policy advice to the assistant attorney general and assisting President Donald Trump in filling vacancies on the federal bench.

    According to a magazine at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU), where Crytzer graduated in 2006, she has had an “influential role” in the Trump administration’s selecting of federal judicial nominees and helped “shepherd” Brett Kavanaugh through his tumultuous Senate confirmation hearings.

    The media gets excited when McConnell admits the truth of what happened six weeks ago, but good old Mitch himself never loses sight of the prize.

  252. says

    Vaccine Officials Contradict Azar On When It Will Be Available To Wider Public

    Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar has been offering a rosy timeframe for when the COVID-19 vaccine will be widely available, but other officials working on the Pentagon-led effort to speed the virus to the public are now presenting a less optimistic forecast.

    In remarks Thursday, officials from the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed projected that the COVID-19 vaccine would not begin to be widely available until late spring or summer. [That’s what I concluded too.]

    […] Army Col. Victor Suarez, a vaccine program manager at Operation Warp Speed, said on the call that “we want to make enough vaccine doses so that everybody who wants a vaccine in the United States can get a vaccine by this summer.”

    “When vaccine becomes more plentiful in spring and summer, what you’re gonna see is more tiered groups opening up,” Suarez said […]

    Suarez’s remarks suggest that widespread availability of the vaccine may not come until deeper into the summer.

    Secretary Azar offered a decidedly more optimistic view on Monday, projecting widespread availability of the COVID vaccine weeks into the term of the Biden administration. [Azar is a bullshitter.]

    [Azar said,] “It really, again, is going to be up to our nation’s governors, but with the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine, we’ll have, as I said, as many as 100 [million] shots in arms by the end of February.”

    Azar is setting the governors up to be thrown under the bus.

    […] “Late February, in the March time period, I think you’ll start seeing [it] much more like a flu vaccination campaign,” Azar said.

    […] The distribution effort is currently at phase 1A, meaning that only medical workers and residents of long-term care facilities are eligible to receive the shot.

    That portion of the effort is being federally run, and focuses on populations that stay in one place. But as the distribution effort continues, states will have significant leeway to decide who gets vaccinated in what order.

    How fast the states go through the categories of people prioritized to receive the shot will depend on how much vaccine is available and how quickly they can vaccinate.

    […] Also speaking on the call was Marion Whicker, a member of the Army’s senior executive service, who is deputy chief of supply, production, and distribution at Operation Warp Speed.

    Whicker offered a view of availability that hewed slightly closer to Azar’s remarks, but still suggested that the secretary was being optimistic in his assessment.

    She said that Pfizer and Moderna would begin supplying 20 million doses per month, each, coming out to 20 million Americans vaccinated each month at two-shot doses with maximally efficient distribution.

    “By the time you get medical professionals in the first month or two, and then move on to long term care facilities, it, as you’ve probably seen on TV, we’re anticipating end of March, early end of spring, vaccines being more plentiful for all of America,” Whicker said.

  253. says

    State lawmakers in North Carolina and Virginia call on Trump to stage a coup

    The Electoral College formalized Joe Biden’s status as president-elect on Monday, but that’s not stopping Donald Trump’s base—including some Republican lawmakers. In fact, some are responding by urging an outright coup.

    North Carolina state Sen. Bob Steinburg, insisting that the Supreme Court ruled against Trump’s efforts to overturn the election result because “somebody’s got something” on the justices (all of them, apparently!), called on Trump to “declare a national emergency,” “invoke the Insurrection Act,” and suspend habeas corpus. A coup, in other words, although Steinburg claims that he’s fighting an actual coup.

    Virginia state Sen. Amanda Chase, who is currently running for governor, is looking for similar action, posting on Facebook that Trump should “declare martial law as recommended by General Flynn.” Also a coup.

    That’s two elected Republicans at a fairly high level—we’re not talking about the proverbial dogcatcher here—calling for a coup, one of them echoing Trump’s former national security adviser, who he just pardoned of crimes. This can’t be dismissed as a fringe issue. Even if the numbers of lawmakers saying these things remains fairly low, they are elected officials. And they are echoing the comment threads on a lot more far-right websites, as well as the violent protesters who swarmed Washington, D.C., over the weekend. To say nothing of the fact that, no, Donald Trump still has not conceded, and he’s tweeting stuff like calls to arrest Republican state-level officials who refused to overturn the will of the voters and, in the context of refusing to concede, “Republican Party must finally learn to fight. People are angry!”

    Trump will push it as far as he thinks he can get away with. Steinburg and Chase are telling him he can get away with a full-on coup.

  254. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 355

    “We are clearly over the target…”

    For the uninitiated, that’s QAnon lingo. However, we already know that Powell is a frothing member of the Q-Cult.

  255. Akira MacKenzie says

    Also, Q-cultists will spend eternity claiming that Powell’s insanity-driven misspelling is really some sort of secret code to the faithful that only the truly red-pilled can decipher.

  256. tomh says

    A different perspective.

    Who’s Afraid of Mitch McConnell?
    Lisa Kerr Dec 15

    America’s congress is now wholly disabled by the whim of one man elected in one state. Mitch McConnell has rendered the Senate a legislative nullity. He has functionally amputated an entire chamber of Congress. And he has used that mutilation to erase the House as well. Hundreds of needed bills languish undebated and unvoted. Pandemic relief, election protection, immigration and tax reform—these urgent House-passed priorities never reach the Senate floor, while Trump blithely cages infants and doles out needed medicines and hospital beds to his crime cronies.

    But even if Georgia’s runoff fails to produce a Democratic Senate majority, the big problem of Mitch may be a small one after January 20, 2021. Gridlock is a relatively new crisis. The Senate used to work better, and was designed to work better. Once seated as the Senate’s constitutional presiding officer, Vice President Kamala Harris can break gridlock by recognizing any senator to bring any House-passed bill to the floor. She can do that without altering any Senate rule with a procedural vote. And she should.

    Vice President Harris will become President of the Senate (automatically) under Article I, Section 3, which also recognizes that the Senate can “choose their other officers,” including majority and minority leaders. But Art. I, Sec. 3 does not give such “other officers” the Vice President’s power to preside, which includes the power of “priority recognition”—that is, allowing a Senator to speak on the Senate floor, and thus to move a bill into debate.

    Until the mid-20th-century, the Vice President used the presiding officer’s power of priority recognition to develop the Senate into the world’s greatest deliberative body, cultivating a forum for open debate and compromise that transcended partisan lines. When the House passed a bill, any Senator recognized by the Vice President (acting as presiding officer) could move it to the floor, be seconded by another Senator, and proceed into debate and a vote.
    […]

    You may ask: “Wouldn’t reclamation of the Vice President’s constitutional presiding power required a change in the rules of the Senate? And doesn’t that need a two-thirds majority vote—which we won’t have, even if Warnock and Ossoff both win their Georgia runoffs?” Ah, but delegation of the Vice President’s constitutional presiding power is found nowhere in the Senate’s Rules. Rule XXIII, “Privilege of the Floor,” only determines who can be recognized by the presiding officer, not who can act as that presiding officer.

    Hence, the solution I propose—having Vice President Harris recognize, in her capacity as as presiding officer, a Senator to move a House-passed bill—would pose no conflict with Rule XXIII. Nor would it conflict with any other standing rule, because the Majority and Minority Leaders would retain their non-presiding powers. And any spurious points of order blocking such action could be rejected by the Vice President herself—as the presiding officer.
    […]

    Can courts stop the Vice President from reclaiming her power to preside on behalf of the nation? They cannot. Who would have standing to sue here? Only the Majority Leader. Would a court recognize any right to retain presiding power by a Majority Leader? No. The Constitutional power granted to the Vice President to preside over the Senate may not be limited by the Senate’s own internal deliberations.

    … Does our Vice President have a duty to take back presiding power on behalf of the American people? I argue that she does… Once seated, she should exercise and/or delegate her constitutional presiding power only in a manner that allows American policy to move forward. Our entire Article I legislative power has been usurped by Mitch McConnell—contrary to the Constitution’s organizing principle of self-government.

    End this nightmare, Madam Vice President. Please.

    The author answers some objections in the comments.

  257. KG says

    “Elementh Amendment” is cracking me up more than is probably warranted. It’s just such a funny error.- SC@356

    Isn’t that the super-secrit one that was passed just before the USA became a corporation and the gold fringes were added?

  258. says

    Here’s a link to the December 17 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    European Union member states plan to start vaccinations against Covid-19 from 27 Dec,German health minister Jens Spahn said on Thursday.

    “In Germany we will start, if the approval comes as planned, on Dec 27. The other countries in the EU want to be able to start and want to start from Dec 27,” he said ahead of a meeting with the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and executives of the vaccine maker BioNTech.

    A senior EU official said on Wednesday the bloc could give its final approval for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on 23 Dec.

    Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sánchez – who had lunch with Macron in Paris on Monday – announced that he was suspending all official engagements and going into quarantine for a week following Macron’s diagnosis.

    In a statement on Thursday morning, Sánchez’s office said he would remain in quarantine until 24 December, which will be 10 days after his meeting with Macron.

    “The prime minister will undergo an immediate diagnostic test to determine his situation and will then decide, based on the results, how to manage his agenda over the coming days,” the statement added.

    Ángel Gurría, the secretary-general of the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), also attended Monday’s lunch, as did Charles Michel, the president of the European council.

    The Portuguese prime minister António Costa has cancelled official trips after meeting with the French president Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday and is awaiting coronavirus test results, Reuters reports.

    Costa met with Macron at the Elysee Palace less than 24 hours ago. His office said he has no Covid-19 symptoms and was awaiting the result of a test he got earlier on Thursday, which had already been scheduled before his official trip to Sao Tome and Principe and Guinea Bissau between 18 and 20 December.

    (Maybe put off these in-person meetings and trips for now…)

    Brigitte Macron, the wife of the French president, is self-isolating at present although she is not showing any symptoms of Covid-19, her office said on Thursday. The French presidency had said earlier in the day that Emmanuel Macron had tested positive for Covid-19 and was self-isolating.

    Also from the Guardian – “Pfizer vaccine: FDA says extra doses in vials can be used, potentially expanding US supply”: “The US Food and Drug administration has announced that extra doses of coronavirus vaccine contained in Pfizer’s vials can be used, potentially expanding the US supply of the drug by 40%, according to reports….”

  259. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Angela Merkel has faced down a member of the right-wing populist AfD in the German parliament who implied that the government planned to force all Germans to be immunised against coronavirus using a genetically-modified vaccine.

    Uwe Witt asked the chancellor during parliamentary questions whether the intention was to vaccinate “all the residents of the Fatherland” in order to achieve herd immunity, and whether people would be allowed to make their own choice as to what vaccine they received, particularly as one of them had been, he said, “genetically manipulated”, referring to the mRNA vaccine produced by Pfizer and BioNTech.

    Vaccinations in Germany are due to start on 27 December, following approval by the European Medicines Agency. Merkel insisted that the government would not be forcing anyone to receive a vaccine, although she stressed the more people who were vaccinated, the quicker life in Germany would be able to return to normal.

    We will not be introducing a vaccine obligation. There will be those, and I say this totally neutrally, who will not want to be vaccinated. Should that turn out to be more than 40, 50, 60% of the population then we will be wearing a mask for a very long time, because we will not reach herd immunity… That’s just the nature of this.

    She said to Witt:

    I would urge you to stick to the facts. Rather than to talk about some genetically-modified stuff, with mRNA we’re talking about a vaccine which contains genetic components and as a result is able to be very precise, at least according to the results of the phase three [clinical] study.

    Merkel said once Germany had secured sufficient vaccine doses, “there will surely be the opportunity to say you’d like one and not the other. At some point we’ll be better able to say which vaccine is maybe better for which group. We don’t know that yet”.

    The AfD has frequently accused the government over exaggerating the dangers of the coronavirus, and its members have regularly rebelled against the obligation to wear a mask, some even appearing in parliament with face coverings fashioned out of loosely woven net.

  260. blf says

    Follow-up to @324 and others, Mar-a-Lago neighbors say Trump can’t live there after White House:

    President [sic] signed 1993 agreement with town that says he cannot live at the club for more than three nonconsecutive weeks in a year
    […]
    In a letter to the town of Palm Beach and the US Secret Service sent this week, a lawyer representing a family that lives next to Mar-a-Lago reiterated that “Mar-a-Lago is a social club, and no one may reside on the property.”

    “To avoid an embarrassing situation for everyone and to give the president time to make other living arrangements in the area, we trust you will work with his team to remind them of the use agreement parameters,” wrote Reginald Stambaugh, the lawyer.

    [… some background, and also circumstantial evidence hair furor is planning on moving there…]

    If Trump does move forward with plans to live at the club, he could be setting himself up for a complicated legal battle with the town. Meanwhile, the US Secret Service must make painstaking plans to arrange agents around wherever Trump decides to live as a private citizen, potentially setting the agency up with a clash between local laws and Trump’s demands.

    [… N]eighbors have indicated the town let him get away with breaking rules within the agreement over the last four years because of his role as president [sic]. All the while, residents reportedly dealt with issues around traffic, security and noise.

    “It’s been a circus there for four years and they’re fed up with it,” a Palm Beach resident told CNN.

    [… does not preclude hair furor from living in the area, only at the club…]

    The article doesn’t directly mention the voter registration issue, which may be tied-up with his domicile (a complicated subject (not the same as residence)), both of which he has also declared are Florida.

  261. blf says

    SC@337, Unless I’ve got my “hair furor’s alls the bestingerest wannabe-daleks” wires crossed, Paul Alexander was who I called something like “exceptionally dangerous” back about the time his boss, PR hack Michael Caputo, resigned. Caputo tried to edit — actually, have Alexander edit — CDC data / releases, including the all-important Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). As Ye Pffft! of All Knowledge puts it:

    [… A]s an aide to HHS assistant secretary for public affairs Michael Caputo, [Alexander] participated in efforts by the administration to control COVID-19 messaging from federal scientists and public health agencies. Within the administration, Alexander advocated for a strategy of mass infection of the public with COVID-19 to build herd immunity. He advocated for colleges to be open with the goal of mass infecting students. He sought to muzzle federal scientists and public health agencies to prevent them from contradicting the rhetoric coming from the Trump administration.

  262. blf says

    MLB [baseball] corrects ‘clear error’ and reclassifies Negro Leagues as a major league:

    […]
    The statistics and records of greats like [Josh] Gibson, [Satchel] Paige and roughly 3,400 other players are set to join Major League Baseball’s books after MLB announced on Wednesday it is reclassifying the Negro Leagues as a major league.

    MLB said it was “correcting a longtime oversight in the game’s history” by elevating the Negro Leagues on the centennial of its founding. The Negro Leagues consisted of seven leagues, and MLB will include records from those circuits between 1920–48. The Negro Leagues began to dissolve one year after Jackie Robinson became MLB’s first black player in 1947.

    Those leagues were excluded in 1969 when the Special Committee on Baseball Records identified six official “major leagues” dating to 1876.

    “It is MLB’s view that the Committee’s 1969 omission of the Negro Leagues from consideration was clearly an error that demands today’s designation,” the league said in a statement.

    […]

    It wasn’t until 1971 — and after “a public plea from Ted Williams” (when he was induced in 1966) — that a Negro League player was induced into baseball’s hall of fame (Satchel Paige).

    N.b. For those who don’t know, the named players — Gibson, Paige, Robinson, and Williams — all are legends in the game (and I do not mean fictional), something like WG Grace in cricket, or “Magic” Johnson in basketball.

  263. blf says

    A looming issue here in France is the very high level of vaccine denial and the imminent arrival of an EU-approved Covid-19 vaccine, Why are the French so sceptical about vaccines? (video, English) (Warning: You may have a strong desire to pound your head on your desk, or at least milkshake some burbling “vox pop” eejits):

    France is getting ready to roll out a nationwide vaccination campaign against Covid-19, but according to several polls, over 50 percent of French people say they have no intention of getting the jab. It might seem paradoxical, but France, the home of Louis Pasteur’s pioneering discoveries in immunology, is also one of the most sceptical countries in the world when it comes to vaccines. […]

    The vaccine will be free, and vaccinations could start in about two weeks (France may start Covid-19 vaccinations in last week of December, PM says).

  264. tomh says

    This is how you enforce compliance.

    U.S. woman sentenced to four months in prison after breaking Cayman Island quarantine rules to attend boyfriend’s jet-ski competition
    By Adam Taylor

    An American woman and her boyfriend have been sentenced to four months in prison in the Cayman Islands after she broke coronavirus quarantine rules to attend a jet-ski competition, according to local reports…

    Multiple Cayman news outlets reported late last month that 18-year-old Skylar Mack had been seen interacting with the public without a mask at the competition Nov. 29, even though she had arrived in the country just two days before…

    Under pandemic restrictions, arrivals to the Cayman Islands are required to quarantine for 14 days. During that time, they are told to wear an electronic bracelet called the TraceSafe iMSafe that monitors their movements…

    But a court on the island later heard that Mack had complained that the bracelet was too tight and had it reapplied more loosely, which enabled her to leave the residence where she was isolated to visit the event…

  265. says

    SC @371, it’s as if Republicans miss dissing Hillary Clinton so much that they have to unfairly criticize Dr. Jill Biden. Disgusting behavior.

  266. blf says

    tomh@378, Another jetski eejit, similar outcome, Man who rode jetski from Scotland to Isle of Man to see girlfriend jailed for Covid breach:

    The man, who had never driven a jetski before, believed the journey would take 40 minutes, but it took four-and-a-half hours

    […]

    His defence lawyer said in court that [Dale] McLaughlan suffered from depression and was struggling to cope without his girlfriend. He admitted arriving unlawfully on the island and was sentenced to four weeks in jail.

    Deputy high bailiff Christopher Arrowsmith said McLaughlan’s “deliberate and intentional attempt to circumnavigate” the restrictions had posed a risk to himself and the island’s residents.

    After departing the Isle of Whithorn in the morning and arriving in the northern town of Ramsey at 1pm, McLaughlan walked 15 miles (25km) to its capital, Douglas.

    He gave a policeman his girlfriend’s address as his own. The couple attended two busy nightclubs before he was caught on Sunday following identification checks.

    As far as I can work out, the number of Covid-19 cases on the Isle of Mann is in the single-digits, after a period of several weeks with no new cases at all. This also apparently isn’t the first time an individual breaking the Isle’s rules has been jailed.

  267. says

    Despite Trump’s sizable defeat, GOP isn’t asking what went wrong

    Republicans would likely benefit from real scrutiny about the party’s many 2020 setbacks. But they’re not inclined to even ask any questions.

    […] Once an election cycle has come and gone, it makes sense for party officials to take stock, acknowledge what worked, scrutinize what didn’t, and prepare to apply those lessons going forward.

    There’s nothing especially partisan or ideological about this. […] after Democrats had a successful cycle in 2012 — a year in which Mitt Romney lost the presidential race by 5 million votes — the Republican National Committee organized a massive post-mortem initiative, called the “Growth and Opportunity Project.” After the party had far more success in 2014, the RNC launched a similar review effort.

    But as the party comes to terms with what transpired in 2020, officials appear wholly uninterested in introspection. Politico reports today:

    Democrats in Texas and New Hampshire are forming committees to examine the party’s failings in last month’s election. Less formal autopsies are underway in states across the country. But the party that lost the presidential election isn’t soul-searching at all. For the final act of his showman-like presidency, Donald Trump has convinced the Republican Party that despite losing the White House by 7 million votes — and despite seeing five states flip in 2020 — things could hardly be better inside the GOP.

    The article went on to note the irony of the circumstances: “In one of the more surreal role reversals in modern post-presidential election history, the winning party nationally is poring over its congressional and legislative losses, while the party that lost the White House isn’t.”

    […] Dems should better understand Latino voters backing the GOP in greater numbers, despite Trump’s anti-Latino racism and willingness to lock Latin American children in cages.

    But Republicans have some questions that need answers, too. Why did their incumbent president lose in a landslide? Why are traditional battleground states such as Colorado and Virginia suddenly safe “blue” territory? Why were Democrats able to flip five states this year — including two traditional GOP strongholds — while Republicans failed to flip any? Why does the gender gap keep growing? Why is the education gap roughly as large? How will the party keep suburbs from slipping further away?

    […] These aren’t easy questions to answer, but they are also questions party officials don’t want to ask.

    Stanley Grot, a district-level Republican Party chair in Michigan, a state where the GOP fell short at the presidential and U.S. Senate level, told Politico, ‘As far as I’m concerned, everything’s great.”

    We’ve all heard the expression, “The first step is admitting you have a problem.” Six weeks after the 2020 elections, it’s a step Republicans aren’t prepared to take.

  268. says

    Scary poll numbers from Georgia:

    With just 19 days remaining before Georgia’s U.S. Senate runoffs, the latest Emerson College poll found Republican Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue with three-point leads over Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock.

    Meanwhile, team Trump is still participating in lawsuits in Georgia:

    […] federal judges in Georgia will hear arguments today in three “Republican-led lawsuits to restrict absentee voting ahead of next month’s Senate runoffs.” The suits primarily target the use of drop-boxes to return absentee ballots, as well as aiming to raise the threshold for signature verifiers to accept absentee ballots.

    Warnock and Ossoff are fighting hard to win those Senate seats for the Democratic Party:

    Warnock and Ossoff unveiled a new ad this morning, highlighting President-elect Joe Biden and his support for the Democratic candidates at an event in Georgia this week.

  269. says

    Another Republican is leaving the sinking ship:

    Jennifer Horn, former chair of the New Hampshire Republican Party, announced today that she’s abandoning the GOP and becoming an independent. The Republicans’ recent anti-democracy efforts, Horn added, was the final straw. This comes on the heels of Rep. Paul Mitchell of Michigan leaving the GOP for the same reason.

  270. says

    The problem with Team Trump’s vaccine public-education campaign

    The administration, which could’ve begun work on this in the spring, still hasn’t finalized plans for a public-information campaign about a vaccine.

    […] officials do not appear to have used their time wisely. The New York Times reported this week:

    The Trump administration, scrambling to make up for lost time after a halting start, is rushing to roll out a $250 million public education campaign to encourage Americans to take the coronavirus vaccine, which will reach the first patients in the United States this week.

    The article added that focus groups “devised to help officials fine-tune the advertising to tailor it to hard-hit communities will begin on Tuesday.”

    That’s Tuesday, as in a couple of days ago. Radio ads, meanwhile, are “still being developed.”

    A Washington Post report added, “Documents obtained by House Democrats show that HHS had been working to develop a promotional campaign that would include numerous star cameos, but under [Michael] Caputo’s leadership, special attention was paid to whether potential celebrity spokespeople were supporters of President Trump. Contractors provided the agency with a spreadsheet listing the confirmed or suspected political leanings of hundreds of performers.”

    […] shaping public perceptions about something of this scale is difficult and takes concerted effort. Polls suggest malleable skepticism about the vaccine, which public-health officials still hope to see change. As Rachel noted on the show the other day, “Building confidence and trust in a big vaccination effort isn’t something you can manufacture overnight.” […]

  271. blf says

    Again (this isn’t the first time), Trump’s Twitter account was hacked, Dutch ministry confirms:

    Public prosecutor states Victor Gevers did access US president’s [sic] site but as ethical hacker faces no charges

    Dutch prosecutors have confirmed that Donald Trump’s Twitter account was hacked in October despite denials from Washington and the company, but said the “ethical hacker” would not face charges.

    The hacker, named as Victor Gevers, broke into Trump’s account @realDonaldTrump on 16 October by guessing the US president’s [sic] password, Dutch media reports said.

    Both the White House and Twitter strenuously denied reports that the account had been hacked.

    Gevers […] disclosed the hack immediately, saying the password he guessed was “maga2020!” […]

    […]

    Gevers told the newspaper [De Volkskrant] that he attempted to alert US authorities and was eventually contacted by the Secret Service who thanked him for bringing the security breach to their attention, he said.

    It was not the first time Gevers had gained access to the president’s [sic] Twitter account: In 2016 he and two others guessed Trump’s password, which at the time was “yourefired” […]

  272. says

    Former Trump aide: ‘We are sick, distracted, and now under cyberattack’

    As the scope and severity of Russia’s cyberattack becomes clearer, there’s little doubt that Trump’s policy toward Moscow has failed.

    The cybersecurity news earlier this week was jarring, both in its scope and its severity. As NBC News reported, “Hackers who targeted the federal government appear to be part of a Russian intelligence campaign aimed at multiple U.S. agencies and companies, including the cybersecurity company FireEye, officials said Sunday.”

    Initially, the public was alerted to the fact that U.S. Department of Commerce was breached. Then we learned of an intrusion at Treasury Department. It wasn’t long before the Department of Homeland Security had also reportedly fallen victim to “a major cyberespionage campaign.”

    The list then grew to include the Pentagon, the U.S. Postal Service, and the National Institutes of Health.

    On Tuesday, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said he’d received a classified briefing on the matter, which he described as “stunning.” The Connecticut Democrat added that the information he’d learned left him “deeply alarmed” and “downright scared.” A day later, Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told CNN the hack was “virtually a declaration of war by Russia on the United States.”

    It was against this backdrop that Tom Bossert, who served as Donald Trump’s White House homeland security adviser, wrote a New York Times op-ed that argued, “The magnitude of this national security breach is hard to overstate.”

    The Russians have had access to a considerable number of important and sensitive networks for six to nine months. The Russian S.V.R. will surely have used its access to further exploit and gain administrative control over the networks it considered priority targets. For those targets, the hackers will have long ago moved past their entry point, covered their tracks and gained what experts call “persistent access,” meaning the ability to infiltrate and control networks in a way that is hard to detect or remove.

    Mindful of the electoral circumstances, Bossert noted that Donald Trump is poised to leave office with much of the U.S. government having been compromised by Russian intrusion, which warrants a significant response.

    […] Trump has gone from doing little actual work to doing no work at all. The New York Times recently reported that the president “barely shows up to work” anymore. Soon after, the Washington Post quoted a senior administration official saying, “The large majority of his time has been unstructured, in the Oval [Office], just going nuts about voter fraud…. That occupies seemingly every waking moment of his day.”

    The Associated Press also reported that Trump’s involvement in the day-to-day governing of the nation “has nearly stopped,” […]

    Complicating matters, of course, is [Trump’s] profound weakness toward Moscow and the embrace of a soft-on-Russia posture that obviously isn’t working. A Washington Post analysis noted yesterday:

    [I]n this moment, it’s worth noting how Trump and the White House had assured that their approach was having the desired effect. Trump might not have talked tough on Russia — preferring to instead talk about how he wanted to have a good relationship with Putin — but the argument was that his administration’s actions were picking up the slack. We were assured this approach — bifurcated as it was — was working.

    This argument now appears discredited.

    It’s also worth emphasizing for context that Trump has experimented with all kinds of responses to Russia’s attack on U.S. elections in 2016, including an emphasis that it happened on Barack Obama’s watch. The subtext was hardly subtle: Moscow might have targeted us for a cyberattack before 2017, but Putin respects Donald Trump’s awesomeness too much to even consider such a thing now.

    Perhaps this helps explain [Trump’s] reticence this week in response to the latest attack. Could it be that Trump is not only reluctant to criticize his Russian benefactors, but he doesn’t want to admit that his entire posture has been a failure?

  273. says

    […] He’s [Trump has] been on the golf course nine times since Election Day, he’s had 20 days with no public events, he has not received a single intelligence briefing, and when he’s had a bad day, he’s even skipped the White House holiday parties he made a big point of holding in violation of any and all public health recommendations. He’s not doing the job. He’s just rushing executions while he thinks about pardoning his friends.

    Link

  274. says

    Surprising not a single Democrat, trickle-down tax cuts didn’t help anyone who isn’t super-rich

    n a study that shocks absolutely no progressive but is nonetheless important, we once again have evidence that Reagonimics benefits the rich more than anyone else. In this case, the paper comes to us from researchers out of the London School of Economics and King’s College of London, where data that spanned a period of 50 years suggests that tax cuts for the wealthy simply spurred inequality without significant help for anyone else, including little job growth.

    This sort of study is always relevant, but especially as we continue to face the novel coronavirus pandemic with meager relief from our federal government. The data does end in 2015, so it does not actually include the coronavirus […]

    David Hope of the London School of Economics shared the same sentiment in an interview with Bloomberg […] “Policy makers shouldn’t worry that raising taxes on the rich to fund the financial costs of the pandemic will harm their economies,” Hope told the news outlet. In fact, according to their studies, he added to Bloomberg, policies that disproportionately help the rich actually “don’t deliver the sort of trickle-down effects that proponents have claimed.” Bingo.

    As reported by The Washington Post, nearly 8 million Americans have dropped into poverty since last summer alone. Photos of long, long lines waiting for food pantries have gone viral, small businesses have faced day after day of precarious survival, and gig and service workers often have to choose between potentially unsafe conditions and making ends meet. Who does this impact? Certainly not the super wealthy.

    A number of people took to Twitter to share the study and affirm what many of us already believe: helping the rich helps the rich, but it does not “trickle” down to the rest of us. And that’s a big problem. […]

  275. says

    Trump posted 729 tweets since the election in early November. None of those tweets, not one, was about the death toll due to COVID-19.

    What Trump is doing is promoting terrorism.

    National Security Experts Warn Trump “Is Promoting Terrorism”

    In the waning days of his presidency, Donald Trump is engaged in a deliberate campaign of terrorism aimed at Americans who oppose him politically. That description of his actions is neither a metaphor nor hyperbole—it is the assessment of veteran national security experts, whose view of the political violence being stoked by the outgoing president is echoed by law enforcement and political leaders.

    As Trump has pushed a litany of lies and conspiracy theories claiming that the 2020 election was “stolen” from him through “massive fraud,” he has stirred his most extreme supporters into menacing public officials, election workers, and his Democratic and Republican critics alike. Over the past four years, numerous perpetrators of threats and violence have directly invoked the president and his rhetoric, and recent gatherings by far-right groups in support of Trump’s efforts to reverse his election defeat have led to beatings, stabbings and a shooting.

    Trump is using a tactic known as “stochastic terrorism,” says Juliette Kayyem, a national security expert and former assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security. It’s a method of political incitement that provokes random acts of extremist violence, in which the instigator uses rhetoric ambiguous enough to give himself and his allies plausible deniability for any resulting bloodshed. Violent threats or attacks linked to the rhetoric usually generate muted denials and equivocal denunciations, or claims to have been “joking,” as Trump and those speaking on his behalf have routinely hidden behind.

    […] Among national security experts, Kayyem is not alone in this view. “It really matters that the president of the United States is an arsonist of radicalization,” said Kori Schake, who served in leadership posts at the National Security Council and State Department under President George W. Bush. “It will really help when that’s no longer the case,” she added, speaking in a recent online panel discussion about the danger fueled by Trump and his enablers. […]

  276. says

    Biden vows to make cybersecurity ‘imperative’ following massive hack

    […] “I want to be clear: my administration will make cybersecurity a top priority at every level of government — and we will make dealing with this breach a top priority from the moment we take office,” Biden said in a statement. “We will elevate cybersecurity as an imperative across the government, further strengthen partnerships with the private sector, and expand our investment in the infrastructure and people we need to defend against malicious cyber attacks.”

    Biden said that his administration would impose “substantial costs” on individuals responsible for malicious cyberattacks in order to deter such activity.

    “Our adversaries should know that, as President, I will not stand idly by in the face of cyber assaults on our nation,” Biden said.

  277. says

    Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) has been selected to lead the Interior Department in President-elect Joe Biden’s administration, making history as the first Native American tapped for a Cabinet position.

    Haaland, who has been backed by a number of progressive groups as well as tribes, would take over a sprawling 70,000 person agency with a mandate from Biden to help deliver on his climate promises.

    If confirmed by the Senate, Haaland would likely deliver a significant turnaround for an agency that has rolled back environmental and endangered species protections and expanded oil and gas drilling. Biden has pledged to bar any new oil and gas leasing on public lands — an effort likely to require action from Interior.

    Haaland, a member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe […]

    Link

  278. says

    States report confusion as feds alter vaccine shipments, and Pfizer says it has ‘millions’ of unclaimed doses.

    Washington Post link

    Sounds like a typical Trump administration clusterfuck to me.

    Officials in multiple states said they were alerted late Wednesday that their second shipments of Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine next week had been reduced, sparking widespread confusion and spurring the company’s CEO to put out a statement saying it had millions more doses than were being distributed.

    The changes prompted concern in health departments across the country about whether Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s vaccine accelerator, was capable of distributing doses quickly enough to meet the target of delivering first shots to 20 million people by year’s end. […]

    A total of 2.9 million doses of the vaccine developed by Pfizer and the German company BioNTech was cleared for shipment this week, and 5.9 million doses of Moderna’s regimen are poised to go out next week if the vaccine is authorized this week, as expected. That will be on top of additional supply from Pfizer, which Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Wednesday would amount to 2 million doses.

    That represents a sharp drop-off from what states were expecting, according to health officials in several states. At least three states received notice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday informing them of the shortfall, forcing last-minute changes to vaccine distribution plans for next week. Some places were intending to use the second shipment from Pfizer to begin vaccinating residents of long-term care facilities, officials said, creating dilemmas about whether to go ahead with those plans or to finish inoculating health-care providers on the front lines of the intensi