Discuss: Political Madness All the Time

Wouldn’t you know it, this thread would lapse just before Trump was kicked out of office. I wonder if the new thread will be as lively without the Orange Cheeto around to focus our anger? I think Joe might provide some prompting, at least.

Lynna is your curator. Type furiously!

(Previous thread)


  1. says

    House Republican echoes white nationalist ‘replacement theory’ during hearing

    Republicans have in several instances over the past years invited members of anti-immigrant organizations, like Tanton network member and designated hate group Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), to testify on immigration at congressional hearings. Now they’re just skipping the guests altogether and spouting the xenophobic bullshit themselves.

    Just a couple days after Fox News propagandist Tucker Carlson spouted the white nationalist “replacement theory” on air, Republican Pennsylvania Rep. Scott Perry echoed his call on Wednesday—and during a hearing on Central American migration, no less.

    “For many Americans,” Perry said, “what seems to be happening or what they believe right now is happening is, what appears to them is we’re replacing national-born American—native-born Americans to permanently transform the landscape of this very nation.” […]

    But that’s beside the point. The point here is the danger of where this extremist rhetoric can lead—because it’s already happened. My colleague Dave Neiwert has previously written about how this white nationalist theory “has been credited with inspiring multiple acts of mass murder and terrorism,” including the El Paso mass shooting in 2019. One analysis found that the previous president had in at least 19 instances spouted the same “invasion” rhetoric used by that mass murderer.

    […] anti-immigrant groups scrambled to distance themselves from the shooter, even though they “shared similar views on immigration.” […]

    Zachary Mueller of America’s Voice noted that Andrew Arthur, another CIS member and a former immigration judge, already had five invitations under his belt when he was invited by Republicans to testify for a sixth time in March 2019. “Unfortunately, the apparent coziness between Republicans and anti-immigrant hate groups is not isolated to Arthur,” Mueller wrote. “The Trump Administration is full of people who use to work for organizations in Tanton’s anti-immigrant network or who are happy to rub shoulders with their current staff.”

    […] Sure, the Trump administration is out of office. But white nationalism is still festering in our government, and elected congressional Republicans are actively encouraging it and seeking it out. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and others have mimicked the rhetoric of Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), another anti-immigrant group within the Tanton network, dozens of times regarding the southern border. Sen. Marsha Blackburn, meanwhile, used “invasion” terminology to describe the border in Facebook ads several times in 2018, Media Matters reported in 2019.

    Stephen Miller, a noted fan of Tanton network organizations, should be a social pariah for the inhumane policies he helped implement. Instead […] House Republicans invited him back to “brief” them […]

  2. says

    Wonkette: “Anthony Fauci, Maxine Waters, Entire World Agree: Time For Jim Jordan To STFU”

    When Dr. Anthony Fauci testified before the House Coronavirus Crisis Subcommittee today, Rep Jim Jordan (R-Fox News) wanted some damn specifics about when Fauci would let Americans have their freedom back, because Jim Jordan has made pretty good political hay of the very same goddamn talking points for nearly a year now. But Jordan’s colleagues, and Dr. Fauci, seem noticeably less tolerant of Jordan’s stupid freedombabble these days, and today, first Fauci and then subcommittee chair Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-South Carolina) and finally Rep. Maxine Waters (D-California) said as much to the obstreperous little stinkbug from Ohio. It was pretty awesome, really!

    Jordan yelled at Fauci for failing to set a clear date for the pandemic to end. After all, if Joe Biden can specify when US troops will leave Afghanistan, then why won’t Fauci tell Americans the precise day a wave of infectious disease will be gone?

    Fauci, to his credit, rejected Jordan’s framing entirely:

    Jordan: Dr. Fauci, when is the time? [long pause as if that question made any damn sense] When is the time? [Shorter pause, then the brilliant payoff] In your written statement, you said, “Now is not the time to pull back on masking, physical distancing, and avoiding congregate settings.” When is the time? When do Americans get their freedom back?

    Fauci explained to the congressman who seemed not to have a watch that it would all depend on when rates of infection are low enough that people are at less risk of spreading the virus, but Jordan wanted specifics: “Give me a number!” After all, a whole year ago, the 15 days of initial social distancing and business closures didn’t do the job, and now we have no freedom left. Jordan certainly was not about to let Fauci get away with vague statements like “no longer a threat,” because wouldn’t a real scientist would be able to give a precise number of some kind? (No. Not really. We’re still learning about the virus, which keeps evolving and refuses to agree to anyone’s schedule.)

    Fauci finally had quite enough of the badgering, and said that infectious diseases tend not to respect talking points, either. (Some dialogue below paraphrased, as indicated by it’s coming from Jordan’s yap-hole)

    Fauci: You’re indicating liberty and freedom. I look at it as a public health measure to prevent people from dying and going to the hospital.

    Jordan: You don’t think Americans’ liberties have been threatened? Bibble bobble freedom, religion, hoopsa boyaboy Flagfreedom!

    Fauci: I don’t look at this as a liberty thing, Congressman Jordan —

    Jordan: Well duhh, tyrant! I win and am very smart!

    Fauci: — I see it as a public health thing. I disagree with you —

    Jordan: Constitution! First Amendment! Church! Assaulted! Assaulted!

    Jordan went on bloviating for a while about what a mean tyrant Fauci was, and how he was personally responsible for YouTube taking down bullshit anti-mask videos that Fauci had no idea what Jordan was talking about, or at least that’s what Fauci pretended although he is secretly making all the decisions at YouTube these days [LOL good dose of sarcasm] At the suggestion that YouTube is pulling videos “because they dare to disagree with Dr. Fauci,” the good doctor said Oh Knock It Off before Jordan could go Full Belushi and fall off his chair in apoplexy: “I think you’re making this a personal thing, and it isn’t.”

    “It’s not a personal thing!” Jordan replied, but Fauci was pissed. “You are. That is exactly what you’re doing.”

    Fauci then explained that he certainly wasn’t out to step on anyone’s freedoms, and that he didn’t make up recommendations based on his own anti-liberty whims. Rather, he said, everything he said was based on the CDC’s anti-liberty whims. Or not that, really: “We’re not talking about liberties. We’re talking about a pandemic that has killed 560,000 Americans.”

    Yeah, Jordan shot back, that’s sad, but what about the liberties, because wouldn’t freedom to spread the virus just be better? He insisted on getting a definite time when Fauci would let freedom come back, and then he was out of time. At least officially.

    […] Clyburn, clearly tired of Jordan, said that for a start, it would be useful if 90 percent of members of Congress got the vaccine, but that set Jordan to yelling at Fauci again, because he’s the doctor, and when, sir, when is it the time? Also, what’s the frequency?

    Finally, Maxine Waters spoke for most of America, admonishing Jordan, “Your time has expired, sir! You need to respect the chair, and shut your mouth!”

    And lo, there was rejoicing.

  3. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Lynn #500 (previous comments) Conga-rats.After a couple of weeks you will sleep better and feel less fear when out doing errands if you are masked.
    Bœuf Bourguignon, brings back memories. The Redhead would do a small crock-pot batch once a month when I was a grad student. Definitely a treat on a graduate student’s stipend. Not part of my diet these days (SIGH).

  4. blf says

    The Bœuf Burpguignon was Brilliant. To time the cooking after the vin had reduced, I watched Labyrinth. So I’m now got a full stomach, a head full of Bowie songs, and the mildly deranged penguin has put on a goblin costume, with interchangeable Cruz, Koch, and Johnson heads, small hands, and a long red tie bent in a Dilbert manner. I think she wants some more…

  5. says

    Thanks, Nerd @4, I already feel a slight, and welcome, lessening of tension.

    Coronavirus update for the USA:
    Total cases: 31.4 million
    New cases on April 14: 75,267, which is an 11% increase when you look at the 14-day change.
    Total deaths: 563,926
    Hospitalized on April 14: 45,308, which is an 8% increase when you look at the 14-day change.

    About 19% of the adults in the county where I live have been vaccinated. That’s too low.

  6. says

    NBC News:

    People will likely need a third dose of a Covid-19 vaccine within a year of getting fully vaccinated and may subsequently need annual shots to protect against the coronavirus, Pfizer’s CEO Albert Bourla said Thursday.

  7. says

    Washington Post:

    Secretary of State Antony Blinken made an unannounced stop in Afghanistan on Thursday for meetings with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, civic leaders and the National Reconciliation Chairman Abdullah Abdullah to reassure them that Washington’s support for the war-torn country will continue despite the U.S. decision to withdraw all military forces by Sept. 11.

  8. says

    Washington Post:

    As the Capitol was overrun on Jan. 6, armed supporters of President Donald Trump were waiting across the Potomac in Virginia for orders to bring guns into the fray, a prosecutor said Wednesday in federal court.

  9. says


    The son of Jerry Falwell Jr. is out of his job as vice president at Liberty University nearly eight months after his father resigned as president of the Christian school amid allegations of inappropriate personal behavior and financial self-dealing. Liberty University spokesperson Scott Lamb on Wednesday confirmed to POLITICO that Trey Falwell was “no longer employed by the university.”

  10. says

    During the Jan. 6 Capitol breach, when officers from Washington, D.C’s Metropolitan Police Department came to help the overwhelmed U.S. Capitol Police, something interesting happened: MPD started using the types of “less-lethal” weapons than the Capitol Police had been barred from using and rioters… started leaving.

    “When MPD heroically showed up, came to our help, when some of their officers started using the various sting balls, it was reported to us that individuals were turning around leaving,” Michael Bolton, the inspector general for the Capitol Police, testified Thursday.

    “They’re very painful, these types of munitions.”

    The revelation that Capitol Police officers were restricted in the types of “less-lethal” munitions they were allowed to use on Capitol rioters was just one of the details from Bolton’s ongoing investigatory work that he discussed before the Committee on House Administration Thursday.

    Between expired munitions, some riot shields that simply broke apart when used, a shortage of back-up supplies and the order restricting how Capitol Police could respond to rioters, law enforcement was hindered in effectively protecting the Capitol, Bolton testified.

    […] Bolton said that an assistant deputy chief in the Capitol Police, who he did not name, gave the order not to use certain “less-lethal” weapons because they could cause life-altering injury or death if they were misused. Committee chair Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), in her questions to Bolton, specified that in addition to stinger balls, Capitol Police officers had been instructed not to use certain types of grenade launchers that can carry less-lethal munitions.

    In addition to discussing failures of intelligence-dissemination and preparation on behalf of Capitol Police, much of Bolton’s testimony focused on the actual equipment Capitol Police officers were using, and the officers — or lack thereof — who were in a position to respond effectively on Jan. 6.

    “Three grenadiers is not adequate,” Bolton said at one point in response to questions from Rep. Teresa Leger Fernand (D-MN). “That’s an easy one. We don’t have enough of that. Certainly, there needs to be more trained and properly equipped people who can use that equipment effectively and safely.”

    Later, Lofgren returned to a Bolton’s investigation of equipment failures, noting at one point that certain riot shields “shattered upon impact,” and that some less-lethal munitions were beyond their expiration date.

    In one case, Lofgren said, the inspector general found that a Civil Disturbance Unit in the Capitol Police had to respond to the Jan. 6 crowd without their riot shields — because the door on a bus carrying shields was locked.

    Lofgren also revealed the stunning detail that “civilian” Capitol Police employees had been tasked — mid-insurrection — with delivering supplies to officers. […]

    “To correct something like that, we strongly would recommend that they have pre-positioned additional munitions in a secure location within the capitol when you have these events, [so] that you don’t have to go out and get civilians to come in there and re-supply you,” […]


  11. Akira MacKenzie says


    Ooooo… I’ve always wanted to try to make Bœuf Burpguignon. Babish’s recipe looks pretty good.

  12. says

    Guardian (support the Guardian if you can!) – “Video appears to show Chicago police shooting Adam Toledo, 13, as he raised his hands”:

    Body camera video footage released for the first time on Thursday appears to show a Chicago police officer fatally shooting Adam Toledo, a 13-year-old, as he raised his hands into the air.

    The footage has ignited fresh outrage in the city where Toledo was shot last month. On Thursday, Chicago’s mayor, Lori Lightfoot, stood alongside Latino community leaders and called for calm.

    Lightfoot, her voice breaking while speaking at a press conference before the footage was released to the public, described the video as “incredibly difficult to watch, particularly at the end” and said “we failed Adam”.

    Toledo was shot and killed by police on 29 March following a foot pursuit by officers.

    At the time of the shooting, Toledo was with Ruben Roman, 21, who has been charged with several felonies in connection to that night including child endangerment and reckless discharge of a firearm.

    The authorities had initially indicated that Toledo had a gun in his hand as he turned towards officers during the chase, after failing to obey commands to stop.

    But video released on Thursday showed Toledo stopping as the officer shouts after him, turning and putting his hands up, with no sign of any weapon. The boy is then shot in the chest by the officer from a short distance away.

    The officer was identified on Thursday as Eric Stillman, 34, a white man who has been with the department since August 2015.

    “I want to ask again that everyone tuning in right now think first and foremost about Adam Toledo, about what his family is enduring every single day since they learned of his passing,” Lightfoot said at the press conference.

    In the wake of the video’s release, reactions ranged from sorrow to rage as the circumstances surrounding Toledo’s death became more clear.

    Adam Toledo had “a big imagination and curiosity”, loved animals and riding his bicycle and had a fascination with zombies, his mother said in a statement.

    “He even had this zombie apocalypse bag packed and ready to go. May he rest in peace,” she said.

    Protests have taken place across the city, calling for transparency and accountability, as many are angered by a string of police-involved shootings that have killed young Chicagoans in recent weeks….

    More at the link.

  13. says

    Here’s a link to the April 16 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From their morning summary:

    The number of new Covid-19 cases per week has nearly doubled globally over the past two months, approaching the highest rate seen so far during the pandemic, the head of the World Health Organization said this morning.

    India’s daily Covid-19 vaccinations have slowed from their record high early this month while new infections have set a record in eight of the past nine days.

    The CEO of the Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s biggest vaccine maker, has urged US president Joe Biden to lift an embargo on exports of raw materials that it says is hurting its production of Covid -19 shots.

    More than 16,000 expired AstraZeneca Covid-19 doses are to be destroyed in Malawi as concerns over vaccine hesitancy increase. The vaccines are among 102,000 doses donated by the African Union (AU) to the Malawian government last month.

    Thailand will close close schools, bars and massage parlours, as well as ban alcohol sales in restaurants, for at least two weeks starting from Sunday, after a jump in Covid-19 cases.

    In Scotland, changes in the rules mean people will be allowed to meet in groups of up to six adults from six households in outdoor settings from today for socialising, recreation and exercise. They will also be permitted to travel across Scotland for the first time since December – provided they do not stay overnight.

    French president Emmanuel Macron told local mayors that the epidemic was likely to progress over the next eight to 10 days, with a peak of infections in France between the 25 April and 30 April, and a peak in hospital admissions between now and the end of the month.

    Monaco has announced it is easing health restrictions, without resolving fully whether fans would be allowed at its Formula One grand prix next month.

    Also in the Guardian – “Spreading faster, hitting harder – why young Brazilians are dying of Covid.”

  14. says

    From yesterday’s DN! headlines:

    Boston Cop Allowed to Stay on the Force for 20+ Years After Child Sexual Abuse Complaint

    Acting Boston Mayor Kim Janey has ordered the release of documents related to former Boston police union chief Patrick Rose, who was first accused of child sexual abuse in 1995, yet was allowed to remain on the force for over 20 more years, abusing other children. The Boston Globe found the Boston Police Department concluded that Rose likely was guilty of sexually abusing a 12-year-old boy in 1995 but took no action. Last year, a teenage girl reported she was abused by Rose from the ages of 7 through 12, leading to at least five more survivors coming forward.

    Ex-World Leaders and Nobel Laureates Call on Biden to Waive Patent Rules for COVID Vaccines

    One hundred seventy-five former heads of state and Nobel laureates are calling on President Biden to back a waiver on World Trade Organization intellectual property rules for COVID-19 vaccines during the pandemic. Nine out of 10 people in most poor countries likely will not receive a vaccine this year, according to the open letter, but an IP waiver would “expand global manufacturing capacity, unhindered by industry monopolies that are driving the dire supply shortages blocking vaccine access.” Signatories include former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and economist Joseph Stiglitz. Separately, a coalition of 250 organizations, including Amnesty International, Public Citizen and Doctors Without Borders, issued a similar plea to the head of the World Trade Organization. The fate of the international efforts could be decided on May 5 at the next major meeting between WTO members….

  15. says

    Also from DN! – “American Insurrection: Deadly Far-Right Extremism from Charlottesville to Capitol Attack. What Next?”:

    A scathing new report by the Capitol Police’s internal watchdog reveals officials knew Congress was the target of the deadly January 6 insurrection, yet officers were instructed to refrain from deploying more aggressive measures that could have helped “push back the rioters.” Meanwhile, The Washington Post reports domestic terrorism incidents surged to a record high in 2020, fueled by white supremacist, anti-Muslim and anti-government extremists on the far right. The Post found that, since 2015, right-wing extremists have been involved in 267 plots or attacks, leading to 91 deaths. Reporter A.C. Thompson, who explores the threat of far-right extremism in the new PBS “Frontline” documentary “American Insurrection,” says there was a “massive pool of radicalized individuals” ahead of the January 6 attack who were being pushed toward violence by “an abundance of lies by the former president, by this entire conspiratorial right-wing media and social media ecosystem.” We also speak with director Rick Rowley, who says many white supremacist groups began to splinter during the intense backlash to the violence in Charlottesville in 2017, but Trump gave the groups new life ahead of the January 6 insurrection. “Many elements inside the white supremacist movement found in him a path into the mainstream,” says Rowley. “They took off their swastikas, and they wrapped themselves in the flag.”

    A.C. THOMPSON: You know, the concern that I have at this point is that we may see an act of mass casualty terrorism sometime in the relatively near future, because we have a massive pool of radicalized individuals who have been fed an abundance of lies by the former president, by this entire conspiratorial right-wing media and social media ecosystem. And that is the concern I have.

    For us, the film traces sort of what happens from Charlottesville with the white power movement, which was emboldened and catalyzed by former President Trump, up to now, where we see the sort of white supremacists fading and these groups we saw on January 6th coming out, the street fighters, like the Proud Boys, the militias, the boogaloo bois. And that’s sort of the arc that we’re tracing here. We expect trouble from those groups in the future.

    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, A.C., in the film, you explore several of these groups. In the Proud Boys, for instance, the Cuban American, Enrique Tarrio, who is the — one of the leaders of the group — several of these folks are not — they’re white supremacists, but they’re not white themselves. And those of us who know the Latin American history know there’s always been an extreme-right-wing trend among people of Latin American descent. Could you talk about Tarrio and the Proud Boys and what you found?

    A.C. THOMPSON: Yeah, that’s a great question. Honestly, a few years ago, our colleague Karim Hajj and I were filming in Portland and filming these Proud Boys rallies. And we thought, you know, “How do we even make sense of these guys?” Like, you know, because they’re ethnically mixed. They’re sort of white supremacist-adjacent, like they’re hanging out with white supremacists, but that’s not how they categorize themselves. And I think the term that we came up with was sort of multicultural fascism, multiethnic fascism.

    You know, in the film, we meet a member of the Proud Boys, and he’s wearing a shirt that says “Pinochet did nothing wrong,” referring to the fascist Chilean dictator. And that’s a thing that we saw over and over again with the Proud Boys, is shirts that said “right-wing death squads,” shirts that talked about throwing socialists and leftists out of helicopters, as happened in Chile and Latin America during the dirty wars. So, that’s the sort of thing that I think these movements, the ultranationalist movements, really represent, is a multiethnic fascism….

    You can watch the full Frontline documentary American Insurrection online for free right now. I recommend it.

  16. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Covid-19 infections across all parts of the UK have fallen to the lowest level since the autumn, new figures suggest.

    According to the latest estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), around one in 480 people in private households in England had Covid-19 in the week to April 10 – down from one in 340 the previous week.

    This is the lowest figure since the week to September 19 2020, when the estimate stood at one in 500.

    Meanwhile in Wales, around one in 920 people was estimated to have had coronavirus in the week to April 10 – down from one in 800 in the week before and the lowest level since the week to September 10.

    In Northern Ireland, the estimate was around one in 710 people, a drop from one in 300 in the previous week and the lowest since estimates began for the nation in October.

    The estimate for Scotland was around one in 500, falling from one in 410 and again the lowest since estimates began for the nation in October.

    The drop in infection levels across the UK marks a contrast to rising case rates in other parts of the world….

  17. blf says

    Simon & Schuster refuses to distribute book by officer who shot Breonna Taylor:

    Simon & Schuster has said that it will not be distributing a book by one of the police officers who shot Breonna Taylor, after a small publisher whose books are distributed through S&S announced the book to widespread criticism.

    The Fight for Truth: The Inside Story Behind the Breonna Taylor Tragedy is by Sgt Jonathan Mattingly, a Louisville, Kentucky, officer who shot Taylor and was wounded in the raid on her home in March last year. The book is being published by Post Hill Press, a small independent that specialises in “conservative politics” and Christian titles, and home to authors including far-right conspiracy theorist Laura Loomer and the embattled Republican congressman Matt Gaetz.

    Mattingly is still employed by the Louisville Police Department and was the first officer to enter Taylor’s apartment […]. Mattingly fired at least one of the six shots that hit Taylor, according to an FBI ballistics report, but not the one that killed her.


    Earlier on Thursday, S&S said in a statement that it had no editorial control over titles released by the smaller publishers for which it provides distribution. Hours later, after widespread criticism and campaigns to complain to S&S head office, the publisher issued a second statement distancing itself from Mattingly’s book.


    How this may affect the book’s publication remains unclear. Before S&S announced that it would no longer distribute the book, a spokeswoman for Post Hill Press, Kelsey Merritt, said the publisher supported freedom of speech for all of its authors.

    In the case of Sgt Mattingly, the mainstream media narrative has been entirely one-sided related to this story and we feel that he deserves to have his account of the tragic events heard publicly, as well, she told the New York Times. Post Hill Press is standing behind our decision to publish his story.


  18. says

    On Capitol Hill, Trump critics spend heavily on personal security

    When elected officials have to spend tens of thousands of dollars on personal security, it’s evidence of an unhealthy body politic.

    Ordinarily, when members of Congress file quarterly financial reports, political reporters take a look at the scope of their fundraising numbers. But occasionally, it’s even more important to consider what those financial reports tell us about the money leaving lawmakers’ coffers.

    Members of Congress are spending tens of thousands of dollars on personal security for them and their families in the wake of the Jan. 6 riot, according to an analysis of first-quarter Federal Election Commission reports by Punchbowl News…. Private security expenditures were especially common among anti-Trump Republicans and high-profile Democrats who earlier this year voted to impeach and convict the former president for inciting the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot, signaling they fear for the safety of themselves and their families.

    Punchbowl News’ Jake Sherman fleshed this out a bit in a Twitter thread this morning, and the details are striking. One Republican senator spent tens of thousands of dollars with a company that sells “ballistic doors, windows, walls and panic rooms.” A House Republican has hired former Secret Service agents to provide protection. Several high-profile Democrats have made similar investments in private security.

    In each of these instances, the members — from both parties and both chambers — relied on campaign funds to cover the security expenses, which is 100% kosher and legal.

    But what each of the members have in common is that they’ve drawn Donald Trump’s ire for betraying the former president’s wishes in one way or another — which in turn appears to have led to threats necessitating expensive responses.

    Axios’ report on this added, lawmakers have previously spent money for additional security, but in the Trump era, security expenditures increased “dramatically.” […]

  19. says

    This was one of Chris Hayes’ best segments ever. “Chris Hayes: The cost of right-wing media’s Covid lies.”


    “Murdoch can live in Australia—as if Covid basically doesn’t exist,” says Chris Hayes. “But the only reason that was possible is because of a government that was able to undertake the kinds of policies that Murdoch’s own network has been subverting and sabotaging from Day One.”

    When Hayes showed us what Tucker Carlson has been saying on Fox News, I gasped. I already knew about all this disinformation being spewed by rightwing media, but still, I was shocked. “Devious, insidious […]

    In the state where I live, people are listening to Tucker Carlson and they are opting out of getting vaccinated. “Nihilistic, psychotic […]”

    I am thinking that people who live in this state will never be safe.

    The misinformation virus. JFC.

    The video is 9:42 minutes long.

  20. blf says

    Florida passes ‘anti-riot’ bill as civil rights groups warn it will stifle dissent:

    Florida has approved a so-called “anti-riot” bill that gives harsher penalties to protesters[…].

    The bill […] includes stiffer punishment for crimes committed during a riot or violent protest. It would allow authorities to hold arrested protesters until a first court appearance, and it would establish new felonies for organizing or participating in a violent demonstration.

    The proposal would make it a second-degree felony to destroy or demolish a memorial, plaque, flag, painting, structure or other object that commemorates historical people or events. That would be punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

    It would also strip local governments of civil liability protections if they interfere with law enforcement’s efforts to respond to a violent protest, and it adds language to state law that could force local governments to justify a reduction in law enforcement budgets.

    [… C]ritics have called the legislation an assault against the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as an attempt to curtail the right to free speech and to peaceably assemble.

    Indeed, the genesis of the measure dates back to a 21 September press conference held by the governor, in which he was joined by the state senate president, Wilton Simpson, and house speaker, Chris Sprowls, to condemn the unrest in cities across the country and what he referred to as attacks on law enforcement.


    The American Civil Liberties Union said the new law would give police broad discretion over what constitutes a demonstration and a riot.

    “The bill was purposely designed to embolden the disparate police treatment we have seen over and over again directed towards Black and brown people who are exercising their constitutional right to protest,” said Micah Kubic, the executive director of ACLU of Florida.

    Christina Kittle, an organizer of the Jacksonville Community Action Committee, warned that the new law could escalate clashes between police and demonstrators. […] “I’m not sure it’s going to be a setback, but this was created to intimidate people and to keep people from coming out.”

    Senator Darryl Rouson, a former St Petersburg chapter president of the NAACP who joined every Democrat and a lone Republican in voting down the bill, said the new law would not deter anyone from protesting a just cause.

    There was a thug with a backbone? In Florida? (I have no idea who this was; none of the news articles I checked seem to mention the individual’s name, the state’s senate site does not list party affiliations.)

    “This is not going to stop people from rising up,” Rouson said.

    “This won’t stop anything, except those who are afraid. I’m not afraid,” he said. “I just want to say to people, keep on knocking, keep on protesting, keep on rising in spite of an attempt to stifle voices.”

  21. says

    […] the reaction to Ivanka’s Wednesday announcement on Instagram and Twitter that she got the COVID-19 shot was fairly predictable.

    This seemingly benign act—which, I’m old enough to recall, would have been seen as the one and only responsible adult choice 30 or so years ago—was straight-up savaged by the MAGA mob. […]

    . @IvankaTrump
    posted herself getting vaccinated on instagram & encouraged others to do so.
    The comments are astonishing:
    – HARD NO
    – PASS
    – HELL NO
    – WHY?
    – LMAO

    [additional link: https://twitter.com/SRuhle/status/1382451368208785415 ]


    No thank you! I have immune system for a reason.

    Because of the 99.8% survival rate of a virus they’ve never identified? Anthony Fauci and Andrew Cuomo would be proud.

    Hell no. Why would you post this?

    Bummer. I was hoping you were above this kind of virtue signaling.

    Nope. I don’t trust you people. Never had flu shots and NEVER I will give my body to experiment on me… No No No

    Hell no. Quit telling perfectly healthy people to take this so called “vaccine”.


    I hope you support freedom of choice for vaccines.

    The Trumps now find themselves on the horns of a dilemma. One horn is that the vaccines were developed while Trump was president, and he desperately wants to take credit for them. The other is that Trump’s popularity lives and dies based on the conspiracy theories he regularly nurtures, and that’s the horn that may end up gouging not just him but his throngs of addlepated fans as well.

    And there’s nothing Ivanka can do to unravel that mess now. She had numerous chances to do the “responsible” thing, and yet Donald Trump was never once locked in a closet all that time he was terrorizing us.

    So thanks for getting the shot, Vanky, but this is still a big fail. […]


  22. says

    Businessman Convicted of Foreign Lobbying Crimes Paid for Secret Trump White House Mission to Qatar

    A grand jury is investigating.

    In June 2017, two former US officials, John Allen, a retired US Marine Corps four-star general, and Richard Olson, a retired State Department official and onetime ambassador to Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates, traveled to Doha, Qatar, on a secretive and important mission. They were dispatched by H.R. McMaster, then national security adviser for President Donald Trump, to meet with Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. This was part of a US effort to deescalate a regional crisis. Saudi Arabia and the UAE, Qatar’s rivals, had blockaded Qatar and were threatening to invade the small natural gas-rich country, which houses a large American military base.

    But the Trump White House did not rely on the US government to arrange and finance this trip. Instead, Allen asked Imaad Zuberi, an Asian American businessman and prolific campaign contributor with ties to US and foreign officials, for help, according to people with knowledge of the trip and emails reviewed by Mother Jones. Zuberi coordinated, joined, and paid for Allen and Olson’s travel, the emails indicate. That’s notable because Zuberi later pleaded guilty to a slew of violations of foreign lobbying and campaign finance laws, along with tax evasion and obstruction of justice. He was sentenced in February to 12 years in federal prison.

    […] In sentencing documents filed last fall, prosecutors asserted that at the time of the Doha trip, Zuberi was “secretly lobbying on behalf of Qatar” to “secure foreign policy changes from the Trump Administration.” This would mean that the guy who underwrote a secret White House mission to Qatar had been working for the Qataris. The prosecutors also said that Zuberi’s actions were investigated as part of a broader federal probe of Qatari influence efforts. According to people familiar with that investigation, federal prosecutors have impaneled a grand jury in Washington, DC. […]

    The Trump way is not how things are supposed to be done.

  23. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    A US panel will meet again next week to discuss whether the pause on the use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine’s should continue, after delaying a vote on the matter earlier this week.

    The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advisory panel will meet on April 23, according to a notice posted on the regulator’s website.

    US health regulators recommended earlier this week that use of the J&J vaccine be paused after reports of six cases of rare brain blood clots in women.

    The advisory panel on Wednesday called for more data before making a decision on how and whether to resume use of the one-dose shot, Reuters reports.

  24. says

    ABC7 – “Washington D.C.’s first national World War I memorial to unveil; here’s what to expect”:

    For families whose ancestors fought in the first world war, this has been decades in the making. Those heroes are being remembered and honored in a special way, and in downtown D.C. they will now never be forgotten.

    A new memorial is being dedicated this morning. Until now, it is the only major war from the 20th century that did not have a national memorial in the nation’s capital. Currently, there is a small local memorial on Independence Avenue that honors the 26,000 soldiers from Washington D.C. that fought.

    This new memorial, located on Pennsylvania Avenue, near the White House honors the nearly five million Americans who fought abroad and the more than 116,000 who never made it home.

    Today’s debut ceremony begins at 10 a.m. will include a military flyover…. [It appears locals weren’t adequately forewarned about F-22s buzzing them and were somewhat confused.]

    Visitors will experience the stories of heroism and learn more about the man who led the American Expeditionary Forces into victory, General John Pershing. During the first colors ceremony, a soldier will play the very bugle that was used at General Pershing’s headquarters during the war.

    For decades, this spot in Northwest D.C. has been an underserved park across from the Willard Hotel, used as an ice rink most recently.

    There’s one piece of the memorial that won’t be ready on this opening day — a 65 ft. bronze sculptural wall, called A Soldier’s Journey. Eventually, it will be the centerpiece.

    It tells the story of a soldier leaving home and seeing battle.

    A canvas stands in its place for now, but visitors can use an app to see the wall come to life through virtual reality.

    The bronze wall will be the largest free-standing bronze relief in the Western hemisphere. It’s on track to be unveiled in DC in 2024 on Memorial Day.

    The memorial is scheduled to open to the public Saturday.

  25. blf says

    France is an outlier in many ways, some good, some not so good. A not so good example is there was no age of consent. Simplifying somewhat, sexual relations with a minor were “legal” (or at least not considered rape) unless the child was “forced, threatened or tricked”. That is coming to an end, albeit there is still a probable flaw, French parliament approves landmark bill setting age of sexual consent at 15:

    French lawmakers gave final approval on Thursday to legislation setting the minimum age of sexual consent at 15, following a wave of allegations of sexual abuse and incest described as France’s second #MeToo movement.

    In a second reading of the bill, members of the lower house of parliament voted unanimously to bring France’s consent laws in line with most other Western countries.

    Under the legislation, sex with children under 15 is considered rape, punishable by up to 20 years in prison, unless there is a small age gap between the two partners.

    The bill also makes it illegal for an adult to have sex with a relative aged under 18.


    The draft law was initiated by members of the Senate, who had suggested the age of consent be set at 13, which would have been one of the lowest in Europe.

    But President Emmanuel Macron’s government pushed for it to be set higher.

    The bill does allow for sex between a teen and a young adult up to five years older — a gap criticised by some MPs as too large but which [Justice Minister Éric] Dupond-Moretti defended, saying he did not want to put a youngster aged 18 on trial because he had consensual sex with a girl aged fourteen and a half.


    The Grauniad describes that exception (France toughens age of consent laws to define sex with under-15s as rape) as:

    There had been concerns from some lawmakers that an age of consent below which sex automatically constituted rape might criminalise a consensual sexual relationship between a minor and a person only a few years older.

    As a consequence, a Romeo and Juliet clause allows for sexual relations between a minor and an individual up to five years older. The clause will not apply in cases of sexual assault.

    The legislation also considers incestuous sex with a minor under 18 to be rape.

    I’ve never heard of such a Romeo and Juliet exception before. Presumably, the legislators are struggling here with the point that age is an imprecise proxy for understanding, not actual proof of comprehension.

  26. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    France has given a first Covid-19 vaccination injection to virtually 100% of retirement care home residents and three quarters have received two shots, health minister Olivier Veran said on Friday.

    During a visit to a vaccination centre in southern France, Veran also told reporters that more than two thirds of all health staff and 80% of health staff above 50 had received at least a first injection.

    France’s focus on care home residents has led to a sharp drop in deaths, Reuters reports.

    At the start of the vaccination campaign in late December-early January, France was registering about 700 deaths per week in retirement homes, accounting for nearly a third of all weekly deaths nationwide.

    By early March, that number had dropped to around 300, by end-March to 80 and last week France reported fewer than 50 deaths in retirement homes.

    On Thursday, as France’s Covid-19 death toll crossed 100,000, the seven-day moving average of Covid-19 deaths stood at nearly 300 per day, with the average of retirement home deaths among those at just seven.

    Veran also told reporters that with still some 35,000 new Covid-19 cases per day in France, it was too soon to consider easing restrictions on people’s movements and he reiterated that there were no plans for now to lift a curfew that has been in place since mid-December.

    Modelling shows that cases of Covid-19 in Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, could treble by the end of May unless tough restrictions are imposed, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp said on Friday.

    Some hospitals say they are already close to breaking point as a rapidly worsening third wave rips through the province, and the head of its main nurses organisation has called for a full lockdown including a curfew.

    Ontario premier Doug Ford, who has so far resisted such wide-ranging steps but is under increasing criticism for how his government has handled the epidemic, is due to make an announcement later today, Reuters reports.

    Ontario, which accounts for 38% of Canada’s population, announced a record 4,736 daily cases on Thursday and the CBC cited sources as saying this could rocket to 18,000 by end-May if current trends continued.

  27. blf says

    US-funded broadcaster asks European court to block Russian fines:

    Moscow has moved to penalise Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty for failing to label its reports with the ‘foreign agent’ tag.

    The Moscow bureau of Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE / RL) has called on Europe’s top human rights court to order Russian authorities against enforcing fines that could cost the broadcaster millions of dollars.

    The multimedia news outlet, which is funded by Washington, has been heavily fined this year for what Russia says is a repeated failure to label itself as a media outlet performing the functions of a foreign agent.

    RFE / RL says Russian authorities have the power to place it into insolvency or block access to its media sites if the fines are unpaid — or do both.

    Andrey Shary, its general director, faces the prospect of a prison sentence of up to two years and personal bankruptcy, the network fears.

    “We are hopeful that the European Court of Human Rights will view these actions by the government of Russia for what they are: an attempt to suppress free speech and the human rights of the Russian people,” RFE / RL President Jamie Fly said in a statement.

    [… A]ny favourable ruling by the ECHR would likely be largely symbolic as Russia passed a law last year giving its national legislation precedence over international treaties and rulings in cases when they conflict with its constitution.


    The outlet, which has a network of freelancers across Russia, covers Crimea, which Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014, in great detail, and provides extensive coverage — in Russian — of opposition protests and the fate of Navalny. It says it has almost doubled its Russian audience over the last five years.


    After the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s predecessor in the Kremlin, Boris Yeltsin, invited RFE/RL to open an office in Russia.


    Russia has recently stepped up actions that appear to be aimed at stifling dissent.

    Criminal charges were filed this week against four editors of an online student magazine. The publication had posted a video connected to January’s nationwide protests calling for Navalny’s release.

    A court last week fined Twitter 8.9 million rubles (about $117,000) for failing to remove posts in which users called for minors to rally in the pro-Navalny demonstrations.

  28. blf says

    California student body demands ban on caste-based discrimination:

    ‘Historic’ resolution passed by student association at California State University calls for adding caste in school’s anti-discrimination policy.


    Last week, the Cal State Student Association (CSSA), the country’s largest four-year public university system representing 23 campuses of the California State University (CSU) system, passed the resolution with 22–0 vote in an online meeting, supporting the addition of caste as a protected category against discrimination.

    The students’ body directed the University Board of Trustees to add caste in the system’s anti-discrimination policy and provide resources to its staff members to better their understanding of caste.

    “Current CSU policy prohibiting discrimination includes many of the identities intertwined with caste but does not protect from caste-based discrimination specifically,” the resolution said.

    The resolution cited a survey by Equality Labs which said 25 percent of Dalits reported facing verbal or physical assault based on their caste in the US.

    “One in three Dalit students report being discriminated against during their education in the US, two out of three Dalits surveyed reported being treated unfairly at their workplace in the US,” the resolution said, adding that 60 percent of Dalits reported experiencing caste-based derogatory jokes or comments in the country.


    Interestingly, the resolution was authored by a higher caste student and backed by three other students from different racial and religious groups.

    “This was a joint inter-caste, inter-faith and multiracial coalitional work,” Manmit Singh Chahal, 20, a California Polytechnic State University student and lead author of the resolution, told Al Jazeera.

    “There were Dalit students who testified, supported by Sikh, Muslim and Hindu upper-caste students, who also spoke in favour of passing the resolution,” Chahal said.

    [… several stories of caste-based discrimination in the States…]

    Various Dalit civil rights organisations across the US have welcomed the passage of the resolution, saying it would make a huge change to Dalit students by giving them the confidence to pursue their interests on campuses “freely and confidently”.


    Anil Wagde, a member of the Ambedkar International Centre (AIC), a Washington DC-based Dalit rights organisation, said the passage of a resolution in California holds a greater significance in the backdrop of a pending lawsuit against Cisco Systems Inc for caste discrimination in the very same state.

    Last year, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing sued Cisco for discriminating against an Indian American employee because he was a Dalit.

    The employee was subjected to discrimination by his upper-caste managers. When he went to complain against the treatment, the bosses retaliated by reducing his role.

    The case made national headlines, renewing debate on caste-based discrimination within the US corporations and society. Last month, AIC also filed an amicus curiae brief in the Cisco case.


  29. lumipuna says

    blf 29:

    I’ve never heard of such a Romeo and Juliet exception before. Presumably, the legislators are struggling here with the point that age is an imprecise proxy for understanding, not actual proof of comprehension.

    I thought these age gap allowances are very common across countries. In Finland there’s no specified age gap allowance, but it’s supposed to be based on case by case judgement, including estimation on how mature for their age the parties are. Arguably, that could be problematic too.

    Without allowance, you’d get seemingly absurd situations where two minors are guilty of raping each other, or only one of them is a minor but the age gap is less than a year.

  30. says

    A.J. Delgado:

    Hi Twitter:

    As many of you know, I had a miscarriage in 2011, which impacted me GREATLY.

    Trump spox Jason Miller sent an email last night to my attorney (in a series of insane emails) bringing it up out of the blue and THREATENING me w it, to tell the public I had an abortion….

    Thread follows.

  31. says

    Guardian – “US police and public officials donated to Kyle Rittenhouse, data breach reveals”:

    A data breach at a Christian crowdfunding website has revealed that serving police officers and public officials have donated money to fundraisers for accused vigilante murderers, far-right activists, and fellow officers accused of shooting black Americans.

    In many of these cases, the donations were attached to their official email addresses, raising questions about the use of public resources in supporting such campaigns.

    The breach, shared with journalists by transparency group Distributed Denial of Secrets, revealed the details of some donors who had previously attempted to conceal their identities using GiveSendGo’s anonymity feature, but whose identifying details the website preserved.

    The beneficiaries of donations from public officials include Kyle Rittenhouse, who stands accused of murdering two leftwing protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last August. Rittenhouse traveled from neighboring Illinois to, by his own account, offer armed protection to businesses during protests over the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

    Rittenhouse, who became a cause célèbre across conservative media throughout late 2020, and was even supported by then president Donald Trump, held a fundraiser on GiveSendGo billed as a contribution to his legal defense. According to data from the site, he raised $586,940 between 27 August last year and 7 January .

    Among the donors were several associated with email addresses traceable to police and other public officials.

    One donation for $25, made on 3 September last year, was made anonymously, but associated with the official email address for Sgt William Kelly, who currently serves as the executive officer of internal affairs in the Norfolk police department in Virginia.

    That donation also carried a comment, reading: “God bless. Thank you for your courage. Keep your head up. You’ve done nothing wrong.”

    The comment continued: “Every rank and file police officer supports you. Don’t be discouraged by actions of the political class of law enforcement leadership.”

    The Guardian previously reported on the use of the site for fundraising purposes for far-right groups like the Proud Boys, who have been banned from other crowdfunding platforms after violent incidents including the alleged participation of members of the group in an attack on the United States Capitol building on 6 January.

    More atl.

  32. says

    Reuters – “Liberty University sues former president Jerry Falwell Jr.”:

    Liberty University has filed a lawsuit against its former president, Jerry Falwell Jr., previously one of the most influential figures in the U.S. evangelical Christian community, alleging that he misused university resources and tried to conceal a relationship involving a former pool boy.

    Falwell “led a scheme to cover up the illicit conduct,” the suit says, alleging that a years-long cover up damaged the university and its reputation, while also breaching the school’s code of conduct.

    The lawsuit, filed on Thursday, says Falwell breached his fiduciary duties to the university, kept university property that he was obligated to return to the school, and negotiated a higher salary even as he knew that the sexual affair involving Granda – and an alleged extortion attempt against the Falwells – could be damaging to the school.

  33. blf says

    lumipuna@33, On so-called Romeo and Juliet exceptions: You could easily be correct, i.e., that it is common. I have no recollection of such precisely-detailed exceptions. I’m uncomfortable — or at least dubious about — the precisely-detailed variant being legislated here in France, but as you wisely pointed out, a case-by-case determination can also be quite problematic. The French version, as I understand it, does have some good points; e.g., incest and coercion are not excepted. So I suppose it’s both the size of age gap (five years, not less than one as in your helpful example), and the apparent presumption the consent is made with a reasonable understanding (an 18yo having sex with a 13yo would be “allowed” if not incest and both “consented”, but not all 13yo’s would understand / comprehend (nor do all 18yo’s, but that’s a differing can’o’worms)).

  34. blf says

    Antisemitic loon of teh day, Rick Wiles Says the US Is Under the Control of Satanic Zionists:

    [… R]adical right-wing conspiracy theorist and End Times broadcaster Rick Wiles […], who is deeply anti-Semitic and dedicates many of his TruNews programs to railing against Israel and Jews, has been a vocal supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin and an ardent defender of Russia for years. So when he saw reports that the US was thinking about sending warships to the Black Sea as tensions between Russia and Ukraine escalate, Wiles knew exactly who was to blame.

    The reason the ruling deep state of America hates the Russian people and wants to destroy them? Wiles said. It is the satanic Zionist power that overthrew the Russian government in 1917, did a human blood sacrifice of the Romanov family — a satanic ritual where they slaughtered the Romanovs, it was a satanic blood sacrifice — that same group of satanists that overthrew the Russian people in 1917, that’s what controls America today.


    Who is always attacking us? Wiles asked his co-hosts. The Zionists. There’s nobody else attacking me. Zionists. It’s not every Jewish person, it’s the Zionists, it’s the satanic Zionists. They are satanic. Old Henry Kissinger is one of them, old Alan Greenspan is one of them. Who has weakened America? Greenspan and Kissinger. Now they want war with Russia because the Russian people got free of their chains and bondage and returned to Christ. That’s what it’s about. The Russian people returned to Christ.

    No mention of space lasers.

  35. blf says

    Today’s misogynistic loon, Dave Daubenmire Declares A Woman’s Got No Business Being a Cop:

    While protests continue in Minnesota over the police killing of Daunte Wright, a Black man who was shot during a traffic stop Sunday by an officer who claims to have mistakenly drawn her handgun when she meant to use her Taser, radical right-wing activist Dave Daubenmire wants to focus on an issue he sees as more important: women in the police force. In Daubenmire’s eyes, women have no business being police officers

    […] A woman’s got no business being a cop. Now, there’s a place for a woman in law enforcement, but it is not pulling up at my house and arresting some burly 6-foot-5-inch, 285-pound man. That is not a woman’s job. How did we ever get to the point where we think that it’s normal for a woman to do that? Why? Because that’s perverted.

    Perversion of the male/female roles, he added. Men and women are equal, but they’re not equal. Come on, stop saying that. Men and women aren’t equal. Why have we bought that lie? Why do we promote that lie? Why do you say, ‘Well, women deserve equal rights’? Now, listen, I’m just telling you, a man can cook, but it’s a woman’s job. Sorry.

    That last quoted-bellow reminded me of this in the Grauniad (yesterday), ‘It’s a scandal, quite frankly’: US Equal Rights Amendment still faces uphill battle.

  36. blf says

    The entire document, America First Caucus Policy Platform (PDF) is very creepy.

    More snippets (it didn’t copy-and-paste cleanly, so any Tpyos offerings or similar are possibly not in the original but presumably the result my attempts to clean up the mess):

    Sovereignty America was founded on the basis of individual and state sovereignty, to ensure that no free American would be lorded over by a Monarch ever again. Unfortunately, bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. and the elites who control them have risen to form a new oligarchy — one that is far more decadent, corrosive and hostile to the will of the people than the Founders could have ever dreamed of. This is why sovereignty is of paramount importance to the AFC. […]

    Foreign Aid Whether it is aid for humanitarian or military purposes, sending taxpayer money outside of the nation is generally an unwise undertaking and an entanglement that rarely provides any benefit to our citizens. Often, these funds end up in the wrong hands, are squandered through corruption, or go toward the pet projects of liberal interventionists. With so many unmet needs in the United States, helping other countries with their infrastructure, their military, their immigration problems and their economies makes no sense.
      American tax dollars should not go toward teaching gender studies in Pakistan or supporting ideologically subversive non-governmental organizations (NGOs). […]

  37. lumipuna says

    blf at 37 wrote:

    So I suppose it’s both the size of age gap (five years, not less than one as in your helpful example), and the apparent presumption the consent is made with a reasonable understanding (an 18yo having sex with a 13yo would be “allowed” if not incest and both “consented”, but not all 13yo’s would understand / comprehend (nor do all 18yo’s, but that’s a differing can’o’worms)).

    (Side note: I’m pretty sure in Finland an 18 yo would be considered too old for a 13yo.)

    I understand that age of consent laws are generally meant to protect against consent violations, rather than against kids consenting to sex while too immature. The latter can be a problem (especially with cultural pressure to have sex as young as possible), but hardly worth criminalizing the kid’s sex partner in absence of coercion or power imbalance. At 13, most kids don’t even want sex yet, and those that do are probably the more mature ones.

    The main issue seems to be that adults are often highly capable of sexually coercing or manipulating a young teen in a way that isn’t legally rape (especially with outdated legal definitions of rape), or practically prosecutable as such. Young teens can do this to each other too, but it’s less likely, and also it’s much more common for young teens to want sex with their peers (as opposed to adults), therefore it’s far more plausible that the young teen having sex with a peer is actually consenting. Hence, the principle that adults having sex with young teens should be treated as rape by default, but teens of roughly same age can be given the benefit of doubt.

  38. says

    Why Ron Johnson’s ugly rhetoric about US ‘demographics’ matters

    Ron Johnson’s concerns about efforts to “remake” the nation’s “demographics” were ugly, but they’re also part of unmistakable pattern.

    Fox News’ Tucker Carlson sparked widespread criticisms last week when he echoed the “great replacement” conspiracy theory on the air. What was less obvious at the time was the degree to which this would spread on Capitol Hill.

    “I know that the left and all the little gatekeepers on Twitter become literally hysterical if you use the term ‘replacement,’ if you suggest that the Democratic Party is trying to replace the current electorate, the voters now casting ballots, with new people, more obedient voters from the Third World,” Carlson declared last week. “But they become hysterical because that’s what’s happening actually. Let’s just say it: That’s true.”

    This all bothers me, but “more obedient” is especially galling.

    As Media Matters explained soon after, the “great replacement” conspiracy theory “posits that a globalist cabal is systematically ‘replacing’ white people with people of color through mass immigration.” With this in mind, some right-wing extremists celebrated Carlson’s comments, while the Anti-Defamation League called on Fox News to fire the host.

    It wasn’t long before a toxic echo reverberated in some Republican circles. […] Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) appeared on Fox Business yesterday, condemned Vice President Kamala Harris as being “completely AWOL” on matters related to the border, and appeared to dip his toes into the same waters as Carlson and Perry.

    “[T]his administration wants complete open borders. And you have to ask yourself why? Is it really they want to remake the demographics of America to ensure their — that they stay in power forever? Is that what’s happening here?”

    So, a few things.

    First, the idea that the vice president is “completely AWOL” on matters related to the border is obviously untrue. Second, the idea that the Biden administration “wants complete open borders” is hopelessly bonkers, as the former chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee knows.

    But as important as those relevant details are, it’s the degree to which Johnson’s suggestion dovetails with Tucker Carlson’s “replacement” rhetoric that’s especially jarring. The wording obviously wasn’t identical, but the similarities in sentiments are hardly subtle, and they reinforce larger concerns about the poison spreading, both on Capitol Hill and in conservative media.

    The chair of the Wisconsin Democratic Party last night accused Johnson of “parroting” the “great replacement” conspiracy theory, adding, in reference to the incumbent Republican lawmaker, “He shouldn’t be anywhere near the United States Senate. If he doesn’t do the right thing and resign, Wisconsinites are going to end his disgraceful political career [in 2022].”

    All of this, of course, comes on the heels of a series of related Johnson controversies, including his efforts to downplay the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol, his ridiculous conspiracy theories related to the 2020 presidential election, and his cringe-worthy nonsense related to the pandemic.

    The Wisconsin Republican also spent much of last year going out of his way to light his credibility on fire. […]

  39. says

    Bits and pieces of news:

    When 10 House Republicans voted to impeach Donald Trump earlier this year, there were plenty of questions about the impact on their futures within the party. Bloomberg News reported this morning, however, “Collectively, the 10 members raised $6.4 million [between January and March], with seven setting personal records for first-quarter fundraising in a non-election year. All outraised the challengers who filed campaign finance reports.”
    Though Pfizer was one of many corporations to curtail financial support for anti-election congressional Republicans, the pharmaceutical giant made a donation to Rep. Adrian Smith (R-Neb.) despite his vote not to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election. Yesterday, Pfizer said the PAC contribution “was made in error and has been cancelled.”
    In an interesting case for running candidates in every district, even unwinnable ones: “Mr. Biden performed 0.3 percent to 1.5 percent better last year in conservative state legislative districts where Democrats put forward challengers than in districts where Republicans ran unopposed.”
    Though Trump has made no secret of his contempt for Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), whose career the former president has vowed to end, but the Senate Leadership Fund has announced its support for the Alaskan’s re-election. The SLF, of course, is a political action committee aligned with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.


  40. says

    Doofuses running amok again: 2020 Election Conspiracy Theorists Rush To Bankroll Arizona Senate GOP’s Sketchy Audit

    The audit that Arizona’s GOP Senate has ordered of the 2020 election in the state’s largest county will be partially bankrolled by private donations — including from a fundraising effort spearheaded by some of the loudest promoters of President Trump’s lies about the 2020 election.

    Lin Wood, who brought several lawsuits challenging the 2020 election, claims his organization has donated a five-figure sum to a fundraiser led by One America News correspondents to help pay for the audit, which is also running into a whole host of logistical issues.

    Wood, TPM can exclusively report, has a preexisting relationship with Doug Logan, a cyber security consultant and CEO of “Cyber Ninjas,” which the state Senate tapped to lead the audit of Maricopa County.

    […] “I opened up my home to allow people to work on the election fraud investigation,” Wood said.

    While Logan was there, according to Wood, he gave Wood some assistance on a separate cybersecurity issue Wood was dealing with as a “favor.” […]

    Wood now says that his group, Fight Back, has donated $50,000 to the fundraiser for the audit, which in theory is being done on behalf of Arizona lawmakers.

    The question of who is financially supporting the supposedly official review, and what those donors will expect it to find, is the latest controversy to consume the audit.

    The fundraisers claim that they have collected more than $150,000 but are pledging to raise even more for the effort, which is expected to cost more than the $150,000 in taxpayer funds that the state Senate had agreed to put up.

    A ‘No-Win’ Situation For A Cash-Strapped Audit
    […] Maricopa County challenged the subpoenas as part of a larger resistance to the audit. County officials have called the demands for voting materials “a draconian abuse of power” and argue that another audit is unnecessary, given the other steps that have already been taken to vet the election.

    […] Enter Lin Wood and some of the other high-profile voices who pushed Trump’s claims that the election had been stolen from him.

    […] “If it’s the Doug Logan that I knew, and I believe it is, he is a fine Christian man,” Wood said. “I think he’s an excellent person to have that job. I’d trust any audit he gave.”

  41. says

    Follow-up to comment 45.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    A fine Christian man who will uncover the truth just as soon as we raise hundreds of thousands of dollars in private money to fund his mission.
    these fools and their money are soon parted
    Gee, I’m sure that an audit bankrolled by conservative interests intent on proving that Trump won that’s run by conservatives who want to prove Trump won will come up with an honest result based on the actual ballots. There’s no way they would throw out or lose Biden ballots to get to their preordained result, it’s just impossible to contemplate.
    Well, as a native Arizonan, resident of Maricopa County, I am shocked that the count is being held at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum at the Fairgrounds rather than on the midway with all the other carnival paraphernalia.
    They would have been fine with the election results, but Biden forgot to share granular polling data with the Russians (or Chinese, or Iranians, or Venezuelans, etc.).
    “If it’s the Doug Logan that I knew, and I believe it is, he plays a mean kazoo. I think he’s an excellent person to have that job. I’d trust any audit he gave.”
    Didn’t Anglo-Saxon political traditions mostly involve war lords?
    MTG might be Anglo-Saxon, but Gosar is of Basque and Slovenian ancestry. Not an Anglo or Saxon bone in his body.

  42. says

    A few details from today’s White House press briefing:

    […] President Biden will be meeting with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan on Friday. The two leaders are expected to discuss security issues in the Pacific, most directly involved with China’s expanding power in the region and North Korea’s continued position in opposition to the U.S. [Jen] Psaki answered questions about COVID-19 safety protocols during this kind of summit meeting, when global lockdowns remain in place, explaining some of the differences from previous summits including no communal meal, and limited press at the photo and question session.

    The daily right-wing sideshow question of the day came from [insert name and org here], who asked whether or not President Biden would be removing Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, for saying that the program of America includes not forgetting that “White supremacy is weaved into our founding documents and principles.” The speech Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield gave was to the National Action Network where she shared her personal life experience with racism and spoke to the ills of discrimination and racism and the need for society as a whole to tackle these problems because it is society that creates racists. [Context!]

    The reporter, Emerald Robinson of Newsmax, gave out the conservative-sphere context-free opinion that this statement was a Chinese Communist Party talking point, and after blathering on in a way that can only be described as a touch overwrought, asked if Thomas-Greenfield’s statement of facts was a removable offense. I guess this is in opposition to the last administration appointments whose only job qualifications seemed to be being pathological liars with fraud charges, convictions, and or allegations against them?

    Psaki did the thing one does when someone says something outrageous to you in the form of a question: asking that person to re-say what they said again and think about it. “Is POTUS going to remove an African American woman with decades of experience in the foreign service who’s widely respected around the world from her position as ambassador to the UN? He’s not. He is proud to have her in that position. She is qualified. She is exactly the right person in that role at this moment in time.” Adding, “I have not seen her comments, I will say that there is no question that there has been a history of institutional racism in this country, and that doesn’t require the UN Ambassador to confirm.” […] [video is available at the link]

    The angle the reporter was trying to parrot is the one the right-wing propaganda sphere has latched onto because they lack any and all policy ideas, and the last time they ran a government they blew out the deficit, gave away unpopular tax cuts to the rich, and we ended up living through a pandemic. To contextualize reporter Emerald Robinson’s political IQ, this is what she tweeted out about eight minutes before the White House briefing began: “We are witnessing the Democrat Party’s merging of the federal administrative state (which it largely controls) with its crony capitalist corporations and its media allies together into a kind of proto-state apparatus.” Proto-state apparatus? […]


  43. says

    Of course Boebert and Greene were the only ones to vote against the National Marrow Donor Program

    Tweedledum and Tweedledipshit are at it again, and this time (or, rather, once again) real people’s lives are on the line.

    […] these two are just a couple of windy assholes whistling in the willows, where no one can really hear them, evoking the age-old philosophical conundrum: “If Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert fart Bible verses in the forest in their original Aramaic, will they still be entered into the Congressional Record?”

    Ladies and germs, Reps. Boebert and Greene are the only ghouls among a phalanx of ghoulish Grand Old Partiers who are actually ghoulish enough to vote against reauthorizing the National Marrow Donor Program, which maintains a database of potentially lifesaving bone marrow donors. […]

  44. says

    Two dead, one officer wounded in San Antonio shooting

    Two people are dead and an officer and another person are wounded in San Antonio, Texas, after a routine traffic stop turned into a shootout.

    San Antonio Police Chief William McManus said at a press conference that the officer who was shot is at the hospital and able to talk.

    McManus said all the data he had was preliminary, saying the officer had pulled over a car with three people in it.

    During the traffic stop, the driver allegedly pulled out a gun and shot the officer in the hand, police said.

    “I will also say that the officer is very, very lucky to be alive at that close range, having been shot in the hand, and not somewhere else more vital,” McManus said.

    Police said the officer, who is a five-year veteran, returned fire, killing two young men in the front of the vehicle. One person was in the back and is currently hospitalized. […]

    McManus said bodycam footage showed the officer and shooter having a casual conversation before the shooting started.

  45. blf says

    Yoga can leave you injured, psychotic and a Hindu, Christian groups claim:

    Alabama lawmaker’s bid to overturn a 28-year yoga ban in public schools faces backlash from conservative Christian groups

    Jeremy Gray, a state lawmaker in Alabama, has been practicing yoga for years, initially as a workout after college football matches and later as a means of instilling in himself the virtues of focus and patience.

    Now the Democrat from Opelika needs all the patience he can get as he seeks to overturn a 28-year yoga ban in Alabama public schools. The ban, believed to be the only statewide prohibition of its sort in America, is proving to be tougher to scrub from the statute books than might be expected.

    Gray is preparing to present a bill to the Alabama senate that would allow public schools and students to engage in yoga during gym classes for the first time in almost three decades. The lifting of the ban was approved by the state house of representatives in March, and last week Gray’s bill passed out of the senate judiciary committee and now awaits a full debate and vote on the senate floor.

    But the closer Gray’s vision comes to fruition, the more it draws enemy fire. The main hurdle to reform lies with conservative Christian groups who argue that just the mere act of allowing yoga in the classroom will expose kids to the risk of converting to Hinduism.


    “The promoting of Hinduism argument is the only talking point these conservative groups have, and it makes them look very misinformed and miseducated on the issue,” Gray told the Guardian.

    The lawmaker said that he was struck by the contrast between the view of teachers who were strongly in favor of lifting the ban so that schoolchildren could benefit from yoga’s ability to reduce anxiety and depression, and the conservatives who had never tried yoga and who had no direct connection to public schools who were opposing it.

    “To me you cannot be well versed on something you never experienced. We have individuals opposing a bill that really doesn’t affect them, but those individuals in education are 100% behind it,” Gray said.

    […] The National Center for Law & Policy, an organization of Christian lawyers who take on legal cases backing anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage and other causes that they call civil liberties, has produced a factsheet claiming to prove that yoga cannot be separated from its religious roots in Hinduism.

    Yoga can be dangerous, causing injuries, death from stroke, and psychotic episodes,the document says.

    Nikunj Trivedi, president of the Coalition of Hindus of North America, said that the latest claims were just a new iteration of age-old discrimination against America’s 2.5 million Hindus. […]

    Trivedi added that the physical stretching that most Americans associate with yoga has nothing to do with the religious manifestations of the art. “Most people don’t do yoga, what they do is asana or postures. Doing postures is not going to make you Hindu,” he said.

    The nutcases also have a pair of long videos, as well as the Yoga Fact Sheet (PDF). It’s four pages of incoherence, making numerous assertions without citing one single reference (relying mostly, it seems, on alleged quotes from alleged authorities). It doesn’t even bother to define its terms (only what it claims are yoga / Hindu terms); e.g., constantly going on about “EUSD”, which I suspect is the Encinitas Union School District. The loons sued them in c.2012 about a yoga program, and the factsheet, whilst undated, looks to date from roughly that time / case. The loonies lost that case in 2015, Legal fight ends over yoga in EUSD schools:

    [… President of the loony group, Dean] Broyles said district yoga includes devotional sun worship, saying that should not be treated any more favorably than Bible reading or prayer.

    Although the legal challenge is over, Broyles said the center would continue to educate parents about the deceptive religious indoctrination of our children by the state.

    In its April [2015] ruling, the three-judge panel wrote, “We conclude that the program is secular in purpose, does not have the primary effect of advancing or inhibiting religion, and does not excessively entangle the school district in religion.”

    The ruling goes on to say that the overwhelming evidence demonstrates the program was started for physical and mental health reasons.


  46. says

    blf @51, thanks for the Gauld cartoon. That’s a good one. I thought of Mike Pence’s memoir, which is to be published soon.

    As for the shortage of garden gnomes, sorry to hear it. That made me smile. It is a shortage somewhat more bearable than a shortage of toilet paper.

    In other news, there is no shortage of batshit bonkers rightwing doofuses in Congress:

    Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) suggested on Friday that members of Congress who join a newly-formed, far-right caucus that has espoused […] white supremacist ideas should be stripped of their committees.

    “I believe anyone that joins this caucus should have their committees stripped, and the Republican conference should expel them from conference participation,” […]

    The comments come after a document that appeared to provide an overview of the policy posture of the new “America First Caucus” tied to Reps. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) was reported on Friday.

    The caucus document which urges for a pause in immigration, invokes language of nativism and white supremacy, suggesting that the United States is “strengthened by a common respect for uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions.”

    According to the document, the group has pledged “to follow in President Trump’s footsteps.”

    “History has shown that societal trust and political unity are threatened when foreign citizens are imported en-masse into a country, particularly without institutional support for assimilation and an expansive welfare state to bail them out should they fail to contribute positively to the country,” the document says.

    The platform further calls for infrastructure that “reflects the architectural, engineering and aesthetic value that befits the progeny of European architecture.”

    The call from Kinzinger to strip committees from those aligning themselves with the caucus could serve to dial up the heat on House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) who said on Friday that the Republican Party is not the party of “nativist dog whistles” without mentioning the caucus directly.

    “America is built on the idea that we are all created equal and success is earned through honest, hard work. It isn’t built on identity, race, or religion,” McCarthy tweeted on Friday afternoon.

    “The Republican Party is the party of Lincoln & the party of more opportunity for all Americans — not nativist dog whistles,” he added.

    Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), the House GOP conference chair, also appeared to reject nativist notions in a tweet Friday.

    “Racism, nativism, and anti-Semitism are evil. History teaches we all have an obligation to confront & reject such malicious hate,” Cheney wrote.

    In February, Cheney urged fellow Republican lawmakers to “make clear that we aren’t the party of white supremacy,” in the wake of the Jan. 6 Capitol attack which was littered with Confederate symbols and left five people dead.

    In response to the news that Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) — who is currently under federal investigation and is suspected of making payments to women for sex using cash apps — was “proud” to join the group, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) asked: “I wonder if their caucus has secret signals and means of communications, like secret Aryan Venmo handles?” […]


    Follow-up to comments 48 and 45. Also, PZ aptly criticized the America First Caucus: The racists/fascists/white supremacists have a grand plan

  47. says

    Extremism within Facebook groups for elite forces exposes how deep military’s problems run

    […] the Pentagon’s post-Jan. 6 efforts to examine and counter the extent of infiltration by right-wing extremists within the ranks of America’s military forces. […] a recent NBC News report on a secret Facebook group for elite forces members suggests that the problem is much deeper than a fringe problem.

    Indeed, the Pentagon’s anti-extremism campaign—announced in January by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who ordered a 60-day stand-down on recruitment by military forces in order to improve safeguards, and for commanders to examine the presence of extremists already within their ranks—is apparently fueling the fears and animus of far-right members of those elite forces. And Austin, the first African American defense secretary, is the focus of their hatefulness.

    These are among the terms used by members of the secret Facebook forums for current and former Rangers, Green Berets, and other elite soldiers, when describing Austin: “Racist punk,” “pus-gut maggot,” and “bubba.” Others suggest he was elevated to his current position only because he’s Black, and questioned whether he deserved his Silver Star.

    “This fuck is an embarrassment to the military […] He has risen to the peak of his profession, riding along on the color of his skin!”

    NBC’s Carol E. Lee obtained access to the posts from four private Facebook groups that were restricted to members of special operations forces […] Two of the groups—SF Brotherhood-PAC and US Special Forces Team Room—have more than 5,000 participants, with some overlapping.

    “The story of radicalization in special operations is a story that needs to be told,” ex-Green Beret Jack Murphy told Lee. “It has shocked and horrified me to see what’s happened to these guys in the last five or six years.”

    The rhetoric in these groups in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 insurrection has been particularly charged. […]

    “Trump was sabotaged once again!” one of the US Special Forces Team Room members posted the day after the insurrection. The presence of such infiltrators, he added, meant that “trying to get to the bottom of the obvious election fraud now looks like it doesn’t have a chance.”

    […] Conspiracy theories are not just common in the groups, they are often the primary driver of political conversations. The US Special Forces Team Room is especially rife with references to the cultish QAnon theories.

    “If you have been following Q for a while you know that Q taught many of us lurkers how he was going to communicate with us to by pass the mainstream media,” one member wrote. “SB2 has one of the original followers as I was a year ago. He’s a mathematician by trade and had a brilliant aptitude to pick up Gematria code early in which the Cabal used to communicate with each other on SM [social media] … SB2 has done many decodes which have proven highly accurate [and] even getting a shout-out from Q.”

    […] A former special forces commander named Robert Wilson told Lee that members of the special forces community “are radicalizing themselves online, just like many of these lone-wolf ISIS terrorists did.”

    “It’s a problem, and it’s an internal threat to the United States,” said Wilson, a former military counterterrorism director.

    “I am concerned about active duty,” Wilson added. “I don’t think special operations forces just develop these ideas in their head when they get out and are in their late 40s. So I think it starts in the military and probably gets worse when they’re out.”

    As Lee notes, the Facebook forums “shouldn’t be seen as reflective of the overall views of the whole special operations forces community.” After all, while there appear to be several thousand participants in these groups, U.S. Special Operations Command includes some 70,000 personnel, and there are tens of thousands more retired members of special operations forces.

    […] one of the pernicious effects of allowing extremist conspiracism to spread within the ranks of the military is that it has the potential to create parallel chains of command within the forces that compete with existing authority. He noted that QAnon followers swear fealty to the movement, and that in their worldview, the military’s role involves rounding up the nefarious pedophiles and human traffickers—identified mainly as liberal politicians and media figures—at the center of their conspiracy theory.

    “If you really believe that sort of thing and you’re a special forces guy, explain to me why you wouldn’t pick up a gun and do something about it,” he said. Murphy noted that the sergeant on his own special forces team became a QAnon cultist and was present at the insurrection.

    “It’s not just the occasional private in the 3rd Infantry,” he said. “There are senior officers and noncommissioned officers in the military who believe this.”

    Michael Flynn, (retired U.S. Army lieutenant general who was Trump’s National Security Advisor for 22 days), swore fealty to QAnon.

  48. blf says

    Lynna@52, “As for the shortage of garden gnomes[@51], sorry to hear it. That made me smile. It is a shortage somewhat more bearable than a shortage of toilet paper.”

    You’ve obviously either never tried to used a garden-grown gnome as toilet paper, or have a particular affection for ceramic veggie-substitutes.

  49. says

    blf @55, LOL.

    In other news: Judge orders Minnesota officers not to arrest, use force against journalists

    A federal judge in Minnesota granted a temporary restraining order that says law enforcement officers cannot arrest or use physical force against journalists covering the Duante Wright protests.

    U.S. District Judge Wilhelmina Wright issued the order on Friday and it is in effect for the next two weeks […]

    The order states that police cannot use physical force or chemical agents against the media, or take away their press passes.

    Journalists argued in court that they were “directed by law enforcement to vacate the protest area, physically grabbed, struck by less-lethal projectiles and rubber bullets, and pepper sprayed.”

    Although journalists did not have to abide by curfews, they were still required to leave areas when dispersal orders were given. The judge’s order allows for journalists to be exempt from dispersal orders […]

    The state’s attorney general’s office argued that dispersal orders were to keep journalists safe, but the judge dismissed that argument on Friday.

    “This argument is unavailing, particularly when considering the allegations, supported by declarations, that members of the press have sustained severe injuries at the hands of law enforcement in recent days,” Wright said. “These severe injuries include bruising and at least one injury requiring surgery.”

    The order came as multiple journalists reported being stopped or detained by law enforcement on Friday, according to local media, with several saying they were pepper-sprayed. Many documented their injuries on social media […]

    Photos available at the link, along with tweets like this:

    Prominent Twin Cities journalist @RegChapman and @wcco crew were on the ground as they were detained by law enforcement tonight in Brooklyn Cener — Reg just reporting “we are all safe.” Amazingly Reg and the photog did a live shot from their prone position!

  50. says

    Colorado Republican makes lynching joke before whitesplaining the Three-Fifths Compromise

    I’m not sure if I liked Republicans better when they were secretly racist or if it’s better now that they’ve decided to wear their racism on their sleeves. Seriously, the way Tucker Carlson is going lately, I expect him to show up on the air in a Waffen SS uniform any day now. (I assume he’s already wearing the vintage Eva Braun Underoos.)

    So here’s my advice to my fellow white people. Before you speak on anything related to race, or race relations, or the history of racial oppression in the U.S., or—good God in heaven—slavery, think about what you’re saying before you say it. Then, just to be safe, don’t fucking say it. Maybe listen for once.

    So in episode No. 10,342 of Republicans Behaving Badly, we encounter Colorado state Rep. Ron Hanks, a white man (natch) who doesn’t think the infamous Three-Fifths Compromise is what we can all clearly see it was: an attempt to categorize Black people as something less than a full a person.


    The newly elected lawmaker, who was part of the insurrectionist mob that marched on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, was mistakenly introduced as Rep. Lynch during debate on a bipartisan bill to strengthen civics education in Colorado public schools. (There is a Colorado lawmaker named Mike Lynch).

    “Being called Mr. Lynch might be a good thing for what I’m about to say. No, just kidding,” Hanks began.

    Clearly, Hanks knew he was about to say something awful … but he did it anyway.

    Okay, really fucking terrible start. I mean, really terrible. As bad as it gets. Surely he’s reached his nadir. Everyone mark April 15, 2021, on their calendars as the day Rep. Ron Hanks bottomed out, because it can’t possibly get any wor …

    Oh, shit.

    “Going back to the founding, and going back to the three-fifths, and I heard the comments and I appreciate them, and I respect them. But the Three-Fifths Compromise, of course, was an effort by non-slave states to try to reduce the amount of representation that the slave states had,” he said. “It was not impugning anybody’s humanity.”

    Hearing dissent in the chamber, Hanks asked, “Is this really racist to be talking about what the Three-Fifths Compromise was?”

    Shut up shut up shut up shut up shut up shut the FUCK up!

    Yeah, it’s so hard to wrap one’s head around the idea that counting Black people as three-fifths of a person during slavery might just possibly be a tad dehumanizing. […]

    Needless to say, there was blowback.

    “The fact that Representative Hanks thought it would be appropriate to make a ‘joke’ about lynching―especially at a time when we’re seeing a rise of racially motivated assaults on people of color across our country―is utterly despicable,” said Halisi Vinson, executive director of the Colorado Democratic Party. Vinson also noted that Hanks was attempting to “whitesplain the historical experience of Black people in our country.”

    Meanwhile, Shenika Carter, chair of the African Diaspora Initiative of the Colorado Democratic Party, also issued a statement: “To call the comments made by Mr. Hanks today disgusting and ignorant would be a gross understatement. For him to downplay the indisputable, historical fact that enslaved Black people were treated less a person’s worth both in law and in practice is offensive and beneath the dignity of our state legislature. Mr. Hanks needs to apologize immediately, and he needs to educate himself before he makes ignorant comments with such recklessness in the future.”

    Say, didn’t Kevin McCarthy just say, in response to the Hitler Boof Caucus that Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar are starting, that the GOP is “not the party of nativist dog whistles?” He’s right. It’s the party of nativist train whistles. And we all live next to the tracks. And the train comes through every 15 minutes or so. It’s kind of hard to miss, frankly. […]

  51. says

    ‘Bullhorn lady’ openly mocked a judge’s order to wear a mask in public. Then a judge found out

    Some people just never learn. After being released pretrial, Rachel Powell, known as “bullhorn lady” for using a megaphone during her participation in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, has once again gone viral for posting a picture of herself in a Pennsylvania bookstore while wearing a mesh mask. […]

    In response to the video, a federal judge ordered the Pennsylvania woman to show why she should not be jailed pending trial or be held in contempt of court for allegedly violating the requirement that she wear a mask when leaving her home. “The court does not take the defendant’s willingness to flout the court’s order lightly,” U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth wrote. Lamberth added that her noncompliant mask “mocks’ her initial agreement to be released.

    Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell approved Powell’s conditional home release on Feb. 11 pending trial on the conditions that she “wear a mask whenever she leaves her residence.” After the video surfaced last week, officials noted that Powell appeared to be mocking the court order. She even posted on social media apparently showing off her “see-through mesh mask” which had big enough holes to make her nose and mouth completely visible.

    “Defendant’s decision to appear in a video wearing a mask with holes in it mocks compliance with the Court’s Order,” Lamberth wrote. He also said that no reasonable person would think that such a mask would comply with the condition the court ordered for the defendant and believe that such a mask “would not pose a risk to the health and safety of the community when she left her house.”’

    Mesh masks are not effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and have often been worn by those refusing to wear masks or trying to find loopholes in state mask mandates. […]

    in December she posted a Facebook post in which she called herself “unashamedly a ‘super spreader.’” […] Additionally, she gloated about not intending to take a COVID-19 vaccine.

    […] “The mask is a symbol of our enslavement.”

    According to the judge’s order, Powell has 10 days to submit a written response arguing why she should not be put in jail pending trial.

  52. says

    Leaked Calls Reveal ALEC’s Secret Plan to Thwart Biden on Climate

    Conservative coalition is “providing the intellectual scaffolding” to resist federal initiatives.

    Republican efforts to stall President Joe Biden’s climate agenda are slowly beginning to take shape. In March, a coalition of 12 Republican state attorneys general filed a lawsuit challenging Biden’s executive order creating a working group to establish a metric for the “social cost of carbon.” Led by Missouri’s attorney general, Eric Schmitt, the lawsuit charges that the order is an “enormous expansion of federal regulatory power” and that such cost calculations are “inherently speculative, policy-laden, and indeterminate” and should instead be undertaken by Congress.

    In a similar vein, 21 Republican-controlled states, led by Texas and Montana, have sued the Biden administration over its decision to revoke a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, calling it an unconstitutional overuse of executive power that would diminish the states’ economies and tax revenue. Both lawsuits are pending in federal courts. Separately, in response to Biden’s alleged “hostility to the energy industry,” Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order in January directing state agencies to “use all lawful powers” to challenge federal policies that disadvantage oil and gas operators. […]

    behind the scenes, call records obtained by Grist show that the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, has formed a new working group to build upon these efforts.

    On a one-hour call with ALEC members in late February, former Utah state representative Ken Ivory claimed that each directive in the president’s January executive order on climate action unduly entrenched federal power and stripped authority from the states. He surfaced fears that Biden will declare a national “climate emergency” that “unlocks more than 130 unilateral executive actions.” (It’s unclear how Ivory, who did not respond to Grist’s request for comment, arrived at that figure.) […]

    “We’re seeing something that they’re identifying as a new age in climate federalism,” Ivory said.

    The call was the first of two that have taken place so far as part of ALEC’s new Functional Federalism Working Group, […]

    “What’s the reasoning or the exact strategy for them in creating this secretive working group, we still don’t know,” said David Armiak, a research director with the Center for Media and Democracy, a nonprofit government watchdog group that tracks ALEC’s initiatives and provided Grist with a verbatim record of the two recent calls. “Fossil fuel and pharmaceutical companies do still play leadership roles and very active roles in sponsor meetings, […]

    […] ALEC is a membership organization for state lawmakers and industry representatives that is best known for drafting model bills that are then picked up by state legislatures. Its bills have been linked to a number of state laws discouraging clean energy and criminalizing protests against pipeline projects. ALEC’s efforts to block climate progress, combined with its alliance with right-wing groups that explicitly promote climate change denial, has led major corporations such as ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, Microsoft, and Google to cut ties with the group.

    […] Political scientists who spoke to Grist doubted the likelihood of […] nullification actions, but they cautioned against underestimating the effects of passing resolutions at the state level and discussing ways to wrest power from the federal government.

    […] The moves are symbolic and help unify disparate camps within the conservative movement—from anti-abortion groups to pro-gun groups and fossil fuel interests[…]

    ALEC […] further cemented its position as a bill mill for state legislatures. ALEC’s federalism initiatives are already cropping up in state legislatures. Resolutions reaffirming the Tenth Amendment and ostensibly nullifying Biden’s executive orders have been introduced in at least four states—Idaho, Texas, South Carolina, and Montana—this year, but they have not yet passed. The bills are based on a theory that states have the right to veto federal policies or declare them “null and void” within their borders if they believe they are unconstitutional. The theory has its roots in the antebellum efforts of some states to preserve slavery and has not been upheld in federal court.

    […] “It’s not surprising to see the fossil fuel industry try to push back and weaken progress because they don’t want us to get off fossil fuels,” she [Leah Stokes, a political science professor at the University of California], said. “They want to keep making profit and imperil the climate stability and the health of people all across the United States. That’s how they make money.”

  53. says

    Russia increases military presence in Black Sea amid rising Ukraine tensions

    Russia increased its military presence in the Black Sea, sending two warships to the area and 15 smaller ships amid tensions with Ukraine.

    The military maneuvers, reported by Reuters, come as Russia has built up its military presence along its border with Ukraine and increased fighting in eastern Ukraine with pro-Russian separatists.

    The deployments are the latest sign of escalation with the U.S. over Ukraine.

    The U.S. slapped a slew of sanctions on Russia over its malign behavior this week, including election meddling and its actions in Ukraine. The U.S. government also expelled 10 Russian diplomats.

    Moscow responded in kind, kicking 10 Americans out of Russia.

    “There are elements of this new EO that give us additional authorities that we are not exercising today,” a senior U.S. official said Thursday, warning of extra steps the White House could take.

    “We would prefer not to have to deploy these authorities, but the scope and potential to cause meaningful impact should send a clear signal that continued harmful activities, including further election interference, further malicious cyber activities are unacceptable, and we are prepared going forward to impose substantial and lasting costs if this behavior continues.”

    Beyond pressure from the U.S., the U.K. has also summoned the Russian ambassador, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is set to meet with the leaders of France and Germany to discuss the latest Russian military moves.

  54. says

    On April 16, the number of new coronavirus cases in the USA was 78,932. That number shows an 8% increase when viewed as an average over 14 days.

  55. says

    Pro-Trump website ‘TheDonald’ confirms detailed plans to storm Capitol and kill members of Congress

    If there were any lingering doubts as to the violent intentions and motives of those who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, those doubts may now be put to rest. From minute details, such as the most effective type of zip ties to restrain elected officials to the most effective methods of killing police officers, the rioters left a chilling and irrefutable electronic trail on a website dedicated to overturning the 2020 election on Donald Trump’s behalf. Prior to Jan. 6, that website, “TheDonald.win,” had generated over 1 million visits per day.

    A research group called Advance Democracy, formed by former FBI analyst and Senate investigator Daniel Jones, collected thousands of messages posted by pseudonymous users of the now-defunct website in the days leading up to the insurrection. The posts were distilled into a report and provided to The Washington Post. Jones’ group had previously focused on the online effort to mobilize the riot, and it soon became evident that this particular website served as one of the rioters’ primary organizational hubs.

    As reported by the Post’s Craig Timberg:

    “The website, TheDonald, played a far more central role in the January 6th Capitol insurrection than was previously known,” he said. “There are thousands of posts — with tens of thousands of comments — detailing plans to travel to Washington and engage in violence against the U.S. Capitol. The ultimate end goal of this violence was, on behalf of Trump, disrupt the Congress and overturn the presidential election.”

    Because the posters on this site used pseudonyms, Advance Democracy could not identify them; the logical assumption is that the website and its contents are now being analyzed by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies to track the former users through more forensic means. As the Post explains, the website itself grew out of a Reddit forum that served for some time as a “safe space” for racists and conspiracy theorists. Eventually, chafing at Reddit’s moderation rules, the forum became a standalone site, with its web address owned by an Army Veteran named Jody Williams. Williams disbanded the site after the Jan. 6 riots at the Capitol.

    The Post article cites a treasure trove of intensely violent comments and discussions on the site in the weeks leading up to the Jan. 6 assault. Many of those comments clearly go well beyond the aspirational fever dreams of “keyboard commandos,” and involve meticulous and well-coordinated plans, including “shared diagrams of the tunnel systems beneath the Capitol complex,” discussion of travel and funding resources, and most notably, proposed methods to inflict violence, some of which were then employed by the rioters.

    Users of TheDonald.win also shared advice on bringing firearms into Washington as well as how much ammunition to carry in case the protest turned into a gun battle, and they discussed the legality of carrying other weapons, such as stun guns and small knives, that might not violate the city’s strict gun-control laws.

    Other subjects of discussion were the proper length and brand of zip ties for detaining members of Congress and how to use a flagpole and other objects to attack police officers.

    The question of how to overcome the presence of armed police officers on the Capitol steps dominated several of these online conversations. “Cops don’t have ‘standing’ if they are laying on the ground in a pool of their own blood,” wrote one user. Another posited creating a “wall of death” by pushing their fellow Trump supporters from behind. This user theorized—probably correctly—that police would be reluctant to shoot into the crowd if those in the surging mob appeared as if they were physically compelled by others in fomenting the assault.

    In addition to detailed preparatory instructions, users of the site—self-described as a “never-ending rally dedicated to the 45th President of the United States, Donald J. Trump,”—routinely encouraged each others’ participation in what they unmistakably viewed as a Trump-inspired insurrection. Statements like “If they ‘certify’ (B)iden, we storm (C)apitol (H)ill. Executions on the steps” and “Arrest the worst traitors … Let them try to hurt us as civilians. Their support will collapse overnight.” Other posts directly responded to Trump’s encouragement to attend the “wild” event: “I’LL BE THERE, AND I’LL BE WILD, SIR!!!”

    Additional posts ruminated as to whether the presence of a gallows or a guillotine outside the Capitol building would be preferable; ultimately, it appears it was decided that the blade of a guillotine would be too large to transport. There were also several posts providing helpful advice on ammunition should the rioters decide to bring arms to the event.

    Taken collectively, the posts on this website confirm what the innumerable videos and photographs posted online by the participants themselves make obvious: The riot was carefully planned, it was wholly prompted by the exhortations and incitement of Donald Trump, and its intent was to inflict violence on both elected officials and any law enforcement officers who dared defend them.

    In short, it was anything but a spontaneous event. It was a deliberate revolt against this country, planned weeks in advance, for the sole purpose of overthrowing a lawful election and preventing the Joe Biden presidency.

  56. says

    Voting Rights Roundup: Ohio GOP readies new voting restrictions, including a ban on prepaid postage

    […] the progressive media group More Perfect Union obtained what it calls a leaked draft of the bill that would abolish absentee ballot drop boxes, ban prepaid postage on absentee ballots, require two forms of ID for voting absentee or early, and cut early voting availability.

    Republicans haven’t offered any explanation as to why they want to ban prepaid postage, though they unsuccessfully tried to do so last year. Last September, lawmakers also rejected a request by Republican Secretary of State LaRose to pay for such postage, a decision that was criticized by Republican Gov. Mike DeWine for making it harder to vote.

    Republicans are also considering codifying some of LaRose’s directives into law, such as one that limited counties to a single location for mail ballot drop boxes regardless of population size instead of outright banning them. Combined with a 2006 law Republicans passed to limit counties to one early voting location regardless of size, this directive means that populous Democratic-dominated urban counties such as Franklin County, which is home to the state capital of Columbus and 1.3 million residents, are placed at a disadvantage compared to residents of smaller Republican-leaning counties like Vinton County, which has just 13,000 residents but the same number of drop boxes and early voting sites.​ […]

  57. says

    New York police on Friday arrested an 18-year-old from Ohio for carrying an AK-47 and a loaded magazine on a subway near Times Square in Manhattan.

    The teen, identified as Saadiq Teague, carried the unloaded weapon with him onto the city’s metro, but police did not provide a reason as to why he had the gun on his person.

    “.@NYPDTransit cops on ‘routine’ patrol in the @TimesSquareNYC subway station recovered this AK-47 & a loaded magazine from an 18 y/o from Ohio,” New York Police Commissioner Dermot Shea tweeted.

    “This story could’ve had a tragically different ending, but thanks to these diligent cops it ends with the suspect in handcuffs.” […]


  58. says

    Oh, FFS.

    Actor Jim Caviezel Warns Of ‘The Adrenochroming Of Children,’ Goes Full QAnon

    Actor Jim Caviezel — who played Jesus in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of The Christ, co-starred with that one weird dude from Lost in Person of Interest, and played a guy named Darryl in an episode of Murder, She Wrote that is probably the only thing I’ve ever actually seen him in — has some thoughts about some things. Things that are not real things.

    In an appearance at “a right-wing COVID conspiracy theorist conference” on Friday, Caviezel promoted his upcoming movie, The Sound of Freedom — which is meant to be the story of the actually-quite-sketchy anti-human-trafficking organization Operation Underground Railroad.

    And it actually got weirder from there. […]

    Because after he stopped talking about his movie he started talking about the real life “adrenochroming of children,” which is not a real thing.

    In case you haven’t been paying attention to all the QAnon stuff, the adrenochrome thing is basically an updated version of blood libel. They think that evil Satanists scare children with torture and sex slavery and then, when they’re scared, harvest their adrenaline and make a drug out of it called adrenochrome. Except adrenochrome isn’t a drug, it’s oxidized epinephrine, which means obtaining it is actually as easy as letting an Epi-Pen go bad. […]

    Anyway! Caviezel just starts going on about this “adrenochroming of children” as if it is a thing he has actually seen happen, in real life.

    Essentially, you have adrenaline in your body, I’ll just simplify it, and when you are scared, you produce adrenaline. You’re an athlete, you get in the fourth quarter, you have adrenaline that comes out of you. If a child knows he’s going to die, his body will secrete the adrenaline, um, and they have a lot of terms that they use, that he takes me through, but um, it’s the worst horror I’ve ever seen, the screaming alone, even if I never, ever, ever, ever saw it. It’s just beyond and these people that do it, um, There’ll be no mercy for them.

    So it’s the worst horror he’s seen, and he talks about “the screaming alone” and then says he “never, ever, ever, ever saw it?” So did he see this in his head or what? Because we can make stuff up too. […]

    Caviezel appears to be insinuating that Tim Ballard, the former DHS agent who founded Operation Underground Railroad, is the one who is telling him all this, about the adrenochrome and what have you. If true, that guy needs to not have a job where he deals with children in any capacity at all, because he’s got a screw loose.

    This is not Caviezel’s first time at the blood libel rodeo — there was also a lot of controversy over Mel Gibson’s decision to include a scene thought to be the genesis of the conspiracy theory in The Passion of the Christ.

    […] It looks as though Caviezel has been pretty weird for a while. In an ad meant to respond to Michael J. Fox’s emotional testimony in favor of stem cell research, which could cure Parkinson’s, he called him a Judas in Aramaic. Probably Michael J. Fox does not care because, unlike John Caviezel, people actually know who he is and love him […]

    Anyway! This movie looks terrible, this guy probably needs some professional help, this organization seems sketchy as hell […]

  59. says

    “RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel comes under pressure to show more independence from Trump.”

    Washington Post link

    Amid the din of clanking glasses and cheering at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club on April 10, the former president ribbed Ronna McDaniel, the Republican Party chairwoman, about her relationship with the GOP’s potential 2024 White House contenders.

    “She has to be neutral,” he said, before pausing and adding: “She’s supposed to be neutral.”

    McDaniel interjected, yelling back to the stage: “I said you’re my president!” referring to her introduction of Trump earlier that night.

    “She’s neutral like I’m neutral,” Trump said, drawing loud laughs from the crowd of Republican donors […]

    Since Trump left office, McDaniel has taken a hands-on approach to staying in Trump’s good graces — meeting with him privately at Mar-a-Lago, having the RNC spend more than $100,000 to hold the donor event at his club and regularly conferring with him, even after the deadly Capitol riot on Jan. 6.

    But as the Republican National Committee prepares to meet next week in Dallas for its first gathering since Trump left the White House, McDaniel is under increasing pressure from some of the committee’s members to show more independence from the former president — particularly after his Saturday Mar-a-Lago speech, in which he slashed Republicans and called Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) a “dumb son of a [B-word].”

    […] some of the RNC’s 168 committee members want to see the party create at least a modicum of distance from Trump […]
    “We’ve got to be clear-eyed about the last cycle,” said Henry Barbour, a national committeeman from Mississippi. “We lost.”

    Barbour said it was a mistake for the RNC to hold part of its spring donor retreat at Mar-a-Lago, adding that some of the former president’s rhetoric is not helping the party.

    “The RNC has to be independent. That’s fundamental to hold fair primaries. . . . Holding part of our RNC donor retreat at the home of one of the potential 2024 candidates is inconsistent with being independent,” Barbour said. “Could you imagine if the RNC held a similar event at Ted Cruz’s home or Mitt Romney’s home or any other potential candidate’s home? Trump is a major force in the party, but the party must be bigger than any one candidate, including Donald Trump.”

    Bill Palatucci, a national committeeman from New Jersey, said “some of us in purple states sit back and just roll our eyes” at events such a last weekend’s retreat, during which Trump railed about the 2020 election and Republican lawmakers he deemed insufficiently loyal to him.

    […] Palatucci added that he did not expect an immediate course correction from many in the party. “They’ll continue to be in denial,” he said, adding that McDaniel and other RNC officials had installed Trump loyalists in key positions and “they don’t want to hear from the rest of us.”

    McDaniel [said] “President Trump offered to help the RNC raise money at our donor retreat and we gladly took him up on it. We would do the same with many other top Republican leaders. […]”

    […] McDaniel was given a different version of Trump’s speech in advance and was not aware he was planning to attack McConnell and other Republicans […]

    In a statement, Trump praised McDaniel, saying that she and the RNC helped him receive a record number of votes for an incumbent president last fall. He added that “the RNC has also been a great ally in fighting the rampant voter fraud and rigged election that occurred on November 3rd,” repeating his false claims that the election was stolen.

    “I look forward to working with Ronna to win back the House and Senate for Republicans in 2022, and then winning back the White House in 2024,” Trump said. […]

  60. says

    From the New York Times Editorial Board: “Aleksei Navalny Needs His Doctors”

    Aleksei Navalny’s wife, doctor and colleagues have sounded an anguished alarm that the incarcerated Kremlin critic’s health is rapidly deteriorating and his heart could stop any minute. They and many other supporters of Mr. Navalny are demanding that his doctors be immediately allowed to see and treat him.

    The decision clearly rests with President Vladimir Putin of Russia, and he should promptly agree. It may well be that Mr. Putin would prefer to be rid of his most effective critic — Mr. Navalny’s current ordeal, it will be recalled, began when Kremlin goons tried to kill him with a military nerve agent, an attack he survived only narrowly.

    But Mr. Putin should understand that letting Mr. Navalny now perish in a labor camp would solidly confirm Mr. Putin as a “killer,” […] Mr. Putin has been around long enough to know how that would play abroad, and among Russians already showing fatigue with his increasingly authoritarian and open-ended rule.

    On Saturday, more than 70 prominent international writers, artists and academics — including Benedict Cumberbatch, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Orhan Pamuk, Vanessa Redgrave, J.K. Rowling, Salman Rushdie and Tom Stoppard — signed an open letter, published in British, French, German and Italian newspapers, calling on Mr. Putin to ensure that Mr. Navalny is “immediately given the medical treatment and care that he urgently requires — and is entitled to under Russia law.”

    The only “crime” for which Mr. Navalny is being hounded is his courageous campaign to expose corruption and venality in the Kremlin elites, in part through hard-hitting and sardonic videos deriding the “crooks and thieves” at the top. […]

    […] Last month, Mr. Navalny reported that he was suffering from back pain and had lost feeling in his hands, and at the end of March he declared a hunger strike to demand proper treatment. Instead of a doctor, the Kremlin had the gall to send a television team led by Maria Butina, the same woman who was expelled from the United States for infiltrating political circles. According to Mr. Navalny’s Twitter account, she was “shouting that this is the best and most comfortable prison.”

    Finally, on Saturday, Dr. Anastasia Vasilieva, Mr. Navalny’s physician, and three other doctors sent a letter to the head of the Russian prison service saying a blood test showed that Mr. Navalny’s potassium had reached “critical levels,” and they demanded immediate access. Mr. Navalny was also reported suffering from a severe cough and fever. “This means both impaired renal function and that serious heart rhythm problems can happen any minute,” the doctors wrote in the letter, which was posted on Dr. Vasilieva’s Twitter account.

    The facts of Mr. Navalny’s condition cannot be verified independently. That, of course, is the point — any “official” report from prison authorities would have zero credibility, given the August attempt on his life. It is imperative that Dr. Vasilieva and her team of doctors be allowed to promptly examine Mr. Navalny and get him into intensive care if necessary. If Mr. Navalny dies, there is no question who should be held responsible, and the cost will be high.

  61. blf says

    Texas bill to carry gun without permit advances to state senate (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    If passed, Texans over age 21 could carry a gun without training or a background check. The state would be the 14th to have such a law

    This week, the Texas House of Representatives passed a bill dubbed Constitutional Carry that would allow citizens over the age of 21 to carry a gun without a license, drawing outrage from many state Democrats and gun-reform advocates.

    Texas law currently requires citizens to obtain a license to carry in order to carry a firearm openly or concealed. If passed into law, the new bill would remove that restriction, allowing Texans to carry guns without having to pass a background check or go through training. […]

    […] Becca DeFelice, a volunteer for Moms Demand Action Texas chapter, said: “It’s not complicated, and it’s not controversial: gun owners like me know that responsible gun ownership means going through a background check and safety training before carrying loaded handguns in public.”

    State Democratic representatives Rafael Anchía and Diego Bernal offered an amendment to the bill that would prevent “insurrectionists … or violent white supremacist extremist{s}” from possessing firearms, but it failed to make it in the bill because it did not gain enough votes.

    In addition to 84 state Republicans, seven democrats voted in favor of the Constitutional Carry bill. Representative Morgan Meyer of Dallas was the only Republican to vote against the bill. The bill will now advance to a Republican-majority Senate […].

  62. says

    White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci on Sunday expressed his frustration over vaccine hesitancy among Republicans, following his tense exchange with Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) last week.

    Last week, Jordan repeatedly pressed Fauci about the timeline on loosening mitigation measures such as social distancing and wearing face masks during a House subcommittee hearing on the federal government’s COVID-19 response. The Ohio congressman, predictably, framed his question as a matter of Americans regaining their “freedom” and “liberties.”

    After Jordan attempted to keep grilling Fauci even after his time was up, the Ohio congressman finally yielded his time when Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) scolded him to “shut your mouth.”

    Appearing on CNN on Sunday, Fauci was asked about a poll showing 43% of Republicans refusing to get vaccinated, in light of the shouting match he found himself in with Jordan last week.

    Fauci replied that he finds vaccine hesitancy among Republicans “quite frustrating” because it “actually works against where they want to be.”

    The White House chief medical adviser added that everyone, including Republicans, shares concerns about coronavirus restrictions based on public health recommendations. Fauci went on to stress that the elimination of restrictions will depend on getting as many people vaccinated as soon as possible.

    “When that happens, for absolutely certain, you will see the level of virus in the community go down and down to the point where you would not have to have those public health restrictions,” Fauci said.

    Fauci then decried the “almost paradoxical” rationale of Republicans who refuse to get vaccinated.

    “On the one hand, they want to be relieved of the restrictions,” Fauci said. “On the other hand, they don’t want to be vaccinated. It almost doesn’t make any sense.”

    LOL. Understatement by Dr. Fauci.

    Pressed on his tense exchange with Jordan last week, Fauci said that he doesn’t “enjoy those kinds of confrontations” and that Jordan made it “very clear” that he took issue with the restriction of so-called “liberties.”

    “This has nothing to do with liberties,” Fauci said. “We’re talking about the fact that 560,000 people in our country have died. We’re talking about 70,000, 60-to-70 thousand new infections per day. That’s the issue. This is a public health issue. It’s not a civil liberties issue.”


  63. says

    Garland’s DOJ reverses Trump-era rule on consent decrees, which help hold local police accountable

    The Trump administration—the malignant milieu of racism, bad ideas, and bad, racist ideas—had, for the past two-plus years, limited the use of consent decrees in holding police departments accountable for abusive (read: racist) behavior. Now, Attorney General Merrick Garland is reversing that Trump-era policy.

    From USA Today:

    The move – one of the first clear indications that the Biden administration intends to more aggressively investigate police departments accused of civil rights violations – comes on the heels of multiple fatal shootings involving police and amid deepening distrust of law enforcement.

    “This memorandum makes clear that the Department will use all appropriate legal authorities to safeguard civil rights and protect the environment, consistent with longstanding Departmental practice and informed by the expertise of the Department’s career workforce,” Garland said in a statement.

    […] The Garland DOJ’s announcement is a return to the status quo pre-Trump.

    Under the Obama administration, the department opened 25 investigations of allegations of systemic abuse at police departments, many of which resulted in consent decrees with local officials. The Trump administration launched only one investigation of a police department. […]

  64. says


    House Republicans […] created a fuss this weekend when they banded together to form an openly white supremacist caucus within a GOP that’s already pretty racist. Shocking absolutely no one, the founding members were Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Paul Gosar of Arizona, Louie Gohmert of Texas, and Matt Gaetz of Florida […]

    Republican leadership and rank-and-file members alike decried the AFC’s “nativist” sentiments. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who enables the useless idiots in his caucus, invoked Abraham Lincoln, who radically advanced civil rights while incurring the (fatal) wrath of Southern racists. Modern Republicans have demonstrated zero interest in doing either. They won’t even support legislation defending minority voting rights, but hey, they’ll keep calling themselves the “Party of Lincoln” because it’s not like he’s alive to sue for defamation.

    The so-called “America First Caucus” claimed it would follow in [Trump’s] footsteps, which we hope means not winning re-election. [LOL] The AFC released a statement declaring its willingness to “step on some toes and sacrifice sacred cows for the good of the American nation” — unless, of course, those toes belong to that mooing fool from Mar-a-Lago.

    Greene quickly backed away from her self-ignited dumpster fire Saturday.

    From CNN:

    Nick Dyer, Greene’s spokesperson, told CNN in an email on Saturday afternoon the Georgia Republican is not “launching anything.” “The Congresswoman wants to make clear that she is not launching anything. This was an early planning proposal and nothing was agreed to or approved,” he said in an email to CNN, referring to a flier promoting the caucus, obtained by Punchbowl News, that used inflammatory rhetoric.

    He added that “she didn’t approve that language and has no plans to launch anything.”

    Here’s a sample of that controversial language Greene claims she didn’t approve, even though it’s consistent with every gross word she’s said since entering public life:

    America is a nation with a border, and a culture, strengthened by a common respect for uniquely Anglo-Saxon traditions. History has shown that societal trust and political unity are threatened when foreign citizens are imported en-masse into a country.

    […] Greene backtracked further and tweeted:

    I believe in America First with all my heart and that means every American, of every race, creed, and color.

    I will never back down and I will never stop fighting for America First.

    There are tens of millions of Americans who agree.

    […] The initial “America First” flier repeated President Lost Cause’s Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen. The AFC caucus would “work towards an end to mail-in voting, implementation of national voter ID and substantive investigations into mass voter fraud perpetrated during the 2020 election.” These kooks are full-on Jim Crow.

    […] Madison Grant’s 1916 “The Passing of the Great Race” complained about unwanted demographic changes in terms familiar to us today. White Anglo-Saxon Protestants, he warned, were not reproducing children fast enough to keep pace with “the Slovak, the Italian, the Syrian, and the Jew.” Established “old stock” Americans, he grumbled, were “being literally driven off the streets of New York City by the swarms of Polish Jews.”

    In the 1920 publication “The Rising Tide of Color: The Threat Against White World Supremacy,” Lothrop Stoddard made the same claims, warning that white Americans were being engulfed by the more “fertile” nonwhite races. Americans of “Anglo-Saxon origin,” he insisted, had to restrict immigration to preserve their country for “future generations who have a right to demand of us that they shall be born white in a white man’s land.” […]

    The baseless accusation of mass voter fraud is only the second biggest Big Lie that the AFC promotes. The true Big Lie is that Americans of European descent were native to this land and have always been its caretakers. The truth is that Europeans invaded America, rained genocide on its actual inhabitants, and now want to lock the door behind them.

    Texas, which Louie Gohmert represents poorly, was once Mexican territory […]

    Florida was under Spanish rule for almost 40 years after the US declared its independence. […]

    Arizona is also a spoil of war with Mexico. Paul Gosar probably thinks the US won the state on a quiz show.

    Nativist is too flattering a description for the “America First” crowd, as it invokes a finder’s keepers philosophy that doesn’t apply to the United States’ imperialist history. [Agreed!] Too many proud “Anglo-Saxons” act as if they found a wallet stuffed with cash and are bravely defending their prize from the undeserving. But what they truly fear are the original owners reclaiming what belongs to them. “America First” is a call for justice denied.


  65. says

    Many veterans don’t trust coronavirus vaccines.

    Washington Post link

    On the morning he was scheduled to get his first shot of coronavirus vaccine, Mike Jellesed woke in a fury and wheeled his pickup out of his trailer park, headed for the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in town.

    A giant star-spangled bus that had crossed 160 miles of the Rocky Mountains from Spokane, Wash., was waiting for him in the parking lot. Inside were three Department of Veterans Affairs workers and 26 Moderna syringes ready to go. Jellesed, a 61-year-old Air Force veteran with scarred lungs that left him vulnerable to covid-19, had driven there with his 11-year-old son to tell the VA crew all the reasons — despite his scheduled appointment — he didn’t believe in the vaccine.

    He felt like a lab rat: “That’s what I am,” he said. “I don’t like being told what to do.”

    The VA mobile medical unit’s third visit since January to Libby, an old mining and lumber town 70 miles from the Canadian border in a deep-red band of America, had been unexpectedly rough.

    […] The rugged communities that stretch from eastern Washington through the Idaho Panhandle into northwestern Montana include some of the country’s highest concentrations of former service members. Mostly conservative and White, they are also highly suspicious of coronavirus vaccines.

    […] To counter the wariness, the agency’s Spokane hospital embarked in January on a mission to convince the roughly 46,000 veterans under its care that whatever was holding them back was the real danger. The 45-foot bus previously used as a primary-care clinic — 10 feet longer than a Greyhound and the height of a tractor-trailer, with two exam rooms, a triage room with a hospital bed, and a centrifuge to spin blood — has since logged 2,500 miles in a carefully waged campaign against skepticism.

    Nationally, about 3 in 4 Americans have indicated a willingness to accept a vaccine. Yet just 1 in 4 veterans contacted by the Spokane VA for an appointment on the bus have said yes. And on a trip early this month, roughly 1 in 6 with appointments canceled or didn’t show.

    When Jellesed arrived, he complained that the scheduler had unfairly pressured him by warning that his VA benefits, now the only source of income for his family of six, would be cut off if he turned down the shot.

    He feared the vaccine was meant to harm people, to eventually cause cancer in those who got it. […] He explained that his reluctance came from “all the things I’ve read on Facebook.”

    Yet he also knew people who had died in the pandemic and how lonely those deaths could be. […]

    A little after 10 a.m., Mark Sheldon came to hear him out. The Gulf War combat Marine, now an emergency room nurse, is the Spokane hospital’s chief weapon on the ground. In almost three months on the road running the mobile clinic, along with a nurse practitioner and a driver, he had learned that pressure tactics do not work on cynical veterans.

    He gently made the pitch for the vaccine, sharing that he also had wavered […] He sensed that, for all Jellesed’s fury, the veteran could be swayed. “I don’t want you to get this shot if it’s not what you want,” Sheldon told him. He promised Jellesed wouldn’t lose his benefits, regardless.

    The outreach to veterans in the 64,000 square miles served by the Spokane VA begins with a phone call from a 20-year-old medical support assistant working in a cubicle at the hospital. She is paid $25,000 a year.

    […] “Hello, this is Kylee calling from the Spokane VA,” she began. “I’m calling for John. Hi, John! How are you? I was just calling to see if you wanted to get the covid vaccine in Colville.”

    John had signed up to get his shot at the local fire station. The next veteran, Donald, had already gotten vaccinated. The next call went to voice mail and Flower wrote herself a note to try again — twice. Then Ronald picked up.

    “Hi, Ronald. How are you?” Flower asked. Did he want the vaccine? “No? Okay. Sounds good. Thank you for letting me know.” The “no” answers tend to be nonnegotiable.

    “That’s the hard part,” Flower said after hanging up. “What I’ve been told is if they say no, no is okay. I don’t want to argue with them.” She said she would never threaten to pull benefits.

    The veterans’ “no” reactions rest on several theories, she explained. The vaccine injects a microchip that will let the government track their movements. It can’t be safe, because it was developed too fast. They’ve quarantined for this long, so they don’t need it. Former president Donald Trump says they don’t need to get it, so they’re not getting it. None of these claims are true, but that doesn’t matter.

    […] For the vaccine push, fifteen schedulers were pulled from other duties to call veterans in five-year age increments, starting with a 102-year-old World War II veteran, who said yes.

    Since late January, the schedulers had been making 580 calls a day […] For those beyond driving distance from the city, the one constant is the bus.

    The crew had been 10 weeks on the road in cold and snow, 620 shots in with six weeks to go, and now, finally, the sun was shining on the VFW parking lot in Libby. Because of the town’s painful history — residents were exposed to toxic dust as mining company W.R. Grace dug millions of tons of asbestos-laced vermiculite from a nearby mountain — Libby was a priority. But this visit was quickly becoming muddled.

    Even before Jellesed showed up, an Air Force veteran named Connie Giles arrived, angry that the new computer system was spitting out old prescriptions and medical records.

    Bob Sonderman, the mobile clinic’s bus driver, who served in the Marines after the Vietnam War, was scrambling on the phone with colleagues in Spokane to find replacements for the no-shows. […]

    William Bishop, a 57-year-old Army veteran sitting nearby for 15 minutes of observation after his shot, said he had lost his father to covid last year. “It’s a duty to myself and a duty to my community,” he said, explaining why he was getting vaccinated. “I’m a veteran. Duty is what it’s about.”

    His was not the prevailing view. For most veterans, the pressure not to get the shot was enormous.

    […] “A lot of people think this is just the flu,” said Valerie Downing, next up for the shot with her husband, Clifford, whom she met in the Navy. Valerie got the coronavirus last year from the couple’s 6-month-old granddaughter, and four other members of the family got sick, too.

    […] Mark Sheldon had managed to coax Jellesed and his son onto the bus. The nurse, now 50, with piercing blue eyes and a linebacker’s build, had returned from shooting shoulder-launched rockets in the Persian Gulf with herniations in his back, still-unexplained rashes and mental health issues, he said — along with a facility for de-escalating tense situations.

    […] “I’m not liking it, but I’m doing it because I have family I need to see,” Jellesed responded.

    “We all have our whys,” Sheldon said. “My grandson is my why.”

    […] On the dirt parking lot that afternoon, a veteran wheeled a battered bike toward the bus to get a closer view. He was homeless, 61 and at risk for the virus. He didn’t see the point of the vaccine, he said, mostly because “they could track you by this injection.”

    An Air Force veteran in a camouflage jacket named Mike Aja walked up with his 4-year-old son, Shane. He was a “no,” too. He said he had heard that the average death rate had dropped last year, proof that the government was making too big a deal out of the virus. […] He said there was no way President Biden was serious about the pandemic because he was letting thousands of undocumented immigrants flow across the border.

    […] A small crowd had gathered at the VFW post, where the slot machines were in full use. The charismatic manager, Julie Mason, is a self-described conspiracy theorist with a QAnon sticker on her car’s rear windshield.

    […] Kenny Rayome Jr., an operator at the local water plant, and his wife, Megan, a lawyer in town, were relaxing over beers at the bar. They got mild cases of covid-19 last year, and Kenny’s uncle died of it. Megan suffers from lupus, an autoimmune illness. Still, they have no plans to get vaccinated.

    […] On the bus, the VA crew had found veterans for the unclaimed shots. But four had already canceled in Sandpoint, Idaho, their next stop, where a planned two-day visit had been condensed into one because not enough people were signing up.

    Before sunrise, the bus rolled out of the Venture Inn and onto two-lane roads flanked by firs, bull pines and tamarack trees, with snow-covered mountains in the distance. It drove west past long-shuttered silver mines and sawmills, bald eagles, elk and deer, and small white markers where car crashes had taken lives on the winding roads.

    Just across the Idaho border loomed a giant billboard that read: “Welcome to Trump Country.” […]

    As the bus stopped on a side street near a clinic serving low-income residents, Jayne Shoda, the mobile clinic’s nurse practitioner, began pulling boxes of gloves, alcohol swabs and hand sanitizer from the cabinets. Sonderman fired up Paul McCartney’s “Wings” on the bus speakers, printed out Moderna information sheets and started calling to confirm appointments.

    […] After weeks on the road, they were a tight crew, despite political differences they had learned to live with. They all worried what the day would bring. “These are the first shots where we’re having such attrition,” Shoda said.

    A young Marine veteran who had served in Iraq, with brown hair down to his shoulders, showed up without an appointment and explained that his doctor at the private clinic next door had just told him the vaccine was safe. It was hard to know whom to listen to, he said. “I’ve got anti-vaxxers in my life, and they’re full of fear and skepticism.” The veteran, who got the shot, spoke on the condition of anonymity, saying he was fearful of the pressure not to be vaccinated.

    […] By noon, there were still three no-shows. Sonderman reached one by phone who claimed he had never agreed to be vaccinated, “and I will never take a covid shot.” The crew had to throw out its first syringe in 10 weeks.

    […] The bus will head back to Libby for second doses April 27. Jellesed’s already on the list. After his first dose, he told family and friends the shot didn’t hurt — and had no side effects. But he is adamant that even after the second one, his vaccination will be just .01 percent more protection against the virus than if he hadn’t gotten it. “I’m just not seeing any benefit,” he said, explaining that he had read the statistic somewhere.

    His wife and kids won’t get inoculated. But Jellesed is comforted in knowing that if his mother ends up in the hospital, he will be able to see her.

    “These are the things you do for family,” he told his children. “It’s not for me. It’s for her.”

  66. says

    The GOP’s big bulk book-buying machine is boosting Republicans on the bestseller lists.

    Washington Post link

    Rep. Dan Crenshaw’s memoir and social critique, “Fortitude: American Resilience in the Era of Outrage,” soared to the top of the bestseller lists when it was published last year. The book helped raise the former Navy SEAL’s profile and burnished his credentials as a rising star among freshman congressmen.

    As it happens, Crenshaw and his publisher, Hachette Book Group, got a little help from the Texas Republican’s friends.
    The National Republican Congressional Committee, which works to elect GOP candidates to Congress, spent nearly $400,000 on bulk purchases of the book. The organization acquired 25,500 copies through two online booksellers, enough to fuel “Fortitude’s” ascent up the bestseller lists. The NRCC said it gave away copies as incentives to donors, raising $1.5 million in the process.

    […] Four party-affiliated organizations, including the Republican National Committee, collectively spent more than $1 million during the past election cycle mass-purchasing books written by GOP candidates, elected officials and personalities, according to Federal Election Commission expenditure reports. The purchases helped turn several volumes into bestsellers.

    While there’s no prohibition on such second-party purchases, a new complaint alleges that another Texas Republican, Sen. Ted Cruz, crossed the line into illegal activity when he used campaign money to boost sales of his newest book.

    A government watchdog organization, the Campaign Legal Center, filed complaints last week with the Federal Election Commission and the Senate Ethics Committee about the manner in which Cruz’s campaign aides went about bulk buying and promoting the senator’s latest volume, “One Vote Away: How a Single Supreme Court Vote Can Change History,” published last fall. […]

    In addition to Crenshaw’s book, Republican organizations have made large bulk purchases of books by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Donald Trump Jr.

    The Senate Conservatives Fund, a political action committee founded by former senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), committed nearly $90,000 to bulk purchases of Cotton’s book, “Sacred Duty: A Soldier’s Tour of Arlington National Cemetery,” which became a bestseller.

    In February, the organization paid nearly $65,000 to Regnery Publishing, Cruz’s publisher, for advance copies of Hawley’s forthcoming book. […]

  67. blf says

    I reheating the Bœuf Bourguignon leftovers from earlier for tonight’s dinner. The smell when I opened the chilled container it was in was superb, so as it gently, very gently, warms up, the mildly deranged penguin is again bouncing off the ways will only a few complaints that it doesn’t contain any cheese. There is, of course, cheese for afters — and I’m tempted to open a bottle of port. However, due to the pandemic cutting trips to the only(?) local vin shop with a tolerable selection of ports, I’m quite low on port, so probably won’t… besides, by then, having had some nice vin.

    Speaking of vin, a long-established “orientalist” / hippy shop in the village closed at the beginning of this year (victim of the pandemic, I suspect, as a lot of their customers were visitors). It is apparently being replaced by a vin shop / bar.

    According to the French Covid-19 track-and-trace app, all of 12m people have been vaccinated (at least one jab) since vaccinations started almost 5 months ago. Currently, ICU occupancy is c.124% in my general area, and c.116% nation-wide. Over 80% of the positive tests are for the British variant, with the S.African variant at around 4%. However, both in this area and nation-wide, R has finally dropped to just below 1, albeit that could be a glitch caused by the weekend, etc.

  68. lumipuna says

    blf – I just finished eating a soup made from reindeer bones I managed to buy recently from local supermarket (an uncommon opportunity in southern Finland, as usually only the the more expensive parts of reindeer are sold down here and the scraps are eaten locally in the north or just discarded). The soup itself was not that impressive, but the meat scraps and marrow extracted from the bones were heavenly.