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)

Comments

  1. says

    blf, at comment 499 in the previous chapter of this thread: That’s a well-done cartoon. The penguin saying, “If only there was something we could have done.” [penguin shoulder shrug] Perfect.

  2. says

    Guardian world liveblog (support the Guardian if you can!):

    The WTO’s new director-general has called for more vaccine plants in developing [sic] countries.

    “People are dying in poor countries,” said Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in a speech to the WTO’s 164 members at a meeting in her first day in the job.

    “We must focus on working with companies to open up and license more viable manufacturing sites now in emerging markets and developing countries [gah],” she said, adding that technology transfers were also required.

  3. blf says

    Josh Bernstein Brags That He Wants to Make It Harder to Vote in America (RWW edits in {curly braces}):

    [… Radical right-wing commentator Josh] Bernstein agreed with Trump’s recommendations[bellowing for more and more voter suppression measures] but faulted him for not going far enough.

    We cannot have early voting, Bernstein declared. We should have one day to vote, and no, it should not be {a day} off, OK? You either go before work, you either go on your lunch break, or you go after work. That’s it. If you can’t get there in that one day, then it wasn’t important enough for you, and to be quite frank, I don’t want you to vote. If you can’t make it in that one day, stay home.

    Bernstein said that only those in the military or who are sick should be allowed to use mail-in voting, but it should only be available the week before the election. He also called for the Constitution to be amended to outlaw the use of mail-in voting for any other reason.

    Bernstein then insisted that we must raise the voting age to a minimum of 21 and that every voter must provide proof of income at the polling place.

    I want proof of income at the polling stations,[] he said. I want to see that you have skin in the game and that you are not planning on sponging off of the system. … I’m talking about people on welfare and things like that, that have been on the system and have been exploiting the system for many, many, many years. They should not be allowed to vote. You should have skin in the game because you’re probably going to vote for the people that are going to keep you dependent on them, and that’s not good for the country.

    […]

      † On a bit of a tangent, and nothing per se to do with voting (or voter / vote suppression), a Finland-like system of public tax summary could be a useful improvement. Somehow, I suspect this loon would object…

  4. says

    Steve Herman, VOA:

    “What has been declassified appears to be very little indeed and that’s disappointing,” says [UN Special Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial Executions Agnes Callamard] of the @ODNIgov report released on the #KSA sanctioned killing of @JKhashoggi.

    It’s “extremely dangerous” for the US to acknowledge the culpability of the #KSA crown prince in the murder of @jkhashoggi and not take action against him, adds @AgnesCallamard.

    “It is extremely problematic, in my view, if not dangerous, to acknowledge someone’s culpability and then to tell that someone ‘but we won’t do anything, please proceed as if have we have said nothing,'” says @AgnesCallamard.

    (I could be mistaken, but I thought I saw that the WH was making some announcement on this today…)

  5. blf says

    Warren and fellow progressives propose ‘Ultra-Millionaire’ tax:

    Senator Elizabeth Warren and other progressive United States lawmakers proposed the Ultra-Millionaire Tax Act, which would levy a two percent annual tax on households and trusts valued between $50m and $1bn, and a three percent tax on all net worth over $1bn.

    […]

    “The ultra-rich and powerful have rigged the rules in their favor so much that the top 0.1% pay a lower effective tax rate than the bottom 99%, and billionaire wealth is 40% higher than before the COVID crisis began,” Warren said in a statement. “A wealth tax is popular among voters on both sides for good reason: because they understand the system is rigged to benefit the wealthy and large corporations.”

    […] Democrats are planning to use special budget reconciliation procedures to pass a bill with a simple majority later in the year that will include parts of a massive infrastructure package. At that point, taxes to pay for the build out would be on the table. And under Senate rules, tax increases generally are allowed in budget bills.

    […]

  6. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Global infections rose for first time in 7 weeks in last week of February

    The number of new coronavirus infections globally rose last week for the first time in seven weeks, the World Health Organization said on Monday.

    Reuters reports:

    “We need to have a stern warning for all of us: that this virus will rebound if we let it,” Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO technical lead for Covid-19, told a briefing. “And we cannot let it.”

    WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the rise in cases was “disappointing but not surprising” and urged countries not to relax measures to fight the disease.

    It was too early for countries to rely solely on vaccination programmes and abandon other measures, he said: “If countries rely solely on vaccines, they are making a mistake. Basic public health measures remain the foundation of the response.”

    Tedros noted that Ghana and Ivory Coast became the first countries on Monday to begin vaccinating people with doses supplied by COVAX, the international programme to provide vaccines for poor and middle-income countries.

    But he also criticised rich countries for hoarding vaccine doses, saying that it was in everyone’s interest for vulnerable people to be protected around the world.

    “It’s regrettable that some countries continue to prioritise vaccinating younger healthier adults at lower risk of diseases in their own populations, ahead of health workers and older people elsewhere,” Tedros said.

    Mike Ryan, the WHO’s top emergency expert, said the global fight against the coronavirus was in a better state now than it was 10 weeks ago before the roll-outs of vaccines had begun. But it was too early to say the virus was coming under control.

    “The issue is of us being in control of the virus and the virus being in control of us. And right now the virus is very much in control.”

  7. says

    John Harwood at CNN – “White evangelicals’ dominance of the GOP has turned it into the party of resistance”:

    For obvious reasons, President Joe Biden made the coronavirus pandemic his first legislative priority. Polling shows wide public support for his $1.9 trillion relief plan.

    But that didn’t translate to Republican support for the measure. When the House passed the bill last week, not a single GOP lawmaker voted yes.

    That offered a bookend to developments in state capitals across the nation, where Republicans seek to restrict access to the ballot. After Biden defeated Donald Trump in a presidential election free of large-scale voter fraud, Republican legislators have proposed curbing voting methods used last November in the name of stopping large-scale fraud.

    In both cases, Republicans defied broad signals from the political marketplace. Instead, they heeded the defiant partisan impulse that Trump sounded before leaving office: “If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”

    Those words explain why Trump’s pugnacity continues to grip the GOP despite his electoral defeat, second impeachment and mounting legal woes. They reflect the existential dread motivating the conservative White Christians who form the party’s core constituency and fear 21st century America is drifting away from them.

    “It really is about not giving an inch anymore — this sense of absolute resistance,” says Robert P. Jones, director of the Washington-based Public Religion Research Institute and author of “The End of White Christian America.” [This is a decent book. – SC]

    The imperative for resistance over cooperation, even when futile, fueled Trump’s denial of his defeat and the deadly US Capitol insurrection by his supporters that was replete with Christian iconography. In a different context, it produced the reflex among conservative politicians and commentators to blame Democratic energy policies for the recent power-grid crisis in Republican-controlled Texas — as stalwart conservative Sen. Ted Cruz, his constituents suffering, headed to a Mexican beach.

    “For the Republican Party, the sensationalization, nationalization, and demonization of the political system matter far more than any form of governing,” Amanda Carpenter, a former Cruz aide who is now a CNN contributor, wrote in The Bulwark. “Political performance is the point. Both the means and the end. The purpose and the power.”

    White Christians’ hold on the GOP

    For almost all of American history, White Christians have represented a large majority of the US population and controlled the levers of government power. But that majority had shrunk to just 54% by 2008 when Barack Obama won election as the first African American president and personified the nation’s changing demography.

    Trump has personified resistance to that change with his turn-back-the-clock call to “Make America Great Again.” Faith in his singular mission proved so strong that at last summer’s nominating convention Republicans didn’t even offer a governing platform.

    Resistance hasn’t worked. Trump lost his reelection bid, Democrats captured Congress, and the proportion of White Christians in the population has now shrunk to 44%, PRRI research shows.

    But White Christians still hold unchallenged dominance within the GOP. They represent two-thirds of rank-and-file Republicans, Jones said. And they represent more than 90% of Republican senators, House members and governors.

    The most conservative among them — those describing themselves as evangelical or born-again — wield the greatest influence. Last November, that group — comprising 28% of the overall electorate according to exit polls — gave Trump three-fourths of their votes. And their grievances against prevailing national sentiment on issues from gay rights to immigration to racial justice to election integrity echo through GOP stances in Washington and state capitals now.

    Instead of condemning the idea of physical resistance, White evangelical Republicans embrace it, the AEI survey showed. Fully 60% agreed that “the traditional American way of life is disappearing so fast that we may have to use force to save it.”

    Embracing lies

    White evangelical Republicans who accept Trump’s election lies also propel the national GOP push to restrict voting procedures….

    Even on the pandemic that has claimed more than 500,000 American lives, ravaged the economy and upended normal life, Republican lawmakers reflect the emphatic skepticism of White evangelicals.

    Meantime, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell fends off questions about intra-party divisions by underscoring a higher priority: what Republicans agree they’re against.

    “I think what you need to focus on,” McConnell told reporters last week, “is how unified we are today in opposition to what the Biden administration is trying to do.”

  8. says

    Bits and pieces of news:

    * New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) apologized yesterday for comments to women colleagues that “have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation.” The Democratic governor, whose third term is up next year, also agreed to refer the matter to the state attorney general’s office.

    * Asked over the weekend about whether Republicans will win the U.S. House majority next year, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said he’s prepared to bet “my personal house” that his party will succeed.

    * The Nebraska Republican Party decided not to formally censure Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) for his vote on Donald Trump’s impeachment, but the state GOP did approve a resolution expressing “deep disappointment and sadness” about the senator’s work on Capitol Hill.

    * With Trump and his allies targeting Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), the Illinois Republican’s allies are launching a new super PAC — called “Americans Keeping Country First” — intended to defend GOP lawmakers who’ve clashed with the former president.

    * At the Conservative Political Action Conference, Ric Grenell, a controversial former member of the Trump administration, “strongly hinted” that he intends to run for governor in California. He’s also reportedly begun hiring campaign staff.

    […]

    * And we can apparently add Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) to the list of Republicans uncomfortable with their party’s cult of personality. The Louisiana senator told CNN yesterday that his party won’t succeed by “putting one person on a pedestal and making that one person our focal point.” He added, “If we idolize one person, we will lose.”

    Link

  9. says

    Senate continues work on $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill passed by House

    The federal minimum wage has not been increased since July 2009, when it was set at $7.25/hour. The nearly eleven-year delay in increasing it is the longest period Congress has ever allowed in the history of the 80-year-old law. […]

    By all accounts, the White House has ruled out challenging the Senate parliamentarian, who is the arbiter of whether a bill has real or merely incidental effects on the federal budget, on her opinion that the minimum wage increase included in the COVID-19 relief bill that passed in the House last week has to be stripped out of the bill in the Senate.

    […] Senate Democrats, and the White House, seem to be backing off. House progressive Democrats are pushing back […]. Nearly two dozen of them signed on to a letter Monday to President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris urging them to keep up the fight for $15. […]

    That push became more urgent as Senate Democrats have abandoned their back-up plan to tax big corporations that don’t pay workers $15/hour. Sens. Bernie Sanders and Ron Wyden, chairs of the Budget and Finance Committees respectively, had been working on that alternative solution but now have dropped it according to various sources, as a result of “numerous practical and political challenges.” The practical include the amount of time it would take to write and vet the provision, clearing it through the parliamentarian, when the bill needs to be passed as quickly as possible.

    […] The leadership apparently believes that setting up a bulletproof, or accountant-proof, way to make corporate American pay a living wage through taxes isn’t possible in the time allowed.

    There are two tracks to take now to get the long overdue minimum wage increase and both involve Democrats forcing their “moderates,” Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, to get in line. That’s by overruling the parliamentarian now and keep the House’s minimum wage increase or abolishing the filibuster on legislation in an upcoming bill. Republicans will not allow it to happen any other way.

    […] Republicans know they have a losing hand but nonetheless are unified in opposition to the will of the American voting population and the Democrats. Not a single Republican voted with Democrats to pass the bill in the House. In fact, they dragged out the process and engineered the vote to happen in the very early hours Saturday so they could use their old “passed in secrecy in the middle of the night” trope against it. Because that’s all they got. On the Senate side, McConnell retains a tight grip on his members, arguing that the bill is just too big while refusing to work constructively with Democrats to come to agreement on anything. As usual.

    […] We saw polling last week that pegged 60% of Republican voters supporting the bill, with overall support among voters at 76%. It’s not just a hugely popular bill, it’s an essential one. The need is why people want it so badly, and why Democrats need to get the maximum out of it that they can. Now.

  10. says

    ‘If masks and social distancing don’t work, then what the hell happened to the flu?’

    […] I still usually get sick in the winter at least once. […]

    This year? I haven’t had so much as a sniffle, though every throat tickle and minor cough sends a frisson of dread down my spine.

    Turns out I’m not alone. This year’s flu season—long feared as the second head of a twin-headed monster—has been decidedly [small]

    That’s almost certainly because of the coronavirus mitigation efforts that have helped flatten the COVID-19 curve, even as our ex-pr*sident did everything in his power to secure our spot in the record books. […]

    according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only one pediatric flu death has been reported in the U.S. as opposed to 92 at this same point last year.

    That’s a nice, comforting ray of sunshine in the midst of a dark, depressing winter. […]

    Associated Press:

    Flu has virtually disappeared from the U.S., with reports coming in at far lower levels than anything seen in decades.

    Experts say that measures put in place to fend off the coronavirus — mask wearing, social distancing and virtual schooling — were a big factor in preventing a “twindemic” of flu and COVID-19. A push to get more people vaccinated against flu probably helped, too, as did fewer people traveling, they say. […]

    Nationally, “this is the lowest flu season we’ve had on record,” according to a surveillance system that is about 25 years old, said Lynnette Brammer of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  11. says

    Biden admin will allow families separated under Trump to remain in US

    The Biden administration will allow families separated at the southern border by the Trump administration to reunite and remain in the U.S., the White House announced Monday.

    “We are hoping to reunite the families, either here or in their country of origin. […] And if, in fact they seek to reunite here in the United States, we will explore lawful pathways for them to remain in the United States, and to address the family needs,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said at a press briefing.

    “We are acting as restoratively as possible.”

    Mayorkas, head of the family reunification task force established by President Biden, said his administration has thus far reunited 105 families.

    Immigration advocates have argued that the Biden administration needs to not only just reunite families, but also seek to compensate those harmed under the Trump administration.

    “We applaud Secretary Mayorkas’ commitment to remedy the torture and abuse of families who were separated from their children in immigration proceedings. […]”

    “We should have a legislative solution to allow families impacted by zero tolerance to remain in the U.S. They should be offered a path to permanent citizenship given what they’ve been through,” said Jorge Loweree, policy director of the American Immigration Council.

    Such an aspect could be tucked into Biden’s immigration legislation currently working its way through Congress, though the bill has already elicited significant pushback from Republicans.

    […] “Reunification needs to happen as soon as possible but we also need to consider working to address the significant harms that the government has imposed on all the families that were impacted by the policy previously,” Loweree said, adding that “there is long term and enduring damage that many children and parents will have to deal with, possibly for life” as a result of separation.

    Mayorkas also announced Monday that Michelle Brané, who most recently directed the Migrant Rights and Justice program at the Women’s Refugee Commission, would serve as the executive director of the task force.

  12. says

    Deen Freelon:

    Black vax hesitancy makes headlines, but the most reluctant group by far is white Republicans–a much larger group.

    [Graph and Axios link at the link.]

    Note also that unlike the white GOP, Black vax hesitancy is on a downward trend.

    Here’s a headline for you: Black vax hesitancy has dropped by half over the past three months. GOP hesitancy has barely budged.

  13. blf says

    The Onion, Florida GOP Introduces Ballotless Voting In Disenfranchised Communities (quoted in full):

    In an effort to streamline the state’s electoral process, Florida Republicans introduced a new bill to the legislature Thursday that would establish ballotless voting in disenfranchised communities. “We’ve eliminated the complex and insecure process of casting a ballot so that voters from underserved communities don’t have to worry about going to the polls or mailing anything in,” said co-sponsor Rep. Chris Sprowls of the popular proposal, which had already garnered unanimous support among Republicans in the House and Senate. “Come voting day, voters will be able to walk right up to the doors of their polling place, then turn around. No lines, no worry. We’ve listened to your concerns, and are confident that ballotless voting will address them.” At press time, Sprowls added that the bill would also help fight voter fraud by eliminating the likelihood of votes being erroneously counted.

  14. says

    Man shot security guard at high school basketball game during argument over wearing mask

    A police officer working as a security guard for a high school basketball game in New Orleans was shot and killed after trying to stop a man who tried to enter a gymnasium without a mask.

    Tulane University police officer Martinus Mitchum, 38, was working security during a George Washington Carver High School basketball game on Saturday when police say John Shallerhorn attempted to enter the gym midway through the first half […]

    Because Shallerhorn was not wearing a mask, a staffer attempted to stop him. After Shallerhorn allegedly punched the staffer, Mitchum responded to the scene to attempt to break up the altercation.

    Police said Shallerhorn pulled a gun and shot Mitchum, killing him […]

    Shallerhorn was arrested at the scene and has been charged with multiple felonies including first-degree murder […] Police believe Shallerhorn had robbed someone outside of the gymnasium before attempting to enter the indoor arena.

    Shallerhorn admitted to shooting Mitchum, police said.

    […] There have been a number of violent incidents arising from fights over mask mandates used to stop the spread of the coronavirus. [snipped details of other violent confrontations over wearing a mask]

  15. says

    Josh Marshall:

    Even though I wasn’t the one covering it for TPM, I was waiting to hear ex-President Trump’s speech last night because he remains, even after the presidency, a looming presence in our national politics. I watched. I listened to him brag. I listened to his standard barrage of lies about immigration. And then I thought, “Fuck this guy. I don’t need to hear this.” I turned off the feed and went to work on a woodworking project.

    This might be a normal response for some. But it’s not for me. When everyone else was treating Trump as a joke I said it was folly to ignore him. Within weeks of his getting into the race in 2015, I thought he’d win the Republican nomination. […] There is a breed of quaint liberal myopia that says that if we just ‘don’t give oxygen’ to awful people that will somehow make them go away, like a toddler who think covering his eyes means you can’t see him. We’re told we shouldn’t “amplify” the likes of Donald Trump. This is all congenial, well-intentioned nonsense – the sort of head in the sand thinking that [is] how we ended up with Donald Trump being President.

    […] Part of this may be fatigue. I want to be done with this guy. But I don’t think it was mainly that. I’ve wanted to be done with him for years. […] However terrible and absurd he may be, what he says and what he thinks and even his mood really matters because of the awful powers he had acquired by being elected President.

    Many times I’ve analogized the Trump presidency to living in a household with an abuser. Part of that experience is hyper-vigilance and attention to the actions and moods of the abuser. That person has the power. […] Absent that power, though, Trump’s lies and general crap don’t really matter to me as much. Absent that power, he’s just another entitled jerk who wants space in my head.

    His recitation felt like the past rather than the future – like a one-time chart topper belting out the same standards at a tumble down venue for a nostalgia crowd. […]

    Driving Trump from office and securing the thinnest congressional majorities was a critical victory – a necessary but by no means sufficient step to securing democracy in America and a positive future. What is so existential about what Democrats are able to accomplish in 2021 isn’t just about ending the pandemic or restoring the economy or making progress on the numerous challenges we already faced at the beginning of last year. It’s about putting a series of tangible wins on the board that solidify a broad constituency for a democratic future.

    […] watching Trump’s performance yesterday left me more skeptical that a Trumpist future will include Trump himself. He seemed low-energy, flat, like losing power was a gut punch he hasn’t recovered from. I’m also not sure he wants to be back in power or really ‘do’ anything. What I saw was much more consistent with wanting to keep hold of the Republican party as a power base, as a source of money […]

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/just-f-this-guy

  16. says

    California Sen. Alex Padilla’s first bill would protect millions of undocumented essential workers

    Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro, California Rep. Ted Lieu, California Sen. Alex Padilla, and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren have introduced critical legislation that would put undocumented immigrants who have served as essential workers amid the novel coronavirus pandemic on a pathway to citizenship. The Citizenship for Essential Workers Act—Padilla’s first piece of legislation since filling the seat vacated by Vice President Kamala Harris—would affect up to 5 million people.

    […] Findings last year showed that nearly 3 in 4 undocumented workers are in essential roles amid the pandemic, from agriculture to health care to sanitation. […]

    Doris Landaverde, a Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holder from El Salvador and janitor at Harvard University, was among the essential workers who became sick in the first weeks of the pandemic last year. […]

    The bill would protect the parents of Leydy Rangel, who is a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient and comes from a farm-working family in California. “The grapes, bell peppers, lettuce and other fruits and vegetables that my family makes sure other Americans have to eat can’t be harvested through Zoom,” she said. […]

    “The Citizenship for Essential Workers Act will also include undocumented workers who worked in essential industries but lost employment due to COVID-19,” the fact sheet continued, “including leaving the job due to unsafe working conditions, as well as undocumented relatives of an essential worker who died from COVID-19.” In a series of tweets, Warren noted that essential workers are doing their jobs all the while having the threat of deportation hanging over their heads, because the same Department of Homeland Security that classified them as essential workers also targets them for deportation. […]

  17. blf says

    After the storm: Texas power coop files for bankruptcy:

    […]
    The largest and oldest power cooperative in Texas is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, citing last month’s winter storm that left millions without power.

    […]

    Brazos said that it received excessively high invoices from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) for collateral and for the purported cost of electric service. The invoices were required to be paid within days. As a cooperative, Brazos’s costs are passed through to its members and retail consumers served by its members. Brazos decided that it won’t pass on the ERCOT costs to its members or the consumers.

    “Let me emphasize that this action by Brazos Electric was necessary to protect its member cooperatives and their more than 1.5 million retail members from unaffordable electric bills as we continue to provide electric service throughout the court-supervised process,” Clifton Karnei, executive vice president and general manager of Brazos, said in a prepared statement.

    Brazos said that it will continue to supply power to members as it restructures the cooperative while under bankruptcy protection.

    The bankruptcy filing comes the same day that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said that he is suing electricity provider Griddy for passing along massive bills to its customers during February’s winter storm. The lawsuit accuses Griddy of violating the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and seeks refunds for customers.

    […]

    We have always been transparent and customer-centric at every step. We wanted to continue the fight for our members to get relief and that hasn’t changed, Griddy said. [Reminder: Griddy passed on the absurd costs to the customers they are centricallycynically transparent with; Brazos didn’t –blf]

  18. says

    Related to #15 above – MSNBC is reporting that the former guy and his for-now spouse received the vaccine at the WH in January, but without any announcement or public show that it was safe and effective. Because they have to be the biggest assholes possible in every single thing they do.

  19. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Nearly two thirds of Russians are not willing to receive the country’s Sputnik V vaccine, and about the same number believe Covid-19 was created artificially as a biological weapon, an independent pollster [the Levada Center] said on Monday.

  20. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Ghana’s president Nana Akufo-Addo on Monday became the first recipient of a coronavirus vaccine under the global Covax scheme.

    The scheme, designed to ensure poorer countries do not miss out on vaccinations as worries grow that rich nations are hogging the doses, is aiming to deliver at least two billion jabs by the end of the year.

    Akufo-Addo received his AstraZeneca shot live on television along with his wife, while in neighbouring Ivory Coast a presidential spokesman got the country’s first jab, also part of a Covax delivery.

    Ivory Coast received some 504,000 doses from Covax, while Ghana got 600,000 that it will start to roll out this week.

    “It is important that I set the example that this vaccine is safe by being the first to have it, so that everybody in Ghana can feel comfortable about taking this vaccine,”Akufo-Addo said.

    The World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus welcomed the first Covax shots:

    It’s encouraging to see health workers in lower-income countries starting to be vaccinated, but it’s regrettable that this comes almost three months after some of the wealthiest countries started their vaccination campaigns.

  21. says

    Politico – “Prosecutors fill in details of Proud Boys assault on Capitol”:

    The Proud Boys gathered at the Washington Monument at 10 a.m. on Jan. 6 dressed “incognito” to avoid detection, and then fanned out across the Capitol to prevent law enforcement from identifying them en masse, prosecutors alleged Monday in a legal filing that provides the most detail yet about the group’s actions on the day of the insurrection.

    In one of the most detailed filings describing the violent nationalist group’s activities, prosecutors say the Proud Boys — bereft of their leader Enrique Tarrio, who had been arrested two days earlier — turned to new leaders, including Ethan Nordean, a Seattle-based Proud Boys leader, who helped orchestrate the group’s role in the assault.

    In a filing seeking Nordean’s detention pending trial, prosecutors say he helped hatch a plan to provide Proud Boys with walkie-talkies — a Chinese brand called Baofeng — and communicated privately with individuals willing to fund and provide equipment for the Capitol siege.

    But most notably, Nordean helped hatch the tactics the Proud Boys would use when they split up at the Capitol to avoid detection.

    “Defendant — dressed all in black, wearing a tactical vest — led the Proud Boys through the use of encrypted communications and military-style equipment,” prosecutors allege, “and he led them with the specific plans to: split up into groups, attempt to break into the Capitol building from as many different points as possible, and prevent the Joint Session of Congress from Certifying the Electoral College results.”

    Prosecutors say the Proud Boys never intended to hear then-President Donald Trump’s speech to supporters that day, when he urged them to march on the Capitol and “fight like hell” against Congress’ effort to certify the results of the 2020 election, a Trump defeat. Rather, Nordean led his allies “on a march around the Capitol” to position them at thinly guarded entrances.

    The new details provide the most vivid account yet of the government’s effort to piece together the most sophisticated, coordinated efforts by militia groups to overtake the Capitol and the peaceful transfer of presidential power. Numerous members of the Proud Boys have already been charged for their role in the assault that day, including several indicted on Friday on conspiracy charges.

    Nordean’s case, however, is even graver, prosecutors say: “Defendant’s position with the Proud Boys is that of giving instructions, not receiving them.”

    “All of this mayhem plainly envisioned that those carrying out Defendant’s stated vision — the reawakening of 1776 — would at least attempt to destroy federal government property and force their way inside the building,” the government brief said. “There was simply no other way for them to enter the Capitol building.”

    According to the filing, Nordean met his Proud Boy cohorts at the Washington Monument the morning of Jan. 6 and led them — dressed in all black instead of the Proud Boys’ typical colors — while wielding a bullhorn. He was at the front of the lines when the first barricades were breached.

    Prosecutors also sketched out the early evidence of a money trail behind the Proud Boys’ efforts.

    The case represents a leap forward in evidence about the Proud Boys’ role following an increasingly developed case against another militia group, the Oath Keepers, who also had a significant presence at the Capitol that day….

  22. says

    Kurt Bardella oped at USA Today – “The Republican civil war was over 5 years ago. Trump and the winners have a new target: Us”:

    There is no “Civil War” brewing within the Republican Party.

    Sure, there are a few, and I mean a few, folks who happen to still be in the Republican Party, who oppose what Donald Trump has done to the GOP, but let’s be very clear here: They are outliers. They are the fringe. They are the exception, not the rule.

    For all of the talk and headlines about there being some kind of GOP “Civil War” playing out in front of our eyes, the functional reality is that this so-called war was fought and decided five years ago, when Donald Trump insulted his way to the Republican nomination.

    There was no realistic effort to break from Trump. There was no attempt to diminish his power. There was no resistance from the people who were in a position to actually resist. There was no “war.” Just unconditional surrender.

    What’s shocking to me isn’t that it happened, but rather how easy it was for these feckless arsonists to pull it off. All it took was a snake-oil salesman to front the effort, a few white nationalists (Stephen Miller) to write the scripts, some old-fashioned media propaganda (Fox News), and the largest collection of cowards that has ever occupied elected office (Republicans in Congress). The instruments of war used for this takeover weren’t weapons of mass destruction, they were a relentless barrage of tweets. And that’s it. That’s all it took for Donald Trump to complete his occupation of the Republican Party.

    The scary reality is it’s only going to get worse. Trump is not an isolated phenomenon. Disciples of Trump are littering the national landscape….

    Nothing has shaken the Republican Party’s devotion to Donald Trump. Not the events of Jan. 6. Not losing the House majority in 2018. Not losing the presidency in 2020. Not losing the Senate majority in 2021.

    As a matter of fact, Republicans’ love affair with Trump has only intensified. Their collective rhetoric has grown more extreme. His most devout followers feel even more validated. Those who acted on the former president’s words on Jan. 6 surely feel emboldened to try again.

    There is an undercurrent of violence that is escalating in this country. Asian Americans are under siege right now, fueled by Republicans who applaud the use of racist rhetoric like Trump’s “China virus” refrain (a phrase he used three times at CPAC). This thirst for violence will continue to spread and manifest itself in dangerous and deadly ways. What happened Jan. 6 wasn’t the culmination of the Republican Party’s rhetoric, it was just the opening act.

    What I saw this weekend wasn’t a party in the midst of an internal civil war. What I saw was a political party getting ready to instigate a civil war against the rest of us.

  23. says

    SC @23, I’m surprised it took this long for us to find out that Trump and Melania were vaccinated in the White House in January. You would think that someone would have spilled those beans.

    Don’t know if you noticed, but at CPAC Trump did say, “Go get your shot.” Too late to halt all the vaccine disinformation, but better late than never, I guess.

    “We took care of a lot of people — including, I guess, on December 21st, we took care of Joe Biden, because he got his shot, he got his vaccine,” Trump said, before suggesting that Biden’s vaccination shows how few side effects come with the vaccine. “It shows you how unpainful that vaccine shot is.” … “So everybody, go get your shot,” Trump added.

    Commentary:

    […] In context, the former president delivered the comments in the most Trumpian way possible. The Republican went on and on about what he considered the most important detail: giving Trump “100 percent” credit.

    “Never forget that we did it,” Trump told attendees. “Never let them take the credit because they don’t deserve the credit. They just followed, they’re following our plan…. Joe Biden is only implementing the plan that we put in place.”

    None of these comments were true, of course — the Trump administration didn’t develop a vaccine distribution plan — but the former president just kept going.

    “Never let them forget,” he added. “This was us. We did this. And the distribution is moving along, according to our plan.”

    After rambling a bit more, and ironically accusing Biden of not understanding the details of governing, Trump finally concluded his thought by encouraging people to get vaccinated.

    Sure, ideally the former president would be principally concerned with public health, not personal glorification. And sure, it’d be nice if Trump were capable of offering sound advice about vaccinations without lying or taking cheap shots at the president who’s succeeding where he failed. And sure, it’d be great if the former president hadn’t done so much damage to his credibility on this issue.

    But ultimately, what matters most is the public-health consequences in the midst of a deadly pandemic: if Trump’s comments, regardless of his motivations, help encourage conservative vaccine skeptics to get a needle in their shoulder, then everyone will benefit.

    It shouldn’t be necessary, but if members of my family can now go to my Fox News-watching relative and say, “Even Trump says ‘everybody’ should ‘go get your shot,'” I’ll take it

    Link

  24. says

    Over half a million Texans are still under boil water notices.

    From the Daily Beast:

    For nearly two weeks now, tens of thousands of residents of Jackson, Mississippi, have gone without running water in their homes, leaving them with no clean drinking water and unable to bathe, cook, wash clothes, or flush toilets.

    Both Texas and Mississippi are run by Republicans.

  25. says

    New York Times:

    Early last summer, Chinese and Indian troops clashed in a surprise border battle in the remote Galwan Valley, bashing each other to death with rocks and clubs. Four months later and more than 1,500 miles away in Mumbai, India, trains shut down and the stock market closed as the power went out in a city of 20 million people…. Now, a new study lends weight to the idea that those two events may well have been connected.

    Yikes. China and India fighting. Not good.

  26. says

    Wall Street Journal:

    The Supreme Court exempted five California churches from a county health directive intended to stem the coronavirus pandemic by prohibiting indoor gatherings.

  27. says

    Oh, FFS.

    Josh Hawley speaking at CPAC:

    We can have a republic where the people rule or we can have an oligarchy where Big Tech and the liberals rule. That’s the fight of our time: to make the rule of the people an actual thing again, to restore the sovereignty of the American people,

    Now wait just a damn minute. You can’t honestly separate “the people” and “the liberals.”

    “The people” voted Hawley’s darling Dear Leader out of office.

    Chris Hayes:

    [Hawley’s] speaking here not about being a U.S. Senator who is accountable to the voters — all of them — of his state of Missouri. No, he’s saying the Party is what matters here, and the Party is run by its voters and so that is who he is accountable to…. Hawley is making it explicit here that he sees himself fundamentally as a party functionary, not a member of the representative government.

  28. says

    Hyatt Hotels group:

    “We take the concern raised about the prospect of symbols of hate being included in the stage design at CPAC 2021 very seriously as all such symbols are abhorrent and unequivocally counter to our values as a company,” said Hyatt, which had faced pointed criticism for hosting the event.

    Commentary:

    […] The CPAC Stage is an interesting case. The idea any group in the US today would intentionally use Nazi synbolism at an event with Senators and a President speaking is almost too horrible to contemplate. But the past four years have been a daily litany of things too horrible to contemplate:

    Trump campaign cooperation with a foreign adversary.

    Trump calling Nazis “good people.”

    The US having to extract a spy from Russia because our intelligence feared Trump would compromise him/her. (Remember that story? — so far unrefuted.)

    The President speaking and taking actions everyone knew would cause the deaths of thousands from COVID. This is a particular sore point for me. If the media had called Trump’s rallies and White House superspreader events the manslaughter it really was, I doubt Trump would have come so close to winning. […]

    Link

  29. says

    Aaron Rupar:

    Trump called in to Fox News after his CPAC speech and was asked by Steve Hilton about his response to the January 6 insurrection. He tried to shift blame to Pelosi before resorting to Black Lives Matter whataboutism.

    https://twitter.com/atrupar/status/1366228113173143554

    Transcript of some of Trump’s lies that were told on-air during that interview (partial transcript by me, created by listening to the video):

    […] The press doesn’t like to talk about it, but the real number of people at the location [rally location on January 6] went all the way back practically to the Washington Monument. It was tremendous numbers of people. Not the capitol, I’m talking about the rally itself. And it was a love fest! This rally is going to be bigger than anyone thinks, because everybody said, “Oh we’re going to be at the rally […] and it had a, I think, the largest crowd that I’ve ever spoken to, and I’ve spoken before very big crowds. Hundreds of thousands of people, and more than that. Hundreds of thousands of people, and I said that I think you should have, ten thousand [pause] I think I gave the number, [slight pause while he refines his lies on the fly], I definitly gave the number of ten thousand national guardsmen. I think you should have ten thousand of the national guard ready. Uh, they took that number, from what I understand, they gave it to the people at the Capitol, which is controlled by Pelosi, and I heard they rejected it because they didn’t think it would look good. So, you know, that was a big mistake. […] I hate to see it. I think it’s terrible. I hate to see it. I will tell you that’s very interesting however, when you see Washington burning, [pause] and when you see Seattle burning and Portland burning and all these other places burning with Antifa and the radical left, nothing seems to happen. […] It is a double standard […]

    Video is available at the link.

    What Trump also said to Hilton:

    It’s very interesting. My poll numbers are high. I think they are the highest they’ve ever been.

    Hilton cut the rest of the lie off by breaking in and speaking over Trump’s rant about poll numbers.

    Do you miss him yet? Do you miss his tweets? Fucking liar.

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