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. johnson catman says

    re SC @498:

    Tarrio, in an interview with Reuters Tuesday, denied working undercover or cooperating in cases against others. “I don’t know any of this,” he said, when asked about the transcript. “I don’t recall any of this.”

    Tarrio is probably denying it because he fears that all of his fellow law-breakers may now consider him a threat to reveal their nefarious plans.

  2. says

    From the Guardian world liveblog:

    Tanzania’s president has openly expressed unsubstantiated doubts about Covid-19 vaccines, which he believes are resulting in new infections in the country, Associated Press reports.

    “If the white man was able to come up with vaccinations, then vaccinations for AIDS would have been brought, tuberculosis would be a thing of the past, vaccines for malaria and cancer would have been found,” President John Magufuli said during an event in his hometown of Gieta.

    He also warned against Tanzanians being used as “guinea pigs” for the vaccines.

    Magufuli, who offered no evidence to support his doubts, has been widely criticised for declaring the coronavirus defeated in Tanzania. The country hasn’t updated its number of confirmed infections since the middle of last year: 509.

    But now other authorities in the country, including the Catholic church, appear to be pushing back as parts of the African continent see a strong second surge in virus infections.

    A plant in Wales that produces anti-Covid vaccines for AstraZeneca has been partially evacuated after a suspicious package was received, the company that operates it said on Wednesday.

    This from Reuters:

    “Wockhardt UK in Wrexham this morning received a suspicious package to site. All relevant authorities were immediately notified and engaged,” the company said, referring to its facility in Wales.

    “Upon expert advice we have partially evacuated the site pending a full investigation. The safety of our employees and business continuity remain of paramount importance.”

    Earlier, the BBC reported that a police bomb disposal unit has been sent to the plant.

  3. says

    From the New York Times:

    If you examine the history of the filibuster — a Senate rule requiring a supermajority vote on many bills, rather than a straight majority — you will quickly notice something: It has benefited the political right much more than the left.

    In the 1840s (before the term “filibuster” existed), Senator John C. Calhoun of South Carolina used the technique to protect slavery.

    Over the next century, Southern Democrats repeatedly used the filibuster to prevent Black Americans from voting and to defeat anti-lynching bills.

    From the 1950s through the 1990s, Senate Republicans, working with some conservative Democrats, blocked the passage of laws that would have helped labor unions organize workers.

    Over the past two decades, the filibuster has enabled Republicans to defeat a long list of progressive bills, on climate change, oil subsidies, campaign finance, Wall Street regulation, corporate offshoring, gun control, immigration, gender pay equality and Medicare expansion.

    The early days of Joe Biden’s presidency, with the Democrats narrowly controlling the Senate, have intensified a debate over whether the party should eliminate the filibuster. If Senate Democrats did, they could try to pass many bills — say, on climate change, voting rights, Medicare expansion and tax increases on the rich — with 51 votes, rather than 60.

    As part of the debate, many observers have pointed out that both parties have used the filibuster, and both could suffer from its demise. Democrats, for example, filibustered some of President George W. Bush’s judicial nominees, as well as abortion restrictions and an estate-tax cut. A Senate without the current filibuster really would cause problems for Democrats at times.

    On balance, however, there is no question about which party benefits more from the filibuster. Republicans do, and it’s not close.

  4. says

    Three weeks after Capitol attack, Cruz, Haley push to ‘move on’

    Ted Cruz and Nikki Haley have decided 21 days is long enough to care about Trump inciting a deadly insurrectionist attack on his own country’s Capitol.

    As Nikki Haley prepares to advance her political ambitions, she’s apparently looking for new ways to pander to the Republican base. To that end, the former ambassador to the United Nations appeared on Fox News on Monday night to complain about her former boss’ impeachment trial.

    “The actions of the president post-Election Day were not great. What happened on January 6 was not great,” Haley said in an interview on Fox News, referring to the violent storming of the U.S. Capitol by a mob of then-President Donald Trump’s supporters. But, she added, impeaching him for inciting that mob, including in a rally that morning, was a “political game.”

    The South Carolina Republican told the national television audience, “I mean, at some point — I mean, give the man a break. I mean, move on.”

    What, pray tell, should be the consequences of Trump’s “not great” role in inciting a deadly insurrectionist attack on his own country’s Capitol? Haley didn’t say. She simply wants the political world to “move on” — because she believes Trump deserves “a break.”

    The Washington Examiner’s Philip Klein responded yesterday, “A few weeks ago, back when she thought tide was turning against Trump, Haley said he would be ‘judged harshly by history.’ Now she realized she got ahead of her skis and is trying to take it back. As I’ve written, she is a human chameleon. She thinks we’re too dumb to notice.”

    She’s not the only one.

    During an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity on Tuesday night, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) railed against Democrats’ push for impeaching ex-President Donald Trump for inciting the attack on the Capitol, which ultimately led to five deaths…. “And so to coin a phrase, I think it’s time to move on,” he continued. “It’s time to move on and focus on helping people get back to work, helping people beat this global pandemic, bringing America back to where we should be, not these partisan games the Democrats are playing.”

    OK, a few things.

    First, Cruz really ought to be enjoying a little quiet time right now given his role in pushing his party’s Big Lie, helping lead the crusade to overturn his own country’s election results, and exploiting his efforts to subvert our democracy as the basis for a fundraising scheme.

    Second, the idea that Cruz wants to put aside presidential accountability to focus on the economy and the pandemic is amusing, in part because officials can easily tackle both responsibilities simultaneously, and in part because the Texas Republican is extremely likely to vote against every major proposal presented by Democrats to address the economy and the pandemic.

    But most important is the bottom line: the GOP senator, like Haley, believes it’s time to “move on.” The deadly attack on the heart of our democracy was a whole three weeks ago, so there’s no point in holding Trump accountable for inciting the riot.

    Note, neither Cruz nor Haley have presented a defense for Trump’s misconduct. In fact, Haley went so far as to say her former boss’ behavior was “not great.” (I can only assume she’s pursuing a Profile in Courage Award.)

    But in lieu of a defense, Cruz and Haley have decided 21 days is long enough to care about a president inciting a deadly attack on the Capitol — an attack intended to overturn election results through violence, and reward Trump with power he did not earn.

    Making matters slightly worse, it may be tempting to dismiss this pitch as ridiculous nonsense, but it’s quickly become the prevailing position of the Republican Party, as evidenced by yesterday’s Senate vote, in which 90% of GOP senators said the impeachment trial is itself unconstitutional, reality notwithstanding.

    It was Republicans who refused to call the Senate back into session in order to hold the impeachment trial while Trump was still president. Chuck Schumer and others asked Mitch McConnell to call the Senate into session for the trial. McConnell refused. Now McConnell is joining other Republicans to hammer on the point that Trump is no longer president, so why bother convicting him of the charges laid in the House impeachment papers?

  5. says

    Imagine if the terrorists attacking the Capitol had been Islamists and members of congress had spent the past few years on Islamist sites talking about how the House Speaker, other politicians, and FBI officials should be murdered; might have helped the terrorists during the attack; and kept trying to carry weapons into the House chamber….

  6. says

    Russia’s Putin has a different kind of call with the White House

    Following the first Biden-Putin phone meeting, the Russian leader no doubt noticed the dramatic change at the White House.

    Donald Trump had so many phone meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin, it’s difficult to even imagine what all the Republican told his ally in Moscow. The calls we know about, however, were alarming enough.

    Three years ago, for example, Trump’s national security advisers specifically warned him about what to say about Putin’s re-election. Briefing materials included an all-capital-letters directive: “DO NOT CONGRATULATE.” The then-American president was also encouraged to condemn Russia’s poison-gas assassination attempt on British soil.

    Trump ignored the guidance, did the opposite, and seemed a little too eager to make Putin happy — part of an extensive record of Trump weakness toward the Kremlin.

    Yesterday, Putin has his first phone meeting with President Joe Biden […] NBC News reported:

    Biden discussed a five-year extension to New START, the strategic arms reduction treaty, “agreeing to have their teams work urgently to complete the extension by February 5,” the White House said. Biden also reaffirmed the U.S.’s “firm support for Ukraine’s sovereignty,” raised concerns over the Solar Winds hack on the federal government that has been linked by U.S. officials to Russia, and media reports of Russia placing bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. In addition, Biden raised the issue of 2020 election interference and the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny.

    A Washington Post report summarized that Biden made “a hard pivot away from the deference” that Trump often displayed toward Russia, choosing instead to lay out “a bill of complaint” against Putin, “airing allegations of human rights abuses, cyberspying and more.”

    […] As a Vox report added, yesterday’s Biden-Putin call “stands out for how different it was in both substance and tone from how Trump routinely spoke to Putin throughout his presidency — with deference and praise.”

    “Finally we have a president who will confront Putin on the real issues at hand,” said Alina Polyakova, president of the Center for European Policy Analysis in Washington. “This was the wish list for everything that should have been discussed for the last four years, but wasn’t.”

    Republicans aren’t the only ones noticing that elections have consequences.

  7. says

    Let’s Examine the Ties Between the Timber Industry and Extremists

    The Oregon group Timber Unity had connections to the Capitol riots.

    […] To the average Oregon voter, Timber Unity appeared to be an organic backlash fueled by frustrated rural voters in a state dominated by Democrats. The group’s rallies, which drew hundreds and sometimes thousands of truckers and loggers to the capitol, made it appear that it had broad support among Republican voters.

    But actually, Timber Unity was founded and bankrolled by the logging industry—specifically Andrew Miller, CEO of a timber company called Stimson Lumber. At Timber Unity’s urging, in June 2019, Republican legislators staged a walkout that denied the government its two-thirds quorum to function, thus stalling climate legislation indefinitely. Timber Unity’s hijinks in the state legislature were coming to a head just as COVID-19 became a national emergency, depriving the state of a normal working legislative session at the start of the crisis.

    Timber Unity has been praised by state and national Republicans […] there is a troubling strain of extremism among some members of the group […]t:

    […] …its participants have had no qualms associating with violent extremists and far-right groups. Several senior members have been photographed alongside members of neofascist or militia groups, and when pressed, its leadership has failed to disavow such ties. Its rallies have prominently featured messages backing QAnon, the sprawling internet conspiracy theory that posits a cabal of liberal elites are running a pedophile ring, and that has spurred real-world violence. […]

    Timber Unity’s supporters have used the group to spread conspiracy theories. In the last week, a post alleging “china/Oregon collusion to take over…timber and rural Oregon communities” accrued hundreds of likes and comments, including ones backing an “insurgency” in response or blaming coronavirus on Democrats and the Chinese. Messages have included hoaxes about George Soros, […] anti-semitic conspiracies, and misinformation about vaccinations and baseless claims of their harmful effects. […]

    […] ties between Timber Unity and the alt-right became even clearer after the Capitol riots on January 6, even as the group has disavowed any association.

    Timber Unity board member and spokesperson Angelita Sanchez was at the rally in Washington, D.C. on January 6, posting multiple videos outside the Capitol to social media feeds and taking to Timber Unity’s private Facebook channels to “put myself right in the middle of it,” […]. Sanchez has told local media Willamette Week she did not enter the Capitol, and her statement suggested that “both sides” were to blame for the incursion. “What happened yesterday was a consequence of big government, on both sides, playing too many games with hard-working Americans,” she said. “I cannot in good conscience support the destruction of public property and violence between American people and Capitol Police….I do not believe that anybody could have anticipated what actually happened yesterday. And the things that went on broke my heart.”

    Another acknowledgement of how the group has become intertwined with other right-wing groups came a week after the riot, on January 13, when Timber Unity put out this statement to its members:

    There will likely come a time during these sessions when we will call people to the capitols to protest legislation in a safe, lawful manner. We realize people in TU belong to other groups whose purpose is different than ours. We hope people who choose to attend the events of other organizations are mindful of personal safety and the safety of others, follow the laws, and are respectful of law enforcement.”

    This statement came after video surfaced showing one of Timber Unity’s endorsed politicians, Oregon Rep. Michael Nearmen, opening a door on Dec. 21 that later allowed far right, pro-Trump supporters to rush into the state capitol. Nearman has so far rebuffed pressure to resign.

    Then, on the eve of the inauguration, the Oregon Republican Party passed a resolution condemning the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach President Trump, and dismissed the violence in Washington, D.C. as a “‘false flag’ operation to discredit President Trump… this provided the sham motivation to impeach President Trump in order to advance the Democrat goal of seizing total power, in a frightening parallel to the February 1933 burning of the German Reichstag.”

    Experts say there is no question that Timber Unity has helped lay the groundwork for this new Republican extremism in Oregon. Spencer Sunshine, a sociologist who studies right-wing extremism, compiled a report last winter on Timber Unity for Oregon environmental groups and told us, “They’re both profiting off of an extremist space and refusing to distance from it while posing as mainstream organization.” Sunshine called on lawmakers to not turn a “blind eye to Timber Unity’s connections to Far Right organizations and conspiracy theories, nor should they ignore the group’s tolerance for its supporters using bigoted language and advocating actions that the overwhelming majority of Oregonians would find abhorrent.”

  8. says

    Josh Marshall:

    Leahy was released after tests. So hopefully all good on that front. But *all* life is uncertain, a general reminder. Don’t assume there will be more chances or time to let things play out. Absolutely essential to pass a relief bill w 2k checks right away, raft of other bills.

  9. says

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

    The UK recorded a further 1,725 deaths on Wednesday, up from 1,631 the day before, and a further 25,308 cases of the disease, official data showed.

    It is the second highest daily death toll since the pandemic started, with the highest daily number of deaths recorded on 20 January, 1,820.

    All deaths occurred within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test.

    The total deaths figure increased to 101,887 having passed the 100,000 mark on Tuesday.

    Government data also showed that 7.16 million people have been given the first dose of a vaccine.

  10. says

    Progress … perhaps: Putin and Biden confirm extension of New START treaty

    In phone call, presidents agree to finalize plans to continue nuclear accord due to expire on February 5.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Joe Biden agreed Tuesday to extend the New START nuclear nonproliferation treaty, which is due to expire next month, according to Kremlin and White House summaries of a phone call between the leaders.

    “They discussed both countries’ willingness to extend New START for five years, agreeing to have their teams work urgently to complete the extension by February 5,” the White House said.

    The Kremlin in its summary said, “The Presidents expressed satisfaction in connection with the exchange of diplomatic notes carried out today on reaching an agreement on the extension of the Treaty on Strategic Offensive Arms. In the coming days, the parties will complete all the necessary procedures to ensure the further functioning of this important international legal mechanism for the mutual limitation of nuclear missile arsenals.”

    Formally called the “New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty,” the agreement limits Washington and Moscow’s deployed nuclear weapons to 1,550 each. It was signed in 2010, entered force on February 5, 2011 and was set to expire on its 10th anniversary.

    New START is the last remaining nonproliferation agreement between the former Cold War superpower rivals, after another key nuclear accord, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, expired in August 2019. […]

  11. says

    From Wonkette: “Sad CPAC Can’t Sell Tickets To Loser Prom Without The King Of Sore Losers At The Top Of The Bill”

    Sucks to be CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference! They put all their chips on a would-be tinpot dictator, and he can’t even bothered to get off his ass and show up at their party. No, not even when the pandemic he invited in to ravage the country forces them to abandon DC for the hinterlands of Orlando, just down the road from his diaspora White House. And with the main attraction MIA, it’s hard to get sponsors and A-listers (or what passes for such in the wingnutosphere) to show up.

    But don’t worry. American Conservative Union head Matt Schlapp, a consummate media professional, knows who is to blame. And it is … Politico.

    ACU chairman Matt Schlapp said he is convinced this year’s conference will be no different from past years. “CPAC is going great,” he told POLITICO on Tuesday, before then saying that his quote needed to be attributed without his name. Schlapp did not address questions about why some sponsors were not continuing their CPAC sponsorship. But after those questions were posed and additional questions were sent to CPAC sponsors — including whether the Jan. 6 Capitol riots impacted their thinking about sponsoring again this year — ACU General Counsel David Safavian accused POLITICO of “tortious interference with business relationships” and attempting “to ‘cancel’ both CPAC and the American Conservative Union itself.” The group then tweeted a copy of a letter from Safavian that included a litigation threat.

    “In pushing a misleading narrative to our supporters using corporate resources, Politico is attempting to chill sponsorship of CPAC and harm the American Conservative Union,” ACU General Counsel David Safavian said in a letter he sent to Politico’s CEO and editor in chief and then immediately tweeted. “This effort amounts to tortious interference with business relationships. And whether you realize it or not, you are demonstrating to our sponsors and supporters your political bias. Fortunately, most see this effort for what it is: ‘fake news.'”

    BIG TALK from a conservative gathering whose main attractions so far are Ric Grenell and Kristi Noem.

    The trouble started when Politico reporters Gabby Orr and Daniel Lippman started calling around to see who would be showing up for the February 25-28 GOP White Grievance Jamboree. DC and Maryland’s COVID restrictions forced the gathering to decamp for Florida, where Governor Ron DeSantis’s two-step pandemic strategy (pretend everything’s normal, lock up data scientists) allows the ACU to host the superspreader events they prefer.

    Ha! I enjoyed this bit of snark: “Governor Ron DeSantis’s two-step pandemic strategy (pretend everything’s normal, lock up data scientists).”

    But unlike last year when he delivered a 90-minute stemwinder, the former president hasn’t committed to making an appearance at the Hyatt Orlando. Mike Pence is problematic, what with half the base wanting to murder him for failing to shitcan the Electoral College. Even Don Jr., the second choice for MAGAts everywhere, is still on the fence. […]

    you might as well tack up a wall of Trump signs and hold it in the Four Seasons Total Landscaping parking lot. Maybe the dildo shop will let ’em use its coffee room for breakout sessions.

    CPAC says it will post a full list of the stars from the conservative firmament gracing its podium in two or three weeks. But Politico reports that sponsors are skeptical about the value of forking over cash to post banners in an empty hall.

    As for this year’s sponsors, some of whom spent as much as $250,000 in past years for exclusive benefits and branding opportunities, several said they were still evaluating the benefits or had decided not to sponsor at all due to mediocre returns on the investment or changes to the conference structure. Gryphon Editions operations manager Michael Hawkins said his company did not plan to sponsor the conference this year after being informed that the CPAC bookstore, which has been set up for attendees in past years, would no longer be available due to Covid-19 precautions.

    […] Laura Merriott, president of the anti-abortion nonprofit Save Unborn Life, said her group “didn’t get much response [from] donors last time” after paying between $1,000-$3,000 for a sponsorship and creating a pop-up exhibition.

    […] Turning Points USA, the Heartland Institute, and the Washington Examiner were still mulling it over, while the head of WinRed (the GOP’s ActBlue knockoff) texted, “I didn’t even know they were having a CPAC this year.”

    […] This is obviously Politico’s fault, because asking questions about the event is exactly the same as initiating a Sleeping Giants-style boycott campaign. Which would be entirely legal, BTW! Just like it’s legal to collect a $750,000 fee to lobby the White House for a pardon, even if that pardon never comes through. Just ask Matt Schlapp.

    “There was a time when the American Conservative Union and Politico had a professional relationship — one in which your reporters actually covered CPAC rather than worked to sabotage it,” Safavian wrote. “Although the American Conservative Union would rather find a solution that results in ‘accurate, non-partisan’ reporting again, we fully intend to explore our legal rights to hold Politico fully accountable for what we see is tortious conduct.”

    Ooooooh, you know Politico is a-shakin’ in their boots!


  12. says

    From Wonkette: “Trump Judge Freezes Biden Deportation Freeze For Some Reasons That Are Bullsht And Fcked”

    Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton may not have been able to throw out other states’ votes so Donald Trump could stay president, but he has at least succeeded in convincing a Trump-appointed federal judge to put a hold on one of Biden’s first-day executive orders. Biden had ordered a 100-day moratorium on most deportations while the new administration reviews immigration policies across the Department of Homeland Security, including at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE, as in “abolish”) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Federal Judge Drew Tipton issued a restraining order Tuesday, blocking Biden from freezing deportations for 14 days while the case is tried. That led Paxton to exult on Twitter that he had utterly defeated Biden’s “seditious left-wing insurrection.”

    […] GET IT? The real sedition wasn’t those nice people who attacked the US Capitol to stop the certification of the vote, and it certainly wasn’t the Big Lie that motivated them. The real sedition was the people we didn’t deport along the way. […]

    Paxton had argued that Biden’s placing a temporary freeze on deportations was somehow unconstitutional, and according to Vox, that it violated an agreement Texas had made with DHS, as Trump was about to leave office, requiring DHS to consult with Texas before changing certain policies and to give 180 days notice of such a change. The Texas Tribune notes Paxton had argued the state

    would face irreparable harm if undocumented immigrants were released into the state because of costs associated with health care and education, among other claims.

    Tipton, a Trump appointee, found that claim compelling enough to grant the restraining order, ordering a freeze on any freeze, so deportations of non-citizens will go forward for at least two more weeks. Tipton said the Biden administration didn’t adequately explain why it needed a pause in deportations to be put in place while it reconsidered policies, and that a 100-day pause might violate immigration law, which requires deportation within 90 days.

    As for that last-minute agreement between Texas and DHS, Tipton didn’t touch it in his order, saying that needs to be determined in court. Instead he cited the Administrative Procedure Act in granting the temporary injunction.

    Vox adds that:

    Legal experts say it is likely illegal and that an outgoing administration should not be able to enter into a contract with a political ally to obstruct the policy goals of the incoming administration.


    Wonkette link

    From Buzzfeed News:

    Naureen Shah, senior advocacy and policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, called the agreements “a transparent attempt by Trump officials to tie the Biden-Harris administration’s hands and preserve Trump’s grotesque immigration enforcement policy.

    “The Biden administration has the authority, mandate, and responsibility to break from the Trump administration’s legacy, and nothing about these reported agreements changes that reality,” Shah added.

  13. says

    House opens investigation of pandemic ventilator purchases overseen by White House.

    Washington Post link

    A Washington Post investigation found that the 11,200 ventilators made by a well-connected company were ill-suited for covid-19 patients and remain in a warehouse.

    […] Last spring, as part of its effort to increase the number of ventilators amid the crisis, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Defense Logistics Agency purchased 11,200 AutoMedx SAVe II+ ventilators from Combat Medical Systems, which distributes the devices. But the ventilators were inadequate for treating covid-19 patients and remain in warehouses, according to Stephanie Bialek, a spokeswoman for the Strategic National Stockpile.

    “AutoMedx appears to be the beneficiary of a potentially tainted procurement process,” Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), the chairman of the House subcommittee on economic and consumer policy, which is in charge of the investigation, wrote in letters sent to the companies on Wednesday.

    […] Adrian Urias, AutoMedx’s co-founder and current shareholder, advised the Trump administration’s covid-19 task force on ventilator purchases. In March, when the government posted the minimum specifications that ventilator manufacturers had to meet to sell devices for the pandemic response, those specifications were nearly identical to a spec sheet listed on AutoMedx’s website at the time.

    Krishnamoorthi, who is likely to continue on as chairman, cited Urias’s role on the task force and the similarity of the specifications in his letters. The fact that the AutoMedx ventilators are ill-suited for covid-19 patients “raises serious questions about whether their purchase for nearly $70 million constitutes waste, fraud, or abuse,” he wrote.

    […] One contract with the medical device manufacturer Phillips was subject to a fivefold price increase after Trump administration officials renegotiated it. The committee concluded that the waste of taxpayer money caused by the Trump administration’s ventilator procurement could be as high as $500 million. A report in ProPublica spurred the Phillips investigation. […]

    Remember how many times Trump bellowed that he had successfully solved all of the ventilator problems?

  14. says

    Vaccine update from The New York Times:

    […] Biden also said that the administration would begin releasing 10 million vaccine doses each week to the states, up from 8.6 million. The 16 percent increase was expected as manufacturing capacity increases, but [President] Biden also said he would give governors something they have been clamoring for: certainty about how much vaccine they will get. He said states will now have three weeks advance notice of their vaccine supplies.

    The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said about 19.9 million people have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, and that about 3.5 million people had been fully vaccinated. More than a million people a day, on average, have received a shot to help protect them against Covid-19 in the U.S. over the last week.

    As the vaccine rollout accelerates, the number of daily new cases in the United States, which has the worst outbreak in the world, has been on the decline in recent weeks. U.S. deaths, though, remain high, numbering more than 3,000 per day on average in recent days.

  15. says

    As Covid-19 took hold over the last year, hospitals and nursing homes used and reused scarce protective equipment — masks, gloves, gowns. This desperate frugality helped prevent the airborne transfer of the virus.

    But it also appears to have helped spread a different set of germs — drug-resistant bacteria and fungi — that have used the chaos of the pandemic to grow opportunistically in health care settings around the globe.

    These bacteria and fungi, like Covid-19, prey on older people, the infirm and those with compromised immune systems. They can cling tenaciously to clothing and medical equipment, which is why nursing homes and hospitals before the pandemic were increasingly focused on cleaning rooms and changing gowns to prevent their spread.

    That emphasis all but slipped away amid an all-consuming focus on the coronavirus. In fact, experts warn, the changes in hygiene and other practices caused by the Covid-19 fight are likely to have contributed to the spread of these drug-resistant germs. […]

    isolated outbreaks of various drug-resistant infections in Florida, New Jersey and California, as well as in India, Italy, Peru and France. Overall figures have been hard to track because many nursing homes and hospitals simply stopped screening for the germs as resources were diverted to Covid-19.

    When even modest screening picked up again early in the summer, the results suggested that certain drug-resistant organisms had taken root and spread. Particularly troublesome have been growing case counts of a fungus called Candida auris, which authorities had tried to fight before the pandemic with increased screening, isolation of infected patients and better hygiene. […]

    New York Times link

  16. says

    “Remember the account known as ‘Ricky Vaughn’?

    The DOJ just announced the man behind that account, Douglass Mackey, has been charged with election interference stemming from actions in 2016…”

    Ricky Vaughn was close-knit with a lot of other nefarious MAGA trolls of that era. This is going to be a case to watch….”

    The second tweet links to this 2018 HuffPo piece about Mackey. He amassed a large Twitter following and then put out fake messages telling people to vote by text for (presumably) Clinton. It’s interesting that he’s from VT and lived in NYC but now lives in West Palm Beach – the DoJ press release (at the first link) begins “A Florida man was arrested this morning…”

  17. says

    Bits and pieces of political news, as summarized by Steve Benen:

    […] * A new Politico-Morning Consult poll found 30% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independent voters would like to join a Trump-backed “Patriot Party.”

    * Arkansas’ Republican gubernatorial primary is getting crowded, with current Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin, current state Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, and former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders all running in the same primary. Yesterday, Donald Trump threw his support behind his former spokesperson, making the endorsement through his political action committee.

    * In Pennsylvania, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) announced that he raised more than $1 million in two weeks for a possible U.S. Senate campaign in 2022. Fetterman has not yet officially launched his candidacy.

    * And in California, Rep. David Valadao was the only Republican member of his state’s congressional delegation to vote for Trump’s impeachment. Three GOP rivals are now lining up with plans to defeat him. Valadao narrowly defeated former Rep. T.J. Cox (D) last year, and the DCCC hopes to flip the district back.

  18. says

    MyPillow Guy Unleashes Unhinged Twitter Conspiracy Theories

    You might want to lie down for this one.

    MyPillow CEO and Trump loyalist Mike Lindell appeared on Fox News on Tuesday night to spool off a series of unhinged conspiracy theories […], in the wake of the permanent suspension of his account from the social media platform [Twitter].

    Lindell, a major Republican donor who funneled financial support into many of Trump’s election fraud conspiracy theories by backing lawsuits that sought to overturn Trump’s electoral loss last year, has been relentless in advancing wildly false claims to explain away Trump’s defeat — even after the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol earlier this month that turned deadly. […]

    From Aaron Rupar:

    This is sheer lunacy from the MyPillow guy. If you of your family members ranted like this you’d be worried about them.

    Video available on Twitter:

    Additional commentary:

    […] Last week, the MyPillow executive had even defended the efforts by Trump supporters, calling their attempts to lay siege on the Capitol “very peaceful” and blaming violence that left five people, including a Capitol Police officer, dead the work of “undercover Antifa dressed as Trump people,” according to The New York Times.

    In spite of his long history of spewing claims devoid of fact, the pillow executive was warmly welcomed by Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Tuesday night. Carlson lauded MyPillow as “one of our biggest sponsors” — likely one of the primary reasons for providing Lindell such a platform for his distorted views — before directing furor onto Twitter for its decision to permanently suspend Lindell’s account for violating its policies on election misinformation.

    “For the crime of having different opinions, Mike Lindell has been banned from Twitter,” Carlson said.

    […] But before he could even attempt to reinforce Carlson’s “cancel culture” message, the interview rapidly spun out into a bizarre look inside Lindell’s arsenal of outlandish and unfounded claims.

    Lindell insisted, for example, that after a temporary suspension earlier this month, an unnamed person or group at Twitter was actually secretly running his account for two weeks.

    “I just couldn’t do anything and they were running my Twitter like they were me,” he said.

    […] “I got a thing from Germany saying these are Twitter rules and you cannot do this,” Lindell said, adding: “So they ran my Twitter for about 14 days… 15 days.”

    Lindell further insisted that after Dominion threatened legal action over his efforts to undermine the legitimacy of their voting machines, “they hired hit groups and bots and trolls and went after all my vendors and box stores to cancel me out.”

    Carlson later chimed in to chastise the press after his exasperated guest claimed he had damaging evidence about the voting software that had been ignored by a group of legacy media publications who dismissed him out of pocket.

    “They’re not making conspiracy theories go away by doing that,” Carlson said, adding: “You don’t make people calm down and get reasonable and moderate by censoring them, you make them way crazier. Of course!”

  19. says

    Douglass Mackey, aka racist, Trump-boosting Twitter user “Ricky Vaughn,’ has been charged with conspiracy & election interference for using Twitter to fraudulently convince ~4,900 ppl to ‘vote’ by text. Mackey & co-conspirators targeted Black voters.”

    From the DoJ release:

    A Florida man was arrested this morning on charges of conspiring with others in advance of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election to use various social media platforms to disseminate misinformation designed to deprive individuals of their constitutional right to vote.

    Douglass Mackey, aka Ricky Vaughn, 31, of West Palm Beach, was charged by criminal complaint in the Eastern District of New York. He was taken into custody this morning in West Palm Beach and made his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce E. Reinhart of the Southern District of Florida.

    “According to the allegations in the indictment, the defendant exploited a social media platform to infringe one the of most basic and sacred rights guaranteed by the Constitution: the right to vote,” said Nicholas L. McQuaid, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “This indictment underscores the department’s commitment to investigating and prosecuting those who would undermine citizens’ voting rights.”

    The complaint alleges that in 2016, Mackey established an audience on Twitter with approximately 58,000 followers. A February 2016 analysis by the MIT Media Lab ranked Mackey as the 107th most important influencer of the then-upcoming Election, ranking his account above outlets and individuals such as NBC News (#114), Stephen Colbert (#119) and Newt Gingrich (#141).

    As alleged in the complaint, between September 2016 and November 2016, in the lead up to the Nov. 8, 2016, U.S. Presidential Election, Mackey conspired with others to use social media platforms, including Twitter, to disseminate fraudulent messages designed to encourage supporters of one of the presidential candidates (the “Candidate”) to “vote” via text message or social media, a legally invalid method of voting.

    For example, on Nov. 1, 2016, Mackey allegedly tweeted an image that featured an African American woman standing in front of an “African Americans for [the Candidate]” sign. The image included the following text: “Avoid the Line. Vote from Home. Text ‘[Candidate’s first name]’ to [—–][.] Vote for [the Candidate] and be a part of history.” The fine print at the bottom of the image stated: “Must be 18 or older to vote. One vote per person. Must be a legal citizen of the United States. Voting by text not available in Guam, Puerto Rico, Alaska or Hawaii. Paid for by [Candidate] for President 2016.”

    The tweet included the typed hashtags “#Go [Candidate]” and another slogan frequently used by the Candidate. On or about and before Election Day 2016, at least 4,900 unique telephone numbers texted “[Candidate’s first name]” or some derivative to the [—–] text number, which was used in multiple deceptive campaign images tweeted by the defendant and his co-conspirators….

    “…and his co-conspirators”

  20. says

    Chuck Todd repeats the phrase “dead on arrival” when discussing Democratic Party legislative goals. I wish he wouldn’t do that. For one thing, he is actually expanding the audience for Republican talking points. For another, his pessimism is seldom backed up by facts, he just repeats the phrase as if it were everyone’s foregone conclusion.

  21. says

    Biden Team Searches For Ways To Make More COVID Vaccines And PPE

    With the effort to vaccinate the country running up against capacity constraints, the Biden administration is searching for ways to boost the country’s ability to produce and deliver large quantities of the two COVID-19 vaccines currently on the market.

    It’s a strategy that both focuses on using the might of the federal government to bring the pandemic to an end and one that marks a very self-conscious departure from the Trump administration’s approach, which largely left the pandemic to the states to address.

    Wednesday marked the first press call of President Biden’s COVID-19 task force, heralded with the intention of providing the public with regular, reliable updates on the pandemic. Biden himself did not attend, another pointed departure from President Trump’s practice of taking center stage at the briefings that his administration ran.

    Throughout the call, officials emphasized the role that the federal government is taking in addressing the pandemic, while also running through updates on the domestic spread of the virus.

    […] CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said that government estimates suggest that between 479,000 to 514,000 Americans will have died of COVID-19 by Feb. 20.

    “If we are united in action, we can turn things around,” she said.

    National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Tony Fauci provided an overview of various treatments that have been shown to be effective against COVID-19. Measured and scientific as it was, those remarks came in the context of Fauci spending the past few days describing his horror at seeing President Trump advertise hydroxychloroquine and other ineffective treatments like sunlight and injected disinfectant.

    […] At one point, Slavitt said that a proposal to use the Defense Production Act to force pharmaceutical firms to produce doses of the two mRNA vaccines that have received emergency authorization is under “active exploration.”

    “These are delicate processes, very sterile processes, and have to be done in a way that actually completely works,” Slavitt said.

    The feds are planning to buy 600 million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines – enough to vaccinate 300 million Americans, or all adults in the country, Slavitt said.

    The last doses, however, will become available at the end of the summer, in part due to constraints on the supply of raw materials like lipids and limits on the capacity of the vaccine-makers.

    Slavitt added that the administration would need new funding from Congress to vaccinate the entire country, saying that the $8.75 billion passed last month would only allow the administration to meet its goal of 100 million vaccinated in 100 days.

    Money from Congress would also cover the purchase of more PPE, of which there are ongoing shortages, and for testing to expand around the country.

  22. says

    Presidential envoy John Kerry: “What President Biden is trying to do is listen to science, listen to facts, and make tough decisions about what we need to do to take the world to a better place, particularly our own country, and that is what he is committed to doing.”

  23. says

    Michigander Pleads Guilty To Plot To Kidnap Guv, Will Cooperate With Feds

    One of the six men charged federally last year with plotting the kidnapping of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) has pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to kidnap charge and pledged to cooperate with federal authorities.

    Prosecutors filed Ty Garbin’s plea agreement with the court shortly before he swore to a judge that he would help law enforcement with the prosecutions of his fellow alleged kidnapping plotters. In addition to the six men charged federally in connection to the plot, eight others face charges in state court.

    A stipulation of facts included in Garbin’s plea agreement included an ominous planning note: During training meetings in June and July, the alleged conspirators discussed a plot to “storm the State Capitol” and either kidnap or hang the governor.

    Determining that the Capitol building would be to difficult to breach, the conspirators allegedly decided to target Whitmer’s summer home instead.

    The plotters allegedly took elaborate surveillance trips and discussed detonating explosives under bridges in order to hamper police response. Unbeknownst to the alleged conspirators, they were being listened to by confidential FBI sources, including an undercover agent named “Red” who ultimately facilitated their arrest.

    The stipulation of facts included other details as well: On Sept. 13, the plea agreement noted, alleged conspirator Barry Croft suggested using a projectile launcher to shoot at the lead vehicle in the governor’s motorcade from the back of a truck. […]

  24. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    France reports 26,916 new confirmed covid-19 cases over the past 24 hours, from 22,086 on Tuesday. The biggest one-day jump since November 18 when the country was in its second lockdown.

    France has also reported 350 new Covid related deaths in the past 24 hours, with 3,108 people in the ICU, up from Tuesday’s 3,081 figure.

    As the country has now averaged above 20,000 new cases for the fifth day in a row, France 24 has reported that there have been calls from doctors and medics for a new lockdown.

  25. says

    From Wonkette: “Everything Is Normal In Oklahoma”

    After January 1 of each year, state legislatures around the country open for business.

    And that is when the crazy starts.

    State legislators have arrived in Oklahoma ready to tackle the big issues. Among them is Republican State Representative Justin Humphrey, who has introduced House Bill 1648, which would create a new hunting season in the state … for Bigfoot.

    Yes, you read that right.

    The time of year dedicated to Bigfoot season and the cost of a Bigfoot hunting license isn’t specified in HB 1648 — instead, it directs the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation to establish the dates and create the necessary hunting licenses and fees.

    The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation seems less than thrilled at the prospect, with Assistant Chief of the Information and Education Division Micah Holmes telling KOCO News, “We use science-driven research, and we don’t recognize Bigfoot in the state of Oklahoma.”

    Seems reasonable.

    “Serious” Bigfoot hunters, too, are concerned about the idea. D.W. Lee of the Mid-America Bigfoot Research Center says he has “had 26 encounters that I can say was actually a Bigfoot,” and he is none too pleased, saying stunts like Humphrey’s bill harm “[t]he efforts of the people out there actually being serious about this – it really hampers us.”

    […] Humphrey doesn’t seem to actually believe in Bigfoot, but he is happy to pander to those who do, saying,

    “I have been in the woods all my life and I have not ever seen any sign of Bigfoot. […] I have never heard Bigfoot, but I have some people that I know that are good, solid people who I will guarantee you 100% have said they have had experience with Bigfoot. So, I know there are people out there that you will not convince that Bigfoot doesn’t exist.”

    Well golly gee, Justin! If people think they have seen a Bigfoot, we should probably sell them hunting licenses! A bunch of people in the woods for state-sanctioned hunting of a fictional creature in the rough shape of a human being! What could possibly go wrong? […]

    Although this appears nowhere in the bill, Humphrey also emphasized in interviews that he didn’t want the licensed Bigfoot hunters to kill Bigfoot — just trap him.

    […] Humphrey, who wears a cowboy hat to work, apparently cares more about the life of Bigfoot than about those of women and pregnant people. In 2017, he introduced a bill seeking to force pregnant people to get male permission to control their uteruses. In Humphrey’s ideal world, apparently pregnant people would be required to tell their doctors who they’ve had sex with, be forced to stay pregnant if the alleged sperm donor challenged paternity, and obtain written consent from the sperm donor prior to terminating a pregnancy. He has also referred to pregnant people as “hosts,” so you just know he’s a great guy.

    […] In true Republican fashion, Humphrey preemptively blamed his Bigfoot bill’s failure on, you guessed it, “the media.”

    “A lot of that has to do with how the media treats me on this,” Humphrey said. “If I go getting beat up on this, then the legislators are going to be scared to jump on it. If most people understand it as a good tourist attraction, and if it is presented like that, I think most of the legislators understand that, and I think most of the legislators are humored by it. […] I think most legislators understand what I am trying to do and will give it a serious look.”

    Yup, if the state of Oklahoma doesn’t decide to create a season to charge people money to hunt for a fictional being, it will definitely be because the press isn’t taking the idea seriously enough.

    In a state that ranks among the top five worst in the country for healthcare (in the midst of a deadly pandemic, no less!), I’m just happy lawmakers like Justin Humphrey are able to focus on the things that really matter. […]


  26. says

    Mitt Romney challenges his party to reject the ‘big lie’

    Romney wants Republicans to say, “You know what, I was a big Trump supporter, I was really pulling for Donald Trump, but he lost fair and square.”

    Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) yesterday spearheaded a foolish stunt, getting senators to vote on whether to reject Donald Trump’s impeachment trial as unconstitutional. Of the 50 Republicans in the Senate, 45 went along with this nonsense.

    One of the five who didn’t, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) spoke soon after at a University of Chicago Institute of Politics event, where he shared some candid thoughts about the responsible steps his party should be taking right. The Deseret News reported:

    Former President Donald Trump will never admit that he lost a fair election, but every elected Republican ought to be telling voters that as a step toward bringing the country together, Sen. Mitt Romney said Tuesday. In addition to social media perpetuating the “big lie” that Trump is somehow still president and President Joe Biden stole the election, GOP officials, too, are contributing to that notion, the Utah Republican said.

    “You have many of the Trump supporters in elected office, senators, congresspeople, governors, continuing to say the same thing, that the election was stolen,” Romney said.

    The Utah Republican added that elected GOP officials should go on Fox News and say, “You know what, I was a big Trump supporter, I was really pulling for Donald Trump, but he lost fair and square.”

    […] There remain armed and radicalized groups that continue to believe the Big Lie about the 2020 presidential election, at least in part because so much of the Republican Party has resisted calls to reject the lie.

    […] As we recently discussed, were it not for the Big Lie, there would not have been a deadly insurrectionist attack at the heart of our nation’s democracy. It’s precisely why our political system is healthier when Republican officials acknowledge the truth.

    As for those on the right who insist that the upcoming impeachment trial might spark unrest, Romney went on to add, “I say, first of all, have you gone out publicly and said that there was not widespread voter fraud and that Joe Biden is the legitimate president of the United States? If you said that, then I’m happy to listen to you talk about other things that might inflame anger and divisiveness. But if you haven’t said that, that’s really what’s at the source of the anger right now.”

    […] Romney clearly places a high value on democracy, which in 2021, sets him apart from much of his party.

    Romney is still a conservative Mormon from Utah, and he will vote along mostly conservative lines, but he is certainly right about the Big Lie.

  27. says

    Radical-right organizing works in cycles: There’s an initial buildup and recruitment phase, followed by preplanned direct action in escalating levels of violence, eventually resulting in an explosion of public violence that exposes them both to public approbation and prosecution by authorities. These bursts of violence tend to scatter their forces as they dissolve into factional squabbling. At this point, they begin to reorganize under a “leaderless resistance” strategy deploying small action cells and “lone wolf” terrorists, and begin rebuilding. Lather, rinse, repeat.

    The most recent far-right explosion of violence—the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol—has had its predictable effect, particularly due to the stern law-enforcement response involving multiple arrests of participants as well as the subsequent bans on their presence in social media, dispersing their organizers and followers to the far dark reaches of the internet and inspiring internecine warfare. Moreover, as Ben Makuch reports for Vice, white-supremacist ideologues are now responding by preparing a fresh round of domestic terrorism deploying both paramilitary “action squads” and unaffiliated extremists capable of extreme violence.

    “We want lone wolves, we want local cells without online recruitment,” a popular “accelerationist” account on Telegram recently urged its readers. “Without spending extensive resources, agencies like the DHS or FBI can’t trifle or sabotage. It doesn’t matter if you are organizing a cell via Steam, they can’t do ANYTHING if you know and trust each member personally.” […]


    More at the link.

  28. blf says

    Chinese bots had key role in debunked ballot video shared by Eric Trump:

    Chinese bot network played a key role in spreading disinformation during and after the US election, including a debunked video of “ballot burning” shared by Eric Trump, a new study reveals.

    The misleading video shows a man filming himself on Virginia Beach, allegedly burning votes cast for Donald Trump. The ballots were actually samples. The clip went viral after Trump’s son Eric posted it a day later on his official Twitter page, where it got more than 1.2m views.

    The video was believed to have originated from an account associated with the QAnon conspiracy theory. But the study by Cardiff University found two China-linked accounts had shared the video before this. Twitter has since suspended one of them.

    The same Chinese network has spread anti-US propaganda, including calls for violence in the run-up to the 6 January storming of the US Capitol building by a pro-Trump mob. Afterwards. It compared the west’s response to the DC riot to political protests in Hong Kong.

    The accounts previously posted hostile messages about Trump and Joe Biden, made allegations of election fraud and promoted “negative narratives” about the US response to the coronavirus pandemic.

    Professor Martin Innes, director of Cardiff University’s crime and security institute, said open-source analysis strongly suggested “multiple links” to Beijing.

    [… numerous details…]

  29. says

    Biden begins staffing commission to study Supreme Court reform

    The Biden administration has begun setting up a commission aimed at Supreme Court reform and the federal judiciary, according to a Politico report.

    Sources close to the matter told the publication that nine to 15 people are expected to be appointed to the commission that will study court reform.

    Those who are expected to be on the commission include Yale Law professor and Obama era deputy assistant attorney general Cristina Rodríguez and former American Constitution Society president Caroline Fredrickson.

    Harvard Law Professor and former Bush-era assistant attorney general Jack Goldsmith has also reportedly been tapped to join the commission, according to the report.

    The commission will fall under the scope of the White House Counsel’s office, Politico reports, with assistance from Biden campaign lawyer Bob Bauer.

    As Politico notes, Frederickson has indicated in the past that she is in favor of court reform saying in a 2019 interview, “I often point out to people who aren’t lawyers that the Supreme Court is not defined as ‘nine person body’ in the Constitution, and it has changed size many times.”

    Rodriguez’s and Goldsmith’s stances on court reform are less well known than Frederickson, notes Politico. […]

  30. blf says

    Some snippets and snark from Fox hosts accuse media of gushing over Biden — after four years of fawning over Trump:

    Fox News [sic …] is not known as a place for self-reflection, or irony, which meant [Sean] Hannity — who has literally campaigned with Trump — was able to chide other journalists’ coverage of Biden.

    Well get ready, it’s gonna be four years of nauseating, gauzy coverage, thundered Laura Ingraham on Fox News [sic] this week. The watchdogs? Well, they’re just lapdogs.

    Ingraham, host of the Ingraham Angle Fox News [sic] show, is something of an expert in this field.

    I don’t see anybody else on the horizon that’s fighting for the American people like he is, Ingraham said of Trump in 2017, while she has also suggested Trump will be viewed similarly to Ronald Reagan, which in Republican circles is considered a compliment. In December 2020, Ingraham even dedicated a segment to Trump’s triumphs, while when granted an interview with Trump, in 2017, she posed questions that brought a new meaning to the term softball.

    They continue to fawn over this guy like he’s Jesus Christ! said [Jesse] Watters, who outside the rightwing media world is mostly known for presenting a segment in New York City’s Chinatown which was widely condemned as racist.

    Like his hosts, Watters has done his fair share of fawning, including over Trump’s botched coronavirus response and the ex-president’s [sic] warmth towards North Korea.

  31. says

    Re blf’s #43:

    Lou Dobbs claimed Trump made weekends “possible for us all.”

    Describing the Trump WH in late 2019:

    “The demeanor of the folks working for this president, for the people, it couldn’t be more positive. The mood in that White House couldn’t be more high energy,” said Dobbs.

    “I have seen a number of White Houses. I happened to have seen this one in its early days, and I have seen it now,” he continued. “And I want you to know the joint is hopping.”

    “At every level, on every floor, this White House is energized,” he said. “There’s sunshine beaming throughout the place, and on almost every face. It’s winner, and winning center, and our White House, our president, is at the top of his game.”

  32. says

    NBC – “DHS issues terrorism advisory over domestic extremists ’emboldened’ by Capitol riot”:

    The Department of Homeland Security issued a national terrorism advisory warning Wednesday, citing a “heightened threat environment across the U.S.,” weeks after the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.

    In an alert, the DHS said Wednesday that a National Terrorism Advisory System bulletin would be in effect until April 30, believing that the threat would “persist in the weeks following the successful Presidential inauguration.”

    While the DHS does not have any information related to a specific, credible plot, the department said that it remained concerned over violent extremists who were “motivated by a range of issues, including anger over Covid-19 restrictions, the 2020 election results, and police use of force.”

    The DHS added that “these same drivers to violence will remain through early 2021 and some may be emboldened by the January 6, 2021, breach of the U.S. Capitol.”

    The last bulletin was issued last January, warning of the potential for cyberattacks by Iran. Despite domestic extremists openly talking about storming Washington on Jan. 6, the DHS did not issue an alert in the run-up to the siege.

  33. blf says

    Holocaust survivors get COVID vaccine on Auschwitz liberation day:

    Hundreds of Holocaust survivors in Austria and Slovakia are getting the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, acknowledging their past suffering with a special tribute 76 years after the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp […]

    “We owe this to them,” said Erika Jakubovits, the Jewish Community of Vienna organiser of the vaccination drive. “They have suffered so much trauma and have felt even more insecure during this pandemic.”

    Some of the survivors are being brought there by shuttle or by ambulance, while others are coming in with their children. The fittest among them are planning on taking the subway.

    Jakubovits organised the vaccination drive with the support of the Austrian health ministry and Vienna city officials. Twelve doctors, all members of the Viennese Jewish community, volunteered to vaccinate the survivors.


    With the end of WWII now more than seven decades ago, the world’s approximately 240,000 Holocaust survivors are all elderly. Since many were deprived of proper nutrition when they were young, they suffer from numerous medical issues today.


    In a similar project to that in Vienna, the Jewish community of Bratislava in Slovakia was also to vaccinate survivors on Wednesday.

    “We’re very, very grateful that the vaccinations are taking place on this symbolic day [International Holocaust Remembrance Day],” said Tomas Stern, the head of the Jewish community in Bratislava.


  34. says

    A second police officer has committed suicide after responding to the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. Officer Jeffrey Smith took his own life, the acting DC MPD chief told the House Appropriations Cmte yesterday, per his prepared remarks

    Jeffrey Smith, the second officer to die by suicide after responding to the riot at the Capitol, was a 12-year veteran of the force, per DC MPD spokesperson”

  35. blf says

    In the States, Covid-deniers have been filming supposedly “empty” hospitals as “proof” there is no such thing as Covid-19, or the pandemic isn’t serious, or so on. One thing they have not been doing (as far as I am currently aware) is entering hospital ICUs. In teh “U”K, that exceptional stooopidity is now happening, Hospital incursions by Covid deniers putting lives at risk, say health leaders:

    Lives are being put at risk and the care of patients disrupted by a spate of hospital incursions from Covid-19 deniers whose online activity is channelling hatred against NHS staff, say healthcare and police chiefs.

    In the latest example of a growing trend, a group of people were ejected by security from a Covid-19 ward last week as one of them filmed staff, claimed that the virus was a hoax and demanded that a seriously ill patient be sent home

    “He will die if he is taken from from here,” a consultant tells the man on footage, which was later shared on social media. Following contact by the Guardian, Facebook took down footage and other shocking posts in which conspiracy theorists described NHS staff as ventilator killers.


    In the footage, a man behind the camera remonstrates with a consultant, who tells him that a patient will die if his oxygen tube is removed. When asked about what treatment is being given, the consultant explains that the patient has coronavirus pneumonia affecting both of lungs and is being treated with steroids and antibiotics.

    The man behind the camera says that patient should be brought home and the treatment replaced with vitamin C, vitamin D and zinc, but is told by the consultant: “None of those are proven treatments for coronavirus.”

    Since New Year’s Eve, when hundreds turned up outside St Thomas’ hospital in London, conspiracy theorists have stalked the wards of as many as a dozen hospitals to gather footage, which has been shared on social media. […]

  36. John Morales says

    @40, “public approbation”?

    Heh. That’s a beauty.

    (At first I thought the word intended was “opprobrium”, but hey…)

  37. blf says

    Whilst there is some waffling, this interview (which host Tommy Vietor admits is “the most biased interview I’ve ever done” (Mr Vietor and Ms Psaki call themselves friends and used to work together during the Obama administration)) is perhaps worth watching, Biden Press Sec Jen Psaki Responds to Media Calls for “Unity” (video). (At one point there seems to have been some technical issues and Psaki’s audio was garbled.) Usual advice: Don’t read the comments !

  38. says

    Coronavirus updates from The New York Times:

    The French drugmaker Sanofi said it would help produce more than 100 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to meet strong demand in Europe.

    Britain will require citizens flying home from 22 countries to quarantine at hotels.

    A survey found that the number of Americans who want to be vaccinated as soon as possible has risen to 47 percent, from 34 percent last month.

    I will alert PZ concerning comments 56 and 57 above.

  39. says

    More re #46 above:

    As recently as Sept, a former top DHS intel official filed a whistle-blower complaint accusing DHS leaders incl. Chad Wolf & Ken Cuccinelli of ordering him to modify intel assessments to make threat of white supremacy “appear less severe” & include info on left-wing groups to align w/Trump’s messaging.

    The intel official involved w/the bulletin added that the public warning should have been issued as early as Nov., when Trump was making escalating series of false accusations abt the election, &far-right groups continued to be galvanized by them

    NYT link atl.

  40. says

    TPM – “Ocasio-Cortez Rails On McCarthy For Imposing ‘No Consequences’ On White Supremacist Sympathizers In The House”:

    Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) said on Wednesday that “white supremacist sympathizers” sit the heart of the House’s GOP caucus and that their increasingly extremist views have gone unchecked with “no consequences” from House leadership.

    “It increasingly seems, unfortunately, that in the house Republican caucus, Kevin Mccarthy answers to these QAnon members of congress, not the other way around,” Ocasio-Cortez told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes in an interview Wednesday night.

    The comments come after House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) suggested that he would talk to Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green (R-GA) in light of reports that the newly-elected lawmaker had expressed support for assassinating leading Democrats in social media posts.

    The threatening social media posts, first reported by CNN, included calls for the execution of senior Democrats as well as conspiracy theories linked to QAnon.

    Ocasio-Cortez said on Wednesday that the top House Republican hadn’t gone far enough in taking seriously the threat of such behavior because it was a “core animating political energy” for the GOP base.

    “When I hear that Rep. McCarthy is going to pull a member aside who has made white supremacist-sympathizing comments, the thing I think is: What is he going to tell them? Keep it up?” she said.

    “Because there are no consequences in the Republican caucus for violence. There’s no consequences for racism. No consequences for misogyny. No consequences for insurrection. And no consequences means that they condone it. It means that that silence is acceptance,” Ocasio-Cortez said….

  41. tomh says

    Now that 2021 legislative sessions have begun around the country, state lawmakers have already introduced hundreds of bills aimed at election procedures and voter access — far exceeding the number of voting bills introduced by this time last year.

    The Brennan Center has a roundup of these bills.

    A few highlights:

    Twenty-eight states have introduced, prefiled, or carried over 106 restrictive bills this year (as compared to 35 such bills in fifteen states on February 3, 2020).

    … thirty-five states have introduced, prefiled, or carried over 406 bills to expand voting access

    Of course, many of these expansions are in red states where they will die in committee.

    …the 106 bills to restrict voting access. These proposals primarily seek to: (1) limit mail voting access; (2) impose stricter voter ID requirements; (3) limit successful pro-voter registration policies; and (4) enable more aggressive voter roll purges.

    Much more at the link.

    Missing is the legislation in Georgia which would require Georgia voters to make copies of their photo ID and mail them to election officials twice, both when applying for an absentee ballot and when submitting it, before being allowed to cast an absentee ballot, according to a bill introduced Wednesday. The bill has the backing of powerful Republicans, including Gov. Brian Kemp as reported in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

    An audit of absentee ballot signatures by the GBI and Georgia secretary of state’s office found no cases of fraud among 15,000 ballots reviewed.

  42. says

    Many thanks to PZ for removing from this thread the “enlarge your penis” advertisements disguised as comments.

    Follow-up to tomh @67:

    […] among the most important rationales behind the Big Lie was, and is, he Republican desire to impose harsh new voting restrictions — because the more people were told the United States has a corrupt and broken system of elections, the more demand there would be for a crackdown.

    As the Associated Press reported last month, the fact that the 2020 elections were administered smoothly won’t stop the crusade for new restrictions.

    Changes to the way millions of Americans voted this year contributed to record turnout, but that’s no guarantee the measures making it easier to cast ballots will stick around for future elections. Republicans in key states that voted for President-elect Joe Biden already are pushing for new restrictions, especially to absentee voting. It’s an option many states expanded amid the coronavirus outbreak that proved hugely popular and helped ensure one of the smoothest election days in recent years.

    […] [For] Republicans […] it’s vastly easier to simply explore new ways to make it harder for Americans to participate in their own democracy.

    This will almost certainly be a multi-state effort, but Georgia — a “red” state in recent decades that elected Biden and two Democratic U.S. senators in the most recent election cycle — is likely to be the epicenter of the GOP’s anti-voting efforts. […] Georgia voters would be required to make copies of their photo ID and mail them to election officials twice before being allowed to cast an absentee ballot.

    […] according to Republican officials in Georgia, including the GOP officials who oversee the state’s system of elections, the 2020 cycle was effectively problem-free. There’s no systemic or institutional reason to make any changes at all. […]

    Except, from a partisan perspective, the system must be “fixed” — because allowing more Georgians to cast ballots led more Republicans to lose.

    […] Though it’s likely to get ugly, congressional Democrats have rallied behind an ambitious voting-rights plan, called the For the People Act, which is designed to bolster the nation’s democracy. The bill would, among other things, “dramatically broaden voting access”; “require states to implement automatic voter registration, extensive early voting and same-day registration”; and “restrict efforts by states to place suppressive hurdles on voting and vote-by-mail.”

    It’s among Democrats’ top legislative priorities for the next two years, but the odds of it overcoming an inevitable Republican filibuster are poor.


  43. says

    Bits and pieces of political news, as summarized by Steve Benen:

    * The Senate Conservatives Fund, a political action committee that backs conservative Republicans, has spent nearly $400,000 in recent weeks to help bolster Sen. Josh Hawley’s (R-Mo.) standing. The fact that the PAC found this necessary — 22 months before the next Election Day, 47 months before the end of Hawley’s current term — suggests the Missouri senator suffered politically in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

    So, that doofus Hawley is costing them money. Let’s hope that puts Hawley deeper in the “don’t like him at all” hole.

    * Fresh off his narrow re-election victory, Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) has agreed to chair the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in 2022. He faces a daunting challenge: the president’s party usually loses seats in his first midterm cycle, and Dems currently don’t have any seats to spare.

    * Following up on yesterday’s report on state Republican parties moving even further to the right, some prominent Massachusetts GOP members are reportedly pushing to censure Gov. Charlie Baker (R) after the Republican governor endorsed the recent article of impeachment against Donald Trump.

    * And on a related note, in Vermont, the local chair of the Essex Republicans has launched a petition drive calling for Gov. Phil Scott to leave the Republican Party altogether. The GOP governor has been a frequent Trump critic and conceded that he voted for Joe Biden in November.

    The cult mentality is still strong.

  44. says

    Description of the Colbert bit from The Wrap:

    …Then Colbert rolled a fun parody ad for a product called “The EggWhizzard,” a skillet that “makes perfect eggs every time, and is the only kitchen product guaranteed to fight the secret cabal of Satan-worshipping cannibals who control our water supply.”

    According to the commercial, “EggWhizzard” will guarantee “no more messy counters, no more sloppy plates, no more George Soros Lizard Men,” and also “makes eggs easy, as easy as it was for Mr. Rogers to fake his own death and live under an assumed name in Cuba until he receives the signal to return at the head of an army of child patriots” who will arrest Barack Obama’s dogs.

    Then comes the obligatory consumer testimonial part, where a woman says that she didn’t think it was possible that “a single product can make great eggs, fluffy meringue, and stop the trilateral commission from using Ikea[dot]com to plant DNA-gathering devices in our furniture so that Oprah can clone us for organ [meat].”

  45. says

    SC @69, Ha! That was good. Colbert called Trump, “Doofus in Chief.”

    In other news: New Republican congressman prioritizes punditry over policy

    Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) has built his congressional team with communications, not governing, in mind. It’s exactly what Mike Pence recommended.

    Following Sen. Rob Portman’s (R-Ohio) unexpected retirement announcement this week, National Journal spoke to one of the Republican senator’s longtime advisers about the state of the GOP.

    “If you want to spend all your time going on Fox and be[ing] an a**hole, there’s never been a better time to serve,” Republican strategist Corry Bliss said. “But if you want to spend all your time being thoughtful and getting s**t done, there’s never been a worse time to serve.”

    Keep that quote in mind when reading this interesting Time magazine profile on Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), a newly elected 25-year-old Trump acolyte.

    Cawthorn’s outsized focus on messaging isn’t incidental to his rise to power; it is central to his success. As a new legislator, he is not working on churning out new bills. He is, instead, presenting himself as a useful messaging megaphone for the legislators that do. “I have built my staff around comms rather than legislation,” he wrote to Republican colleagues in a Jan. 19 email obtained by TIME.

    […] As a rule, members of Congress, at least publicly, emphasize the legislation they hope to pass. It is, after all, the point of the job: Americans elect lawmakers to make laws.

    But Cawthorn, with almost refreshing candor, isn’t bothering with the pretense: the young and inexperienced North Carolinian has built his team with communications, not governing, in mind.

    Or put another way, Cawthorn is positioning himself to be a pundit, not a policymaker, who happens to occasionally vote on federal legislation.

    […] at this point 12 years ago, with voters electing a Democratic White House and a Democratic Congress, Republicans en masse shifted their focus from hiring policy staffers to hiring media flaks. The idea was simple: selling a conservative vision to the public took priority over undergirding a conservative vision with serious legislative proposals that worked.

    In early 2009, for example, the House GOP conference chairman went so far as to advise his colleagues to start getting rid of legislative staff — aides responsible for writing and scrutinizing policy proposals, giving the party its capacity to govern — and start hiring aides who would focus exclusively on media.

    The conference chairman at the time was a congressman from Indiana. His name was Mike Pence.

    […] Madison Cawthorn’s approach is unfortunate, but it has a pedigree in his post-policy party.

  46. says

    Education Chair Demands McCarthy ‘Explain’ Decision To Assign QAnon Supporter To Committee

    Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) is demanding that House GOP leadership explain the recent selection of QAnon sympathizer and Sandy Hook Elementary massacre denier Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene to a House committee dedicated to advancing education.

    “House Republicans made this appointment and Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy must explain how someone with this background represents the Republican party on education issues,” Scott, who serves as the Education and Labor Committee’s chairman, wrote in a scathing statement Thursday.

    “He is sending a clear message to students, parents, and educators about the views of the Republican party,” Scott added.

    The comments come as McCarthy faces increasing pressure to handle a growing problem with Greene, who has been widely criticized over reports that surfaced earlier this week that showed she had backed posts on social media that suggested the killing of 20 children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School was a hoax.

    Greene had also called the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School a “false-flag” operation and heckled survivors of the shooting in a video that went viral this week.

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) condemned the move to select Greene for the committee as “appalling” during a news briefing on Wednesday.

    “Assigning her to the Education Committee, when she has mocked the killing of little children,” Pelosi said, adding: “What could they be thinking? Or is thinking too generous a word for what they might be doing. It’s absolutely appalling.”

    Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) similarly suggested that the House GOP leadership had done little to stop members of its caucus from advancing bogus theories or amplifying extremist views, chastising McCarthy for effectively abetting Greene, who endorsed the execution of Democrats in Congress.

    “It increasingly seems, unfortunately, that in the House Republican caucus, Kevin McCarthy answers to these QAnon members of Congress, not the other way around.”

    This kind of criticism of Marjorie Taylor Greene and of Kevin McCarthy should continue until Greene is kicked out of Congress and put on the FBI Watch list.

  47. says

    Reactions from Nancy Pelosi:

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said Thursday in response to members’ security concerns that they’ll need supplemental protective measures since “the enemy is within the House of Representatives.”

    When asked to clarify, she added that “we have members of Congress who want to bring guns on the floor and have threatened violence on other members of Congress.”

    […] A certain cadre of Republicans has been very vocal about not wanting to comply with the metal detectors set up at the entrance of the House floor after the Capitol insurrection, some of them circumventing the machines or refusing to be wanded.

    One, Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD), reportedly tried to bring a gun onto the floor, a move which has sparked calls for investigation and his resignation.

    Ever since the insurrection, Republicans have been tiptoeing around the growing contingent of their base who are calling for violence against Democratic officials. Most of them have refused to condemn the behavior that led to the attack, instead calling for “unity” and moving to turn the page on the episode. […]


    So far, no Republican legislators who have fomented violence have been punished.

  48. says

    MMFA – “Marjorie Taylor Greene penned conspiracy theory that a laser beam from space started deadly 2018 California wildfire”:

    In November 2018, California was hit with the worst wildfire in the state’s history. At the time, future Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) wrote a bizarre Facebook post that echoed QAnon conspiracy theorists and falsely claimed that the real and hidden culprit behind the disaster was a laser from space triggered by some nefarious group of people.

    Greene’s post, which hasn’t previously been reported, is just the latest example to be unearthed of her embracing conspiracy theories about tragedies during her time as a right-wing commentator….

    CNN’s Em Steck and Andrew Kaczynski recently reported that on her Facebook page, “Greene repeatedly indicated support for executing prominent Democratic politicians in 2018 and 2019 before being elected to Congress.”

    House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and the Republican Party have done little to stop Greene’s rising profile….

    The Camp Fire was a horrific California wildfire that started on November 8, 2018, and, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, “burned a total of 153,336 acres, destroying 18,804 structures and resulting in 85 civilian fatalities and several firefighter injuries. The Camp Fire is the deadliest and most destructive fire in California history.” After an investigation, the department “determined that the Camp Fire was caused by electrical transmission lines owned and operated by Pacific Gas and Electricity (PG&E) located in the Pulga area.” Scientists have noted that climate change has worsened wildfires in places like California.

    Conspiracy theorists have pushed other explanations for the Camp Fire, especially on social media. One theory, which has been promoted by QAnon followers, falsely posits that a nefarious entity used laser beams or a similar instrument to start the fire for financial profit or to clear space for California’s high-speed rail system.

    Rep. Greene is a proponent of the Camp Fire laser beam conspiracy theory. She wrote a November 17, 2018, Facebook post — which is no longer available online — in which she said that she was speculating “because there are too many coincidences to ignore” regarding the fire, including that then-California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) wanted to build the high-speed rail project and “oddly there are all these people who have said they saw what looked like lasers or blue beams of light causing the fires.” She also speculated that a vice chairman at “Rothschild Inc, international investment banking firm” was somehow involved, and suggested the fire was caused by a beam from “space solar generators.”

    Greene added: “If they are beaming the suns energy back to Earth, I’m sure they wouldn’t ever miss a transmitter receiving station right??!! I mean mistakes are never made when anything new is invented. What would that look like anyway? A laser beam or light beam coming down to Earth I guess. Could that cause a fire? Hmmm, I don’t know. I hope not! That wouldn’t look so good for PG&E, Rothschild Inc, Solaren or Jerry Brown who sure does seem fond of PG&E.”…

  49. says

    Follow-up to comment 74.

    From comments posted by readers of the article:

    I still say she [Nancy Pelosi] should announce a policy of immediate expulsion for anyone caught trying to slip a gun past the metal detector. I don’t know if she has authority to do that, but if we stop thinking of this as the Congress for a moment but as just another workplace, there would be a similar policy.
    Yes, don’t shy away from this, fer chrissakes. When Fox and GOP politicians have a tantrum, they need to be treated with absolute scorn as collaborators.

    (Also, stating the obvious here, can you imagine how Fox would be treating this if the parties were switched?)

    Regarding the first comment, Nancy Pelosi could call for a vote on that workplace policy.

    From Aaron Rupar:

    One side thinks Democratic leaders are part of a satanic child sex trafficking ring and should be rounded up and murdered. The other wants to give people health care. Both sides.

  50. says

    From text quoted by SC @75:

    She also speculated that a vice chairman at “Rothschild Inc, international investment banking firm” was somehow involved, and suggested the fire was caused by a beam from “space solar generators.”

    The “Rothschild Inc.” reference is there so that Marjorie Taylor Greene can include some anti-semitism in her stew of batshit bonkers extremism.

  51. says

    Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene continues to distinguish herself as an opponent of the basic tenets of U.S. democracy and basic f’ing decency. She’s already spent months pushing for the 2020 presidential election to be overturned. She’s done a lot of assassination-friendly social media. She harassed the teenage survivors of a mass shooting. And on Wednesday night she had a local television news crew threatened with arrest for asking a question at a town hall event.

    Greene continues to be a member of the House Republican caucus in good standing […]

    On Wednesday night, reporters were told that they could attend the Dalton, Georgia, event but not ask questions or speak to attendees. When a reporter from Channel 3 defied that and tried to ask a question, first a staffer and then a sheriff’s deputy told the crew to leave, with the sheriff’s deputy threatening them with arrest for criminal trespass. Attendees at the event were allowed to ask questions that had been submitted ahead of time, so Greene was really going to the mat for exclusively softball questions.

    To be sure, she did have a lot to dodge—that whole “yay, assassination” thing, for one—and her refusal to take reporters’ questions came as her social media profiles were being scrubbed. Is this going to be how Republicans justify continuing to protect her? Keeping her from responding to reporters and count on the furor over her social media history dying down once there’s nothing left to see?

    Marjorie Taylor Greene is a hateful, vicious person dedicated to spreading lies and conspiracy theories. That’s not going to change. The question is whether Republican leaders are going to reject that, or continue embracing it as a core part of their party’s identity.


  52. says

    New polling shows overwhelming support for Biden’s vision of unity, rejection of GOP obstruction

    President Biden’s unity pitch has gained steam since November, with fully 71% of Americans saying they would rather see Republicans in Congress find ways to work together with Biden instead of focusing on keeping him in check (25%).

    The new finding from a Monmouth University poll shows a notable nine-point increase in the public’s thirst for Republican cooperation with Biden since just after the November election when 62% said the same. But perhaps more importantly, the widespread support for GOP lawmakers working with the president to tackle problems suggests that Biden’s unity push is very much in sync with the public. Biden recently clarified that to him, unity meant coalescing around what a majority of Americans think will improve their lives, but not necessarily securing Republican votes for those policies. In short, it’s about the public, not the lawmakers. […]

  53. says

    From Mark Sumner:

    […] The biggest unanswered question of Jan. 6 is what did Donald Trump do? The House has already impeached Trump for his actions in inciting the seditionists who marched on the Capitol, murdered a police officer, smashed their way into the building, and waged a war on democracy that included deploying pipe bombs and chemical spray. But why, when the images of this insurgency were being broadcast to the White House, did Trump not immediately order the military to provide support to the besieged police?

    Yes, police actions appear to have been confused. Yes, Pentagon officials appear to have weighed the “optics” of sending in forces in a way that’s completely inappropriate. Yes, the complex mess of D.C.’s unique status generated additional steps that made everything move more slowly. None of that should have mattered. Because the moment insurgents broke through the first police line, Donald Trump should have been on the phone to order more support for the badly outnumbered officers at the Capitol.

    He didn’t. He didn’t because, by all accounts, Trump was busy watching in approval. Trump took the time to step out of the White House and tell the people beating down police with thin blue line flags, “We love you, you’re very special.” He did not take the time to provide support to the police.

    And that’s the man that the Republican Party didn’t just crown as its leader, it’s the man they are still defending. Still following. Still supporting. The party of law and order is now the party that is willing to “move on” from cop killers and seditionists. To move on from the greatest crime ever committed by any American official. Benghazi was worth no less than 33 hearings, even though none of those hearings ever surfaced a crime. Now, despite the seriousness of the event, Republicans just want to … let it go.

    Not because they don’t realize the scale of that crime. But because they still worship that criminal. […]


  54. says

    David Neiwert:

    I’m pleased that Australians are figuring out that @Lauren_Southern’s presence on Sky News means they have a white nationalist on their teevees. Here’s a little more history of her embrace of the racist right.

    Southern was a kind of celebrity presence during the April 15, 2017, riot in Berkeley, CA, that was in fact the very first event organized by the Proud Boys. She had a PB security detail that day.

    Accompanying her that day was Brittany Pettibone, who spoke to the crowd of right-wing extremists.

    Southern and Pettibone teamed up a little later to lead a truly disgusting campaign to attack refugees in Europe. Here’s a video the two of them made, giggling about their campaign….

    Pettibone is now married to Martin Sellner, the Austrian who leads Europe’s white-nationalist “Identitarian” movement. He was recently featured in that NYT piece about how European neo-Nazis drew inspiration from the 1/6 Capitol insurrection.

    Oh, one more thing: That April 2017 shit show in Berkeley was a key moment in the development of the alt-right’s street-brawling strategy. Among the people linking arms with Southern that day were open fascists from Identity Evropa, Rise Above Movement, and others.

  55. says

    A Rural County in Georgia Vaccinated Teachers. The State Suspended Vaccine Shipments to Punish Them.

    In most places in the United States, teachers don’t yet qualify for COVID-19 vaccines. But one county in rural Georgia decided several weeks ago that its educators deserved early protection from the coronavirus—and now will face stiff consequences as a result.

    Bucking designated priority group orders from the Georgia Department of Public Health, officials in Elbert County allowed teachers to be vaccinated at the same time as senior citizens over the age of 65. The county, which is in the northeast corner of Georgia, opened schools for in-person learning in the fall. Elbert County officials explained to the Atlanta Journal Constitution that many local students lack internet required for remote learning, and some rely on schools for food. The teachers are “seeing it, they’re facing it every day, a lot of times with 20 kids in their classroom,” Elbert County School District superintendent Jon Jarvis told the Atlanta Journal Constitution earlier this week.

    But yesterday, Elbert County got word from the Georgia Department of Public Health that it would be punished for flouting the guidelines. The state plans to suspend all vaccine shipments to Elbert County for six months. According to Georgia DPH spokesperson Nancy Nydam, the state will not resume shipments to Elbert County until late July. […]

    That decision doesn’t sit right with Peter Hotez, a vaccinologist, pediatrician, and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. “I think it’s really important that we stop punishing groups or individuals for vaccinating those outside state or [national] COVID-19 vaccination guidelines,” he wrote to me in an email. He wrote that the guidelines aren’t laws, and that they were proposed “without a full understanding of our depleted health system for administering adult vaccinations.” He added that the guidelines “mostly serve as a barrier or hindrance to vaccinations rather than their intended purpose.”

    Those sentiments were echoed by Jen Kates, senior vice president and director of global health & HIV policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, who is tracking vaccine rollout efforts across the nation. “These are really impossible choices for any jurisdiction to make, and it raises tough questions about how states can best manage this process, ensure some uniformity across the state, and get shots in arms,” she wrote in an email. “Still, at the end of the day, it is not clear that this ‘stick’ approach, which cuts off the county from more doses, helps to reach the goal of vaccinating people—even those in the state’s priority groups—more quickly.” […]

    In my community, vague promises have been made that vaccine will be available for people over the age of 65 in February. No details have been offered, except for the also vague prediction that it will take “several months” to vaccinate all of those people over the age of 65. In a state with an exceptionally low population density, this is unacceptable. Madness. Incompetence.

  56. says

    Now we know where some of those trumpian White House staffers went: GOP senator stocks office with 13 former Trump staffers

    Judd Deere, the former deputy White House press secretary, will be Hagerty’s deputy chief of staff for communications.

    As Trump administration alums face a tough job market after the Capitol riot, one new Republican Senate office has turned into a full-employment factory for Trump officials looking for their next gig.

    Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) announced on Thursday that he’s hired 13 former Trump administration officials to work in his office. […]

    Republican Capitol Hill offices have hired a number of former Trump officials, both from the White House and various agencies, but Hagerty’s hiring of 13 former Trump staffers goes above and beyond what other GOP lawmakers have done. […]

    More details at the link.

  57. says

    GM will stop selling emission vehicles by 2035

    The nation’s largest car manufacturer said it will be replacing its fleet with all-electric cars.

    General Motors on Thursday announced it is aiming to phase out gasoline and diesel powered passenger cars and sports utility vehicles by 2035 as part of its broader push to become carbon neutral by 2040.

    The nation’s largest car manufacturer said it will be replacing its fleet with all-electric cars, SUVs and light trucks over the next 14 years. The move does not apply to heavy-duty vehicles, such as commercial trucks.

    GM also said it will source 100 percent renewable energy to power its U.S. operations by 2030 and global facilities by 2035, five years ahead of its previously announced target. To account for carbon emissions it cannot eliminate, GM will invest in carbon credits or offsets. […]

  58. says

    From Wonkette: “Lawyer: Pipe Bomb Builder Only Planned To Kill People Because He Loved America So Much.”

    Ian Benjamin Rogers of Napa, California, was charged on Wednesday with possession of unregistered destructive devices — five pipe bombs and materials to make more explosive devices, including “black powder, pipes, endcaps, and manuals, including The Anarchist Cookbook, U.S. Army Improvised Munitions Handbook, and Homemade C-4 A Recipe for Survival.” These devices were seized from his residence and business along with 49 guns, several of which fired automatically. One of these was a “kit-built replica MG-42 belt-fed machine gun” best known for being used by Nazis during WWII.

    Shockingly enough, it is not actually legal to have a stockpile of pipe bombs and illegal weaponry, even if — as Rogers told officers — it is for entertainment purposes only.

    […] He is not being charged with loving Donald Trump too much.

    He is not even being charged with planning to use these pipe bombs to attack those he perceived as enemies of Donald Trump, including local Democrats, George Soros, Twitter, and Facebook, though the fact that federal agents found discussion of such plans on his cell phone was included in the complaint against him.

    Further, text messages recovered from ROGERS’s phone indicate his belief that Donald Trump won the 2020 presidential election, and his intent to attack Democrats and places associated with Democrats in an effort to ensure Trump remained in office. For example, in a message that I believe ROGERS sent on January 10, 2021, he said, “We can attack Twitter or the democrats you pick” and “I think we can attack either easily”. When the other person responded, “Hmmm” and “Let’s go after Soros,” ROGERS said, “We can attack Twitter and democrats easy right now burn they’re shit down,” whereas targeting “Soros,” which I believe is a reference to George Soros, would require a “road trip.” The next day, ROGERS sent another message to the same person: “I want to blow up a democrat building bad”. “The democrats need to pay,” he added. “Let’s see what happens, if nothing does I’m going to war” “Democrats, Twitter, etc” “I hope 45 goes to war if he doesn’t I will”. […]

    ROGERS added, “Let’s see what happens then we act,” but followed it up with “I’m thinking sac office first target” “Then maybe bird and face offices”. I believe that when ROGERS said, “sac office first target,” he meant that their first target should be the offices of California Governor Gavin Newsom in Sacramento. I further believe that when ROGERS said that the “bird and face” offices would be next, he meant the offices of Twitter (“bird”) and Facebook (“face”), because both social media platforms had locked Trump’s accounts to prevent him from sending messages on those platforms. “Sad it’s come to this but I’m not going down without a fight” “These commies need to be told what’s up,” he said.

    In addition to this stockpile of weapons and explosive devices, federal agents also found a “Three Percenter” sticker on his car, along with a “White Privilege” credit card with various references to Donald Trump on it.

    Three Percenters are a far-right anti-government militia, so named after the erroneous “fact” that only three percent of American colonists fought against the British during the American Revolution.

    But again, the thing Rogers is actually being charged with is possession of explosive devices and weapons it is illegal for him to have. The reason these other details are included is because they make it pretty darn clear that Rogers was not making pipe bombs “for entertainment purposes only.” Of course, it would still be illegal for him to use pipe bombs for entertainment purposes, because of how they would “kill anyone within five feet and seriously injure anyone within 20 feet.” according to the Napa Sheriff’s Department.

    Rogers’s attorney, who says he has 38 letters of community support for Rogers, said of his client, “He was an enthusiastic follower of the President of the United States. That used to make him a patriot and now that makes him a terrorist.”

    Except, again, he had illegal explosive devices and was talking about using them against people to achieve his political aims, which would make him a “terrorist” regardless of whom he supported. If he was hoarding pipe bombs because he was an enthusiastic fan of Calista Flockhart and wanted to blow up those standing in the way of an Ally McBeal reboot, that would also make him a terrorist. A terrorist is someone who uses “terror” to achieve their social or political aims, whatever they may be.

    The Washington Post reported:

    Jess Raphael, his attorney, said Rogers’s comments represented a “bunch of hyperbole and pro-Trump histrionics that follow in line with, I guess, tens of millions of other people who supported Mr. Trump.”

    “There is nothing that I have seen that supports any conclusion that he was actually planning any kind of organized action,” Raphael said, adding later: “He’s one of these people who loves Donald Trump. I don’t get it. But I don’t have to get it to defend him.”

    Rogers is entitled to a defense, of course — and I get why Raphael thinks this is the way to go here. There aren’t a lot of wells to go to in a case like this, and the “Trump made me do it” defense is very popular these days. But it seems like a bad idea to just assume that a guy with a bunch of illegal pipe bombs who is talking about attacking various targets is just doing some hyperbole out of patriotism and love of Donald Trump and let him go on about his business. That is something that could go very, very wrong. It would be pretty horrible if he did go and blow some people up and law enforcement ended up having to go, “Oh, well we knew he had all these pipe bombs and was talking about blowing people up, but we thought he just really loved America!”

    There’s no question that Trump people say a lot of wacky things — but there is also not much question that many of them are willing to do crazy things and there’s not really a good way of determining which is which. In matters of pipe bombs, however, it’s probably always best to err on the side of caution.


  59. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comments 26, 29, 30 and 31.

    From Wonkette: “Tucker Carlson Rushes To Defend White Nationalist Voter Deception Enthusiast ‘Ricky Vaughn'”

    The Right, supposedly, lives in abject fear of voter fraud, always convinced that Democrats are doing something nefarious to thwart the election process. In fact, a whole bunch of [Republicans] tried to stage a coup earlier this month because that is what they believed. Concurrently, many of them obsess over all of the “psyops” they think Democrats are doing. And yet we keep seeing reports of Republicans doing the things they accuse Democrats of — like voting for Donald Trump in their dead mother’s name or fraudulently voting for Trump in Georgia when they actually live in Florida and encouraging others to do the same. One might even start to think that constantly telling Republicans how easy it is to do voter fraud and that Democrats do it all the time might lead to them going and trying to do it themselves and then getting arrested, because it’s actually not that easy to do voter fraud.

    And speaking of Republicans fucking with the vote — white supremacist Twitter troll Douglass Mackey, 31, better known by his online pseudonym “Ricky Vaughn” (after Charlie Sheen’s character in Major League), was arrested on Wednesday for interference in the 2016 election.

    According to the Department of Justice, Mackey […] was arrested for conspiring with other Trump supporters to use social media to spread misinformation meant to defraud people of their vote. (Alleged coconspirators include an as-yet-unidentified Trump devotee known for deploying pro-Trump bot armies who goes by the pseudonym “Microchip,” and Anthime “Baked Alaska” Gionet, who was also recently arrested for his part in the Capitol riot/attempted coup.)

    More specifically, they ran a campaign targeting Clinton voters with memes claiming it was legal to vote by cell phone — and that at least 4,900 people ended up trying it.

    […] For example, on Nov. 1, 2016, Mackey allegedly tweeted an image that featured an African American woman standing in front of an “African Americans for [the Candidate]” sign. The image included the following text: “Avoid the Line. Vote from Home. Text ‘[Candidate’s first name]’ to 59925[.] Vote for [the Candidate] and be a part of history.” The fine print at the bottom of the image stated: “Must be 18 or older to vote. One vote per person. Must be a legal citizen of the United States. Voting by text not available in Guam, Puerto Rico, Alaska or Hawaii. Paid for by [Candidate] for President 2016.”

    The tweet included the typed hashtags “#Go [Candidate]” and another slogan frequently used by the Candidate. On or about and before Election Day 2016, at least 4,900 unique telephone numbers texted “[Candidate’s first name]” or some derivative to the 59925 text number, which was used in multiple deceptive campaign images tweeted by the defendant and his co-conspirators.

    This is fairly significant given the tiny margins by which Trump eked out a victory in some states.

    Now, we all know that if Democrats had pulled such a scheme, Tucker Carlson would be screeching, “Oh, the humanity!” It would break his tiny heart that anyone would conspire to deprive hardworking Americans of their vote like this. But because this was done by Republicans to benefit Trump, his take is slightly different. Rather, his heart is breaking because Mackey — whom he absurdly describes as a “conservative journalist” — faces up to 10 years in prison just for doing memes. […]


    More at the link, including more of Tucker Carlson’s reasons why we should be nice the White Supremacist trolls who try to ratfuck elections.

  60. says

    Coronavirus variant sweeps South Africa, exhibiting ‘terrifying’ dominance.

    Washington Post link

    South Africa was already one of the countries worst hit by the coronavirus, but in the six weeks since a new, more transmissible variant was first publicly announced here, an enormous spike of new cases and deaths has far surpassed previous waves of the pandemic.

    The variant is thought to have emerged in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province but has now been found in at least 32 countries, sparking fears its unmitigated spread to new parts of the world could usher in new waves of contagion just as the long slog of global vaccine rollout gets underway.

    The variant identified in South Africa is not yet proved to be more lethal than others, including similarly highly transmissible variants recently detected in Britain and Brazil, but mutations that make it around 50 percent easier to catch have allowed it to stage a takeover of what was already out-of-control community transmission in South Africa.

    “Of the cases we’ve [DNA-]sequenced in South Africa, more than 90 percent are the new variant,” said Richard Lessells, a lead researcher at the KwaZulu-Natal Research and Innovation Sequencing Platform, or KRISP, which has played a pathbreaking role in identifying coronavirus variants in South Africa and elsewhere. “It’s amazing and terrifying how quickly it came to dominate, and it does feel like we’re in the beginning stages of watching this variant, and the other new ones, become more dominant around the world.” […]

  61. says

    Biden drops Trump’s antiabortion ‘global gag rule.’ Here’s what that means for abortion access worldwide.

    Washington Post link

    Soon after he took office, […] Trump reinstated and expanded a policy known by its critics as the “global gag rule,” which bars U.S. funding for organizations abroad that perform abortions or offer information about them.

    On Thursday, a week into his presidency, Biden signed an executive order rescinding the policy. He also signed a memorandum requesting that the Department of Health and Human Services review a rule instated by Trump that cut off federal funding for domestic family planning programs involved with abortions, such as Planned Parenthood.

    […] two previous Democratic presidents, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, have rescinded it, arguing that it put millions of women and girls at risk by cutting off access to critical health services. Two Republican presidents, George W. Bush and Trump, have put it back in place, arguing that U.S. money should not go to organizations that promote abortion.

    The decades of Washington-imposed whiplash have left sexual and reproductive health and rights programs around the world scrambling to secure funding […]

    What is the ‘global gag rule’?

    The policy forbids international organizations that receive U.S. health aid from using their own funds or money from another source to provide abortion services or counseling. […] Trump broadened the funding restrictions to cover all global health aid, rather than just aid aimed at family planning. Under Trump’s expansion, the rule applied to about $12 billion in U.S. aid […].

    What is the Helms Amendment?

    An addition to the Foreign Assistance Act passed more than a decade earlier, the Helms Amendment requires that U.S. assistance cannot be used by foreign organizations to provide abortions as part of family planning. (The “gag rule” goes further, demanding that organizations do not provide the service at all.) It covers around $40 billion dollars in U.S. aid.

    As a law rather than executive order, it does not seesaw with White House turnover. But critics say it extends in practice beyond its family planning confines.

    The amendment has come to be “applied as a total ban on abortion services and information with U.S. funds,” […]

    What else did Trump do to restrict abortion access globally?

    In 2017, the Trump administration announced that it would eliminate funding for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) for the coming year, over claims that the reproductive and maternal health agency supported abortion and forced sterilization in China. The UNFPA said the charges were erroneous.

    […] The United States provided $69 million in UNFPA funding in 2016. If reinstated, the money could be used to prevent 1.4 million unintended pregnancies, 32,000 unsafe abortions, and provide reproductive and sexual health care to 4.2 million women and girls within a year […]

    Last year, the Trump administration spearheaded the Geneva Consensus, a nonbinding international antiabortion declaration, which Biden is also reportedly set to disavow Thursday.

    What impact do U.S. funding restrictions have on abortion rates?

    Worldwide, around 48 percent of pregnancies are unintended, and of those about 60 percent end in abortions, leading to some 73 million abortions every year […]

    Studies have shown repeatedly that U.S. restrictions do not lower abortion rates. A recent report published in British medical journal the Lancet found they often led to cuts in health and reproductive services that caused increases in unsafe abortions. […]

    What else are international abortion rights activists pushing Biden to change?

    Biden’s election marks an “unprecedented moment” in which to “repeal the multitude of harmful actions that the Trump administration took to attack sexual and reproductive rights around the world,” […]

    […] Advocates have called on the Biden administration to throw its support behind the Global Health, Empowerment and Rights (Global HER) act, which would prevent future presidents from re-declaring the “gag rule,” and the Abortion is Health Care Everywhere act, proposed legislation to repeal the Helms Amendment and to issue guidance clarifying that U.S. funding can be used for abortions in the case of rape, incest or a threat to life. Biden on Thursday did not mention these demands. […]

    The Trump administration’s antiabortion policies drew global support from conservative religious groups, especially evangelical Christians. […]

    Biden, like the majority of U.S. Catholics, according to polls, supports abortion rights, despite the official teachings of the church. […] Biden’s view could “help reshape the narrative” around faith and abortion in some parts of the world […]

  62. says

    For four years, this nation’s political press corps worked diligently to paper over Donald Trump’s reckless incompetence, issue illiteracy, radical white nationalist agenda, cruelty for the sake of cruelty, and narcissistic obsessions that rendered him unable to process any element of outside reality except as a boost or slight to his own personal ego.

    Simultaneously, the press has itself been unable to process the in-full-view radicalization of the Republican Party itself, even as they sabotaged national security probes, nullified laws, responded to election losses by stripping the lost offices of their normal powers, allied themselves with white supremacist militias and, most importantly of all, restructured the party into a tool for promoting known-false information, hoaxes, propaganda, and other manipulations intended specifically to mislead the American public and sabotage American elections.

    If you were wondering how long the nation’s top papers would take to revert to form under a Biden presidency, the answer is one week.

    In The New York Times yesterday, the editorial board offered up the most milquetoast possible analysis of a point in time marked by nearly a half-million American pandemic deaths, the gutting and willful corruption of government agencies, and the near-assassination of Trump-disloyal public figures in the halls of the U.S. Capitol.

    Sweeping all these dangers aside, the Times urges President Joe Biden to “Ease Up on the Executive Actions,” grousing that Biden’s undoing of Trump’s myriad executive orders with his own executive orders is “a flawed substitute for legislation,” are “ephemeral,” and that the rapid undoing of Trump’s biggest cruelties (no, really, Biden’s reestablishment of protections for Dreamers after Trump’s white nationalist agenda stripped those protections is explicitly chosen as example) “can set up a whipsaw effect” between presidencies. […]


    Oh, FFS.

    […] Not to be outdone, The Washington Post has its own version. This one comes from the Post’s Matt Viser, already making it a more courageous attempt than the Times’, and expresses more than anything a sort of vague press discontent at Biden’s current path of dull competence. It is in the rough spirit of 2016’s grumblings that candidate Hillary Clinton was perhaps “over-prepared” for a debate appearance: […] will the public (or rather, the press) become bored and disenchanted with this incessant normality?

    […] Where the Times was unwilling to even contemplate whether facing multiple catastrophes at once might require more urgent action than waiting for the Bipartisanship Fairies to come hose down everyone involved, from insurrectionists and pandemic-deniers to the people that sternly disapprove of those things, here we have recognition that the nation is currently in Extremely Deep Poop, something that requires extraordinary urgency.

    But is Biden being too orderly about it? Opinions differ!

    Highlights of this version include: “It is unclear for now whether Biden’s more restrained style is an antidote or an overcorrection.” […]

    “Few of Biden’s social media messages have included anything that could be seen as controversial […]

    Meanwhile at Axios, we are treated to a bipartisan list of each party’s “Mischief Makers.”

    • On The One Side, Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene is listed, a conspiracy theory advocate who expressed support for assassinating lawmakers, gave out information on the whereabouts of the House Speaker during an assassination attempt, and stated her belief in a wide range of malevolent conspiracy theories ranging from a belief that a school shooting was a “false flag” hoax to seemingly every detail of “Q”-premised crackpottism.

    • On The Other Side, Rep. Jamaal Bowman is marked for joining other Democrats in “voting against a waiver for retired Gen. Lloyd Austin to serve as Defense secretary.”

    Ah yes. Troublemaking is truly bipartisan. Both parties have their travails, do they not?

    So then, a week. It took the elite press about a week to begin fretting that returning to Biden-era policies may be just as divisive as Trump’s widespread smashing of those policies, and tut-tutting about the impetuousness of it all.

    It took a week for the press to wonder if Joe Biden is in fact being too boring after a presidency predicated on a loutish clown flinging mud and lies on an hourly basis […]. It took about a week for Important Journalistic Neutrality to weigh in with a both sides take explaining that the supporters of insurrection may be a real thorn in the side of Republicans who still believe in at least pretending at decency, but Democrats have several members who disagree on policy concerns so, literally, Both Sides. […]

    Oh, FFS, FFS, FFS!

  63. says

    More news from Israel:

    “All those infected experienced only a mild form of the disease and none was hospitalized.”

    100% efficacy against severe disease. THIS is what matters most. I don’t expect it will remain perfect, but this is GREAT news.

    Only .04% of people who’d received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine contracted the disease, and none became seriously ill. JPost link atl.

  64. says

    Adam Klasfeld:


    “‘Brazen, Entitled, Dangerous’: Man Seen with a Stun Gun Inside Nancy Pelosi’s Office Must Stay in Jail, Judge Rules”

    [link atl]

    Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell’s thundering ruling keeping Richard Barnett behind bars before trial ranks as one of the most outraged and passionate speeches that I have heard delivered from the federal bench.

    The developing story above only captures a sliver of it.

    But Howell’s oratory can be summarized by those three words: “Brazen. Entitled. Dangerous,” a trio of adjectives the judge repeated twice—and a distillation of the smirking image of Barnett with his feet on a desk in Pelosi’s office with a stun gun in his pants.

    “The government has presented overwhelming evidence that this defendant, Richard Barnett, enthusiastically participated in this assault on the Capitol.”

  65. says

    Humor/satire from Andy Borowitz:

    The emergence of Marjorie Taylor Greene is making Americans nostalgic for the wisdom and erudition of Sarah Palin, new polling shows.

    In focus groups conducted by the University of Minnesota’s Opinion Research Institute, participants revealed that they were suddenly revising their earlier negative opinions of the former Alaska governor, and were now grateful for her incisive commentary and geopolitical acumen.

    In light of recent developments, Palin’s inability to name a Supreme Court decision she disagreed with or a periodical she read, along with her controversial claims about the visibility of Russia, seem like “no big deal,” one member of the focus group said.

    “At the time, I thought she bombed her interview with Katie Couric,” he said. “Looking back on it now, I think she kind of nailed it.”

    Another focus-group participant said that, while Palin was unable to define what the Bush doctrine was, “at least she wasn’t obsessed with baby-eating cannibals controlled by George Soros.”

    “I miss her,” he said.

    New Yorker link

  66. blf says

    A complaint / observation that has been made in this very blog (at least in other threads), and elsewhere, is that vaccine doses are being discarded or allowed to expire when, e.g., the people scheduled to receive them are “no shows” or no-one is scheduled to receive them. Instead, it is suggested (and with which I concur), offer the “surplus” jabs to other people. A team in Oregon did exactly that, Stranded drivers get surprise Covid shot as snowstorm traps health team (quoted essentially in full):

    Oregon health workers who got stuck in a snowstorm on their way back from a Covid-19 vaccination event went from car to car on foot injecting stranded drivers before several of the doses expired.

    The Josephine county public health department said on Facebook that the “impromptu vaccine clinic” took place after about 20 employees were stopped in traffic on a highway after a vaccination clinic.

    Six of the vaccines were getting close to expiring so the workers decided to offer them to other stranded drivers.

    The shots were meant for other people, but “the snow meant those doses wouldn’t make it to them before they expired,” the health department said.

    Not wanting to waste them, staff walked from vehicle to vehicle, offering people a chance to receive the vaccine. A county ambulance was on hand for safety.

    All the doses were administered, including one to a Josephine county sheriff’s office employee who had arrived too late for the vaccination clinic but ended up stopped with the others, officials said.

    The Josephine county public health director, Mike Weber, said it was one of the “coolest operations” he had been a part of.

    I presume none of the impromptu recepients were — gasp! — teachers (see Lynna@83).

  67. blf says

    A follow-up to @53 in teh “U”K, however, it’s unclear if this is the same incident as described there (but is certainly very very similar), Man arrested over abusive comments to Covid hospital staff:

    A 45-year-old man has been arrested after a group of people became abusive to hospital staff when the group attempted to remove a Covid-19 patient.

    The man, of Maidstone, Kent, has been arrested on suspicion of causing a public nuisance and is in custody, said Surrey police.

    He was arrested in connection with an incident at the East Surrey hospital in Redhill on 21 January.

    A video posted on social media shows a man telling staff that Covid-19 had not been proven to exist and telling them he was taking a patient home from the hospital.

    A medic is seen to inform the mask-less man that the patient is being treated with oxygen, steroids and antibiotics for coronavirus pneumonia affecting both his lungs and warns him that if the oxygen were removed, the patient “will last about half an hour until he dies”.

  68. says

    I have a question about the Bill Gates vaccine microchip conspiracy theory. It was ridiculous before we all knew that each vial contained five or six doses, but now that we know that…how do they think each dose gets a microchip?

  69. tomh says

    Last-Minute Bid to Ditch Science by Trump EPA Blocked by Federal Judge
    January 28, 2021 MATTHEW RENDA

    A federal judge in Montana said Donald Trump’s EPA failed to demonstrate why an eleventh-hour rule barring the use of scientific studies to inform agency decisions needed to be implemented immediately.

    (CN) — A federal judge in Montana ruled the Trump administration could not issue a last-minute regulation that restricts the EPA’s use of science when making policy decisions…

    In 2018, under the direction of EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, the agency proposed a new rule that would prevent the agency from using scientific studies to make decisions when the underlying data was not publicly available…

    … public health advocates argued a full suite of decisions were based on data subjected to various privacy rules like HIPAA.

    “Privacy laws are trying to protect people from these types of disclosures,” said Anne Hedges, director of policy and legislative affairs for the Montana Environmental Information Center. “If this law were passed you couldn’t use a suite of studies, even if they’re peer-reviewed.”

    If the last-minute decision were allowed to take hold, it would preclude a raft of public health studies from being considered by the EPA.

    “The Trump administration worked on this rule for two and half years and they failed to get it done and then on the way out the door they tried to pull a fast one,” Hedges said. “It was a parting shot and a cheap shot.”

  70. blf says

    SC@102, Microchips are magic (“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” (Arthur C Clarke)).

    You presume there are only five or six chips per vial. Ever hear of nanotechnology ? There are thousands per vial ! Enough so that each jab contains perhaps a thousand at least, with hundreds actually working. That solves the antenna problem (the working chips work together to form the antenna used to transmit your location up to the GPS satellites). Plus, of course, one there is are working chips inside you, they can the download more and more and moar chips… I mean, magic. Spell upgrades.

    For an alternative completely bonkers conspiracy theory, see poopyhead’s Those guys keep flaunting their brilliance here at FtB.

    (To be clear, both of the above completely bonkers conspiracy theories are, as far as I know, completely my ownthe mildly deranged penguin’s invention. Neither she nor I have any idea what the actual completely bonkers conspiracy theories are circulating. And, of course, there is no “location transmission” up to GPS satellites, albeit the antenna problem is real — you need an antenna for receiving the GPS signals.)

  71. says

    Guardian – “‘The perfect target’: Russia cultivated Trump as asset for 40 years – ex-KGB spy”:

    …Then, in 1987, Trump and Ivana visited Moscow and St Petersburg for the first time. Shvets said he was fed by KGB talking points and flattered by KGB operatives who floated the idea that he should go into the politics.

    The ex-major recalled: “For the KGB, it was a charm offensive. They had collected a lot of information on his personality so they knew who he was personally. The feeling was that he was extremely vulnerable intellectually, and psychologically, and he was prone to flattery.

    “This is what they exploited. They played the game as if they were immensely impressed by his personality and believed this is the guy who should be the president of the United States one day: it is people like him who could change the world. They fed him these so-called active measures soundbites and it happened. So it was a big achievement for the KGB active measures at the time.”

    Soon after he returned to the US, Trump began exploring a run for the Republican nomination for president and even held a campaign rally in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. On 1 September, he took out a full-page advert in the New York Times, Washington Post and Boston Globe headlined: “There’s nothing wrong with America’s Foreign Defense Policy that a little backbone can’t cure.”

    The ad offered some highly unorthodox opinions in Ronald Reagan’s cold war America, accusing ally Japan of exploiting the US and expressing scepticism about US participation in Nato. It took the form of an open letter to the American people “on why America should stop paying to defend countries that can afford to defend themselves”.

    The bizarre intervention was cause for astonishment and jubilation in Russia. A few days later Shvets, who had returned home by now, was at the headquarters of the KGB’s first chief directorate in Yasenevo when he received a cable celebrating the ad as a successful “active measure” executed by a new KGB asset.

    “It was unprecedented. I am pretty well familiar with KGB active measures starting in the early 70s and 80s, and then afterwards with Russia active measures, and I haven’t heard anything like that or anything similar – until Trump became the president of this country – because it was just silly. It was hard to believe that somebody would publish it under his name and that it will impress real serious people in the west but it did and, finally, this guy became the president.”…

    More atl.

    (Also in the Guardian – “Box seat: scientists solve the mystery of why wombats have cube-shaped poo.”)

  72. says

    Here’s a link to the January 29 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    Johnson & Johnson says single-dose vaccine works against Covid

    Johnson & Johnson has said its single-dose vaccine was 72% effective in preventing Covid-19 in the US but a lower rate of 66% was observed globally in the large trial conducted across three continents and against multiple variants, Reuters reports.

    In the trial of nearly 44,000 volunteers, the level of protection against moderate and severe Covid-19 was 66% in Latin America and just 57% in South Africa, where a particularly worrying variant of the novel coronavirus is circulating.

    Those results compare to the high bar set by two authorised vaccines from Pfizer Inc/BioNTech SE and Moderna Inc, which were around 95% effective in preventing symptomatic illness in pivotal trials when given in two doses. Those trials, however, were conducted mainly in the United States and before the broad spread of new variants now under the spotlight.

    J&J’s main study goal was the prevention of moderate to severe Covid-19, and the vaccine was 85% effective in stopping severe disease and preventing hospitalisation across all geographies and against multiple variants 28 days after immunisation.

    Here’s analysis from the Guardian’s international correspondent Michael Safi on what the success of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine means for poorer countries.

    This week has seen a strong focus on the need for vaccines to be widely distributed to end the pandemic sooner, reduce the economic toll and make it less likely that dangerous new mutations emerge.

    On that metric, the successful results of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is good news for poorer countries. It is a hardy formulation that can be stored for two years at -20C, and three months at room temperature, meaning it is within reach for places that do not have advanced cold-chain storage networks. It also requires just one shot to be effective, meaning significantly more people can be protected with smaller batches than those needed for other vaccines, who require two doses about three weeks apart.

    Covax, an alliance that aims to distribute vaccines equally around the world, says it has a non-binding memorandum of understanding for about 500m doses of the Johnson & Johnson shot. How many of those shots it will receive, and at what schedule, is a key question – as we’ve seen in Europe, there is often a gap between what is delivered and what is promised in contracts, let alone non-binding memoranda of understanding. Covax aims to get the bulk of those half-a-million doses in the second half of this year, but it may face delays if the pharmaceutical giant chooses to fulfil its bilateral deals first or if production capacity is less and slower than expected.

    Johnson & Johnson has said it will sell its vaccine on a not-for-profit basis, saying it would go for approximately $10 (£7.20)/dose during the course of the pandemic. That is more expensive than several of the other vaccines being produced, though the price is unlikely to be prohibitive.

  73. says

    HuffPo – “Democrats Poised To Ditch Republicans To Pass Big COVID-19 Relief Bill”:

    Democrats on Capitol Hill are preparing to push through a large coronavirus relief package ― without Republican support, if necessary ― in order to confront what they’re calling a historic health and economic crisis in America.

    “Only big, bold action is called for,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a floor speech on Thursday, pledging to “move forward” and pass a bill even if Republicans object to the measure.

    Democrats can muscle through spending legislation with only 51 votes in the Senate through a special procedure called budget reconciliation ― the same procedure that Republicans utilized several times over the past two decades to advance their agenda, including to enact broad tax cuts in 2017.

    President Joe Biden has proposed a sprawling $1.9 trillion relief bill that would send $1,400 checks to most Americans, extend federal unemployment benefits through September and increase funding for vaccine distribution ― as well as enact a lot of other economic policies, such as raising the minimum wage, that Republicans feel are irrelevant to the pandemic.

    After Democratic senators huddled with White House economic advisers on a conference call Thursday, lawmakers seemed to emerge with a consensus on moving ahead along the lines of Biden’s original proposal, which incorporates a lot of policies that congressional Democrats previously endorsed.

    “We will continue to reach out to Republicans but I’m a big supporter of having an insurance policy. … The way things are looking now, I think we’re going to need an insurance policy,” said Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), referring to budget reconciliation.

    Republicans, meanwhile, are upset that Biden is pushing forward a large COVID-19 package so soon after Congress appropriated $900 billion for coronavirus relief in December. They also argue that doing so via budget reconciliation flies in the face of the president’s call for unity in his inaugural speech earlier this month. On Inauguration Day, Biden urged the nation to temper its political discourse and come together to reject extremism and white supremacy in the wake of Donald Trump’s disastrous presidency. He didn’t say Democrats would not do things they campaigned on.

    One Republican senator who spoke on the condition of anonymity expressed disappointment with Biden for not reeling back his party and coming down from his ask of $1.9 trillion for COVID-19 relief, warning that sticking to the Democrats’ current demands would poison the well for cooperation in the Senate.

    “It would be like declaring war around here. And you’ve got impeachment on top of it,” the GOP senator said Thursday. “This is not a good way to start off.”

    But Democrats dismissed GOP objections about the process, noting that using budget reconciliation doesn’t mean Republicans can’t vote.

    “Cry me a river,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) told HuffPost.

    “I can guarantee you, no one back home cares. They just want their relief,” added Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii).

    The White House has indicated it wants Congress to pass a relief package by March, when federal unemployment benefits for 11 million workers will begin to expire. The Senate also has to contend with confirming Biden’s Cabinet nominees and trying Trump for inciting the deadly Capitol riot on Jan. 6.

    Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that next week the House would advance budget legislation that lays the groundwork for using the reconciliation process, which she held out as an option Democrats would use only with great reluctance.

    “We’ll pass a reconciliation bill if we need it,” Pelosi said. “We would hope that we would have bipartisan cooperation to meet the needs of the American people.”

  74. says

    Josh Marshall, responding to Jim VandeHei: “Axios becoming the channel for what amount to threats of more insurrections and mass violence from GOP – apparently because of something Twitter did or possibly Democrats using 50 votes rules for COVID relief.”

    Yes, VandeHei was on two MSNBC shows this morning, and his comments moved from informative descriptions to borderline attempts to justify or legitimize their grievances and rage. (Also, something seemed to be wrong with Joe Scarborough, who said several strange things, including that Gabby Giffords had been killed in the 2011 shooting. They interviewed her fairly recently, and she was there a few weeks ago when her husband was sworn in to the Senate.)

  75. says

    blf @comment 100, one of the health workers reported that a man was so overjoyed to get the vaccine that he took off his shirt, jumped out of his vehicle shirtless, in a snowstorm!, and presented his arm for the jab.

    The team administering the vaccines made sure they got all the proper paperwork done. Made me smile.

    SC’s and blf’s discussion of the conspiracy theories that claim Bill Gates is using vaccines to insert microchips (or nanotechnology) into humans also amused me. Sometimes you just have to laugh.

  76. says

    Follow-up to comment 92.

    […] let’s not forget that Trump didn’t just back a global gag rule; he also signed a domestic gag rule in 2019. The point wasn’t to prohibit taxpayer support for abortion — that was already prohibited — but rather, to target funding for organizations that might mention the word “abortion.”

    As the New York Times noted, Biden is tackling that, too.

    Mr. Biden also directed the Department of Health and Human Services to, “as soon as practicable, consider whether to suspend, revise, or rescind” the so-called domestic gag rule — a collection of regulations imposed by the Trump administration that prohibit federally funded family-planning clinics from counseling patients about abortion.

    Note, the Trump administration’s domestic gag rule can’t simply be undone through executive action; there’s a regulatory process officials will have to follow. But with his order yesterday, Biden initiated that process.

    It’s the latest in a series of elections-have-consequences moments, this time on reproductive rights.

    […] while the Trump administration pursued changes to the family-planning program known as Title X, and those changes affected a variety of health care organizations that provide services to millions of women, it wasn’t exactly a secret that the Republican policy was intended to target Planned Parenthood.


  77. says

    It’s too soon to assume that we are done with Hair Furor. From The New York Times:

    Two weeks after Representative Kevin McCarthy, the top House Republican, enraged Donald J. Trump by saying that he considered the former president responsible for the violent mob attack at the Capitol, the two men met on Thursday for what aides described as a “good and cordial” meeting, and sought to present a united front…. It was the latest evidence that top Republicans, many of whom harshly criticized Mr. Trump after the assault, have quickly swung back into line behind him and are courting his support as he faces a second impeachment trial.


    […] McCarthy got on a plane, went to Mar-a-Lago, and kissed the ring of the disgraced former president he’d infuriated with a mild rebuke.

    Through his new political action committee, Trump soon after issued a written statement that actually said, “President Trump’s popularity has never been stronger than it is today, and his endorsement means more than perhaps any endorsement at any time.”

    I’ll confess, I laughed out loud at the idea that Trump’s belief that his political backing may be the single most potent endorsement of any human being in the history of the planet. That’s not only hilarious on its face, it’s belied by recent events. Just ask Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue.

    But it’s the larger context that matters most: the Republican Party briefly considered a post-Trump future, only to decide it’s better off sticking with the defeated, unpopular, scandal-plagued former president who cost the GOP its power and who helped put their lives in danger a few weeks ago.

    […] Politico added, “Three weeks ago, Donald Trump was radioactive, even in the top quarters of his own party. Now, those same Republicans are convinced they can’t live without the energy he gives off, even if it proves toxic.”

    By some accounts, it’s an addiction of convenience. The Associated Press reported overnight, “Republicans appear to be warming toward Trump, fully aware that his supporters are poised to punish anyone who displays disloyalty. With that in mind, party leaders are working to keep Trump in the fold as they focus on retaking the House and Senate in 2022.”

    In other words, GOP leaders would have us believe that they’re not necessarily kowtowing to their corrupt former leader; they’re merely using him to acquire power. Roll Call had a related report noting that McCarthy is especially interested in exploiting Trump’s donor base to help finance Republican campaigns in the 2022 midterms.

    But the motivation is largely irrelevant: Republican leaders aren’t leaving Trump behind; they’re instead putting him up front. The party isn’t moving on; it’s looking back, clinging to failure.


  78. says

    If Republicans get away with weakening democracy, they will do it again.

    Key AZ GOPer Introduces Bill To Make Trump-Like Election Reversal Plots Easier

    It would be much easier for Arizona’s legislature to try to overturn the results of a presidential election under a bill introduced by a key Republican in the statehouse this week.

    The legislation would give state legislators the authority, by a majority vote, to “revoke” the state certification of the presidential election in the state. Such a subversion of the democratic process was exactly what […] Trump was pushing for in Arizona and other battleground states that elected Joe Biden.

    Trump’s maneuverings — which included arm twisting state legislators and pressuring election officials to make bogus claims about fraud — were ultimately not successful. State Republican legislative leaders in states like Pennsylvania said that they did not believe they had the authority to do what Trump was seeking, which was to reject the Biden electors from the state and put forward Trump electors instead.

    Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) was attacked by Trump for certifying Biden’s win there.

    The new Arizona bill — which was introduced by state Rep. Shawnna Bolick, the chair of the Ways and Means committee — would create a glide path for executing a Trump-like scheme for overturning the state’s election results. It says that the vote on revoking the certification of the results could happen anytime before the inauguration and does not require any rationale for undoing the certification.

    “The legislature may take action pursuant to this subsection without any regard to whether the legislature is in regular or special session or has held committee or other hearings on the matter,” the bill says.

  79. says

    Follow-up to comment 114.

    From comments posted by readers of the article:

    Just more evidence that Republicans are going to give up on democracy and try to force a Republican president on us in 2024. That election is going to be very dangerous for the future of the nation…if there are real efforts to overturn the election again, the Republicans will bring people who actually know what they are doing next time and may be able to make it stick. The only way to avoid that is to spend the next two years reforming the voting system so that everyone can vote freely, and then get every person possible to vote for the Democrats; just figuring that things will work out isn’t an option anymore.

    It really could be that serious, the states that will make the decision will again be controlled by a lot of Republicans, they can cheat if they have the space. Democrats need to hold the line in the midterm elections, they have to have people in place to block these kinds of things.
    the big problem that this highlights is that the Republican side seems to understand the importance of down-ballot, local and off-cycle elections and are thus disproportionally represented in state legislatures. They therefore see this kind of thing as their best chance to stay in control despite being in the minority.

    The liberal/Democratic electorate needs to wake up and realize that EVERY election is crucial, not just the flashy presidential races.

    Some reassurance from Marc E. Elias:

    I’m on it.

  80. says

    Gaetz Ramps Up Crusade Against Liz Cheney After She Dared To Cross Trump

    Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who remains a staunch Trump loyalist despite the ex-president inciting a violent coup attempt, on Thursday night demanded House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) move to have House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) stripped of her leadership position after she voted to impeach Donald Trump.

    “Kevin McCarthy needs to hold a vote on Liz Cheney,” Gaetz told Fox News host Tucker Carlson. “And if he doesn’t, the Republican Conference is a total joke. More than half of the Republican conference has said that this person does not speak for us.”

    […] Gaetz traveled to Cheney’s home state to urge Wyomingites to vote her out of office and “bring Washington to its knees” in a speech that flatly disregarded McCarthy’s private plea for rank-and-file GOP lawmakers to stop publicly attacking each other.

    For his part, McCarthy initially stood by Cheney when Trump loyalists in the GOP conference began demanding her ouster. However, he partially walked back his support last week, saying he had “concerns” about her.

    From readers’ comments:

    Gotta say that I’m loving this. Cindy McCain was chastised because she put country before party. Now Liz Cheney is getting smacked for having the audacity to call Trump’s coup attempt impeachable.

    And who are the Republican leaders? The sorriest bastards that they can dredge from the slime at the bottom of the sewer. Cruz, Gaetz, Cotton, Graham, Johnson, Jordan.

  81. says

    Rep. Cori Bush:

    A maskless Marjorie Taylor Greene & her staff berated me in a hallway. She targeted me & others on social media.

    I’m moving my office away from hers for my team’s safety.

    I’ve called for the expulsion of members who incited the insurrection from Day 1. Bring H.Res 25 to a vote.

  82. says

    More grim details are emerging from videos taken on January 6:

    […] As The New York Times reports, body cam footage (deliberately not inserted here) from officers on the Capitol steps was used in court when bringing charges against Michael Foy, a Michigan man who attacked the police with a hockey stick. In addition to Foy’s attack, the minute of video captures a grisly scene—the moment when 34-year-old Rosanne Boyland is trampled to death on the Capitol steps by fellow insurgents rushing forward to join the attack on police.

    At least one person in the crowd notices what is happening and shouts “Save her!” But the wave of insurgents battering at police with flagpoles and lengths of pipe never pauses. Only seconds later, Boyland’s friend Justin Winchell shouts “She’s gonna die! She’s dead!” He attempts to get help from those around him, but what he gets is a face full of chemical agent that rioters behind him are aiming at the police. Boyland’s death is far from the only moment of shocking violence in the video, as insurgents scream that they will kill the police, and officers are toppled and dragged down the stairs. By the end of the brief video, the police are down, as the Trump supporters kick them and beat them over and over. The wonder isn’t that someone died. It’s that it wasn’t more.

    Considering the limits that Miller set on National Guard forces—including no helmet and no body armor—it’s a good thing that none of them were present at the Capitol. They would not have survived.


  83. says

    A Major Trump Forum Scrubs Its Archives of Thousands of Pre-Riot Posts

    The removal of messages discussing violent plans could bring evidence tampering charges.

    In the days ahead of the January 6 Capitol riot, there were warnings, but no guarantee that the day would turn violent. But users of TheDonald.win, a major online pro-Trump forum, were preparing for a fight, posting maps of the Capitol and swapping messages about being ready to die.

    In the wake of the carnage, law enforcement identified TheDonald.win as a key planning platform for the insurrectionists. And on Inauguration Day, the forum established a new domain, rebranding as Patriots.win. Alongside that transition, thousands of posts from lead up to the riot have disappeared from the site as though they were never there.

    Jared Holt, a research fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab who regularly monitors the forum, noticed the change when he recently went to reexamine now-missing messages. The posters’ deleted content included maps of the Capitol, manifestos about their intentions upon arriving, discussion about flouting D.C.’s strict gun laws, and praise of extremist groups like the Proud Boys.

    […] the forum’s administrators removed all posts made between December 19 and January 6. Posts from before and after remain accessible. While the site has not publicly explained the gap, Holt thinks they may have been attempting to protect themselves or their users from legal repercussions. “I think there is a very fair question here whether moderators of The Donald destroyed evidence that would aid law enforcement investigation,” Holt says. […]

  84. says

    From Wonkette: “Josh Hawley Says He Wasn’t Trying To Overturn The Election When He Was Trying To Overturn The Election”

    Senator Josh Hawley has been feeling really unpopular lately. He lost a book deal, he’s not well-liked at his job, and a lot of people have been saying some really mean things about him! Some have even been calling for his resignation.

    Thus, he’s been making the rounds, writing columns and appearing on practically every television show known to man to endlessly prattle on about how he is being silenced. Maria Bartiromo even recently deemed him a a “vocal victim of cancel culture” during an appearance on her show where he, a sitting United States senator, complained about not having a platform to express his views.

    What oh what did poor Josh Hawley do to deserve this “cancellation”? Was it some small infraction? Did he say something he could not reasonably have known had recently been deemed politically incorrect? Did he publicly but ever-so-politely disagree with a liberal? Did he ask a sincere question someone didn’t like? Or any of the other minute things that conservatives like to pretend that people get “canceled” over?

    Not so much!

    Rather than “cancel culture,” Josh Hawley is actually experiencing a phenomenon known as “people are mad at you because you did a fucked up thing.” It’s a common misconception, like thinking “irony” means “having 10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife,” when it really means “going on a cable television show to talk about how you are being silenced.”

    What people are mad about in Hawley’s case is that he not only promoted the Big Lie that the election had been stolen from Donald Trump by way of some kind of voter fraud, but also that he made some very dangerous and desperate people believe they actually had some chance of overturning the election on January 6. Hawley, who was the first senator to announce a plan to object to certifying the election, said repeatedly that nothing was “over” until January 6. On that day, Hawley, along with Ted Cruz, six other Senators, and 139 House representatives voted to overturn the election results of Arizona, Pennsylvania, or both, claiming that those states were compromised by voter fraud.

    Those who invaded the Capitol on January 6 believed Trump and Hawley and Ted Cruz and other Republicans when they said there was enough “evidence” of voter fraud to question the results of the election and also when they insinuated that they could actually overturn it. Why else would they refuse to vote in favor of certifying the election results?

    But now Hawley is claiming that he wasn’t objecting to the results to keep Trump in office for another four years, despite having explicitly led people to believe that was the case. Now he says he was just trying to “spark a debate” about “voting irregularities” in the state of Pennsylvania.

    Via CNN:

    On Thursday, CNN pressed Hawley on the discrepancy between his claim that he never attempted to overturn the election and his January 4 comments that Trump could still be President depending “on what happens” on January 6 and his refusal then to rule out Congress could change the outcome. Hawley contended he’s been consistent on the point that January 6 was the final day of the electoral process, arguing his sole intention behind objecting was aimed at sparking debate over Pennsylvania’s voting system.

    “I said to (Bret Baier), what I consistently said … To me, January 6th is the end of this process, that’s when the votes are counted, certified, the election winner under the Constitution is officially declared,” Hawley claimed. “To, me that’s the end of the line.”

    That’s some quality mincing of words there — except for the fact that it is fairly obvious that if you say it’s not over until January 6, some people are going to hold out hope at least until then. They are going to believe there is something that can happen to change things, even when there obviously isn’t. And Hawley knew that.

    Josh Hawley most likely did not actually think that his vote against certifying the election was going to overturn the election. That much is probably true. But he disingenuously led people to believe that it might, and that’s actually worse.

    When asked if he regretted phrasing things that way instead of being clear that Biden was going to be the next president of the United States, Hawley claimed that liberals just would have lied and said he didn’t.

    “I think that the liberal onslaught of lies to twist and misconstrue and attack me, it doesn’t matter what I say or what I do, they’re going to tell the lies no matter what,” Hawley said as he walked through the halls of the Capitol. “They are going to say you wanted to overturn the election, they are going to say you incited violence, all of which are lies.”

    Well that is certainly some bullshit. Hawley should note that when he says things that are not terrible, the Left is more than willing to give him credit for that. No one twisted his good, decent words to mean evil things. They correctly noted the shitty things he said and the effect they had on some very dangerous people who took him at his word, and that those people taking him at his word put the lives of his coworkers in peril. The problem wasn’t us unfairly scrutinizing his words, it was other people believing them.


  85. says

    From Wonkette: “Don’t Try To Bullsh*t Elizabeth Warren”

    CNBC invited Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachussetts) to its “Closing Bell” program yesterday to discuss the GameStop fuck-tussle. After Warren excoriated the investor class for finally complaining about terrible, terrible gaming of the stock market when gaming is basically how the investor class makes its money in the first place, cohost Sarah Eisen asked Warren a question about Joe Biden’s call to repeal the 2017 Big Fat Tax Cuts for Rich Fuckwads.

    That provided Warren a fine opening to say that if we really want to do something to unskew the economy away from prioritizing the investor class above everyone else in the economy, we should go beyond just raising corporate taxes; we also should pass her proposed wealth tax. But oh dear, fretted Eisen, wouldn’t that just make all the rich people load their Bentleys onto their yachts and go somewhere else?

    The great thing about the video, […] is seeing Warren’s face as Eisen asks the question. Enjoy! The audio is entirely too low, […] enjoy Warren getting her “don’t you try that with me” face on). [Video snippets are available at the link.]

    […] It’s really kind of beautiful, and could only be improved by having David Attenborough walk us through the ensuing carnage.

    Eisen really seems to think she has a heck of a gotcha, here, suggesting that raising taxes on the richest Americans

    might also chase wealthy people out of this country as we’ve seen has happened with, with other wealth taxes. You just said how much we need the economy to be revitalized right now for companies to start adding jobs and not subtracting them anymore.

    Get out of here with that nonsense. The investor class is not about to go abroad […]

    Warren: I’m sorry. There is no evidence that anyone is going to leave this country because of the two-cent wealth tax. Can we just keep in mind right now in America who’s paying taxes. You know the bottom 99% last year, paid about seven and a half percent of their total wealth in taxes. That’s what it pays. The top one tenth of 1%, you know how much they paid, they paid about 3.2%. If they added a two-cent wealth tax, they’d still be paying less than most of the people in this entire nation.

    It’s true that rich people hate taxes, which is why they’ve invested so much in skewing the tax code to their advantage already. But moving to another country won’t relieve the very rich of their US tax obligations, and even renouncing US citizenship involves tax penalties. Plus, there’s the little detail that no matter how much they might grumble, actually giving up citizenship isn’t an attractive option for a lot of people.[…]

    Warren went on, explaining that there’s just such a thing as paying your fair share, and noting that we’ve all been subsidizing the very wealthy for decades:

    Look, someone has to pay to keep this nation going and right now, what the top one tenth of 1%, the wealthiest people in this country, have said is, “let’s let everyone else pay for it.” Because what they want to do is not only keep their wealth, they want to keep building their wealth faster than anyone else. All I’m saying is can we have just, just a little fairness here: two-cent wealth tax so that we can have universal childcare…

    Eisen interrupted, saying that she simply wanted to present a “counter argument,” and Warren wasn’t having any of that, either: “Well, how about a counter argument , though, based on fact?” And then, as public health experts have encouraged us to do, Warren washed her hands:

    The wealthiest in this country are paying less in taxes than everyone else. Asking them to step up and pay a little more and you’re telling me that they would forfeit their American citizenship, or they had to do that and I’m just calling her bluff on that. I’m sorry that’s not going to happen.

    And she’s right: Rich people sometimes threaten to Go Galt with their money, but they seldom actually bugger off like they say they will. Sure, some may move around more inside the US to chase lower tax rates. But pulling up roots, even from state to state, is a pain in the ass, even if you don’t have to ask a friend with a pickup truck to help but can buy your own (pickup truck, friend, etc).

    […] mentioning the state-to-state moves that corporations make, but Warren wasn’t impressed, pointing out that a national wealth tax would apply in all the states, and that it would even apply to assets squirrelled away in the Cayman Islands, so shut up with that. […]


  86. says

    From Wonkette: “A Supreme Court Win On Abortion? What’s The Catch?”

    A win for abortion rights?! At the Supreme Court?! In 2021?!

    Yeah, that happened! It really did!

    This week, the Supreme Court vacated two Fifth Circuit opinions in Planned Parenthood Center for Choice v. Abbott, which had upheld the state of Texas’s near-total ban on abortion at the beginning of the pandemic last year.

    Abortions in Texas resumed last summer, but the anti-choice powers that be had been fighting to keep the opinions on the books anyway in order to make it harder for abortion providers to win cases in the future.

    SCOTUS’s order means these two terrible opinions will no longer be binding precedent on lower courts! Yay!

    […] While Republican governors and attorneys general around the country failed to take measures to keep the COVID-19 pandemic under control, they nonetheless saw its potential usefulness in limiting the bodily autonomy of women and pregnant people.

    Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton, neither of whom has ever seen a restriction on women’s healthcare that he didn’t like, were quick to use the pandemic as an excuse to limit reproductive freedom. Last March, Abbott signed an executive order halting nonessential medical procedures in an afford to slow the spread of COVID. Never one to let an opportunity to screw the people pass him by, Paxton quickly jumped in to say that abortion would also be banned under this order, since abortion is totally not at all necessary, unless, of course, you’re a pregnant person who needs to not be pregnant anymore.

    Shocking absolutely no one who understands how these things work, the number of Texas residents who went out of state or waited until the second trimester to have an abortion skyrocketed in the wake of the ban.

    Unfortunately for women and people who can get pregnant, entire swaths of the country are a dystopian hellscape if you want to control your own reproductive destiny. One of those large swaths is the area covered by the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, the appellate court with jurisdiction over Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

    The Fifth Circuit takes pride in being one of the most anti-choice courts in the country. Its brazen attempt to completely ignore recent SCOTUS abortion precedent was what led John Roberts to save our ass in June Medical last summer. So when this latest case came their way, the Fifth Circuit judges once again took the chance to side with a bunch of sexist white men who had decided to place limits on other people’s bodies.

    […] Planned Parenthood, which had appealed the Fifth Circuit’s decisions to SCOTUS, then asked the Supreme Court to vacate the lower court’s orders as moot. Texas officials fought this, arguing that the Fifth Circuit’s decisions should remain as binding precedent in the future.

    Earlier this week, SCOTUS sided with Planned Parenthood. With no noted dissents […] it’s a win for Planned Parenthood — and people with uteruses.

    […] Now, I don’t expect the Fifth Circuit or the Supreme Court to start issuing great abortion decisions any time soon, but with Amy Coat Hanger on the highest court in our country, abortion rights advocates should take wins wherever we can get them. And federal judges no longer being bound by the absolute garbage the Fifth Circuit wrote to justify a near-total abortion ban last year is, at the end of the day, a good thing. […]


  87. says

    From Paul Krugman, writing for The New York Times:

    Here’s what we know about American politics: The Republican Party is stuck, probably irreversibly, in a doom loop of bizarro. If the Trump-incited Capitol insurrection didn’t snap the party back to sanity — and it didn’t — nothing will.

    What isn’t clear yet is who, exactly, will end up facing doom. Will it be the G.O.P. as a significant political force? Or will it be America as we know it? Unfortunately, we don’t know the answer. It depends a lot on how successful Republicans will be in suppressing votes.

    About the bizarro: Even I had some lingering hope that the Republican establishment might try to end Trumpism. But such hopes died this week.

    On Tuesday Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, who has said that Donald Trump’s role in fomenting the insurrection was impeachable, voted for a measure that would have declared a Trump trial unconstitutional because he’s no longer in office. (Most constitutional scholars disagree.)

    On Thursday Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader — who still hasn’t conceded that Joe Biden legitimately won the presidency, but did declare that Trump “bears responsibility” for the attack on Congress — visited Mar-a-Lago, presumably to make amends.

    In other words, the G.O.P.’s national leadership, after briefly flirting with sense, has surrendered to the fantasies of the fringe. Cowardice rules.

    And the fringe is consolidating its hold at the state level. [snipped details of legislation in Arizona, Oregon, etc, as well as notes about Fox News and other partisan propaganda machines.]

    […] As hard-liners gain power within a group, they drive out moderates; what remains of the group is even more extreme, which drives out even more moderates; and so on. A party starts out complaining that taxes are too high; after a while it begins claiming that climate change is a giant hoax; it ends up believing that all Democrats are Satanist pedophiles.

    […] One of America’s two major political parties has parted ways with facts, logic and democracy, and it’s not coming back.

    […] as Republicans have become more extreme they have lost broad support; the G.O.P. has won the popular vote for president only once since 1988, and 2004 was an outlier influenced by the lingering rally-around-the-flag effects of 9/11.

    Given the unrepresentative nature of our electoral system, however, Republicans can achieve power even while losing the popular vote. A majority of voters rejected Trump in 2016, but he became president anyway, and he came fairly close to pulling it out in 2020 despite a seven million vote deficit. The Senate is evenly divided even though Democratic members represent 41 million more people than Republicans.

    And the Republican response to electoral defeat […] is to try to rig the next election. […]

    The bottom line is that we don’t know whether we’ve earned more than a temporary reprieve. A president who tried to retain power despite losing an election has been foiled. But a party that buys into bizarre conspiracy theories and denies the legitimacy of its opposition isn’t getting saner, and still has a good chance of taking complete power in four years.

    NY Times link

  88. says

    The Associated Press reported that South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) “refused to acknowledge” yesterday that President Joe Biden won in a free and fair election.

    South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem refused to acknowledge Thursday that Democrat Joe Biden defeated her close Republican ally Donald Trump in a free and fair election, instead using the opportunity to criticize Biden’s actions since taking office.

    In her first public comments specifically addressing the election results since Congress certified Biden’s victory hours after a mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol, Noem refused to say whether she erred by saying in November that election systems were “rigged” and casting doubt on the fairness of the election.

    Instead, she said at a news conference, “I think that we deserve fair and transparent elections. I think there’s a lot of people who have doubts about that.”

    […] The state’s three members of Congress, all Republicans, rejected Trump’s false accusations and voted to certify the election. Noem hasn’t done so, though, despite a lack of any credible evidence that the election wasn’t fair. Even Trump administration officials said it was secure, including William Barr, who was attorney general at the time. And Trump’s allegations have been refuted by a variety of judges, state elections officials and an arm of the Department of Homeland Security. […]


  89. says

    Follow-up to previous comments about Republican legislators bullying David Hogg:

    So a sitting Congresswoman cyber bullies the survivor of a high school gun massacre. This is the Republican Party today.


    From David Hogg:

    They can put up all the fencing around the capitol the real threats of @mtgreenee and @laurenboebert will still be inside until @GOPLeader takes a stand.


    From Jake Tapper:

    Beyond the fundamental indecency of a congresswoman going after a college kid, not to mention a school shooting survivor, sits the bizarre take that David ignoring a crazy person accosting him on the street wasn’t what every law enforcement and security expert recommends.

    Tapper was referencing this statement from Lauren Boebert:

    David, please. We all saw how tough you were when questioned face to face. Give your keyboard a rest, child.

    From Shannon Watts:

    Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert is as vile as Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.

    Why should a teen and gun violence survivor be “tough” when confronted by a lunatic spouting conspiracy theories?

  90. says

    Follow-up to comment 127.

    More details:

    […] [David] Hogg had urged [Kevin] McCarthy over Twitter to deny Marjorie Taylor Greene any committee placements given her reprehensible behavior, not to mention her unfitness for office. In a separate post, he also explained the horror of a group of teenaged shooting survivors being harassed by a 44-year-old woman.

    ”In that video you see a group of people most of whom are 18 or 19 acting calm cool and collected,” he wrote, “what you don’t see are the sleepless nights, the flashbacks, the hyper vigilance and deep pitch black numbness so many of us feel living in a society [where] we are told our friends dying doesn’t matter.”

    House Republicans’ abhorrent response was to assign Greene to the House Education and Labor Committee—a move Pelosi called “appalling.”

    “What could they be thinking?” Pelosi asked on Wednesday. “Or is thinking too generous a word for what they might be doing? It’s absolutely appalling, and I think the focus has to be on the Republican leadership of this House of Representatives for the disregard they have for the death of those children.” […]


  91. says

    New report indicates COVID-19 deaths in New York nursing homes may be 50% higher than reported

    As the novel coronavirus continues to spread across the country, states across the U.S. have continuously underreported infections. […] Mark Sumner notes, there has been an “urge to undercount what’s happening with COVID-19” since the beginning of the pandemic. Whether that’s because officials are attempting to look like they have more control over the situation than they actually do, or because of the confusion associated with how to handle the pandemic is unclear. While Florida has repeatedly come under scrutiny for underreporting infection numbers and deaths tied to the coronavirus, it turns out New York may also have significantly higher COVID-19 deaths than its official numbers indicate.

    A report released Thursday by New York’s attorney general accuses Gov. Andrew Cuomo of undercounting COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes by thousands. According to the 76-page report, an undercount of more than 50% was found as a result of New York counting residents who died on nursing home property and not those who later died in hospitals. According to the Associated Press, New York is the only state to do this. As a result, the report concluded the state’s official count of 8,711 nursing home deaths is actually about 13,000, making New York the state with the highest number of COVID-19-related nursing home deaths.

    “Preliminary data obtained by O.A.G. suggests that many nursing home residents died from Covid-19 in hospitals after being transferred from their nursing homes, which is not reflected in D.O.H.’s published total nursing home death data,” the attorney general’s office wrote in a summary of the report. […]

  92. says

    The leader of a far-right militant group says Republican Rep. Paul Gosar told him the US was in a civil war: ‘We just haven’t started shooting yet.’

    GOP Rep. Paul Gosar allegedly told a right-wing militant group that the US was in a civil war.

    Jim Arroyo, the leader of an Arizona chapter of Oath Keepers, made the claim in a November video.

    Far-right activist Ali Alexander says Gosar helped him plan the January 6 “Stop the Steal” rally.

    Rep. Paul Gosar, an Arizona Republican, told a right-wing militant group that the US was in a civil war and predicted it would become violent, Jim Arroyo, the leader of an Arizona chapter of Oath Keepers, said in a Nov. 2020 video.

    “We asked [Gosar] flat-out, at that time, do you think we’re heading into a civil war?” Arroyo said of his exchange with Gosar. “And his response to the group was just flat-out, ‘We’re in it, we just haven’t started shooting yet.'”

    Arroyo used Gosar’s claim to back up his theory that the US was “in the begining phases of a full-scale, kinetic civil war” provoked by a “communist insurrection.”

    “What we are witesssing in the United States right now is a Communist takeover, it’s an insurgency,” he said in the video, titled “The Coming Civil War?” “You need to prepare to defend yourselves, your families, and your neighborhoods.”

    Far-right activist Ali Alexander, who organized the January 6 “Stop the Steal” rally that preceded the deadly Capitol siege, says he planned the event with help from Gosar and two other GOP members of Congress, Reps. Mo Brooks and Andy Biggs. Gosar spoke at a rally in Pheonix that Alexander organized after the 2020 election to demand the results be overturned.

    A spokesperson for Gosar didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

    Gosar’s brother, Dave Gosar, told The New York Times this week that the congressman is “twisted up so tight with the Oath Keepers it’s not even funny.”

    Six of Rep. Gosar’s nine siblings appeared in campaign ads denouncing their brother as an extremist and should be removed from office during his 2018 campaign for Congress. […]

  93. says

    From The New York Times: Republican Ties to Extremist Groups Are Under Scrutiny

    A number of members of Congress have links to organizations and movements that played a role in the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol.

    The video’s title was posed as a question, but it left little doubt about where the men who filmed it stood. They called it “The Coming Civil War?” and in its opening seconds, Jim Arroyo, who leads an Arizona chapter of Oath Keepers, a right-wing militia, declared that the conflict had already begun.

    To back up his claim, Mr. Arroyo cited Representative Paul Gosar of Arizona, one of the most far-right members of Congress. Mr. Gosar had paid a visit to the local Oath Keepers chapter a few years earlier, Mr. Arroyo recounted, and when asked if the United States was headed for a civil war, the congressman’s “response to the group was just flat out: ‘We’re in it. We just haven’t started shooting at each other yet.’”

    Less than two months after the video was posted, members of the Oath Keepers were among those with links to extremist groups from around the country who took part in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, prompting new scrutiny of the links between members of Congress and an array of organizations and movements that espouse far-right beliefs.

    Nearly 150 House Republicans supported President Donald J. Trump’s baseless claims that the election had been stolen from him. But Mr. Gosar and a handful of other Republican members of the House had deeper ties to extremist groups […]

    Their ranks include Representative Andy Biggs of Arizona, who like Mr. Gosar was linked to the “Stop the Steal” campaign backing Mr. Trump’s effort to overturn the election’s outcome.

    Representative Lauren Boebert of Colorado has close connections to militia groups including the so-called Three Percenters, an extremist offshoot of the gun rights movement that had at least one member who entered the Capitol on Jan. 6.

    Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene has promoted the QAnon conspiracy theory, whose adherents were among the most visible of those who stormed the building, and she appeared at a rally with militia groups. […]

    Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida appeared last year at an event also attended by members of the Proud Boys, another extremist organization whose role in the Jan. 6 assault, like those of the Oath Keepers and Three Percenters, is being investigated by the F.B.I.

    It is not clear whether any elected officials played a role in directly facilitating the attack on the Capitol, other than helping to incite violence through false statements about the election being stolen from Mr. Trump. […]

    Mr. Gaetz, on his podcast, said the Proud Boys were at the event he attended to provide security, and that “just because you take a picture with someone,” it does not mean “you’re tied to every viewpoint they’ve ever had or that they will ever have in the future.”

    But in signaling either overt or tacit support, a small but vocal band of Republicans now serving in the House provided legitimacy and publicity to extremist groups and movements as they built toward their role in supporting Mr. Trump’s efforts to subvert the outcome of the 2020 election and the attack on Congress.

    Aitan D. Goelman, a former federal prosecutor who helped convict the Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, said that when elected officials — or even candidates for office — took actions like appearing with militia groups or other right-wing groups it “provides them with an added imprimatur of legitimacy.”

    […] In July, Mr. Gosar, a dentist, posed for a picture with a member of the Proud Boys. Two years earlier, he spoke at a rally for a jailed leader of Britain’s anti-immigrant fringe in London, where he vilified Muslim immigrants as a “scourge.” And in 2014, he traveled to Nevada to support the armed standoff between law enforcement and supporters of the cattle rancher Cliven Bundy, who had refused to stop trespassing on federal lands.

    Mr. Biggs, the chairman of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus, was seen by leaders of the Stop the Steal movement as an inspiration and has spoken at events hosted by extremists, including one at which a founder of the Oath Keepers called for hanging Senator John McCain.

    Ms. Boebert, elected to the House in November, said on Twitter that “Today is 1776” on the morning of Jan. 6, and she has connections to the Three Percenters, which shares her view that gun rights are under assault. At least one member of the group has been arrested in the breach of the Capitol.

    Ms. Greene has for years trafficked in conspiracy theories, expressed support for QAnon and made offensive remarks about Black people, Jews and Muslims. She also appeared at a campaign event alongside members of the Three Percenters.

    To some degree, the members of Congress have been reflecting signals sent by Mr. Trump. […]

    Few Republicans have been more linked to extremist groups than Mr. Gosar.

    “He’s been involved with anti-Muslim groups and hate groups,” said Mr. Gosar’s brother Dave Gosar, a lawyer in Wyoming. “He’s made anti-Semitic diatribes. He’s twisted up so tight with the Oath Keepers it’s not even funny.” […]

    In the months that followed, militia groups would emerge as one of Ms. Boebert’s crucial political allies. As her campaign got underway last year, she wrote on Twitter, “I am the militia.”

    Militia members provided security for her campaign events and frequented the restaurant she owns, Shooters Grill in Rifle, Colo. In a recently posted video, a member of the Three Percenters was filmed giving Ms. Boebert a Glock 22 handgun.

    Another member of the group, Robert Gieswein, who posed for a photograph in front of Ms. Boebert’s restaurant last year, is facing federal charges in the storming of the Capitol and attacking the police. […]

    More at the link.

  94. says

    ‘Patriot Front’ marchers wave their fascist banners down Capitol Mall as radical right returns

    Like most literal fascists, the guys who run Patriot Front never miss a trick. Which is why they turned up in Washington, D.C., on Friday [today], staking a claim as the first far-right group to return to the city and march down the Capitol Mall since the January 6 insurrection.

    […] morning marching in formation, about 100 strong, masked and wielding their organization’s banners—styled after the American flag, but featuring a fasces (an ax with a bundle of sticks, the traditional symbol of fascism) where the stars normally are—and then marching from the Jefferson Memorial up the mall to the Capitol. They apparently dispersed afterward.

    […] the group can be seen marching mostly quietly, in loosely disciplined fashion, toward the Mall. The men all wear the same uniform—beige slacks, black jackets, white ballcaps, and white facial-wrap masks—and mostly carry the Patriot Front banner. A couple of larger group banners adorned with slogans such as “For the Life of Our Nation” and “Strong Families Make Strong Nations” also appeared. A police escort joined them after they marched past the Washington Monument and followed them up the Mall.

    As they approached the Capitol, they broke their silence and began chanting: “Reclaim America!” while setting off red and blue smoke bombs.

    […] “At this time, there have been no arrests made in connection with the ongoing demonstrations. Also, the Metropolitan Police Department does not act in the capacity of private security for any group.”

    […] Formed out of the ashes of the neo-Nazi online forum Iron March after the Charlottesville riot of August 2017, Patriot Front is mainly the brainchild of a young Texas white supremacist named Thomas Rousseau—who in fact had marched at Charlottesville alongside James Fields before the latter man drove a car at high speed into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing a woman named Heather Heyer and maiming dozens of others.

    It’s also explicitly fascist, beyond even the fasces in the banner. Some of the discussions among the white supremacists who founded the group revolved around explicitly embracing fascism, and one of its early slogans that adorned its stickers was “Fascism: The Next Step for America.”

    The organization is best known for plastering stickers with its slogans—also directing people to the “bloodandsoil” website. Southern Poverty Law Center analyst Cassie Miller told BuzzFeed that “Patriot Front is among the most prolific spreaders of “white power” propaganda in the United States, having put up flyers in over 1,000 places around the country in 2020 alone.”

    It has also been preparing for advancing its agenda in a post-Trump political world. One of those methods has been to organize high-profile marches in places certain to attract both news coverage and the ire of urban liberals.

    “[Rousseau] wants to really focus on spectacle, and he thinks that a performative show of strength is the most effective kind of propaganda that they can engage in,” Miller said.

    “Explicitly fascist.”

  95. says

    Humor/satire from Andy Borowitz: “Marjorie Taylor Greene Claims Video of Her Is Actually George Soros in Disguise”

    Amid a firestorm of controversy, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene explained that an offensive video of her that has been widely circulated in recent days is actually George Soros in disguise.

    “Whenever I donate clothes to a consignment shop, Soros gets a ping on his phone and buys it all up,” she alleged. “Then he spends weeks practicing walking in my heels.”

    Additionally, she claimed, “George Soros has a Marjorie Taylor Greene latex mask, like they have in ‘Mission Impossible.’ If you put me and Soros side by side, you would not be able to tell us apart.”

    Asked where Soros had obtained the technology to accomplish his astounding impersonation, she replied, “Hello? His best friend, Bill Gates?”

    Greene also said that she was not surprised that the Hungarian-born billionaire had perfected an imitation of her voice. “He’s been coached by the best of the best: Oscar winner Meryl Streep,” she said.

    Reacting to Greene’s comments, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters, “I knew there had to be a reasonable explanation. Let’s move on.”

    New Yorker link

  96. says

    Bits and pieces of news, as summarized by Steve Benen:

    * Vaccine news: “A single shot of Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine is effective at keeping people out of the hospital and dying from the illness, the company reported Friday. Johnson & Johnson, which made the vaccine in partnership with Janssen Pharmaceuticals, is poised to ask the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization as early as next week.”

    * The bomber is still at large: “The FBI disclosed Friday that investigators believe two pipe bombs discovered near the U.S. Capitol were planted the night before the Jan. 6 siege…. The bombs were placed outside the headquarters of both the Republican and the Democratic parties a few blocks apart on Capitol Hill. Investigators said both devices appeared to be fully functional, made out of metal pipe with a common windup timer.” […]

    * They’re right: “President Biden on Friday pushed Congress to act urgently on his proposed economic relief package […] Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who joined Biden for the meeting, pointed to data released a day earlier that showed 847,000 Americans filed for unemployment claims as the economic recovery lags and the pandemic worsens.”

    * This relates to the whole “secret science” nonsense: “A federal judge has blocked a last-minute rule issued by the Trump administration to limit what evidence the Environmental Protection Agency may consider as it regulates pollutants to protect public health.”

    * Walter Reed: “President Joe Biden made his first major foray outside the White House on Friday with a visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to meet with wounded soldiers. Biden met with both active duty and retired service members receiving treatment at the facility, before touring the vaccine distribution center there.”

    * Oh my: “As the first American evacuees from Wuhan, China, touched down at a California military base a year ago, fleeing the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, they were met by U.S. health officials with no virus prevention plan or infection-control training — and who had not even been told to wear masks, according to a federal investigation. Later, those officials were told to remove protective gear when meeting with the evacuees to avoid ‘bad optics,’ and days after those initial encounters, departed California aboard commercial airline flights to other destinations.”

  97. says


    […] White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Friday that the Biden administration was considering the measure to alleviate one particular bottleneck in vaccine production: a shortage of a fatty substance called lipid nanoparticles.

    To understand the bottleneck, it’s important to understand what lipid nanoparticles do and how they’re made.

    It’s a little-known but crucial component to the mRNA vaccines — the two shots currently with emergency authorization made by Pfizer and Moderna. Used as a “protective shield” for the active component of the vaccine, the particles allow mRNA to safely deploy in the body.

    The nanoparticles are “a protective shield that’s needed temporarily just to keep the mRNA intact until it can get into the body,” Dr. William Schaffner, professor of preventative medicine at Vanderbilt University, told TPM.

    “mRna is a very fragile molecule — it disintegrates very, very quickly,” Schaffner said. “So it has to be protected while it’s in the vial and as its delivered into the body through the vaccination process.”

    But as crucial as they are, lipid nanoparticles are tricky to produce.

    The chemical inputs that go into creating them — fatty acids and triglycerides, among other things — are currently not manufactured at the scale needed to meet demand. At the same time, Dr. Aliasger Salem, a professor of pharmaceuticals and biochemical engineering at the University of Iowa, told TPM, creating the conditions for those chemicals to meld into a protective layer requires specialized equipment and knowledge.

    “You had a relatively small population needing these before, and now you’re talking about needing a heck of a lot more,” Salem added. […]

    There are chemical companies that supply the inputs for the protective coating, but it remains unclear how far they can scale up to meet the level of demand required.

    Schaffner, the Vanderbilt doctor, said that the relatively limited supply of chemicals was hindering production.

    That’s one place where the Biden administration could use the DPA [Defense Production Act]. Psaki’s statement suggested that the Biden administration may invoke the DPA to alleviate the stress that the lipid issue has placed on the system.[…]


  98. tomh says

    South Carolina Senate Passes Heartbeat Bill to Ban Most Abortions
    January 28, 2021 KAYLA GOGGIN

    (CN) – The South Carolina state Senate voted Thursday to pass a bill restricting abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, effectively outlawing most abortions.

    The “South Carolina Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act” passed in a 30-13 vote. The bill now returns to the state House for a final vote, where it’s likely to pass.

    The legislation requires doctors to try to find a heartbeat using an ultrasound if they believe a woman is at least eight weeks pregnant.

    Once a heartbeat is found, an abortion can only be performed if the mother’s life is in danger or if the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest. A fetal heartbeat can usually be detected at six weeks of pregnancy, before most women even know they are pregnant.

    South Carolina’s current law bans abortions after 20 weeks.

    The bill would subject doctors to felony charges and up to two years in prison if they fail to check for a heartbeat or detect one and perform an abortion anyway.

    The legislation passed the state House Wednesday in a 29-17 vote. Republican Governor Henry McMaster has repeatedly said he will sign the bill once it lands on his desk.

  99. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Being somebody who has dealt not with liposomes per se, but their precursors, this isn’t a trivial endeavour. Lipid means fat.
    Extreme example mineral oil. For biological media, this means triglycerides, fatty acid ester derivatives of glycerin. The “hardness” of the lipid depends on the unsaturation of the fatty acids, and the chain length. Unsaturation tends to oils (soft) compared solids (hard, like lard) (which is why unsaturation is favored by cardiologists. And add to this the compliication that glycrides can only have one ester or two esters, seen on many food labels as mono and diglycerides, Adding to the complication is inorgnic salts, like phosphates, which solublize the lipids in water at free hydroxyl group. So liposomes are an art, and a source can require deleicate processing to give the desired properties.

  100. says

    TPM – “The Most Sought-After Capitol Insurrectionists Remain At Large”:

    Three weeks in and 150 arrests later, the most sought-after suspects in this month’s insurrection remain at large.

    One of them, who allegedly planted one pipe bomb each at the Democratic and Republican party headquarters, was captured on grainy video footage walking through the streets of D.C. the night prior to the Capitol attack.

    Separately, the FBI is also investigating the death of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who died of injuries he sustained while engaging with Capitol rioters.

    The FBI on Friday upped its reward to $100,000 — from $75,000 and $50,000 before that — for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person who placed the pipe bombs outside the party headquarters.

    The bureau said Friday that the individual who placed the bombs actually did so on Jan. 5, the night before the siege, between 7:30 and 8:30 p.m. ET. The individual wore a face mask and distinctive Nike Air Max Speed Turf shoes, the FBI said. The Washington Post on Friday published video of the suspect walking through D.C. on the night they allegedly planted the bombs.

    Sicknick’s death has proved another mystery. The exact circumstances of Sicknick’s death have not been publicly revealed, nor is it clear whether police have identified a suspect or suspects in his death….

    Nor do there appear to be any updates on bullhorn lady.

  101. Trickster Goddess says

    Capitol Hill rioter ‘QAnon Shaman’ wants to testify against Trump, says lawyer [CBC]

    Canadian radio interview with lawyer at link. (7:22)

    The conspiracy theorist who stormed the U.S. Capitol sporting a fur hat and horns is willing to testify against former U.S. president Donald Trump at his Senate impeachment trial, says his lawyer.

    Jacob Chansley, a longtime Trump supporter from Arizona known as the “QAnon Shaman,” is one of at least four people facing federal charges related to the Jan. 6 riot who claim the former president incited them to action that day.

    “My client was, just like tens of thousands of others, just like the high school students being jazzed up by their coach before a big game on a Friday night,” Chansley’s lawyer, Albert Watkins, told As It Happens host Carol Off.

    He said this does not excuse his client’s behaviour but “does, however, mitigate that culpability.”

    […]”The president, in a very propaganda-ridden series of words, basically put my client and tens of thousands of others in a position of genuinely believing that they were being invited by the president to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol to save our great country,” Watkins said.

    […]Watkins said he hasn’t spoken to any member in the Senate about having his client testify at the impeachment trial. But he says it’s important for senators to hear from someone who was incited by Trump.

    “{Trump} is charged with inciting insurrection. In order to prevail in a legal action of that nature, you have to demonstrate that, in fact, the state of mind of the incited was such that they felt the president had been responsible for them taking those steps that they took,” he said.

    Watson also says Chansley is the early stages of disentangling himself from QAnon. He say his client feels betrayed after the former president left office without offering pardons to him and the others charged for storming the Capitol.

    “I can tell you that my client’s process of deprogramming is not one which is complete,” the lawyer said.

    “We all are deprogrammed when we’re betrayed, whether it’s our first love of our life, or whether it’s the mail man with our significant other, it doesn’t matter. The betrayal is something that requires a process, a process to reconcile. My client is in the middle of that process.”

  102. blf says

    Another incident of not letting the vaccines go to waste when things don’t happen according to plan (see @100 and @110), Seattle hospitals rush to dole out 1,300 Covid vaccine doses in the middle of the night:

    Seattle hospitals rushed out Covid-19 vaccines to hundreds of people in the middle of the night after a freezer they were being stored in failed.

    It’s not clear what exactly caused the freezer failure Thursday night, but the Northwest and Montlake campuses of the UW Medical Center and the Swedish Medical Center received more than 1,300 vaccine doses that needed to be used before they expired at 5.30am Friday, the Seattle Times reported.

    Word of the unexpected doses spread on social media, and a line of hopeful vaccine recipients snaked out the clinic door and through a parking lot at UW Medical Center-Northwest.


    At the UW Medical Center-Northwest, assistant administrator Jenny Brackett walked along the crowd calling out and asking if anyone was over 65. Brackett said the hospital was doing its best to vaccinate those eligible, but that the main objective was to get it into arms and avoid waste. […]

    Many of the staffers working the vaccination clinic had been at work since 7am Thursday, said Keri Nasenbeny, associate chief nursing officer.

    When she received word about the freezer failure, she called several nurses, who in turn recruited pharmacists and other volunteers. A Seattle firefighter seemed to show up out of nowhere to help, and a hospital staffer’s boyfriend helped manage the queue.


    Anyone who received a first shot Thursday night will also receive the second shot in the two-dose regimen, regardless of age, said Cassie Sauer, president of the Washington State Hospital Association.

  103. says

    The @NewYorkStateAG’s fraud probe of the Trump Organization progresses.

    A judge has ORDERED a firm tied to work on the Seven Springs estate to turn over info for the investigation. Eric Trump is president of Seven Springs LLC, per docs.


    ‘The Court finds that many of the communications Morgan Lewis marked as privileged were communications addressing business tasks and decisions, not exchanges soliciting or rendering legal advice’.

    AG’s probing the property’s potentially improper tax deduction.

    The full ruling….”

  104. stroppy says

    More in epistemic failure news.

    In the aftermath of the attempted coup at the Capitol, Americans are contending with what we should do with the people who hold special roles in society — from police officers to politicians to military veterans — who took part in the day’s deadly events, as well as those who helped fan the flames of incitement by spreading the debunked conspiracies both before and after the attack. But the role played by the country’s teachers who participated or supported the coup has not been extensively discussed.


  105. says

    blf @143, something good stemming from news on social media!

    Nerd @137, thanks for the additional information.

    In other news:

    Two members of the Proud Boys have been indicted for conspiring to obstruct law enforcement protecting Congress during the Capitol riot, according to a news release issued late Friday.

    The indictment Friday is the first for conspiracy charges in connection with the deadly assault on Jan. 6, amid growing evidence that efforts to lay siege on the Capitol had been months in the making.

    The Justice Department said in a news release on Friday night that the indictment had been filed in federal court against two of the far-right hate group’s members, William Pepe, of Beacon, NY, and Dominic Pezzola, of Rochester, NY. Both men had already been facing lesser charges connected to the Capitol attack after their arrests on Jan. 12 and Jan. 15 respectively.

    Citing the indictment which remained under seal on Friday night, the release noted that Pezzola and Pepe had “engaged in a conspiracy to obstruct, influence, impede, and interfere with law enforcement officers engaged in their official duties in protecting the U.S. Capitol and its grounds on Jan. 6, 2021.”

    Prosecutors have said the two men interfered with police protecting the Capitol, including by removing metal barricades meant to hold back crowds and stealing property belonging to the police. Pezzola is alleged to have helped crowds overwhelm police defenses after stealing an officer’s riot shield.

    The announcement of the conspiracy charges come as investigators have prioritized examining evidence pointing at the potential advanced planning of the attack. […]


  106. says

    From Laura Clawson: “It may take even longer to recover from the COVID-19 economy than the pandemic itself”

    It hasn’t been hard to see some of the ways the coronavirus pandemic has made inequality worse in the United States, from healthcare inequities and racial disparities in who has gotten sick and who has lived and died, to the way many retail companies saw profits rise—then poured that money into stock buybacks while stiffing workers on hazard pay—to women, and especially women of color, being forced out of the paid workforce. But don’t expect it to end there.

    Oxfam surveyed 295 economists from 79 countries on the pandemic’s impact on inequality that they are seeing and expect to see going forward. Nearly nine out of 10 of them—87%—said there will be an increase in income inequality, while 78% predicted a rise in wealth inequality, 66% predicted a rise in racial inequality, and 56% predicted a rise in gender inequality. Two out of three of them said their government doesn’t have a plan to fight an increase in inequality from coronavirus.

    These predictions came from around the world—economists in 77 of the 79 countries included said they expected an increase in income inequality. According to the Oxfam report on inequality that survey was a part of, “This shock is set to reverse the decline in global poverty we have witnessed over the past two decades. It is estimated that the total number of people living in poverty could have increased by between 200 million35 and 500 million36 in 2020. The number of people living in poverty might not return even to its pre-crisis level for over a decade.”

    Meanwhile, the world’s 10 wealthiest people have sucked up an additional $540 billion. Collectively, billionaires added $3.9 trillion in wealth between March 18 and Dec. 31, 2020.

    There needs to be a plan for fighting inequality. Instead, in the U.S., Democrats are fighting just to get modest one-time payments to people.


  107. says

    Opinion from Mark Sumner:

    […] the best news on COVID-19 this week may be the best news on everything else. While he was doing a few things like creating a Civilian Climate Corps, telling the Department of Justice to stop using private prisons, and reinstating a ban on selling actual tanks to police departments, Biden also still found time to deal with COVID-19.

    After giving a sober and direct address to the nation last week, Biden signed a whole stack of executive orders to both expand and streamline handling of the coronavirus crisis. This was immediately followed by a return of daily press briefings from Biden’s coronavirus team, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, obviously ecstatic at being able to speak the truth. At every point, Biden and his team made it clear that heaven and earth would not be obstacles to their efforts to accelerate rollout of vaccine and protect the nation.

    On Tuesday, Biden announced that he had purchased 200 million additional doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and ordered his team to put in place logistics to vaccinate every adult in America by summer. At the end of the week, Biden made clear that while it would be nice to pass his COVID-19 relief plan with bipartisan assistance, the most important thing is to pass the plan. It was was not just forceful, it was masterful.

    When he became the nominee, Joe Biden may have seemed like a compromise. So far he is turning out to be the most aggressive Democratic president in decades, and the perfect president for this moment.


    From comments posted by readers of the article:

    he canceled the [Keystone] pipeline and joined the Paris agreement, he put Putin on notice, restored workplace equality, got rid of the transgender ban.. and so much more.. and it’s only the first 10 days
    The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is based on Janssen’s “AdVac” technology that embeds components in a modified adenovirus. The same tech has already been used for the EU-approved Ebola vaccine, a Zika vaccine, and an investigational HIV vaccine. It’s not the breakthrough tech that mRNA represents, but it’s pretty tried and tested.
    The execution has been impressive. Appointments lined up, orders written, press events carried out flawlessly, legislation prepared, messaging consistent. Despite the lack of cooperation from the seditionist administration, he hit the ground running at full sprint. I’m sure we will be hearing more about the appalling condition in which they found things.
    Always liked Joe but he was not my first choice but I realize his experience has honed him perfectly to deal with the huge mess left behind by he who cannot be named. There simply is no match for “experience ” . I’m 100% behind him.

  108. says

    ‘Be ready to fight’: FBI probe of U.S. Capitol riot finds evidence detailing coordination of an assault.

    Washington Post link

    When die-hard supporters of […] Trump showed up at rally point “Cowboy” in Louisville on the morning of Jan. 5, they found the shopping mall’s parking lot was closed to cars, so they assembled their 50 or so vehicles outside a nearby Kohl’s department store. Hundreds of miles away in Columbia, S.C., at a mall designated rally point “Rebel,” other Trump supporters gathered to form another caravan to Washington. A similar meetup — dubbed “Minuteman” — was planned for Springfield, Mass.

    That same day, FBI personnel in Norfolk were increasingly alarmed by the online conversations they were seeing, including warlike talk around the convoys headed to the nation’s capital. One map posted online described the rally points, declaring them a “MAGA Cavalry To Connect Patriot Caravans to StopTheSteal in D.C.” Another map showed the U.S. Congress, indicating tunnels connecting different parts of the complex. The map was headlined, “CREATE PERIMETER,” according to the FBI report,[…]
    “Be ready to fight. Congress needs to hear glass breaking, doors being kicked in,” read one posting, according to the report.

    […] Investigators caution there is an important legal distinction between gathering like-minded people for a political rally — which is protected by the First Amendment — and organizing an armed assault on the seat of American government. The task now is to distinguish which people belong in each category, and who played key roles in committing or coordinating the violence.

    Video and court filings, for instance, describe how several groups of men that include alleged members of the Proud Boys appear to engage in concerted action, converging on the West Front of the Capitol just before 1 p.m., near the Peace Monument at First Street NW and Pennsylvania Avenue NW. Different factions of the crowd appear to coalesce, move forward and chant under the direction of different leaders before charging at startled police staffing a pedestrian gate, all in the matter of a few minutes.

    […] One of the comments cited in the FBI memo declared Trump supporters should go to Washington and get “violent. Stop calling this a march, or rally, or a protest. Go there ready for war. We get our President or we die.”

    Some had been preparing for conflict for weeks.

    Prosecutors say Jessica Marie Watkins — an Ohio bartender who had formed her own small, self-styled militia group and had joined Oath Keepers, according to prosecutors — began recruiting and organizing in early November for an “operation.”

    […] “If he is [if Joe Biden is president], our way of life as we know it is over. Our Republic would be over. Then it is our duty as Americans to fight, kill and die for our rights. . . . If Biden get the steal, none of us have a chance in my mind. We already have our neck in the noose. They just haven’t kicked the chair yet.”

    […] Prosecutors say Caldwell had written earlier to Watkins that “I believe we will have to get violent to stop this, especially the antifa maggots who are sure to come out en masse even if we get the Prez for 4 more years.”

    […] Watkins messaged Caldwell that if Rhodes [Stewart Rhodes, the national leader of Oath Keepers] “isn’t making plans, I’ll take charge myself, and get the ball rolling,” according to the indictment. Caldwell replied that he was speaking to another person who expected a bus with 40 people to come from North Carolina. Caldwell allegedly told her that person, identified only as “Paul” in other court papers, “is committed to being the quick reaction force [and] bringing the tools if something goes to hell. That way the boys don’t have to try to schlep weps on the bus” — an apparent reference to weapons.

    […] On New Year’s Eve, according to the indictment, Watkins “responded with interest to an invitation to a ‘leadership only’ conference call” for what was described as a “DC op.” […]

  109. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 146.

    Far-right radio show host Alex Jones and a prominent GOP donor reportedly played a larger role than previously known in the pro-Trump rally held near the White House before the Capitol riot.

    Jones was involved in pledging money and getting others to donate money for the Jan. 6 event […]

    The InfoWars founder originally planned to give $50,000 in seed money to secure a “top speaking slot of his choice,” […]

    Julie Jenkins Fancelli, the heiress to the Publix Super Markets Inc. chain, reached out to Jones and asked to donate for the Jan. 6 event,[…] Jones reportedly helped Fancelli donate $300,000 through a fundraising official who helped with former President Trump’s campaign.

    Fancelli’s donation represented a majority of the funding for the $500,000 rally at the Ellipse, which Trump spoke at before chaos erupted later in the day at the Capitol. During the 2020 election cycle, Fancelli donated nearly $1 million to Trump’s campaign and the Republican Party […]

    […] A spokesperson for Publix noted to The Hill that Fancelli is not an employee of the super market chain and “is neither involved in our business operations, nor does she represent the company in any way.”

    “The violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6 was a national tragedy. The deplorable actions that occurred that day do not represent the values, work or opinions of Publix Super Markets,” the company said.

    The money Jones put forward ended up going toward another rally on Jan. 5 […]

    After Jones helped others donate for the Ellipse event the following day, he later appeared at the Capitol with pro-Trump supporters. Jones was seen on camera with a bullhorn telling supporters to be peaceful and trying to get them to go to an area that was permitted for another demonstration, the Journal reported.

    That demonstration was organized by Ali Alexander, another far-right activist who pushed the election fraud claims along with Jones. Alexander had posted for weeks on social media seeking to rally Trump’s supporters ahead of the Electoral College count and made a website that said there would be a demonstration at the Capitol.

    Alexander also worked with Caroline Wren, a fundraising official who helped handle Fancelli’s donation, the Journal reported. Wren reportedly played a key role in organizing the events of the day on Jan. 6, including gathering speakers. […]


  110. says

    Quoted in Lynna’s #154:

    Another map showed the U.S. Congress, indicating tunnels connecting different parts of the complex. The map was headlined, “CREATE PERIMETER,” according to the FBI report,[…]

    Holy shit.

  111. tomh says

    Fact-Checking Biden’s First Week in Office
    By Linda Qiu
    Jan. 30, 2021

    President Biden, in his first week in office, typically stuck to vetted scripts and verified facts — a departure from his predecessor’s freewheeling and fact-free rhetorical style.

    Over all, Mr. Biden used the presidential podium to promote his policy priorities… Of 20 factual claims The New York Times analyzed from Jan. 20 to Jan. 26, all but three were largely if not completely accurate. One claim was an overly optimistic projection, another falsely criticized former President Donald J. Trump and a third Mr. Biden corrected almost immediately…

    Mr. Biden most often used statistics from government agencies and think tanks to emphasize the severity of the coronavirus pandemic…

    [details of every claim]

    On one error, when a reporter pointed out that the country had already crossed the threshold of one million vaccine shots per day, Biden readily corrected himself, using two words Trump never uttered in four years: “I misspoke.”

  112. says

    Reveal – “How the Christian right helped foment insurrection”:

    The Jan. 6 Save America March, where then-President Donald Trump incited a crowd to attack the U.S. Capitol, opened with a prayer. Trump’s longtime spiritual adviser and White House adviser, the Florida televangelist Paula White, called on God to “give us a holy boldness in this hour.” Standing at the same podium where, an hour later, Trump would exhort the crowd to “fight like hell,” White called the election results into question, asking God to let the people “have the assurance of a fair and a just election.” Flanked by a row of American flags, White implored God to “let every adversary against democracy, against freedom, against life, against liberty, against justice, against peace, against righteousness be overturned right now in the name of Jesus.”

    Within hours, insurrectionists had surrounded the Capitol, beaten police, battered down barricades and doors, smashed windows and rampaged through the halls of the Capitol, breaching the Senate chamber. In video captured by The New Yorker, men ransacked the room, rifling through senators’ binders and papers, searching for evidence of what they claimed was treason. Then, standing on the rostrum where the president of the Senate presides, the group paused to pray “in Christ’s holy name.”

    Men raised their arms in the air as millions of evangelical and charismatic parishioners do every Sunday and thanked God for allowing them “to send a message to all the tyrants, the communists and the globalists, that this is our nation, not theirs.” They thanked God “for allowing the United States of America to be reborn.”

    White evangelicals have been Trump’s most dedicated, unwavering base, standing by him through the cavalcade of abuses, failures and scandals that engulfed his campaigns and his presidency – from the “Access Hollywood” tape to his first impeachment to his efforts to overturn the election and incite the Capitol insurrection. This fervent relationship, which has survived the events of Jan. 6, is based on far more than a transactional handshake over judicial appointments and a crackdown on abortion and LGBTQ rights. Trump’s White evangelical base has come to believe that God anointed him and that Trump’s placement of Christian-right ideologues in critical positions at federal agencies and in federal courts was the fulfillment of a long-sought goal of restoring the United States as a Christian nation. Throughout Trump’s presidency, his political appointees implemented policies that stripped away reproductive and LGBTQ rights and tore down the separation of church and state in the name of protecting unfettered religious freedom for conservative Christians. After Joe Biden won the presidency, Trump administration loyalists launched their own Christian organization to “stop the steal,” in the ultimate act of loyalty to their divine leader.

    Coverage of the Capitol insurrection has focused on such far-right instigators as the White supremacist Proud Boys and the Three Percenters, a militia group. But a reconstruction of the weeks leading up Jan. 6 shows how a Christian-right group formed to “stop the steal” worked to foment a bellicose Christian narrative in defense of Trump’s coup attempt and justify a holy war against an illegitimate state. In late November, two federal workers, Arina Grossu – who had previously worked for the Christian-right advocacy group Family Research Council – and Rob Weaver, formed a new Christian right group, the Jericho March. The new group’s goal, according to a news release announcing its launch, was to “prayerfully protest and call on government officials to cast light on voter fraud, corruption, and suppression of the will of the American people in this election.” In fact, the Jericho March would help lay the groundwork for the insurrection.

    The group held its first rally in the nation’s capital Dec. 12, the same day other protests against the democratic process took place there. That night in Washington, the protests devolved into violence as armed members of the Proud Boys roamed the city’s streets looking to fight, stole a Black Lives Matter banner from a historic Black church and set it on fire. The Jericho March rally, which had run most of the afternoon on the National Mall, featured a lineup of some the right’s most incendiary figures, blending conspiracies and battle cries with appeals to Christianity. Eric Metaxas, a popular author, radio host and unrelenting promoter of the false claim that the election was fraudulent, was the emcee.

    In an interview from the rally posted on the influential disinformation site The Epoch Times, Weaver compared the marchers he enlisted to the capital to the story of Joshua’s army in the Bible, which encircled the city of Jericho as priests blew trumpets, causing the walls to tumble down so the army could invade. Grossu told an interviewer that the election had been “stolen” from Trump, citing Trump lawyer Sidney Powell’s baseless claims about voting irregularities. Grossu promised, “God can reveal all the election fraud and corruption that stole the election from him.”

    Grossu and Weaver, though, were more than just Trump fellow travelers. They were on the payroll of the federal government, which constrains employees from engaging in certain partisan political activities. Grossu was a contractor in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights, on a contract from Nov. 6, 2017, through Jan. 30, 2021, according to an agency spokesperson. For his part, Weaver was named an adviser in the department’s Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships in July 2020 and served, according to the spokesperson, through Jan. 8, 2021. Earlier, in 2017, Trump had nominated Weaver to serve as director of the agency’s Indian Health Service. But the nomination was withdrawn after The Wall Street Journal reported that Weaver had misrepresented his experience on his resume. Weaver leveraged his new health department role at the Jericho March, saying in the live interview that day that he worked for the federal government and claiming, without providing any details, to have “seen a lot of really hidden things that I just can’t stand.” The country, Weaver said in the interview, “stands on the shoulders of Jesus. He’s the real government.”

    Meanwhile, the Christian right is readying its troops for an escalation of the culture war: a campaign to delegitimize not only Biden’s presidency, but any Democratic election victory. Bachmann, during the prayer call just hours after the insurrection, claimed that Democrats also “stole” control of the Senate when Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock won their seats in Georgia – a development Bachmann repeatedly called a “coup.”

    That narrative means that Republican lawmakers can rest assured that their most loyal base will have their back as they reject Trump’s second impeachment, obstruct the Democratic legislative agenda and refuse to accept the legitimacy of the Democratic president and Democratic leadership of Congress. The movement’s new jeremiad, a battle against the democratic process itself, is just getting started….

    Much, much more atl.

  113. says

    TPM – “Party Of QAnon: Marjorie Taylor Greene Flaunts ‘GREAT Call’ With Trump”:

    Newly-elected Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) said early Saturday that she had a “GREAT call” with former President Donald Trump, intensifying concerns that the ex-president continues to exercise ideological sway in the Republican Party and signaling that Trump could be willing to throw further public support behind a member of Congress who has advocated violence against Democratic lawmakers.

    “I had a GREAT call with my all time favorite POTUS, President Trump!” the QAnon-promoting lawmaker tweeted. “I’m so grateful for his support and more importantly the people of this country are absolutely 100% loyal to him because he is 100% loyal to the people and America First.”

    In the second of a series of tweets declaring her continued support for the departed president, Greene added, “…You can never beat him because We The People have his back.”

    Greene’s reported call with Trump comes days before the GOP freshman is expected to have a chat with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) about her recent behavior next week.

    Democrats meanwhile have decried House GOP leadership for doing little to stop its members from advancing bogus theories or amplifying extremist views, chastising McCarthy for effectively abetting Greene, and others, who appear to have a history of glorifying violence that has become increasingly mainstreamed in the Republican Party in the wake of the Capitol riot.

  114. says

    In text quoted by SC @158:

    Then, standing on the rostrum where the president of the Senate presides, the group paused to pray “in Christ’s holy name.”

    I saw that moment. It was just so hypocritical (anti-christlike supposedly) and so batshit bonkers that I was stunned.

    Also from quoted text:

    Trump’s White evangelical base has come to believe that God anointed him and that Trump’s placement of Christian-right ideologues in critical positions at federal agencies and in federal courts was the fulfillment of a long-sought goal of restoring the United States as a Christian nation.

    Cult. Deprogramming is needed.

  115. says

    […] Trump confidantes Steve Bannon, Roger Stone, and Michael Flynn were involved in promoting the rally. Bannon predicted the day before that “all hell is going to break loose.” Trump campaign aides and fundraisers were involved in the rally’s organizing. The rally permit of Women First, a major organizer and funder, listed multiple Trump staffers as rally managers or VIPs. All were Trump or GOP veterans — not “grassroots” people; the Trump campaign had paid them $2.7 million over the previous two years. What did these people know? What did they communicate to others before the event? […]


  116. says

    From a New Yorker cartoon: “Look, I’m going to have to ask for the money back—the rich are really getting pissed off.” A Robinhood-like character approaches a poor family and asks for the money. This is a reference to the GameStop fuck-tussle. See comment 123


  117. says

    From The New York Times:

    Obamacare endured a grueling first decade of existence. Its launch was famously clunky. It was unpopular in its early years. It narrowly escaped repeal at both the Supreme Court and in Congress.

    But the law — passed in 2010 and more formally known as the Affordable Care Act — has survived. It’s more than survived, in fact. It now stands as a monument to a particular theory of progressive lawmaking: When the federal government enacts a new benefit that makes life easier for millions of people, the program tends to endure. That describes universal high school, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and now Obamacare.

    President Biden yesterday signed a package of executive actions on health care, and many experts described them as steps to undo Donald Trump’s attempted sabotage of the law. Which they are. But the modest scope of the actions is also a reminder of how little progress Trump made in undermining the law.

    […] The number of Americans without health insurance did rise during the Trump presidency, because of his attempts to diminish the law. His administration did little to advertise Obamacare policies and weakened some of its provisions, like protections for people with certain medical conditions.

    […] Biden will try to strengthen protections for people with medical conditions. He will also create a new three-month sign-up period for Obamacare, starting next month, aimed partly at people who lost their jobs during the pandemic. The most recent sign-up period was in the fall.

    Perhaps most significant, the Biden administration plans to promote the sign-up period heavily, through advertisements, email and other outreach, according to my colleague Margot Sanger-Katz, who’s been covering Obamacare for most of its existence. “Biden’s people think the Trump people bungled the regular enrollment period,” Margot told me.

    By the end of Trump’s presidency, the uninsured rate probably rose close to 10 percent, from 8.6 percent in the Obama administration’s final year. Through executive action, Biden may be able to reduce it to about 8 percent over the next four years, according to my reporting.

    The bigger question is whether Biden can persuade Congress to pass a new law that would go further than Obamacare did, by making coverage less expensive for more people. Otherwise, at least 25 million Americans are likely to remain uninsured.

    “There are still millions of poor, uninsured Americans in states that didn’t expand Medicaid,” Margot says, “and millions of middle-class Americans who find Obamacare insurance unaffordable.” […]

  118. says

    From The New York Times:


    GameStop’s stock plummeted 44 percent yesterday, after days of rapid growth spurred by groups of small investors who gather online. The company’s stock is still 200 percent higher than it was at the start of the week.

    Several trading platforms, including Robinhood, restricted users’ ability to trade GameStop and other volatile stocks for much of the day.

    Ted Cruz and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — from opposite sides of the political spectrum — complained that Robinhood’s restrictions punished ordinary people, while large investors and hedge funds were able to trade freely.

    Robinhood said that it was raising more than $1 billion from its existing investors as it strained to fulfill trades during the stock market frenzy. […]

    That a Reddit forum upended Wall Street should come as no surprise, the Times’s tech columnist Kevin Roose writes: “Book publishers, movie studios, restaurant chains — all of them have, in some way, been forced to cede power to their online critics.” […]

  119. says

    In a seven-decade-long career, Cicely Tyson broke ground for Black actors by refusing to take demeaning parts. She won three Emmys, an honorary Oscar, and at 88 she became the oldest person to win a Tony. She died at 96.

    New York times link

    […] Despite the gathering force of the civil rights movement in the 1960s, there were few substantial roles for talented, relatively unknown Black actresses like Ms. Tyson. She appeared in Broadway plays, television episodes and minor movie roles before playing Portia, a supporting but notable part in the 1968 film version of Carson McCullers’s “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter.”

    But in 1972, in a film called “Sounder,” she found what she was looking for: a leading role with dignity. It was as Rebecca, the wife of a Louisiana sharecropper (played by Paul Winfield) who is imprisoned in 1933 for stealing food for his children. She rises to the challenge — cleaning houses, tilling fields, sweltering under the sun in a worn dress and braided cornrows — a Black woman whose excruciating beauty lies in toil and poverty.

    “The story in ‘Sounder’ is a part of our history, a testimony to the strength of humankind,” Ms. Tyson told The New York Times after receiving rave reviews and an Oscar nomination for best actress. “Our whole Black heritage is that of struggle, pride and dignity. The Black woman has never been shown on the screen this way before.”

    In 1974, Ms. Tyson stunned a national television audience with her Emmy Award-winning portrayal of a former slave in the CBS special “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman,” adapted from the novel by Ernest J. Gaines. Born into slavery before the Civil War, Miss Pittman survives for more than a century to see the civil rights movement of the 1960s. At 110, she tells her story, the searing experience of a Black woman in the South. Then, in her only gesture of protest, she sips from a whites-only drinking fountain.

    Preparing for her metamorphosis, Ms. Tyson visited nursing homes to study the manifestations of old age: the frail shoulders and shaking hands, the unfocused sparkling eyes and slurred speech, the struggle for names and important thoughts just beyond reach. […]

  120. says

    Republicans receiving backlash for doing the right thing:

    The South Carolina Republican Party’s executive committee formally censured Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC) on Saturday over his vote to impeach former President Donald Trump for inciting an insurrection on the U.S. Capitol earlier this month.

    “We made our disappointment clear the night of the impeachment vote. Trying to impeach a president, with a week left in his term, is never legitimate and is nothing more than a political kick on the way out the door,” said SCGOP Chairman Drew McKissick in a statement Saturday.

    “Congressman Rice’s vote unfortunately played right into the Democrats’ game, and the people in his district, and ultimately our State Executive Committee, wanted him to know they wholeheartedly disagree with his decision,” he added.

    The censure for the representative of South Carolina’s 7th district, passed Saturday at the SCGOP State Executive Committee’s quarterly meeting.

    Rice was one of just 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach the former president in a move has drawn ire from a majority of House Republicans who have appeared to pledge their continued support for a departed president whose rhetoric and falsehoods provoked deadly consequences on Jan. 6.

    Republican conference chair, Rep. Liz Cheney (WY) who headed up the effort by urging her GOP colleagues to make a “vote of conscience” has also been widely criticized by a majority of House Republicans who according to reports have indicated they would support a vote to remove the No. 3 Republican from her post on a secret ballot.

    Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) a Trump loyalist, even delivered an anti-Cheney speech at an event her state on Thursday and later ramped up his crusade against the congresswoman for crossing Trump by telling Fox News in an interview that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) needed to “hold a vote on Liz Cheney.”

    The handful of other Republicans joining Cheney and Rice in voting to impeach the ex-president, have also faced a barrage of attacks, including death threats. […]


  121. says

    TPM – “The Federal Case Against The Capitol Insurrectionists Is Becoming Much Clearer”:

    …But more than even the assault cases, the feds have described spending a great deal of their energy on conspiracy charges: Individuals that allegedly planned to break laws ahead of time, including those that may have committed sedition.

    Their go-to example is that of three affiliates of the Oath Keepers militia group. They’re charged with conspiracy against the United States — specifically, an effort to obstruct the counting of Electoral College votes. Text messages allegedly show discussions of logistics details and committing violence on Donald Trump’s behalf for weeks ahead of the actual attack.

    Even if the groups conspiring ahead of attack ultimately weren’t as violent as some unaffiliated individuals, as was apparently the case with the trio of Oath Keepers in question, Hughes noted that law enforcement may see them as more of a threat moving forward.

    “It has less to do with Jan. 6, and more to do with Jan. 7, 8 and 9,” he said. “They’re looking if there’s a network they need to be worried about. That’s why the focus is squarely on the Oath Keepers and the militia folks, and less on the QAnon and the selfies.”

    Faced with hundreds of individuals who may yet face charges, prosecutors work to assess who may be a concern moving forward. So while Capitol attackers who ascribe to the QAnon conspiracy theory are concerning (QAnon anticipates mass executions of Trump’s political enemies), “they’re also not training at a camp in Georgia. [That’s] just a different level of lethality,” Hughes said….

    More atl.

  122. says

    Ex-QAnon follower to Anderson Cooper: ‘I apologize for thinking that you ate babies’

    So Inauguration Day has come and gone and Joe Biden is president. “The Storm” never arrived, and Donald Trump isn’t allowed to tweet; many QAnons are lost, bereft, and scarcely able to complete a coherent thought or register an authentic human emotion in the wake of their miasmic post-Q fugue. […]

    So where do the Q-cumbers go now? This Saturday, CNN is airing an Anderson Cooper special on the QAnon conspiracy, and they’ve given us a sneak peek.

    It’s something to behold. [Video available at the link.]

    COOPER: “Did you at the time believe that … high-level Democrats and celebrities were worshiping Satan, drinking the blood of children?”

    JITARTH JADEJA, aka QANON GUY: “Anderson, I thought you did that, and I would like to apologize for that right now, so I apologize for thinking that you ate babies. But, yeah, 100 percent …”

    COOPER: “But you actually, you actually believed that I was drinking the blood of children.”

    QG: “Yes, I did.”

    COOPER: “Was it something about me that made you think that?”

    QG: “It’s because Q specifically mentioned you, and he mentioned you very early on. Um, he mentioned you by name, and from there, if … he also talked about, like, for example, your family. But, yeah, I’m going to be honest, people still talk about that to this day. There were posts about that just four days ago. So, some people thought you were a robot.”

    COOPER: “You really believed this.”

    QG: “I didn’t just believe that. I at one stage believed that QAnon was part of military intelligence, which is what he says. But on top of that, that the people behind him were actually a group of fifth-dimensional, intradimensional, extraterrestrial bipedal bird aliens called blue avians. I was so down far in this conspiracy black hole that I was essentially picking and choosing whatever narrative that I wanted to believe in.”

    Well, blue bipedal bird aliens dictating the fate of our universe from an unseen dimension sounds waaaay more plausible than Donald Trump being a hero who cares about children, but then I guess this whole Q thing comes down to “just how fucking out there do I want to go?”

    Many of these folks thought Joe Biden was going to be seized by the gendarmes and hauled away in irons when he showed up for the inauguration, and that didn’t happen. So some, like the interviewee, are starting to wake up. Others are predictably moving the goalposts. (The next date to watch is March 4, apparently. That will be a red-letter day in QAnon lore—the glorious moment when nothing unusual happens and they move the goalposts yet again.)

    But at least some of these folks have integrity enough to admit they were wrong. About Trump. About Biden. About The Storm. And about Anderson Cooper requiring a baby’s blood aperitif to rouse his appetite before he tucks into his nightly liver, fava beans, and Chianti.

    Thanks for owning up, dude. Now go out into the world and stop being such a dumbass.

  123. says

    […] former FBI Assistant Director Frank Figliuzzi marveled over on MSNBC. “To think that the images of U.S. members of Congress are now on those connected-dots charts inside some office at FBI headquarters is unbelievable to me,” he said on Friday. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rather bluntly referred to a group of radical GOP lawmakers this week as the enemy “within,” as her Democratic members lobby for increased personal protection from their Republican counterparts.

    But as damning as the extremest links of GOP representatives like Arizona’s Paul Gosar and Georgia’s Marjorie Taylor Greene are, it’s the election fraud lies Republican leaders continue to stoke that present the gravest long-term threat to our democracy. Left to fester unchecked among the masses, those lies will lead to violence, mass destruction, and even systemic abuse of innocent Americans by the U.S. government if an autocrat-in-waiting rises to power. And plenty of those autocrat wannabes are waiting in the wings to capitalize on the unrest alongside Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas.

    […] And Fox News host Tucker Carlson is weaponizing the federal government’s new effort to crack down on fringe white supremacist and domestic terror groups. After playing a clip this week of Rep. Adam Schiff of California saying federal law enforcement officials should retool in order to combat domestic extremism “just as we did after 9/11 to the threat from international terrorism,” Carlson twisted the sentiment into an ad hominem attack on all GOP voters.

    “Got that? Vote the wrong way, and you are a jihadi,” Carlson said. “You thought you were an American citizen with rights and just a different view, but no, you’re a jihadi, and we’re going to treat you the way we treated those radicals after 9/11, the way we treated bin Laden. Get in line, pal. This is a war on terror.”

    No, it’s not a war on Republican voters, it’s a battle against right-wing groups and individuals who resort to violence as a means of achieving political ends. But what we must now accept as Americans is that one of the parties in our two-party system is helping to radicalize domestic terrorists in the homeland. In other words, it is functionally working as a domestic terrorist organization. By failing to tell Republican voters the truth about Trump’s bogus election fraud lie or, worse yet, selling the dangerous notion that GOP voters are being targeted simply for their views, Republican leaders are fueling a sense of helplessness that leads people to believe their only option is to upend the system.

    […] In brief, we need a dual short-term and long-term approach. In the short term, Democrats need to keep winning elections. Period. But on top of that, we must actually deliver on making people’s lives better and more stable through providing decent jobs, dependable health care, and particularly right now, immediate economic relief. […] In order for people to have the bandwidth to listen to each other in a democracy, they must have some measure of stability and the prospect of opportunity in their lives.

    Longer term, we absolutely must hold Trump accountable in order to knock him down from his demigod status among Trumpers and also keep him from creating a shadow presidency (for which he is clearly already in the process of consolidating power). The FBI must rigorously be monitoring extremists and prosecuting them, which sounds obvious. But the people who attacked the Capitol must be clearly marked as having participated in a crime against the state. And more federal resources must be devoted to the effort to root out domestic terrorism.

    But the bigger goal here is to do everything we possibly can to keep Trump’s “Big Lie” about election fraud and, more broadly, disenfranchisement, from living on unchallenged in such a way that it gains steam over a period of years. Snyder, the author of On Tyranny, told Throughline it’s the type of lie that many Germans believed about Jews, which Hitler helped fuel and then capitalized upon to seize and consolidate power. […]


  124. says

    GOP officials from coast to coast doing nothing to sanction those who spread the Big Lie or incited violence at the Capitol, nothing about the calls to violence or anti-Semitic crackpottery by Rep Greene, but LOTS being done to punish the 10 Republicans who voted for impeachment….”

    Link to an article about the SC Republican Party formally censuring Rep. Tom Rice atl.

  125. says

    Ukraine stayed quiet during Trump-era pressures. Now it’s sharing some Giuliani tales.

    Washington Post link

    There was a consistent message from Ukraine’s leadership over everything from the Trump campaign’s dirt digging to Ukraine’s central role in the first impeachment proceedings: No comment.

    But now, as the Biden administration settles in, some close allies of Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky are opening up about one of the longest-running dramas from the Trump era — the blitz of meetings, messages and public statements in Ukraine by former president Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

    […] The new disclosures from Ukraine do not offer any bombshell revelations about Giuliani’s dealings. But they help fill in some blanks on his frantic — and unsuccessful — quest to press Ukraine to make statements seen as potentially helpful to the Trump reelection bid.

    Giuliani’s overall goal, according to the accounts, was to have Zelensky’s government validate the Trump campaign’s unsupported claims — including that Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, engaged in corrupt dealings in Ukraine and that then vice president Biden attempted to cover it up.

    Giuliani, saying he was acting on President Trump’s behalf, also was promoting a false narrative that the Ukrainian government colluded to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections against Trump — an unproven claim that sought to deflect attention from Russia’s interference in the campaign.

    […] The Zelensky team’s decision to talk about Giuliani’s tactics coincides with efforts for a reset in relations with President Biden, who dealt closely with Ukraine during his eight years as vice president.

    “We’ve gotten through all these trials, despite criticism at home and abroad,” said Yermak. “And today, this feeling that Ukraine — the mention of Ukraine — is associated with various scandals should disappear.”

    Giuliani’s tone and actions during his dealings with the Ukrainians were “aggressive and threatening,” said one Zelensky insider, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. But the Ukrainians, he said, steadfastly refused to “play ball.”

    The accusations against Biden centered on his son, Hunter, and his previous position on the board of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma, which is under investigation for alleged corrupt dealings. Trump and his allies claimed, without evidence, that Joe Biden, then vice president, used his clout to end the investigations.

    Ukrainian investigations into Burisma and its founder, Mykola Zlochevsky, are ongoing. But authorities say that none of the cases involve Hunter Biden. A Senate report in September described the younger Biden’s position at the company as “problematic” but found no wrongdoing by Joe Biden.

    Giuliani’s pressure began almost from the moment of Zelensky’s election in April 2019. The former New York mayor planned to travel to Ukraine the following month. But Giuliani canceled at the last moment, claiming that Zelensky was surrounded by “enemies” of Trump. This set off concerns in Zelensky’s inner circle that Giuliani would poison Zelensky’s relations with the White House.

    […] Ukrainians needed U.S. diplomatic and financial muscle to bolster them in their ongoing battles with Kremlin-backed insurgents in eastern Ukraine, a conflict that has killed more than 13,000 people since 2014.

    “Until we were 100 percent certain that Rudy was the go-to guy, and nothing would happen without him, we were trying to avoid him as much as possible,” said Igor Novikov, who served an adviser to Zelensky […] “But then toward the end of June, we realized that we couldn’t achieve anything with Trump without talking to Rudy first,” Novikov said.

    To this end, Volker set up an introductory phone call on July 22, 2019 […] Volker mentioned the phone call briefly in his testimony, saying that it was short and that he did not remember any discussion of Ukraine opening investigations.

    Novikov, however, said the call lasted more than 40 minutes, during which Giuliani spelled out what he wanted.

    The Giuliani wish list, according to Novikov: Zelensky would publicly announce the launch of investigations into Burisma and allegations that Ukrainian officials conspired to interfere in the 2016 presidential elections.

    “Just let these investigations go forward, get someone to investigate them,” Novikov recalled Giuliani saying.
    Furthermore, Giuliani wanted a public statement from Zelensky “at the right time” saying that he supports the investigations.[…]

    […] Ukrainian officials believe Giuliani later played a key role in setting up the July 25, 2019 call in which Trump asked Zelensky to “do us a favor.” The call became the centerpiece of the House impeachment later that year. […] “Trump took the phone call because Rudy said Zelensky would say the right things,” said the official involved in the Ukrainian discussions. “But the Americans’ tone changed after the call. Trump apparently didn’t hear what he wanted to hear.”

    […] In early August 2019, Giuliani and Yermak met in Madrid, according to testimony during the impeachment hearing. Also present was Lev Parnas, an associate of Giuliani’s who is now under federal indictment for campaign finance violations and wire fraud. He has pleaded not guilty.

    “In Madrid, Rudy was like a confident mobster, with a smirk and a smile,” Parnas said in an interview. “He was like, ‘We don’t care, you need this more than we do.’ ”

    […] Ukrainians found out from American media that $250 million in U.S. military aid had been put on hold.

    Members of Zelensky’s team contemplated giving Giuliani and Trump what they desired, and considered having Zelensky announce the investigations during a planned interview with CNN. Some advisers objected strongly to this, however, and the announcement was canceled.

    “Can you imagine what would have been the reaction one second after that interview?” said Oleksandr Danyliuk, the former head of Zelensky’s security council. “Zelensky would be looked upon as a toy, as a soft toy — not as a president. Nobody would have respected him.”

    Some Zelensky aides now say it was a mistake to open channels with Giuliani. But Ukraine’s rebuff of the demands, said Novikov, was a victory in keeping the country out of U.S. affairs.

    “Without our actions to push back,” he asserted, “the U.S. presidential race would have been very different.”

  126. says

    Regarding Gamestop/Robinhood, I’ve been wondering: What’s all this about Robinhood needing financing?
    Aren’t their users paying for the stocks they trade? Why would you need extra cash? Any payout would surely be covered by the actual profits made from the sale of stocks, right? So, what’s the problem?

    I feel like there’s something here I’m missing.

  127. blf says

    A snippet from Brazil: viral rapper becomes unexpected champion of Covid vaccine drive (“MC Fioti’s ‘vaccine anthem’ remix celebrates coronavirus inoculation with music video shot at biomedical research centre”, video at the link):

    [Jair] Bolsonaro, a far-right populist who has sabotaged Brazil’s vaccination campaign by declaring that he will refuse to be vaccinated himself[, …] suggesting the Pfizer vaccine might turn people into alligators.

    Yep, Bolsonaro did suggest that — the embedded link is Bolsonaro sobre vacina da Pfizer: Se você virar um jacaré, é problema seu (Bolsonaro on Pfizer vaccine: If you become an alligator, it’s your problem).

    Turning into an Alligator — presumably an unintended side-effect of the microchips — is clearly preferable to turning into a Bolsonaro.

  128. blf says

    Here in France, apparently a recent poll suggested teh le penazis (specifically, teh current führer, Marine Le Pen) are at c.48%, compared to President Macron’s c.52%. Apparently as a result, Riding high in the polls, France’s Le Pen proposes hijab ban. A snippet:

    I consider that the headscarf is an Islamist item of clothing, Le Pen told reporters at a press conference where she proposed a new law to ban Islamist ideologies which she called totalitarian and murderous.

  129. blf says

    Biden team scrambles to find 20m vaccine doses Trump reportedly failed to track:

    The Biden administration has spent its first week in office attempting to manually track down 20m vaccine doses in the pipeline between federal distribution and administration at clinic sites, when a dose finally reaches a patient’s arm.

    The Trump administration’s strategy pushed the response to the coronavirus pandemic to individual states and omitted pipeline tracking information between distribution and when the shot is actually administered, Biden administration officials told Politico.

    The lack of data has now forced federal health department officials to spend hours on the phone tracking down vaccine shipments, the news website reported.

    “Nobody had a complete picture,” Dr Julie Morita, a member of the Biden transition team and executive vice-president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, told Politico. “The plans that were being made were being made with the assumption that more information would be available and be revealed once they got into the White House.”

    […] At least 16 states have used less than half the vaccine doses distributed to them, USA Today reported this week.


    Examples and many more details at the Grauniad (please support the Grauniad if you can!).

  130. tomh says

    Trump Parts Ways With Five Lawyers Handling Impeachment Defense
    Maggie Haberman
    Jan. 30, 2021

    Former President Donald J. Trump has abruptly parted ways with five lawyers handling his impeachment defense, just over a week before the Senate trial is set to begin, people familiar with the situation said on Saturday.

    Those departures include his lead lawyer, Butch Bowers, whose hiring was announced last week, a person familiar with the situation said. Four other lawyers who were reported to be joining, including Deborah Barbier, a criminal defense lawyer in South Carolina, are also leaving, according to multiple people familiar with the situation.

    Mr. Trump had pushed for his defense team to focus on his baseless claim that the election was stolen from him, one person familiar with the situation said. A person close to Mr. Trump disputed that that was the case but acknowledged that there were differences in opinion about the defense strategy. However, Mr. Trump has insisted that the case is “simple” and has told advisers he could argue it himself and save the money on lawyers.

  131. blf says

    Follow-up to tomh@179, from CNN, Trump’s impeachment defense team leaves less than two weeks before trial:

    Former President Donald Trump’s five impeachment defense attorneys have left a little more than a week before his trial is set to begin, according to people familiar with the case, amid a disagreement over his legal strategy.

    It was a dramatic development in the second impeachment trial for Trump, who has struggled to find lawyers willing to take his case. And now, with legal briefs due next week and a trial set to begin only days later, Trump is clinging to his election fraud charade and suddenly finds himself without legal representation.

    Butch Bowers and Deborah Barbier, who were expected to be two of the lead attorneys, are no longer on the team. A source familiar with the changes said it was a mutual decision for both to leave the legal team. As the lead attorney, Bowers assembled the team.

    Josh Howard, a North Carolina attorney who was recently added to the team, has also left, according to another source familiar with the changes. Johnny Gasser and Greg Harris, also from South Carolina, are no longer involved with the case, either.

    No other attorneys have announced they are working on Trump’s impeachment defense.

    A person familiar with the departures told CNN that Trump wanted the attorneys to argue there was mass election fraud and that the election was stolen from him rather than focus on the legality of convicting a president after he’s left office. Trump was not receptive to the discussions about how they should proceed in that regard.

    The attorneys had not yet been paid any advance fees and a letter of intent was never signed.

    The lawyers’s apparently suggested strategy of suggesting a criminal cannot be convicted after leaving the scene of the crime is as stoopid as hair furor’s reported strategy of claiming no evidence of an imagined crime is proof of some fantasy crime.

  132. Ichthyic says

    Trump doesn’t need any lawyers to defend him. the GoP will simply do that for him, like dogs licking their master’s rotting feet.

  133. raven says

    Aren’t their users paying for the stocks they trade? Why would you need extra cash?

    Probably to cover potential losses due to their customer base.

    Stock traders frequently lose money.
    They can also go below zero and end up owing a whole lot of money.
    With the amounts of money flowing through Robinhood every day, a few bad days could wipe out all their reserves.
    During the Great Recession, a good share of the old Wall Street firms such as Lehman and Merrill Lynch went bankrupt in a few days and the rest had to be bailed out by the US Treasury and the Fed.

  134. raven says

    However, Mr. Trump has insisted that the case is “simple” and has told advisers he could argue it himself and save the money on lawyers.

    The trial isn’t going anywhere.
    I doubt if a single GOP senator will vote to convict.
    They need 2/3’s to convict and aren’t going to get even close to that and everyone knows it.

    Its main value is putting the evidence out in public as part of the public record and that is worth a huge amount.

  135. says

    raven #183

    Probably to cover potential losses due to their customer base.

    But why would you ever allow your customers to put you on the hook for more money than they paid into their trading account to begin with? That just sounds like a stupid business model.

    Is this really how it works? No wonder the economy is a mess.

  136. raven says

    But why would you ever allow your customers to put you on the hook for more money than they paid into their trading account to begin with?

    Stuff happens.
    You aren’t guaranteed to make money in the stock market or as a company, LLC, or corporation.
    There are always winners and losers.
    Sometimes a whole lot of losers when a stock or market crashes.
    This is basic Capitalism.

    Is this really how it works?

    It’s been this way for centuries, ever since the stock markets were invented.

    Remember the South Sea corporation of 1720?
    Remember Black Friday and the Great Depression of 1930 or so?
    Remember the Great Recession of 2007 when almost all of the Wall street companies either went bankrupt or were bailed out by the US Treasury and the Fed? It cost $700 billion, and was all paid back.

    It’s the same way with banks or casinos.
    You wouldn’t think they could lose money and go bankrupt but Trump went bankrupt 6 times mostly with casinos. The whole banking system all but collapsed in 2007 and during the Savings and Loan crisis after Reagan.

  137. says

    Steve Vladeck:

    By insisting that his lawyers argue to the Senate that the election really *was* “stolen,” Trump isn’t just refusing to contest the *actual* ground on which he was impeached (that he incited the violence on January 6); he’s effectively arguing that the violence was *justified.*

  138. says

    Smoking gun: The orders from Miller to the DC National Guard for January 6 included in linked article— is a must read. The DC guard were allowed no helmets, no body armor, no weapons. They were not allowed to stop or arrest protesters. Letter orders no interference with rioters…”

    Letter atl.

  139. says

    Thread with reporting/videos from the Russian protests:

    It’s the 2nd weekend of protests across Russia, a crucial test for the opposition & its standoff with the Kremlin.

    In Vladivostok in the Far East, protesters gather on the ice of the frozen Amur Bay after police blocked off the city center.

    The famous Winter Palace and Palace Square in St Petersburg are blocked off today by dozens of National Guard trucks ahead of today’s Navalny protest. Similar scenes in Moscow

    And this is the scene in another part of St Petersburg.

    “Let’s go to work!” shouts a riot police officer.

    “You’re not working! You’re beating your own people!” replies a protestor.

    A chilling loudspeaker message to protesters outside the regional government in Tyumen, Siberia:

    “We warn you that audio, photo and video files of your actions will be used as evidence in your prosecution.”

    More from St Petersburg, where a mass of National Guard officers is heading for the parliament.

    Reporters on the ground in that city say the law enforcement response is particularly brutal, and the police presence enormous

    Volgograd, south Russia.

    This is exactly what we saw in Belarus last year: unidentified masked thugs seizing people on the streets. A possible dark turn in Russia.

    More #Belarus parallels in Russia:

    Crowds in Krasnodar chanting “Get Lukashenko in a police van!”

    Lukashenko is the Belarusian dictator who has stamped out protests with brute force. Lots of solidarity between protesters in both countries.

    With Russia’s second weekend of protests over, it’s very clear authorities have chosen force over waiting for this movement to fizzle out. It’ll be hard for the opposition to keep people turning out in subzero temperatures to face this kind of intimidation.

  140. says

    From Josh Marshall:

    I think something is getting lost in the discussion of Trump’s Impeachment 2.0 lawyers quitting. They reportedly bailed because they were unwilling to argue Trump’s lies about the election being stolen. But arguing the election was stolen amounts to an affirmative defense of the events of January 6th. In other words, Trump isn’t guilty not because he didn’t incite the insurrection but because the incitement and the insurrection were justified.

    Republicans have been hoping Trump will contest the constitutionality of the proceeding itself. This is a thoroughly bogus argument. No one prior to 2021 ever thought a former President couldn’t be tried in the Senate. But it has the merit of being antiseptic. It’s a technical question housed in the late 1780s far away from the events of January 6th.

    A more logical defense would be on the facts of the alleged incitement. The case against Trump is very strong. But you can certainly argue that he didn’t explicitly tell the insurrectionists to storm the Capitol and murder members of the House and Senate. There’s a defense there you can argue and enough of the jury has decided to acquit regardless. So why not?

    But again, that’s not what Trump wants to argue. He wants to say it was all justified.


  141. says

    Extremists Prompt Dodger Stadium Vaccine Site To Temporarily Shut Down

    Dodger Stadium’s mass COVID-19 vaccination site was temporarily shut down Saturday afternoon when anti-vaccine and far-right groups descended upon one of the largest vaccination sites in the country, according to the Los Angeles Times.

    The LA Times reported that some of the anti-vaccine and far-right groups who showed up at the Dodger Stadium carried signs discrediting the COVID-19 vaccine and shouted at people, [urging] against getting vaccinated. There were no incidents of violence.

    As a precaution, the Los Angeles Fire Department closed the entrance to the stadium for about an hour starting just before 2 p.m. Additionally, several LAPD officers responded to the scene. A spokeswoman for the LAPD told the LA Times that no arrests were made.

    What? Why weren’t the anti-vaxxers arrested?

    A fire department official told the LA Times that the Dodger Stadium vaccination site reopened a few minutes before 3 p.m. […]

    German Jaquez, who had been waiting an hour to receive his vaccination when the stadium’s gates were closed, told the LA Times that some of the protesters were spouting false claims of COVID-19 being a myth and unfounded claims that vaccination is dangerous to people in line.

    The LA Times noted that a social media post called the demonstration at the Dodger Stadium as the “Scamdemic Protest/March.” It urged participants to “please refrain from wearing Trump/MAGA attire as we want our statement to resonate with the sheeple. No flags but informational signs only.”

    “This is a sharing information protest and march against everything COVID, Vaccine, PCR Tests, Lockdowns, Masks, Fauci, Gates, Newsom, China, digital tracking, etc.,” the social media post said.

    According to the LA Times, a livestreamed video showed signs that read “Save Your Soul TURN BACK NOW,” “CNN IS LYING TO YOU,” “RECALL GAVIN NEWSOM” and “TAKE OFF YOUR MASK.” Some handed out pamphlets to motorists and some cars blared their horns as they drove by the site.

    The scene happened amid Los Angeles becoming the nation’s largest COVID-19 hot spot. On Saturday, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported more than 6,900 new cases.

  142. says

    Follow-up to comment 195.

    In photos, the anti-vaxxers seen to all be white people.

    From comments posted by readers of the article:

    This pandemic is really an evolutionary contest of which can adapt more quickly – a non-sentient virus or human behavior.

    The virus is winning.
    This really makes no sense. If they believe what they do, they should let the “sheeple” head off to slaughter while they remain “saved.” What is the point?

    They want the lockdown ended, let people get vaccinated. If it works, quicker end to lockdown. I suppose they just don’t like being told what to do and if vaccinations work they may become mandatory? I really don’t get it.
    How about heavily-armed National Guard troops, with orders to keep life-saving vaccinations flowing?

    If authorities don’t push back – fast and hard – against this new form of terrorism, we’re going to see it quickly spring up all across America.
    I keep being amazed at how perfectly the writers of Bird Box captured the idea of an insane group of deniers actively pursuing people who are just trying to survive a global threat.
    It’s not enough for these people to just live with their crazy. They need to recruit others to their crazy to prove to themselves that they aren’t crazy.
    I thought right-wingers were violently opposed to people blocking traffic.
    The demand for vaccinations is huge. This group was small in comparison to those who waited them out. That is encouraging to me. The loons got their TV time but did not appear to convince anyone to give up and go home.
    Question: Can the Covid-19 vaccine be delivered by rubber bullet? Tear gas?
    Or open a kool-aid stand for the anti vaccine folks.
    I believe it was Friday that Nicolle Wallace had a young journalist on her show who was reporting from that Matt Gaetz rally in Wyoming. The young woman talked about how she was repeatedly harassed for wearing a mask. Not just at the rally, just walking around town. Some of these idiots wouldn’t even talk to her while she was masked up. She ashamedly admitted that she did eventually take her mask off because she wanted to get the story and found that wearing one was impeding her ability to do her job. I felt so very bad for her because you could see the shame and guilt she was carrying for having done so. These people are monsters.

  143. says

    Members are abandoning Mar-a-Lago now that Trump is no longer of use to anybody

    After an ill-fated attempt at some light treason, Donald Trump has retired to his for-profit home-slash-club Mar-a-Lago, where he has spent the time between Joe Biden’s inauguration and now doing (1) golf and (2) apparently not much else.

    As it turns out, Mar-a-Lago isn’t doing much better than Donald himself is. According to author Laurence Leamer, it is now “a sad place” and “not what it was.” Also according to Leamer, even longtime members of Trump’s weird little club are quietly leaving, no longer charmed by the “dispirited place.”

    […] underselling the many, many reasons why club members might be choosing to bow out immediately after Trump’s time in office has ended.

    For starters, he’s no longer as useful to them. Even the spies are probably no longer as eager […] There will be no more spilling of new state secrets over the ol’ caviar bucket […]. Trump doubled the price of Mar-a-Lago membership when he won the 2016 election, correctly determining that anyone looking to lobby the government would just as happily spend $200,000 as $100,000 for regular meet-and-greets with Donald and his rotating collection of not-yet-fired cabinet officials; now that there is no Trump administration, it stands to reason those supplicants will no longer need to supplicate.

    There’s also the sedition, of course. We can’t underestimate how many wealthy Florida gadflies previously willing to cozy up to the state’s most terrible man might get second thoughts about hanging out with the conspiracy’s poster boy. We can’t say with confidence that Florida socialites with money to burn are particularly turned off by armed insurrection on their behalf—the evidence on that is spotty at best—but few business owners want to associate themselves with a failed insurrection. If anything is still going to damage a corporate brand, in the year 2021, it might be that.

    […] Hanging out with Donald J. Trump in the weeks after he was near-forcibly removed from office has got to be among the least pleasant experiences possible. It would be a living hell. Trump is always either in the building or on the nearby golf course; there’s no avoiding him, and Donald Trump is an asshole even when good things happen to him. Out of office, with tax officials finally able to access his records, helming a failing and badly in-debt business during a pandemic? […]

    Now you are up to date on what’s happening in Mar-a-Lago, or at least the only bits of it that any of us should care about. Everyone is miserable, club members are leaving, and the food is still awful. It’s like living in Donald’s own head, but with more roaches.

  144. says

    Representative Katie Porter issued a report that made some cogent observations about the intersection of Big Pharma and financial shenanigans involving mergers and acquisitions:

    Rep. Katie Porter on Friday published a damning report revealing the devastating effects of Big Pharma mergers and acquisitions on U.S. healthcare, and recommending steps Congress should take to enact “comprehensive, urgent reform” of an integral part of a broken healthcare system.

    The report, entitled Killer Profits: How Big Pharma Takeovers Destroy Innovation and Harm Patients, begins by noting that “in just 10 years, the number of large, international pharmaceutical companies decreased six-fold, from 60 to only 10.”

    While pharmaceutical executives often attempt to portray such consolidation as a means to increase operational efficiency, the report states that “digging a level deeper ‘exposes a troubling industry-wide trend of billions of dollars of corporate resources going toward acquiring other pharmaceutical corporations with patent-protected blockbuster drugs instead of putting those resources toward’ discovery of new drugs.”

    Merger and acquisition (M&A) deals are often executed to “boost stock prices,” to “stop competitors,” and to “acquire an innovative blockbuster drug with an enormous prospective revenue stream.”

    The emphasis is on big business making money. The emphasis is not on healthcare. There’s not even a semblance of balance.

    […] “Competition is central to capitalism,” Porter said in a press release introducing the report. “As our report shows, Big Pharma has little incentive to invest in new, critically needed drugs. Instead, pharmaceutical giants are free to devote their resources to acquiring smaller companies that might otherwise force them to compete.”

    “Lives are on the line; it’s clear the federal government needs to reform how it evaluates healthcare mergers and patent abuses,” Porter added. […]


  145. says

    […] previously unreported video footage obtained by Mother Jones reveals that Greene continued using violent rhetoric just before the November elections.

    On October 27, one week before Election Day, Greene sat down for a live interview with pro-gun activist Chris Dorr broadcast on Facebook from a Pennsylvania gun shop. In the 22-minute video, posted by the Pennsylvania Firearms Association, the two held forth about the Second Amendment and the necessity of backing Trump and other far-right Republicans in the election.

    Greene warned ominously about fending off “socialists” like Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, claiming they would confiscate Americans’ guns. “If this generation doesn’t stand up and defend freedom, it’s gone,” Greene said, addressing viewers. “And once it’s gone, freedom doesn’t come back by itself. The only way you get your freedoms back is it’s earned with the price of blood.”

    “This is it,” Greene went on to say. “November 3rd, freedom is on the ballot.” Americans who didn’t vote for Trump and Republicans down-ballot, she said, would be voting “to completely end America as we know it” and would no longer be able to “stop a tyrannical government.”

    It wasn’t the first time that Greene campaigned using menacing gun imagery. […]

    After Trump was defeated and spent two months inciting the deadly insurrection at the US Capitol, Greene continued to support the outgoing president’s baseless claims that the presidential election was “stolen” through massive fraud. She even wore a face mask in the House chamber bearing the slogan “Trump won.”


  146. says

    The data on COVID-19 hospitalizations and new cases looks better, for a change. After hitting a peak on January 8, the 7-day average case count is down 40 percent, according to the New York Times. Hospitalizations are improving, too, down 24 percent. This isn’t just in a few highly populated states. We’re seeing steep cliffs in new case counts all across the country—half of states have experienced at least a 50 percent drop. [charts available at the link]

    All of this is promising news. Vaccine distribution, bumbling as the rollout has been, seems to be finally doing some good.

    But there are two big caveats.

    Yes, for the first time since December 1, 2020, hospitalizations are below the 100,000 mark, according to the COVID-19 Tracking Project. But that doesn’t mean ICU beds still aren’t nearly full (or, in the case of the hospital closest to me in the Bay Area, entirely full of 81 COVID-19 patients). There is still the possibility of a healthcare system remaining overly taxed. The peak was so high that any declines need to be taken into context of the horrific rise we saw during the first winter months.

    And then there are these new strains. As COVID-19 mutates, scientists have scrambled to track new strains of the disease—potentially more infectious—that could harm the case decline researchers predicted following a projected peak in January. “We’re very worried,” Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, told the Washington Post. There are variants of the coronavirus from California, from England, and from South Africa (a strain just detected in Baltimore). Research suggests the various vaccines will work on the new strains, but the level of effectiveness for each strain, and for each vaccine, remains unclear. […]


  147. tomh says

    Biden flips the script — and reality
    Jim VandeHei, Mike Allen
    January 31, 2021

    Joe Biden ran as a unifying centrist destined to be in conflict with activist liberals. Turns out, Biden is governing as an activist liberal constrained by centrists.

    Biden has outlined the most liberal agenda in a generation. But centrist Democrats, including Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), are potential deal-killers on climate change, spending and immigration reform.

    It’s the Manchins of the world who could slow, if not stop, efforts to end the filibuster — the single biggest obstacle to enacting a truly liberal agenda.

    On top of Biden’s expansive agenda, add Speaker Pelosi — a progressive who always wants to go big, and is thinking about her legacy — and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who worries about a primary from his left.

    The Biden team sees him as an activist president, but with an agenda that commands broad support.

    A FiveThirtyEight polling analysis finds majority support for 13 of 14 Biden executive actions in Week 1. (Canceling the Keystone pipeline got a plurality.)

    The country doesn’t see it as liberal to fight the pandemic, racism or climate change…

    Centrist Democratic senators — including Manchin; Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly, both of Arizona; and Michael Bennet of Colorado — hold high cards.

    With the Senate split 50-50, and Vice President Harris breaking ties, Biden needs every Democrat, even if the party uses budget reconciliation or ditches the filibuster rule — both mechanisms for passing bills with a simple majority.
    And Biden first will try to govern normally, which means 60 votes, and bringing some Republicans on board.

    Manchin complained to WSAZ-TV in Huntington, W.Va., about an interview Harris had given the station to push Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID rescue plan: “I couldn’t believe it. No one called me. … That’s not a way of working together.”

    Matt Bennett — a founder of Third Way, which champions center-left ideas — said the way to think about Biden’s agenda is that he isn’t “a ’90s small government centrist and never has been. … He wants to do big things, but only things that work.”…

  148. says

    What it’s like to be a Republican who still has some semblance of a conscience:

    Rep. Adam Kinzinger on Sunday offered a glimpse of what it’s like being one of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump: Friends and family turned against him, and he was told he’s “possessed by the devil.”

    “Look it’s really difficult. I mean, all of a sudden imagine everybody that supported you, or so it seems that way, your friends, your family, has turned against you. They think you’re selling out,” the Illinois congressman said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

    “I’ve gotten a letter, a certified letter, twice from the same people, disowning me and claiming I’m possessed by the devil.”

    In the days after the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol, it appeared Republican leaders had decided to take a stand against Trump, with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy saying Trump bore “responsibility” and that he must accept blame for the riot.

    But GOP members have begun heading back to the former president. On Thursday, McCarthy met with Trump at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, in a meeting that was later described as “very good and cordial.” The readout was released with a photo of the two men smiling.

    “I was disappointed over the last few weeks to see what seemed like the Republican Party waking up and then kind of falling asleep again and saying, ‘Well, you know, what matters if we can win in two years and we don’t want to tick off the base,’” Kinzinger said.

    “The photo,” he added, “shows that the former president is desperate to continue looking like he’s leading the party.” […]


    The phrase “possessed by the devil” is an indication that religious or cult-like elements of the Republican Party are still strong, still batshit bonkers.

  149. says

    Antony Blinken attacks Russia over Navalny arrests

    The Secretary of State also urged Navalny’s release.

    Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday condemned Russia’s treatment of protesters seeking the release of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

    “The U.S. condemns the persistent use of harsh tactics against peaceful protesters and journalists by Russian authorities for a second week straight,” he tweeted Sunday. “We renew our call for Russia to release those detained for exercising their human rights, including Aleksey Navalny.” […]

    Blinken’s statement reflects a distinct shift in tone from a much more hands-off U.S. policy toward President Vladimir Putin and Russia during the Trump years. […]

  150. says

    From Wonkette: “Anti-Vaxxers Now Trying To Stop Other People From Getting Vaccines.”

    It used to be that the problem with anti-vaxxers was that they wanted to refuse to vaccinate their children, which messed with herd immunity and caused outbreaks when they sent their little Typhoid Marys to school or took them to Disneyland. They asserted that it was their right as free Americans to make that choice for their children.

    But now they’ve taken it a step further and want to deprive other free Americans of their choice to get a COVID vaccine, for what appears to be a variety of reasons including but not limited to beliefs that the vaccine is unsafe, the vaccine is Bill Gates’ way of putting the Mark of the Beast in everyone, or simply that the vaccine encourages the belief that COVID-19 is a deadly virus that kills people instead of a harmless bug.

    On Saturday afternoon, a not-very-large group of anti-vaxxers in Los Angeles managed to shut down the vaccine distributions at Dodger Stadium for a short period of time during what was advertised as a Scamdemic March/Protest. […]

    […] Alas, they very likely failed in their plans to get their message to resonate with “the sheeple” at about the time when the guy in the top hat — who reportedly organized the event — got up to talk about how Bill Gates is a Satanic pedophile eugenicist.

    For video snippet, see https://twitter.com/SamBraslow/status/1355661542469996545

    […] Unsurprisingly, the people who had waited for hours for their vaccine and then had to wait even longer were not amused by their shenanigans.

    Via LA Times:

    “This is completely wrong,” said German Jaquez, who drove from his home in La Verne and had been waiting an hour for his vaccination when the stadium’s gates were closed. He said some of the protesters were telling people in line that the coronavirus is not real and that the vaccination is dangerous.

    “This is the wrong message,” Jaquez said. “I’ve been waiting for weeks to get an appointment. I am a dentist; I am taking a big risk being around patients. I want to be safe for my patients and for my family. The vaccine is the only way to beat the virus.”

    Meanwhile, more than 40,000 Californians have died from COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic.

    The sad thing about this shit is that these people sincerely believe they are helping people — possibly even saving their lives — and that they are doing a good thing. With the anti-maskers and anti-lockdown jerks, they’re obviously just selfish assholes who don’t care if people live or die, and they seem generally quite comfortable with that. They’re running through Targets yell-singing “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and what have you. But a lot of the people who genuinely think the vaccines are going to kill people probably do have actual good intentions, and it’s sad to see that instinct pushed in such a destructive and harmful direction.

    Well, except for the people yelling about the how Bill Gates is the anti-Christ trying to get everyone to take the Mark of the Beast so he can eat more babies or whatever it is they think is going on here. There’s not really a healthy direction for that instinct to go.


  151. says

    From Wonkette: “Ignoring Marjorie Taylor Greene Like An Ingrown Toenail Won’t Make Her Go Away.”

    How do you solve a problem like Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Republican congresswoman from Georgia and coveter of Jewish space lasers? White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki refused to comment on Greene during a press briefing Friday, claiming that would only “elevate conspiracy theories.” However, Greene isn’t Beetlejuice or Candyman where you can avoid any unpleasantness if you don’t say their names out loud. Greene is a sitting member of Congress. […]

    It stands out to me that a Black woman reporter sounds alarms about a white supremacist in Congress and the press secretary’s response is “We have more important things to worry about.” It’s not elevating Greene’s crackpot beliefs to acknowledge they exist and that Greene is an active threat to the nation.

    Charlie Warzel at the New York Times also warned against directly engaging Greene. We run the risk of making her a big star, a CELEBRITY, somebody everyone knows! […]

    The problem with this argument is that not even Democrats believe the GOP making Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib “stars” was a positive for Democrats at the ballot box. Moderate Democrats complained on a conference call that they got “killed” because of the supposed “socialist” wing. Do white moderates believe that liberal women of color are more damaging politically than complete wackjob white congresswomen? That’s a rhetorical question.

    […] It’s also incredibly short-sighted to think that Greene, whose unfitness hasn’t stopped her so far, won’t advance higher in politics. She could conceivably run for the Senate in 2022 and win. She’s popular with the base and has the full support of the previous White House occupant.The so-called “good Republicans” will still vote for her in the general election against incumbent Raphael Warnock because they want to win back the Senate. […]

    […] every superficially benign Republican from Nancy Mace to Claudia Tenney benefits from the Greenes and Lauren Boeberts, especially if they pay no political cost for associating with them. […]

    There’s a solid argument that ignoring Greene is how she won in the first place. Republican leadership issued tepid rebukes of her racist, anti-semitic, Islamophobic, and otherwise crazypants statements. They did very little to actually stop her, […] Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, and Rep. Jim Jordan were critical early supporters. Democrats didn’t directly link Republicans in swing districts with Greene, and the media didn’t hit Republican leadership about her daily. Going into the midterms, which are historically hostile to the party in the White House, it would behoove Democrats to saddle every supposed “normal” Republican with Greene […]

    The New York Times wrote:

    Ms. Greene, 46, has also created a dilemma for Republican leaders, who for months have been unwilling to publicly rebuke or punish her in any way for her inflammatory statements, in part for fear of alienating voters delighted by her incendiary brand of politics and conspiratorial beliefs.

    Democrats and the media should force Republicans to choose between their most deranged voters and the respectability they still somehow possess. Ignoring Marjorie Taylor Greene just makes it easier for them. However, I’m not in the “make life easier for Republicans” business.


  152. says

    New York Times: Russia’s Economic Slump Erodes Consensus That Shielded Putin

    The rally-around-the-flag effect of President Vladimir V. Putin’s assertive foreign policy known as the Crimea consensus is unraveling with the economy.

    Aleksandr Dobralsky took to the streets to protest the arrest this past month of Russia’s most prominent opposition leader. But he had other grievances as well.

    “It’s like somebody stepped on your toe and said, ‘Just be patient with this for a little while,’” Mr. Dobralsky, a lawyer, said of the country’s economic woes. “How can you just wait for it to be over?”

    Opinion polls have for a few years been tracking a pivot in the national mood, away from what was called the “Crimea consensus” of wide support for President Vladimir V. Putin for annexing the Ukrainian peninsula. Now, people are focused on their disappointment over slumping wages and pensions.

    In Russia, the competition between the rally-around-the-flag effect of Mr. Putin’s assertive foreign policy and anger over the sagging economy is often referred to as the battle between the television and the refrigerator: Do Russians pay attention to the patriotic news on TV or notice their empty fridges?

    “Rallying around the flag is no longer an antidote against protest,” Ekaterina Schulmann, an associate fellow in the Russia and Eurasia program at the British research institute Chatham House, said in a telephone interview.

    Ms. Schulmann cited focus-group studies indicating that Russians shown economic statistics about declining wages or the ruble’s exchange rate to the dollar were more likely to express support for a cautious foreign policy than Russians not shown the economic data first.

    […] The year Mr. Putin annexed Crimea, 2014, his approval ratings at home soared even as European countries, the United States and others responded with sanctions that threatened Russia’s economy.

    The confrontational foreign policy was initially wildly popular, while the economic pain took years to work its way into politics.

    But financial stagnation brought on by sanctions, a decrease in foreign investment amid tensions with the West and low oil prices have forced the Kremlin to impose unpopular policies, including raising the retirement age to shore up government pension funds.

    Russians’ average take-home wages adjusted for inflation have been declining since the Ukraine crisis. They are now 10 percent lower than seven years ago.

    […] “If you don’t already have a place in the system, you don’t stand a chance” of finding work, Mr. Dobralsky said.

    And, political analysts say, it is no coincidence that protests have seeped out of the wealthy cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg to Russia’s far-flung provinces, which are feeling the economic pain more acutely. […]

  153. says

    New York Times link

    ‘S.N.L.’ Takes on Marjorie Taylor Greene and GameStop

    Video available at the link.


    McKinnon conducted further interviews with Pete Davidson, playing a man who called himself Derrick Boner and who was identified as the new majority shareholder of GameStop; and with the Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey (Mikey Day) and the Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg (Alex Moffat), who were asked how banning spreaders of misinformation had affected their social sites.

    Day replied, “Not well. It seems to have forced those people onto darker, scarier apps where their delusion and bloodlust can run wild.”

    Moffat added, “Fundamentally, Facebook still works. Not only does it help form communities online, it has helped people meet and connect in real life. For example, at the Capitol.”

    McKinnon also spoke with Kenan Thompson, playing O.J. Simpson, who recently received a vaccine for COVID-19.

  154. says

    Frontline’s ‘Trump’s American Carnage’ is a portrait of a monster—and those who enabled him

    A new PBS Frontline episode entitled “Trump’s American Carnage” was released Tuesday. Produced in the wake of the Jan. 6 insurrection, it describes and illustrates in detail how Donald Trump’s ascent from candidate to Oval Office occupant prefigured the violence that ultimately erupted, finally boiling over in our nation’s Capitol.

    It includes interviews with Trump allies such as Corey Lewandowski, Roger Stone, and Steve Bannon, as well as several former Republican senators, including Bob Corker, Jeff Flake, and former Republican House members Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan. […] Several journalists who have covered Trump—including Peter Baker of The New York Times, Darlene Superville of the Associated Press, Susan Glasser of the New Yorker, as well as author Wesley Lowery—are interviewed as well.

    The Frontline episode focuses on how Trump deliberately stoked and promoted anger and violence among his supporters during his entire term in office, violence that most visibly manifested itself on Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol, with Republicans falling in line behind these tactics for the most part. […]

    In one particularly damning sequence, “Carnage” shows how even those GOP elected officials who Trump had viciously attacked still cheered him on at the passage of the 2017 Republican tax cut, his sole legislative achievement while in office. Sen. Mitch McConnell and former senator Orrin Hatch are singled out for their particularly craven displays of obsequiousness during the White House’s celebratory announcement of that bill’s passage, while former vice president Mike Pence is quite accurately portrayed as fawning lapdog. Neither Trump’s overt displays of racism nor his vile behavior would earn him any public criticism from Republicans after that, and his total control of the party only further emboldened him.

    “Carnage” depicts how Trump, feeling himself to be all-powerful, focused on immigration in order to enrage his supporters and cement a winning issue for the 2020 campaign. Experiencing no real negative reaction from fellow Republicans for his “zero tolerance” and child separation polices, Trump then directed his attention towards Democrats who could conceivably challenge him. The effort to discredit Joe Biden by attempting to extort “dirt” on Biden’s son Hunter, which ultimately led to Trump’s first impeachment, grew out of these same feelings of absolute power. After he was impeached and the Senate, again led by McConnell, refused to convict, Trump felt himself to be totally invulnerable, and his behavior worsened as a result, just as impeachment manager Adam Schiff said it would. As Evan Osnos of the New Yorker puts it, “ At that point all the guardrails fell away. He had nothing to be afraid of at that point—he could do whatever he wanted.”

    […] wanton teargassing of peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters in Lafayette Square for the infamous Bible photo op to his disastrous, careless handling of the COVID-19 pandemic […]

    The documentary is most effective at portraying the moral bankruptcy of the Republican Party that enabled this abomination for four years; the same Republicans who continue to enable and excuse Trump to this day. Even as the pandemic surged, Trump is shown continuing to incite his followers to “rise up” against Republican governors who implemented social distancing measures and business closures. […] It was these incited far-right protests at state capitols that most captivated him, and “Carnage” convincingly shows that this was the moment when the idea of fostering an entire insurrection—led by his far-right allies—began to take hold in his mind.

    […] And yet, despite the violence that was occurring throughout the country as a result of this incitement, Republicans still did nothing. […]

    Finally, the election arrives and Trump shifts fully into his full-frontal assault on our electoral process. A nonstop barrage of conspiracy theories, calculated to further incite his followers, begins in earnest. The final 15 minutes of “Carnage” depicts these efforts in detail, and in particular how Republican legislators supported this effort to convince Trump’s supporters that the election was stolen […]

    “Carnage” closes with a stark warning from conservative Charlie Sykes, emphasizing that what Trump did to incite the insurrection is still happening: People continue to believe his lies, and he has provided a template for future politicians to do the same. “Trump’s American Carnage” is a portrait of a monster, and a searing indictment of those Republicans who enabled him to do what he did throughout the last four years.

    Watch entire episode is below. [video is available at the link]

  155. says

    In 2021, a Louisiana cemetery’s board had to call an emergency meeting to remove from its contracts language that held them to serving only white clients, according to Fox 23 News. Cemetery officials at Oaklin Springs Baptist Cemetery ultimately removed the language Thursday after a cemetery worker refused to bury a Black sheriff’s deputy because he was Black. Madison and Shayla Semien told ABC-affiliated KATC they were shocked when they learned from a worker that they couldn’t bury their father, Darrell Semien at the cemetery. “She just looked us cold in the face, and straight up said, ‘I can’t sell you a plot,'” Madison said.

    “She said, ‘Unfortunately I’m unable to sell you a plot, this graveyard is not for people of color, it’s white human being cemetery only,'” Shayla added.

    The employee, who KATC reported has since been fired, held in her hand a contract dubbed “The Right of Burial of the Remains of White Human Beings.” H. Creig Vizena, the cemetery board’s president and the nephew of the 81-year-old woman who refused the family, promised the contract would be fixed and offered them one of his own plots. “I’m still very ashamed of what happened,” he told KATC. “Who wouldn’t be?” […]


  156. says

    Lynna @ #208, I agree with that article. I’ve watched it several times now – completely recommend. My only criticism would be that there’s no mention of his open calls to kill the whistleblower (whose possible identity Rand Paul tried to get John Roberts to read aloud on the Senate floor) and threats against some of the people who testified in the Ukraine impeachment. It would be great for people to watch it ahead of this one.

  157. says

    Josh Marshall quoted in Lynna’s #194:

    I think something is getting lost in the discussion of Trump’s Impeachment 2.0 lawyers quitting. They reportedly bailed because they were unwilling to argue Trump’s lies about the election being stolen. But arguing the election was stolen amounts to an affirmative defense of the events of January 6th. In other words, Trump isn’t guilty not because he didn’t incite the insurrection but because the incitement and the insurrection were justified.

    Republicans have been hoping Trump will contest the constitutionality of the proceeding itself. This is a thoroughly bogus argument. No one prior to 2021 ever thought a former President couldn’t be tried in the Senate. But it has the merit of being antiseptic. It’s a technical question housed in the late 1780s far away from the events of January 6th.

    It seems to me that Trump’s plan, and his behavior since the 6th, really work against the bullshit case the Republicans want to try to make. The unspoken assumption behind the argument that a former President can’t be tried would seem to be that they’re out of office and therefore no longer pose a threat. But even his unwillingness to speak out against the putsch and his promotion of people like Greene suggest that he’s still a menace to the republic. Continuing to tell the election lies and suggesting the insurrection was in some way warranted during the trial would drive home the fact that he was responsible and remains dangerous.

  158. says

    Good news:

    NEWS: Schumer throws cold water on GOP group of 10’s $600B COVID proposal: “They should negotiate with us, not make a take-it-or-leave-it offer,” Schumer tells me. “It doesn’t have any state and local money in it. Look at that, just as one thing.”

    Story coming soon.

    Schumer says Dems will go ahead with reconciliation if they have to, but says Republicans can still make it bipartisan, as they did in the past passing earned income tax credits and the State Childrens’ Health Insurance Program.

    And music to progressives’ ears: Schumer says Dems are not going to repeat the mistakes the Obama administration made with the 2009 financial rescue package and Obamacare in giving Republicans power to hamstring the administration’s efforts.

    Schumer: “We cannot do the mistake of 2009 where they whittled down the program so that the amount of relief was so small that the recession lasted 4 or 5 years. And then on the ACA, when they spent a year, a year and a half negotiating and then didn’t come to any agreement.”


    And for some who have asked, here are clips of Schumer explaining that Dems would like a bipartisan bill, but will do what they need to do….

  159. Tethys says


    The report on the J&J vaccine says it is 66% effective at preventing severe to fatal covid with one jab. That’s slightly better than one dose of Pfitzers version at 61%. The fact that it doesn’t need special refrigeration equipment would be very helpful in itself.

  160. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    What we’re waiting for with all the vaccines, is what happens if you get a mild case of covid after vaccination. Can you become a superspreader or are you unable to further spread the virus? That is why I will be making even after I get a vaccine. as makes a difference.

  161. KG says

    “Competition is central to capitalism,” Porter said in a press release introducing the report. – Lynnaa, OM@198 quoting Daily Kos

    Actually, Katie Porter is wrong there. The search for profit is central to capitalism. Very often, this proceeds by attempts to avoid competition by creating monopolies: forming cartels, takeovers and mergers, lobbying and buying influence in order to shape regulation in your favour. Arguably, the whole edifice of “intellectual property” is part of this process.

  162. says

    Tethys @ #214, the original tweet in the exchange @ #213 was:

    On @FoxNewsSunday, @T_Inglesby says the J&J vaccine is underrated. Its 72% efficacy rate (below Pfizer and Moderna) was “in mild and moderate disease.” But “after 28 days, it’s 85% protective against all strains. And there were no cases of severe disease or death after 49 days.”

  163. snarkrates says

    KG, exactly. It pisses me off when people equate capitalism with markets. They are utterly different and often antagonistic. In an African market, if the woman who normally sold you your bananas was out, she would buy some at cost from the lady next to her who wasn’t. And then you would buy them from your normal source. This was the antithesis of capitalism, but it was both competitive and cooperative at the same time.

    Capitalism favors anti-competitive measures–patents, barriers to entry, rents. It certainly works better for the consumer if things remain competitive, but that is not what the capitalist wants.

  164. says

    Just in from @PressSec: ‘The President received a letter today from 10 Republican Senators asking to meet with him…In response, the President spoke to Sen. Collins, and invited her and other signers of the letter to come to the WH early this week for a full exchange of views’.”

    Statement atl.

  165. says

    BBC – “Myanmar coup: Aung San Suu Kyi detained as military seizes control”:

    Myanmar’s military has seized power after detaining civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other senior members of her governing party.

    All authority has been given to the top army commander and a one-year state of emergency has been declared, a statement on military TV said.

    The coup follows a landslide win by Ms Suu Kyi’s party in an election which the army claims was marred by fraud.

    She urged her supporters to “not accept this” and “protest against the coup”.

    In a letter written in preparation for her impending detention, she said the military’s actions put the country back under dictatorship….

  166. says

    Guardian – “Donald Trump hires new impeachment defense team after lead lawyers quit”:

    Donald Trump has named new lawyers to lead the defense at his impeachment trial in the Senate next week on the charge that he unleashed a deadly insurrection upon the US Capitol on 6 January. The announcement comes just a day after his previous team fell apart.

    Trial lawyers David Schoen and Bruce L Castor will head up Trump’s new legal team, the former US president announced on Sunday evening.

    The ability of Republican senators who plan to acquit Donald Trump to weigh the case on the merits remained challenged, however, after the mass resignation of Trump’s previous legal team and the looming Senate deadline of Tuesday to submit a preliminary memo laying out his defense.

    The new lawyers are not without controversy. David Schoen represented Roger Stone, who was convicted in November 2019 of obstructing a congressional investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to win the 2016 election, and then had his prison sentence commuted by Trump.

    The Atlanta-based lawyer also met with sex offender Jeffrey Epstein when the financier was preparing for trial in New York on charges relating to sexual exploitation and shortly before Epstein died in jail in 2019.

    Bruce Castor is a former acting attorney general of Pennsylvania and a prominent Republican who has been slammed by advocates for victims of sexual crimes because of his stance against reforms involving help for past victims of Catholic priests and in the case of university football coach and predator Jerry Sandusky.

    And Castor gained notoriety for declining to prosecute Bill Cosby more than a decade before the entertainer was eventually convicted in 2018, and also sued Cosby’s victim, Andrea Constand, in a case that was dismissed, and then was sued by Constand for defamation, which was settled.

    Trump’s new team will have very little time to prepare for the impeachment trial.

    According to a schedule hammered out by leaders from both parties, House prosecutors were to respond to Trump’s defense memo, after which arguments were to begin on the Senate floor on 9 February.

    But the trial schedule, and its substance, have been thrown into doubt with the departure of five lawyers on Trump’s defense team – apparently the entire team….

  167. says

    NYT – “77 Days: Trump’s Campaign to Subvert the Election”:

    …Thursday the 12th was the day Mr. Trump’s flimsy, long-shot legal effort to reverse his loss turned into something else entirely — an extralegal campaign to subvert the election, rooted in a lie so convincing to some of his most devoted followers that it made the deadly Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol almost inevitable.

    Weeks later, Mr. Trump is the former President Trump. In coming days, a presidential transition like no other will be dissected when he stands trial in the Senate on an impeachment charge of “incitement of insurrection.” Yet his lie of an election stolen by corrupt and evil forces lives on in a divided America.

    A New York Times examination of the 77 democracy-bending days between election and inauguration shows how, with conspiratorial belief rife in a country ravaged by pandemic, a lie that Mr. Trump had been grooming for years finally overwhelmed the Republican Party and, as brake after brake fell away, was propelled forward by new and more radical lawyers, political organizers, financiers and the surround-sound right-wing media.

    In the aftermath of that broken afternoon at the Capitol, a picture has emerged of entropic forces coming together on Trump’s behalf in an ad hoc, yet calamitous, crash of rage and denial.

    But interviews with central players, and documents including previously unreported emails, videos and social media posts scattered across the web, tell a more encompassing story of a more coordinated campaign.

    Across those 77 days, the forces of disorder were summoned and directed by the departing president, who wielded the power derived from his near-infallible status among the party faithful in one final norm-defying act of a reality-denying presidency.

    Throughout, he was enabled by influential Republicans motivated by ambition, fear or a misplaced belief that he would not go too far.

    In the Senate, he got early room to maneuver from the majority leader, Mitch McConnell. As he sought the president’s help in Georgia runoffs that could cost him his own grip on power, Mr. McConnell heeded misplaced assurances from White House aides like Jared Kushner that Mr. Trump would eventually accede to reality, people close to the senator told The Times. Mr. McConnell’s later recognition of Mr. Biden’s victory would not be enough to dissuade 14 Republican senators from joining the president’s last-ditch bid to nullify millions of Americans’ votes.

    Likewise, during the campaign, Attorney General William P. Barr had echoed some of Mr. Trump’s complaints of voter fraud. But privately the president was chafing at Mr. Barr’s resistance to his more authoritarian impulses — including his idea to end birthright citizenship in a legally dubious pre-election executive order. And when Mr. Barr informed Mr. Trump in a tense Oval Office session that the Justice Department’s fraud investigations had run dry, the president dismissed the department as derelict before finding other officials there who would view things his way.

    For every lawyer on Mr. Trump’s team who quietly pulled back, there was one ready to push forward with propagandistic suits that skated the lines of legal ethics and reason. That included not only Mr. Giuliani and lawyers like Sidney Powell and Lin Wood, but also the vast majority of Republican attorneys general, whose dead-on-arrival Supreme Court lawsuit seeking to discount 20 million votes was secretly drafted by lawyers close to the White House, The Times found.

    As traditional Republican donors withdrew, a new class of Trump-era benefactors rose to finance data analysts and sleuths to come up with fodder for the stolen-election narrative. Their ranks included the founder of MyPillow, Mike Lindell, and the former Overstock[dot]com chief executive Patrick Byrne, who warned of “fake ballots” and voting-machine manipulation from China on One America News Network and Newsmax, which were finding ratings in their willingness to go further than Fox in embracing the fiction that Mr. Trump had won.

    As Mr. Trump’s official election campaign wound down, a new, highly organized campaign stepped into the breach to turn his demagogic fury into a movement of its own, reminding key lawmakers at key times of the cost of denying the will of the president and his followers. Called Women for America First, it had ties to Mr. Trump and former White House aides then seeking presidential pardons, among them Stephen K. Bannon and Michael T. Flynn.

    As it crossed the country spreading the new gospel of a stolen election in Trump-red buses, the group helped build an acutely Trumpian coalition that included sitting and incoming members of Congress, rank-and-file voters and the “de-platformed” extremists and conspiracy theorists promoted on its home page — including the white nationalist Jared Taylor, prominent QAnon proponents and the Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio.

    With each passing day the lie grew, finally managing to do what the political process and the courts would not: upend the peaceful transfer of power that for 224 years had been the bedrock of American democracy.

    Now, Women for America First had a purpose, too. Objectors were already lining up in the House. So the group planned a new bus tour, this one to travel from state to state helping to sway persuadable senators — 11 by their count.

    The cavalry “is coming, Mr. President,” Kylie Kremer tweeted to Mr. Trump on Dec. 19.

    This tour took on an edgier tone. Before heading out, the Kremers, Ms. Lawrence and Mr. Stockton visited the Tactical Response marksman training center in Nashville. Its owner, James Yeager, had had his gun permit suspended in 2013 after posting a video in which he threatened to “start killing people” if the Obama administration banned assault rifles.

    At the training center, Kylie Kremer and Ms. Lawrence taped an episode of Mr. Yeager’s “Tactical Response” YouTube show, promoting their tour. They also documented the afternoon with a campy Facebook video of themselves cradling assault weapons and flanking Mr. Stockton, who narrated.

    “See, in America, we love our Second Amendment like we love our women: strong. Isn’t that right, girls?”

    Ms. Lawrence whooped. “That’s right,” she replied. “Second Amendment, baby.”

    By the time the bus pulled into West Monroe, La., for a New Year’s Day stop to urge Senator John Kennedy to object to certification, Mr. Trump was making it clear to his followers that a rally at the Ellipse in Washington on Jan. 6 was part of his plan. On Twitter, he promoted the event five times that day alone.

    The emcee of the Louisiana stop, the Tea Party activist James Lyle, announced that the next day’s event in Missouri was now going to be a thank-you — Senator Josh Hawley had just become the first senator to announce that he would object. “You’ve got to thank them when they do the right thing,” Mr. Lyle said.

    But talk at the rally was tilting toward what to do if they didn’t.

    “We need our president to be confirmed through the states on the 6th,” said Couy Griffin, the founder of Cowboys for Trump. “And right after that, we’re going to have to declare martial law.” [As the article notes, Griffin has been arrested after participating in the putsch at the Capitol.]

    The next day, Mr. Kennedy announced that he would sign on, too.

    On Saturday, Jan. 2, Kylie Kremer posted a promotional video for Wednesday’s rally on Twitter, along with a message: “BE A PART OF HISTORY.”

    The president shared her post and wrote: “I’ll be there! Historic day.”

    Though Ms. Kremer held the permit, the rally would now effectively become a White House production. After 12,000 miles of drumbeating through 44 stops in more than 20 states, they would be handing over their movement to the man whose grip on power it had been devised to maintain.

    “What we’re doing is unprecedented,” Ms. Chafian said as she kicked off the rally [at the Ellipse on January 5]. “We are standing at the precipice of history, and we are ready to take our country back.” Addressing Mr. Trump, she said: “We heard your call. We are here for you.”

    One scheduled speaker would not be in Washington that night: the Proud Boys’ leader, Enrique Tarrio. A judge had banished him from the city after his arrest on charges of destruction of property and illegal weapons possession.

    Defiantly, to a great roar from the plaza, Ms. Chafian cried, “I stand with the Proud Boys, because I’m tired of the lies,” and she praised other militant nationalist groups in the crowd, including the Oath Keepers and the Three Percenters.

    As the rally wound down in a cold drizzle, groups of young men wearing Kevlar vests and helmets began appearing toward the back of the plaza. Some carried bats and clubs, others knives. Some were Proud Boys, but more sported the insignia of the Three Percenters.

    One of the men, with a line of stitches running through his ear, told a reporter: “We’re not backing down any more. This is our country.” Another, holding a bat, cut the conversation short. “We know what to do with people like you,” he said….

    Much, much more atl. (As the Axios series attests, the plotting started long before election day.)

  168. says

    Here’s a link to the February 1 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    France’s finance minister has warned restaurant owners that they risk losing their coronavirus financial aid if they open and serve customers despite the shutdown.

    Bruno Le Maire’s caution follows a call to protest by Stephane Turillon, a chef in eastern France, who urged restaurateurs to open their doors for “protest meals” on Monday, according to AFP. Several chefs and thousands of people have since followed through with the move.

    The minister said owners caught serving customers would have their coronavirus support funds suspended for a month, “and if they do it again, they won’t get any more at all”.

    Under France’s Covid solidarity scheme for its hospitality industry, restaurants and other businesses that have been forced to shut can receive up to €10,000 a month, or compensation equal to 20% of their revenues from 2019, capped at €200,000 per month. But many restaurateurs say the funds are not enough to cover lost sales as they have to keep paying rent.

    Palestinians will receive an initial batch of 50,000 coronavirus vaccines by mid-February, when inoculations will begin in the West Bank and Gaza, their prime minister announced on Monday.

    Mohammed Shtayyeh said the procurement had been secured through various sources, according to AFP, such as the UN-backed Covax programme, established to provide vaccines to less wealthy states.

    “Vaccination will start in the middle of this month,” Shtayyeh said.

    He said the vaccines would be given to the 2.8 million Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and the two million people in the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by the Hamas Islamist movement.

    Israel, which is carrying out the world’s fastest per capita vaccination rollout according to most estimates, has faced rising international pressure to ensure Palestinians are inoculated.

    The Palestinian Authority has not publicly asked for Israel’s aid in organising its vaccination campaign – however, the UN and human rights groups have said Israel has an obligation to do so under international law as an occupying military power.

    Israel’s defence ministry said on Sunday that it would send 5,000 doses to the Palestinian Authority to vaccinate medical workers. An unnamed Palestinian health ministry official told AFP 2,000 of those doses had been delivered on Monday.

  169. says

    Jeff Stein, WaPo (failed-listmaking alert!):

    From what we know, the plan from 10 Republicans appears to cut from Biden’s plan:

    — 3 months of UI (knocked down by $100/week)
    — $350B for states & cities
    — Monthly child benefit
    — $15/hr minimum wage
    — Checks reduced from $1,400 to $1K
    — Parts of school $

    (list not exhaustive)

  170. says

    More from Stein:

    Confirmed that all of the below is cut from the GOP plan.

    Stimulus check would start diminishing in value for individuals above $40K/year in income instead of $75K, cutting off millions

    Also appears to zero out Biden’s request for $ for distressed renters

  171. says

    Also from the press briefing:

    The variants are very concerning, and they reminded people to do everything they can to reduce transmission, which will help to prevent the emergence of more variants.

    The at-home tests have 95% accuracy. The process involves a shorter nasal swab and a smartphone. They’ll initially cost $30. They plan to get 100,000 out in the US this month, ramping up to 8.5 million in the US by the end of June (out of 19 million total).

    They’re telling states not to hold back doses for second shots. They have the ability to give states notice of the number of doses available three weeks out. Second shots within the established time frame should be prioritized over first doses.

    They’re making an effort to get better demographic data on vaccinations from the states and improve equity.

    Dr. Fauci pointed out the importance of the J&J numbers re efficacy with regard to hospitalizations and deaths (see #218 above). Andy Slavitt said, though, that they weren’t getting ahead of themselves in their promises of vaccine doses going out to states – the J&J vaccine won’t be included until it’s approved and they know the doses can be produced.

  172. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Women made up nearly all of Italy’s job losses in the month of December, when the country’s unemployment level rose to 9.0% from 8.8% in November, national statistics bureau ISTAT said on Monday.

    ISTAT said some 101,000 jobs were lost in the final month of 2020, with 99,000 of them women losing their employment. Over the entire year, 312,000 women lost their jobs compared with 132,000 men.

    Economists said the disparity is linked to women in Italy tending to work in less secure roles which have been especially badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic, such as the tourism and hospitality sectors.

  173. says

    From text quoted by SC in comment 223:

    After 12,000 miles of drumbeating through 44 stops in more than 20 states, they would be handing over their movement to the man [Trump] whose grip on power it had been devised to maintain.

    We failed to pay enough attention to that anti-democracy, rabble-rousing, white supremacist tour. Shocking.

  174. says

    Bits and pieces of news, as summarized by Steve Benen:

    * Following Rep. Tom Rice’s (R-S.C.) vote in support of impeaching Donald Trump, the South Carolina Republican Party’s executive committee formally censured the congressman over the weekend.

    * An Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll, released over the weekend, found “leading Democrats earned significantly higher ratings than their GOP counterparts” in Georgia. Gov. Brian Kemp’s (R) approval rating is down to just 42% in the state, while Trump’s support in the state is 40%. The same poll found Joe Biden, Raphael Warnock, Jon Ossoff, and Stacey Abrams with favorability ratings at or above 50%.

    * We don’t yet know what former Vice President Mike Pence has planned for his political future, but NBC News reports that the Republican Hoosier is “making plans to form a policy-focused fundraising committee that would help him maintain a relationship with donors.”

    * Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) is launching a new political action committee, called the Country 1st PAC, which he intends to use against the dominant pro-Trump wing of his party. [See comment 202]

    * As expected, Trump’s political operation raked in millions of dollars after the 2020 elections, but very little of the money went toward legal fights, despite fundraising claims.

    * On a related note, the former president’s new political action committee, called Save America, reportedly started 2021 with at least $31 million in cash.

    * And the Republican Jewish Coalition issued a statement late last week condemning Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), with the group saying it’s “offended and appalled by her comments and her actions.”

  175. says

    Growing number of Republicans decide to walk away from the GOP

    As a lifelong Republican and former fundraiser for Bush and McCain put it, “Enough. I’m out.”

    To a degree without modern precedent, the Democratic presidential ticket enjoyed considerable support from prominent Republicans in the 2020 elections. As regular readers know, former RNC chairs backed Joe Biden. So did former Republican cabinet secretaries and some Republicans who worked as members of Trump’s own team.

    The list included former GOP governors, former GOP senators, former GOP House members, and several dozen Republican national security officials — from the Reagan, Bush/Quayle, and Bush/Cheney administrations — all of whom endorsed Biden.

    There was some question at the time as to what would happen after Election Day had come and gone. After all, we were talking about lifelong Republican voters who’d been disgusted by Donald Trump, who ended up losing. Perhaps they’d return to their partisan flock?

    Perhaps not. Reuters reported this morning that many Republican veterans of the Bush/Cheney administration are leaving the party, “dismayed by a failure of many elected Republicans to disown Donald Trump after his false claims of election fraud sparked a deadly storming of the U.S. Capitol last month.”

    These officials, some who served in the highest echelons of the Bush administration, said they had hoped that a Trump defeat would lead party leaders to move on from the former president and denounce his baseless claims that the November presidential election was stolen. But with most Republican lawmakers sticking to Trump, these officials say they no longer recognize the party they served.

    Jimmy Gurule, who was undersecretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence in the Bush/Cheney administration, told Reuters, “The Republican Party as I knew it no longer exists. I’d call it the cult of Trump.”

    Kristopher Purcell, who worked in the Bush White House’s communications office for six years, added that he knows of dozens of former Bush/Cheney officials have decided to leave the party or are cutting ties with it, from conversations he has been having. “The number is growing every day,” Purcell added.

    This comes, of course, about a month after Colin Powell, who served as the secretary of State in the Bush/Cheney administration, told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, “I can no longer call myself a Republican.”

    Meanwhile, Jacob Monty, a lifelong Republican who was a major fundraiser for Bush and John McCain, wrote an op-ed the Houston Chronicle a few days ago denouncing the GOP.

    “Both political parties have always had their fringe elements, but without any guiding principle beyond mindless adherence to Trump, the GOP has surrendered itself to them,” Monty wrote. “QAnon conspiracies have become mainstream in a party that has now unquestioningly adopted Trump’s fantasies about the 2020 election…. Enough. I’m out.”

    […] The segment quoted former RNC Chair Michael Steele dismissing those who see these shifts as irrelevant. “When you’re losing Republican members and you’re left with QAnon and Proud Boys, you’ve got to reassess whether you’re even close to being a viable party,” Steele [former RNC Chair Michael Steele] said.

    […] as Republicans come to terms with the fact that they’ve lost all control over the levers of federal power, they’re simultaneously embracing their corrupt former president, crackpot conspiracy theories, and an indifference toward meaningful governing. Some in the party have noticed, and they’re headed for the exits.

    Not enough. The number of Republicans defecting from the Party is significant, but still too small.

  176. says

    Follow-up to SC @231 and 232.

    The problem with the Republicans’ ‘offer’ on a COVID relief package

    Republicans apparently expect people to believe legislation should be assessed, not on its merits, but in its capacity to make the GOP minority happy.

    As Democratic officials move forward with an ambitious COVID relief package, Senate Republicans have focused on two principal concerns. The first is that it would hurt their feelings if the Democratic majority passed a bill without them — a complaint that no one should take seriously […]

    But the second GOP talking point is that the existing proposal, presented weeks ago by President Joe Biden’s White House, would do too much to help the economy and struggling Americans. What kind of proposal do Republicans have in mind? […]

    The Republicans’ proposed package is much smaller than Biden’s $1.9 trillion proposal, and includes $160 billion for vaccines, $4 billion for health and substance abuse services, the continuation of current unemployment aid and unspecified “targeted” economic assistance and help for schools.

    All told, the GOP blueprint would carry a roughly $600 billion price tag, which is less than a third of what the White House has said is necessary to deliver meaningful economic results. […]

    As a Washington Post analysis noted, this GOP contingent effectively took Biden’s plan, scrapped aid to state and cities, eliminated the minimum wage increase, slashed the value of direct-aid checks, limited the number of middle-class households that could receive direct-aid checks, and cut supplemental unemployment benefits.

    And why in the world would Democrats scrap their superior bill, on purpose, which they can pass on their own, to instead embrace a meager Republican alternative? Because, some GOP senators said yesterday, it would signify “bipartisanship” and “unity.”

    The game is insulting in its inanity […] Biden can sign a good bill or a bipartisan one, and Republicans want the new president to prioritize the latter over the former.

    […] Biden has agreed to hear them out. The next step remains far from clear.

    In the meantime, on Capitol Hill, congressional Democrats are planning to approve reconciliation resolutions as early as this week, which would provide them with the legislative foundation needed to pass any COVID relief bill they want, whether Republicans like it or not.

  177. says

    From Josh Marshall:

    […] punitive expeditions being mounted against the handful of renegades who briefly turned on Trump by supporting impeachment or making other conspicuous gestures of disloyalty.

    And in that endeavor, Republicans are united.

  178. says

    Top Trump HHS Official Lobbied AGAINST Funding States’ Vaccine Rollouts

    As states around the country screamed last fall for funding from Congress to roll out the COVID-19 vaccine, the Trump administration lobbied lawmakers to oppose it, a new report says.

    Stat reported that the campaign was spearheaded by an HHS official named Paul Mango, who wanted states to account for $200 million issued by the CDC before agreeing to give any more.

    “A lot of them had shut down their economies and they weren’t getting tax revenue,” he told Stat. “I’m sure they could use money — that’s not in dispute — what’s in dispute is whether they needed money given all they hadn’t used to actually administer vaccines.”

    That amount – $200 million – is a fraction of the $8.75 billion that the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, a group representing states in the effort to secure vaccine distribution funding, was demanding.

    […] During his time in the Trump administration, Mango would tell reporters that the administration was “on track to deliver hundreds of millions of doses by January 2021.”

    The revelation of a behind-the-scenes lobbying campaign to prevent Congress form funding the vaccine rollout accounts in part for why it took so long for money to be appropriated to the effort.

    State officials had been demanding that Congress pass money to fund vaccine distribution since May 2020. Instead, a bill that appropriated $8.75 billion for the effort was only passed in December 2020, meaning that money from that legislation is only starting to be used by state officials now, with the vaccination campaign well underway.

    […] The lack of funding for distribution has delayed the COVID vaccination campaign, depriving states of the ability to hire vaccinators and slowing down the local public health departments responsible for managing the last mile of distribution.

    The state in which I live needs help with vaccination.

  179. says

    Follow-up to comment 244.

    Comments posted by readers of the TPM article:

    Good lord, quibbling over 200 million out of a 8.75 billion dollar package ? Where did they find these people, at Fools Unlimited ? Almost half a million dead now and that number keeps rising due to this type of ingrained idiocy. I live in Texas, over 65, poor health etc and can’t even get a ballpark estimate on when I can get vaccinated. Neither can anyone else I know. trump will kill us all whether in office or not.
    n short, out of spite and hatred, the Trump regime intentionally underfunded state distribution of life saving vaccines. Pure evil.
    On a more serious note, $200M is mouse nuts in the context of relief for a nation-wide cataclysm. This is just another form of homicide
    So, states that shut down to limit the spread of the virus (read: blue states) would be denied funding for vaccinations on the theory that they would misuse the money to fill budget holes created by their mitigation efforts.
    It seems the goal was to encourage the spread of the virus to the widest possible population, either by coopting state leadership or extorting compliance.
    Very Drumpfian, that.
    Well, what do you know – the GOP was right: There WERE government Death Panels!
    Mango? Mango? Seriously? That’s the dude’s name?
    The Trump administration wanted the pandemic to ravage America to achieve lemming “herd mentality”, and Mango’s penny-wise pursuit of comparative pocket change is pound-foolish proof.
    Mango comes to his job from the health insurance industry. [more than two decades at the consulting firm McKinsey & Company, organizing and running its health care consulting practice.] His last job was denying coverage for people over 65 because seniors are too prone to health problems.

  180. says

    Gizmodo – “Rep. Matt Gaetz Staffer Cheered On Capitol Rioters Via Parler as They Overran Police”:

    As police struggled futilely to fend off a wave of rioters outside the U.S. Capitol building on January 6, Joel Valdez, an aide to Congressman Matt Gaetz, made his way to the rooftop of his boss’s office building across the street on Independence Ave. Surveying the mob as it surrounded the complex, he captured a five-second video with his phone and posted it to Parler—the now-defunct social network where some supporters of President Trump are reported to have openly planned an insurrection for weeks.

    “From the top of the Capitol office buildings, WE HEAR YOU LOUD AND CLEAR!” Valdez posted, adding the hashtag “#StopTheSteal”.

    Metadata from Valdez’s video, which Pro Publica published last week but did not connect to Gaetz’s press assistant, reveals it was taken at roughly 1:14 p.m. ET that day. The rioters had by that time already breached at least three police barricades and forced officers back onto the Capitol steps where they violently engaged, according to a timeline of events reported by the New York Times.

    Gaetz’s chief of staff, Jillian Lane Wyant, disputed that Valdez’s video depicted him cheering on the mob. Valdez could not have known, she said, that the rioters would break inside the Capitol building.

    “A staff member in our office posted on his personal Parlor [sic] account about the President’s rally before the Capitol had been breached or anyone was harmed,” Wyant said in an email. “He also immediately amplified President Trump’s call on social media for those in attendance to go home. He regrets that the post has been misinterpreted as support for violence by some. It was not.”

    Valdez’s Parler account can still be viewed via the Wayback Machine and does not appear to show that he amplified Trump’s call for the rioters to disperse. His Twitter account is currently protected and cannot be reviewed. His post cheering on the Capitol mob was seen by Parler users more 58,500 times as of January 10. It’s unclear how many users saw it the day of the attack.

    Valdez did not respond directly to a request for comment. According to his LinkedIn page, he began working for Gaetz in January 2020 and previously worked for the Trump re-election campaign as a “War Room Analyst.” He was also once a member of the right-wing group Turning Point USA….

  181. says

    How Trump Unleashed a Domestic Terrorism Movement—And What Experts Say Must Be Done to Defeat It

    “He tells them what to do. He tells them why they’re angry.”

    Even the wifi password was a signal. Attendees at […] Trump’s rally in Dalton, Georgia, on January 4 who wanted to log in to the Make America Great network had to enter the phrase into their devices: “SeeYouJan6!” Trump was in town that night ostensibly to boost two Republican Senate candidates, but he spent much of his speech railing about the “stolen” 2020 election—and inciting supporters to descend on the nation’s capital two days later. “They’re not taking this White House,” he declared, Marine One spotlighted behind him. The crowd roared. “We’re going to fight like hell.”

    Throughout the summer and early fall, amid polls forecasting a Trump loss, the president and his surrogates had ramped up their baseless claims that the election would be tainted by massive fraud. (The election proved to be “the most secure in American history,” according to US cybersecurity director Chris Krebs, whom Trump quickly fired for saying so.) By mid-­December, as Trump’s campaign was losing dozens of lawsuits alleging manipulated results in battleground states, Trump began targeting January 6, the day Congress would certify President Joe Biden’s victory. “Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election,” Trump tweeted. “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!” The election was “the biggest scam in our nation’s history,” he wrote in another tweet, adding: “Never give up. See everyone in D.C. on January 6th.”

    Trump did more than just invite supporters to a rally. He also repeatedly shared a slickly produced video, titled “The Plot to Steal America,” that warned ominously of a Chinese communist scheme involving Biden, the Democrats, and the news media, and called for Trump supporters to mobilize. “We know that our rights don’t come from the government, but from God,” declared the narrator, an Ohio jewelry buyer formerly employed by the pro-Trump propaganda outlet the Epoch Times. “And we will fight to the death to protect those rights.” In a tweet the day after Christmas, Trump suggested that if the Democrats were in his position, the “Rigged & Stolen” presidential election would be considered “an act of war, and fight to the death.”

    […] “We’re coming for you,” vowed Donald Trump Jr. from the stage, targeting members of Congress who didn’t support overturning the November results. “Let’s have trial by combat,” said Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney, adding, “I’ll be darned if they’re going to take our free and fair vote.” “Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass!” shouted Alabama congressman Mo Brooks. “Our ancestors sacrificed their blood, their sweat, their tears, their fortunes, and sometimes their lives…Are you willing to do the same?”

    Trump strode to the podium for the finale. “We will never concede,” he said. “You don’t concede when there’s theft involved.” As he urged supporters to march on the Capitol and “stop the steal,” he slipped in a line about making their voices heard “peacefully and patriotically.” But the majority of his speech was steeped in the language of betrayal and belligerence. “You’ll never take back our country with weakness,” he told the increasingly agitated crowd. “You have to show strength.” And: “If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”

    […] the culmination of a campaign of terrorism. It was led by the president of the United States.

    The description of Trump as a terrorist leader is neither metaphor nor hyperbole—it is the assessment of veteran national security experts. Trump, those experts say, adopted a method known as stochastic terrorism, a process of incitement where the instigator provokes extremist violence under the guise of plausible deniability. Although the exact location, timing, and source of the violence may not be predictable, its occurrence is all but inevitable. When pressed about the incitement, the instigator typically responds with equivocal denials and muted denunciations of violence […]

    […] When the president’s enraged backers roamed the Capitol hallways, some were hunting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and vowing to “hang Mike Pence” for refusing to interfere with the election certification.

    “Stochastic” derives from the ancient Greek words stochastikos and stochazesthai, meaning “skillful in aiming” and “to target.” Among counterterrorism experts, the term historically was applied to the techniques used by ISIS and al-Qaeda as well as anti-abortion religious extremists, all of whom used inflammatory rhetoric to radicalize others to carry out horrific attacks. Trump did the previously unthinkable: He brought the method into the White House.

    […] After the election, Kori Schake, a former senior national security official in the George W. Bush administration, described Trump publicly as “an arsonist of radicalization.” In late 2020, two senior counterterrorism experts who had recently left the Trump administration—Olivia Troye, a former top aide to Pence, and Elizabeth Neumann, a former DHS assistant secretary—called out Trump’s incitement. In an op-ed three weeks before the election, Neumann wrote that Trump had “repeatedly been confronted” with evidence of his rhetoric causing violence, and that his “inconsistent and muddied” denouncements of violence and white supremacists only exacerbated the problem: “Extremists thrive on this mixed messaging, interpreting it as coded support.”

    […] The campaign of incitement escalated last spring when Trump urged supporters to “Liberate Michigan!” in response to pandemic restrictions ordered by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. He then sided with the armed protesters who swarmed the state Capitol: […]

    After his election loss, Trump’s incitement became ever more alarming. In early December, the Michigan secretary of state was accosted by a mob in front of her home while putting up Christmas lights with her young son. On December 14, state electors in Michigan and Arizona faced with “credible threats” were compelled to take extraordinary security measures as they convened to certify Biden’s victory. […]

    Extremist chatter exploded in the month before the assault on Congress. According to one media analysis, the phrase “Storm the Capitol” was mentioned 100,000 times on social media. The Proud Boys embedded Trump’s “wild!” tweet in flyers encouraging members to join the DC rally and hawked T-shirts with the slogan “Proud Boys standing by.” In late December, the Wall Street Journal reported, leaders of the group—some of whose members stormed the Capitol—vowed on social media to put “boots on the ground” and “turn out in record numbers” on January 6. Trump, one said, had just given them “the green light.”

    As his supporters marauded through the Capitol and lawmakers hid, Trump watched the chaos on TV from inside the White House. He was entertained and buoyed by it, according to multiple news reports. He called senators, pressuring them to block the certification. He tweeted that Pence had lacked “the courage to do what should have been done.” Then, Trump broadcast his solidarity with the insurrectionist mob, telling them in a video posted on Twitter, “We have to have law and order,” and to “go home in peace”—but mostly using the one-minute message to reiterate that his “landslide election” was stolen and denounce treatment of his supporters as “so bad and so evil.”

    “We love you. You’re very special,” Trump told the mob, looking directly into the camera. “I know how you feel.”

    Even as his presidency neared its end, security experts warned that Trump still needed to be vanquished as a terrorist leader. “He tells them where to go. He tells them what to do. He tells them why they’re angry,” […]

    […] “We need a dedicated group in the federal government that is focused on this,” says Selim, who headed a counter-extremism program in Obama’s DHS—a multiagency effort Trump moved to dismantle in 2017. The scale of the resources needed today, he says, may well be tenfold greater than during the Obama administration. Using law enforcement to track and disrupt extremists is essential, but it shouldn’t be the only response. “It can’t just be analysts who are observing and detecting chatter online,” Selim says. “There has to be comprehensive involvement of mental health, social services, and education providers. All of government needs to be brought to bear, along with local community partners. We all saw in the past four years how the violent melees and divisive discourse played out at town halls and in communities across the country. We need to reengage how we talk about and what the rules are for decorum and civic discourse, in a sustained effort over time.”

    […] “Bad ideologies don’t die, but they do get shamed and isolated,” says Kayyem […]

    The deplatforming of Trump by Twitter and other tech companies showed promise for pushing extremism back toward the fringes: After he went silent and accounts boosting QAnon were banned, misinformation about election fraud, researchers found, plummeted on social media by more than 70 percent. Reversing Trump’s mainstreaming of hateful politics helps create more off-ramps for fired-up partisans who might otherwise find conspiracy theories alluring.

    Successfully combating Trump-­fueled extremism could reach deep into state and local governments. As former FBI agent Michael German has documented, far-right extremism remains a problem of unknown extent but clear presence among American law enforcement. […]

    Reckoning with the domestic terrorism cultivated by Trump requires accountability for him and other leaders who abetted his incitement. But that is just the start. Everything from the monetization of far-right rage by Fox News and its upstart competitors to extremist groups recruiting and radicalizing people via social media must be confronted. “The biggest challenge,” observes Kayyem, “is going to be a cultural change with what was allowed to fester and how we root it out.”

  182. blf says

    In the general area where I live in France — and I think the following area figures include Marseille (which is probably relevant) — the ICU occupancy rate (as-of today) is now just over 90% (in France as a whole it is about 64%). Both R and the positivity rate (both from last week) are similarly out-of-whack, and it’s possible my village is worse than the surrounding area (not too sure of the reliability of the site providing the village figures). My village’s mayor has tested positive. Supposedly, the village’s vaccination centre is now up-and-running (at least two weeks late). There is still a 6pm–6am nationwide curfew, but President Macron has declined to impose a third lockdown (overriding the science advisors), albeit since the trends are heading in the wrong direction, the vaccination programme is off to a very poor start, and the UK variant is spreading, it’s difficult to see how long he can resist or why he is seemingly-abandoning science-led response.

  183. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Brazil coronavirus deaths rise above 225,000

    Brazil registered 24,591 new cases of Covid-19 on Monday and a further 595 fatalities attributable to the virus, the nation’s health ministry said. Brazil has registered a total of 9,229,322 Covid-19 cases and 225,099 deaths, the second highest death toll in the world after the US.

  184. says

    Democratic leadership laying down the gauntlet on Marjorie Taylor Greene: Steny Hoyer is expected to tell Kevin McCarthy he has 72 hours to strip Marjorie Taylor Greene of her committee assignments or Democrats will bring the issue to the House floor, a source familiar tells me.

    This move from Hoyer suggests that Democratic leadership want to give McCarthy time to act on Greene independently before truly pursuing a resolution on the House floor.”

  185. says

    More re #259:

    Twitter says account was suspended for violating its ban evasion policy. Mike Lindell had been banned from Twitter a few weeks ago. So it sounds like he tried to tweet through the company’s account.

    Therein concludes my reporting on the social media suspension of an account about pillows.

  186. says

    […] At least 19 state and local elected officeholders from across the country attended the Jan. 6 rally and, in some cases, stormed the Capitol. […]

    NY Times link

    In a video posted on Facebook, Couy Griffin, the founder of a group called Cowboys for Trump, bragged that he had a “first row seat” to the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and considered returning for another rally in which he imagined “blood running out of that building,” the F.B.I. said. Later, he told the F.B.I. that he hoped the next demonstration would be nonviolent but there was “no option that’s off the table for the sake of freedom.”

    He was arrested before he could hold another rally on Inauguration Day as he planned. But first, he returned to his post as an Otero County commissioner in southern New Mexico, where an effort to oust him has now gained new steam.

    Mr. Griffin “leapt right into sedition,” said Paul Sanchez, a Republican who is leading a committee that hopes to recall him. “His focus is not at all on Otero County.”

    Mr. Griffin, who has been charged with trespassing at the Capitol, was not unlike many others there that day: He had a deep allegiance to former President Donald J. Trump and a belief that the election was rigged. He is also among at least 19 elected officials from across the country now under heightened political scrutiny back home because they attended the president’s rally and, in some cases, stormed the Capitol building along with a mob that became violent in its effort to stop the vote that would make President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s election official.

    Their critics say government officials had a particular duty not to endorse Mr. Trump’s baseless claim that the election was stolen. […]

  187. says

    GOP prepared to punish corporations that curtailed PAC donations

    The message from these Republicans is not subtle: access and influence are for sale, and Corporate America should start writing checks accordingly.

    By April 2018, Mick Mulvaney was already a highly influential figure in the Trump administration, leading both the White House budget office and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. It was against this backdrop that Mulvaney, a former South Carolina congressman, spoke to a group of banking industry executives and offered them some guidance on the keys to lobbying success.

    “We had a hierarchy in my office in Congress,” Mulvaney said. “If you’re a lobbyist who never gave us money, I didn’t talk to you. If you’re a lobbyist who gave us money, I might talk to you.”

    As we discussed at the time, cynics who assume the worst of federal officials often suspect members of Congress sell access to lobbyists, but it was exceedingly rare to hear a prominent politician brag about such casual corruption in public. Mulvaney, ostensibly in a role to regulate financial industry excesses, advised bankers on how to buy politicians’ attention.

    All of this came to mind this morning after seeing this Wall Street Journal report on Capitol Hill’s reactions to corporate political action committees scaling back in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

    Aides to some Republicans lawmakers say they are considering punishing the companies that halted PAC donations by banning their lobbyists from coming to their offices to advocate on legislation.

    […] A little recent history is probably in order.

    Within a few days of the deadly insurrectionist attack on the Capitol, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Marriott International were among the prominent companies that said they would pause political contributions to congressional Republicans who voted to reject President Joe Biden’s victory. Many others soon followed.

    While some corporate giants said they were cutting off financial support to both parties, NBC News reported overnight that Dow Chemical, American Express, Airbnb, Mastercard, and Commerce Bank, among others, said they will not donate to lawmakers involved in the push to deny Biden the presidency. Comcast, the parent company of NBCUniversal, which owns MSNBC (my employer), also said that it would suspend contributions “to those elected officials who voted against certification of the electoral college votes.”

    The list of companies continued to grow, and as recently as last week, Google also reportedly ended campaign contributions to Republicans who voted against certifying Biden’s victory.

    Not surprisingly, GOP leaders took note. Stuart Stevens, a longtime Republican strategist, told the New Yorker last week that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), in particular, was “scared to death” of corporate America’s response to the attack. […]

    Instead of looking for ways to get back into corporate donors’ good graces, Republicans are making threats. If businesses want to be heard in these lawmakers’ offices, they better be prepared to pay for the privilege.

    […] corrupt practices like these are routine enough to be described in a matter-of-fact sort of way.

    Postscript: As the WSJ article makes clear, Democrats have plenty of concerns about the loss of PAC contributions, too, especially given the fact that they’re being cut off for no apparent reason. But while there’s nothing good about either party looking to Corporate America for financial support, there’s nothing in the reporting that suggests Democrats are exploring “banning their lobbyists from coming to their offices to advocate on legislation,” unless corporate PACs start writing more checks.

  188. says

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) blasted Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s (R-GA) embrace of “loony lies and conspiracy theories” as a “cancer for the Republican Party,” The Hill reports.

    Sid McConnell: “Somebody who’s suggested that perhaps no airplane hit the Pentagon on 9/11, that horrifying school shootings were pre-staged, and that the Clintons crashed JFK Jr.’s airplane is not living in reality.”

  189. John Morales says

    In Australia:

    Pullquote (for USAnians, think of Labor as Democrats. Liberals as Republicans)

    Dissident Liberal MP Craig Kelly — labelled a “menace” by Labor — has been told by the Prime Minister to heed expert medical advice, after the outspoken politician promoted unproven coronavirus treatments and questioned the safety of vaccinations.

    Mr Kelly has backed COVID-19 treatments against the advice of Australia’s medical authorities and previously shared claims that forcing children to wear masks was a form of child abuse.

    The final straw came yesterday when Mr Kelly appeared on a podcast where he was interviewed by anti-vaccination campaigner and former celebrity chef Pete Evans.

    The appearance provoked an angry response from the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, which accused Mr Kelly of enabling a conspiracy theorist and spreading misinformation.

  190. blf says

    A follow-up rant to @252, Today is market day in the village where I live. The mask discipline was terrible, with a high percentage not being worn properly or at all — including by obviously elderly / frail people. I just about “coffeed” (I didn’t have a milkshake in-hand) one group of about ten young ladies (all of typical University student age), NONE of whom had a mask at all nor were making any effort to socially distance. Multiple times at the various stalls in the open air market people would dart into the social distance space I was trying to leave between me and everyone around me.

    I didn’t see anyone else wearing two masks. (I don’t know if that helps, all I’ve seen / read are a few comments by Dr Fauci that it may help, perhaps especially with the easily-spreading variants now circulating).

    On the other hand, a bar that is open for take-away (and, in fact, where I got the above-mentioned coffee) has improved their interior arrangements, now with clearly-marked separated one-way lanes and social distancing markers. At another shop, there was a well-disciplined spontaneous socially-distanced queue. Sadly , however, it looks like the essentially the only newspaper / book shop in the village centre has closed (there is(? was?) another, but they don’t carry any English-language publications). I’ve been going to that shop since I moved to the village, and have even deliberately avoided taking out certain mailed subscriptions, so as to patronise the shop.

  191. says

    Here’s a link to the February 2 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    Death rates among people who end up in intensive care with Covid-19 have improved dramatically since the start of the pandemic thanks to advances in treatment, new research has found.

    The proportion of those worst affected by the disease who die from it has fallen from 60% when it first appeared early last year to 36% by October, the study of global trends shows. That drop continues a positive trend that saw the mortality of almost 60% seen at the end of March decrease to 42% at the end of May, it reports.

    The findings, based on 52 studies around the globe involving 43,128 patients, have been published in the medical journal Anaesthesia.

    However, the doctors who have undertaken the research caution that the huge progress seen in Covid mortality over the last year may have reached a plateau. The emergence of new variants of coronavirus that have left more people critically ill could increase death rates, they say. Equally, the vaccination programme unfolding across the world could reduce the number needing potentially life-saving treatment in intensive care.

  192. blf says

    Muslim Council of Britain elects its first female leader:

    The United Kingdom’s largest Muslim umbrella body has elected its first female secretary general.

    Zara Mohammed, 29, was on Sunday voted to lead the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) during the organisation’s annual general meeting […]

    She is also the youngest person to head the MCB, which was founded 24 years ago.

    Mohammed will hold the secretary general post for a two-year term.


    Mohammed, who holds a Master’s degree in human rights law, said it was an “honour” to be the first woman to take the reins at the MCB, whose member organisations include mosques, schools, charitable associations and professional networks.


  193. blf says

    SC@271, I made MUSHROOMS! with Spinach soup last night, and now finally understand the weird e-mail I found in my inbox this morning… more pepper and some garlic for the fungi and wine at the Jacuzzi (I presume that last bit refers to the food processor). Nothing about the microchips-with-herbs I added.

  194. says

    Slate – “AOC Recounts the Terror and Trauma of Being a Target of the Capitol Siege”:

    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez opened up Monday night about her harrowing experience running and hiding from rioters inside the Capitol on Jan. 6. In an Instagram Live chat watched live by roughly 150,000 viewers, the New York Democrat described hiding in the bathroom in her congressional office, fearing for her life as she heard people systematically working their way down the hall banging on doors and shouting: “Where is she? Where is she?” “This was the moment where I thought everything was over,” Ocasio-Cortez said in the emotional 90-minute video. “I thought I was going to die.” The people searching for the second term congresswoman turned out to be the Capitol police, not the pro-Trump mob that has targeted her online and in real life, but AOC’s ordeal was just beginning, as the police aggressively urged her to evacuate to a different building as the siege played out.

    Recounting the events and feelings of that day was emotional for AOC, who also revealed in the video she had been the victim of sexual assault in the past…. AOC, who has been derided by Republicans for opening up about the fear and trauma of the riot, accused other members, like Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri, of adopting the language of abusers in their responses. “These folks who tell us to move on, that it’s not a big deal, that we should forget what’s happened, or even telling us to apologize. These are the same tactics of abusers. And I’m a survivor of sexual assault,” she said. “I haven’t told many people that in my life. But when we go through trauma, trauma compounds on each other.”

    Republicans have sneered at the idea that anyone might have actually worried about their personal safety that day, despite five people dying in the violent incursion. The terror was very real for many members of Congress…

    In the lead-up to Jan. 6, AOC had received warnings from congressional colleagues urging her to be careful and make plans to stay safe…. Ocasio-Cortez said she felt increasingly unsafe in the days before the siege, as Trump supporters grew more combative with lawmakers everywhere, outraged by the fiction that the election had been stolen. After returning to her car following a vote on Jan. 4, AOC was greeted by Trump supporters waiting for her, and heckling. “It felt actively volatile and dangerous,” she said of the altercation.

    Days later, the aggression erupted into coordinated violence for all to see, and during the chaotic and confusing moments hiding in her office, AOC recounted not knowing if she would make it out alive. When the Capitol police officer finally entered her legislative office, an aide told the congresswoman to come out from hiding, but AOC said the situation still felt confusing and unstable. It was unclear who was who, but the congresswoman evacuated to another building that she didn’t name and found herself wandering the halls looking for a place to hide.

    AOC said she came across Democratic congresswoman Katie Porter of California and went to her office where Porter’s staff barricaded the door with furniture. Inside, AOC said she shut off the lights, closed the blinds, and looked for a change of clothes, something other than the dress and heels she was wearing, that would be more suitable to escape. She said the group spent five hours in the office, during which time they learned that bombs had been planted outside the Democratic and Republican headquarters.

    A couple of AOC’s tweets are embedded in the Slate report:

    My story isn’t the only story, nor is it the central story of what happened on Jan 6th.

    It is just one story of many of those whose lives were endangered at the Capitol by the lies, threats, and violence fanned by the cowardice of people who chose personal gain above democracy.

    Thanks for making the space for me, and hope we can all make space for others to tell their stories in the weeks to come.

    And to those who wish to paper over their misdeeds by rushing us to all “move on” – we can move on when the individuals responsible are held to account.

    Lawrence O’Donnell interviewed Katie Porter last night (I haven’t seen the whole thing yet), and she said during the siege she mentioned something about being a mother (like, “Don’t worry, I’m a mom, I can stay calm under pressure”), and AOC said something like “I hope I have a chance to become a mom.”

  195. says

    Ronan Farrow in the New Yorker – “A Pennsylvania Mother’s Path to Insurrection”:

    Before the pandemic, Rachel Powell, a forty-year-old mother of eight from western Pennsylvania, sold cheese and yogurt at local farmers’ markets and used Facebook mostly to discuss yoga, organic food, and her children’s baseball games. But, last year, Powell began to post more frequently, embracing more extreme political views. Her interests grew to include conspiracy theories about COVID-19 and the results of the Presidential election, filtered through such figures as Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, and the Infowars founder Alex Jones. On May 3, 2020, Powell wrote on Facebook, “One good thing about this whole CV crisis is that I suddenly feel very patriotic.” Expressing outrage at the restrictions that accompanied the pandemic, she wrote, “It isn’t to late to wake up, say no, and restore freedoms.” Several days later, she posted a distraught seven-minute video, shot outside a local gym that had been closed. “Police need to see there’s people that are citizens that are not afraid of you guys showing up in your masks. We’re going to be here banded together, and we’re not afraid of you,” she said. “Maybe they should be a little bit afraid.”

    On January 6th, during the storming of the United States Capitol, Powell made good on that threat. Videos show her, wearing a pink hat and sunglasses, using a battering ram to smash a window and a bullhorn to issue orders. “People should probably coördinate together if you’re going to take this building,” she called out, leaning through a shattered window and addressing a group of rioters already inside. “We got another window to break to make in-and-out easy.”

    In recent weeks, as journalists and law-enforcement officials tried to identify participants in the assault, she came to be known as “Bullhorn Lady” and “Pink Hat Lady.” She appeared on an F.B.I. “Wanted” poster, was featured in cable-television news segments, and became an obsessive focus of crowdsourced investigative efforts by laypeople and experts. Forrest Rogers, a German-American business consultant who is part of a Twitter group called the Deep State Dogs, recently identified Powell and reported her name to the F.B.I. She is now being sought by law enforcement.

    In her first public comments since the riot, Powell acknowledged her role in the events at the Capitol. During a two-hour telephone interview, she claimed that her conduct had been spontaneous, contrary to widespread speculation that she had acted in coördination with an organized group. “I was not part of a plot—organized, whatever,” Powell, who was speaking from an undisclosed location, told me. “I have no military background. . . . I’m a mom with eight kids. That’s it. I work. And I garden. And raise chickens. And sell cheese at a farmers’ market.” During the interview, she reviewed photographs and videos of the Bullhorn Lady, acknowledging that many of the images showed her, and offered detailed descriptions of the skirmishes they depicted. She declined to comment on some of her conduct—including smashing windows and shouting orders to fellow-rioters—that could carry criminal charges. “Listen, if somebody doesn’t help and direct people, then do more people die?” she said. “That’s all I’m going to say about that. I can’t say anymore. I need to talk to an attorney.”…

    Much, much more atl. She’s right that she needs a lawyer.

  196. says

    More re Lynna’s #267 – USA Today – “Mitch McConnell condemns Marjorie Taylor Greene’s ‘loony lies,’ defends Liz Cheney”:

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday went to bat for GOP Conference Chair Rep. Liz Cheney while condemning remarks from freshman Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.

    McConnell issued a statement condemning the extremist views of Greene, whose support for QAnon and other conspiracy theories has drawn scorn from Democrats and some Republicans.

    McConnell said the Georgia congresswoman’s embrace of conspiracy theories and “loony lies” is a “cancer for the Republican Party.”

    “Somebody who’s suggested that perhaps no airplane hit the Pentagon on 9/11, that horrifying school shootings were pre-staged, and that the Clintons crashed JFK Jr.’s airplane is not living in reality,” McConnell said. “This has nothing to do with the challenges facing American families or the robust debates on substance that can strengthen our party.”

    McConnell also stuck by Cheney on Monday, amid calls for her to be stripped of her leadership role in Congress because she voted for former President Donald Trump’s impeachment.

    “Liz Cheney is a leader with deep convictions and the courage to act on them,” McConnell said in a statement to CNN. “She is an important leader in our party and in our nation. I am grateful for her service and look forward to continuing to work with her on the crucial issues facing our nation.”…

  197. says

    Atlanta Journal-Constitution – “Ga. bills would end no-excuse absentee voting, automatic registration”:

    Republican state senators introduced a package of bills Monday to ban automatic voter registration, ballot drop boxes and no-excuse absentee voting in Georgia.

    The proposals amount to an overhaul of Georgia’s election laws after record turnout resulted in wins for Democrats, including Joe Biden’s run for president and the bids by Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock for the U.S. Senate.

    One measure would prevent voters from being automatically registered to vote when they get their driver’s licenses. Another would ban drop boxes, requiring absentee ballots to be returned through the mail or at county election offices.

    In addition, a proposal would roll back a state law allowing registered voters to cast an absentee ballot for any reason. Absentee voting would be limited to those over 75 years old, voters with disabilities or anyone required to be absent from his or her precinct.

    “We’ve got to restore confidence in the ballot box. When people lose confidence in the ballot box they ultimately lose confidence in their government,” said Senate President Pro Tem Butch Miller, a Republican from Gainesville and co-sponsor of the bills. “Our goal is to be sure every vote is accounted for, accurate and legal.”

    Democrats said the bills mark a concerted effort to reduce voting access after Donald Trump lost his presidential reelection bid and his supporters made unsubstantiated allegations of fraud.

    The legislation filed Monday is sponsored by several leaders of the state Senate’s Republican majority. The bills will likely be considered for the first time in the coming days by subcommittees of the Senate Ethics Committee.

  198. says

    Maddow’s opening segment last night – “Democrats Nurse Fresh Memories Of Bad Faith Republican ‘Bipartisanship'”:

    Rachel Maddow revisits three instances during the Obama administration when Democrats compromised the quality of a major pieces of legislation in order to prioritize bipartisanship, and Republicans took advantage, lessons the Biden administration is keeping front-of-mind as it looks to clean up after the Trump administration.

    6-minute video atl.

  199. blf says

    Fortunately, I had heard of this lunatic in many yonks, but it seems he’s still around, still spewing and bellowing, Gordon Klingenschmitt Says The Devil’s Will Is Ruling the White House:

    […] Gordon Klingenschmitt declared that President Joe Biden is possessed by a demonic spirit and that the devil’s will is now running the White House.

    I do believe God wanted Donald Trump to be reelected, Klingenschmitt said. I think it was God’s will, and yet sometimes in this fallen world, the devil wins, and God’s perfect will is not always done on Earth. I think it’s an abomination now that someone with a demonic spirit of, for example, transgenderism — Joe Biden is now promoting boys going into girls’ locker rooms in public school. He is promoting abortion on demand with taxpayer funding to kill innocent children. He is going to harm Israel in their unique calling in the world.

    That is the devil’s will who is ruling in the White House right now when, I believe, President Trump was for God on those issues, Klingenschmitt proclaimed.

    He forget Osama bin “Karen”‘s Jewish space laser !

  200. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 283

    I think it was God’s will, and yet sometimes in this fallen world, the devil wins, and God’s perfect will is not always done on Earth.

    So much for omnipotence.

  201. johnson catman says

    re blf @283: With Gordy Klingyshit, it’s demons all the way down. And he is apparently admitting openly that his god is not all-powerful.
    Ed Brayton at Dispatches from the Culture Wars was the first place I believe I saw any reference to Gordy. I must say that I miss Ed and his insightful writing and wit.

  202. blf says

    The Onion, Insurrectionist Truther Doesn’t Believe He Was At Capitol:

    Dismissing the accusations as nothing more than the baseless attempts of a deep-state conspiracy to attack former President Trump’s supporters, insurrectionist truther Thomas Keleher declared Monday that he doesn’t believe he was present at the Capitol riot. “Look, anybody could’ve taken selfies of me storming the Capitol and posted them to my Facebook page to make it look like I was there — it’s fake news,” said Keleher, telling law enforcement who arrested him that the 73-minute video on his phone depicting him punching out a Capitol window and later rifling through papers on Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s desk was clearly a deep-fake and nothing he ever would have actually done. […] “I guarantee you that the recollections I do have of storming the Capitol are because Bill Gates used one of his 5G satellites to pump fake memories into my brain.” Keleher also reportedly told investigators that if he had been at the Capitol, he would have assuredly been there as part of some false-flag operation, in which case there was no question in his mind that he was secretly an FBI operative.

    5G satellites ? Those nanotech microchipped vaccines are amazing… !

  203. blf says

    @287, “Ed Brayton at Dispatches from the Culture Wars was the first place I believe I saw any reference to Gordy. I must say that I miss Ed and his insightful writing and wit.”

    Yes, same here on all points.

  204. says

    Axios – “Bonus episode: Inside the craziest meeting of the Trump presidency”:

    …Byrne kept attacking the senior White House staff in front of Trump. “They’ve already abandoned you,” he told the president aggressively. Periodically during the meeting Flynn or Byrne challenged Trump’s top staff — portraying them as disloyal: So do you think the president won or not?

    At one point, with Flynn shouting, Byrne raised his hand to talk. He stood up and turned around to face Herschmann. “You’re a quitter,” he said. “You’ve been interfering with everything. You’ve been cutting us off.”

    “Do you even know who the fuck I am, you idiot?” Herschmann snapped back.

    “Yeah, you’re Patrick Cipollone,” Byrne said.

    “Wrong! Wrong, you idiot!”…

    Seems pretty clear who the sources for this one were.

  205. blf says

    In Ireland, On the beat: Gardaí show off dance moves after Swiss challenge (Irish Times edits in {curly braces}):

    Garda video shows members of force dancing to Jerusalema around Ireland in response to Swiss police callout

    Members of An Garda Síochána [Irish police] have played their part in helping the community during the Covid-19 pandemic, but their attempts to bring joy to Irish people saw them take a different beat this week.

    In a video shared on the offical Garda social media pages on Tuesday, members of the force are seen wearing their uniforms and dancing their hearts out in various locations around Ireland.

    From the tops of buildings to the backs of horses, gardaí are seen dancing to the viral African hit Jerusalema, composed by musician Master KG and sung by African gospel vocalist Nomcebo Zikode.

    The video, which was shared widely on social media, was in response to a challenge issued by Swiss police, who took part in the social media trend in early January.


    Encouraging their Irish counterparts to take part, the Swiss Federal Police’s official Twitter account said they were “looking forward to the performance” by gardaí.

    But they raised the stakes further, adding that the Swiss “can hardly be topped in terms of precision, discipline an {sic} perfectionism”.

    Once the Department of Justice caught wind of the international head-to-head, it came out swinging in support of the Irish police, with its offical Twitter page telling gardaí they had “got this” and called on them to “make Ireland proud”.

    As a nation famous for our traditional dancing, who could blame the gardaí for finding the challenge too tempting to refuse?


    The finished product was shared on Monday, with members of the force seen imitating the routine while wearing the masks. Adding their own twist, it featured two members of the Garda mounted unit — the horseback division — and an Irish dancer.


    Video at the link.

  206. says

    Glenn Greenwald using baby voice to mock @AOC for talking about the danger to her life on January 6 and for rejecting an alliance with Ted Cruz. ‘She ruined that movement. Because all she wants to do is attack Republicans and fortify the Democratic Party’.

    I hope at least now @democracynow will draw a line and stop inviting this reactionary asshole to defame dissidents in Syria, Russia, Venezuela, etc.”

  207. says

    (I didn’t notice the reference to Venezuela in #295 when I posted it, and don’t support it. I don’t know what Greenwald has said about Venezuela, but imagine it’s along the lines of his reflexive posturing with respect to any US adversaries. That said, I’m certainly not reflexively supporting the rightwing Venezuelan opposition. In any case, DN! should find more knowledgeable people on specific issues who aren’t useful idiots or hateful assholes allied with white supremacists.)

  208. tomh says

    Trump’s Impeachment Defense Raises Flags for Legal Experts
    February 1, 2021 SAMANTHA HAWKINS

    WASHINGTON (CN) — Securing new counsel with only a week to go before his second impeachment trial gets underway, former President Donald Trump’s focus on relitigating the 2020 election has drawn alarm from legal experts.

    “I wouldn’t make that argument,” said Jared Carter, an assistant professor of law at Vermont Law School, referring to reports that Trump pulled in new attorneys Sunday night because his last team refused to hinge the case on so-called theft of the 2020 election. “It’s a bad legal strategy,”

    Trump’s original five attorneys from South Carolina were said to be focused on the definition of “incitement” and the legality of impeaching a president who is no longer in office.

    Legal experts are saying that Trump’s strategy will only stoke already high tensions and perhaps incite additional violence by pro-Trump extremists…

    Carter said the move is also unlikely to curry much favor in a Senate that is likely sick of hearing fringe theories about election fraud….

    “I’m sure that there are a lot of Republican senators who when they heard about his strategy felt sick to their stomachs,” said Lawrence Douglas, a law professor at Amherst College. “I don’t think they want to see their vote as a referendum on the claim that the election is rigged. It’s almost as if Trump has created this test of loyalty. He doesn’t want them to have the out of just saying that impeachment of a former president is unconstitutional.”

    At the University of Missouri, however, law professor Frank Bowman said he suspects the maneuvering won’t change the outcome of many votes.

    “It will cause some squirming discomfort on behalf of the Republican senators with any remaining pretense of standards,” Bowman said. “But it’s not likely to change the outcome of the impeachment vote.”

    Looking at the broader picture, Bowman predicts that the strategy will only further radicalize the Republican base.

    “Trump is standing up and insisting that being a Republican means you have to back The Big Lie and no other position is acceptable. If he persists in this position, he is continuing to support a call for insurrection.”

    Other legal experts agree that Trump’s strategy will only inflame his base and may cause violence…“Assuming that his most ardent supporters follow his lead, how can we not expect additional violence?” Carter said. “It plays right into the narrative and reality of what happened Jan. 6.”

    “He has a special connection he has with his base. This connection is predicated on shared grievance and the system is rigged,” Douglas said. “If he keeps that narrative intact, he keeps alive that connection with his base.”

    Trump’s two new attorneys are Atlanta-based criminal defense attorney David Schoen and Bruce L. Castor Jr…

    “I’m surprised he could find any attorneys at this point,” Bowman said. “He’s really scraping the bottom of the barrel, that’s pretty obvious.”

    Schoen spoke to the Atlanta Jewish Times in September about his track record. “I represented all sorts of reputed mobster figures: alleged head of Russian mafia in this country, Israeli mafia and two Italian bosses, as well a guy the government claimed was the biggest mafioso in the world,” Schoen said.

  209. says

    Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY), who announced indoor dining would resume soon, says the call for restaurant workers to have higher vaccine priority is ‘a cheap, insincere discussion’….”

    Video atl. Reminiscent of how he talked about homeless people on the subway last year.

    Also, don’t fucking resume indoor dining.

  210. says

    Livetweeting from the Navalny hearing:

    …Line of cars with diplomatic plates at the courthouse. Foreign Ministry spox Zakharova says the presence of diplomats observing today’s hearing amounts to “interference in the domestic affairs of a sovereign state.”

    Hearing starts back up; Navalny delivers an emotional speech, jabbing his finger against the glass: “With a maniac’s tenacity, our government wants to lock me up … The reason for all this is the hate and fear of one man who lives in a bunker.”

    Navalny to judge: “It was Putin who, using the Federal Security Service, attempted to kill me … People now know this, and many more will know it, and this drives the corrupt little man in his bunker crazy.”

    Navalny in court: “No matter how much [Putin] portrays himself a great geopolitician…his main resentment against me now is that he will go down in history as a poisoner. There was Alexander the Liberator and Yaroslav the Wise. Now we’ll have Vladimir the Poisoner of Underpants.”

    At this point, prosecutor tries to interrupt Navalny’s speech, but he continues. “The main thing about this trial is not even how it will end, will I go to jail…The main reason this is happening is to scare a huge number of people. One person is jailed to scare millions.”

    Navalny: “Millions and hundreds of thousands cannot be locked up. I really hope that more and more people will recognize this. And when they recognize this — and that moment will come — all this will fall apart, because you cannot lock up the whole country.”

    The Navalny attacks the prosecutor and the judge, for donning a uniform and robe and being part of the system. “This isn’t a political rally,” the judge interrupts. “Let’s not do politics here.”

    Navalny finishes by thanking those who “fight and are not afraid.” “They have the same rights as you do. We are also citizens, and we demand a normal justice system, to be dealt with normally, to be able to participate in elections.”

    Navalny, ending: “There are many good things in Russia, and the best thing is those people who are not afraid, who don’t look down at the table and who will never give our country away to a small bunch of sold-out officials.”

    Judge rules Navalny did violate his parole, converting his suspended prison term to a real prison term

    Judge sentences Navalny to prison for about 2.5 years (subtracting about 10 months of house arrest from original 3.5 year prison term)

    Navalny’s team calls for protests in front of the Kremlin “right now”

    This is happening right now.

  211. says

    Navalny’s statement translated into English – Meduza – “‘Vladimir the Poisoner’ A translation of Alexey Navalny’s speech in court on February 2”:

    …There’s no popularity ratings. No massive support. There’s none of that. Because it turns out that dealing with a political opponent who has no access to television and no political party merely requires trying to kill him with a chemical weapon. So, of course, he’s losing his mind over this. Because everyone was convinced that he’s just a bureaucrat who was accidentally appointed to his position. He’s never participated in any debates or campaigned in an election. Murder is the only way he knows how to fight….

  212. says

    SC @276, so that’s bullhorn lady. Being a mom and selling cheese at the market is not going to absolve her. The weird thing is that she still doesn’t seem to realize that she is guilty.

  213. says

    SC @301, Navalny’s statement, “Murder is the only way he knows how to fight,” is great. He’s calling Putin out. By trying to poison Navalny, Putin acted like a coward.

  214. says

    Lynna @ #302:

    Being a mom and selling cheese at the market is not going to absolve her. The weird thing is that she still doesn’t seem to realize that she is guilty.

    It’s amazing. Seemed to partially dawn on her while she was doing an interview with Ronan Farrow, and then only momentarily.

  215. says

    New Democratic Ad Campaign Ties G.O.P. to QAnon

    NY Times link

    The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has started a $500,000 effort on television and online portraying House Republicans as aligned with Marjorie Taylor Greene and QAnon conspiracy theories.

    Video is available at the link.

    As Republicans splinter over how to deal with Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, the QAnon devotee from Georgia who peddles an array of false conspiracy theories, Democrats are seizing on the infighting to make her the avatar for an array of G.O.P. lawmakers.

    The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on Tuesday began a $500,000 advertising campaign on television and online tying eight House Republicans, including Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority leader, to Ms. Greene and QAnon, an effort to force them to make a public affirmation about Ms. Greene.

    “Congressman Don Bacon,” an ominous-sounding voice intones in the ad targeting the Nebraska Republican, “he stood with Q, not you.”

    […] In releasing the QAnon-focused ads this week, Democrats are striking at a raw nerve in the Republican Party. Ms. Greene’s radical pronouncements — she indicated support for executing Democratic politicians several years ago — have alarmed even Republicans as well as Democrats. On Monday, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, said the “loony lies and conspiracy theories” embraced by Ms. Greene amounted to a “cancer” on the party.

    […] “QAnon, a conspiracy theory born online, took over the Republican Party,” the ad’s narrator says, while images of Ms. Greene and Ms. Boebert flash on the screen. “Sent followers to Congress and, with Donald Trump, incited a mob that attacked the Capitol and murdered a cop.”

    […] Democrats in Washington have adopted Ms. Greene as the symbol of the post-Trump Republican Party, aiming to elevate her profile as part of an effort to divide the G.O.P. while seeking to force Republicans to vote on whether to allow her to remain on House committees. On Saturday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s press office issued a news release under the headline “Minority Leader McCarthy (̶G̶O̶P̶)̶ (QAnon) Embraces Marjorie Taylor Greene.” […]

  216. says


    Missouri’s Hawley rewarded by donors after anti-election efforts

    As Hawley’s anti-election efforts are rewarded by donors, the system of incentives in Republican politics has become even more twisted.

    January was quite a month for Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), starting with the senator’s anti-election efforts that turned him into a political “pariah” on Capitol Hill.

    […] Hawley has been denounced by former allies; businesses don’t want anything to do with him; several independent outlets have called on the Missouri Republican to resign in disgrace; and seven of his Senate colleagues recently filed an ethics complaint against him.

    Hawley, however, acts like a politician who doesn’t have any regrets — and this new Axios report helps explain why.

    January was Sen. Josh Hawley’s best fundraising month—by far—since his 2018 election, with a flood of small-dollar donations more than eclipsing the corporate cash he lost after leading an effort to block certification of President Biden’s Electoral College win…. Corporate PACs cut ties with the Missouri Republican after the Capitol insurrection that followed the Hawley-led gambit. But his grassroots fundraising bonanza in the weeks after shows the GOP base still firmly in Hawley’s camp.

    So, on the one hand, there are companies like Hallmark, which recently requested that Hawley give back the money Hallmark’s political action committee gave him, saying the senator’s recent actions “do not reflect our company’s values.”

    But on the other hand, the Missouri Republican almost certainly finds it easy to brush this off, thanks to “roughly 12,000 new donors” who were only too pleased to reward Hawley for his role in trying to undermine our democracy.

    This matters, of course, because of the system of incentives it creates, not just for Hawley, but for others in his party. On the surface, the Missourian appears to have suffered a brutal setback: Hawley has lost his colleagues’ respect and his professional reputation lies in tatters.

    Just below the surface, meanwhile, the GOP senator is right where he wants to be: raking in money from far-right donors, positioning himself as an heir to Trump’s most rabid followers, and appearing regularly in conservative media as a far-right darling. […]

    The related message to every other Republican is obvious: you, too, can get a fundraising and media boost, while shredding your credibility and reputation. All you have to do is follow Josh Hawley’s lead.

  217. blf says

    Follow-to SC@304, from the Grauniad’s (please support the Grauniad if you can!) current insurrection the sequel live blog (quoted in full):

    Donald Trump’s legal defense team argued the former president [sic] acted admirably in his response to the violent insurrection at the US Capitol, which he incited.

    It is denied he betrayed his trust as President [sic] to the manifest injury of the people of the United States. Rather, the 45th President [sic] performed admirably in his role, at all times doing what he thought was in the best interests of the American people, the brief says.

    The former president [sic] not only incited the violence, but he later commended the rioters, saying in a January 6 video that they were very special. We love you, Trump told the insurrectionists.

  218. tomh says

    From Trump’s defense brief:

    “The 45th President exercised his First Amendment right under the Constitution to express his belief that the election results were suspect,” the brief states.

    “Insufficient evidence exists upon which a reasonable jurist could conclude that the 45th President’s statements were accurate or not, and he therefore denies they were false,” his lawyers added.

    I guess all those judges that tossed his claims were unreasonable jurists.

  219. says

    From the Washington Post link referenced by SC in comment 307:

    Conservative political activist Virginia Thomas told her husband Justice Clarence Thomas’s former law clerks that she was sorry for a rift that developed among them after her election advocacy of […] Trump and endorsement of the Jan. 6 rally in D.C. that resulted in violence and death at the Capitol.

    “I owe you all an apology. I have likely imposed on you my lifetime passions,” Thomas, who goes by Ginni, recently wrote to a private Thomas Clerk World email list of her husband’s staff over his three decades on the bench.

    “My passions and beliefs are likely shared with the bulk of you, but certainly not all. And sometimes the smallest matters can divide loved ones for too long. Let’s pledge to not let politics divide THIS family, and learn to speak more gently and knowingly across the divide.”

    A sampling of posts made to the group were shared with The Washington Post by a member upset with some of the pro-Trump messages written by Ginni Thomas and others in the lead-up and aftermath of the election. Thomas did not respond to requests for comment. Several former clerks, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the listserv is private, verified the dispute in what is normally an affable setting meant to celebrate achievements of the clerk “family.”

    Besides the friction there, Thomas has drawn outrage among liberals for public political commentary on her “Ginni Thomas” Facebook page. Her comments there celebrated Trump’s supporters who assembled in D.C. on Jan. 6, hundreds of whom stormed the Capitol, resulting in the deaths of five people.

    In the early morning post, Thomas encouraged her Facebook followers to watch the day’s events unfold on conservative news media, writing, “LOVE MAGA people!!!!”

    […] Thomas later appended an apparent disclaimer that said, “[Note: written before violence in US Capitol],”

    […]Additionally, there have been unfounded charges on social media that Ginni Thomas played a role in helping to pay for bus transportation for some of those attending the rally. Reporters at The Washington Post, the New York Times and elsewhere, including Stern, found those claims were false.

    […] Thomas has made clear her opposition to the Affordable Care Act and other initiatives of the Obama administration. This summer, she tried to get the small Virginia town of Clifton to take down a Black Lives Matter banner. “Let’s not be tricked into joining cause with radical extremists seeking to foment a cultural revolution because they hate America,” she wrote to town leaders.

    She has been a delegate to the Republican National Convention. And after first endorsing Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) for president, she became an ardent Trump supporter, meeting with the president at the White House to advise on political appointees. […]

    on the clerk email list, she appears crestfallen by Trump’s defeat.

    “Many of us are hurting, after leaving it all on the field, to preserve the best of this country,” she wrote. “I feel I have failed my parents who did their best and taught me to work to preserve liberties.”

    The Thomas Clerk World email group, usually filled with congratulatory notes about job changes and promotions and baby announcements, has a blue-ribbon membership.

    Former Thomas clerks played significant roles in the Trump administration and were heavily represented in Trump’s choices for the federal judiciary — more than any other justice’s former acolytes. […]

    The internal discord concerned pro-Trump postings and former Thomas clerk John Eastman, who spoke at the rally and represented Trump in some of his failed lawsuits filed to overturn the election results.

    After one law professor posted an article from Christianity Today about how rioters usurped religious symbols in the storming of the Capitol, former clerk Wendy Stone Long called it “offensive drivel” and wondered why it was shared.
    “Many of my friends and I had been praying our knees off that January 6 would see light and truth being shed on what we believe in our hearts was likely a stolen election,” and that eventually “President Trump would be determined to be the legitimate winner,” wrote Long, a two-time U.S. Senate candidate from New York.

    “Many of us marched peacefully and yes, many also prayed and shared another important message, ‘Jesus saves,’ ” she added.

    […] That brought an angry response from Stephen F. Smith, a law professor at Notre Dame.
    “If by ‘truth’ you mean what actually happened, as opposed to a false narrative, then I agree,” Smith wrote. “I hope (and trust) that you — and everyone on this list — agree that the search for truth doesn’t in any way justify insurrection, trying to kidnap and assassinate elected officials, attacking police officers, or making common cause with racists and anti-Semites bent on wanton violence and lawlessness.”

    […] Thomas seemed to be seeking a peacemaking role in her Jan. 18 message to clerks.
    “I would ask those of you on the contrary side to have grace and mercy on those on my side of the polarized world, and feel free to call and talk to me individually about where I failed you as a friend here. I probably need more tutoring,” she wrote.

    “Otherwise, on behalf of both of us, be assured of our love for each of you.”

  220. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 292.

    Nicole Lafond:

    In the waning weeks and days of Trump’s presidency, we knew from his public statements and retweets of widely debunked conspiracy theories that he had little left to work with in his push to overturn the election.

    But in private, he was grasping at straws far thinner than we previously knew. During a newly reported meeting that took place just days after the Electoral College met in each state to certify Biden’s win, Trump heard out a litany of conspiracy theories and unsubstantiated rumors about foreign interference with U.S. voting machines. The claims being spouted by the meeting attendees — Michael Flynn, Sidney Powell, former Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne and an ex-Trump administration official, Emily Newman — were so outlandish they reportedly even gave Rudy Giuliani pause.

    The details of the meeting — published Tuesday by Axios — reveal a wildly unhinged and desperate attempt by the president of the United States to hold onto his power. The report also paints a picture of volcanic tension between Trump’s White House staffers and advisers and individuals like Powell, who regularly came in from the outside to offer flimsy arguments to support claims of fraud and to stoke Trump’s most dangerous impulses. As Axios reported, Trump was willing to listen to the debunked allegations of fraud because they were better than nothing.

    “You guys are offering me nothing. These guys are at least offering me a chance. They’re saying they have the evidence. Why not try this?” Trump reportedly said.

    One particularly colorful moment from the meeting, via Axios:

    Flynn went berserk. The former three-star general, whom Trump had fired as his first national security after he was caught lying to the FBI (and later pardoned), stood up and turned from the Resolute Desk to face (White House senior adviser Eric) Herschmann.

    “You’re quitting! You’re a quitter! You’re not fighting!” he exploded at the senior adviser. Flynn then turned to the president, and implored: “Sir, we need fighters.”

    Herschmann ignored Flynn at first and continued to probe Powell’s pitch with questions about the underlying evidence. “All you do is promise, but never deliver,” he said to her sharply.

    Flynn was ranting, seemingly infuriated about anyone challenging Powell, who had represented him in his recent legal battles.

    Finally Herschmann had enough. “Why the fuck do you keep standing up and screaming at me?” he shot back at Flynn. “If you want to come over here, come over here. If not, sit your ass down.” Flynn sat back down.

    While he’s currently bunkered in Florida and seemingly left the White House by his own volition, the 11th hour desperation reveals something we’ve assumed for some time: there’s no chance Trump’s going away entirely quietly.


  221. says

    Graham Finally Creeps Out From Behind Trump’s Shadow To Back Cheney

    Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) threw his support behind Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) on Tuesday after the House conference chair weathered a barrage of attacks from Trump loyalists in the House who are calling on her to step down as conference chair after she voted to impeach the nation’s 45th president last month.

    Graham said that the No. 3 House Republican is “one of the strongest and most reliable conservative voices in the Republican Party,” after remaining quiet about Cheney while she was dumped on in recent weeks by allies of Trump.

    “In the eyes of many – Liz Cheney’s experience, leadership, and strength are invaluable to the Republican Party,” Graham wrote on Twitter.

    The criticism from a majority of House Republicans has come after she urged colleagues to make a “vote of conscience” and impeach former President Donald Trump during the House’s proceedings on Jan. 13.[…]

    Graham’s renewed support of his colleague in the lower chamber comes after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) issued a statement late Monday reinforcing his support for Cheney after she became one of 10 House Republicans who voted in favor of Trump’s impeachment.

    […] Graham’s support for Cheney could signal the beginnings of a slow shift away from the looming shadow of Trump, who has been furious over Cheney’s impeachment vote and has reportedly been working behind the scenes to see her removed from her post and booted from office.

  222. says

    President Biden is keeping the promise he made to Puerto Rico.

    This New York Times headline, “Biden to Free Up Billions in Delayed Puerto Rico Storm Aid,” is a cause for celebration for Puerto Ricans on the island and here on the mainland, as well as their supporters. Since his inauguration just a few short weeks ago, President Joe Biden has been very busy cleaning up the massive messes left by the previous occupant of the Oval Office.

    One of the biggest piles of orange mierda left behind—and often overlooked in daily mainland media coverage—has been the ongoing and worsening situation for residents of Puerto Rico, who still have not recovered from the impact of Hurricane Maria over three years ago. The hurricane was followed by disastrous earthquakes and governmental upheavals. This was all worsened by the callous disregard and contempt for the island exhibited by a punitive POTUS whose paper towel-throwing episode became a meme as well as a stark exhibition of xenophobic abuse. Recovery funds allocated and approved for Puerto Rico by Congress were withheld under this ass-ministration.

    Candidate Biden made promises to Puerto Rico while he was on the campaign trail, and he had a clearly drawn plan for the island. One key promise was to get the sorely needed rebuilding and recovery funds to the island. Now, as President Biden, he is delivering on that promise. […]

  223. says

    Republican threat over calling witnesses reveals fundamental misunderstanding of Trump’s impeachment

    Lindsey Graham, who is, just as evidence that we have not yet exited the worst timeline, still the chair of Senate judiciary committee, went on Fox News Monday evening to deliver a threat. Should House impeachment managers attempt to call a single witness during Trump’s trial before the Senate, Republican senators are going to want witnesses of their own. Which could make this trial last just ages.

    […] If Democrats call even a single witness, it will “open up Pandora’s Box,” according to Graham. Because Republicans will “want the FBI to come in and tell us about how people actually pre-planned this attack.” It’s a threat that’s not only not a threat, it’s one that shows that Graham hasn’t actually read the impeachment documents.

    The reason that Graham, and other Republicans, are putting forward “calling in the FBI” as a threat is because of a very simple theme they’ve been repeating since before Trump was actually impeached, again, in the House. If the impeachment is all about Trump inciting the mob that marched on the Capitol, murdered a police officer, and ultimately caused more American deaths than Benghazi while erecting a gallows on the lawn; then the fact that many of those insurgents came prepared for sedition means it’s not Trump’s fault.

    Not only is that argument completely foolish on its face, it ignores what’s actually in the impeachment. The supporting materials submitted to the Senate make it explicitly clear that there is more to Trump’s impeachment than a single morning or a single speech.

    In the months leading up to January 6, 2021 President Trump engaged in a course of conduct designed to encourage and provoke his supporters to gather in Washington, D.C. and obstruct the process of the electoral votes that would confirm his defeat. That conduct spanned months and included frivolous and harassing lawsuits, direct threats to state and local officials, and false public statements to his supporters, all in an effort to incite his supporters into believing it was their patriotic duty to attack Congress and prevent the peaceful transition of power.

    The incitement over which Trump was impeached took place not just on the morning of Jan. 6, but in the preceding months. […]

    As the impeachment makes clear, Trump acted to “undermine confidence in the results of the election, spread dangerous disinformation, and stoke false and wild conspiracy theories.” […] Trump specifically and repeatedly pointed out Mike Pence and members of Congress as targets for the hatred of the supporters he had inflamed with a stream of continuous lies.

    So why does Graham think calling the FBI to speak to how the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, and others came prepared to storm the Capitol and seek congressional hostages is somehow a threat to the Democratic case? That’s because from the very beginning Republicans—and especially Republicans appearing on Fox and other right-wing media—have been repeating a claim that the impeachment is all about Trump inciting the march on the Capitol in his speech at the “Stop the Steal” rally that morning. According to the framing they’ve been selling Fox viewers, if Trump didn’t expressly tell people to invade the Capitol that morning, he wasn’t really responsible. […]

    Trump supporters began planning violence against election supervisors in both Nevada and in Pennsylvania within hours of Trump standing up in the early hours of Nov. 4 to falsely claim victory. Trump encouraged that violence in every statement, every rally, every tweet between the election and Jan. 6. Trump didn’t even disown the invaders while they were inside the Capitol, stepping out to say “we love you” and calling them “very special.”

    If Lindsey Graham thinks that calling the FBI is some kind of threat … call them. Call in the agents that have been imbedded with the Proud Boys and Ohio Militia. Call in the agents that have been warning of the increased threat of white supremacist violence, only to have their warnings swatted down. Call them all. […]

    It should be more than enough to convict Trump and remove the possibility that he will ever again hold public office. […] Let us have the witnesses.

  224. says

    I called or checked the online websites of more than a dozen vaccination sites in my area. None had any appointments available. All said I was eligible for vaccination now, but no, I can’t receive the vaccine now. So … I’m waiting. I’m on a waiting list at the site that seemed to be the most organized and the most likely to come through in the future.

    Personnel at one of the sites did warn me about signing up on more than one waiting list. They said it really screws up their system when people sign up on several different lists but then don’t show up. They also don’t take their name off any waiting lists if they get an appointment elsewhere. People, don’t sign up on multiple waiting lists. The vaccination system is screwed up enough as it is.

  225. says

    The Senate confirmed Pete Buttigieg to lead the Transportation Department.

    The vote was 86-13 to approve Buttigieg’s nomination. He is the fifth member of President Biden’s Cabinet to be confirmed by the Senate. He is also the first openly gay Senate-confirmed Cabinet member in U.S. history.

  226. says

    Follow-up to comment 318.

    Here are the names of the senators who voted against Buttigieg: Tom Cotton (Ark.), Ted Cruz (Texas), Bill Cassidy (La.), Roger Marshall (Kan.), Rick Scott (Fla.), Tommy Tuberville (Ala.), Richard Shelby (Ala.), Josh Hawley (Mo.), Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.), Marco Rubio (Fla.), Tim Scott (S.C.), Bill Hagerty (Tenn.), and James Lankford (Okla.). All are Republicans

  227. says

    From Wonkette: “Looks Like Trump Had Bigger Role In Sending Terrorists To Capitol Than We Already Knew”

    The second impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump begins next week. And despite whatever people are saying right this moment, we have zero idea what’s going to happen.

    And yet news just keeps breaking on how bad the Capitol terrorist attack was, and just how much Trump was personally involved in making sure it went down the way it did, both in his day-of incitements to violence, and in his months of machinations spreading his fascist Big Lie that he won an election he lost.

    This weekend, Jim Rutenberg and a host of others published a stunning long-read investigation in the New York Times, called “77 Days: Trump’s Campaign to Subvert the Election.” We don’t want to summarize the entire report here, but rather highlight something specific about how that January 6 rally actually wasn’t meant to include a violent march to the Capitol — until the Trump White House got involved.

    […] many of these rallies across America to spread Trump’s big lie were organized by an outside group called Women For America First, founded by an old Tea Party hack named Amy Kremer. They had been around for a minute, fighting for Amy Comet Ping-Pong’s Supreme Court seat and rousing the rabble against Trump’s OG impeachment. Kremer’s daughter, Kylie Jane, who served as Women For America First’s executive director, used to work for Hannity. Some Steve Bannon-affiliated hacks, Jennifer Lawrence and Dustin Stockton, were helping out. Stockton had militia ties. Lawrence had Trump ties. The January 6 Trump terrorists had zip ties. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves!

    Point is, these folks were organizing these rallies going all the way back to November. They were doing bus tours, trying to stop states from certifying the results of their free and fair elections, which Trump lost like a loser. They were getting MyPillowBucks to bankroll their efforts […]

    In short, this was their jam. Their rallies were stuffed to the gills with literally the most deplorable people in this entire country. Proud Boys, QANazis, COVID deniers, other white supremacists, etc. You know, typical Trump rally.

    […] originally the Women for America First were not planning their big DC rally for January 6. But wackass extremist Ali Alexander’s “Stop the Steal” shit was pushing January 6, and Trump himself pushed January 6 on Twitter […] So Women For America First regrouped and pulled a permit for January 6.

    As the big day came closer, Women For America First focused its ire on getting senators to overthrow the election, and let’s just say the talk was getting LI’L BIT MORE VIOLENT:

    […] In Louisiana, the founder of Cowboys for Trump, Couy Griffin, told the gathered dregs that “We need our president to be confirmed through the states on the 6th.” He added, “And right after that, we’re going to have to declare martial law.”

    January 6 was the main event for the Women For America First folks. Or at least it was supposed to be, until the Trump White House stomped in, […]

    And that is when the idea for “let’s march to the Capitol and fuck shit up!” really came to life.

    […] now Trump was barging in and January 6 would “effectively become a White House production,” Trump focused on who would talk that day, what music they would play, and Trump people were getting involved in the planning.

    […] Mr. Stockton said he was surprised to learn on the day of the rally that it would now include a march from the Ellipse to the Capitol. Before the White House became involved, he said, the plan had been to stay at the Ellipse until the counting of state electoral slates was completed.

    […] The Women for America First Ellipse permit said the group wouldn’t conduct a march but noted: “Some participants may leave to attend rallies at the United States Capitol to hear the results of Congressional certification of the Electoral College count.”

    Kylie Kremer, co-founder of Women for America First, said the group didn’t file for a march permit because it went against Covid-19 guidelines and a march wasn’t in its plans.

    But then the Trump White House got involved and other groups got involved, some planning their own January 6 festivities, and suddenly they were marching to the Capitol. (no group that pulled a permit for that day pulled a permit for a march.) […]

    We feel like that might be an important fact for Trump’s impeachment trial.

    […] Mr. Trump took the stage at the Ellipse the next day shortly before 1 p.m., calling on the tens of thousands before him to carry his message to Republicans in the Capitol: “You’ll never take back our country with weakness.”

    As he spoke, some protesters, with Proud Boys helping take the lead, were already breaching the outer security perimeter around the Capitol. […]

    Less than an hour later, the lawmakers would flee to a secure location as the mob streamed into the building.

    Never forget the day domestic terrorists with weapons and tactical gear, upon the orders of the losing presidential candidate Donald Trump, attacked the United States Capitol in order to overthrow democracy as Congress did its constitutional duty. And now, also, never forget that the event wasn’t even supposed to feature a march to the Capitol, not until Trump got involved.

    Trump’s new lawyer David Schoen whined to Sean Hannity last night about House impeachment managers’ plan to play footage of the Capitol attack at the Senate trial of Trump, who was impeached for inciting the Capitol attack. He argued that “President Trump has condemned violence at all times,” which is a lie, and exhorted us to “read the words of his speech,” which “calls for peacefulness.” Yeah, OK.

    Except for how it turns out Trump and his White House had a bigger role in making sure the terrorists marched to the Capitol that day than we even knew.

    Good luck excluding all this new evidence, champ.


  228. johnson catman says

    re Lynna @319: I am surprised that Tom Fucking Asshole Tillis (NC) wasn’t on that list.

  229. blf says

    Amazon to pay drivers $61.7m after US probe showed it kept tips:

    The online retail giant promised 100 percent of tips from shoppers would go to Flex drivers, but instead used some of the gratuities to pay drivers’ hourly wages, a US Federal Trade Commission probe found.


    Flex, launched in 2015, invites independent contractors to deliver packages from their own vehicles. Amazon promised drivers a pay rate of $18 to $25 an hour and the full value of their tips.

    But in late 2016, without disclosing the change to drivers or shoppers, the company started paying drivers a lower rate and using the tips to make up the difference.

    After drivers began wondering why their overall pay had decreased, hundreds complained to the company, according to the FTC, which said employees described Amazon’s handling of the change as a “reputation tinderbox” and “huge PR risk.”

    Amazon diverted almost a third of customer tips to driver wages, stopping the practice only after becoming aware of the FTC probe in August 2019, the agency said. Under the terms of the settlement, the FTC will use the $61.7 million to compensate drivers who lost tips. Drivers can sign up for email updates on the refund process at the FTC’s website.

    While we disagree that the historical way we reported pay to drivers was unclear, we added additional clarity in 2019 […], Amazon spokesperson Rena Lunak said in an emailed statement. […]

  230. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Germany chancellor Angela Merkel has said “all vaccines” approved by the EU’s medicines regulator are welcome, including Russian and Chinese shots, Reuters reports.

    In a news conference, she said Germany welcomed the strong data from trials of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine….

    The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine has 76% efficacy against symptomatic infection for three months after a single dose, with efficacy improving when a second shot is given later, a new preprint study shows.

    Oxford University said the findings supported a decision made by the UK to extend the interval between initial doses and booster doses of the shot to 12 weeks.

    The US is to launch a new program shipping coronavirus vaccines directly to retail pharmacies starting next week in an effort to increase Americans’ access to shots, president Joe Biden’s Covid-19 response coordinator, Jeff Zients, said, Reuters reports.

    The program will launch on 11 February and make 1 million doses available to 6,500 stores, according to Zients. As supply grows, the program could expand to as many as 40,000 stores, he said.

    Biden said last month that the Covid-19 vaccine rollout has been a “dismal failure” so far and vowed to boost the speed at which shots are given to Americans, with a focus on ensuring equitable access regardless of geography, race, or ethnicity.

    The federal government will distribute a million vaccine doses to the 6,500 stores next week, Zients said, adding that the amount will grow over time. That is in addition to 10.5 million doses that the federal government plans to ship weekly to states and territories for the next three weeks, he added.

    “This will provide more sites for people to get vaccinated in their communities,” Zients said, adding that supply constraints will limit the program in its early days.

    Dutch lockdown to be in place ‘almost entirely’ until at least March, Rutte says

    The Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte said on Tuesday that most of the lockdown measures in the Netherlands, many of which have been in place since October, will remain in place for weeks due to fears over a surge in cases as a result of new coronavirus variants.

    Rutte’s government, which is currently serving in a demissionary capacity since he resigned on 15 January, is still weighing whether to continue an evening curfew that has triggered rioting in some cities beyond next week, the prime minister told a press briefing.

    The government announced earlier this week that primary schools and daycares will reopen on 8 February, adding that it is also looking at possibly reopening secondary schools but that will not happen before March.

    “It is inescapable to extend the current lockdown almost entirely until at least March 2,” Rutte said, despite falling case numbers in the Netherlands.

    “A third wave is inevitably coming our way,” he said, pointing to new virus strains which are more infectious.

    The Netherlands has been in what the government calls a strict lockdown since mid-December and last month imposed a curfew, the country’s first since World War Two, which sparked riots.

    The National Institute for Health (RIVM) said on Tuesday there had been 28,628 cases in the past week, down 20% from the week before and the lowest level since lockdown measures were introduced in October.

    But this week’s decline “would have been greater without the new variants of the virus that have entered the Netherlands, especially the British variant”, the RIVM said in a statement.

    The health minister Hugo de Jonge said on Monday that half of the cases were being caused by the new variant as of 26 January, up from around a third the week before. The government fears it may cause a new wave ahead of 17 March elections.

  231. says

    Lynna @ #316, it’s curious that Roger Stone, who spoke on the eve of the siege and used Oath Keepers as security, didn’t leave his hotel room on the 6th. He came to DC to take part in this historic event, called it an “epic struggle for the future of this country between Dark and Light, between the godly and the godless, between Good and Evil,” and told them “I will be with you tomorrow—shoulder to shoulder!” Then he doesn’t leave his hotel room? It seems like he knew something about what was being planned. And, assuming he’s not lying about staying in his hotel room (a big assumption in his case), what was he doing in there all day while the insurrection transpired? Was he communicating with any of them? With Trump?

  232. blf says

    Deep (not!) analysis (not!!) from a loony (very!!!), Scott Lively Thinks Kamala Harris May Be the Whore of Babylon and Barack Obama the Antichrist (RWW edits in {curly braces}):

    I haven’t really done any deep analysis of this but, having Kamala Harris sort of being the heir apparent to the failing Joe Biden, all of the biblical references to the Whore of Babylon and the Jezebel that plays such a huge, huge role in the Last Days prophecy, all sort of rise to the surface, [radical right-wing activist Scott] Lively said. Considering her background, how she got to where she is, not hiding it, just the implications of that.

    The Antichrist is whoever the demon Satan is in possession of at any given time, he said later […]. And I think that more than anyone, {Barack} Obama actually fits the Antichrist model today. I’m not saying that he is for sure, but he more than anyone else that I’ve ever seen does fit the model.

  233. says

    Rep. Speier is on MSNBC talking about her experience of the siege on the Capitol and how she was ducked down lying on the marble floor and had flashbacks to when she was shot and lying on the tarmac at Jonestown in 1978.

    (I don’t know why she insists on calling these people on the far Right anarchists. Annoying.)

  234. says

    Thread with videos from the ongoing Russia protests:

    Crowds marching through central Moscow tonight chanting “Russia without Putin!”

    Putin’s main critic in Russia ⁦@navalny has been sentenced to 2 years and 8 months in prison.

    Tonight’s protest action has been met with a massive police presence and already 350 arrests in Moscow since the morning

    There’s so much law enforcement in central Moscow that it looks like riot police are holding their own march. They’re actually working to pick off protesters one by one.

    A crowd is also out in St Petersburg tonight, changing “Freedom!”…

  235. johnson catman says

    re blf @327: Scott Lively hasn’t even done a cursory analysis. If he did actually perform an analysis, he would necessarily conclude that his cult hero, The Orange Toddler-Tyrant, comes much closer to what would best be described as the anti-christ.

  236. says

    NBC – “Lawmakers aim to dissolve ‘draconian’ law that placed heavy financial burden on Postal Service”:

    A bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House and Senate introduced legislation that would provide the Postal Service much-needed financial relief by doing away with a mandate that required it to prepay retirement benefits decades in advance.

    The issue stems from a 2006 law that required the Postal Service to create a $72 billion fund that would pay for its employees’ retirement health benefits for more than 50 years into the future. This is not required by any other federal agency.

    The “USPS Fairness Act,” introduced by Democrats and Republicans in both chambers, would do away with the requirement and comes as some lawmakers and the biggest Postal Service union have called for President Joe Biden to quickly install new leadership in the federal agency.

    “The unreasonable prefunding mandate has threatened the survival of the USPS and placed at risk vital services for the millions who rely on it,” said Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., one of the bill’s sponsors. “The prefunding mandate policy is based on the absurd notion of paying for the retirement funds of people who do not yet, and may not ever, work for the Postal Service.”

    A similar measure was passed by the House on a bipartisan basis almost exactly a year ago, with 309 members of Congress in support and 106 opposed. The bill was received by the Senate five days later, but it never moved forward and died in that chamber.

    Sens. Steve Daines, R-Mont., and Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, introduced the bill Monday in hopes of quickly pushing it through the Senate this time.

    Then-President Donald Trump opposed providing the struggling agency any financial relief. He earned further criticism when he installed Louis DeJoy, a major Republican fundraiser, as the new postmaster general. DeJoy drew fire after he made numerous cost-cutting changes that came under scrutiny because many worried they would delay the timely delivery of election mail.

    In a letter to Biden last week, Pascrell said the president should fire the Postal Service’s Board of Governors for the mail delays and the Postal Service changes instituted by DeJoy. The new members could then vote to fire DeJoy.

    The White House did not respond to a request for comment when asked whether Biden supported the “USPS Fairness Act” or the push to change Postal Service leadership.

    Dimondstein said the union is pressing for the president to make nominations for four open governor slots quickly and pointed out that there are no women or Black members of the board. There are also “no people that have any knowledge of the inner workings of the postal service,” he said.

    “Whoever the postmaster general is, we need a strong postal Board of Governors in terms of setting the policy and the direction,” he said. “And we believe that’s at the fingertips of this president now to get done quickly.”

  237. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Covid-19 vaccine nationalism is harmful for all, the World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said.

    In a piece published in Foreign Policy magazine, he said weak cooperation between nations is a major barrier to achieving worldwide vaccination at the scale needed to end the coronavirus pandemic.

    Despite the growing number of vaccine options, current manufacturing capacity meets only a fraction of global need. Allowing the majority of the world’s population to go unvaccinated will not only perpetuate needless illness and deaths and the pain of ongoing lockdowns, but also spawn new virus mutations as Covid-19 continues to spread among unprotected populations,

  238. tomh says

    Trump’s economic adviser says GameStop drama shows people shouldn’t get stimulus checks
    Graeme Massie February 1, 2021

    Donald Trump’s former economic adviser says the GameStop stock frenzy shows people should not get stimulus checks.

    Mr Kudlow told Fox News that Americans spending stimulus money in the stock market was “so silly” and “not good.” “I’m not OK with spending stimulus checks, sending out and spending stimulus checks on one penny or two penny stocks, which is what’s been happening with this incredible story of GameStop and some of these penny stocks. That’s so silly…

    Mr Kudlow also hit out at Democrats for trying to raise the minimum wage in Joe Biden’s Covid-19 relief plan.

    “You know who that’s going to hurt the most? That’s going to hurt African-Americans, that’s going to hurt Hispanics, other minority groups,” said Mr Kudlow. “It’s going to hurt the poorest part of the workforce.”

    And he insisted that the Trump administration had left the economy in good shape.

    “The economy is very strong. And I read about this economic crisis. I don’t believe it. And I can prove to you that it’s not there,” he added.

    How could things have gone so wrong for Trump when he had such deep thinkers as advisers.

  239. John Morales says

    Lynna @317:

    Personnel at one of the sites did warn me about signing up on more than one waiting list. They said it really screws up their system when people sign up on several different lists but then don’t show up. They also don’t take their name off any waiting lists if they get an appointment elsewhere.

    Wow. The USA health system in a nutshell.

    (Is there really no state/federal oversight at all? No data interchange? No matching?)

  240. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    John Morales @339
    It does depend upon the state. Here in Illinois, the county health departments are in charge, with a state registry of those all those who are vaccinated available to the doctors. Even my recent (last couple of years) pneumonia, shingles, and tetanus shots are on that registry. The county health department will send me an e-mail appointment for covid vaccine when available, or if I can get one earlier, send me an appointment for the second shot if needed. Needless to say I live in a “blue” state.

  241. John Morales says

    Ah, thanks, Nerd. I keep over-generalising.

    It’s kinda hard for us furriners to remember the USA is like a bunch of different countries, with different systems.

  242. says

    SC @326, good points! Thanks for the info.

    John @339, my state is run by Republicans and as a result many systems are fucked up and/or inefficient.

    Finding any kind of way to sign up for a coronavirus vaccine shot is even more difficult for people who do not have a reliable internet connection (mostly rural or backcountry people here). Nerd had a better experience in his “blue” state.

  243. says

    John Morales @ #339, it’s unreal. It’s one of those things like security at the Capitol: I think many of us assumed so much more planning and preparation than existed in actuality. I thought every state would naturally have one centralized system developed in the months leading up to the vaccine roll-out, but I’m not sure if any do. Even in the states doing relatively well, people – including seniors – are basically on their own trying to figure out where to go and how to get an appointment, which really disadvantages people who are already disadvantaged. There’s also line-jumping.

    On a positive note, my mother got her first dose and will get her second shortly! I hope you’re able to get it soon, Lynna. I’m so far down on the list I assume that by the time it’s my turn everything will be straightened out, but my assumptions haven’t panned out very well to date….

  244. says

    For the first time in nearly two years, we have a Senate-confirmed Homeland Security secretary: “The Senate confirmed Alejandro Mayorkas on Tuesday to lead the nation’s Department of Homeland Security, making him the first Latino to hold the role. The Senate voted 56 to 43.”

    Quoted text is from CNBC.

  245. says

    NBC News:

    Russian opposition leader and main Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny was sentenced Tuesday to 2 years and 8 months in prison after a Moscow court turned his suspended sentence in a 2014 criminal case into a full custodial term.

  246. says

    Humor/satire from Andy Borowitz:

    Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene has blamed the blizzard currently battering the East Coast on “orbiting Jewish space snow machines” controlled by the Hungarian-born billionaire George Soros.

    In a series of tweets, Greene claimed that the snow machines had manufactured the blizzard to make it impossible for her to get out of her driveway and reach her office at the U.S. Capitol.

    “I will not be silenced by Jewish snow,” she defiantly tweeted.

    Expanding on her theory, Greene wrote, “ ‘Snow’ and ‘Soros’ both begin with the letter ‘S,’ and also prominently feature the letter ‘O.’ Only an idiot would miss this connection.”

    At the Capitol, the House Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy, said that he had responded “swiftly and decisively” to Greene’s Jewish-snow-machine theory by giving her a seat on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

    New Yorker link

  247. Rob Grigjanis says

    Lynna @345: Navalny was convicted for violating probation; he went to Germany for treatment. In other words, he was convicted of not dying when Putin ordered his assassination.

  248. Tethys says

    Here in blue MN there is a lottery for vaccinations. It only includes those above 65 and healthcare workers. The website to find a local vaccination center in order to sign up when they actually get vaccines will not work for me at all. It just gives security warnings and refuses to connect.

    Yeah, what’s healthcare? Haven’t had any of that for decades.

  249. says

    Moira Donegan at the Guardian – “AOC’s powerful plea for Republican accountability cannot be ignored”:

    …In recognizing the common rhetorical strategies used by both Republicans eager to minimize the attack and perpetrators of gender violence eager to avoid accountability for their treatment of women, AOC was echoing feminists who compared Donald Trump’s increasingly hostile and reckless behavior in the last two months of his term to a pattern common to domestic abusers, who are known to escalate their violence in the weeks immediately following their victim’s severing of the relationship.

    The comparisons have come under fire for creating what is seen as a false equivalence, or for supposedly trivializing political instability and constitutional crises with the language of domestic strife. But to recognize a pattern is not the same thing as drawing an equivalence, and AOC is correct in her observation that the rhetorical strategies used by Republicans – to deny their own wrongdoing, attack the victims seeking accountability, and to pretend that the true wrongdoing has been committed against them – are the same strategies deployed by other tyrants, be they political or domestic, seeking to uphold other unjust and dangerous systems of power. She went on to explain that she knew she would be ridiculed and disbelieved for her revelations, and that this, too, was part of the harm that the Republicans were doing to her – denying, and minimizing her experience. The disbelief and dismissal of those who have experienced trauma, she says, is its own, additional injustice.

    The revelation that she had experienced sexual assault, and that she feared for her life at the Capitol, were the most powerful and personally dangerous way that AOC has brought a female perspective to her position as one of the most visible and controversial members of Congress. And this, too, is remarkable: AOC’s willingness to describe moments in which she felt vulnerable and afraid – like when she was assaulted, or when she hid from the insurrectionary mob – even from her place of power as a politician. Perhaps the most striking thing about AOC’s broadcast was her willingness to admit that she had been frightened, that she had been hurt, without allowing the idea that this somehow undermined her claim to power.

    Vulnerability and power do not often go together, and certainly not in female politicians. Sure, “Vulnerability is strength” has become the kind of kitschy post-feminist catch phrase, the kind of thing one is likely to see embroidered on a throw pillow or printed on the tag for a bag of herbal tea. But it’s not something many people actually act like they believe. Traditionally, the picture of power, and particularly of female power, has been of the forced and strictly disciplined erasure of any evidence of vulnerability; the steely stare, the emotionless resolve, the stiff chin. In admitting to fear, in admitting to vulnerability, in admitting to hiding for her life and to having been a survivor of assault, AOC demonstrated that she was unwilling to concede that female vulnerability is incompatible with the dignity of power. Refusing to separate those two was a demonstration of her feminist vision, a gesture at what an authentic kind of power might look like.

    While her disclosure of sexual assault with doubtless garner much of the media attention, the real purpose of AOC’s broadcast was to call for accountability for the Republican members of Congress who incited and may have aided the Capitol attack. “Accountability is about creating safety,” she said. It was their actions that caused the trauma inflicted on her and others; their actions that had incited the violence and ultimately, indirectly, led to several deaths. “The violence needed someone to tell the lie,” AOC said, referring to the false claims, made by Trump and stoked by Republicans. “They knew that these violent people needed the lie. Because it would be advantageous to them, they chose to tell the lie.”

    That lie – the malicious, opportunistic, spiteful lie that hurt her and so many others directly, and hurt the nation irreparably, could not, she argued, go unpunished. Because impunity for the people who told the lie would amount to complicity in their conduct, to a grant of permission for them to do the same thing, or worse, again.

  250. says

    MSNBC and CNN have been covering the ceremony of Brian Sicknick’s remains being brought to the Capitol Rotunda to lie in honor. Biden will be paying his respects shortly. Sean Hannity meanwhile was talking about a bunch of frivolous rubbish, and mentioned the ceremony only for about 20 seconds at the very end of his show. Laura Ingraham was just doing some disgusting bit with the chyron “China to Dominate a World Built by Fauci,” joined by Scott Atlas.

  251. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Watching the ceremony of Capital Police Officer Sicknick remains displayed in State at the Capital Rotunda. Since he was cremated, a wooden box with the cremains and a triangular container with a folded American flag were the display. Salute to a hero.

  252. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    President and Dr. Biden arrived and showed their respect. Nothing done to make it about them.

  253. stroppy says

    SC @ 334

    Imagine being around this guy for any length of time.

    Not hard for me to imagine. I’ve feel like I’ve been living in a loud, hellish sea of incessantly yammering motormouths and bloody minded boneheads for the past several eons now. It’s been one goddamn, unending blitzkrieg of toxic logorrhea. That’s the Republican reality, and I really hope these sick bastards get their comeuppance.

  254. blf says

    Eric Trump attacks Scottish politicians for debate on family’s golf courses:

    On the eve of a parliamentary vote on whether an investigation should be ordered into the financing of Donald Trump’s Scottish golf resorts, the former US president’s [sic] son has castigated politicians for advancing their personal agendas. Eric Trump issued the bulletin as the Scottish parliament prepares to host a debate called by Patrick Harvie, the co-leader of the Scottish Greens. The Trump Organization’s executive vice-president also described Harvie as a national embarrassment.

    Harvie is urging the first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, to seek an unexplained wealth order (UWO) in relation to Trump International, a course in Aberdeenshire, and the famous Turnberry resort in Ayrshire. If granted via courts, a UWO compels businesses or individuals to detail the source of their wealth.

    “The Scottish government has tried to avoid the question of investigating Donald Trump’s wealth for far too long,” Harvie told The Scotsman. “There are serious concerns about how he financed the cash purchases of his Scottish golf courses, but no investigation has ever taken place. […]”

    On Tuesday, Eric Trump hit back. […] “If Harvie and the rest of the Scottish government continue to treat overseas investors like this, it will deter future investors from conducting business in Scotland, ultimately crushing their economy, tourism and hospitality industries.”

    Harvie is actually an opposition member of the Scottish parliament, with the Greens holding just five seats.


    The Trump Organization has always been adamant that its Scottish golf courses were bought without any external financing. However, the New York Times reported that in 2016, during the presidential campaign, Trump sought a further loan from Deutsche Bank to fund his refurbishment of Turnberry, using his Doral resort in Miami as collateral.

  255. says

    Reuters – “Rights groups, lawmakers urge reversal of Trump’s sanctions reprieve for Israeli magnate”:

    Nearly 30 Congolese and international human rights groups and several U.S. lawmakers have called on the Biden administration to reverse a last-minute move by the Trump administration to ease sanctions against Israeli mining magnate Dan Gertler.

    The U.S. Treasury imposed the sanctions in December 2017 and June 2018, accusing Gertler of using his friendship with Democratic Republic of Congo’s former President Joseph Kabila to win sweetheart mining deals worth more than a billion dollars.

    But the administration of former Republican President Donald Trump eased the sanctions in a secret action in its last week in office, a license granted by the Treasury Department showed.

    In a joint letter, Human Rights Watch, Oxfam and other groups urged U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Secretary of State Antony Blinken – recently installed as members of Democratic President Joe Biden’s Cabinet – to reverse course, arguing that the Trump administration’s move undermined U.S. anti-corruption efforts and set a dangerous precedent undercutting the Global Magnitsky sanctions program.

    It also thwarted “the critical, challenging, and sometimes dangerous work of Congolese and other civil society organizations and activists,” the groups said.

    “We urge the Biden administration to immediately investigate this last-minute license, and, subject to relevant information, reverse its decision. The US needs to ensure that the proceeds of alleged corruption are not being accessed and unblocked during the transition, or for political motives,” they wrote.

    Senators Cory Booker, Ben Cardin and Dick Durbin, all Democrats, on Tuesday also urged Yellen to rescind the license for Gertler.

    Treasury had no immediate response to the letter….

  256. says

    Guardian – “Myanmar coup: Aung San Suu Kyi charged as civil disobedience grows”:

    Myanmar police have charged ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi with possession of illegally-imported walkie-talkies, which could see her face two years in jail, as a civil disobedience campaign grew against the military’s coup against her government.

    A document from a police station in the capital, Naypyitaw, said military officers who searched Aung San Suu Kyi’s residence had found hand-held radios that were imported illegally and used without permission by her bodyguards. The charges, confirmed by members of her party, appear to carry a maximum prison sentence of two years.

    A state newspaper also reported that the new military government would investigate what it has described as fraud in November’s election, in which its proxy party was heavily defeated by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD).

    The ousted president, Win Myint, is meanwhile to be charged for allegedly breaching coronavirus laws by meeting people on the campaign trail ahead of the vote.

    The moves are likely to fuel already simmering anger towards the military and in one of the first organised acts of defiance against the military since Monday’s coup, health workers in 70 hospitals and medical departments in Naypyidaw, Yangon and other towns and cities said they would not work under the military regime, accusing the generals of placing their own priorities above those of ordinary people during the pandemic.

    “We refuse to obey any order from the illegitimate military regime who demonstrated they do not have any regards for our poor patients,” the organisers said.

    A Facebook page coordinating the campaign accumulated nearly 150,000 followers in just 24 hours. “They will not stop this movement until the elected government is restored,” said Kyaw, a surgeon at West Yangon general hospital who has gone on strike.

    …The All Burma Federation of Students Union has also urged other government workers to strike.

    There have been no reports of street demonstrations against the army, but anger is simmering among the public, who lived under repressive military regimesfor five decades.

    On Wednesday night, the clanging of pots and pans echoed through the main city of Yangon, as people took to their balconies in a symbolic protest against the military. On social media, many adopted red profile pictures to signal their loyalty to Aung San Suu Kyi, who spent nearly 15 years in detention as she campaigned against military rule before being released in 2010. Within Myanmar, she is widely revered as a heroine of democracy, despite international condemnation over her treatment of the Rohingya.

    The NLD has called for Aung San Suu Kyi’s release and urged the military to acknowledge the results of November’s election, which it won by a landslide.

    It also emerged on Wednesday that the International Monetary Fund last week sent $350m in cash to the Myanmar government, part of a no-strings-attached emergency aid package to help the country battle the coronavirus pandemic. Days later, the generals seized power.

    The US, which has formally declared the military’s takeover a coup, has threatened to reimpose sanctions, while countries around the world have demanded the release of detainees and for the army to relinquish power.

    The G7 group of the world’s largest developed economies on Wednesday condemned the coup and said it was deeply concerned about the fate of detained political leaders.

    At a meeting of the UN security council on Tuesday, however, China and Russia blocked a statement condemning the coup and calling for its reversal, while India and Vietnam also voiced reservations.

    China and Russia previously undermined attempts to pressure Myanmar over the atrocities committed against Rohingya in 2017, when a military crackdown forced 700,000 people to flee to safety in Bangladesh. In Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, were they remain trapped, refugees said they were even more afraid of returning now that the military is in total control.

    The army has claimed the coup is in line with the country’s constitution. The army chief, Min Aung Hlaing, now head of a new cabinet, on Tuesday defended the military’s action as “inevitable”. Civilian leaders, he said, had not listened to the army’s complaints of voter fraud.

    As public action to resist the military has emerged, the military has issued a warning in the state-controlled Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper.

    “Some of the media organizations and people are posting rumours on social media, releasing statements to occur riot and unstable situation,” the English-language statement read. It called on people “not to make such moves and to cooperate with the government in accordance with existing laws”.

    The military has a grim record of using violence against to quash dissent, and protesting against it carries huge risks.

    A human rights activist based in Yangon said she believed other government workers would join civil disobedience action. “The numbers will grow, it is growing now,” she said.

  257. says

    Here’s a link to the February 3 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    Athletes will be tested at least once every four days as part of the International Olympic Committee’s quest to keep coronavirus at bay at the rearranged Tokyo Games.

    The IOC has published its first “playbook”, the guidelines for athletes and other stakeholders on exactly what to expect during the summer Games, which are due to begin in July, PA Media reports.

    The Playbook confirms that athletes will be expected to take a coronavirus test 72 hours before their departure for Tokyo, and present evidence of that negative test upon arrival, when they will be tested again.

    As well as being tested regularly during the Games, athletes are advised not to use public transport unless given permission.

    The OC sports director Christophe Dubi said: “From a technical standpoint, we are very confident for a number of reasons. Tokyo is the best-prepared city we have ever seen. Venues were all completed a while ago and the planning was well in place and extremely detailed at the time we had to postpone the Games.”

    I’d expect everyone involved in the Olympics to be vaccinated.

  258. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s (please support the Grauniad if you can!) current moar insurrections live blog:

    Hundreds of staff who work in Congress have written an open letter to Senators urging them to convict former president [sic] Trump and prevent him from running for office again. The letter, posted to website Medium, is signed by 370 staff members. […]

    On 6 January, the former President [sic] broke America’s 230-year legacy of the peaceful transition of power when he incited a mob to disrupt the counting of electoral college votes. Six people died. A Capitol Police officer — one of our co-workers who guards and greets us every day — was beaten to death. The attack on our workplace was inspired by lies told by the former president [sic] and others about the results of the election in a baseless, months-long effort to reject votes lawfully cast by the American people.

    As Congressional employees, we don’t have a vote on whether to convict Donald J Trump for his role in inciting the violent attack at the Capitol, but our Senators do. And for our sake, and the sake of the country, we ask that they vote to convict the former president  [sic] and bar him from ever holding office again.

  259. blf says

    @365, Oops, the missing link to that item in the Gruaniad’s current live States politics blog.

    Also from that same current live blog:

    Overnight there was quite the development over at the Pentagon, where defense secretary Lloyd Austin has dismissed every member of the Pentagon’s advisory boards. Dan De Luce reports for NBC News:

    The move affects several hundred members of about 40 advisory boards, including dozens of people who had been named to the posts in the closing days of former President [sic] Donald Trump’s tenure.

    Among those who were dismissed are highly partisan figures such as Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign manager; David Bossie, a former Trump deputy campaign manager; Republican former House Speaker Newt Gingrich; and retired Army Brig Gen Anthony Tata. Instead of singling out Trump appointees, the move applies to all board members, including those appointed before Trump’s presidency [sic].

    “I am directing the immediate suspension of all advisory committee operations until the review is completed unless otherwise directed by myself or the deputy secretary of defense,” Austin said in a memo released Tuesday.


  260. says

    CNN – “FBI raids homes of 2 men who held rally on eve of Capitol attack”:

    The FBI recently raided the homes of two men who sponsored an invective-laced rally near the US Capitol a day before the deadly insurrection, the first known search warrants involving people who organized and spoke at rallies preceding the attack.

    CNN learned of the raids through an eyewitness account, public records, a lawyer representing one of the rally organizers and an FBI spokeswoman who confirmed details of the searches.

    FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller confirmed that federal agents executed search warrants last week at two properties in Orange County, California, which public records indicate belong to Russell Taylor and Alan Hostetter. The two men run the American Phoenix Project, which co-sponsored a pro-Donald Trump rally near the Supreme Court on January 5, one day before the attack.

    Neither man has been charged with any crimes.

    Footage of the rally shows the men spewing militant vitriol: Hostetter told the crowd to prepare for “war tomorrow” against “vipers” in Congress who refused to nullify President Joe Biden’s win. Taylor said, “We will not return to our peaceful way of life until this election is made right.”

    Court documents related to the search warrants are still under seal, but the raids are the first publicly known federal actions against people who organized rallies linked to the Capitol attack. Federal investigators have issued more than 500 subpoenas and search warrants in the probe.

    Taylor and Hostetter are well-documented promoters of conspiracy theories ranging from QAnon and the “deep state” to those related to the Covid-19 pandemic and the 2020 presidential election.

    A lawyer for Taylor, Dyke Huish, told CNN that the agents were “just gathering information on people that were at or near the Capitol building on the day in question,” referring to January 6. Huish said Taylor “cooperated with investigators” and the search was finished “without incident.” Eimiller, the FBI spokeswoman, said “no arrests were made” during the searches.

    Taylor acknowledged the raid on his Orange County home in a Telegram post on Friday. Using a pseudonym, Taylor urged his followers to “hold the line,” adding, “I am working with a lawyer and per his recommendation he said to keep on the down low for a bit to stay off any radars.”

    Hostetter didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment about the raid or his DC rally.

    The founder of the group that co-sponsored the rally, Virginia Women for Trump, told CNN that she hasn’t been interviewed by the FBI. An employee at Women for America First, a separate organization that held the rally near the White House with Trump one day later, told CNN that nobody at the organization had been interviewed by the FBI either.

    Through their right-wing organization, Taylor and Hostetter secured speaking slots at the rally, and used their speeches to spew violent, battle-ready rhetoric.

    Weeks earlier, they reached out to Virginia Women for Trump, which was planning an event at the Supreme Court on January 5, one day before Congress would tally the electoral votes and put the final nail in the coffin of Trump’s effort to overturn his loss.

    Alice Butler-Short, founder of Virginia Women for Trump, said she primarily organized the rally and invited the speakers, but Taylor and Hostetter helped pay for the logistics and security.

    “They kind of found me on Facebook,” Butler-Short said in an interview with CNN.

    The lineup of speakers also included the far-right conspiracy theorist Ali Alexander, who ran a “Stop the Steal” group, and Trump ally Roger Stone, who supports the Proud Boys extremist group. They pushed the debunked conspiracy theory that the election was stolen from Trump. Though Stone said, “We renounce violence,” Hostetter ratcheted things up is his speech.

    “We are at war in this country,” Hostetter said. “We are at war tomorrow.”

    He continued, “Our voices tomorrow are going to put the fear of God in the cowards and the traitors, the (Republicans in name only), the communists of the Democrat Party, they need to know we as a people, a hundred million strong, are coming for them If they do the wrong thing.”

    “I will see you all tomorrow at the frontlines,” Hostetter said as he ended the speech. “We are taking our country back.”

    Taylor expressed support for QAnon in his speech and issued a call-to-arms, saying, “In these streets we will fight, and we will bleed before we allow our freedom to be taken from us.” (Huish, his attorney, later claimed he was speaking metaphorically and “has never called for violence.”)

    Taylor’s lawyer tried to distance his client from the mob that invaded the Capitol, saying Taylor was “outside” but “never entered the building nor did he cause any damage to the building.”

    “His sole purpose in going to Washington DC was to participate in a peaceful and patriotic protest in those things that he believes to be true and correct,” Huish told CNN in a statement.

    In a since-deleted Instagram video from January 6, Hostetter said he was avoiding the Ellipse because he had “gear” that wouldn’t be allowed in. In another video obtained by CNN, Taylor said he was walking towards the Capitol and said he was just informed that rioters had breached barricades near the building. He is wearing a flak jacket with what looks like a knife sticking out.

    “We’ll see if the Capitol Police are oath keepers of the Constitution,” Taylor is heard saying.

    Photos from Hostetter’s Instagram and photojournalists place him and Taylor just outside the Capitol building during the riot. An AFP photographer snapped an image of Taylor giving police the finger around 4:30 p.m. near the North side of the Capitol, near the entrance to the Senate.

    Two other photos show Taylor near a police line on the North side of the Capitol. One photo shows him using his body to push against a police line; the other shows him near a police line with what appears to be a gas mask.

    He later wrote on Facebook that he never made it inside.

  261. johnson catman says

    re SC @369: It reminds me of the term “boots on the ground”. It is a simplistic description for a very complex action.

  262. says

    The fake news factory in India has started defaming #Rihanna (@rihanna) by sharing false images of her holding a Pakistan flag.

    The original image is from a 2019 world cup cricket game where she was cheering for West Indies.

    Link to the original image:…

    The right-wing troll is desperate to find a link between Rihanna and Pakistan or Islam so that they can accuse her of ‘being a Pakistani agent.’

    This happened after Rihanna tweeted a news article about the internet blockade & #FarmersProtest in India”

    Screenshots atl. I feel like starting a conspiracy theory that her album’s been delayed for so long because she’s been working as a Pakistani agent.

  263. blf says

    SC@371, “I feel like starting a conspiracy theory that her [Rihanna] album’s been delayed for so long because she’s been working as a Pakistani agent.”

    Actually, like Shakespeare, her albums are all by someone else and all already produced. The glitch is They™ cannot get enough microchips from Bill Gates. Hence, They™ cannot release the next scheduled albums for downloading and implant the microchips in your ear(-worms). There is, however, a conspiracy theory microchips are being made in Pakistan, or more accurately, at the secret Pakistani Mars base (a joint venture with Elon Musk).

  264. says

    The ceremony with members of congress honoring Officer Sicknick is concluding now. Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer eulogized him, and the congressional chaplain also spoke. Now other members of congress are walking by his remains to pay their respects.

  265. says

    One Russian paper today calls Alexei Navalny’s prison sentence ‘…a precedent for political persecution outside a legal framework’. Another: ‘They wanted to decapitate the opposition. The opposite will happen’.”

    Video discussing Russian newspaper coverage from Steve Rosenberg of the BBC atl.

  266. says

    Ilhan Omar:

    I will be honest and say it’s getting really scary to serve with people with guns, who dehumanize and target you.

    I fear that with no accountability, no recourse and calls to “move on” will turn this toxic environment into a deadly situation.

  267. says

    Rob @348, good point. Thanks for that. Well said.

    In other news: On Greene’s fate, GOP leaders eye an offer Dems can easily refuse

    It’s amazing just how badly House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is managing his party’s Marjorie Taylor Greene fiasco.

    In the wake of the latest revelations surrounding Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), including instances in which she expressed support for violence against U.S. elected officials, Democrats are no longer willing to wait for Republican leaders to do the right thing. As early as tomorrow, House Dems are prepared to vote on a resolution stripping the right-wing congresswoman of her committee assignments.

    It was against this backdrop that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) finally held a private meeting with Greene to discuss her situation. According to Politico, the House GOP leader has crafted something resembling a plan.

    During a two-hour meeting Tuesday night with Greene, McCarthy explained to the QAnon supporter that her controversial past statements were coming to a head. The problem, McCarthy told her: Democrats are threatening to force a vote to remove her from her committees — and that puts the entire GOP Conference in a bad spot. McCarthy tried to give Greene options, according to a person familiar with their talk: She could denounce QAnon and apologize publicly for espousing hurtful conspiracy theories and endorsing violence on Democrats. She could remove herself from the panel to spare her colleagues a vote on the matter. Or, she could face removal from her own GOP peers.

    It’s not entirely clear how the Georgia extremist responded to those options, though the Politico report suggested the House minority leader was discouraged by Greene’s reaction: McCarthy “called a late-night meeting with the panel that designates committee assignments to discuss removing Greene.”

    But just as importantly, McCarthy apparently thinks there’s room for some kind of compromise: he reportedly told his GOP colleagues that he’d make House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) an offer in which Republicans would remove Greene from the Education Committee, while leaving her on the Budget Committee.

    Hoyer wasted little time shrugging off the offer, and signaling a floor vote tomorrow on the resolution to punish Greene.

    What amazes me is how badly McCarthy is handling this.

    For one thing, the House GOP leader came up with a clumsy compromise that, from a Democratic perspective, didn’t make any sense at all. The whole point of stripping Greene of her committee assignments is to make clear that lawmakers consider her radicalism intolerable. McCarthy’s plan, in effect, was to tell his Democratic counterpart, “Sure, Greene’s ridiculous, so why don’t we limit her influence to U.S. budgetary policy?”

    The problem is evidence of Greene’s madness, not the fact that she’s been assigned to two committees instead of one. McCarthy’s offer reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the entire fiasco.

    For another, the House Republican leader has already written a blueprint on how to handle situations like these. Two years ago, McCarthy expressed disgust with then-Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), stripped him of his committee assignments, rendered him irrelevant, and watched the Iowan’s career evaporate soon after.

    McCarthy could do the exact same thing now, but for reasons he hasn’t explained, the GOP leader doesn’t want to.

    Trump is the reason. One has only to remember that embarrassing photo of McCarthy’s trip to Mar-a-Lago, with McCarthy playing the part of abject toady to Trump’s grinning autocrat.

    The result is a scenario that does his [McCarthy’s] own members no favors: a likely vote on the House floor on whether to reward or punish Greene’s extremism. It’s a vote that obviously makes many House Republicans uncomfortable or McCarthy wouldn’t be exploring alternatives.

    The fact remains, however, that there are no alternatives, and Democrats have no intention — or incentive — to help the House GOP get out of its own mess.

  268. says

    The problem(s) with Trump’s impeachment defense as trial nears

    As his Senate impeachment trial nears, Trump scrambled to find lawyers willing to represent him, who in turn scrambled to throw together a defense.

    With just one week remaining before Donald Trump’s second Senate impeachment trial, the legal teams for both the prosecution and the defense filed briefs with senators yesterday, presenting an overview of their respective cases. The Democratic House impeachment managers submitted a brutal 80-page document, leaving little doubt that the former president can be tried and was responsible for inciting an attack against the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

    […] Trump soon announced he’d found new representation, who had to scramble to complete yesterday’s filing.

    The result was unfortunate.

    Trump’s legal team filed its trial brief Tuesday afternoon, asking that the Senate dismiss the impeachment article “because the Senate lacks jurisdiction to remove from office a man who does not hold office.” … They denied that “the 45th president engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the United States” or that he violated his oath of office.

    […] Politico put the spotlight on one angle of particular interest.

    Trump’s lawyers, Bruce Castor and David Schoen, also advanced the former president’s false claims that the election results were “suspect,” asserting that Trump has a First Amendment right to express that view. “Insufficient evidence exists upon which a reasonable jurist could conclude that the 45th president’s statements were accurate or not, and he therefore denies they were false,” Castor and Schoen wrote, adding that Trump “denies” it is false to say he won the election “in a landslide.”

    The lawyers’ writing is at times garbled, but the underlying argument is worse.

    First, the First Amendment argument is impossible to take seriously. Obviously, Trump has the same free-speech rights as the rest of us, but like the rest of us, that right is not without legal limits. Inciting a riot, for example, is not constitutionally protected speech.

    What’s more, there are inevitable consequences to presidential speech. If a hypothetical president, for example, were to deliver remarks in which he shared highly sensitive national security secrets and then encouraged the United States’ enemies to launch an attack, that president should expect to be impeached. His or her lawyers could not credibly defend the conduct by pointing to the First Amendment.

    […] freedom of speech does not empower a president to say literally anything he pleases without consequence.

    But just as important is the argument that Trump apparently thinks he won the race he lost. Here’s that sentence again: “Insufficient evidence exists upon which a reasonable jurist could conclude that the 45th president’s statements were accurate or not, and he therefore denies they were false.”

    It’s as mind-numbing as it is bizarre. As Vox added, referring to the Republican’s lawyers, “They’re not saying Trump’s statements about Democrats stealing the election from him were true; they’re just claiming there’s not enough evidence to persuade a ‘reasonable jurist’ that his claims are false, and so ‘therefore’ Trump denies they’re false. Clear as mud.”

    In reality, meanwhile, the evidence disproving Trump’s fraud claims is overwhelming, and his denial that his lies were false is utterly irrelevant.

    But it was the conclusion of a Washington Post analysis that rang true with me: “Lawyers are paid to make the best case they can for their clients. If this is Trump’s best case, he’s lucky that nearly half the jurors who will evaluate it are already firmly in his camp.”

    Quite right. The filing from Trump’s new-and-not-improved defense team is an embarrassing joke, which will persuade no one. Except, it doesn’t matter, since so many Senate Republicans won’t bother reading it, having convinced themselves that they must side with their party’s corrupt and failed former president, evidence be damned.

  269. says

    Steve Bannon got a pardon, but he could still be in legal trouble:

    Former Donald Trump campaign chairman Steve Bannon got a last-minute pardon from his boss as Trump left the White House, but that doesn’t mean he’s in the clear.

    State investigators in Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance’s Office are in “early-stage discussions” into whether a state-level criminal case can be brought against Bannon in New York […]

    Bannon was previously one of four people charged in the federal criminal case over “We Build The Wall,” the GoFundMe-powered private border wall project.

    Federal prosecutors alleged that Bannon and three others — who did not receive presidential pardons and still face trial this year — secretly siphoned money out of the project, defrauding thousands of donors. Bannon allegedly received more than $1 million in We Build The Wall donor money.

    […] Prosecutors in Vance’s office have sought records and requested an interview with at least one potential witness […]

    state investigators were exploring whether the same criminal conduct alleged against Bannon federally could be charged in state court.

    The paper noted that residents of the federal Southern District of New York were among the We Build The Wall donors that Bannon allegedly defrauded. That district includes Manhattan. Banking transactions routed through New York City also frequently give Manhattan investigators jurisdiction for investigations […]

    Bannon was included in Trump’s last-minute clemency blitz […]


  270. says

    Background to #371 – AJ – “Rihanna, Greta Thunberg anger India by supporting farmer protests”:

    Pop superstar Rihanna and climate activist Greta Thunberg have drawn the ire of the Indian government after they tweeted in support of the huge protests against the new farm laws.

    Tens of thousands of farmers have been camped on the outskirts of India’s capital New Delhi since November, calling for a repeal of laws they fear will allow large corporations to crush them.

    Rihanna, who has more than 100 million followers on Twitter, wrote “why aren’t we talking about this?! #FarmersProtest”, with a link to a news story about a government crackdown that included an internet blackout.

    Her comment was retweeted more than 230,000 times and liked by more than half a million users.

    She was joined by several international celebrities, including legislators from the United States and Britain, who expressed their solidarity with the protesting farmers.

    Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, one of the world’s most prominent environmental campaigners, also tweeted a story about the internet blackout, saying: “We stand in solidarity with the #FarmersProtest in India.”

    The international celebrity tweets triggered an online storm in India, where the farmers’ protests have become one of the biggest challenges to Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi since he took power in 2014.

    India’s government has bristled at international remarks on the protests, calling them an “internal matter”, adding that “vested interest groups” were trying to mobilise support against the government.

    India’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday the celebrities needed “a proper understanding of the issues”.

    Members of India’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its supporters regularly brand their critics traitors, propagandists and “anti-nationals”.

    Some Indians tweeted in support of Rihanna, but others were not pleased, with her remarks getting abusive replies.

    Modi has said the laws are necessary to modernise India’s agriculture sector, but farmers fear they would put them at the mercy of big corporations.

    A forum of farmers’ unions said the government had disconnected electricity and water, suspended the internet and social media accounts and removed mobile toilets at the protest sites.

    The police have been fortifying barricades and digging trenches on the highways to stop protesters from entering the capital after a group resorted to violence on January 26.

    Twitter temporarily blocked tens of accounts tweeting about the protests on Monday at the demand of the Indian government, while police have detained dozens of farmers and filed sedition charges against prominent journalists.

    India – the world’s biggest democracy – regularly uses internet shutdowns to limit information sharing during disturbances.

  271. blf says

    Follow-up to @356/@357, about Scottish Green party co-leader and MSP Patrick Harvie seeking an UWO (Unexplained Wealth Order) on hair furor’s two Scottish golf courses, from the BBC, Eric Trump hits out at MSPs over Scottish wealth debate, a snippet:

    Mr Harvie said: “As entertaining as Eric Trump’s tantrum is, he doesn’t say where his dad got the money to buy his Scottish golf courses, which is exactly why I’m calling on the Scottish government to seek an unexplained wealth order.”