Discuss: Political Madness All the Time

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

Lynna is your curator. Type furiously!

(Previous thread)


  1. says


    Republicans in a muddle! The Grand Omnishambles Party! Gipper Madness! Whatever moniker we eventually settle on to describe the chaos inside today’s GOP, it’s clear we can now retire that old cliche that “Dems fall in love, Republicans fall in line.” We coalesced behind a centrist candidate and took back all three branches, and they’re tearing themselves apart in a cult frenzy over “the weird worship of one dude.”

    Last week, the Wyoming Republican Party voted to censure Liz Cheney for her vote to impeach former President Trump, and yesterday the Louisiana, North Carolina, and Nebraska parties moved to do the same to Senators Bill Cassidy, Richard Burr, and Ben Sasse.

    “I voted to convict former President Trump because he is guilty. That’s what the facts demand,” Cassidy wrote in the Baton Rouge Advocate. “I have no illusions that this is a popular decision. I made this decision because Americans should not be fed lies about ‘massive election fraud.’ Police should not be left to the mercy of a mob. Mobs should not be inflamed to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power.”

    Nonetheless, within hours of casting his vote, the Louisiana GOP voted unanimously to censure him. Yes, that would be the same party that refused to censure former KKK grand wizard David Duke in 1989 when he was a state rep. Only the best people!

    Cassidy and Sasse were just re-elected, so they’ve got six years to ride this thing out. Meanwhile Burr and Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey are both retiring, which may have freed them up to vote against the pro-Trump mob.

    “I do not make this decision lightly, but I believe it is necessary,” Burr wrote on his official website. “By what he did and by what he did not do, President Trump violated his oath of office to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.” For which his state party will meet today to decide whether to punish him.

    The GOP is now declaring seven senators, i.e. 14 percent of its Senate caucus, to be apostates, with House Freedom Caucus members taking potshots at them on the daily.

    “The truth is that the establishment in both political parties have teamed up to screw our fellow Americans for generations,” Florida Man Rep. Matt Gaetz said last month on his field trip to Wyoming to fling poo at Liz Cheney for her vote to impeach. “The private insider club of Joe Biden, Mitch McConnell, Mitt Romney, Nancy Pelosi and Liz Cheney, they want to return our government to its default setting: enriching them.” […]


    See also https://twitter.com/GOP/status/1361314582011252738
    It’s sickening, but it does tell you where the majority of the GOP stands, and it does so with one image.

  2. says

    For the convenience of readers of this thread, here are a few links back to the previous chapter:

    “Ron DeSantis To President Biden: Who Are You To Judge My Superspreader State?”

    India activist arrested over circulating Greta Thunberg ‘toolkit’

    A summary of Trump’s current legal problems

    Scroll to read more of the 500 comments in that chapter. The second impeachment trial of Trump is discussed, as well as other current topics.

  3. says

    More links back to the previous chapter of this thread:

    QAnon was enabled in part by former military and intelligence professionals ‘gone wild’. They lent credibility to the myth and laundered QAnon messaging to the public, sometimes via E-list ‘influencers’. Here are some of the key personnel….”

    Miles Davis
    Yeah! “Miles Runs The Voodoo Down” is perfect for Valentine’s Day! Actually, any day.

  4. blf says

    Nor political per se (albeit they don’t discuss the production of the cocoa beans), Mouth-watering creations in Lyon, France’s capital of chocolate (video), possibly best not watched if hungry:

    Nine out of ten French people love chocolate. Chocolatiers like to think that the tenth person must simply be lying. In the city of Lyon, France’s chocolate and gastronomy capital, techniques are a well-kept secret. Philippe Bernachon shows us part of the process of making chocolate from cocoa beans. At the Voisin chocolate factory, we learn about how to make old-fashioned pralines from huge slabs of chocolate. Meanwhile, Willy Ferrier tells us about his unique work as a chocolate sculptor.

    Mr Ferrier started with a 130kg block, and chiseled / shaved off quite a lot to produce his sculpture. The video did not go into what happened to the chiseled / shaved off chocolate (clearly many kilos)… I kept waiting and waiting for a hint…

  5. blf says

    A recent idea in teh “U”K is an undersea rail tunnel between Scotland and N.Ireland. This nonsense has been given a characteristically British “endorsement”, Irish Sea rail tunnel plan derided as Doctor Dolittle fantasy:

    Senior Tory Simon Hoare suggests ‘putting the hallucinogenics down’ and making the protocol work

    A proposed undersea tunnel between Scotland and Northern Ireland has hit some credibility problems with one senior Conservative MP describing it as a Doctor Dolittle fantasy designed to distract from post-Brexit border check problems.

    “The trains could be pulled by an inexhaustible herd of unicorns overseen by stern, officious dodos,” tweeted Simon Hoare, the Tory MP who chairs Westminster’s Norther Ireland affairs committee.

    “A PushmePullYou could be the senior guard,” he said, alluding to the Doctor Dolittle creature with a head at each end of its body, “and Puff the Magic Dragon the inspector”.


    If the rail industry leaders who proposed tunnelling under the Irish Sea between Stranraer and Larne hoped for enthusiasm, or at least to be taken seriously, they must be disappointed by the withering responses.

    Politicians and business leaders have lined up to scorn the idea, calling it a distraction from efforts to adapt to the Northern Ireland protocol, a part of the Brexit deal with requires customs checks on some goods entering the region from Great Britain.

    “It’s time the prime minister woke up to that reality, people here simply don’t want a Boris bridge, a Boris burrow, frankly a Boris anything,” said Nichola Mallon, Northern Ireland’s infrastructure minister. “They want jobs, opportunities, stability and a brighter future.”

    Aodhán Connolly, director of the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium, said it took 30 years to build the Channel tunnel, that there was a munitions dump blocking the way and that any tunnel to Northern Ireland would not obviate border checks.

    The most direct route passes Beaufort’s Dyke, a 1,000ft deep trench in the Irish Sea where the government dumped about 1m tonnes of unused explosives and chemical weapons, including sarin and mustard gas.


  6. says

    blf @5:

    The most direct route passes Beaufort’s Dyke, a 1,000ft deep trench in the Irish Sea where the government dumped about 1m tonnes of unused explosives and chemical weapons, including sarin and mustard gas.


    Good news:

    Pelosi uses President’s day message to Democratic colleagues to announce independent commission to investigate the Capitol insurrection …

    (commission announcement in bold)

    Dear Democratic Colleague,

    Today, we celebrate the birthdays of America’s two greatest presidents: George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

    George Washington was the patriarch of our country, who with his courage, fought for and won our independence at great odds; who with his wisdom, then established our democracy – the greatest that the world would ever see – and who with his prescience, cautioned against political parties at war with their own government, warning that through parties, “cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government.”

    Abraham Lincoln saved our country from division by winning a war and the battle of ideas. He wisely said that if division and destruction ever come to America, it will come from within. In his Lyceum Address, he said, “If [danger] ever reach us it must spring up amongst us; it cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher.”

    Our country was blessed with the great patriotism of these presidents. And now we are grateful for the great patriotism of our Impeachment Managers, who under the leadership of Congressman Jamie Raskin, did an excellent job defending our democracy and honoring our Constitution.

    Now, as always, security is the order of the day: the security of our country, the security of our Capitol which is the temple of our democracy, and the security of our Members.

    For the past few weeks, General Honoré has been assessing our security needs by reviewing what happened on January 6 and how we must ensure that it does not happen again. He has been working with Committees of Jurisdiction and will continue to make proposals.

    It is clear from his findings and from the impeachment trial that we must get to the truth of how this happened. To protect our security, our security, our security, our next step will be to establish an outside, independent 9/11-type Commission to “investigate and report on the facts and causes relating to the January 6, 2021 domestic terrorist attack upon the United States Capitol Complex… and relating to the interference with the peaceful transfer of power, including facts and causes relating to the preparedness and response of the United States Capitol Police and other Federal, State, and local law enforcement in the National Capitol Region.”

    As we prepare for the Commission, it is also clear from General Honoré’s interim reporting that we must put forth a supplemental appropriation to provide for the safety of Members and the security of the Capitol.

    We will be forever grateful to the Capitol Police for their life-saving courage and heroism in securing the Capitol and protecting Members. I thank those of you who have signed on as co-sponsors for the legislation honoring the Capitol Police and other law enforcement with the Congressional Gold Medal, and I urge others to do so as well.

    As we go forward, we must be worthy of the courage and wisdom of the patriarch of our country, George Washington, and of the savior of our country, Abraham Lincoln.

    Thank all of you for your courage and patriotism.


  7. says

    […] Just to truly drive home how far the GOP star has fallen, [Senator Lindsey] Graham declared none other than Lara Trump, the supremely uninspired beneficiary of Trump nepotism and Ivanka wannabe, the future of the Republican Party. Verbatim—not kidding.

    “The biggest winner I think of this whole impeachment trial is Lara Trump,” Graham said. “If she runs, I will certainly be behind her because I think she represents the future of the Republican Party.”


    Lara led Trump’s “Women for Trump” initiative targeting the suburbs, which you may recall, wasn’t the electoral fast ball the campaign hoped it would be.

    On the other side of Graham’s sycophantic appeals and McConnell’s Machiavellian maneuvering was Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, who seemed to grow genuinely outraged over the course of the trial by Trump’s murderous riot and overt lack of remorse. After Cassidy voted to convict, he released an exceedingly simply and unapologetic statement: “Our Constitution and our country is more important than any one person. I voted to convict President Trump because he is guilty.”

    On ABC’s This Week Sunday, Cassidy predicted Trump’s influence over the party had peaked and was on its way down. “I think his force wanes,” Cassidy said.

    What’s so fascinating is that both Graham and Cassidy are likely speaking shades of the truth. Trump remains the most high-profile Republican nationwide and, while he will surely continue to harness the intensity of the nativist wing of the GOP, his ability to command a broad enough coalition to win national and statewide elections has just as surely taken a hit. In essence, Trump is a short-term bandage for a gaping oozing wound within the Republican Party.

    The Lindsey Grahams of the world are clinging to Trump for dear life, but his epic toxicity guarantees that wound will only deepen in the months and years ahead.


  8. blf says

    Religious-Right Leaders and Media Foster White Evangelicals’ Adherence to Conspiracy Theories:

    A new survey by the conservative American Enterprise Institute reported that white evangelical Protestants are far more likely to believe QAnon conspiracy theories, Donald Trump’s lies about the 2020 election, and false claims that antifascist activists and not Trump supporters were responsible for the deadly insurrection at the US Capitol. About half of white evangelical Protestants “said the antifa claim was completely or mostly true.”

    Daniel Cox, director of AEI’s Survey Center on American Life, told the Religion News Service that white evangelicals are more politically segregated — more of them say a lot of their family members or friends voted for Donald Trump in 2020 — than any other religious group.

    Another likely explanation for the survey’s findings is the role that conservative Christian media — television, radio, religious-right leaders’ social media operations — played in promoting Trump’s lies about a stolen election and in trying to deflect blame for the attack on Congress away from Trump supporters and on to anti-fascist activists.

    [… numerous examples…]

    Religious-right activists associated with the so-called Stop the Steal campaign and other efforts to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election have also actively promoted conspiracy theories about COVID-19 at events and on Christian-right media.

  9. blf says

    I’ve never heard of this chain, ‘The last straw’: the US families ending love affair with grocery chain after Capitol riot:

    Families are boycotting Publix after a member of founding family donated $300,000 to the Donald Trump rally that preceded January’s deadly Capitol attack


    Publix is an institution in Florida, the company growing from Depression-era roots in the 1930s to a regional behemoth with 225,000 workers today, and its founding Jenkins family now worth $8.8bn, according to Forbes. It prides itself on a family-friendly image, […] and boasts of being the largest employee-owned company in the US.

    Yet the company and its founders have donated often and generously to partisan, conservative causes, including more than $2m alone by Publix heiress Julie Jenkins Fancelli, daughter of the late company founder George Jenkins, to the Republican National Committee and Trump’s failed re-election campaign.

    In a brief statement on 30 January, to date the company’s only comment about Fancelli, Publix attempted to distance itself from her. Yet her funding of the Trump gathering that formed the insurrection’s opening act, and revealed by the Wall Street Journal to have been channelled through the rightwing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, was just the latest in a series of controversies and missteps that left some shoppers holding their noses as they filled their carts, or others […] pulling out altogether.

    Three years ago, in the aftermath of the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17, Publix temporarily halted political donations after an outcry over its bankrolling of Adam Putnam, a self-confessed proud National Rifle Association sellout, for state governor.


    Earlier this year, Publix donated donated $100,000 to a political action committee looking to secure DeSantis’s re-election in 2022. Soon after, the governor awarded Publix a lucrative and exclusive contract to distribute Covid-19 vaccines in numerous stores. […]


    Others point to the juxtaposition of Publix being at the forefront of vaccine distribution in Florida while failing to enforce in-store mask wearing in some areas of the state, and defending a damaging wrongful death lawsuit from the family of an employee in Miami who died of Covid complications after being told not to wear a mask.

    A judge in Tampa last week threw out the company’s demand to reduce the lawsuit to a worker’s compensation claim after the company asked for 70-year-old deli worker Gerardo Gutierrez’s death last April to be classified as a workplace accident.

    Gutierrez’s family insists he contracted the infection from a colleague after employees were banned from wearing masks by workplace regulations later reversed. […]

  10. Pierce R. Butler says

    blf @ # 9 – Yeah, Publix is all over Florida, at least where middle-class whites shop.

    Despite multiple provocations, I bought a lot of my groceries there too, until last week: finding out about their bribe to Gov. Ron DeathSentence was the last straw. (They did issue a pretty strong disavowal of Fancelli’s funding of the failed 1/6 insurrection, but seem to have entered ass-covering mode regarding their own cash-for-crooks donation to incumbent collusionists.) No more.

  11. says

    Bits and pieces of news.

    NBC News:

    HealthCare.gov’s market for subsidized health plans reopens Monday for a special three-month sign-up window as the Democratic-led Congress pushes a boost in financial help that could cut premiums by double digits.


    Doctors and nurses trying to build confidence in Covid-19 vaccines on social media are mounting coordinated campaigns to combat anti-vaccination forces prevalent on those platforms.

    Washington Post:

    The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating the circulation of a photo depicting George Floyd, who was killed in the hands of Minneapolis police officers last year, with the words, “You take my breath away,” law enforcement officials said Saturday.

    A GOP donor gave $2.5 million for a voter fraud investigation. Now he wants his money back. Washington Post:

    Like many Trump supporters, conservative donor Fred Eshelman awoke the day after the presidential election with the suspicion that something wasn’t right. His candidate’s apparent lead in key battleground states had evaporated overnight.

    The next day, the North Carolina financier and his advisers reached out to a small conservative nonprofit group in Texas that was seeking to expose voter fraud. After a 20-minute talk with the group’s president, their first-ever conversation, Eshelman was sold.

    “I’m in for 2,” he told the president of True the Vote, according to court documents and interviews with Eshelman and others.

    “$200,000?” one of his advisers on the call asked.

    “$2 million,” Eshelman responded.

    Over the next 12 days, Eshelman came to regret his donation and to doubt conspiracy theories of rampant illegal voting, according to court records and interviews.

    Now, he wants his money back.

    The story behind the Eshelman donation — detailed in previously unreported court filings and exclusive interviews with those involved — provides new insights into the frenetic days after the election, when baseless claims led donors to give hundreds of millions of dollars to reverse President Biden’s victory.

    Trump’s campaign and the Republican Party collected $255 million in two months, saying the money would support legal challenges to an election marred by fraud. Trump’s staunchest allies in Congress also raised money off those false allegations, as did pro-Trump lawyers seeking to overturn the election results — and even some of their witnesses.

    True the Vote was one of several conservative “election integrity” groups that sought to press the case in court. Though its lawsuits drew less attention than those brought by the Trump campaign, True the Vote nonetheless sought to raise more than $7 million for its investigation of the 2020 election.

    Documents that have surfaced in Eshelman’s litigation, along with interviews, show how True the Vote’s private assurances that it was on the cusp of revealing illegal election schemes repeatedly fizzled as the group’s focus shifted from one allegation to the next. The nonprofit sought to coordinate its efforts with a coalition of Trump’s allies, including Trump attorney Jay Sekulow and Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), the documents show.

    Eshelman has alleged in two lawsuits — one in federal court has been withdrawn and the other is ongoing in a Texas state court — that True the Vote did not spend his $2 million gift and a subsequent $500,000 donation as it said it would. Eshelman also alleges that True the Vote directed much of his money to people or businesses connected to the group’s president, Catherine Engelbrecht.

    […] In court documents, True the Vote says Eshelman’s money was spent properly. […]

  12. johnson catman says

    re Lynna @11: Eshelman is an rich idiot. He has more money than brains. It would serve him right if he never recovers his contributions. Maybe then, he will learn that the republicans are full of shit and not worthy of his support.

  13. Paul K says

    I found something out the other day while doing some reading about Jamie Raskin: he is a co-chair, and co-founder of the Congressional Freethought caucus. I found this in the Wayback machine, from the congressional page of Rep. Jared Huffman (CA) (the other co-chair):

    ‘The Congressional Freethought Caucus has four main goals: 1) to promote public policy formed on the basis of reason, science, and moral values; 2) to protect the secular character of our government by adhering to the strict Constitutional principle of the separation of church and state; 3) to oppose discrimination against atheists, agnostics, humanists, seekers, religious and nonreligious persons, and to champion the value of freedom of thought and conscience worldwide; and 4) to provide a forum for members of Congress to discuss their moral frameworks, ethical values, and personal religious journeys.’

    There are currently 14 members of the Caucus in the House of Representatives. This is one more reason for me to like and appreciate Congressman Raskin.

  14. blf says

    Yeah! Apropos of very little, the closest restaurant to the lair, an Italian place run by the gentleman who previously ran perhaps the best Italian place in village, took a few years off, and then opened the current place a few months before the pandemic, is about to re-open ! I was very Very worried he was out-of-business due to the forced (but sensible) closure over the last year-ish — and his new restaurant’s lack of both outdoor dining and any take-away capability — but he now is actively working on re-opening. I didn’t quiz him on the details, but presume he’s addressing the previous problem of not being able to offer take-away dining. (One of many notable features of his restaurants is they are not pizza joints; another is a really nice vino selection.)

  15. blf says

    More apropos of almost nothing, I just re-found Every Man Is A King (audio) by Alias Ron Kavana (c.1989). To the best of my knowledge, this has nothing to do with the Huey Long “tribute” song of the same name. Whilst Mr Kavana is an acquaintance of mine, I have no reason to believe he knew of that Huey Long “tribute” when he wrote / titled the song — albeit I wouldn’t put it pass him to have ironically titled the song.

  16. says

    A couple podcast episodes:

    Why Is This Happening? with Chris Hayes – “Modi’s ‘Arrogance of Power’ and the Indian Farmers’ Protests with Rana Ayyub”:

    Right now, one of the world’s largest protest movements is taking place across India. Millions of farmers are demonstrating against a set of policy proposals passed by Narendra Modi and his government….

    (Really informative discussion. See also #s 83, 322, 486, and 499 on the previous thread.)

    The Bunker Daily – “PUTIN’S NEMESIS? Navalny’s Big Gamble, with Luke Harding”:

    When opposition figurehead and recovered Novichok target Alexei Navalny flew back to Russia to lead democracy protests, he took an enormous personal risk, of which instant imprisonment was only a part. Could Navalny’s mix of street demos and slick social media mockery really destabilise Putin’s regime? Luke Harding, author of Shadow State : Murder, Mayhem and Russia’s Remaking of the West, explains the background to Navalny’s gamble… and the meaning of the casino, nightclub and “aqua-discotheque” in ‘Putin’s Palace’.

  17. says

    Here’s a link to the February 16 Guardian (support the Guardian if you can!) coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    Aung San Suu Kyi charged for breaking Covid restrictions, her lawyer says

    Police in Myanmar have filed a new charge against ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi, her lawyer has said, which may allow her to be held indefinitely without trial, AP reports.

    Khin Maung Zaw said after meeting a judge in the capital, Naypyitaw, that Aung San Suu Kyi has been charged with violating Article 25 of the Natural Disaster Management Law, which has been used to prosecute people who have broken coronavirus restrictions.

    Aung San Suu Kyi, who was ousted in a military coup on 1 February, has already been charged with possessing walkie talkies that were imported without being registered. She is under house arrest. Details of her alleged Covid restriction transgression remain unclear.

    The maximum punishment for the violation is three years’ imprisonment. However, the new charge may allow her to be held indefinitely without trial because a change in the Penal Code instituted by the junta last week permits detention without court permission.

    Protests with thousands of people demanding that the elected leader and members of her ousted government be freed from detention are taking place in defiance of an order banning gatherings of five or more people.

  18. says

    Guardian – “Will Macron’s new commission face up to all of France’s colonial atrocities?”:

    …Colonising countries should move beyond Macron’s memories and truth to a genuine process of truth and reconciliation. A process in which those affected can give evidence on the crimes that initiated and sustained colonialism, and that continue to blight communities of colour – both those in the formerly colonised world and those who have migrated to the west.

    And out of that will inevitably come the controversial question of reparations – often seen as payment for the wrongs of previous generations, less often as a correction for the privileges and benefits those wrongs still bring today. It is a question we must all face – whether we are black, brown, or white – if we are to find a way of living together with justice and true respect for each other.

    Much more atl.

  19. says

    Guardian – “Family of anti-Trump Republican condemns him: ‘A disappointment to us and God'”:

    Family disagreements over US politics proliferated under four years of Donald Trump, with Facebook and other social media providing an accelerant for acrimony.

    But relatives of Adam Kinzinger, the Illinois representative who is one of Trump’s rare Republican critics, have taken their beef with the congressman into the public square, in an open letter published on Monday by the New York Times.

    Kinzinger, a centrist Republican whose ambitions could extend beyond the conservative district he serves, called for Trump to be removed from office after a mob of his supporters attacked the Capitol on 6 January.

    Days later, nearly a dozen cousins and extended relatives in Illinois sent a blistering, handwritten, two-page letter to state Republican officials and to Kinzinger’s father.

    “Oh my, what a disappointment you are to us and to God!” said the letter, addressed to Kinzinger, the word “disappointment” underlined three times and “God” underlined once, according to the version published by the Times. “You go against your Christian principles and join the ‘devil’s army’ (Democrats and the fake news media).”

    The letter accuses Kinzinger of transgressions culminating in his rejection of Trump.

    “President Trump is not perfect, but neither are you or any of us for that matter!” the letter says. “It is not for us to judge or be judged! But he is a Christian!”

    In Trump’s second impeachment, Kinzinger voted in favor of an article charging incitement of insurrection. He later released a statement calling on fellow Republicans to break ranks with Trump, even if that means risking their careers.

    “We have a lot of work to do to restore the Republican party and to turn the tide on the personality politics,” Kinzinger said. “For me, I am at total peace with my decision on impeachment and my mission to restore the GOP, to uphold the principles we hold dear, and firmly put the country first. Our future depends on it.”

    The letter from Kinzinger’s large family – his father has 32 cousins, the Times said –was not at total peace with the representative’s decision.

    “You should be very proud that you have lost the respect of Lou Dobbs, Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Greg Kelly etc. and most importantly in our book, Mark Levin and Rush Limbaugh and us!” the letter said, naming a string of Fox News hosts and conservative personalities. [LOL]

    “It is now most embarrassing to us that we are related to you. You have embarrassed the Kinzinger family name!”

  20. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current pandemic live blog:

    Millions of medical-grade N95 face masks manufactured in American factories are being held in storage despite US doctors and nurses warning of a lack of supplies, an Associated Press investigation has found.

    The reporters uncovered a logistical breakdown at the heart of the perceived mask shortage, which is rooted in federal failures to coordinate supply chains and provide hospitals with clear rules about how to manage their medical equipment.

    Before the pandemic, medical providers followed guidelines that called for N95s to be discarded after each use. As the masks ran short, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention modified guidelines to allow for extended use and reuse if supplies are “depleted,” a term left undefined.

    […] Many hospital procurement officers say they are following guidelines for depleted supplies, even if their own stockpiles are robust.

    Chester “Trey” Moeller, a political appointee who served as the CDC’s deputy chief of staff until President Joe Biden’s inauguration last month, said efforts to increase US mask production succeeded, but the government has failed to connect new suppliers with customers.

    “We are forcing our health care industry to reuse sanitised N95s or even worse, wear one N95 all day long,” he said.

  21. blf says

    Arwa Mahdawi in the Grauniad, My partner is pregnant — and the cost of giving birth in the US is stressing me out:

    It is the most expensive country in the world to have a baby, there is no way of knowing the bill in advance, and you can potentially be charged just for holding your newborn

    I’m delighted to announce my partner has been struck with a short-term disability. She is pregnant. Which, in the capitalist utopia that is the US, is pretty much the same thing. It’s the only developed country without mandated paid maternity leave; in some states, however, short-term disability insurance covers your income for a few weeks while you recover from the miracle of birth.

    You know what is really a miracle? The fact that anyone gives birth in the US at all. […] It doesn’t just have the worst parental leave in the rich world, it is also the most expensive country in which to have a baby. It is hard to pin down exact costs because they vary wildly depending on your location and your health insurance. However, even with decent insurance, you can expect to pay a few thousand dollars out-of-pocket for an uncomplicated birth. […]

    […] I am slightly stressed about going bankrupt before we even take the child home, so I have been talking through a birthing plan with my partner. If the hospital offers you a cup of tea, I have suggested asking how much it costs. If they ask if you want to hold the baby, ask how much it costs! (You can be charged $40 just for holding your newborn). If you want to go to the loo, ask how much it costs! My partner is not keen on this birthing plan and, to be fair, it has flaws. Namely, nobody in the US healthcare system can ever tell you how much anything costs. They just tell you to call your health insurance company, who tell you to call the hospital’s billing department, who put you on hold then tell you to call your insurance company. Three weeks later, you get a bill full of surprises. I read about someone who got an $11,000 nursery fee after giving birth because a nurse had taken her son out of the hospital room to check his hearing. This was purely optional, according to the person’s health insurance, so wasn’t covered.

    [… more horror stories…]

    I am trying to become a more positive person so I don’t turn my child into a curmudgeonly grinch. So here is something positive I would like to say: the NHS is wonderful. Seriously, if you are in the UK, don’t take it for granted. I almost had an aneurysm when I saw that an influential conservative thinktank had recently published a report saying there was no reason to be grateful for the NHS. Perhaps the report’s author should try reproducing in the US.

  22. says

    The Covid relief bill is slowly moving forward. It might actually get done soon.

    […] As the Washington Post reported this morning:

    Despite divisions within the House Democratic caucus, Democrats have largely unified behind the legislation. Nine House committees passed their individual portions of the bill last week, fighting back GOP attempts to alter it with dozens of amendments targeting everything from abortion to the minimum wage to the Keystone XL pipeline. Democrats defeated all the GOP amendments save for one, a relatively minor measure in the Agriculture Committee aimed at compensating farmers impacted by derecho storms last year.

    By most accounts, a floor vote in the House is expected next week. Though Democratic margins in the chamber are narrow, it’s generally expected to pass.

    It would then go to the Democratic-led Senate, where the party’s margin is even smaller, and where more conservative Democratic members have already voiced opposition to major elements of President Joe Biden’s proposed relief package, including a provision to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.

    The odds of the Senate approving a bill are pretty good, but the odds of the Senate approving the House’s bill, without significant changes, are low. This is relevant, of course, because officials will quickly start running out of calendar: enhanced unemployment benefits are set to expire in mid-March, and the White House is determined to sign this legislation into law ahead of that deadline.

    As for Republicans, it’s striking that a $1.9 trillion relief package is taking shape, and while there’s no reason to expect broad bipartisan support for the bill, the GOP opposition hasn’t taken shape in earnest. In fact, at this point, there doesn’t appear to be any coordinated pushback against the Democratic effort at all.

    Complicating matters for Republicans, House GOP leaders now expect at least some — not many, but some — of their own members to end up supporting the Democratic relief package, which would certainly get the attention of centrist Democratic senators, and give the bill a bipartisan boost with the public.


  23. says

    Sen. Ron Johnson, a Republican from Wisconsin, tried to parse the meaning of the word “armed” in order to downplay the insurrection:

    “This didn’t seem like an armed insurrection to me,” the Oshkosh Republican said in an interview on WISN-AM with conservative talk radio show host Jay Weber, after condemning the events at the U.S. Capitol that day. “I mean ‘armed,’ when you hear ‘armed,’ don’t you think of firearms?”

    Uh, yeah, no I don’t think only of firearms. What about the stun gun attached to the belt of the doofus who put his feet up on Pelosi’s desk? What about the bear spray, a chemical weapon that is not supposed to be used on humans?


    […] while the Wisconsin senator seems uncertain about whether the rioters were, in fact, “armed,” the Washington Post reported that the pro-Trump mob “battered police with a multitude of weapons: metal flagpoles, baseball bats, wrenches and clubs.” The article added, “In court filings, officials have said that guns, bombs, stun guns and other weapons were seized from rioters, […] Fourteen people face charges related to bringing weapons to the riots, […] including an Alabama man who allegedly had an arsenal in his truck and a Maryland man who police say stormed the Capitol with a gun, multiple magazines and a bulletproof vest.”

    If Johnson wants to parse the meaning of the word “armed,” it’s a linguistic dispute he’s going to lose.

    Indeed, let’s not forget the fact that when lawmakers agreed to honor Officer Eugene Goodman with a Congressional Gold Medal, the measure literally referenced the fact that on Jan. 6, “the United States Capitol Building was attacked by armed insurrectionists.”

    No one objected to the language, though Ron Johnson now seems to be hedging on whether the rioters fully satisfied his definition of “armed.”

    Finally, the Wisconsin State Journal reported that the Republican senator also said publicly that the entire, bipartisan impeachment process may have been “a ‘diversionary operation’ by Democrats to distract from security lapses at the U.S. Capitol.”

    Yes, the GOP senator apparently wasn’t altogether impressed by the Jan. 6 attack, but he is interested in anti-Pelosi conspiracy theories related to the pro-Trump mob. […]


  24. says

    From text quoted by SC @19:

    “You should be very proud that you have lost the respect of Lou Dobbs, Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Greg Kelly etc. and most importantly in our book, Mark Levin and Rush Limbaugh and us!”

    Ha! Boy did that make me laugh.

    All 32 cousins are disappointed in Adam Kinzinger! LOL.

  25. johnson catman says

    re Lynna @30: I think his cousins were being sarcastic when they said Kinzinger “should be very proud”, but he should indeed take great pride that he does not garner respect from those right-wing idiots. He has probably gained respect from many more sane people in the US for his vote to convict the guilty party.

  26. says

    About those power outages in Texas:

    […] The outages came on a day when the southern U.S. is literally colder than Alaska. That, in turn, comes because climate change has destabilized the normally tightly constrained systems that spin cold air around the pole, and now that system wobbles like a spinning top in the last unsteady stages before collapse. This week, that wobble is tilted toward the central U.S., and folks in Siberia get to go around in shirtsleeves (briefly, before things wobble back in their direction).

    […] Fox News and assorted guests have spent the last two days railing about how the problem is actually green power. In particular, they’re blaming Texas’ high use of wind energy and “frozen wind turbines” for the blackout. If only Texas relied more on burning more coal/oil/gas/wood/witches/liberals, then surely all would be well.

    Only that’s not the problem. As Ars Technica pointed out on Monday, wind power in Texas is currently working at over 100% of its projected capacity. The real problem is that the Texas electrical grid is working exactly as designed, by people who created a system where the occasional failure is a virtue. Because the profits are better that way.

    […] The story of Texas’ odd electrical grid goes back to World War II, when FDR’s rural electrification program was pushing out power grids everywhere. That’s when a group of Texas utilities created a system that touched most every part of the state, but barely brushed up against any non-Texan power systems. That was further codified in the 1970s, when the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) took charge and began tinkering with a formula that would “incentivize” electricity providers in Texas to keep up with demand.

    […] a system where electrical prices can float based on momentary spikes in demand. Prices can soar to several dollars per kilowatt/hour when the grid is hard pressed […]

    On Monday, the Houston Chronicle reported that electricity in Texas approached $9,000 per megawatt/hour. At that rate, the average home in the United States would rack up a monthly bill of around $96,000. So … that’s quite high. If any of this—a purposely constrained statewide market, free floating prices subject to wild changes, and consumers left facing blackouts and unpredictable prices—rings a little bell at the back of your head, there’s also this: Enron got its start dabbling in these markets from its Houston, Texas, headquarters in the 1980s.

    […] The incentive in Texas is to provide for exactly as much power as is needed, and not one hamster-wheel-driven watt more. Because in a system that never reached 100% of capacity, power would always be cheap. It’s fighting over the difference between 99.9% demand and 100.1% demand that drives the system and generates profits.

    So how did wind come into it? That’s also because of profits. Texas doesn’t have over 10,700 wind turbines generating power for its grid because rural Texans decided they liked the look, or because there was a sudden inspiration to “go green.” Texas has wind power because wind power is so insanely cheap. It’s so cheap that producing power from wind turbines is less than the cost of operating a coal-fired power plant. That’s not the cost of building the plant. Someone could build coal plants for free, hand them over to the utilities, and just running them would still cost more than going out and buying the wind turbines to replace them.

    Texas has wind power, because in a market highly incentivized to find the cheapest solution, wind power came out on top. With the rapidly falling prices, solar is also starting to form a bigger part of the picture in Texas, but for the moment the other big player in that state is the same as it is in most states—natural gas.

    The introduction of fracking led to a burst (pun intended) of gas on the market. […] natural gas power can start small and grow. The incremental nature of gas power, and the high efficiency of combined cycle production, saw gas displace coal across the nation with a rapidity that shocked most energy experts—and bankrupted coal producers.

    What Texas has now is a system that’s composed of gas, wind, a lingering set of older coal plants, and a modest amount of nuclear. All of it just enough to provide power when Texas hits those hot summer days […]

    So, what went wrong on Monday? It wasn’t “frozen turbines,” no matter what Fox News says. […]

    Part of the issue comes down to that other item at the top of Texas’ power mix—natural gas. In cold weather, natural gas is in demand because it can be used directly for home heating. That’s driving up not just the price of gas, but also limiting its availability. That’s because the system of pipelines that carry the gas around is also built to match a certain level of demand. Pipelines are expensive. Companies don’t build them “just in case.” High prices and limited availability mean that Texas gas plants are underperforming.

    […] Did Texas utilities pay the extra fee that coal companies want to treat the coal with antifreeze so that it comes out of train cars more readily in extreme weather? I think not.

    But the biggest thing wrong with the electrical system in Texas is there’s simply not enough of it. The way the system was designed placed all the incentives at finding the ragged edge of consumption and staying there. As demand has increased, more capacity has been added, but only enough to keep things at that ragged edge. […]

    The ragged edge is usually found in the summertime, when the outside in Texas is 100 and every Texan wants the inside temperature to be 70. So the system is designed to overcome that 30 degree difference. Right now, people are trying to make their homes 70, and the temperature is 10. There’s just not enough power out there to make it so. Making it worse is that homes in Texas are generally designed around the idea of keeping heat out, rather than holding it in.

    […] If Texas had robust connections to power grids in other states, it might grab some juice from neighbors that were less battered by the cold wave. But it doesn’t.

    […] Meanwhile, wind power and Democratic presidents will be the things that help Texas out of this hole they’ve created for themselves.


  27. says

    Philly GOP commissioner on censures: ‘I would suggest they censure Republican elected officials who are lying’

    Philadelphia’s Republican city commissioner, who faced multiple threats after overseeing the counting of ballots in the 2020 presidential election, recently spoke out against a wave of efforts to censure Republican officials who broke with the party in voting to convict former President Trump.

    In an interview with CNN’s Erin Burnett on Monday, Commissioner Al Schmidt called out the Republican party.

    “It’s strange to hear Republican organizations complain about cancel culture, and yet they’re seeking to censure Republican elected officials who have done nothing more than told the truth,” Schmidt said. “If they would like to censure someone, I would suggest they censure Republican elected officials who are lying to voters.”


    […] “Those lies have consequences, as we’ve seen around the country. As we’ve seen in Washington, D.C., as I’ve seen outside my house, there are consequences to these lies and honestly, I don’t know what the solution is to get around all of this,” Schmidt said.

    Schmidt in November also said he and members of his staff had received death threats as they counted votes, adding that critics of his office had been “coming up with all sorts of crazy stuff” about the integrity of the city’s election systems and casting doubt on the impartiality of vote counters.

    Several Republicans, including Pennsylvania’s Sen. Patrick Toomey, Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) have faced backlash and calls for censuring after voting to convict Trump in his most recent impeachment trial.

  28. says

    Follow-up to comments 19, 30 and 31.

    Wonkette: “Sorry About Your Family, Adam Kinzinger”

    Adam Kinzinger of Illinois is one of the Republicans in the House who voted to impeach Donald Trump, and he’s been vocal about how he’s over Trump for a hot minute now.

    Some members of Kinzinger’s family are not happy about that. One of his cousins, Karen Otto, sent him a letter about it, signed by 10 more members of his family, including Cousin Karen’s husband Cousin Greg. The letter is handwritten, in what can only be described as Extreme Grandma Cursive, […] and it is not very nice! It’s also ridiculously funny […]

    The fact that the New York Times has a copy of this letter, Extreme Grandma Cursive and all, suggests something to us about what Rep. Kinzinger thinks about this letter.

    “Adam, Oh my what a disappointment you are to us and to God!” the letter begins, except for “disappointment” is underlined four times, and God is underlined just once. “We were once so proud of your accomplishments!” But Cousin Karen is no longer proud of Adam Kinzinger, the 42-year-old congressman who served in the Air Force in Iraq and Afghanistan. “Instead you go against your Christian principals and join the ‘devil’s army.'” We don’t know which Christian “principals” Cousin Karen is talking about […]

    We thought you were “smart” enough to see how the left is brainwashing so many “so called good people” including yourself and many other GOP members. You have even fallen for their socialism ideals! So, so, sad!

    Indeed, it is So, so, sad!

    President Trump is not perfect but neither are you or any of us for that matter! It is not for any of us to judge or be judged! But he is a Christian!

    Not sure we agree with your police work there, Cousin Karen. She’s talking about Mr. Two Corinthians, the guy who literally autographed Bibles on the campaign trail, the guy who stood in front of a church awkwardly holding a Bible from his daughter’s MaxMara bag in the air after he ordered a priest teargassed? That guy is a Christian, we’re supposed to believe? You betcha.

    (If God can forgive and use King David in the Bible, He can do the same with President Trump.)

    It’s funny because King David’s big sin involved doing an adultery, after he saw Bathsheba bein’ all naked on the roof next door. This is just like when Donald Trump paid off Stormy Daniels to hide their affair, probably, except for how David’s story involved repentance eventually.[…]

    Point is, Cousin Karen knows Donald Trump is a Christian, because all these other really great Christian guys who are not crooks or conmen say so:

    Franklin Graham, Robert Jeffress, to just name a few, of many Pastors, who mentor President Trump, know that he is a believer!


    Obviously, you did not hear President Trump’s “Christmas Message” to the American people (fake news media did not cover his message) where he actually gave the plan of salvation, instructing people how to repent and ask the Savior into their heart to be “Born Again!” (To believe in John 3:16)

    We did not hear that message either (fake news Wonkette did not cover his message), but we trust that it was super fuckin’ Biblesauce and that Trump was probably literally John the Baptist the entire time. Or maybe Cousin Karen hallucinated it. […]

    (To embrace a party that believes in abortion and socialism is the ultimate sin.)

    OK, we’re sorry, but gonna have to factcheck that one with Jesus, who says in Mark that the unforgivable sin is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. It’s funny because buncha motherfuckers had just accused Jesus of being in the devil’s army.

    Now the letter goes passive-aggressive:

    We should list even more grievances against you, but decided you are not worth more of our time to list them. We have said enough!

    As long as Cousin Karen’s got her priorities in order. The letter isn’t over, though:

    You should be very proud that you have lost the respect of Lou Dobbs, Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Greg Kelly etc. and most importantly in our book, Mark Levin and Rush Limbaugh and us!

    WE ARE, COUSIN KAREN. […] (By the way, “lost the respect” was underlined three times, but our web platform does not have a font for Extreme Grandma Cursive.) […]

    We are not judging you.

    Perish the thought! […]

    For your information, many more family members, feel the same as we do. They just didn’t have the courage to sign our letter or write their own letter! Not us, we are throughly [sic] disgusted with you!! And oh by the way, we are calling for your removal from office!

    OK, that’s enough.

    The Times reached out to Karen Otto, who explained the letter by saying “I wanted Adam to be shunned.” […] Kinzinger told the Times what he thinks of all this:

    The letter-writers in his family, he said, suffer from “brainwashing” from conservative churches that have led them astray.

    “I hold nothing against them,” he said, “but I have zero desire or feel the need to reach out and repair that. That is 100 percent on them to reach out and repair, and quite honestly, I don’t care if they do or not.”

    Kinzinger’s local county GOP also censured him, but we don’t know if they wrote him such a cool letter. […]

    Here’s the letter in all its glory, because it is awesome.


    Images of the letter (all pages) are available at the link.

  29. says

    Pizzagate’s violent legacy

    Washington Post link

    The gunman who terrorized a D.C. pizzeria is out of prison. The QAnon conspiracy theories he helped unleash are out of control.

    He slipped out of bed before sunrise and started driving, spurred by the conspiracy theory he would soon help make famous. As he sped the 350 miles from his hometown in North Carolina to the nation’s capital, Edgar Maddison Welch tilted his cellphone camera toward himself and pressed record.

    “I can’t let you grow up in a world that’s so corrupt by evil,” he told the two young daughters he had left sleeping back in Salisbury, “without at least standing up for you and for other children just like you.”

    So on he drove, to the supposed center of that corruption: Comet Ping Pong, a popular pizzeria in Northwest Washington [D.C.] where, according to the false conspiracy theory known as Pizzagate, powerful Democrats were abusing children. […]

    Four years later, thousands of people would follow Welch’s fevered path to Washington, drawn from across the country by an ever more toxic stew of disinformation and extremism, including Pizzagate’s successor: QAnon.

    […] conspiracy theories had spread under a president who often promoted them, growing from Welch’s trip to Washington shortly after the 2016 election to the hundreds who stormed the Capitol to keep Trump in office, some proudly wearing T-shirts with the QAnon motto: “Where we go one, we go all.”

    […] “The big difference between 2016 and Pizzagate and QAnon [now] isn’t the themes … it’s the scale,” said Donovan, research director of the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. “Four years later it has reached so many more people.”

    Welch was alone on Dec. 4, 2016, when he parked in front of Comet Ping Pong, where children were playing table tennis while their parents enjoyed a slow Sunday afternoon of pizza and beer.

    Then he walked into the restaurant with a loaded assault rifle. […]

    The email arrived on Nov. 21, 2019, as Comet’s owner, James Alefantis, was preparing for a busy weekend.

    “This notice is to inform you that EDGAR WELCH has been approved for placement in a Community Corrections Center (CCC), otherwise known as a halfway house, and will transfer from this institution on March 3, 2020,” said the message from a federal prison in Ohio. “The inmate is scheduled to release on May 28, 2020.”

    It had been almost three years since Welch had entered Alefantis’s restaurant […] The death threats hadn’t stopped since, and one Pizzagate believer had even set a fire inside Comet.

    […] Their ordeal began a few days before Trump’s election, when Alefantis’s Instagram account was suddenly deluged with comments calling him a pedophile.

    WikiLeaks had released the hacked emails of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, a few weeks earlier. In an eight-year-old email, Alefantis had asked Podesta about a fundraiser at Comet. In others, Podesta talked about getting “cheese pizza.” On Internet message boards, anonymous users falsely claimed that “cheese pizza” was code for “child pornography,” and that Comet was the site of a vast Democratic child sex ring.

    Promoted by far-right media personalities such as Alex Jones and amplified by automated social media accounts, or bots, Pizzagate went viral.

    […] After moving to Wilmington to attend community college, Welch struggled with addiction and emerged from rehab even more devout, Koontz told The Washington Post in 2016.

    […] Welch dove deeper, spending hours watching Pizzagate videos and visiting Comet Ping Pong’s website, according to records later presented in court.

    Welch sent one friend a Pizzagate video made by Alex Jones’s Infowars. He tried to recruit another friend who was an Afghanistan war veteran.

    “Raiding a pedo ring, possibly sacraficing [sic] the lives of a few for the lives of many,” Welch described the mission. “Standing up against a corrupt system that kidnaps, tortures and rapes babies and children in our own backyard.”

    But when the veteran suggested doing reconnaissance on Comet instead of going in “guns blazing,” Welch decided to go it alone, court records show.

    […] At a court hearing on June 22, 2017, in which Welch would be sentenced to four years in prison, a Comet employee broke down as he described his struggles with insomnia and depression.

    “After this, I just wanted to sink into the ground,” he said, choking up. “I wasn’t able to leave my house. I couldn’t sleep. I had violent nightmares with all types of outcomes of the situation replaying over and over and over again for weeks.”

    […] online, reason was not prevailing.

    […] “They just found another senator In a hotel room with a under age boy!” one man wrote. “It’s just sick how one guy goes to help and the country puts him in prison!”

    […] as Welch was leading Bible study groups in prison, the conspiracy theory that had put him there was rapidly mutating into something else.

    On Oct. 28, 2017, someone calling himself “Q” and claiming to be a high-ranking intelligence officer began posting on 4chan. The messages expanded on Pizzagate by claiming satanic pedophiles controlled not only Comet but the world, drinking children’s blood to stay young. Q promised that Trump and other government insiders would bring them to justice.

    QAnon quickly migrated to Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, where it found millions of new adherents.

    By the time Welch was released from prison on March 3, QAnon had become inescapable. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgia Republican who had endorsed QAnon beliefs, was on her way to winning a seat in Congress.

    […] Almost unnoticed, Maddison Welch quietly slipped back into his old life. On March 27, the girlfriend who had once said she was leaving him over his Pizzagate obsession now announced on Facebook she had married him. And in September, she posted a photo of them embracing on the beach, their hands on her pregnant belly.

    […] On the night before Biden’s inauguration, Erika Mendoza was delivering a check to customers on Comet Ping Pong’s patio when she saw a dozen angry people approach.

    It had been two weeks since the Capitol siege and the city was still full of soldiers and concertina wire and fear of what would happen next.

    The 29-year-old ran back inside and texted Alefantis.

    “Hi so we have pizza gaters protesters,” she wrote.

    When Alefantis arrived a few minutes later, he saw a small crowd waving signs saying “Hell is Horrible” and “Repent or Perish.”

    The Trump presidency was ending how it had begun: with people targeting Comet Ping Pong.

    […] Alefantis had hoped Pizzagate would be the end of the conspiracy theories, but it had been only the beginning. The sickness had spread to members of Congress. The fraying social fabric had snapped completely.

    He still believed that the country would get through the madness. But he was no longer surprised when people came to Comet, screaming hate and searching for something, as Welch had, that did not exist.

    “It’s not just a pizza place,” a male protester shouted into a megaphone on Jan. 19. “It’s a pedophilia place as well.”

    And so Alefantis did what he had done four years earlier, when the same group first showed up. He pumped music from Comet’s outdoor speakers to drown them out, and customers began to dance.

    As Lady Gaga’s “Perfect Illusion” boomed, Alefantis greeted the picketers with a tray of champagne. A protester stepped forward, grabbed a coupe and poured it onto the sidewalk.

    Then he tipped over the tray, and all the champagne came tumbling down in a riot of broken glass.

  30. says

    Say what now?

    GOP official: We did not send Toomey to Hill ‘to do the right thing’

    By the reasoning of a GOP official in Pennsylvania, Americans don’t elect policymakers, so much as they elect cogs in a partisan machine.

    […] Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), who’s retiring next year and doesn’t seem to care too much about partisan backlashes, has already been censured by multiple GOP county committees following Saturday afternoon’s vote. The state Republican Party will also soon consider an effort to formally rebuke the incumbent senator.

    After voting his conscience, Toomey said over the weekend, “I did what I thought was right.” For his intra-party critics, that’s precisely the problem.

    “We did not send him there to vote his conscience,” Dave Ball, chairman of the Washington County GOP, told Pittsburgh station KDKA-TV. “We did not send him there to do ‘the right thing’ or whatever he said he was doing. We sent him there to represent us.”

    […] It’s a fascinating perspective. For generations, there have been interesting political debates over how elected lawmakers should best serve their constituents. Is it the job of a senator to simply vote the way his or her constituents would vote? What about when there’s broad disagreement?

    In a lower-case-r republican form of government, don’t voters effectively hire officials to serve in legislative bodies, listen and learn, and then exercise their best judgment?

    […] it’s the job of a Republican senator, the argument goes, to act in accordance with Republicans’ wishes.

    It’s an extension of Donald Trump’s belief, emphasized repeatedly throughout his White House tenure, that he was the president of those who agreed with him, not the United States as a whole. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) had a related observation along these lines last week, arguing that he sees himself as “accountable” to Republican voters.

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

    Quite right. And for some Republican officials, the fact that Toomey doesn’t see himself fundamentally as a party functionary, and instead believes it’s his job to serve as part of a representative government is precisely the problem. […]

  31. says

    Trumpworld’s performative outrage over “doctored evidence” at the impeachment trial, briefly explained

    Michael van der Veen wants you to believe the House managers cheated. They didn’t.

    In the days following […] Trump’s acquittal on an article of impeachment alleging incitement of insurrection, his lawyers and allies have tried to weaponize the trial with allegations that House impeachment managers resorted to manufacturing evidence.

    These claims are extremely flimsy and can’t withstand basic scrutiny. But they provide people like Trump attorney Michael van der Veen and Donald Trump Jr. with a pretext to go on TV and complain about how unfairly Donald Trump was treated.

    […] CBS News host Lana Zak responded by trying to unpack what van der Veen meant in saying that Democrats “doctored evidence.” It didn’t sound like much.

    “To be clear for our viewers, what you’re talking about now is a check mark that’s a verification on Twitter that did not exist on that particular tweet, a ‘2020’ that should’ve actually read ‘2021,’ and the selective editing, you say, of the tapes. Is that the doctored evidence of which you’re speaking?” she asked.

    Zak’s characterization of van der Veen’s allegations was accurate. But before she could even finish asking the question, van der Veen — perhaps cognizant of how flimsy his allegations sound when laid out like that — angrily fired back.

    “Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait — that’s not enough for you? No, no, no. It’s not okay to doctor a little bit of evidence,” he said, adding later: “I can’t believe you would ask me a question indicating that it’s all right to doctor just a little bit of evidence.”

    Van der Veen’s adversarial performance was widely praised by right-wing pundits. Less adversarial but equally telling was Donald Trump Jr.’s appearance on Monday night’s edition of Sean Hannity’s Fox News show, when he went as far as to suggest the House managers should be imprisoned.

    “The reality is this: If this wasn’t a kangaroo court, you’d have the Republicans clamoring to go after the supposed prosecution for literally manufacturing evidence,” he said. “I mean, imagine any prosecutor in America was caught manufacturing evidence against a witness. That would be a jailable offense. They would be disbarred, they’d be thrown out of their positions, they’d be impeached. That’s what should happen here, when they’re manufacturing, putting up fake blue check marks, altering tweets, doing all these things for effect.” […]

    The reality is that despite Trump’s acquittal, 57 senators — including seven Republicans — voted to convict him. And even GOP lawmakers who voted to acquit on procedural grounds, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, made clear that they hold Trump responsible for the January 6 insurrection.

    Nonetheless, van der Veen and Don Jr. are trying to make it seem as though Trump’s second impeachment trial was just another installment of the anti-Trump witch hunt. But they’re banking on that people won’t take the time to look into the merits of what they’re alleging, because there’s no there there.

    The outrage is performative, not substantive

    Claims about the House impeachment managers manipulating evidence first came up during Trump attorney David Schoen’s presentation during Friday’s portion of the impeachment trial, when he said, “We have reason to believe the House managers manipulated evidence and selectively edited footage.”

    Schoen’s goal was to discredit the prosecution’s case by impugning the House managers’ credibility, but the specific examples he cited had no bearing on their case.

    One had to do with a photo from a New York Times article in which lead prosecutor Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) is shown preparing for the trial by looking at a computer monitor that’s displaying a Trump tweet with the incorrect date at the bottom. Schoen cited this photo to claim Democrats were cooking up evidence, but as even he admitted, the error was corrected before the trial. […]

    The other specific allegations made by Schoen and van der Veen were similarly weak. One had to do with the year on a Trump tweet that managers displayed during the trial reading “2021” instead of “2020.” Another had to do with a Twitter account retweeted by Trump being shown with a blue checkmark verification badge when the account in fact was not verified. Schoen also quibbled with the prosecution over the significance of misspellings in tweets that Trump retweeted, and accused Democrats of “selectively editing” footage presented during the trial by showing short clips of Trump’s pre-insurrection January 6 speech instead of longer parts of it. (The implication being that because Trump once in passing urged his followers to remain peaceful during a speech in which he referenced “fighting” more than 20 times, it’s not the case he incited anything.)

    To be clear, the discrepancies on the tweets are legitimate errors, but they had absolutely no bearing on the actual content of the posts in question or the substance of the House managers’ case. And as an aide to the House managers explained after Schoen made light of these discrepancies, the errors happened because prosecutors had to recreate Trump’s tweets from scratch after his account was permanently suspended.

    “The text is entirely unchanged,” the aide told The Hill. “The final graphic accidentally had a blue verification checkmark on it, but the substance of it was entirely accurate. So what is Trump’s attorneys’ point?”

    The point, of course, was not to offer a substantive defense of Trump, but to try to discredit Democrats while giving people like van der Veen grist for performative outrage during TV hits. And to that end, mission accomplished.

  32. says

    HuffPo – “Brent Bozell IV, Son Of Prominent Conservative Activist, Charged In Capitol Riot”:

    Leo Brent Bozell IV, the son of conservative activist L. Brent Bozell III, was captured on video inside the Senate chamber during the attack on the U.S. Capitol and has been charged with three federal offenses, according to a federal criminal complaint unsealed on Tuesday.

    Bozell is charged with obstructing an official proceeding, entering a restricted building, and disorderly conduct. The complaint features several images of him on the floor of the Senate, where he was wearing a sweatshirt featuring the name of a Christian school where he formerly served as a girls’ basketball coach. Online sleuths focused in on him because of that sweatshirt and posted videos of his activity online.

    Bozell is the son of L. Brent Bozell III, a major conservative political figure who founded a number of organizations aimed at countering “liberal media bias,” including the Media Research Center and NewsBusters. He is himself the son of L. Brent Bozell Jr., who worked as a speechwriter for Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-Wis.) and as the ghostwriter for Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater’s book “The Conscience of a Conservative.” Bozell Jr. was a key player in the creation of the mid-20th-century conservative movement, alongside National Review founder William F. Buckley, that ultimately took over the Republican Party. He later abandoned the United States, conservatism and democracy for Francisco Franco’s pro-Catholic, anti-communist dictatorship in Spain.

    Bozell IV can be seen in multiple videos both inside and outside the Capitol building on Jan. 6. In one video, shot by The New Yorker, he is on the floor of the Senate with other insurrectionists. Another video on YouTube shows him exiting the Capitol while talking on his cellphone. The security camera footage presented during former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial also shows Bozell among the group of insurrectionists led away from the Senate floor by Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman.

    The arrest of Bozell IV, who reportedly goes by “Zeek” or “Zeeker,” comes after his father denounced the Jan. 6 invaders.

    “You can never countenance police being attacked. You cannot countenance our national Capitol being breached like this. I think it is absolutely wrong,” Bozell III said on a Fox Business show on the day of the siege. He added, “I am heartsick about that element that has been so destructive and has done so much damage to a very noble cause, but the damage they have done to conservatives like me is profound.” [LOL]

    Despite his denunciation of the insurrectionists, Bozell III also claimed that the media stole the 2020 election by failing to cover controversies related to Hunter Biden,…

  33. says

    Manu Raju:

    Trump bashes McConnell – who was a a central player during his term. “Mitch is a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack, and if Republican Senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again. He will never do what needs to be done, or what is right for our Country.”

    McConnell, who voted to acquit Trump, is greeted with this scathing broadside – along with Trump’s plan to interject himself into primaries. “Where necessary and appropriate, I will back primary rivals who espouse Making America Great Again and our policy of America First.”

    Idiotic statement atl (the text is very small). OK, now the impeachment trial is over and he’s had his response (two responses, actually). The media can take a break from covering him. Please.

  34. says

    The Onion – “Something About The Way Society Was Exposed As Complete Illusion Over Past Year Really Getting Man Down Today”:

    VANCOUVER, WA—Unable to shake off an overall negative feeling he couldn’t attribute to anything in particular, local man Paul Carpenter confirmed Monday that something about the way society was exposed as a complete illusion over the past year was really getting him down today. “Maybe it’s just quarantine talking, but the reality dawning on me that American life is a fundamentally hollow cesspool of spectacle and misery is really bumming me out lately,” said Carpenter, adding that he had the vague idea that living in a social system based on brutal competition that made all human relationships transactional and perverted the very idea of community might have something to do with it.

    Carpenter added that he did plan to address the way he’d been feeling lately, perhaps by tuning out of the news and letting other people who weren’t ever even afforded the option to believe in the illusions of American society figure out what to do, or by trying to exercise more.

  35. says


    The British press is 75% owned by …

    1. Viscount Rothermere
    2. “Sir” Rupert Murdoch
    3. Baron Evgeny Lebedev
    4. Sir Frederick Barclay

    All non-domiciled (for tax purposes) right-wing billionaires.

    (This is why we have a Tory government, and Brexit.)

  36. Rob Grigjanis says

    SC @48: I think the phrase “sink or swim” is one of the ugliest in the English language. A nice encapsulation of capitalist sociopathy.

  37. says

    Here’s a link to the February 17 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    Pete Evans, an Australian celebrity chef and conspiracy theorist, has been permanently booted off Instagram for sharing misinformation about coronavirus and vaccines.

    Facebook confirmed on Wednesday it had deleted Evans’ account on the popular picture-sharing platform. The account had hundreds of thousands of followers.

    “We removed Pete Evans’ account for repeatedly sharing debunked claims about the coronavirus or vaccines,” the company said in a statement.

    The number of new cases of Covid-19 reported worldwide fell by 16% last week to 2.7 million, the World Health Organization said. The number of new deaths reported also fell 10% week-on-week, to 81,000, the WHO said late on Tuesday in its weekly epidemiological update, using figures up to Sunday.

    Professor Sir John Bell, regius professor of medicine at the Univerity of Oxford, said coronavirus mutations evolving in response to vaccines should be expected this year.

    Bell told the Commons Science and Technology Committee:

    Most of the variants we have seen so far represent that kind of adaptation to a new species – it’s a bit like moving into a new apartment, you are shuffling the sofa around and making sure the TV is in the right place.

    That’s what the virus is doing with most of these mutations. What we will see between now and the end of the year is a number of variants which are driven by immunological selection, largely by the vaccines, and that will add another layer of complexity.
    We need to be conscious of the new variants, we need to be ready to make new vaccines if we need them, but I am pretty clear our existing vaccines are going to work to some extent.

    Also in the Guardian – “Revealed: Monsanto owner and US officials pressured Mexico to drop glyphosate ban”:

    …By March, Mexico’s actions on glyphosate and genetically engineered crops needed “urgent attention”, according to a letter sent from Chris Novak, CropLife president, to Robert Lighthizer, USTR’s ambassador, copying the heads of the USDA and the EPA. Mexico’s actions were “incompatible with Mexico’s obligations under USMCA”, according to the CropLife letter.

    CropLife is funded by Bayer and other agrochemical companies.

    Bayer’s Murphy followed that correspondence up with more emails to USTR’s Yang about a need for “high level political engagement”.

    Then in May, Lighthizer wrote to Graciela Márquez Colín, Mexico’s minister of economy, saying the GMO crop and glyphosate issues threatened to undermine “the strength of our bilateral relationship”.

    CropLife’s Novak sent an August 2020 letter thanking government officials for “all your assistance” but said more was needed as Mexico has “virtually ceased processing registrations of new pesticide products”….

    (The corn mask in the photo accompanying the article is amazing.)

  38. says

    Maddow last night:

    “Panicking Georgia GOP Looks To Change State Constitution To Protect Trump”:

    Rachel Maddow reports on an effort by Republicans in the state of Georgia to alter the state’s constitution in order to change grand jury rules so that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis might have a harder time pursuing a case against Donald Trump for trying to manipulate state officials to commit election fraud.

    For some reason, MSNBC is now pulling out little like 2-minute bits of Maddow’s segments rather than just posting the longer video. It’s extremely annoying and likely creates a lot of extra work for people.

  39. blf says

    Apparently one of the wannabe-cyberkooks of teh NKofE’s “government” — the States had hair furor with his wannba-daleks in a dalekocrazy, teh “U”K has Johnson and other cheap knockoffs, including (perhaps especially when Cummings was around) a wannbe-cybermanicrazy, a knackered collection of “cyber”-spouting kooks pretending to be zombie ministers — (hum… that analogy needs work, Sorry!) — anyways, one of the so-called ministers, Gavin Willamson, has apparently suggested “No-platformed speakers could get compensation under [unveiled] plans” (Proposed free speech law will make English universities liable for breaches). It’s as bonkers at it sounds.

    Steve Bell in the Guardian On Gavin Williamson’s free speech crusade (cartoon), skewering the imaginary dragon of the idea.

    Gavin “You will be upgraded!” Williamson is the Minister for Education, “Upgrading is compulsory!”

  40. says

    From the New York Times article referenced by SC in comment 60:

    Last fall, the Pentagon’s most senior leaders agreed that two top generals should be promoted to elite, four-star commands.

    For then-Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the tricky part was that both of the accomplished officers were women. In 2020 America under President Trump, the two Pentagon leaders feared that any candidates other than white men for jobs mostly held by white men might run into turmoil once their nominations got to the White House.

    Mr. Esper and General Milley worried that if they even raised their names — Gen. Jacqueline D. Van Ovost of the Air Force and Lt. Gen. Laura J. Richardson of the Army — the Trump White House would replace them with their own candidates before leaving office.

    So the Pentagon officials agreed on an unusual strategy: They held back their recommendations until after the November elections, betting that if Joseph R. Biden Jr. won, he and his aides would be more supportive of the Pentagon picks than Mr. Trump, who had feuded with Mr. Esper and has a history of disparaging women. They stuck to the plan even after Mr. Trump fired Mr. Esper six days after the election.

    “They were chosen because they were the best officers for the jobs, and I didn’t want their promotions derailed because someone in the Trump White House saw that I recommended them or thought D.O.D. was playing politics,” Mr. Esper said in an interview, referring to the Department of Defense. “This was not the case. They were the best qualified. We were doing the right thing.”

    The strategy may soon pay off. In the next few weeks, Mr. Esper’s successor, Lloyd J. Austin III, and General Milley are expected to send the delayed recommendations to the White House, where officials are expected to endorse the nominations and formally submit them to the Senate for approval. […]


    Finding ways to go around Trump … apparently that was a thing.

  41. says

    Rob @49, and let’s add “only the strong will survive” to that list of ugly phrases.

    In a related story, (also a follow-up to SC @54): The problem with Abbott trying to politicize Texas’ energy troubles

    Wait, are we to believe rascally liberals snuck into Texas and overhauled the state’s energy policies while Republicans weren’t paying attention?

    The reports out of Texas are heartbreaking. The Lone Star State, slammed by a harsh winter storm, is experiencing widespread power outages, which in turn is having drastic consequences for families and communities. This includes, tragically, a rising death toll.

    It was against this backdrop that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) took the time to appear on Fox News last night to complain about, of all things, renewable energy. Pointing to his state’s ongoing difficulties, the Republican governor declared, “This shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States of America…. It just shows that fossil fuel is necessary for the state of Texas as well as other states.”

    Other Texas Republicans seemed eager to echo the talking point. “This is what happens when you force the grid to rely in part on wind as a power source,” Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) tweeted yesterday. “When weather conditions get bad as they did this week, intermittent renewable energy like wind isn’t there when you need it.”

    Part of the problem is the Republicans’ rhetoric doesn’t appear to make any sense. As a Washington Post report explained:

    The governor’s arguments were contradicted by his own energy department, which outlined how most of Texas’s energy losses came from failures to winterize the power-generating systems, including fossil fuel pipelines…. Although renewable energy sources did partially fail, they only contributed to 13 percent of the power outages, while providing about a quarter of the state’s energy in winter. Thermal sources, including coal, gas and nuclear, lost almost twice as many gigawatts of power because of the cold, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the state’s electric grid operator.

    I live in one of the northwestern states bordering Canada. We have lots of wind turbines that work well. Does the governor of Texas think that it doesn’t get cold here? The governor, (and other Republicans), are whining and looking for someone else to blame. Meanwhile, people are freezing to death.

    The Texas Tribune stressed related points, explaining that renewable energy simply isn’t the principal problem the state is experiencing right now. The article quoted Michael Webber, an energy resources professor at the University of Texas at Austin, who explained that it was Texas’ natural gas industry that’s “failing in the most spectacular fashion right now” — a sentiment that was echoed by a senior director at the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.

    What’s more, by most accounts, this was a breakdown waiting to happen, largely because Texas has long failed to prepare for such conditions.

    Ed Hirs, an energy fellow in the Department of Economics at the University of Houston, told the Houston Chronicle the state’s grid collapsed this week “in exactly the same manner as the old Soviet Union. It limped along on underinvestment and neglect until it finally broke under predictable circumstances.”

    But I’m also baffled as to why Republicans like Abbott and Crenshaw would expect anyone to believe their claims. If we were talking about a state that had completely abandoned fossil fuels as sources of energy, and struggled with a systemic breakdown after relying completely on renewables, then we could at least have a conversation along these lines.

    But we’re not. We’re instead talking about Texas.

    Clumsy efforts at stoking a dumb culture-war fight notwithstanding, the Lone Star State is dominated by Republicans at every level. It hasn’t elected a Democratic governor in nearly three decades. Who, exactly, imposed the Green New Deal — or energy policies in line with the Green New Deal — on Texas? When? Are we to believe rascally liberals snuck into Texas, overhauled the state’s energy policies, and shut down the oil and gas industries while the GOP-led state government wasn’t paying attention?

    Or are Texas Republicans trying to exploit a crisis to deceive the public, blaming policies they haven’t even implemented for an energy breakdown?

    Yep. The last two paragraphs above are spot on.

  42. says

    From Josh Marshall:

    […] the upshot of the insurrection and the denouement of Trump’s presidency has driven not a ‘reckoning’ within the GOP but a doubling down and intensification of support for Trump and the fable of the stolen election.

    [Trump] may mount a scorched earth attack which robs the GOP of the chance at a new Senate majority. Or maybe I’m wrong altogether and he’ll take McConnell down. But again, I’m skeptical. McConnell’s renewed attack on Trump after voting to acquit him at his second impeachment trial was no one-off. He’s not Liz Cheney who maybe momentarily got out over her skis. He did more or less the same thing after the meeting of the Electoral College in December. He did it again just before the insurrection. He did it again after the insurrection. He’s doing it now.

    None of this is to valorize McConnell. I’m not saying he has ‘courage’ that others lack. It tells me that he doesn’t believe Donald Trump is a threat to him – not to his Senate seat or to his hold on the Senate GOP caucus, maybe not even his hopes of reclaiming the majority in two years (though on that last point I’m less certain). He’s told us this over and over. […] I put a lot of stock in McConnell’s read of political realities of the moment.

    The text above is excerpted from a much longer article.


  43. says

    Both Vice President Harris and President Biden have refused to say whether Trump should face criminal charges. I think this is a wise strategy. If they comment, the media will jump all over a Biden-versus-Trump fight story … and Trump being Trump, a lot of the coverage would put the spotlight on Trump. By staying out of that fight, Biden and Harris can more easily keep the focus on their agenda.

    Biden Asserts Every American Will Have Access To COVID Vaccine ‘By The End Of July’

    […] The comments were a rosier picture than the one delivered last week when Biden warned that although his administration had secured 200 million more doses of coronavirus vaccines to cover the U.S. population, logistical challenges to vaccine rollout would probably mean that many Americans would still not have been vaccinated by the end of the summer.

    The New York Times points out that Biden warned last week that it would still be a challenge to get the vaccines into people’s arms. “It’s one thing to have the vaccine,” Biden said at the time. “It’s another thing to have vaccinators.”

    Vice President Kamala Harris reinforced those comments when she said during an Axios interview that aired on Sunday that the new administration was “starting from scratch” after being left with “no national strategy or plan for vaccinations.”

    The president waded into the topic of teachers being prioritized for vaccines on Tuesday after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidance on the reopening of schools earlier in the week.

    “I think that we should be vaccinating teachers. We should move them up in the hierarchy,” he said.

    Biden predicted that the nation would be “significantly better off than we are today” at the start of the next school year in September.

    He further anticipated that the landscape would continue to improve toward the holiday season. […]


  44. says

    Trump Dumps Giuliani As His Personal Lawyer Amid Slew Of Legal Battles

    Rudy Giuliani is “not currently representing” former President Trump “in any legal matters,” senior Trump adviser Jason Miller told CNN and Reuters on Tuesday.

    Trump’s dumping of the former New York City mayor, who emerged as the talking head of Trump’s unsuccessful attempt at overturning the presidential election results, comes on the heels of the former president signaling his frustration with his longtime ally following the House’s vote last month to impeach Trump for the second time.

    A person familiar with the matter previously told CNN that Trump instructed his staff to stop paying Giuliani’s legal fees. CNN noted that aides were unclear if the former president was serious about his request to financially cut off Giuliani. [SC pointed out weeks ago that Trump’s White House aides should NOT have had anything to do with paying Giuliani … so what’s up with that?]

    Fresh off of the Senate voting to acquit him for inciting the mob behind the deadly Capitol insurrection last month, Trump’s decision to cut ties with Giuliani on legal matters comes amid the former president and his now-former personal lawyer facing a slew of legal battles.

    Earlier Tuesday, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) filed a civil lawsuit alleging Trump and Giuliani violated an anti-KKK law in conspiring to incite the Capitol insurrection.

    Last week, Georgia officials launched two investigations into Trump over his attempts to bully election officials into overturning the battleground state’s election results.

    Additionally, Trump faces a criminal investigation in New York, with the Manhattan district attorney’s office is proving whether the Trump Organization violated state laws.

    On Sunday, CNN also reported that Trump privately expressed his concern about the possibility of facing charges for inciting his supporters who breached the Capitol last month.

    “He’s worried about it,” one adviser close to Trump told CNN.

    In addition to being sued by Thompson, Giuliani is in hot water with voting technology companies Smartmatic and Dominion Voting Systems. Both companies are suing Giuliani for espousing Trump’s bogus conspiracy theories centered around Smartmatic and Dominion voting machines. […]

    So sad. Tiny violins. At the link there’s a classic photo of Giuliani looking distraught.

  45. johnson catman says

    You should never say anything bad about the dead, only good. Joan CrawfordRush Limbaugh is dead. Good.

    Hat tip to Bette Davis.

  46. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    A senior Tanzanian politician died of Covid-19 on Wednesday, his party said, adding to concern about a hidden epidemic running rampant in a country that insists it has no local transmission of the disease.

    Reuters reports:

    The president of Tanzania’s semi-autonomous Zanzibar archipelago, Hussein Ali Mwinyi, announced the death of Zanzibar’s first vice president, Seif Sharif Hamad, on television, without saying the cause.

    But Janeth Rite, deputy secretary for ideology and publicity of Hamad’s opposition ACT-Wazalendo party, told Reuters: “He has died of Covid-19.”

    A day earlier, the party’s leader, Zitto Kabwe, had tweeted: “Denying the truth about the spread of the coronavirus in Tanzania, and therefore not urging the public to take precautions to protect themselves, has led to a lot of people getting sick, hospitals becoming overwhelmed and the elderly and others losing their lives.

    “A lot of deaths are being caused by the government.”

    Government spokesman Hassan Abbasi did not return calls and messages seeking comment. On January 31, ACT-Wazalendo said that Hamad, his wife and several aides had tested positive for Covid-19, cases that did not show up in official statistics.

    Tanzanian president John Magufuli has earned a reputation as one of the world leaders most sceptical of efforts to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.

    Western countries and neighbours have increasingly expressed concern that official denials mask a rampant outbreak that could turn the country of 58 million people into a reservoir of infection.

    The government stopped reporting statistics for new cases and deaths in May last year at a time when it had registered 509 cases and 21 deaths.

    Magufuli dismisses masks and social distancing, and has refused to order any vaccines for his country, saying last month that they “are not good. If they were, then the white man would have brought vaccines for HIV/AIDS.”

    On Friday, chief government spokesman Hassan Abbasi told Reuters that, while Tanzania was not entirely coronavirus-free, it had “controlled” it.

    During the WH briefing this morning, Dr. Fauci talked about the evidence that suggests that people who’ve been vaccinated have a low probability of transmitting the infection. It’s being studied more in the US now, but I suspect that’s the case.

  47. says

    SC @68: So, Tucker Carson say, scoffingly, of Joe and Jill Biden: “Their love is as real as climate change.”

    Oh, dear. So wrong in so many ways.

  48. says

    Bad news from Florida: the Republican-led state government plans to scrap all standing requests for mail-in ballots.

    Florida Republicans push limits on vote by mail

    SB 90 limits vote-by-mail applications to one election cycle and requires everyone who signed up for mail ballots in 2020 to reapply to get them in 2022.

    Bypassing the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” question, Florida Senate Republicans agreed Tuesday that Florida’s vote-by-mail process worked smoothly in the last election cycle but still needed a change. They want to erase all standing requests for mail-in ballots in 2022 and require voters to start over.

    […] After a record 4.8 million Floridians voted by mail in November, the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee approved SB 90 […] Current law allows voters who ask for a mail-in ballot to have their request remain current for two general election cycles unless they opt out. […]

    “Our Florida election code works,’’ Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Julie Marcus told the House Public Integrity and Elections Committee last week. […]

    […] Democrats called the bill a voter suppression tactic, intended to tamp down the record vote-by-mail support of Democrats in 2020, especially in the state’s largest metro areas. In 2020, there were 2.1 million Democrats who vote by mail, compared to 1.5 million Republicans and 1 million voters who were not affiliated with any party.

    […] Sen. Randolph Bracy, an Orlando Democrat, asked Baxley what evidence he had for a need for reform. When Baxley didn’t provide any, Bracy suggested the “elephant in the room” appeared to be that Republicans wanted to make the change to diminish Democratic participation. […]

  49. says

    Background to #44, on the Bozell and Buckley families and their history of political violence. (I disagree somewhat with the attribution of causes – I think it’s likely that these family and social environments were violent, bullying, and authoritarian for generations.) (Also, I don’t know the source for the text about the Buckley kids, but it isn’t the first source I’ve seen refer to cruel and terrifying acts – in this case, burning a cross on the lawn of a Jewish resort – as “pranks.”)

  50. says

    Details regarding Rush Limbaugh:

    The conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh is dead at 70 after a battle with lung cancer […]

    Limbaugh, one of the most popular broadcasters on the right for decades, played into right-wing culture wars to balloon his audience, eventually becoming a driving force in the rightward shift of the Republican Party electorate that fueled Donald Trump’s grievance-based politics.

    […] Trump awarded Limbaugh a Presidential Medal of Freedom during the 2020 State of the Union address, in which Trump mentioned Limbaugh’s recent cancer diagnosis and said the award was given “in recognition of all that you have done for our nation.”

    Limbaugh worked for decades to create the type of politics that Trump eventually rode to the White House.

    In Limbaugh’s view, Barack Obama was not just the nation’s first African American president but “Barack, the Magic Negro.” Sharia Law, he said near the end of Obama’s term, “has already been implemented in this country.” Feminists were “feminazis.” A law student who testified about using birth control was a “slut” and “prostitute.” Black Lives Matter was a “terrorist group.”

    Yeah. Not sorry to see a voice that spread that kind of nonsense silenced.

    One of show’s conceits was that it was a last bastion for white machismo, where cigars were smoked and steak was eaten in defiance of the evolving mores of the time. Listeners might be truckers on the open road or lawyers stuck in rush hour traffic, but they could enter Rush’s clubby enclave via their car radios. […]

    The radio host was still going last year, referring to presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg as “booty-judge” and “a gay guy kissing his husband on the debate stage.” […]


  51. says

    Comments posted by readers of the TPM article referenced in comment 77:

    He is one of the primary architects of the shit we just lived through for four years.
    Good news in bleak times.
    I, for one, am glad he lived to see Biden & Harris elected.
    He’s not even worth my time working up a final insult.
    If Trump were still in office, there would be a state funeral, with jets flying over.
    Rush Limbaugh denied smoking risks in 2015 [Denver Post article]: “Smokers aren’t killing anybody.” The conservative radio host has long extolled the glamour and societal benefits of smoking, while downplaying its dangers.
    “I’ve never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure.” – attributed to Mark Twain
    It only took him 70 years to find a way to make a positive contribution to humankind.

  52. says

    Condemning? Not condemning Susan Collins?

    The Maine Republican Party wants Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), one of the seven GOP senators who voted for conviction in […] Trump’s impeachment trial, to know that they are Not Happy about her decision — but also they love her and, gosh, thank you for being you!

    The committee’s leadership team told Collins in a letter published by the Bangor Daily News on Wednesday that they were writing “to condemn in the strongest possible terms” her vote.

    But right after that first line, the leaders immediately made sure to emphasize how awesome she is.

    “We also want to be clear that we appreciate very much the time you have taken to hear from us. We appreciate all the work you do that improves the lives of hard-working Mainers from all political parties,” they wrote. “We know that your work as a Senator and the work of your staff across Maine in constituent services is unrivaled.”

    “We appreciate that all so very much,” they continued.

    Then the committee turned back to the issue at hand, claiming that Mainers were “almost universally outraged” at the senator’s vote and “have demanded we take action in response.”

    […] And then they showered her with praise again.

    “We very much appreciate the thoughtful and deliberate approach you take to the serious issues facing our nation,” the committee gushed. “We also appreciate the considerable support that you have provided for not only the Maine Republican Party, but for our County Committees and our candidates across the state as well.”

    “Nevertheless, we vehemently disagree with your vote on this matter and condemn it in the strongest possible terms,” they added.

    Devastating! […]


  53. says

    […] Limbaugh also infamously slung countless racist attacks at former President Barack Obama (who could forget him slinging the “birther” conspiracy theory?), as well as falsely claimed that prominent women of color, including Vice President Kamala Harris and Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib, were not actually, well, women of color. Limbaugh also rallied endlessly against environmental progress, feminism, and Obamacare. He used his platform to stoke Islamaphobia, transphobia, and shame people living with HIV and AIDS. And, frankly, so much more than can reasonably fit in one article alone. […]


    A few responses from Twitter posts:

    the most i’ll say about rush limbaugh is that he used his talents to make the world a worse place
    I know it’s tempting to lash out, but try to treat Rush Limbaugh with the same dignity, respect, and humanity as he showed to rape victims, Michael J. Fox, Sandra Fluke, Iraq War veterans, refugees, and the victims of mosque shootings.
    your reminder that when Jerry Garcia died, Rush Limbaugh called him “just another dead doper. and a dirt bag”
    If you don’t want me talking bad about a dead Rush Limbaugh maybe he should have done something good when he was alive.

  54. says


    […] Rush Limbaugh was a garbage human being, and perhaps did more to infect American politics with hatred, misogyny, and racist and homophobic bile than any other recently living American. Before Fox News really got going poisoning an entire generation of white racist brains, Rush Limbaugh was there on the radio doing it […]

    Here’s a quote from Rush Limbaugh: “If any race of people should not have guilt about slavery, it’s Caucasians.”

    […] He called Sandra Fluke, then a 30-year-old law student who testified in Congress in support of contraception mandates, a “slut” and a “prostitute.” He blamed the lessening of men’s penis sizes […] on the “feminazis, the chickification” of society. He was also very upset about the “feminizing” and “chickifying” of football.

    He said Robin Williams killed himself because of his “political leftist” guilt.

    […] he used to deliver a regular “AIDS update,” where he played Dionne Warwick’s “I’ll Never Love That Way Again” and made fun of gays dying of it.

    […] He got SUPER mad and threatened to get litigious when the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) quoted these words of his verbatim: “How many of you guys, in your own experience with women, have learned that “no” means “yes,” if you know how to spot it?”

    […] “So here comes the Obama regime with a bunch of federal money and they’re waving it around, and all you gotta do to get it is be a lesbian and want to be a farmer and they’ll set you up,” said Rush, out loud where people could hear him. “I never knew that lesbians wanted to get behind the horse and the plow and start burrowing,” he added, somehow making it even creepier.

    In 2015, he was FURIOUS about a study that showed that teenagers weren’t having as much sex, bemoaning what we’ve “turned boys into,” […]

    Limbaugh was caught coming back from noted underage sex tourism hotspot the Dominican Republic with a mislabeled prescription containing 29 tabs of Viagra. We’d be remiss not to mention that in his obituary […]

    Oh yeah, and one time Limbaugh got the Medal of Freedom from the most hated loser president in American history, who lost the popular vote by millions in both his elections, who was impeached twice, and who incited a domestic terrorist attack on the US Capitol to try to keep his illegitimate hold on power. In other words, it doesn’t fucking count.

    Rush Limbaugh is survived by the steaming snail trail of shit, lies, racism, misogyny, and pig-ignorance he left in the wake of his godforsaken life.

    In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to some nonprofit organization, any nonprofit organization, that serves as a negation to his entire life’s work.


  55. says


    What a difference a month makes! From “I alone can fix it” to “I literally pray that I have the capacity to do for the country what you all deserve need be done,” in four short weeks.

    President Joe Biden’s CNN town hall in Wisconsin last night was an absolute relief for an exhausted nation, from the first moment when he alluded to Anderson Cooper’s recent paternity leave. “You know you enjoyed being home with the baby more,” he joked sympathetically. And if the discussion was perhaps light on policy, it was a hefty dose of calming rhetoric appealing to America’s better angels.

    “What a lot of kids and, I mean, and big people, too, older people, they just — their whole lives have sort of changed like when it used to be. It used to be you just go outside and play with your friends and get in the school bus and go to school, and everything was normal,” the president said to an eight-year-old girl trying to cope with life during COVID. “And now, when things change, people get really worried and scared. Don’t be scared, honey. Don’t be scared. You’re going to be fine. And we’re going to make sure mommy is fine, too.”

    […] We need someone to tell us truthfully that there is a plan to get us out of this mess.

    “By the end of July we’ll have over 600 million doses, enough to vaccinate every single American,” Biden promised, noting that he used the National Defense Act to get Pfizer and Moderna to drastically increase their vaccine production and issued an Executive Order to allow more people to administer the shot in more locations.

    After a wonky discussion of the efficacy of different vaccines for different strains of the virus, the president told the public directly, “If you’re eligible, if it’s available, get the vaccine. Get the vaccine.”

    “You’ve got to deal with the disease before you deal with getting the economy going,” he said, describing the need for a big stimulus package. “Did you ever think you’d see a day in Milwaukee, you’d see in the last six months people lining up in their automobiles for an hour or for as far as you could see to get a bag of food? […]

    And no, progressives (and Wonkette) didn’t get everything they wanted. Biden reiterated his opposition to defunding the police and says he’ll cap student loan forgiveness at $10,000, rather than the $50,000 the more liberal wing of the Democratic Party (and Chuck Schumer!) demanded. But he did come out in favor of free community college for all, free state school for anyone whose parents make less than $125,000, and loan forgiveness for graduates who work in socially valuable professions, like teaching and social work.

    And he talked about structural racism as a moral issue in a way that Americans of all political stripes can understand.

    Referring back to his past as a public defender, Biden talked about “inherent prejudice built into the system,” noting, “If you’re a first-time white guy, you would get two years. You would get seven years if you’re Black.” He called for equal pay for prosecutors and public defenders and “legislation relating to what is appropriate police behavior and studying police behavior and coming down with recommendations that are consistent with the legislation that was put in place as a consequence of all the world seeing one man shoved up against a curb and murdered after eight minutes and 46 seconds.”

    Asked about white supremacists, Biden said, “It is a bane on our existence. It has always been. As Lincoln said, we have to appeal to our better angels, and these guys are not — and women — are, in fact, demented. They are dangerous people.”

    […] It matters that we have someone in the White House who can talk about the moral imperative to raise the minimum wage, because “no one should work 40 hours a week and live in poverty.” That’s a person who can muscle a $1.9 trillion stimulus package through Congress via reconciliation and sell it to America as a unifying solution. […]


  56. blf says

    Some snippets from Molly Ivins’ 1995 Mother Jones cover story, Lyin’ Bully:

    Instead of picking on someone his own size, Rush consistently targets dead people, little girls, and the homeless &mdas; none of whom can fight back.

    I have been attacked by Rush Limbaugh on the air, an experience somewhat akin to being gummed by a newt. It doesn’t actually hurt, but it leaves you with slimy stuff on your ankle.

    I have not seen so much hatred in politics since the heyday of the John Birch Society in the early 1960s. Used to be you couldn’t talk politics with a conservative without his getting all red in the face, arteries standing out in his neck, wattles aquiver with indignation — just like a pissed-off turkey gobbler. And now we’re seeing the same kind of anger again.

    [… I]t’s important to point out that he’s not just wrong but that he’s ridiculous, one of the silliest people in America. Sure, it takes your breath away when he spreads some false and vicious rumor, such as the story that Vincent Foster’s body was actually discovered in an apartment owned by Hillary Clinton. Or when he destroys an important lobby-control bill by falsely claiming that it would make the average citizen subject to lobbying laws. [… I]t’s important to show people that there is much more wrong with Limbaugh’s thinking than just his facts. Limbaugh specializes in ad hominem arguments, which are themselves ridiculously easy to expose. Ted Kennedy says, “America needs health care reform.” Limbaugh replies, Ted Kennedy is fat.

    Rush Limbaugh’s pathetic abuse of logic, his absurd pomposity, his relentless self-promotion, his ridiculous ego — now those, friends, are appropriate targets for satire

  57. says

    Nearly 3 million customers are still without power in Texas.

    Jennifer Rubin: “Texas shows that when you cannot govern, you lie. A lot.”

    […] when you view politics as theater and grievance-mongering, chances are you are going to shortchange governance. Elect a president with no public-sector experience, no interest in learning, no desire to hire competent people and no ability to accept responsibility, and you get something like the covid-19 debacle. Moreover, if your party is hostile to government and exercising regulatory power because it is beholden to a donor class and right-wing ideologues, you will not be prepared for disasters when they strike.

    And that brings us to Texas. The Post reports, “As millions of people across Texas struggled to stay warm Tuesday amid massive cold-weather power outages, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) directed his ire at one particular failure in the state’s independent energy grid: frozen wind turbines.” There is one problem: That is not remotely true (as you might have guessed from a state with an enormous oil and gas sector).

    “The governor’s arguments were contradicted by his own energy department, which outlined how most of Texas’s energy losses came from failures to winterize the power-generating systems, including fossil fuel pipelines.”

    In other words, rotten policy and management are to blame. “What has sent Texas reeling is not an engineering problem, nor is it the frozen wind turbines blamed by prominent Republicans,” The Post reports. “It is a financial structure for power generation that offers no incentives to power plant operators to prepare for winter. In the name of deregulation and free markets, critics say, Texas has created an electric grid that puts an emphasis on cheap prices over reliable service.”

    Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), who had declared during last summer’s wildfires that California is “unable to perform even basic functions of civilization, like having reliable electricity,” had to eat crow. […]

    Mayors from Texas cities — including Arlington, Austin, Beaumont, Brownsville, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Plano and Port Arthur — are begging for passage of the Biden administration’s rescue package. […] they write: “The lack of adequate support has resulted in budget cuts, service reductions, and job losses. Sadly, nearly one million local government jobs have already been lost during the pandemic. … The $350 billion in direct relief to state and local governments included in President Elect Biden’s American Rescue Plan would allow cities to preserve critical public sector jobs and help drive our economic recovery.”

    [Ted] Cruz is part of the crowd that opposes “blue-state bailouts” […] He was also one of six senators to vote against the December stimulus package.

    Instead of working on getting rescue funds to his state, Cruz will certainly oppose the Biden plan […] He spends his time ginning up the base. He led the charge to overturn the election results, a quest that resulted in the deadly insurrection on Jan. 6, and he voted to acquit the instigator in chief.

    Republicans such as Cruz need to stop looking for ways to disenfranchise voters, engaging in climate change denial, fanning the flames of anti-immigrant hysteria and sustaining an economic environment that puts millions of his constituents in peril year after year.

    [Governor] Abbott needs to take responsibility for a natural disaster made worse by a governing fiasco. Right now, Texas is not looking good. If only someone there could step up and govern.

    Washington Post link

  58. lumipuna says

    I just saw a Finnish news headline on Rush Limbaugh’s death, describing him as a “conservative and contradictory radio personality”. The Finnish word for “contradictory” can also mean “controversial”, but for that purpose here another word would’ve been better, I think.

  59. Rob Grigjanis says

    SC @76: All I know about the Buckley kids is that WFB’s son Christopher was kicked off the National Review in 2008 because he endorsed Obama in his column.

  60. Rob Grigjanis says

    Oops, I just checked, and Christopher Buckley resigned from the National Review after complaints from readers and his colleagues.

  61. blf says

    France to ban far-right group Generation Identity:

    French President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist government launched procedures to shut down the group Generation Identity on February 13 as it attempts to tackle far-right extremism.


    On February 13, French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin announced that he had triggered procedures to close down Generation Identity (Génération Identitaire) in response to a series of anti-migrant actions. The group appears to have contravened a French law banning “incitement to discriminate against a person or group because of their origin”, Darmanin said.

    He had already raised the possibility of dissolving the far-right group in late January when it deployed around thirty activists on the Spanish border, with cars bearing the message Defend Europe and the use of drones to police the frontier […]

    [… a history of these facists and some of their stunts…]

    […] Generation Identity only has around 800 activists, according to Jean-Yves Camus, an expert on the French far-right at the Fondation Jean Jaurès think-tank in Paris.

    But the group has enjoyed some support from several members of National Rally [teh le penazis –blf], including the party’s spokesman Sébastien Chenu, who decried the imprisonment of Generation Identity activists in 2019. [Teh le penazis’ current führer, Marine] Le Pen, meanwhile, spoke out against Darmanin’s plan to shut down the group when he first raised the idea in January: Darmanin shouldn’t be getting rid of organisations just because he doesn’t like them — the rule of law doesn’t work like that, she said.


    From memory, the Chrishchurch (New Zealand) mass murderer cited this Grossly Idiotic nonsense (which is not confined to France) as a major influence.

  62. says

    Quoted in Lynna’s #81:

    He got SUPER mad and threatened to get litigious when the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) quoted these words of his verbatim: “How many of you guys, in your own experience with women, have learned that “no” means “yes,” if you know how to spot it?”

    That was from the rant about consent: “Limbaugh: The Left Sends Out ‘The Rape Police’ Whenever There’s Sex With ‘No Consent’ (Also Known As Rape).” I remember PZ posting about it. It’s still shocking.

  63. Pierce R. Butler says

    Lynna…@ # 64: The text above is excerpted from a much longer article.

    Please note that almost all of that article is behind a paywall.

    johnson catman @ # 69: Hat tip to Bette Davis.

    Davis apparently appropriated that line from Moms Mabley.

  64. blf says

    Lin Wood Doxes Georgia Officials Seeking Disciplinary Action, Calls on Supporters to Dig Up Dirt:

    Lin Wood […] has called on hundreds of thousands of his supporters to dig up dirt on Georgia officials involved in a disciplinary case against him.

    Wood also doxed the officials by posting their addresses on his Telegram channel, where they can be accessed by more than 800,000 followers.

    I could use the help of an Army of Patriots due to the time limitation, Wood wrote on Telegram last Saturday. If you have any information that might impact the ‘competency, qualifications or objectivity’ of any members, would you email the information to me? Their social media posts, political affiliations, representative clients (for example, what if one or more of them represent Dominion), lawsuits filed against them, etc. would all potentially provide me with relevant information that could form the basis of a challenge.

    The State Bar of Georgia proceeded with an inquiry into Wood after receiving information that Wood “may have violated one or more of the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct.” […]


    After the presidential election, Mr Wood and his co-counsel, Sidney Powell, filed four frivolous lawsuits in swing states, Georgia, Wisconsin, Arizona, and Michigan, where they falsely claimed voter fraud and sought to overturn the election results,” the complaint read. “Each of these cases was dismissed as Mr Wood and his co-counsel could not even state a legally cognizable theory, let alone provide evidence, for their unsupported claims.”

    The complaint further alleges that Wood has “shown that he either cannot or will not comply with his professional obligations. Indeed, in the January 11 conference before this Court, he defended his actions, falsely claiming that there was ample evidence of fraud to support the allegations universally rejected by multiple courts.”


    Wood also argued that his unfounded ramblings are not reason enough to threaten disciplinary action against him.

    I do not deserve to have my license threatened and possibly revoked because I support President [sic] Trump, fight for the Bill of Rights, fight for honest elections, fight against pedophilia and child sex trafficking, and stand against corruption in high government officials, [shorter: qAnon ! –blf] Wood said on Telegram.

    The “quality” of any “evidence” so-manufactured will not be any better than that of the universally-rejected evidence hair furor “won”.

  65. johnson catman says

    re Pierce R. Butler @94: So a white actress appropriated a line from a black comedienne? Is there any surprise here? I had only heard the version attributed to Bette Davis, so thanks for the info.

  66. blf says

    The Onion (I had to slightly redact both pieces due to poopyhead’s filter):

    ● Doctor Assures Limbaugh Family It Normal For Body To Continue Ranting About Welfare Queens Hours After Death:

    Explaining that it was a totally normal occurrence and they shouldn’t be alarmed, local doctor Philippa Anaios reportedly assured the Limbaugh family Wednesday that it was normal for their deceased relative body’s to still be ranting about welfare queens hours after his death. “While I know it’s difficult for you to see him like this, I want to assure you that in cases like his, it is fully expected that the remains will scream about Black single mothers leeching off the government long past the point when brain activity has ceased,” said Dr Anaios, addressing family members gathered around the late radio host’s deathbed as she added that they could expect Limbaugh’s decaying corpse to continue blurting out derogatory statements about “feminazis” and undocumented immigrants for days, possibly even weeks. […] At press time, sources confirmed the doctor was attempting to subdue the corpse after it suddenly grabbed her around the neck and began calling her a [s-word].

    ● ‘You Go Back Where You Came From,’ Says Texan Pointing Gun At Snowman Trespassing On Property:

    As he aimed his Winchester rifle at the stack of three large snowballs in his front yard, Texas man Bob Brookson was overheard notifying a snowman Tuesday that it was trespassing on private property and needed to go back to wherever it had come from. […] “You come one step closer, and you’re done for, you hear me? Huh? Say, you dumb or sum’n, boy? I don’t appreciate you starin’ at me, neither, you stonyeyed sonofa[b-word].” After it failed to respond to several warning shots, Brookson reportedly noticed the snowman was wearing his 7-year-old daughter’s scarf and immediately fired multiple rounds into the head and chest of the “thievin’ coward.”

  67. blf says

    SC@98, After reading that thread, pulls out my swiss army knife with a can opener and breaks into laughter…

  68. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    SC@92, I was able to get my first covid vaccine yesterday, along with 7000 other folks. And we all have a standing appointment for the second vaccine on March 9. Slight pain at the injection site, otherwise normal.
    Joy Reid has a segment on teachers being prioritized or not. Here in IL the teachers are a priority. Locally in Lake County, a few mass vaccinations are scheduled at schools.

  69. says

    Humor/satire from Andy Borowitz:

    In a possible indication of Donald J. Trump’s continuing hold over the G.O.P., a new poll shows that ninety per cent of Republicans would book rooms at the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City.

    Of those polled, a broad majority “strongly agreed” with the statement that “the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino offers the finest lodgings in the United States.”

    Additionally, those surveyed characterized any reports suggesting that the Trump property would be less than an ideal place to stay as a “hoax.”

    At the United States Senate, the Republicans Ron Johnson, Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz, and Josh Hawley announced that they had just booked rooms at the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino, which has emerged as the front-runner to host the 2024 Republican National Convention.

    New Yorker link

  70. says

    From a Washington Post op-ed:

    […] Alliances are not a burden; they are a benefit to both our individual and our collective security. Our shared principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law do not make us more vulnerable; they make us stronger as a team.

    […] We are ready to consult together, decide together and act together. We are ready to revitalize our alliances. We are ready to lead.

    Lloyd J. Austin III is the new defense secretary in the Biden administration.

    […] Global crises, such as the pandemic, climate change and economic downturns, present significant dangers that span our borders. In many countries, internal strife, brought on by corruption, inequality and polarization, and transnational threats, such as violent extremism and criminal organizations, threaten stability around the alliance’s rim. We still work toward a political settlement in Afghanistan as we try to prevent that country from again being a haven for terrorists. […]

    I am a firm believer that the United States is strongest when it works as part of a team. Our alliances and partnerships are strategic advantages none of our competitors can match. They lend to the mission unique capabilities and credibility that sometimes each of us alone might lack. […]

    So very, very different from the previous, trumpian, administration.

  71. says

    Is Tucker Carlson afraid that OAN News is going to put him out of business? Or is he worried that Trump is no longer watching his show? Desperation? I don’t how to explain Tucker’s ever deepening cesspit of crazy on Fox News.

    Tucker and guest go full racist

    The Fox News machine, along with the Republican Party, has spent the last 24 hours attempting to place blame for the power outages and electrical grid failures in Texas on environmentalism and “green energy.” This is because, as the entire state has been historically Republican-run, with its purse strings held by the fossil fuel industry, the real blame lies in corruption and a lack of infrastructure that Republican officials neglected to fix for the past few decades.

    Tucker Carlson, to be clear, is a shitty misogynistic asshole and topped off the anti-green energy segment of his show by talking with former Texas governor and Trump-appointed Energy Secretary Rick Perry. While ending that interview and the first two-thirds of his show, which was dedicated to anti-environmentalism, Tucker literally said, “These people, go back to the gender studies department and stay away from our power grid.” Offensive and stupid on a few levels: That’s the Tucker Carlson brand.

    Tucker wanted to end on a high note though, a note that he feels very at home in: white supremacy.

    So he brought on Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute. The Manhattan Institute is a pretend think tank that’s really just a place where conservatives who can’t publish legit scholarly work are allowed to pretend they’re scholars, and then go out into the world to preach against things like police reform, environmentalism, economic equality, higher taxes, and any other whatever actual facts the world has to offer. Heather Mac Donald is best known for being super racist against what she believes to be the myth of diversity, and a war on policing. She has been brought on Tucker Carlson’s show over the years, usually to talk about her expertise in telling Fox News viewers that America isn’t racist and Black people are mistreated by “bad apples” and frequently because Black people don’t behave correctly. That’s her thing. […]

    HEATHER MAC DONALD: On the one hand as Biden said during the campaign, as he said in his inauguration speech, as he said since then: America is lethally racist. On the other hand we should break down every single reasonable, common sensical immigration control in order to bring in legally and illegally as many third-world immigrants of color as possible. Both positions cannot be true. If Biden believes that Black children are at risk of getting a shot every time they step outside, we should not be bringing more Black children into this country.

    Tucker, in his most earnest of television reactions, says “You are so right,” and proceeds to expound upon how “liberals” and their “incessant talk about race” has been hurting the country. He attempts to transition into another question about what the “end game” is for liberals and how badly they want immigrants to be allowed entrance into our country and Black people stuff and Latino people’s rights. This question, like every question Heather Mac Donald answers in her public life, leads to her saying an even more racist thing than she said before. Whereas I said above that Mac Donald was there to tell the Fox News viewers that racism isn’t really real, the second part of that statement is that while it isn’t real, Black people are coming and you should be afraid because they inherently are different than you.

    HEATHER MAC DONALD: They want to completely change the character of this country, the foundation of it, the norms, the traditions, and the demographics of it to be very honest. It is based in hatred towards a civilization deemed too white and too male, and they’re going to do everything they can—whether it’s spewing the poison of identity politics, teaching Americans to hate each other, to hate their past, or flooding it with mass low-skilled immigration that increases the wealth gap that hurts American Blacks and Hispanics.

    She goes on to say that on top of all of this, immigrants are uppity when they come here because they hear the liberal narrative, internalize it, and then feel entitled to things. She actually says all of that. […]

    Audio is available at the link.

  72. John Morales says

    In Australian news:

    Facebook’s decision to block access to pages like 1800Respect, the WA Department of Fire and Emergency Services and the Bureau of Meteorology was unnecessary, heavy-handed and will damage its reputation, according to Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.


    “Their decision to block Australians’ access to government sites — be they about support through the pandemic, mental health, emergency services, the Bureau of Meteorology — was completely unrelated to the media code, which is yet to pass through the Senate,” he said.

    “What today’s events do confirm for all Australians, is the immense market power of these digital giants.”


    Facebook’s justification for including non-news pages was that the proposed law has a broad definition of news.

    “As the law does not provide clear guidance on the definition of news content, we have taken a broad definition in order to respect the law as drafted,” a statement from the company read.

  73. says

    Guardian – “‘Broken-down’ cars bring Myanmar streets to standstill in coup protest”:

    Some of the busiest streets in Myanmar’s biggest city, Yangon, were brought to a standstill for a second day running on Thursday by slow-moving and “broken-down” cars, as part of an evolving civil disobedience movement against the military coup.

    Cars were parked across roads to block the movement of security forces and prevent civil servants from travelling to work. Some protesters walked in circles around a pedestrian crossing at a busy intersection. “Don’t attend the office, leave it. Join the civil disobedience movement,” protesters chanted.

    Opponents of the coup have also targeted the military online. The group Myanmar Hackers disrupted websites including the Central Bank, the military-run propaganda agency True News Information Team and the state-run broadcaster MRTV.

    “We are fighting for justice in Myanmar,” the hacking group said on its Facebook page. “It is like mass protesting of people in front of government websites.” A website provided links for protesters to join in with what appeared to be denial-of-service attacks.

    A civil disobedience campaign initiated by doctors in the aftermath of the 1 February coup has drawn support from workers from virtually all areas of life, with engineers, factory workers, teachers, farmers and private bank workers joining strikes.

    Protests and strikes have continued daily, despite fears of a violent crackdown. In Mandalay, the second biggest city, railway workers brought trains to a standstill on Wednesday, supported by residents who blocked tracks. The protesters were forcibly dispersed in the evening by security forces who opened fire, injuring one person, according to Reuters.

    On Thursday small groups of men including hardline nationalist Buddhist monks vandalised cars and attacked drivers who were participating in protests. They ran off into a nearby monastery compound, and a crowd gathered outside to demand that those responsible come out.

    The military has urged civil servants to return to work, threatening action against those who do not do so.

    Almost 500 people have been detained over recent weeks, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Burma, and many civil servants who are striking have fled their homes to avoid arrest. In the early hours of Thursday morning 11 foreign ministry officials were arrested for taking part in civil disobedience activities, according to a source quoted by AFP.

    Several popular actors, directors and a singer are facing arrest for using their “popularity and fame” to encourage people to join the protest movement, according to MRTV.

    The military has continued to impose overnight internet shutdowns, blocking access for most of the country from 1am on Thursday….

    The army has already attempted to block social media sites including Facebook and Twitter, which have been used by protesters to organise, prompting many to download virtual private networks (VPNs) to bypass the restrictions.

  74. says

    Politico – “Belarus jails two journalists for filming protests”:

    A court in Minsk on Thursday sentenced two Belarusian journalists to two years in prison on charges of “disrupting civil order” after they filmed protests against Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko.

    In November 2020, Katsiaryna Andreyeva and Darya Chultsova were working for Poland-based news channel Belsat, livestreaming mass protests over the death of a protestor killed by security forces several days earlier. Police broke down the door of the apartment they were filming from and arrested them.

    Investigators claim that Andreyeva and Chultsova coordinated protesters and called for further actions, and charged them with “organization and preparation of actions that grossly violate public order.” Both journalists pleaded not guilty of orchestrating the demonstrations, calling the charges politically motivated in their last statement.

    Earlier, the Committee to Protect Journalists had urged Belarusian authorities to drop the “absurd” charges and release Andreyeva and Chultsova unconditionally.

    On Tuesday, police raided homes and offices of journalists and human rights activists, including the Belarusian Association of Journalists. Boris Goretsky, the association’s vice president, whose home was also raided, said that “more than 400 detentions of journalists” have been recorded over the past six months in the country.

    On Wednesday, a court in Minsk started the hearing of opposition leader Viktor Babariko, who faces up to 15 years in prison over charges of “money laundering” and “bribery”. Human rights watchdogs called him a “prisoner of conscience.”

    Reuters – “Two journalists jailed for two years in Belarus for filming protests”:

    A Belarusian court sentenced two Belarusian journalists from Poland-based TV news channel Belsat who filmed protests against President Alexander Lukashenko to two years in prison on Thursday.

    Katsiaryna Andreyeva, 27, and Darya Chultsova, 23, were detained in an apartment in November from where they had been filming protests taking place over the death of a protester who was killed several days earlier.

    Both women pleaded not guilty after being accused of orchestrating the demonstrations by filming them.

    The two journalists appeared in a cage at the hearing on Thursday, hugging and making “V” for victory signs. Their lawyer said they would appeal the verdict.

    “Just look at Darya and Katsiaryna – strong, smiling, and saying goodbyes to their loved ones through bars. Lukashenka can’t break us,” exiled opposition figure Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya wrote on Twitter.

    More than 33,000 people have been detained in a violent crackdown on protests against Lukashenko’s rule following a contested election last August that his opponents say was rigged to extend his rule. He has been in office since 1994.

    The crackdown prompted Western countries to impose new sanctions on Minsk. Lukashenko has refused to step down, buttressed by support from Moscow, which sees Belarus as a buffer state against the European Union and NATO….

  75. says

    Here’s a link to the February 18 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    Police in Brazil are investigating allegations that healthcare workers are giving fake Covid inoculations, amid reports of nurses injecting people with empty syringes.

    Cases of what local media are calling “wind vaccination” have been reported in four states, adding to the woes of the country’s halting and uncoordinated immunisation programme.

    Police announced a criminal investigation on Wednesday, amid speculation that the nurses were either anti-vaxxer conspiracy theorists, or were pocketing vaccine shots to be sold on the black market.

    Carla Domingues, an epidemiologist who coordinated Brazil’s national immunisation programme between 2011 and 2019, said:

    This initially seemed an isolated case, but, although they are still exceptions, it is very concerning that we are seeing this in several places. Either these health professionals were poorly trained or they did it in bad faith. In both cases it is inadmissible.

    Protesters in Spain have been flouting coronavirus restrictions to protest against the imprisonment of a rapper who had posted tweets insulting police and the Spanish monarchy.

    More than 50 people were arrested and dozens injured during a second night of protests yesterday that turned violent in several Spanish cities.

    The protests began peacefully late Wednesday in dozens of Spanish provincial capitals and other towns in the northeastern Catalonia region, home to the rapper Pablo Hasél, AP reports. But as the evening wore on there were clashes.

    In Madrid, Barcelona and smaller cities, anti-riot police fired rubber or foam bullets at baton-charged protesters, who threw objects at officers and set trash containers alight. Some used overturned motorbikes to block streets amid rioting.

    The rapper and his supporters say that Hasél’s nine-month sentence for writing a critical song about former King Juan Carlos I and dozens of tweets that judges said glorified some of Spain’s extinct terrorist groups violates free speech rights.

    More than 200 cultural figures, including film director Pedro Almodóvar and actor Javier Bardem, have signed a petition against his jail sentence.

  76. blf says

    SC@106 quotes, “Some protesters walked in circles around a pedestrian crossing at a busy intersection.”

    Apropos of nothing much, back when I was in University — about the time of transition from chiselled stone tablets to baked clay tablets — we used to do that during demos and protests. It really impedes the donkey-carts and camel caravans, albeit you did have to be careful of the caravan- and slave-drivers’s whips. Lots of yelling, spitting camels, and general mayhem, with everybody too poor to pay the priests’s guards to regain a semblance of the normal chaos.

  77. says


    “French Assembly Approves Bill Accused of Targeting Muslim Communities”:

    France’s National Assembly approved the controversial so-called anti-separatism bill Tuesday, which the government says will strengthen France’s secular principles and help counter the rise of militant Islamist groups. But critics say the laws unfairly targets Muslim communities and could deprive them of their civil rights. Among other things, the bill strengthens the government’s ability to shut down places of worship and religious schools and ban what it deems to be “extremist” religious leaders. The legislation now heads to the Senate, where it is also expected to pass.

    “Biden Directs DHS to Stop Using Word ‘Alien’ to Refer to Immigrants and Asylum Seekers”:

    BuzzFeed reports the Biden administration has directed homeland security officials to stop using the terms “alien” and “illegal alien” when referring to immigrants and asylum seekers — terms immigrant rights advocates have long called out for being dehumanizing and racist.

  78. blf says

    Japan’s ruling party invites women to meetings — but won’t let them speak:

    It was a move designed to show that Japan’s ruling party was committed to gender equality after the sexism row that forced one of its former prime ministers, Yoshiro Mori, to resign as head of Tokyo’s Olympic organising committee.

    The time had come to give female members of the Liberal Democratic party (LDP) more prominence at key meetings, the party’s secretary general, Toshihiro Nikai, said this week […].

    But Nikai’s attempt to address the yawning gender gap in his party quickly unravelled when it became clear that the small groups of women attending the meetings were expected to be seen but not heard.

    The LDP […] had proposed allowing groups of about five women to attend meetings of its 12 member board, 10 of whom are men, on condition they remained silent observers.


    Nikai reportedly made the proposal a day after Tomomi Inada, a former defence minister who campaigns to raise the status of female MPs, suggested women be permitted to attend important party meetings. Last year, Inada called Japan a “democracy without women” after Suga appointed just two women to his cabinet.

    “Women make up half of Japan’s population and 40% of the LDP grassroots membership,” she said. “If women do not have a place to discuss policies they want enacted, Japan’s democracy cannot help but be biased.”

    Japan’s gender problem is reflected in the composition of its lower house of parliament, where just 9.9% of MPs are women, well below the international average of 25.1%, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the global organisation of national parliaments. In addition, Japan’s global ranking on gender parity placed it 121st out of 153 countries in the World Economic Forum 2020 report, 11 places down on the previous year and the largest gap among advanced economies.

    I assume they are also required to wear high-heeled shoes (as a reminder, from 2019, High heels at work are necessary, says Japan’s labour minister).

  79. says

    People online are sharing photos and rumors suggesting that Ted Cruz flew off to Cancún while his state faces a disaster, but this hasn’t been confirmed or rejected by any news organizations. It’s strange to me that it’s 2021 and we can’t get clarification on whether or not a Senator has left the country.

  80. blf says

    Follow-up to SC@110, French academics blast minister’s warning on Islamo-leftism:

    The term Islamo-leftism is often used in France by far-right politicians to discredit left-wing opponents they accuse of being blind to the dangers of Islamist extremism and overly worried about racism and identity.

    I think that Islamo-leftism is eating away at our society as a whole, and universities are not immune and are part of our society, Minister for Higher Education Frederique Vidal told CNews television on Sunday.

    The comments came amid a divisive debate in France about what President Emmanuel Macron has termed Islamist separatism, in which Islamists are said to be flouting French laws in closed-off Muslim communities and fuelling terror attacks on French soil.


    Vidal also announced that she would order an investigation into the problem of researchers looking at everything through the prism of wanting to fracture and divide, which she said included those focused on colonialism and race.

    But the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), the research body Vidal charged with the study, has already hit back.

    Although it agreed to carry out the investigation, the CNRS condemned “attempts to delegitimise different fields of research such as post-colonial studies”.

    Asked to comment further in parliament on Tuesday, Vidal said the investigation would determine what is academic research and what is activism and opinion.

    Government spokesman Gabriel Attal appeared to distance himself from the idea on Wednesday when asked for Macron’s views on the issue at a news briefing.

    The president has an “absolute commitment to the independence of academic researchers”, Attal said, adding that it was “a fundamental guarantee of our republic”.


    A new generation of younger French activists are also increasingly vocal about the problem of racism in France and the legacy of the country’s colonial past in Africa and the Middle East.


    Mame-Fatou Niang, a black academic who studies race and identity in France, condemned Vidal’s proposed investigation, saying it would put those studying colonialism and racism under unfair scrutiny.

    Writing on Twitter, she said that “minority researchers have been regarded as activists through the ages”.

    But Vidal’s announcement was well received by right-wing politicians who share her concerns.


    One ironic point not mentioned is it’s illegal in France to collect statistics on ethnicity and (I think) religion. The reason is because France is officially “colour-blind” (Liberté, égalité, fraternité) and hence collecting such data would be “racist” plus, being colour-blind, it’s not possible for there to be ethnoreglious-slums. (Or something stupid like that.) Continuing on then with this absolute tosh, it’s officially not possible for there to be “closed-off Muslim communities”. Back to reality, there certainly are some majority(? large proportion?)-Muslim communities, but very very unlikely any are “closed off”. The only “closed off” communities I know of the various nudist camps.

    Meanwhile, in important matters, Frace’s Covid-19 vaccination is still proceeding slower than a backwards-moving dead snail buried underground stuck to a rock.

  81. says

    HuffPo – “Capitol Police Investigate 2 GOP Lawmakers Over House Metal Detector Incidents”:

    The U.S. Capitol Police are investigating two incidents related to the new metal detectors set up outside the House chamber: one involving a member of Congress potentially assaulting a police officer and the other involving a lawmaker trying to bring a gun onto the House floor.

    HuffPost personally observed and publicly reported on both incidents over the last month, and Capitol Police called this reporter in on Wednesday for an interview about both altercations.

    On Jan. 12, the night of the first votes after the U.S. Capitol insurrection and the decision to put magnetometers outside the House chamber, HuffPost observed Rep. Russ Fulcher (R-Idaho) roughly push his way past an officer who was operating the metal detectors. The best way to describe what Fulcher did was he “manhandled” the officer, a Black woman who was significantly smaller than the congressman.

    Fulcher set off the magnetometer that night, and the officer inadvertently seemed to get in his way as he tried to rush past her. But what started as one of those dances you do with someone when you both zig and zag as you try to get around each other, ended as a physical interaction. Fulcher grabbed the officer with both hands and pushed past her roughly.

    Fulcher did not appear to be trying to injure the officer, but the incident was nonetheless jarring and out of the ordinary.

    That night, HuffPost tried to ask the officer some questions about the skirmish, but she didn’t want to talk to the press. We did, however, observe that she appeared to be shaken from the interaction.

    Police told HuffPost they were investigating the matter.

    Capitol Police were also investigating an incident that occurred on Jan. 21, when Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) tried to bring a gun onto the House floor. HuffPost also observed and publicly reported on that incident and was a material witness to Harris trying to get another member who had just left the floor to hold his gun for him while Harris voted.

    …On Wednesday, the police seemed to be interested in the fact that Harris’s gun was concealed, based on the line of their questioning. Members are allowed to carry firearms on the Capitol campus but are not allowed to carry them onto the House floor, and the District of Columbia requires a special permit for the concealed carrying of firearms.

    The two detectives told HuffPost that no charges had been filed in either case but both were active investigations.

  82. says

    AP – “US life expectancy drops a year in pandemic, most since WWII”:

    Life expectancy in the United States dropped a staggering one year during the first half of 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic caused its first wave of deaths, health officials are reporting.

    Minorities suffered the biggest impact, with Black Americans losing nearly three years and Hispanics, nearly two years, according to preliminary estimates Thursday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    “This is a huge decline,” said Robert Anderson, who oversees the numbers for the CDC. “You have to go back to World War II, the 1940s, to find a decline like this.”

    Other health experts say it shows the profound impact of COVID-19, not just on deaths directly due to infection but also from heart disease, cancer and other conditions.

    “What is really quite striking in these numbers is that they only reflect the first half of the year … I would expect that these numbers would only get worse,” said Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, a health equity researcher and dean at the University of California, San Francisco.

    This is the first time the CDC has reported on life expectancy from early, partial records; more death certificates from that period may yet come in. It’s already known that 2020 was the deadliest year in U.S. history, with deaths topping 3 million for the first time.

    As a group, Hispanics in the U.S. have had the most longevity and still do. Black people now lag white people by six years in life expectancy, reversing a trend that had been bringing their numbers closer since 1993.

    Between 2019 and the first half of 2020, life expectancy decreased 2.7 years for Black people, to 72. It dropped 1.9 years for Hispanics, to 79.9, and 0.8 years for white people, to 78. The preliminary report did not analyze trends for Asian or Native Americans.

    “Black and Hispanic communities throughout the United States have borne the brunt of this pandemic,” Bibbins-Domingo said.

    They’re more likely to be in frontline, low-wage jobs and living in crowded environments where it’s easier for the virus to spread, and “there are stark, pre-existing health disparities in other conditions” that raise their risk of dying of COVID-19, she said.

    More needs to be done to distribute vaccines equitably, to improve working conditions and better protect minorities from infection, and to include them in economic relief measures, she said….

  83. says

    John Schwartz, a Times reporter who focuses on the climate:

    Those who deny climate science love to declare that there’s no such thing as climate change whenever the weather turns cold. But weather remains variable, and cold weather in winter still happens, even if the overall warming trend means that winters are getting milder.

    […] the effects of a warming world have something to do with these sudden bursts of Arctic cold, as well. The cold air at the top of the world, the polar vortex, is usually held in place by the circulating jet stream. The Northern Hemisphere’s warming appears to be weakening the jet stream, and when sudden blasts of heat in the stratosphere punch into the vortex, that Arctic air can spill down into the middle latitudes.

    A warming atmosphere can hold more moisture, so when you do get storms you can expect to see heavier rain and snow. There’s also fascinating research that links a warming Arctic to increased frequency of the broad range of extreme winter weather in parts of the United States. It’s known as “warm-Arctic/cold-continents pattern,” a phenomenon that’s still being studied.

  84. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s (please support the Grauniad if you can!) current texas seditionist flees live blog:

    Conservative commentator Erick Erickson defended Ted Cruz’s trip to Cancun as his state faced a massive crisis and widespread blackouts by noting that the Republican senator does not oversee Texas’ power grid: The fact that people think Ted Cruz, a United States Senator, can do anything about a state power grid, even his own, is rather demonstrative of the ignorance of so many people who cover politics. They’d rather performative drama than substance.

    But as New York Times columnist Jamelle Bouie responded, Cruz’s many contacts in the state could help the millions of Texans who do not have power or access to clean water right now […]

    Case in point: former Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke, who ran against Cruz in 2018, organized a group of volunteers to check in on senior citizens in Texas last night. […]

    We made over 151,000 calls to senior citizens in Texas tonight. One of our vols talked to a man stranded at home w/out power in Killeen, hadn’t eaten in 2 days, got him a ride to a warming center and a hot meal. […]

  85. says

    From text quoted by SC in comment 107: “buttressed by support from Moscow”

    Yep. That figures. Lukashenko is hanging on with help from Putin.

  86. says

    Hey @SenTedCruz! We’re rationing bottled water to keep enough for baby formula. We’re just grateful to have heat unlike millions of Texans. So sorry to hear you couldn’t get upgraded to business class on the way back from Cancun. Let us know if there’s anything we can do to help.”

  87. says

    blf @123, thanks for posting that … such a good contrast between Beto O’Rourke and that dumbass Ted Cruz.

    In other news (but somewhat related news): If the GOP moved on from Trump, what would it move on to?

    For all the talk about the GOP’s “cold war” and “civil war,” what sometimes gets lost is the fact that party’s conflict isn’t really about anything.

    […] “I think we need to get away from the idea that the Republican Party is just one person and adherence to just one leader,” she [Sen. Susan Collins] said.

    […] a variety of other GOP senators — including Sens. Richard Burr (N.C.) and Ben Sasse (Neb.), both of whom also voted to convict Trump — have made similar comments in recent days.

    But there’s a nagging question lingering in the background. If, to borrow Collins’ phrasing, Republicans moved away from “the idea that the Republican Party is just one person,” how else would the GOP define itself in 2021?

    Business Insider’s Josh Barro had a smart piece along these lines yesterday, explaining that the intra-party fights plaguing Republicans right now have nothing to do with the future and everything to do with fealty to a semiretired failed president who isn’t even in office anymore.

    Partly this reflects the former president’s success in building a personality cult for himself. But there is another issue that goes deeper to the problems facing the GOP. Even if Republicans sought to move on from Trump under leadership from McConnell and the hapless puddle of jelly that leads their conference in the House, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, what would they move on to?

    That’s not a rhetorical question. It’s easy to see the Democrats’ ambitious policy agenda, and it’s equally easy to understand Republicans’ reflexive opposition to Democrats’ plans, but with the House poised to vote next week, for example, on a $1.9 trillion COVID relief package, I’m hard pressed to explain the GOP’s arguments against it. Indeed, those expecting GOP officials to present credible alternatives to Democratic proposals will very likely be disappointed over the course of the next two years.

    […] For the first time since 1854, the Republican Party didn’t even bother to write a platform last year, announcing instead that it would simply endorse whatever Donald Trump said he liked. Six months later, the post-policy party still appears wholly indifferent toward governing, public policy, and working constructively on trying to solve serious problems.

    There’s no shortage of coverage on the Republican Party’s ongoing “cold war” and “protracted civil war,” but what sometimes gets lost is the fact that the GOP’s conflict isn’t really about anything meaningful. […] in 2021, GOP officials are at odds over whether Trump (a) is a dangerous autocrat, and (b) secretly won the election he lost.

    […] Republicans are stuck trying to decide whether or not to celebrate their failed former leader. These are not the efforts of a serious governing party.

    I vote that the GOP does not move on from worshipping Trump to worshipping Ted Cruz or Josh Hawley.

  88. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Covid infections worldwide fall to lowest point since mid-October

    Reported daily coronavirus infections have been falling across the world for a month and on Tuesday hit their lowest since mid-October, figures that suggest the seasonality of the virus show.

    But optimism over a way out of the crisis has been tempered by new variants of the virus, raising fears about the efficacy of vaccines, Reuters reports.

    “Now is not the time to let your guard down,” Maria Van Kerkhove, the World Health Organization’s technical lead on Covid-19, told a briefing in Geneva.

    “We cannot let ourselves get into a situation where we have cases rise again.”

    There were 351,335 new infections reported worldwide on Tuesday on a seven-day average, the figure falling from 863,737 on 7 January. There were 17,649 deaths on 26 January, falling to 10,957 on 16 February.

    Covid infections are decreasing in the US, with 77,883 new infections reported on average each day. That’s 31% of the highest daily average reported on 8 January.

    So far, 85 countries have begun vaccinating people for the coronavirus and have administered at least 187,892,000 doses, according to the Reuters figures.

  89. says

    Why it matters that Kevin McCarthy is in Trump’s doghouse (again)

    Trump is reportedly angry that McCarthy told others about their Jan. 6 phone call, which if true, bolsters reports that the call actually happened.

    While in office, Donald Trump had a habit of referring to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) as “my Kevin.” […] Now, things are … different.

    One of the first signs of trouble came last month when the House GOP leader tried to shield Trump from accountability for inciting an insurrectionist riot. The former president was nevertheless reportedly furious that McCarthy did so in a way that was insufficiently deferential.

    Less than a month later, Trump was reportedly outraged again, complaining to aides that McCarthy stood by House Republican Conference Leader Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) despite her vote on last month’s article of impeachment.

    And this week, Fox News reported that the former president now views McCarthy “with disdain” — though this time, the reasoning is a little more interesting.

    Trump believes McCarthy mounted a personal attack against him by telling fellow Republicans of their heated phone call during the Capitol insurrection. In that call, Trump is reported to have told the congressman: “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election theft than you are.” That became a flashpoint in the trial when Democrats pushed to hear testimony from Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, who recounted the conversation after speaking with McCarthy. But the managers settled for entering her statement in the record.

    As a rule, there isn’t a lot of news value in keeping up on who is and isn’t in Donald Trump’s doghouse, but […] it’s worth pausing to appreciate the implications.

    Shortly before last week’s Senate impeachment trial concluded, we learned of an expletive-laden argument between Trump and McCarthy on Jan. 6, as the House Republican leader called the then-president during the insurrectionist violence. According to Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.), who knew the details of the call, McCarthy reached out to Trump directly in the hopes that he would direct his mob to end the riot.

    […] the former president is annoyed that McCarthy told others about their tense phone Jan. 6 conversation, which is notable because it suggests the reports about the conversation are correct. There was some chatter on the right that Herrera Beutler’s account shouldn’t be believed, but if she were wrong, there’d be no reason for Trump to be angry about McCarthy “telling fellow Republicans of their heated phone call.”

    Given that the former president may yet face prosecutorial scrutiny over the Jan. 6 attack, details like these remain quite relevant.

    As for the political road ahead, […] “The former president plans to campaign for primary challengers to those lawmakers who opposed him on impeachment, including Liz Cheney. In the view of Trump’s inner circle, McCarthy will have no choice but to support his Republican incumbents. If the Trump-backed House contenders prevail — and it’s hardly a lock that they would win in the general election — they would feel no obligation to back McCarthy as their leader.”

    The idea, in other words, is for the former president to position himself as the leader of the House Republican conference.

  90. says

    Unemployment claims worsen, reinforce need for relief package

    This is the 48th consecutive week in which the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits was worse than at any time during the Great Recession.

    Report from the Labor Department:

    In the week ending February 13, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 861,000, an increase of 13,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised up by 55,000 from 793,000 to 848,000. The 4-week moving average was 833,250 […]


    […] The need for additional congressional investments — sooner rather than later — seems obvious.

    To that end, President Joe Biden’s proposed COVID relief package, which the White House refers to as the “American Rescue Plan,” is progressing on Capitol Hill. Multiple House committees advanced the proposal last week, and Democratic leaders have told members that a final vote on the House floor is on track for next week.

    If successful, the bill would go to the Senate for consideration, with a target date for final passage the week of March 8. The timeline is relevant, not only because of the public need, but because key unemployment benefits are set to expire in mid-March.

    The conventional wisdom suggests the package is on the right track, but there are a variety of details to work out — most notably whether the plan includes a minimum-wage increase — and it remains a heavy lift.

  91. says

    Bess Kalb:

    Guys stop you’re RUINING @tedcruz’s vacation in a pandemic while the people who elected him to protect them suffer through a catastrophic infrastructure collapse!

    Turn Texas Blue:

    Beto O’Rourke’s volunteers calls 151k Texas seniors to make sure they’re okay and help provide assistance. Greg Abbott goes on Fox News and blames a non-existent Green New Deal, Democrats and Windmills. Ted Cruz is vacationing in Cancun while Texans freeze to death. Unreal.

  92. says

    Mars rover prepares for landing

    […] Mars rover expected to land on Mars this afternoon […] Arrives after seven month, 300-million mile journey […]

    Houston, we are T-minus 3 hours and 25 minutes from landing:

    What time: 3:55 p.m. EST

    Can we watch the landing?: Unfortunately, no. The technology is not there yet.

    But what we can follow: NASA is livestreaming coverage, commentary and a countdown to the rover’s landing.

    Tune in live — here’s the livestream of the NASA rover landing coverage: It begins at 2:15 p.m. EST. https://go.nasa.gov/3k8gCV6

    NASA’S Perseverance Mars Rover had a Twitter account: Follow the live updates: https://bit.ly/3qyTu4v

    FOR CONTEXT — THE TIME AND DISTANCE THIS ROVER HAS TRAVELED: “The rover has been traveling through space since launching from Cape Canaveral, Florida, at the end of July. When it reaches Mars, Perseverance will have traveled 292.5 million miles on its journey from Earth.” https://cnn.it/2OED3Fx […]

  93. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current insurrectionist fleeing live blog:

    More details on Cancun-gate: Ted Cruz’s office reportedly contacted the Houston Police Department to request security assistance at the airport yesterday.

    The HPD told ABC News that its officers “monitored his movements through the terminal.” Cruz then boarded a flight to Cancun […]

    Huston, like (most of) the rest of Texas, has been hard hit. I presume the HPD had and still has rather more urgent matters, life-and-death matters, to deal with than massaging an insurrectionist’s ego. (If he really needed protection, there is always protective custody.)

  94. says

    At least 36 deaths now attributed to severe winter weather in Texas [and in] other states

    […] Most of the three dozen deaths were attributed to traffic accidents, as people attempted to travel on the messy and icy roads […]

    The second most common cause of death has been carbon monoxide poisoning after people used vehicles or generators to keep warm in low temperatures amid the outages. A mother and child were found dead in Houston on Tuesday after the woman started their car in a garage.

    The severe winter weather has also led to six deaths due to exposure, including several bodies located next to Texas roads, a Kansas woman found in a nightgown and a Kentucky woman in a mobile home without heat.

    A grandmother and three children were killed in a Texas house fire that officials said likely spread from their fireplace.

    […] Three people died in a North Carolina tornado that was “fueled” by the winter storm. And a 9-year-old was killed after being pulled on a tube behind an ATV and hitting a mailbox.

    Millions were without power in Texas […]

    President Biden granted an emergency disaster declaration to Texas over the weekend, granting the state assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

    Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) have since requested federal emergency declarations.

  95. says


    […] Canadian Ted Cruz crossed the border into Mexico with his family last night, looking for a better life for his family, outside the hellscape the Texas GOP created with its “Government So Small You Can Freeze To Death In Your Own Bathtub” policies.

    […] California was literally on fire when he made fun of their electricity going out, and he didn’t tell anybody to “stay safe.” But “Stay safe!” said the guy currently seeing how many Speedos he can fit in his carry-on, allegedly.

    Before Fox News confirmed it, former MSNBC guy David Shuster confirmed that the Cruz family, he, the seditionist senator who helped incite a fascist coup and domestic terrorist attack on the Capitol last month, and his wife, the Goldman Sachs asshole, had jetted off to a little place they like to stay in Cancun.

    […] Did we mention Texans are literally freezing to death right now? Oh well anyway, in case you or Ted Cruz forgot, since it’s also being reported that, in the middle of Texas’s Katrina, Ted Cruz’s staff called the Houston Police to ask for their help getting Cruz through the airport to his flight to Cancun, because surely HPD wasn’t busy doing anything else last night, right?

    […] His own voters often are like “Sure, he’s a godawful, horrible piece of shit, but he’s MY godawful, horrible piece of shit.” But we dunno, this might actually not end well for him. Because Texans, again, are literally DYING RIGHT NOW. And it seems like they have a pretty good idea why this is all happening!

    The Texas Democrats have called for Cruz’s resignation, saying they’re not surprised, they’re just disappointed. We guess we’ll just have to see how this all shakes out. […]


  96. says

    SC @135, Doesn’t she have a gun safe? Or a gun room? Even by pro-gun-culture rules, she is doing it wrong.

    In other news: “Democrats to formally introduce Biden’s citizenship bill.”

    Washington Post link

    Democrats will formally file President Biden’s immigration bill [today], as they attempt to create the first major path to U.S. citizenship for undocumented immigrants in nearly 35 years.

    The bill is the centerpiece of Biden’s broad strategy to forge a more humane immigration system, and it would grant legal status to approximately 11 million people, mostly from Mexico and Central America.

    […] Biden has expressed hope for passing a bipartisan measure, and the U.S. Citizenship Act marks the first major effort since the Senate passed a massive immigration overhaul in 2013 and that effort died in the House. But it is unclear how aggressively he will court Republicans needed to pass the Senate.

    The U.S. government has not passed a major citizenship bill since 1986, when amnesty legislation signed by Republican President Ronald Reagan legalized nearly 3 million undocumented immigrants.

    […] “We’re open to a conversation with anyone about this, but we think this is a much more comprehensive way to deal with this issue than just simply a wall.”

    […] Mainly the bill takes an expansive approach: It promotes integration of immigrants and refugees, reduces years-long backlogs to immigrate to the United States, and creates two major pathways to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

    Farmworkers, immigrants who arrived in the United States as children, and people with temporary protected status — granted to those whose homelands are deemed too dangerous to return to — would have the fastest route to naturalization. They would immediately become eligible for green cards and could apply for citizenship after three years.

    Millions of other undocumented immigrants would be allowed to apply for citizenship after eight years, longer than the current five-year requirement but shorter than the path the Senate approved in 2013.

    All applicants must pass background checks and have been in the United States as of Jan. 1, a requirement intended to discourage a migration surge to the southwestern border. […]

    Republicans are already making the usual noises about “protecting American workers,” and “blanket amnesty.”

  97. blf says

    White House press secretary Jen Psaki snarks (from the Grauniad’s current missing insurrection live blog):

    Psaki said she did not have any information on the whereabouts of the Republican senator.

    “Our focus is on working directly with leadership in Texas and the surrounding states on addressing the winter storm,” Psaki said.

    She added, “We expect that would be the focus of anyone in the state or surrounding states who was elected to represent them.”

  98. blf says

    Not at all political, but rather neat, Islamic 12th-century bathhouse uncovered in Seville tapas bar:

    A magnificently decorated 12th-century Islamic bathhouse, replete with dazzling geometric motifs and skylights in the form of eight-pointed stars, has emerged, a little improbably, from the walls and vaulted ceilings of a popular tapas bar in the heart of the southern Spanish city of Seville.

    Last summer, the owners of the Cervercería Giralda — which has been pouring cañas and copas near Seville’s cathedral since 1923 — decided to take advantage of local roadworks and the coronavirus pandemic to set about a long-delayed renovation.

    Although local legend and the odd historical document had suggested the site may once have been an ancient hammam, most people had assumed the Giralda’s retro look was down to the neomudéjar, or Islamic revival style, in which the architect Vicente Traver built the bar and hotel above it in the early 1920s.


    The archaeologist, Álvaro Jiménez, knew of the rumours. But, like many others, he had always imagined them to be fanciful. One day last July, however, the team were gently chipping their way through the plaster that covered the ceiling when they uncovered a skylight in the form of an eight-pointed star.


    Their explorations soon uncovered an exquisite piece of design dating back to the 12th century when the Almohad caliphate ruled much of what are now Spain and Portugal as well as a large swath of north Africa.

    [… Archaeologist Jiménez:] “Absolutely everything here is decorated, and, luckily, it’s survived. The background is white lime mortar engraved with geometric lines, circles and squares. On top of that you have red ochre paintings of eight-pointed stars and eight-petalled multifoil rosettes. Those two designs alternate and entwine and adapt to the different geometric shapes of the skylight holes.”


    [Co-owner Antonio] Castro and his partners are looking forward to a new chapter in the Giralda’s long history. But they are also toasting the foresight of Vicente Traver.

    “This was a pretty well-known bar before, but now people will be able to come in and have a beer or a glass of wine in a bar that’s also a 12th-century hammam,” said Castro. “It’s a good thing that the architect back in the 1920s respected the baths — others might have chucked everything out, so we’re grateful to him.”

    There are a few photographs at the link.

  99. blf says

    From the Gruniad’s current fleeing insurectionist live blog (quoted in full):

    Cruz confirms Mexico trip
    Texas Senator Ted Cruz has finally confirmed that he did fly to sunny Cancun yesterday — while Texans are dying, freezing, hungry, thirsty, huddling together at risk of coronavirus and otherwise stricken by the aftermath of climate-crisis driven Arctic temperatures as part of a huge storm system.

    But his statement was likely to stir more, not less, controversy. He contradicted multiple reports that he was going there for a multi-day trip by saying he was just being a good dad and accompanying his daughters on a trip there, and getting ready to fly back today.

    And despite dozens of deaths and the storm emergency leaving hospitals under strain and residents needing rides to warming shelters and sources of food, amid outrage at state Republican leadership and the fossil-fuel power industry, Cruz called the disaster an infuriating week for Texans.

  100. says

    Good: Biden memo for ICE officers points to fewer deportations and strict oversight.

    Washington Post link

    U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers will need preapproval from a senior manager before trying to deport anyone who is not a recent border crosser, a national security threat or a criminal offender with an aggravated felony conviction, according to interim enforcement memo issued by the Biden administration Thursday.

    The narrower priorities are expected to result in a drop in immigration arrests and deportations. Biden officials said the new guidelines — which will be in effect for the next 90 days — will allow the agency to make better use of its resources while prioritizing public safety threats.

    President Biden, who has rejected calls from liberal Democrats to “abolish ICE,” has taken several measures during his first month to reverse his predecessor’s immigration policies and chart a much different course. Reining in an agency with a reputation for zealous enforcement under […] Trump was at the top of Biden’s list.

    […] Republican lawmakers and others critical of Biden’s changes say the narrower priorities will strip ICE officers of discretion while allowing offenders with DUI convictions or serious felonies to remain in the country. […] “These reckless changes — allowing criminal aliens to remain in our communities — place Americans at risk and will undoubtedly lead to many preventable crimes,” Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and James Comer (R-Ky.) wrote.

    […] The Enforcement and Removal Operations branch of ICE, which is responsible for immigrant arrest, detention and deportation, has a $4.1 billion budget and about 8,000 officers and staff. Under the interim guidelines, ICE personnel will need to seek preapproval from one of ICE’s 24 field office directors before arresting immigrants who fall outside the new enforcement priorities. […]

    ICE officers will also be instructed to consider mitigating factors before making an arrest, such as whether the criminal offense was recent, how long of a jail or prison term the person served, and whether they have ties to U.S. citizen children or other family members.

    A review of recent ICE statistics suggests enforcement could decline sharply under Biden’s new priorities. The 93,000 individuals arrested by ICE officers in the U.S. interior last year had more than 374,000 criminal convictions or pending charges on their records, but only about 10 to 20 percent appear to be the kind of aggravated felony convictions that would make them a priority under Biden’s rules, ICE statistics show. […]

  101. John Morales says

    But it’s the current topic, SC!

    Let’s see… the UAE has an orbiter around Mars, so does China, which plans its own landing over the next few weeks. It ain’t just the USA.

    Geopolitics, right?

  102. blf says

    There are currently two ESA (European Space Agency) missions in orbit around Mars (Mars Express, which provided data to the Perseverance Entry-Descent-Landing team; and ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO), which recorded telemetry data from this most recent Nasa landing for later retransmission to Earth; TGO is a joint mission with Roscosmos). Perseverance‘s sample return (the 1st mission) function relies on two future ESA missions — the “fetch” rover (2nd mission) and the Earth Orbital Return (3rd mission).

  103. John Morales says

    In South Australian news:

    It’s taken until the third decade of C21, but:

    A historic bill to decriminalise abortion in South Australia has passed the State Parliament’s Lower House, following a heated and lengthy debate.

    Members of Parliament were granted a conscience vote on the bill, which moves abortion from the Criminal Law Consolidation Act and into healthcare legislation.


    Attorney-General Vickie Chapman said it was an historic day for the women of South Australia.

    “It makes abortion a health issue, not a criminal one, and makes explicit the higher standard of medical care and decision making that already exists in South Australia,” Ms Chapman said.

  104. says

    New York magazine – “Ted Cruz Abandons Millions of Freezing Texans and His Poodle, Snowflake”:

    After jaunting off to Cancún with his family Wednesday night, Senator Ted Cruz explained that he was merely escorting his teenage girls on a vacation trip with their friends. In an apparent bid for sympathy, he noted that, like millions of other Texans, “our family lost heat and water.” Cynics immediately cast doubt on this claim, so this afternoon I decided to check out the senator’s power situation for myself. Supplied with Cruz’s address by a knowledgeable friend, I drove the fifteen minutes from my Houston apartment to the uber-rich River Oaks neighborhood where Cruz lives.

    From the street, Cruz’s white, Colonial Revival-style mansion looked dark and uninhabited. A neighbor informed me that the block had indeed lost power before finally getting it back late Wednesday night. A glance at the lighted lanterns flanking the doorways of other homes on the block confirmed this. The senator’s story appeared to check out. But then I heard barking and noticed a small, white dog looking out the bottom right pane of glass in the senator’s front door. Had Cruz left his dog behind?

    As I approached to knock, a man stepped out of the Suburban parked in Cruz’s driveway. “Is this Senator Cruz’s house?” I asked. He said it was, that Cruz wasn’t home, and identified himself as a security guard. When asked who was taking care of the dog, the guard volunteered that he was. Reassured of the dog’s well-being, I returned to my car. Before leaving, though, I took a photo of the house from my car window, making sure not to include the house address.

    A 2014 Facebook post by Cruz, apparently showing a picture of the dog, identifies it as a rescue puppy named, aptly enough, Snowflake (gender unknown). Some on Twitter have questioned whether the dog is in fact a poodle, suggesting alternative breeds such as a Bichon Frise. I couldn’t get close enough to tell, and I’m no canine expert, but “Ted Cruz’s poodle” just sounds funny.

    As soon as I posted the photo on Twitter, noting that Cruz “appears to have left behind the family poodle,” all hell broke loose. “Tell me they really didn’t leave that dog home alone,” one person replied. “That pooch deserves better,” grumbled another. People tagged the ASPCA and PETA. Then there were what I have come to call the Poodle Truthers….

    For most, though, especially Texans like me who have suffered through a week without heat or water in freezing overnight weather, the notion of Cruz leaving his dog behind to hit the beach was all too much — especially the thought of the power being out when they left. (The New York Times reported that Cruz’s wife Heidi had complained that the house was “FREEZING” in a group chat to friends and neighbors that proposed leaving the blackout behind for the Ritz-Carlton in Cancún.)…

    #JusticeForSnowflake was trending on Twitter overnight. Here’s the picture from the NY article.

  105. says

    BBC – “Princess Latifa: UN asks for proof that Dubai ruler’s daughter is alive”:

    The United Nations human rights office has asked the United Arab Emirates for proof that Princess Latifa, the daughter of Dubai’s ruler, is alive.

    In secretly recorded videos shared with the BBC, Princess Latifa accused her father of holding her hostage in Dubai since she tried to flee in 2018.

    The UN has contacted David Haigh from the Free Latifa campaign requesting access to the footage.

    In the videos, Princess Latifa says she fears for her life.

    The footage, released by friends, prompted global calls for a UN investigation, while the UK said it would watch any developments “very closely”.

    “We are concerned about it,” UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said earlier this week, adding that the “deeply troubling” videos showed “a young woman in deep distress”.

    Princess Latifa’s father, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, is one of the richest heads of state in the world, the ruler of Dubai and vice-president of the UAE.

    The UAE has close relations with a number of Western countries, including the US and UK, which consider it a strategic ally.

    A lawyer who presented Princess Latifa’s case to the UN, Rodney Dixon, earlier told the BBC: “We are hoping [a UN investigation] will be decisive in finally getting Princess Latifa released,”…

    “The UN needs to have a very serious meeting directly with those who are holding [her] and make sure an agreement is reached so she can be released,” he said.

    Mr Dixon added: “The UN as the international body responsible for implementing international law can ensure that is exactly what happens.”

    Clips from her video are available here.

  106. says

    Guardian – “Colombia tribunal reveals at least 6,402 people were killed by army to boost body count”:

    A special peace tribunal in Colombia has found that at least 6,402 people were murdered by the country’s army and falsely declared combat kills in order to boost statistics in the civil war with leftist rebel groups. That number is nearly three times higher than the figure previously admitted by the attorney general’s office.

    The killings, referred to in Colombia as the “false positives scandal”, took place between 2002 and 2008, when the government was waging war against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (or Farc), a leftist guerrilla insurgency, which ultimately made peace with the government in 2016. Soldiers were rewarded for the manipulated kill statistics with perks, including time off and promotions.

    Included in the 2016 deal was the creation of a special peace tribunal – known by its Spanish initials, JEP – to investigate and try crimes committed by all sides in the conflict. On Thursday, the JEP made public the preliminary results of its investigation into the “false positives” scandal, following the exhumation of mass graves across the country over the past two years.

    A statement by the JEP confirmed that the investigation will continue, and will now focus on provinces in the country not yet prioritized in its probe.

    Jackeline Castaño, whose brother was abducted and murdered by the military in 2008, felt that justice was closer to being served following Thursday’s announcement. While many rank-and-file soldiers have been sent to prison and dozens of senior officers have been fired, victims say that those who gave the orders still have not faced justice.

    “We are grateful for the publication of the findings of the JEP’s investigations which show how widespread extrajudicial executions were during the period of [then-president] Álvaro Uribe, from 2002 to 2008,” said Castaño, who leads a victims’ group. “We hope that the truth will continue to come out.”…

  107. says


    Totally blown away.

    $1M raised in direct relief for Texans in less than a day.

    As a thank you to everyone who contributed & amplified, I’ll be going to Texas this weekend to visit w/ [Rep. Sylvia Garcia] in Houston & highlight what’s happening on the ground.

  108. says

    News from the Guardian world liveblog:

    Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine greatly reduces virus transmission, two Israeli studies have found, shedding light on one of the biggest questions of the global effort to quash the pandemic….

    Pfizer Inc and partner BioNTech SE said on Friday they have submitted new data to the US health regulator showing the stability of their Covid-19 vaccine at temperatures commonly found in pharmaceutical freezers and refrigerators….

  109. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    British government broke law in opaque billion pound PPE procurement deals, court rules

    The British government broke the law by failing to publish details of billions of pounds of spending on personal protective equipment (PPE) during the coronavirus pandemic, a London court ruled on Friday.

    Reuters reports:

    As Covid-19 swept across the world last year, Britain scrambled to secure protective gear for medics and nurses on the front line.

    The Good Law Project, a campaign group, and three opposition politicians brought a judicial review seeking details of undisclosed deals with firms that had no medical procurement expertise and, in some cases, delivered defective protective equipment.

    A judge at a London High Court said the Secretary of State for Health, Matt Hancock, failed to comply with a public procurement law that requires the government to publish contract awards within 30 days.

    “The Secretary of State spent vast quantities of public money on pandemic-related procurements during 2020,” the judge said. “The public were entitled to see who this money was going to, what it was being spent on and how the relevant contracts were awarded.”

    The health ministry said it had needed to move within very short timescales and against unparalleled global demand.

    The National Audit Office said last year there had been a lack of transparency and a failure to explain why certain suppliers were chosen, or how any conflict of interest was dealt with, in procurement deals between March and the end of July worth about 18 billion pounds.

    Opposition politicians have accused the government of running a “chumocracy” with contracts, including for the purchase of what turned out to be unusable PPE, and appointments made to those with family or business links to those in power.

  110. says

    Maddow last night – “NYC Prosecutor Hires On Heavy-Hitting Attorney To Trump Case”:

    Rachel Maddow reports on the distinguished background of attorney Mark Pomerantz, whose work as a mob lawyer helped define RICO prosecutions, and who has been made a special assistant district attorney by Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, dedicated to the investigation of Donald Trump’s business dealings.

    7-minute (will wonders never cease?) video atl.

  111. says

    Ari Berman:

    …New Georgia GOP voter suppression bill:

    -ends Sunday voting when Black voters use Souls to the Polls

    -give voters less time to request & return mail ballots

    -restricts mail ballot drop boxes

    -adds voter ID for mail voting

    -makes it more likely ballots thrown out

    Hearing happening now in GA House on new GOP voter suppression bill, less than 24 hours after it was introduced

    Republicans trying to rewrite state’s entire voting laws with almost no public input…

  112. says

    New York Times:

    […] you’re probably familiar with the idea of vaccine alarmism. It goes something like this: “The coronavirus vaccines aren’t 100 percent effective. Vaccinated people may still be contagious. And the virus variants may make everything worse. So don’t change your behavior even if you get a shot.”

    Much of this message has some basis in truth, but it is fundamentally misleading. The evidence so far suggests that a full dose of the vaccine — with the appropriate waiting period after the second shot — effectively eliminates the risk of Covid-19 death, nearly eliminates the risk of hospitalization and drastically reduces a person’s ability to infect somebody else. All of that is also true about the virus’s new variants.

    Yet the alarmism continues. And now we are seeing its real-world costs: Many people don’t want to get the vaccine partly because it sounds so ineffectual.

    About one-third of members of the U.S. military have declined vaccine shots. When shots first became available to Ohio nursing-home workers, about 60 percent said no. Some N.B.A. stars are wary of appearing in public-services ads encouraging vaccination.

    Nationwide, nearly half of Americans would refuse a shot if offered one immediately, polls suggest. Vaccination skepticism is even higher among Black and Hispanic people, white people without a college degree, registered Republicans and lower-income households.

    Kate Grabowski, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins, told me that she has heard from relatives about their friends and co-workers choosing not to get a shot because they keep hearing they can still get Covid and pass it on to others — and will still need to wear masks and social distance. “What’s the point?” she said, describing their attitude.

    The message from experts, Grabowski said, is “being misinterpreted. That’s on us. We’re clearly doing something wrong.”

    “Our discussion about vaccines has been poor, really poor,” Dr. Muge Cevik, a virologist, told me. “As scientists we need to be more careful what we say and how that could be understood by the public.”

    Many academic experts — and, yes, journalists too — are instinctively skeptical and cautious. This instinct has caused the public messaging about vaccines to emphasize uncertainty and potential future bad news.

    To take one example: The initial research trials of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines did not study whether a vaccinated person could get infected and infect another person. But the accumulated scientific evidence suggests the chances are very small that a vaccinated person could infect someone else with a severe case of Covid. (A mild case is effectively the common cold.) You wouldn’t know that from much of the public discussion.

    […] The messaging, as Dr. Abraar Karan of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston said, has a “somewhat paternalistic” quality. It’s as if many experts do not trust people to understand both that the vaccines make an enormous difference and that there are unanswered questions. […]

  113. says

    One detail that stuck with me about the whole Cruz debacle: He was not scheduled to return to Texas until Saturday. His original ticket specified that return trip. He only returned earlier after massive backlash forced him to face how stupidly he had acted. Furthermore, he lied. He lied at first, claiming that he always intended to return immediately. Lies and bad judgement.

  114. says

    Today’s WH COVID briefing:

    The extreme weather has delayed vaccine distribution by 3 days, but things are improving as roads re-open. They expect that the vaccine backlog will be cleared up next week, and are asking for vaccination sites to prepare for the increased volume.

    They’re opening several large vaccination sites in the next two weeks (4 in Florida, 1 in Pennsylvania).

    Cases continue to decline (five-week steady decline). Hospitalizations declining. Deaths fluctuating, but modestly declining.

    They’re releasing data from the vaccine monitoring system. About half of people don’t feel well after second dose. Some severe allergic reactions, as expected. No deaths attributed to vaccines. They’re safe and effective.

    They’re testing vaccines on teenagers (12-17), and expect to have first data in the fall. They’re starting to enroll younger kids in trials, stepping down by age, but won’t have that data until early 2022.

  115. says

    Leading Dem eyes new route to banning Trump from public office

    According to the Constitution, those who “engaged in insurrection or rebellion,” or aided them, can’t seek elected office. This is relevant anew.

    […] If Trump had been convicted, Congress could’ve proceeded with a measure to ban Trump from ever again holding public office. That, obviously, is no longer an option.

    […] Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a former constitutional law professor who led the team of House impeachment managers in last week’s trial, talked to ABC News this week about Section 3 of the 14th Amendment being used to block Trump from running again.

    Section 3 of the 14th Amendment bars any public official who swore an oath to protect the Constitution from holding office if they “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against it or gave “aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”

    The constitutional language, of course, was in response to the Civil War. The point at the time was to bar those who threatened our democracy and took up arms against the United States — and their allies — from trying to return to elected politics.

    The provision hasn’t been especially relevant in recent years, but it’s hardly a stretch to think it could be applied to Trump.

    Raskin told ABC News’ Rick Klein that if Trump again sought elected office, there could be a variety of efforts — in state legislators, in the courts — to use Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to conclude that the former president is ineligible.

    […] Raskin isn’t the only one thinking along these lines. Earlier this week, former Republican Sen. John Danforth and former Republican Rep. Tom Coleman wrote a joint op-ed for the Washington Post arguing not only that Trump “engaged in insurrection within the meaning of Section 3,” but also urging Congress to act accordingly.

    […] What’s more, some have been pushing this approach for a while. Just a few days after the attack on the Capitol, before Trump even left the White House, Yale Law School’s Bruce Ackerman and Indiana University law professor Gerard Magliocca wrote a related op-ed pointing to this “little-known constitutional provision” as a way to keep the Republican from seeking a second term.

    All of which suggests that Trump’s acquittal wasn’t necessarily the end of the process, not just because the former president may yet face prosecution, but also because his opponents may yet have a legal recourse to stop him from again seeking an office of public trust.

    Postscript: It’s probably worth emphasizing that if Section 3 of the 14th Amendment could be used to block Trump, it might also be used against anti-election Republicans such as Sens. Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley.

  116. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Police in France have urged people to avoid the temptation to meet up with friends to enjoy spring-like weather this weekend, warning that officers would be stepping up their Covid social distancing patrols.

    Temperatures are forecast to flirt with 20C (70F) across much of the country after a recent cold snap, which authorities worry could draw curfew-weary crowds to parks and riverbanks.

    Already on Friday, TV reports showed flocks of people enjoying maskless drinks outside restaurants in Paris, reminiscent of the huge crowds that flouted the ban on groups of more than six in warm months last year.

    Paris police warned that 700 officers would fan out to issue fines of €135 euros to anyone caught outside after the nationwide curfew begins at 6pm.

    It added that around 4,000 officers would be mobilised over the weekend to enforce distancing rules, including breaking up outdoor gatherings.

    “This is not the time to relax our collective guard,” it said on Twitter.

    In the southeastern city of Lyon, authorities issued an outright ban on outdoor drinking of alcohol in much of the city centre, a popular district with scores of cafes and restaurants.

    In contrast to some neighbours like Britain, France has so far avoided a third coronavirus lockdown, while keeping in place a nighttime curfew.

    Infections remain high, with over 22,500 new cases recorded on Thursday, but are relatively stable and the government appears at ease with its current strategy for the moment.

    It has resisted calls to consider lifting the curfew or other restrictions, including bar, restaurant, cinema and museum closures.

    A three-month gap between doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine results in higher vaccine efficacy than a six-week gap, a new study suggests.

    The research indicates that with three months between the first and second dose there was an overall efficacy of 81%, compared to 55% for a six-week interval, PA reports.

    The first dose offered 76% protection in the three months between doses, according to the University of Oxford research published in The Lancet.


  117. blf says

    Follow-up to Lynna@175 on teh texas insurrectionist’s stooopidity, some snippets from Icy blast of anti-Ted Cruz outrage shows little sign of abating:

    “Texans’ anger with Ted Cruz right now could power an entire electrical grid,” a Houston Chronicle editorial blasted. “He plopped himself down on a direct flight to paradise and left us to fend for ourselves in this frozen hell.”

    In a decision destined for future lists of all-time, tone-deaf political blunders […]

    “Snake on a plane, right there!” late-night host Jimmy Kimmel said on ABC on Thursday night. “Headed, ironically, to the very place he tried to build the wall around.”

    “He spent just one night out of the country — not long enough for a sunburn, but plenty of time to get blistered,” a Dallas Morning News story quipped.

    […] Cruz’s Texas colleague in the Senate, John Cornyn, retweeted an unmistakable dig at his vacationing Republican colleague: “Meanwhile, @JohnCornyn’s Twitter feed is full of helpful news and resources for Texas.”

  118. says

    TPM – “‘Cry Us A Mai Tai’: Editors At The Houston Chronicle Heckle Cruz, Call For His Resignation”:

    The Houston Chronicle on Thursday night published an editorial calling on Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) to resign for skipping town in favor of a Cancun getaway as millions of Texans suffered through power outages and a loss of running water amid unrelenting winter storm damage.

    The editorial board, which had previously called for Cruz’s resignation last month for his role in the Capitol riot, said that “escaping to Mexico hits a new low — even by the senator’s own standards.”

    The paper’s editorial board noted that Cruz had banked much of his 2018 reelection campaign around a message of compassion that credited Cruz with supporting those hard hit during Hurricane Harvey….

    “Not this time,” editors said. “He plopped himself down on a direct flight to paradise and left us to fend for ourselves in this frozen hell,” noting the junior senator’s well-documented “deficits in compassion.”

    Cruz was further disparaged in the editorial for pinning the blame for his getaway on his young daughters — framing his decision to flee the state under a guise of good parenting.

    “Cry us a Mai Tai,” editors wrote, questioning the claim, which was later blown up after texts from the senator’s wife leaked to The New York Times revealed his wife’s own desire to escape the state’s winter wreckage.

    “Take our advice, senator, and resign,” editors wrote. “Seems like you could use a break and we could, too, from an ineffective politician who, even in crisis, puts his personal itinerary before the needs of Texans.”

  119. says

    Someone Leaks Heidi Cruz’s Damning Group Chat Texts About Cancún Trip. Schadenfreude Ensues.

    Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), facing an outpouring of backlash after being caught fleeing to a tropical getaway in Mexico on Wednesday as millions of Texans went without running water or heat during a snowstorm, attempted to do some damage control on Thursday by slinking back to his home state and shamelessly pinning the blame on his kids. His two pre-teen daughters had asked to go to Cancún, the Republican senator claimed, and “wanting to be a good dad,” he decided to fly with them on Wednesday night.

    Cruz notably did not mention at the time when he had originally planned to return to the U.S., raising suspicions over the true motives behind his departure from Mexico so soon after photos of him on the plane went viral.

    And then someone in a group chat with Heidi Cruz, the senator’s wife, threw everything into a tailspin.

    Not long after Cruz issued his statement, the New York Times published a scoop detailing a series of texts from Heidi Cruz in the group chat in which she complained about her “FREEZING” home in Texas and invited everyone to join her and her family at the Ritz Carlton in Cancún. One of the texts included her flight itinerary that showed their return was scheduled for Sunday.

    “Anyone can or want to leave for the week?” Heidi Cruz asked.

    Another person in the group chat confirmed the veracity of the texts to the Times, and Democratic opposition group American Bridge posted full screenshots of the messages, which did not directly mention Cruz’s children. One of them did note, however, that the hotel rooms were $309 plus tax per night.

    The GOP senator later admitted that he had cut his trip short, claiming that he “started having second thoughts almost the moment I sat down on the plane” and that the vacation was “obviously a mistake.”

    The brutal fact that at least two people in the Cruzs’ inner circle (or at least in close proximity to them) saw fit to leak embarrassing private texts to one of the biggest news outlets in the country didn’t go unnoticed:

    I’m not saying Ted and Heidi Cruz are despised by the people in their innermost circle, but imagine thinking you’re close enough friends with someone to go to Mexico with them for a week and then they immediately show your texts to the New York Times.


    Damn somebody from the group chat dimed out the Cruz family. Cold world.


    Quite something to be so universally reviled that even your wife’s group chat girls will roll on you

    See also: https://twitter.com/HayesBrown/status/1362557810672873485\

  120. says

    US Agency for Global Media reinstates employees dismissed under Trump

    The agency overseeing Voice of America has reinstated five whistleblowers who were all fired on the same day last year by Trump officials.

    The U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) has returned the employees fired on Aug. 12 by then-CEO Michael Pack, who was dismissed by President Biden just hours after taking office on Jan. 20.

    “Deputy Director for Operations Ma Walsh, Chief Strategy Officer Shawn Powers, Chief Financial Officer Grant Turner, General Counsel David Kligerman, and Executive Director Oanh Tran have all returned to their positions at the agency,” Kelu Chao, acting CEO of the agency, wrote Wednesday night in a staff email obtained by The Hill.

    Chao went on to describe each employee as going “to great lengths to try to defend the firewall,” designed to block agency staff from interfering with the news judgment and editorial independence of Voice of America.

    […] Pack, a longtime conservative filmmaker, spent $2 million in government funds to investigate journalists employed through USAGM.

    And in the final weeks of the Trump administration, the District of Columbia’s attorney general accused Pack of funneling more than $4 million to his documentary company through a nonprofit he also runs.

    “This is a repudiation of the Trump administration policies, Mr. Pack, and his enablers,” said David Seide, the attorney who represented USAGM whistleblowers.

    But he warned the agency is still a work in progress and will still need to repair relations with its employees.

    “To rebuild a reputation takes time,” he said.

    Everywhere we look, Trump left a lot of damage in his wake.

    Corruption: “the District of Columbia’s attorney general accused Pack of funneling more than $4 million to his documentary company through a nonprofit he also runs.”

  121. says


    It’s never a bad day for another Gipper Madness story. And today we have two of them for your Friday enjoyment. Who loves ya, baby?

    First up, Pennsylvania, where the primary to replace retiring Senator Pat Toomey has already turned into a nasty slapfest.

    “Any candidate who wants to win in Pennsylvania in 2022 must be full Trump MAGA,” Steve Bannon told Politico, seemingly oblivious of the fact that “full Trump MAGA” was on the ballot in November, and he lost. Other data points include the state’s governor, lieutenant governor, and half its congressional delegation, all of whom are Democrats. But Steve Bannon has never been overly preoccupied with the truth, so here we are.

    The former president’s shadow looms large in Pennsylvania, with members of the state party voting this week to censure Toomey for his vote to impeach Trump.

    Politico reports that the most important issue differentiating Republican candidates is their pro- or anti-Trump stance:

    Joe Gale, a Montgomery County commissioner who was an early Trump backer in 2016, launched a bid for governor this week bashing Toomey. He said in his announcement that the senator has a “track record of betraying President Trump” and that his brother, Sean, who is running for the open Senate seat, “will be the exact opposite of RINO Pat Toomey.”

    Former congressman Ryan Costello, who retired after the state’s highest court redistricted him out in 2018, occupies the anti-Trump corner and supports Toomey, both unpardonable sins in Pennsylvania’s current GOP.

    “Never-Trumper Ryan Costello is a sellout to the globalists,” Bannon said of the man who voted with Trump more than 95 percent of the time in Congress.

    I am sooo fucking tired of Steve Bannon. “Globalists,” really?

    “It would be foolish for any statewide candidate seeking the Pennsylvania GOP’s endorsement to accept Sen. Toomey’s endorsement or donations from him,” former spokesman for the Pennsylvania GOP and current Trump backer Greg Manz told Politico. “I imagine a feckless hack like Ryan Costello would gladly align himself with Sen. Toomey, but he won’t even place in the Senate primary. He’s a non-factor ultimately.”

    To which Costello responded, “Before Greg Manz worked for Trump, he worked at the state party. Everyone back then and before used to make fun of him [because] he’s a clown. No one respects him and a few years from now, he will probably be pumping gas in New Jersey. No one knows who he is. He just does what he’s told like the little errand boy he is.”

    As for Bannon, “Sloppy Steve will say whatever he’s told [because] he’s forever indebted for his pardon,” Costello sneered.

    […] Meanwhile in Virginia, Republicans are so busy knocking the crap out of each other that they can’t even figure out how they’re going to choose a candidate to run in this year’s gubernatorial contest. (Yes, Virginia has off-off year elections, because racism.)

    As Northern Virginia gets bluer and bluer, “full Trump MAGA” candidates have crashed and burned in statewide elections. In 2018, Nazi-wannabe Corey Stewart lost the US Senate race to Tim Kaine by a whopping 16 points. The year before that, former RNC stalwart Ed Gillespie tried to immigrant-bash his way into the governor’s mansion, only to lose to Ralph Northam by 14 points. But Northam is term-limited out […]

    Wait for it …

    There is little establishment support for Ms. Chase, who last month was censured by her State Senate colleagues and stripped of committee assignments after she called the rioters at the Capitol “patriots.” She has recently been required to sit in a plexiglass box after refusing to wear a mask during Senate sessions. Ms. Chase has called it her “square of freedom.”


    That’s from the New York Times piece this morning on the total panic inside the Virginia GOP at the prospect of state Senator Amanda Chase, who describes herself as “Trump in heels,” [another face/palm!] winning the Republican nomination. In a regular primary with multiple declared candidates, Chase is likely to win a plurality of votes, but nothing approaching a majority. Which is why the party is trying desperately to shift to a convention, where its members could coalesce around someone less ridiculous.

    To make matters worse, they only have until February 23 to tell state elections officials if they’re going to hold a primary, and if they don’t, any in-person gathering is likely to violate state COVID restrictions on mass gatherings. On top of which, Chase is not only suing the state GOP over its convention plans but she’s threatening to go third party, which would torpedo Republicans’ already dismal chances at taking back the statehouse.

    “If they disenfranchise the people of Virginia, I will declare the Republican Party is dead,” she said. “I will start the Patriot Party of Virginia. And I won’t look back.” [Okay. You do that.]

    Even Trump’s former Virginia state director, John Fredericks, described the state party as a “dumpster fire” to the AP. Trump spokesliar [“spokesliar” :-)] Jason Miller says it’s “too early to tell” if the former president will get involved in the race, although he seems pretty hot to trot, especially if it means screwing with Mitch McConnell […]

    Trump’s legacy is to turn the GOP into a never-ending food fight where the craziest candidate emerges from the primary with a shiner and his two front teeth knocked out.

    Which doesn’t make up for the last four years of disaster, but … it’s something.


  122. says


    Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is very, very upset that anyone would suggest he’s steering coronavirus vaccinations to populations that are most likely to vote for him. In fact, he’s so hurt by the allegations of vaccine favoritism that he threatened this week to take vaccinations away from counties where leaders criticize him, and to move them where people are more grateful.

    DeSantis made the threat Wednesday at an upscale, mostly white retirement community, Lakewood Ranch in Manatee County, after some Manatee County commissioners criticized DeSantis for selecting Lakewood Ranch for a three-day pop-up vaccination clinic that would only serve seniors from two affluent zip codes. The Bradenton Herald, which broke the story, very rudely pointed out that residents in those zip codes aren’t just wealthy — with a median income nearly double that of the rest of the county — but that the neighborhoods also have a far lower COVID-19 infection rate than other parts of Manatee County. On the other hand, they tend to vote Republican […]

    […] members of the county commission had questions about the decision. At a commission meeting Tuesday, Commissioner Misty Servia said,

    We have people struggling with the virus. If we were going to pick and choose, I would hope it would go to the under-served populations and neighborhoods. […] You’re taking the whitest demographic, the richest demographic in Manatee County and putting them before everyone else.

    Shouldn’t be long before Tucker Carlson calls her a racist and a socialist, we suppose. While he’s at it, he should also call out Politico for noting that “Just 5.3 percent of the vaccine doses the state has administered so far have gone to Black residents,” although Black people constitute almost 17 percent of Florida’s population.

    […] As NBC News points out, DeSantis has been accused of using the vaccination rollout for political advantage from the get-go. While federal guidelines recommended that states prioritize getting vaccines into the arms of frontline health workers first, DeSantis added adults aged 65 and up to the top priority group, and surely that’s just because he cares so much, not because retirees make up one of Florida’s most influential voting blocs. […]


    UPDATE: Never let it be said that Ron DeSantis isn’t sensitive to what really matters. He plans to order that state buildings fly flags at half-staff, to honor the late Rush Limbaugh.

  123. blf says

    Spotted on a loony site I won’t link to, referring to the extreme cold in Texas:

    is God saying anything to america in light of its present situation ie the new presidential administration.


    Yes, He’s telling us this current illegal horde who has taken over the US government, have HEARTS AS COLD AS ICE!

    Due to the nature of the site, it is very probable all three quoted loons are indeed loons, and not, say, poes or trolls.

  124. says

    Mar-a-Lago becomes the center of the Republican Party’s world

    Mar-a-Lago used to be an example of Trump’s corruption. Now it’s a pilgrimage destination for those who want an audience with a failed former president.

    [snipped Kevin McCarthy’s trip to kiss the ring of the disgraced former president] This week, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) also made the trip to Mar-a-Lago to visit with Trump. Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley was ready to visit Mar-a-Lago for a chat with the former president, but Trump reportedly turned her down.

    CNN reported this morning on yet another prominent Republican who’ll be flying into Palm Beach.

    Sen. Lindsey Graham is heading to Mar-a-Lago this weekend to meet with Donald Trump in hopes of bridging a growing rift in the top echelon of the Republican Party, CNN has learned. According to a person familiar with his plans, Graham plans to spend his time on the golf course with Trump — ideally convincing the former president that regaining congressional majorities for Republicans will help bolster his own presidential legacy. This person said Graham wants to be “constructive,” urging Trump to use his influence for the party’s good.

    […] Graham is desperate to see Republicans win and gain power, and he apparently believes Trump’s retaliatory efforts against targeted GOP officials will interfere with the party’s 2022 plans.

    […] By all accounts, [Trump is] desperate to settle scores against Republicans he’s deemed insufficiently loyal, and it’s difficult to imagine Graham persuading him that the GOP’s interests are more important than the former president’s ego.

    But it’s the larger pattern that’s worth pausing to appreciate: for four years, Mar-a-Lago served as an example of Trump’s casual corruption, profiting from a business he exploited while in office. But it’s now becoming more of a pilgrimage destination for Republicans seeking an audience with the semiretired failed former president who’s leading the GOP despite losing and leaving his party with no power or agenda.


  125. says

    Bits and pieces of campaign news:

    […] the No Excuses PAC, is launching a new radio ad, which will air on 147 radio stations in Texas, calling the Republican senator “Cancun Cruz” and denouncing him as “an embarrassment to Texas.” [Washington Post source]

    Pennsylvania’s open U.S. Senate race continues to attract new candidates, with state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D) launching his statewide bid yesterday. [The ReidOut Twitter source]

    In Colorado, the Democratic primary to take on Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) in 2022 keeps growing. This week, state House Rep. Donald Valdez (D), who unsuccessfully ran for this seat two years ago, became the seventh contender hoping to take on the right-wing incumbent. [Denver Post source]

    It certainly would be nice to see Lauren Boebert defeated.

    In Vermont’s largest city, the chair of the Burlington Republican Party resigned yesterday, both from his position and from the GOP. “As a result of their fixation on loyalty to narcissistic national leaders and their adoption of a politics of personal revenge, I am disappointed to conclude that it is no longer productive for me to serve the remainder of my term as chair,” Kolby LaMarche wrote in his resignation letter. [Burlington Free Press source]

  126. says

    Abbott abandons Texas cities in winter storm crisis, while White House steps up

    […] The ongoing problem for Texans is that competence and compassion is lacking on the ground in its Republican leadership.

    Take this example: The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) sent 60 generators and 10,000 gallons of diesel fuel that have apparently been sitting at a staging area in Forth Worth for more than 24 hours. Biden’s administration got the critical assistance there. Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who made the time to go on Fox News and lie about how windmills were the reason his state’s electrical grid failed, apparently has not gotten around to getting those generators and that fuel deployed. This is while 27.7 million people are under boil water notices across 40 counties, with the power out at water treatment plants.

    […] Houston’s Democratic Mayor Sylvester Turner told Stephanie Ruhle that he still has 10,000 residents without electricity. There’s a boil water notice for the whole city through the weekend. But get this: “I have not talked to the governor at any time during this crisis,” Turner told Ruhle. Abbott has not reached out to the mayor of the state’s largest city. Ruhle was dumbfounded. “You’re the mayor of Houston,” she said. “The governor of your state hasn’t reached out to you since this began?!” Turner reiterated, “I have not talked to the governor. […] But we’re pushing forward.” Just let that sink in. Since last week, when the storm and hit and crippled the state, Abbott has not once reached out to the mayor of the state’s largest city. How very Trumpian.

    […] As of Thursday night Judge Clay Jenkins, the chief executive of Dallas County, hasn’t heard from Abbott either. “I haven’t heard from the governor,” he told MSNBC. “I haven’t heard from any of the state leaders throughout this. We have been doing the best we can.” But who has he talked to? “We have heard from the White House.”

    Meanwhile, it’s not just generators and diesel that Biden has sent to the state […] Homeland security adviser and deputy national security adviser Liz Sherwood-Randall told reporters Thursday that they’ve sent “729,000 liters of water, more than 10,000 wool blankets, 50,000 cotton blankets and 225,000 meals.” FEMA is prepared to provide fuel to power facilities, Sherwood-Randall said. The White House apparently is going to have to provide the people and the vehicles to transport that fuel.

    Biden has remained in contact with Abbot, tweeting Thursday night “Tonight, I called Governor Greg Abbott to discuss the ongoing situation in Texas and identify ways we can support the state’s recovery from this storm. I made clear to the Governor that I’ll work relentlessly to get his state what they need.” […]

    Despite that assistance from Biden, Texas Republicans are bitching. State Rep. Bob Hall, a Republican, told The Washington Post that the federal response has been inadequate. “I have seen nothing from the federal government in response except they were going to offer up some generators,” he said, adding “I would be very concerned about any strings the federal government wants to attach. […] Especially green-energy-related.” [Oh, FFS!]

    So maybe Abbott isn’t just incompetent and cruel. Maybe he’s not coordinating the deployment of all that assistance from Biden to prove to the people of Texas that the federal government isn’t helping them. It would be absolutely in character for Abbott and that other prominent Texas Republican.

  127. says

    Abbott abandons Texas cities in winter storm crisis, while White House steps up

    […] The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) sent 60 generators and 10,000 gallons of diesel fuel that have apparently been sitting at a staging area in Forth Worth for more than 24 hours. Biden’s administration got the critical assistance there. Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who made the time to go on Fox News and lie about how windmills were the reason his state’s electrical grid failed, apparently has not gotten around to getting those generators and that fuel deployed. […]

    Since last week, when the storm and hit and crippled the state, Abbott has not once reached out to the mayor of the state’s largest city [Houston]. […]

    As of Thursday night Judge Clay Jenkins, the chief executive of Dallas County, hasn’t heard from Abbott either. […]

    Despite that assistance from Biden, Texas Republicans are [complaining]. State Rep. Bob Hall, a Republican, told The Washington Post that the federal response has been inadequate. “I have seen nothing from the federal government in response except they were going to offer up some generators,” he said, adding “I would be very concerned about any strings the federal government wants to attach. […] Especially green-energy-related.” [Oh, FFS!]

    So maybe Abbott isn’t just incompetent and cruel. Maybe he’s not coordinating the deployment of all that assistance from Biden to prove to the people of Texas that the federal government isn’t helping them. It would be absolutely in character for Abbott and that other prominent Texas Republican.

  128. says


    […] During his monologue, Kimmel played a satirical version of a United Airlines welcome video.

    “Welcome, we’re excited to have most of you onboard, please make sure your safety belt is secure, unless you should be staying at home because your state is facing a historical humanitarian crisis,” the fictional flight attendant’s voice said. “In that case, lift your buckle to release and get the f— back to work, asshole.” […]

    Video at the link.

  129. blf says

    Nathan French Prophesies That God Will ‘Wipe Out’ Social Media Companies for Banning Trump:

    Nathan French, a right-wing evangelist who runs a ministry in Washington state that is nurtured through a powerful, prophetic gifting, [send me rublesconvertible currency to help all those Nigerian princes –blf] prophesied that God will destroy social media companies for banning former President [sic] Donald Trump from their platforms.

    The Lord said this morning, he told me, ‘It’s unwise to pick a fight with a reigning champion,’ French claimed. He said, ‘Nathan, I’m going to overturn {the election}, and I’m going to reinstate Trump.’ And so I realized that not only has God chosen President Trump and Melania, but when you mess with God’s plan, then you come against God himself, and you pick a fight with God. [teh Nigerian princes are getting impatient and about to send Ted Cruz to nip at your ankles –blf …]

    Ouch ouch ouch!! (Kicks a not-all-cuddly slobbering maskless cruz.) Aren’t you supposed to be in Cancún with your evacuated family and frozen dog’s treats? Go away, and no, I am not contributing to teh Nigerian Princes Fund for Nathan French’s Frothing.

  130. says

    Husband And Wife Duo Planned Capitol Attack With Oath Keepers, Feds Charge

    […] Sandra Parker, 60, and her husband Bennie Parker, 70, were allegedly affiliated with the same group of Oath Keepers militia members that has already been indicted on conspiracy charges for the alleged planning they did before participating in the riot.

    Both Parkers now also face a federal conspiracy charge, as well as counts for aiding and abetting the depredation of government property, obstructing an official proceeding, and entering a restricted building or grounds.

    Sandra Parker, the feds say, moved with a larger group of Oath Keepers that used a “stack” formation to snake its way to the Capitol doors and then get inside. Her husband stayed outside during the attack but assisted by “staying in communication with members inside the Capitol,” according to an FBI agent’s affidavit.

    The militia members with whom the Parkers allegedly planned their actions are by now well-known: Jessica Watkins, Donovan Crowl and Thomas Caldwell allegedly used Facebook messages and a walkie talkie app to communicate during the attack.

    Caldwell allegedly received messages during the attack with purported information about elected officials’ whereabouts and instructions to “seal them in” and “Turn on gas.” (Caldwell’s lawyer has said his client did not enter the Capitol and that he is not a member of the Oath Keepers.)

    According to the FBI agent’s affidavit, it wasn’t terribly difficult to track the Parkers down.

    Watkins, who allegedly recruited people to travel to D.C. on Jan. 6, had Bennie Parker in her phone as “Recruit Ben,” the affidavit said, and Watkins’ alleged text messages with Parker showed them planning for the Washington event.

    “We are retired so we can meet anytime,” Parker allegedly told Watkins in late December, referring, the feds say, to becoming a member of the Oath Keepers.

    On Jan. 3, according to the affidavit, Watkins told Parker that it would be okay to bring weapons to D.C.

    “So I can bring my gun?” Parker allegedly asked.

    The FBI also found pictures of Sandra Parker on Watkins’ phone from the day of the attack, which they subsequently matched to photos showing her inside the Capitol, the affidavit said. Husband and wife both allegedly wore camouflage and tactical helmets to the attack.

    A few days afterward, Watkins texted Bennie Parker to discuss the FBI’s “wanted” list, the affidavit alleged.

    “Seems they’re only interested in people who destroyed things,” she wrote. “I wouldn’t worry about them coming after us.”

    Both husband and wife were charged in documents filed on Thursday.

  131. says

    Wonkette: “Wingnut Groups Launch Bullsh*t Campaign Against Biden Appointees”

    […] The groups, Americans for Public Trust, Heritage Action for America, and Judicial Crisis Network, seek to undermine support for Vanita Gupta, President Joe Biden’s nominee for associate attorney general, and Xavier Becerra, Biden’s pick for secretary of Health and Human Services. In addition, they’re also running an ad claiming that Biden is a scary tool of evil nasty “dark money” groups, although the groups they point at don’t actually hide their donors’ identity, which is kind of what the definition of dark moneying is. […]

    The ad claims, darkly, that “Liberals spent a record amount of dark money to elect Biden, and now they’re cashing in,” pointing to Biden’s chief of staff, Ron Klain, who was on the board of directors of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, and Biden’s climate advisor Gina McCarthy, who worked for the Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund.

    Neither group is a dark money outfit, of course. Politico notes that CAP lists its donors on its website, and you can look up NRDC Action Fund’s large donors ($200 or more) at OpenSecrets. Both groups are required to disclose their donors; it’s freaking public information.

    The ad also suggests that the reason Biden hasn’t yet ordered public schools to open is due to “dark money” contributions from teachers’ unions, which, big surprise, are also required to disclose political spending.

    […] Then there are the attacks on Gupta and on Becerra. Politico notes that the Judicial Crisis Network’s ad against Gupta, titled “Dangerous Appointee,” attempts to link Gupta to the summer’s demonstrations and riots against police brutality (cue the BURNING CITIES B-roll) and claims that Gupta

    supports defunding the police, led a group that wants to reduce punishments on white supremacists, even terrorists. When our cities burned Gupta could’ve stood for law and order, for victims. Instead she advocated to let convicts out of jail.

    Here too, the fact check is simultaneous. Politico adds, “The article that the ad cites to support the accusation that Gupta favors defunding the police does not actually say she favors defunding the police.” Politico could have gone a little further; we’ll just add that the laughable “evidence” that Gupta favors “reducing punishments on white supremacists, even terrorists” consists of photos of the Charleston church shooter and the surviving Boston Marathon bomber, over the text of a letter calling for a moratorium on the federal death penalty. Yeah, that appeal to end capital punishment from the group Gupta leads, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, was just full of sympathy for white supremacy and terrorism.

    The ad against Becerra, from Heritage Action for America, Politico notes,

    says Becerra “supports government run health care,” “sued Catholic nuns” as California attorney general, and would “decriminalize illegal immigration.” The ad says Becerra “is not a doctor” — former HHS Secretary Alex Azar was not a physician, either — and is the “wrong appointee” in the middle of a pandemic.

    […] HHS secretaries don’t actually get to make immigration policy

    […] Judicial Crisis Network and Heritage Action for America are, in fact, dark money groups themselves. As 501(c)(4) groups they do not have to reveal their funders.

    […] We don’t like dark money, and we think democracy would be much better off with serious campaign finance reform, but we’d also note that we know a hell of a lot more about Joe Biden’s finances than Donald Trump ever disclosed about his own. We’ll go with the guy who’s not being investigated for hinky finances, thanks.


  132. says

    Maya Wiley Is Backed by N.Y.C.’s Largest Union, Lifting Her Bid for Mayor.

    New York Times link

    The endorsement by Local 1199 of the Service Employees International Union is a major win for Ms. Wiley. The union was a key early supporter of Bill de Blasio in another crowded mayor’s race in 2013.

    […] The powerful union, Local 1199 of the Service Employees International Union, provided one of the first big labor endorsements in the wide-open mayor’s race and hoped to use its political weight to help elect a Black woman as mayor for the first time.

    The endorsement was a major win for Ms. Wiley, who is running as a progressive who wants to lead New Yorkers out of the pandemic in a city that has elected only one Black mayor and no women.

    For Ms. Wiley, who did not qualify for public matching funds this week despite having announced that her campaign had met the threshold, the union’s support comes at a critical time. […]

  133. blf says

    Trump ally Erik Prince violated Libya arms embargo: UN report (Al Jazeera edits in {curly braces}):

    Private security contractor Erik Prince, a close ally of former US President [sic] Donald Trump, violated a United Nations arms embargo on Libya, UN investigators have found […].

    The confidential report to the Security Council, obtained by The New York Times and The Washington Post, and partly seen by Al Jazeera, said on Friday that Prince deployed a force of foreign mercenaries and weapons to renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar, who has fought to overthrow the UN-recognised Libyan government, in 2019.

    The $80m operation included plans to form a hit squad to track and kill Libyan commanders opposed to Haftar — including some who were also European Union citizens […].

    Prince, a former Navy SEAL and brother of Trump’s education secretary Betsy Devos, drew infamy as the head of the Blackwater private security firm, whose contractors [… killed] unarmed Iraqi civilians in Baghdad in 2007.


    Prince did not cooperate with the UN inquiry […].

    Al Jazeera’s Kristen Saloomey, reporting from Washington DC, said the report’s findings go deeper than just Prince’s actions.

    “The UN report raises the question not only of whether or not a close associate of the {former} president [sic] violated an international arms embargo, but also of whether or not the president [sic] himself was complicit in defying stated US policy,” she said.

    [… more details and background…]

  134. blf says

    Israel paying millions to supply COVID-19 doses to Syria:

    Palestinians will likely chafe at the fact that Israel is aiding millions of Syrians while they continue to wait for their own supply of the Russian Sputnik vaccine.

    Israeli media report the Syrian prisoner exchange negotiated by Russia, which included the repatriation of an Israeli woman who crossed the Golan frontier into Syria, in return for two Syrian shepherds who strayed into Israeli-held territory, involved another unprecedented Israeli “concession”.

    However, the nature of the concession could not be published because Israeli military censorship prohibited it.

    A well-informed Israeli source told Al Jazeera that Russia, in order to seal the deal, proposed that Israel pay millions of dollars for several million doses of its Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine to be administered to millions of Syrians.


    Several days ago, Israeli reports had said the security cabinet had met to consider the freeing of captives on both sides. But it was unclear why the exchange of an ultraorthodox Israeli and two shepherds would require the approval of such senior officials. Given the source’s comments, it is now clear the vaccine proposal was the element that required such deliberation.


    A further irony of the deal to supply the Russian COVID vaccine to Syria is that Israel has refused, except for a few token exceptions, to offer doses to the four million Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. It has given 5,000 for West Bank health workers and 1,000 for similar personnel in Gaza. But it did so under international pressure, which arose when Israel refused to acknowledge any responsibility to aid the Palestinians.

    Israel is also vaccinating African refugees and Palestinians with Israel work permits, presumably because authorities fear that otherwise they might infect Israeli citizens with whom they come into contact.


    The vaccine deal also benefits Russian President Vladimir Putin, who can herald the donation of his own country’s vaccine to protect millions of Syrians. Netanyahu, in turn, can turn to voters and boast about freeing an Israeli captive from enemy hands. Finally, Syria’s President al-Assad can tell his people that this medical relief was negotiated on their behalf by him and their Russian ally.

    The entire arrangement offers an example of the politicisation of the COVID-19 pandemic, in particular, the use of humanitarian medical relief to advance national political interests. It also highlights the inequity in the distribution of the vaccine to the world’s have-nots, who have neither political power, patronage, nor funding to ensure the protection of their populations.

  135. says

    The lights are back on in Texas, but the true scope of the disaster won’t be visible for weeks

    Texas is waking up this morning with no more than a handful of power outages and a grid capacity that far exceeds demand. In no small part, this is because output from wind turbines doubled in the last 24 hours and is set to reach 22,000 gigawatts today. That’s not because wind turbines have suddenly stopped being frozen. It’s just because there’s more wind.

    But even though the lights are on, and likely to stay that way, spot prices for electricity in Texas are still running three to five times normal rates. Across the state, hundreds of broken water mains and thousands of fractured pipes in homes are still to be repaired. Even where water is flowing again, millions of Texans are under boil orders that will linger for days. On top of all this, supermarket shelves in many areas of Texas are bare, due to a trifecta of issues: Prolonged outages forced supermarkets to dispose refrigerated and frozen items that had melted, ordinary restocking proved inadequate to meet the demand, and poorly cleared and maintained roads caused transportation backups.

    But Rick Perry says Texans would happily do it all again to keep those darn feds from giving them the kind of reliable and consistent power seen in most states. Because allowing Texas billionaires to celebrate “hitting the jackpot” is so much better than letting the federal government set rules on the system. The families of the 30 people who have died so far would surely agree. […]

    As Bloomberg reports, the outages have left Texas facing a “food supply nightmare.” It’s not just grocery stores that have been filling the trash bins with tons of food. It’s every home in Texas where they were both unable to keep a refrigerator running, and unable to cook the food they already had. It’s also every restaurant in the 90% of the state where the power is controlled by the closed ERCOT grid system.

    After a week, Texans are finding that their shelves are empty, the stores are empty, and the restaurants are closed.

    The disaster also permeated up the supply lines to affect the production of everything from meat to produce. Hatcheries were unable to incubate eggs. Meat processing plants and wholesalers made their own contributions to the mountains of spoiled or unsafe food.

    […] Thousands of home and apartment owners are coming out of the blackouts with severe water damage. For most of them, their insurance will not cover this damage.

    […] Some people whose homes are perfectly fine, could still lose those homes in the next few months to something that seems ridiculous—the bills they are facing from Texas’ deregulated market.

    In many areas of Texas, there are two kinds of power plans available. One provides a fixed or semi-fixed price, no matter what the market price of power may be. The other allows prices to float, providing power at a percentage above the wholesale cost. Many people have signed up for the second kind of plan, specifically because it has been advertised—and has been for several years—as a cheaper solution. But now people whose power plans including pricing that floats with the market are going to be facing enormous bills. On Saturday morning, costs of power are still 300% of normal rates, but on Tuesday and Wednesday the market was at 27,000% of normal for the full day. People who never lost power at all may still face a ruinous disaster; one that arrives in their mailbox.

    […] this has been a manmade disaster at every level. […]

    What happened in Texas is the end result of a system designed and operated to fit the needs of pure neoconservative disaster capitalism. When billionaires scream that they’ve “hit the jackpot” from the surging cost of natural gas, or a small producer turns what would have been a $40,000 week into a $10 million windfall […], that money doesn’t come from nowhere. It comes from ordinary people. It comes from the people whose water pipes have burst, from the restaurant owners whose food has spoiled, and every Texan about to open that friendly envelope from their power company. They’re the ones who will now take what little they have left, and ship it straight to the people who engineered this disaster in the first place.

    The disaster in Texas isn’t over. It will never be over, so long as Republicans can continue to sell them on the idea that it’s better to die than to have a system that works for them, rather than the billionaires.


  136. says

    Wonkette: “Georgia Republicans Devise Unbelievably Transparent Plan To Suppress Black Vote”

    Georgia Republicans, we would have to imagine, are not too happy with Donald Trump losing their state in the 2020 election. We would also have to imagine that they are not too happy about their two brand new Democratic Senators, Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, either. Whatever are they to do?

    Well, they could work really hard to earn people’s votes and encourage their own base to come out and vote even though their base is now convinced that there is no point in voting because evil Democrats and random Italian IT guys will steal all of the election — but that would involve a lot of effort on their part. Instead, they have decided to go old school Jim Crow on a bill very blatantly aimed at decreasing the black vote. […]

    The Republicans claim that the 48-page bill is simply meant to create voting uniformity across the state, which — unless one is specifically trying to make it harder for certain people to vote — is a patently ridiculous idea, as different areas have different needs because they have different size populations. Taliaferro County only has 1,717 people in it. It would not make sense for them to have the same set-up as a county with almost a million people in it. That would be ridiculous.

    There are already massive differences in the amount of wait times to vote in Georgia, with voters who live in predominantly black areas having to wait significantly longer to vote than voters in predominantly white areas, due to a lack of polling places. This, surely, would make that worse.

    The bill would seriously limit early and absentee voting, limiting weekend early voting to one Saturday and specifically prohibiting early voting on Sundays. While the bill doesn’t explicitly say why they’ve decided Sundays are out, it is notably a day when Black churches frequently have “Souls to the Polls” voter drives.

    Via Georgia Public Broadcasting:

    Like other bills making their way through the GOP-controlled legislature, there would be a new photo ID requirement for absentee ballots. In HB 531, voters would need to include their driver’s license number, state ID number, or a copy of acceptable form of photo ID. The driver’s license number or state ID number is already required for the newly created online request portal, and photo ID is required to vote in person.

    But the proposal would also shrink the window voters can request an absentee ballot and limit the timeline that county officials can mail them out. No absentee ballot could be requested earlier than 11 weeks before an election or later than two Fridays before the election, and absentee-by-mail ballots would not be sent out until four weeks before day of the election.

    The bill restricts the location of secure drop boxes to early voting sites, and limits the use of those drop boxes to just the days and times where early voting takes place. Another section would ban county elections offices from directly accepting outside funding for elections, coming after the Center for Tech and Civic Life and the Schwarzenegger Institute gave tens of millions of dollars to counties across Georgia to run the November and January elections amidst a pandemic.

    […] The bill itself was written only by Republicans, without any input from House Democrats or the community at large — they likely don’t feel they have to, because in Georgia, Republicans control the House, the Senate and the Governor’s seat. Clearly, they intend on doing everything in their power, no matter how obviously racist or nefarious, to keep it that way.


  137. says

    Jill Filipovic, writing for The New York Times:

    […] one of Mr. Limbaugh’s most significant and longest-lasting impacts, and one that will persist even if the party returns to a post-Trump “normal,” stemmed from his loud opposition to women’s rights: He was the right wing’s misogynist id.

    His belligerent chauvinism was key in making the Republican Party the party of anti-feminism. Cracking open his slobbering hatred of women allows insight into his success, as well as the perversion of the party he championed.

    Mr. Limbaugh burst on the national scene in the late 1980s during a national anti-feminist backlash and as the Republican Party was completing its turn away from libertarianism and toward the religious right. While he often gave rhetorical nods to the “pro-family” traditional values of the Moral Majority, he didn’t adopt its veneer of propriety — he was positively lascivious in his rhetoric, using ugliness and shock to promote embittered and unvarnished sexism […]

    He argued that women shouldn’t be allowed on juries if “the accused is a stud.” […]

    He really hit his stride when Bill Clinton ran for office. Mr. Clinton was accompanied by a feminist wife whose biography — a successful lawyer, an advocate for women’s and children’s rights, a woman who kept her own name and identity after marriage — often set off unhinged emotional outbursts from many Republicans, including Mr. Limbaugh.

    Attacking Hillary Clinton in some of the ugliest terms possible became Mr. Limbaugh’s bread and butter, a guaranteed crowd-pleaser that sustained his show through three decades. He helped build a cottage industry of Hillary-hate, insisting Mrs. Clinton had a “testicle lockbox” […]

    Mr. Limbaugh then further wielded his huge platform to threaten and denigrate smart, ambitious, politically involved women.

    In 1992, Mr. Limbaugh introduced the term “feminazi,” a pejorative he assigned women who spoke out for their own rights generally, and for abortion rights specifically. It was his preferred term, he said, for “women who are obsessed with perpetuating a modern-day Holocaust: abortion.”

    Girls were not spared his ire. Mr. Limbaugh told viewers of his television show in 1993: “Socks is the White House cat. But did you know there is also a White House dog?” And he held up a photograph of Chelsea Clinton, who at the time was just 13 years old. […]

    That Mr. Limbaugh’s fortunes grew with this kind of extreme and schlocky rhetoric, could not have been lost on conservative politicians. […]

    Mr. Limbaugh was the ur-character of this new kind of conservative Republican: one who spoke out loudly for traditional values — which in this case meant male authority over women — as well as the cultural, political and economic dominance of whites. […]

    Perhaps the best case study of Mr. Limbaugh’s grotesque efforts happened in 2012, after Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown law student, testified before Congress to urge mandatory coverage of contraception in the Affordable Care Act, which many congressional Republicans opposed.

    Mr. Limbaugh gleefully spent days maligning Ms. Fluke on his show. “It makes her a slut, right?” he said. “It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex.”

    Mr. Limbaugh offered to buy women at Georgetown aspirin to put between their knees. “Feminazis,” Mr. Limbaugh luridly admonished them, “if we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.”

    This from a man who had been detained at an airport with a prescription, not in his name, for Viagra, a sexual aid typically paid for by health insurance, and who trumpeted the importance of traditional family values before he died childless and on his fourth marriage to a much younger woman.

    […] Mr. Limbaugh promoted double standards that punish women (and gay men) for sexual activity while applauding straight men for the same […]

    He gave voice to the malicious misogyny that was always at the foundation of conservative anti-feminist policy. He made hostile misogyny so normal on the reactionary right that Donald Trump, who shocked uninitiated liberals, sounded downright familiar to anyone tuned into right-wing radio.

    No wonder the attempts in 2016 to kneecap Mr. Trump’s candidacy by pointing to his disparaging comments about women and his boasting about sexual assault were largely impotent. In Rush country, that’s daily entertainment.

    […] Republicans lined up behind Mr. Limbaugh’s basic premise: that contraception is permission for female promiscuity, the public shouldn’t pay for it and employers have a right to refuse women health care if they believe it would enable female immorality. […] For feminists, Ms. Fluke was a hero. But a few years after her testimony, the Supreme Court held that an employer who objected on religious grounds could be exempt from the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that health care plans cover contraception. Democrats won the news cycle, but Republicans won the game.

    […] In 2017, a man in Mr. Limbaugh’s viciously misogynist mold was installed in the presidency even after calling women pigs and dogs, and even after he was caught on tape boasting about grabbing women’s genitals.

    Mr. Trump is out of the White House, and Mr. Limbaugh is dead. But the animus that animated the Limbaughian, Trumpian public remains […]

    That is Mr. Limbaugh’s legacy: not his crass language, but his militant anti-feminism, and how effective he was at ensuring that misogyny translated into policy. The Republicans who say they want their party back from the carnival barkers of bigotry need to reject more than profane words and an uncouth political aesthetic. They need to turn away from the ugly ideology that undergirds it all, which was always foul, whether or not the language was polite.

    New York Times link

  138. blf says

    Arrggghhhh, the qAnonsense has landed, ‘Stakes are high’ as QAnon conspiracy phenomenon emerges in France:

    The French state agency responsible for tackling sectarian movements, MIVILUDES, has received some 15 reports over recent weeks raising the alarm about the rise of QAnon in France, Le Figaro reported. The agency described the development of the movement as “highly concerning” in an internal communication seen by the French paper.

    As she commissioned an inquiry by the police and MIVILUDES, Minister for Citizenship Marlène Schiappa expressed the same sentiments: The development of “new conspiracist groups” on French soil is “very worrying”, she told France 3 in January — underlining that the government “has its eye on” QAnon.


    The website DéQodeurs is a major French gateway to its world. The site’s centrepiece is a big screen at the top of the homepage broadcasting a video titled We are the people — which has also garnered more than 57,000 views on YouTube since its publication on January 27, even though the site removed DéQodeurs’ dedicated channel in October.

    [… more about that ridiculous video…]

    The DéQodeurs website offers links to “information” including articles relaying fake news based on QAnon tropes — such as the baseless claim that in 2016, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was about to release documents proving the existence of a massive paedophile ring in Washington DC. A section titled armoury offers videos — including a two-hour long segment stating falsehoods purporting to provide absolute proof that electoral fraud robbed Donald Trump of victory in November’s US presidential election, spoken using French translation clumsily superimposed over an American voice.


    A more surprising title boosting QAnon is France-Soir. This publication was one of the country’s most august broadsheets during the post-war economic and cultural flowering of France’s Trentes Glorieuses, publishing articles by the likes of Jean-Paul Sartre and novelist Joseph Kessel. The newspaper closed in 2012 after moving downmarket.

    But France-Soir was relaunched four years later as a populist website sometimes trafficking in conspiracy theories, with its last remaining journalists sacked in 2019. Over the past year, the publication went from publishing coronavirus disinformation to publishing fake news to promoting QAnon theories.


    “The emergence of QAnon in France is a recent development,” [Emily St Denny, an expert on French politics at the University of Copenhagen,] noted, “having emerged largely in the second half of 2020, in parallel to the pandemic and public health restrictions put in place to curb it.”

    The popularity of pseudo-documentary Hold-Up shows that Covid disinformation has a big audience in France: It got more than 2.5 million views after its release in November […]. The film propagates an array of debunked claims, including the notion that a global cabal of elites is using the pandemic to create a totalitarian New World Order — a similar trope to QAnon’s belief in a conspiracy of Satan-worshipping paedophiles.


    “We’ve had suspicions about lockdowns, curfews and medical practices activating traditional French phenomena such as anti-vax sentiment and newer ones such as the alternative health movement,” said Andrew Smith, a professor of French politics at the University of Chichester.

    QAnon is dangerous in this context, he noted, because it “offers a kind of unifying voice for a number of things challenging scientific and political authority — one that says to people ‘What do you think? Has anyone asked you?’ while presenting them with a conspiracy theory through the concept of gamification, a kind of puzzle-solving that becomes intoxicating to many”.

    These factors mean that QAnon’s French sympathisers are far more ideologically heterogenous than those in the US, St Denny observed: “QAnon in France is definitely not the monopoly of far-right sympathisers as it might be in the US. Its anti-government underpinnings have made the conspiracy theory attractive to a very disparate collection of groups and individuals […].”

    The “stakes are high” in France considering QAnon’s “disruptive potential in terms of giving a broad coalition the ideological glue to act together in ways that may be threatening to democratic or social processes”, St Denny continued.


    “[…] QAnon’s rise does represent part of an erosion of sociocultural standards, including faith in parliamentary democracy as a system of rule,” he concluded. “It is an alarming threat to the values of the French Republic, as a Counter-Enlightenment trend that denies universalism.”

  139. John Morales says

    re #198:

    this is because output from wind turbines doubled in the last 24 hours and is set to reach 22,000 gigawatts today.

    Wrong by a factor of 1,000.

  140. says

    blf @202, That’s awful. Terrible.

    In other news: Vance’s Office Subpoenaed New York City Tax Agency In Trump Criminal Probe

    A New York City property tax agency was subpoenaed in a criminal investigation by the Manhattan district attorney into former President Donald Trump and his company, according to a Reuters report.

    New York City Tax Commission President Frances Henn confirmed the subpoena to Reuters on Friday.

    The subpoena provides additional insight into the broad investigation into possible tax and bank-related fraud by the Trump Organization led by Manhattan district attorney Cy Vance Jr.

    The development suggests that prosecutors may be looking into potential efforts by the former president’s company to cut down real-estate taxes by playing down the value of some of its commercial properties.

    […] While Reuters points out that Vance has not commented specifically on the focus of his investigation it noted that in court filings Vance’s office said it was probing “possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct” at the Trump Organization, including possible falsification of records as well as insurance and tax fraud.

    The tax agency documents will likely contribute to helping investigators determine whether Trump’s business inflated the value of his properties to secure more desirable loans while simultaneously minimizing those values to avoid paying higher taxes for those properties.

  141. blf says

    Israel destroys Irish aid to Palestinian village community:

    Tents, solar panels and herd shelters smashed as Ireland and EU urged to evolve policy

    The labels read “Humanitarian support to Palestinians at risk of forcible transfer in the West Bank” and they lie in the rubble of a destroyed community that is home to over 60 people, more than half of them children.

    The “Irish Aid — Government of Ireland” logos are clearly visible among the debris of broken solar panels, children’s belongings and destroyed tents, marking items donated to the Palestinian families by a European Union umbrella group that includes Ireland among its donors.

    As the pandemic raged this winter, the village of Khirbet Humsah was repeatedly razed by Israeli forces in a struggle over territory in a remote part of the Palestinian West Bank that has been under Israeli occupation since 1967.

    Over the last three months, nearly 70 structures provided to the community as EU aid have been destroyed or seized, according to the European Commission.

    And this week, undeterred by statements of condemnation from the EU and Ireland, Israel destroyed shelters funded by the EU to rebuild the community in front of a group of European diplomats who were visiting the spot, according to aid workers who were present.

    The Israeli government has designated the area a military firing range, and insists its soldiers are repeatedly breaking up and seizing the donated tents and animal shelters because the village is illegal and the Palestinians need to move on for their own safety.

    But European officials and humanitarian groups view the demolitions as a transparent attempt at a land grab that contravenes international law in an area in which Israeli settlements have been expanding in a way that erodes prospects for a viable Palestinian state.

    [… summary of teh israeli stormtrooper attacks…]

    Tents set up to house the families after the demolitions have been confiscated on four occasions, according to a statement by Cogat[, the Israeli military body that handles civilian affairs in the Palestinian territories]. The Israeli agency told The Irish Times this had been done because they were set up illegally and without the required permits and approvals and residents had refused to move.


    The United Nations has said it is almost impossible for Palestinians to obtain permits due to a “restrictive and discriminatory planning regime”, that such demolitions are “designed to coerce Palestinians to leave their homes”, and that the demolitions and forced transfer of people are a “grave breach” of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

    Aid workers say that the repeated confiscations and demolitions have left already-poor families in desperate conditions worsened by severe winter weather, with their livestock at risk of perishing without the shelters.


    Israeli expansionism is seen to have been emboldened by the administration of former US president Donald Trump, and Khirbet Humsah was among the lands earmarked to be given to Israel under proposals jointly unveiled at the White House with Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu last year.

    The election of Joe Biden and Ireland’s assumption of a seat on the United Nations Security Council have raised prospects of renewed pressure on Israel over the issue.

    [… concerns about the EU being too over-committed to press the issue…]

  142. blf says

    Prepare for another dose of hair furor blattering, Donald Trump to address CPAC on future of Republican party — as-if! — come on, Grauniad, whatever he bellows, it will be all lies and all about him (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    Former president [sic] Donald Trump will address the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, in Florida next week, about the future of the Republican party and the conservative movement, a source familiar with the plan told Reuters on Saturday.

    The CPAC meeting will be held in Orlando, Florida from 25 to 28 February, with Trump speaking on the final day, Reuters reported.

    He’ll be talking about the future of the Republican party and the conservative movement, the source reportedly said. Also look for the 45th president [sic (isn’t it so cute how teh insurrectionists call him teh 45th rather than teh former?)] to take on President {Joe} Biden’s disastrous amnesty and border policies.


    It was also reported this week that the former White House strategist Steve Bannon thought Trump was suffering from early onset dementia while in office.

    A number of top Republicans who are considered possible candidates for the 2024 presidential nomination are also due to speak at CPAC, including former secretary of state Mike Pompeo and Kristi Noem, the governor of South Dakota [both facist, with at least Noem also being incompetent –blf].

    Two notable figures not on the CPAC speaker list are former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley and former Vice-President [sic] Mike Pence.

    Another anonymous source told Reuters Trump had rebuffed a request by Haley to meet with him recently after she was critical of him in a Politico article.


  143. blf says

    Loonies bellowing, Republican leader Steve Scalise refuses to admit Trump lost election to Biden (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    “Clear this up for me,” ABC host Jonathan Karl said to [the House minority whip, Steve] Scalise on Sunday. “Joe Biden won the election. He is the legitimate president of the United States. The election was not stolen, correct?”

    Look, Scalise said, Joe Biden’s the president. There were a few states that did not follow their state laws. That’s really the dispute that you’ve seen continue on.

    And, look, if you’re Joe Biden, you probably want to keep talking about impeachment and anything other than the fact that he’s killed millions of American energy jobs, that … they just signed the Paris {climate} accord. It’s going to kill manufacturing jobs in America. [oh good grief! –blf]


    “But, congressman, I know Joe Biden’s the president. He lives at the White House. I asked you, is he the legitimate president of the United States, and do you concede that this election was not stolen? Very simple question. Please just answer it.”

    Look, said Scalise, not answering the question. Once the electors are counted, yes, he’s the legitimate president. But if you’re going to ignore the fact that there were states that did not follow their own … laws, that’s the issue at heart, that millions of people still are not happy with and don’t want to see happen again.

    You know, look … you can rehash the election from 2020 all day long, but there are people concerned about what the next election is going to look like. Are we going to finally get back to the way the rule of law works? [yes, Biden is trying to unwind hair furor’s dalekocrazy-“government” and damage-orgy –blf]

    Scalise’s comment about the rule of law echoed statements from Trump, his supporters and his lawyers, who have insisted he represents the forces of law and order despite having incited an assault on Congress in which a police officer was one of five people killed and scores of others were injured.


  144. blf says

    Republicans eye federal funds to help pay Texans’ exorbitant energy bills (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    Texas Republicans will use federal funds to help pay exorbitant energy bills hitting ordinary Texans after a deep freeze crippled the state this week, a senior congressman said on Sunday.

    Millions of Texans were subject to blackouts as the cold weather overwhelmed an unprepared state grid, by design independent of federal oversight. The outages contributed to dozens of deaths and a crisis over safe access to water that continued even as temperatures rose.


    Reports have proliferated that some Texans whose power stayed on are now facing enormous bills, as private companies seek to capitalise. The New York Times reported one case in which a 63-year-old military veteran living on social security in the Dallas suburbs faced an electricity bill for nearly $17,000, 70 times what he would usually pay for all utilities combined.


    The current plans with the federal assistance bill are to help the homeowners both repair, because we have a lot of water leaks a lot of water damage pipes bursting, but also {pay} their electricity bills as well, [the former chair of the House homeland security committee, Michael McCaul] said.

    [CNN’s State of the Union h]ost Dana Bash challenged him, saying: “I’m hearing you say that the federal government is going to help to bail out, and to pay bills in a state which is in part in this mess because it wants to be separate from the federal government. That’s kind of rich, don’t you think?”

    McCaul dodged the question, saying instead Texas needed to prepare for more extreme climate events. The deep freeze, he said, was “just a preview of what to expect if the United States doesn’t confront the climate crisis head on”.[]


    McCaul was asked about remarks in which former Texas governor and US energy secretary Rick Perry claimed: Texans would be without electricity for longer than three days to keep the federal government out of their business.

    McCaul said: “Power sharing would have been helpful if we could have shared with other power grids.”[] That could not happen, he said, because the Texas grid was set up … to be independent of federal oversight and regulations. That’s very good with things like cybersecurity, not so good when it comes to an arctic blast like this one. [the remark about “cybersecurity” makes little sense, unless he means denying the feds (e.g.) legal access to texas’ grid data / systems, which is paranoia –blf …]

    Moratorium on excessive payments (defined as, say, more than 110% than same period last year) on the full amount (not just the “excess”). To get paid, the company must weatherise its systems to be able to at least withstand a repeat of these storms. They have until the end of this year. At the end of the year, payment depends on the percentage of the work completed to standard and independently tested: 100% done, 100% payment; 50% done, 50% payment; nothing done, no payment. (Companies who go backwards and have even more work to do at the end of the year than now-ish are wound-up as failures.) Unpaid amounts are cancelled, nothing is owed. Only companies with high (say 90% or more) completion can bid on future federal contracts. (The States do not have, as far as I am aware, any corporate manslaughter or murder laws, else I’d add something like: Any company with a customer who died because of lack of heat, power, water, or food is so-prosecuted.)

      † Not set in eejit quotes despite being bellowed by a thug, as he is broadly correct.

  145. says

    Keith Olbermann:

    Quick message to
    @gregkellyusa @newsmax @CraigSmpa and @DougWead : Fuck You.

    This is a 12-year old German Shepherd – a senior dog. And you’re insulting his APPEARANCE?

    He’s in better shape than any of you – and smarter than all of you combined.


    A Newsmax guest attacked Biden’s dog for being dirty and “unlike a presidential dog” … and then Newsmax hosts jumped in to insult the dog. All hell broke loose on Twitter.

    “That dog doesn’t look any worse than Don Trump and they’re about the same age “

  146. says

    With conservatives, it’s always someone else’s fault

    The article is illustrated with a photo of Ted Cruz oozing sleaziness while he talks.

    For a crowd that pretends to stand for “personal responsibility,” the right-wingers and so-called conservatives who make up the Republican Party sure seem to have a weird aversion to admitting their own mistakes.

    This latest fiasco in Texas is just one of nearly daily examples. Somehow we’re supposed to believe that New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who was probably about five years old when the modern Texas power grid was put into place, is responsible for millions of Texans suffering without power this week. Somehow we’re supposed to blame the complete lack of winterization of the same power grid—a task solely within the control of Texas’ Republican legislature and governors for the past two decades—is failing because of the “Green New Deal,” a law that doesn’t exist now and has never existed. Somehow renewable energy, which supplies a measly 10% of all Texas power plant consumption, is at fault.

    Sen. Ted Cruz jaunts off to Cancun, leaving his Texas constituents to fend for themselves without power in subzero temperatures. But it’s not like he’s responsible: No, he’s blaming his kids. […]

    This is really quite the pattern lately. Let’s start in reverse order, shall we?

    Thousands of people wearing Trump garb and using Trump flags as weapons assault the U.S. Capitol. Most of them are caught on film and boasting about their insurrection on social media. Upon arrest, most of them claim they were lured into attacking the Capitol by Donald Trump. As a result, five people die.

    Who does the conservative media say caused the riots? “Antifa!”

    Trump gets his ass kicked in the 2020 election. Could it have been a) because of the hundreds of thousands of dead Americans?; b) because he showed not a shred of empathy?; c) because he was the most criminal, racist, misogynistic, incompetent president in American history?; d) because he had no achievements to speak of that helped the American people?; or e) all of the above?

    No, it was “Election fraud! […]

    Over 500,000 people in this country, more than any other, die from the novel coronavirus. Trump was president for the vast majority of those deaths, and his lackeys were in charge of coordinating a federal response.

    Who is responsible? “China! The World Health Organization!”

    […] Meanwhile, unemployment, hunger, and evictions skyrocket as businesses close. Could it be because of Trump’s gross mismanagement of the worst pandemic ever to hit the country? “No, it’s the Democratic governors!“

    Why? “Because they should have left their businesses open!.” Wouldn’t that have doubled the number of deaths? “No! Hoax! Flu!”

    […] Just once, I’d like to hear a conservative say, “Man, we really f*cked up, or “Totally our fault, folks,” or “We made a big mistake here.”

    But that may never happen. Because being a member of the “personal responsibility” party means you’re never, ever responsible for anything.

  147. blf says

    Lynna@211, I assume teh wannbe-dalekocrazy-v2 will soon be blaming Biden’s dogs for the feckup of the moment, Teh illegally-elected First Dog ate teh missing votes, peed on my proposed trickle-down tax cut bills, and was at Benghazi! Also, teh 45th’s dog was a Real American Presidential Dog, not an illegal immigrant from the pound!

  148. says

    New York Times:

    A nation numbed by misery and loss is confronting a number that still has the power to shock: 500,000.

    Roughly one year since the first known death by the coronavirus in the United States, an unfathomable toll is nearing — the loss of half a million people.

    No other country has counted so many deaths in the pandemic. More Americans have perished from Covid-19 than on the battlefields of World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War combined.

    The milestone comes at a hopeful moment: New virus cases are down sharply, deaths are slowing and vaccines are steadily being administered.

    But there is concern about emerging variants of the virus, and it may be months before the pandemic is contained. […]

    The living find themselves amid vacant places once occupied by their spouses, parents, neighbors and friends — the nearly 500,000 coronavirus dead. […]

    At a White House briefing on March 31, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the top infectious-disease expert in the country, and Dr. Deborah L. Birx, who was coordinating the coronavirus response at the time, announced a stunning projection: Even with strict stay-at-home orders, the virus might kill as many as 240,000 Americans.

    “As sobering a number as that is, we should be prepared for it,” Dr. Fauci said at the time.

    Less than a year later, the virus has killed more than twice that number.

    The virus has disproportionately caused the deaths of Americans in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, where infections spread easily among vulnerable residents: They account for more than 163,000 deaths, about one-third of the country’s total. In New Hampshire, 73 percent of Covid-19 deaths were linked to nursing homes through last week. In Minnesota, it was 62 percent.

    The coronavirus has been especially lethal to Americans 65 and older, who account for about 81 percent of the country’s Covid-19 deaths. […]

    Deaths from Covid-19 in the United States came faster as the pandemic went on. The first known death occurred in February, and by May 27, 100,000 people had died. It took four months for the nation to log another 100,000 deaths; the next, about three months; the next, just five weeks.

    Though daily deaths are now slowing, about 1,900 deaths in America are being reported each day. As of late Saturday night, the toll had reached 497,403.

    “This will be a sad day in our history,” said Dr. Ali Mokdad, an epidemiologist at the University of Washington. “Our grandchildren and future generations will look back at us and blame us for the biggest failure in facing a pandemic, in the country that’s the richest country in the world. That we allowed people to die, that we didn’t protect our vulnerable populations — Native American, Hispanic and African-Americans. That we did not protect our essential workers.”

    It will still take months to vaccinate the American public, and new, more contagious variants of the virus could quickly undo the nation’s progress and lead to another spike.

    The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, an independent global health research center at the University of Washington, has projected that the nation could reach more than 614,000 deaths by June 1. Factors like how well people adhere to guidelines like mask-wearing and social distancing, plus the speed of vaccinations, could affect that estimate. […]

    New York Times link

  149. KG says

    Lynna, OM@213,

    Terrible as the US Covid death toll is, a number of European countries have done worse in per capita terms, at least if you believe the figures are accurate – my hunch is that the American figures may be somewhat underestimated: the CDC gives a range of 478,927 – 594,204 cumulative excess deaths since February 2020 – but even the higher figure would leave the USA with a lower p.c.rate than Belgium, Slovenia and the UK (in the UK the government’s preferred measure of deaths within 28 days of a positive test, the number of deaths in which Covid is mentioned on the death certificate, and total excess deaths, are all close to 120,000). Admittedly, European countries have older populations, and no European leader has rivalled Trump for sheer malevolent mendacity, but most have performed poorly, and the EU has been culpably slow in getting vaccination underway.

    On a personal note, I got my first vaccine dose (as a 65-69-year-old) a few days ago – unfortunately the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, in which I have less trust than the BioNTech-Pfizer, and I have to wait 12 weeks for the second dose. Felt moderately grotty for a day, but fully recovered now.

  150. blf says

    The reported findings are perhaps more interesting than the Grauniad’s title suggests, People with extremist views less able to do complex mental tasks, research suggests (my added emboldening):

    Researchers from the University of Cambridge sought to evaluate whether cognitive disposition – differences in how information is perceived and processed — sculpt ideological world-views such as political, nationalistic and dogmatic beliefs, beyond the impact of traditional demographic factors like age, race and gender.

    The study, built on previous research, included more than 330 US-based participants aged 22 to 63 who were exposed to a battery of tests — 37 neuropsychological tasks and 22 personality surveys — over the course of two weeks.

    The tasks were engineered to be neutral, not emotional or political — they involved, for instance, memorising visual shapes. The researchers then used computational modelling to extract information from that data about the participant’s perception and learning, and their ability to engage in complex and strategic mental processing.

    Overall, the researchers found that ideological attitudes mirrored cognitive decision-making, according to the study published in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B [The cognitive and perceptual correlates of ideological attitudes: a data-driven approach†].

    A key finding was that people with extremist attitudes tended to think about the world in black and white terms, and struggled with complex tasks that required intricate mental steps, said lead author Dr Leor Zmigrod at Cambridge’s department of psychology.

    “Individuals or brains that struggle to process and plan complex action sequences may be more drawn to extreme ideologies, or authoritarian ideologies that simplify the world,” she said.

    She said another feature of people with tendencies towards extremism appeared to be that they were not good at regulating their emotions, meaning they were impulsive and tended to seek out emotionally evocative experiences. […]


    Participants who are prone to dogmatism — stuck in their ways and relatively resistant to credible evidence — actually have a problem with processing evidence even at a perceptual level, the authors found.

    “For example, when they’re asked to determine whether dots {as part of a neuropsychological task} are moving to the left or to the right, they just took longer to process that information and come to a decision,” Zmigrod said.

    In some cognitive tasks, participants were asked to respond as quickly and as accurately as possible. People who leant towards the politically conservative tended to go for the slow and steady strategy, while political liberals took a slightly more fast and furious, less precise approach.

    “It’s fascinating, because conservatism is almost a synonym for caution,” she said. “We’re seeing that &mash; at the very basic neuropsychological level — individuals who are politically conservative … simply treat every stimuli that they encounter with caution.”


    “What we found is that demographics don’t explain a whole lot; they only explain roughly 8% of the variance,” said Zmigrod. “Whereas, actually, when we incorporate these cognitive and personality assessments as well, suddenly, our capacity to explain the variance of these ideological world-views jumps to 30% or 40%.”

      † The full paper is available at the link, including a legally-downloadable PDF. (I’ve not read it in full yet.)

  151. says

    The Supreme Court has declined to hear Trump’s appeal of the order for his tax returns to be given to the New York grand jury. So he has no more options, and they’ll be seeing them shortly.

  152. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current States politics & pandemic live blog:

    The supreme court has rejected Donald Trump’s request to block New York prosecutors from gaining access to his tax returns.

    In a one-sentence unsigned order, the court ruled that it would not step in to prevent the Manhattan district attorney’s office from obtaining eight years of Trump’s financial documents from his accounting firm.


    In a tweet addressing the decision, Manhattan district attorney Cy Vance said, “The work continues.”

  153. blf says

    Dominion is proceeding with their $1.3bn lawsuit against the mypiddle loon (up to now it was only a threat), from the Grauniad’s current States politics & pandemic live blog:

    One of those consequences [of the 6 January insurrection] is the latest legal action announced today by Dominion Voting — they are to sue MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell for defamation after he has repeatedly spread conspiracy theories about their machines and November’s election result. Alison Durkee writes for Forbes [Dominion Voting Sues MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell For Defamation Over Election Conspiracy]:

    The $1.3 billion lawsuit alleges Lindell “sells the lie” involving the company’s voting machines fraudulently flipping votes to Joe Biden knowing it is false, “because the lie sells pillows.”

    MyPillow sponsored rallies that pushed election fraud claims, offered discount codes related to the conspiracy theory and advertised on right-wing news networks where the claims were being pushed, the lawsuit notes, alleging Lindell “knowingly lied about Dominion to sell more pillows to people who continued tuning in to hear what they wanted to hear about the election.”

    Dominion had previously sent Lindell three letters warning of potential litigation […]. Lindell doubled down on his attacks against Dominion in response to their threats, releasing a documentary pushing his election fraud claims that included allegations about their voting machines.

    In a statement Dominion attorney Megan Meier said:

    Lindell advertised absolute proof, but he delivered absolute nonsense and fake documents sourced from the dark corners of the internet. The cartoonish evidence that he offered in his video cannot be reconciled with any level of logic or truth. Mike Lindell needs to be held accountable for defaming Dominion and undermining the integrity of our electoral system all the while profiting from it.


    For his part, Lindell has told the Wall Street Journal that he was very, very happy to learn of lawsuit. I have all the evidence on them, he said. Now this will get disclosed faster, all the machine fraud and the attack on our country.

    Some snippets from the Forbes article (link embedded above):

    Dominion also accuses Lindell of deceptive trade practices in addition to defamation because he lied so MyPillow could derive “financial benefits from making those false statements,” and notes Lindell’s election fraud campaign sold copies of his book and raised the likelihood that former President Donald Trump would endorse his potential run for governor of Minnesota.

    Dominion is expected to pursue even more defamation lawsuits against others who have spread the claims against them. The company has sent letters warning of potential litigation to more than 150 individuals, and has asked social media networks to preserve posts from key figures like former Trump advisor Michael Flynn and pro-Trump attorneys Jenna Ellis and Lin Wood. Dominion has also suggested it’s likely to sue right-wing media networks for their role in perpetuating the conspiracy theory, and has singled out Newsmax, OAN, Fox News and media stars like Maria Bartiromo, Jeanine Pirro, Lou Dobbs and Sean Hannity. The voting company has also asked social networks to preserve posts by former President Donald Trump and his campaign, and has said repeatedly they have not ruled out suing the ex-president [sic].

    I hope Dominion insists the full terms of the (eventual) settlement / agreement be made public. None of this pretrial secret (“terms not disclosed”) settlement nonsense.

  154. says

    Quoted in Lynna’s #184:

    “Any candidate who wants to win in Pennsylvania in 2022 must be full Trump MAGA,” Steve Bannon told Politico, seemingly oblivious of the fact that “full Trump MAGA” was on the ballot in November, and he lost. Other data points include the state’s governor, lieutenant governor, and half its congressional delegation, all of whom are Democrats. But Steve Bannon has never been overly preoccupied with the truth, so here we are.

    Bannon endorsed 10 candidates in 2017 and 2018 (including Roy Moore). Two won.

  155. blf says

    Two follow-ups to @218, in consecutive entries at the Grauniad’s current States pandemic & politics live blog:

    The US supreme court turned away a lingering challenge from Donald Trump to Pennsylvania’s election rules, putting a final end to a closely-watched case the justices said was now moot.

    The outcome was not unexpected. […]


    Thomas, Alito, and Gorsuch all said on Monday they would have heard the case. In his dissenting opinion, Thomas said the court needed to clarify for future elections whether state courts could step in and limit rules by the legislature for federal elections (the US constitution says federal election rules must be set by state legislatures).


    The conservative justices appear eager to embrace the idea that state courts cannot step in and block state laws for federal elections, an idea that has come to be known as the independent state legislature doctrine. Many experts have expressed alarm at that idea, saying it would empower state lawmakers to pass extremely restrictive voting measures.

    Even though the supreme court didn’t address the issue in this case, the idea is a “ticking time bomb,” that could go off in a future case, Richard Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California, Irvine, wrote on his blog.

    A snippet from Mr Hasen’s blog entry, Breaking and Analysis: Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Cases Over Conduct of Election in Pennsylvania, With Justices Alito, Gorsuch and Thomas Dissenting: A Ticking Time Bomb To Go Off in a Later Case (linked embedded above; my added emboldening):

    […] Mr Trump and his allies have advanced a muscular version of something that’s become known as the “independent state legislature” doctrine. Taken to its extreme, the doctrine says that state legislatures have complete authority to set election rules absent congressional override, and that their power to set election rules cannot be overcome even by state supreme courts applying right-to-vote provisions in state constitutions.

    No wonder teh thugs are so keen on this nonsense, it would hard-wire in voter- and vote-suppression measures (state laws), making them very Very difficult to challenge. Mr Hasen also points this out:

    [… T]he court’s conservative majority could soon embrace a strong version of the independent state legislature doctrine. This could take state courts out of their essential role in protecting voting rights. It could potentially eliminate the ability of voters to use ballot measures to enact nonpartisan redistricting reform and other measures that apply to federal elections. It could give conservative courts looking for an excuse a reason to scuttle voter-protective rules enacted by state election boards.

    […] Although in theory Congress has the power to override state legislatures with voter-protective legislation for federal elections, it is hard to see any of that getting through the next Congress […].

    I have absolutely no idea what teh legal theory is that state courts cannot rule on state laws, even if those law’s violate the state’s constitution. The origin of the just-dismissed case is the Pennsylvania court did “change” the state’s absentee voting rules to allow ballots which arrived up to 3 days late to be counted (I think they had to have been postmarked on or before election day?). I don’t know if that was a one-time change due to circumstances (e.g., the pandemic!), or if it continues to apply (unless, presumably, a law altering that change is passed). As an aside, that change didn’t affect the results at all, one reason the case itself is now moot.

  156. blf says

    me@221, obvious, but: those law’s → those laws
    (Munch’s on another spurious apostrophe, much to teh annoy’ance of Tpyo’s.’)

  157. blf says

    Yikes! I just checked the Covid-19 statistics using the French trace-and-trace app, and it reports that in my general area, ICU occupancy is 99%. Those statistics cover the S.France coast from Marseille eastwards to the Italian border, and hence include Nice; I presume the immediate area around Nice (and possibly Marseille) is “the problem”. (The best statistics I’ve been able to find my more immediate area don’t include %occupancy, but do suggest the situation here in the village isn’t too bad with, e.g., an incidence rate just slightly above the national value, and significantly lower than Nice.)

    Indeed, Nice and its immediate area are now in a localised (but weekend only!?) “lockdown” (more of an all-weekend curfew), Weekend lockdown imposed along French Riviera to stem Covid-19 surge, which is not unexpected (announced earlier today):

    France will apply a localised lockdown over the next two weekends in coastal areas of its southeastern Alpes-Maritimes department, Prefect Bernard Gonzalez announced on Monday. He said monitoring at airports and at the Italian border would also be stepped up and the Covid-19 vaccination campaign accelerated in the department, hard-hit by a surge of infections.


    The coastal area affected by the lockdown, stretching from Théoule-sur-Mer to Menton, includes Nice and other famous resorts such as Cannes and Antibes.


    The department currently has the highest rate of Covid-19 infections in France, with 557 new cases per week per 100,000 residents, compared to 197 per 100,000 nationally, according to Covidtracker.fr.

    I know this sounds stupid, but I was unawares of that site (or at least didn’t have it bookmarked). I noticed it has a predictor for when one can get vaccinated, which reenforces my fears: “At the current rate of vaccination (77,000 doses administered per day on average) and your profile [age, etc.], you should be able to be vaccinated between March 2022 and February 2023. [About 15m] people should get vaccinated before you do. Projection carried out assuming 100% of the population wish to be vaccinated.” If only around 60% wish to be vaccinated (about 40% have said in a poll they do not want to be vaccinated!), a vaccination as “soon” as October this year is predicted to be possible — which happens to be similar to my own back-of-envelope guess of “August”. Nationally, according to the track-and-trace app, c.2.6m people have been vaccinated (one or more jabs, I think), in total, which is about one million more than the States is managing to do per day (before the recent storms). The village has managed to do c.1000, after around three weeks (vaccinating only 5 days a week).

    As far as I can work out, my earlier complaint about the protocol to get vaccinated still applies. That protocol (as I currently understand it): You must first go to your doctor (mostly, as far as I can tell, to be lectured on why getting vaccinated is safe and important). Then your doctor — or maybe, now, you yourself can also do this? — makes an appointment at the vaccination centre. No idea what the waiting time is. (Vaccinations are not being administered by pharmacies, nor, usually, your own doctor.) This system is beautifully “designed” to make it harder for people who want to be vaccinated to get vaccinated, and trivial for vaccination-hesitant people to not be vaccinated (just do nothing!). It’s completely fecking backwards.

    Returning to the France24 article on the situation around Nice:

    The outbreak in Nice had been described as out of control and spreading much faster than elsewhere in France, with the city recording 700 positive cases per 100,000 inhabitants.


    The [lockdown] had long been urged by Nice’s high-profile Mayor Christian Estrosi, also a member of right-wing party The Republicans, even if his opinion is not shared by all fellow mayors along the coast. […]

    Our village’s mayor tested positive. I do not know what their opinion is on the need for a local lockdown, either before testing positive or now.

  158. says

    KG @214, thanks for posting that additional information, and for the clear explanation. Also, glad to hear that you received one dose of vaccine! I’m still on a waiting list.

  159. says

    Guardian – “Myanmar protesters hold general strike as crowds gather for ‘five twos revolution'”:

    Protesters across Myanmar have held a general strike, taking to the streets across the country and shutting many businesses, in one of the largest nationwide shows of opposition to the military since it seized power three weeks ago.

    Crowds assembled in Yangon, Naypyidaw, Mandalay and elsewhere on Monday, despite an apparent threat from the junta that it would again use deadly violence against demonstrators.

    The protests appeared to pass peacefully, though in Naypyidaw reports on social media suggested that 200 people, including many young people, had been detained. If confirmed, this is likely the largest round up of protesters since the coup. Footage showed police chasing protesters on foot, while one man was shoved into the back of a police van.

    Activists had called for mass demonstrations on Monday, a protest that has been referred to as the “five twos revolution”, a reference to the date, 22.2.2021. Protesters have compared the date to 8 August 1988 – or 8.8.88 – when pro-democracy demonstrations challenged military rule, but were brutally crushed by the army.

    In a broadcast on the state-run MRTV on Sunday night, the army accused protesters of “ inciting the people, especially emotional teenagers and youths, to a confrontation path where they will suffer the loss of life”.

    On Monday morning, huge crowds of protesters marched regardless.

    In Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, streams of students, activists and workers headed for Sule Pagoda, a rallying point near City Hall where security forces had positioned barricades and water cannon. Most businesses, including international chains, were closed, with protesters instead sharing food and drinks.

    Min, 41, a seaman who was volunteering to collect rubbish, said the recent killing of three protesters had made people more determined. “The military wants us to get angry and attack them,” he said. “Then it would be a civil war and the UN and Nato would never come. We will continue peacefully. We just want our leaders and democracy back. We are ready to die for that.”

    Across the country, people were heeding a call by the Civil Disobedience Movement, a loosely organised group, for a “spring revolution”.

    Demonstrations have been held almost daily since the military seized power on 1 February, at times drawing hundreds of thousands on to the streets of major cities and towns. Workers from across the country – including railway staff, doctors, teachers, bank employees and factory workers – have gone on strike as part of a civil disobedience movement that aims to paralyse the country.

    The author and historian Thant Myint-U said the window for a peaceful resolution was closing. “The outcome of the coming weeks will be determined by just two things: the will of an army that’s crushed many protests before, and the courage, skill and determination of the protesters (much of society),” he wrote on Twitter.

    Many of the demonstrators are young people who were not alive during the 1988 uprisings and were infants during the last anti-military mass protests in 2007. They find the idea that their country could once again be ruled by oppressive generals absurd….

  160. says

    Republicans failed to govern in Texas:

    […] Texas’ experiment in deregulation, independence, and policy passivity helped create last week’s systemic breakdown. The Houston Chronicle’s Erica Grieder explained over the weekend, the bulk of the crisis was the result of “freezes at coal, nuclear and natural gas plants — which make up most of our generation capacity. Had they been weatherized, this disaster could have been avoided.”

    […] Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) ran to Fox News to inexplicably blame renewable energy and the Green New Deal — the goals of which his state has not adopted — a bizarre claim the Texas Republican Party has been quick to echo. Around the same time, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) briefly fled to Mexico for a vacation.

    […] The idea of using his office to marshal resources, coordinate the response, and tackle energy policy doesn’t appear on the senator’s vision of his job description. The governor’s interest in changing the subject wasn’t much better, and it was part of a larger pattern.

    The Washington Post explained that in response to earlier crises, Abbott has demonstrated a willingness to seek “future legislative changes that may never happen,” while delivering different messages to different constituencies.

    If it sounds like a group of officials who aren’t prioritizing governing, it’s not your imagination. The New York Times’ Jamelle Bouie explained:

    Faced with one of the worst crises in the recent history of the state, Republicans have turned their attention away from conditions on the ground and toward the objects of their ideological ire. The issue isn’t energy policy; it is liberals and environmentalists…. Amid awful suffering and deteriorating conditions, Texas Republicans decided to fight a culture war. In doing so, they are emblematic of the national party, which has abandoned even the pretense of governance in favor of the celebration of endless grievance.

    […] When Texans struggled without power or water, it was a policy problem, resulting from poor governing decisions made by officials who were principally focused on ideological priorities. It’s identical to how Republicans have approached practically every substantive challenge in recent years, including the coronavirus pandemic.

    Dealing with the consequences — and preventing similar breakdowns — will require a series of substantive choices, each of which will fall on policymakers who’ll need to rely on evidence, data, and expertise.

    […] As Jamelle’s column concluded, “Our system has room for two major political parties. One of them, however imperfectly, at least attempts to govern. The other has devoted its energy to entertainment. It is a tragedy for the people of Texas that at this moment of danger, they have to deal with a government of showmen.”


  161. says

    SC @229, that’s appropriate. Good. Far more appropriate than the governor of Florida ordering flags in the state to be flown at half mast for racist, misogynist, and general dunderhead Rush Limbaugh.

    In other news, here are some bits and pieces:

    * In the wake of Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) downplaying the severity of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, the editorial board of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is calling for the Republican senator’s ouster. “Johnson must go,” the editors wrote. “It’s obvious now that he won’t do the honorable thing and resign after violating his oath to support and defend the Constitution…. If he runs again, Johnson must be opposed in both the primary and general elections by people who care enough about democracy to support and defend it.”

    * Lynda Blanchard, the U.S. ambassador to Slovenia in the Trump administration, has launched a Republican U.S. Senate campaign in Alabama. A wealthy businesswoman has already made a $5 million down payment in support of her candidacy.

    * And though there’s little reason to believe Donald Trump will create his own political party, a Suffolk/USA Today poll found that 46% of self-identified Republican voters would be willing to abandon the GOP and join the former president’s hypothetical entity.


  162. says

    Brains not working properly:

    […] a new national Suffolk University/USA Today poll offers a timely reminder on why so many Republican voices peddle such nonsense: they know their followers will believe things that aren’t true.

    Asked to describe what happened during the assault on the Capitol, 58% of Trump voters call it “mostly an antifa-inspired attack that only involved a few Trump supporters.” That’s more than double the 28% who call it “a rally of Trump supporters, some of whom attacked the Capitol.” Four percent call it “an attempted coup inspired by President Trump.”

    The fact that this is not surprising does not make it any less amazing: most Trump voters have simply decided to believe, facts be damned, that the former president’s supporters didn’t attack the Capitol. In these voters’ alternate reality, it was really a loose alliance of anti-fascist groups pretending to be right-wing activists, as part of an elaborate ruse.

    If it were 20% or 30% of Trump voters who thought this, it would still be exasperating. But it’s actually a 58% majority.

    It’s likely these same Americans will also assume that the Green New Deal caused Texas’ recent energy crisis, President Biden secretly lost the election, and masks don’t help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

    The incentive structure is fundamentally unhealthy in a democracy: Republican leaders and their allies in conservative media will see survey results like these and be reminded that they can concoct absurd lies with impunity, confident that much of their base will believe what they’re told to believe.


    An excerpt from the debunking:

    The FBI explained that there simply isn’t any evidence to support such nonsense. [Right-wing lawmakers and media personalities insisted there were “antifa” activists “masquerading as Trump supporters.”]. The Washington Post looked for antifa members joining the riot and also concluded that the claims were wrong. There’s simply no denying the fact that Trump fed his followers lies, and it was his followers who acted on those lies.

  163. says

    Oh, FFS!

    A number of Republican senators who blithely supported former Attorney General Bill Barr using his post to act as former President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer are suddenly expressing serious concern that Merrick Garland promise to be apolitical in the same role.

    […] Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) took the argument a step further, blaming the “Obama-Biden Justice Department” for being “politicized and weaponized” in an unprecedented way. [OMFG]

    “It is very much my hope, if you are confirmed as attorney general, that you will bring that reputation for integrity to the Department of Justice and demonstrate a willingness to stand up to what will be inevitable political pressure to once again politicize the Department of Justice and use it as a tool to attack the political opponents of the current administration,” he said.

    He did not mention the Trump-era DOJ in his line of questioning.

    Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) adopted Cruz’s framing too, citing the “Obama-Biden administration” as the exemplar of a corrupt DOJ.

    “If you are confirmed, will you resist the calls and efforts by political groups to politicize the Department of Justice, to use political targeting, will you adhere to the statute down the middle and enforce the law fairly and equally?” he asked.

    Trump politicized the DOJ in public, routinely using his Twitter account to call for investigations into political enemies including Hillary Clinton and former Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

    He had such sway that his tweeted displeasure of prosecutors’ sentencing guidelines for close ally Roger Stone appear to have prompted top DOJ officials — including Barr — to intervene and reduce the recommended sentence. In another particularly egregious episode, the department dropped charges against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn — who had already pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI — after Trump voiced his displeasure.


  164. says

    Follow-up to comment 233.

    Comments posted by readers of the TPM article:

    So the Republicans are going to attack Biden & Garland if any charges are ever brought against any Republican for any reason. That will extend to any investigation as well. Their standard is that only Rs can politicize the DOJ.
    Shouldn’t Rafael [Cruz] be quarantining after his Mexican adventure?
    They’re just shameless. I know Garland won’t say anything remotely confrontational, but how about something along the lines of, I will not politicize DoJ. I intend to be equally aggressive against both Democrats and Republicans as to insurrection and other federal crimes that may have been committed. And I will follow any leads regardless of where it may lead.
    Republicans know what they’ve done and that they may now be held accountable. Don’t let them replace the narrative with nonsense.
    Asked by Josh Hawley if he supports defunding the police, Merrick Garland says he does not, citing the …horror experienced by police officers at the Jan 6 attack on the Capitol
    Time to call a doctor, because Republicans are coming down with a serious case of selective amnesia for dates between Jan 2017 and Jan 2021.

  165. says

    Merrick Garland is finally getting his Senate Judiciary Committee hearing […] Not for the original position for which he was nominated by President Barack Obama—the Supreme Court—back in 2016, but for attorney general under President Joe Biden. […]

    Grassley was, let’s say, less than gracious. “It was an election year with a divided Congress,” Grassley said, excusing the blockade. Then the nasty. “Yes, it’s true I didn’t give Judge Garland a hearing. […] I also didn’t mischaracterize his record. I didn’t attack his character. I didn’t go through his high school yearbook.” Given that there aren’t multiple allegations of rape against Garland going back decades, no, that would not have been appropriate. […]

    [Democrats] acknowledged Garland’s unique qualifications for this particular moment in time: his service as a top official in the Clinton Justice Department investigating the Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people. “When you are confirmed, Judge Garland, you, along with the rest of this nation, will continue to grapple with the January 6th attacks,” Durbin said. […]

    Garland responded that he believes the current situation is “more dangerous” than Oklahoma City, and that the investigation in the attempted coup and insurrection will be his “first priority.” He elaborated on that in answer to a question from Sen. Dianne Feinstein. He called the insurrection “the most heinous attack on the Democratic processes that I have ever seen and one I never expected to see in my lifetime.” He said that he will ensure that career prosecutors working on the investigation have “all the resources they could possibly require.” Garland also pledged to cooperate with congressional probes into the family separation policy from the previous administration. “I think that the policy was shameful. I can’t imagine anything worse than tearing parents from their children. And we will provide all the cooperation that we possibly can,” he told Durbin.

    […] Garland told Grassley that he would leave decisions regarding the Hunter Biden probe to others in the department.

    The attacks on the Congress and the rise of the white supremacist insurrectionists are key. In his opening statement Garland pledged “If confirmed, I will supervise the prosecution of white supremacists and others who stormed the Capitol on January 6th, a heinous attack that sought to disrupt a cornerstone of our democracy: the peaceful transfer of power to a newly elected government.” He’s well positioned to do so. “This almost feels like a precursor. How much more experience could you possibly have in domestic terrorism?” said Donna Bucella, a former Justice Department official who also worked on the Oklahoma City case. “He’ll be very methodical. I think he’ll demand it’s being done the right way.”


  166. blf says

    Not at all political, In France’s Loire Valley, Leonardo da Vinci’s legacy lives on (video): “More than 500 years after his death, Leonardo da Vinci’s legacy lives on in the castles of France’s Loire Valley. The Italian genius spent the last three years of his life at the court of King Francis I, in Amboise. Today, volunteers are bringing the Château d’Amboise back to life by recreating royal balls there. At the Clos Lucé, which was da Vinci’s residence, the chef brings 16th-century recipes up to date. Finally, in the nooks and crannies of the Château de Chambord, a researcher tirelessly tracks down every trace of the legendary artist.”

  167. says

    Follow-up to SC @217.

    Former President Trump on Monday lashed out after the Supreme Court declined to block the Manhattan District Attorney from obtaining his financial records […]

    “The Supreme Court never should have let this ‘fishing expedition’ happen, but they did,” Trump said in a statement. “This is something which has never happened to a President before, it is all Democrat-inspired in a totally Democrat location, New York City and State, completely controlled and dominated by a heavily reported enemy of mine, Governor Andrew Cuomo.”

    Trump described the Manhattan investigation into his financial dealings as a continuation of the “the greatest political Witch Hunt in the history of our Country,” referring broadly to repeated investigations into his alleged wrongdoing.

    “I will fight on, just as I have, for the last five years (even before I was successfully elected), despite all of the election crimes that were committed against me,” Trump added. “We will win!” [Effing lunatic]

    […] Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance’s office has sought Trump’s records since 2019, when a New York grand jury issued a subpoena to Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, for eight years of the former president’s personal and business tax returns and other financial records.

    Vance’s office is looking into payments made to silence two women who allege they had affairs with Trump, including adult-film star Stormy Daniels. Trump’s former attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, who pleaded guilty to bank fraud, tax fraud and campaign finance law violations, has said the payments were made in order to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

    Additionally, Vance’s office has said its subpoena is part of an investigation into possible financial crimes by the Trump Organization.

    Trump’s statement responding to the ruling bemoaned the practice of “headhunting” among prosecutors and attorneys general, in which they target political figures in the other party and campaign on a promise to do so.

    “That’s fascism, not justice—and that is exactly what they are trying to do with respect to me, except that the people of our Country won’t stand for it,” Trump said in the statement. [“fascism” … he should know]

    The former president drew criticism himself for urging officials to look into his political opponents. […]

    Trump also used the statement to again push the false claim that he won the 2020 election, which has been repeatedly debunked by the courts, state elections officials and federal lawmakers in both parties.


  168. says

    Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried (D) on Monday said that she will direct offices under her purview to disregard Gov. Ron DeSantis’s (R) order to lower flags to half-staff to commemorate the late conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh.

    “Lowering to half-staff the flag of the United States of America is a sacred honor that pays respect to fallen heroes and patriots. It is not a partisan political tool. Therefore, I will notify all state offices under my direction to disregard the Governor’s forthcoming order to lower flags for Mr. Limbaugh – because we will not celebrate hate speech, bigotry, and division,” Fried said in a statement Monday. […]


  169. blf says

    Follow-up to @221 and @218, totally unsurprising, you-can-guess-who lied about the Supreme Court refusal to block Cy Vance’s investigation, bellowing This investigation is a continuation of the greatest political Witch Hunt in the history of our Country! More bellowing, blaming the Democrats (huh?), and apparently ignoring the Supreme Court was packed by him and his minions in the Senate. (From the Grauniad’s current bellowing nazi live blog.)

  170. says

    Wonkette: “Loyal Pence Idiot Marc Short Real Sorry Poor Sweet Trump Got ‘Bad Advice’ That Forced Him To Incite A Riot.”

    Former Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, doesn’t blame the previous White House squatter for setting a violent mob loose on Pence. During an interview Saturday with CNN’s Pamela Brown, Short claimed the twice-impeached thug was an innocent victim of “bad advice.”

    I think unfortunately the President was getting bad advice from people who had articulated that the Vice President would have some extraordinary powers that had never been used before … during certification by Congress.

    […] This would’ve been no less legally bonkers that Senator Ted Cruz’s proposed “emergency election audit.” […] not how anything works. […]

    The Kraken crew fed the Mad King a steady diet of coup-coup plots, but he had no appetite for “good” advice. He fired Christopher Krebs, the head of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA), after the heretic claimed the election wasn’t stolen but was actually the most secure in United States history. He attacked the courts for repeatedly ruling against him, including the Supreme Court with its conservative 6-3 majority. He threatened Republican election officials. He denounced loyal Republican governors in Georgia and Arizona because they wouldn’t break the law and help him steal the election.

    The one-term loser was responsible for promoting the Big Lie that led to a deadly attack on the Capitol. Short refused to concede this obvious point and tried re-litigating the 2020 election again, but Brown wasn’t having it. She kept slapping him down with facts.

    SHORT: I said he got bad advice. I don’t think — I did not say he bears responsibility for the riots. I think that the President’s language was encouraging people to march to the Capitol.

    The rally had no permit for a march, so even this benign interpretation of his “language” promoted illegal activity.

    SHORT: I think there was a lot of frustration for a lot of people, including — including us who have concerns about the election in 2020.

    There were no legitimate concerns about the election. Listen to your own Republican head of CISA who the mad king fired. Krebs testified in December about the “corrosive” effects of the one-term loser’s attacks on our elections. Georgia elections official Gabriel Sterling, also a Republican, warned about what would eventually come to pass on January 6. This wasn’t a surprise. […]

    SHORT: But in some ways, Pamela, I think the American people were deprived the right to actually hear a debate about those improprieties that happened in the November election.

    BROWN: What do you mean by that? How were they not able to take part? There were more than 60 cases, this was playing out in court, it was being talked about openly. What do you mean?

    SHORT: Well, I think there are a couple of examples that were most concerning to us. One is in Pennsylvania, where in essence, the courts overstepped their bounds, and usually, the determination of what happens in the state election is determined by the state legislature and the courts unilaterally deciding they’re going to extend receipt of mail-in ballots for an extra three days.

    BROWN: Yes, but those ballots, Marc, I mean, we can get into the nitty-gritty, those ballots weren’t even counted in the final tally. The ballots that arrived after Election Day were not counted in the final tally.

    A Trump-appointed judge slammed down the case and said there is nothing here. There’s no fraud. There’s no allegation of — and the legislature in Pennsylvania and 2019 Republican Majority passed the mail-in ballots. They were the ones — they were totally on board with mail-in ballot. So, go ahead.

    Brown wasn’t letting Short score any Big Lie points on her. He needed to take that weak shit someplace else. […]

    Short’s shameless display still wasn’t enough for the Big Liars. They demand full fealty. Trump White House trade idiot Peter Navarro tweeted Saturday:

    Marc Short is a tool of the Koch Brothers, the most anti-MAGA movement in the country. What @Mike_Pence did under the bad advice of Marc Short was cut and run from @POTUS45 and the Constitution on January 6. [OMFG]

    During President Klan Robe’s second annual impeachment trial, the House impeachment managers showed footage of the MAGA lynch mob shouting “Hang Mike Pence!” after breaking into the Capitol. The insurrectionists were just 60 feet from him. But Navarro is still drawing the proverbial target on his back and now he’s included Short. […]


  171. says

    “Oath Keeper claims she was VIP security at Trump rally before riot and says she met with Secret Service agents”:

    A leader in an alleged Oath Keepers conspiracy in the US Capitol insurrection claims she was given a VIP pass to the pro-Trump rally on January 6, had met with Secret Service agents and was providing security for legislators and others, including in their march to the Capitol, according to a new court filing.

    Attorneys for Ohio Oath Keeper Jessica Watkins detail how the efforts among paramilitants who are now accused of conspiracy on January 6 were closer to the apparatus around then-President Donald Trump and his rally than was previously known.

    By sharing the new details in the filing Saturday, the defense attorney for Watkins, a former Army ranger who served in Afghanistan, argues for her release from jail on bond and other restrictions as she awaits trial.

    “On January 5 and 6, Ms. Watkins was present not as an insurrectionist, but to provide security to the speakers at the rally, to provide escort for the legislators and others to march to the Capitol as directed by the then-President, and to safely escort protestors away from the Capitol to their vehicles and cars at the conclusion of the protest,” the court filing said on Saturday. “She was given a VIP pass to the rally. She met with Secret Service agents. She was within 50 feet of the stage during the rally to provide security for the speakers. At the time the Capitol was breached, she was still at the site of the initial rally where she had provided security.”

    The US Secret Service, in response to Watkins’ claims in the Saturday filing, denied that private citizens were working with the Secret Service to provide security on January 6.

    “To carry out its protective functions on January 6th, the U.S. Secret Service relied on the assistance of various government partners. Any assertion that the Secret Service employed private citizens to perform those functions is false,” a US Secret Service spokesperson said in a statement to CNN on Sunday.

    The Justice Department, which is prosecuting Watkins’ case, has not yet responded to her claims in court.

    Watkins is central to one of the most aggressive criminal conspiracy cases yet to emerge from the insurrection. The Justice Department indicted her and eight other alleged Oath Keepers on several charges related to the riot, including allegations that the group coordinated their travel to the pro-Trump event, discussed training and weapons beforehand, suited up in body armor and broke through the crowd heading into the Capitol in a military-style formation.

    Prosecutors previously said Watkins had waited for direction from Trump — and believed she had received it before she joined the siege, allegedly leading several others into the Capitol building to fight against Congress’ certification of the Electoral College vote.

    Watkins’ defense attorney, Michelle Peterson, wrote on Saturday that her client and other supporters of Trump had believed the then-President would invoke the Insurrection Act to use the military to overturn what he falsely said was the fraudulent election of Joe Biden. And Watkins and others believed “they would have a role if this were to happen,” the filing said.

    The attorney also noted that Watkins now faces risks in jail, because of the coronavirus and because she is transgender.

    She has been detained since her arrest in mid-January. The Justice Department is seeking to keep her in jail pending trial.

  172. says

    Boris Johnson sounding almost reasonable:

    England will reopen schools in two weeks, but pubs and restaurants will stay shut for now, Johnson says. […]

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain said Monday that schools in England would reopen on March 8 and that people would be allowed to socialize outdoors starting on March 29, the tentative first steps in a long-awaited plan to ease a nationwide lockdown prompted by a highly contagious variant of the coronavirus.

    Mr. Johnson’s “road map” was intended to give an exhausted country a path back to normalcy after a dire period in which infections skyrocketed and hospitals overflowed with patients. At the same time, Britain rolled out a remarkably successful vaccination program, injecting 17 million people with their first doses.

    That milestone, combined with a decline in new cases and hospital admissions, paved the way for Mr. Johnson’s announcement. But the prime minister emphasized repeatedly that he planned to move slowly […]

    Under the government’s plan, pubs, restaurants, retail shops, and gyms in England will stay closed for at least another month […]

    The specific timetable, Mr. Johnson said, will hinge on four factors: the continued success of the vaccine rollout; evidence that vaccines are reducing hospital admissions and deaths; no new surge in cases that would tax the health service; and no sudden risk from new variants of the virus.

    “At every stage,” the prime minister said, “our decisions will led by data, not dates.”

    […] With pubs and restaurants not allowed to offer indoor service until May, some members of Mr. Johnson’s Conservative Party are likely to revive their pressure campaign to lift the measures more quickly.

    Mr. Johnson, however, appears determined to avoid a repeat of his messy reopening of the economy last May after the first phase of the pandemic. […]

    New York Times link

  173. says

    President Biden adjusts the loan rules for the smallest companies.

    Aiming to steer more federal aid to the smallest and most vulnerable businesses, the Biden administration is altering the Paycheck Protection Program’s rules, increasing the amount sole proprietors are eligible to receive.

    […] that change — along with a 14-day freeze on loans to companies with 20 or more employees — is yet another rework that poses logistical hurdles for lenders.

    The change involves a program rule that could make a P.P.P. loan far more attractive to solo ventures that employ just the owner, like sole proprietorships and independent contractors. Previously, the aid program based the size of the loan on the annual profit these kinds of companies reported on their taxes. That made unprofitable businesses ineligible for aid and left thousands of other applicants with tiny loans — some as small as $1.

    The new formula, which Small Business Administration officials said would be released soon, will focus instead on gross income. That calculation, which is made before many expenses are deducted, will make many more businesses eligible for loans and increase the size of the loans available to others.

    […] “Getting our economy back means bringing our small businesses back,” Mr. Biden said. He also called on Congress to pass his American Rescue Plan, which is on track to pass the House this week and includes $50 billion for hard-hit small businesses — though no additional money for P.P.P.

    […] The current edition of the P.P.P. program was approved as part of December’s economic relief package, in which Congress allocated $284 billion to restart the aid program. Banks and other financiers, which make the government-backed loans, have disbursed $134 billion to 1.8 million businesses since lending resumed last month. The money is intended to be forgiven if recipients comply with the program’s rules.

    Companies with up to 500 workers are generally eligible for the loans, although second-draw loans — available to those whose sales dropped 25 percent or more in at least one quarter since the coronavirus pandemic began — are limited to companies with 300 or fewer employees. […]

    New York Times link

  174. says

    Media Matters – “Featured CPAC speaker said Judaism is a ‘complete lie’ and referred to Jewish people as ‘thieving fake Jews'”:

    Leading Republican officials are set to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) this week along with a virulently anti-Semitic speaker named Young Pharaoh.

    Young Pharaoh is an online commentator who has told followers that Judaism is a “complete lie” and “made up for political gain,” said that Jewish people are “thieving fake Jews,” tweeted that “all the censorship & pedophilia on social media is being done by Israeli Jews,” and claimed that “all of these big tech [companies], media, & social media platforms are controlled by CCP & Israel through Jewish CEO & corrupt Democrats.” Young Pharaoh has also attacked conservative commentator Ben Shapiro for being Jewish. He’s additionally promoted the QAnon and Pizzagate conspiracy theories and falsely claimed that coronavirus vaccines will “alter your DNA.”

    …CPAC states on its website that Young Pharaoh is a “Philosopher, Scholar, Musician” and links to his Twitter account. CPAC also links to youngpharaoh[dot]net — that site redirects to “Pharaoh Aten University,” which features Young Pharaoh’s videos spreading conspiracy theories about vaccines and the “new world order.”

    Young Pharaoh has posted numerous anti-Semitic tweets. He’s also frequently promoted dangerous conspiracy theories. Here is a sampling of the tweets on his CPAC-promoted account….

    This year’s theme is “America Uncanceled,” so it’ll be pretty funny if they have to cancel him. (LOL – the other speakers include David Friedman, Trump’s ambassador to Israel.)

  175. says

    More re #229 – Guardian world liveblog:

    Joe Biden is set to mark the latest tragic milestone of Covid deaths in the US on Monday night, with a candlelit commemoration and moment of silence for the 500,000 who will have lost their lives.

    With the heart-wrenching landmark approaching, the White House was preparing for a sunset ceremony focused on those who have died and their grieving loved ones.

    With his wife, Jill Biden, Vice-President Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, by his side, the president was expected to echo the commemoration held for Covid victims at the Lincoln Memorial the night before his inauguration.

    He said then: “To heal we must remember.”

    Such events implicitly underscore the vast gulf in approach and empathy levels between Biden and his predecessor in the Oval Office. Donald Trump rarely spoke about the hundreds of thousands who died on his watch. When he did it was usually to boast about his administration’s successes in fighting the pandemic….

  176. says

    blf @245, those cartoons were good for a laugh. I enjoyed Riddell’s cartoon, with Boris so obviously holding the map upside down, his back pocket stuffed with ill-gotten gains, and the fish in Brexit’s hand (to note just a few amusing details).

  177. blf says

    SC@246, As I’m sure most here suspect, antisemitic loons seem very common at cpac — That might even be a requirement to speak / attend !

    Back in 2018, they had Marion Maréchal-Le Pen (now known as Marion Maréchal), France is no longer free: Marine Le Pen’s niece brings French far right to CPAC. She is the über-racist granddaughter of the original le penazi führer, Jean-Marie Le Pen, and niece of their current führer (who tries to pretend to be the most moderate of that extremely nasty troika, albeit she’s still profoundly facist). Jean-Marie repeatedly claimed the holocaust was a detail of history (Jean-Marie Le Pen fined again for dismissing Holocaust as detail, 2016), so you can easily imagine how unhinged Marion Maréchal is…

  178. says

    During his confirmation hearing Monday, Judge Merrick Garland made two things clear about how, if he confirmed, he’d lead the Justice Department’s response to the Jan. 6 insurrection.

    First, he said he didn’t see the attack on the Capitol as a “one-off.” The department, he said, must address it as part of a larger effort to contend with extremists groups.

    Second, he didn’t pull off the table prosecuting those who facilitated the mob even if they themselves didn’t ransack the Capitol.

    […] He connected his work, as a top official in the Clinton DOJ, on the Oklahoma City bombing case to the Jan. 6 riot, and said that “battling extremist attacks on our democratic institutions” remains “central” to the Department’s “mission.”

    […] Garland connected department’s role in addressing a rise in hate crimes not just to the Oklahoma City bombing, but to the department’s early battles with the Ku Klux Klan.

    “I intend to make sure that we look more broadly, to look at where this is coming from, what other groups there might be that could raise the same problem in the future, and that we protect the American people,” he said.

    […] Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) asked Garland point-blank to not rule out an “upstream” approach to investigating those who were not at the Capitol but who funded, organized or otherwise aided the mob. Garland affirmed that the department would pursue all leads. […]


  179. blf says

    Nasa / JPL has just released a video, filmed by the cameras on Perseverance itself, of the descent and landing, Nasa releases video of Perseverance rover landing on Mars (video). The microphone(s?) are also working, and at the link there is a link to some audio, albeit the Grauniad is unclear whether the audio was recorded during the descent (which I recall Nasa / JPL was going to try to do), or sometime after landing.

  180. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current texas thugs deserting teh freezing state live blog:

    As power outages across Texas left residents struggling, the state’s attorney general, Ken Paxton, and his wife were in Utah, the Dallas Morning News reports.

    It’s the third known example of a public official leaving the state during the crisis, including US senator Ted Cruz, who went to Mexico, and state representative Gary Gates, who took a private jet to Florida, the Houston Chronicle reports.

    Jake Tapper: “Houston Chronicle: AG Ken Paxton and wife Sen Angela Paxton went to Utah during Texas freeze”.

  181. blf says

    Democrats lost Texas because of Covid and Republican voter drive, report finds:

    Get-out-the-vote efforts hampered by the coronavirus pandemic and an 11th-hour voter registration surge for well-funded Republicans thwarted ambitions of a blue wave in Texas during the 2020 election, according to a new postmortem that state Democrats shared with the Guardian.

    “The majority of Texans, if they were in the ballot box, would vote for Democrats. The problem is that Republicans have a higher likelihood of turning out,” said Hudson Cavanagh, the Texas Democratic party’s data science director who authored the post-election report.


    Despite record turnout in 2020, Texas ranked 44th out of 50 states in terms of ballots counted as a proportion of the total voting-eligible population, according to the United States Elections Project. High Asian voter participation marked “a major shift”, but still, “the electorate was whiter than projected”, Cavanagh noted in his analysis.


    On top of Texas’s reputation as a voter suppression state — based on voter ID requirements, a difficult registration process, restrictions on mail ballots and other barriers — Covid-19 added yet another obstacle for Texas voters in 2020. Polling locations closed because of infected workers, while long lines of constituents who weren’t required to wear masks threatened exposure to the virus.

    “It took a lot of bravery for a lot of these Democrats who understood the risk that, you know, they were putting themselves in to go vote,” Cavanagh told the Guardian. “I’m incredibly proud of the folks that did, frankly.”

    Amid the public health crisis, Texas Democrats decided against knocking on doors for face-to-face voter engagement, because “even one life lost is too many”, Cavanagh said. Republicans, on the other hand, connected with eligible voters in-person, a clear advantage in one of the few states where residents still cannot register to vote online.


    As Democrats turned to virtual registration drives and phone banking, they spent too much time speaking with reliable party members who would have voted regardless. Likewise, a dearth of contact information for young and rural Texans — as well as people of color — and the inability to canvas made it difficult to connect with voters who were less likely to turn out.

    Estimates indicate that there are still more than 2 million solidly Democratic unregistered voters in the state, and Cavanagh said the party needs to focus on registering them, then actually building relationships so they make it to the polls.


  182. says

    Hahahahahaha – CPAC tweeted:

    We have just learned that someone we invited to CPAC has expressed reprehensible views that have no home with our conference or our organization. The individual will not be participating at our conference.


  183. blf says

    Follow-up to me@251, I’m watching today’s Nasa / JPL press conference (NASA’s Perseverance rover sends new video and images of Mars, 22 Jan), and the audio was recorded post-landing. There was an attempt to obtain audio during EDL, but something didn’t work. I presume this will be clarified later, but it’s probable the audio is from the second microphone, not(?) used during EDL. As such, that plus the failure of one of the look-up cameras, seems to be the only(?) equipment problems currently(?) known — everything else, including the helicopter drone, are all(?) “nominal and as expected”. A spring on the heat shield unexpectedly came loose when the heat shield separated, but posed no risk.

    Trivia from the press briefing: The supersonic parachute was launched by a mortar at c.150mph, when the system was traveling (if I recall correctly) about 10x faster. The entire deploy sequence was took perhaps 2 seconds after the mortar fired (my estimate from imperfectly-remembered numbers).

  184. blf says

    Follow-up to me@257, More trivia from the press briefing: The EDL camera system, which is largely independent of the rest of the rover, not only uses (slightly modified) COTS (Commercial Off-the-Shelf) cameras and microphone (it seems to have been the analog→digital convertor (ADC) which failed (apparently a transient, not permanent / complete, failure?)), but also a COTS computer — running Linux, and using ffmpeg (also open source) to encode the video. (I run Linux, this is being typed on Linux, and ffmpeg is one video encoder used.) There are now suggestions to use the microphone(s?) to help with checkout and diagnostics, albeit the COTS hardware is not expected to survive too long.

  185. says

    New York Times:

    Iran appears to have partly lifted its threat to sharply limit international inspections of its nuclear facilities starting on Tuesday, giving Western nations three months to see if the beginnings of a new diplomatic initiative with the United States and Europe will restore the 2015 nuclear deal.

    In other news, (responding to SC @256), why the heck don’t they learn to vet the CPAC speakers before various news outs them as particularly nasty whackos?

  186. blf says

    Pandemic leaves Europeans more likely to believe conspiracy theories — study:

    The survey of nearly 8,000 people across France, Germany, Italy and Britain by the French Cevipof political research centre (PDF [En qu(o)i les Françaisont-ils confiance aujourd’hui ?, French]) showed widespread levels of belief in coronavirus and vaccine-related conspiracy theories across all four countries surveyed — with mistrust highest in France.

    More than 36% of French respondents, 32% in Italy and Germany and 31% in Britain agreed that health ministries were working with pharma companies to cover up vaccine risks, while 42% in France, 41% in the UK, 40% in Italy and 39% in Germany felt governments were exploiting the crisis to control and monitor citizens.


    Asked if they agreed with their government’s handling of the crisis, 56% of Germans answered “wholly” or “partly”, compared with 74% last April. In the UK, approval fell from from 69% to 48%, and in France from 39% to 37%. In Italy it was 52%.


    Vaccine acceptance showed a similar divide, with the French again the most wary: just 49% of respondents in France said they were likely to be, or had already been, inoculated against Covid-19, against 80% in the UK, 76% in Italy and 66% in Germany.

    Across the four countries, the most common reason (58%) given for not wanting to have the jab was fear of possible side-effects, while 54% said not enough was known about the vaccines or the virus and 25% that they did not think the vaccines would be effective. One-sixth (16%) said they mistrusted vaccines in general.

    See @224 for my latest rant about the slower than a dead snail going backwards pace of the French vaccination effort.

  187. blf says

    One last piece of non-political trivia from the latest Nasa / JPL press briefing: Perseverance landed about 5 metres from the point autonomously chosen by the TRN (automatic on-board landing system designed to avoid hazards). In the video, you can see it overshoot the mark due to sideways velocity, stop and reverse back to effectively directly overhead.

  188. says

    New York Times:

    A Russian court cleared the way on Saturday for the possible transfer of the opposition leader Aleksei A. Navalny to the country’s penal colony system, the latest step by the authorities to silence the man who has become the country’s most vocal critic of President Vladimir V. Putin.

  189. says

    Humor/satire from Andy Borowitz:

    Donald J. Trump said on Monday that his “greatest regret” as President was his failure to name his three adult children to the United States Supreme Court.

    Appearing on Fox News, Trump said that Ivanka, Eric, and Don, Jr., would be “way better judges” than “those three clowns” whom he did name.

    “Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett are the worst people who have ever worked for me,” he said. “And that includes Scaramucci.”

    When the Supreme Court was deciding whether New York prosecutors could obtain his tax returns, Trump said, “none of those three boneheads even called to ask me what they should do. No gratitude whatsoever.”

    He said that “laws needed to be changed” to keep Supreme Court Justices from “thinking for themselves.”

    “This should never be allowed to happen in our country,” he said.

    New Yorker link

  190. says

    BuzzFeed News:

    In April 2019, Facebook was preparing to ban one of the internet’s most notorious spreaders of misinformation and hate, Infowars founder Alex Jones. Then CEO Mark Zuckerberg personally intervened.

    Jones had gained infamy for claiming that the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school massacre was a “giant hoax,” and that the teenage survivors of the 2018 Parkland shooting were “crisis actors.” But Facebook had found that he was also relentlessly spreading hate against various groups, including Muslims and trans people. That behavior qualified him for expulsion from the social network under the company’s policies for “dangerous individuals and organizations,” which required Facebook to also remove any content that expressed “praise or support” for them.

    But Zuckerberg didn’t consider the Infowars founder to be a hate figure, according to a person familiar with the decision, so he overruled his own internal experts and opened a gaping loophole: Facebook would permanently ban Jones and his company — but would not touch posts of praise and support for them from other Facebook users. This meant that Jones’ legions of followers could continue to share his lies across the world’s largest social network.

    “Mark personally didn’t like the punishment, so he changed the rules,” a former policy employee told BuzzFeed News, noting that the original rule had already been in use and represented the product of untold hours of work between multiple teams and experts.

    “That was the first time I experienced having to create a new category of policy to fit what Zuckerberg wanted. It’s somewhat demoralizing when we have established a policy and it’s gone through rigorous cycles. Like, what the fuck is that for?” said a second former policy employee who, like the first, asked not to be named so they could speak about internal matters.

    “Mark called for a more nuanced policy and enforcement strategy,” Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone said of the Alex Jones decision, which also affected the bans of other extremist figures.

    Zuckerberg’s “more nuanced policy” set off a cascading effect, the two former employees said, which delayed the company’s efforts to remove right-wing militant organizations such as the Oath Keepers, which were involved the Jan. 6 insurrection at the US Capitol. It is also a case study in Facebook’s willingness to change its rules to placate America’s right wing and avoid political backlash. […]


  191. says

    Wonkette: “Shorter Trump: ‘Elp! ‘Elp! I’m Being Fascist Persecuted By Brett And Amy And Neil And Clarence And …”

    The Supreme Court is DONE with Donald Trump. So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye, Mr. No Longer President. Please take your embarrassing pleadings, and your wackass assertions of magical presidential immunity, and move it along. You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here on this docket.

    This morning, the Court denied Trump’s application for a stay of discovery in the grand jury proceedings in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. At long last, that whiner’s former accountants at Mazars are going to turn over eight years of Trump’s tax returns and financial records. […]

    This stupid case has been going on for-freaking-ever. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance subpoenaed the company in August 2019. Trump and the DOJ appealed to the federal court, where the trial judge and Second Circuit ordered the accountants to COUGH IT UP, since presidential immunity from state investigations is not a thing. The Supreme Court agreed in July, tossing it back to the trial judge in case Trump wanted to assert a real shield to disclosure. Which he did, but was stymied by the fact that he couldn’t come up with one. Neither the trial court nor the Second Circuit bought the argument that Vance’s subpoena was overbroad and issued in bad faith.

    So Trump asked SCOTUS to prettyplease let him string this out a little bit longer because “Even if the disclosure of his papers is limited to prosecutors and grand jurors, the status quo can never be restored once confidentiality is destroyed.” It’s worth noting here that courts are broadly deferential to prosecutors generally, and grand juries in particular. For Trump to argue somehow that it’s NO FAIR and UNLEGAL for the grand jury to demand his tax records when Trump’s own lawyer testified publicly that all his real estate valuations were hinky, is just amazing chutzpah. Besides which, as Vance’s office noted in its response, Trump can hardly claim he’ll be irreparably harmed by public disclosure of the returns when the New York Times already got them and wrote a whole series of stories about the fuckery therein. Simply put, Trump has already paid the reputational cost of public disclosure, and the only thing he can avoid by keeping them from the grand jury is criminal and/or civil penalties.

    Naturally the former president responded with his usual grace and aplomb. […]

    To summarize:







    […] Mar-a-Lago man isn’t president anymore, and he doesn’t even have social media to hold a microphone up to his morning poop tweets any more. We literally do not have to listen to this shit! Hooray! And also, hand it over, asshole.


  192. John Morales says

    Now that you’ve seen Mars, hear it.

    I can only imagine at least some people bothered to click on that.


    (Lemme guess: wind noise, lander noise — I doubt there was a marsquake to make other sounds)

  193. KG says

    Lynna,OM@226, SC@229, thanks! Recent reports of the effect of both vaccines used in the UK on hospitalization rates are good. Of course I’m staying careful, and will do even once the 3-4 week period for the immune system to gear up is past – although I may need to travel to London for work (not a meeting – empirical research that really requires physical presence) at some point. Still waiting for Ms. KG’s appointment letter – we don’t know whether she’s in the next group or not as the “qualifications” concerning “underlying conditions” are a bit vague; if not, it’ll be the one after. Hope yours comes through soon Lynna. blf, I’m no admirer of Macron, but I’m astounded he is being so utterly stupid – truly Trumpoid levels of callous irresponsibility.

  194. KG says

    Lynna, OM@243,

    Johnson is, as your quote says, under pressure from “lockdown sceptics” (aka the Conservative Friends of Covid) to speed up the lifting of restrictions; but at the same time, a group of 40 MPs from several opposition parties (Labour, SNP, LIbDem, Green, SDLP) have urged a “zero Covid” strategy, aimed at eliminating the virus altogether. Johnson claims there is no practical way to do this, but this is clearly false, given the examples of New Zealand, Australia and Taiwan; being an island is a huge advantage in a pandemic.

  195. says

    Here’s a link to the February 23 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    Chinese officials did “little” in terms of epidemiological investigations into the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic in Wuhan in the first eight months after the outbreak, according to an internal World Health Organization document seen by the Guardian.

    The internal WHO travel report summary, dated 10 August 2020, also said the team who met Chinese counterparts as part of a mission to help find the origins of the virus received scant new information at that time, and were not given any documents or written data during extensive discussions with Chinese officials.

    The report from last summer, which was written as global infection rates reached 20m, offers new insights into how WHO scientists appear to have been stymied in their early efforts to study the outbreak in China.

    The revelation comes after the Biden administration recently issued a pointed statement about its concerns over Chinese cooperation in studying the disease and the need for the WHO to be held to a high standard and protect its credibility.

    Italy allegedly misled the World Health Organization on its readiness to face a pandemic less than three weeks before the country’s first locally transmitted coronavirus case was confirmed.

  196. says

    Guardian – “Emma Coronel, wife of El Chapo, arrested on drug trafficking charges”:

    Emma Coronel Aispuro, the wife of Mexico’s most notorious cartel boss Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, has been arrested in Virginia on drug trafficking charges.

    In a statement released on Monday, the US justice department said that Coronel, 31 – who is a joint US-Mexican citizen – was arrested at Dulles international airport and was scheduled to make her initial appearance in federal court on Tuesday via video conference.

    According to court documents, Coronel is charged with conspiring to distribute cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana for importation into the US.

    She has also been charged with allegedly conspiring to help arrange Guzmán’s spectacular escape through a mile-long tunnel from the high-security Altiplano prison in Mexico in July 2015.

    Court papers allege that Coronel worked with Guzmán’s sons to organize the escape plot, which included buying a plot of land near the prison, firearms and an armored truck and smuggling the imprisoned cartel chief a GPS watch to ensure the escape tunnel reached his cell.

    “After Guzmán was re-arrested in Mexico in January 2016, Coronel Aispuro is alleged to have engaged in planning yet another prison escape with others prior to Guzmán’s extradition to the US in January 2017,” the statement said.

    Guzmán was sentenced to life plus 30 years at his trial in New York in 2019.

    Her arrest is likely to further complicate relations between the administrations of Joe Biden and his Mexican counterpart Andrés Manuel López Obrador, and comes as security cooperation between Mexico and the United States appears to have cooled.

    Emma Coronel was born in Santa Clara, California and is the daughter of Ines Coronel Barreras, a medium-ranking lieutenant in the Sinaloa cartel.

    She grew up in the “Golden Triangle” of Mexico’s Sierra Madre, and reportedly met Guzmán at a local festival. She was 17 at the time, and Guzmán was 51.

    The couple have nine-year-old twin daughters.

    While – like many older narco bosses – El Chapo kept a low profile despite his fame, his wife sought the spotlight. She launched a line of clothing – with some of the items emblazoned with El Chapo’s familiar moustachioed face – and attempted to establish herself up as a social media influencer with a carefully curated Instagram feed. She even briefly appeared on a US reality TV show.

    Despite his incarceration, Guzmán still casts a long shadow in Mexico, and the Sinaloa cartel, now partly led by his sons, remains a formidable force. When Guzmán’s son Ovidio was arrested in October 2019, cartel gunmen overran the city of Culiacán and forced state security forces to release him.

    López Obrador defended the move, saying that releasing the younger Guzmán had prevented further bloodshed.

    Mexico’s president has always avoided speaking ill of El Chapo, and in late March 2020, he briefly met Guzmán’s elderly mother, Maria Consuelo Loera, while on a tour of the Sierra Madre.

    López Obrador described the kingpin’s mother as “a pensioner who deserves my full respect – whoever her son might be” and confirmed that she had petitioned him for help to obtain a US visa so she could visit her son at the “Supermax” prison in Florence, Colorado.

  197. says

    From the Guardian US-politics liveblog:

    You might think that an impeachment trial was enough of an investigation into the events of 6 January and to put them on the record in Congress [?!], but today there will be more delving into what happened….

    The session today will start at 10am EST (1500 GMT) and we are expecting four witnesses:

    Robert J. Contee III, the acting chief of police of the Metropolitan Police Department in DC
    Steven A. Sund, former chief of the Capitol Police (2019-2021)
    Michael C. Stenger, former sergeant at arms and doorkeeper of the Senate (2018-2021)
    Paul D. Irving, former sergeant at arms of the US House of Representatives (2012-2021)

    You’ll notice a lot of 2021 dates in that list – Sund, Stenger and Irving all resigned after the Capitol attack. Neither Stenger or Irving have spoken publicly about the 6 January assault before.

    The “Joint Oversight Hearing on Security Failures During Attack on U.S. Capitol” will be on C-SPAN.

  198. says

    From a Guardian article about the new Burberry collection:

    …London fashion week is taking place in an increasingly fractious political atmosphere. Frustration is building within the industry about a lack of governmental support for businesses negotiating the costs, difficulties and time delays brought about by Brexit.

    Tamara Cincik, the founder of the Fashion Roundtable thinktank, described the double whammy of the pandemic and Brexit as a perfect storm for British fashion.

    The UK Fashion and Textile Association estimates that about three-quarters of Britain’s clothing and textile exports, representing £9.6bn in trade, go to the EU. Designers including Katherine Hamnett and Alice Temperley have reacted with exasperation to the culture secretary Oliver Dowden’s suggestion that designers use their “star power” to tackle the problems caused by Brexit.

    Hamnett predicted that “If there isn’t a radical overhaul, British brands will die”. Samantha Cameron, the wife of the former prime minister David Cameron and owner of the independent British fashion brand Cefinn, recently described post-Brexit trading conditions as “difficult and challenging”.

  199. says

    Guardian – “Beaver believers: Native Americans promote resurgence of ‘nature’s engineers'”:

    …This Native American community, and others, are at the vanguard of the “beaver believer” movement, which holds that the rodents can play an essential role in maintaining healthy landscapes.

    Beavers are known as nature’s engineers, due to their dam-building habits. For decades they have been hated by landowners, who dislike the animals’ tendency to fell trees and flood areas. However, their dams – although seen by some as a nuisance – help control the quantity and quality of water flow, while their ponds create habitat for numerous plants and animal species, including fish.

    The Tulalip Tribes had to fight a lengthy legal battle in order to gain permission to relocate beavers on to their lands. Following a historic win, the tribes began bringing the animals back into their community in 2014.

    “It really was monumental,” says [Molly] Alves, a biologist at the tribes’ wildlife agency who oversees the beaver program, which is renowned across the state.

    “Now we get calls from landowners who have heard about our project,” she explains. “They have beavers on their property, flooding roads, felling trees, and are frustrated because they don’t understand how to deal with the problem.

    Back in 2018, Washington’s Cowlitz Indian Tribe started on an ambitious project: to reintroduce beavers back into the Gifford Pinchot national forest, a wild region on the slopes of the Cascade mountains, as part of efforts to reclaim indigenous land management practices. The animals had not been in the region since the 1930s, after they were trapped into near-extinction in North America during the 1800s fur trade.

    In partnership with the Cascade Forest Conservancy, the tribe has spent the last two years capturing beavers from private lands, where their dams are often dynamited, and relocating them on to tribal land.

    The project has been such a success that the tribe was recently awarded a grant to survey beaver habitat, mapping the impact beavers have made on the land, in order to create a relocation model for other communities in the state – and perhaps further afield.

    “Our culture and members depend upon a healthy ecosystem,” says Phil Harju, the chairman of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe. “Beaver are a key species that enable the ecosystem to function properly.”

    The successes in Washington have been keenly followed by tribal nations further down the coast.

    “Beavers are prominent in our village stories,” says Frankie Myers, the vice chair of California’s Yurok Tribe. “He’s an architect, and they’ve gone through the same struggles against Europeans as us. The beavers were viewed as pests and driven off the land. We’re looking to bring the beaver back again, to help us manage the land like they used to.”

    If projects in states like Washington go well, “it could open the door for future relocations,” says Lundquist. “We’re using these projects as pilots to show that beaver rewilding can be done in a responsible way, and hopefully that will answer some of the concerns, and ideally make it available to those not on sovereign lands.”

    Sarah Beesley, the Yurok Tribe’s biologist, acknowledges that “there are huge stumbling blocks.” But “what’s really cool,” she continues, “is that Tribal Nations are breaking through these barriers.”

    More atl.

  200. blf says

    KG@268, “I’m no admirer of Macron, but I’m astounded he is being so utterly stupid — truly Trumpoid levels of callous irresponsibility.”

    Originally, back in late December, when vaccinations started, they were only doing c.100 per day (yes, one hundred, that’s not a Tpyos oferrring!). Reliable reports are that when Marcon heard, he went ballistic Librarian, and insisted on improvements. About eight weeks later, 77,000 per day is an improvement, but it’s still damnably slow. The protocol has been tweaked, but in my opinion needs a complete overhaul.

    At that time — and due to the way the current protocol is now, I suspect this still applies — the problem is a very high rate of vaccine-hesitancy. A widely-quoted recent poll says c.40% do not plan on being vaccinated, one of the highest rates of refusal in the so-called “developed” world. The protocol does, to me, look like a clewless bureaucrat’s attempt to devise a method to convince vaccine-hesitant people to be vaccinated, by having a talk with your own (presumably trusted) doctor. (As a side-note, doctors are paid by the health services for each appointment, so they have something of a financial stake in the protocol.) That, or variations on it (such as having to visit the local public health office in-person for a discussion before being given an “Ok” for your doctor to give you, in-person, an exemption) is a known effective strategy in getting the hesitant vaccinated. The point that is missed is, where that approach is used, there is no exemption (other than for genuine medical reasons), unless you proceed with that (deliberately) time-consuming protocol to obtain a non-medical exemption.

    But it’s completely arse-forwards here (“fecking backwards”): The time-consuming protocol is, effectively, only for people who do want to get vaccinated. The hesitant merely have to do nothing at all. No, no, NO ! Other way around, should be: Exemptions hard, Vaccination easy. (And, maybe, only pay doctors for appointments which result in a hesitant person being vaccinated?)

    The alternative is “mandatory vaccination (exemptions only for genuine medical reasons)”, which France does not do and which would be hard to enact.

  201. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Linguists in Germany have collected more than 1,200 new words coined during the pandemic.

    From coronamüde (tired of Covid-19) to Coronafrisur (corona hairstyle), the project is documenting the huge number of new words coined in the last year as the language raced to keep up with lives radically changed by the pandemic.

    The list compiled by the Leibniz Institute for the German language, an organisation that documents German language in the past and present, has already collected more than 1,200 new German words – many more than the 200 they see in an average year.

    It includes feelings many can relate to, such as overzoomed (stressed by too many video calls), Coronaangst (when you have anxiety about the virus) and impfneid (envy of those who have been vaccinated).

    Brazil has fully approved the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, health regulator Anvisa has announced, although it remains to be seen if Brasilia and Pfizer can end a dispute and agree a supply deal, Reuters reports.

    The Pfizer/BioNTech shot is the first vaccine against Covid to receive full approval in Brazil, Anvisa said. Other vaccines developed by AstraZeneca and China’s Sinovac have only been approved for emergency use so far.

    The approval is good news for a country whose immunisation campaign has been plagued by delays and political squabbling. However, it is unclear whether the definitive approval of the vaccine will pave the way for a supply deal of a highly effective shot that is already being applied globally.

    President Jair Bolsonaro has criticized the terms of a deal proposed by Pfizer, saying it is overly onerous on Brazil as it exempts the US firm from potential liability for unforeseen problems. Pfizer has said other countries, including neighbours in Latin America, have agreed to the terms.

  202. says

    Mehdi Hasan:

    “They’re not the pro-life party. They’re a party indifferent to, and complicit in, mass death. Do I sound angry about that? Yeah I am…I’m much more angry than I am sad & you should be too.”

    Perhaps my angriest #minirant ever – on the 500,000 Covid dead:…

    5-minute video atl.

  203. says

    From last night: “President Biden, @FLOTUS, @VP and @SecondGentleman — surrounded by 500 candles to symbolize the 500,000 lives lost to Covid-19 — hold a moment of silence outside the White House….”

    Photo atl.

    From the transcript of Biden’s speech:

    …We often hear people described as “ordinary Americans.” There’s no such thing; there’s nothing ordinary about them. The people we lost were extraordinary. They spanned generations. Born in America. Immigrated to America. But just like that, so many of them took final breath alone in America.

    As a nation, we can’t accept such a cruel fate. While we have been fighting this pandemic for so long, we have to resist becoming numb to the sorrow. We have to resist viewing each life as a sta- — as a statistic or a blur or on the news. And we must do so to honor the dead, but equally important, care for the living and those left behind.

    For the loved ones left behind, I know all too well — I know what it’s like to not be there when it happens. I know what it’s like when you are there, holding their hands. There’s a look in your eye, and they slip away. That black hole in your chest, you feel like you’re being sucked into it. The survivor’s remorse. The anger. The questions of faith in your soul.

    For some of you, it’s been a year, a month, a week, a day, even an hour. And I know that when you stare at that empty chair around the kitchen table, it brings it all back, no matter how long ago it happened, as if it just happened that moment you looked at that empty chair. The birthdays, the anniversaries, the holidays without them. And the everyday things — the small things, the tiny things — that you miss the most. That scent when you open the closet. That park you go by that you used to stroll in. That movie theater where you met. The morning coffee you shared together. The bend in his smile. The perfect pitch to her laugh.

    As a nation, we cannot and we must not let this go on. That’s why the day before my inauguration, at the COVID-19 Memorial at the Reflecting Pool on the National Mall, I said to heal — to heal, we must remember. I know it’s hard. I promise you, I know it’s hard — I remember. But that’s how you heal: You have to remember. And it’s also important to do that as a nation.

    So today, I ask all Americans to remember: Remember those we lost and those who are left behind.

    But as we remember — as we all remember, I also ask us to act. To remain vigilant, to sa- — stay socially distanced, to mask up, get vaccinated when it’s your turn. We must end the politics and misinformation that has divided families, communities, and the country, and has cost too many lives already. It’s not Democrats and Republicans who are dying from the virus. It’s our fellow Americans. It’s our neighbors and our friends — our mothers, our fathers, our sons, our daughters, husbands, wives.

    We have to fight this together, as one people, as the United States of America. That’s the only way we’re going to beat this virus, I promise you. The only way to spare more pain and more loss — the only way these millstones [sic] no longer mark our national mourning — these milestones, I should say — no longer mark our national mourning. Let this not be a story of how far we fell, but of how far we climbed back up. We can do this.

    For in this year of profound loss, we have seen profound courage from all of you on the frontlines. I know the stress, the trauma, the grief you carry. But you give us hope. You keep us going. You remind us that we do take care of our own. That we leave nobody behind. And that while we have been humbled, we have never given up. We are America. We can and will do this.

    In just a few minutes, Jill and I, Kamala and Doug, will hold a moment of silence here in the White House — the People’s House, your house. We ask you to join us to remember, so we can heal; to find purpose in the work ahead; to show that there is light in the darkness.

    This nation will smile again. This nation will know sunny days again. This nation will know joy again. And as we do, we will remember each person we’ve lost, the lives they lived, the loved ones they left behind. We will get through this, I promise you. But my heart aches for you — those of you who are going through it right now….

  204. says

    AP – “More Myanmar protests follow strike amid foreign concerns”:

    Protesters against the military’s seizure of power in Myanmar were back on the streets of cities and towns on Tuesday, a day after a general strike shuttered shops and brought huge numbers out to demonstrate.

    In Mandalay, the country’s second-biggest city, a funeral was held for 37-year-old Thet Naing Win, one of two protesters shot dead by security forces on Saturday.

    He and a teenage boy were killed when police and soldiers opened fire on a crowd that had gathered to support dock workers whom the authorities were trying to force to work. They have been on strike, as have many civil servants and state enterprise workers, as part of a nationwide civil obedience movement against the Feb. 1 military takeover.

    Numbers were down from Monday’s massive crowds, but groups of demonstrators in Yangon, the country’s biggest city, assembled again at various venues on Tuesday for peaceful protests.

    Protesters trained their ire on a new target Tuesday, gathering outside the Indonesian Embassy in response to a news report that Jakarta was proposing to its regional neighbors that they offer qualified support for the junta’s plan for a new election next year. The demonstrators demand that the results of last year’s election, won in a landslide by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party, to be honored.

    The protesters chanted slogans against the military coup and held banners, one of which read “Friend or Enemy. You choose, Indonesia.”

    “What I hope, as a citizen of Myanmar, is to stand with the truth. We can’t wait one year,” said one demonstrator, Han Ni.

    The report by an international news agency, published Monday, triggered dismay among supporters of the protest movement. It said Indonesia was seeking to have fellow members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations agree on an action plan to hold the junta to its promise to hold free and fair elections in a year’s time.

    Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Teuku Faizasyah denied the report, saying Tuesday that it “is not Indonesia’s position at all to support a new election in Myanmar.” He said Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi was gathering the views of fellow ASEAN members ahead of a special meeting it hopes will be held on the situation in Myanmar.

    There is continuing international concern over Myanmar, with foreign ministers from the Group of Seven nations on Tuesday issuing their second statement since the coup.

    The group, consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union, condemned violence committed by Myanmar’s security forces and demanded they act with restraint according to international standards for human rights.

    On Monday, the U.S. said it was imposing sanctions against more junta members because of the killing of peaceful protesters by security forces.

    Lt. Gen. Moe Myint Tun and Gen. Maung Maung Kyaw were added to other military leaders and entities facing U.S. sanctions. Britain and Canada have taken similar actions since the coup.

    U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement that the U.S. condemns the attacks on protesters and vowed to take further action if more violence occurs.

    “We call on the military and police to cease all attacks on peaceful protesters, immediately release all those unjustly detained, stop attacks on and intimidation of journalists and activists, and restore the democratically elected government,” Blinken said.

    Also Monday, European Union foreign ministers ordered a series of measures to be drawn up to target those responsible for the coup. They said the EU is ready “to adopt restrictive measures targeting those directly responsible” and keep all other options “under review.” Such sanctions usually involve a freeze on people’s assets and a ban on them traveling to Europe.

  205. says

    CNN – “Protests in Haiti as political standoff continues”:

    Large crowds of Haitians took to the streets again on Sunday, as a standoff between President Jovenel [Moïse] and the country’s opposition movement stretched into its third week.

    “Those of us fighting, who want another Haiti, a Haiti pearl of the Antilles, say no to the dictatorship,” one protester told Reuters in capital city Port-au-Prince, where Haitian opposition and civil society groups had called the demonstration. Another criticized the United States and international organizations for supporting the President.

    At the heart of protests is a dispute over the President’s term limit: Moise has served only four years of the usual five, and says his term ends in 2022 — a stance backed by the United States, United Nations and Organization of American States.

    Protesters, however, say he should have stepped down February 7, citing a constitutional provision that starts the clock once a president is elected, rather than when he takes office.

    “We want the international community (to) understand that the Haiti people won’t back down on their demands. Jovenel [Moïse] must leave the national palace for a peaceful transition that can lead us to the elections,” opposition leader André Michel told CNN on Sunday.

    [Moïse] has dismissed protesters as “a minority of people” seeking to destabilize the state and seize power, and has refused to contemplate calls for a transitional government, instead asking the opposition to wait until general elections later this year.

    Legislative elections are already long overdue in Haiti. After the country’s parliament dissolved last year, [Moïse] failed to organize new elections, leaving legislative and municipal positions empty across the country and the population effectively unrepresented. The vacant parliament means [Moïse] is currently ruling by decree.

    Earlier this month, the President also ordered three Supreme Court justices to retire, accusing them of designs on his office — a move that legal experts have told CNN is unconstitutional. In protest, Haiti’s judiciary stopped work, putting courts and tribunals across the country on pause.

    Haiti’s national bar association and the Superior Council of Judicial Power (CSPJ) — a powerful body that appoints, fires and disciplines judges — have sided with the opposition in calling for [Moïse] to step down. So have some US lawmakers.

    However, the international community and the administration of US President Joe Biden have largely voiced support for [Moïse] to remain in office until 2022, though his recent handling of the protests and Supreme Court is sparking some concern….

    More atl.

  206. says

    Guardian US-politics liveblog:

    An AstraZeneca executive told a House subcommittee that he believes his company could receive emergency authorization to distribute 300 million Covid-19 vaccine doses by early April. This week, drug regulators are expected to consider authorizing a one-shot vaccine from Johnson & Johnson.

    These vaccines would be in addition to the more than 600 million doses (enough to vaccinate 300 million people) that the US government has already purchased from Moderna and Pfizer. These are the only two vaccines currently authorized in the US.

    “It appears by mid-summer we may have a surplus of vaccines,” said Representative Morgan Griffith, a Republican representative from Virginia, at a House subcommittee hearing on vaccine availability.

    “By July, we may have enough that we have a surplus in the US, because there only about 260 million people are vaccine eligible,” in the US, said Griffith. Griffith asked whether surplus doses in the US could be donated to other countries.

    “I truly hope and believe there will be a surplus if everyone is available,” said Dr. Ruud Dobber, an executive with AstraZeneca. “There’s a huge need” in low- and middle-income countries, said Dobber.

    USCP chief was ‘literally pleading’ for National Guard help, MPD chief says

    Robert Contee, the acting chief of the Metropolitan Police Department of Washington, recounted a call that occurred on January 6 with Steven Sund, then the US Capitol Police chief, and Pentagon officials.

    Contee said Sund was “literally pleading” with defense department leaders to deploy National Guard troops to the Capitol.

    The MPD chief recalled that the Pentagon officials did not formally decline the request, but there was “not an immediate yes”.

    “I was just stunned,” Contee said. “I have officers who are out there literally fighting for their lives.”

    The former USCP chief Steven Sund and the former House sergeant at arms Paul Irving offered conflicting accounts of when National Guard assistance was first requested.

    According to Sund, he called Irving at 1:09 pm on January 6 to tell him that National Guard troops were urgently needed at the Capitol.

    But Irving claimed that Sund’s request did not come until after 2 pm. The exact timing is crucial, given that Vice-President Mike Pence was escorted out of the Senate chamber at approximately 2:14 pm, just minutes before the rioters reached the room.

    Senator Rob Portman, the top Republican on the Senate homeland security committee, said the panel would request the officials’ phone records to clear up the discrepancy.

    Pentagon officials will testify next week.

  207. says

    Holy shit – Ron Johnson is reading some bullshit screed suggesting the police caused the attack by firing teargas at a peaceful, jovial crowd rather than the fake Trumpers infiltrating it.

    What a lying douchebag.

  208. blf says

    SC@287, “Ron Johnson is reading some bullshit screed suggesting the police caused the attack by firing teargas at a peaceful, jovial crowd” — he’s confused BLM with the insurrection.

  209. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Hundreds of young Algerians have defied a coronavirus ban on demonstrations to protest in the capital Algiers, a day after major protests to mark the second anniversary of mass anti-government rallies, AFP reports.

    The “Hirak” protest movement forced longtime president Abdelaziz Bouteflika from power in 2019, and before the protests were stalled amid Covid-19 restrictions last year, marches were held every Tuesday.

    A mass rally in Algiers was held yesterday to mark the protests that kicked off on 22 February 2019, to oppose Bouteflika’s bid for a fifth term. The protests on Monday were the largest since the weekly demonstrations were suspended.

    On Tuesday, students continued, despite police deploying in force before dawn in the centre of Algiers, especially at Martyrs’ Square, where student marches used to begin.

    “We are students and not terrorists,” some chanted, according to AFP journalists. “A free and democratic Algeria,” others shouted. The CNLD prisoners’ rights group said three students and five other activists were arrested.

    Protesters demand a sweeping overhaul of a ruling system in place since Algeria’s independence from France in 1962.

  210. says

    Ashish Jha:

    For 78 days in a row

    the 7-day moving avg for number of daily deaths from COVID was above 2000

    Over the weekend, it fell under 2,000 for first time in nearly 3 months

    By next week, it’ll be at 1500

    And its falling a bit faster than I was expecting


    First, predictions

    By March 10, we should be under 1,000 daily deaths

    By St. Patrick’s Day, 750

    And we could keep dropping



    Because infections are falling

    But why faster than expected?

    Two reasons

    1. Hospital capacity easing

    Overburdened, packed hospital means death rates rise

    Opposite also true

    As crowding burden eases, doctors, nurses have more time for each patient

    Based on data, proportion of infected people dying weeks later is falling

    This is good

    And there is a 2nd reason to be optimistic


    We are now entering a point where infections in nursing homes has fallen a ton

    Because many got vaccinated in January

    And given that NH residents are the highest risk of death

    lower infection rates here starting to translate into fewer deaths

    Infections nationally are down about 70% since peak

    Deaths so far down 40%

    But over time, I expect deaths to fall faster than cases

    Because hospitals are getting less stressed

    And vaccinations among high risk folks is rising — and beginning to have an effect

    So as we mark passing of 500,000 Americans

    We now have tools to drive down deaths

    We’ll still lose thousands more Americans

    And variants still loom

    But if we vaccinate quickly and hold tight on policy

    Horrible days of sustained 2000-3000 daily deaths could be behind us

  211. says

    Good. David Perdue, a former Republican senator from Georgia, is becoming even more insignificant.

    Just one week after [Perdue] filed the paperwork to run against Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) next year, he’s apparently changed his mind. […] haunted by corruption allegations ahead of his defeat last month, announced this morning that he’s decided not to run after all.

    That’s probably wise. Warnock is a much better candidate than Perdue, and Warnock is turning out to be effective in the Democratic Party caucus.

    On a related note, it’s probably worth emphasizing that Perdue’s written statement this morning echoed demonstrably false Trumpian claims about “illegal votes” and called on Georgia officials to “correct” non-existent problems with the state’s systems of elections.

    Oh, FFS. Perdue is still trying to ride The Big Lie.

  212. says

    Why Ted Cruz grabbed a shovel after falling into a ditch

    Confronted with a real crisis, Cruz isn’t focused on solutions; he’s focused on proving to Republicans that he’s playing their culture-war game.

    It’s not exactly a secret that Sen. Ted Cruz ran into a little trouble last week when his constituents lacked access to reliable power and water, and he responded by taking off for a vacation in Mexico. […]

    As part of his damage-control strategy, Cancun Cruz turned to Fox News’ Sean Hannity to help cover for him last week, and last night, the senator once again sought out the comfortable confines of Hannity’s program.

    The interview began with the host encouraging Texas to continue to operate its own energy grid, independent of the United States’ system. It was a curious recommendation: Texas’ experiment in deregulation and independence helped create last week’s systemic breakdown.

    But moments later, Cruz shared some related thoughts on the lessons he’s learned.

    “We just came off of a very difficult week where the grid failed 4 million Texans. And so, we need to have a serious examination about why that was, why the grid came short, but one of the major elements of that is actually the policy that [Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer] is pushing for the whole country, which is the Green New Deal. You look at Texas right now, about 25 percent of our electricity capacity is wind…. The reality was, in the cold, the wind turbines froze and the power generation wasn’t there. That needs to be fixed.”

    Cruz appeared on Fox News (again!) in order to lie.

    […] the senator’s comments were plainly ridiculous. As Cruz surely knows, his home state of Texas has not adopted the Green New Deal; the Green New Deal is about far more than just wind turbines; wind power does not represent a quarter of the state’s energy; and the idea that wind power is unreliable in the cold is belied by the fact that from New England to Scandinavia to Antarctica, similar systems work just fine.

    Again, the senator is not dumb. He knows all of this. The fact that Cruz ran to Fox News to peddle nonsensical talking points had nothing to do with his belief in these demonstrably foolish claims.

    […] Having been roasted for fleeing his state while his constituents suffered, the GOP senator is trying to work his way back into his party’s good graces — not by tackling energy policy in a serious way, but by pretending Republicans’ ideological foes should be blamed for a breakdown they had nothing do to with.

    […] The Atlantic’s Adam Serwer added yesterday, “[I]f your party produced years of deregulation and misgovernance that led to a deadly disaster in your state, you might want to change the subject to wind power too. Waging the culture war didn’t keep the lights on in Texas, but it might keep ambitious Republican failures in office. If politicians don’t fear being punished for not doing their jobs, they won’t do them.”

    And that’s precisely what Cruz sought to do with Hannity last night: prove to his team that he’s still playing their game. His enemies are their enemies. His culture war is their culture war. His indifference toward governing and problem-solving mirrors their own.

    […] This won’t help his constituents the next time they lack reliable access to power and water, but it might help Cruz win re-election.

    I hope it causes Cruz to lose his next election.

    It was particularly obnoxious for Cruz to blame Chuck Schumer.

  213. says

    Big smiles for comment 294. :-)

    In other news: Why Clarence Thomas’ Trump-like dissent in election case matters

    Thomas used a dissent to effectively play the role of partisan pundit, taking aim at voting by mail. One congressman called his reasoning “absurd.”

    After his election defeat, Donald Trump and his unfortunate legal team filed all kinds of lawsuits, and in the process, racked up an embarrassing record of defeats. The litigation had no practical effect; [Trump] still lost; and President Joe Biden was inaugurated last month.

    Some of the cases were, however, technically still pending — at least until yesterday. The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday morning formally rejected a handful of pending election lawsuits, including challenges to results in states Trump lost, which made sense since the cases are now moot. As an Associated Press report added, the news was not at all surprising: “The court had previously taken no action in those cases and in January had turned away pleas that the cases be fast-tracked, again suggesting the justices were not interested in hearing them.”

    What stood out as notable, however, was the fact that there were two dissents. Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch, for example, said a ruling could “provide invaluable guidance for future elections.”

    But as Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern explained, Justice Clarence Thomas went much further in his own dissent, which targeted the integrity of voting by mail.

    “Voting by mail was traditionally limited to voters who had defined, well-documented reasons to be absent,” he wrote. The current trend toward more “permissive” mail voting, the justice warned, “vastly” increases “the risk of fraud.” […] In reality, this kind of voter fraud is vanishingly rare, and its few perpetrators have been caught and prosecuted.

    Thomas kept going, suggesting laws may be necessary to curtail postal balloting, to avoid the “appearance” of corruption, even if voting by mail is secure and reliable. He added that even if there’s no evidence of election fraud, that’s not “sufficient for election confidence.”

    It’s become a standard Republican talking point: the more Republican officials deceive the public about the integrity of the electoral system, the less confidence their voters feel. Therefore, Republicans are justified in imposing new voting restrictions, not to address a problem that exists, but in order to address a perceived problem that doesn’t exist.

    The Slate piece added that Thomas, by pushing this line, “is bolstering Trump’s paranoid attacks on mail voting, lending judicial credence to two foundational elements of the big lie: First, that vote by mail is inherently unsafe and insecure, and second, that fraudulent mail-voting schemes may be rampant yet ‘undetected,’ vindicating Trump’s ridiculous claims that his voters are right to doubt the outcome of the presidential race.”

    […] “You don’t have to be a prosecutor to understand how ludicrous Justice Thomas’ dissent is,” Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) responded soon after.

    GOP officials and candidates routinely point to Clarence Thomas as a model for their ideal Supreme Court justice. […].

  214. says

    Rudy on the run:

    Rudy Giuliani spent a week desperately dodging being served a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit filed by Dominion Voting Systems after publicly suggesting he welcomed the legal challenge […]

    lawyers for the voting technologies company had hired process servers to hand Giuliani its hefty 107-page lawsuit after [he] had ignored requests to accept it via email.

    “After not responding to requests to waive service, Mr. Giuliani evaded in-person service of process for nearly a week,” said Tom Clare, an attorney for Dominion. “It took numerous attempts, at both his home and office, before we were able to successfully serve Mr. Giuliani on February 10.”

    […] In a detailed account of efforts to serve Giuliani, a source told the Daily News that a doorman had locked the door to the building whenever Giuliani entered the lobby, knowing that process servers were looking for the Trump lawyer.

    […] on Feb. 7, Giuliani hopped into the passenger seat of an SUV and tried to quickly close the SUV door as a process server lunged forward with a bag full of documents that got lodged between the door.

    “This is not the way it’s supposed to be done. You should have gone to my office,” Giuliani said, according to the account.

    A driver for Giuliani and the doorman pulled the bag of papers free from the SUV door so that Giuliani could close it and the process server placed the bag in front of Giuliani’s building, which the doorman had locked, saying, “these documents now belong to Giuliani.”

    […] the process server saw a maintenance worker toss the bag into a street trash can. After fishing for the bag of documents in the trash, the process server continued to pursue Giuliani for the next two days at his office and apartment building.

    Staff at Giuliani’s office ignored messages to set up an appointment to hand off the suit.

    An assistant for Giuliani finally concluded the chase by accepting service on his behalf on Feb. 10.


    Kind of funny.

  215. says

    Follow-up to comment 296.

    Comments posted by readers of the TPM article:

    Seems like an officer of the court intentionally evading service of official papers of that court ought to be one of the few things, other than sleeping with your clients’ commingled money, that a state bar really ought to take seriously.
    Sidney Powell evaded the process servers for weeks [Sidney Powell also served as a Trumpian lawyer … until she shot herself in the foot so many times that she was unfit to serve even Trump.]
    Has anyone queued up that Benny Hill music?
    And he nearly got away when he slipped on a pool of hair dye.
    He has an instinct for doing the maximally clownish thing.
    The Process Server should have claimed that it was a bag of Hilary’s lost emails.
    Rudy running invokes some hilarious imagery. Wonder if he can run with his hand down the front of his pants.

  216. says

    Republicans went after Deb Haaland, but they failed:

    Rep. Deb Haaland, President Biden’s nominee for secretary of the interior, arrived at her Tuesday morning confirmation hearing already knowing that at least two Republicans on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee had vowed to hold up her nomination as much as possible. Sens. John Barrasso of Wyoming and Steve Daines of Montana are big fossil fuel boosters. Haaland is not, and, according to Barrasso, “her vocal opposition to oil and gas production on federal lands will only encourage President Biden along the illegal and reckless path that he has begun.”

    […] Haaland, who is a citizen of the Laguna Pueblo and would be the first American Indian Cabinet member ever, is getting an extra dose of vitriol—just like several other Biden nominees who are women of color. In addition to the fierce opposition from Daines and Barrasso, a group of House Republicans has called on Biden to withdraw her nomination.

    […] Daines even went after her for supporting ongoing protections for grizzly bears. “Senator, I believe I was caring about the bears,” Haaland responded.

    […] When Sen. Bill Cassidy asked Haaland, “Will this administration be guided by their prejudice against fossil fuels or by science?”, rest assured he was suggesting that science is on the side of extensive fossil fuel use. It is not. (Haaland had an easy answer: “I have stated many times that if I am confirmed to the Interior Department, decisions will be guided by science.”) […]

    Haaland will return for another round of committee questions on Wednesday morning.


    Cassidy gets some kind of Republican booby prize for asking misleading questions: ““Will this administration be guided by their prejudice against fossil fuels or by science?”

  217. says

    Axios – “Nursing home COVID cases have drastically declined”:

    The number of coronavirus cases in nursing homes and assisted living facilities has drastically declined over the last two months, almost certainly an effect of vaccinations.

    …Nursing homes have been devastated by the virus, which is why residents were among the first Americans to be vaccinated.

    …Nursing home vaccinations began in the second half of December, and around 4.5 million residents or staff have received at least one dose of the vaccine so far, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    …Long-term care facilities have been responsible for 35% of all coronavirus deaths in the U.S., despite accounting for less than 1% of the population, per The COVID Tracking Project.

    …Researchers in Scotland reported yesterday that the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine reduced COVID-related hospitalizations among the elderly by 85%, the Washington Post reports.

    …The AstraZeneca vaccine, which isn’t yet available in the U.S., reduced seniors’ hospitalizations by 94%.

    The bottom line: The vaccines are working.

  218. says

    Tiger Woods was in a serious car accident a few hours ago in Los Angeles. His car rolled over, and they had to use the jaws of life to get him out. He was the only person in the car. Gadi Schwartz just said he’s alive but has moderate to severe injuries, whatever that means. They’re talking specifically about injuries to his legs.

  219. says

    Commentary regarding the failure of the Republican Party, from Steve Benen:

    […] our Madisonian model expects a constructive competition between parties, and right now, that’s not a credible possibility. The Republican Party isn’t a governing party, making a give-and-take between Democratic and GOP leaders hopeless.

    But there are also political consequences: plenty of pundits and politicians like Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) demand as much bipartisanship as humanly possible in all matters. If the parties aren’t compromising and cooperating, the argument goes, then the system is failing in intolerable ways.

    Those expectations are in need of a reassessment. The more observers can agree that the Republican Party is suffering from a lack of “normalcy,” the easier it is to discard the assumption that GOP approval is important in all things.


    Good points in my opinion.

  220. says

    Yes! – Guardian – “‘Deeply alarming corruption’: US bill would sanction Honduran president”:

    A group of influential Democratic senators are introducing legislation which would sanction the president of Honduras – an alleged drug trafficker and key US ally – and cut off financial aid and ammunition sales to the country’s security forces which are implicated in widespread human rights abuses and criminal activities.

    The Honduras Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Act, co-sponsored by Senators Jeff Merkley, Bernie Sanders, Patrick Leahy, Ed Markey, Elizabeth Warren, Dick Durbin, Sheldon Whitehouse and Chris Van Hollen, would suspend certain US assistance to the Central American country until corruption and human rights violations are no longer systemic, and the perpetrators of these crimes start facing justice.

    This bill makes clear that tackling migration from Honduras will be impossible if the US continues to prop up the president, Juan Orlando Hernández, and the security forces.

    It lays bare the violence and abuses perpetrated since the 2009 military-backed coup, as a result of widespread collusion between government officials, state and private security forces, organized crime and business leaders.

    It also catalogues the systematic use of force against civilians, a clampdown on the freedom of speech and protest, and targeted attacks such as arbitrary arrests, assassinations, forced disappearances and fabricated criminal charges against human rights and environmental defenders, political opponents and journalists.

    In the past year alone, at least 34,000 citizens have been detained for violating curfew and lockdown restrictions including nurse Kelya Martinez, who earlier this month was killed in police custody.

    “The United States cannot remain silent in the face of deeply alarming corruption and human rights abuses being committed at the highest levels of the Honduran government,” said Merkley, who serves on the Senate foreign relations committee. “A failure to hold President Hernández, national officials and the police and military accountable for these crimes will fuel widespread poverty and violence and force more families to flee their communities in search of safety.”

    This is the first time the Senate has proposed legislation which could genuinely threaten the post-coup regime, which has used drug money, stolen public funds and fraud to maintain its grip on power with few consequences from the international community.

    Hernández, who has been identified as a co-conspirator in three major drug trafficking and corruption cases brought by New York prosecutors, would be investigated under the Kingpin Act to determine whether he is a designated narcotics trafficker – a criminal status given to drug bosses like Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán.

    Hernández has repeatedly denied any links to drug trafficking including prior knowledge about his younger brother’s cocaine and arms deals for which he was convicted in New York last year.

    The bill also details Hernández’s role in the demise of the rule of law in the country: as a congressman, he supported the 2009 coup, and later created the militarized police force which is implicated in extrajudicial killings, oversaw a purge of the judiciary and pushed through unconstitutional reforms in order to stay in power and shield corrupt officials from prosecution.

    Hernández, who has so far enjoyed a close relationship with key military and political leaders, would have his US visa revoked and assets frozen as part of the proposed sanctions.

    The bill would also ban the export of munitions including teargas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, water cannons, handcuffs, stun guns, Tasers and semi-automatic firearms until the security forces manage 12 months without committing human rights violations….

    “This legislation is designed to send a clear message to Biden that it will be impossible to tackle the root causes of migration without getting rid of Hernández and withdrawing support from the security forces which have a long track record of corruption, organised crime and repression,” said Dana Frank, professor of history at the University of California and author of The Long Honduran Night: Resistance, Terror, and the United States in the Aftermath of the Coup….

  221. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    French ICU patients with Covid at 12-week high

    The number of patients treated in intensive care units for Covid-19 in France has reached a 12-week peak of 3,435, as regional officials urge for a ban on public gatherings and consider a partial weekend lockdown.

    Unlike some of its European neighbours, France has resisted a new national lockdown to control more contagious variants, hoping a curfew in place since 15 December can contain the pandemic.

    The country ended its second national lockdown, which ran from 30 October to 15 December. But one of the conditions for the switch from lockdown to a national curfew was that the ICU figures remained between 2,500 and 3,000.

    France reported 20,064 new Covid-19 cases, up from the previous Tuesday’s 19,590. The seven-day moving average of cases remained above 20,000 for the third day in a row, at 20,109, the highest since 20,466 on 5 February.

    The northern port city of Dunkirk is urging the government to impose a ban on all public gatherings there until 15 March as a “last chance” move to halt a surge in Covid-19 infections.

    Dunkirk’s mayor Patrice Vergriete did not advocate a partial weekend lockdown such as in the Mediterranean city of Nice, but added he would not oppose it if the government imposed such a measure.

    The health minister Olivier Veran will head to Dunkirk on Wednesday.

    The total cumulative number of cases in France rose to 3.63 million, the sixth highest in the world. The number of people who have died from Covid-19 infections rose by 431 to 85,044 – the seventh highest death toll globally – versus a seven-day moving average of 319, a more than one-and-a half month low.

    Stay safe, blf.

  222. says

    ‘It’s really bad news for Republicans’: Continued GOP defections could upend party primaries

    The great GOP exodus continues in some of the very states that will prove most critical in the battle for control of Congress in the midterms. In Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that some 19,000 voters have left the Republican Party since Donald Trump’s Jan. 6 siege at the Capitol. And while that represents a tiny slice of the state’s 8.8 million registered voters, the number of voters who have left the GOP accounts for about two-thirds, or 64%, of overall defections—up from a third or less in typical years, according to the Inquirer.

    The data on exactly who is leaving the GOP—pro-Trumpers or never-Trumpers—are still a little murky. Based on interviews, the Inquirer concludes that the defections are fueled more by a swath of older, formerly loyal and highly engaged Republicans who have been turned off by Trump’s takeover of the party.

    “Former Republicans interviewed largely were united in why they left,” writes the outlet, “They saw it as a protest against a party that questioned the legitimacy of their votes and the culmination of long-simmering frustration with Trump and his supporters, who now largely control the GOP.”

    Trump poisons everything.

    […] “I knew I could not be a Republican anymore,” she [Lifelong Republican Diane Tyson, 68] said. “I just can’t—it’s not who I am. The Republican Party has gone down a deep hole that I want no part of. I don’t want an ‘R’ after my name.”

    […] the Republican Party could end up saddled with a slew of right-wing primary winners heading into the 2022 general election contests. The party will also be losing some of its most active and loyal voting base—the people who are more likely to turn out in off-year elections and non-presidential cycles.

    […] “If these voters are leaving the party permanently, it’s really bad news for Republicans,” Morris Fiorina, a political scientist at Stanford University, told Reuters.

    Yay! Schadenfreude moment. Republicans have earned all the bad news coming their way.

    Reuters homed in on GOP defections in the three battleground states of Florida, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina and found that roughly three times more Republicans as Democrats had left their party in recent weeks. In all three states, the outlet also noted that defections were concentrated in the urban and suburban areas surrounding big cities—areas where sagging GOP support for Trump helped deliver the presidency to Joe Biden.

    Based on interviews, Reuters also concluded that Trump was the main catalyst fueling the exodus […]

    But the sentiment of Nassau County Floridian Diana Hepner, 76, suggests that Republican Party leaders really blew their opportunity to pivot away from Trump following the election and reestablish itself as something beyond a cult of personality.

    “I hung in there with the Republican Party thinking we could get past the elements Trump brought,” Hepner said. “Jan. 6 was the straw that broke the camel’s back.” […]

    […] There’s still a lot of time between now and next year, but the Jan. 6 riot does appear to be an inflection point. And despite Trump’s acquittal, the impeachment trial really gave Democrats an opportunity to reinforce for voters Trump’s culpability for the murderous assault on the Capitol. […]

  223. says

    What’s going on here?

    Biden administration reopens Trump-era prison camp for migrant kids

    The Biden administration has reopened an unlicensed, Trump-era prison camp that’s expected to jail up to 700 children who arrived to the U.S. without parents, The Washington Post reports. The Carrizo Springs, Texas, camp was originally opened in the summer of 2019 and was in operation for only a month, facing angry protests over the previous administration’s inhumane treatment of kids and their families.

    “But immigration lawyers and advocates question why the Biden administration would choose to reopen a Trump-era facility that was the source of protests and controversy,” the report said. “It’s unnecessary, it’s costly, and it goes absolutely against everything [President] Biden promised he was going to do,” immigration attorney Linda Brandmiller told the Post. “It’s a step backward, is what it is. It’s a huge step backward.”

    The Post reports that the Biden administration’s reasoning for resurrecting the Carrizo Springs prison camp is that the novel coronavirus pandemic has limited space at facilities under the purview of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), a Health and Human Services (HHS) agency. HHS spokesperson Mark Weber told the Post that there are currently 7,000 children in the agency’s custody.

    What the report doesn’t make clear is what kind of efforts by the Biden administration have been making to ensure those 7,000 children currently in facilities are being placed with sponsors as safely and quickly as possible. Many of these sponsors are frequently relatives already here. Safely getting those kids to homes and emptying current facilities should be the priority, not reopening a detention camp, and especially one not even subject to licensing standards: “[t]he majority of child migrant facilities are subject to state licensing requirements; temporary influx centers like Carrizo are not,” the report continued.

    Administration officials in the report point to what they say are improved conditions in this camp, from a barber shop to a hair salon to its own ambulances. “The operation is based on a federal emergency management system, Weber said.” Perhaps that’s reassuring—unless you’ve been on the receiving end of a failed federal emergency management system. “Carrizo is expected to close when the pandemic ends, he said,” the Post continued. But that’s not going to be in a month, or six months.

    […] There’s also intense worry about BCFS Health and Human Services, the private contractor set to operate Carrizo. BCFS operated the now-closed prison camp for migrant children in Tornillo, and had received a waiver from ORR’s then-director and anti-abortion zealot Scott Lloyd “to staff up without typically required child abuse and neglect checks,” PBS reports the HHS inspector general found. “BCFS has filed more than 30 reports on ‘significant incidents’ from Tornillo,” PBS continued.

    […]. The New York Times reported in 2019 that the former CEO of another “non-profit” that operates children’s detention facilities “was paid $3.6 million during the charity’s most recent tax year.”

    Just as I was about to hit publish on this post, I saw news that the Biden administration was planning to reopen another prison camp for kids, this time the notorious Homestead facility in Florida. During the 2020 presidential race, five Democratic candidates, including now-Vice President Kamala Harris, were denied entry into the facility. “By law, as a sitting Congressmember, I should be let in,” tweeted former Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, who was escorting them. “While I regularly request entry, I’m often denied. What are they hiding?” […]

  224. says

    Ordinary folks will be paying off $50 billion in Texas freeze costs for decades

    That’s according to a new estimate.

    […] After days of freezing temperatures with no power, the lights are back on in Texas. Now, there are bills to pay.

    The state’s energy grid didn’t come back all at once and the high demand sent costs from 12 cents to $9 per kilowatt-hour […] Gov. Greg Abbott and Texas lawmakers are promising relief, and electric companies aren’t turning off power to those who aren’t able to cover their bills, […] at least for now.

    But someone will have to pay what BloombergNEF estimates is $50.6 billion in costs from the beginning of the Blackouts until Friday morning. CPS Energy, which serves San Antonio, Texas, is among those withholding storm charges for now, saying online that they are trying to spread the costs over 10 years or longer. Either way, however, the customers will likely foot the bill. […]

    From CPS Energy:

    We understand that it would be unacceptable to have customers bear the costs on their monthly bill, so we are working diligently to find ways to spread those costs to 10 years or longer to make it more affordable.

    That doesn’t sound like a good solution to me.

    From comments posted by readers:

    So basically, you’re making us pay for a necessary service that was interrupted by the negligence of you, all over a longer period of time when this may happen again and you still learn nothing from it!! Got it!!

    More vague talk of “relief”:

    […] The nation’s largest municipally-owned gas and electric utility has said they are pursuing “all kinds of relief,” including local, state and federal resources. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which runs the power grid, is also likely to bear some of the costs, although it’s not quite sure how much yet. Already, a family who lost their 11-year-old child during the power failure is suing the state’s utility companies for $100 million.

    The blackouts hit low-income families, particularly non-white households, harder than others amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

  225. says

    Plumbers are being celebrated a heroes in Texas:

    Lora Ratcliff opened the front door of her home and let out a pent-up squeal of joy. “My hero!”

    Her knight in shining armor with a wrench was plumber Troy Watts, one of the most popular faces in the pipe-burst, water-drenched, ceiling-collapsed metropolis of Houston.

    Since a hard, icy freeze descended on Valentine’s Day night, holding firm for more than 72 awful hours, thousands of people in the nation’s fourth-largest city have been waiting for a plumber to fix their broken pipes and get their water turned back on. […]

    While the deadly winter storm knocked out power, not just in Houston but statewide as the Texas grid seized up in the Arctic cold, electricity was restored to most homes and businesses within several days. Water service, however, remains a problem for tens of thousands — a number that is only slowly ebbing

    Watts has been a licensed journeyman plumber for nearly three decades, […] He is tall, lanky and driven, with 104,000 miles on his company truck since mid-2019. He wears an American flag mask and two IDs clipped to his shirt — one his Texas state plumbing license, the other his work badge.

    […] “We left the house a week ago Monday because we lost power, and it got really cold here. We went to stay with my daughter,” Dianne Hunt recounted. “I came back Wednesday to check on things, and the pipes had burst, and water was gushing from the attic. The entire first floor was flooded, and water was pouring out of the house onto the front lawn. We lost everything — photo albums, books, furniture, my homemade porcelain dolls. I just sat down and cried.”

    In the kitchen, Watts pulled back a square of soggy ceiling drywall and found “a whole mess of cracked pipes.” Over the next two hours, he replaced the most critical ones, cranked the main valve and restored the Hunts’ water and a measure of normalcy. He then arranged for a John Moore plumbing crew to follow up with them. Theirs will be a big project, requiring total pipe replacement. The earliest appointment available? March 15. Even so, the retired couple was grateful.

    […] “I reassure them that their house will be fixed, and life will return to normal. If the house is damaged, there’s nothing I can do, that’s for remediation companies and contractors to handle. But I can get their water back so they can take a hot shower and wash their dishes. There’s a lot of relief in just taking a shower in your own home.” […]

    Licensed plumbers currently have waiting lists thousands deep for their service […]. Watts urges people not to hire anyone who knocks on their door claiming to be a plumber who can start work that day. His other advice: “Never pay in cash, and never pay the whole bill in advance.”

    “There are plenty of fly-by-night so-called plumbers swarming into Houston,” he said.

    Oh, no. Faux plumbers flocking to Texas to rip people off.

    Most of the state’s broken-pipe crisis was caused by insufficiently insulated homes with exposed pipes. Once the power went out, those pipes were at the mercy of arctic-like temperatures from the outside with no heat protecting them from the inside. Watts estimates that properly winterizing a home in Houston would cost about $5,000 — “that’s a safe number.” […]

    Washington Post link

    Sounds to me like the state of Texas should set up a low-cost program to winterize people’s homes … in addition to winterizing their power grid.

  226. blf says

    SC@306, Thanks !
    So-far, no (known) problem, and I am carefully isolating inside the lair, generally going out only once-a-week for essentials (double masked) — which I’ll probably have to do tomorrow, as I’m out of almost everything fresh… ;-\

    In the Nice–Marseille S.French coastal area (which includes my village and, along with the Dunkirk area, is one of the currently hardest hit area in (mainland) France), the ICU occupancy rate has been lurking at effectively 100% (and, technically, was slightly over 100% for the last few days (nationally, it’s closer to 67%)). The R-value, both in this area and nationally, are essentially the same, as just under 1 (0.97 or so).

    The best news is my bathroom sink is finally unblocked ! For some reason, about three days ago, it essentially completely blocked (took all night for a sink-full of water to drain). Plunger, boiling water, repeat, nasty chemicals, all didn’t work (no obvious effect at all, expect perhaps slowing down the draining even more!?), so finally restored to mechanical probing (like with a plumber’s snake, albeit as I don’t have such a tool, this was improvised). At first, despite feeling something shifting, nothing happened. Then, GURGLE!, and the sink drained… a few more rounds of boiling soapy water, and it seems back to normal. Yeah ! Either an unusually large Sars-CoV-2 virus monster, or a wad of penguin feathers (the mildly deranged one not attached), is my guess…

  227. blf says

    Religious-Right Home-School Advocate and Anti-Masker Heidi St John Launches Congressional Bid:

    Christian nationalist home-schooling advocate […] Heidi St John launched a run for US Congress Sunday in Washington state’s 3rd Congressional District, where incumbent Republican Rep Jaime Herrera Beutler became a target of supporters of former President [sic] Donald Trump after voting for his impeachment in January and revealing damning details about a phone call between Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy that took place during the Jan 6 Capitol insurrection.

    A week prior to the launch of her congressional bid, St John took to Facebook to post, Trump now knows who his enemies are in the REPUBLICAN party. And so do we. Silver lining of the shampeachment. The RINOS need to GO!! #acquitted.


    St John urges parents to pull their children out of public schools, which she refers to as government indoctrination centers” that promote garbage sexual ideologies and a weird era of transgenderism. She said on a recent podcast that gender confirmation surgery should be illegal and that doctors who perform it are criminals.

    St John charges that the COVID-19 coronavirus was weaponized to create fear by the media and Democrats who saw the virus as an opportunity to hurt Trump’s reelection chances. She urges people not to be mask-wearing sheep and to take off their masks. [… S]he said that Christians’ job is to proclaim truth, adding, That’s why I don’t do the mask. It’s BS of the highest order.

    […] She also said that social justice is a lie from the pit of hell.

    [… Recently] she said, I’m hoping that in 2022 there’s a red wave in this country like we’ve never seen, and not just a red wave — a Christian red wave.


  228. blf says

    Another Geesh!-worthy loon, a snippet from Frank Amedia Says Trump Lost Because He Was Too Arrogant to Thank God for His Accomplishments:

    […] [Hair furor] had assignments all along, I said, because the Lord told me it’s about his assignments: pro-life, the Supreme Court, the space force, moving the embassy to Israel [sic], supporting Israel, not forcing Israel into a two-state nation.

    Howzibout overseeing a (non-)response to a pandemic which has now killed more people than in several major wars combined ? And lying about it from the earliest days ?

  229. blf says

    Rick Wiles Floats 2024 Presidential Campaign, Promises to Seize the Wealth of Billionaires and Give it to the Poor:

    For years […] radical right-wing conspiracy theorist Rick Wiles has […] endlessly rail[ed] against Democrats for allegedly attempting to install a communist, Marxist, or socialist regime in the United States.

    It was therefore a little surprising to hear Wiles declare […] he is thinking about running for president in 2024 on a platform centered on seizing the wealth of the billionaires in this country and redistributing it to the poor.

    Wiles said that someone must run on a populist platform of breaking up large technology companies in the United States, making it illegal to be a billionaire, confiscating their assets, and redistributing their wealth, and he might just be the one to do it.

    When you use your money and power to change my life, to take away my rights, to try to force things on me that I object to, that I find morally repulsive, when you try to restrict my free speech, when you try to promote population control, you want to pump vaccines into my body, when you want to change society, you know what? You’re my enemy, Wiles declared. The only way you’re able to do it is because you’re a billionaire. So then we need to take away your billions. […]

    Ah! Conspiracy nutter… Geesh!

  230. johnson catman says

    re blf @318: So is Wiles planning to take away billions from the Kochs? The Waltons? Or is he just dead-set on people who own social media companies that disparage him by quoting him directly?

  231. says

    “The Republicans Finally Face Merrick Garland—and Act as if They Were the Ones Unfairly Treated”

    New Yorker link to an article by Amy Sorkin.

    The gracelessness of Senator Ted Cruz has become all too familiar, but there are still moments when it is worth noting. One of them came on Monday, in the confirmation hearing for Merrick Garland, of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, who is President Biden’s nominee for Attorney General. Garland had been giving a careful answer to a question about the future of the investigation, led by the U.S. Attorney for Connecticut, John Durham, into the origins of the F.B.I.’s investigation of the Trump campaign’s Russia connections, when Cruz interrupted him. “Judge Garland, with all due respect—and I recognize you’ve been a judge for twenty-three, twenty-four years—judicial nominees sit in that chair and decline to answer just about every question senators pose them. Saying, ‘Well, as a judge, I can’t commit to how I would rule on any given case.’ And that’s appropriate.” Cruz paused, knitting his eyebrows, as if contemplating his own perspicacity, and then continued, “You’re not nominated to be a judge in this position.”

    Sheesh. Cruz’s obnoxiousness is painfully acute.

    Did he think that Garland, or anyone else, had forgotten that? Garland, of course, had been nominated by President Barack Obama to be a judge at the highest level—a Justice on the Supreme Court—after Antonin Scalia died in February, 2016, nine months before the Presidential election. Cruz and his colleagues, led by then Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, refused to even hold a hearing for him, keeping the seat empty for Donald Trump to fill. McConnell then rushed through the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett when Ruth Bader Ginsburg died just a month and a half before the 2020 election. But Cruz pressed the point, informing Garland that, as “a constitutional scholar,” he must “understand fully well the difference between Attorney General versus an Article III judge.” Again, we all do. (Article III is the section of the Constitution that establishes the federal judiciary.) […]

    Cruz’s arrogance is hard to match, but he was not the only Republican whose treatment of Garland’s history was, to put it generously, lacking in perspective. “I had something to do with that,” Chuck Grassley, of Iowa, said—a great deal, as the chairman, at the time, of the Judiciary Committee. […] “Yes, it’s true I didn’t give Judge Garland a hearing,” Grassley said. His tone was irritable […]

    Obama nominated Garland, in part, because he was a widely respected moderate with an unquestioned reputation for thoughtfulness, judicial knowledge, and a measured temperament […] all of which were on display Monday. He also has a distinguished record as a prosecutor and as the supervisor of the successful case against the Oklahoma City bomber, Timothy McVeigh, who killed a hundred and sixty-eight people, including nineteen children. Obama, in other words, chose someone the Republicans had no excuse to object to, and they scuttled his nomination anyway. […] And yet Grassley seemed to think that he was owed not only a pass but congratulations for his forbearance. “Just because I disagreed with anyone being nominated didn’t mean that I had to be disagreeable to that nominee. […] as if what had happened to Garland was not profoundly disagreeable, and, indeed, painful. […]

    It is hard to know what Garland’s Supreme Court hearing would have been like. There might have been fewer of the attacks on Eric Holder, who served as Obama’s Attorney General, that the Republicans engaged in on Monday. John Kennedy, Republican of Louisiana, might still have asked for Garland’s help in understanding what “institutional racism” means (Garland spoke about looking for patterns as well as for specific incidents of discrimination), and whether someone who breaks the law is “a sinner in the moral sense or a sick person.” (Garland said that “the kind of crime” was relevant in answering that question, and also spoke about mercy—a value he discussed, at length, with Cory Booker, Democrat of New Jersey.)

    […] Garland said, in his opening statement, that he would “supervise the prosecution of white supremacists and others who stormed the Capitol on January 6th, a heinous attack that sought to disrupt a cornerstone of our democracy, the peaceful transfer of power to a newly elected government.” […] Josh Hawley, of Missouri, who had charged ahead with his challenge to the Pennsylvania electoral-vote tally even after the mob assault, used part of his time to complain about how Trump’s White House interns might suffer career setbacks because of the public response to the attack; it wasn’t clear what Garland was supposed to do about that.

    Many Republicans pressed Garland to disavow the politicization of the Justice Department, which they attributed not to Trump but to Obama. Garland said that prosecutions would not be driven by politics. He was asked, time and again, about the Durham investigation, which Republicans hope will be embarrassing for Democrats. […] Garland said that, although he needed more information before committing, he didn’t see why the investigation couldn’t be completed.

    He was also asked, repeatedly, about the investigation that Michael Horowitz, the inspector general of the Justice Department, conducted into a number of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or fisa, warrants that the F.B.I. obtained in its Trump-Russia investigation. When Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, asked Garland about the Horowitz report, Garland noted that the senator had asked him to read it ahead of the hearing—or at least the executive summary; the entire report is some four hundred pages long—and that he dutifully had. “So, what’s your general take?” Graham asked. Garland’s quite reasonable take was that there had “certainly been serious problems with respect to fisa applications.” Indeed, an F.B.I. lawyer has pleaded guilty to altering an e-mail used to obtain one of the warrants. […] “I think deeply that we have to be careful about how we use fisa,” Garland said. His obvious engagement in the question of fisa reform was a reminder that many Republicans are relative latecomers to the civil-liberties issues involved. It was also a reminder that Trump is not the measure of all things—even if, for Republicans, he remains one. And it was a reminder that Garland would very likely have been a pretty good Supreme Court Justice.

  232. says

    Bits and pieces of news:

    NBC News:

    Four members of the board at the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, intend to resign following last week’s blackouts that left millions in the state without power amid brutal winter weather.

    The Advocate:

    Roughly a quarter of Louisiana’s population was still without access to clean drinking water as of Monday, a week after a winter storm tore through the state, exposing fragile infrastructure in several of the state’s largest cities.

    NBC News:

    President Joe Biden wants to vaccinate teachers to speed school reopenings, but more than half the states aren’t listening and haven’t made educators a priority — highlighting the limited powers of the federal government, even during a devastating pandemic.

    NBC News:

    Facebook said late Monday it will restore the ability of Australian users to share links to news articles following a new deal with the local government.


    Al Jazeera is launching Rightly, a new digital platform aiming to serve conservative audiences — reaching center-right folks who feel left out of mainstream media. Longtime Fox News veteran Scott Norvell is the editor-in-chief.

    Sheesh. Another rightwing media outlet?

  233. says

    Ron Johnson reveals power to tell real Trump supporters from ‘plain clothes militia’ behind Jan. 6

    It’s not unusual for any Senate hearing, no matter what the topic, to include some questions that attempt to get the witnesses to agree on political points. […] But it is pretty unusual for a senator to use the questioning of witnesses by a rare joint Senate committee as an opportunity to go completely off the rails by pushing a conspiracy theory authored by an anti-Muslim hate group as a means of pushing the idea that the entire assault on the U.S. Capitol was a “false flag” operation.

    […] rather than ask law enforcement about any of the events on Jan. 6, Johnson told them what happened. And what happened, according to the man who is honest-to-God sitting in Russ Feingold’s old chair, was that the Capitol was overcome by “fake Trump protesters” as the police incited a riot by good people.

    […] Johnson pulled out a statement from the leader of an anti-Muslim hate group, to explain why his “eyewitness” testimony was more valuable than that of any of the police officers on the scene, or the 300 million Americans who watched the tragedy unfold in real time. That’s because this witness had magic calibrated eyeballs, making him capable of discerning real Trump supporters from fake antifa infiltrators.

    Real Trump supporters are “jovial” and “friendly” people of the “working class.” But others don’t fit in. These people are, quoting now: “plain clothes militants, agent provocateurs, fake Trump protesters, and disciplined uniformed column of attackers.” These are the people who, according to Johnson, planned the attack on the Capitol.

    But Johnson wasn’t done. […] marchers were thrilled by the “courtesy gesture” of not seeing Capitol Police on every corner. With this invite, the Trump supporters “surged” toward the Capitol. In a good way. In a “talkative and happy” way. Because, after all, if they didn’t see any police trying to stop them, that was a perfect reason to step over, around, or through four levels of barricades between the street and the Capitol grounds.

    Everyone was in “high spirits” until what “seemed like a scuffle” broke out between people in “ordinary clothes.” However, even though these people were wearing ordinary clothes that “fit right in with MAGA people,” Johnson’s expert could tell they were “plain clothes militants.” How he could tell is unexplained. […] These people that looked exactly like regular Trump supporters but were clearly not as happy, talkative, jovial, or friendly got into a brief “tussle” with police. Then one of the police officers “fired a tear gas canister, not at the plain clothes militants at the front line, but into the crowd itself.” Apparently, police were unable to see the very subtle difference between good Trump supporters and evil fake Trump supporters […]

    This “changed the crowd’s demeanor” because “all of a sudden pro-police people felt like the police were attacking them,” read Johnson. “The pro-police crowd went from confusion, to anger.”

    Then, having explained that the police were actually responsible for the deaths and injuries to police because they made all those jovial pro-police people angry, Johnson tried to enlist the police officials gathered in front of him in his claims that the police were to blame for Jan. 6. […]

    Shockingly, this did not go well. He started off asking former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund if it wasn’t true that Trump supporters were pro-police. Sund’s reply was that he didn’t know about that. However, he did note that some of the people shoving their way through police lines and assaulting his officers actually claimed to be police themselves. […] Funny how the people who have been arrested so far look like Trump supporters.

    But of course, this is all scoring it wrong. The way it works is: Real Trump supporters are the ones who haven’t been arrested.

  234. says

    Here’s a link to the February 24 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    The South African government is to unveil its spending plans today as the continent’s most industrialised economy grapples with the fallout from pandemic repercussions on top of a recession.

    “There’s not a lot of money and we need to have a pro-poor and pro-growth balance,” University of Johannesburg business lecturer Daniel Meyer told AFP.

    Increased taxes are not expected, however, given recent losses and with local elections due this year. Unemployment in South Africa soared to a record 32.5 percent in the fourth quarter of last year, the highest since records began in 2008.

    Last March, it imposed one of the world’s strictest lockdowns, which has been gradually eased over the past year, but the measures – including a six-month border closure – blocked tourists and put off foreign investment.

    Ahead of the budget speech, trade unions called a strike to protest the high level of unemployment and persistent corruption.

    At Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Johannesburg’s Soweto township, about 100 members of the South African Federation of Trade Unions picketed at the hospital’s gate in solidarity with overstretched and underpaid medics.

    “Employers have taken advantage of the Covid situation to retrench people… the finance minister must wake to the reality that people are loosing [sic] jobs,” said 48-year-old City Bokaba, a coordinator for the union.

    In Cape Town – where Mboweni will deliver the budget speech – police fired teargas to disperse protesters, stopping them from marching to parliament.

  235. says

    I’m so tired of pundits acceding to the narrative that Neera Tanden “attacked” or “went after” Republicans and Sanders supporters on Twitter. Like, sure, there she was just going about her business on Twitter, with no one causing her any problems, as women have totally been able to do for the past several years, when she decided to lash out and send out a bunch of mean tweets. I saw many of these exchanges in real time. She tweeted a picture of a bunny she saw on her walk and was besieged by attacks. The same lies about her were repeated over and over. I mean, the problem with Sanders supporters mobbing people who supported other candidates was widely recognized last year. Her big crime was engaging with people online. It’s ridiculous that all of this is being memory-holed in these discussions.

    Maddow last night – “Double Standard For Tanden Nomination Tests Manchin’s Integrity”:

    Rachel Maddow shares her assessment of Senator Joe Manchin as a thoughtful person, and doubts he can abide the stark double standard being applied to President Joe Biden’s OMB nominee, Neera Tanden.


    I think that [Manchin]…is an introspective guy who thinks about his ethical role in the world. And I find it impossible to believe that he’s not reconsidering his position on this, given the starkness of the double standard that he is applying, without even any effort to defend it. The White House is not withdrawing her name, and why should they? Senator Manchin hasn’t even tried to explain himself yet…

  236. says

    Finally: The last statue of dictator Francisco Franco in Spain is removed… (in Melilla)…

    Here’s what the statue looked like before. (my photo, 2017)

    Glad it’s now gone.

    Getting rid of statues to human rights abusers is a positive step, because it ends the public glorification of people who committed serious crimes. (at least in that spot)…

    Which reminds me: what’s the latest here in Brussels with the appalling statues to Leopold II?…”

    Video, photo, and link atl.

  237. says

    Forensic audit discredits GOP’s election conspiracy theory in Ariz.

    Republicans were convinced there were problems with voting machines in Maricopa County, Arizona. An independent audit proves otherwise.

    Though Arizona has traditionally been reliably “red,” Democrats had a pretty good year in the Grand Canyon State in 2020. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris carried Arizona at the presidential level — the first Democratic ticket to win the state since 1992 — while Mark Kelly won the state’s U.S. Senate race.

    Naturally, given what’s become of Republican politics, it wasn’t long before some on the right responded to the results by alleging election fraud, especially in Maricopa County, easily Arizona’s largest county by population. In fact, some GOP state lawmakers were so convinced of wrongdoing that they ordered the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors to turn over voting machines for some kind of political inspection. When local officials balked, Republican legislators considered having them arrested. […]

    Maricopa County on Tuesday released the results of election audits from two independent auditors it hired to verify that voting machines were not hacked, were not connected to the internet and counted votes properly during the 2020 general election. The auditors found that the county used certified equipment and software, no malicious hardware was found on voting machines, the machines were not connected to the internet, and the machines were programmed to tabulate ballots accurately, according to a letter from county election directors to the supervisors.

    Local election officials further explained that the result of the audit, along with other recent reviews, “confirm that Maricopa County Elections Department’s configuration and setup of the tabulation equipment and election management system provided an accurate counting of ballots and reporting of election results.”

    […] the conspiracy theories are wrong. Votes were not switched. Machines were not hacked.

    If the outcome sounds familiar, it’s because we’ve seen reports like these before. Other post-election audits and recounts also reviewed vote tallies Republicans didn’t like, and also failed to produce the kind of evidence GOP officials hoped to see.

    […] Far-right conspiracy theorists, certain of electoral shenanigans in Maricopa County, will either discount the independent audits or assume that the auditors are part of same larger nefarious scheme.

    “The Big Lie” will remain Republican canon […]

  238. says

    Strange Republican fuckery is being planned in the state of Virginia, as this report for the Richmond Times Dispatch shows:

    After months of disagreement, the Virginia Republican Party’s governing body agreed Tuesday night on a method to nominate statewide candidates for the November election. They’ll hold a drive-up convention May 8 on the campus of Liberty University…. The convention at Liberty, the Christian university well known for its affiliations with conservative causes, is to be held at 9 a.m. Republicans said convention delegates will be able to stay in their cars the entire time, possibly listening to proceedings on a radio broadcast.


    […] This is a flawed plan.

    Let’s back up for a minute. The state GOP had already voted four times — before last night — on how to choose their 2021 candidates. But as the New York Times recently explained, “in a sign of the Trumpian times,” many Virginia Republicans simply refused to accept the outcome and kept the fight going. The article added, “Just a month after former President Donald J. Trump left office, Virginia’s drama is the first state-level boomerang of his legacy. Some state Republicans have internalized the lesson that there is no benefit to accepting results they don’t like, and the result is a paralyzed party.”

    Last night, the dispute was apparently resolved: on May 8, delegates to the Republican convention will choose candidates by driving to Liberty University, an evangelical school founded by the late TV preacher Jerry Falwell. Participants will then submit a ballot through a drive-through system, with their choices ranked by preference, so additional rounds of voting wouldn’t be needed.

    There will be no alternative ways of participating in the process. Proposals to have voting locations throughout Virginia were rejected.

    You don’t need to be a political scientist to recognize some of the problems. For example, Virginia is a pretty large state, with a total area of over 40,000 square miles. Expecting Republicans from every part of Virginia to attend a faux convention at one location on one day will likely pose some logistical challenges.

    And those who don’t have a car are apparently out of luck.

    As for Virginia Democrats, the party’s voters will participate in a statewide primary on June 8. Election Day is in 36 weeks.


  239. says

    GOP Clings To Trump’s Extreme Anti-Immigration Positions With Miller Invite

    Former Trump White House adviser Stephen Miller is expected to discuss immigration policy with conservative lawmakers, Politico reported late Tuesday, a sign that the Republican Party will continue to embrace the former administration’s hardline immigration policies.

    Miller, whose is known for his aggressive opposition to most forms of immigration, will be joined at the Wednesday meeting by Tom Homan and Mark Morgan, two former top immigration officials who took part in crafting some of Trump’s most inhumane immigration policies, including family separation […]

    […] The GOP’s continued embrace of Miller demonstrates the party’s unwillingness to back away from the Trump administration’s harsh immigration policies. Before the November election, Miller said that Biden would be “the best friend that child smugglers and child traffickers have ever had in the White House,” a winking nod to the QAnon conspiracy that claims Democrats are a bunch of satanic pedophiles. [Miller is peddling QAnon nonsense alongside his anti-immigration xenophobia!]

    […] Miller has attacked the hefty immigration plan introduced last Thursday by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA), calling it in a Fox News interview “the most radical immigration bill ever written, drafted, or submitted in the history of this country.”

    Menendez said at a news conference last week that past efforts at immigration reform had failed due to a tendency to compromise too much.

    “Time and time again, we have compromised too much and capitulated too quickly to fringe voices who have refused to accept the humanity and contributions of immigrants to our country,” Menendez said, as Republicans call for Democrats to back down from bold legislation. [True!]


  240. blf says

    Moar excitement in the lair! (Not political, as far as I know.) After the thrill of finally unblocking the bathroom sink’s drain (@314), today I decided to try and burn the lair down. Well, didn’t actually decide to, just tried to… Nothing damaged, except a reminder of how loud the smoke alarm is, and two Covid-19 masks. Came back from shopping, whilst putting stuff away decided to heat up a panful of soapy water that had been soaking overnight, and turned on the burner. Returned to putting things away and the smoke alarm went off (startling me, fortunately I wasn’t holding either the mildly deranged penguin or anything breakable).

    I’d turned on the wrong burner. I’d put the mask down on the stove as a temporary measure, and it was the burner underneath that I’d absentmindedly turned on. The mask (two masks, actually, as I’m now double-masking most of the time) duly caught fire. That probably sanitised them, allbeit the charred remains are unlikely to be too effective as masks… The mildly deranged penguin declared them overdone.

  241. says

    Follow-up to comment 330.

    Posted by readers of the TPM article:

    Nazi’s gotta Nazi.
    Rat continues pushing lever after the cheese is gone
    Stephen Miller is not going anywhere, the ideas he expresses have been the GOP voters’ secret desires for decades.
    Stephen Miller is a fascist through and through.
    I was so hoping I’d seen the last of this ghoul.
    “Okay, guys, how are we going to convince women in the suburbs that kids in cages was cool?”
    When I see an image of Stephen Miller I think Joseph Goebbels… It’s the eyes…
    I’m sure Miller has a variety of policy proposals, and a final solution somewhere in his bag of tricks.
    “Republican Study Committee.” Translated into English, it means “Certified Right-Wing Hate Group.”

  242. says

    Righwingers are vigorously erasing the reality, the facts of the January 6 insurrectionist attack on the Capitol:

    […] the clear involvement of these organized white supremacist militias is the aspect of the Jan. 6 insurgency that the Trump-right seems most anxious to erase. Fox’s Tucker Carlson has been directly disputing the involvement of thee groups. “There’s no evidence that white supremacists were responsible for what happened on Jan. 6. That’s a lie,” said Carlson on Monday evening. “And contrary to what you’ve been hearing, there’s also no evidence this was a, quote, ‘armed insurrection.’”

    Carlson is saying this despite the fact that the nation witnessed people wearing the insignias of these groups storm the Capitol. Despite the fact that hundreds of militia members bragged of their involvement on social media. Despite the fact that dozens of these members have now been arrested. And despite the fact that police have made clear that these people were armed when they smashed their way into the Capitol.

    This is far from Carlson’s first rodeo when it comes to sheltering white supremacists. […] Carlson has previously declared that white supremacy itself is a hoax. […]

    The very first question that chair Sen. Amy Klobuchar asked the assembled law enforcement officials was whether the attack on the Capitol “involved white supremacist and extremist groups.” Every single official immediately responded “yes.” […]

    The push is on to declare that not only are white supremacist militias not worth worrying about, Jan. 6 was no big deal. Propagandist Dinesh D’Souza went on Fox to call the whole thing “a bunch of rowdy people walking through a hallway.” […] D’Souza argued that the terrorist on 9/11 “saw themselves as professional soldiers” while the men dressed in tactical gear strolling through the Capitol in search of hostages were just “rowdy.” D’ Souza also took time to mock members of Congress or their staff who were traumatized by an event in which “not one of them was hurt,” while completely ignoring that there were definitely people out to hurt them.

    […] where the GQP is going with this is a dismissal that Jan. 6 means anything at all. Republicans are pushing back against the importance of the insurgency, dismissing the idea that it represented domestic terrorism, declaring that white supremacism had nothing to do with it, and sneering at the idea that the National Guard was even necessary. […]

    The fact that some Republicans still asked fact-based questions during Tuesday’s hearing is a signal that there’s still a split in the party over how this should be handled. But these questions, and these senators, aren’t being featured on Fox News. For the heart of the party now pledged forever to Trump, Jan. 6 has become something that no one need be ashamed of. Which is just one stop away from making it a celebrated event.


  243. says

    Russian President Vladimir Putin approved an increase in fines for protesters who are involved in demonstrations in support of top Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

    The legislation approved Wednesday increases fines from 1,000 roubles to 4,000 roubles ($54.30) along with 15 days in detention for the charge of insubordination to law enforcement, Reuters reported.

    The legislation passed following multiple protests in support of Navalny that led to more than 11,000 people being detained.

    Russia has faced international condemnation and sanctions for its jailing of Navalny and for its handling of the protests.

    The new legislation also makes it so protest organizers could pay up to 20,000 roubles [$271.00] in fines if they violate funding regulations. […]


  244. says

    Wonkette: “Hey Look, More ‘Fake Trump Protesters’ Who Are Actually Violent Trump Protesters!”

    Ron Johnson, Republican senator and Wisconsin’s shame, suggested during a Senate hearing Tuesday that the MAGA mob that attacked the Capitol on January 6 on behalf of the twice-impeached thug were possibly “provocateurs” and “fake Trump protesters.” It’s a theory sparked by an absurd Federalist article, and we guess Johnson felt comfortable sharing it publicly because there’s no sanity test for Senate membership.

    Rational participants in reality have noticed that the pathetic insurrectionists arrested so far have all been enthusiastic supporters of the previous White House occupant. There’s the QAnon shaman, the failed life coach, the Texas florist, and the former Army ranger and current member of the far-right Oath Keepers. Maybe they all went under deep cover just to embarrass Republicans who are willingly in the same political party with Ron Johnson.

    The conspiracy continued Tuesday with more arrests of obvious MAGA goons. FBI agents arrested Philip Grillo at his girlfriend’s home in Glen Oaks, Queens. According to federal prosecutors, Grillo was identified by the fancy Knights of Columbus jacket he wore inside the Capitol. Grillo apparently didn’t see the point of keeping a low profile during his domestic terror activities.

    Grillo uses the handle “The Republican Messiah” on Facebook […]. He’s also a Republican representative for Assembly District 24, which his Facebook page proudly calls “President Trump’s Hometown District.” […]

    Gothamist reports:

    According to court papers, Grillo entered the Capitol building through a broken window, then walked the halls of Congress carrying a bullhorn while recording himself on a cell phone. He was allegedly among the frontline of rioters who “engaged in a physical confrontation with uniformed officers at the entryway.”

    Hard to imagine anything dumber than filming yourself committing felonies while wearing clothing that might as well bear your home address. Maybe this is all part of antifa’s evil scheme.

    Queens Republicans were reportedly surprised to learn about Grillo’s coup-related escapades.

    “I’m really shocked to hear that. Phil is a very committed Republican and I would say he’s a principled Republican, but he never struck me as someone who would resort to that behavior,” said Councilmember Eric Ulrich. […]

    Ulrich claimed Grillo helped mainstream Republicans in Queens “push back against the kooky wing of the party.” He probably wasn’t pushing that hard. Queens County GOP Chair Joann Ariola also had a great deal of faith in someone who called himself “the Republican Messiah.”

    “He is a good Republican who worked hard for the party to elect officials from the party who were moderates and definitely not from the rightwing of the party,” she said.

    Grillo backed the blue on social media, but photos show him aggressively confronting cops inside the Capitol. The hypocrisy isn’t that shocking and is consistent with most of the MAGA mob, which seems to think cops exist solely to abuse Black people.

    Case in point: Retired New York police officer Thomas Webster is accused of viciously attacking Capitol police at the January 6 siege.[…] Prosecutors allege the former Marine viciously attacked an officer with an aluminum pole while holding a Marine Corps flag. The cop was able to get the pole away from Webster, but he charged the officer with “clenched fists,” tackling him to the ground. According to the criminal complaint, Webster whaled on the officer for 10 seconds, then tried to rip off the cop’s face shield and gas mask, causing him to choke.

    This seems like the point another cop would’ve shot him, but Webster somehow survived to turn himself in on Monday (yes, several weeks later), which is very different from how your typical antifa suspect is treated.

    NBC News reports:

    Webster is later seen in a video that was posted to YouTube on a staircase leading to the Capitol building, the complaint says, saying into the camera “Send more patriots. We need some help.”

    The 20-year NYPD veteran was once part of the security detail at City Hall and Gracie Mansion, the mayor’s official residence. He’d shown up for the January 6 rally in a bulletproof vest, and prosecutors claim he brought a gun to DC, which is illegal to carry in the district no matter what Lauren Boebert says. (Open-carry is illegal in DC. Concealed is legal with a DC-issued permit. We are guessing Webster did not do any of this correctly!)

    Defense attorney James Monroe claims Webster traveled to DC for the January 6 “Save America” rally at the twice-impeached thug’s behest. These “fake Trump supporters” just keep implicating him in the siege! Monroe also insists Webster only beat the crap out of a cop because the cop hit him first.

    A former NYPD cop now claiming that an officer hitting you justifies physical reprisal is mind-boggling and just makes me want to vomit. Blue lives matter, indeed.

  245. says

    “Neera Tanden committee vote delayed as alternatives to lead White House budget office surface.”

    Washington Post link

    Two Senate committees on Wednesday delayed votes on President Biden’s nominee to lead the Office of Management and Budget, as the White House continued to struggle to find the votes to secure her passage through the Senate.

    The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and the Senate Budget Committee abruptly postponed votes on Neera Tanden scheduled for Wednesday.

    Tanden’s nomination has appeared increasingly in jeopardy over the past week as Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) and a number of moderate Republican senators announced that they would not vote for her, probably dooming her selection in an evenly divided Senate.

    “Members need more time to consider the nomination, so we’re continuing to work with them to find the best path forward,” said an aide to the Homeland Security Committee. Of particular concern on that panel is Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), who has not indicated how she would vote on Tanden’s nomination. […]

  246. says

    The Mercer family! … again.

    “Major Trump backer Rebekah Mercer orchestrates Parler’s second act.”

    Washington Post link

    Mercer, whose family also invested in right-wing news site Breitbart, controls two of the three board seats at the company.

    When social media website Parler’s founding CEO John Matze was pushed out last month, it was at the direction of a quiet but powerful political megadonor backing the right-leaning site.

    Rebekah Mercer, the 47-year-old daughter of major Republican donor Robert Mercer, is a founding investor of Parler. She increasingly pulls the strings at the company, according to people familiar with the company who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private business matters. She holds the majority stake in Parler and controlled two of three board seats as of early February — a board to which she recently appointed allies.

    The social media company started garnering a name for itself last year as a friendly gathering spot for Republican politicians and pundits turned off by fact-checking and moderation on sites like Facebook and Twitter. But Parler, which publicly extolled itself as a free-speech-focused network with minimal rules, became a breeding ground for conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election. The site was knocked offline shortly after the riot at the U.S. Capitol for its alleged role in allowing the rioters to plan and egg each other on.

    Now Mercer, who is credited with helping get Donald Trump elected president in 2016, is working to revive the site. It came back online last week with her new handpicked CEO, former tea party patriots leader, Mark Meckler, at the helm. It’s the latest in a long line of maneuvers by the Mercer family to create an alternative media industry that pushes a version of the news that fits with their right-wing, populist political agenda — while keeping a low profile themselves. […]

  247. blf says

    Follow-up to Lynna@321 on Al Jazeera’s Rightly, which Al Jazeera’s staff are apparently calling Wrongly, ‘Like a bad joke’: Al Jazeera staff bemused at rightwing US venture:

    Al Jazeera’s surprise decision to launch a digital platform for conservatives in the US has left many within the Qatar-based news organisation dumbfounded and confused, staff have told the Guardian.


    “So far the co-workers I’ve talked to are just dumbfounded,” said an Al Jazeera employee who asked not to be named. “They didn’t know it was coming and are confused why they would do this.”

    An Al Jazeera journalist based outside Qatar said the decision was a shock to staff. “It’s pretty weird,” they said. “I can’t see how it works for them.” Some Al Jazeera staff were calling the new platform Wrongly, they added.

    A staff member said they learned about the venture from Guardian coverage on Tuesday. “I was convinced there was some new satirical section of the Guardian I didn’t know about,” they said. “It seems like a bad joke or bad dream we’re all waiting to wake up from. Everyone is totally bemused.”

    Another said it was “worrying” that the network was moving from producing news […] to trying to promote a political agenda, citing a remark from Stephen Kent, the host of the upcoming interview programme [described as “an opinion-led interview programme” –blf], that he was aiming to “rebuild the right meme by meme”.


    What I’m finding rather weird is there doesn’t seem to be anything on the Al Jazeera English site about Wrongly. All that an (admittedly quick) search finds is the press release on the Al Jazeera Media Network (AJMN) site, Al Jazeera Announces Launch of New Digital Platform, Rightly.

  248. blf says

    And it’s teh shite, I mean goop — nah, shite is more appropriate — activity spreading rubbish for profit$, Gwyneth Paltrow’s Covid advice challenged by NHS England director:

    Gwyneth Paltrow has been urged to stop spreading misinformation by the medical director of NHS England after she suggested long Covid could be treated with intuitive fasting , herbal cocktails and regular visits to an infrared sauna.

    [… lots of shite…]

    [… H]er unproven advice prompted a stern rebuke from Prof Stephen Powis, national medical director for NHS England, who urged influencers such as Paltrow against spreading misinformation. […]

    I won’t link to it, but there is a heap of rubbish about infrared saunas at the goop shite, I mean site.

    Forbes also serves up a helping of roasted Paltrow quackery & kookery, Did Gwyneth Paltrow Claim A Diet Helped Recovery From Long Covid-19? A snippet:

    So did she go to a medical doctor who has actual knowledge of Covid-19? Well, according to her, she turned to one of the smartest experts I know in this space, the functional medicine practitioner Dr Will Cole. Is Cole a Covid-19 expert? Has Cole done any research or published any scientific studies on Covid-19? Searching Pubmed for Cole and Covid-19 seems to return as many peer-reviewed scientific publications as searching for “lawn chair” and Covid-19. Not much. So who exactly is Cole, what are his qualifications, and why should you be listening to him about something Covid-19-related besides a movie actress telling you to do so?

    Looks like Cole was originally trained as a chiropractor. On his website, he asked himself the question “Are you a medical doctor?” To that he responded, “No.” He explained that “I do not practice medicine and do not diagnose or treat diseases or medical conditions.” Hmmm, isn’t long Covid a “medical condition?” Would you take your broken car to to someone who says, “I do not practice car repair and do not diagnose or fix cars or car problems?” Or seek legal representation from a person who writes, “I do not practice law and do not do legal stuff?” It’s not clear what specific knowledge Cole has regarding Covid-19. Cole did say on his website, “My services are not meant to substitute or replace those of a medical doctor.”

    Geesh! Or should that be gooop$hite!?

  249. says

    Republicans fighting among themselves:

    Soon after the insurrectionist attack on the U.S. Capitol, House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) went further than most in her party to condemn Donald Trump’s role in inciting violence. The Wyoming congresswoman, the #3 leader in the House Republican conference, said, among other things, that there had “never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States.”

    More than a few Republicans have condemned Cheney’s principled stand, though she survived a recent vote to remove her from the House GOP leadership team.

    But despite the pushback — Cheney already has a 2022 primary opponent, for example, and Donald Trump is reportedly desperate to end her career — she isn’t budging. We were reminded of this again this morning.

    House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., clashed Wednesday after they were asked whether former President Donald Trump should speak at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference this weekend.

    This is one of those times in which the description of what transpired probably isn’t as striking as the video, which I’d encourage folks to check out if possible.

    In context, this was a routine press conference for the House GOP leadership team on Capitol Hill, and after a series of unrelated questions, a reporter asked whether Trump should speak at this weekend’s CPAC, one of the nation’s largest annual gatherings for Republicans and their conservative allies. “Yes,” McCarthy said, “he should.”

    When given a chance to answer the same question, Cheney replied, “That’s up to CPAC. I’ve been clear on my views about President Trump. I don’t believe that he should be playing a role in the future of the party or the country.”

    Note, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), standing just to Cheney’s right, appeared to be shaking his head in disagreement as she spoke. [Scalise is the doofus that recently refused to admit that Biden won in a free and fair election.]

    […] As the clip shows, McCarthy and Scalise then walked away in one direction, while Cheney walked away in the opposite direction.

    […] Trump is not only actively plotting against Cheney, he also went after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) with a broadside statement last week. […]


  250. says

    Democrats in Congress must pass new election reforms to save democracy from an ever more radical GOP

    Republicans around the country are plotting a new wave of voter suppression laws in reaction to their 2020 losses, but many of their proposals can be defanged if congressional Democrats take decisive action. Just last month, Democrats introduced sweeping bills that would enact the most transformative changes to our democracy since the 1965 Voting Rights Act and provide a critical bulwark against GOP efforts to suppress votes. These reforms include:
    – The “For the People Act”—also known as H.R. 1—which would adopt a historic expansion of voting access policies, ban congressional gerrymandering, and create a system of public financing for congressional elections;

    – Legislation that would grant statehood to Washington, D.C.; and

    – A bill to restore and expand the Voting Rights Act’s protections after the Supreme Court’s conservatives gutted the VRA in 2013.

    These reforms are urgently needed. […] The case of the House is instructive. Thanks to widespread GOP gerrymandering, Republicans very nearly retook the lower chamber last year and might very well have done so had Democrats not brought successful lawsuits over the last decade that resulted in new maps in Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. But it might only be a temporary reprieve: Thanks to a strong performance at the legislative level, Republicans are poised to dominate redistricting across the country just as the Supreme Court’s GOP hardliners threaten to turbocharge gerrymandering.

    The Senate presents a different sort of problem. As our newly published data illustrates, Democratic senators have collectively won more votes and represented more Americans than Republicans continuously since 2000 but have only run the chamber half the time since. Had Senate Republicans won just over 1,000 votes more in New Hampshire in 2016, GOP minority rule would have continued in 2020 despite Democratic senators representing tens of millions more constituents. Of course, there’s also the Electoral College: A shift of just 40,000 votes in three key swing states could have seen Trump again win the presidency last year in spite of a second popular vote loss.

    Republican minority rule isn’t just a threat to our elected offices. It’s already a reality on the U.S. Supreme Court, where five conservative justices have been confirmed […] Three of those justices were also appointed by a president who lost the popular vote.

    […] We can reverse this decline, however, by adopting the reforms currently before Congress. But to pass them would require unanimous support among Senate Democrats and a newfound willingness to curtail the filibuster in the face of certain Republican obstruction. If Democrats don’t take advantage of their fleeting chance to pass transformational reforms to our democratic institutions and protect voting rights, our democracy may not survive much longer.

    A failure to act could see Republicans regain a gerrymandered majority in the House in 2022 and another majority in the Senate next year despite once again failing to win more votes or represent more Americans than Democrats. A Republican-run Congress could even try to overturn democracy outright in 2024 by rejecting the outcome of the Electoral College, just as Trump and his many allies sought to do last month.

    Democracy reform must be at the top of the agenda this year, because the future of our political system—and every other policy effort—depends upon it.

  251. says

    Judge delivers blow to telecom industry and a win for consumers in landmark net neutrality case

    After Trump’s FCC, under corporate shill Ajit Pai, did away with net neutrality consumer protections, many states and municipalities began looking into what could be done to protect their citizens from unregulated monopolies. California lawmakers and activists worked hard on a roller coaster of a bill, SB-822, that was considered the strictest protections being negotiated in the country. The bill, after being defanged with help of the telecommunications industry lobby, was ultimately restored to its strength and passed in 2018. The Trump administration sued California to stop the implementation of SB-822, but their arguments, on the face of it, were hypocritical at best.

    On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge John Mendez rejected the telecom industry lawyers’ arguments for stopping California’s implementation of SB-822, the country’s most strenuous net neutrality consumer protections law, saying that the Golden State can begin enforcing its law. This is a huge blow to the telecom industry’s hopes of absolute, unregulated power of consumers in the state. With nothing but evidence to the contrary, the telecom industry’s main argument relied on how nicely they have played over the last couple of years. An argument Judge Mendez wasn’t buying. “I have heard that argument and I don’t find it persuasive,” said Mendez. “It’s going to fall on deaf ears. Everyone has been on their best behavior since 2018, waiting for whatever happened in the DC Circuit I don’t place weight on the argument that everything is fine and we don’t need to worry.”

    Judge Mendez’s ruling is not surprising in that the telecom industry had no real argument and the Trump administration’s argument was so vacuous the only reason it was being made was because Donald Trump was president of the United States. Ajit Pai’s dismantling of net neutrality protections for Americans included saying that the FCC had no power to enforce or stop anything around telecoms. Suddenly arguing that the FCC and the Trump administration had the power to step all over state’s rights to regulate themselves was a special kind of cow pie only developed by conservatives. On Tuesday, only the telecom industry was present, as Biden’s DOJ has dropped the case entirely. […]

    From the conclusion:

    Judge Mendez, who was appointed by George W. Bush, made a very important point during his decision, saying “This decision today is a legal decision and shouldn’t be viewed in the political lens. I’m not expressing anything on the soundness of the policy. That might better be resolved by Congress than by federal courts.” Congress needs to pass a federal net neutrality law that protects every consumer across the country. Biden’s FCC can do many things but a law of the land would be a much better solution.

  252. says

    Follow-up to comment 330 and 332.

    […] Salon reports on Miller’s whining to Bartiromo:

    “The legislation put forward by Biden and congressional Democrats would fundamentally erase the very essence of America’s nationhood,” Miller claimed, explaining that he was upset by the idea that immigrants could legally regain entry after being deported by a former administration.

    The “very essence of America’s nationhood” sounds like the tagline for a neo-Nazi cologne.

    I recently watched the Norah O’Donnell episode of “Finding Your Roots,” and it was revealed that her immigrant grandfather had lived in America illegally for years and that her grandmother’s citizenship was briefly revoked. However, America forgave both of them. If Miller’s policies had been in force, there’d be no Norah O’Donnell, CBS News anchor, but fortunately, it was a kinder, gentler nation at the time (for white people).

    Now, back to Miller’s bigoted tirade:

    “This is madness!” he exclaimed. “This administration has already dismantled border security, canceling President Trump’s historic agreements with Mexico and with the northern triangle countries, restoring catch and release and additionally gutting interior enforcement, issuing a memo, preventing ICE from removing the vast majority of criminal illegal immigrants that it encounters!”

    Someone should break it to Miller that 81 million Americans, which is more than 74 million, chose President Biden and his agenda. You lost. Miller is still free to appeal to white America’s fears, but fear makes you stupid. Ask anyone who’s witnessed the steady mental deterioration of their Fox News-viewing relatives.

    “So ask yourself, who is going to pay for the education?” [Miller] said. “What does it mean when classrooms, God willing, reopen? What does it mean for classroom size? What does it mean for health care? Then you add on top of that the families that are being released. Who is paying for the medical bills? Who’s paying for the health care costs?”

    “That’s coming out of your pocket book!” Miller said. “And it’s a public safety issue!”

    Whatever, Stephen Miller.

    Miller’s former boss will deliver a less coherent version of this fear-mongering at CPAC, but it’s not necessarily a political winner for Republicans. The one-term loser and his Fox News enablers sounded alarms about a migrant caravan invasion before Republicans had their asses beat in the 2018 midterms. Voters cared more about their healthcare access, which Republicans had tried to deny millions of Americans. COVID-19 has killed at least 500,000 Americans, thanks in part to the previous administration’s malicious incompetence.

    That’s a more pressing “public safety” issue than the human beings Miller resents so much.


  253. says

    Good news.

    President Biden will nominate a former U.S. Postal Service executive, a leading voting rights advocate and a former postal union leader to the mail service’s governing board, according to three people briefed on the nominees, a move that will reshape the agency’s leadership and increase pressure on the embattled postmaster general.

    Biden will nominate Ron Stroman, the Postal Service’s recently retired deputy postmaster general; Amber McReynolds, the chief executive of National Vote at Home Institute; and Anton Hajjar, the former general counsel of the American Postal Workers Union, said the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal policy.

    If confirmed, the nominees would give Democrats a majority on the nine-member board of governors, with potentially enough votes to oust DeJoy, who testified Wednesday before a House panel that his new strategic plan for the mail service included slowing deliveries. […]

    Washington Post link

  254. says

    Humor/satire from Andy Borowitz:

    During the Senate hearing on the U.S. Capitol attack, Senator Ron Johnson called the absence of Hillary Clinton from the videos of the insurrection “highly suspicious.”

    “I’ve combed through hours of these videos looking for Hillary Clinton, and there’s no logical explanation for why she’s not there,” Johnson said. “Except, of course, for the obvious one: she is disguised as a Trump supporter.”

    The Wisconsin senator said that, with Clinton’s “history of deception,” impersonating a Trump supporter on January 6th would be “just another day at the office” for the former Secretary of State.

    “How hard would it be for Hillary Clinton to put on some horns and fur pelts and paint her face red, white, and blue?” he asked. “That is vintage Hillary.”

    Johnson called for Clinton to be subpoenaed immediately to answer questions about her “vanishing act” in the January 6th videos. “She has a lot of explaining to do,” he said.

    New Yorker link

  255. says


    The Biden administration will deliver more than 25 million masks to community health centers, food pantries and soup kitchens this spring as part of its battle against the coronavirus pandemic, the White House said on Wednesday…. The government will deliver the masks to more than 1,300 community health centers and 60,000 food pantries and soup kitchens between March and May, the White House said.

  256. says

    Washington Post:

    Days after South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg fatally struck a man while driving in September, detectives told the Republican official they had found a pair of broken reading glasses inside his Ford Taurus. They belonged to the man he killed.

    So, the head of the man he killed came through the windshield.

    The South Dakota Attorney General claimed that he thought he had hit a deer. He is facing only misdemeanor charges for striking and killing that man. However, he is also facing impeachment charges and various calls for his resignation.

    More from the Washington Post article:

    Boever’s cousin, Nick Nemec, told The Washington Post the new videos confirmed what he has always believed: Ravnsborg knew he had struck a man that evening and drove away anyway.

    “He knew there was a dead man in that ditch,” said Nemec, 62. “He knew what he hit and he lied.”

    […] Ravnsborg has said he was driving home from a GOP fundraiser in Redfield, S.D., around 10:30 p.m. on Sept. 12 when his car hit a large figure in the dark. Ravnsborg said he believed he had hit a deer, and said he searched a ditch along Highway 14 with his cellphone’s flashlight.

    […] The next morning, Ravnsborg, who has said he was not drinking the night of the accident, and his chief of staff drove back to the scene. “As I walked along the shoulder of the road, I discovered the body of Mr. Boever in the grass just off the roadway,” Ravnsborg said. “It was apparent that Mr. Boever was deceased.” Shortly after his discovery, he added, he drove to the sheriff’s home and reported the body.

    Boever’s family told the Rapid City Journal that he had left his Ford pickup truck on the side of the highway earlier that day after driving into a ditch. It is unclear why he returned to his vehicle the night he was struck.

    […] Ravnsborg told the detectives he didn’t see “anything” before he struck Boever that night. But detectives noted that Boever would have been hard to miss because he carried a flashlight that would have been like “a beacon of light” in the dark night. […]

    Washington Post link

    Ravnsborg should have been charged with manslaughter.

    […] Last week, prosecutors announced three misdemeanor charges against Ravnsborg. If found guilty of all charges, Ravnsborg could face up to 90 days in jail and $1,500 in damages. Noem declined to comment on the charges at the time, adding, “My heart goes out to Joseph Boever’s family.” […]

    I don’t know if it really makes a difference, but Ravnsborg is a Republican in a red state, with a Republican governor, (South Dakota Gov. Kristi L. Noem).

  257. says

    CNN – “Steve Bannon investigation gains steam as Manhattan prosecutors subpoena financial records.”

    CNN – “Donald Trump Jr. deposed by DC attorney general as part of inaugural funds lawsuit.”

    CNN – “‘Top Secret’ Saudi documents show Khashoggi assassins used company seized by Saudi crown prince.”

    Biden said today that he’s read the report on Khashoggi’s murder. The declassified version could be released as soon as tomorrow.

    CNN – “Close ally of Marjorie Taylor Greene among those in Capitol mob.”

    “Now you have people on the right acting like they’re holier than thou, holier than holy,” he continued. “‘Oh, I’m appalled. I don’t condone this.’ What the hell do you expect conservatives to do? Do you want us to continue to sit there? Complacent, continue to take the higher route and keep getting fked in the a. I’m sorry for using that language, but I’m sick and tired of the hypocrisy.”

  258. says

    Andrew Solender:

    GOP Sen. John Kennedy calls Haaland a “neo-socialist left-of-Lenin whackjob,” per Hill pool. On Tanden, he says, “I’m not saying she’s a smoked turkey, but the smoker is heating up.”

    Kennedy says there is “concern by both Republicans Democrats” that Tanden’s “allegiance is not to America and it’s not to President Biden, it’s to Secretary Clinton.”…

    Forbes link atl. Keep it up, dude.

  259. says

    Here’s a link to the February 25 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    Pfizer has announced that it has begun studying a third dose of its Covid vaccine, as part of a strategy to guard against mutated versions of the virus.

    AP reports:

    Health authorities say first-generation Covid-19 vaccines still protect against variants that are emerging in different parts of the world. But manufacturers are starting to prepare now in case a more vaccine-resistant mutation comes along.

    Pfizer said it would offer a third dose to 144 volunteers, drawing from people who participated in the vaccine’s early-stage US testing last year. It wants to determine if an additional booster shot given six to 12 months after the first two doses would rev up the immune system enough to ward off a mutated virus.

    Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech, also are tweaking their vaccine recipe. The companies are in discussions with US and European regulators about a study to evaluate doses updated to better match variants such as the one first discovered in South Africa.

    A laboratory study suggests that the South African variant may reduce antibody protection from the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine by two-thirds, and it is not clear if the shot will be effective against the mutation.

    Israel’s defence minister today called for an immediate halt in plans to ship surplus coronavirus vaccines to a group of allied nations, accusing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of acting without oversight or transparency, AP reports:

    In a letter to the prime minister, Benny Gantz said the decision to share vaccines was taken without “discussions in the relevant forums”. He also questioned Netanyahu’s claims that Israel has surplus vaccines to give away.

    “We are talking about a significant diplomatic and security decision, and in accordance with that, it needs to be approved according to procedures established by law,” Gantz said.

    Gantz demanded the matter be taken up by the country’s security cabinet. There was no immediate comment from Netanyahu’s office.

    Gantz and Netanyahu are fierce rivals who battled to stalemates in three consecutive elections before agreeing last year to form an emergency government. Their power-sharing arrangement quickly unraveled, and the country is heading to its fourth election in two years next month.

    Yesterday, Netanyahu announced that he had personally decided to send surplus vaccines to a series of diplomatic allies. He did not identify the countries, but a list obtained by an Israeli TV station suggested a number of them have supported Israel’s claim to the contested city of Jerusalem as its capital. Others have close or budding relations with Israel.

    The new policy drew renewed criticism of Israel’s refusal to share significant quantities of its vast stockpile of vaccines with the Palestinians. US senator Bernie Sanders tweeted:

    “As the occupying power, Israel is responsible for the health of all the people under its control. It is outrageous that Netanyahu would use spare vaccines to reward his foreign allies while so many Palestinians in the occupied territories are still waiting.”

    Also in the Guardian – “Pfizer Covid vaccine 94% effective in peer-reviewed, real-world mass study”:

    The first major real-world study of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine to be independently reviewed has shown that the jab is as good as the trials promised, in a potentially landmark moment for countries desperate to end lockdowns and reopen economies.

    A study of 1.2 million people in Israel, which has vaccinated most of its population with the Pfizer vaccine over the last two months, found that two doses cut symptomatic cases by 94% across all age groups and severe illness by 92%. The data was peer-reviewed and published in the highly regarded New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).

    The research paper from Israel in the NEJM is the first fully evaluated study of the impact of the Pfizer vaccine in a mass vaccination programme, as opposed to the carefully controlled conditions of a clinical trial in which people with some health conditions or particular risks would not be included….

  260. says

    CNN – “Trump’s tax returns and related records turned over to Manhattan district attorney”:

    Tax records that former President Donald Trump tried to keep secret for years are now in the hands of the New York district attorney.

    Prosecutors obtained the records on Monday, just hours after the US Supreme Court denied Trump’s last-ditch effort to keep the records private, a spokesperson for the district attorney said.

    The millions of pages of documents, sources say, contain Trump’s tax returns spanning from January 2011 to August 2019, as well as financial statements, engagement agreements, documents relating to the preparation and review of tax returns, and work papers and communications related to the tax returns.

    Though the documents handed off from Trump’s long-time accounting firm Mazars won’t be released to the public because they’re subject to grand jury secrecy rules, their delivery caps off an extraordinary 17-month quest by the former President and his lawyers to block investigators from obtaining the records.

    New York District Attorney Cy Vance is investigating whether Trump and the Trump Organization engaged in tax fraud, insurance fraud and other schemes to defraud, including potentially providing false information to financial institutions or banks about the value of certain buildings and assets.

    With the records now in hand, Vance and his fellow prosecutors will be able to dig deeper into investigative theories, pursue interviews with key witnesses, and determine whether they believe any state laws have been violated….

  261. says

    Guardian – “Princess Latifa letter urges UK police to investigate sister’s Cambridge abduction”:

    Princess Latifa, a daughter of Dubai’s ruler who claims to have been held in captivity by her father since 2018, has asked UK police to re-investigate the kidnapping more than 20 years ago of her sister, Princess Shamsa, according to a letter reported by the BBC.

    The BBC reported that in a letter handwritten in 2019 – but passed to Cambridgeshire police on Wednesday – Latifa says the police may be able to free Shamsa, who was abducted on the orders of her father when she was 19.

    “Your help and attention on her case could free her,” Latifa reportedly wrote.

    On Sunday, the United Nations asked the UAE for proof that Latifa was alive, following the release days earlier of secretly recorded messages in which she said: “I’m a hostage. I am not free. I’m enslaved in this jail. My life is not in my hands.”

    The BBC reported that Latifa had dated her letter about her sister’s kidnapping 2018, “before her escape attempt, to avoid revealing that she had a way of communicating with the outside world from captivity”.

    Princess Shamsa was snatched from the street in Cambridge in August 2000 after visiting a bar with friends. The previous month, Shamsa had fled her father’s Longcross estate near Chobham, Surrey.

    In an email Shamsa later managed to smuggle out from captivity in Dubai to an immigration solicitor from whom she had sought advice about remaining in Britain, Shamsa alleged: “I was caught by my father, he managed to track me down through someone I kept in touch with.

    “I was caught on the 19th August, in Cambridge. He sent four Arab men to catch me…”

    Cambridgeshire police launched an investigation into the kidnapping in 2001, the BBC reported, but “the investigation eventually hit a dead end when officers were blocked from going to Dubai”.

    The investigation was reviewed in 2018 and again in 2020. The police said in a statement to the BBC that the new letter “will be looked at as part of the ongoing review”.

  262. says

    Mehdi Hasan:

    Some personal news.

    The @MehdiHasanShow is heading for @MSNBC.

    I’ll be hosting my nightly show not only on @peacockTV but also hosting it on @MSNBC every Sunday night, live from 8pm Eastern.

    Do please tune in, starting this Sunday, Feb 28th.

  263. says

    From text quoted by SC in comment 355: “As the occupying power, Israel is responsible for the health of all the people under its control. It is outrageous that Netanyahu would use spare vaccines to reward his foreign allies while so many Palestinians in the occupied territories are still waiting.”

    Senator Bernie Sanders is right.

  264. says

    As DeJoy taunts critics, Biden tries to get USPS back on track

    Asked how long he intends to lead the USPS, Louis DeJoy boasted, “A long time. Get used to me.” President Joe Biden has other ideas.

    Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a former Republican fundraiser and donor, isn’t exactly a popular figure. Since he took over the United States Postal Service, mail service has slowed and frustrations have risen.

    It was against this backdrop that DeJoy appeared before the House Oversight Committee yesterday, assuring lawmakers that the USPS would “do better” and adding, “Above all, my message is that the status quo is acceptable to no one.” There were references to some kind of new “plan,” the details of which DeJoy did not share, though NBC News recently reported that the Postal leader intends to raise rates and create new slowdowns for some types of mail.

    […] while DeJoy was boasting about his USPS future yesterday, the White House was taking steps to fill vacancies on the U.S. Postal Service’s board of governors — which has the sole authority to remove DeJoy from his post.

    Biden intends to appoint Ron Stroman, Anton Hajjar and Amber McReynolds to the three seats that remain open and cement Democratic oversight of the agency […] The expected appointments, which would be two men of color (Stroman and Hajjar) and a woman (McReynolds), would greatly diversify the board.

    […] if/when the Senate confirms these new nominees, the nine-member board would go from having two Democratic members (a minority) to five Democratic members (a majority), raising the possibility of a vote to oust DeJoy.

    None of this is imminent, of course. It’ll take time for the Senate to consider and confirm President Joe Biden’s nominees, and we don’t yet know how much appetite these Democratic board members will have to replace the postmaster general.

    […] Postscript: As controversial as DeJoy’s tenure has been, some of his difficulties have had nothing to do with mail delivery. Last fall, for example, questions arose as to whether the Republican participated in a straw-donor scheme before becoming postmaster general, and last week, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) alleged that DeJoy “ordered cuts to overtime for USPS workers last summer,” in contradiction to sworn congressional testimony.

    Yeah, it looks like DeJoy lied to Congress last summer. One of his many unethical actions.

  265. says

    Bellingcat – “Woman Accused of Stealing Nancy Pelosi’s Laptop Appears in Video Making Nazi Salute “:

    On January 6, 2021, Riley June Williams, a 22-year-old home care worker from Pennsylvania, was one of roughly 800 rioters who breached the US Capitol building in Washington D.C. While many engaged in property damage and violence that day, Williams’ case stands out given her ex-partner has alleged to the FBI that she stole a laptop from Nancy Pelosi’s office.

    This former boyfriend also alleges that her goal was to sell the laptop to a Russian intelligence agency, a claim January court documents say “remains under investigation,” but which has been denied by Williams’ lawyer who accuses the former partner of seeking revenge.

    While Williams has not been charged with stealing the laptop itself, something she also denies, she faces multiple charges including violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds as well aiding/abetting others to “embezzle, steal, purloin.”

    Footage from January 6 released by ITV News shows Williams urging rioters upstairs towards Congressional offices. In one video from inside Pelosi’s office, a voice that the FBI states it believes to be Williams’ says “dude, put on gloves” before a gloved hand takes a laptop from a table. The affidavit links to a thread of captured Discord posts from a user named Riley bragging, “STOLE SHITT FROM NANCY POLESI [sic]”.

    In an interview with ITV on January 16, Williams’ mother described her daughter as getting caught up in the moment. She noted that Riley had been radicalized on far-right message boards but described her daughter’s main political goal as, “…wanting America to get the correct information”.

    However, Bellingcat has since received information that suggests that Williams was more than just a Trump supporter caught up in the maelstrom. She is somebody who posted racist and Anti-Semitic content as well as filmed a video that appears openly pro-Nazi and promotes accelerationism (speeding up the collapse of society) as a pathway towards establishing a genocidal white supremacist state….

    Much more atl. Rachel Maddow talked about this last night.