Discuss: Political Madness All the Time


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

Lynna is your curator. Type furiously!

(Previous thread)

Comments

  1. says

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

    From there:

    India records 6th day with more than 20,000 cases

    India reported 24,492 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, the sixth straight day of more than 20,000 infections, as curbs to try to stop the spread were expanded in parts of the country that have recorded a surge.

    The government has blamed crowding and a general reluctance to wear masks for the spike, ruling out mutations of the virus as a factor.

    India’s worst-affected state, Maharashtra, on Monday ordered cinemas, hotels and restaurants to limit guests to half of capacity until the end of the month. Weddings and other social events will also have limited attendance.

    Another western state, Gujarat, has also decided to not allow fans into the world’s biggest cricket stadium hosting international matches between India and England, after seeing a spurt in cases.

  2. says

    Oh, this reminded me of some podcast recommendations:

    Conspirituality – “Deradicalizing From Digital Hate (w/Caolan Robertson)”:

    Imagine that you’re 25 years old. You grew up Irish, gay, and online. When the Orlando Pulse massacre explodes, you go to YouTube for the news. You watch Milo Yiannopolous and Gavin McInnes fake-kiss in front of the police-taped club and say that the Muslims are coming to kill all gay people. YouTube’s algorithm spins you downward into anti-Islamic content. Before long, you’ve left your marketing job with a mission: to make slick propaganda videos for some of the most despicable alt-right ghouls on the planet. You believe they’ll stand up for you. How did you get here at such a young age? What does it feel like? If you have a change of heart, if you want to fight back against your old life and its consequences, who will believe you? Should they believe you? How will you help them believe you? Today Matthew asks Caolan Robertson these difficult questions. After years of being the PR man for people like Tommy Robinson and Laura Southern, Robertson has shaken it off and started to collaborate with other ex-alt-right members on a deradicalization project called Future Freedom….

    (This podcast as a whole is…not my favorite, but the interview is worthwhile. Begins around 42 minutes in.)

    Know Your Enemy – “The Rush Limbaugh Show (w/ Nicole Hemmer)”:

    No media figure has had a more profound impact on the shape of contemporary conservative politics than Rush Limbaugh. For three hours a day, every weekday since 1988, Rush delighted and ignited his radio audience with a high-octane diatribe against liberal degeneracy — an often comic, always cruel, and never apologetic expression of the white male id. When he died on February 17, 2021, Rush left behind an American media landscape — and a Republican Party — reshaped in his image: a ruinous marriage of entertainment, insular world-building, and reactionary meanness that found its apotheosis in the presidency of Donald J. Trump.

    And no one is better situated to elucidate Rush Limbaugh’s appeal, his effectiveness, and his impact on American politics than our guest, Nicole Hemmer….

  3. says

    Teddy Schleifer:

    Peter Thiel has put $10 million into a super PAC backing potential Ohio Senate candidate (and Hillbilly Elegy author) JD Vance.

    Vance used to work for Thiel at Mithril Capital.

    This is Peter Thiel’s biggest disclosed political bet since he spent over $2 million to try and elect Kris Kobach last year.

    Plus, remember that Peter Thiel’s longtime right-hand man, [Blake Masters], is weighing a Senate run in Arizona.

    Possible Thiel could have two former aides running in competitive GOP primaries next year….

  4. quotetheunquote says

    Re: #471 on previous iteration (Nick Adams tweet):

    What the actual… I had to look this Adams guy up, because, I thought, this MUST be satire; but no, he’s legitamatly a full-on Trump/Reagan cultist.* Wow, the lack of awareness, just… wow.

    (*Unless he really is a “five dimensional chess” -playing performance artist doing a reeeeealy long piece … it’s so hard to tell anymore. But if he is, he’s a very good one.)

  5. tomh says

    McConnell offers scathing ‘scorched Earth’ filibuster warning
    BY JORDAIN CARNEY – 03/16/21

    Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) offered a scathing warning to Democrats on Tuesday, amid growing pressure to nix the legislative filibuster.

    “Let me say this very clearly for all 99 of my colleagues: Nobody serving in this chamber can even begin, can even begin, to imagine what a completely scorched-Earth Senate would look like,” McConnell said.

    He added that in a chamber that functions on a day-to-day basis by consent, meaning all senators sign off on an action, “I want our colleagues to imagine a world where every single task, every one of them, requires a physical quorum.”

    “This chaos would not open up an express lane to liberal change. It would not open up an express lane for the Biden presidency to speed into the history books. The Senate would be more like a 100-car pile up, nothing moving,” he added….

    McConnell’s remarks come a day after Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat, offered a scorching rebuke of the 60-vote legislative filibuster, comparing it to a “weapon of mass destruction” that was holding the Senate “hostage.”
    […]

    …in a warning shot to Democrats, he outlined a laundry list of conservative policies that could pass the next time Republicans control the chamber: Defunding Planned Parenthood and so-called “sanctuary cities,” anti-abortion legislation and nationwide concealed carry reciprocity.

    “So the pendulum … would swing both ways, and it would swing hard,” he added.

    Mitch McConnell, always the country’s best interests at heart.

  6. says

    BuzzFeed – “Non-Americans Are Sharing The Things They Thought Were Fake About America That Turned Out To Be Completely True”:

    …”Drink sizes! Whoa.”

    “When my family visited in 2017, we landed in Texas for a stopover. First thing I saw in the shops part of the terminal was a dude who was drinking from what looked like an actual bucket. Here in New Zealand our ‘large’ drinks would be considered an American ‘small’ or ‘medium.'”…

  7. says

    Trump’s ‘wall’ inadvertently makes things easier for smugglers

    Trump’s border wall not only failed to make things better, in some ways, the multi-billion-dollar boondoggle made matters quite a bit worse.

    The border separating the United States and Mexico is nearly 2,000 miles long. By the time Donald Trump was sworn in as president four years ago, there were 654 miles of physical barriers along the border […]

    We now know, of course, that Trump failed. Mexico did not finance the pointless, multi-billion-dollar boondoggle, and over the course of four years, the GOP administration managed to add about 47 miles of barriers where none previously existed.[…]

    The New York Times reported in December that whistleblowers have accused wall contractors of “smuggling armed Mexican security teams into the United States to guard construction sites, even building an illegal dirt road to speed the operation.”

    New York magazine reported soon after the Biden administration was inheriting a larger mess “involving expensive outstanding contracts, hundreds of miles of unfinished construction, and frustrated parties all along the border.” Going to the trouble of taking down barriers would cost taxpayers billions, but contract cancellations aren’t free.

    […] the New York Times reported today on some of the unfortunate, real-world consequences of Trump’s ridiculous initiative.

    In some areas, colossal piles of unused steel bollards linger at deserted work sites, next to idled bulldozers and water-hauling trucks. In Arizona, ranchers are complaining that rough roads carved by work crews into hillsides near uncompleted segments of wall now serve as easy access points for smugglers and others seeking to enter the once-remote areas along the border.

    The article added that there’s some anecdotal evidence of crime getting worse, not better, in U.S. border communities as a result of these new roads.

    […] smugglers have repeatedly sawed through Trump’s wall with commercially available, off-the-shelf power tools that cost as little as $100.

    On President Biden’s first day in office, he halted construction, announcing a 60-day review process in which officials would presumably decide what to do next. That deadline is Sunday, and I don’t envy those trying to figure out how to clean up this mess.

  8. says

    As USA Today reports, the Arizona Republican Party’s lawsuit challenging last year’s election procedures was so groundless that a local judge ordered the state GOP to pay Arizona $18,000 in legal fees.

    USA Today link

    […] In his ruling, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge John Hannah contended the GOP’s team acted in “bad faith” when it questioned the process for auditing voting machines and sought to delay certification of election results last November.

    Instead of living up to the “privileged position in the electoral process” afforded to it by state law, Hannah said, the party sought to undermine Arizonans’ confidence in election results.

    “The public has a right to expect the Arizona Republican Party to conduct itself respectfully,” he wrote. “It has failed to do so in this case.”

    The party and its attorneys must pay the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office $18,238, according to the order. That’s just a fraction of nearly $152,000 the agency said it spent defending itself against a barrage of election fraud lawsuits challenging President Joe Biden’s Arizona win.

    Secretary of State Katie Hobbs said the “damage inflicted upon our democracy by frivolous lawsuits and conspiracy theories can’t be measured in dollars.” But she called the order “good news for taxpayers” and said it sent an important message to “those willing to abuse the legal process for political purposes.” […]

  9. says

    With talk of ‘terrorist watch list,’ McCarthy pushes his luck at border

    McCarthy could’ve stuck to his usual talking points. Instead he mentioned terrorist-watch-list members trying to enter the US through the southern border.

    […] Kevin McCarthy and a group of Republican lawmakers were at the border yesterday, blaming President Biden for rising apprehensions. At face value, this was hardly surprising: after failing to gain traction with a focus on children’s entertainment and “cancel culture,” GOP officials have predictably turned to border fears as a go-to political winner.

    […] The Washington Post noted overnight:

    Speaking outside El Paso on Monday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said border agents he had met earlier that day issued dire warnings that suspected terrorists are trying to cross into the United States via Mexico. “You saw it in their eyes,” McCarthy said, referring to the agents. “They talked about, ‘They’re on the list.’ … The terrorist watch list.”

    To be sure, this is no small claim. If a congressional leader spoke to border agents who have evidence of terrorist-watch-list members trying to enter the United States, that would certainly be a significant development.

    […] There’s reason for skepticism.

    Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), for example, chairs a House Armed Services Committee panel on intelligence and special operations. The Arizona Democrat — who also happens to be a Marine who served in the war in Iraq — noted last night that he considers it “weird” that he hasn’t “heard anything about” terrorist-watch-list members trying to enter the country through the southern border.

    Gallego added that he believes McCarthy is “either wrong or lying.”

    Similarly, Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) said that in her recent meetings with border agents, she also didn’t hear any references to terrorist suspects getting caught at the border. The Post’s report added, “Customs and Border Protection has not issued any public notices about terrorist suspects at the southern border in recent days.”

    [McCarthy] wasn’t referencing a briefing or classified intelligence; he said he’d spoken to border agents who allegedly told him about apprehended members of the terrorist watch list.

    […] We probably haven’t heard the last of this one.

  10. says

    On Medicaid expansion, relief bill leaves red states with no excuses

    The Democrats’ COVID relief package makes it hard for red states to say no to Medicaid expansion. Mississippi’s Republican governor doesn’t seem to care.

    Most states realized years ago that Medicaid expansion through the Affordable Care Act is a good deal, but as things stand, there are still 12 holdouts. As a result, there are more than 2 million low-income Americans who don’t have health coverage.

    The Democrats’ American Relief Plan hopes to reduce that number — ideally to zero. The Washington Post reported yesterday:

    Florida and the 11 other states, most of them across the South, are the intended audience for a few paragraphs deep in the 630-page American Relief Plan. The legislation offers a novel and generous financial incentive to states if they agree to open Medicaid to more poor people and some in the working class. The White House has embraced the incentive, designed in Congress. […]

    This may sound a little complicated, but the offer is straightforward: under the ACA, the federal government already covers 90% of the costs of expanding Medicaid. […] the Democrats’ new COVID relief package ups the ante: […] expanding states would also receive a 5 percent bump in the federal funding match for their traditional Medicaid programs for two years. […]

    It led Jon Chait to joke, “Now states taking the Medicaid expansion would have more than 100 percent of the cost covered by Washington. They would literally have to pay for the privilege of denying coverage to their poorest citizens.”

    If any state should take advantage of such an opportunity, it’s Mississippi, not only because of its financial difficulties — the Magnolia State is the nation’s poorest — but also because of its high uninsured rate. Since Mississippi would be in a position to actually make money by embracing Medicaid expansion, this seems like an obvious call.

    […] Gov. Tate Reeves (R) isn’t budging.

    “My position has not changed. I am opposed to expanding Medicaid in Mississippi,” Gov. Reeves said during a press conference covered by the Mississippi Free Press. When asked by Vox if the prospect of additional funding might make him reconsider his opposition to Medicaid expansion, Reeves said, “No, sir, it will not.”

    In an interview with Mississippi Today, Senate Public Health Committee Chair Hob Bryan (D) added that there “will be more money in the state treasury if we expand Medicaid than if we don’t.”

    At least for now, that doesn’t appear to be changing the calculus. As a result, between 200,000 and 300,000 low-income state residents will continue to go without coverage. […]

  11. says

    quotetheunquote @4, what is even more amazing is that other Trump supporters picked up the Nick Adams tweet and retweeted it. The Trump cult followers added their own comments about how great Trump was looking. It is just bizarre.

    Links from the previous chapter of this thread:
    https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2021/01/18/discuss-political-madness-all-the-time-18/comment-page-5/#comment-2086403

    https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2021/01/18/discuss-political-madness-all-the-time-18/comment-page-5/#comment-2086407

    https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2021/01/18/discuss-political-madness-all-the-time-18/comment-page-5/#comment-2086418

    That last link is to SC’s comment 476, which leads to ” “Trump fans mocked for praising his ‘dreadful’ appearance at Mar-a-Lago event.” Yep.

  12. says

    Mad in America – “Endorsing Neoliberal Capitalist Ideas Connected to Loneliness and Reduced Well-being”:

    New research addressed the question of whether neoliberal ideology affects individuals’ well-being. Adding to the literature that has documented the negative social and economic effects of neoliberal politics, Julia Becker, Lea Hartwich, and S. Alexander Haslam conducted a series of studies to examine whether individuals’ health is similarly impacted:

    “We explore the argument that neoliberalism with its emphasis on personal responsibility and its de‐emphasis on social support and solidarity can lead to feelings of loneliness and of being alone in a highly competitive system…”

    Their paper, published in the British Journal of Social Psychology, represents the first experimental research, to their knowledge, that examined how neoliberal politics influence individuals’ sense of social disconnection, loneliness, competitiveness, and well-being. They summarize their findings:

    “Despite suggestions that this political philosophy might promote individual well‐being because it encourages people to strive for personal growth, we found that it actually appears to be harmful to health because it can create a sense of being disconnected from others, as well as being in competition with them, in ways that feed feelings of loneliness and social isolation.”

    Becker and colleagues identified three major implications of their findings. First, this works adds to the literature on social determinants of health by demonstrating that neoliberal ideology poses a risk to individuals’ health. Second, these findings corroborate how being socially connected can have curative and protective effects on people’s health. Third, these new findings “bring these two lines of inquiry together,” they argue:

    “…in a world where people are becoming increasingly aware of the health‐related costs of a mounting ‘loneliness epidemic,’ it may be time to broaden our critical gaze and reflect on the extent to which this too is a consequence of neoliberalism.”

    “At the very least, as we attempt to tackle this epidemic, we need to be mindful of the fact that its causes can be political as much as social and psychological.”

    (I haven’t read the paper.)

  13. says

    Ammon Bundy Charged With Failure To Appear After Refusing to Wear Mask At Trial

    It appears that Ammon Bundy’s crusade against coronavirus restrictions has come back to bite him.

    Ahead of his jury trial that was supposed to occur Monday morning on charges that he trespassed the state capitol last summer to protest against COVID-19 restrictions, Bundy refused to comply with its mask-wearing order. No mask, no trial — so the judge slapped Bundy with a new charge for failure to appear.

    […] A crowd of supporters joined Bundy in a nearly three-hour standoff outside of the courthouse, where dozens of maskless protesters chanted “Let him in!” before Bundy was arrested along with three others.

    […] When a team of deputies at the Ada County Sheriff’s office tried to arrest Bundy, the right-wing activist refused to voluntarily come with them. Several deputies walked out into the crowd of reckless protesters to arrest both Bundy and another man who also defied the mask order to enter the courthouse, thus resulting in a failure to appear charge. The sheriff’s office said that Bundy laid down on the ground and refused to move.

    Bundy is being held on a $10,000 bond and is currently in custody […]

    Last October, Bundy ruined a football game at the high school his son attends for refusing to wear a mask, leading school officials to cancel the game at halftime.

    Bundy rose to prominence on the fringe right for leading the weeks-long armed occupation of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon in 2016.

    […] membership in the Bundy-led People’s Rights extended far beyond Bundy’s relatively niche appeal by housing a spectrum of ideologies under one roof that wouldn’t seem to have common ground otherwise. The group includes tens of thousands of anti-vaxxers, sovereign citizens, Second Amendment die-hards and online edgelords obsessed with “Zionist Banksters” united against coronavirus restrictions.

    Comments posted by readers of the TPM article:

    Since he doesn’t want to wear a mask, he should have no problem with being held in a facility with multiple active cases of Covid.
    ———————–
    I still don’t understand what Bundy stands for other than the stupidity of Ammon Bundy.
    ———————-
    He stands for Mormon cows grazing for free on taxpayer-funded public lands.
    ——————–
    Let me get this straight – he was arrested for refusing to wear a mask at his trial related to protesting mask wearing?

    If he keeps this up, maybe he will be sucked into a wormhole or something, which is probably the only way we will ever be rid of him.
    ——————–
    He stands for all the GoFundMes that ca be set up each time he’s in the news.

  14. says

    CNBC – “Russia and Iran tried to interfere with 2020 election, U.S. intelligence agencies say”:

    Russia and Iran both carried out operations to try to interfere in the 2020 presidential election between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, according to a U.S. intelligence report released Tuesday.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized “influence operations aimed at denigrating President Biden’s candidacy and the Democratic Party, supporting former President Trump, undermining public confidence in the electoral process, and exacerbating sociopolitical divisions in the US,” the report said.

    Iran, meanwhile, “carried out a multi-pronged covert influence campaign intended to undercut former President Trump’s reelection prospects—though without directly promoting his rivals—undermine public confidence in the electoral process and US institutions, and sow division and exacerbate societal tensions in the US,” according to the report.

    But intelligence experts also found that China, which was previously thought to be expanding its U.S. influence efforts, ultimately did not deploy operations to affect the outcome of the Trump-Biden election….

    According to CNN, they found that Putin personally directed the Russian effort, which has continued beyond the election. They’ve essentially been partnering with Trump and the Trumpublicans to undermine US democracy.

  15. says

    Follow-up to tomh in comment 5.

    Durbin to McConnell on filibuster reform: Bring on your ‘scorched earth,’ we’ve already seen it

    A small rhetorical, procedural bomb blew up on the Senate floor Monday afternoon. Sen. Dick Durbin, the majority whip and chair of the Judiciary Committee, began: “It was August of 1957, a senator took the floor here in this very chamber. He had a remarkable record. he’d served as a Democratic senator, as a Dixiecrat senator, and as a Republican senator before he finally retired.” He was talking about Sen. Strom Thurmond, who on that August day embarked on his 24-hour-and-18-minute record-setting filibuster. “For what principled purpose did this senator take such pains and preparation? For what noble reason did he grind the world’s greatest deliberative body to a full-scale halt for more than 24 hours?” Durbin asked, and answered himself: “In order to defend Jim Crow racial discrimination and deny equality to African Americans.”

    Durbin continued: “Today, nearly 65 years after Strom Thurmond’s marathon defense of Jim Crow, the filibuster is still making a mockery of American democracy. The filibuster is still being misused by some Senators to block legislation urgently needed and supported by strong majorities of the American people.” The filibuster, he said, “is what hitting legislative rock bottom looks like. […] Rather than protecting the finely balanced system our founders created, today’s filibuster throws a system out of balance, giving one half of one branch of government what amounts to a veto over the rest of government. It promotes gridlock, not good governance.”

    What makes this speech significant is that it happened on the Senate floor. What makes it more significant is that Durbin is the No. 2 guy in the Senate, the majority whip. […] a message to recalcitrant Democrats from their leadership that change is coming.

    If you have any doubt of that, check out the unhinged histrionics and threats from Sen. Mitch McConnell Tuesday morning. [See comment 5] McConnell is worried. He’s also making promises he’ll have a hard time keeping, given he’s swearing to having all of his members available at every given moment of every day. That’s just not going to happen.

    […] a group of Republican House members introduced a constitutional amendment to permanently strip the vote for president from residents of Washington, D.C. These aren’t outliers in the Republican Party—state lawmakers in 43 states have introduced 250 bills that would do largely the same thing to voters they think are predominantly Democratic. That’s what this is about, ultimately: Republicans preserving their anti-majoritarian rule no matter what.

    So it might have been a mistake when McConnell tried to drag Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema into this fight on his side. Because his side is the white supremacists. […] When asked about McConnell’s threats of “a completely scorched earth Senate,” Durbin replied: “He has already done that. He’s proven he can do it, and he will do it again.” So, basically, “Bring it, Mitch.”

    […] “If a senator insists on blocking the will of the Senate, he should at least pay the minimal price of being present,” Durbin said Monday. “No more phoning it in. if your principles are that important, stand up for them, speak your mind, hold the floor, and show your resolve.”

    The way the current filibuster works is utterly painless for Republicans—they can literally phone it in. They raise an objection to a bill coming to the floor by unanimous consent, forcing a vote on proceeding to the bill. Senate rules (for now) set a 60-vote minimum for it to go forward. In Thurmond’s day, he had to take to the floor for more than 24 hours to try to achieve his goal. (He failed.) Now, after a series of “reforms” the filibuster has undergone over the decades, it’s become this. Until McConnell became Republican leader, it wasn’t so much of a problem.

    Durbin […] isn’t ruling anything out, on behalf of leadership. Among the suggestions he included are “reducing the number of votes needed to invoke cloture, creating a tiered system of voting in which the filibuster could be broken with successively smaller majorities, and ultimately a simple majority.” He is considering “any proposal that ends the misuse of a filibuster as a weapon of mass destruction.”

    “It’s time to change the Senate rules, stop holding this senate hostage,” he concluded. “We cannot allow misuse of arcane rules to block the will of the American people. I urge my colleagues to defend democracy by making the changes needed.”

  16. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    In the strict Protestant town where the first Dutch coronavirus riots broke out, feelings are riding high as voting starts in elections focused on the government’s handling of the pandemic.

    AFP reports:

    Posters and stickers for the populist, Covid-sceptic Forum for Democracy party are plastered in many places in Urk, a fishing community historically known for its hostility to vaccinations of all kinds.

    “I don’t trust the government at all,” says Robert, an 18-year-old who did not give his surname. “The Forum is for freedom, I like their point of view about the coronavirus, that’s why I vote for them.”

    Two weeks ago Urk, where just 60 percent are vaccinated against measles – the second-lowest figure in the country – warmly welcomed a visit by the Forum’s young leader Thierry Baudet, who has added strong opposition to coronavirus rules and scepticism about vaccines to his usual anti-immigration policies.

    It was in Urk in January that the introduction of the Netherlands’ first curfew since World War II sparked unrest, culminating in the burning down of a Covid testing centre. Violence then flared across the country for three more nights, the worst riots the country had seen in four decades.

  17. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    France has entered third wave of infections, says PM

    French prime minister Jean Castex has said that France had entered a third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, as the seven-day average of new cases rose above 25,000 for the first time since 20 November.

    Reuters reports:

    French health authorities reported 29,975 new cases on Tuesday, a 4.5% jump versus last Tuesday’s total and the sharpest week-on-week rise in a month and a half.

    President Emmanuel Macron is still hoping a vaccination drive can stave off the effects of a new pandemic wave triggered by more contagious variants, and thus prevent France from resorting to a third national lockdown.

    But suspension of the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, announced on Monday over safety concerns, could jeopardise the government’s strategy.

    The health ministry said there were 4,239 patients in intensive care units for Covid, up by 20 over 24 hours and setting a nearly four-month high. The total number of people hospitalised for the disease was up by 23, at 25,492, a high since 24 February.

    The number of people who have died went up by 408, at 91,170, the world’s seventh-highest death toll. The seven-day moving average of deaths is 267.

  18. says

    SC in comment 16:

    According to CNN, they found that Putin personally directed the Russian effort, which has continued beyond the election. They’ve essentially been partnering with Trump and the Trumpublicans to undermine US democracy.

    Good summary. Thanks.

    In other news: Conservative media calls on Gen X to save us from ‘cancel culture’ and Gen X responds, cancel that

    With the Republican Party’s only identity at this point being white identity politics, and white people having all of the rights afforded them in the Constitution, they find themselves at a loss. Unable to muster up the vroom needed even to vote for the overwhelmingly popular American Rescue Plan, the conservative world has launched back into their tried and true culture war rhetoric. An old conservative tradition we see play out time and time again throughout history: attacking new immigrants while sweeping in every old immigrant not of the conservative order’s race, and warning that they are all a threat to “heritage” and “culture” and ultimately the safety of the ruling class.

    On Saturday, the New York Post published an op-ed from Matthew Hennessey titled “Cancel culture is out of control — and Gen X is our only hope.” It’s a special kind of vacuous argument that basically explains that now that Gen X is middle-aged, it’s time for us to parent millennials and their more socially equitable ideas of ruling the world.

    Forget about the demographic size issue here—Hennessey’s entire argument is classic New York Post, which is to say it sounds like the know-it-all guy next to you at the bar dumping opinions nobody asked for. “If Gen Xers want to spare our own kids having to live in the new East Germany these woke maniacs are trying to build, we can’t go on wearing our sunglasses at night. We have to do something, and we have to do it soon.” I didn’t write that, he did. Hennessy’s opinion piece is filled with 1980s pop culture references, everything from Tipper Gore to Tears for Fears, in a way that might remind a Gen X-er of psychopathic Patrick Bateman in Brett Easton Ellis’ American Psycho. At one point, Hennessey asks, “Does saying there’s two sides to every story make me a racist?” In your case, Hennessey, sadly I suspect so.

    Of course, it wasn’t long before another tentacle of the Rupert Murdoch media empire was picking up on the story. Fox News, which, like the Post, is owned by News Corporation, picked up this sentiment because this is how their echo chamber works. Once that signal was boosted from Fox, the internet got their hands on it and a field day was had by all. […]

    Seth Masket:

    Gen-Xer here. Pretty sure these are the same folks who told us to shun Ice-T and 2 Live Crew and view Winona Ryder as the great moral panic of our time.

    Lots more examples at the link. Humorous for the most part.

    Shit Gen X watched you conservative nutjobs and evangelical frauds try to cancel: Madonna, George Michael, D&D, AIDS, Hip Hop, Rap, Equal Rights, Heavy Metal, Punk Music, Stand Up Comedy that offended you, MTV, the list goes on and on.
    ————————
    Boomers: “We need you to save all the racist, transphobic, misogynistic 💩 we love from “Cancel Culture”!!!!

    Gen X: “Like when you called #dungeonsanddragons “satanic?”

    Boomers:

    Gen X: “Okay, make a saving throw.”
    ———————-
    Love that Gen X is trending for seeing right through propaganda!

  19. says

    Watch judge call police shooting victim ‘dumb’ Black man ‘they were trying to make an angel out of’

    A Washington judge identified by several media outlets seemingly forgot his courtroom was being livestreamed and was caught on camera last Tuesday condemning a Black man shot and killed by police last year in a drug sting. In a conversation with District Court Commissioner Abbie Bartlett, Clark County District Court Judge Darvin Zimmerman described Kevin Peterson Jr. as “the Black guy they were trying to make an angel out of.” The judge said Peterson was “so dumb,” that he “had a death wish,” and that if Zimmerman’s son, a law enforcement officer, hadn’t been promoted to sergeant, “he could have been the shooter.”

    “And they’d be marching out at his house with signs saying, ‘You’re a murderer,’” Zimmerman said, calling protests in Peterson’s honor “b——t.” Remarks from the judge, who’s been seated in his elected position since 1986, triggered obvious concerns about bias and how his personal opinion has impacted and may continue to impact how he decides cases. Vancouver Defenders, a defense practice that represented a protester charged with failure to disperse following Peterson’s death, has called on Zimmerman to resign. […]

    Scroll down at the link to view the video.

    […] Attorney Mark Lindquist, who is representing the Peterson family, told The Oregonian in a text message that the judge’s “lack of empathy for a grieving father, his lack of a sense of shared humanity, is part of the problem … Kevin Peterson Sr.’s son was shot and killed,” Lindquist said. “Imagine his pain. The judge apparently cannot.” […]

  20. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 16.

    More details:

    “We assess that Russian President [Vladimir] Putin authorized, and a range of Russian government organizations conducted, influence operations aimed at denigrating President Biden’s candidacy and the Democratic Party, supporting former President Trump, undermining public confidence in the electoral process, and exacerbating sociopolitical divisions in the U.S.,” the assessment said.

    “The primary effort,” the document added, “revolved around a narrative-that Russian actors began spreading as early as 2014-alleging corrupt ties between President Biden, his family, and other US officials and Ukraine.” It said Russia’s intelligence services “relied on Ukraine-linked proxies and these proxies’ networks—including their US contacts—to spread this narrative.” […]

    Link

    Who are these “US contacts”?

  21. says

    The Washington Post’s correction about Trump’s phone call to a Georgia official, explained

    Trump is lying about the correction. The truth is more complicated than Trump is claiming. The truth still shows that Trump is guilty as hell.

    On January 3, the Washington Post’s Amy Gardner broke the news that, in an hourlong recorded phone call, […] Trump repeatedly pressured Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to somehow change the results in the state to deliver him a victory. The Post published the full audio and transcript of that call, and it received enormous media attention.

    Six days later, in the wake of the storming of the Capitol, Gardner broke a follow-up story revealing that Trump had a similar phone call with another Georgia official, Raffensperger’s lead investigator Frances Watson. This time around, there was no audio or transcript of that call available, so Gardner’s story was attributed to an an anonymous state official. The official claimed that, on the call, Trump said Watson should “find the fraud” and could become a “national hero” by doing so.

    But according to a newly surfaced recording of the call with Watson, Trump did not in fact use those exact words. He did say she could find “dishonesty” in Fulton County, and that “when the right answer comes out, you’ll be praised.” But the language of the quotes the Post attributed to Trump were not accurate. As a result, the Post had to run a prominent correction. Trump and conservatives are now scorning the paper, and even some mainstream reporters are looking askance and wondering how it happened.

    The correction was merited — it’s important for reporters (and their sources) to be careful in attributing exact language in quotes. And it is unfortunate that these incorrect quotes spread so widely. […]

    However, Trump has used the correction to claim in a statement that “the original story was a Hoax, right from the very beginning,” which is untrue. The original story that got so much attention was Trump’s call with Raffensperger, for which we had the full and accurate transcript all along. It has not been corrected. Furthermore, it remains the case that Trump did in fact call Watson to insist he won the state and that she should turn up evidence revealing fraud. “The country is counting on it,” he said.

    Overall, the Post’s correction changes what we know about the exact words Trump said to Watson, but it doesn’t fundamentally change our understanding of what Trump was saying to Georgia state officials at the time.

    For a reporter trying to reconstruct a phone call that happened behind closed doors, there’s nothing more valuable than a recording. And for Trump’s call with Brad Raffensperger, such a recording was made and provided to the Washington Post. We could listen to Trump’s exact words and understand their full context. It was the gold standard of evidence. […]

    If however a call was not recorded, the reporter must rely on either notes provided by a source, or the memories of a source, to reconstruct what happened. And given the vagaries of human memory, that’s where things can get a bit fuzzy.

    Per the Post, this is the chain of events that led to now-corrected story on the Trump call with Georgia official Frances Watson:

    Trump had the call with Frances Watson.

    Watson briefed Georgia’s deputy secretary of state, Jordan Fuchs, about the call.

    Fuchs told the Washington Post about what happened on the call. (He or someone close to him likely also told other media outlets that confirmed this story, such as the New York Times and CNN).

    State officials said at the time they believed there was no recording of the call.

    Just recently, officials responding to a public records request found a recording in the trash folder of Watson’s phone.

    Importantly, it doesn’t seem likely that there was malice in the misquotes. The emergence of the recording does not get Trump off the hook. Trump is still inappropriately pressuring state officials to come up with findings that will swing Georgia’s result in his favor. And the accurate quotes don’t have a significantly different upshot. […]

    What seems to have happened is that either Watson or Fuchs was a bit sloppy in what was an exact quote vs. a paraphrase, because they didn’t have the audio handy or strong notes.

    The two differences that merited the correction were as follows. First, the Post originally claimed Trump told Watson to “find the fraud.” What he actually said was:

    “If you can get to Fulton, you’re gonna find things that are gonna be unbelievable, the dishonesty that — that we’ve heard from — just good sources, really good sources. But Fulton is the motherlode you know as the expression goes, Fulton County …

    They dropped ballots. They dropped all these ballots. Stacey Abrams, really terrible. just a terrible thing.”

    So obviously Trump was telling Watson that fraud occurred and that she could “find” supposed evidence of it in Fulton County, but he did not use the exact phrase “find the fraud.”

    Second, the Post originally claimed Trump said Watson would be “a national hero.” He did not say those words, but said (amidst incoherent and difficult-to-follow rambling) that her job was “the most important” in the country and that when the “right answer” comes out “you’ll be praised”:

    It’s so important what you’re doing …

    It’s just, you have the most important job in the country right now …

    When the right answer comes out, you’ll be praised! I don’t know why —they made it so hard — they will be praised, people will say “great!” …

    Whatever you can do, Frances. It’s a great thing. It’s an important thing for the country. So important. You have no idea, it’s so important.

    Again, if a journalism outlet uses quotation marks, it’s important to get those quotes exactly right. Fallibilities of human memory make attribution of exact quotes without rock-solid evidence an inherently tricky business, though. One wonders how many quotes in other major media stories or books would have to be corrected if audio recordings of their exact language emerged.

    What the new recording does not do is present a substantively different picture of what Trump was up to on that call than the Post’s original story. Trump, though, is savvy about the fact that most people will only vaguely remember the details, will mix the Raffensperger and Watson calls up, and will see reports of a correction regarding Trump’s Georgia phone call. Those sympathetic to Trump or skeptical of the media will wonder if he got a bad rap regarding that larger story. He did not.

  22. says

    Follow-up to comments 5 (tomh) and 17.

    Wonkette:

    […] McConnell also said, “This is a 50-50 Senate. There was no mandate to completely transform America by the American people.” We guess he forgot about how the 50 Democratic senators in the majority represent 41.5 million more people than the 50 Republican senators in the minority, and that in the last Senate — you know, where the GOP was in control — Democratic senators still represented 15 million more Americans than Republican senators did. […]

    All this freakout seems to be very closely related to the Democratic congressional majority’s desire to pass HR 1. […] HR 1 — S 1 in the Senate, AKA the “For The People” Act — is the faaaaaaaabulous bill passed by the House to enshrine into law all the protections Americans need to make sure everybody who’s eligible gets to vote. It would do many, many things. Here’s just some of what it does on voting rights:
    It would create national automatic voter registration.

    It would require 15 straight days of early voting in every state. ([no elimination of] “Souls to the Polls” events at Black churches, by eliminating early voting on Sundays.)

    It would essentially end partisan gerrymandering.

    It would restore voting rights to convicted felons who have paid back their debts to society.

    It would end voter roll purges.

    And so on! And then there are campaign finance parts of the bill and ethics parts. […]

    It’s kind of a dream bill for all Americans who believe in free and fair elections. Likewise, it is an absolute nightmare for the GOP […]

    This is why GOP Senator Mike Lee recently said HR 1 was “as if written in hell by the devil himself.”

    This is the bill the GOP is terrified the Democrats will find a way to get through the Senate […]

    In short, the bill would really fuck up all those GOP state legislatures trying to stop all Black people from voting, after the ass-kicking American voters delivered unto the GOP’s fascist lord and savior this last November. And it would really fuck up national Republicans’ hopes of gaining or retaining majorities they didn’t earn, much less presidencies they didn’t earn, ever fucking again.

    That’s what they’re afraid of. That if the “For the People” act passes, Republicans might have to imagine a future where they have to win elections by, you know, winning elections. That Democrats are going to use their power to make it easy for all eligible Americans to vote, which doesn’t go well for Republicans these days.

    In summary and in conclusion, what’s that thing Mitch McConnell said in 2017? Oh yeah, it was “Winners make policy. Losers go home.”

    Go the fuck home, Mitch.

    Link

  23. Pierce R. Butler says

    Lynna… @ # 13, quoting Tom Joseph: Trump in twilight. Vacant, dead eyes… His degenerative neurological disease has reached a point where he is brought out as a novelty item for Republican dog and pony shows

    At last, Trump’s supporters are vindicated: he has achieved truly Reaganesque status!

  24. says

    Scott Stedman:

    The ODNI report says that Russian intel assets Kilimnik and Derkach helped produce Michael Caputo’s propaganda @OANN documentary. Turns out that the “production company” was incorporated just days before as a Wyoming shell company with a Florida PO Box address.

    In Florida, they would have had to register directors and more info. In Wyoming, they can hide behind a company registration agency. Now we can’t find out who got paid, who was in charge, etc.

    The Wyoming Secretary of State tells me that they are looking into the matter and will let me know within days whether this company was the subject of any law enforcement activity.

  25. says

    Pierce @25, funny, and also tragically correct.

    Humor/satire from Andy Borowitz:

    In an effort to overcome the nagging problem of vaccine hesitancy among Republicans, former President Barack Obama is appearing in a new video urging them not to take the coronavirus vaccine.

    In the public-service announcement, Obama looks directly into the camera and says, “I’m speaking today to Republicans across the country. I know we’ve had our differences in the past, but now I’m reaching out to ask you for a special favor: to not take the vaccine. It would mean a lot to me and make me very happy.”

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, since the Obama spot started airing, on Monday, requests for vaccines from members of the G.O.P. have skyrocketed, with Republicans reportedly lining up around the block at some vaccination sites.

    “It turns out that the former President was the perfect messenger,” Harland Dorrinson, a C.D.C. spokesperson, said. “At the C.D.C., we are all saying, ‘Thanks, Obama.’ ”

    Speaking to reporters, Obama said that he was “pleased” that his targeted message to Republicans appeared to be having the desired impact. “Looks like I’ve still got it,” he said.

    New Yorker link

  26. says

    Reminder about Caputo from HuffPo in September – “Health Official Out To Manipulate CDC Reports Has Deep Russian Ties”:

    The Health and Human Services official who has been pressuring the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to change COVID-19 reports to reflect well on President Donald Trump has troubling Kremlin ties stretching for years.

    Politico was the first to report last week that HHS Assistant Secretary Michael Caputo has been orchestrating a pressure campaign on the CDC to alter agency reports — and even stop them — to fit Trump’s far more optimistic view of COVID-19. The president himself admitted that he lied when he presented a sunnier view of the pandemic.

    Caputo, a former top official of the Trump campaign who has no medical or scientific background, has claimed his actions are a defense against the imagined “deep state” out to get Trump. But reports of his CDC scheme have renewed fears about his history with Russia, which interfered in the 2016 election to help Trump.

    Caputo, who lived in Russia for six years, was an adviser to Boris Yeltsin from 1995 to 1999 and helped him get elected as president. He also served as an adviser to a subsidiary of the state-owned energy company Gazprom, and reportedly helped shore up Russian President Vladimir Putin’s reputation.

    Caputo’s Kremlin ties were so concerning that he became a target of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. He was questioned but was not charged with any offenses. He also testified before the House Intelligence Committee that he had no contact with Russians while serving on the Trump campaign.

    Caputo has attempted to scrub his links to Russia in his Wikipedia bio — and insisted in an interview that his work doesn’t make him a “Putin stooge.” He told his hometown newspaper, The Buffalo News, that “at the time, Putin wasn’t such a bad guy.”

    Before he was appointed to his current role, Caputo also scrubbed nearly his entire Twitter history, which was riddled with graphic, offensive attacks, outlandish conspiracy theories, and racist comments about the Chinese.

    Caputo has slammed what he calls Trump’s “phony” impeachment and has spread baseless accusations concerning activities in Ukraine by Joe and Hunter Biden. A key source of that Ukrainian smear, Andrii Derkach, turned out to be a Russian spy attempting to interfere in the current U.S. election, the Treasury Department revealed last week. Caputo has claimed it was Ukraine, not Russia, that interfered in the 2016 election.

    Caputo is also a long-time associate of political strategist Roger Stone, who was found guilty of seven felonies last year, including lying to Congress and tampering with witnesses in the investigation into Russian election interference. He was an aide to former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, who is also a convicted felon.

    Caputo admitted to Politico he has attempted to change CDC reports….

    Shortly after this report, he was diagnosed with cancer and underwent surgery. I don’t know the current state of his health.

  27. says

    NBC News:

    Despite repeated assertions by senior Trump administration officials that China sought to hurt then-President Donald Trump in the 2020 election, a newly declassified intelligence assessment finds that China did not seek to influence the outcome.

    NY Times:

    Wearing black and holding signs reading ‘enough is enough,’ thousands took to the streets across Australia on Monday to protest violence and discrimination against women, as a reckoning in the country’s halls of power sparked by multiple accusations of rape continued to grow.

  28. says

    Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) offered his helping hand to nurses on Tuesday morning by administering COVID-19 vaccines at a Maryland county health department clinic.

    “Believe me, this is much more fun than being in Washington,” Harris, who is a Johns Hopkins-trained anesthesiologist, told the Baltimore Sun. “I’m more than happy to help whenever I can.” […]

    Link

  29. says

    Judge denies release after QAnon insurrectionist ‘blatantly lied’ during high-profile TV interview

    A couple of weeks ago, Jacob Chansley and his mother Martha filmed interviews with 60 Minutes that went around the internet. Chansley is the guy you will remember wearing the buffalo headpiece and American flag face paint during the Capitol riot. He has been described by media outlets and others as the “QAnon shaman,” but that’s offensive to shamanism, and his schtick is closer to sports mascot work than anything spiritual. The general tenor of the Chansley interviews was that poor Jacob is a peaceful soul who didn’t really do anything wrong. He felt “bad” about stuff but shouldn’t be in big trouble because, as his mother said, “He walked through open doors.”

    A couple of days later, U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth denied Chansley’s attempts to be released from custody pending his trial, writing Chansley had “not met his burden of establishing a ‘compelling reason’ necessitating his temporary release.” Law and Crime reports that Lambert’s 32-page denial of Chansley’s motion for temporary release included calling out the buffalo clown soldier for his 60 Minutes interview, saying Chansley had “blatantly lied.” More importantly, Lamberth cited video evidence contradicting Jacob and Martha Chansley’s depictions of Jacob’s criminal march through the Capitol as a peaceful waltz.

    […] “The government’s video shows that defendant blatantly lied during his interview with 60 Minutes+ when he said that police officers waved him into the building. Further, this video confirms that defendant did not, as defense counsel claims, enter the building ‘contemporaneously with the exiting by Capitol Police.’ … Nor did he enter, as defense counsel represents, in the ‘third wave’ of the breach. To the contrary, he quite literally spearheaded it.” To the defense’s argument that Chansley had a previously unblemished criminal history, Lamberth explained that the “seriousness of the allegations against him and the video footage of defendant’s actions on January 6th reveal defendant’s current state of mind and willingness to break the law.”

    […]

    Last but not least, the Court must address what surely must be the most remarkable assertion in defendant’s briefing: that temporary release is “necessary” because defense counsel is currently unable to privately communicate with his client. As defense counsel puts it, the COVID-19 pandemic has made “Meaningful unmonitored protracted periods of consultation” with his client ”Impossible.” To the contrary, just a few days ago, defense counsel conducted a lengthy videoconference with his client. That meeting, however, was not used to discuss legal strategy but instead was used to conduct an interview with 60 Minutes+, a national news media outlet.

  30. says

    Dr. Birx on Trump’s infamous ‘inject disinfectant’ moment: ‘I still think about it every day’

    […] I’m thinking about putting together a time capsule.

    It will be dug up in 100 years, and one thing will be in it: the tape from Donald Trump’s April 23, 2020, press conference in which he suggested that injecting disinfectant or absorbing killer light rays may be a COVID-19 panacea. Included in that tape, of course, will be the contemporaneous reaction of former White House adviser Dr. Deborah Birx, who sat cow-eyed and mute with a stricken look on her face that seemed to say, “How did this shambolic pile of hair and adipose ever learn to talk?”

    Well, nearly a year later, Birx, who appeared to be a bit too loyal to her boss during his COVID-supporting siege of North America, finally addressed the incident.

    BIRX: “Those of you who have served in the military know that there are discussions you have in private with your commanding officers and there’s discussion you had in public. Frankly, I didn’t know how to handle that episode. I still think about it every day. When I was spoken to I said, ‘Not a treatment,’ but I don’t know. I guess some people thought I should run up on stage and interrupt this dialogue that was going on between the DHS scientists and the president, but I just was not trained in my years of training to react that way.”

    Yeah, Dr. Birx, that would have been a good idea. Even if you didn’t have a straitjacket handy. I could think of at least a hundred episodes during which someone in Trump administration should have grown a gonad and tackled this candy corn-festooned swamp ape to the fucking ground before he could say another noxious word. Or maybe an airhorn or shock collar would have been more effective.

    Someone needed to do something—that’s all I know.

    And while I personally don’t think about this incident every day, it is a nice one to have in my bandolier for my next conversation with a Trumpaloompa, whenever that may be. Hopefully not too soon. I could use the rest, yo.

  31. says

    The acting chief of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said Tuesday that under 6 percent of immigrants at the southern border have tested positive for the coronavirus amid growing alarm among Republicans over a spike in crossings.

    “There’s testing happening,” acting FEMA Administrator Robert Fenton said during a hearing before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security. “What we’re seeing is less than 6 percent positive right now, coming across the border.” […]

    Republicans have seized on the swell of migrants looking to cross the border, accusing President Biden of adopting lax immigration policies that could fuel coronavirus outbreaks.

    “The Biden Administration is recklessly releasing hundreds of illegal immigrants who have COVID into Texas communities,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) tweeted earlier this month. “The Biden Admin. must IMMEDIATELY end this callous act that exposes Texans & Americans to COVID.”

    However, the rate of infection among immigrants at the border is lower than in Texas, where the positivity rate is 13.33 percent, according to a tracker by Johns Hopkins University. […]

    Link

  32. says

    Byline Times – “A Decade of Savage Loss For All Syrians’: The Psychological Cost of Civil War”:

    …The emotional impact of this loss and trauma has created a mental health crisis, with young people in Syria experiencing sleep disorders (54%), anxiety (73%), depression (58%), solitude (46%), frustration (62%) and distress (69%) because of the conflict, according to the ICRC. But, as it stands, most lack access to mental health support and even basic healthcare, leaving them broken and alone.

    [ICRC director-general Robert] Mardini warns that these “invisible wounds get deeper as time goes on”.

    “It’s also very clear that the conflict has touched every aspect of these young people’s lives,” he adds. “We get a very clear and sombre picture of a generation that has endured devastation, loss and disruption, with many missed milestones and opportunities as well as frustrated ambitions.”

    What young Syrians need first and foremost, according to Mardini, is access to economic opportunities, given that 30% of them report having no income to support their families – followed by healthcare, education and psychological support.

    “Young Syrians are suffering from lack of income, education, food and basic necessities,” says Mardini. “It’s had such a sheer and tragic impact on their lives and human potential.

    “Syrians cannot afford to endure another year like this, let alone 10. The international community can’t turn its back on Syria – we need a real political solution to end the conflict, real financial support for the recovery, a real future for the young people we interviewed and their fellow Syrians.”…

  33. says

    More re Nerd’s #38 above – CNN – “8 killed in shootings at 3 metro Atlanta spas. Police have 1 suspect in custody”:

    Video evidence suggests “it is extremely likely” that the same person was responsible for the three deadly shootings at massage parlors in the metro Atlanta area, police said Tuesday.

    Eight people were killed and one person was wounded in the attacks. Two of the shootings were at spas across the street from each other in northeast Atlanta and the other happened about 30 miles away in Cherokee County to the northwest of the city.

    The suspect in the Cherokee County shootings was taken into custody in Crisp County, about 150 miles south of Atlanta, around 8:30 p.m. — about 3 1/2 hours after the killings. The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office identified him as Robert Aaron Long, 21, of Woodstock….

  34. says

    Priyamvada Gopal in the Guardian – “Why can’t Britain handle the truth about Winston Churchill?”:

    …Not everyone is content to be told to be quiet because they would be “speaking German” if not for Churchill. Many people want to know more about the historical figures they are required to admire uncritically. The Black Lives Matter protests last June – during which the word “racist” was sprayed in red letters on Churchill’s statue in Parliament Square, were accompanied by demands for more education on race, empire and the figures whose statues dot our landscapes.

    Yet providing a fuller picture is made difficult. Scholars who explore less illustrious sides of Churchill are treated dismissively. Take the example of Churchill College, Cambridge, where I am a teaching fellow. In response to calls for fuller information about its founder, the college set up a series of events on Churchill, Empire and Race. I recently chaired the second of these, a panel discussion on “The Racial Consequences of Mr Churchill”.

    Even before it took place, the discussion was repeatedly denounced in the tabloids and on social media as “idiotic”, a “character assassination” aimed at “trashing” the great man. Outraged letters to the college said this was academic freedom gone too far, and that the event should be cancelled. The speakers and I, all scholars and people of colour, were subjected to vicious hate mail, racist slurs and threats. We were accused of treason and slander. One correspondent warned that my name was being forwarded to the commanding officer of an RAF base near my home.

    The college is now under heavy pressure to stop doing these events. After the recent panel, the rightwing thinktank Policy Exchange, which is influential in government circles – and claims to champion free speech and controversial views on campus – published a “review” of the event. The foreword, written by Churchill’s grandson Nicholas Soames, stated that he hoped the review would “prevent such an intellectually dishonest event from being organised at Churchill College in the future – and, one might hope, elsewhere”.

    It’s ironic. We’re told by government and media that “cancel culture” is an imposition of the academic left. Yet here it is in reality, the actual “cancel culture” that prevents a truthful engagement with British history. Churchill was an admired wartime leader who recognised the threat of Hitler in time and played a pivotal role in the allied victory. It should be possible to recognise this without glossing over his less benign side. The scholars at the Cambridge event – Madhusree Mukerjee, Onyeka Nubia and Kehinde Andrews – drew attention to Churchill’s dogged advocacy of British colonial rule; his contributing role in the disastrous 1943 Bengal famine, in which millions of people died unnecessarily; his interest in eugenics; and his views, deeply retrograde even for his time, on race.

    Churchill is on record as praising “Aryan stock” and insisting it was right for “a stronger race, a higher-grade race” to take the place of indigenous peoples. He reportedly did not think “black people were as capable or as efficient as white people”. In 1911, Churchill banned interracial boxing matches so white fighters would not be seen losing to black ones. He insisted that Britain and the US shared “Anglo-Saxon superiority”. He described anticolonial campaigners as “savages armed with ideas”.

    Even his contemporaries found his views on race shocking. In the context of Churchill’s hard line against providing famine relief to Bengal, the colonial secretary, Leo Amery, remarked: “On the subject of India, Winston is not quite sane … I didn’t see much difference between his outlook and Hitler’s.”

    Just because Hitler was a racist does not mean Churchill could not have been one. Britain entered the war, after all, because it faced an existential threat – and not primarily because it disagreed with Nazi ideology. Noting affinities between colonial and Nazi race-thinking, African and Asian leaders queried Churchill’s double standards in firmly rejecting self-determination for colonial subjects who were also fighting Hitler.

    It is worth recalling that the uncritical Churchill-worship that is so dominant today was not shared by many British people in 1945, when they voted him out of office before the war was even completely over….

    Critical assessment is not “character assassination”. Thanks to the groupthink of “the cult of Churchill”, the late prime minister has become a mythological figure rather than a historical one. To play down the implications of Churchill’s views on race – or suggest absurdly, as Policy Exchange does, that his racist words meant “something other than their conventional definition” – speaks to me of a profound lack of honesty and courage.

    This failure of courage is tied to a wider aversion to examining the British empire truthfully, perhaps for fear of what it might say about Britain today. A necessary national conversation about Churchill and the empire he was so committed to is one necessary way to break this unacceptable silence.

  35. KG says

    It’s kind of a dream bill for all Americans who believe in free and fair elections. Likewise, it is an absolute nightmare for the GOP […]
    This is why GOP Senator Mike Lee recently said HR 1 was “as if written in hell by the devil himself.” Lynna, OM@24 quoting Wonkette

    Wm. Shakespeare said “The prince of darkness is a gentleman!” (King Lear, Act 3, Scene 4 – the speaker is Edgar, one of the “goodies” in the play). Apparently he’s also a (small-d) democrat!

  36. says

    An update on several posts by Lynna here, from today’s Guardian US-politics liveblog:

    21 states threaten legal challenge to Biden’s $1.9tn Covid rescue plan

    Passing the $1.9tn Covid relief bill through Congress has been an early legislative triumph for Joe Biden’s presidency, but it may not be the end of opposition to it. Tony Romm and Jeff Stein have reported overnight for the Washington Post on the Republican moves against it at state level:

    The attorneys general take issue with a $350 billion pot of money set aside under the stimulus to help cash-strapped cities, counties and states pay for the costs of the pandemic. Congressional lawmakers opted to restrict states from tapping these federal dollars to finance local tax cuts.

    Lawmakers included the provision to ensure Washington isn’t footing the bill on behalf of states that later take deliberate steps to reduce their revenue. But the guardrails frustrated many Republican leaders, who said in a letter to the Treasury Department that the law’s vague wording threatens to interfere with states in good financial standing that sought to provide “such tax relief with or without the prospect of COVID-19 relief funds.”

    The attorneys general from Arizona, Georgia, West Virginia and 18 other states called on the Biden administration to make it clear that they can proceed with some of their plans to cut taxes, including those that predate the stimulus, in a seven-page missive sent to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. Otherwise, they said, the relief law “would represent the greatest invasion of state sovereignty by Congress in the history of our Republic” — and they threatened to take “appropriate additional action” in response. Some state officials are already discussing a possible lawsuit.

    (I’m not happy at how the Post is parroting some of the bullshit Republican framing. I’ve also had more than enough of the Republicans’ idiotic hyperbole – “the greatest invasion of state sovereignty by Congress in the history of our Republic.” It’s long past time for journalists to start calling them out on this nonsense, or at least to stop reproducing it uncritically.)

  37. says

    Stephen Collinson at CNN – “New US intel report shows Russia, Trump and GOP acolytes have same goals”:

    A new US intelligence report that finds Russia interfered in the 2020 election to help Donald Trump and hurt Joe Biden also underscores a fundamental truth: The gravest threat to US democracy comes from within.

    The report, released by Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, finds that Moscow sought to inject misleading information about Biden into the campaign through officials and others close to Trump.

    The real bombshell it contains is not the confidence of the spy agencies that Russia hoped to subvert American democracy. It is that US intelligence experts effectively confirmed that for the second election in a row, Trump acolytes repeatedly used, knowingly or otherwise, misinformation produced by the spies of one of America’s most sworn foreign adversaries to try to win a US election.

    And given the advantage of hindsight, the latest intelligence assessment is not just an isolated example of incriminating evidence against Russia and its efforts to create chaos and discord within the United States.

    For all of the stale US debate about whether Trump and his aides “colluded” with Russia, there are now multiple reports, intelligence assessments and other known details to expose a damning reality: Moscow with its election meddling, Trump acolytes pushing false claims of voter fraud and his GOP supporters in the states now passing voter suppression laws share the same goal — the denigration of the US democratic system.

    The readiness of the former President’s men to use Russian misinformation in 2020 — while denying collusion in 2016 — was but one prong of the assault on the integrity of US elections. After all, it came as Trump was challenging democratic customs that form the bedrock of American freedoms.

    He spent months seeking to discredit the fairness of the vote — the sacred core of US democracy — to hedge against his eventual loss. He later denied his fair-and-square defeat, incited the deadly US Capitol insurrection — which sought to disrupt Biden’s transition to power — and is using his sway over his party to force future Republican candidates to sign up to his big lie of widespread voter fraud.

    Thus, the candidate who Moscow helped to win the 2016 election had four years later become the primary destructive force aimed at US democracy.

    It ought to be concerning that the sentiments of many Republicans who falsely decry the fairness of the current US electoral system appear to coincide with those of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    Ultimately, the most alarming implication of the release of Tuesday’s report is that it may not be necessary for Russia to interfere in the 2024 presidential election in the same way as in 2016 and 2020.

    From Trump’s lies about a stolen second term to claims by some Republican governors that making it harder to vote makes an election more democratic, some Americans are already doing far more themselves to damage the US system than Moscow can….

    More at the link.

  38. says

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

    From there:

    The EU will unveil on Wednesday plans to reopen summer travel to and within the bloc with the help of a new coronavirus passport, a scheme that would be welcomed by the tourist sector but is also raising discrimination concerns.

    Reuters reports:

    The proposed, EU-wide “green digital certificate” would collate information on vaccinations, tests and Covid recovery to let travellers cross borders freely again after a year of curbs that have left beaches and famous landmarks deserted.

    The 27-member EU’s executive will also put forward an option to allow in outsiders with proof of vaccination, including those inoculated with Russian, Chinese or other non-Western doses.

    But with the number of EU Covid-related deaths above 550,000 and less than a tenth of the population inoculated, countries including France, Belgium and Germany fear discrimination. [Hm…] Others said tests or quarantine might still be necessary.

    EU countries will be under pressure to agree a common position swiftly for their 450 million people. The task is complicated, however, by uncertainty over whether those inoculated can still transmit the virus, a sluggish vaccine rollout and some public scepticism about the campaign.

    A World Health Organization advisory group statement on the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine is expected very soon, a WHO spokesman said on Wednesday.

    Global health experts have come under increasing pressure to clear up questions over the safety of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, as the number of countries suspending its use grows, further slowing down Europe’s vaccination rollout.

  39. says

    Rep. Lieu: “According to this report, 6 of the 8 murder victims in the Atlanta area mass shooting are Asian women. Was this a hate crime? We need more evidence. But we do know the alleged murderer targeted three locations where the victims would disproportionately be Asian women.”

  40. quotetheunquote says

    @SC #36.
    S. Crowder has always been a steaming pile of sh¡t pretending to be a human being, but this is definitely the worst I’ve ever seen him;* he’s not even trying to hide the out-and-out “l’il Sambo” act. I personally think he’s worse than Limbaugh was, if that’s possilble.

    Oh, fun fact – he’s from Montreal, originally (althought born in Detroit). Yay! Another national embarrassment.

    *I actually have watched very little of “Louder with Crowder”, being not a particularly keen on wretching up my breakfast. I only ever heard of him because one of his videos rebutting something from Samatha Bee’s show came up as “recommended” in my YT feed. From that, I got the impression that he was just another of the many anti-feminist cranks out there, awful but not particularly remarkable.

  41. quotetheunquote says

    @SC #37:

    I see that one of the responses to Representative Lieu’s tweet was:
    Jesus Christ. What is wrong with our country?

    I don’t do Twitter, but every once in a while, I wish I did, because this one really begs for a response:
    Uh, kinda answered your own question there, bud.

  42. says

    The Atlanta police are doing a press briefing about the shootings. I missed the beginning, but police Capt. Jay Baker said Long confessed to the killings, and said he did it because he has a sex addiction and these were places he sought to gratify himself and therefore he wanted to destroy them. When they caught him, he was on his way to Florida to massacre some more people at massage parlors. The matter-of-fact tone with which Baker presented what he did and why was fairly infuriating to me, I have to say.

  43. says

    quotetheunquote @ #49, yeah, it was shocking even for that genre, which is saying something. It was like something out of the 1920s. And the ignorance is just off the charts. Poisonous.

    quotetheunquote @ #50, Baker was asked if Long had expressed any religious motives, and he said no. But there are a number of indications that he’s very religious. I would be extremely surprised if this misogynistic attack had no religious (“dens of sin,” “led me into sin”) aspect.

  44. quotetheunquote says

    #53 (second para) – Ugh, sounds just about right for a fundamentalist “Moral Majority” type. There’s nothing new about this kind of misogyny, of course, but I remember it being given a lot of oxygen in the U.S. during the Reagan years; Reagan’s alliance with the fundies really put a “spring in the step” of these people, unfortunately.

  45. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    French prime minister Jean Castex will announce new Covid-19 measures on Thursday, government spokesman Gabriel Attal told reporters after a cabinet meeting.

    Attal said new restrictions would take effect this weekend.

    The World Health Organization-backed COVAX vaccine scheme has an agreement to send out “hundreds of millions” of Johnson & Johnson shots, Kate O’Brien, director of WHO’s department of immunisation, said on Wednesday.

    COVAX, backed by WHO and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, aims to secure 2 billion vaccine doses by the end of 2021.

    In early March, it said the target was to deliver 237 million doses of AstraZeneca’s shot to 142 countries by the end of May, and it also shipped its first Pfizer shots, Reuters reports.

    Poland’s president Andrzej Duda has announced a tough new nationwide lockdown amid surging infections.

    The country’s health minister said shopping malls, theatres, cinemas and hotels will close from Saturday, while schools will have to switch to online learning….

    Reuters reports that new coronavirus cases are accelerating in half of the countries within the Americas, according to the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO).

    Carissa Etienne, the PAHO director, said that Brazil was reporting the highest number of coronavirus infections in the region, with several areas in the country witnessing record-high level of infections. She said:

    The situation in Brazil is a cautionary tale that keeping this virus under control requires continuous attention by public health authorities and leaders to protect people and health systems from the devastating impact of this virus.

    Etienne added that although the US and Mexico are seeing a drop in new infections, cases in Canada are accelerating particularly among young adults. Cases are said to be rising in Uruguay, Ecuador and Venezuela in the last week, with Paraguay’s health system issuing an urgent warning as hospital beds were filling with coronavirus patients.

  46. says

    From TPM’s liveblog:

    Police Captain Says Shooting Suspect Had ‘Really Bad Day’ Before Massacres In Stunning Remark

    In one jarringly jaw-dropping moment during the press briefing, Baker painted Long as almost a sympathetic figure who’s just been having a tough time lately.

    “They got that impression that he understood the gravity of it and he was pretty much fed up, he’d been kind of at the end of his rope, and yesterday was a really bad day for him,” the captain said. “And this is what he did.”

  47. says

    For Tom Cotton, even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is too liberal

    GOP expectations toward Corporate America are changing: Cotton and Rubio want business to toe the Republican line on matters related to culture and race. [aiyiyiyi]

    In American politics, there are certain powerhouse institutions that are not formally connected to the major political parties, but their partnerships are strong and have been cultivated over many decades.

    When executives at the National Rifle Association, for example, call Republican leaders on Capitol Hill, GOP officials pick up the phone. […]

    And then there’s the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has been closely aligned with Republican politics for generations, though the ties are starting to show signs of wear.

    In recent years, the Chamber — the nation’s largest advocacy organization in support of Big Business — has tried to steer GOP officials on everything from immigration to trade to infrastructure, with little success. Last year, for the first time in recent memory, the frustrated Chamber even started donating to some Democratic candidates. In January, two days before the attack on the Capitol, the business lobby also urged Republicans to stop screwing around with democracy.

    As The Hill noted yesterday, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) is denouncing the Chamber in ways that would’ve been unthinkable in the not-too-distant past.

    Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) on Tuesday slammed the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, saying the powerful business lobbying organization has lost its way and is siding more often with Democrats and progressive causes. During an interview with radio show host Hugh Hewitt, the Arkansas Republican said the Chamber cited the Chamber’s decision in 2020 to back numerous Democrats and then endorse Neera Tanden, President Biden’s initial nominee to lead the Office of Management and Budget.

    Cotton went on to accuse the U.S. Chamber of Commerce of often serving as a front “for woke corporations who are trying to peddle anti-American theories and demanding that their employees get re-educated and indoctrinated on anti-American ideas, like the fact that somehow we’re all terribly racist, or every one of our institutions is racist, and we all need to go to re-education camps.”

    He added that he believes the Chamber “purged” most of the “real Republicans” in its top ranks. […]

    Cotton’s on-air comments come just a week after Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) wrote an op-ed complaining, “The days of conservatives being taken for granted by the business community are over.”

    […] Rubio also took aim at “wealthy woke CEOs” and “companies like Amazon” that “have been allies of the left in the culture war.”

    Note the parallels: Rubio condemned “woke CEOs” last week, while Cotton condemned “woke corporations” this week. Rubio sees some business leaders as enemies in a “culture war,” while Cotton believes too many American companies are “trying to peddle anti-American theories.”

    The subtext is hardly subtle: Republican expectations toward Corporate America are changing. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will almost certainly continue to side with GOP officials on issues such as taxes, regulations, and the minimum wage, but Cotton and Rubio are making the case that these positions simply aren’t good enough. […]

  48. says

    Joe Biden next to a shamrock bowl Zooming with Micheál Martin and rambling about his Irish grandfather Ambrose Finnegan and his visits to Ireland is pretty refreshing.

  49. says

    Good news: The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported yesterday that Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) is restoring the voting rights of 69,000 Virginians “who completed their prison sentences for a felony but remain under probation — a change in the state’s policy that he said will help people fully re-enter society.”

  50. says

    More good news: In Iowa, the latest Des Moines Register poll found Joe Biden’s favorability rating in the state has climbed to 51%, up from 43% last fall. The Democratic president lost Iowa by roughly eight points.

  51. says

    Republican leaders and the subject of vaccination:

    To defeat the pandemic, there’s a simple and unavoidable truth: the United States needs to vaccinate as many Americans as possible, as quickly as possible. So far, the national effort is proceeding apace, with nearly 2.5 million shots per day — a total 10 times larger than the numbers we saw as 2021 got underway.

    But there’s another simple and unavoidable truth that doesn’t help us reach our goal: some Americans insist they don’t want to get the vaccine and remain indifferent to the public-health consequences. Regrettably, politics is contributing to the problem. A Washington Post analysis noted late last week that Republican men, in particular, are “a central part of coronavirus vaccine resistance.”

    […] it matters when prominent political voices whom Republican men tend to listen to speak up and encourage people to do the right thing. […] Trump called into a Fox News show and more or less recommended that everyone get vaccinated.

    “I would recommend it, and I would recommend it to a lot of people that don’t want to get it, and a lot of those people voted for me, frankly,” Trump said on Fox News…. “But you know, again, we have our freedoms, and we have to live by that, and I agree with that also. But it’s a great vaccine. It’s a safe vaccine, and it’s something that works.”

    This is a little messier than it probably should be. Given the seriousness of the pandemic, it’s best when prominent voices avoid saying things such as, “I would recommend it, but….”

    […] Alas, some of the former president’s Capitol Hill allies really aren’t helping. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), for example, said yesterday that because he’s already had COVID, he’s “going with the science” and not bothering with a vaccination. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said something similar last week.

    The trouble, of course, is that “the science” doesn’t say what they think it says.

    Doctors, public health experts, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are clear: Get the coronavirus vaccine even if you had covid-19. Yes, people who had the disease produce antibodies that provide immunity from the coronavirus. But that immunity fades over time, and the body’s natural response may not be enough to prevent a repeat infection 90 days after the first one, the CDC says.

    But perhaps least helpful of all was Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), who reportedly planned to get vaccinated, and was waiting for the Johnson & Johnson shot, but told reporters that he was “disappointed that it’s using, you know, aborted fetus in its constitution.”

    Braun was apparently referring to fetal tissue research, which enjoyed broad, bipartisan support way back in the 1990s.

    When we’re hoping that Republican senators sound more like Trump, not less, you know we’ve reached a strange point in a debate.

    Link

  52. says

    Trump admits he wanted US courts ‘to overturn elections’

    Donald Trump’s “courage to overturn elections” rhetoric is a reminder: he will never let go of his Big Lie delusion.<a href="Donald Trump has never fully appreciated the value of nuance or diplomacy, which is why he has a breathtaking record for blurting out controversial comments, seemingly indifferent to their importance.

    Take last night, for example.

    “Our Supreme Court and our courts didn’t have the courage to overturn elections that should have been overturned,” he told Fox News’s Maria Bartiromo on Tuesday evening in a rare media appearance since leaving office in January.

    […] making things up as he went along, he also said there were “hundreds of thousands and even millions of votes” at issue, which the Republican believes could’ve given him power he didn’t earn.

    There’s literally nothing to suggest there were “millions” of improper ballots cast last year, but to know anything about Trump is to know his relationship with reality is broken.

    That said, his choice of words last night was nevertheless extraordinary. As GQ’s Julia Ioffe put it, “‘The courage to overturn elections’ is quite a sentence.”

    The former president went on to tell Fox News last night, “The Supreme Court should be ashamed of itself.” In context, he was again referring to the justices’ rejection of Trump’s baseless anti-election lawsuits.

    I can appreciate why all of this has a dog-bites-man quality. Indeed, the familiarity of the circumstances is hard to miss: Trump runs to Fox News; he rants and raves for a while; he expresses hostility for democracy, and he touts the ridiculous fantasy world in which he won the election he lost.

    The failed former president has done this before, and he will almost certainly do it again.

    But there are some contextual details that arguably make [Trump’s] latest nonsense notable. It was, after all, exactly 10 weeks ago today that a violent insurrectionist mob, fueled by lies peddled by Trump, launched a deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol in the hopes of overturning the will of American voters.

    It was nine weeks ago today that Trump was impeached — again — and it was five weeks ago when a bipartisan majority of the Senate agreed that he was guilty of inciting an insurrection, though that majority fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to secure a conviction.

    Those hoping that Trump is still capable of learning lessons should note his “courage to overturn elections” rhetoric and realize that he will never let go of his Big Lie delusion, and the former president expects his rabid base to continue to accept his nonsense as true.”

  53. says

    Follow-up to SC @48.

    President Joe Biden, fresh off the massive success of passing a $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, knows the only way to keep the momentum going and get his stuff done is to deal with the Senate. And to deal with the Senate, he’s talking filibuster reform. He told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos in an interview to be aired Wednesday that he’s behind an effort to reform it. “I don’t think that you have to eliminate the filibuster. You have to do what it used to be when I first got to the Senate back in the old days,” he said. “You had to stand up and command the floor, you had to keep talking […] so you’ve got to work for the filibuster.”

    “So you’re for that reform? You’re for bringing back the talking filibuster?” Stephanopoulos asked in response. “I am,” Biden answered. “That’s what it was supposed to be. It’s almost getting to the point where democracy is having a hard time functioning.” That’s an understatement. The new message from the president—who flirted with the idea of filibuster reform during the primary campaign but never unequivocally backed it—reinforces what amounted to a declaration of intent from Senate leadership on the filibuster. […]

    Link

  54. tomh says

    Re: #64
    House members could get a coronavirus vaccine. But a quarter of them have not.
    By Marianna Sotomayor and Paul Kane
    March 17, 2021

    Three months after vaccinations were made available to all members of Congress, about 1 in 4 members of the House have not received the shots to inoculate themselves against the deadly coronavirus, disregarding the advice of their own physician and missing an opportunity to promote public acceptance of the drugs.

    Democrats have rejected the notion from Republicans that a 75 percent vaccination rate is a sufficient level to reopen the House of Representatives, which has operated since last March under more restrictive rules, and urged GOP leaders to better encourage their rank-and-file to get the shots….

    And then you have dunderheads like NC Rep. Madison Cawthorn (“I won’t be taking it. The survival rate is too high for me to want it”) and Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado (“I have the freedom to decide if I’m going to take a vaccine or not, and in this case I am not going to take the vaccine”).

  55. says

    Biden admin unveils $10B school testing plan for Covid-19

    The Biden administration will spend $10 billion to screen schoolchildren for Covid-19 to help hasten their return to in-person learning.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will administer the school-screening program, announced Wednesday. The agency is giving $10 billion in American Rescue Plan funds to states and certain cities to set up testing, with the aim of reopening schools in the final months of the school year.

    The CDC and state and local health departments will provide technical assistance to schools to help set up and implement the new screening programs in schools. The idea is to repeatedly test students and teachers for Covid-19 to detect those who are infected but without symptoms to limit the spread of the virus.

    This is a good idea. Several colleges and universities adopted similar plans earlier in the pandemic, and it worked quite well. How a Pioneering Covid Testing Lab Helped Keep Northeast Colleges Open

    The Education Department on Wednesday also moved to begin distributing the nearly $122 billion in new Covid relief funding for the nation’s K-12 schools, which the agency said would be made available to states “this month.”

    Education Secretary Miguel Cardona sent letters to state officials, notifying them of their share of the funding, which is being allocated based on a formula in the Covid-19 relief law. […]

    The administration coupled the school testing announcement with the news that it is spending $2.25 billion to bolster testing and contact tracing in high-risk and underserved communities, such as those in rural areas or with significant minority populations that have been hit hard by the pandemic. […]

  56. says

    President Obama:

    Even as we’ve battled the pandemic, we’ve continued to neglect the longer-lasting epidemic of gun violence in America. Although the shooter’s motive is not yet clear, the identity of the victims underscores an alarming rise in anti-Asian violence that must end.

    Yesterday’s shootings are another tragic reminder that we have far more work to do to put in place commonsense gun safety laws and root out the pervasive patterns of hatred and violence in our society.

    […] And we urge meaningful action that will save lives.

  57. says

    tom @67, aiyiyi, that is painful to read. Such stupidity on the part of Republicans.

    In other news, “How Many Rudy Giulianis Does It Take For Russia To Steal An Election For Trump?”

    Yesterday, Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Avril Haines, who is highly qualified and who is NOT some Trump-licking moron stooge hired to hide evidence against Trump, released the National Intelligence Council’s (NIC) unclassified assessment of foreign attacks on the 2020 election.

    The classified version of the report went to the White House and congressional leadership on January 7, the day after the attack on the Capitol. So to be clear, this report was prepared by the intelligence community under Donald Trump, not Joe Biden.

    The toplines are that Russia attacked the election pretty severely to try to hurt Biden and help Trump, naturally, while Iran attempted some fuckery to try to help Trump. China didn’t do shit. In other words, noted intelligence analyst “Wonkette” was correct and Bill Barr and all of Trump’s other minions were either outright lying or obfuscating when they said with straight faces that China was the real threat this time, attacking the election to hurt poor Trump.

    […] Let’s dive in and see if we run into any of Paul Manafort’s friends OH HELLO, RUSSIAN SPY KONSTANTIN KILIMNIK! You tried to help steal the 2020 election for Donald Trump, just like you did in 2016? Interesting! […]

    FIRST THINGS FIRST: Russia Did It.

    The takeaway:

    We assess that Russian President Putin authorized, and a range of Russian government organizations conducted, influence operations aimed at denigrating President Biden’s candidacy and the Democratic Party, supporting former President Trump, undermining public confidence in the electoral process, and exacerbating sociopolitical divisions in the US. Unlike in 2016, we did not see persistent Russian cyber efforts to gain access to election infrastructure.

    The report says it has “high confidence” in this assessment, which they don’t say if they don’t really mean it. […]

    A key element of Moscow’s strategy this election cycle was its use of proxies linked to Russian intelligence to push influence narratives — including misleading or unsubstantiated allegations against President Biden — to US media organizations, US officials, and prominent US individuals, including some close to former President Trump and his administration.

    Aha, let’s dig a bit deeper, because Rudy Giuliani Ron Johnson Fox News say whaaaaaaaaat?

    For example, we assess that Putin had purview over the activities of Andriy Derkach, a Ukrainian legislator who played a prominent role in Russia’s election influence activities. Derkach has ties to Russian officials as well as Russia’s intelligence services.
    And Andriy Derkach had “purview” over the activities of …

    Rudy Rudy Rudy Rudy Rudy FUCKING Rudy!

    […] Steven Mnuchin’s Treasury Department announced in September that it was sanctioning Derkach for trying to fuck with the election. That guy had been feeding Giuliani and Senate’s Dumbest Republican (and then-Senate Homeland Security Committee Chair!) Ron Johnson disinformation about HUNTER BIDEN!11!!! and JOE BIDEN!11! and BURISMAAAAA!11!1!1 for months. National Counterintelligence and Security Center Director Bill Evanina told the House Intelligence Committee the same exact thing last summer.

    The guy literally went to KGB spy school, but Rudy Giuliani wasn’t bothered by it, even though he was told a thousand fucking times. Giuliani told the New York Times, “I have no reason to believe he is a Russian agent. There is nothing I saw that said he was a Russian agent. There is nothing he gave me that seemed to come from Russia at all.” He did also say, “How the hell would I know?”

    Here are some bullet points Wonkette wrote about a bunch of things Derkach did:
    The time Derkach, who literally went to KGB finishing school, was whispering to Rudy Giuliani that Joe Biden and former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch had stolen $5.3 billion in American aid for Ukraine, to give it to (((George Soros))), naturally. Derkach and Roodles the Clown are BFFs now.

    The time Derkach’s Kremlin propaganda bullshit about the Bidens stealing money also, according to Rudy Giuliani, implicated Adam Schiff, because one time Adam Schiff owned a piece of a mutual fund. Or something. It’s a total acid trip, it’s not supposed to make sense.

    The time Derkach, who used to be part of Ukraine’s pro-Russia Party of Regions that Paul Manafort worked for, was also sending care packages full of Biden bullshit to Trump Republicans like Devin “A Man A Plan A Cow” Nunes.

    And of course, Derkach is a prime source for Senate’s Dumbest Republican Ron Johnson and his Carmen Sandiego quest to find THE REAL TRUTH about the Bidens in Ukraine, a Senate investigation that is literally advancing Kremlin propaganda for Trump’s benefit in this election.

    The intel community was on top of all of this the whole time. Dude is a literal Russian spy. He fed intel directly to Giuliani, and he fed it through an intermediary to Ron Johnson […]

    Hey, remember how last summer Bill Barr shitcanned the Southern District of New York’s investigation into Giuliani, as well as its subpoenas for his electronic records? Weird how he would do that when the intel community was STARING AT THIS SHIT EVERY DAY. It’s almost like it was his job as Trump’s Roy Cohn to hide the evidence!

    Anyway, Derkach didn’t work alone. He had a little buddy.

    WANTED: Konstantin Kilimnik, for attacking two American elections in a row to help Donald Trump and Russia.

    This brings us to Konstantin Kilimnik, AKA Paul Manafort’s old Russian spy buddy […]

    A network of Ukraine-linked individuals — including Russian influence agent Konstantin Kilimnik — who were also connected to the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) took steps throughout the election cycle to damage US ties to Ukraine, denigrate President Biden and his candidacy, and benefit former President Trump’s prospects for reelection. We assess this network also sought to discredit the Obama administration by emphasizing accusations of corruption by US officials, and to falsely blame Ukraine for interfering in the 2016 US presidential election.

    […] May we quickly remind you what Kilimnik, Paul Manafort’s longtime business associate/LITERAL RUSSIAN SPY buddy, did for Manafort and Trump in 2016? He is the guy Manafort was passing internal Trump campaign Rust Belt polling models before the 2016 election. It always seemed pretty clear Kilimnik was handing that data to Putin’s favorite oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who was also one of their business associates. He is the guy Manafort lied to special counsel Robert Mueller the most about, according to the Mueller Report, and neither Mueller nor SSCI could suss out exactly what they were doing, because of the lies, and because they used encrypted apps that deleted their comms.

    […] And what did Kilimnik do with Derkach in 2020? Back to yesterday’s report:

    Derkach, Kilimnik, and their associates sought to use prominent US persons and media conduits to launder their narratives to US officials and audiences. These Russian proxies met with and provided materials to Trump administration-linked US persons to advocate for formal investigations; hired a US firm to petition US officials; and attempted to make contact with several senior US officials. They also made contact with established US media figures and helped produce a documentary that aired on a US television network in late January 2020.

    […] THIS documentary that the One America News Network (OANN) made in 2020? It was called “The Ukraine Hoax: Impeachment, Biden Cash, and Mass Murder,” and as Mother Jones notes, it was hosted by Michael Caputo, who somehow last year became the spox for the Department of Health and Human Services until he had that weird meltdown.

    […] Rachel Maddow noted last night that it was weird when suddenly last month the FBI put up a fancy new “wanted” poster for Kilimnik, offering a $250,000 reward for information leading to his arrest. He’s been under indictment and hiding out forever. Why the sudden urgency last month? Might have something to do with all this!

    There’s a hell of a lot more in the report, and you should read it on the beach this summer with a mai tai, but we need to move on.

    Other Russian Attacks!

    Like we alluded to above, Russia was goosing the message that became Trump’s Big Lie about the election. […] Their trolls also amplified messages that mail-in ballots are full of fraud (heard that before … somewhere!) […]

    they often outright repeated Trump’s messaging for him, to help spread it.

    The report notes that Russia’s big troll farm — the artist formerly known as the “Internet Research Agency” but now goes by “Lakhta Internet Research” — and other influence operators pushed disinfo on COVID and tried to amplify racial tensions, on top of all the bullshit they were spreading […]

    Oh yeah, and it says Russia is still at it, and has been at the forefront helping to spread Trump’s Big Lie about winning an election he actually lost.

    […] the report says Iran’s activities weren’t really about promoting Joe Biden, but rather just “denigrating” Trump. It mentions that weird thing where Iran was sending emails to Democratic voters claiming to be the Proud Boys, threatening people to change their voter registrations and support Trump OR ELSE. It was bizarre at the time, but this report seems to suggest Iran’s activities were designed to make Trump look bad. Maybe they figured that if Democrats got emails from “The Proud Boys” threatening them, that would make Trump look bad.

    […] ‘GIIIIIIIIIINA … Did Not Do It.

    Sorry, Bill Barr and former DNI John Ratcliffe. You fucking liars.

    We assess that China did not deploy interference efforts and considered but did not deploy influence efforts intended to change the outcome of the US Presidential election. We have high confidence in this judgment.

    […] [Russia] really had a lot of fun with Rudy Giuliani and Ron Johnson […] even after those guys were told one million times that they were being used for a Russian election attack! — but they couldn’t get there.

    We’re just curious to see how this whole Konstantin Kilimnik thing plays out, and whether Manafort might somehow find himself in trouble again, in some way that’s not covered by his pardon from Trump.

    And obviously we’re curious to see what new Attorney General Merrick Garland does with all this Rudy Giuliani evidence lying around the Justice Department.

    Link

  58. says

    Netanyahu is running quite a campaign:

    Bibi vs The World
    Likud video compares Europe’s COVID misery to Israel.
    Yesterday, PM who refuses to vaccinate Palestinians with Israeli surplus complained to @moran_ynet that # of Israeli COVID dead would be lower if it weren’t for Palestinian laborers”

    6 months after UAE recognition of Israel, Netanyahu showed his true face. UAE now livid at his efforts to drag them into [the upcoming Israeli election]. ‘We came to an accord with the state & people of Israel, not a specific person’, Emirati official told @kaisos1987. (Any Likudnik could’ve told’em)”

  59. says

    SC @76, Warnock is turning out to be an effective politician as well as a man of integrity. He has a solid ethical core. He’s also a great orator. His speech inspired a standing ovation.

    A few details:

    […] Sen. Warnock spoke of his mother, who spent her teen years picking “somebody else’s tobacco and somebody else’s cotton,” to make money. “But because this is America, the 82-year-old hands that used to pick somebody else’s cotton went to the polls in January and picked her youngest son to be a United States Senator.”

    Warnock turned to the main focus of his speech: voting rights and the attempts by conservatives to suppress those, so often Black, votes. “The right to vote is preservative of all other rights, it is not just another issue alongside other issues, it is foundational,” Warnock reminded everyone. But this fact continues to elude some of the people who have been to protect this very fundamental tenet. “Now just a few months after Congressman Lewis’ death, there are those in the Georgia legislature, some who even dare to praise his name, that, are now trying to get rid of Sunday souls to the polls. Making it a crime for people who pray together to get on a bus together in order to vote together. I think that’s wrong. As a matter of fact, I think that a vote is a kind of prayer for the kind of world we desire for ourselves and for our children.” Warnock deftly illustrated how political and irrational the filibuster had become, pointing out that “Surely there ought to be at least 60 in this chamber who believe as I do that the four most powerful words uttered in a democracy are ‘The people have spoken.’” […]

    Link

    Video of the speech is available at the link.

  60. says

    About the shooting/murder of 8 people (including 6 Asian women) in Georgia:

    […] To an Asian American woman watching from a distance, the admonishment not to rush to assume racist elements strikes me as perplexing. The alacrity with which the police have released information heavily intimating that this has more to do with sex, specifically the sexual frustrations of a white man, feels obscene.

    […] law enforcement officials made a specific choice in ignoring that [the racial aspect] and echoing the words of a killer. And their stress for caution before labeling Tuesday’s murders as racially motivated—while foregrounding the potential sexual nature of the investigation—runs the risk of falsely treating misogyny and racism as if they’re mutually exclusive, when in fact, overwhelming evidence has shown that the two toxic forces are often interwoven.

    The fact that Asian women make up 70 percent of the recent rise in anti-Asian attacks is further proof of the parallel traumas. In the case of Asian sex workers, there’s really no separating the inherent racism rooted in a white man’s assertion that “sexual addiction” prompted him to commit violence.

    Time and time again, that dangerous instinct on ignoring the full picture has proven effective at minimizing how acute violence lays bare the rot of racism and sexism generally. You see it exposed, excruciatingly so, right there in the language Georgia police officials used to describe Tuesday’s murderous rampage, or as they called it, an act of “lashing out” in order to eliminate sexual urges. (A familiar predicament for all men, right?) Law enforcement officials even went as far as to reduce the murders as a “really bad day” for their suspect.

    As for the women who were murdered, they’ve already been tarnished by a flood of abhorrent jokes on social media about Asian sex workers. They did not get the full humanity of having a “really bad day.” By pressing the potential sexual undertones of Tuesday’s rampage, it’s not a stretch to imagine that the strange performance by Georgia police officials will further fuel the grotesque instinct to crack such jokes amid a tragedy.

    “We are not about to get it into victim blaming, victim shaming here,” Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms responded after a reporter asked if sex work took place at the targeted businesses. “We don’t know additional information about what his motives were, but we certainly do not begin to blame victims.”

    Well, some of us aren’t.

    Link

  61. says

    IRS plans to extend tax filing deadline to mid-May

    The IRS is planning to extend the tax-filing deadline to mid-May, according to two top House Democrats.

    A news release Wednesday from House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) and Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) states that the deadline will be moved from April 15 to May 17.

    The development comes after Neal, Pascrell and other lawmakers on both sides of the aisle pressed for an extension of the April 15 deadline in recent weeks. […]

  62. says

    Wonkette:

    […] There’s also the fact that, according to reporter Frida Ghitis on Twitter, Korean media had an interview with a surviving witness who reported that Long said, “I’m going to kill all Asians.”

    To be clear, law enforcement says it has not ruled out white boy racist rage as a motive.

    Another law enforcement spokesperson said Long “understood the gravity” of what he had done, but was “pretty much fed up” and “at the end of his rope” and “yesterday was a really bad day for him, and this is what he did.” Seriously. And we understand that the officer wasn’t making excuses, but rather explaining what the suspect told law enforcement, but FUCKING SERIOUSLY?

    […] We are already starting to learn about the life story of this poor lost sheep, because that’s what always happens when a white man hauls off and massacres people, they frame him as a poor lost sheep and tell us his life story. The Washington Post tells us Christian leaders are “wrestl[ing]” with Long’s “Southern Baptist ties,” as if anyone outside the conservative white Christian bubble is actually surprised a Good Southern Baptist did this. (To be clear, the Post article isn’t bad, the Baptist leaders expressing shock are.)

    The Daily Beast tells us Long’s Instagram said his life was “Pizza, guns, drums, music, family, and God.” According to a high school classmate, he didn’t even cuss! Why, they’re even passing around a video Long made in 2018 for his church, Crabapple First Baptist in Milton, Georgia, where he tells the story of how he got saved and baptized. Awwwwwww, tell us more about his walk with the Lord, just kidding, HE MURDERED A BUNCH OF ASIAN WOMEN IN COLD BLOOD, CAN WE STOP TREATING EVERY WHITE MALE SHOOTER LIKE SOME SNOWFLAKE WE HAVE TO ANALYZE TO FIND OUT HOW THIS VERY GOOD BOY COULD HAVE DONE SUCH A BAD THING?

    Seriously, fucking every goddamn mass shooter in America is a young white dude. This is not a damn human interest piece.[…]

    Link

  63. says

    Sam Levine, Guardian:

    Voting rights groups are having a press conference ripping Georgia Republicans for introducing a last-minute substitute to legislation that replaced a 2-page voting bill with 93 pages. “Outrageous and immoral,” says James Woodall, president of the Georgia NAACP

    This was the original bill:…

    This is the substitute:…

    Helen Butler, of the Georgia Coalition for the Peoples Agenda, says she’s been following legislative sessions for 20 years and she’s never seen anything like this session

    Yvonne Brooks, of the AFL-CIO, says she’s been following the legislature for 12 years and has never seen “trickery” like what’s going on right now

  64. says

    From the Guardian world liveblog:

    Tanzania’s president John Magufuli has died

    Tanzania’s vice president Samia Sulhu Hassan on Wednesday announced the death of President John Magufuli on state television, Reuters reports.

    Opposition politicians earlier this week said Magufuli was in a serious condition after contracting Covid-19 and had been flown abroad for treatment.

  65. says

    Texas Monthly:

    While many Texans last week were worried about sky-high electric bills from February’s winter storms, the state’s sole utility commissioner was privately reassuring out-of-state investors who profited from the crisis that he was working to keep their windfall safe.

    Texas Monthly has obtained a recording of a 48-minute call on March 9 in which Texas Public Utility Commission chairman Arthur D’Andrea discussed the fallout from the February power crisis with investors. During that call, which was hosted by Bank of America Securities and closed to the public and news media, D’Andrea took pains to ease investors’ concerns that electricity trades, transacted at the highest prices the market allows, might be reversed, potentially costing trading firms and publicly traded generating companies millions of dollars.

    “I apologize for the uncertainty,” D’Andrea said, promising to put “the weight of the commission” behind efforts to keep billions of dollars from being returned to utilities that were forced—thanks to decisions by the PUC—to buy power at sky-high prices, even after the worst of the blackout had passed.

    Billed as “Learning the Texas Two Step: A Chat with the PUCT,” the call originally was scheduled for early February but was postponed until after the winter storm. The conversation shows a coziness between a top Texas regulator and some of the biggest players in the electricity market at a time when the PUC’s oversight is under fire from lawmakers. At one point, during a discussion about whether natural gas, which also saw huge price spikes during the crisis, would be “repriced,” D’Andrea said no, adding that most legislators understand that gas is priced by global markets and is out of their purview. “But I’ll let you know if I hear anything crazy on it,” D’Andrea said. […]

    Tim Morstad, associate state director for AARP Texas, said instead of offering assurances to investors, D’Andrea should be offering them to consumers. “At the bottom of the heap are consumers, and the system isn’t reducing their pain at all,” he said. “It’s time to use the power of the commission to provide relief to consumers who were harmed during this electricity emergency.”

    […] Bank of America’s power trading business, like those of other major investment companies, made hundreds of millions of dollars in trading windfalls during the crisis. The security analysts on the call with D’Andrea are not traders. Instead, they advise institutional investors on whether to buy stocks or other securities in companies that could be affected by his decisions. […]

    https://www.texasmonthly.com/news/wall-street-profited-off-texas-blackouts/

  66. says

    GOPers Seize DHS Hearing For Feverish Rants About Immigrants

    Republican members of Congress took the opportunity of a hearing with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Wednesday to resurface by-now-very-familiar talking points about illegal immigration […]

    The House Homeland Security Committee held the hearing, in which Mayorkas spent the majority of his time addressing issues around the surge of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.

    Republicans used the hearing to claim that Biden was responsible for it, with one member going so far as to suggest that it was due to the “cartels” that planned to send millions more immigrants north.

    […] “Quite frankly, two months ago, we didn’t have problems,” Van Drew said, suggesting that policies under President Donald Trump that had been reversed by Biden within days of his inauguration had vastly contributed to the border surge. […]

    Van Drew’s rosy assessment of illegal immigration during the Trump administration appeared to gloss over a similar surge that occurred under Trump in 2019 — and what Mayorkas described as a longstanding history of “episodic surges” over many years that have occurred during both Democratic and Republican administrations.

    Pushing back on efforts to lay blame on Biden, Mayorkas pointed out that a side-by-side comparison of unaccompanied children at the border in recent weeks is “slightly greater” than a similar spike seen in 2019. The DHS secretary added that the volume of individual family units crossing the border was “far greater” in 2019 than it is in 2021.

    Van Drew’s suggestion of the novelty of the immigration spike also appeared to turn a blind eye to how a number of Trump policies had also played a role in prompting the surge witnessed in recent months, including cutting humanitarian assistance meant to address the root causes of migration from Central America. […]

    Clay Higgins loses it
    Near the hearing’s start however, Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA) set the tone for the minority by screaming at Mayorkas about the crisis at the border, interrupting him before accusing the DHS secretary of failing to answer his questions.

    Higgins began by calling the hearing “nauseating,” before launching into a conspiracy theory.

    “My sources tell me that they’re coming now, and they’re coming through the year,” Higgins proclaimed of illegal immigration, before adding that “the cartels have two million in the pipeline” while asserting that the 2019 surge in undocumented immigrants was because Mexican drug cartels were “paying attention to the election cycle in 2018 when the Democrats took the majority.”

    Higgins then asked Mayorkas whether the world was undergoing a pandemic.

    As Mayorkas began to reply “of course,” Higgins interrupted to ask whether migrants were being tested. After Mayorkas said yes and offered to explain the process, Higgins began to accuse the DHS secretary of refusing to respond.

    “To me, I think the American people are witnessing a question dodged,” Higgins said.

    He later added: “I don’t think I’m gonna get a straight answer from you.”

    He then asked whether Biden administration policies had increased illegal crossings, and whether the “cartels” had paid attention to Biden’s immigration platform during the campaign.

    “Do you think the cartels heard that?” Higgins asked.

    As Mayorkas began to reply, Higgins again interrupted with a “my goodness.”

    “I don’t appreciate you dodging my questions,” Higgins concluded.

    Republicans blame immigrants for COVID
    Higgins’s rant set the stage for another brand of fear-mongering about migrants on the U.S.-Mexico border: that they’re carrying COVID-19. Higgins was enraged at the idea that the government may not be rigorously testing migrants, while others railed against the prospect of migrants carrying the virus with them as they travel northwards.

    Rep. Van Drew echoed the theme, saying that “many are not even being tested for COVID-19, while being released, which is mind boggling.”

    Mayorkas said that he disagreed with the premise of the question. He later explained that DHS either tests people through community organizations that receive migrants, thorough states, or by using newly appropriated federal funds to contract with a vendor that would test migrants for COVID while they’re in CBP custody.

    Of course, the U.S. has enough COVID-19 spreading within its borders already.

    The head of FEMA said on Tuesday that the COVID positivity rate of arriving migrants was 6 percent — lower than that of Texas, the state through which the majority of migrants enter the United States.

  67. says

    Follow-up to comment 88.

    Posted by readers of the TPM article:

    Why is the committee chair allowing this abuse and badgering of a witness?
    ———————-
    Although as immature and childish as the Republican tantrums are, Mayorkas should have simply stood there silent until they realized it. Then pulled the Mom response. “Oh, are you finished? I didn’t want to interrupt you.
    ———————–
    Republicans are into performance art and not much more. You hardly ever hear one ask relevant questions or propose a reasoned solution.
    ————————
    Asking questions and then shouting down the answer
    ———————–
    “My sources” = Fox, the MyPillow guy, and Rush Limbaugh’s corpse
    ——————–
    Ah, the old; “DISEASED COMMIE CARAVANS OF ISLAMIC ANTIFA BLM TERRORIST CHILDREN!!!” argument eh?

    What pathetic losers these Repugnant-kins are.
    ————————
    “was Donald Trump lying to the American people when he said that covid 19 was nothing to worry about?”
    ————————–
    Border apprehensions have been increasing since April of last year. The “surge” under Biden is literally the last bit of that line from about 80k to 97k.

    Notice the impact of Biden’s policies? Cause I sure don’t. Pew Research link

  68. says

    Guardian – “Putin wishes Biden ‘good health’ after killer accusation”:

    Vladmir Putin has wished Joe Biden “good health” as Kremlin officials lashed out at the “demented, hysterical” US president and promised reprisals if he does not apologise for describing his Russian counterpart as a “killer”.

    Putin said that Biden’s remarks reflected the US’s own past and current problems.

    Moscow had on Wednesday recalled its ambassador to Washington after Biden agreed during a TV interview that Putin had orchestrated murders. In the same interview Biden said his Russian counterpart would soon “pay a price” for alleged election meddling.

    The spat comes after Washington imposed sanctions over the poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and declassified an intelligence report stating that Putin directed interference in the 2020 US presidential election, pushing relations between the countries to new lows.

    Earlier Andrei Turchak, a senior politician from the ruling United Russia party, said Biden’s interview was “a triumph of US political insanity and old-age dementia of their leader”.

    Vyacheslav Volodin, the chairman of the Russian parliament, said the “hysterical” US leader had “insulted the citizens of our country”.

    Putin last year praised Biden as an “experienced” politician and said he would be willing to work with any US administration to improve ties between Moscow and Washington.

    But in Biden’s first call with Putin he signalled that he would take a significantly tougher public line on Moscow than the Trump administration, pushing the Russian leader on the persecution of Navalny and cyber-attacks on US government agencies….

  69. says

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

    From there:

    The UN has said that vaccinating some of the world’s most vulnerable refugees could drag on beyond 2022 due to the slow roll-out of Covid-19 jabs in host countries.

    AFP reports:

    UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency, said many urban refugees were driven into a downward spiral of poverty last year by the pandemic. Meanwhile the capacity for dealing with Covid-19 among refugees in rural areas was very limited.

    The UNHCR is seeking $455 million to tackle the additional problems posed in protecting refugees from the effects of the pandemic. “Now the struggle is for vaccines,” Sajjad Malik, UNHCR’s resilience and solutions director, told reporters. “2021 is the beginning but it may very much go into 2022 and beyond because the vaccine is trickling down very slowly into these countries.”

    There are around 80 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, according to UNHCR’s latest statistics. These include 45.7 million internally displaced people, 26.3 million refugees and 4.2 million asylum seekers.

    Despite early fears that refugee camps would prove ideal breeding grounds for the virus, the situation for refugees tends to mirror that of their host communities, Malik said.

  70. says

    Intel revelations raise difficult questions for several Republicans

    The intelligence community’s assessment raises some difficult questions for Trump and Giuliani, but they’re not the only ones in an awkward position.

    The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) this week released a declassified intelligence community assessment on foreign threats to our 2020 elections, and the top-line takeaway was important: Russia once again targeted our political system for the express purposes of giving Donald Trump power.

    Indeed, as we discussed yesterday, Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin relied on the same cast of characters as their 2016 effort: the U.S. intelligence community specifically focused attention on Russian influence agent Konstantin Kilimnik who was responsible for trying to “denigrate” then-candidate Joe Biden in order to “benefit” Donald Trump’s re-election prospects.

    But as important as these revelations are, they’re not the only lessons to be learned from the intelligence community’s findings. This week’s ODNI report also made clear that many leading Trump administration officials deliberately misled the public about foreign threats, especially related to alleged Chinese election interference.

    […] It’s obviously not great that Donald Trump’s personal lawyer partnered with a Russian agent, directed by Putin, on an anti-Biden scheme while the Kremlin was working on helping keep the then-Republican president in power.

    But Rudy Giuliani wasn’t necessarily Andriy Derkach’s only point of contact. It was last year, for example, when we learned that Derkach claimed he fed information to Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who was searching for anti-Biden dirt ahead of last fall’s elections.

    […] A month earlier, at a House Intelligence Committee meeting, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) pressed Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) — the panel’s top GOP member — on whether the Republican had received anti-Biden information from Derkach.

    According to a transcript from the closed-door discussion, Nunes didn’t want to answer.

    It was against this backdrop that Maloney spoke yesterday to MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace and said, “[T]he fact is that [Russian operatives] were so comfortable using people like Devin Nunes that Andriy Derkach — a known Russian asset — sent information to Devin Nunes at the Intelligence Committee. We literally had the package receipt.” [Wow!] […]

  71. says

    Poll: Most GOP voters still reject legitimacy of Biden’s presidency

    The good news: the number of GOP voters accepting the legitimacy of Biden’s presidency is growing. The bad news: it’s not growing much.

    There’s plenty to chew on in the latest national poll from Monmouth University, but I think NBC News flagged the most interesting takeaway.

    Almost two-thirds of Republicans believe that President Joe Biden did not legitimately win the 2020 election, even as more than six-in-ten Americans overall believe he won fair and square, according to a new Monmouth University poll. The survey, conducted February 25 – March 1, found that 65 percent of Republicans believe that Biden’s win was solely the result of voter fraud. What’s more, 29 percent of Republicans say they will never accept Biden as president.

    The numbers are a striking reminder about the extent to which the Republican discourse has been poisoned. It’d be merely discouraging if, say, a tenth of GOP voters stubbornly refused to accept the legitimacy of Biden’s presidency. But if the survey data is correct, the actual number is roughly two-thirds of rank-and-file Republicans who’ve been persuaded to believe demonstrable nonsense.

    Reviewing the Monmouth data, I became curious about the trend line: is the number of GOP voters accepting electoral reality improving at all? The answer is yes, but only a little.

    In November, shortly after Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 race, Monmouth found that 70% of Republicans believed the Democrat had won due to fraud, and that the race wasn’t “fair and square.” Two months later, in January, that number ticked up to 72% of Republicans. […]

  72. says

    Guardian world liveblog on the European Medicines Agency press conference:

    EMA chief Emer Cooke says the committee has ruled “this is a safe and effective vaccine” and the benefits outweigh any possible risks. The jab is not associated with an increase in the overall risk of thromboembolic events or blood clots, she adds.

    However, Cooke says that based on available evidence, “we still cannot rule out definitely a link between these [blood clot] cases and the vaccine”.

    Ay.

  73. says

    Another election-fraud story touted by top Republicans unravels

    The back-and-forth is tiresome and predictable: Republicans, desperate to suppress voting and rationalize election defeats, will insist there’s rampant voter fraud throughout the United States. Democrats will respond by asking for evidence that never materializes.

    Once in a while, however, Republicans will claim to have credible proof of fraud. This generally causes a stir, right up until those claims are subjected to scrutiny.

    In September 2020, for example, then-Attorney General Bill Barr told a national television audience that the Justice Department had “indicted someone in Texas — 1,700 ballots collected from people who could vote, he made them out and voted for the person he wanted to. OK?” As it turned out, no, it wasn’t OK — the Justice Department soon after was forced to concede that Barr’s story wasn’t true.

    About a month later, Donald Trump repeatedly argued that in Wisconsin, “they” found “a lot of ballots in a river,” which had been thrown out because they were votes for him. It wasn’t long before we learned he’d made this up.

    Earlier this year, Republicans in Arizona insisted that there was election fraud in Maricopa County that helped tipped the state in President Joe Biden’s direction. An independent audit debunked the claims, and this week, a judge shredded a state GOP election lawsuit on the matter, calling it “baseless” and “groundless,” while accusing Republican officials of “gaslighting.”

    And then, of course, there’s the story out of Pennsylvania that Republicans were briefly quite excited about. The Washington Post reported on the results of a detailed investigation:

    U.S. Postal Service investigators found no evidence to support a Pennsylvania postal worker’s claim that his supervisors had tampered with mail-in ballots, according to an inspector general’s report — allegations cited by top Republicans to press baseless claims of fraud in the presidential election.

    A Pennsylvania mail carrier named Richard Hopkins originally claimed he heard a local postmaster discussing an election-fraud scheme. He even released a sworn affidavit to bolster his claims.

    Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), among others, took the allegations quite seriously, and the story helped fuel conspiracy theories about Biden’s narrow victory in the Keystone State.

    But the story wasn’t true: not only did the Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General discredit the claims, but Hopkins also recanted. The report from U.S.P.S. investigators specifically noted that the mail carrier eventually said “he had not heard a conversation about ballots at all — rather he saw the Postmaster and Supervisor having a discussion and assumed it was about fraudulent ballot backdating.”

    If recent history is any guide, these inconvenient details will do little to derail those who believe the Big Lie about Trump’s defeat, but for those interested in reality, the fact that the conspiracy theorists have precisely zero victories should send a clear signal about the merits of their crusade.

  74. says

    More:

    Cooke says the EMA is looking to do observational studies to investigate further. And she calls for people who incur any side effects to report it. But she reiterates the EMA’s position that “this vaccine is a safe and effective option to protect citizens against Covid-19” and that the AstraZeneca jab demonstrated at least a 60% efficacy in preventing coronavirus disease.

    She notes that over 2,500 people died related to Covid in one day last week alone, and therefore the review was made EMA’s highest priority. She said European experts were mobilised for the review, and that member states have further information to inform their policies – after a number of countries paused their campaigns with the jabs.

  75. says

    From today’s DN! headlines:

    House Votes to Reauthorize Violence Against Women Act, Which Lapsed Under President Trump

    The House voted Wednesday to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, after it expired during Trump’s presidency. Only 29 Republicans joined Democrats in voting for the bill. It now heads to the evenly divided Senate.

    Brazil’s COVID-19 Cases and Deaths Hit New Highs, Pushing Hospitals to Brink of Collapse

    Brazil’s healthcare system is on the brink of collapse as COVID-19 cases and deaths surge to new highs. On Wednesday, Brazil reported more than 90,000 new infections for the first time since the start of the pandemic. A reported 5,500 Brazilians died of COVID-19 in the last two days alone….

    U.N. Reports Pandemic Has Caused 239,000 Child and Maternal Deaths in South Asia

    The United Nations reports the pandemic may have caused an additional 239,000 indirect deaths of children and mothers across South Asia. The U.N. cites rising poverty during the pandemic, as well as interruptions to medical care, immunizations and treatments for malnutrition.

    Bernie Sanders Introduces Bill to Tax Companies with Excessive CEO Pay

    Senator Bernie Sanders has introduced the Tax Excessive CEO Pay Act, which would increase taxes on large companies that pay CEOs over 50 times more than the median pay of its workers. The bill also strengthens government oversight of corporate tax avoidance. On Wednesday, Sanders, who chairs the Senate Budget Committee, held a hearing on the inequality crisis. Sanders called on Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, one of the world’s two richest men, to appear before the committee, but Bezos declined….

    Uber Is Reclassifying All 70,000 of Its U.K. Drivers as Workers

    In Britain, in a major win for labor rights, Uber will reclassify all 70,000 of its drivers as workers, entitling them to minimum wage, holiday pay and other benefits. The U.K. is the first country where Uber will adopt this business model, after a landmark Supreme Court ruling last month in a lawsuit brought by a handful of drivers.

    U.K. to Start Recording Misogyny-Driven Attacks as Hate Crimes as Opposition Mounts to Anti-Protest Bill

    In more news from the U.K., police will start recording crimes motivated by a person’s sex or gender as a hate crime. The move is not yet permanent and comes amid mounting tensions over a new bill pushed by Conservatives that would increase police powers and crack down on peaceful protesters. On Saturday, police violently broke up a vigil for Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old woman who was murdered earlier this month, likely by a police officer. On Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced plans for plainclothes police officers to patrol bars and nightclubs in an effort to prevent sexual violence — a move that was swiftly condemned by rights groups and women across Britain.

  76. says

    Republicans being bonkers … again.

    […] The Congressional Gold Medal measure was supposed to be approved early last week [for U.S. Capitol Police], but some members of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus forced a delay on this and several other seemingly uncontroversial bills. At the time, it appeared that several conservative GOP lawmakers were simply wasting time for the sake of wasting time.

    What was less clear was that some Republicans actually opposed the resolution honoring the law-enforcement officials that protected the Capitol.

    Politico reported yesterday that some of Donald Trump’s congressional allies tried to “scrub references to the insurrection” from the resolution that honored police officers who defended lawmakers during an insurrectionist attack. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), in particular, circulated an alternative resolution that sought to downplay the events of Jan. 6 and the sacrifices of Officers Brian Sicknick and Jeffrey Smith.

    Politico’s report went on to note that this represented “the latest effort by some of Trump’s most hardcore backers to rewrite history,” adding, “Call this what it is: totally bonkers.”

    Gohmert and his allies, not surprisingly, failed, and the actual Congressional Gold Medal resolution passed 413 to 12. But the fact that 12 elected lawmakers — all Republicans — voted against the measure was nevertheless extraordinary. For the record, this is the list of the resolution’s dozen GOP opponents:

    Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.)
    Michael Cloud (R-Texas)
    Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.)
    Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.)
    Louie Gohmert (R-Texas)
    Bob Good (R-Va.)
    Lance Gooden (R-Texas)
    Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.)
    Andy Harris (R-Md.)
    Thomas Massie (R-Ky.)
    John Rose (R-Tenn.)
    Gregory Steube (R-Fla.)

    […] police officers made considerably more campaign contributions than usual in 2020, and most of the donations went to GOP officials and candidates. […]

    Link

  77. says

    I think this is (or should be) the main EMA takeaway: “The incidence of the reported blood clots and thromboembolic events are not higher than the existing rate, the officials reiterate, again.”

  78. says

    OMFG.

    Police Captain Who Said GA Shooting Suspect Had ‘Bad Day’ Peddled Racist Anti-China Shirts Online

    […] several posts on Baker’s [Captain Jay Baker of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office in Georgia] Facebook page from 2020 that promoted t-shirts emblazoned with “COVID-19 IMPORTED VIRUS FROM CHY-NA.”

    “Place your order while they last,” Baker wrote with a smiley face in one post on March 30.

    The police captain boosted the shirts again on April 2.

    “Love my shirt,” he wrote. “Get yours while they last.” […]

    During a press briefing with other law enforcement officers and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on Wednesday afternoon, Baker seemed to characterize Long as some sort of victim whose alleged crimes were the result of having a hard day.

    “He was pretty much fed up, he’d been kind of at the end of his rope, and yesterday was a really bad day for him,” the police captain said. “And this is what he did.” […]

    the attacks occurred during an ongoing surge of racist harassment and violence against Asian-Americans amid COVID-19, which ex-President Donald Trump frequently referred (and continues to refer after leaving office) to as “the China virus.”

  79. says

    SC @100. Right. Agreed.

    In other news, and as a follow-up to comment 101, Lieu calls for FBI investigation of Atlanta shootings after Georgia officer’s racist post surfaces

    […] It didn’t take long for Buzzfeed to locate a racist and indeed specifically anti-Asian post on Baker’s own Facebook page: a picture of a T-shirt calling COVID-19 an “IMPORTED VIRUS FROM CHY-NA.”

    […] This is maybe not the best guy to assess what a racist motive looks like, and it certainly helps explain how he, in his role as sheriff’s department spokesman, seemed at least as attuned to the suspect’s basic humanity as to that of the victims.

    As Rep. Ted Lieu responded to the “bad day” excuse from Baker, “All of us have experienced bad days. But we don’t go to three Asian businesses and shoot up Asian employees.” Lieu is calling for “the FBI to conduct its own independent investigation.”

    ”We know hate when we see it,” Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock said on MSNBC. “We’ll get into the nuances of it, but only hate drives you to take eight precious lives in the way that he did.”

    While Long told investigators he had a “sexual addiction” and saw the spas and massage businesses he attacked as a “temptation,” that hardly eliminates race as a factor considering that, as Twitter user David Dennis Jr. pointed out, “He was so wildly addicted to sex that he drove pass all the strip clubs in ATLANTA to only target establishments where he knows Asian women work.” (If you haven’t been to Atlanta, please trust that there are a lot of strip clubs.)

    […] ”Racially motivated violence should be called out for exactly what it is and we must stop making excuses and rebranding it as economic anxiety or sexual addiction,” Rep. Marilyn Strickland said on the House floor on Wednesday. “As a woman who is Black and Korean I am acutely aware of how it feels to be erased or ignored.” In this case, specifically, the racial component of a mass killing is being erased and ignored by law enforcement.

    There has been a surge of anti-Asian racism in the U.S. over the past year, with the group Stop AAPI Hate tracking 3,800 incidents, 68% of them targeting women. This came as Donald Trump and other prominent Republicans repeatedly blamed the coronavirus pandemic on China. […]

  80. says

    Follow-up to comments 101 and 102.

    Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn tweeted:

    The Biden Administration refuses to admit that China is responsible for this virus. What would make us think #BeijingBiden would stand up to them on anything else?

    Wonkette commentary:

    […] who could possibly see this news [concerning the shootings in Georgia] and think to themselves “You know what I should bring up right now?” What about that felt appropriate? It almost seems as if she really wants us to know, on a day the country was talking about that nice Christian boy and how he killed all the people, whose side she is on.

    […] Now, let’s just say this was just coincidentally the worst timing ever; let’s even pretend Blackburn’s was a factually correct statement. What would actually be gained by the Biden administration saying “China is responsible for this virus!” Is it just that it would make Marsha Blackburn feel good?

    Was the virus first identified in Wuhan, China? Sure! Does that mean the entire country of China is responsible for it? No, because that would be absurd. At least in China they believed it was a virus and not part of Bill Gates’s evil plan to put the Mark of the Beast on everyone. […]

    Even if China is not being 100 percent honest about their COVID-19 data, as American Intelligence officials suspected last spring, it’s fairly obvious Trump’s constant cries of “China Virus” and “Wuhan Flu” didn’t do a thing to abate the spread here. In fact, the only thing they did likely do was increase resentment and anger towards Asian-Americans among his supporters — leading obviously and directly to the increase in hate crimes we are now seeing.

    It also led to Trump supporters sending horrifically racist voicemails to Congresswoman Grace Meng, after she sponsored a resolution condemning anti-Asian racism. […]

    There is no correlation, regardless of what Blackburn thinks, between stoking resentment against China for factually untrue things and “standing up” to China, in whatever capacity it is that she thinks that needs to be done. I don’t think we need to blame the entire country for COVID-19, but I feel perfectly fine saying that their sweatshops are horrific and that American companies should not be allowed to do their manufacturing there or sell things manufactured there until that is no longer an issue and things like “labor activists being ‘disappeared’ for looking into Ivanka Trump’s shoe sweatshop of doom” are no longer happening. I also feel fine saying they need to free Tibet. See how easy that is? It’s almost as if you can criticize a country’s policies without being a weird racist asshole about it and getting people harassed, assaulted or killed.

    Link

  81. tomh says

    WaPo:
    Becerra squeaks through confirmation vote to become HHS secretary
    Amy Goldstein
    March 18, 2021

    Xavier Becerra narrowly won confirmation Thursday to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, the agency pivotal to President Biden’s urgent goal of defeating the coronavirus pandemic and expanding access to health care.

    Becerra, a congressman from Los Angeles for two dozen years and then California attorney general, squeaked by on a vote of 50 to 49, the closest margin for any of the Biden cabinet members the Senate has confirmed so far.

    Some of the Republican arguments against him:

    Republican Sen. John Barrasso (Wyo.)… noted that, as state attorney general, Becerra sued the Trump administration more than 150 times over immigration, environmental and health policies….

    Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) lambasted Becerra, saying he has “an appalling track record disrespecting the sanctity of life. . . . He has no shame when it comes to his pro-abortion beliefs.”

    Inhofe also criticized Becerra’s support last year for California’s ban on indoor worship services as part of the state’s efforts to slow the cornavirus’s spread. And the senator criticized Becerra’s position that undocumented immigrants should be allowed public benefits, such as Medicaid….

    All sound like arguments in favor to me.

    Roger Severino, who led HHS’s Office for Civil Rights during the Trump administration and created a division to promote “conscience and religious freedom,”…. is building an “HHS Accountability Project” within the conservative Ethics and Public Policy Center….on matters of abortion and deference to religion, Severino said, “We will be watching.”

  82. says

    Ashish Jha:

    Over past week, number of infections in U.S. has stopped declining

    At about 50K infections every day

    About where we were at height of summer surge

    Why the stall?

    Suspect B.1.1.7 is now starting to really have an effect

    And states are opening up

    This is a problem

    Problem with national data is it misses underlying state trends

    A month ago, every state saw declining cases

    Today, 15 states have more cases than 2 weeks ago

    19 states have a higher test positivity than 2 weeks ago

    And even hospitalizations are inching up in some places

    Not a surprise

    B.1.1.7 — probably represents about 40% of infections in US today

    Means about 20,000 infections identified today were likely from B.1.1.7

    It will become the dominant variant in next couple of weeks

    So what’s the problem? Look at Europe

    As it become dominant, tend to see large spikes in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths

    So are we in big trouble?

    Not necessarily

    We have two ways out:

    1. keep vaccinating and fast
    2. keep restrictions in place for a few more weeks

    We are doing the first, not the second

    Every high risk person should be able to get a vaccine by mid to late April

    That’s so close

    Every infection that kills someone today is a person who would get vaccinated in the few weeks

    So we have to keep public health restrictions in place for a tiny bit longer

    That means not relaxing indoor mask mandates

    Not returning to full restaurants & bars

    And not cutting back on testing

    And it definitely adds an urgency to vaccinate every high risk person — older folks, those with chronic diseases, as quickly as possible

    Like now

    Bottom line?

    We are still at a high level of infection

    We have stopped declining

    Am I sure we’ll see cases rise? No, but worried

    Lets finish vaccinating high risk folks

    Then smartly relax public health measures

    That will allow us to enjoy what should be a great summer

    Fin

  83. says

    Daily Beast – “GOP Rep. Extols Lynchings During Hearing on Anti-Asian American Violence”:

    Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) kicked off Thursday’s House hearing on violence and discrimination against Asian-Americans by railing against the Chinese Communist Party and extolling lynchings, saying he takes “justice very seriously.”

    The House Judiciary Committee hearing, which was originally scheduled to address the marked increase in anti-Asian hate crimes and violence in recent months, took on added urgency after a 21-year-old white man went on a murderous rampage on Tuesday that left eight dead, including six Asian women.

    In his opening statement, Roy first acknowledged that the shootings were a tragedy and that the “victims of race-based violence and their families deserve justice.” From there, however, the Texas lawmaker immediately criticized the very nature of the hearing while deploying some whataboutist logic.

    “The case we are talking about here the tragedy we just saw occur in Atlanta, Georgia,” Roy declared. “I would also suggest that the victims of cartels moving illegal aliens deserve justice. The American citizens in south Texas, they are getting absolutely decimated by what’s happening at the southern border deserve justice.”

    The conservative congressman continued: “The victims of rioting and looting in the street… last summer deserve justice. We believe in justice.”

    And then came an admiring reference to lynchings, a violent and public form of vigilante action that most often targeted people of color: “There’s an old saying in Texas about ‘find all the rope in Texas and get a tall oak tree.’ You know, we take justice very seriously. And we ought to do that. Round up the bad guys. That’s what we believe.”

    Roy further grumbled: “My concern about this hearing is that it seems to want to venture into the policing of rhetoric in a free society, free speech, and away from the rule of law and taking out bad guys.”

    While many have expressed growing concern that the heated rhetoric from conservatives and former President Donald Trump regarding the coronavirus—including calling it the “China virus” and “Kung flu”—has potentially led to increased anti-Asian sentiment in the states, Roy decided to launch into a rant against the Chinese government.

    Later in the hearing, Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY), who is of Taiwanese descent, issued a powerful rebuke of Roy, specifically singling out his attempt to use a hearing on anti-Asian violence to complain about the Chinese government.

    “I want to go back to something that Mr. Roy said earlier,” an emotional Meng stated. “Your president and your party and your colleagues can talk about issues with any other country that you want, but you don’t have to do it by putting a bull’s eye on the backs of Asian-Americans across this country! On our grandparents and on our kids!”

    Holding back tears and her voice quivering, the Democratic lawmaker added: “This hearing was to address the hurt and pain of our community and to find solutions! We will not let you take our voice away from us!”

    Incidentally, for reference:

    The Chinese massacre of 1871 was a racial massacre that occurred on October 24, 1871, in Los Angeles, California, when a mob of around 500 White persons entered Old Chinatown and attacked, bullied, robbed, and murdered Chinese residents in cold blood…. A few 21st-century sources have described this as the largest mass lynching in American history.

    An estimated 17 to 20 Chinese immigrants were killed and later hanged by the mob in the course of the riot, but most had already been shot to death…. Ten men of the mob were prosecuted and eight were convicted of manslaughter in these deaths. The convictions were overturned on appeal due to technicalities….

  84. says

    More from the Guardian – “AstraZeneca Covid vaccine is safe and effective, says European regulator”:

    The AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine is “safe and effective” and its benefits outweigh the risks, Europe’s medicines regulator has said, but it will continue to study possible links between the shot and a very rare blood clotting disorder.

    The director of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), Emer Cooke, said the agency’s safety committee had reached “a clear scientific conclusion” and had not found that the vaccine was associated with an increase in the overall risk of blood clots.

    But Cooke said the agency’s review, launched after about 30 cases of unusual clotting and low platelet counts in recipients of the vaccine prompted more than a dozen EU countries to suspend its use, had uncovered “a small number of cases of rare and unusual but very serious clotting disorders”.

    She said the EMA still could “not rule out definitively a link between these cases and the vaccine”, and was therefore recommending “to raise awareness” of possible risks.

    A new warning in the vaccine information would draw attention to “possible rare conditions” to help recipients and healthcare professionals “prevent and mitigate any possible side effects”, she said.

    Starting a third wave driven by more infectious new variants and struggling to accelerate sluggish inoculation programme, several EU countries responded rapidly to the news….

    Investigations were continuing into the rare events, Cooke said, but “about seven million people have now been vaccinated in the EU with the AstraZeneca vaccine, and 11 million in the UK … I want to reiterate that our scientific position is that this vaccine is a safe and effective option to protect citizens against Covid-19”.

    She said the agency’s investigation had not uncovered any problems related to specific batches of the shot or manufacturing sites. “If it was me, I would be vaccinated tomorrow,” she said. “But I would want to know what to do if I had any problems – and that’s what we’re doing now.”

    Britain’s MHRA medicines regulator also said on Thursday that the evidence did not suggest that the AstraZeneca vaccine caused blood clots, adding that it too was still investigating a very rare and specific type of blood clot in cerebral veins.

    MHRA said there had been five cases of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) combined with a low platelets count in recipients of the shot in the UK, and there was no need to pause the shot.

    A British expert, Prof Sir Munir Pirmohamed, chair of the Commission on Human Medicines, said even if a link between CVST and the shot was found, it was unlikely the UK vaccination campaign would be halted since the incidence rate was so low.

    Norway’s expert group said on Thursday that after investigating three health workers who had fallen ill with the same combination of CVST and low platelet counts, one of whom died, they believed a strong immune reaction to the vaccine was the cause.

    “We have no other history in these patients that could give such a strong immune response,” Prof Pål Andre Holme said. “I am absolutely certain it is these antibodies that are the cause and see no other reason than … the vaccine that triggers it.”

    The World Health Organization’s global vaccine safety panel is currently examining the vaccine data and the precise clinical circumstances of each rare blood coagulation case, the body said, and will publish its findings on Friday.

    AstraZeneca has said 17 million people in the EU and UK have received the vaccine and the number of cases of blood clots reported “is lower than the hundreds of cases that would be expected among the general population”.

    Denmark, the first to suspend the shot last week after a 60-year-old woman died from a “highly unusual” blood event, and Germany, where three recipients have died from the rare cerebral vein thrombosis, have said they acted on strictly scientific grounds.

    Because of the extreme rarity of the events, the decision to pause the shot has been criticised as political. Some EU members states such as Belgium and Greece did not suspect, with Belgium saying pausing the vaccine was “irresponsible”.

    The AstraZeneca vaccine was already perceived by many in the EU as second-best after several national agencies postponed its authorisation for the over-65s over of a lack of data. Experts fear the suspensions may further depress its take-up.

    What a mess.

  85. says

    Jim Sciutto:

    In two days, we had two alarming intel reports about two severe threats to the US: foreign election interference and domestic terrorism. Neither is new but both share a new, growing component: the aiding and abetting by Americans in positions of power.

    The most alarming aspect of ODNI’s assessment of 2020 election interference was not that Russia interfered again and, again, to help Trump and hurt his Democratic opponent. Senior intel officials always tell me that Russia is predictably consistent.

    What’s most concerning is that Russia had help. ODNI report states: “A key element of Moscow’s strategy this election cycle was its use of proxies linked to Russian intelligence to push influence narratives – incl misleading or unsubstantiated allegations against Pres Biden to US media organizations, US officials, and prominent US individuals, including some close to former President Trump and his administration.”

    ODNI does not ID those in Trump’s inner circle who helped spread disinformation but it does name one of their Russian partners – the known Russian intel agent Andriy Derkach – who Rudy Giuliani met with, obtained “dirt” on Biden from, and then spread the claimed dirt broadly

    Congress had a chance to help prevent this. Remember: language in the 2020 intelligence bill would have required presidential campaigns to report offers of foreign election help but Senate Republicans stripped it out.

    Evidence of Americans in power helping fuel domestic terrorism is equally alarming. ODNI states: “…narratives of fraud in the recent general election” & “the emboldening impact of the violent breach of the US Capitol” will “almost certainly” spur domestic extremists

    Trump’s debunked attacks on the election are well known but continuing to a receptive base. And even with him out of power, current lawmakers continue to spread the “big lie”. Many new voting restriction bills cite it specifically as justification for those new restrictions.

    Other votes – again by current lawmakers, contain a similar message, as when 2/3 of House GOP voted to reject electoral votes *after* the insurrection, and now 12 Republicans refused to award medals to USCP officers, one saying use of the word “insurrection” went too far.

    Anyone who doesn’t buy the seriousness of the threat from within should watch this video of one of many violent attacks on USCP officers Jan 6, just released by the FBI today:…

  86. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    US president Joe Biden said 65% of Americans who are 65 years and older have received at least one shot of a Covid-19 vaccine.

    Biden also said his administration will meet its goal of giving out 100 million vaccine shots on Friday.

  87. says

    BBC – “Tokyo Games creative head quits over ‘Olympig’ insult”:

    Tokyo Olympics’ creative chief has resigned after suggesting that a female comedian could appear as an “Olympig”, in the latest setback for the Games.

    Hiroshi Sasaki said plus-size entertainer Naomi Watanabe could wear pig ears at the opening ceremony.

    He later apologised and admitted his remarks were “a huge insult” to her. Ms Watanabe has yet to respond.

    The incident comes after ex-Games president Yoshiro Mori was forced to quit for making sexist remarks.

    “There was a very inappropriate expression in my ideas and remarks,” Mr Sasaki said in a statement released through the Games organising committee. “I sincerely apologise to her and people who have felt discomfort with such content.”

    Ms Watanabe, 33, is one of Japan’s most famous comedians, and is known for her celebrity impersonations and body positivity advocacy work.

    In recent years she has spearheaded a body positive movement called “pochakawaii”, which translates to “chubby and cute”, and in 2014 she started one of Japan’s first brands to offer plus-size clothing.

    Mr Sasaki, 66, who is in charge of the Olympic opening and closing ceremonies, had made the suggestions involving Watanabe last year via a group chat on messaging app Line. The proposal was immediately rejected by his colleagues, who told him it was inappropriate.

    Organisers have said that current Games president Seiko Hashimoto plans to address the matter at a news conference on Thursday.

    Former Olympian and Japan’s ex-Olympics minister Ms Hashimoto was appointed Games president last month after Mr Mori sparked backlash when he said that women talk too much. He also said that meetings with many female board directors would “take a lot of time”.

    Since taking on the role, Ms Hashimoto has pledged to make gender equality a top priority at the Games, adding 12 female directors to the organising committee’s executive board.

    This is all so exhausting and sad. (And doubly so for animal rights advocates.)

  88. lumipuna says

    From 88:

    Republicans blame immigrants for COVID
    Higgins’s rant set the stage for another brand of fear-mongering about migrants on the U.S.-Mexico border: that they’re carrying COVID-19. Higgins was enraged at the idea that the government may not be rigorously testing migrants, while others railed against the prospect of migrants carrying the virus with them as they travel northwards.

    Rep. Van Drew echoed the theme, saying that “many are not even being tested for COVID-19, while being released, which is mind boggling.”

    Mayorkas said that he disagreed with the premise of the question. He later explained that DHS either tests people through community organizations that receive migrants, thorough states, or by using newly appropriated federal funds to contract with a vendor that would test migrants for COVID while they’re in CBP custody.

    Of course, the U.S. has enough COVID-19 spreading within its borders already.

    and 103:

    Even if China is not being 100 percent honest about their COVID-19 data, as American Intelligence officials suspected last spring, it’s fairly obvious Trump’s constant cries of “China Virus” and “Wuhan Flu” didn’t do a thing to abate the spread here. In fact, the only thing they did likely do was increase resentment and anger towards Asian-Americans among his supporters — leading obviously and directly to the increase in hate crimes we are now seeing.

    It also led to Trump supporters sending horrifically racist voicemails to Congresswoman Grace Meng, after she sponsored a resolution condemning anti-Asian racism. […]

    Apparently, Republican proposed solutions to Covid-19 include: 1. Close the borders, at least to the kind of people we don’t want in the US anyway. 2. Continue to be angry at the Chinese at large for something some of them did or didn’t do over a year ago.

    Here in Finland, border traffic control is also something a lot of people demand in the name of stopping Covid-19. It seems slightly odd to me, since the virus is already quite widespread within the country, but what do I know about epidemic control. The authorities here generally follow expert advice, and they indeed do try to limit traffic and mandate testing at the borders, as much as it’s possible within the framework of existing laws, constitution and international agreements. However, nobody here seems to be singling out incoming asylum seekers and other immigrants, who constitute only a tiny portion of all incoming traffic.

    As for ethnic resentment, this is something that increasingly starts coming up here with regard to immigrant communities and migrant worker camps (construction sites, farms etc.).

    It’s been often noted that Covid-19 disproportionately affects Black and Hispanic communities in the US, and likewise BAME immigrant communities in Europe. Slightly deeper analysis reveals that the virus actually targets lower socioeconomic classes, where people tend to have in-person jobs (often in customer service or in crowded facilities), cramped living spaces and large households. These lower socioeconomic classes are also disproportionately made up of ethnic minorities.

    In Finland there’s been some difficulty getting immigrant and migrant worker communities participate equally in the generally recommended precautions, such as masking and social distancing. There may be variable and complicated reasons for this, that are difficult to distinguish from the abovementioned socioeconomic issues.

    Anyway, now there’s increasing concern among the totally-not-racists that our epidemic is largely driven by the poor compliance of people in immigrant communities. Infections are rising, thanks to the new virus variants, everyone is tired of the restrictions, and vaccine supply remains short. There’s some talk of prioritizing vaccines into the badly affected (ie. immigrant heavy) neighborhoods, and this riles up the sort of people who loathe the idea of “rewarding bad behavior”. Others just generally grumble about the apparent or rumored masking/distancing non-compliance among ethnic minorities, without proposing any constructive solutions.

  89. says

    SC @105, all good points. Thanks for posting that. I live in a state where the daily case rate is rising. I did get my first dose of Moderna vaccine today, so that’s good. Not good is that many of the customers in the store where the vaccination clinic was located were not wearing masks.

    I have almost no side effects. Slightly sore arm. Mild headache.

    I’ll get a second dose of Moderna vaccine in April.

  90. says

    Bits and pieces of news:

    NPR:

    President Biden and Vice President Harris plan to travel to Atlanta on Friday, where they will meet with leaders of the city’s Asian American community in the aftermath of a deadly shooting spree there this week that left eight people dead, including six women of Asian descent. Meanwhile, Biden issued a proclamation for U.S. flags on federal buildings to be lowered to half-staff through sunset Monday to mark the massacre in Georgia.

    Associated Press:

    Without opposition, the Senate confirmed veteran diplomat William Burns as CIA director on Thursday, giving him control of the nation’s premier spy agency as the U.S. government confronts threats from China, Russia, Iran and elsewhere. The approval, by voice vote, came soon after Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, lifted a hold he had placed on the nomination.

    Wall Street Journal:

    The U.S. government has issued approximately 90 million stimulus payments worth $242 billion, more than half of the estimated total relief authorized under the latest Covid-19 relief package, the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service said Wednesday.

    Clarion Ledger:

    City of Jackson [Mississippi] officials lifted all boil water notices Wednesday afternoon, exactly a month after February winter storms caused massive water outages across the city’s water system.

  91. says

    McCarthy Angrily Insists It’s Not Stealing The Election If He Only Tried To Toss Votes Of Two States

    House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) heatedly insisted Thursday that he did not try to overturn the 2020 election because he only voted against validating the results from two states — which wouldn’t have been enough, he reasoned, to overturn President Joe Biden’s win.

    […] McCarthy […] grew increasingly heated as he insisted that invalidating the votes of those millions of voters in Arizona and Pennsylvania was completely different than invalidating the votes of the 400,000 Iowans who voted in the second district, due to the fact that it wouldn’t have given Trump the election.

    Raju asked if, given that argument, McCarthy regretted signing onto Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s lawsuit, a last-ditch effort to toss all the votes from the four battleground states that propelled Biden to victory.

    “No, no, no I don’t!” McCarthy said loudly. […]

  92. says

    Follow-up to comment 128.

    More detail, and a reader’s comment:

    [McCarthy] continued to claim that going through the courts is the proper way to conduct election challenges before pivoting to Republicans’ primary talking point on the Iowa mess.

    “That’s where you go, you go to the courts,” he said. “The system says she can go to the courts — did she [Democrat, Rita Hart] go there?” he asked, adding that the case was “pure politics.”

    “Don’t mistake things that aren’t the same,” he shot at Raju before moving on.

    I’m not very smart, I realize, but: given that both the PA and AZ elections had been challenged in court and then certified, it seems to me that maybe, following the argument he’s making here, McCarthy shouldn’t have challenged the results of those elections.

    Backstory:

    Currently, the House Administration Committee is considering the election results from Iowa’s second district. Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks won the election by just six votes, and a recount was conducted and the race certified by state officials. The Democrat, Rita Hart, pointed to issues in the recount process — she said that state law limited the recount to ballots initially counted after Election Day — and says she has identified 22 ballots that were improperly rejected due to election worker error.

  93. blf says

    Rather to my surprise — assuming I’m reading correctly — the new Covid-19 “lockdown lite” measures announced last night for some parts of France do not include the entire Nice–Marseille coastal area (only the Nice-area, plus (as expected) other areas, including Paris). At the moment, I believe that of all the changes announced, the only one which affects this immediate area is the change in start of curfew (from 6pm to 7pm, I think curfew still runs until 9am).

    Vaccinations are still a Big Problem. France is more-or-less tracking the EU average rate (France c.11, EU c.12 vaccinations per 100 people), but as the average is presumably being held down by laggards such as Bulgaria and Latvia (both c.5)†, that’s not as impressive as it sounds. France is still very much in near the bottom (EU-wise, i.e. excluding the exceptional performance of the UK at c.41 (no snarking, congratulations to the NHS!)). Of course, President Macron and minions are claiming France is doing exceptionally well, EU-wise; not quite sure what reality they imagine themselves to be in (perhaps they are looking at the total numbers, where do to its size, France’s c.5.6m vaccinations since the end of December is perhaps amongst the largest in the EU (haven’t checked)?).

      † If I recall correctly, Latvia — and presumably also Bulgaria — is having a massive supply problem.

  94. says

    In the Guardian (support it if you can!):

    “US and China publicly rebuke each other in first major talks of Biden era.”

    This is feeling very Cold War.

    “Myanmar security forces kill eight anti-coup protesters, say local media reports”:

    …If confirmed they would be the latest of more than 220 killings and 2,000 detentions since the military ousted the civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi on 1 February, triggering a mass uprising that security forces have sought to crush with a campaign of violence and fear.

    Roads out of Myanmar’s biggest city were choked on Friday with people fleeing the junta’s deadly crackdown on anti-coup dissent, as authorities in neighbouring Thailand said they were preparing for an influx of displaced people.

    The junta this week imposed martial law over six townships in Yangon, the nation’s former capital and commercial hub, in effect putting nearly 2 million people under direct control of military commanders.

    On Friday, local media showed traffic clogging up a main highway going north out of Yangon, reporting that people were fleeing the city for rural areas….

    “Tanzania’s first female leader urges unity after Covid sceptic Magufuli dies”:

    Tanzania’s new president, Samia Suluhu Hassan, has said the country should unite and avoid pointing fingers after the death of John Magufuli, her Covid-19 sceptic predecessor.

    Wearing a red hijab, she took her oath of office on the Qur’an in a ceremony at State House in the east African country’s commercial capital, Dar es Salaam. She is the first female head of state in the country of 58 million.

    Hassan, vice-president since 2015, gave a brief and sombre address after she was sworn in, addressing a heavily male crowd that included two former presidents and uniformed officers.

    “This is a time to bury our differences, and be one as a nation,” she said. “This is not a time for finger pointing, but it is a time to hold hands and move forward together.”

    The remarks appeared aimed at dispelling a mood of uncertainty that developed after Magufuli, criticised by opponents as a divisive and authoritarian figure, disappeared from public view for 18 days before his death was announced.

    His absence from public life drew speculation he was critically ill with Covid-19. Magufuli died of heart disease, Hassan said when announcing his death on Wednesday. [Bullshit.]

    Among the first tasks facing Hassan, 61, will be a decision on whether to procure Covid vaccines. Under her predecessor, the government said it would not obtain any vaccines until the country’s own experts had reviewed them.

    She will also be faced with the task of healing a country polarised during the Magufuli years, analysts said, and building her own political base to govern effectively….

  95. says

    Guardian – “‘Things are desperate’: Brazil’s Covid intensive care units are almost all at capacity”:

    Brazil’s healthcare system has been plunged into the most severe crisis in its history, with doctors overwhelmed and patients dying while they wait for intensive care beds as the country’s Covid-sceptic president, Jair Bolsonaro, continued to spurn calls for a lockdown that would save lives.

    As the daily number of infections and deaths soared to new heights this week, researchers from Brazil’s leading healthcare institute, Fiocruz, said South America’s biggest country faced an unparalleled “catastrophe”.

    Covid intensive care units in virtually all of Brazil’s 26 states and the federal district containing the capital, Brasília, are now either at, or perilously close to capacity, the institute said, warning: “The situation is absolutely critical.”

    Brazil’s far-right leader and his allies continue to downplay an outbreak that has killed more than 287,000 people, the second highest number on Earth, and, partly as a result of the more contagious P1 variant, is now accelerating into by far its most deadly phase.

    “Our situation isn’t all that critical. Compared to other countries, it’s actually quite comfortable,” said Ricardo Barros, Bolsonaro’s leader in the lower house, on Wednesday as 2,798 fatalities and a record 90,830 new cases were reported.

    But interviews with intensive care physicians in four of the worst-hit states – Mato Grosso do Sul, Pernambuco, Rio Grande do Sul and São Paulo – gave the lie to that claim.

    “People are going around saying Brazil is going to collapse,” critical care doctor Pedro Carvalho said on Thursday morning as he began another 12-hour shift at a university hospital in the riverside town of Petrolina.

    “But we’ve collapsed already – completely collapsed,” claimed Carvalho, 41, whose hospital added 10 new ICU beds on Monday morning and had filled them all by sundown.

    The doctor rubbished claims from Bolsonaro’s ally that Brazilian hospitals were feeling comfortable. “Calling it fake news would be too kind. It’s just an utter lie. They know full well how bad things are,” Carvalho complained.

    He added: “I’d like to invite these denialists to come and cover some shifts in our ICU – not actually treating the patients, of course, but helping us inform families that their loved-ones have died. Perhaps then they might stop lying.”

    Gut-wrenching stories of lives suddenly and needlessly ended emerged from each of the ICUs….

  96. blf says

    Follow-up to me@131, I just noticed the link has a pushbutton to switch between rate and total, so looking at the total, my guess is very probably correct: Marcon, et al., are looking at the totals (c.8m), second only to Germany’s c.10m within the EU (UK is c.28m). Which seems rather impressive given the absurd protocol here in France for getting vaccinated…

  97. says

    Here’s a link to the March 19 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    Paris and its surrounding area, along with 15 other French departments, will go into a new “lockdown” from midnight on Friday for four weeks. But this is really “lockdown lite” and there’s a sense of relief among Parisians, who were fearing being confined to their homes every weekend in a repeat of last year’s strict three-month lockdown, and have got off relatively lightly….

    Health authorities in Germany have warned of an “exponential” rise in Covid cases which threatens to overwhelm hospitals.

    Highly contagious variants are driving up case numbers in the EU’s biggest country, with figures rising at a “very clearly exponential rate”, the vice-president of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases, Lars Schaade, told reporters, according to AFP.

    “It is very possible that we will have a similar situation over Easter to the one we had before Christmas, with very high case numbers, many severe cases and deaths, and hospitals that are overwhelmed,” Schaade said.

    On Friday, the institute reported 17,482 new infections in the previous 24 hours and a further 226 deaths in Germany. The seven-day incidence rate rose to 96 per 100,000 people, despite a months-long lockdown.

    Nearly a dozen countries have today resumed use of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccination, after European and British regulators said the benefits outweighed any risks….

    The prevalence of coronavirus infections in England has fallen again, with around 1 in 340 people infected in the week ending 13 March, the Office for National Statistics said on Friday.

    This is the equivalent of 160,200 people, the lowest figure since the week to 24 September 2020, when the estimate stood at one in 470, or 116,600 people, PA reports.

    The number is down from 1 in 270 people estimated to have coronavirus in the previous week’s ONS Infection Survey, an estimate of community prevalence of Covid-19 infections.

  98. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Germany’s health minister warned on Friday there was not enough vaccine in Europe to contain the third wave, as the country sought to get its rollout back on track following a three-day pause in using the AstraZeneca shot.

    Reuters reports:

    Case numbers have been rising in Germany, driven by an easing of restrictions in recent weeks just as a more transmissible variant of the virus has spread, underlining the need to accelerate vaccinations to protect the vulnerable.

    Health Minister Jens Spahn defended the suspension, which was lifted on Thursday after European Union regulators said the benefits outweighed the risk, as providing transparency.

    “We can reintroduce AstraZeneca but prudently with informed doctors and appropriately educated citizens,” he said in a weekly news conference.

    But he warned that vaccinations alone would not be able to contain the third wave as there are not enough doses, and said restrictions that were lifted may have to be reimposed to contain the spread of the virus.

    “The rising case numbers may mean that we cannot take further opening steps in the weeks to come. On the contrary, we may even have to take steps backwards,” Spahn said.

    State leaders are also due to discuss with Chancellor Angela Merkel later on Friday ways to speed up the vaccination campaign, among other by allowing family doctors to start administering doses at their surgeries.

  99. says

    NBC – “Biden poised to announce first wave of nominations to reshape U.S. courts”:

    President Joe Biden is poised to elevate a 50-year-old former public defender to a prominent appellate court seat as soon as next week, part of what officials say will be a broader push by Democrats to move quickly on judicial vacancies with an emphasis on diversity.

    The expected nomination of District Court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to replace Merrick Garland on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals could be a precursor to another promotion for her — fulfilling Biden’s campaign promise to choose a Black woman for a seat on the Supreme Court.

    Sources close to the deliberations insist that no final decisions have been made, and a White House spokesperson declined to comment on any pending personnel announcements.

    But the preparations come ahead of what they say will be a more urgent push than previous Democratic administrations to fill judicial seats, after then-President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans confirmed scores of young, conservative jurists over the past four years.

    Biden and his team have put a premium on selecting a diverse field of candidates, seeking out civil rights lawyers and defense attorneys while deprioritizing prosecutors and corporate lawyers. Jackson hits the sweet spot in meeting their goals for both racial and experiential diversity. A judge on the federal district court in Washington, D.C., she was nominated by President Barack Obama in 2013 and sailed through Senate confirmation on a voice vote.

    Court-focused progressive advocates expect she’ll be picked, although they say they haven’t been told it directly. And they’re not only preparing to support her candidacy for the appeals court seat, but also a potential Supreme Court vacancy on the horizon.

    Demand Justice Executive Director Brian Fallon said Jackson would be an “emblematic choice for Biden’s new approach to prioritizing public interest lawyers for judicial vacancies.”

    “If she is picked for the D.C. Circuit, I’d expect her stay there to be rather brief, because I’d expect her to be the lead candidate for a Supreme Court vacancy in the event that Justice Breyer retires,” Fallon said. “And we’d be fully supportive of her in both scenarios.”

    Jackson — known inside Biden’s orbit simply as “KBJ” — has been eyed for this appointment for months, ever since he was president-elect and seemed to lean toward Garland for the top spot at the Department of Justice….

  100. says

    Ryan J. Reilly:

    Defendant Jennifer Heinl, the feds say, lied to the FBI about entering the Capitol.

    Her husband, per to this local news report, is a detective with the Shaler Police Department and “a member of the FBI’s violent crime task force unit in Pittsburgh.”…

    “Court records indicate he filed for divorce in February, one month following the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol… The department’s chief tells Channel 11 Heinl was on-duty at the time of the insurrection and does not support what took place…”

    The affidavit against the wife of a member of the FBI Pittsburgh Division’s violent crimes task force unit was written by a FBI special agent on the FBI Pittsburgh Division’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.

  101. says

    Vice – “Trump Official Charged In Capitol Riot Has Family Ties to Argentina’s Military Junta”:

    A Trump administration official who’s been charged with playing a major role in the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol had a history of praising a military dictatorship that seized power in a coup—and close family ties to that junta.

    Federico “Freddie” Klein, a former mid-level political appointee at the State Department who sits in jail awaiting a trial for his role in the riots, repeatedly praised the Argentinian military junta of the late 1970s and early 1980s while working at the State Department, according to three former colleagues.

    “He had warm feelings about the Argentine junta. His father’s Argentine, and he expressed some frustration about how history remembers that brutal dictatorship,” one former State Department official who’d heard Klein praise the junta told VICE News.

    It turns out that those views may run in the family.

    Klein’s uncle Guillermo Walter Klein Jr. was a senior economic official in the Argentine military junta shortly after came to power in 1976. While he pushed through drastic neoliberal economic reforms, the military and its allies were busy murdering as many as 30,000 Argentine students, trade union organizers and other dissidents. And he may not have been the only relative with pro-junta views.

    Bob Cox, a former newspaper editor in Argentina, told VICE News that he knew both Walter and Federico, Freddie’s father—and while he hadn’t met Freddie, who was born in the U.S. in 1978, Cox said was “not a bit surprised” about his alleged involvement in the insurrection given his father’s and uncle’s politics.
    News

    A number of Argentina experts—as well as some of Freddie Klein’s former colleagues — noted unsettling parallels between his family’s support for a right-wing coup that toppled a democratically elected regime in Argentina and Freddie’s own alleged role in the attempted pro-Trump coup at the Capitol on January 6.

    But by all accounts, the Kleins are a genteel, well-connected upper class family. Their white-glove approach stands in contrast to allegations of Freddie’s literally bare-knuckled attack on democracy.

    “His famous uncle played the role of a conservative technocrat who enabled fascist-inspired dictators,” said Federico Finchelstein, a Argentine history professor at the New School. “Federico [Freddie] played a very different role. This is a person who is on the fascist side of the equation. His uncle, Guillermo Walter Klein, was not in the trenches as a fighter.”

    Unlike his relatives, Freddie got involved in politics not through think-tank conservatism but right-wing protest politics….

    Walter served as the right-hand man of Argentina’s Minister of Economy, Jose Alfredo Martínez de Hoz, who pushed through a series of controversial reforms…

    “Martínez de Hoz, his boss, is widely regarded as the maximum dark figure of the dictatorship, the initiator of neoliberal reforms in Argentina and the direct or indirect architect of a wide variety of crimes,” University of Connecticut history professor Mark Healey told VICE News. “It doesn’t surprise me in any way that his nephew would be an enthusiast of military dictatorships.”

    Guillermo Walter Klein continued to work in Buenos Aires’ elite circles long after the dictatorship collapsed. But in 2008, the daughter of an economic minister who disappeared after opposing what he saw as a corrupt deal testified that the last time her family heard from him, he was on his way to see Klein. The Argentine government opened an investigation into whether Klein played any role or had knowledge of the disappearance in 2014….

    More at the link.

  102. says

    SC @130, yes. Thanks. Even one shot provides some protection, so I feel like I’m on the right path. I’ll continue to wear a mask in any public space, of course. My arm is still sore today, more sore than I thought it would be, and there is slight swelling around the injection site. Not really unusual, and not serious.

    Bits and pieces of campaign news.

    As Georgia Republicans move forward with plans to impose sweeping voting restrictions, the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce today announced its opposition to the state GOP’s plans.
    ———————-
    [Florida man] Former Florida state Sen. Frank Artiles (R), who resigned four years ago in the wake of using racist language, allegedly “paid more than $40,000 over the course of a year to a sham candidate meant to siphon votes away from a Democratic politician in a state race last year.” The accused felon was charged this week with breaking campaign finance laws.
    ———————–
    And in Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine (R) announced yesterday that the special election to replace new HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge (D) is several months away: there will be an Aug. 3 primary, followed by a Nov. 2 general election. This heavily gerrymandered seat is expected to remain in Democratic hands.

  103. says

    Why it matters that Team Trump lied about China, election interference

    Robert O’Brien, John Ratcliffe, and Bill Barr knew the truth about foreign interference in our elections, but they chose to lie to the public.

    The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) this week released a declassified intelligence community assessment on foreign threats to our 2020 elections, and though it wasn’t intended as a political document, the political fallout is real and significant.

    As we’ve discussed, the top-line takeaway was important: Russia once again targeted our political system for the express purposes of giving Donald Trump power. […]

    But the intelligence assessment also addressed an important question about whether China also targeted our elections in 2020. With this in mind, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence concluded:

    “We assess that China did not deploy interference efforts and considered but did not deploy influence efforts intended to change the outcome of the US presidential election. We have high confidence in this judgment. China sought stability in its relationship with the United States and did not view either election outcome as being advantageous enough for China to risk blowback if caught…. We did not identify China attempting to interfere with election infrastructure or provide funding to any candidates or parties.”

    […] And yet, this is not what we heard from Team Trump during the election season. In early August, for example, then-White House National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien told reporters that U.S. intelligence officials “know” that China, “not just Russia,” was in the process of targeting the U.S. political system. [blatant lie]

    A few weeks later, then-DNI John Ratcliffe told a national television audience, “China is using a massive and sophisticated influence campaign that dwarfs anything that any other country is doing.” [blatant lie] The same week, then-Attorney General Bill Barr told a different national television audience that China was more engaged than Russia in targeting our elections, adding that he was right because he’d “seen the intelligence.” [He just had to add that he had “seen the intelligence” when he told that blatant lie!]

    In early September, Robert O’Brien returned to the subject, again insisting that China was more aggressive than Russia in interfering with U.S. elections, adding, “The Chinese have taken the most active role.” [continued lying]

    […] Why would this matter now? Part of this relates to the simple fact that Russia attacked our political system — again — and by pointing the finger at the wrong foreign rival, Team Trump helped cover for the Kremlin.

    But there’s also the matter of accountability. Folks like Robert O’Brien, John Ratcliffe, and Bill Barr knew the truth about foreign interference in our elections, but they chose to peddle a bogus claim to the public.

    The next time they claim credibility, or seek a position of public trust, this week’s revelations should haunt them.

    In my opinion, they should be prosecuted.

  104. says

    ‘Here we go again’: Rand Paul clashes with Fauci (for the 4th time)

    Yesterday was the fourth time Rand Paul clashed with Anthony Fauci during a hearing.

    Whenever Dr. Anthony Fauci is scheduled to appear at a Senate hearing, everyone knows just what to expect: Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), a former ophthalmologist, will pretend that he’s more credible on the subject of infectious diseases than the nation’s premier epidemiologist.

    Take yesterday, for example. The Washington Post reported:

    At a Senate hearing, Paul pressed Fauci on health experts’ continued recommendation of masks even for people who have contracted the virus or who have been vaccinated. Paul repeatedly suggested wearing masks in those cases was “theater” — pointing specifically to Fauci wearing masks even though he has been vaccinated.

    Fauci did his best to be patient with the oft-confused Republican senator, but the “theater” reference — Paul also accused Fauci of “parading around in two masks for show” — clearly annoyed the qualified expert.

    “Here we go again with ‘the theater,'” Fauci said, adding, “Let me just state, for the record, that masks are not theater. Masks are protective.”

    The back and forth was predictably frustrating. The Kentuckian argued that he doesn’t need to get vaccinated because he’s already had the virus; the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases explained that’s not quite how immunology works. Paul argued that he doesn’t have to wear masks to help protect others, and Fauci offered a lesson on variants and evidence.

    The senator cherry-picked research that told him what he wanted to hear, while the scientist pointed to the epidemiological consensus.

    […] Rand Paul keeps doing this, apparently under the impression that there’s some value to the pointless exercise.

    Round 1: In May 2020, Paul lectured Fauci about “people on the other side who are saying there’s not going to be a surge” in coronavirus cases, so “we can safely open the economy.” The second of three infection spikes soon followed.

    Round 2: In June 2020, Paul complained that Fauci’s public-health assessments were downers –“All I hear is, ‘We can’t do this’, ‘We can’t do that'” — and the crisis would ease with more upbeat rhetoric. “We just need more optimism,” the Republican declared.

    Round 3: In September 2020, in a tense back and forth, Paul tried to convince Fauci that New York had already reached herd immunity, which was amazingly foolish, even for him.

    Round 4 was yesterday. It didn’t go well, either.

    Stepping back, the overarching problem appears to be relatively straightforward: Rand Paul doesn’t know what he’s talking about, but he’s wholly unaware of his own ignorance. […]

    It was last spring, for example, when the Kentucky Republican told reporters that mitigation efforts in New York were not especially effective in saving lives — “I think New York would have lost about the same amount of people whether they did anything or not,” he said — before arguing that the crisis has been “relatively benign” outside of “New England.” (The senator isn’t great at geography, either.)

    The virus claimed the lives of half-million Americans in the months that followed.

    Is it any wonder that Anthony Fauci seems a little exasperated with Rand Paul?

  105. says

    Trump’s House GOP devotees threaten to tear down party and country alike

    Long before becoming House Speaker was even a twinkle in Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s eye, there was GOP Speaker John Boehner, the first victim of the House Freedom Caucus and the Tea Party fervor that ultimately fueled the recalcitrant Republican faction.

    Then came Speaker Paul Ryan, haplessly out of step with the party of political hooligans Republicans were becoming and just barely able to push through a giant tax cut for the wealthy before being forced into retirement.

    Now McCarthy—who wants to be the next Republican speaker so badly he can practically taste it—is grappling with an even more toxic brand of House GOP bomb-throwers who are already proving he’s no match for their Trump-driven nihilism. They weren’t elected to fix problems, they were elected to burn it all down—and that’s exactly what they’re trying to do, consequences be damned.

    […] Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona and McCarthy reportedly had a tense exchange at a closed-door conference meeting on Wednesday in which McCarthy argued that Biggs’ procedural antics were only hurting the caucus. He also pressed his members to stay focused on GOP messaging about the growing crisis of migrant children crossing the border.

    “Biggs responded that some members have been visiting the border for years and didn’t just show up there recently — a not-so-subtle dig at McCarthy, who led a GOP delegation to the border earlier this week,” writes Politico. “If we won’t use every procedural tool in the toolbox we have … yes, that frustrates me. … You’ve got to get in the way and try to slow things down as much as you possibly can.”

    […] bomb-throwers at every possible turn. Perhaps even moreso than in past iterations of the House Freedom Caucus, the group’s newest members seem to plan on demonstrating zero strategic discipline. There will be no picking and choosing, just a total disruption campaign […]

    Members would be constantly called away from other business, such as committee meetings, to cast meaningless-but-technically-necessary roll call votes to overcome the procedural hurdles.

    […] it’s clear McCarthy has little sway with this scrappy band of Trump acolytes who believe their mandate is to grind the chamber to a halt rather than deliver any meaningful laws to their constituents.

    […] Whatever that fix is will likely be imperfect and far short of 100% foolproof. “Without getting into the details, there are options. But here’s the deal: It’d be nice if the minority leader would tell some of his members to behave like grown-ups,” House Rules Chairman Jim McGovern of Massachusetts told Politico. “This is serious work we’re doing. These are serious debates we’re having. And most complaints I’m getting, quite frankly, are from Republicans. Because they’re annoyed.”

    True. Veteran Republican lawmakers appear to be equally as frustrated as Democrats by their unruly underlings. […]

    [The Republican caucus is] overrun by a small but corrosive faction of individualists who feel almost no loyalty to party and even less allegiance to country. […] it’s not helping House Republicans plot a course to the majority in 2022, and it’s certainly not helping the country.

    McCarthy is ineffective. He can’t control his caucus, he can’t even guide them.

  106. says

    House passes path to citizenship for DACA recipients, temporary status holders, and farmworkers

    The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday approved by bipartisan votes two historic pieces of legislation that would put millions onto a path to citizenship. The Dream and Promise Act, which would put Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients and temporary status holders onto a path to citizenship, passed first that day, 228 to 197. It won votes from nine Republicans.

    Passing second on Thursday was the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which would similarly put farmworkers on a path to legal status and ensure critical protections. That legislation passed 247 to 174, gaining support from 30 Republicans. […] the first time in decades that the chamber had passed an agricultural labor immigration bill.

    […] These bills were previously blocked in the U.S. Senate by then-Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. But even after Mitch’s demotion following the 2020 election, it’s the Jim Crow filibuster now threatening the future of these massively popular bills. It wouldn’t be the first, second, or even third time its done so, said Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, who last month reintroduced the DREAM Act in that chamber.

    “I haven’t made the Dream Act a law of the land because of one thing: the filibuster,” he tweeted following Dream and Promise Act’s passage. “Five times I brought this measure to the floor of the Senate and was stopped by the filibuster.” The very first version of the DREAM Act was introduced exactly 20 years ago, with about a dozen versions introduced in the years since. “Despite bipartisan support for each iteration of the bill, none have become law,” American Immigration Council said. “To date, the 2010 bill came closest to full passage when it passed the House but fell just five votes short of the 60 needed to proceed in the Senate.”

    In a floor speech on Thursday, Durbin said that “[w]hen we receive the Dream and Promise Act from the House of Representatives, we will have an opportunity to see if 10 Republican senators can join us in an effort to finally pass it.” […]

  107. says

    “I know folks have seen that President Biden slipped on his way up the stairs to AF1, but I’m happy to report that he is just fine and did not even require any attention from the medical team who travels with him. Nothing more than a misstep on the stairs,” White House communications director Kate Bedingfield tweeted.

    Yep, Biden was actually jogging up the stairs when he stumbled twice.

  108. says

    Wonkette: “Newsmax Wingnuts Sad ‘The Blacks’ Keep Acting Like Racism Is Thing That Exists”

    Since Wednesday, apparently, conservatives have been just an absolute mess over a post over on The Root titled “Whiteness is a Pandemic,” by Damon Young of Very Smart Brothas, a very good writer with very good taste in glasses. The gist of the short essay, written the day after a very holy white boy had a bad day and murdered eight people including six Asian-American women, was that white supremacy is an infection that led not only to this murder spree and to other acts of white supremacist violence, but that has killed people in less direct ways as well.

    There’s a line connecting this act of terror to the 11 people killed at the Tree of Life synagogue in 2018, and the nine people killed at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in 2015, of course. But also to gentrification, to red-lining, to racial profiling, to gerrymandering, to voter oppression, to mass incarceration, to the war on drugs, to the subprime mortgage crisis, to the vast disparities in both COVID deaths and who receives COVID vaccinations, to how the men and women who stormed the capitol just went home and had dinner with their families afterward. […]

    Anyway, the gang over at Newsmax was very upset about this, so they assembled a random group of white people (one of whom even managed to be named Quill) and one conservative Black lady who was there to point out that this would be considered racist if a white person said it about Black people and said all Black people were responsible for everything any Black person did and so therefore it is reverse racism and bad. Except that was not what Young was saying at all.

    Former Colorado Republican legislator Ted Harvey was there as well, and when it was his turn to speak, he lamented that “the Blacks” are destroying the colorblind society “that we’ve been fighting for,” by rudely pointing out that we do actually not live in a “colorblind society,” […]

    Transcript via Media Matters:

    TED HARVEY (GUEST): Well, I think this is a prime example of the failure of our public education system and our higher ed system. This is what they are teaching in, you know, high schools all across the country. This is what they are teaching in our government-funded school systems and higher ed. […]

    BOB SELLERS (HOST): Yeah.

    HARVEY: In the entire movement to have a color-blind society that we’ve been fighting for, for all of these years. And now we’re having the Blacks pushing this kind of junk on the American people. It’s saddening.

    BOB SELLERS (HOST): Ok. Final thought, Heather.

    HEATHER CHILDERS (HOST): Yeah. Race, sex, and gender, I think that you have to look at people as a whole and not this identity politics that we’ve started to do. This article is inflammatory rhetoric and should be treated as such. And, you know, in order to overcome a pandemic, what do you do? You wipe it out. So this is clearly inflammatory and it’s dangerous and everyone needs to recognize that.

    We don’t live in a colorblind society and pretending we do will not make racism go away. Not that that’s Ted Harvey’s primary concern. What he wants isn’t for racism to go away, but for everyone to collectively pretend that white people who go on racist killing sprees are lone wolves unaffected by anything in our society […]

    The problem with a “colorblind society” is that the problem with racism isn’t people noticing that there are different races, different ethnicities, different religions and different cultures. That was never the problem! And sure, some of the problem is individual racist people acting like assholes, but a larger part of the problem has been systemically racist policies and statutes and acts of “just doing nothing” — and either ignoring the fact that those things disproportionately hurt Black people, or hoping that no one will bring that up.

    It’s the Lee Atwater principle.

    Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, Blacks get hurt worse than white …

    Coincidentally, there was another white man writing about this very same thing this week in The Federalist. In an essay titled, confusingly, “How Writing A Federalist Article Put Me On Chardonnay Antifa’s Cancel List,” writer Ian Prior explains how he wants to live in Martin Luther King’s dream of a colorblind society, but all of these “anti-racist” people (who we can assume are often people of color) keep thwarting this plan.

    […] being “anti-racist” is not the same as being “not racist.”

    The large majority of tolerant people, myself included, put themselves squarely in the latter category. They believe that the color of someone’s skin is as relevant as the color of his eyes or hair. They have been raised to be color-blind and live by Martin Luther King Jr.’s maxim to judge a person by the content of his or her character, rather than skin color. These people believe in race-neutral policies that have the ultimate goal of equal opportunity for all.

    Those who pose as “anti-racist” claim that systemic racism is present in nearly every conversation, interaction, organization, and so forth. They aggressively advocate for race-based policies that inflame, divide, and deliberately destroy longstanding norms, language, and institutions.

    Weird how they always conveniently ignore the part of Martin Luther King’s dream that calls for jobs for everyone and a UBI. And also literally everything else he ever said, apart from that one sentence.

    What conservatives want is for everyone to pretend that their policies are race neutral when they are very obviously not race-neutral. […] They want everyone to pretend that they are only aggressively pushing to make it more difficult for people to vote — particularly in Georgia — because they truly care about voter fraud, and not because Georgia went to Biden, largely as a result of Black people there voting for him. They want to pretend that what happened with the water in Flint could just have easily happened in a wealthy white suburb. That the War on Drugs was just a war on drugs and that any disparate impact on Black people was purely coincidental. That sure, redlining was bad, but no one on this here Newsmax panel did any redlining so why should they be responsible!?!?

    […] And even people who just killed six Asian women deny that they are racist, so racism probably doesn’t even exist.

    One thing should be easy enough: If the vast, vast majority of people calling for a “colorblind” society are white, it’s probably something that is in the best interest of white people and not anyone else.

    Link

  109. blf says

    Lynna@146, Faux news on Biden’s poor coordination and feeble health in 3… 2… 1… which then continues for a week or so until some qAnonsense kook claims Dr Biden’s thesis, when deciphered in a “bible code”-like manner, reveals she is the niece of a daemon, so Obama must be the bezzlebug himself (as proved by Clinton’s e-mails and Benghazi! (which President Biden is trying to “cancel” from history)).

  110. says

    Washington Post: “Church condemns suspected killer’s ‘evil actions and desires’”

    Robert Aaron Long’s longtime church condemned him in a lengthy statement on Friday morning, saying the 21-year-old suspect in the shootings at three Georgia spas had committed an “extreme and wicked act.”

    “These unthinkable and egregious murders directly contradict his own confession of faith in Jesus and the gospel,” the statement from Crabapple First Baptist Church read. “Aaron’s actions are antithetical to everything that we believe and teach as a church.”

    Meantime, details are emerging about the nine shooting victims, including the eight dead, six of whom were Asian women. Xiaojie Tan, the owner of Young’s Asian Massage, was about to celebrate her 50th birthday.

    Delaina Yaun had recently given birth and been married, and was taking a spa day with her husband.

    It’s about time we focused on and properly mourned the victims.

    The Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office has released the names of the four victims killed at Gold Massage Spa and Aromatherapy Spa: Soon C. Park, 74; Suncha Kim, 69; Yong A. Yue, 63; Hyun J. Grant, 51.

    A GoFundMe campaign started by Grant’s son, Randy Park, has raised more than $925,000 from about 22,750 donors in less than 15 hours since it was launched.

    President Biden and Vice President Harris met Friday with Asian American leaders in Atlanta. But many Asian Americans say they remain frustrated by a lack of representation.

    There were nine shot and eight dead at three locations. […]

    The Cherokee County sheriff’s captain who said Long was having a “bad day” when he allegedly killed eight people will no longer be a spokesman on the case.

    An elderly Asian American woman in San Francisco beat back a man who punched her. Also, an Asian American man was wounded in an overnight shooting at a Seattle-area spa, police said. […]

    Washington Post link

  111. says

    Follow-up to comment 149.

    Washington Post:

    Xiao Zhen Xie was standing at an intersection in San Francisco on Wednesday, waiting for the traffic light to change, when a White man with shaggy blond hair ran up and punched her face.
    Xie, 75, picked up a wooden plank and hit back, striking the man’s face.

    Police soon arrived on the scene, where Xie stood sobbing and clutching the makeshift weapon as the bleeding assailant was strapped into a stretcher.

    “This bum, he hit me!” Xie said to onlookers, a video of the aftermath shows, as she held towels up to her bloodied eye.

    Police arrested Steven Jenkins, 39, on Thursday and said he was also responsible for another unprovoked assault of an elderly Asian person that day. He is now charged with two counts of assault and elder abuse.

    “Investigators are working to determine if racial bias was a motivating factor in the incident,” Robert Rueca, a spokesman for the San Francisco Police Department, said in a statement to The Post. […]

  112. says

    “Virus variants mean our covid winter isn’t over. Don’t ease restrictions now.” The Washington Post article is by Ashish Jha.

    If you live in the northeastern part of our country, you don’t put your winter jackets into storage at the first sign of spring because you know a cold snap is likely lurking around the corner. The same must be true of the pandemic.

    No matter where you live, it is too early to relax restrictions that continue to have a critical role in controlling this pandemic. From California to Maine, Florida to Seattle, the covid-19 winter is not yet done, and highly infectious variants are threatening new storms.

    Vaccination numbers are climbing steadily, and coronavirus cases have been declining. The end of the pandemic is in sight. But the latest national data, which show case rates have plateaued, indicate that we are not there yet. Over the past week, we have seen about 50,000 new cases reported daily. That’s not far from the height of the surge last summer.

    National data also miss disturbing state and local trends: About 15 states have more cases than they did two weeks ago, and about 19 states have higher test positivity rates than two weeks ago, indicating higher rates of infection. Hospitalizations, which typically lag infections by two to three weeks, have begun to inch up in some places. Deaths from covid-19, which typically lag another two weeks behind hospitalizations, may rise again in April — all while states begin to loosen restrictions. That’s a problem.

    Blame it on the variants of this virus. The B.1.1.7 variant, the most widespread of the variants identified to date, is between 43 and 90 percent more infectious than the version of the virus we have been living with for most of the past year. And this variant was estimated to make up 30 to 40 percent of U.S. infections earlier this month, meaning about 20,000 new cases each day are likely B.1.1.7 and are way more infectious. Vaccinations are in a footrace against these variants, and the variants are giving us a run for our money.

    Consider what’s happening in Florida, where thousands are celebrating spring break without masks or social distancing. Right now, the rate of cases and deaths in Florida are about the same as nationally, and the number of daily infections is holding steady. But the B.1.1.7 variant now represents more than half of Florida’s cases. […]

    The vaccines in use in the United States are effective against B.1.1.7, and we are much further along in our vaccine rollout than Europe, which had barely begun doling out shots when the variants were picking up steam. But we must keep vaccinating, and fast. By the end of April, every high-risk American should have at least one dose in their arms, massively reducing the risk of death from infection. Until that happens, we should keep restrictions in place. We are doing a great job on vaccinations. But on keeping public health measures in place until high-risk people are vaccinated? Not so much. […]

  113. says

    Why the House GOP’s stunt targeting Eric Swalwell is so ridiculous

    After their preoccupation with Dr. Seuss failed to pay dividends, House Republican leaders redirected their attention at, of all people, Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.). The Associated Press reported on the latest developments:

    The House has dismissed a Republican attempt to remove California Rep. Eric Swalwell from the House intelligence panel over his contact more than six years ago with a suspected Chinese spy who targeted politicians in the United States. Democrats scuttled the effort from House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, 218-200, after he forced a vote.

    […] of the 211 Republicans currently serving in the chamber, 200 voted to remove Swalwell from the House Intelligence Committee, eight did not vote, and three voted “present” for some reason.

    And why, pray tell, do so many GOP lawmakers believe it’s necessary to throw the Democratic congressman off the intelligence panel? The details are not fully available to the public, but in 2012 and 2014, a suspected Chinese operative was reportedly in contact with Swalwell’s campaign and tried to make inroads.

    The FBI alerted Swalwell to the concerns, at which point the congressman cut off contact with the suspected spy. By all appearances, the California lawmaker did exactly what one would expect him to do, and at no point did federal investigators accuse the congressman of wrongdoing.

    […] But now, six years later, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) sees partisan value in trying to turn this non-scandal into … something.

    Indeed, the House GOP leader published this unfortunate tweet last night: “Every Democrat is now on the record: They just voted to keep Eric Swalwell on the House Intelligence Committee — despite his long-standing relationship with a reported Chinese spy. They chose politics over national security.” [Oh, FFS!]

    As a substantive matter, this is quite dumb. In fact, it’s likely that McCarthy knows it’s dumb, and is choosing to play a cynical little game anyway.

    But what makes this stunt even more extraordinary is McCarthy’s horrible timing.

    This is, after all, the same week in which the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released a declassified intelligence community assessment on foreign threats to the U.S. 2020 elections. The document noted, among other things, that Vladimir Putin “had purview over” the activities of Andriy Derkach, a Kremlin-backed operative who peddled disinformation as part of his efforts to interfere in our presidential race.

    Derkach also, incidentally, reportedly sent unknown materials to Devin Nunes — who was at the time, and still remains, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee.

    In fact, one Democrat on the Intelligence panel told MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace this week, “[T]he fact is that [Russian operatives] were so comfortable using people like Devin Nunes that Andriy Derkach — a known Russian asset — sent information to Devin Nunes at the Intelligence Committee. We literally had the package receipt.”

    […] Postscript: I am, of course, mindful of the dangers of “whataboutism.” For those unfamiliar with the concept, the Merriam-Webster definition is as good as any: “It is not merely the changing of a subject (‘What about the economy?’) to deflect away from an earlier subject as a political strategy; it’s essentially a reversal of accusation, arguing that an opponent is guilty of an offense just as egregious or worse than what the original party was accused of doing, however unconnected the offenses may be.”

    In a New York Times piece a couple of years ago, Masha Gessen described it as an “old Soviet propaganda tool.”

    It’s also not a tactic I’m relying on here. This isn’t a situation in which GOP leaders have caught a progressive congressman doing something wrong, leading me to say, “Oh yeah? Well, what about a conservative congressman facing a similar accusation?”

    Rather, in this case, we have largely the opposite set of circumstances: McCarthy is falsely accusing Swalwell of wrongdoing, while ignoring the fact that Nunes reportedly received information from a Russian operative during a Russian attack on the U.S. political system. […]

  114. says

    On Thursday, America was graced with a gloating op-ed from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in The Wall Street Journal explaining how “the elites”—meaning, apparently, everyone who ever took a biology course in high school—were so, so wrong when they tried to slow down the spread of COVID-19 and he was absolutely right to encourage parties on the beach. On the same day, Politico staffer Michael Kruse added a coat of finest boot polish with a second editorial insisting that DeSantis “won the pandemic” because “Florida has fared no worse … than other states.”

    DeSantis is not just taking a victory lap over a course paved with 32,000 dead Floridians, he’s doing so at a time when his state is still logging 5,000 new cases of COVID-19 a day (second highest in the nation). That’s over twice the level Florida was reporting last fall right before it experienced the sharpest surge of the whole pandemic. So yes, lauding DeSantis is premature. Yes, it’s hideously ugly and insensitive—not just to the families of the dead, but to the hundreds of thousands of Floridians left with long-term damage from COVID-19.

    But there is something that really should be earning DeSantis the admiration of Republicans everywhere. Becauseli while New York nursing home numbers may be getting national attention, the truth is we have not a #$%ing clue about what actually happened in Florida. That’s because no one, in no other state, has done more to cover up the facts of the pandemic than Ron DeSantis.

    Going into the pandemic, Florida had a system that mirrored that of many states. At the county level, medical examiners tallied both the numbers and the cause of death. This information was both made available to the public and sent to the state. By no coincidence at all, one of DeSantis’ first moves during the pandemic was to stop county officials from making these numbers public. […]

    in April there was a strange spike in “pneumonia deaths” in Florida—a spike that existed nowhere else. The official Florida site blamed these deaths, when they were given any cause at all, on flu. This was happening at a point when flu numbers were already way down in other states […]

    the state’s medical examiners were up in arms over the differences between what they were seeing and what the state was reporting. They called the DeSantis numbers “a sham” and pointed out that the number of respiratory deaths the state was shoveling into the pneumonia category, with no mention of COVID-19, was the highest in at least five years. […]

    it wasn’t counting the people who died in Florida if they were from out of state. That didn’t just include those who dropped in for a few weeks, it included “snowbirds” who spend a good part of the year at Florida homes. People who lived in Florida, got sick in Florida, and died in Florida did not show up on Florida’s dashboard unless they were also official residents of Florida […]

    By June, Jones was tweeting out claims that that DeSantis’ government was covering up increasing hospitalization rates and had manually deleted at least 1,200 cases of COVID-19 in order to artificially meet guidelines that allowed for more rapid reopening in advance of the July 4 holiday. […]

    This culminated in a Dec. 7 raid on Jones’ home by Florida state police who carried off the computers used for her alternative data site. The action was egregious enough that, as the Tampa Bay Times reported, a lifelong Republican attorney who had been appointed to a judicial nominating commission by DeSantis resigned his position, saying that he want to call attention to how Florida was blocking “public access to truthful data.”

    The truth about Florida is … we don’t know the truth about Florida. […]

    Florida is squarely in the middle of the list of states on both deaths by population and cases by population. If it’s done better than about half the states, it’s done worse than the others. That includes running a worse rate of both deaths and cases than California. Just looking up the Atlantic coast, the rate of deaths in Florida is 27% higher than in Virginia and 36% higher than in North Carolina. Hell, it’s 180% higher than in Maine.

    What exactly is supposed to represent a “win” here? Is DeSantis supposed to be given accolades because Florida didn’t slip beneath the sea under the weight of all the dead bodies? Republicans aren’t just ready to hand DeSantis a participation trophy, they’re trying to turn it into a blue ribbon.

    Link

    Sounds quite trumpian. DeSantis basically wants an award for successfully hiding the true number of COVID deaths in Florida.

  115. blf says

    Lynna@153, on Florida and its highly-dubious Covid-19 statistics (both Grauniad articles from early-December-2020):

    ● Florida newspaper investigation finds state government misled public on Covid as cases rose: “Governor Ron DeSantis and his administration ‘suppressed facts’ and ‘dispensed dangerous misinformation’, according to [the South Florida Sun Sentinel]”.

    ● Armed police raid home of Florida scientist fired over Covid-19 data: “Rebekah Jones claims Governor Ron DeSantis, with whom she has clashed repeatedly since her dismissal in May, was involved”.

    The Grauniad has been following Dr Jones’ story for awhile (e.g., Florida scientist says she was fired for refusing to change Covid-19 data ‘to support reopen plan’ (May-2020): “Dr Rebekah Jones says she was fired from Department of Health by the governor after protesting order to censor information”).

    A snippet from the first referenced Grauniad article:

    In an interview with the Guardian in August[-2020, Ousted expert on Florida’s Covid plan: ‘They’re not listening to the scientists’], she [Dr Jones] said: “They’re not listening to the scientists, they’ve no plan to release data, they’re just going to let everybody fend for themselves.”

    Referring to the official line that she was dismissed for insubordination, she said: “If I was insubordinate to say I’m not going to manipulate data, to say it’s safe to reopen when it’s not, then, yes, I wear insubordination as a badge of honor.”

    The latest I know of, Florida analyst who clashed with governor over Covid data faces arrest (January-2021).

    Not only extremely hair furorian of desantity, but also stalianistic, etc., silence and imprison critics.

  116. johnson catman says

    re Lynna @149:

    The Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office has released the names of the four victims killed at Gold Massage Spa and Aromatherapy Spa: Soon C. Park, 74; Suncha Kim, 69; Yong A. Yue, 63; Hyun J. Grant, 51.

    So, Long said he had a “sexual addiction” and he saw the spas and massage businesses as a “temptation”. At those ages, the people killed do not seem to be typical “sex-workers”. It seems as if he was just targeting them based on race, and this should definitely qualify as a hate-crime.

  117. says

    blf @154, thanks for the additional information. That provides context.

    johnson @155, right. And, of course it does not matter if the killer has a “sexual addiction.” That is no excuse to gun down other people. I am reminded of the ways in which the killer’s fundamentalist religion (Crabapple First Baptist Church) has always blamed a mythological “Eve” for Adam’s downfall. The whole incident reveals layers of rottenness.

    Church details from the Washington Post:

    […] As information about Long and his family’s ties to the Southern Baptist congregation in Milton, Ga., emerged in the wake of the shooting, church leaders had been noticeably quiet. The congregation held a members-only meeting on Wednesday night, and the church’s website and all of its social media pages were taken down.

    Friday’s statement said Crabapple First Baptist had cooperated with law enforcement officials and would continue to do so over the course of the police investigation. It framed the deadly series of shootings as “a total repudiation” of the Gospel that fell entirely on Long. […]

  118. says

    CDC:

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday relaxed physical distancing requirements for children in school, from 6 feet to 3 feet — a change aimed at allowing more students to be inside classrooms. The recommendations come with a few caveats. Teachers and other adult school staff must still adhere to the 6 feet guidelines, and face coverings remain mandatory.

  119. says

    Follow-up to comment 157.

    The CDC also commented that good ventilation was necessary, that older children (middle school and high school) should continue to observe 6-foot social distancing rules, and that the degree of coronavirus infection in the surrounding community should be taken into account.

  120. says

    12 jurors have finally been seated for the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer who was charged for the death of George Floyd.

  121. says

    Washington Post:

    Over the past few months, the Federal Reserve has joined an international group of central banks focused on climate risk, pointed to climate change as a threat to financial stability and established its own Supervision Climate Committee. The Fed’s increasing focus on how climate change can threaten the financial system is garnering praise from Democrats and scorn from Republicans.

  122. johnson catman says

    re Lynna @159:

    The 12-person jury is composed of seven women and five men. The panel includes four Black people, six white people and two jurors who identify as multiracial. There is also a wide range of ages among the jurors, with the oldest person a Black grandmother in her 60s; the youngest are two people, a white man and a biracial woman, in their 20s.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/18/us/Chauvin-jury-selection-George-Floyd.html#:~:text=The%2012%2Dperson%20jury%20is,jurors%20who%20identify%20as%20multiracial.
    At least they did not end up with an all-white jury.

  123. says

    Yep, that’s bonkers.

    Judge Accuses NYT And WaPo Of Being ‘Democratic Party Broadsheets’ In Bonkers Anti-1A Argument

    Did you know press freedom is actually authoritarianism?

    Judge Laurence Silberman, a Reagan appointee on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, is very concerned that media outlets have a little too much protection from government suppression — the news organizations he considers to be liberal, that is.

    His proposed solution? Get the Supreme Court to overturn New York Times v. Sullivan, the landmark ruling that enables the press to cover public officials critically without fear of reprisal through defamation suits. Aka the cornerstone of press freedom under the First Amendment.

    In his jaw-dropping dissent in a defamation suit, Silberman argues that “new considerations have arisen over the last 50 years” that make the ruling “a threat to American Democracy.”

    “It must go,” he writes.

    And so begins an unhinged rant from a federal judge on the perils of allowing the press to keep the First Amendment protections he feels it has “abused.”

    “The increased power of the press is so dangerous today because we are very close to one-party control of these institutions,” Silberman writes.

    According to the judge, the New York Times and Washington Post “are virtually Democratic Party broadsheets,” with the Wall Street Journal news papers and the Associated Press following their lead, while “nearly all television” is “a Democratic Party trumpet.”

    […] In his doomsday narrative of left-wing media authoritarianism, Silberman briefly concedes that Fox News, generally the most-watched cable channel in the country, is a “notable exception.” However, he fails to acknowledge that in addition to Fox News, conservative radio spawned the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, who saturated the airwaves for decades.

    The fact that then-President Donald Trump regularly used Fox News as both a bullhorn and a policy adviser (Fox host Tucker Carlson was one of his top media consultants) for four years also went unmentioned in the judge’s tirade.

    Silberman, you may recall, was the judge who got utterly whipped by a Black clerk last year when he tried to argue that the Civil War wasn’t about slavery as he was railing against the growing push to remove tributes to Confederate soldiers from government property.

    “…As people considered to be property, my ancestors would not have been involved in the philosophical and political debates about Lincoln’s true intentions, or his view on racial equality,” the clerk wrote in an email to Silberman that was published by the Intercept. “For them, and myself, race is not an abstract topic to be debated, so in my view anything that was built to represent white racial superiority, or named after someone who fought to maintain white supremacy […] should be removed from high trafficked areas of prominence and placed in museums where they can be part of lessons that put them in context.

  124. johnson catman says

    re Lynna @160:

    The Fed’s increasing focus on how climate change can threaten the financial system is garnering praise from Democrats and scorn from Republicans.

    Of course! The default republican position is denial, and their highest priority is to “burn it all to the ground”.

  125. johnson catman says

    re Lynna @162:Judge Laurence Silberman is 85 years old. It is time for him to quit yelling at people to get off of his lawn.

  126. says

    johnson @161, thanks for the additional information.

    In other news, and as a follow-up to comment 162: Judge Laurence Silberman is 85 years old. He should retire. He is not thinking logically.

    Silberman is the recipient of a Lifetime Service Award and a Distinguished Service Award from the Federalist Society chapters of Georgetown and Harvard, as one reader of the TPM article noted.

    More comments from readers of the article:

    Just a reminder: federal judges, despite lifetime tenure, are subject to impeachment.
    —————
    Seems like the good judge has ventured into cloud cuckoo land.
    ————–
    He thinks the Wall Street Journal is too liberal?
    Has he ever read their editorial opinions?
    Holy shit. He has lost it.
    ——————-
    Overturn NYT v. Sullivan?!

    If that’s not compelling evidence for removal, then we’re in an even darker place than I realized.

    This is nuts!
    ——————–
    is on Senior Status since November…he should be keeping his trap shut rather than being allowed to take part in any case: Just go away…NOW.
    ———————
    Amy Coney Barrett clerked for him in the past.
    ——————–
    He was also part of the panel that overturned Ollie North’s conviction
    ———————-
    And the actual damn case wasn’t even about the Times or the Post. It was a SLAPP libel lawsuit against Global Witness, an anti-corruption NGO, by a couple of folks who didn’t like being called out over their business dealings.

  127. says

    Schadenfreude moment: Mar-a-Lago partially closed due to COVID-19 outbreak: report

    […] Trump’s luxury resort club Mar-a-Lago has reportedly been partially closed in response to an outbreak of COVID-19 at the Palm Beach, Fla., property.

    Sources confirmed to The Associated Press that Mar-a-Lago has been closed until further notice in a cautionary move that follows positive COVID-19 tests. Several workers have reportedly been quarantined.

    The extent of the outbreak and the identities of those who have tested positive were not immediately made known.

    Trump and former first lady Melania Trump, who now live at the property, previously contracted the virus last year and have also received their full vaccination for the disease.

    Further details are not yet known. Those who spoke to the AP did so on the condition of anonymity and were reportedly not authorized to discuss the situation directly. […]

  128. says

    Another schadenfreude moment: Trump’s private Boeing 757 sitting idle in disrepair at New York airport

    Former President Trump’s personal Boeing 757 is sitting unused at an Orange County, New York airport, unable to be flown, CNN reports.

    The full-size passenger airliner, which bears Trump’s name across the side in large block letters, has fallen into disrepair. One engine is shrink-wrapped and the other is missing parts, according to the outlet.

    Getting the plane, which was 20 years old when Trump purchased it in 2010, back into flying shape could reportedly cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Flight records obtained by CNN signal that Trump hasn’t used the plane since leaving office in January. […]

  129. johnson catman says

    re Lynna @168:

    Flight records obtained by CNN signal that Trump hasn’t used the plane since leaving office in January.

    I would bet that it has been a LOT longer than that since it was used, especially since he had the use of AF1 and Marine1 at his disposal for the previous four years.

  130. tomh says

    WaPo:
    Ex-Florida state senator paid bogus candidate to ‘siphon votes,’ police say, in race GOP narrowly won
    By Katie Shepherd
    March 19, 2021

    When incumbent Democrat José Javier Rodríguez lost his Florida state senate seat to Republican challenger Ileana Garcia by just 32 votes in November, the losing party and investigators began asking questions about a suspicious third candidate.

    A man named Alexis “Alex” Rodriguez — who shared the incumbent’s last name — appeared on the ballot but never campaigned, never spoke publicly, and could not be reached by reporters after he took thousands of votes on Election Day.

    Now, the mysterious candidate and a former Republican state senator are facing felony charges for crimes stemming from a plot to “confuse voters and siphon votes from the incumbent,” police said in an affidavit filed this week….

    The case is a rare instance when a criminal scheme may have changed an election outcome, helping the GOP flip a state senate seat….

    The scheme allegedly began on May 15, 2020, as a tight race for the 37th district’s state senate seat was shaping up between the incumbent Rodriguez and Garcia, the founder of Latinas for Trump who helped campaign for then-President Donald Trump. Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle(D) said Garcia is not implicated in the case.

    Early that morning, former Florida state senator Frank Artiles (R) contacted Alex Rodriguez and asked for help with a “political matter,” the third-party candidate later told police.

    The two men met at Artiles’s home in Palmetto Bay, Fla., that same day to discuss a deal in which Alex Rodriguez would run against the incumbent with the same last name in hopes that confused voters would accidentally choose the wrong candidate, according to the affidavit. In exchange, Artiles allegedly offered to pay him $50,000.

    The alleged plan appeared to work. On Election Day, Alex Rodriguez won more than 6,000 votes without a campaign or name recognition, and many attributed the results to voter mix-ups between the two candidates with the same last name.

    Artiles, 47, and Alex Rodriguez, 55, were arrested and charged on Thursday with three felonies for exceeding campaign contribution limits and providing false information to election officials….

    Rundle said the investigation into possible election interference was not over at a news conference on Thursday. Despite exposing the agreement between Artiles and Rodriguez, police have not yet uncovered who is behind two mysterious political action committees that paid for political mailers advertising Alex Rodriguez and two other questionable no-party candidates running in other Florida races.

  131. says

    tom @170: Republican election fraud! And unethical behavior that would not be addressed by any of the Republican so-called “election integrity” laws. Figures.

  132. says

    Don’t Buy The Spin: The House Process To Resolve The Iowa 2 Election Is Working Properly

    Republicans have cast the contested election in Iowa’s second district as one of their outraged talking points this week, painting a House process to resolve the dispute as a long con by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to steal a congressional seat.

    “Right now as we speak, Speaker Pelosi and Washington Democrats are literally trying to overturn a state-certified election here in Congress,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said Thursday, adding: “You don’t often see hypocrisy this blatant and this shameless so quickly.” [outrageous bullshit]

    They’ve been trying to establish a false equivalency between the House process to investigate an election decided by just six votes, and former President Donald Trump’s Republican-aided effort to toss millions of votes and overturn the 2020 election.

    […] What Republicans are making out to be tyrannical House overreach is actually a fairly commonplace congressional procedure historically, though its usage has plummeted in recent years. The House has reviewed many contested elections: over 100 of them since 1933 […]

    Rita Hart, the Democratic candidate in Iowa, filed a claim under the Federal Contested Elections Act, which brought the case to the House Administration Committee. The law is the main avenue through which candidates can lodge a challenge, and came about in 1969. It brings the claim to the committee and ultimately the House, which is empowered by Article 1 Section 5 of the Constitution to judge the “elections and returns” of its own members.

    “The committee has handled things correctly so far,” said Jeff Jenkins, provost professor of public policy, political science and law at the University of Southern California. “Hart didn’t do anything wrong by filing a claim.”

    […] Hart lost her election, which state officials certified, by just six votes out of nearly 400,000 to Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks, who Pelosi provisionally sat at the beginning of the term. A recount was conducted, but was kept to the universe of ballots that were already counted. Hart maintains that she’s identified 22 others that were improperly rejected; if they had been counted, she says, she would have won.

    Republicans object to the fact that Hart did not appeal the certification through the state court system before bringing her claim before the House, arguing that it was a deliberate ploy to put the case before a friendly audience in the majority-Democratic chamber.

    Hart said that there simply wasn’t time to challenge the certification through the court system. Per Iowa law, Hart would have had to file to set up the contest court within two days of certification (November 30), a body which then would have to be filled out with the state chief justice and four appointed judges to execute a recount in the neighborhood of 400,000 ballots — all by December 8.

    “That is an enormous task and her point is legitimate,” said Karen Kedrowski, director of Iowa State University’s Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics.

    […] The recount conducted before certification, which whittled Miller-Meeks’ lead down from 47 votes to six, didn’t satisfy Hart’s concerns. Aside from not considering the ballots she identified as improperly discarded — which, according to voter affidavits in her claim, center on very routine ballot issues like misplaced signatures and detached envelopes — different counties administered the recount in different ways. Some did it by hand, some did it by machine and some used a mix of both. Her campaign charges that the lack of uniformity is an additional problem.

    House Administration Committee chair Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) said that she hopes to have the Iowa 2 case decided this spring. Initial briefs from both sides are due Monday. The committee will examine the evidence, vote on a recommendation as a committee, then send that recommendation to the full House for a vote. The committee could recommend that either candidate be seated, the seat be declared vacant or even that a recount be ordered […] Hart will have the burden of proof.

    The process will almost certainly be rancorous, as indicated by Republican attitudes so far. But at its heart, it’s decidedly normal. Hart is pursuing a path open to her under the law, and has followed the proper steps to file her claim. […]

  133. says

    Ted Cruz Crusades Against Voting Rights Claiming Dems Want ‘Child Molesters’ To Get Ballots

    Sen. Ted Cruz crusaded against voting rights during a call last week with Republican state lawmakers, claiming that Democrats are trying to expand voting rights to “illegal aliens” and “child molesters.”

    According to a recording of an invitation-only call, obtained by the Associated Press, Cruz said that Republicans must do all they can to stop that effort, alleging that if Democrats win a push to move sweeping election legislation through the Senate, the GOP won’t win elections for years to come.

    […] Cruz’s statements reflect an intensifying GOP campaign to politicize voting rights and restrict access to the ballot in an effort to win back majority during midterms next year.

    More than 250 bills across 43 states have been introduced that include measures that would limit mail voting, cut hours that polling places are open and impose other restrictions that have been taken center stage in the wake of Trump’s false claims about a stolen presidential election last year.

    The push to restrict access to voting, through tightened voter identification laws and frequent voter roll purges which often exclude Black and Latino voters, comes as the Senate prepares to consider a package of voting changes in known as HR1 aimed at blocking voter suppression.

    The sweeping legislation would require states to automatically register eligible voters and offer same-day registration. It would also require states to offer 15 days of early voting and allow no-excuse absentee balloting, among other provisions.

    During a Fox News interview earlier this month, Cruz called the package “dangerous” and claimed that Democrats would use it to “benefit from voter fraud.”

    […] The bill “says America would be better off if more murderers were voting, America would be better off if more rapists and child molesters were voting,” Cruz said.

    The Texas Republican said that during a recent strategy call with national conservative leaders to coordinate opposition, leaders had agreed to paint the Democratic-backed bill as the “Corrupt Politicians Act,” he said.

  134. says

    Follow-up to comment 173.

    Posted by readers of the TPM article:

    It’s tempting to say that Cruz can’t open his mouth without speaking demagogically in bad faith. But here a piece of pristine truth slips out. Republicans see perfectly well that they are quite unelectable, and so they turn ever more desperately to authoritarianism, racism, and demagoguery, which only intensifies their unelectability, and so…

    For the GOP to survive, it has no alternative but to overthrow the constitutional order and abolish free and fair elections. For the foreseeable future, we are in an ongoing extraordinary crisis where the opposition is no longer loyal, or seeking to win the next election, but to overthrow the government, by violence if necessary. Interesting times we’re living in.
    ———————
    This just proves Republicans know their positions are not in sync or reflective of the majority of Americans, and they have no intention of changing course. Instead, they’d much rather choose the voter than allow the voter to choose the candidate. Dangerously anti-democratic stuff from a party that appears to be in a panic about HR1. McConnell’s comments from the other day are along the same vein.

  135. says

    About time: Defense Sec. Austin replaces Trump appointees on panel to strip Confederate names from bases

    President Joe Biden and his top officials are once again showing that they won’t hesitate to throw out the terrible, often last-minute, appointees Donald Trump tried to seed throughout the government. This time, the effort is to de-Trumpify a panel tasked with stripping Confederate names off of military bases and other property.

    Congress only overrode one Trump veto during his four years in the White House—after Trump vetoed a defense bill to protect the names of military bases honoring Confederate traitors to the United States. The veto override passed the defense bill putting into place a three-year process to strip Confederate names off of bases, buildings, streets, ships, aircraft, and more, with an eight-member panel doing the work involved. But Trump, of course, tried to stack that panel with his people at the last minute. Now, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has replaced them with more diverse members with more respect for history. […]

  136. says

    Viruses do not get weaker over time, and the COVID-19 pandemic is a prime example

    Across the United States, the B.1.1.7 variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is emerging as not just one variant among many, but the most prevalent form of the virus. This variant, originally associated with the United Kingdom, is winning out for one reason—it’s more contagious. That is, it more readily spreads from one person to another. As time has passed and this variant has spread, it has also proven to be more virulent; more likely to cause serious illness or death.

    The B.1.1.7 variant is a good reason why cities, counties, and states should think twice about “fully reopening” at this moment, no matter how much “pandemic fatigue” their citizens may be suffering. […]

    Right now, it’s convenient to think of the SARS-CoV-2 virus as having three properties: How contagious is it? How virulent is it? And how evasive is it? That last one is a measure of how well the virus avoids being shut down either by the immune response generated by vaccines, or by the existing antibodies left behind by past infection.

    Over time, as the number of people vaccinated gets closer to that magic “herd immunity” number (a number that gets higher, as the virus gets more contagious), the the first value and the third value will become almost synonymous. That is, in a society where almost everyone has been either vaccinated or had the disease, the best measure of how contagious the virus is will be closely defined by how evasive it is.

    […] The number of vaccinated people in the U.S. may be growing rapidly, with around a quarter of all adults vaccinated at the moment. However, that’s not nearly enough for vaccination to be a major factor in the virus’ ability to spread. […]

    In almost all cases, there is absolutely no evolutionary pressure that would cause a disease to become less deadly over time. Sure, it might be easy to believe that a virus which is 100% deadly would eventually wipe out its host species, and that such a disease would either have to moderate its virulence or disappear along with whatever creature was so unfortunate as to be infected.

    Tell that to smallpox. Throughout a run that goes back at least to Egyptian tombs in the third-century BCE, hemorrhagic Variola major maintained a case fatality rate between 90-100%. For all forms of the disease, the case fatality rate never fell below 30%. If you caught smallpox, your odds of dying from it were extraordinarily high.

    Why didn’t everyone die of smallpox? Well, a lot of people did; about 300 million people in the 20th century alone. That is not a value that represents “getting less deadly with time.”

    One big reason even more people didn’t die from smallpox is because smallpox evolved to get more deadly. Somewhere around 3-4,000 years ago (based on genetic evidence), the virus that causes the worst form of smallpox emerged, by evolution through what would have been initially a variant on another virus. That virus, possibly Variola minor, remained in circulation, so people who caught that virus developed a degree of immunity to the more deadly variety. Smallpox was extremely contagious and horrendously virulent … but not all that evasive, thank God. (Unless, of course, you happened to live in the Americas, where there was no Variola minor or other related viruses, and where the introduction of smallpox likely killed off a percentage of the population that almost perfectly matched the case fatality rate).

    […] So … back to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

    The whole reason this virus is known as the SARS-CoV-2 virus is because it’s extremely similar to the virus that causes SARS. The case fatality rate for SARS is estimated at 15%. So we can all be grateful that COVID-19 doesn’t match the virulence of its older sibling. But does this mean that the virus has already gotten weaker? No.

    It’s a change in contagion that represents the big difference between the two. On paper, SARS appears to be as contagious as COVID-19 when comparing the two in identical situations. But there’s one very big difference: Patients infected with SARS-CoV don’t really spread the virus effectively until a day or two after symptoms appear, while patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 hit their peak rate of infection almost coincident with the appearance of symptoms, and are infectious in the days before symptoms appear. That’s it. That’s the big evolutionary advantage that the new virus gained over the older form: It can infect people more easily, because people who are pre-symptomatic can spread the virus without yet knowing they have it. […]

    […] The pressure that exists on viruses is simply to become more contagious. The version of a virus that spreads most rapidly wins. For the most part virulence does not enter the picture. For SARS-CoV-2, the period of peak infection is in that initial week after infection, with very few cases of transmission occurring after the first two weeks. […]

    Right now, SARS-CoV-2 is a highly successful virus. After all, despite its high rate of death, the SARS-CoV virus only killed something like 850 people worldwide. More people died of SARS-CoV-2 in the United States today.

    Why? Because viruses do not automatically get less deadly over time.

  137. says

    Fauci:

    […] This variant [B117], as you know, is every day getting more and more dominant in our own country.

    It was first detected in the UK in December of 2020. It was reported in over 90 countries. The first U.S. cases were detected in the United States, in Colorado, at the end of December of 2020. And since then, it has been detected in 50 jurisdictions in the United States, and likely accounts now for about 20 to 30 percent of the infections in this country, and that number is growing.

    Of concern is that there are about 50 percent increase in transmission with this particular variant that has been documented in the UK, and there’s likely an increase in severity of disease if infected with this variant.

    The way we can counter 117, which is a growing threat in our country, is to do two things: to get as many people vaccinated as quickly and as expeditiously as possible with the vaccine that we know works against this variant; and finally, to implement the public health measures that we talk about all the time.

  138. says

    US Secretary of Education cancels $1B of student loan debt

    The Department of Education implemented a new strategy focused on helping students defrauded by colleges and universities.

    DOE officials said they will streamline relief for borrowers with verified claims of defraud by universities.
    The change involves recalibrating a formula used by former Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

    […] borrowers who have approved claims that confirm their college or institution defrauded them or engaged in financial misconduct will be able to apply for full relief.

    Officials estimate that this could help about 72,000 borrowers receive $1 billion in loan cancellation.

    “Borrowers deserve a simplified and fair path to relief when they have been harmed by their institution’s misconduct,” said Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “A close review of these claims and the associated evidence showed these borrowers have been harmed and we will grant them a fresh start from their debt.”

    The Department of Education will be replacing the previous formula used to calculate relief — used by former Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos under the Trump administration — and ensure that borrowers with verified claims against a U.S. school will have complete loan forgiveness.

    The current Department of Education stated that after reviewing the formula used by the DeVos administration, “the Department determined that it did not result in an appropriate relief determination” for defrauded borrowers. […]

  139. says

    Wonkette:

    […] Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, who has blamed every natural disaster, storm and bout of inclement weather of the last 20 years (at least!) on God being super mad about abortion and gay people existing, stopped by Calvary Chapel Chino Hills in California […] to talk about God’s thoughts on Joe Biden’s first two months in office.

    And how does God think Joe Biden is doing? Not great! At least according to Tony Perkins, who knows this because, conveniently, God has all the exact same opinions he does on everything. […]

    Via Right Wing Watch:

    “These are challenging times” Perkins said. “The policies that are coming out of this administration are literally from the pit of hell.”

    “America is in a very, very, I would say, precarious situation,” he added. “We’ve seen idolatry in different forms, but now it is so blatant. We’re in the 11th hour and I believe America is in serious trouble. We are literally shaking our fists in the face of God and challenging God, ‘If you’re really God, you do something.’ And he is God, and he will do something. That’s why I believe it is incumbent upon the church—followers of Jesus Christ—to cry out for God’s mercy, and a move of his spirit like we’ve never seen before in this nation.”

    Oh. So … God is going to be so very mad at what the President of the United States is doing, and all of the idolatry that people are doing, that he’s going to do something to punish us.

    What idolatry, exactly, are people doing with Joe Biden? Is it anything like this? [Photo of literal Trump golden idol, the golden stature at CPAC, is available at the link.]

    And what kind of punishment does “God” have in store for us? What’s he gonna do? Unleash a pandemic on us? Boy, that sure would be bad. We’d really hate that.

    Or will he unleash a flood that will destroy people’s houses? Like the time there was a flood in Baton Rouge and Tony Perkins’ house was flooded?

    […] Now, I do not believe in God and therefore cannot say that God agrees with me about abortion or people’s sexual orientation […] But hypothetically, if I did believe in a God that communicated his (or her!) disapproval through things like natural disasters and pandemics, I would probably assume that God was not quite as into Donald Trump and Tony Perkins as Tony Perkins might like to believe. Especially if said God was particularly touchy about “graven images” and golden calves or whatever.

    Just saying.

    Link

  140. johnson catman says

    re Lynna @179:

    We’ve seen idolatry in different forms, but now it is so blatant.

    How can Perkins refer to Biden and even say that with a straight face? If there was a god, he would have burnt Tony’s tongue out of his mouth for that.

  141. says

    johnson @180:

    How can Perkins refer to Biden and even say that with a straight face? If there was a god, he would have burnt Tony’s tongue out of his mouth for that.

    Perkins demonstrates an astounding amount of cluelessness, and a lack of self-awareness.

    I am reminded of Mitch McConnell’s recent statements:

    “Right now as we speak, Speaker Pelosi and Washington Democrats are literally trying to overturn a state-certified election here in Congress,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said Thursday, adding: “You don’t often see hypocrisy this blatant and this shameless so quickly.”

    [see comment 172]

    Mitch combined lying, hypocrisy, false equivalency, and an up-is-down type of propaganda that echos Perkins’ statement.

  142. says

    CNN correspondent Amara Walker held back tears as she reported live from Atlanta following President Biden’s address condemning the spike in violence against Asian Americans in the past year.

    Walker, who is Korean American, said following Biden’s speech, in which he called on Americans to unite against hatred and racism in the U.S., that she “can’t overstate how much it means for the Asian American community” for Biden and Vice President Harris to visit Atlanta and meet with local leaders following Tuesday’s shooting spree at massage parlors in the area.

    […] “For the president to come and say, ‘I see you, I hear you, I feel your pain’…” Li said Friday before pausing as she started to get visibly choked up, “…and to elevate this issue, I think a lot of us — it’s a cathartic moment, because the first step is to be seen and to be heard.”

    “And the fact that we have the vice president also acknowledging the history of racism against Asians that we have faced since the day that the Chinese immigrants started immigrating to the United States,” Walker added, referring to Harris’s own remarks ahead of Biden’s address Friday. […]

    “It’s just something that needs to stop. Someone needs to stand up for us,” Li said. “Hopefully, there’s something coming from the White House and also maybe something from Congress in denouncements and heightened policing would be great.”

    Link

    Biden and Harris did a great job.

  143. says

    Wonkette: “Heritage Foundation Determined To Stop American Liberals From ‘Canceling’ The British Monarchy”

    Earlier this month, as you surely know by now, Oprah did an interview with Prince William and Megan Markle, in which they discussed some of the issues with racism within the Royal family and those in their general orbit. Curiously, many of the same United States conservatives who never stop screaming “1776!” all over the place were absolutely shocked and appalled that anyone would so rudely disparage the monarchy.

    And somehow, they’re still on this particular jag. Later this week, The Heritage Foundation plans to host an online symposium titled “The Crown Under Fire: Why the Left’s Campaign to Cancel the Monarchy and Undermine a Cornerstone of Western Democracy Will Fail.”

    “Cornerstone of Western Democracy” is certainly a fascinating way to describe a monarchy. [LOL]

    Let’s look at the description for that event, shall we?

    In order to launch an assault on the British monarchy, the American radical Left has seized upon the claims from Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, that the Royal Family created a hostile, racist environment for the couple. Britain’s constitutional monarchy—among the most powerful conservative institutions on the world stage—represents everything the radical Left despises: tradition, authority, hierarchy, patriotism, and the political and religious ideals of Western Civilization.

    It’s not that we hate tradition, it’s that sometimes things are bad and we should stop doing them. Like racism. Or sexism. Or paying one random family $67 million a year just to exist and be fancy and wear giant hats. And who likes hierarchy? Or authority? Or telling other people what religion they’re supposed to be? […]

    this discussion […] will be presented by The Simon Center for American Studies and the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, the latter of which is not a hilarious joke I just made, but a real thing that actually exists and is called that on purpose.

    The event will be hosted by James Jay Carafano and moderated by Joseph Laconte, who published a completely batshit article in this week’s National Review titled “An American Defense of Britain’s Constitutional Monarchy.” The gist of this article is that, actually, the monarchy is great, colonialism was a force for good, and American Leftists are bad for wanting to “cancel” it. […]

    The radical Left has seized upon Oprah Winfrey’s televised spectacle with Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex in a crusade to invalidate one of the most consequential conservative institutions on the world stage.

    Accusations of racism within the royal family are not the point. The aim of modern liberalism can be symbolically discerned in William Walcutt’s painting, Pulling Down the Statue of George III at Bowling Green, July 9, 1776. It is to tear down everything the monarchy represents: tradition, authority, virtue, duty, love of country, and biblical religion.

    Oh wait. So we are 1776 now? And 1776 is bad? OK then! […]

    Laconte admits that sure, the Monarchy did do some colonialism and traded human beings as slaves, but they also stopped doing that even before America did!

    It is true, of course, that Great Britain built a massive colonial empire and was deeply engaged in the African slave trade. The monarchy approved, through royal charter, the forcible enslavement of millions of human beings. With the support of Parliament and the Royal Navy, Great Britain earned the lamentable status as the lead slave-trading nation in the world. The Left views this history as an indelible stain on the monarchy […]

    Once Parliament outlawed the slave trade in 1807, the British Crown authorized the Royal Navy to enforce the new law on the high seas. Decades before the United States faced the issue head-on in the Civil War, the British monarchy led the world in abolishing the institution of slavery.

    Leftists just never give anyone credit for anything!

    Laconte also suggests that nations that “violently rejected” being colonized by Britain turned out badly.

    Nations that have violently rejected Britain’s model of constitutionalism—China, Russia, the Arab states—have created human misery on an industrial scale. There is a reason that the democratic reformers in Hong Kong, a former British colony, often display the Union Jack.

    The whole thing is just … a very interesting take.

    […] there would still be the problem of paying a random family $67 million a year to exist, be fancy, and wear giant hats, which is a very weird thing to do, even if that family is not incredibly racist.

    We could always rejoin the UK, if only to appease Laconte and the Heritage Foundation. If conservatives truly want to live in a country with a monarchy, reasonable gun control and health care for everyone, we should at least do them the kindness of considering it.

    Link

  144. says

    “Sexual Anguish of Atlanta Suspect Is Familiar Thorn for Evangelicals”

    New York Times link

    When Brad Onishi heard that the man accused of a rampage at three Atlanta-area spas told detectives that he had carried out the attacks as a way to eliminate his own temptations, the claim sounded painfully familiar.

    Dr. Onishi, who grew up in a strict evangelical community in Southern California that emphasized sexual purity, had spent his teenage years tearing out any advertisements in surfing magazines that featured women in bikinis. He had traded his online passwords with friends to hold himself accountable. “We had a militant vigilance: Don’t let anything in the house that will tempt you sexually,” Dr. Onishi, now an associate professor of religious studies at Skidmore College, recalled.

    The evangelical culture he was raised in, he said, “teaches women to hate their bodies, as the source of temptation, and it teaches men to hate their minds, which lead them into lust and sexual immorality.”

    Robert Aaron Long, the suspect in the massacres that left eight people dead, told the police this week that he had a “sexual addiction,” and he had been a customer at two of the spas that he targeted. He was so intent on avoiding pornography that he blocked several websites on his computer and had sought help at a Christian rehab clinic. […]

    When Mr. Long, 21, was arrested on Tuesday on his way to Florida, the police said, he told officers he had planned to carry out another attack on a business connected to the pornography industry.

    Many people saw clear signs of misogyny and racism in the attacks, in which six of the victims were women of Asian descent.

    But Mr. Long’s characterization of his motivations was also very recognizable to observers of evangelicalism and some evangelicals themselves. He seemed to have had a fixation on sexual temptation, one that can lead to despair among people who believe they are failing to follow the ideal of refraining from sex and even lust outside heterosexual marriage.

    Combating pornography and improper sexual desire is an enduring theme within contemporary conservative evangelicalism. […]

    Historically, some evangelical leaders have also drawn a direct line between pornography and violence. James Dobson, the influential founder of Focus on the Family, recorded a video interview with Ted Bundy the day before the serial killer’s execution in 1989. Mr. Bundy’s message was that an “addiction” to pornography fueled his crimes.

    […] In recent decades, many conservative evangelical leaders and their churches have begun to speak more frankly about sex. “It’s very openly talked about that God created sexuality, it’s something not to be ashamed of, and that God made it for his purposes,” said Anson McMahon, a pastor in Buford, Ga., who was a guest speaker at several summer trips for young people in the early 2000s at the Baptist church later attended by Mr. Long.

    But if conversations around sexual issues have become more frank, the message that sex is reserved for straight married couples has remained unchanged.

    Many Christians trace their condemnation of pornography back to Jesus. “I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart,” he is quoted saying in the Gospel of Matthew.

    For Protestants in particular, whose faith prioritizes correct internal beliefs and spiritual attitudes, that passage has contributed to a worldview in which inappropriate sexual thoughts are just as sinful as wrong actions.

    […] Almost 30 percent of white evangelicals say they feel depressed after using pornography, compared with 8.6 percent of white liberal Protestants and 19 percent of white Catholics, according to a survey Dr. Perry co-conducted in February as part of the Public Discourse and Ethics Survey. White evangelicals are also significantly more likely to report that they are “addicted” to pornography.

    Dr. Perry described a phenomenon in some parts of evangelical culture that he called “sexual exceptionalism,” in which sexual sins are implied to be more serious than other categories.

    “So many men boil down how they’re doing spiritually to how often they have looked at porn recently,” Dr. Perry said, reflecting on his research in evangelical settings. “Not whether they’d grown in their love toward others, given generously of their time, or spent time connecting with God, but if they masturbated.”

    For some with experience in evangelical youth culture, Mr. Long’s fixation on sexual temptation was a reminder of a damaging approach to teaching young people how to address sexuality.

    […] “It was so rarely about the men controlling their own desires, and so often about women not being temptresses,” Mr. Chu recalled. […]

  145. says

    Trump’s Mar-A-Lago Club To Host Large Event After Staff Infected With Coronavirus

    Former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club is set to host a 500-person event celebrating motorsports on Sunday, in spite of reports that recent coronavirus infections among staff members had caused a partial shutdown of the club, the Daily Beast reported on Saturday.

    The Associated Press previously reported the partial shutdown of the ex-president’s club in Palm Beach, Florida, after sources — including a person familiar with club operations — confirmed that Mar-a-Lago had “partially closed” a section of the club and quarantined some of its workers on Friday “out of an abundance of caution.”

    Palm Beach realtor Valentina Aved, who helped organize the Sunday event which is expected to feature food, wine, fashion and vintage cars, told the Daily Beast that the fundraiser would involve “everybody playing by the pool.”

    She reportedly also told the Daily Beast, that no one seemed to be concerned about the recent outbreak, and that the event, which will be held outdoors, was sold out.

    “It will be a very exciting event. The most beautiful cars, people, good friends,” Aved told the Daily Beast.

    According to the event website, attendance at the gathering requires a $395 entrance fee.

    “We truly hope you enjoy your day with us, enjoy the great food and fine wine we have for you; enjoy the fabulous fashion around the Mar-a-Lago pool,” a copy of the program for the event reads.

    The program adds: “And during the day, please give generously to our favorite cause, The Place of Hope, that’s dedicated to providing a safe stable and loving environment for local children and families in need.”

    In an email to members, obtained by the Associated Press, the club assured that “all appropriate response measures” had been taken, including sanitizing affected areas after some of its staff tested positive for coronavirus. Service had been temporarily suspended in the club’s dining room and at its beach club, the paper noted, according to a copy of the email.

    […] In January, Florida state Rep. Omari Hardy (D) had asked for Mar-a-Lago to be closed down, and Palm Beach County issued a warning to Mar-a-Lago’s management after a New Year’s Eve party at the club flouted a mask requirement.

    “The workers don’t deserve this,” Hardy tweeted, after learning of the COVID-19 outbreak at Mar-a-Lago and its partial shutdown.

    “No one around the president wears a mask. The guests at Mar-a-Lago have photographed themselves partying and carousing not wearing masks,” he separately told the Post. “Now the workers, who can least afford to get sick, are paying for it with their health.”

  146. says

    Johnson Peddles Falsehoods Of ‘No Violence’ On Senate Side During Capitol Attack

    Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) on Saturday offered an alternative reality of the deadly Capitol insurrection earlier this year by falsely claiming a lack of violence on the Senate side during the attack.

    Speaking to a group of conservative Wisconsin residents at a local political event on Saturday, Johnson pushed false claims of more activity on the House side of the Capitol when the mob of Trump supporters breached the building, according to CNN.

    CNN also reported that Johnson doubled down on his previous assertion of not feeling threatened amid the deadly Capitol insurrection that left five dead.

    “One of the reasons I’m being attacked is because I very honestly said I didn’t feel threatened on January 6. I didn’t,” Johnson said, according to CNN. “There was much more violence on the House side. There was no violence on the Senate side, in terms of the chamber.”

    […] Videos of the Capitol insurrection were aired during Trump’s second impeachment trial last month.

    Johnson’s latest attempt to downplay the life-threatening events of the Capitol attack earlier this year comes weeks after he desperately tried to paint the Black Lives Matter movement as violent. […]

    According to CNN, Johnson doubled down on his incendiary comments that demonize the Black Lives Matter movement on Saturday by citing unverified statistics on the nationwide racial justice protests last year amid outcry over police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

    “Had the people that rioted in 570 different riots that burned I don’t know how many dozens of buildings in Kenosha, Wisconsin … if those people had shown up in Washington, DC, I said I might have been a little concerned,” Johnson said, according to CNN. “That has now been twisted, contorted into calling me a racist.”

  147. says

    Follow-up to comment 187.

    Blunt Decries ‘Alternative Versions’ Of Capitol Attack After Johnson’s False Claims

    Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) on Sunday decried “alternative versions” of the deadly Capitol insurrection, a day after Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) pushed a false narrative of no violence on the Senate side of the building during the attack.

    During an interview on MSNBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, Blunt was asked to respond to Johnson and former President George W. Bush’s takes on the Capitol insurrection. While Johnson has desperately tried demonize the Black Lives Matter movement by saying that he would have felt more threatened by BLM protesters if they had breached the Capitol, Bush told the Texas Tribune last week that the deadly insurrection left him “sick to my stomach” to see the Capitol stormed by “hostile forces.”

    Blunt replied that he is “much more in agreement” with Bush and that the Capitol attack is “absolutely unacceptable.”

    Blunt added that the deadly Capitol insurrection is what he believes people around the world view as “the citadel for democracy,” before decrying revisionism surrounding the attack that endangered lawmakers’ lives.

    “Totally unacceptable — we need to understand that’s an underlying principle of what happened on Jan. 6 that we don’t need to try to explain away or come up with alternative versions of,” Blunt said. “We all saw what happened and we know what happened. We know we can’t let that happen again.” […]

  148. says

    Follow-up to comment 187.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    I know Ron Johnson is a traitor, and I know he’s stupid, but the upside-downism of this line of response is so stupid that it suggests he’s deeply panicked by the revelations that are coming.
    —————–
    t’s time to put Ron Johnson in the same bucket as Kellyanne Conway and Kayleigh McEnany. Compulsive liars that that are best to ignore.
    ——————–
    Um…there’s literally video of Senator Romney coming within feet of possibly getting killed, were it not for the heroism of Officer Goodman, and of Senator Schumer and his security team desperately trying to avoid the rampaging insurrectionists.

    I don’t know what Johnson is trying to accomplish here, but his mendacity is damning.

    Follow-up to comment 188, with postings by readers of the article:

    Good for former President Bush in forcing Republicans to confront what happened on January 6.

    While it’s always safe to take the opposing side of the dumbest man in the Senate, Blunt goes on to say the following: “Totally unacceptable — we need to understand that’s an underlying principle of what happened on Jan. 6 that we don’t need to try to explain away or come up with alternative versions of,” Blunt said. “We all saw what happened and we know what happened. We know we can’t let that happen again.”

    But when given an opportunity to say unequivocally Biden is the legitimately elected President or to hold Trump accountable for inspiring and fomenting the insurrection, he failed to do so. It’s, if I may also be blunt, a historical failure on his part.
    ——————–
    If it’s Sunday, it’s Chuck Todd interviewing Republicans b/c it’s Chuck Todd.
    ——————-
    Blunt’s not running again.
    —————–
    Yet another GOP “statesman” finding the “guts” to speak the truth against the lunatics & criminals of his own party just in time for his “retirement.”
    ———————-
    The purification of the Republican Party continues! First the moderates. Now the insufficiently cuckoo-bananas. One wonders how many (or few) will eventually be left, and what their voters will look like. Enough to “drown in a bathtub”? We can only hope.

  149. says

    Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) on Friday said she is “open” to changing the way that filibuster rules are used in the Senate, signaling a significant development from a longtime defender of the procedure.

    “Ideally the Senate can reach bipartisan agreement on those issues, as well as on a voting rights bill. But if that proves impossible and Republicans continue to abuse the filibuster by requiring cloture votes, I’m open to changing the way the Senate filibuster rules are used,” she said in a statement issued Friday night. […]

    Link

  150. says

    Wonkette: Republican Patriots Pretty Sure Russian Dictator Can Wipe The Floor With [Biden]

    President Joe Biden really got under Vladimir Putin’s skin last week. First, he confirmed in an interview that he told off the Russian dictator to his face back in 2011.

    “I said, ‘Mr. Prime Minister, I’m looking into your eyes, and I don’t think you have a soul,'” Biden told [The New Yorker]. “He looked back at me, and he smiled, and he said, ‘We understand one another.'”

    I’m a materialist at heart, so I don’t believe anyone actually has a “soul.” Still, this was a pretty bad ass exchange. Biden also called Putin a “killer,” which, if you follow the metaphysics of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, is a fair description of soulless beings.

    Putin responded Thursday with a variation of “I know you are but what am I?” “I remember when I was young and I got into fights with my friends, we always used to say “whoever calls names is called that himself.”

    This should’ve delighted Republicans. They hate presidents who apologize for all the terrible things America has done. Republicans prefer straight-shooting, tough-as-nails cowboy presidents who make two-bit dictators sit their $5 ass down before they make change. [Trump] gushed over Putin, but the current, real president has reduced Putin to a children’s TV show host. […] [Pee-wee’s Big Adventure video clip is available at the link]

    That’s not what happened, of course. Republicans weren’t happy because most Republicans are traitors. Putin challenged Biden to a duel live debate, which anyone with a brain knows won’t take place because US presidents don’t share a stage with two-bit dictators. Yes, Biden debated the previous White House occupant twice, but he wasn’t president yet. And it was still beneath his dignity.

    Fox News’ Sean Hannity expressed serious concerns about a public debate because he thinks Biden is a doddering old fool who’ll humiliate himself and his loved ones. However, Putin, who murders people, isn’t known for his forensic skills. This isn’t a contest over who can poison the most journalists. Democracies are better than dictatorships. That’s usually a winning argument. I get that Republicans don’t like Biden but honestly, they’re cheering for Putin now. […]

    [From Aaron Rupar] “Fox News has been talking about Putin challenging Biden to a debate for a day — and they’re rooting for Putin.”

    HANNITY: The question is this. Why would Vladimir Putin immediately call for a debate with Joe Biden with no time to prepare?

    The answer, for those of us with functioning brain stems, is that Biden rattled Putin, who now realizes that he can’t actively attack US elections twice in a row without repercussions. Putin’s at an obvious disadvantage when he no longer has a lease to own the US president.

    The one-term loser’s first failed attempt at reproduction, Donald Trump Jr, claimed: “The whole world knows that we have no leadership at the top just an empty suit with a teleprompter (and he can’t even get that right).” […]

    Trump Jr. went on to suggest that our enemies “look at America’s weakness right now and are salivating.” […]

    House Rep. Matt Gaetz, the traitor from Florida, compared Putin v. Biden to Rocky IV — probably because that is the most intellectually challenging movie he’s ever seen. […]

    The previous White House squatter was hardly a mental giant, and whenever he appeared with Putin, they reenacted the “ventriloquist act” from Chicago. [video clip available at the link]

    […] I never jumped on the “not our president” bandwagon because I thought it was a cop put. You can’t define America only by its best decisions, and (white) America made an objectively terrible choice in 2016. However, I’m also not a nationalist. I don’t love America so much I’ll blindly support a wannabe dictator just because the Electoral College installed him in the White House. […]

    I would’ve feared a live matchup between Putin and President Klan Robe because it would’ve played out like the end of Animal Farm. You could’ve looked from dictator to orange pig and orange pig to dictator and not been able to tell the difference.

    […] Like the twice-impeached thug, the growing sedition wing of the Republican party admires Putin. […] Biden’s greatest strength is his compassion, which Republicans don’t respect and can’t imagine prevailing against blatant cruelty. This isn’t about rooting against America. It’s about siding with human decency, and that’s impossible for Republicans.

    Wonkette link

    See also: https://twitter.com/atrupar/status/1372910156116287490

  151. says

    A reminder: Yesterday was March 20. That was the day that QAnon people claimed Donald Trump would be sworn in as President. That didn’t happen.

    I haven’t kept count of the many dates on which QAnon people were sure Trump would be declared president … and then it didn’t happen.

  152. says

    “Pentagon chief in Afghanistan on unannounced visit as deadline to withdraw U.S. troops looms”

    Washington Post link

    Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin touched down in Afghanistan on Sunday, making an unannounced visit as the Biden administration wrestles with how to end its role in a war that is nearly 20 years old without allowing security to disintegrate.

    Austin, the retired Army general selected by President Biden to run the Pentagon, flew into Kabul’s international airport before boarding a Black Hawk helicopter to meet with officials that included Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, U.S. diplomat Ross Wilson and Army Gen. Austin “Scott” Miller, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan.
    Austin told reporters traveling with him in Kabul that senior U.S. officials want to see “a responsible end to this conflict” and “a transition to something else.”

    “[…] I think there is a lot of energy focused on doing what is necessary to bring about a responsible end and a negotiated settlement to the war,” Austin said.

    […] The trip marks the first visit by the new administration to Afghanistan and comes ahead of a May 1 deadline to remove all U.S. troops that was set in an agreement signed with the Taliban last year. About 2,500 U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan, according to the Pentagon, with several hundred more deployed on a short-term basis.

    […] The present situation has left the Biden administration picking from challenging options.

    While the deal the Trump administration negotiated last year called for the complete removal of U.S. troops this spring, it did not require the Taliban to reach a peace accord with the Afghan government first.

    The Taliban […] has waged a bloody campaign of violence on U.S.-trained Afghan troops, killing scores each month and encircling some Afghan cities. It also did not break with al-Qaeda, another term in the deal, according to U.S. analysts and intelligence assessments.

    Biden has raised the prospect of staying in small numbers, at least for a while longer. In an interview with ABC News last week, the president said a full withdrawal by May “is tough,” and he was “in the process of making that decision now as to when they’ll leave.”

    […] The Taliban warned on Friday that if the United States does not meet the deadline, there will be a “reaction.”

    […] Taliban officials have expressed interest in taking over the country’s government again, raising concerns over whether advances in women’s rights and democracy will last.

    […] Speaking on CBS News’s “Face the Nation,” Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), a combat veteran and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said her thoughts were with the military personnel who remain in harm’s way but that the prudent course is to allow Austin time to make a recommendation with input from U.S. commanders and allies in theater. […]

  153. says

    We need to rein in billionaires. Start with South Dakota.

    Washington Post link

    Over the past pandemic year, American billionaires have grown $1.3 trillion richer […] Income inequality has widened. One response is imposing new taxes on wealth, such as those just introduced by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), but that approach faces significant political hurdles.

    There’s another way to tackle the problem. Instead of focusing only on taxing wealth accumulation, we can address the hidden flip side — wealth transmission. America’s super-rich have created a little-known parallel legal system in some unlikely states. There, they pass on massive amounts of wealth tax-free and lock in inequality for generations, exploiting cracks in our system of taxing inherited wealth.

    The first step to reining in this system is to recognize its existence. The place to start is South Dakota, which has quietly made itself the world’s leading money haven, crushing former go-to shelters such as Switzerland and the Cayman Islands.

    In theory, the super-wealthy pay some taxes when they pass on estates beyond the current tax-free exemption level of $11.7 million for an individual, $23.4 million per couple. But the reality is that the wealthy find legal ways to shelter their enormous estates using tax avoidance tools that understate their assets’ true values. Often, they avoid any state or federal taxation whatsoever.

    Only about 1,900 of the roughly 3.1 million people who died in 2020 will pay federal estate taxes. In total, these estates will pay perhaps $16 billion — roughly a 2 percent average tax rate on America’s inherited income, one-seventh the average tax rate on income from work and savings.

    How is this possible?

    Enter South Dakota. The state has created a bespoke legal system for America’s richest families, with wealth-sheltering tools including the aptly named “dynasty trust.” In 1983, the state adopted a 19-word law that effectively abolished the “rule against perpetuities,” an ancient, obscure rule that had one salutary effect: It kept families from locking up wealth perpetually. After the repeal, wealth advisers began advertising South Dakota as the go-to solution for aristocrat wannabes.

    Nevada, Alaska, Delaware and other states also participate in this race to the bottom. South Dakota fends off competition with annual legislative giveaways: new “asset protection” and “decanting” tools for rejiggering existing trusts to stiff spouses, children, business partners and accident victims — while making wealth transfer taxes optional and ensuring ever-stricter secrecy.

    […] The trusts pay no state income, capital gains or inheritance taxes in South Dakota. Almost no roads get built, no schools funded. South Dakota gets no tourism or investment bump. The rich don’t even visit to sign papers.
    America’s ultra-wealthy have pulled off a brilliantly designed heist, with a string of South Dakota governors as accomplices. Nearly no one in South Dakota complains, because the harm falls on the national economy, federal taxpayers […]

    We all suffer high and hidden costs from this parallel legal system — paying more in taxes and getting less in government services. […] in the United States, states mostly define family ownership, not the federal government. Effectively, South Dakota is setting national policy.

    But Congress can override these choices and plug holes in our leaky estate tax system. One step would be to tax trusts at the passage of each generation and limit generation-skipping tax-exempt trusts. A bigger step would be to ensure that appreciated stocks — a big driver of wealth inequality — are taxed at least once. As a candidate, Joe Biden made that a centerpiece of his tax plan.

    Better still, let’s start anew. Ditch the existing estate tax and replace it with an inheritance tax on those who receive the wealth. Answer the GOP’s bogus “death tax” claims with a “silver spoon tax” — such as that proposed by Lily Batchelder, Biden’s nominee to oversee federal tax policy — that reins in windfalls to kids of super-wealthy family dynasties. Heirs of inherited income should pay at least a fraction of the taxes the rest of us pay on income from work.

    A country created in opposition to inherited status now has states competing with one another to promote perpetual family wealth. This is not a progressive position, but neither is it within any sensible version of American conservatism, a political tradition committed to individual freedom, opportunity and markets.

    The pandemic windfall to the super-wealthy creates a rare opening: to unite left and right in common cause against the United States’ ascendant aristocrats.

  154. says

    Vaccinated mothers pass covid antibodies to babies in utero and breastmilk, early studies show.

    Washington Post link

    Pregnant women who receive a coronavirus vaccine not only acquire protective antibodies against the virus for themselves but also may pass along immunity to their babies, emerging research shows.

    Several preliminary studies suggest that women who received an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) during pregnancy had covid-19 antibodies in their umbilical cord blood. Another study also detected antibodies in their breastmilk, indicating that at least some immunity could be transferred to babies both before and after birth.

    Brenna Hughes, vice chair for obstetrics and quality at Duke University, said several recent preprints, which are papers that have not yet been peer-reviewed, are “the first to show what we had hoped would be true, which is that these vaccines could be potentially protective through antibodies passed on to the fetus.” […]

  155. says

    Workers at U.S. meat plants, early Covid hot spots, are now getting vaccinated in many states.

    New York Times link

    Employees at food processing facilities, which had some of the country’s largest known coronavirus outbreaks early in the pandemic, are now eligible for vaccines in at least 26 states […]

    The expansion of vaccines to food processing workers comes amid rapid widening of eligibility, especially for essential workers at greater risk of contracting the virus. […] In at least six states, food processing workers are eligible in certain counties but not in others.

    Meat and poultry processing facilities have largely remained open even as large outbreaks infected thousands of workers and killed dozens in the first months of the pandemic. […]

    A JBS USA pork production plant in Worthington, Minn., with more than 700 recorded coronavirus cases held a mass vaccination event on Friday. JBS USA, a subsidiary of JBS S.A., a Brazilian company that is the world’s largest meat-processing firm, has offered employees who receive the vaccine $100 incentives.

    “There was a lot of skepticism among members, for a lot of different reasons,” said Matt Utecht, who represents the Worthington workers as president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 663 union. He said union representatives went to the facility repeatedly in recent months to share information about the vaccine, and signed up about 1,500 of the union’s roughly 1,850 members.

    “It’s been a daily grind of educating, talking, communicating,” he said.

    […] With demand for vaccines still outpacing supply, states have faced competing interests in deciding which groups to prioritize. Eligibility opened to many food processing workers in early March across much of the Midwest, where meatpacking and food production are a major part of the economy and often a source of employment for recent immigrants.

    In Kansas, where food processing workers are now eligible for the vaccine, nearly 4,000 reported cases have been tied to outbreaks in meatpacking plants, more than in any other setting except long-term care centers and correctional facilities. […]

  156. says

    As if Puerto Ricans didn’t have enough problems. They’re still struggling to recover post-Hurricanes Irma and Maria (over three years ago), coping with COVID-19, and dealing with the ongoing debt crisis. Now they also have to weather an influx of tourists who, with total disregard for the well-being of islanders, want to party and brawl and roam the streets without masks.

    Tensions between island and mainland have always existed, exacerbated by the split on the island between political parties with strong oppositional positions on the question of Puerto Rico’s colonial status—statehood, independence, enhanced status quo or some other arrangement. However, the cheap airfares to the island, bringing in hordes of tourists who mock “the locals” and ignore the strict COVID-19 restrictions for residents, have created an ugly atmosphere. Many islanders are demanding “gringos go home” and that they “stay the hell home.” […]

    Link

    See also:
    https://twitter.com/coralmerfi/status/1371262453544280064

  157. says

    Please, no. “Trump adviser says former president will return to social media within months.”

    Former Trump administration senior adviser Jason Miller said on Sunday that the former president plans to return to social media in the coming months with his “own platform.”

    Miller told Fox News’ Mediabuzz that Trump was “returning to social media in two or three months” with “his own platform.” Miller also added the platform would “completely redefine the game” and rake in “tens of millions” of users.

    […] The news comes months after Trump’s Twitter account was permanently suspended following posts it made in early January that the platform determined posed the risk of “incitement of violence” in the wake of the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. […]

    Link

    Trump’s return to social media sounds wildly over hyped to me.

  158. says

    Wonkette: “Tomi Lahren Exposes Plan To Secretly Replace Biden With Harris”

    Last night on Judge Jeanine Pirro’s show [Fox], Tomi Lahren stopped by to have a discussion about the fact that Joe Biden tripped on some stairs, because “Oh wow that must mean he’s too old or something is wrong with his brain, because those are the only reasons people ever fall on stairs!”

    Despite Pirro’s initial attempt to frame it as some kind of revenge for the time people made fun of Trump walking down stairs (or hypocrisy from the left), Lahren took it very seriously. […]

    Tomi said:

    Well again, we all feel sorry for Joe Biden, nobody wants to see anybody struggle, ever — but, the double standard is the only standard of the Left. We’re not supposed to talk about mental acuity, we’re not supposed to talk about mental stability.

    Whether or not Tomi Lahren felt she was “allowed” to talk about mental acuity or stability, it was certainly a talking point among many conservative mouthpieces throughout the 2020 election. It’s just that, with Trump as their president and candidate, this criticism did not hold a lot of water.

    What Lahren seems to mean by the fact that people weren’t “supposed” to talk about that is that when she talked about it, not everyone agreed with her. That seems to be true nearly every time she mentions something people aren’t “supposed” to talk about. Most of us can and do talk about things even when we know other people will disagree with us. Tomi Lahren probably disagrees with most things I have to say. That doesn’t mean I’m not “supposed” to say them.

    Lahren then used this discussion to, strangely, expound on another theory she’s not supposed to talk about — our nefarious plan to secretly replace Biden with Kamala Harris […]

    The fact of the matter is this: the Left is going to dump Joe Biden in five months, maybe six months, and put Kamala in, as we all knew. We were never supposed to talk about this, we were never supposed to hint at this, that Joe Biden may not be up for the job. Now it’s perfectly clear.

    […] This theory has become a bit of a meme on the Right, and was used during the election to “scare” moderate Republicans who felt that Joe Biden, a fairly middle-of-the-road, moderate white guy, wouldn’t be so bad, but who might not feel “ready” for a Black woman president. Not that they’re racist or sexist, mind you! They just need more time to prepare. It’s never clear what conservatives do when they “prepare” for social change, largely because they never seem to complete the process.

    Lahren continued on, brazenly listing things she’s not allowed to talk about, and that she wouldn’t talk about, because of how she is a very nice person who never has an unkind word for anyone, except that Biden is president and therefore it matters:

    And we would never talk about somebody that was clearly mentally unstable, maybe somebody that was struggling, we would never talk about this. Except for the fact that this is the President of the United States of America. We have every right to talk about it, we have every right to be concerned.

    Again, he fell on some stairs. I regularly fall on solid ground, in flats, while completely sober. My brain is fine, I just have weak ankles. […]

    I once sprained my ankle walking out of a bodega just because I overheard a mother saying to her kid “Passion Marie Mukowski, get up off the floor or you’ll get spiders in your hooha” and could barely see straight from how hard I was trying to not crack up (or forget that perfect sentence) until I made it to the bar across the street. I broke my foot falling off a curb, into a puddle, on my 19th birthday, trying to go talk to a guy I had a crush on, who did not notice I had walked over until I got up. Rudely, this did not result in my life becoming a romantic comedy, but rather with me having to spend a summer showering with a garbage bag over my leg. I think it is fair to say that Joe Biden is 80,000 times more graceful than I have ever been. Falling up the stairs getting onto a plane is nothing to me.

    But I digress!

    His own party said, “Hey, maybe, maybe not the nuclear codes, maybe this is not the best idea.” So before they go and rip on conservatives for talking about mental acuity, they wanted to take the nuclear codes from Joe. Clearly, they all know something we all know. This is not good for our country. And the world knows it

    .
    That is not even sort of what happened. She can keep saying “We all know it” and “the world knows it” all she wants, that doesn’t make it true. Thirty Democrats, recalling who the last guy in charge was, sent a letter requesting that policy change so that starting a nuclear war is not just in the hands of one person, which seems like a good idea! The president is literally the only one who can change this policy going forward, and it wouldn’t make much sense to wait until the president was another person who really shouldn’t have this power all to themselves.

    Link

  159. tomh says

    Trump will be screaming this on his deathbed.

    Trump Says the Supreme Court ‘Will Go Down in History’ as ‘Gutless,’ Refuses to Admit He Lost Last November’s Election Fair and Square

    Former President Donald Trump on Saturday blasted the U.S. Supreme Court while airing grievances about a New York Times report’s accurate characterization of the November 3, 2020 election….

    The report presses the thesis that “many conservative activists” believe “that the best way to raise money and keep voters engaged is to make [Trump’s] biggest fabrication” about the 2020 election “their top priority.”
    […]

    …more from the Times report:

    In recent weeks, many of the most prominent and well-organized groups that power the G.O.P.’s vast voter turnout efforts have directed their resources toward a campaign to restrict when and how people can vote, with a focus on the emergency policies that states enacted last year to make casting a ballot during a pandemic easier. The groups believe it could be their best shot at regaining a purchase on power in Washington.

    [ . . . ]

    For now, many conservative groups are choosing to side with the former president, even at the risk of feeding corrosive falsehoods about the prevalence of voter fraud.

    Naturally, Trump disagreed with the insinuation that he lost fair and square to Biden nearly five months ago….

    “Sadly the Election was Rigged, and without even going into detail, of which there is much, totally game changing,” Trump’s statement awkwardly read….

    “Democrats could not get Republican Legislatures in Swing States to approve many of the voting changes which took place before the Election, which is mandated under the Constitution of the United States,” he said. “For that reason alone, we had an Illegitimate Election….”

    “The Supreme Court and other Courts were afraid to rule, they were ‘gutless,’ and will go down in history as such,” the ex-president said. “No wonder why so much money is being raised on this issue, and law-abiding people have every right to do so!”

  160. snarkrates says

    tomh: “Trump will be screaming this on his deathbed.”

    I hope he’s screaming on his deathbed, and I hope he doesn’t wait too long.

  161. says

    A paraphrased and summarized fundraising report, based on Politico’s reporting: The Democratic National Committee raised $8.5 million last month, its best-ever February in a non-presidential election year. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised about $11.5 million last month, which is also an off-year record. The Republican counterparts have not yet announced their fundraising totals.

  162. says

    Follow-up to tom @203.

    Why Trump’s latest ‘illegitimate election’ nonsense matters

    There’s a difference between Trump’s exasperating nonsense and lies that put Americans at risk. His latest statement falls into the latter category.

    For those concerned with U.S. national security, several recent intelligence reports have been sobering. The Department of Homeland Security, for example, issued a terrorism bulletin a couple of months ago, warning about violent extremists being motivated by “perceived grievances fueled by false narratives” — an apparent reference to Donald Trump’s anti-election rhetoric.

    Last week, an assessment from the U.S. intelligence community went considerably further, alerting the public to the fact that “narratives of fraud” in the 2020 presidential election, among other things, “will almost certainly spur some [domestic violence extremists] to try to engage in violence this year.”

    It was against this backdrop that the former president issued his latest written statement over the weekend [see comment 203]

    To be sure, the way in which this was written is distracting. Trump, who appears to have had a direct hand in crafting the statement, can’t shake his idiosyncratic approach to capitalization, quotation marks, and other elements of grammar.

    More important, of course, was [Trump’s] brazenness toward electoral reality. Note, for example, that the former president claims to be aware of “totally game changing” details on the corruption of the 2020 election, though Trump isn’t “going into” it.

    In other words, Trump could prove his hopelessly bonkers conspiracy theories regarding his election defeat, and he could share his “totally game changing” evidence […] Sure, big guy, whatever you say.

    But it’s the larger context that’s most alarming. It was literally last week when the U.S. intelligence community warned Americans that “narratives of fraud” will “almost certainly” lead some domestic violence extremists to “try to engage in violence” — not on some far-away horizon, but in 2021.

    As the public came to terms with this assessment, Donald Trump decided it would be a good time to issue another public statement, in service of his Big Lie, falsely insisting that the election was both “rigged” and “illegitimate.”

    Trump is not just brazenly lying, he is brazenly fomenting violence.

  163. says

    More shenanigans and more vengeance from Trump:

    […] In an interview on the podcast “The Truth with Lisa Boothe” [released this morning], Trump quipped that the GOP needs “better” and “stronger” leadership than McConnell.

    Trump’s latest swipe at McConnell adds another episode to the former president’s ongoing grudge against the Senate minority leader, who initially scolded Trump on the Senate floor for inciting the mob behind the deadly Capitol insurrection earlier this year. Last month, the former president issued a deranged and racist statement from his Save America PAC threatening to primary the Senate minority leader’s allies. But McConnell has tried to get back into Trump’s good graces since then, telling Fox News last month that he would “absolutely” support Trump if the former president were to run for office again in 2024.

    After throwing McConnell under the bus along with Sens. Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Ben Sassse (R-NE) — both of whom voted in favor of Trump’s impeachment after the former president incited the mob behind the deadly Capitol insurrection earlier this year — Trump on Monday complained that the Senate minority leader is doing a poor job of reigning in the GOP because there are senators who dared to buck him.

    Trump went on to recall that he warned McConnell that Democrats will try to eliminate the filibuster in order for them to have “a free for all.” The former president claimed that McConnell doubted his supposed fears of the elimination of the filibuster upon Democrats winning a narrow majority in the Senate.

    “So if they’re going to knock it out, maybe we should and get everything that we want,” Trump said. “He said they’ll never knock it out. It’ll never happen. They’ll never do it. They don’t want to do it.”

    Trump then boasted that McConnell recently admitted the former president was right, referring to the Senate minority leader’s remarks last week expressing his strongest threat yet about abolishing the filibuster. McConnell warned that he would use Senate rules to slow down and force votes on every single small piece of Senate operations if Democrats eliminate the filibuster.

    McConnell may have found another way to ruffle Trump’s feathers, however, after reportedly bragging to fellow Republicans that their super PAC had out-raised Trump’s last year. The New York Times’ report of McConnell’s boast came amid the former president sending cease-and-desist letters to at least three Republican organizations to stop fundraising off his name and likeness in an effort to consolidate his large influence on the GOP.

    Link

    Audio of the podcast is available at the link.

  164. says

    Here’s a link to the March 22 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    Germany is extending its partial lockdown until 18 April, reverting on plans to loosen restrictions that have been in place since 16 December in the face of rising infection rates.

    In a video conference call chancellor on Monday afternoon Angela Merkel and the heads of Germany’s 16 federal states agreed to pull the emergency break on a lockdown exit agreed only three weeks earlier, German media reported.

    With Covid-19 variants driving a steep rise in infection rates and only 9% of the German population having received a vaccine shot so far, politicians fear that hospitals could be overwhelmed by April unless the government takes steps to curtail the spread of the virus.

    Private gatherings are set again to be limited to no more than one person from outside the household, excluding children under the age of 14. Shops, museums and galleries that have started to reopen over the last few weeks are likely to have to close their doors once more.

    Discussions about the closure of schools and nurseries, as well as a possible lifting of restrictions over Easter, are ongoing.

    Also in the Guardian – “Covid: AstraZeneca vaccine 79% effective with no increased blood clot risk – US trial”:

    The Covid-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca was 79% effective in preventing symptomatic illness in a large trial in the US, Chile and Peru, the company said on Monday, paving the way for it to apply for US approval.

    The vaccine was 100% effective against severe or critical disease and hospitalisation and was safe, the drugmaker said on Monday, releasing results of the late-stage human trial study of more than 32,000 volunteers across all age groups.

    The data will give credence to the British vaccine after results from earlier, separate late-stage studies raised questions about the robustness of the data.

    It will also help allay safety concerns that have disrupted its use in the EU after a small number of reports of rare blood clots in people who had received the jab.

    AstraZeneca, which ran the big US trial, will now hope any doubts are dispelled in the US and in Europe and that the age limits in Europe will be withdrawn. The US trial involved nearly 32,500 people, which is larger than any of their other trials of this vaccine, and about 20% were 65 or older. Nearly two-thirds were not in the best of health – 60% had underlying conditions including diabetes, severe obesity and heart disease, which would put them at serious risk if they caught the virus.

    Yet the top line result is even better than in past trials, with 79% protected against symptomatic disease and no deaths in those vaccinated. The vaccine was even slightly more effective in the over-65s, at 80%.

    Ethnicity made no difference, the trial found. In this interim analysis, approximately 79% were white/Caucasian, 8% black/African American, 4% Native American, 4% Asian, and 22% of participants were Hispanic. But the vaccine worked equally well in all.

    Addressing the other issue that has damaged confidence in the vaccine in recent weeks, the company also points out that there were no serious side events such as blood clots among those who took part.

    Oxford University and AstraZeneca will be hugely relieved by these results, which are the best they could hope for and should help to rebuild confidence in the vaccine.

    The damage will not be instantly repaired. The data will now go to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which will take a few weeks to decide whether to give the vaccine emergency approval. The company has worked with the FDA to ensure all the issues of concern are covered, so the next stage should go smoothly.

    This trial is hugely important and not just for the US, which has unused stocks. The AstraZeneca vaccine was always intended to be the low-cost, easy-to-use vaccine for the whole world, manufactured in factories globally and the mainstay of the UN’s Covax programme. Although the WHO has approved it, the FDA is the regulator with the most influence, known for being the most difficult to please. If the FDA approves the vaccine, any lingering doubts on safety and efficacy are likely to fall away.

    Supply, however, will then become an even bigger issue as every country embraces the vaccine and wants its share.

  165. says

    Chuck Todd’s intro to Meet the Press on Sunday:

    Good Sunday Morning —

    It’s fair to call the deteriorating situation at the US-Mexican border a crisis — even if the Biden administration refuses to use that word.

    But it’s more than that: It’s a political crisis for the new president, with no easy way out.

    Commentary:

    […] You wouldn’t know it from Todd’s intro, but thanks to a series of asylum-killing rules implemented by the Trump administration, tens of thousands of people have been languishing in dangerous Mexican border towns, waiting for their opportunity to have their claims heard by US officials. And as BuzzFeed News‘ Hamed Aleaziz wrote in October, the Trump administration had turned away immigrant children from the border 13,000 times under a public health measure known as Title 42, which effectively sealed the border to asylum seekers starting in March 2020. […]

    But since Republicans—scrambling in a post-Trump, post-insurrection, post-stimulus, post-Dr. Seuss world—have pivoted to making the increase in unaccompanied minors at the border their 2022 wedge issue, we’re all about to be dragged along for the ride. […] After House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) went on Fox & Friends earlier in the week to slam the White House for what he called “more than just a crisis—this is a human tragedy,” hawk Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said on Fox News Sunday that “the border is wide open” under Biden, despite the fact that the Title 42 border closure remains in place for everyone but unaccompanied migrant children.

    Cotton, it should be noted, is calling on Biden to shut the border on these kids. That was and would be another kind of crisis—just maybe not one that’d result in wall-to-wall coverage on the Sunday morning news shows.

    Link

    Chuck Todd has a habit of simplifying issues in ways that favor Republican talking points. He is a dunderhead most of the time.

  166. says

    Saudis propose cease-fire with Yemen’s Houthi rebels

    Saudi Arabia offered Yemen’s Houthi rebels a cease-fire Monday as part of a plan that would also allow a major airport to reopen in Yemen’s capital.

    The new initiative comes amid stepped up attacks by the Houthis against Saudi oil infrastructure, as well as increased pressure from the Biden administration on the Saudis to end what has become the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

    “The Kingdom calls on the Yemeni government and the Houthis to accept the initiative, which gives the Houthis the opportunity to stop the bloodshed in Yemen, address the humanitarian and economic conditions that the brotherly Yemeni people are suffering from, and gives them the opportunity to become partners in achieving peace,” the Saudi Foreign Ministry said in a statement Monday.

    It’s unclear whether the plan will gain any traction. A unilateral Saudi cease-fire last year collapsed.

    Yemen’s internationally recognized government welcomed the Saudi proposal in a statement from its Foreign Ministry.

    But Houthi officials dismissed the plan as “nothing new” in statements to the Associated Press and Reuters.

    Under the Saudi plan, a “comprehensive” cease-fire across Yemen would be supervised by the United Nations.

    The Saudis would also allow the Sanaa International Airport to reopen to “a number” of regional and international flights, according to the Foreign Ministry statement. The airport has not seen regular commercial flights since 2015.

    The plan would also include depositing taxes and customs fees from ships importing oil through the port of Hodeida into a joint account of Yemen’s Central Bank that could be accessed by both the Houthis and Yemen’s government.

    But the plan does not go as far as the Houthis have demanded by fully ending the blockades on the airport and Hodeidah. […]

  167. says

    From today’s DN! headlines:

    Nationwide Protests Call for an End to Anti-AAPI Violence After Atlanta Massacre

    Protesters took to the streets of cities across the United States over the weekend to condemn racism and hate crimes against Asian Americans, following last week’s deadly shooting in Atlanta which killed eight people, six of them women of Asian descent. The names of all the victims have been released: Xiaojie Tan, Yong Ae Yue, Delaina Ashley Yaun, Suncha Kim, Hyun Jung Grant, Soon Chung Park, Daoyou Feng and Paul Andre Michels. Elcias Hernandez Ortiz, who survived the shooting, is in hospital in critical condition….

    Women, Rights Groups Slam Turkish Gov’t for Withdrawing from Int’l Domestic Violence Treaty

    Human rights groups are condemning Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention, the world’s first binding treaty to combat violence against women and girls. Nearly 40% of Turkish women have been subjected to violence from their partner, according to U.N. figures, and local rights groups say femicides are on the rise. In Istanbul, women took to the streets to protest the move.

    Özlem Tekin: “I wasn’t feeling safe as a woman even before this. And after this, I feel even more like I am in an unsafe environment. At least there was a law, a decision that I was leaning on. But now I don’t feel like I have any support. I feel vulnerable.”

    Israelis Protest Netanyahu’s Corruption Ahead of Tuesday’s Elections

    In Israel, tens of thousands of people took to the streets Saturday for some of the largest protests yet against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of Tuesday’s election.

    Eyal Goldman: “We are here to protest against Netanyahu and his corrupt government. This is our last chance before the election. We want everyone to come and vote to change, vote to exchange this government.”

    Israel is heading into its fourth election in two years amid Netanyahu’s ongoing corruption trial. Protesters initially condemned the government response to the pandemic, but Netanyahu is hoping Israel’s rapid rollout of vaccines will help secure his win.

    In other news from the region, Israeli troops fatally shot a Palestinian man, 42-year-old Atef Yussef Hanaysheh, Friday during protests against illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

    Pakistani Court Sentences Men to Death for Rape That Sparked Nationwide Protests

    A Pakistani court sentenced two men to death for a rape last year which set off protests and national outrage. The men gang-raped and robbed a woman in front of her children after her car broke down. At the time, the Lahore police chief blamed the woman for traveling at night without a male companion and not making sure she had enough gas in her car.

    House Bill Would Bring Self-Determination to Puerto Rico

    New York Congressmembers Nydia Velázquez and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez introduced a bill that would allow Puerto Rico to determine its territorial status, including statehood or independence from the U.S. New Jersey’s Bob Menendez introduced the measure in the Senate. “A colony is incompatible with democracy,” said Ocasio-Cortez….

  168. says

    Weird, strange … alarming.

    Wonkette:

    Earlier this month, QAnon devotee Ian Alan Olson, 31, drove from Wisconsin to Washington DC in hopes of seeing Donald Trump inaugurated president of the United States of America on March 4. As you may recall, that didn’t happen, and even most of the QAnon dopes had accepted it wouldn’t happen by then. The day before, March 3, Olson approached a member of the National Guard and told them he was “maybe going to do something crazy stupid tomorrow.” Later, he was stopped by a member of the United States Capitol Police and told them that he would be performing a test the next day to see if the National Guard’s loyalty was to “the people” or to Joe Biden.

    While he didn’t say exactly what he planned to do, he said he would be “taken over by the Spirit of Christ and lead the people to unity,” noting that “things can only be resolved by the barrel end of a gun.” Whatever he did it was going to be “big,” he said, adding that he was “willing to die to fulfill this mission.”

    His theory, he explained, was that if the National Guard were to shoot him while he was doing whatever he ended up doing, they were loyal to Joe Biden, but if they let him do the thing, they were loyal to “the people.”

    The words “trust my plan” were painted in bright orange on the front of his blue 2016 Subaru. [photos available at the link]

    Perhaps unsurprisingly, he was swiftly whisked away for a psych eval.

    Two weeks later, back in Wisconsin, he attacked some Army Reserve members with a paintball gun.

    According to the criminal complaint, Olson drove his Subaru to the Wisconsin Army Reserve Center in Pewaukee, Wisconsin, on the morning of March 15, whereupon he attacked two Army Reservists with a paintball gun.

    Two members of the U.S. Army Reserve on active drill orders, wearing Army OCP uniforms (camouflage), were standing nearby in the fenced-in parking lot of the reserve station. Olson exited his vehicle, shouted, “This is for America,” and, armed with what appeared to be a rifle, but was in fact an orange in color AR-15 style paintball gun, shot two-to-three rounds of paintball projectiles at the reservists. The reservists were about 15 yards away from Olson. None of the projectiles struck the reservists.

    His plans were foiled when the paintball gun got jammed up.

    After Olson shot the projectiles, Olson’s gun appeared to jam. Olson exclaimed to the reservists, “You’re lucky it jammed,” or words to that effect. At that point, the reservists, one of whom is a law-enforcement officer, tackled Olson to the ground and held him until law enforcement officers arrived.

    Olson is not dead. No one fired back at him.

    It is not clear what Olson intended to accomplish with the paintball attack. Stick them with a big dry cleaning bill?

    When officers searched Olson’s car, they also found “a digital camera, SD cards, a gas mask, throwing knives, police scanner, two-way radios, a taser, and ballistic military-style vest plates.” So either he was planning something far more messed up than attacking random Army Reserve members with a paintball gun, or he was planning on auditioning for the Jim Rose Circus.

    He has since been booked on several charges including “Terrorist Threats and Attempted Battery and Disorderly Conduct.” Upon arrest, he announced, “I’m going to cause mass casualty when I get out of jail,” adding “I almost have everything ready.” He also reportedly refused to see a mental health worker at the jail.

    Olson is obviously a danger to himself and others, but it seems like prison might not be exactly the right solution for this kind of thing.

    I understand not having a whole lot of compassion for these people, but it sure would be nice if we didn’t live in a country where “maybe it would be more productive to get this guy some mental health treatment, because it sure looks like he was having a psychotic break” was seen as “being too soft.” Or if we didn’t feel so mad about other injustices in our criminal justice system that throwing someone like this guy in prison for the rest of his life didn’t seem like a balancing of the scales. It would also be super great if we had some actual mental health infrastructure in this country, because it sure doesn’t seem as though Ronald Reagan’s “let’s just close all of the public mental health facilities instead of improving them so they’re not horrifying anymore” plan worked out all that well.

    Link

  169. says

    A couple of vaccine news updates:

    […] ome people in the United Arab Emirates are being invited to receive a third shot of the Sinopharm coronavirus vaccine after antibody tests indicated they did not have a sufficient immune response following two doses of the Chinese-made shot. There has been a similar report out of China as well.

    […] At least 81.4 million people have received one or both doses of a coronavirus vaccine in the United States. More than 542,000 people have died from coronavirus in the country, out of roughly 29.8 million confirmed cases.

  170. says

    D.C. statehood can no longer be ignored. Will Democrats step up?

    After he was reelected in 2012, President Barack Obama changed the license plates on the presidential limousines, thereafter using the “Taxation Without Representation” plates the District of Columbia created to protest the fact that the city’s residents, now numbering more than 700,000, have no voting representation in Congress.

    […] eight years later, D.C. statehood is no longer an issue about which politicians can have perfunctory opinions they either don’t bother acting on (in the case of Democrats) or barely bother defending (in the case of Republicans). It now has to be taken seriously, by everyone.

    This is a case study in how the efforts of activists, party evolution, and simple good timing can propel an issue up the agenda, pulling politicians in its wake whether they like it or not.

    And it absolutely cannot be divorced from the GOP’s war on voting rights across the country, in which Republicans are trying desperately to make sure that people likely to vote for Democrats — especially Black people — face as many hurdles as possible in exercising their franchise.

    On Monday, the House Oversight and Reform Committee held a hearing on H.R. 51, a bill to make D.C. a state and reduce the federal district created in the Constitution to a two-square mile area that includes the Capitol, the White House, the National Mall, and many federal buildings. A similar bill passed the House last year, but few people noticed.

    […] The current iteration of the statehood legislation is co-sponsored by almost every Democrat in the House, but a few in the Senate have not yet come out in favor of statehood. Why? […]

    “This would effectively shift the power to the left-wing progressives so they can enact their radical agenda,” said Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) at Monday’s hearing. Hice recently announced that he will challenge the Republican secretary of state in Georgia, who refused to help Donald Trump steal the 2020 election.

    […] Of course Democrats see the political advantage of D.C. statehood. But parties gain or lose influence because of changes to our laws all the time. Throughout American history, the addition of states was regularly pushed by parties looking to add to their power. That didn’t mean that it wasn’t a good thing for the country.

    Think of it this way. Imagine Democrats suggested that we declare Florida a Special Tourism Zone — one whose citizens would no longer be allowed to have voting representation in Congress. Republicans could say “You only want to do that so we’ll lose power over legislation!” Even if that were true, it wouldn’t be the reason de-stating Florida would be wrong. The reason would be that the people of Florida shouldn’t have their voting rights taken away, and the fact that they usually vote Republican doesn’t matter one way or the other.

    But Republicans barely hide the fact that their principal objection to D.C. statehood is that the people there are Democrats — and we can’t ignore that about half the city’s residents are Black. […]

    That’s what this issue is about: Whether the right to be a full participant in our democracy belongs to all Americans, or only those who are of the right race and vote the way the Republican Party wants them to. It’s not a question anyone will be allowed to ignore.

    Washington Post link to an article by Paul Waldman.

  171. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    The US would equitably integrate AstraZeneca’s vaccine into the distribution system if the vaccine is approved by US authorities, the White House said, Reuters reports.

    White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki noted there was still a vaccine shortage in the country and some 1,400 people were still dying each day.

    AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine performed better than expected in a major late-stage trial, the drugmaker said on Monday, potentially paving the way for its emergency authorisation in the US.

    Meanwhile the US has administered 126,509,736 doses of vaccines in the country as of Monday morning and distributed 156,734,555 doses, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

    Almost 70% of the 65+ population in the US has received at least one dose, and almost 43% are fully vaccinated.

  172. says

    Why 14 GOP reps balked at condemning Myanmar’s military coup

    Reacting to Friday’s House vote, one observer asked, “Is there now a pro-coup caucus?”

    It was seven weeks ago today when military leaders in Myanmar announced that they’d taken control of the country’s government; civilian leaders were in custody; and the people of Myanmar should expect a “state of emergency” to last a year.

    Not surprisingly, there were large-scale demonstrations calling for the return of the elected government, leading to a crackdown by security forces targeting anti-coup protesters. It wasn’t long before President Joe Biden announced new sanctions against those responsible for the military coup.

    As is often the case, U.S. lawmakers also wanted to send a signal in support of democracy, and took up a resolution late last week to condemn the coup. It was expected to pass unanimously. As Reuters noted, it didn’t.

    The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday overwhelmingly approved legislation condemning the military coup in Myanmar, as lawmakers decried increasingly harsh tactics used to suppress demonstrations since the Feb. 1 ouster of the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. The measure passed by 398 to 14, with one voting “present.” All of the “no” and “present” votes came from Republicans.

    For the record, here is a list of the House GOP member who voted against the bipartisan resolution. If it seems like a list of some of Congress’ most far-right lawmakers, it’s not your imagination.

    Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.)
    Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.)
    Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.)
    Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.)
    Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.)
    Rep. Mary Miller (R-Ill.)
    Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas)
    Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.)
    Rep. Alex Mooney (R-W.Va.)
    Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.)
    Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.)
    Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C.)
    Rep. Barry Moore (R-Ala.)
    Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.)

    Also note, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), another far-right member, voted “present,” rather taking a stand one way or the other.

    It’s worth mentioning for context that these members knew the resolution would pass easily, but they chose to vote against it anyway. What’s more, the resolution was largely symbolic: it has no force of law and was written as a way to convey to the people of Myanmar that the United States stands in support of democratically elected governments, against military coups, and for the release of political prisoners.

    The question, of course, is why 14 House Republicans thought it’d be a good idea to oppose such a measure.

    For his part, Arizona’s Andy Biggs defended his vote by saying the United States “can’t simply be the military police for the entire world.” That’s not an unreasonable position in a general sense, but the resolution didn’t require the United States to be the “military police” for anyone; it was a symbolic, non-binding resolution.

    […] The less benign interpretation is that this far-right contingent may have opposed the resolution because they see some merit in military takeovers of civilian governments.

    The New Yorker’s Susan Glasser, reacting to Friday’s House vote, asked, “Is there now a pro-coup caucus?” It’s a provocative question that probably deserves an answer.

  173. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    France’s intensive care Covid-19 patients reach 2021 high

    France reported 15,792 new coronavirus cases on Monday, more than double the 6,471 reported last Monday, Reuters reports.

    The number of people in intensive care with the virus rose by 142 to a new 2021 high of 4,548, health ministry data showed.

    The new cases pushed the cumulative total to 4.29 million and represented a week-on-week increase of 5.40%, the 14th consecutive increase in the week-on-week rate.

  174. blf says

    SC@218, According to the track-and-trace app, ICU occupancy in my area (which includes Marseille albeit not Nice (which is now under a “lockdown lite”)) is c.111%. It’s been around 100% for several weeks now, and over 100% for at least the past week (from memory). France as-a-whole is c.90%, a rise from something in the 60%’s over roughly the same time (also from memory).

    Besides the dead-snail’s pace of the vaccination programme, what has me very annoyed at the moment is Thousands of revellers flout Covid-19 restrictions to attend Marseille carnival (video): “Authorities in the French city of Marseille have expressed outrage after some 6,000 people gathered for an unauthorised carnival to celebrate the first day of spring. Many of the revellers at the #LaPlaine carnival were not wearing masks, and security forces made several arrests for damage to property while others were fined for flouting coronavirus restrictions.”

  175. says

    Amanda Marcotte at Salon – “Republicans have perfected the troll two-step: The art of being a jerk and then playing the victim”:

    Donald Trump may be off at Mar-A-Lago throwing childish tantrums on his golf course, but his legacy lives on with Republicans, who are increasingly realizing that the best way to appeal to GOP voters is to ape his strategy of acting more like a shock jock than a politician.

    Beyond just acting like crude bigots and jerks, the real goal is to rake in the cash in the aftermath of the outrageous behavior. The politician plays the victim of “cancel culture,” thereby sanctifying whatever gross thing they said or did with the holy water of “free speech,” which is merely coservative code for the “right” to be free of any pushback or criticism.

    Call it the troll two-step. First, draw a huge amount of negative attention from progressives and the press by saying racist things or otherwise acting like a pig. Then, whine about how you’re being “canceled” — even though your critics have no power to actually silence you — and bathe in the sympathy (and often dollars) generated by the victim-tripping right wing crowd. The best part? You don’t even have to defend the indefensible thing you said or did, because you’ve now successfully changed the subject to a vapid debate over whether your “rights” are being violated.

    Republicans know they can’t defend their policies or ideas, and they certainly can’t defend the various bigotries that animate their base voters. But what they can do is turn liberal-triggering into a sport, where it doesn’t really matter what is triggering the liberals, so much as the fact that the liberals are triggered. Nor does it matter that no one is actually being censored and that criticism is not censorship. All that matters to the right is playing the victim and whining to the cameras about “cancel culture,” a fake controversy that allows Republicans to avoid talking about policies and ideas, areas where they inevitably lose the debate.

    It’s tempting to imagine there’s some way liberals could game this situation to defeat the troll two-step. After all, does liberal-triggering count if no liberals are triggered? Is this a situation where ignoring trolls makes them go away? Sure, sometimes that can work. Not all bait needs to be eaten after all! But ultimately, it’s also not good to let racist comments and outright attacks on public health go without any meaningful pushback, either.

    The better solution when dealing with trolls is to go meta.

    Instead of merely criticizing the racist comment or boorish provocation, which invites the “cancel culture” whining, liberals can call out the game. Johnson isn’t just a racist, but a racist troll who is throwing out red meat to distract from his seditious support for an insurrectionist president. Paul, Mandel, and Taylor Greene are all openly trolling for money and attention. Calling out the game is the best way to avoid playing it. It allows liberals to avoid giving conservatives that “triggered” reaction they so desire and allows liberals to rise above. It also helps sidestep false accusations of censorship, by avoiding the back-and-forth over whether or not someone is “really” being silenced to focus on why they would lie about such a thing.

    Don’t feed the trolls. Expose them. It’s the only way to get out of the vicious cycle of right-wing provocation and victim-tripping.

  176. says

    Sorry, I left out:

    First, draw a huge amount of negative attention from progressives and the press by saying racist things or otherwise acting like a pig [sic!].

  177. says

    blf @ #219, I’m so sorry you have to live with that. I saw a clip about that Marseille event. At the moment, my COVID fatigue is less acute than my selfish-asshole fatigue.

  178. says

    The rioter next door: How the Dallas suburbs spawned domestic extremists.

    Washington Post link

    Sunlight gleamed off the tiled roofs of the taupe mini-mansions and walkable shopping centers as March 4 dawned in this corner of North Texas. According to specious speculations online, this was the day when Donald Trump would be reinstalled as president.

    “We are optimistic . . . If you’re in morning [sic] Please stay at home!!!” the group’s organizer, Jeff Hauk, told the weekly meeting of a group of conservatives who call themselves the “DFW Deplorables.”
    In posts on their private Facebook page, Hauk said he still believed Trump had their backs and that the former president was working behind the scenes to return to power. “It is not over,” Hauk wrote.

    Hope for Trump’s return is fervent in Frisco and across the north Dallas suburbs, an area of rapid growth and rapidly increasing diversity. Nineteen local residents have been charged in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, according to federal authorities, one of the largest numbers in any place in the country.

    Many of the rioters came from the “mainstream of society,” according to the FBI’s Dallas field office, including three real estate agents, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, an oilman and an actor who once appeared on the popular television show “Friday Night Lights.”

    […] Their groundless claims are being fed by conservative politicians and from the pulpits of large, powerful evangelical churches with teachings that verge on white nationalism, both motivated by fear that they are losing a largely White, conservative enclave that views these changes with suspicion.

    More arrests are coming […]

    Local law enforcement authorities had been grappling for months with the poisonous impact of baseless claims. […]

    Police also were forced to address a viral social media post that falsely labeled the town’s sprawling Stonebriar Center the “No. 1 mall in the U.S. for sex trafficking,” assuring the public that teenagers were not being kidnapped.

    […] Trump was doing “God’s work” to rid the land of “pedos,” rapists and sex traffickers.

    […] President Biden is senile, they said. He’s being fed his words through an earpiece by former president Barack Obama.

    They didn’t want to talk about the Jan. 6 attack. Many of them believed the attack was carried out by left-wing “antifa” and Black Lives Matter infiltrators[…]

    March 4 proved to be an uneventful springlike day in Frisco. The Storm had not arrived. There was no Great Awakening. Biden was still president. […].

    Over the past two decades, Collin County, north of Dallas, more than doubled its population to 1 million […]

    But this utopia on the Dallas North Tollway has its fissures, which have deepened in the last year, with debate over pandemic restrictions, the country’s racial reckoning and the divisive 2020 presidential election that pitted neighbor against neighbor and continues to divide. Unlike many other suburban counties in the country that helped sway the election for Biden, Collin County stayed red, with 51 percent voting for Trump and 46 percent for Biden.

    […] Frisco Realtor Hava Johnston said some residents feel the area has become “too diverse.”

    “They created this perfect little bubble of the way they wanted things … now we’ve got true diversity, and those Christian nationalists are afraid of losing their power,” said Johnston, a Democratic activist and one of the Internet sleuths who helped unmask local residents who participated in the Capitol riots. “These are the very people who would do things like have Trump parades every weekend and take a private jet to a riot.”

    Brian Miller was among those who boarded a private plane to the nation’s capital — posting gleefully on Facebook he was “D.C. bound to #stopthesteal!” […]

    “A lot of people lost their livelihoods because of the pandemic, moving in with family to try and make ends meet,” he said.
    A Washington Post analysis last month of the financial records of more than 100 of those facing charges in the riot found nearly 60 percent of them had prior money troubles, including bankruptcies, bad debts and tax liens. That includes Jennifer “Jenna” Ryan, 50, the Frisco real estate agent who had invited Miller on the plane ride. Ryan once filed for bankruptcy and nearly lost a home to foreclosure.

    […] “We are going to f—king go in here. Life or death, it doesn’t matter. Here we go,” Ryan said, adding a plug for her business. “Y’all know who to hire for your Realtor. Jenna Ryan for your Realtor.”

    Back in Texas, after her arrest on federal charges of unlawful entry, disorderly conduct and disrupting government business, Ryan told The Post last month that she had been sucked into a web of spurious claims during the election, reading far-right websites and following the QAnon movement.[…] “I bought into a lie, and the lie is the lie, and it’s embarrassing,” she said. “I regret everything.”

    […] Shortly before Biden’s inauguration, Pastor Brandon Burden of the KingdomLife church […] mounted the pulpit and gave a stemwinder of a sermon that went viral.

    Burden spoke in tongues and urged his flock of “warriors” to load their weapons and stock up on food and water as the transfer of power loomed. The emergency broadcast system might be tampered with, so if Trump “took over the country,” he could not tell them what to do, he said.

    […] “We have an executive order — not from Congress or D.C., but from the desk of the CEO of heaven, the boss of the planet,” Burden said. “He said from his desk in heaven, ‘This is my will. Trump will be in office for eight years.’ ”

    Here in the heart of the Bible Belt, the Capitol insurrectionists’ embrace of Christian nationalist symbols — they went bearing crosses, toting signs that said “God, Guns and Trump” — has prompted reflection in the faith community. Some say evangelical Christian leaders went too far […] and bear some responsibility for the tragic events of Jan. 6.

    […] “We have to confess that we have conflated support of the nation with Christian discipleship — especially in the Republican Party.”

    […] One of those was Paul MacNeal Davis, who filmed himself live on Instagram getting tear-gassed at the Capitol, saying he was trying to get into the building to stop the certification of the vote. He replied to one of Trump’s tweets, saying “Never stop fighting Mr. President! Never give in no matter how ugly it gets! We are willing to die to preserve our freedom!”

    […] When the 39-year-old University of Texas-educated lawyer returned home, he was fired from his job as associate general counsel and director of human resources for an insurance company. […] He rejects QAnon but does believe there were “irregularities” in the presidential election, although federal election officials have said there is no evidence of voter fraud.

    […] Davis, a deeply religious man with a half-sleeve of Bible-themed tattoos on one arm, has found support at Burden’s church and defends the pastor’s controversial rhetoric, saying he was speaking about a spiritual battle, not a physical one.
    “I’ve received an overwhelming amount of support and love from my community,” Davis said. “They understand that the leftist movement is extremely vicious and anybody who disagrees with leftism and asserts their right to protest and peaceably assemble is going to get viciously attacked.”

    Davis has been keeping busy with the latest version of a lawsuit he has filed […] His lawsuit argues a “well-funded cabal” of powerful people — such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, the entire 117th Congress and state election officials — conspired to cheat the American people out of their right to vote and violated federal election laws with a number of pandemic-related measures such as expanded mail-in voting, rendering the entire election “null and void” and asking the courts for a do-over.

    Davis, who has not been charged in the Capitol attack, said he had no regrets.

    “I’m happier than I’ve ever been in my life,” he said. “I feel like I’m doing what I was created to do.”

    It’s good to know the extent and the depth of the crazy.

  179. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    There’s been a shooting at a supermarket in Boulder, CO, with multiple injuries/deaths. Reports on MSNBC.
    Dang.

  180. says

    Humor/satire from Andy Borowitz:

    In an exuberant endorsement of a 2024 Republican Presidential hopeful, the coronavirus thanked Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, for “making me feel so welcome at spring break.”

    “It’s been a tough couple of months for me, since Biden came in and started boosting vaccinations and mask-wearing,” the virus said. “I really needed this vacation.”

    The coronavirus’s praise of DeSantis as “a fantastic host” stood in sharp contrast to its harsh criticism of the Miami Beach mayor, Dan Gelber, whom the pathogen called “a total buzzkill.”

    “Dan Gelber has not made me feel welcome at all, which I find divisive and hurtful,” it said.

    The coronavirus also predicted that it would not be alone in supporting DeSantis’s expected White House bid. “Every variant I talk to is excited about it,” the virus indicated.

    New Yorker link

  181. says

    Follow-up to Nerd’s comment @226.

    Witnesses describe chaotic, terrifying scene as shots were fired at grocery store.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/03/22/boulder-shooting/

    Dozens of emergency response vehicles lined the streets around a King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colo., on Monday as police responded to what they described as an active shooter.

    Witnesses described a chaotic scene, with customers rushing to exits at the front and back of the store after shots were fired. One witness told local media that the shooter did not say anything before he opened fire.

    Video from a witness who was live-streaming on YouTube from the store’s parking lot showed at least two people injured on the ground outside and a third just inside the front doors.

    When police arrived, a suspect opened fire on them, according to ABC News.

    Officials with the Boulder Police Department had not confirmed how many attackers were involved, whether any suspects have been arrested or how many people were injured.

    […] “There are gunshots inside the store! People ran out of the back door! The active shooter is still in there!” the witness who was live streaming shouted.

    The live video showed heavily armed officers surrounding the building — with its front windows broken in — and police could be heard trying to communicate with the attacker via bullhorn. At one point, officers were lifted onto the roof in a cherry picker.
    Around 3:30 p.m. local time, a man in handcuffs who was bleeding down his leg was guided away from the building by police.

    […] those who experienced and survived the attack offered details of the horrific scene.

    A witness who spoke to the Denver Post said the shooter did not say anything — “he just came in and started shooting.”

    A man named Steven told 9News his grandchildren were inside the store during the shooting. He said they hid in the closet as the incident unfolded and as police dropped into the store through the roof.

    Daniel Douglas was in the store picking up lunch and flowers for his girlfriend when the gunshots began.

    “Nobody knew what was going on so we started screaming: ‘Hit the ground,’” he told Fox 31 Denver.

    At some point, he said, the shooter moved to the front of the store, while Douglas and other customers rushed to the back of the building, where he said many others were hiding and trying to escape. A co-worker who was with him at the moment had to kick the emergency-exit door open so people could get out, he said.

    “A lot of people were petrified. A lot of people were crying,” he said.

    Another man, who said he was on his way to pick up coffee at the store, walked away from the incident unharmed. He told Fox 31 he was “terrified” and “in shock” when he first realized what has happening.

    He said he called his mother to let her know he was all right, then “it all kind of sunk in and I started panicking,” he said.

    “The fact that it’s happening all over America,” he added, “seeing it on the news, like, something I’ve grown up with, like people my age and my generation […]

    “Boulder feels like a bubble and that bubble burst,” said Ryan Borowski on CNN Monday night. “It feels like nowhere is safe.” Borowski said he was inside King Soopers supermarket to get a bag of chips and a soda when the shooting started.

    There have been as many as nine school shootings in the area since the Columbine massacre in 1999, which left 12 students and a teacher dead. Four other major shootings have occurred within 20 miles of the suburban Columbine High School high school, including a 2012 shooting at a movie theater in Aurora that left 12 dead.

    This is a developing story and it will be updated.

  182. says

    Hmmm, not quite as described by Ducey.

    Huffington Post:

    Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s claims about a special state strike force’s ‘border’ drug busts were crushed by a report in the Arizona Republic on Friday. The state’s largest newspaper revealed that the arrests didn’t happen anywhere near the border and appeared to actually have been conducted by state troopers patrolling the highways.

    Before his trip to the U.S.-Mexico border on Friday, the Republican governor’s office issued a press release highlighting three arrests over the past year by his “Border Strike Force.” The unit fights “criminal activity along the border,” the statement noted.

    In one arrest, a Tucson resident was stopped about 60 miles from the border; another arrest was in Phoenix, 180 miles north of Nogales. The third was in Littlefield, which is located the entire length of Arizona north of Mexico (570 miles from Nogales) and close to the state border with Utah.

    The Border Strike force, which Ducey launched in 2015, was not credited with any of the three drug arrests he touted […]

  183. says

    145 House Republicans refuse to say whether they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19

    You couldn’t find a better example of just how little Republican House members think of their constituents than this. CNN conducted a survey of all members of the House of Representatives to determine how many had received at least the first dose of one of the three available vaccines for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which has killed approximately 540,000 Americans.

    CNN confirmed that 189 Democrats out of 219 in the House have been vaccinated. One Democrat confirmed he had not been vaccinated but planned to be and there were 29 Democrats for whom CNN did not receive responses.

    CNN also confirmed that 53 House Republicans out of 211 have been vaccinated. Thirteen Republicans told CNN they have not been vaccinated even as many said they planned to be. CNN did not receive a response from 145 House Republicans.

    […] the number of those (including senators and House representatives) publicly reported to have been infected skews heavily (nearly triple the number) toward Republicans, almost wholly due to their insistence on refusing to social distance or use masks.

    […] we can fairly assume that most if not all of these 145 Republicans are afraid to reveal their vaccinated or non-vaccinated status. But by succumbing to this fear and refusing to reveal their status, they’re implicitly and deliberately placing their own political interests above the lives of their constituents. […]

    This is the uniform excuse being employed by those Republicans who refuse to respond:

    “Isn’t that a HIPAA violation?” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia said when asked about her vaccine status.

    “I don’t know if should tell you,” Rep. Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma said. “I am not going to answer that.”

    “That’s not appropriate,” Rep. Jason Smith, a Republican from Missouri, chimed in as he overheard the question.
    Later when Smith was asked about his vaccination status, he shot back, “The fact that you are asking them their health information, I think that is really unacceptable.”

    Of course HIPAA has nothing to do with this. As the CNN article points out, it’s neither a violation of HIPAA nor an infringement on their “privacy” to disclose whether you’ve been vaccinated or not: “HIPAA applies to health care providers, who are barred from sharing personal health information about their patients without consent, not to individuals who willingly share their information.”

    These Republicans know this full well. As public figures allegedly hired to represent their constituents, in the face of a massive and deadly public health crisis they have a civic duty, if not an obligation, out of basic human decency to respond “yes” or “no.”

    But clearly that is too much to ask of them.

  184. says

    Republican Dan Crenshaw’s attempt to debate immigration thwarted by interviewer’s facts

    Rep. Dan Crenshaw is best known for trying to put a more reasonable face on Republican corruption. […] Last week, Crenshaw took to his Twitter account to attack the Biden administration for the rise in immigration on the southern border. Responding to a New York Times report that the Biden administration was trying to negotiate with Mexico to slow down the rise in immigration at the border, Crenshaw wrote, “It’s as if we had a solution to this already and then some guy came in and totally screwed it all up.” What exactly had Crenshaw and the Republican Party’s solution been?

    Political news host Mehdi Hasan responded by saying, “Your solution was tearing very young children from their parents’ arms and detaining them indefinitely in horrific conditions—something described as ‘torture’ by Physicians for Human Rights.” Pointing out that, like the rest of the Republican Party, Crenshaw’s entire schtick is based in xenophobic told-you-so-isms did not go over well with the representative from Texas. The two men got into a back and forth on social media, with Hasan asking Crenshaw to appear on his MSNBC show to debate the subject of immigration policy. Surprisingly, Crenshaw agreed. Good for him. Also: not great for him, as his appearance very quickly became a reminder of why Republicans do not appear on shows where serious questions are asked and factual answers are required.

    […] Hasan opened the debate by first pointing out that the data shows the Biden administration “inherited” rising numbers of immigrants seeking refuge in our country from the Trump administration. This, of course, is not the narrative being pushed by the GOP, which wants its base to believe that Donald Trump fixed immigration by being inhumane and now that Biden is in office, everyone is coming to our southern border and being allowed to steal all of your jobs, traffic all of your children, and start gangs.

    Crenshaw began the way people without facts begin. “Yeah, I’m not sure where you are getting your data from,” he responded, going into the anecdotal information he has heard from “migrants” saying “Joe BIden invited them.”

    Crenshaw then stipulated that Biden’s reversal of Trump-era policies, including “really importantly [sic], the asylum cooperative agreements with northern triangle countries” is the real problem. This forced Hasan to feel the necessity to unpack a series of falsehoods that Crenshaw opened with. The first is to explain that the data Mehdi Hasan showed Crenshaw was compiled by the American Immigration Council using Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data. This data shows that the increases in immigration-related apprehensions at our southern border have been going on for nine months. For those of you doing the heavy-duty math at home, Joe Biden took office about two months ago.

    Crenshaw, a one-trick pony, responds by attempting to say Hasan is denying the recent surge in numbers since Biden’s election—something that Hasan is not denying. […]

    Then Hasan showed Dan Crenshaw video of … Dan Crenshaw … from a whole week before, saying that Joe Biden was not deporting people and was winking at potential asylum-seekers and immigrants, secretly telling them to create a Republican-inspired fever dream caravan. Hasan points out that more than 70% of “persons attempting entry along the Southwest border” of our country have indeed been deported away from the U.S. Crenshaw says he didn’t say that. The thing he just watched himself say, on screen, he said … he didn’t say. This was from a week ago. […]

    Then Crenshaw tried to pivot to saying that individual adults aren’t the problem, as they usually get deported (something he claimed in the clip wasn’t happening of course). Instead, he says, it is the children and their families that are the problem. Crenshaw then tries to tout the northern triangle cooperative agreement between Trump, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras but Hassan cuts him off, making sure Crenshaw knows that we will get to addressing that idiotic policy. But first, let’s make Crenshaw squirm by asking him to admit that the lies and rhetoric he and people like Republican Voldermort Kevin McCarthy of California are telling the public are indeed factually incorrect.

    Crenshaw tries to explain how facts aren’t facts because there are secret influxes of thousands of immigrants sneaking through the cracks that don’t show up on the fact sheets. They’re the best kind of “facts” the Republican Party has these days: unverifiable statements of fact. […]

    Crenshaw explained that Trump expelled unaccompanied minors in the most humane way possible. They were all “meticulously” put on charter flights and handed over to their families, according to Crenshaw. The lie here is the conceit that parents are sending their children to the border out of desperation—or in the conservative mind, out of some Machiavellian ploy to live off of American welfare—but are also just waiting at an airport in Honduras or El Salvador or Guatemala for their children’s return if things don’t work out. It’s a truly twisted logic that both claims that these families are so reckless that they are willing to give their children over to “drug cartels” and “smugglers” and human traffickers, but also so loving as to be ready for their child to be chartered back to them safely by ICE.

    Crenshaw went back to an old debunked claim he made in 2019 that upwards of 90% of asylum claims were not “valid asylum” claims. Hasan pointed out that Crenshaw’s claim was bullshit, but Crenshaw has tried to argue the validity of his statement based on former Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ similar claims from 2018. The nature of Sessions’ claims are only true if you agree on Jeff Sessions’ criteria for asylum seeking which seem to only be: you are white and you are literally on fire when you show up at an border station.

    But Crenshaw […] says the Trump administration worked out with their triangle cooperation policy whereas asylum-seekers are taken back to the country they are seeking asylum from, and then allowed to apply for asylum from those countries. Try not to think too hard about that Catch-22; you might find yourself voting for Marjorie Taylor-Greene if you work that logic out. Hasan asks Crenshaw how many of these legal-by-Crenshaw’s-estimation asylum seekers, using this magical solution Crenshaw is promoting as policy, have been granted asylum?

    Crenshaw hems and haws a bit, saying he doesn’t have the statistics on him. Hasan makes sure he understands that the answer to how many asylum-seekers sent back to their country of origin to apply for asylum by way of this mythical agreement between the U.S. and their host country is … “zero.” As in none. Not a single one.

    What Hasan is referring to is the simple fact that of the 945 asylum seekers the Trump administration sent to Guatemala with the public promise that they would be able to “legally” apply for asylum in the U.S., only 34 were even able to begin the application process. According to a Washington Post report, of those 34, “16 abandoned their cases,” while the remaining applications have not received a decision from the U.S. regarding their chances for asylum. That makes the number of asylum-seekers who have successfully received what conservatives consider a “legal” asylum in the United States, zero. This agreement, signed off on by Trump and his army of bigots, has also been applied to Honduras and El Salvador—though those two countries have yet to begin the plan due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Which means that those two countries have also been able to get asylum for zero people.

    […] it is important to note that the largest surge at the border took place over May of 2019, well into Donald Trump’s inhumane and worthless immigration policy. […]

    The Donald Trump administration did very little to end undocumented immigration into our country. What Republicans did do, something that Crenshaw willfully ignored during the interview, was curb the only legal immigration into our country. It’s the perfect example of a political ploy by a xenophobic set of interests.

    Crenshaw may have the respected military distinction of being a former Navy SEAL, but his recent political history is anything but respectable. This is a man who the Republican Party has worked very hard to manufacture the illusion of populism around. The GOP has thrown lots of money behind a public relations campaign to obfuscate the truth that Crenshaw only has an elected position because of the tortured gerrymandering done to his district. Like his Republican cohorts, Crenshaw has acted cowardly when presented with the facts of his involvement in shady character attacks on other former veterans.

    Like most of the new breed of Republican politician, every time he appears in public (not on a propaganda channel like Fox News or OANN) he comes across at best as ill-informed, and at worst, like the rest of the corrupt leadership he’s trying to put a modern face on.

    Enjoy the whole interview below.

    Video is available at the link.

  185. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Update to my #226. There was a press conference on the CO shooter situation on MSNBC. One police officer dead. Person of interest injured and in custody. Number of injured/dead not released. Rachel suspects multiple deaths due to lack of information.
    Threat over.

  186. says

    The man who has admitted to carrying out last week’s attacks at three Atlanta-area massage parlors, killing eight people including six Asian women, now faces charges including malice murder and aggravated assault.

    Reuters reported on Monday that a statement from the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office indicated that Robert Aaron Long could still face further charges.

    Malice murder is a Georgia charge that alleges express or implied malice against the victims, according to Reuters. […]

    Link

  187. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    A second press conference in Boulder. 10 reported deaths including the Officer who was a first responder. Shooter is acknowledged as being in custody.

  188. says

    Here’s a link to the March 23 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    Growing global vaccine gap ‘grotesque’: WHO

    The World Health Organization on Monday blasted the growing gap between the number of coronavirus vaccines administered in rich and poor countries, branding the inequity a global “moral outrage”, AFP reports.

    The WHO tore into wealthy nations now vaccinating younger people at low risk of developing Covid-19 disease, bluntly saying they were costing vulnerable people’s lives in low-income countries.

    WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it was “shocking” how little had been done to avert an entirely predictable “catastrophic moral failure” to ensure the equitable distribution of vaccines worldwide.

    The gap was “growing every single day, and becoming more grotesque every day,” he told a press conference.

    “Countries that are now vaccinating younger, healthy people at low risk of disease are doing so at the cost of the lives of health workers, older people and other at-risk groups in other countries,” Tedros said.

    “The inequitable distribution of vaccines is not just a moral outrage. It’s also economically and epidemiologically self-defeating.

    “Some countries are racing to vaccinate their entire populations – while other countries have nothing.”

    Tedros said rich countries were giving themselves a false sense of security.

    The UN health agency chief said the more transmission of the virus, the more variants are likely to emerge – and the more of those that spring up, the more likely they are to evade vaccines.

    AstraZeneca may have provided incomplete efficacy data from latest Covid-19 trial

    British drugmaker AstraZeneca Plc may have provided an incomplete view of efficacy data on its Covid-19 vaccine from a large scale US trial, the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) said on Tuesday.

    AstraZeneca said a day earlier that its Covid-19 vaccine developed with Oxford University was 79% effective in preventing symptomatic illness in a large trial in Chile, Peru and the United States.

    “The DSMB expressed concern that AstraZeneca may have included outdated information from that trial, which may have provided an incomplete view of the efficacy data,” the US agency said, referring to the independent Data Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB).

    “We urge the company to work with the DSMB to review the efficacy data and ensure the most accurate, up-to-date efficacy data be made public as quickly as possible.”

    France will open 35 Covid-19 mass vaccination centres in the coming days to ramp up the pace of inoculations, following criticism that the campaign is too slow.

    AFP reports:

    “We are working with local representatives to put them in place,” Industry Minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher told BFMTV channel.

    France had previously baulked at setting up supersites to rapidly dispense vaccines in large numbers after a failed experiment with “vaccinodromes” during the H1N1 swine flu pandemic in 2009.

    Until now, the jabs have been dispensed in community halls, hospitals, doctor’s surgeries and pharmacies.

    But with hospitals struggling to cope with a third wave of infections Health Minister Olivier Veran on Monday announced that France would follow the lead of countries like the US and Britain that have turned stadiums into inoculation sites.

  189. says

    Also in the Guardian:

    “Cern experiment hints at new force of nature”: “Experts reveal ‘cautious excitement’ over unstable particles that fail to decay as standard model suggests.”

    “‘What appointments did these dogs have to keep?’: long lunches and brief liaisons in a radical new dogumentary”: “To mark National Puppy Day, Elizabeth Lo’s acclaimed film Stray gives humans rare insight into the canine gaze, courtesy of homeless mutts in Istanbul.”

  190. says

    HuffPo – “Sidney Powell Says ‘No Reasonable Person’ Would Believe Her Election Fraud Lies”:

    Former President Donald Trump’s former campaign lawyer Sidney Powell is apparently backtracking on her claims that voting machines were rigged in favor of now-President Joe Biden in the 2020 election.

    After Trump’s loss, Powell repeatedly argued that Dominion Voting Systems machines were manipulated to weigh votes for Biden more heavily than those for Trump, but she never provided any evidence to support the dubious accusation.

    Now that Dominion has filed a massive defamation lawsuit against her, Powell is claiming that “no reasonable person” should have taken her prior claims seriously.

    Powell moved to dismiss the lawsuit on Monday, arguing that “no reasonable person would conclude” that her accusations of Dominion being part of an election-rigging scheme with ties to Venezuela “were truly statements of fact.”

    Considering that Powell’s previous assertions of election fraud helped inspire the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, many Twitter users elected to condemn her actions….

  191. johnson catman says

    re SC @239:

    Now that Dominion has filed a massive defamation lawsuit against her, Powell is claiming that “no reasonable person” should have taken her prior claims seriously.

    After the republicans have created millions of people that fit the category of “no reasonable person”, they are now trying to use that as an excuse to deflect any responsibility for their actions. LOCK THEM UP! Or in her case, take all of her assets.

  192. says

    More re #241 – from CNN’s Reliable Sources:

    Fox shows its true colors

    I said the national news media was covering the mass shooting. That didn’t include Fox, which largely turned a blind eye to the horrific violence Monday night. The channel demonstrated clearly — for everyone to see once and for all — that it is primarily a right-wing talk channel, not a cable news network.

    While CNN and MSNBC aired the press conferences from Boulder police, which any TV news professional with half-decent editorial judgement would do, Fox opted to stick with regular programming from its propagandists. During the first press conference, the network aired Sean Hannity showing footage of Biden stumbling on the stairs of Air Force One last week. And as Boulder police announced that 10 people had lost their lives, Laura Ingraham chatted with Dr. Scott Atlas about “THE SOCIAL DISTANCING FARCE.”

    This is not the behavior of a news organization. It’s the behavior of a right-wing talk channel. And it’s really time for other media outlets to recognize this and stop pretending the channel’s primary aim is to deliver the news. Failure to call the network for what it is not only does a disservice to readers, it is simply inaccurate.

  193. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Campaigners have called the UK prime minister’s call for “international cooperation” to prevent a third wave of the pandemic “pretty rich” after the country effectively rejected attempts from developing countries to secure vaccines.

    Global Justice Now, an NGO, has called on the UK and EU to end the “madness” of vaccine nationalism by supporting low and middle income countries’ attempts to temporarily waive vaccine patents, so they could ramp up vaccine production.

    Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now, said:

    It’s pretty rich to hear platitudes about ‘cooperation’ from a prime minister [Boris Johnson] who has rejected attempts from India, South Africa, and 100 low and middle income countries to secure equitable distribution of vaccines.

    Both he and the EU are responsible for the disastrous vaccine nationalism that led us here. But both can end it by backing a temporary waiver of vaccine patents. It’s time to end this madness….

  194. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Here’s a bit from Dr Anthony Fauci, the most senior US health official, who was speaking to ABC News earlier today….

    A group of independent medical experts at the National Institutes of Health, which includes the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, yesterday contacted AstraZeneca with their concerns about how the company laid out its data in a press release, Fauci said.

    He said that the back and forth was “unfortunate,” calling it “an unforced error” that only adds to public doubts about vaccines and could possibly lead to more hesitancy.

    The US Food and Drug Administration, which will review the company’s data when it seeks approval for its Covid vaccine in the US, “will independently go over every bit of data themselves” and not rely on any one interpretation, including the company’s, Fauci added.

  195. says

    11 years later, the Affordable Care Act is getting the last laugh

    The ACA is increasingly popular, effective, and necessary. Republicans have tried to repeal and sabotage the health care law, but it remains standing.

    President Joe Biden is scheduled to appear in Columbus, Ohio, where he’ll deliver remarks at the James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute. The location is not coincidental: the president is eager to talk up health care advances in his administration’s agenda, while also marking the anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, which then-President Barack Obama signed into law exactly 11 years ago today.

    […] As the New York Times noted this morning:

    Eleven years after President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act, the reach of the law is growing, with hundreds of thousands flocking to its marketplace and even deeply conservative states considering its Medicaid expansion.

    The week after his inauguration in January, Biden created a special new ACA open-enrollment period, which has been well received: more than 200,000 American consumers have signed up for coverage.

    Two months later, Democrats approved an ambitious COVID relief package, which made it difficult for even the most arithmetic-averse Republicans to say no to Medicaid expansion. It’s having some effect, too: Republicans in Alabama and Wyoming are now open to taking the deal, since it effectively makes Medicaid expansion free, with extra money for the states on top.

    In case that weren’t quite enough, let’s also not forget that the American Relief Plan will help millions of consumers who purchased insurance through the ACA by reducing the cost of their plans. In fact, for many low-income Americans, the Democrats’ relief package will reduce the price of their coverage to zero for the next couple of years.

    It’s not exactly a secret that when “Obamacare” became the law of the land 11 years ago today, it was highly controversial. A coordinated and well-funded misinformation campaign had convinced much of the public that the ACA was a societal scourge that would impose Armageddon on families, murder seniors, and put the American experiment in jeopardy.

    Those hysterical condemnations appear almost amusing in hindsight.

    Eleven years after Biden whispered to Obama that the reform measure was a big bleeping deal, there’s now little doubt he was right. […]

    The threats to the ACA haven’t disappeared — Republicans have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to tear down the nation’s health care system, and we’re still awaiting word on the justices’ ruling — but on the anniversary of the law’s creation, it’s an American victory worth celebrating.

  196. says

    Republican arguments against DC statehood descend into nonsense

    Republicans have had plenty of time to come up with their best arguments against D.C. statehood. They just can’t seem to come up with anything compelling.

    The debate over statehood for Washington, D.C., is not exactly new. For many years, policymakers in both parties have weighed measures to address the fact that D.C. residents are the only taxpaying Americans in the continental United States with no representation in Congress.

    The issue took on considerably greater importance during the insurrectionist attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6 because the federal government controls the D.C. National Guard. It meant local elected officials — unlike every governor in the country — were powerless as radicalized rioters launched an attack.

    […] Republicans […] oppose D.C. statehood because it would likely mean two additional Democratic senators — and so we were treated to a series of deeply strange talking points.

    Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-Wis.), for example, noted that D.C. doesn’t have any mining, which is true, but irrelevant.

    Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) insisted that D.C. would be the only state “without a car dealership.” In addition to being irrelevant, this one isn’t even true.

    The Heritage Foundation’s Zack Smith, a witness Republicans invited to testify, argued that congressional representation for these 700,000 American taxpayers is unnecessary because local residents “already impact the national debate” — because members of Congress see their yard signs while driving to Capitol Hill. He did not appear to be kidding.

    After the hearing, Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) thought it’d be a good idea to argue via Twitter, “The Founding Fathers never intended for Washington D.C. to be a state.”

    That’s very likely true, but the Founding Fathers, among other things, also didn’t intend for there to be two Dakotas — 19th-century Republicans created two states out of the Dakota Territory in order to have extra U.S. senators — so maybe Rounds should rethink his pitch.

    Finally, there was Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), who characterized the effort as “a key part of the radical leftist agenda to reshape America,” likening D.C. statehood to the Green New Deal.

    […] As the Washington Post noted:

    Both conservative icon Barry Goldwater and former president Richard M. Nixon favored D.C. statehood. The 1972 and 1976 Republican Party platforms endorsed voting rights for Washington in the House and Senate. And both chambers of Congress in 1978 passed a proposed constitutional amendment (i.e. with two-thirds majorities) to that effect, with half of GOP senators voting for it. The amendment was not ratified by enough states.

    With James Comer’s rhetoric in mind, “radical” seems less applicable to the Washington, D.C. Admission Act, and more applicable to its opponents.

  197. says

    Why is Florida’s Ron DeSantis listening to Scott Atlas?

    When Atlas finally exited the White House, there was relief in some circles that he might finally stop giving bad advice. Ron DeSantis had other ideas.

    Nearly six months ago, with COVID-19 cases starting to spike in the United States for the third time, a libertarian think tank unveiled a plan urging most Americans to “resume life as normal.” The extraordinarily dangerous blueprint was authored by Drs. Martin Kulldorff, Sunetra Gupta, and Jay Bhattacharya, who collectively declined to say how many would die as a result of their approach to “herd immunity.”

    It was against this backdrop that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) held a roundtable discussion last week with speakers who endorsed the governor’s pandemic response. DeSantis’ panel featured … wait for it … Martin Kulldorff, Sunetra Gupta, and Jay Bhattacharya. [aiyiyiiyi]

    […] cherry-picked experts who backed his views and sidelined Florida’s mainstream scientists.

    But there was one other familiar face rounding out DeSantis’ roundtable discussion. The South Florida Sun Sentinel reported:

    Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis assembled a group of scientists who backed his COVID policies at a Thursday roundtable, where they assured him he was taking the right steps on the disease. The group included Dr. Scott Atlas, the Stanford radiologist whose skepticism on the value of masks and optimistic forecasts on the pandemic won him a job as COVID adviser to […] Trump.

    Atlas, true to form, questioned the efficacy of wearing masks to limit the spread of the virus, with remarks that “conflicted with the views of most infectious disease specialists.”

    […] Atlas has “no expertise in public health or infectious disease mitigation,” hasn’t practiced medicine in nearly a decade, and has demonstrated a habit of echoing unscientific claims. During his strange White House tenure, Atlas argued against masks and increased testing, sidelined actual experts, and advocated an indefensible approach to “herd immunity,” in which officials allowed the virus to spread and infect much of the population.

    Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, recently explained, in reference to Atlas, “He keeps talking about things that when you dissect it out and parse it out, it doesn’t make any sense.” Similarly, Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was overheard saying in September that Atlas was spreading misinformation.

    “Everything he says is false,” Redfield was overheard saying by an NBC News reporter.

    Describing Atlas and his role in the Trump White House last fall, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes characterized the radiologist as “one of the most destructive, deadly policy advisors in recent American history.” When Atlas finally exited the White House, there was a relief in some circles that he might finally stop giving bad advice.

    And yet, in Florida last week, we find Atlas, at the invitation of Ron DeSantis, speaking as if his credibility remains intact.

    It does not.

    “Atlas argued against masks and increased testing, sidelined actual experts, and advocated an indefensible approach to “herd immunity,” in which officials allowed the virus to spread and infect much of the population.”

    That sounds like a very good plan to increase the number of more infectious and more deadly variants.

    Also, just how misinformed is Governor Ron DeSantis? He’s acting like a fool.

  198. johnson catman says

    re Lynna @249:

    Also, just how misinformed is Governor Ron DeSantis? He’s acting like a fool.

    He’s not acting.

  199. says

    Follow-up to SC @242.

    When Fox News did cover the Colorado shooting, they did it in a way that spread misinformation and racism: “Hannity And Bongino Link Colorado Shooting Massacre To Black Lives Matter Protests.”

    Fox News host Sean Hannity seized on the mass shooting at a Colorado supermarket on Monday to undermine protests last summer that raised a banner for racial justice.

    “Obviously very scary, horrific shooting in Boulder,” Hannity said, hours after at least ten people including a police officer, were killed on Monday in an attack at a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado, according to authorities.

    But the horror of the deadly Colorado shooting, which came just days after a suspected Georgia man shot and killed 8 people, including 6 women of Asian-descent in Atlanta-run spas, quickly turned to an attack on protests from last summer opposing police brutality that Republicans have claimed as a diversion tactic to avoid addressing a fresh wave of calls for gun reform.

    “You know, we’re often reminded and then we forget. Remember, ‘What do we want? Dead cops. When do we want them, now. Pigs in a blanket. Fry them like bacon.’ Bottles, rocks, bricks, molotov cocktails. They’re not riots we were told all summer to over 2,500 cops injured but these are the cops that go put themselves in harms way and in this case we lost one tonight,” Hannity said.

    After invoking last summer’s protests, the Fox News host invited frequent guest Dan Bongino, a former Secret Service agent and New York Police Department officer, to join in on bashing those who have called for police reform in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police last May.

    “Yeah, Sean, don’t forget with this defund the police crowd, that wasn’t a social worker that walked in there,” Bongino said, appearing to reinforce law enforcement who secured the area during the attack.

    “Everybody else is racing to get the hell out of there,” Hannity chimed in. “They’re going up in the other direction. And now we’re going to defund the police, disparage the police, quiet all summer long as they’re hit with rocks, and bricks, and bottles, and molotov cocktails.”

    The comments, characterizing last summer’s protests as a riotous mess of thrown bricks and an effort to do away with police, comes after Republicans have sought to portray Democrats as a threat the very existence of law enforcement.

    That effort, to paint Democrats as a menacing force angling to gut funding to police, comes as House Republicans last week voted against a resolution to award Congressional Gold Medals to honor the officers who risked their lives to defend the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

    Link

  200. says

    DeJoy set to unveil plan to finish off the Postal Service. The Senate needs to act now to stop him

    Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who is still in his job, is about to release his 10-year plan for the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), including the largest rollback of consumer mail services in a generation. Apparently forgetting that he is a public servant, he intends to make postage more expensive, slower, and post offices harder to access by cutting their operating hours. All as part of his “strategic vision,” which seems to be gutting the service so private companies can take over. […]

    He apparently is operating under the assumption that everyone in the country has both the technological ability and the broadband access to conduct all their critical business online. More likely, he doesn’t give a damn about all the people who don’t have those things, because he’s a Republican. What DeJoy hasn’t explained is how the Postal Service will reverse the massive losses he projects—$160 billion over the next 10 years—by destroying its revenue stream and driving away business.

    Even more disturbingly, the Democratic chairman of the board of governors seems okay with this. Ron Bloom took over the chair with President Joe Biden’s inauguration. He will appear with DeJoy Tuesday to announce the new policies. Bloom told the same House panel last month that he “believes the postmaster general in very difficult circumstances is doing a good job.” The rest of the board, all Republicans chosen by Donald Trump and who are political cronies of Mitch McConnell, are clearly giving DeJoy free rein.

    Bloom is serving a one-year holdover term, his regular term having expired. Only the board can fire DeJoy, and there are three vacancies on the board. Biden has submitted nominees for those vacancies, but as of yet there aren’t confirmation hearings scheduled for them in the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. That needs to be remedied ASAP, and the new board must be installed, Bloom sidelined, and DeJoy fired.

    Then Biden needs to find a new postmaster general, one who has actually served in the ranks of the USPS and who does not have a private financial stake in the USPS’ competitors. Then Congress and the Postal Service can get to work fixing the agency’s problems […] with smart policies that actually do serve the public.

    First of all, Congress needs to repeal the 2006 law that requires the agency to pre-fund future retirees healthcare costs. No other agency has been forced to bear that constraint. The real reason Congress imposed that burden on the USPS had a lot less to do with the health of future postal service retirees than deficit mania in Congress in 2006 (when George Bush’s “war on terror” was draining the federal treasury). The 2006 law pumped in funds, as the Economic Policy Institute explains. “Since the Postal Service is an off-budget entity, these intragovernmental payments were counted as federal revenue at a time when deficit concerns—or deficit posturing—loomed large in policy discussions.”

    […] Repealing the 2006 law will mean finding a solution for the healthcare needs of future retirees, which is a pretty easy fix—integrate the current Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) plans with Medicare.

    Instead of cutting services, the USPS could generate new revenue by expanding them, most obviously with postal banking, something that the USPS did anyway up until 1967. In fact, Postal Service banks could be the answer to some of the questions about how federal stimulus payments out of the American Rescue Plan will be delivered to unbanked people. A Postal Service bank could be the delivery mechanism for the new child allowances the government is paying out from the Child Tax Credit.

    […] first the Postal Service has to be rescued from DeJoy. That should be job No. 1 for Sen. Gary Peters, chair of the committee that will consider Biden’s new board nominees. Then Majority Leader Chuck Schumer needs to prioritize their confirmation votes.

  201. says

    A few details about gun laws in Boulder, Colorado:

    […] The shooting comes less than two weeks after Colorado blocked the city of Boulder from enforcing a local ordinance banning AR-15 style weapons and magazines with a greater than 10 shot capacity, as reported by the Denver Post. Just six days before the shooting, the NRA celebrated the ruling in a tweet calling it “an NRA victory in Colorado.”

    On Monday afternoon, the as-yet unnamed suspect used an AR-15 rifle for exactly the purpose for which these guns are designed: killing a large number of humans in a short period of time.

    […] The NRA posts reporting the overturn of Boulder’s ban on such assault weapons last week was particularly festive, trumpeting their support of the effort to block the ordinance and warning other cities that they would be back to fight any localities “who are considering passing any similar counterproductive ordinances.” Counterproductive, in NRA terms, meant that it was an impediment to obtaining a machine whose singular purpose is killing people in quantity. […]

    Boulder: AR-15
    Orlando: AR-15
    Parkland: AR-15
    Las Vegas: AR-15
    Aurora, CO: AR-15
    Sandy Hook: AR-15
    Waffle House: AR-15
    San Bernardino: AR-15
    Midland/Odessa: AR-15
    Poway synagogue: AR-15
    Sutherland Springs: AR-15
    Tree of Life Synagogue: AR-15

    […] When news sources or right-wing politicians call the AR-15 “America’s most popular rifle,” it’s worth remembering that this is a very recent phenomenon. Two decades ago, these were rare rifles owned by a small percentage of Americans who owned guns. A short time ago, the majority of rifles fell into two categories—.22 rimfire rifles used primarily for target shooting and small game; larger caliber centerfire rifles, many of them bolt or lever action, used in hunting deer and large game. Something like the AR-15 was an exotic item, even for people who owned guns.

    In those two decades, deer did not become enormously smarter. Rabbits did not become bulletproof. Groundhogs did not learn to dodge. People did not buy these rifles to hunt any of the above. […]

    Link

  202. says

    Biden urges Congress to pass assault weapon ban

    “I don’t need to wait another minute, let alone an hour, to take common sense steps that will save lives in the future and to urge my colleagues in the House and Senate to act,” Biden said in remarks at the White House following Monday’s shooting. “We can ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in this country once again. I got that done when I was a senator. … We should do it again.”

    Biden called on the Senate to “immediately pass” two House-passed bills that would expand background checks for firearm sales, noting that both passed the Democrat-controlled lower chamber with some Republican support.

    “This is not and should not be a partisan issue, this is an American issue. It will save lives, American lives, and we have to act,” Biden said. […]

  203. says

    Michelle Obama:

    I’m heartbroken by these recent tragedies of gun violence, and I just keep thinking about all the leaders who won’t take a stand to save lives and yet line up to pass bills that make it harder for us to vote. The [For the People Act] is a chance to reaffirm that in America, the power rests with the people. It’s our best chance in a generation to protect and strengthen our democracy.

  204. says

    Wonkette:

    Having done such a great job of wrecking the US Postal Service over the summer, Donald Trump’s pet postmaster Louis DeJoy today plans to unveil a new 10-year plan to wreck it further by imposing strict austerity measures, slowing first-class mail delivery, reducing Post Office hours, raising prices, and generally encrappening the USPS to “save” it. […]

    Or maybe the goal is to just make the Postal Service so shitty that no one will care much if it’s privatized, in an attempt to “rescue” it, not that we’re cynical or anything. […]

    Honestly, DeJoy told the House Oversight and Reform Committee back in February, you people have got to let go of your nostalgic attachment to “good” mail service:

    Does it make a difference if it’s an extra day to get a letter? […] Because something has to change. We cannot keep doing the same thing we’re doing.

    […] For starters, we could get rid of DeJoy, who took the USPS’s precarious financial situation, which was imposed on it by Congress in 2006 and made it worse last summer with what he called “reforms.” Now, DeJoy appears to want to finally burn down the Post Office by instituting slower delivery standards. […]

    During the holiday rush (thanks to Joe Biden, we can say “holidays” again!), on-time delivery rates plummeted to just

    71 percent on-time delivery for two-day mail and 38 percent for three-day mail during the last week of December. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) compared those scores to unfavorable odds in a Las Vegas casino.

    That’s improved a little since then; 83.7 percent of first-class mail was on time for the week of March 12. Funny, though, that’s still way down from the service levels before DeJoy took the job:

    The metrics remain well short of the agency’s marks from before DeJoy’s arrival last June. The week before DeJoy implemented his midsummer changes, the Postal Service delivered 90.6 percent of first-class mail on time. It hasn’t reached 90 percent in the eight months since.

    […] DeJoy also plans to bring back one of his service innovations from last summer, reducing the hours that post offices are open, because if it’s less convenient to use, that will save lots of money. Finally, DeJoy wants to increase the cost of postage; first-class stamps (for letters weighing an ounce or under) have stayed at 55 cents since the start of 2019, so that may not be a surprise, but paying more for crappier service seems like a bad idea. […]

    “The savings they’re going to get out of this isn’t a lot compared to what they’re going to do to customers,” the person said, “and that’s assuming they implement everything right, which they never do.”

    […] WaPo notes that “More than 50 House Democrats last week asked President Biden to fire the board’s six sitting members for cause — citing ‘gross mismanagement,’ ‘self-inflicted’ nationwide mail delays and ‘rampant conflicts of interest'” […]

    Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-New York), the chair of the Oversight Committee, has introduced a bill that would significantly reform the Postal Service, eliminate that healthcare pre-funding mandate, and shift USPS retirees to Medicare, which the Post reports would “immediately save the USPS $35 billion in liabilities” for pre-funding; the switch to Medicare would save another $10 billion over 10 years. DeJoy supports the Maloney plan, but claims his slash-and-burn cuts to service are also an absolute necessity.

    Seems to us the real solution is to slash and burn the current postmaster, in a purely metaphorical sense, of course. Let him go wreck some private sector company instead.

    Link

  205. says

    A closer look at Russian propaganda/media, and how it resembles Fox News:

    […] One person who finds the United States’ right-wing media ecosystem all too familiar is Peter Pomerantsev, who was born in the Soviet Union but fled and later settled in London. When Pomerantsev was in his 20s, he decided to return to Russia. He soon landed a plum job at the heart of Russian television production.

    While Pomerantsev worked in entertainment TV, he regularly swapped stories with colleagues who were focused on “news” production— which was laced with state propaganda. Pomerantsev describes how they attended Friday meetings used to set Kremlin-backed news agendas for the following week.

    Pomerantsev now teaches at Johns Hopkins University, and his latest book illuminates why propaganda is so effective at dividing us. Today, he watches American right-wing television news — particularly Fox News, Newsmax and OAN — with dismay. And he tells me that a career in Russian media would be perfect preparation for working at those networks.

    “It’s the same game,” Pomerantsev explains. “It’s the same rhetorical tactics, the same intellectual tactics, the same psychological tactics.”

    Specifically, Pomerantsev points to two major areas of strategic overlap. First, there’s a shared war on facts that tries to convince the viewer that accountability is a fool’s errand because true objectivity does not exist.

    “There’s this kind of pop-postmodernism, where Sean Hannity will say things like objectivity doesn’t exist, everybody’s biased,” Pomerantsev says. He points to Hannity’s infamous interview with Ted Koppel, in which he contrasted his own style with what he sees as the charade of “objective” facts in other areas of the press. “I don’t pretend that I’m fair and balanced and objective,” Hannity bizarrely boasted.

    “That’s exactly the same argument the Russians make,” Pomerantsev says. He recalls a famous phrase uttered by Dmitry Kiselev, a prime-time TV host who was also appointed by Vladimir Putin to run Kremlin’s international propaganda network, Rossiya Segodnya. “Objectivity is a myth that is proposed and imposed on us.”

    Prominent Republicans have parroted that argument, mimicking the Russian apparatus by challenging the notion of objective truth. In one television appearance, Newt Gingrich argued that it doesn’t matter if crime is down if Americans “feel” that crime is up. As Gingrich put it, “The current view is liberals have a whole set of statistics which theoretically may be right, but it’s not where human beings are.”

    That devaluation of facts inflames polarization in a particularly insidious way, because it allows a “choose your own reality” media culture. How can you compromise to solve problems or hold politicians accountable if you can’t even agree whether a problem is real or not?

    Pomerantsev sees another commonality between Fox News and Russian media. Both, he argues, treat news as entertainment, complete with characters designed to depict those who hold opposing viewpoints as buffoonish caricatures. “They turn everything into a Jerry Springer show. … Essentially, Tucker Carlson has ‘idiot liberals’ on.” Fox, he says, likes to present extreme left-wingers whose positions can be easily caricatured; Russian TV uses cartoonish members of the opposition as objects of ridicule.

    In both Russia and the United States, Pomerantsev argues, that kind of discourse creates a corrosive cynicism that erodes democracy. It forges partisan identities that are defined by an “us vs. them” mentality, reinforced with a destructive dose of conspiracy theories.

    […] “The big mistake people make is to think: ‘What if we just give them the facts?’ It’s got nothing to do with that,” Pomerantsev says. “You’ve got to understand what you’re dealing with. They’re giving people a sense of identity, giving people meaning and giving people a way to interpret the world.”

    To break the cycle, the United States needs better regulation and a shift in the economic model around cable news. Fox News, OAN and Newsmax’s prime-time style might be familiar to Russians, but it is utterly alien to Canadians, Britons or Germans. Most prime-time political shows in functional democracies are far more rational and restrained, partly because they face more robust regulation.

    But we also need to ensure that it no longer pays to polarize. Advertisers should face more market pressure from consumers to ensure that they support only programming rooted in facts rather than dangerous conspiracy theories and tribalistic lies. The Kremlin might always back those who spread divisive propaganda, but Americans are free to push back against those who fund it.[…]

    Washington Post link

  206. says

    [sigh] Alabama News:

    Rep. Mo Brooks (R) launched his latest U.S. Senate campaign in Alabama last night. Former Trump adviser Stephen Miller appeared at the kickoff event, and told locals he envied them because they’ll be able to vote for the far-right congressman.

    Boston Globe, with good news:

    With the Senate confirming Marty Walsh yesterday as the nation’s new Labor secretary, Boston has a new mayor: Kim Janey (D). She is the city’s first Black mayor and Boston’s first woman mayor, and Janey will have to decide relatively soon whether she intends to seek a full term of her own this fall.

  207. says

    Follow-up to comment 251, and shades of Sean Hannity showing up in Senate Republicans:

    […] The Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday held the first in a series of hearings aimed at mitigating gun violence […]

    As Democrats sound off a fresh wave of calls for gun reform, Senate Republicans used the hearing to scapegoat protests taking place last summer under the banner of racial justice, suggesting that gun sales had skyrocketed in the wake of a riotous attack on the nation’s cities by those demonstrating against police brutality. In one instance, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) suggested that guns — which were used last week in a mass shooting that killed six women of Asian-descent and two others — were part of a broader effort to ensure that “vulnerable populations,” including women and people of color, can protect themselves amid efforts by Democrats to drain law enforcement of resources.

    Witnesses, including a professional marksman and a former Texas state representative whose parents died by gunfire, also weaponized familiar dog-whistles about guns shielding the elderly from “thugs” and helping Americans secure their own safety in cases where so-called underfunded law enforcement are unable to respond quickly. […]

    Link

  208. says

    Biden admin issues new guidance speeding up release of unaccompanied kids from HHS custody

    The Biden administration is issuing new guidance that should speed up the safe release of unaccompanied children in custody of the Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) and who have parents or relatives who are already in the United States […]

    “If this is successfully executed, it will have a great impact on the number of kids in custody,” tweeted Bridget Cambria, an immigration attorney and advocate for detained children. […] the administration currently has about 11,000 children in HHS custody. “By releasing children already in custody more quickly, the government can make additional beds available for new arrivals.”

    Previously, prospective sponsors including parents and relatives would fill out forms on their own. Under the new guidance […] case workers will now begin that process for them. Sponsors will still undergo background checks, but now that won’t be required of other adult members of the household who are not sponsors. Like previously noted, facilities will also cover the travel fees of children released to sponsors, as well as the travel fees of sponsors traveling to facilities to pick up children. […]

    That should help.

  209. says

    Pfizer starts early stage trial for oral COVID-19 drug

    Pfizer on Tuesday said it has begun early stage U.S. clinical trials of an investigational, oral antiviral drug for COVID-19.

    According to the company, the candidate “has demonstrated potent in vitro antiviral activity” against the virus that causes COVID-19, as well as activity against other coronaviruses, suggesting the potential for use to address future threats.

    The candidate is a class of drug known as a protease inhibitor, which has been long used used to treat HIV and hepatitis C. The drugs work by blocking a critical enzyme, a protease, that the virus needs to replicate. […]

  210. says

    CNN – “‘He cut my underwear. Then he did what he did'”:

    …CNN has spoken to several other Belarusians who have fled the repression of Lukashenko’s regime, illegally across the border into Ukraine, as part of a two-month investigation into the crackdown inside the country. In dozens of interviews, protesters and opposition activists have spoken of torture — from systematic beatings, to rape with a police baton.

    Defectors from the police force have also supplied CNN with videos from the police’s own archives — bodycam, dashcam and surveillance footage — that display the extraordinary ferocity of riot police against protesters who are unarmed and peaceful, many of them teenagers.

    The Lukashenko regime has, activists say, slightly softened its tactics in the past weeks, as fear has gripped the opposition movement. Yet there are concerns among activists the crackdown will intensify again ahead of a nationwide call to the streets on March 25.

    The fate of the Belarusian protest movement has gained greater significance in the past months as anti-government protests spread inside neighboring Russia against the attempted murder and imprisonment of Alexey Navalny.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin swiftly moved to support Lukashenko in August with a $1.5 billion loan and other unspecified assistance. The Belarusian protests, however, have continued. Analysts say the Kremlin is concerned both by a persistent protest movement for democracy on its doorstep, and the impact of unprecedented levels of police violence on how a younger generation of Belarusians view Moscow….

    Much more at the link.

  211. says

    Guardian – “Brazil Covid crisis: fury after Bolsonaro says people will soon lead ‘normal lives'”:

    Loud protests have erupted across Brazil as the country’s Covid-sceptic president, Jair Bolsonaro, struggled to defend his handling of the pandemic and claimed citizens would soon be able to resume their “normal lives” despite the soaring death toll.

    Bolsonaro, whose anti-science response to coronavirus has drawn international condemnation, made a televised address to the country on Tuesday night, as Brazil suffered by far its heaviest day of losses since the outbreak began last February.

    According to a coalition of Brazilian news groups, which has been keeping a tally since Bolsonaro’s administration was accused of trying to suppress such information last year, a record 3,158 deaths were registered on Tuesday, as well as 84,996 new infections. Brazil’s official death toll – already the world’s second highest after the US – rose to 298,843 and was likely to exceed 300,000 on Wednesday. About a third of the global total of fatalities were recorded in Brazil on Tuesday.

    “What I see before me is a country that attaches no value to the lives of its citizens,” the scientist and broadcaster Átila Iamarino said of his government’s response.

    In a four-minute pronouncement that was greeted with shrieks of rage and frustration in some of Brazil’s biggest cities, Bolsonaro defended his reaction to the epidemic, claiming that by opposing containment measures such as lockdown he had been trying to protect jobs and avoid “economic chaos”.

    “I want to reassure the Brazilian people and let them know that vaccines are assured,” claimed the far-right populist who critics accuse of undermining vaccination efforts by vowing not to be vaccinated himself and failing to acquire sufficient shots for the rest of the country.

    The dissent returned with a vengeance on Tuesday with loud protests reported in major cities such as Brasília, Belo Horizonte, São Paulo and Recife as Bolsonaro spoke. In Rio de Janeiro dissenters could be heard heaping scorn and insults on the president from the windows of apartment buildings where residents have lost their lives. “Murderer!”, “Liar!” they bellowed. “Be gone, Bolsonaro!”

    Experts and scientific evidence contradict Bolsonaro’s claim that Brazil will soon return to “normal life” and many state capitals are now entering a period of lockdown despite his opposition to such moves.

    “This is the most severe moment of the pandemic and the prognosis is not good,” said Margareth Dalcolmo, a pneumologist from the public health institute Fiocruz.

    “The situation is dramatic. The hospitals are completely exploding. There are no available beds any more – even for rich people,” Dalcolmo added, calling for a two-week lockdown that might slow the spread of the virus.

    On Tuesday more than 1,000 deaths were reported in São Paulo state alone. The state’s governor, João Doria, blamed the calamity on Brazil’s “psychopathic leader”.

  212. says

    In the Guardian:

    “Israel election: early results suggest extended deadlock”:

    …Netanyahu and Lapid will each need to convince rival parties in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, to join them to form a majority government of 61 seats. That prospect appeared in doubt for both men, suggesting a potential extension of the two-year deadlock, and even an unwanted fifth election….

    This is still developing.

    Michael Mann – “It’s not too late for Australia to forestall a dystopian future that alternates between Mad Max and Waterworld”:

    …Adapting to the harsh new reality Australia now faces will be hard, but it will be possible with sufficient government funding and infrastructure to support climate resilience. If, however, we allow the planet to continue to heat up, many heavily occupied parts of Australia will simply become uninhabitable….

    “Top Saudi official issued death threat against UN’s Khashoggi investigator”:

    A senior Saudi official issued what was perceived to be a death threat against the independent United Nations investigator, Agnès Callamard, after her investigation into the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi….

    “The US has been silent on Honduras’s drug problem, but that might be about to change”:

    …US policy towards Hernández has generally treated him as a staunch regional ally in dealing with migration and drug trafficking, at odds with the justice department’s legal pursuit of his family.

    But there are signs the tide is beginning to turn in Washington on the flamboyant Honduran leader. The Biden administration is expected to take a cooler approach to President Hernández than Donald Trump, who legitimised his reelection in 2017 despite widespread concerns about rigging….

    More at all of the links, of course.

  213. says

    Here’s a link to the March 24 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    Poland reports record number of new daily coronavirus cases

    Poland has reported 29,978 new daily coronavirus cases, the highest number since the start of the pandemic.

    The country also recorded 575 coronavirus related deaths, the highest number in 2021. This brings the total death toll to over 50,000.

    Germany scraps strict Easter shutdown

    Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel has cancelled a hard Easter lockdown just days after imposing it, according to media reports.

    The chancellor told state leaders on Wednesday morning that she has decided to scrap the measure after heavy criticism.

    Merkel said the strict Easter shutdown, which would designated 1 – 5 April as “quiet days” when no more than five adults from two households would be able to meet at home at once, was her “mistake”.

    Spiegel quotes her as saying: “If possible, we need to correct this [mistake] in time. I do think that is possible.” She hoped the German people would forgive her error and she is due to make a public statement at 12.30 local time (1130 GMT).

  214. says

    BBC – “Coronavirus: ‘Double mutant’ Covid variant found in India”:

    A new double mutant variant of the coronavirus and 771 others have been detected in samples collected from 18 states across India.

    Of the 10,787 samples, 736 were positive for the UK variant, 34 for the South African variant and one for the Brazilian variant.

    The report comes amid a recent surge in Covid cases in India.

    But the government said there was no link between the spike in cases and these variants.

    India reported 47,262 cases and 275 deaths on Wednesday – the sharpest daily rise this year….

  215. says

    Alan Feuer, NYT:

    NEW: The Oath Keepers & the Proud Boys appear to have coordinated some plans for Jan. 6, according to new court papers filed overnight in the case of Florida OK Kelly Meggs.
    “We have made contact with PB and they always have a big group. Force multiplier,” Meggs wrote on FB.

    There have been hints in court filings about the Oath Keepers & Proud Boys working together. But this is the strongest evidence to date.
    “I figure could splinter off the main group of PB and come up behind them,” Meggs wrote. “Fucking crush them for good.”

    Florida Oath Keeper leader Kelly Meggs claims he was in contact with a Proud Boys’ leader (name redacted) around Christmas. At that point they were still talking, at least nominally, about anti-Antifa operations…

    The following day, however, there’s no more Antifa talk.
    Now Meggs is talking about Trump using “the emergency broadcast system on cellphones” to invoke the Insurrection Act.
    “Wait for the 6th,” he tells his correspondent, “when we are all in DC to insurrection.”

    Screenshots atl.

    (Also above on the thread is reporting on a hearing called by judge Mehta yesterday about the Sherwin 60 Minutes interview (see #209 above). The DoJ is saying this was unauthorized (and I read yesterday that he’d asked for permission earlier and been denied) and that Sherwin has been referred to the Office of Professional Responsibility.)

  216. johnson catman says

    re Lynna @257:

    But we also need to ensure that it no longer pays to polarize. Advertisers should face more market pressure from consumers to ensure that they support only programming rooted in facts rather than dangerous conspiracy theories and tribalistic lies. The Kremlin might always back those who spread divisive propaganda, but Americans are free to push back against those who fund it.[…]

    It is hard to push advertisers one way or another when almost half of the country strongly believes the propaganda that is so damaging.

  217. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Spain has restarted its AstraZeneca vaccination drive after a week-long suspension of the jab over fears about potential side-effects.

    The suspension does not appear to have dampened people’s enthusiasm to get the jab, according to Reuters.

    “We have to put prejudice and urban myths aside and move forward,” civil servant Jose Manuel Plaza said after getting the shot in the southern province of Huelva.

    People lined up outside Atletico Madrid’s Wanda football stadium, which has been transformed into a mass vaccination centre.

    “I am happy to receive the vaccine. I think that you have to be positive and there is nothing worse than Covid,” 30-year old health worker Cristina Gonzalez told the news agency.

    I hope someone’s studying the contrast between Spain, where vaccine uptake seems to be consistently high, and France.

  218. says

    Noga Tarnopolsky: “#IsraElex4: 57% of Israelis cast ballots to end Netanyahu’s rule. Its a clear repudiation, even if the opposition is fractured. Netanyahu will try to cobble together an immunity coalition of homophobes, misogynists, Jewish supremacists & Islamists, but the vote is clear.”

  219. says

    Joe Biden is extending the Obamacare enrollment window for a second time — to August 15.

    A subtle but consequential move after Donald Trump refused to open the exchanges for special enrollment through the pandemic last year.

    ACA grants HHS broad discretion in implementation, which leads to major differences in the way it functions under Dem and GOP presidencies. Trump used that power to undermine it and that held down enrollment. Biden is doing the opposite.”

    (My suggestion: That they have forms and set up enrollment information tables at large vaccination sites.)

  220. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Sweden reported a further 7,649 Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, according to health agency statistics reported by Reuters.

    The country, which is home to 10 million people, also registered 42 new deaths, taking the total to 13,357. The deaths reported have taken place over several days and sometimes weeks.

    The Covid-19 death rate per capita in Sweden, which has avoided lockdowns, is many times higher than that of its other Nordic countries but lower than in several European countries that have imposed lockdowns over the last year.

    They’ve included the penultimate sentence every time they report new deaths in Sweden and the last sentence in every post about Sweden for several months. No other country gets these pointless disclaimers.

    From Worldometer – total deaths:

    Iceland: 29 (85 per 1m)
    Norway: 656 (120 per 1m)
    Finland: 809 (146 per 1m)
    Denmark: 2,405 (414 per 1m)
    Sweden: 13,357 (1,317 per 1m – 26th highest in the world)

    I’m not sure why these aren’t the appropriate comparisons for Sweden.

  221. says

    Mark Levine:

    Joining @JumaaneWilliams & @celinegounder at press conference this a.m. to make it very clear:

    NY needs to pause reopenings.

    There is an enormous amount of virus spreading here, w/ case rates among the highest in the nation. Variants are rising fast. This is a time for caution.

    We have made real progress on vaccination, but still only 14% of adults in NYC are fully vaccinated.

    Meanwhile more contagious variants are now causing 65% of new cases in NYC.

    To reduce the risk of another wave, we need to keep protective measure in place through April.

    Full video of our press conference w/ @JumaaneWilliams & Dr. @CelineGounder, calling for a pause in reopenings in NYC:…

  222. says

    johnson @268: “It is hard to push advertisers one way or another when almost half of the country strongly believes the propaganda that is so damaging.” True. Good point.

    SC @272, thanks for posting those statistics. It’s a good comparison. Too many people are giving Sweden approbation that is not deserved.

    SC @273, I have relatives that live in NYC. One of them has a vaccination appointment at 5am and one has an appointment Saturday night. At least they are vaccinating people around the clock. As for opening indoor dining and other foolishness … sheesh.

  223. says

    Bad news for Missouri:

    Missouri’s field of Republican U.S. Senate candidates got a little larger this morning, with state Attorney General Eric Schmitt (R) kicking off his candidacy. The Missouri Republican boasted this morning about “defending President Trump and the America First agenda.”

    More extremists running for office.

  224. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    The president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has been denounced by opposition politicians for gathering delegates from his Justice and Development Party (AKP) into a packed sports complex for a party congress.

    Despite social distancing rules still in force, and amid a new surge of coronavirus cases in Turkey, thousands of the ruling party’s supporters filled stands and floor seating in a 10,400-capacity arena in Ankara, the capital.

    According to an Associated Press wire report, Erdogan spoke for nearly two hours at the event, presenting his vision the centenary of the Turkish Republic in 2023. He insisted, however, that he cut his remarks short in order not to expose congress participants to the virus.

    Murat Emir, a doctor and MP from Turkey’s main opposition party, described the scenes as “shameful,” writing on Twitter that the event showed disregard for “the health workers who work day and night in the battle against the pandemic.”

    Melih Gokcek, former mayor of Ankara for AKP, said that delegates were tested for the coronavirus before attending the congress.

    Erdogan has been criticised for holding similarly crowded local party congresses across the country in past weeks despite the pandemic. During one such event, he even boasted about the size of the crowd.

    Turkey reported more than 26,000 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, weeks after the government eased restrictions in dozens of provinces under a so-called “controlled normalisation” program.

    Turkey registered its highest daily number of new infections this year on Wednesday, adding 29,762 infections to its tally in the last 24 hours, according to health ministry data.

    The spike in new infections comes as cases rise after restrictions were eased earlier this month.

    Wednesday’s figure takes the cumulative number of cases to 3,091,282, Reuters reports.

    With 146 more deaths, the daily death was the highest since the restrictions were eased, raising the country’s death toll to 30,462.

  225. blf says

    Lynna@274, “I have relatives that live in NYC. One of them has a vaccination appointment at 5am and one has an appointment Saturday night. […] At least they are vaccinating people around the clock.”

    Here in France it’s a 9am–5pm operation, weekdays only. (Actually, my village is something like 8:30am–4pm.) That helps the snail’s pace of the effort, albeit the major inhibitor, in my opinion, is the need for a doctor’s appointment so you can be lectured-at why a vaccination is necessary, before being able to make an appointment. Which not only makes things proceed at dead snail’s pace, but does nothing obvious to address the problem it’s presumably meant to address — the very high rate of vaccine hesitancy. (A famous poll back in December found that only c.40% were prepared to be vaccinated (I’ve sometimes accidentally misstated that poll as 40% against — no, it’s only 40% for being vaccinated).)
    (Apologies for repeating my rant, but vaccination drive here is so completely fecking stupid and arse-backwards !!!1!)

  226. says

    blf @278, sorry to hear that the vaccination efforts in France are still moving at a snail’s pace. The rule requiring a conversation with a doctor before making an appointment for vaccination is mind boggling. That’s counter-productive. Your frustration is justified.

    In other news, McConnell pretends GOP’s voter-suppression efforts don’t exist

    McConnell is defending voter suppression efforts by pretending there are no voter suppression efforts.

    The New York Times ran a striking report this morning, highlighting the behind-the-scenes efforts to prod Republican legislatures across the country “to usher in a raft of new restrictions on voting.” It’s a sizable effort involving the Republican National Committee, groups such as Heritage Action, and pre-written statutory language that is being exported from one state to another.

    It’s a big piece that fits into a larger puzzle: a recent Washington Post analysis noted that the GOP push to impose new voting restrictions may very well amount to “the most sweeping contraction of ballot access in the United States since the end of Reconstruction.” As of last week, the Brennan Center found that more than 253 bills restricting voting access had been carried over, pre-filed, or introduced in 43 states.

    The Associated Press reported that the Republican Party’s “nationwide campaign to restrict access to the ballot” has become the GOP’s “unifying mission,” eclipsing other traditional issues. […]

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would apparently have us believe, however, that the entire voter-suppression initiative is an elaborate mirage. Axios reported this morning:

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) claimed during a hearing Wednesday that Democrats’ signature voting rights bill, the “For the People Act,” is unnecessary because “states are not engaging in trying to suppress voters whatsoever.”

    [blatant lie]

    The Senate Republican leader added that legislation designed to protect voting rights is “a solution in search of a problem.”

    JFC. McConnell stole that phrase, “a solution in search of a problem,” from the Democratic Party’s description of Republican efforts to stop so-called “voter fraud.”

    In recent weeks, the GOP has offered two principal talking points when it comes to suppressing the franchise. The first is that there were systemic problems with the 2020 presidential election, making new restrictions necessary in order to restore “integrity” to the nation’s electoral system. This is, of course, an extension of the Republicans’ Big Lie: the problems with last year’s elections remain a figment of partisans’ imaginations, which is why there’s no evidence to substantiate the claims.

    The second talking point is that voting restrictions are necessary to improve public confidence because so many far-right voters have come to believe the Big Lie, reality notwithstanding. This is equally ridiculous: policymakers need not target voting rights to accommodate an easily discredited myth.

    But McConnell is going in a whole new direction, opening Door #3: he’s defending voter suppression efforts by pretending there are no voter suppression efforts. […].

    Link

    Those of us living in a world where facts matter will have to organize to defeat McConnell’s lies, and we will have to counter the Republican organizations that have banded together to push voter-suppression efforts nationwide.

  227. says

    blf @ #278:

    That helps the snail’s pace of the effort, albeit the major inhibitor, in my opinion, is the need for a doctor’s appointment so you can be lectured-at why a vaccination is necessary, before being able to make an appointment.

    That’s completely absurd.

  228. says

    Follow-up to comment 280.

    More details regarding how totally bizarre the Republican voter-suppression efforts have become:

    Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) jumped at the chance to defend a Georgia bill ending Sunday voting in the state, even though it’s already been abandoned by Georgia’s Republican legislature. The proposal was brought up earlier in the hearing by Sen. Schumer, who wrongly suggested that it had been passed out the legislature. (The bills that are most likely to make it to the governor’s desk allow for early voting to happen on Sunday.)

    But rather than call out Schumer for the inaccuracy, Hyde-Smith spoke from the perspective of a lawmaker from Mississippi to explain “why” the state would “never” hold election activities on a Sunday,

    She pulled a dollar and noted the statement on it that “In God We Trust.” She also noted the reference to God in government oaths and inscriptions on government buildings. She brought up a verse of the Bible that said: “Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.”

    Link

    So now voting on Sunday in unholy?

  229. says

    Follow-up to comment 282.

    BTW, so glad to hear that the Georgia legislature got so much pushback about ending Sunday voting that they had to back down.

    Now they need to back down on their other voter-suppression plans.

  230. says

    Georgia Legislature Mulls Power Grab Targeting Local Election Officials

    As Georgia’s Republican lawmakers consider measures that would make it more difficult to vote, they’re also eying ways to let the legislature have more influence over local election administration.

    The proposals come after local and state election officials stood up to […] Trump’s false claims of mass fraud in the presidential race. Now, if the proposed measure becomes law, not only will election officials be on the hook for implementing more restrictive regimes — the legislature is also looking to make it easier to fully dismantle local election boards, if state legislators or other county officials aren’t happy with the job they’re doing.

    […] Officials in several counties rebuffed a gambit spearheaded by conservative activists to challenge the eligibility of tens of thousands of voters in the state before the Senate run-offs.

    SB 202 gives a green light to these kinds of mass challenges. The bill also threatens county officials with sanctions if they do not comply with the process, which, under the new bill, would also require a hearing on each challenge within ten days.

    “This SB 202 bill is a bill that will open up and legalize, encourage and incite racist targeting of voters and harassment and intimidation like we have never seen before,” Lauren Groh-Wargo, the CEO of Fair Fight Action, a Democratic-aligned voting rights group, told reporters on a press call Tuesday.

    […] The bill would sideline the secretary of state’s role on the state election board, demoting him from chairperson to a non-voting member. The chair, under the legislation, would be filled by an individual chosen by the general assembly. The legislature already choses two of the four other board members (the state Democratic and Republican parties fill the final two seats), meaning that its appointees would constitute a majority and could establish a quorum under the legislation.

    […] The bill “cedes a lot of power to the legislature to allow them to pick the chairperson,” […]

    This newly reconfigured board would also, under the legislation, be given sweeping powers to meddle in county-level election administration decisions. It allows the state agency to dismantle county election boards wholesale, and replace them with election superintendents selected by the state agency. That person would have full control of both funding and personnel decisions made in county election administration.

    The bill sets a “pretty low bar” for justifying a state takeover of a local election entity

    […] “They’re giving credence to unsubstantiated claims that have never been verified, while also seizing control away from our counties.”

    […] The bill “almost invites more baseless challenges,” Garabadu, the ACLU attorney, said. [I’d delete “almost.”]

    […] [The bill] imposes limits on the use of mail ballot drop boxes, restricting where such receptacles can be located and the hours during which they can be accessed.

    Additionally, the legislation prohibits local election boards from accepting grant money from private organizations, after some Georgia counties received philanthropic funding to adapt their election infrastructure to the pandemic.

    […] The other omnibus bill gaining traction, HB 531, also includes a provision making it easier for the state to remove county election officials.

    Republicans are looking to knock Warnock out of the Senate during the next Georgia Senate election.

  231. says

    The Trump administration hid lots of shady dealings. Some of them are just now coming to light

    In at least nine instances, Donald Trump and his top White House officials aggressively combatted key oversight investigations that government watchdogs were attempting to conduct within the Trump administration […]

    Just a couple months into a new administration, some results from those nine impeded probes are starting to come to light. Among the most high profile was the recent conclusion by the Department of Transportation inspector general that former agency head Elaine Chao abused her office for personal reasons, including to boost the prospects of a family business. Another revelation was the finding that former White House physician, retired Navy rear admiral Ronny Jackson, abused substances on the job and created a toxic work environment for his staff.

    The main problem with these long-awaited findings is that, for the most part, the damage has already been done and without consequence for the perpetrators of the abuses. Chao resigned her Cabinet post following Trump’s insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6. Jackson made a successful bid for Congress last year and now represents Texas’ 13th district.

    […] investigators working within the Trump administration [said] the obstacles they faced were particularly onerous. Administration attorneys insisted internal communications were confidential and off limits. They also demanded to be present at witness interviews. Information was either withheld entirely from investigators or released at a snail’s pace. The result was an inability to assess and correct internal problems in real time […]

    More delayed reports are expected to be released in the coming months, including one on whether the White House blocked delivery of post-Hurricane Maria financial aid to Puerto Rico and another on the Commerce Department’s controversial addition of a citizenship question to the U.S. Census. The Pentagon is also conducting an inquiry into a $400 million border-wall contract that Trump repeatedly pushed to award to a North Dakota construction company even after he was told its bid was subpar. And the General Services Administration inspector general is conducting a sweeping review of how different federal agencies responded to the coronavirus.

    While we await results from those inquiries, what is entirely clear already is that internal oversight met with unprecedented obstruction within the Trump administration […] and that led to bad outcomes for U.S. government operations and taxpayers alike.

  232. says

    Megan Rapinoe and other soccer stars headed to Congress and the White House for Equal Pay Day

    March 24 is Equal Pay Day—as ever, the occasion for a resoundingly sarcastic “woohoo.” If you start counting on January 1, 2020, Equal Pay Day marks the day on which women have been paid as much as men had been paid by December 31, 2020. Women working full-time and year-round make, on average, 82 cents for every dollar men make.

    Soccer stars including Megan Rapinoe are testifying about equal pay before the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday, as well as meeting with President Joe and Dr. Jill Biden at the White House. Members of the U.S. women’s national soccer team recently settled part of a lawsuit dealing with unequal working conditions, but are appealing to have equal pay addressed in court. They appear in the immediate wake of a scandal over the unequal treatment of players in the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.

    […] Asian American and Pacific Islander Women’s Equal Pay Day was on March 9. They’re paid 85 cents for every dollar men are paid.

    Mothers’ Equal Pay Day won’t be until June 4. Mothers make 70 cents for a dollar earned by fathers.

    Black Women’s Equal Pay Day is August 3, to reflect the 63 cents they are paid compared to a dollar for a white man.

    Native American Women’s Equal Pay Day comes September 8—it’s 60 cents for them.

    Latina Equal Pay Day isn’t until October 21—55 cents for every dollar paid to white men.

    This all adds up to huge lifetime losses. If you translate today’s pay gaps into a 40-year working life, the National Women’s Law Center calculates:
    Black women have a $964,400 lifetime wage gap compared with white men.

    Latinas are paid $1,163,920 less than white men over a 40-year career.

    White women, who are paid 79 cents for every dollar paid to white men, have a lifetime loss of $555,360.

    Asian women have a $336,040 lifetime wage gap compared with white men. For Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander women, it’s $865,880. […]

  233. says

    Republicans are still the party of white grievance, (and that’s the nice way of putting it):

    […] Look at this survey that came out a few days ago. The Pew Research Center surveyed Americans on their beliefs about discrimination. Asked if there is “a lot” of discrimination against Blacks, 17 percent of Republicans agreed. Yet 26 percent of Republicans said there is “a lot” of bias against white people. An additional 37 percent of Republicans noted that there is “some” discrimination against white folks. Hold on. Republicans, as a group, think white people more than Black people are the targets of racism? That’s what the poll indicates. And a quarter of Republicans also believe evangelical Christians confront “a lot” of discrimination, and only 12 percent said Hispanic people have to deal with this level of bias. (Seventy-one percent of Democrats said there was a great amount of discrimination against Blacks, and a negligible amount of Ds concurred that whites face significant bias.)

    About 83 percent of Republicans are white (with 3 percent or so Back), and one out of four Republicans believe that white people have to contend with powerful forces of discrimination. This is 50 percent more than the number of GOPers who recognize Blacks encounter substantial discrimination. That is a stark departure from reality—and a disturbing view into the mindset of many Republicans. As far as they see it, they (or white people in general) are the injured party. And with that distorted perspective, these Americans, naturally, will turn to champions who signal that they realize this. This grievance—we are the victims—has become the core notion of the GOP. […]

    Link

  234. says

    Wonkette:

    […] Utah’s GOP Governor Spencer Cox has signed a bill saying all tablets and laptops must have porn filters, to keep the Utahns from watching all the porn.

    […] back in 2016, some kids found a vibrator in a tent behind a nursing home in Price, Utah, but thank the Mormon god, the bomb squad was able to disarm it before somebody got off. And that’s your Utah history lesson for the day.

    Anyway, this bill had been working its way through the Utah lege, and Wonkette hadn’t had time to write about it, which is ridiculous, because we usually stay on top of important stories about the intersections of politics and porn. […] Under this insaaaaane bill, which, again, the governor just signed, tablets and laptops will have to automatically block all the porns.

    Gov. Spencer Cox has said the measure would send an “important message” about preventing children from accessing explicit online content.

    You know who should be sending those “important messages”? Parents, who should also be free to look at porns if they want, because of how they are adults.

    Everything’s fine for now, as five other states have to do similar bills for this law to even make a fuck, because tablet-makers and laptop-makers are not about to do special “Utah” editions of all their devices, just to keep some white conservative boner cops happy. […] And the bill’s sponsor, a wingnut Republican named Susan Pulsipher, says it’s fine, because even if it went into effect, grown-ups could just disable the porn filter.

    The ACLU and others who care about the First Amendment say fuck off.

    Utah is so weird about porn. Utah declared porn a “public health crisis” in 2016, apparently unaware that if you’re fiddling your diddle late at night in a dark room by yourself, you are really not in much of a position to do any sort of “crisis” to “public health.” […]

    Meanwhile, while they’re so concerned that kids might stumble across porn, they are also extremely concerned kids might stumble across CORRECT EDUCATIONAL information about sex and sexual health, which is why state law doesn’t allow schools to talk about “the intricacies of intercourse, sexual stimulation or erotic behavior; the advocacy of homosexuality; the advocacy or encouragement of the use of contraceptive methods or devices; or the advocacy of sexual activity outside of marriage.”

    In response to the state’s efforts to make Utah even more of an information desert in 2017, at least one large porn aggregator, XHamster, decided to automatically redirect Utahns to its sex education portal, explaining that “While we love porn, we don’t think that it should be relied on for sex ed any more than Star Wars is a substitute for science class.” […]

    Incidentally, Utahns are the idiots who pay for porn, according to one study, more than any other state in the country. Yes, we said they pay for porn. With dollars. From their credit cards. Like morons.

    In conclusion, we are sorry, Utah, that you freely chose to elect such idiots, by which we mean you did this to yourselves, just like you’re doing it to yourself when you whack it to all your purchased porn that is actually available for free on “internet.”

    Link

  235. says

    Wonkette: “More quality rightwing propaganda from Fox News.”

    We’re just two months in to the Biden administration, and conservatives have already declared Vice President Kamala Harris a commie traitor who hates the troops. Evie Fordham at Fox News broke the story Tuesday.

    Vice President Kamala Harris is facing criticism for appearing to break with precedent and failing to salute the honor guard when boarding Air Force Two.

    Video reviewed by Fox News showed that her predecessors, former Vice President Mike Pence and President Biden, regularly saluted the honor guard in the same situation.

    […] Vice President Dick Cheney was filmed not saluting military personnel in 2006, so this is not much of a precedent Harris is “breaking.”

    Fordham, by the way, appears to work the Kamala Harris hate beat. Her bylines from the past 24 hours include “VP Harris to speak at summit with ties to disgraced former Women’s March leader” and “Kamala Harris’ laughing answer to border question sparks backlash.” […]

    Kerik tweeted:

    Kamala Harris refuses to salute the honor guard at the steps of the aircraft. It is a clear demonstration of her dislike for those in uniform, both law-enforcement and military.

    […] Harris obviously doesn’t dislike law enforcement, considering she was the chief law enforcement officer for the state of California. There’s no evidence she was trying to pull a Louis DeJoy and destroy the institution from the inside. Kamala The Cop Who Hates Cops is a conservative fairy tale centered around Harris believing cops shouldn’t freely execute Black people.

    Harris’s policy positions are also objectively pro-military, but why are we even fact-checking this garbage? Conservatives are trying to push this particular narrative after having gleefully supported the insurrectionist in chief, whose actual demonstrated contempt for the armed forces was front page news last year.

    Charlie Kirk tweeted:

    Kamala Harris doesn’t salute members of the military as she gets on Air Force Two, breaking with a customary tradition of respect Remember when she and Joe Biden tried to sell the lie that *Trump* was the one who didn’t respect the troops?

    Harris and President Joe Biden didn’t run on a “the other guy hates the troops” platform, because the GOP has patented that technique. Nor did they Jedi mind trick the previous White House occupant into dismissing dead US soldiers as “losers” and openly mocking the late Senator John McCain’s service during Vietnam, when President Bone Spurs was bravely fighting STDs.

    The one-term loser also overruled military officials and pardoned war criminals (yes, the military is actually against that!), but seriously, we promised we weren’t going to fact check all this. You know it’s bullshit.

    Fordham doesn’t bother speaking to anyone from the actual military, just rightwing hacks, so her hit piece misses the critical detail that Harris is not required to salute anyone. As US Naval War College professor Tom Nichols noted, the vice president is a civilian position outside the chain of command.

    The Commander in Chief returns salutes as a matter of courtesy (a practice started by Reagan), but the VP is a civilian who is not in the chain of command. It would be incorrect for her to salute anyone, and @FoxNews knows this. If other VPs did it, it was incorrect.

    […]

    Link

  236. says

    More than 40 states say they will meet or beat Biden’s May 1 deadline for vaccine eligibility for all adults.

    The push to get Americans vaccinated has picked up momentum in recent days. Governors and public health officials in more than 40 states have said they will meet or beat President Biden’s goal of making every adult eligible for a vaccine by May 1, and at least 30 states plan to start universal eligibility in March or April.

    “Everybody in the state vaccinated, that ought to be our goal,” said Gov. Jim Justice of West Virginia, one of five states where everyone 16 and older is already eligible. “I know we’re not going to be able to attain that goal, but we’re going to absolutely be close and that’s what we need to continue to do.”

    This week alone, officials in seven states have announced dates for universal eligibility. In Arizona, everyone 16 and older became eligible this week at state-run sites. In Tennessee, universal eligibility was set for April 5. In New Jersey, officials said they expected to meet Mr. Biden’s May 1 goal.

    On Tuesday, Texas, Indiana and Georgia announced universal eligibility dates for late March. Officials in some other states, including Alabama and Minnesota, have said they expect to meet the president’s May deadline, but have not given exact dates for the eligibility expansions.

    Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York has not yet laid out a timeline for opening vaccine eligibility to all adults, saying Wednesday he instead preferred to gradually lower the age threshold for vaccination based on the supply of vaccines made available by the federal government.

    As of Tuesday, all people 50 and over can receive the vaccine in New York, in addition to teachers, some essential workers and people with some medical conditions that make them more susceptible to serious illness from the virus. […]

    New York Times link

  237. says

    McConnell spiraling into hysteria over potential loss of his Jim Crow filibuster

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is freaking the hell out about the potential of losing all his clout as the end of the filibuster looms. He’s gone well beyond his trademark troll-like hypocrisy, and has just become hysterical—in both senses of the word. On the one hand he’s threatening “nuclear winter,” on the other he’s creating such ridiculous ahistorical fictions that his staff has to clean up after him.

    He really said that “nuclear winter” part. In a podcast interview Tuesday, McConnell let the threats fly. “If they turn the Senate into a simple majority body, the Senate is lost,” he said in a conservative podcast interview. “These folks are not interested in compromise, they’re interested in passing all of their bills to remake America.” He got that part right, anyway. “It may not be the panacea that they anticipate it would be, it could turn the Senate into sort of a nuclear winter, where the aftermath of the so-called nuclear option is not a sustainable place,” McConnell threatened. We’ve gone from “scorched earth” to nuclear winter in a week’s time with this guy. Democrats continue to refuse to blink as he spins himself into a frenzy over the idea that he’s about to lose his filibuster, that relic of Jim Crow he’s been using to keep Democrats from remaking America for well over a decade.

    He inadvertently made that very clear Tuesday when he let slip this ridiculous bit of historical revisionism: the filibuster, he said, has “no racial history at all. None. There’s no dispute among historians.” Historians immediately took to Twitter to dispute that.

    Dr. Kevin Kruse had 100 years of headlines at his fingertips in a tweet thread of filibusters against anti-lynching bills and civil rights bills, adding the caveat at the end: “I should stress this isn’t remotely an exhaustive list—I did it quickly and I didn’t repeat years in which there were multiple filibusters on different civil rights issues.” Dr. Joanne Freeman pointed out that the Senate’s own website on the history of the Civil Right’s Act of 1964 which begins “The longest continuous debate in Senate history took place in 1964 over the Civil Rights Act.” The whole piece is centered on the efforts of southern senators to kill the bill. “On March 9, when Mansfield moved to take up the measure, southern senators launched a filibuster against the bill. The Senate debated the bill for sixty days, including seven Saturdays.”

    That gaffe required an immediate clean-up on aisle Mitch from his staff. What he meant, his press secretary said the “origins” of the filibuster weren’t racist, citing this sentence from a PolitiFact article: “Historians told PolitiFact that the filibuster did not emerge from debates over slavery or segregation.” Fine, but then here’s the very next sentence in that article: “However, they agreed that the parliamentary tactic was closely affiliated with opposition to civil rights for more than a century.” Then they quote one. “‘The histories of the filibuster, civil and voting rights, and race in America are intertwined,’ said Steven S. Smith, a political scientist and Senate specialist at Washington University in St. Louis.'” […]

    This all has McConnell so addled, he’s creating messes all over the place for his staff. On Fox News Wednesday morning, he said “I don’t believe I’ve spoken with [Biden] since he was sworn in.” It took reporters about 10 minutes to find statements from him like this one on February 2: “The president called me on two things: Burma was one of them. The other… [was] the budget process and covid relief.” Which brought out McConnell’s staff again to say, yes he did speak with Biden on Burma.

    McConnell’s increasingly frenetic rhetoric isn’t just failing to sway Democrats. It’s backfiring. Last week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer brushed off McConnell’s “scorched earth” rhetoric as a “blustery threat.” […]

    McConnell’s doing himself no favors by trying to stop the inevitable end of the filibuster with threats and lies. He’s making it harder every day for Democrats who are queasy about getting rid of the filibuster to end up on his side. Like independent Sen. Angus King, who writes in the Washington Post, “All-out opposition to reasonable voting rights protections cannot be enabled by the filibuster; if forced to choose between a Senate rule and democracy itself, I know where I will come down.”

    McConnell is addlepated.

  238. lumipuna says

    From The Guardian’s live coronavirus news:

    The Finnish government on Wednesday proposed locking down residents of five cities, including the capital Helsinki, and only allowing people to leave their homes for limited reasons, to curb rising coronavirus infections and hospitalisations.

    Reuters reports that the lockdown, which would be the first time Finland confines people to their homes during the Covid-19 pandemic, is subject to a parliamentary vote and assessment by the constitutional law committee.

    In the draft legislation published on Wednesday evening, the government said the lockdown would mean people would only be allowed to leave their home for a predetermined purpose such as buying food or traveling to a second home. Disobeying the restrictions would result in a fine.

    [“Five cities” refers to four municipalities in Helsinki metropolitan area, plus the southwestern city of Turku]

    This whole thing is kind of weird and ass-backwards, and its practical effect won’t be nearly as dramatic as implied above. There’s lots of Finnish media hype and public confusion on this, while the legal proceedings are glacially slow in response to a recent surge of infections.

    Basically, the government is seeking to restrict private gatherings, especially indoors but also outdoors. For this end, they drafted an emergency bill that technically forbids people from leaving their homes for the purpose of meeting friends, or any other purpose not specifically exempted. The list of exemptions is long (and the details are still being ironed out) and covers most activities people normally engage in outside of home. Also, it will be nearly unenforceable, as you don’t need any particular proof to assure the police that you’re out on necessary errands, in the unlikely case they will actually have time to question your comings and goings.

    In this model, almost any outdoor activity can be billed as necessary outdoor recreation, and gatherings of three will be permitted (with safe distances) during such recreation. The police can mainly just disperse any larger groups of people they find hanging out in public places, and act when people snitch on someone having a house party.

    Oh, and non-essential businesses will apparently not be ordered closed. It just seems people would be technically forbidden from visiting them. I honestly hope there will be some clarity on these kind of details as the bill proceeds through the system.

    I can almost believe they made this thing deliberately provocative and confusing just to raise everyone’s attention to the ongoing coronavirus emergency.

  239. says

    Rachel Maddow’s opening segment last night was excellent, so for some reason MSNBC decided to clip out just the last 6 minutes to make available to the public.

    Raw Story – “Maddow explains exactly why John Cornyn is fighting new DOJ nominee — and it has nothing to do with qualifications”:

    MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow speculated of Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) is leading the charge against a key Justice Department nominee because she humiliated him.

    Wednesday, Maddow recalled the extensive corruption of Texas cop Tom Coleman who arrested four dozen people claiming that he did an undercover operation and busted them for cocaine. An overwhelming number of those arrested were Black. There was no evidence, no recording of the alleged drug sales, no proof whatsoever. Still, the court believed his testimony over that of the individuals charged. Most were convicted and some were given sentences over 100 years.

    The officer, in that case, was an N-word-spouting racist honored with a police award as Lawman of the Year from then-Attorney General John Cornyn.

    Civil Rights attorney Vanita Gupta took on their case, and by 2003, all of the people charged were released and the cop was charged with perjury and a slew of other charges.

    “Who do you think is the Republican senator who is leading the charge against V[a]nita Gupta. Merrick Garland doesn’t have any of his top people at the Justice Department. Vanita Gupta is going to be the No. 3 at the Justice Department and she’s not there yet. Why is that? There’s a Republican senator taking point on this. Leading the charge to try to keep her from being confirmed. Who is that? It’s a senator from Texas. He used to be attorney general of the state of Texas. It’s Texas Sen. John Cornyn, who when he was attorney general of the state of Texas, is the guy who gave Officer Tom Coleman the Texas lawman of the year award for his great work in Tulia, Texas. Before V[a]nita Gupta came in and exposed who that guy actually was before he was convicted of perjury.”

    “I wonder, I just wonder if Sen. John Cornyn might be at all embarrassed about this and about the young lawyer who came to Texas and exposed this thing, this terrible and cartoonishly evil thing that he had helped along, that he had celebrated, that he had given an award to,” Maddow said. “It is now Sen. John Cornyn leading the charge against V[a]nita Gupta to be the number three official at the Justice Department. Even because all the law enforcement operations endorsing her. The Judiciary Committee is due to vote tomorrow. Republicans led by John Cornyn have been demanding that she actually needs to come back and do her confirmation hearings over a second time. That’s not going to happen.”…

    (There’s a slightly longer clip in their story.)

  240. says

    Guardian – “‘Saddest March of our lives’: Brazilians lament Covid devastation as critics decry Bolsonaro”:

    …From the start of Brazil’s Covid epidemic last February, Bolsonaro busied himself trivializing its dangers, shunning face masks, sabotaging social distancing and urging citizens to reject lockdown. In less than a year he has forced three health ministers from power, two for questioning his championing of bogus treatments such as the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine.

    The consequences, say critics, have been deadly. On 24 March 2020, with Brazil’s Covid death toll at 46, Bolsonaro claimed the pandemic was being exaggerated “and soon it will pass”. On Wednesday, exactly a year later, the number of fatalities surpassed 300,000 after a record 3,000 lives were lost for the first time in a single day. Only the US, governed until January by Bolsonaro’s rightwing inspiration, Donald Trump, has suffered greater losses, with scant sign of Brazil’s outbreak being brought under control.

    “We are adrift,” said [Dr. Pedro] Carvalho, who has a front-row seat to the tragedy at his ICU in the north-eastern state of Pernambuco, where all beds are now full. “What we are witnessing is the politics of death.”

    Carvalho said he felt a mix of dejection and disgust as he reflected on Bolsonaro’s role in a calamity now steaming into its deadliest phase because of a months-long collapse of containment measures and the more contagious P1 variant linked to the Brazilian Amazon.

    “I don’t expect things to improve, not for now at least,” he said, pointing to the country’s faltering vaccination efforts. “As a health professional, I wish … I could tell people: ‘Hang on people, we’ll get through this.’ But I just don’t see it. I can’t offer people words of encouragement any more.”

    Carvalho is not alone in his pessimism, with some Brazilians so crestfallen they have begun draping black cloths from their windows to mourn victims and demand Bolsonaro’s impeachment.

    “We are having the saddest March of our lives,” said Margareth Dalcolmo, a Rio-based professor whose straight-talking Covid media appearances have made her a South American equivalent to England’s chief medical officer, Chris Whitty.

    Dalcolmo, a sparkly 65-year-old pulmonologist, said she made a daily effort to remain positive despite the deepening gloom. “There’s a Brazilian author called Guimarães Rosa and he wrote the most beautiful thing: ‘Such is life: it becomes warm and then cools, it tightens then loosens, it settles and then jolts. What it asks of us is courage.’”

    But after 13 months in which she had lost patients and friends, and fallen ill herself, staying upbeat was a challenge. “I used to joke that we’ll finish this epidemic with more scars than skin,” she said, remembering one friend, a celebrated surgeon called Ricardo Cruz, who died in December. “He was wonderful human being, a wonderful doctor, a very dear friend,” Dalcolmo said. “The price in human life, the mourning, is something that will never be recovered – never.”

    Dalcolmo said Brazil should have been well positioned to counter Covid, thanks to its NHS-inspired health service, SUS, the largest in the world, and an immunisation programme capable of delivering over a million shots a day. But the government failed to buy sufficient vaccines and bamboozled the population by denying science and pushing unproven remedies. The future looked bleak. When historians look back on Brazil’s epidemic, “they will write a sad story”, Dalcolmo predicted, “and even with some components, I would say, of villainy, you know?”…

  241. says

    Guardian – “Alexei Navalny says health has sharply deteriorated in jail”:

    Alexei Navalny has complained of a “sharp deterioration” in his health in prison and has been blocked from meeting lawyers, a senior aide to the Russian opposition leader has said.

    Navalny has reported “serious back pain” and numbness in one of his legs that has left him unable to stand on it, Leonid Volkov said on Wednesday.

    Navalny’s lawyers said they had been blocked from meeting him on Wednesday and they suspected that he was in an infirmary in the IK-2 prison colony in the Vladimir region.

    “We don’t understand where Alexei Navalny is or why he is being hidden from his lawyers,” they said, adding that they suspected the prison administration was trying to cover up his possible hospitalisation.

    The IK-2 prison is notoriously strict and said to excel at isolating inmates from the outside world.

    Navalny’s supporters have said they fear for his life….

  242. says

    From yesterday’s DN! headlines:

    Calls Mount for Democrats to Enact Gun Control Reform in Wake of Boulder Massacre

    Calls are mounting to rapidly enact meaningful gun control reform after the second tragic mass shooting in under a week. The 10 victims of the massacre at a King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colorado, have now been identified as Denny Stong, Neven Stanisic, Rikki Olds, Tralona Bartkowiak, Suzanne Fountain, Teri Leiker, Kevin Mahoney, Lynn Murray, Jody Waters and officer Eric Talley, who was one of the police officers who responded to the shooting. The suspect, 21-year-old Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa has been charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and one charge of attempted murder. Police say he purchased an AR-556 pistol less than a week before Monday’s massacre. Family members say they believe Alissa suffered from mental illness, including severe paranoia. President Biden called on Congress Tuesday to pass new restrictions on gun laws.

    The White House also said executive action on guns was being considered. Meanwhile, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on reducing gun violence.

    The mass shootings in Atlanta and Boulder are also prompting even louder calls for Democrats to end the filibuster as Republicans are expected to block passage of any significant gun control reform.

    Military Crackdown on Anti-Coup Protests in Burma Claims Life of 7-Year-Old Girl

    In Burma, a 7-year-old girl was fatally shot by security forces, becoming the youngest known victim of the deadly crackdown on protests since the February 1 military coup. Her father was reportedly the target of a raid, and the young child was killed at home, sitting in his lap. Save the Children says over 20 children have been killed in the crackdown. Protesters launched a “silent strike” today in an effort to shut down towns and cities across Burma. On Monday, the European Union and the U.S. imposed sanctions on individuals and groups tied to the coup. Some rights groups say the sanctions don’t go far enough and should target all of the military junta’s economic interests.

    One-Quarter of Civilians Killed in Yemen from 2018-2020 Were Children

    In Yemen, a new study by Save the Children has found that children made up at least a quarter of civilian deaths killed in the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led war between 2018 and 2020. The group says at least 2,300 children were killed during that time, though the true death toll is likely much higher. Earlier this month, the World Food Programme warned Yemen is headed toward the biggest famine in modern history, projecting around 400,000 Yemeni children under the age of 5 could die from acute malnutrition this year as the Saudi war and blockade continues.

    Indigenous Environmental Activist Juan Carlos Cerros Escalante Shot Dead in Honduras

    In Honduras, another Indigenous Lenca environmental activist has been assassinated. Forty-one-year-old Juan Carlos Cerros Escalante, who was fighting against a hydroelectric dam in northwestern Honduras, was reportedly shot to death in front of his children. At least 12 environmental activists and land and water defenders were killed in Honduras last year. Violence has skyrocketed in the country since the U.S.-backed 2009 coup and under President Juan Orlando Hernández, a key U.S. ally.

    Guatemalan Indigenous Leaders Seek U.S. Asylum, Demand Justice for Water & Land Defenders Back Home

    In Texas, two Indigenous leaders — who were forced to flee Guatemala in 2019 — are denouncing the ongoing violence against Indigenous land and water defenders, and demanding justice for Indigenous political prisoners and assassinated leaders. Gaspar Cobo and Francisco Chávez are now seeking asylum in the United States. They were stuck in the border city of Juárez for over a year under Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy and were ultimately allowed to enter the U.S. after receiving death threats from a local drug cartel. The two were recently released from an ICE prison in El Paso and held a virtual press conference.

    Gaspar Cobo: “We are not in the United States because we are searching for better living opportunities. We are here by force. The best opportunities should be in our communities. And these opportunities do exist in Guatemala, but, sadly, we are unable to live there because Guatemala is a failed state.”

    Chávez is a survivor of a 1982 massacre orchestrated by U.S.-backed Guatemalan army officials and was a key eyewitness in the genocide case against dictator Efraín Ríos Montt. Cobo has long advocated for survivors of the genocide….

  243. says

    Here’s a link to the March 25 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    Germany reports significant jump in infection rates

    Germany has seen an overnight jump in infection rates, with 22,657 new cases reported by the country’s disease control agency over the last 24 hours – a week-on-week rise of 5,000 and the highest daily rate since the second week of January.

    Infection rates in Germany remain below the EU average but are now higher than in the United States for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

    Signs of an accelerating third wave come a day after Angela Merkel U-turned on plans for a strict Easter lockdown, originally designed as a bulwark against what the chancellor called “a new pandemic” driven by the B117 variant, following pressure from business and industry.

    Frustration with the slow rollout of the vaccine remains high, with newspaper Tagesspiegel reporting that 100,000 doses of the AstraZeneca jab remain in storage in Berlin after people failed to take up their appointments.

    As of Thursday, Germany has vaccinated 9.8% of its population. On Thursday morning, Merkel defended her government’s decision to procure coronavirus vaccines jointly with other EU member states, Reuters reports.

    Speaking to German lawmakers ahead of the EU summit, Merkel said:

    Despite all the complaints, it was right to rely on the joint procurement and approval of vaccines by the European Union,” she told German lawmakers ahead of an EU summit.

    Now that we see even small differences in the distribution of vaccines cause big discussions, I would not like to imagine if some member states had vaccines and others did not. That would shake the internal market to its core.

  244. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Andrew Cuomo set up friends and family members with scarce coronavirus tests when most New Yorkers did not have access to them in the early days of the pandemic, according to multiple reports.

    In March 2020, the New York governor provided tests – and in some cases repeated rounds of testing – to his brother, the CNN anchor Chris Cuomo; to a sister; to their mother; to multiple top government officials and their spouses; to state legislators and staffers; and to other friends of the administration, the Albany Times Union first reported.

  245. says

    Remember when several corporations responded to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by suspending their political contributions? CNBC reported this week, “Fundraisers for individual candidates running for reelection in Senate and House races — along with those raising cash for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee — have reached out to corporations, encouraging them to remove their restrictions and resume contributing.”

    Link

  246. says

    Why the prospects for an ‘enormous’ infrastructure bill are improving

    The Democrats’ next major challenge is a jobs and infrastructure package. Ironically, the more Republicans reject it, the better its odds of success.

    […] The White House’s infrastructure blueprint — known as the “Build Back Better Recovery Plan” — is a sweeping $3 trillion package that would invest in all kinds of priorities, from infrastructure to climate, education to rural broadband, electrical grids to 5G telecommunications.

    There’s no shortage of questions about the road ahead, but let’s start with the one that tends to dominate Capitol Hill thinking in 2021: What does Joe Manchin think? As NBC News reported yesterday, the conservative West Virginia Democrat appears to be an enthusiastic proponent of the idea.

    […] The second question is more practical: Should the plan be paid for, and if so, how? On this front, there appears to be broad agreement among Democrats that at least some of the infrastructure plan should be paid for, and to that end, the party is eyeing significant rollbacks to Donald Trump’s 2017 regressive tax package. At the top of the list is an increase to the corporate tax rate, which Republicans slashed four years ago.

    Manchin, incidentally, is on board with this approach, too.

    And finally, there’s the tactical question: How would such a package pass? As regular readers know, Democrats can use the budget reconciliation process to circumvent a filibuster twice this year. They used it once to pass the American Rescue Plan, and party leaders have long planned to use it again to approve an infrastructure plan.

    It’s at this point that the larger strategic story gets a little complicated. The White House initially envisioned a two-part process: one for a bipartisan bill filled with popular measures that enjoy broad support, and then another with more progressive and ambitious goals that would never receive GOP backing.

    Reconciliation would be used for the latter, and it wouldn’t be necessary for the former.

    Republicans have already said they have no intention of cooperating with such an approach. […]

    The Republican position is that the Democratic plan is too big, shouldn’t be divided into parts, and can’t be paid for through significant tax increases on big corporations and the wealthy.

    […] To be sure, the process is just getting underway in earnest, and it’s likely to experience plenty of twists and turns. But at this point, GOP senators are effectively telling Democrats that if they want to pursue an ambitious infrastructure plan, they shouldn’t look to Republicans to play a constructive role in the process.

    The result is a dynamic in which the budget reconciliation process will almost certainly be necessary. Manchin and Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) have previously said they don’t want to use the tactic on an infrastructure bill, but as things stand, GOP senators don’t intend to give Democrats much of a choice.

  247. says

    Unemployment claims improve, drop below major threshold

    At no point over the course of the last year did the weekly total of first-time unemployment claims drop below 700,000 – until today.

    […] CNBC reported this morning:

    First-time claims for unemployment insurance unexpectedly fell sharply last week amid signs that hiring has picked up in the U.S. economy, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Claims totaled 684,000 for the week ended March 20, the first time the number has been below 700,000 during the Covid-19 era. The level was a substantial decline from the 781,000 from a week earlier.

    There’s no denying the fact that this is encouraging data. It was exactly one year ago this week when jobless claims first spiked in response to the COVID-19 crisis, climbing to over 3 million. That weekly total soon after reached nearly 7 million.

    Eventually, there were gradual and painfully slow improvements, but at no point over the course of the last year did the weekly total of first-time unemployment claims drop below 700,000. Today’s report, however, showed the United States finally crossing that nagging threshold. It suggests relief efforts are having their intended effect, and the economy is starting to recover.

    But let’s also not lose sight of the larger context: a report pointing to 684,000 jobless claims isn’t exactly good news in its own terms. For unemployment filings, the single worst point of the Great Recession came in the spring of 2009 — coincidentally, 12 years ago next week. At that point, there were 665,000 jobless claims filed, and much of the country felt as if the economy had been hit by a truck.

    More than a decade later, we haven’t quite improved to that level yet. In fact, this is the 53rd consecutive week in which the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits was worse than at any time during the Great Recession.

    Indeed, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen testified before the House Financial Services Committee this week and reminded lawmakers that while 2021 is likely to be a good year for the economy, there’s still a long way to go.

    There’s nothing wrong with taking a moment to feel good about a step toward progress, so long as we remember that there are plenty of additional steps yet to take.

  248. says

    As momentum shifts, the filibuster rule is running out of friends

    Every time Senate reformers pick up a new Senate ally, Mitch McConnell’s anxiety level seems to reach a new level.

    […] Republican abuses [of the filibuster] became even more common, and the Senate stopped functioning as a meaningful governing institution, many of the Democratic signatories to that 2017 joint statement started rethinking their position. In recent months, for example, Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) have all changed their minds about the chamber’s status quo.

    They were joined yesterday by Sen. Angus King of Maine — an independent who caucuses with Democrats — who made his case in an interesting op-ed. He seemed especially interested in the issue of voting rights.

    I should mention that I believe voting rights are a special case that we must address in light of the nakedly partisan voter-suppression legislation pending in many states. All-out opposition to reasonable voting rights protections cannot be enabled by the filibuster; if forced to choose between a Senate rule and democracy itself, I know where I will come down.

    More broadly, King added that ongoing filibuster abuses make it “harder and harder to justify” the rule’s existence. […]

    This comes on the heels of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), a longtime reform skeptic and another signatory to the 2017 letter, also opened the door. “I don’t want to turn away from Senate traditions,” Feinstein said last week, “but I also don’t believe one party should be able to prevent votes on important bills by abusing the filibuster.”

    […] Some are on board with scrapping the filibuster altogether; others are eyeing more modest reforms of the institution’s rules.

    But they all agree on the underlying point: the status quo is untenable.

    As for the White House, President Joe Biden last week offered public support for a proposed reform to the filibuster rules, and Axios reported today, “People close to Biden tell us he’s feeling bullish on what he can accomplish, and is fully prepared to support the dashing of the Senate’s filibuster rule to allow Democrats to pass voting rights and other trophy legislation for his party.”

    As the obstructionist tool runs out of Democratic friends, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) appears increasingly rattled by reformers’ momentum […]

  249. says

    TPM – “Oath Keepers Leader Spoke On Phone With Capitol Rioter During Attack, Feds Allege”:

    Federal prosecutors on Wednesday released more communications tying the leader of the national Oath Keepers militia group to alleged Capitol rioters.

    Stewart Rhodes, the Oath Keepers founder, has said that he didn’t enter the Capitol during the Jan. 6 attack and that he gave no orders for others to do so.

    But prosecutors clearly have Rhodes in their sights. Referring to him as “Person 1,” the government has repeatedly cited Rhodes’ call for Oath Keepers to descend on Washington, D.C. in the days prior to the attack, and recently released communications showing he was allegedly in touch with rioters and even directed them to the south side of the Capitol building during the attack, where he allegedly reported that people were “pounding on doors.”

    On Thursday, responding to a motion from Oath Keeper Jessica Watkins asking a judge to reconsider her detention, prosecutors detailed more alleged communications between Rhodes and Oath Keepers who they say took part in the attack.

    According to the filing, Rhodes exchanged a 97-second phone call at around 2:32 p.m. with Kelly Meggs, one of the Oath Keepers who prosecutors say participated in a “stack” formation that surged toward the Capitol doors as rioters tried to force their way inside.

    Prosecutors say Rhodes was in a Signal chat group that included Meggs, as well as other defendants in the Capitol attack case including Watkins and Roberto Minuta and Joshua James.

    Six minutes after the alleged call between Rhodes and Meggs, an unidentified individual in the chat referenced a so-called “quick reaction force” that’s come up in court filings before: an alleged group of people outside of D.C., awaiting orders to assist in the attack.

    “QRF standing by at hotel. Just said the word …” the message allegedly read.

    Minutes later, according to prosecutors, Rhodes sent the message about people pounding on doors at the south side of the Capitol. At around the same time, the “stack” of Oath Keepers forcibly entered the Capitol.

    The filing includes more of Rhodes’ alleged communications to the chat group, including the message, as rioters battled police in the Capitol, that “Trump better do his damn duty.”

    At 5:50 p.m., Rhodes messaged the group encouraging leaders to make sure they knew the location of their “team members.”

    Just under two hours later, according to prosecutors, the Oath keepers leader sent a message comparing the attack to the 18th century Tea Party, though he said the current situation was “more deadly”:…

    Very interesting quote atl.

  250. says

    Texas AG Conceals Messages He Sent During Pro-Trump Rally And Insurrection

    Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who led the effort to get the Supreme Court to overturn the 2020 election for […] Donald Trump, is refusing to give the media the texts and emails he sent and received on Jan 6., the day he spoke at the D.C. Trump rally that led to the Capitol insurrection, according to the Houston Chronicle.

    The attorney general’s office has also rejected the Chronicle’s and Dallas Morning News’ requests for his messages from Jan. 5 to Jan. 11., claiming that they were confidential attorney-client communications.

    The Chronicle reports that it is now coordinating with the Dallas Morning News, the San Antonio Express-News, the Austin American-Statesman, ProPublica and the Texas Tribune to get ahold of the records.

    Paxton’s lack of transparency raises questions surrounding his involvement in a rally heralding a cause that inspired a violent mob of Trump supporters to attack the Capitol. Besides withholding his communications regarding the event, the attorney general has refused to disclose who paid for his trip to D.C. and whether he spent taxpayer funds on it.

    His troubles doesn’t end there: Paxton was also indicted in 2015 for alleged securities fraud, and several of his top aides have accused him of “improper influence, abuse of office, bribery and other potential criminal offenses.”

    The embattled attorney general has denied that his sweeping Supreme Court lawsuit that sought to throw out millions of votes in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Wisconsin and Michigan-the states that went to Joe Biden-was a corrupt bid to get a pardon from Trump.

  251. says

    Follow-up to comment 308.

    Comments posted by readers of the TPM article:

    “Power does not corrupt. Fear corrupts… perhaps the fear of a loss of power.” John Steinbeck
    ———————-
    Hmm. A Texas Attorney General with overt criminal tendencies.
    Lemme guess, Paxton is a Rethugliklan?
    ———————
    If this is a government-issued phone, he hasn’t the right to do this. Lock it.

    Not to mention, does he really think there aren’t other ways to find these text messages? C’mon, everything can be found. He can make it easy or he can make it hard, but those messages are gonna be found. Period.
    ———————
    current GOP pols: from towns and cities to the highest positions in the national government, want power with zero responsibility.
    ————————-
    Attorney/client privilege, my ass!!! He wasn’t [Trump’s] attorney.
    ———————–
    Being indicted once wasn’t enough for Ken Paxton.
    ——————
    He’s claiming he does not have to turn over the messages based on attorney-client privilege? He’s the AG of Texas! His clients are the people of Texas, and they are entitled to those messages because he was working for them.
    ———————
    The fact that he is still in office while facing these serious allegations just blows my mind. I guess Greg Abbott is A-OK with it.

    However, to me this is unimaginable. Under indictment for six years!!?? Still in Office!!??
    ———————-
    Hopefully the feds will be very interested in his “consciousness of guilt” actions in trying to hide his Jan 6 messages.

  252. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 295.

    Posted by a reader at TPM:

    Yes I watched it last night. It was one of those pieces that Rachel and her team does so well.

    While watching it last night I kept having to remind myself that this event happened in the early 2000s, and not the 1950s.

    And the more I sat and thought about it after the show it was like, who could have thought this up? That a town that small could have had that many residents dealing and using. That the “undercover” officer in the 2000s didn’t have to have tapes, video, any proof than his word that what he was alleging and then testifying to was solely on his word alone.

    Emphasis mine.

  253. says

    ‘Most qualified person to do it’: Biden says Harris to lead diplomatic work with Central America

    President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that Vice President Kamala Harris will lead the Biden administration’s diplomatic work with Central America, focusing on efforts “to bolster the region’s economy in the hopes of reducing the violence and poverty that often drive families in those countries to seek refuge in the United States,” The New York Times reports.

    Harris has a history of advocating for immigrant rights from her statewide offices, as both California attorney general and then U.S. senator. “I asked her, the VP, today, because she’s the most qualified person to do it,” President Biden said […]

    Vice President Harris has been tasked in the role as the Biden administration is facing a humanitarian challenge in caring for unaccompanied children arriving to the U.S. in search of safety and protection. Children over several years have been forced from their homes and communities by gang violence and poverty—indeed, a UNICEF report warned policymakers in 2016 that ”there is no sign this trend is letting up.”

    While there are no extensive details as of yet, Harris will reportedly lead efforts to address root causes that force kids and families to flee their homes. NPR reports the Biden administration “has asked Congress for $4 billion in aid over four years for Northern Triangle countries—aid that primarily will go to communities and international organizations rather than governments because of concerns about corruption.” […]

  254. says

    Wonkette: “Hospital Chief Quitfired After Vaccinating Chicago Trump Tower Staff Instead Of Poors”

    The chief operating officer of a Chicago hospital has shitcanned himself after creating a huge scandal by offering coronavirus vaccinations to all sorts of people working in businesses that happen to be in his personal orbit, instead of to people in the communities the hospital serves. In one of those stories that leaves you exclaiming “Holy shit!” with each new paragraph, Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold summarizes the outrageous fuckery, which was first uncovered by Chicago nonprofit journalism outfit Block Club Chicago. Excellent community muckraking!

    Anosh Ahmed, COO of Loretto Hospital, which serves Chicago’s West and South sides, stepped down yesterday[…] following a weeks-long saga of horribleness that started when staff at Trump Tower Chicago were given vaccinations on March 10 and 11, even though that was well ahead of hotel workers’ eligibility to receive the vaccine. A Trump Tower spokesperson told Block Club Chicago the vaccines were part of the “Protect Chicago Plus campaign,” although oopsies, the Chicago Department of Public Health said it wasn’t aware of any approved vaccination events at Trump Tower.

    Instead, the Protect Chicago Plus vaccines were supposed to go to residents in “15 community areas on the city’s South and West sides hit hard by COVID-19. The Downtown area, where Trump Tower is located, is not among them.”

    It’s no doubt all just a big misunderstanding, and totally unrelated to the coincidental detail that Mr. Ahmed owns a $2.7 million luxury condo in the Trump palace of gaudy excess.

    But wait, there’s more! We’ll go with Fahrenthold’s summary here and there, for conciseness:

    In addition, the hospital offered vaccines to county judges and congregants at Loretto Hospital CEO George Miller’s church. A hospital spokeswoman said only eligible congregants were given vaccines.

    Well that makes it perfectly fine, then, because we bet that church is in one of the very neighborhoods the vaccines were supposed to go. What’s that? The church was in the suburbs instead? 17 miles from Loretto Hospital? Oh dear, that seems bad too.

    And then there’s Ahmed’s favorite luxury watch shop, which also seems not to have been targeted by the health authorities. […]

    Loretto Hospital also held a March 3 vaccination event at a Gold Coast shop called Geneva Seal, which sells jewelry and designer watches worth $20,000 — and more. Ahmed is a frequent customer there and has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars at the shop, a source said.

    The shop at 112 E. Oak St. is far from Loretto Hospital — and the vaccinations were offered to ineligible people who own and work at the high-end boutiques along the Gold Coast, as well as their family and friends, sources said.

    Block Club Chicago notes that a woman who was invited to the event (she knew an employee at a Gold Coast shop) said that people attending the vaccination clinic at the watch shop were told to just list Geneva Seal’s address instead of their home addresses.[…]

    Fahrenthold says that after that report came out, “the hospital’s board met but decided not to terminate Ahmed.”

    But the last straw came Wednesday, when yet another report from Block Club Chicago revealed that vaccines went to employees at a pricey steakhouse frequented by Ahmed — the restaurant was yet another Gold Coast business, “Maple & Ash, a trendy, high-end steakhouse at 8 W. Maple St. Reservations at the steakhouse require a $100 deposit, and steaks cost up to $180.” Several sources said the vaccinations were given to “higher-up workers who would’ve been ineligible to be vaccinated,” in early to mid February. One worker at the restaurant said Ahmed dines there weekly. […] At the time restaurant workers weren’t yet “frontline workers” on Chicago’s priority list, to say nothing of restaurant managers.

    Another anonymous tipster who’s “close to Ahmed” but didn’t want to be identified out of fear of retaliation said Ahmed regularly held business meetings at Maple & Ash, and that the tabs for the meals would often run around $1,000. Gee, we can see why he’d want the staff to be safe from the virus! It’s not like he was eating with the scum in the neighborhoods where the vaccines were supposed to go.

    Just about the only good-ish news in this parade of horribles is that as soon as the vaccinations in Trump Tower were reported last week, the supply of vaccines to Loretto Hospital was cut off and the city sought new providers to get the nearby neighborhoods vaccinated.

    “I fear that we’re going to hear more stories. Which is why we pushed pause on giving Loretto new first doses,” [Chicago Mayor Lori] Lightfoot said in a news conference Monday. ‘They’ve got work to do, I think, to rebuild trust in their own community.”

    In another bit of news that brightened our bitter old hearts, we also see that Lightfoot is warning Chicago employers they’ll face $5,000 fines if they retaliate against workers who need time off from work to get vaccinated. Presumably we’re not talking about luxury watch consultants there.

    Oh yes, let’s cap off all this fuckery with one more example, shall we?

    Last week, Block Club Chicago also reported that Ahmed had bragged that he had also vaccinated Eric Trump, the former president’s son. Later, the hospital issued a statement from Ahmed saying that he had only been joking.

    Eric Trump has not responded to requests for comment.

    […]

    Link

  255. says

    I like the way President Biden continues to refer to “Trump” as just “Trump” during his first press conference. Biden doesn’t bother with honorifics like “former President Donald Trump.”

    Biden spent quite a bit of time criticizing Trump for dismantling a lot of the HHS infrastructure that was meant to handle the influx of unaccompanied minors at the southern border.

    Biden also offered examples of the many differences between his approach to immigration and Trump’s cruel approach.

  256. says

    Bits and pieces of news from Biden’s press conference.

    Biden said, regarding immigration: “There’s no easy answer.”

    Biden set a new goal of 200 million vaccine shots in first 100 days, (the nation is on track to meet that goal).

    Biden says he’ll take on the big issues, one by one, and says GOP can join or ‘continue the politics of division’

  257. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    The pandemic is accelerating almost everywhere in France, French health minister Olivier Veran has said.

    He added that three additional regions will be put under lockdown, including the area around the city of Lyon.

    The Paris region and a large part of northern France is already in a third lockdown.

  258. says

    Guardian – “Trump aide concealed work for PR firm and misled court to dodge child support”:

    A top aide to Donald Trump was secretly re-engaged by a leading political strategy firm after being forced to step down after a social media scandal, the Guardian can reveal. The company, Washington-based Teneo, wanted access to top Republicans in the then president’s inner circle, and to conceal his ongoing work.

    Jason Miller – who remains close to Trump, and who today serves as a senior adviser to the former president – also later appears to have misled a Florida court about this employment status, asserting in a sworn statement that he could no longer comply with a court order requiring him to pay child-support payments because of an alleged “major financial setback” and was effectively out of work.

    Miller cited his termination as a reason he could not meet court-mandated payments – even though he had secretly agreed to a new contract with Teneo that meant doing the same work for the same fee.

    Miller resigned as a managing editor of Teneo, the powerhouse corporate advisory firm, on 21 June 2019, after posting a series of obscenity-laced tweets about the Democratic congressman Jerrold Nadler, the chairman of the House judiciary committee.

    “I have parted ways with Teneo by mutual consent and look forward to … my next move,” Miller said in a statement he provided to the New York Times and other news outlets.

    But Miller’s departure from Teneo was a sham. Previously undisclosed confidential records from inside Teneo show that on the same day Miller signed a formal “separation agreement and general release” from Teneo, he signed a new contract with the firm, whereby Teneo agreed to secretly engage Miller as a consultant, through a hastily formed LLC, at the very same base compensation of nearly $500,000 doing the very same work.

    The maneuver adroitly allowed Teneo to let Miller continue working for them, during a time when the largely Democratic firm was eager to develop closer relations with the Trump White House – while also not having to pay the reputational and public relations costs of openly associating with Miller and others in the administration.

    Only three days after his resignation and the signing of his new employment agreement with Teneo for the same base pay, according to state court records in Miami-Dade county, Florida, Miller asked the court to “abate and modify” his support payments and swore he could no longer make his child support payments because the “petitioner’s unemployment is public knowledge”.

    In 2016, when Miller, who was married, was the Trump presidential campaign’s chief spokesperson, he engaged in an extramarital affair with AJ Delgado, a fellow adviser to the campaign, resulting in the two of them having a child together.

    The Florida court records show that Miller made other misleading or false statements under oath in the case of his faux firing in multiple instances. He not only falsely portrayed himself as unemployed, but asserted under oath that he could no longer afford to travel to Florida to attend court hearings related to the case, and asked a trial in the matter be postponed until he could find work. As evidence of his supposed “major financial setback” Miller cited newspaper articles reporting his resignation from the firm.

    Miller’s claims of pecuniary misfortune were effectively fiction – he had never really lost his job or any of his income. In fact, transitioning from one position to the other for Miller arguably created a financial windfall for him. Miller received $90,000 in severance pay from his first position as he transitioned to his new one, the confidential Teneo records indicate, while also not missing a single paycheck from his Teneo work because his new engagement began on the very next day….

    I hope AJ Delgado and her son get every cent.

  259. says

    Ari Berman:

    Breaking: Georgia House passes 95 page GOP voter suppression bill allowing GOP takeover of state/county election boards, unlimited challenges to voter eligibility, restricting drop boxes & making it crime to give voters food & water in line

    Georgia House voter suppression bill includes massively undemocratic power grab giving GOP legislature control of state election board, allowing them to take over county election boards & stripping power from GOP sec of state after he stood up to Trump

    “What I’m worried about is how un-American this whole initiative is” Biden says about GOP voter suppression efforts. “It’s sick. It’s sick”

    He calls out “not giving water to people when they’re in line to vote” referring to Georgia House bill passed today

    While Georgia House GOP bill keeps weekend voting for general election, it eliminates weekend voting for runoffs after @ossoff & @ReverendWarnock won in Jan

    Black voters made up 30% of early voters but 39% of weekend voters during runoff, finds @fairfightaction

    Mitch McConnell yesterday: “states are not engaging in efforts to suppress voters whatsoever”

    Georgia House today: passes 95 page voter suppression bill

  260. tomh says

    Re: #321 Voting Rights

    Manchin Says Any Overhaul of Voting Rights Must Have GOP Support
    Laura Litvan
    Mar 25 2021

    (Bloomberg) — Democratic Senator Joe Manchin said any voting-rights legislation must be bipartisan to be accepted as legitimate by U.S. voters, complicating the path to passing a bill that is a top goal of Democratic leaders but opposed by Republicans….

    “We should not at all attempt to do anything to that will create more distrust and division,” Manchin told reporters on Wednesday. “So I think there’s enough good that we can all come together. That’s what we should work on.”

    How quaint.

  261. says

    tom, @322, not sure it is only “quaint.” It is also disingenuous.

    In other news: Weeping And Gnashing Of Teeth: Mitch Promises Nothing But Apocalyptic Terrors Without Filibuster

    Ever since he failed to strong-arm Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) into promising to keep the filibuster in their power-sharing resolution on January 26, the doomsday prepping Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has been trying to scare Democrats with fire-and-brimstone prophecies threatening to stonewall their entire agenda if they dare to nuke the filibuster — you know, the 60-vote procedure McConnell’s been weaponizing for years to stonewall Democrats’ entire agenda.

    It’s difficult to take people seriously when they threaten to do the thing they’ve already been doing if you take away the tool that allows them to do the thing in the first place. […]

    These are the (definitely brand-new) horrors that Democrats can expect if they don’t let McConnell bully them into letting him be the king of the Senate:

    A Nightmare
    “If the Democratic majority were to attack the filibuster, they would guarantee themselves immediate chaos,” McConnell declared on the day he was forced to accept the power sharing resolution without Schumer giving in to his demand. “This body operates every day, every hour, by consent. And destroying the filibuster would drain comity and consent from this body to a degree that would be unparalleled in living memory.”

    If Democrats got rid of the filibuster, the GOP leader warned, “this body would grind to a halt like we’ve never seen.”

    McConnell went on to list all spooky ways he’d employ to paralyze the Senate, like forcing lengthy roll call votes or refusing to allow Democrats to call a quorum for everyday proceedings, if Democrats nuke the filibuster.

    “Taking that plunge would not be some progressive dream. It would be a nightmare,” he said. “I guarantee it.”

    A Scorched Earth
    “Let me say this very clearly for all 99 of my colleagues: Nobody serving in this chamber can even begin to imagine what a completely scorched-earth Senate would look like,” McConnell warned in another blustery Senate floor speech last week. “None of us have served one minute in a Senate that was completely drained of comity and consent.”

    Then [Mitch] rattled on again about the procedural roadblocks he’d try to force without the filibuster.

    “This chaos would not open up an express lane to liberal change. It would not open up an express lane for the Biden presidency to speed into the history books,” he said. “The Senate would be more like a hundred-car pile-up. Nothing moving.”

    McConnell also preemptively swore revenge in the event Democrats don’t heed his warning.

    Not only would Republicans “erase every liberal change that hurt the country” once they take back the chamber, they would also ram through conservative policies “with zero input from the other side,” a threat McConnell managed to make with a straight face.

    A Nuclear Winter
    “If they turn the Senate into a simple majority body, the Senate is lost,” the Republican leader said during a podcast interview on Tuesday.

    “It may not be the panacea that they anticipate it would be,” he continued. “It could turn the Senate into sort of a nuclear winter, where the aftermath of the so-called nuclear option is not a sustainable place.”

  262. says

    Safety measures at the Capitol:

    The House chamber is currently undergoing renovations that include the addition of bulletproof doors to provide a safe room for lawmakers after the deadly Capitol insurrection earlier this year, Axios reported on Thursday.

    An Axios reporter spotted workers removing doors on one of the double-doored entrances to the gallery one level above the floor of the chamber where some lawmakers huddled during the Capitol attack. According to Axios, workers said the new doors being installed are being fortified with kevlar — a synthetic material used in bulletproof vests and military helmets.

    Workers told Axios that modifications to the the chamber will continue even when the House returns from recess. The House is currently in recess for two more weeks.

    In a post-insurrection review of Capitol security earlier this month, retired Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré recommended in a task force assessment report that the Architect of the Capitol “expedite repair and hardening of vulnerable windows and doors.”

    However, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) spokesperson Drew Hammill told Axios that the addition of bulletproof doors in the chamber was a decision made prior to the Capitol insurrection. […]

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/house-chamber-bulletproof-doors

  263. says

    Experts estimate that Trump’s handling of COVID-19 pandemic cost 400,000 American lives

    From the beginning, it was clear that Donald Trump was handling the COVID-19 pandemic poorly … where “poorly” can be read as any synonym for “in the worst way possible.” Trump disbanded agencies meant to deal with pandemics, ignored the outbreak long after it was a clear threat to the nation, failed to make tests available, failed to provide nation standards for social distancing, failed to create a national system of testing and case management, promoted phony cures, discouraged the use of masks, undercut health officials, and even encouraged his supporters to engage in armed insurrection against governors who were trying to take effective action. And that’s just a select list of ways Trump screwed this thing up, down, and sideways.

    That Trump failed massively was obvious. But while it was nice to fantasize about how much better things might have gone under a President Hillary Clinton, it’s not really been possible to put a number to just how much of the disaster in the U.S. comes down to Trump’s mishandling.

    As Reuters reports, a conference at the Brookings Institute this past week included the introduction of a series of research papers on the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. The conclusion of those researchers: “The United States … could have avoided nearly 400,000 deaths with a more effective health strategy …” And it could have done so while spending billions of dollars less.

    The researchers aren’t actually claiming that Trump is responsible for over 4 out of every 5 deaths, because they’re projecting that 400,000 lives saved against an expected total for the pandemic—which they believe will end up being around 670,000 lives lost. Had Trump taken prompt action, they believe the total would have been under 300,000.

    […] The other major finding of the research is that by not addressing the pandemic quickly and consistently, the end cost is enormously higher in dollars, as well as lives. The American Rescue Plan, recently passed through Congress without Republican help, is just the latest of three massive attempts to stabilize an economy rocked by the pandemic and its secondary effects. The total tab on those attempts is now in excess of $5 trillion.

    Had the scope of the pandemic been reduced at the outset, its price tag in terms of the national debt would have been much lower, and bills like the American Rescue Plan may not have been necessary. If there had been an adequate medical response to the pandemic—say, a national program of testing and case management—that might have been paired with a financial program that paid people who were forced to be away from work in isolation or quarantine. The impact on both individuals and companies might have been reduced, at huge savings.

    Researchers reported that the big spending bills that were produced did what they intended. They shored up incomes, propped up spending, and helped to both buffer the nation against lost jobs and shuttered businesses. But some programs, such as the Payroll Protection Plan, got decidedly mixed reviews. Which isn’t hard to understand, considering the number of issues that have surfaced since the secrecy began to fall away from who got PPP payments. […]

    The other big finding on the economic front wasn’t just that the cost of the reacting to the pandemic was much higher than the cost of getting out in front of COVID-19. The cost of every dollar spent on stimulus was less effective than had that same dollar gone to a project such as improving infrastructure or addressing climate change. The dollars that pass into those programs are expected to generate both more jobs, more spending, and more long term benefits that the checks mailed out as stimulus.

    Which makes it nice that President Biden has made it clear—infrastructure is up next. And it’s getting more than a week.

  264. says

    Haven’t gotten the survival check you were promised? Blame the Trumpers at Social Security Admin.

    […] The reason they can’t get those checks out to some of the millions who aren’t regular tax filers is because they need the Social Security Administration (SSA) to send them the information to do it. And the hold-over Trumpers at the head of the SSA, commissioner Andrew Saul and deputy commissioner David Black, are likely the problem.

    A handful of House Democratic committee chairs including Ways and Means Chair Richard Neal are on the case, demanding immediate action from SSA commissioner Saul to fix this. “We are aware that the IRS asked SSA to start sending payment files two weeks before the American Rescue Plan became law on March 11, 2021,” wrote the chairmen. “As of today, SSA still has not provided the IRS with the payment files that are needed to issue EIPs to these struggling Americans. We demand that you immediately provide the IRS this information by tomorrow, March 25, 2021.”

    […] The IRS relies on SSA for the information of people who are disabled and retired and are non-filers. The SSA and IRS have already been through two rounds of this, so the procedure wasn’t sprung on anybody. On top of that, the IRS gave SSA a two-week notice ahead of the bill being passed and signed essentially to say “get ready, we’re going to need to be on this.”

    Social Security Works, a group that has been advocating for Social Security for years, was not amused. Executive director Alex Lawson slammed SSA’s Saul and Black for the delay in an emailed statement, pointing out the real harm of the delay. “As a result, nearly 30 million seniors and people with disabilities—who are among those hit hardest by COVID—still haven’t received their relief checks,” he wrote. “They are counting on these checks for basic necessities like food and medication.”

    “Saul and Black were appointed by Donald Trump and have been acting as his agents for years,” Lawson continued. “President Biden can’t stand for this any longer. He must protect Social Security beneficiaries by firing Saul and Black immediately.”

    […] Add unnecessarily delaying critical financial help to 30 million of the most vulnerable Americans to the list. These guys have got to go.

  265. says

    Oh, FFS.

    Trump’s secret sit-down with Ohio candidates turns into ‘Hunger Games’

    […] Donald Trump was headlining a fundraiser on Wednesday night at his golf club in West Palm Beach, Fla. But before the dinner began, the former president had some business to take care of: He summoned four Republican Senate candidates vying for Ohio’s open Senate seat for a backroom meeting.

    The contenders — former state Treasurer Josh Mandel, former state GOP Chair Jane Timken, technology company executive Bernie Moreno and investment banker Mike Gibbons — had flown down to attend the fundraiser to benefit a Trump-endorsed Ohio candidate looking to oust one of the 10 House Republicans who backed his impeachment. As the candidates mingled during a pre-dinner cocktail reception, one of the president’s aides signaled to them that Trump wanted to huddle with them in a room just off the lobby.

    What ensued was a 15-minute backroom backbiting session reminiscent of Trump’s reality TV show. Mandel said he was “crushing” Timken in polling. Timken touted her support on the ground thanks to her time as state party chair. Gibbons mentioned how he’d helped Trump’s campaign financially. Moreno noted that his daughter had worked on Trump’s 2020 campaign.

    […] And the former president, as was so often the case during his presidency, has seemed to relish pitting people against one another.

    One person familiar with what transpired in Wednesday evening’s huddle described it as “Hunger Games,” an awkward showdown that none of them were expecting. Making matters even more uncomfortable, this person said, was that the rival candidates sat at a circular table, making it so that each had to face the others.

    Trump kicked off the meeting by asking everyone to tell him about how the race was going. Timken, who was Trump’s handpicked state party chair, was the first to speak. She talked about the early support she’d received and how she’d worked to reelect him.

    Two people familiar with the discussion said that Trump at one point reminded Timken that she’d initially defended Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio) after he’d voted for Trump’s impeachment in January. That evening’s fundraiser was to benefit Max Miller, a former Trump White House aide who was running to unseat Gonzalez, and the former president spoke derisively about the member of Congress throughout the evening, several attendees said.

    Trump is focused on vengeance, as always. And he is focused on loyalty tests. It’s ridiculous.

    Timken, two people said, responded to Trump by saying that she’d “cleaned” up her position, an apparent reference to a later statement she released calling on Gonzalez to resign.

    […] Multiple people familiar with what transpired during the meeting said most of the tension seemed to be between Timken and Mandel, and that it appeared they were trying to outdo one another. Timken and Mandel have already announced their candidacies and are considered the early frontrunners; Gibbons and Moreno have yet to formally launch their campaigns.

    […] Mandel [said]: “Mr. President I only know two ways to do things: either not at all, or balls to the wall. I hired a bunch of killers on my team. I’m a killer, and we’re going to win the primary and then the general.”

    Mandel went in hard during the conversation, saying that he’d endorsed Trump earlier than any of his opponents during the 2016 presidential race and mentioned that he’d been active in raising money for his reelection bid.

    Gibbons spoke about how he’d donated extensively to Trump […]

    Moreno largely stayed out of the fray, though at one point he said that each of the four candidates should earn Trump’s endorsement.

    Over the course of the evening, Trump appeared to be fixated with Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, whom the former president attacked last fall after DeWine called Joe Biden “president-elect” during an appearance on national television.

    […] Later in the evening at the fundraiser, the former president polled the attendees on what they thought of their governor. The question at first drew some confusion, given that the event was taking place in Florida whose Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, has been allied with Trump. It soon became clear, however, that he was referring to DeWine. […]

    Sounds to me like Trump was confused … mean, nasty and confused.

  266. says

    Fox News’s coverage of Biden’s press conference was hilariously petty

    […] “BIDEN SIGNED 37 EO’S BUT HOLDS JUST 1 NEWS CONF,” read the chyron Fox News displayed immediately after the news conference wrapped up.

    Fox News carried Biden’s news conference live, but did so above a series of loaded chyrons that offered viewers alarmist language about policy concerns like Central American immigration. […]

    But the press conference will make it tougher for the network to insinuate that Biden is hiding something. His responses to questions were largely coherent and thorough — undercutting claims Sean Hannity has been making on a nightly basis about Biden hiding because he’s in decline. And so, in a remarkable flip-flop from Hannity’s line, anchor Sandra Smith’s immediate post-news conference spin was to read part of a tweet from Ari Fleischer, former press secretary for President George W. Bush, attacking Biden for being too prepared.

    “Past White House press secretary Ari Fleischer noting the use of notes that the president used throughout that news conference, often referencing them, at times appearing to read directly from them,” Smith said.

    Again, Biden was damned if he came prepared, and damned if he didn’t.

    Biden took about 10 questions, all of them from reporters working for mainstream outlets like CNN and PBS. Conspicuously, he did not take a question from Fox News.

    Unsurprisingly, Fox News made a fuss about this after the press conference. The network displayed a chyron that read, “BIDEN SNUBS FOX NEWS DURING FIRST NEWS CONF,” […]

    Doocy even brandished a binder of questions he didn’t get a chance to ask Biden.

    Doocy has distinguished himself during press secretary Jen Psaki’s daily briefings by asking gotcha-style questions on topics ranging from the national anthem to the Olympics to energy policy to school reopenings. He indicated to anchors during a segment following Biden’s presser that he hoped to ask the president loaded questions about his “big idea to transform the economy, to make it all green” and about “the origins of Covid.”

    There are matters Doocy might have pressed Biden on that don’t involve fearmongering about jobs or xenophobia. Biden is not above reproach. For instance, his response to a growing number of unaccompanied minors crossing the southern border has resulted in some of them being held in overcrowded conditions; some of that detention has been described as “jail-like.”

    On Thursday, a number of reporters did, in fact, press Biden on his handling of this situation. Biden acknowledged that conditions there are “totally unacceptable” and vowed to address it swiftly.

    Fox News hasn’t positioned itself well to tackle these kinds of topics. Unpacking Biden’s comments about immigration or diplomacy with China involves nuance […] Instead, Fox News has devoted time and resources to suggesting the mere fact that the president isn’t in a rush to joust with the likes of Doocy is a scandal in itself. […]

    Video snippets are available at the link.

  267. says

    An important ruling from the Ninth Circuit: “States can prohibit people from openly carrying guns in public, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday, adding a voice to a heated issue that the U.S. Supreme Court may soon address.”

    San Francisco Chronicle link, (requires payment of 99 cents for a 4-week digital subscription.)

  268. says

    Talking Points Memo:

    The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Thursday to advance confirmation of Vanita Gupta, President Biden’s pick for the No. 3 role at the Justice Department, to the Senate floor.

    Good.

  269. says

    NBC News:

    Dr. Rachel Levine’s confirmation to the Department of Health and Human Services by the Senate on Wednesday made her the first openly transgender federal official in the nation’s history.

    Also from NBC News:

    Pledging to put science above politics, the Biden administration will look back through four years of environmental policies and decisions made by the Trump administration to see where scientific data may have been manipulated or intentionally suppressed.

  270. says

    We soon have to suffer through coverage of yet another border stunt pulled by Republicans.

    A delegation of 19 Republican senators—19—led by John Cornyn and Ted Cruz are set to visit the Rio Grande Valley on Friday, claiming in a statement to be concerned about what they call in that document a “humanitarian crisis” at the border. […]

    If it all sounds like just another border stunt by Republicans, that’s because that’s what this is, and there’s not enough side-eye in the world for this. It’s not just any old stunt, but one that 19 Senate Republicans are shamelessly carrying out after spending four years ignoring the anti-immigrant abuses of the prior administration. Many of these abuses targeted the very asylum-seeking kids they’re now pretending to give a shit about.

    Just a few weeks before a federal judge ordered a stop to the policy, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein introduced legislation blocking the previous administration from forcibly separating children from their parents at the border. The Keep Families Together Act would eventually get 48 cosponsors. But there was no delegation of 19 outraged senators going to Feinstein’s office to add their names. In fact, not one single Republican signed onto the bill, either afraid of the previous occupant of the White House, supportive of the family separation policy, or maybe just both.

    There was no delegation of 19 outraged Republican senators when children died in custody of the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for the first time in years. Making the deaths of 7-year-old Jakelin Ameí Rosmery Caal Maquin and 8-year-old Felipe Gómez Alonzo all the more tragic and senseless is that they were preventable, a top medical expert told Congress last year. NBC News reported at the time that the pediatrician’s findings were backed up by a Government Accountability Report (GAO) “indicating that CBP has not implemented medical care policies consistently across its facilities at the southwest border.”

    There was no delegation of 19 outraged Republican senators when the previous president blamed his political opponents for these children’s deaths. “Any deaths of children or others at the Border are strictly the fault of the Democrats and their pathetic immigration policies,” he tweeted back when he was able to tweet. […]

    Congress gave CBP emergency humanitarian funds to prevent further tragic deaths, but the GAO said in another report that the agency broke the law and spent the emergency funding meant for food and medical care for detained people on a canine program, dirt bikes, and computer network upgrades. CBP also used the money on its employee flu vaccine program as it also refused to vaccinate detained families against the flu. But there was no delegation of 19 outraged Republican senators then.

    Like Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s recent border stunt […] They’ll be there to opine, to use vulnerable children fleeing violence as their political pawns, and to likely offer to broker “deals” that will only break down the asylum system even more. Because when John Cornyn’s involved, beware the “Cornyn Con.” […]

    Link