It’s a time warp! The Infinite Thread is back!


I’m consolidating things. I’m fusing the Open Thread (which died in 2020) and the Political Madness thread, which has been going strong all this time, thanks to the stewardship of Lynna, into one unholy amalgam of anything goes. Almost anything goes, that is. I’m hoping Lynna will continue to inject regular antidotes to the political madness, but also it’ll be a place where all the random odd thoughts and question and socializing can go on.

This would be the 20th iteration of the political madness thread, I think, so fill this up and we’ll go on to Infinite Thread XXI.

Oh, also: The Endless Thread has been maintained on Affinity. This is not a replacement for that lovely thread!

Comments

  1. blf says

    A fairly interesting France24 video, A closer look at contraception and abortion rights in France (English). One recent development mentioned in that video, France extends free contraception benefits to women up to 25 years of age:

    France will make access to birth control free for women aged up to 25 years old from January 1 onwards, […] French Health Minister Olivier Véran said on Thursday.

    […]

    “There is a decline in contraception use among some young women and it is mainly for financial reasons,” Véran told France 2 television.

    “It is unbearable that women cannot protect themselves, cannot have access to contraception if they want to make that choice because it is too expensive,” he added.

    Until now, the age limit for free access to contraception in France was 18 years.

  2. says

    blf in comment 493, man oh man, that certainly is one concentrated sludge pit of wealthy dunderheads. The Southern Poverty Law Center is right to identify a lot of those doofuses as members of rightwing hate groups. It’s scary to see them so well organized and so well funded as they spread disinformation; and as they work to keep themselves on top while everyone else is oppressed.

  3. says

    There are currently 12 Republicans seeking Michigan’s gubernatorial nomination. Eleven of them apparently believe Donald Trump lost because of voter fraud, reality notwithstanding.

    Link

  4. says

    When it comes to Jan. 6, GOP voters give up on law and order

    It’s easy to forget, but in the immediate aftermath of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, there was a political consensus: The deadly insurrectionist attack was worthy of condemnation.

    Even Donald Trump agreed. As regular readers may recall, the day after the riot, the then-president said, “Like all Americans, I am outraged by the violence, lawlessness and mayhem.” After describing the violence as a “heinous attack,” the Republican added, “The demonstrators who infiltrated the Capitol have defiled the seat of American democracy…. To those who engage in the acts of violence and destruction: You do not represent our country, and to those who broke the law: You will pay.”

    In the months that followed, too many Republicans tried to rewrite the history of Jan. 6, recasting the villains as the heroes and law enforcement as the antagonists. Trump gradually changed his mind about making the rioters “pay,” eventually cheering the attackers and characterizing them as victims who are “being persecuted so unfairly.”

    As the Pew Research Center found in its latest national survey, GOP voters continue to take their cues from their party: When Republican leaders said they wanted to hold the rioters accountable, the base agreed. Now that party leaders have changed their mind, rank-and-file voters have also changed their minds.

    […] since March, there has been a decline in the share of the public saying it is important that those who broke into the Capitol be prosecuted (from 87% to 78%), with the change coming almost entirely among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents.

    […] The more GOP leaders saw value in downplaying the importance of the attack, the more the party turned to an outrageous public-relations strategy. The data suggests that strategy worked exactly as intended.

  5. says

    Arizona’s sham election “audit” clearly didn’t turn out the way Republican conspiracy theorists hoped. Now, they’re turning on each other.

    […] The Arizona Mirror’s Jerod MacDonald-Evoy summarized the new complaints from far-right conspiracy theorists who do not trust the findings from the other conspiracy theorists: “The deep state and the politically correct lawyers and RINOs of the GOP suppressed this.”

    The Daily Beast’s report added:

    Among the audit report’s new detractors: Jovan Hutton Pulitzer, the controversial inventor whose supposed technology analyzing folds in ballot paper had promised, according to audit supporters, to detect some kind of voter fraud. Instead, the final audit report contained no mention of Pulitzer’s imaging technology, a change Pulitzer attributed on Twitter to “deep state” malfeasance.

    [Oh, FFS]

    […] As for the fabricated rival report, Talking Points Memo reported this week, “There’s apparently a phony copy of the final report from the sham Arizona ‘audit’ floating around that advises lawmakers not to certify the 2020 election.”

    The 2020 election was, in reality, certified many months ago.

    Looking ahead, The Hill reported this week that Arizona’s Republican state attorney general, Mark Brnovich, has requested documents from both the GOP-led state Senate and Maricopa County officials.

    “The Arizona Senate’s report that was released on Friday raises some serious questions regarding the 2020 election,” Brnovich said without identifying what those questions might be. “Arizonans can be assured our office will conduct a thorough review of the information we receive.” [Oh, FFS]

    As for why in the world the state attorney general would engage in such a foolish exercise, he appears to have an electoral incentive: Brnovich launched a U.S. Senate campaign in June.

    What’s more, it just so happens that the biggest hurdle standing in the way of his candidacy is Donald Trump, who has publicly criticized the Arizonan for not going far enough to kowtow to the former president’s anti-election nonsense. Trump even issued a written statement a few months ago, saying Brnovich was “nowhere to be found” in helping spread the former president’s ridiculous ideas.

    “The lackluster Attorney General of Arizona, Mark Brnovich, has to get on the ball and catch up with the great Republican patriots in the Arizona State Senate,” Trump added. […]

    Link

  6. says

    Mainstream media didn’t cover new proof of Trump’s coup because of Missing White Woman syndrome

    In the last two weeks, all the pieces have come together. We now know exactly how Donald Trump intended to use Jan. 6 to destroy American democracy, install himself as an authoritarian dictator, and crush the Constitution.

    • We have the memo that shows Trump’s team knew everything they were spreading about voter fraud was a lie that they continued to push simply to generate anger among his supporters and provide a cover story for his actions.

    • We know the scheme that was being executed to remove the acting attorney general and weaponize the Department of Justice to pressure state officials and spread a patina of legal legitimacy across the refusal to tally electoral votes.

    • We have the six-step plan by which Trump wanted Mike Pence to leverage a ceremonial role into actions that would have thrown the nation into chaos, declared his continued occupation of the White House, and marked the end of representative government.

    None of this is rumor. None of this is conjecture. None of this is coming secondhand. It doesn’t require assembling a panoply of clues or making logical leaps. It’s all right there, in black in white, much of it on stationary that carries the White House seal. Donald Trump planned to not just contest the election, but declare himself the “winner” on January 6, ending over two centuries of American democracy.

    It not only should be the biggest story in decades, it definitely is the most important story—a greater threat than the nation has faced since the Civil War. But as this story that The Washington Post slipped into the “Lifestyle” section puts it, there’s just “so much other news to cover these days,” including “the audience-riveting case of Gabby Petito.” So they can’t be bothered to mention the attempted coup.

    Priorities, people. Priorities.

    […] The Access Hollywood tape shows that Trump is a crude misogynistic ass and that the allegations of past sexual assault and rape should be taken very seriously. It’s an extremely bad thing.

    The Eastman memo describes the step-by-step effort to end the United States of America. That should be, in any rational world, more important than even Trump’s disgusting and violent attitudes toward women. Those two stories should not be seen as equivalent. And they’re not, of course. Because in this world, the media apparently believes that “the locker room talk” is worthy of their precious air time. The fate of the nation … not so much.

    Analysis from Media Matters from America shows that “ABC, CBS, and NBC morning and evening news broadcasts have all ignored the revelation that one of then-President Donald Trump’s lawyers authored a memo laying out how Trump could effectively pull off a coup.” The Eastman memo didn’t just get a small amount of airtime. It got none. It merited a mention on only one of the Sunday talk shows, where infinitely more time was spent puzzling over what it would take to please Joe Manchin. It didn’t get so much as a standalone story at The New York Times, where the memo is only mentioned in passing as part of a larger story about the new book from Bob Woodward and Robert Costa.

    Why isn’t the media giving coverage to a story that should be rocking the foundations of the nation, dealing as it does with people who used positions of power to threaten those foundations?

    According to a media executive quoted by the Post column, Eastman wasn’t a familiar name. He was just “an unknown lawyer, who says he’s on the Trump legal team and had said Kamala Harris was not a citizen, and wrote a crazy memo.” That would be a lawyer who definitely was on Trump’s legal team, who founded and operates some of the most influential conservative institutes, who said Kamala Harris was not a citizen while running against her as a Republican candidate for California attorney general. Apparently, it’s okay to try to overthrow the nation, so long as you use unknown minions. But, in the media’s defense, Eastman is not blond.

    And there’s the biggest defense, mounted by multiple media types who spoke to Sullivan. There’s no point in reporting on all this because: “After all, it didn’t happen.” The coup was unsuccessful, therefore, not worth considering.

    This should come as a great surprise to every person ever jailed for a crime starting with the word “attempted.” But more than that, it is undoubtedly a great relief to the people who planned and attempted to execute this coup.

    Because what the national media is telling them is clear enough: Keep trying, because we’ll ignore everything you do until you get it right.

  7. says

    In ‘pandemic of the unvaccinated’ the U.S. is lapping the world when it comes to COVID-19 deaths

    Last week, the United States fell to last place in vaccination among G-7 nations. Until spring, the U.S. had been one of the leaders in vaccination rates, but as Democrats got vaccinated and vaccine hostility set in among 40% of Republicans, the increase in vaccinations in America slowed to a crawl. […]

    As a direct result of that low vaccination rate, the delta wave has been higher and more prolonged in the United States than in most other nations. And when it comes to COVID-19 deaths, American isn’t last. It’s first. In fact, not only are people dying in the U.S. at a rate higher than in other wealthy nations, the number of deaths is exceeding all other G-7 nations combined.

    As The Economist reports, in a pandemic of the unvaccinated, the low vaccination rate has made the United States an outlier among wealthy nations. Across the EU, the rate of excess deaths has dropped by 90% when compared to the peak of the pandemic. Britain, which has seen a persistent delta wave after “freedom day” ended most mask and social distancing requirements, is still down by 95% from its peak.

    But the U.S. is down just 40% from the worst days of the midwinter peak. If anyone doesn’t believe in American exceptionalism, they need to be corrected. Because Americans are exceptionally good at dying needlessly.

    One of the things that makes The Economist’s numbers particularly interesting is that they’re not simply tallying the number of reported COVID-19 deaths each day. It’s been clear almost from the beginning of the pandemic that such deaths were being underreported. States like Florida have gone to extraordinary lengths to revise their system of recording cause of death, making it difficult to know how accurate totals there may be. In several states, local coroners and medical examiners have admitted to leaving any mention of COVID-19 off of death certificates if it would “make the family uncomfortable.” Considering the high overlap between those opposed to the vaccine and those downplaying the threat of the virus, this is a formula for missing many, or even most, deaths in some areas.

    Instead, The Economist is using an excess deaths model that compares overall reported deaths to similar periods before the pandemic began. Using that model, they report that “America is suffering 2,800 pandemic deaths per day.” Which is about 1,000 higher than the official tally. This does not make the comparison to other nations unfair as The Economist is using the same methodology for those countries as well.

    With 692,969 reported deaths, U.S. losses in the current pandemic are now well ahead of most estimates concerning the 1918 flu pandemic. However, the excess death model, like earlier modeling from both Johns Hopkins and Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, suggests the real toll is much greater. Those measures place the total number of deaths resulting from the pandemic at between 820,000 and 910,000. Included in those numbers are some people who died from other causes due to the way COVID-19 patients were clogging the health care system. However, those deaths are also directly associated with the pandemic. […]

  8. says

    Manchin throws a bomb filled with ego and dishonesty into negotiations over spending bill

    The threat of a government shutdown has faded, with the Senate preparing a stand-alone bill extending funding into December and the House ready to vote on it quickly later Thursday [today]. Everything else related to Congress is a big mess.

    The House looks likely to delay the planned vote on a bipartisan infrastructure bill after Republican leadership decided to whip against it despite the 19 Republican votes it garnered in the Senate, plus days of progressive Democrats warning that they are ready to vote the bill down until it is coupled with the larger Build Back Better bill containing much of President Joe Biden’s agenda. That latter bill is intended to pass the Senate through budget reconciliation, which means Republicans can’t filibuster it. Unfortunately, the razor-thin Democratic majority in the Senate also means it’s subject to the whims and egos of conservative Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema.

    Joe Manchin is still talking. He’s pointing to a proposal he made early in the summer for a $1.5 trillion topline number for the reconciliation bill. Both Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer signed a document outlining Manchin’s demands at that time, with Schumer writing a note on it that he was going to try to change Manchin’s mind on some aspects of it. Schumer’s spokesperson says the signature was intended as acknowledgement of Manchin’s position, not a promise to make it happen.

    While attention had turned in recent days to Sinema’s refusal to even talk about what she’s demanding, Manchin released a statement Wednesday that looks like he’s trying to blow up the whole process with a display of willful ignorance, saying, “While I am hopeful that common ground can be found that would result in another historic investment in our nation, I cannot—and will not—support trillions in spending or an all-or-nothing approach that ignores the brutal fiscal reality our nation faces.”

    If there is a “brutal fiscal reality,” it’s in large part because of the 2017 Republican tax law coupled with decades of underinvestment by the government in vital programs and policies. To Manchin’s credit, he indicated a willingness to make some changes to that tax law. But he’s been firm in refusing to do everything needed to make the wealthy and corporations pay their fair share. And he’s refusing to acknowledge that spending on education and health care and the ability of working-age adults to go to their jobs secure in the knowledge that their children and aging parents are being cared for is in fact an investment in the future economic well-being of the United States just as surely as spending on roads and bridges.

    […] the shutdown, the infrastructure bill, and the Build Back Better bill aren’t the only problems Congress has to contend with. There’s also the debt ceiling, which must be raised or suspended by October 18 to prevent the U.S. from having to default on its obligations […] while the House voted Wednesday to suspend the debt limit in a stand-alone measure, Republicans are determined to keep filibustering and blocking any effort to pass it through the Senate. A shutdown could be taken off the table, in other words, but that doesn’t mean Republicans have given up on manufacturing a major economic disaster. [JFC]

    […]

  9. says

    Insurrection subpoena arrives in Marjorie Taylor Greene’s inbox– she scream tweets

    […] we learn that someone in the inner circle of Trump-bootlicker and QAnon-apologist Georgia Rep. Margorie Taylor Greene is likely to be subpoenaed. Greene was on the attack Wednesday morning, publicly posting an email sent by Sean Tonolli, a senior investigator on the House committee probing the January 6 insurrection.

    Greene not-so-subtly attempted to turn the blame from her unnamed associate to Democrats, who she claims “supported, cheered, & funded violent anti-government riots”—aka Black Lives Matter—without whatever consequence she seems to believe should accompany believing Black lives actually matter. Meanwhile, she complains, the “witchhunt” committee investigates “innocent people that had nothing to do with a random 3 hour riot.”

    Greene added that the email was “being sent to some of President Trump’s strongest supporters.” And? Is that supposed to mean something? Of course the email is going to Trump supporters. Who else would storm the U.S. Capitol and attempt a coup after their cult leader lost an election? That’s who should be getting subpoenaed, hopefully, as well as everyone else involved behind the scenes. […] [Tweet available at the link.]

    Greene ends her Twitter rant by implying she will not comply with the subpoena. “We won’t be playing your stupid games anymore,” she writes. […]

  10. says

    Maskless audience scolds masked dad after he’s attacked by unmasked man right in front of them

    At this point in facing the novel coronavirus pandemic, it sometimes feels like nothing enrages parents like mask-wearing requirements for students. Given that classrooms are generally inside, most students are too young to get vaccinated, and teachers may be immunocompromised or otherwise unable to get vaccinated themselves, it makes perfect sense that if you want your child or teenager to attend in-person school, they need to mask up. Some parents, however, are willing to go to blows over it—literally.

    One recent example comes out of Chaska, Minnesota, where parents and community members attended an Eastern Carver County School Board meeting to discuss the district’s new mask mandate. The mandate is a response to rising COVID-19 cases in the area and is in effect through October. Makes sense. One father who attended the meeting, however, was charged by a fellow attendee. The dad told outlets he realized that the altercation left him with a missing shirt button and scratches.

    […] To give perspective on some of these vocal beliefs, mind you, one woman compared to the mask policies to Jim Crow laws, while another described masking as “tyrannical.” Words like “propaganda” were thrown around quite a bit, too. From the video, it appears most people in the room are not wearing masks.

    […] Almost immediately upon Sjoberg sitting down (he, unlike anti-maskers, did not receive notable applause when he was done speaking), an unmasked man who was sitting in a chair wheeled himself in front of Sjoberg and accused him of lying.

    […] as seen on video, the man in question again scoots toward Sjoberg and tries to take his phone. The man also grabs hold of his shirt collar. The men were separated when three other people intervened and pulled them apart. […]

    […] According to the Chaska Police Department, no charges have been filed, but they are investigating the incident. […]

  11. blf says

    A snippet from Republicans are about to lose Texas — so they’re changing the rules:

    […] I was taken aback when Dave Wasserman, a senior editor at the Cook Political Report, told me that Republicans could transform the 22nd congressional district in Fort Bend[, just outside of Houston,] from one that Trump won by about 1 percentage point in 2020 to one that he would have won by more than 20 points. Republicans, he said, could just cut out the most Democratic parts of the county and lump them in with already-Democratic districts in Houston. They would then probably replace those voters with Trump-friendly rural voters elsewhere. “That’s pretty easy to do,” he told me.

    On Monday, Republicans unveiled a congressional plan that does exactly that. Their proposed plan excises Democratic-leaning areas […] and attaches two counties that voted overwhelmingly for Trump to the 22nd congressional district. If the 2020 election were run under the new boundaries, Trump would have carried the district by 16 points, according to Planscore, a tool that evaluates the partisan fairness of districts.

    Non-white voters accounted for 95% of the population growth in Texas over the last decade the census found. But the congressional map Republicans unveiled on Monday actually has one less Hispanic majority district (the current one has eight) and zero Black-majority districts (the current one has one).

    The Fort Bend county Republican party didn’t respond to multiple interview requests, but I spoke to Wayne Thompson, a Republican who served as an elected constable in the county, to better understand how the politics were changing. “I think the party as a whole did not reach out to people maybe that talked different than we did and looked a little different than we did. I don’t think that’s a prejudice thing. I think that’s just a severe error,” he said.

  12. says

    Wonkette: “Louie Gohmert Totally Hee-Haw For Horse Paste, Not That We Ever Doubted Him”

    To think, just two days ago we had never heard of the MAGA blog “American Greatness,” which is populated almost entirely by people with ties to the MAGA wingnut Claremont Institute, which used to be respected among rightwing think tanks but isn’t anymore, not so much.

    And now, this week, in a one-two punch, the site has accused Kristi Noem of doing unclothed extramarital hoo-hoo peenerwanger dances with Corey Lewandowski, and then today gave a platform for GOP Rep. Louie Gohmert to put a boombox on his shoulder and declare his undying love for horse paste.

    The piece is titled “The Coordinated Attack on Ivermectin Is a Crime Against Humanity,” […]
    Louie Gohmert says they’re gonna, he reckons.

    Gohmert begins:

    Just as we saw with hydroxychloroquine last summer …

    Oh for LOL’s sake. Louie is just so upset that the (((globalists))) keep taking these perfectly unproven and/or harmful treatments for COVID-19 and making fun of them. He whines that ivermectin is the “latest naughty word which will get you censored on social media and mocked and belittled by late-night ‘comedians,'” […]

    It’s really upsettin’ him that y’all keep callin’ it “horse dewormer”:

    While ivermectin has been used by certain brave doctors around the world to treat COVID-19 for over a year now, it only recently became the target of a multi-pronged attack, with the U.S. government, the media, and Big Pharma all playing important roles in the deadly dystopian disinformation campaign against the drug. As more Americans became aware of ivermectin’s efficacy against COVID-19, like clockwork the government and its propaganda arm in the press jumped in to discredit it, referring to the drug snidely as a “horse dewormer.”

    Let’s ask this horse right here if it’s “snide” or otherwise offensive to refer to a perfectly good drug as “horse dewormer.” [Giphy available at the link] The horse says it’s cool.

    Back to Louie:

    We watched the FDA embarrass itself with its ridiculing tweet telling people “You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y’all. Stop it,” while linking to an agency article on why people should not use ivermectin to treat or prevent the China Virus. We saw Rolling Stone magazine forced to admit that its recent story about Oklahoma hospitals being overwhelmed by patients who overdosed on ivermectin was completely false.

    The FDA wasn’t embarrassed, the FDA was hilarious that day, and everybody not currently drunk on horse dewormer thought so. Regarding the thing about Rolling Stone, we understand that horse paste enthusiasts are braying and whinnying about that, but it’s not as big a deal as they think it is. Certainly nothing to whip your mane around about. […]

    Anyway, that’s kind of how Louie’s thing, or the thing he got his staffers to write for him, goes. He calls Merck, the manufacturer of Ivermectin, an idiot, for saying Ivermectin should not be used to treat COVID-19. He says (((global elites))) some more, in case anybody had missed his anti-semitic dogwhistles up to that point. He acts like he’s telling us something new when he puts on a fancy new pair of horseshoes and trots out information about how Ivermectin DOES TOO have human uses, and is not just horse paste for horses.

    Make no mistake, the evil, deadly, coordinated globalist attacks we are currently witnessing on ivermectin will go down in history as a vicious crime against humanity; a grievous public health policy error that can only be explained by following the money. Many top doctors agree that hundreds of thousands of American lives could have been saved had early treatment protocols such as ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine not been so maliciously vilified by authority figures, some pharmaceutical companies, and healthcare providers who just so happen to have financial incentives to suppress the truth about these cheap, effective drugs.

    Sure thing, Medical Expert Louie Gohmert.

    In other horse paste news, here’s a headline: “Network of Right-Wing Healthcare Providers Is Making Millions Off Hydroxychloroquine and Ivermectin, Hacked Data Reveals.”

    […] ANOTHER headline today says the MAGA quack doctor group that’s most hee-haw for horse paste and hydroxybonercream is now suing the Pentagon over its vaccine mandate. […]

  13. says

    Wonkette: “Local GOP Proudly Endorses Sweaty Anti-Semite For Post Falls, Idaho School Board”

    In northern Idaho, one of the school board candidates endorsed by the Kootenai County GOP has a stellar track record as a super conservative. David J. Reilly […] used to be a radio guy in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, but he “resigned” in 2017 after posting video and tweets promoting the big racist “Unite the Right” hootenanny in Charlottesville, Virginia, leading to a local advertiser boycott. Since then, as the anti-racist blog Angry White Men documents, Reilly has freelanced for an anti-Semitic “theologian,” pushed the racist “great replacement” conspiracy theory […], and left a trail of now-deleted (but archived) tweets saying horrible things about Jews, gays, and women. We’re not talking long-forgotten stuff here; much of it was from 2020.

    Now Reilly lives in northern Idaho and wants to bring his Christian values to the school board for Post Falls, a suburb of Coeur d’Alene and Idaho’s 10th-biggest community. In a statement on the Kootenai County GOP’s website, Reilly vows he’ll “do all in my power to make sure Kootenai County remains a place where families can raise Godly, conservative, patriotic children.”

    He notes that while he doesn’t have any school-aged children, he’s the “new father of a native Idahoan” and that he and his wife have already decided not to send their daughter to a public school, since the schools are full of critical race theory and “transgender child grooming,” along with other horrors. Perhaps someday, he pines, Post Falls schools will become “an educational institution that I’d be proud to send my own daughter to.”

    Oh, for the sake of children in Post Falls, let’s hope he doesn’t get the chance. […]

    Last year Reilly worked as an editor for E. Michael Jones, a deeply antisemitic and homophobic self-styled theologian who blames Jews for the murder of Jesus Christ, argued on a Neo-Nazi-hosted livestream that Jews should not be considered citizens of the U.S., and claimed that COVID-19 was created as a “bioweapon.”

    […] Isn’t that just guilt by association? Maybe not so much, since Reilly also wrote a 2019 piece for Jones’s subtly-titled Culture Wars magazine, in which he explains that evil Marxist social engineering inspired a “mass movement of left wing agitation and sexual liberation” that led to an “almost complete breakdown of social norms.” Oh, hey, who did the social engineering, which incidentally created white supremacy by telling some people they were oppressed? You got it! “Jewish sociologists”!

    What’s worse, by promoting “white identity,” the Jews responsible for the mess the West finds itself in today ultimately disappear, and become indistinguishable from the dumb “goyim” who have fallen for their trap: hook, line and sinker.

    Hashtag #NotANazi.

    Also, naturally enough, he figures the Catholic Church’s mild reforms in Vatican II were part of the problem […]

    The result of this socio-sexual revolution together with the advent of contraception, coupled with the fallout of the revolutionary “spirit of Vatican II,” Europe experienced an almost complete breakdown of social norms, the effects of which we are all aware: low birthrates, broken homes, and declining church attendance, [which has] ultimately led to the Great Replacement, and the media campaign demonizing native European populations, and promoting foreigners, with a religion alien to the European continent as “The New Europeans.”

    Short version: Jewish thinking destroyed Europe and is killing off beautiful European people and Christianity.

    Oh, and then there are the tweets! All deleted now for some reason, as if Reilly were planning a run for office. Here’s one from January 2020 in which he explained how sneaky Jews are, pretending to be both white and an oppressed minority group [tweet available at the link]

    “White privilege” is a thing, because Jews pretend to be white when it’s expediant for them. Everyone else of European heritage is left footing the bill, and taking the blame for their bad behavior.

    When they want to virtue signal, they magically go from being white, to Jewish.

    In another tweet from around the same time, Reilly repeated an old anti-Semitic myth that Jews are so terrible that they’ve been expelled from 109 countries, and added “110 confirmed,” implying that the USA needs to get going on its own final solution. Bigots are so clever!

    But wait! There’s more! In another pair of tweets, Reilly retweeted a Hill article about a survey showing that “61% of Americans agree with at least one anti-Semitic stereotype,” adding “Good news! Let’s get those numbers up!” and then hinting that the survey was exaggerated to promote a narrative of Jewish victimhood, because after all, we know who really pulls the strings. [tweet available at the link]

    And still more! Seems Reilly is really big on the Jews as Christ-killers thing.

    When the Anti-Defamation League tweeted that 27% of American adults believed that Jews killed Jesus Christ, Reilly concluded that “73% of American adults have been mis-informed [sic].” Reilly had previously tweeted a cartoon by “Stonetoss,” a pseudonymous white supremacist, which implied that Jews bore responsibility for Jesus’ death.

    […] Reilly has also “joked” that letting women have the vote was a mistake, and that women “should not be allowed on social media.” Ha! Ha! Also too, he reacted to the news that Pete and Chasten Buttigieg wanted to have a child with a funny quip: “Alternate headline: Pete Buttigieg and his ‘husband’ are planning to start dabbling in human trafficking.”

    So in case you were wondering what sort of Traditional American Values Reilly might bring to the Post Falls school board, there you go!

    In an interview in the rightwing conspiracy site National File Wednesday, Reilly explained that children are the future, which is actually very true! He confirmed to the site that he is very much against

    the “misguided liberal experimentation,” including anti-white Critical Race Theory, SEL (Social and Emotional Learning), and Common Core. “There’s not one person who I know that actually likes this, but our schools are still teaching with these frameworks in place,” he added.

    The site really does focus on Reilly’s objections to “equity” and other evils:

    He highlighted the “equity framework” implemented by Coeur d’Alene’s School Board as one example of something that was “stealthily snuck by” parents, which he would not let pass if he was elected. With 41% of children in the overwhelmingly white district living in poverty, Reilly said it was “absurd” for the white students to be taught that they were oppressing black people.

    We would note that 41 percent of children living in poverty would seem to be a failure of the Idaho state government, and possibly even the last presidential administration. But we are happy to note that with President Joe Biden’s expanded child tax credit, if Coeur d’Alene follows the national trajectory, that number of children in poverty should have already fallen by as much as 40 percent. […]

    “The whole point of me getting on the board is… to be the people’s voice against these anti-white, racist and destructive policies. If you’ve got your own board member who’s anti-CRT, you’re not going to be shut down in these meetings any more.”

    Also too, while all of Idaho’s hospitals are literally rationing care because there’s no room for all the COVID patients, Reilly vowed to oppose mask or vaccine mandates, because he believes

    Forcing kids to wear masks in school is tantamount to child abuse, and I think that foisting an experimental vaccine on kids as a condition of enrollment is absolutely out of the question.

    Nice to know that if Mr. Reilly gets elected to the Post Falls school board, with the endorsement of the official local Republican Party, the crazies screaming about the Great Replacement and “needle rape” at school board meetings will have an ally in the room.

    As of this morning, the Kootenai County GOP’s endorsement of Mr. Reilly is still up.

    Overall, Idaho is populated by way too many retrograde doofuses, but there are areas of the state that are worse than others: northern Idaho.

  14. blf says

    Kat Kerr Says Those Who Stole the Election Will Be Put on a Meat Hook Next to Hitler in Hell (quoted almost in full, with RWW edits in {curly braces}):

    Self-proclaimed “prophetess” Kat Kerr […] asserted that those who supposedly worked to steal the 2020 election from former President Donald Trump[Wacko House squatter hair furor] will be put on a meat hook right next to Hitler in Hell if they don’t confess to what they have done and repent for their sins. [Psssst… lady, your audience likes Hitler and often approves of the Holocaust –blf]

    Kerr, who was among the various “prophets” who repeatedly guaranteed that Trump would win reelection, claimed that God refers to President Joe Biden as the villain and will soon put Trump back in office.

    We didn’t choose who’s sitting there right now, the villain, which Gods still calls him, Kerr said[bellowed]. And if anybody wonders, ‘Will Trump still get his four years?’ The answer is yes, he will. He will have another four-year term as God promised, not the person who’s now fraudulently sitting there, passing all kinds of illegal laws, regulations, wicked and evil things. [Pssssst… lady, laws are only signed by the President, they are passed by both chambers of Congress –blf]

    The administration {that} is sitting there now, all they want is destruction for our country because that’s really what communism, socialism — but it’s also what Satanism is, Kerr added[additionally hallucinated and bellowed]. I have to put {Satan} in there because he’s really over all this if you haven’t figured that out. Kill, steal, destroy — that’s his agenda, and that’s exactly what they’re doing. [Pssssst… lady, whilst RWW edited your gibberish to refer to one of the many magic sky faeries, what you really meant was Putin –blf]

    If you think that this is all just gonna blow by and we’re gonna bow down to you, I will say, ‘We serve the most high God … and I happen to know him personally,’ Kerr screamed. Your days are coming to an end. [Pssssst… lady, the only person a certain magic sky faerie knows “personally” was maid Mary about 2000 years ago –blf]

    The mildly deranged penguin suggests harvesting her spittle, there are copious amounts of it, and it has to be good for something. Possibly not anything useful, but something…

  15. says

    blf in comment 13:

    The mildly deranged penguin suggests harvesting her spittle, there are copious amounts of it, and it has to be good for something. Possibly not anything useful, but something…

    Weed killer?

    In other news:

    House lawmakers tearfully recounted traumatic stories of being raped, getting back-alley abortions and confronting pregnancy as teenagers at an emotional hearing Thursday examining how abortion rights have come under threat in many states.

    Freshman Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., testified that in 1994, she was raped during the summer after she graduated from high school and later found out she was nine weeks pregnant. Bush said she met a man on a church trip to Jackson, Miss., who came to the room she was staying in with a friend, and she invited him in, thinking they would just talk and laugh.

    “But the next thing I knew, he was on top of me, messing with my clothes and not saying anything at all,” Bush told members of the House Oversight and Reform Committee. “I was frozen, in shock, just laying there as his weight pressed down upon me.”

    “When he was done, he got up, he pulled up his pants, and without a word, he left,” she said. “That was it. I was confused, I was embarrassed, I was ashamed. I asked myself, ‘Was this something that I had done?’”

    Bush said she panicked when she found out she was pregnant and decided to get an abortion after wondering how she could support a child on her own at 18 years old. When she had the procedure done, she said the clinic staff spoke to her like she was “trash,” telling her she would wind up on food stamps if she had the baby.

    “To all the black women and girls who have had abortions and will have abortions, we have nothing to be ashamed of,” Bush said. “We live in a society that has failed to legislate love and justice for us, so we deserve better.”

    […] At the hearing, Barbara Lee, D-Calif., shared her story of getting an abortion at a back-alley clinic in Mexico after finding out she was pregnant at 16 years old, when she was living in California. It was the mid-1960s, years before the right to an abortion became legal through the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. Lee eventually had two sons and now has five grandchildren, she said.

    “I was one of the lucky ones,” she said. “A lot of girls and women in my generation didn’t make it. They died from unsafe abortions — in the 1960s, unsafe septic abortions were the primary killer of African American women.”

    […] Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-Va., who like many Republicans is anti-abortion, said it appeared to her “that the purpose of this hearing is to normalize the destruction of unborn babies.”

    “I feel profound sorrow for any woman who believes that she must destroy her unborn child,” Foxx said.

    […] At the beginning of the hearing, Maloney said she believes there is “a very real possibility” that the constitutional right to abortion will be overturned in the coming months when the Supreme Court hears the Mississippi case that poses a challenge to Roe v. Wade.

    Maloney also spoke about the latest Texas abortion law that bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, which she called a “total ban on abortion” because most women find out they are pregnant after that time frame.

    Maloney urged the Senate to take up legislation passed by the House last week that codifies the right to an abortion. The measure, however, faces a dead end in that chamber, where Democrats would need to find at least 10 Republicans to join them in support of the legislation.

    NBC News link

  16. says

    Too little, too late, but better late than never:

    YouTube said on Wednesday that it was banning the accounts of several prominent anti-vaccine activists from its platform, including those of Joseph Mercola and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., as part of an effort to remove all content that falsely claims that approved vaccines are dangerous. […]

    New York Times link

  17. says

    Scientists drove a robotic surfboard into Hurricane Sam, and the waves were incredible.

    Washington Post link

    It was the first-ever ocean drone to intercept a major hurricane, battling 50-foot waves and winds gusting higher than 120 mph.

    Scientists with Saildrone and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration managed to drive a robotic surfboard into the core of Category 4 Hurricane Sam on Thursday, in a first-of-its-kind scientific mission as they try to better understand hurricanes.

    The video, captured just northeast of Hurricane Sam’s monstrous eye, depicts eerily dark skies, screaming winds and a thick veil of sea spray and mist lofted into the air. Enormous waves can be seen swinging the probe like a pendulum.

    Saildrone is a company that manufactures probes that collect ocean data for use in environmental studies. Saildrones come in three different sizes, and can be fitted with devices to measure weather and ocean conditions, map the seafloor and even track “biomass,” or fish and other organisms, that live in the waters.

    […] The new hurricane probes, which are 23 feet long, are designed to glide between waves in storm winds topping 115 mph.

    The smaller, more durable wings were also made to survive being “buried” by large, breaking waves and being tumbled in chaotic currents. […]

  18. says

    The Black-White Vaccination Gap May Be Gone but Republicans, Whites Still Hesitant
    The ending of this one kinda got me:

    In fact, people who identify as Republicans are actually the most vaccine-hesitant demographic in America, with 23 percent saying that they “definitely won’t” take the vaccine, followed by white evangelicals, rural residents and white adults, according to KFF data.
    But there’s a very good reason why they refuse to get the vaccine and it has nothing to do with their health. Pew research reports that 65 percent of African Americans, 73 percent of Hispanics, 80 percent of Asians and 76 percent of Democrats are worried about unknowingly spreading the virus, while only 52 percent of whites and 38 percent of Republicans have the same concern.

    See, it’s not just that they don’t care about science, facts or their health.
    They don’t care about you.

  19. says

    Akira @17, LOL.

    Despite the Capitol Hill drama, the Democratic agenda persists

    “You may have seen some headlines describing developments on Capitol Hill as a “big setback” for Democrats. I think those headlines have it backwards.”

    This past weekend, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent a letter to her members, letting them know that this week would be “a time of intensity.” Not surprisingly, she was right.

    […] negotiations over President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda have intensified. At issue are two bills: a bipartisan infrastructure measure, approved by the Senate last month, and a more ambitious Build Back Better package, focused on safety-net-and-climate policies, pending in the House.

    Democratic leaders hoped to reach an agreement on the latter so that the House could pass the former. As NBC News reported overnight, that didn’t happen.

    House Democrats delayed a planned vote Thursday on a major infrastructure package, heading home for the night after intraparty fighting hamstrung their ability to pass the legislation. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., announced after a series of late-night negotiations that the vote had been postponed indefinitely as Democrats battle over the way forward on President Joe Biden’s agenda.

    Some of the media coverage this morning characterized the delay as a major blow to the party’s agenda. The New York Times’ online front page, for example, described last night’s developments on Capitol Hill as a “big setback” for the White House.

    […] the original plan was for the House to vote on the bipartisan Senate bill — known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework (or BIF) — on Monday. When rank-and-file House progressives balked, saying they wanted to see progress on the Build Back Better bill first, Monday’s vote was scrapped and moved to Thursday.

    Last night, Pelosi again proposed a vote on the more modest Senate bill. Progressives balked again, and so the vote was scrapped again.

    But that’s not a “big setback” for the president’s agenda; it’s a development that keeps the president’s agenda alive.

    […] the ambitious Build Back Better legislation is, for all intents and purposes, Biden’s domestic agenda. It comprises a great many White House priorities — from health care to education, climate to housing — that on which the president based his 2020 platform.

    If House Democrats were to simply pass the bipartisan Senate bill, before the more ambitious Democratic bill is complete, it would shift the leverage to a small group of centrist and conservative Democrats who would no longer have any incentive to pass the Build Back Better package [yep, and I think that was the plan all along]

    This need not be complicated: The whole point of the two-track strategy is to pass both parts of the plan. Centrist and conservative Democrats have effectively said, “Pass our bill and we’ll consider giving you some fraction of your bill.” Progressive Democrats have effectively countered, “We don’t love your bill, but we’ll vote for it anyway if you help us pass our bill.”

    The latter group — representing roughly 96% of congressional Democrats — have long had the upper hand. After last night’s drama, that remains the case, which means Biden’s agenda now lives to see another day.

    […] last night didn’t bring the party closer to such a disaster. If anything, yesterday brought Democrats incrementally closer to success.

    Why? Because the kinetic legislative activity represents progress. The relative players have a better sense of what the competing intra-party contingents actually want. As Punchbowl News accurately summarized this morning, “Thursday’s events forced all parties to the table. And there’s something to that. Everyone’s cards are face up now, and that’s a step toward ultimately advancing Biden’s agenda.”

    […] the more the key players keep the process moving, the closer they’ll inch toward the finish line.

    […] none of the latest developments represents a “big setback.” It was a predictable delay as part of complex legislative negotiations, which are closer to success than they were before.

    Glass half full analysis, but I like it.

  20. says

    Republicans enjoy creating chaos.

    At yesterday’s White House press briefing, a reporter asked press secretary Jen Psaki about how Democrats will overcome Republican tactics and raise the debt ceiling before it’s too late. It was a subject she seemed eager to address:

    “… Republicans are playing politics with an economic catastrophe, and they’re treating a calamity for working families like a D.C. game. There are huge impacts here…. An instant recession, 6 million jobs lost, $15 trillion in savings wiped out, Social Security checks and payments to our troops blocked — those are real impacts. Republicans in Congress are treating this like a game. Let me give you some examples. Senator Rick Scott — and this is a real quote, I will note: ‘This is going to be a ball. I’m going to have so much fun.’ … Senator Kevin Kramer: ‘It’s sort of fun to watch.'”

    As is always the case, the context matters. Florida Sen. Rick Scott, for example, told Politico last week how excited he was by the convergence of multiple political standoffs — including the debt ceiling — each of which were created by his party’s maximalist partisan tactics. “This is gonna be a ball,” the Republican senator was quoted saying. “I’m going to have so much fun.”

    A few days later, North Dakota Sen. Kevin Cramer told The Daily Beast, in reference to the crises, “I’m confident they’ll figure it out. Either that, or they’ll implode.” The GOP senator added, “Right now, I have to admit, while I don’t generally relish in other people’s misery, it’s sort of fun to watch their chaos.”

    […] Psaki’s rhetoric was useful in framing the circumstances accurately. Too often, political observers see the debt-ceiling crisis or threat of a government shutdown as the latest in a series of political “disputes” between Democrats and Republicans. Americans have to endure another “standoff” between competing partisans, the argument goes.

    […] If the GOP had succeeded in creating yet another government shutdown, the effects would’ve been severe. If Republicans refuse to allow Congress to extend the debt ceiling, the effects would be economically catastrophic.

    To hear Scott tell it, this is all quite entertaining. To hear Cramer tell it, crises like these will cause Democrats to “implode” as Democrats endure “chaos.”

    In reality, the chaos and implosion would be felt by all of us, not just the party Cramer and his cohorts want to undermine.

  21. says

    During the evacuation of Afghanistan, Republicans practically wore a hole in their shirts from all the chest-pounding over the need to rescue every last possible person who wanted to leave the nation. Every U.S. citizen, everyone who had ever worked with U.S. forces or diplomats, every person who simply didn’t want to stay under Taliban rule—they all became a sacred trust that Republicans were absolutely certain was being broken by President Joe Biden.

    But even as the Republicans were mopping away crocodile tears over the thousands they were sure Biden was leaving behind, they were also reassuring their constituents that those scary Afghan refugees would not be coming to their districts. And in case they didn’t get the message, the white nationalist Republican base spoke up loud and clear: They were happy with the Biden-bashing, but that didn’t mean they were willing to accept a single refugee in their town. Notable exception: Utah. Thank you, Utah.

    […] On Thursday, Republicans executed the next step […] In a last-minute effort, Republicans attempted to hijack the bill to keep the government running until December and use it to cut off all assistance to Afghans evacuated to the United States. That includes the same translators and others who Republicans were pretending to be concerned about just last month.

    […] the amendment was offered by the reliably xenophobic Sen. Tom Cotton, but it wasn’t Cotton alone. Every single Republican—every one, including Utah’s own Mitt Romney—voted for Cotton’s amendment.

    […] not only would it would have left Afghans with no funds, it would have made it almost impossible for them to find employment.

    And again, every single Republican voted for this.

    […] the amendment would have halted housing assistance, food and medical aid, and every other form of payment for Afghans evacuated to the U.S. […]

    So … Republicans spent weeks spraying vitriol about how every single Afghan who ever assisted the U.S. simply had to be saved. But once they were out, they refused to help them with housing, food, or medical care. And they made it extra hard for them to get IDs or integrate into society in a way that would ever allow them to become citizens.

    Where have we heard that before?

    Link

  22. says

    Today marks DeJoy’s brilliant plan to slow down mail delivery—almost as good as removing mailboxes

    Today marks the official day when the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) begins its “slowdown plan,” and when Americans collectively ask the question: “Why the f**k is Louis DeJoy still employed as the postmaster general?”

    […] DeJoy, the brainless, corrupt Trump appointee and major donor. He claims the idea was created in the hopes of saving money. Of course, the plan is as inept as the man, causing first-class mail to take up to five days to reach its destination—including bills, tax documents, letters, etc. That “means mail delivery will be slower than in the 1970s,” Paul Steidler, a senior fellow at the Lexington Institute and an expert on the postal service, tells CBS News.

    Steidler adds that it will be folks in rural communities, the disabled, and senior citizens who will most feel the impact. People who pay their bills using checks, those who rely on prescription medications arriving by mail, and even delays in mail-in ballots … Hmmm, we’ve heard about this before.

    The plan, officially entitled “Delivering for America,” was announced less than a month before President Biden’s three appointees to the Postal Service’s nine-member governing board were confirmed, according to The Washington Post. The plan was endorsed by six sitting governors, all appointed by the Trump administration.

    Speaking of mail-in ballots, let’s dig into DeJoy’s history on that subject.

    In August 2020, DeJoy was called to the carpet in a virtual hearing before the Republican-majority Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, where he denied that his department was directly responsible for removing hundreds of mail-sorting machines and “blue boxes” ahead of the presidential election, saying it was a “normal process” that’s been around for years.

    “When I found out about it,” he said, “we looked at the excitement it was creating so I decided to stop it and we’ll pick it up after the election.”

    He likewise said he was “unaware” of the process of removing mail-sorting machines.

    And yet only after he arrived were 700 mail collection boxes removed from U.S. city streets.

    Back to the brilliant new 10-year plan by DeJoy. The Postal Regulatory Commission, which is the federal regulator that oversees the USPS, doubted how the plan could save money if the delivery is slower.

    “Reducing service will only discourage use of the U.S. Mail, which is not a formula for long-term financial health and stability,” Christopher W. Shaw, the author of the forthcoming book First Class: The U.S. Postal Service, Democracy and the Corporate Threat, wrote in an email to CBS News. […]

    “When you reduce standards you perpetuate a vicious downward cycle,” Steidler said. […]

    So, how do we get rid of DeJoy? It’s not as easy as you’d think. The president can’t simply fire the postmaster general—only the USPS board of governors can do that. […]

    Maybe after people begin getting fines for late bills or tax payments, the pressure will be enough to oust this imbecile.

  23. says

    How Jared and Ivanka Hijacked the White House’s Covid Response

    [I snipped story about how and when Trump saying that Justin Trudeau’s mother fucked all of the Rolling Stones. (In fact, Margaret Trudeau denied having affairs with any members of the Rolling Stones, but later said, “I should have slept with every single one of them.”)]

    […] In late February 2020, [Trump and Melania] were scheduled to travel to India. [Trump] had tentatively agreed to the trip during a bilateral meeting, and it had been added to his calendar as a placeholder. But that was before a new, contagious disease called Covid-19 began spreading across the world. As the date grew near, most of the senior staff, and the first lady, started to have misgivings about the travel because of the virus. For whatever reason, Jared Kushner was insistent that we go, and as he was the “real” chief of staff, that carried weight. A final meeting was set in the Oval to determine whether the trip should move forward.

    As other members of the senior staff and I were waiting to enter, Jared and Ivanka Trump blew past us and into the president’s private dining room to speak with him privately first […] [Trump] was in a sour mood, and made his thoughts clear to the room, saying, “I don’t really want to go. It is a long trip for not even two days, and we’re dealing with Covid. I’ll explain to [Indian Prime Minister Narendra] Modi that it isn’t a good time, and I will come later, in my second term.” Jared chimed in to remind the president that with all the visits he had already promised to undertake “in his second term” he would never be in the United States to do his job. When the first lady raised her concerns about Covid, many in the room assured her that the virus hadn’t really hit India yet.

    The president stuck to his original plan to cancel the trip. Then Jared said, “OK, but you should talk to Modi personally to tell him.” This showed just how well Jared had his father-in-law’s number because, like the rest of us, he knew that the president had a hard time saying no to someone and that Modi would likely talk him into going. […] Jared and his team also ended up negotiating with the Indian government directly over what our security assets and personnel would be on the ground — negotiations that were normally reserved for the Secret Service. […]

    No one in the Trump inner circle seemed to be taking the new virus too seriously […]

    On March 11, 2020, one of my deputies came into my office to let me know that they had stumbled into a meeting among Hope Hicks […] Jared, and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone. The WHO had just declared Covid a pandemic, and the three of them had apparently been discussing the need for the president to give an address to the nation on Covid-19 from the Oval Office that evening. […]

    A couple of hours later, a meeting was called in the Oval Office so that members of the Coronavirus Task Force could brief the president on the latest involving the virus. […]

    In attendance at the meeting were the two new stars of the Trump administration, Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx. I guess you could include Robert Redfield, the CDC director, on that list, but he was kind of an afterthought. Fauci and Birx — especially Fauci — ran that particular show. Trump had liked Fauci — for about ten minutes. […]

    The meeting was packed. […] No one was wearing a mask […] There was no social distancing. The subject didn’t even come up.

    […] The meeting began in a pretty standard way. Members of the task force, which was led by the vice president, updated the president on what information they had, the numbers of infected by country, and the projections for the weeks ahead, which were quite sobering. […]

    In the middle of all the discussion, Ivanka kept chiming in, “But I think there should probably be an address to the nation tonight.” I let that pass because in my mind there was no way we could pull one off with no speech prepared, no communications strategy, no consensus on anything we had just started discussing, and only a few hours’ notice. We did a lot of random things in Trump World, but that just seemed too crazy even for us.

    As the discussion continued, Mnuchin kept raising the potential impact on the economy. He felt that the recommendation to shut down the borders was far too severe and the financial impact to our country and the world would be something we would not recover from for years. The discussion got quite heated, especially between the secretary and National Security Advisor O’Brien, who at one point said to Mnuchin, “You are going to be the reason this pandemic never goes away.” Hope Hicks continued to chime in with questions and ideas that had been discussed weeks before. And Ivanka […] just kept repeating, “There should be an address from the Oval.”

    Finally, Ivanka turned to her most powerful ally besides her father. “Jared, don’t you agree?” […]

    At one point I called Ivanka out on her plan with what seemed an obvious question. “What is it we’d be saying?” Because if she had a message she wanted her father to deliver, it was still a mystery to me. She just looked at me, seemingly confused.

    […] all they were thinking about was TV and image and optics. […]

    […] We were coming up on 3:00 p.m., and it started to seem inevitable that an address to the nation from the Oval Office was going to happen that night — even though we had no idea what the president should say. […] Jared […] commandeered the meeting and was calling all the shots. […]

    Ivanka was also doing her “my father” wants this and “my father” thinks that routine, making it impossible for staff members to argue a contrary view. At some point I think Birx decided she’d ridden on the crazy train long enough and excused herself to get back to work. […]

    I instructed one of my deputies to call the networks to reserve airtime for that evening — which no one else had even thought to do. Katie Miller, an aide to the vice president, was married to speechwriter Stephen Miller. So she went into Stephen’s office and sat there while Jared Kushner frantically dictated the address to Stephen, who wrote something out. […]

    […] Working as Trump’s spokesperson was like sitting in a beautiful office while a sprinkler system pours water down on you every second and ruins everything on your desk — except in this case the water took the form of tweets and words and statements. I can give you endless metaphors to describe the Trump White House from a press person’s perspective — living in a house that was always on fire or in an insane asylum where you couldn’t tell the difference between the patients and the attendants or on a roller coaster that never stopped — but trust me, it was a hot mess 24/7. How people did the job without going crazy was a question in itself. Maybe none of us did. Trump, by the way, never understood that he usually was the one screwing up the messaging. Instead, he would complain to me, “I need a P. T. Barnum!” […] maybe he just meant he wanted some expert con man. After all, P. T. Barnum’s most famous line was “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

    […] the more I thought about it, the more outraged I grew at Jared’s behavior. […] he alone seemed to be deciding the nation’s first actions to address one of the most devastating crises in our history. After he wrote the speech, there was no time for fact-checking, vetting, or notifying friends and allies on the Hill or abroad. There was hardly any time for the president to read it […] It was a total clusterfuck from start to finish because Ivanka and her crew wanted her father to be on TV. And of course the speech that night contained a number of misstatements and sloppy wording — some caused by the president stumbling over a few phrases — that sowed confusion […] News outlets all over the world picked up on the discrepancies in the speech. People from various federal agencies started to call and ask us how to explain or clean up some of the things that had been said. Once again a line of reporters formed outside my office. Of course, it was our problem, not Jared’s or Ivanka’s or Hope’s. No, they were in the dining room off of the Oval Office, Trump’s usual hangout, congratulating themselves and telling the president how awesome he was.

    […] I would venture to say that being in the White House changed Jared as a person. There was no reason that he should be sitting with the speechwriter laying out our nation’s plan to fight a global pandemic. And I knew that if things went badly with the speech, which felt inevitable, he would be the first person to say in the president’s ear that the comms team had fucked it all up. He was Rasputin in a slim-fitting suit. […]

    That tale is a bit self-serving but probably still true when it says that procedures in the Trump White House were mostly a “clusterfuck,” and that Jared and Ivanka threw their ill- or misinformed orders into the mix.

  24. says

    Some good news: Biden’s Approval Rating Recovers Some From Last Month’s Low, An NPR Poll Finds

    Since the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan a month ago, President Biden’s approval rating has recovered some in the latest NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll.

    Last month, just 43% of survey respondents approved of how he was doing his job and a majority — 51% — disapproved. Since then, Biden has gained back some of that, drawing to about even, with 45% approving and 46% disapproving.

    “Some of it had to do with the proximity of Afghanistan, and that has sort of faded a little bit and is not as prominent in people’s minds,” said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, which conducted the poll. Miringoff said Biden appears now to be at “more of a plateau” rather than a continued decline.

    The survey of 1,220 adults was conducted from Sept. 20 through Sunday and has a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points, meaning Biden’s approval rating could be about 3 points higher or lower. The 7-point net change in his approval rating from one month to the next is slightly outside the margin of error.

    […] On the question of which party’s candidate people would vote for if next year’s elections for Congress were held today, respondents chose Democrats by an 8-point margin, 46% to 38%.

    That is the kind of margin Democrats have traditionally needed to do well in congressional elections, given that Democratic voters are typically packed more tightly in districts and Republicans control redistricting in more places in the country. […]

  25. says

    Justice Samuel Alito isn’t doing the Supreme Court any favors

    If Alito is concerned about public perceptions of the court, maybe he should stop delivering speeches that adversely affect perceptions of the court.

    […] Gallup released new results last week showing public attitudes toward the high court sliding to the lowest level since the pollster started asking the question in 2000. […] several justices appear to have taken note of the Supreme Court’s damaged reputation — and they seem eager to help reverse the trend.

    Justice Stephen Breyer, for example, recently released a poorly timed book, which argues that the nation’s highest court shouldn’t be seen as a partisan political institution, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding. Around the same time, Justice Amy Coney Barrett tried to defend the Supreme Court’s political impartiality — while speaking alongside Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who rushed her onto the bench during last fall’s presidential election as part of a brazenly political display.

    A week later, Justice Clarence Thomas insisted that justices aren’t “politicians,” and it’s the court’s critics, and not the court’s rulings, that are “going to jeopardize any faith in the legal institutions.”

    Yesterday, evidently, it was Justice Samuel Alito’s turn. NBC News reported:

    Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito said Thursday recent criticism of the court’s decisions in cases involving abortion and evictions unfairly accuses the conservative justices of acting in secret and in haste. Both decisions — allowing the new Texas abortion law to take effect but blocking the Biden administration’s moratorium on evictions — were issued in a short time frame, without oral argument or the usual schedule to file written briefs. They were, instead, the products of what has come to be known as the court’s “shadow docket.”

    In remarks delivered at Notre Dame Law School, the conservative jurist said, “The catchy and sinister term ‘shadow docket’ has been used to portray the court as having been captured by a dangerous cabal that resorts to sneaky and improper methods to get its ways [by issuing decisions in the dead of night]…. That portrayal feeds unprecedented efforts to intimidate the court or damage it as an independent institution.”

    For those unfamiliar with the “shadow docket” phrase, The New York Times recently explained what the term refers to: “With increasing frequency, the court is taking up weighty matters in a rushed way, considering emergency petitions that often yield late-night decisions issued with minimal or no written opinions. Such orders have reshaped the legal landscape in recent years on high-profile matters.”

    Part of the problem with Alito’s characterization is his indifference to the fact that some of the criticisms have come, not just from journalists and outside observers, but from other justices. As NBC News’ Pete Williams explained in his report:

    The Supreme Court’s decision Sept. 1 to allow the Texas abortion law to take effect “illustrates just how far the court’s shadow-docket decisions may depart from the usual principles of appellate process,” Justice Elena Kagan wrote in a brief dissent. Kagan said that because the court acted hastily, without guidance from the appeals court and based on only cursory submissions, “the majority’s decision is emblematic of too much of this court’s shadow docket decision making — which every day becomes more unreasoned, inconsistent, and impossible to defend.”

    What’s more, Alito seemed to misstate dimensions of the underlying controversy. Steve Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas at Austin, described the conservative justice’s complaints as “tendentious,” adding, The criticism is not that [the Supreme Court] should always grant or always deny emergency relief; it’s that the grants and denials are inconsistent, a problem exacerbated by both their lack of reasoning and the Court’s insistence that they are now precedential.”

    Leah Litman, a law professor at the University of Michigan, also highlighted Alito’s eagerness to complain about media professionals, even quoting a piece from The Atlantic’s Adam Serwer, which the justice derided as “inflammatory.” It led Sen. Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, to respond, “Judges turning into political actors, giving speeches attacking journalists, is terrible for the court and terrible for democracy.”

    […] just last fall when Alito delivered surprisingly political remarks at a Federalist Society event, at which the conservative complained about public-safety restrictions during the pandemic, before directing his frustrations at marriage equality, reproductive rights, and five sitting U.S. senators, each of whom happen to be Democrats.

    “This speech is like I woke up from a vampire dream,” University of Baltimore law professor and former federal prosecutor Kim Wehle wrote soon after. “Unscrupulously biased, political, and even angry. I can’t imagine why Alito did this publicly. Totally inappropriate and damaging to the Supreme Court.” […]

    Justices Alito, Barrett, Breyer and Thomas got their feelings hurt when journalists, (and even other justices!) called them out for partisan actions, and for partisan speeches given in public. This makes me even less likely to trust their judgement.

    Conservatives are fond of referring to liberals as “snowflakes,” and yet here are four conservative justices getting their delicate feelings hurt and acting like doofuses.

  26. says

    This sounds like a good idea: Five Midwest states to collaborate on electric vehicle charging network

    Five Midwest states announced Thursday that they will work together to increase the deployment of electric vehicle charging stations.

    A memorandum of understanding signed by the governors of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin says the states will form the Regional Electric Vehicle Midwest Coalition, or “REV Midwest.”

    The state leaders said in a statement that the agreement is aimed at “competitively” positioning the region for federal funding opportunities and that the ultimate goal is to add jobs, lower emissions and improve public health.

    […] “Our partnership will enable the Midwest to lead on electric vehicle adoption, reduce carbon emissions, spur innovation, and create good-paying jobs,” she [Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer] added.

    […] Indiana is the only state in the group with a GOP governor.

    The effort comes amid congressional efforts to bolster electric vehicle charging. The Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill that’s awaiting a final vote in the House includes $7.5 billion for electric vehicle charging, as well as $5 billion that would be distributed to states to spend on electric vehicle charging.

  27. says

    Follow-up to comment 25.

    Wonkette:

    Yesterday a sitting Supreme Court justice threw a spectacular public tantrum. With public opinion of the Court in free-fall, Justice Samuel Alito joined three of his colleagues who have felt compelled to defend the honor of the Court in the month since it allowed Texas to overrule Roe v. Wade in the middle of the night.

    The Court is not a “dangerous cabal,” he whined to a roomful of well-fed supporters at Notre Dame University’s Kellogg Institute for International Studies.

    Maybe if you constantly have to reassure the public that you’re not a dangerous cabal dedicated to gutting civil liberties, you should engage in some reflection?

    […] “Put aside the false and inflammatory claim that we nullified Roe v. Wade. We did no such thing,” he insisted, as abortion clinics in Texas close and women across the second most populous state in the union are barred from accessing the constitutionally protected health care they need.

    It is “rank nonsense” to accuse the court of outlawing abortion in the middle of the night, he huffed, implying that the Court had to wait until 11:58 p.m. to issue its ruling because Texas’s law was going into effect at midnight. Except the law was already in effect by the time the Court dropped its little bomb pretending to be confused about whether an abortion ban would actually stop women from getting abortions.

    As law professor Steve Vladeck points out on Twitter, “Justice Alito defends the #SB8 ruling coming at 11:58 p.m. EDT because the law was set to go into effect at midnight. Except it went into effect at midnight the night *before.*”

    […] “Simply put, it is no longer possible for any reasonable observer to dispute that there has been a dramatic uptick in significant, broad-impact rulings on the shadow docket in the past few years; that these rulings have been unusually divisive; that they are leading to novel forms of procedural relief from the Court; and that their substantive effects are causing significant uncertainty both in lower courts and among those government officers, lawyers, and court-watchers left to parse what, exactly, these rulings portend both for the specific policies at issue and for the broader contours of the relevant legal doctrines,” Prof. Vladeck testified.

    Well! Justice Alito wasn’t going to take that lying down, Mister. So he marched up to the podium at a private event which was only broadcast after massive public criticism, for which no transcript was released, and for which the video was not posted online, to protest the vicious criticism of the Court as an institution which does its dirty business in secret. […]

    Calling you out on your shit is a threat, of course, because conservatives are always the real victims — it’s as regular as sunrise. […]

    See, it’s not the Justices’ fault that they’re issuing so many orders without going through the bother of oral argument and full briefing. It’s all down to those dastardly governors oppressing good Christians with so-called public health restrictions.

    “They require us to adjudicate difficult issues,” he complained, just four weeks after allowing Texas to go ahead and ban abortion because the statute in question presented “complex and novel antecedent procedural questions,” and the Court couldn’t possibly predict whether judges would actually be charged with enforcing the law’s bounty scheme.

    He even went so far as to complain about having to do so much extra work to strip away civil rights.

    “These emergency applications impose additional stress on the Court,” he moaned.

    […] In response, Serwer tweeted out a passage from his most recent Atlantic essay.

    With absolute control of the Court, the conservative legal movement’s main obstacle is the fact that its extreme views are unpopular. When those views are imposed on the public in the future, the justices want to be able to claim that their decisions are the result of impartial legal reasoning, rather than motivated reasoning by committed right-wing ideologues. But that doesn’t make the proposition that the justices are free of partisanship any less ridiculous.

    Amen to that.

    Look, it’s all shit right now with six conservative Justices. You know it, and we know it. But if there’s one thing that this past month has made clear, it’s that these people really care about being perceived as neutral arbiters of the law. They hear you loud and clear when you shout that they are illegitimate partisans, and adoration from the hacks at Fox is no substitute for respect from the “right” kind of people. What good is a shoutout from Tucker Carlson if half of DC takes it as a given that you’ve long since given up serious intellectual pursuits? […]

  28. says

    Mississippi aid program gave little help to renters, but millions to a top law firm.

    Washington Post link

    Balch & Bingham’s earnings show how states — under pressure to distribute funds — can end up giving no-bid contracts to firms with close political ties.

    This June, when Tebrica Young stumbled on a new Mississippi aid program for people struggling to pay rent during the pandemic, she thought she had found a lifeline.

    Her husband was furloughed in March, and the couple was expecting a second child. They had fallen behind on payments for their two-bedroom apartment in Batesville, a small town an hour south of Memphis.

    So Young applied to the Rental Assistance for Mississippians Program, or RAMP, which is supposed to disburse federal funds to state residents in need. But though she and her husband submitted reams of documents and made multiple calls to the RAMP hotline, Young said, the money never arrived.

    […] “My landlord has ordered to put my things outside and I’m clueless to where my daughter and I will go!”

    Across America, state distribution of federal cash meant to help people facing eviction during the pandemic has been uneven and slow. […] More than seven months after Congress and […] Trump created the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, Mississippi had spent only 11 percent of $186.7 million in first-round funding according to the Treasury Department, compared with a national average of 32 percent.

    Mississippians are clamoring for the funds: 9,000 people applied to the program in August […] tenants and local advocates say it can take more than a month to get a response from the program, which is administered in part by Balch & Bingham, a politically connected Alabama law firm. Hired through a no-bid $3.8 million contract […] Balch & Bingham plays a key role in reviewing and scrutinizing aid applications, a process critics say leads to enormous delays.

    Aid applicants and advocates […] question the selection of the law firm, which also represents landlords in tenant disputes and says on its website that “commercial landlords look to Balch for representation in evicting tenants and collecting unpaid rent.” [Red flag!]

    […] Scott Spivey, executive director of the housing corporation, defended the program and the selection of Balch, saying that delivering aid in Mississippi is “particularly difficult,” with many landlords reluctant to accept the rental assistance and a largely rural population with limited access to technology. […]

    Tebrica Young’s family was evicted in August and are now living in Young’s mother’s house, where they share a single bedroom. […] Young says she did everything right, providing screenshots of documents submitted to back up her claims. […]

    While the Youngs have been left waiting, Balch has reaped millions of dollars in fees from the federal emergency relief program. Balch and MHC agreed to a $3.8 million budget for the firm to help administer the program, including a charge of $135-per-hour for the review of 30,000 applications, according to a March letter from Balch to MHC. […]

    […] Balch, which represents numerous corporate clients from an array of industries, has a long history serving as a consultant and adviser to the Mississippi state government [Republicans]. Mississippi agencies have awarded Balch nearly 70 contracts worth more than $35 million for work since 2014, according to a review of state procurement data by The Post. […]

    The flow of billions of federal pandemic relief dollars aimed at curbing economic pain across the country appears to have been particularly lucrative for the firm, as it secured several aid-related contracts over the past 18 months and ultimately scored more than $6 million in fees […]

    “It’s not really helping people to stay housed in the way that we need it to,” said Jeremiah Smith, an organizer with 662 Tenants Union, which runs a volunteer hotline that helps people facing eviction or needing rental aid. “It’s clear that decisions have been made in a way that doesn’t prioritize renters.” […]

  29. says

    Remember the Barr-created Durham probe? Two years later, it’s still ongoing, but that doesn’t mean it’s going especially well.

    The investigation into Donald Trump’s Russia scandal, led by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller, led to a series of striking findings: The former president’s political operation in 2016 sought Russian assistance, embraced Russian assistance, capitalized on Russian assistance, lied about Russian assistance, and took steps to obstruct the investigation into Russian assistance.

    The Trump White House wasn’t pleased, and the Justice Department’s inspector general conducted a lengthy probe of the Mueller investigation. Not surprisingly, the IG’s office found nothing improper.

    This, of course, led to the Trump White House being even more displeased. And so, then-Attorney General Bill Barr tapped a federal prosecutor — U.S. Attorney John Durham — to conduct his own investigation into the investigation into Trump.

    […] though the investigation is still puttering along […] it’s difficult to see Durham’s efforts as a success.

    [M]ore than two years after being commissioned by then Attorney General William Barr to investigate whether federal authorities improperly targeted the Trump campaign, Durham has little to show for his efforts. His special counsel probe, which has lasted longer than Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, has so far brought only two lying charges against little-known figures…. The results have underwhelmed Trump supporters who had hoped former top FBI and intelligence officials would be prosecuted for “spying” on Trump and his campaign.

    It would be problematic enough if the Durham probe simply continued indefinitely, searching in vain for something nefarious, but complicating matters are the steps the investigation has actually taken.

    We learned last month, for example, that Durham had indicted cybersecurity attorney Michael Sussmann for allegedly having lied to the FBI. But as the New York Times reported yesterday, there’s reason to believe the indictment itself is misleading, relying on selective quotes and omitting relevant details from their proper context.

    CNN’s report added that Durham has issued a new set of subpoenas, an indication that the prosecutor “could be trying to build a broader criminal case,” though as New York magazine’s Jon Chait concluded, the entire endeavor appears to be “falling apart.” […]

    Link

  30. says

    YouTube blocks all anti-vaccine content, including things unrelated to COVID-19

    We all know how rampant anti-vaxx information has been on social media. Conspiracy theory groups and influencers have been repeatedly spreading misinformation since the start of the pandemic, from at-home concoctions including drinking cleaning solution as a COVID-19 cure to rumors that the coronavirus vaccine leaves one infertile. Some anti-vaxx groups have even gone as far as to encourage members not to go to the emergency room.

    As a result of these deadly conspiracy theories revolving around vaccines, some social media platforms have finally decided to take action. YouTube, which formerly enabled anyone to broadcast whatever they wanted about vaccines, has finally updated its policy to remove several prominent accounts that have been linked to the spread of misinformation.

    “We’ve steadily seen false claims about the coronavirus vaccines spill over into misinformation about vaccines in general, and we’re now at a point where it’s more important than ever to expand the work we started with COVID-19 to other vaccines,” the company said. The move follows similar actions by other platforms including Facebook.

    […] “YouTube is the vector for a lot of this misinformation. If you see misinformation on Facebook or other places, a lot of the time it’s YouTube videos. Our conversation often doesn’t include YouTube when it should,” said Lisa Fazio, an associate professor at Vanderbilt college who studies misinformation.

    While the company said it will allow “scientific discussion” around vaccines, including videos about vaccine trials, results, and failures, it will remove baseless claims and theories. YouTube said it will also permit personal testimonies, such as a parent talking about their child’s experiences getting vaccinated. However, if testimonials make broader claims questioning vaccine efficacy, they will be removed.

    That’s sounds like a difficult job for the moderators who will be tasked with removing videos.

    “You create this breeding ground and when you deplatform it doesn’t go away, they just migrate,” said Hany Farid, a computer science professor and misinformation researcher at the University of California at Berkeley. “This is not one that should have been complicated. We had 18 months to think about these issues, we knew the vaccine was coming, why was this not the policy from the very beginning?” [Good points.]

    […] for years researchers have tied anti-vaccine content on YouTube to growing skepticism about lifesaving vaccines around the world. In the U.S. particularly, the vaccination rate has slowed down, with only 56% of the U.S. population receiving the full two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine as opposed to the 71% vaccination rate in the neighboring country of Canada.

    […] As of February 2020, YouTube said it has taken down more than 1 million videos for misinformation all related to COVID-19. The new policy applies not just to COVID-19 misinformation, but any vaccine. Prior to the policy, claims about vaccines—including those for measles or chickenpox—were not monitored.

    “We’ll remove claims that vaccines are dangerous or cause a lot of health effects, that vaccines cause autism, cancer, infertility or contain microchips,” Halprin said. “At least hundreds” of moderators at YouTube are working specifically on medical misinformation in all the languages YouTube operates in, he said.

    […] “Anti-vaccine activists have been very vocal about the fact that they saw Covid as an opportunity to undermine confidence in the childhood vaccine schedule,” Renée DiResta, who leads research on anti-vaccine disinformation at the Stanford Internet Observatory, told NBC News. “Seeing YouTube take this action is reflective of the fact that it seems to be aware that that tactic and dynamic was beginning to take shape.” According to YouTube’s new policy, videos will not only be removed but anti-vaccine influencer accounts will also be terminated.

    About time. That’s all good news.

  31. tomh says

    NYT:
    Covid Live Updates: California to Add Vaccine Mandate for Schools as Soon as Next Fall, Governor Says

    Gov. Gavin Newsom of California announced on Friday that the state plans to add the coronavirus vaccine to other vaccinations required to attend school, such as measles and mumps, starting as early as next fall.

    The vaccine mandate, for public and private schools, will be phased-in by grade span — seventh through 12th grades, and then kindergarten through sixth — after the Food and Drug Administration grants full approval to the corresponding age group. Mr. Newsom said that he anticipates the requirement would apply to grades seven and up starting in July 2022.
    […]

    Several of the state’s largest school districts have already voted to mandate vaccinations in some form for hundreds of thousands of students. Last month, the Los Angeles Unified School District — the second largest in the nation — became the first major school district in the country to announce a vaccine mandate for children 12 and older who attend school in person, which will be broadly effective by January…..

    California requires that K-12 students, faculty and staff wear face masks at school. The state also announced vaccine rules for teachers and other school staff in August.

    As an aside, California allows no religious or personal belief exemptions, only legitimate medical ones.

  32. says

    This “Learn from me” story reminds me of raven’s comments concerning COVID long haulers in the previous chapter of this thread.

    In late July, Pepe Forina spent two weeks in a Texas hospital ICU battling COVID-19. At the end of those two weeks, doctors told Forina’s family that his condition had worsened and he was not expected to live for much longer. According to doctors and his family, Forina miraculously made it through the night. However, the toll the virus had taken on his body, exacerbating his existing diabetes, meant that Forina’s feet had developed sepsis. Forina told KRGV 5 that his feet were black: “It was either amputate my feet and live, or leave them on and die. So it was a no-brainer.”

    The 54-year-old had both legs amputated below the knee. Dr. Federico Vallejo, a pulmonary and critical care doctor at DHR Health, told KVEO, “Either way you look at it he shouldn’t be alive. The odds were against him. It’s actually quite amazing that he had recovered.” Dr. Vallejo also told the news outlet that for many people with similar health histories, Forina’s amputations were not uncommon after suffering with COVID-19. “COVID itself can cause blood clots, we know 15% will have it. Then the use of medications to try to protect the heart and the brain.”

    Forina’s physical therapists are now in the process of trying to rebuild his stamina back to the point where he can be taken care of at home. They’re building his strength, hoping that after his surgery wounds heal he will be strong enough to get fitted for prosthetics. Right now, as physical therapist Julian Salinas told the Monitor, “He’s required 24-hour nursing care for a while since his admission here — requiring in essence bathing, dressing and going to the bathroom, all of those things. What we’re shooting for primarily is for him to be able to get up from the bed on his own, transition to the wheelchair on his own, transition to the bathroom on his own mostly under his own power as opposed to us doing most of the work.”

    Forina was not vaccinated against the virus. He says the only reason he can give is “stupidity,” telling the Monitor, “There’s still people out there that don’t want to get it done, so I’m not going to push it on any of you guys if you’re not vaccinated and tell you you have to do it. I didn’t believe in it. It’s a choice, a choice that I made poorly. Learn from me, and hopefully you won’t be in the same situation that I’m in.” Forina is lucky, and has a new lease on life and a wife and child and a brother that will be happy to take care of him. Some people aren’t so lucky. […]

    Link

  33. says

    tomh @31: “As an aside, California allows no religious or personal belief exemptions, only legitimate medical ones.” Good. That’s the way those mandates should work.

    In other news: Alex Jones Has To Give Even More Money To Sandy Hook Families

    Infowars founder Alex Jones has lost two more of the many, many lawsuits brought against him by Sandy Hook families — families who lost their tiny children to a horrific school shooting and were then endlessly harassed by Jones’s acolytes after he declared the shooting a “false flag” and claimed that the families were all “crisis actors.”

    This time, Jones has been ordered by Judge Maya Guerra Gamble to pay damages to Leonard Pozner and Scarlett Lewis, both parents of children killed in the shooting. Judge Gamble issued a default judgement — a rarity — in favor of the plaintiffs due to Jones’s continued refusal to provide discovery in separate lawsuits filed against him by Pozner and Lewis.

    Via Huffington Post:

    Judge Maya Guerra Gamble on Monday issued her ruling for default judgments against Jones in two different cases, which means he and the conspiracy-theory-spewing outlet Infowars have been found liable for all damages and a jury will now be convened to determine how much he will owe the plaintiffs. The new rulings became public Thursday.

    In the filings, Gamble eviscerated Jones and reasoned that default judgments should be ordered because “an escalating series of judicial admonishments, monetary penalties, and non-dispositive sanctions have all been ineffective at deterring the abuse,” caused by Jones’ unwillingness to turn over documents related to the cases, the Texas judge ruled.

    So far, Jones has been sued by nine Sandy Hook families and paid out over $150,000 just in suits related to his refusal to provide discovery.

    We really owe the Sandy Hook families a debt of gratitude because honestly, there are so many, many people who should sue Alex Jones and others for libel and slander and don’t. […]

    One person who could sue Alex Jones for libel is Bill Gates, and it would be a service to the public. We are more harmed by conspiracy theories about Bill Gates than Bill Gates is. People don’t want to take their vaccine because they think “vaccines” is a secret plot by Gates to Mark of the Beast them or make them “compliant.” Here is a guy on Alex Jones’s show this week saying exactly that. […] [Video is available at the link.]

    Following a bizarre rant in which he complained that a lawyer in his church was admonished by a judge whenever she called it an “abomination” that a lesbian couple was trying to adopt a child, Pastor Tony Spell claimed that the vaccine was part of Bill Gates’s evil plan that he got from the Bible:

    The vaccine takes away people’s ability—because of Bill Gates’ agenda that is in Daniel 7:25—it takes away your ability to resist. It takes away your desire to be zealous and fanatical. Look at people that are vaccinated, they’re like zombies. They’re just wandering around with no goals.

    JFC.

    […] the fact is, people aren’t getting the vaccine because they think it’s part of Gates’s evil plans, and the only thing that might make that stop is the threat of a lawsuit. […]

    Granted, the Sandy Hook families have more leeway, as they’re not public figures, and public figures have to prove “actual malice” when it comes to libel cases, meaning that someone said what they said knowing it was false or with reckless disregard for the truth. But if claiming without evidence that the vaccine is part of Gates’s evil plan to take over the world isn’t “reckless disregard for the truth” I do not know what is. Even if it doesn’t work, people should be constantly suing him, just to make it slightly more inconvenient for him to go around lying constantly.

    It’s really the only way any of this is ever going to stop.

  34. says

    Koch-backed group fuels opposition to school mask mandates, leaked letter shows.

    Washington Post link

    The letter sounds passionate and personal.

    It is motivated, the author explains, by a desire to “speak up for what is best for my kids.” And it fervently conveys the author’s feelings to school leaders: “I do not believe little kids should be forced to wear masks, and I urge you to adopt a policy that allows parental choice on this matter for the upcoming school year.”

    But the heartfelt appeal is not the product of a grass roots groundswell. Rather, it is a template drafted and circulated this week within a conservative network built on the scaffolding of the Koch fortune and the largesse of other GOP megadonors. […]

    The document offers a rare glimpse into the inner workings of a well-financed conservative campaign to undermine regulations that health authorities say are necessary to contain the coronavirus. […]

    The letter was made available on Tuesday to paying members of the Independent Women’s Network, a project of the Independent Women’s Forum and Independent Women’s Voice that markets itself as a “members-only platform that is free from censorship and cancellation.” Both are nonprofits once touted by their board chairman and CEO, Heather Higgins, as part of a unique tool in the “Republican conservative arsenal” because, “Being branded as neutral but actually having the people who know, know that you’re actually conservative puts us in a unique position.” [They are faking neutrality. And they have admitted to faking neutrality.]

    […] The group decided to circulate the letter, Lukas said, to “empower people to have a kind, civil conversation.”
    Lukas is a co-author of a Sept. 28 post in the network’s “Resource Center” explaining the purpose of the letter, according to documents reviewed by The Post. “Is your school considering mask mandates, or has it already made a decision that kids must wear masks in class?” the appeal begins. “Push back! Here is a draft letter you can use to write your own school superintendents and administrators, principals, and teachers!”

    […] “This letter can also easily be turned into a letter to the editor for your local paper.” It is unclear how widely the letter has been used so far by members of the network, where membership costs between $5 and $25 per month.

    The document flies in the face of recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, whose positions stress the need to account for more dangerous strains of the virus and to protect people too young to receive shots still only authorized for those 12 and older.

    A pair of CDC studies published last month found that schools with mask requirements saw fewer outbreaks than those without them, and that pediatric cases rose faster in counties where schools had made masking a matter of personal choice.

    In contrast with evidence provided by government scientists, the Independent Women’s Forum letter offers an inventory of inaccuracies, said pediatric infectious-disease specialists. David Kimberlin, a physician at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, was particularly troubled by the letter’s argument that “young kids do not significantly spread covid.” That notion is undercut, he said, by “data clearly showing that children can transmit the virus, […]”

    […] As a nonprofit, Independent Women’s Forum is exempt from disclosing its donors and paying federal income taxes. But the group, which reported revenue of nearly $3.8 million in 2019, has drawn financial and institutional support from organizations endowed by billionaire industrialist Charles Koch and his late brother, David, according to private promotional materials as well as tax records and other public statements.

    Tributes to sponsors prepared for recent galas — and reviewed by The Post — recognize the Charles Koch Institute as a major benefactor. Other backers include Facebook; Dick DeVos, heir to the Amway fortune and the husband of former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos; and the Walton Family Foundation, a philanthropy controlled by the family that founded Walmart.

    […] The institutional ties binding Independent Women’s Forum to the Koch network go even deeper.

    In 2003, Independent Women’s Forum announced that it was formally affiliating with Americans for Prosperity, the Koch network’s main political arm, and that the two organizations would share office space. “The affiliation agreement provides for staff and resource sharing between Americans for Prosperity and the Independent Women’s Forum,” an archived news release stated, explaining that Nancy Pfotenhauer, then-president of Independent Women’s Forum, would also serve as president of Americans for Prosperity.

    […] The letter drafted by Independent Women’s Forum illustrates how national groups are “inflaming the political fight over broadly popular mask protections,” said Lisa Graves, executive director of True North Research, a liberal watchdog group, and a former deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Policy. “The effect is really to distort public debate.”

    […] Meanwhile, the letter traffics in “nonsense and extremism,” said Julia Raifman, an assistant professor of health policy at Boston University and the creator of a database tracking state policy responses to the pandemic.

    The letter warns of possible downsides for children wearing masks, ranging from communication difficulties to tooth decay. But such claims lack credible evidence, she said, compared with a wealth of data showing face coverings blunt the risk from the coronavirus.

    The letter also emphasizes moves by some peer countries not to mandate masks in schools. But other places have maintained indoor mask requirements for adults that have suppressed community transmission sufficiently to protect children and allow schools to proceed normally, Raifman said.

    “Mask-wearing can be temporary until transmission is reduced, but the children, parents and all people who die if we do not control surges will be gone forever,” she said.

  35. says

    WTF Kyrsten Sinema?

    Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona is quickly headed to a very dark place as she flits around Washington with “secret spreadsheets” leaving a trail of bewilderment among people who should be her political allies.

    By all accounts but her own, Sinema has left Democratic leaders in the dark as they scramble to broker a deal on a multi-trillion investment in America’s future that could be their last best chance to reshape public policy for a decade or more. The Build Back Better bill, which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi framed Thursday as the “culmination” of her career, holds the key to President Joe Biden’s legacy along with Democrats’ ability to keep their slim majorities in next year’s midterms.

    Yet on Friday—amid a frenzy of Democratic activity—she reportedly skips town?

    It’s precisely the type of antic that has earned her the ire of her colleagues and Arizona Democrats alike.

    […] if things have soured in Washington for Sinema, they are practically rancid back home.

    The Senator’s Phoenix offices are now home to regular protests by progressive voters who feel betrayed by Sinema […]

    “It really feels like she does not care about her voters,” Jade Duran, 33, told The New York Times. Duran, who knocked doors for Sinema in 2018, sat for arrest at a July protest of Sinema. “I will never vote for her again,” she said.

    This week alone, liberal activists and donors launched several efforts to deliver a primary to Sinema, whose seat is up in 2024. No time like the present. Recent polls have found Sinema’s approval ratings sagging among Democrats, in some cases to disastrous levels.

    Link

  36. Jean says

    From her behaviour, it seems clear that Sinema is working for some conservative people and that she doesn’t expect to be re-elected. So she probably already have some sort of exit plan and it will be interesting to see where she ends up after she’s kicked out of her seat. Of course that assumes that her owners will actually come through with some pseudo position in some organization or that she doesn’t already have her payment stashed in some secret location.

  37. KG says

    Some (reasonably) good news from the UK: the transphobe candidate for the leadership of the Green Party of England and Wales, Shahrar Ali, came a poor third. I’d have preferred the runners-up, Amelia Womack and Tamsin Omond (Omond is non-binary) who are more radical than the winners, Carla Denyer and Adrian Ramsay, but the latter are acceptable. It’s still unsettling that 20% of those who voted, voted transphobe (that was the whole point of Ali’s candidacy), but I feared an entryist campaign might actually put him in.

  38. says

    KVOA News:

    An NBC News tally has confirmed more than 700,000 deaths from the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic…. It took the United States 119 days to go from 600,000 deaths to more than 700,000 deaths.

  39. says

    Wonkette:

    Are you alright, Alan Dershowitz? Do you need a policeman or a grownup? Or maybe a refresher 1L ConLaw class might do the trick.

    The famed emeritus Harvard Law professor seems to be confused of late about FIRST AMENDMENT, HOW DOES IT GO? Here in US America, it goes like this:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    Literally none of that says “It is UNLEGAL for companies and people to tell me to shut up and stop defaming them.” […] And yet, Dersh and his pals in Wingnutistan keep filing these batshit lawsuits insisting that any corporation that contracts with the government literally becomes the government forever after.

    Mike Lindell, who is being advised by Prof. Dershowitz, made this argument in his countersuit against Dominion Voting Systems, which is suing him for defamation. And now a bunch of weirdos who got cease and desist letters from Dominion’s lawyers are attempting to file a class action against the company for doing the RICO to their free speech rights. With an assist from Dersh!

    “This lawsuit is not about who is right or wrong regarding the merits of the election or claims of fraud or mistake,” begins the complaint, which was filed yesterday in a federal court in Colorado. “It is about whether these issues are worthy of debate under the First Amendment, and whether a corporation that has participated in the election as a state-actor has the power to chill such debate by employing intimidating ‘Lawfare’ tactics.”

    Here on Planet Earth, Dominion is not a state actor; it’s a private company which has every right to use the legal system to protect its reputation. Nevertheless, the plaintiffs allege that they received cease and desist letters telling them to quit saying that Dominion machines were used to perpetrate election fraud, and this amounts to intimidation and suppression of speech in violation of the First Amendment.

    Here’s one plaintiff demanding money because she felt sad when she got a letter telling her to knock off the defamation already:

    Upon reading the Letter, Daavettila felt afraid and scared for her family. After being threatened and in fear of her life and that of her unborn child while working at the TCF Center, this letter exacerbated all of those feelings. Why was she being threatened with a lawsuit? How would this affect her family? Daavettila was terrified and has been damaged by Dominion, Clare Locke, and HPS’ Lawfare campaign.

    And because the First Amendment exists, nothing bad will happen to lawyers who put their signatures on a lawsuit containing language this brain meltingly stupid:

    Dominion has not waged its Lawfare campaign as only a corporate citizen, but also as a state-actor, i.e., the government. Dominion is a state-actor because States across the United States have outsourced their constitutional obligation to run elections by deferring to Dominion’s professional experience and contracting out the administration, collection, counting, recording, and auditing of ballot results through voting technology, software, and thousands of hours of technical and election services.

    Ditto for filing a nonsensical allegation of a civil conspiracy between Dominion and its own lawyers to DO THE RICOS to the plaintiffs. No the lawyers are not included as defendants here. What kind of operation do you think these guys are running?

    But there’s no reason on God’s green earth that a person like Alan Dershowitz, who bloody well knows better, should associate himself with this act of litigious masturbation.

    “I consider this a part of the bigger-picture efforts, that includes my consulting on Mike Lindell and MyPillow’s cases,” he told reporters from the Daily Beast, which first noted the filing. “I believe the election was absolutely fair, I believe President Biden is the legitimately elected president. But I think the issue should be debated and should not be censored. I believe Dominion is trying to suppress free speech.”

    Well, he sort of believes it. Just not, you know, enough to put his name on this piece of crap complaint, calling himself an “adviser and consultant on the First Amendment issues of this case.”

    “I certainly would never support any kind of coup d’état,” he added helpfully.

    But after the fact, when the coup plotters need someone with gravitas to pretend their positions aren’t rank horseshit? Well, Dersh is the man for that job.

    Link

  40. says

    Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announces retirement from politics.

    Washington Post link

    Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday announced he would be retiring from politics, walking back a previous claim that he would run for the vice presidency in 2022 — and leaving the public guessing as to who he wants to be his successor.

    Duterte, 76, accompanied his former aide, Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, who is now a senator, to the filing of candidacy for national elections — then endorsed Go’s run for the vice presidency in what the local press dubbed a “surprise” move.

    Addressing the public, Duterte cited a recent survey that found most Filipinos believe a run by Duterte for vice president would be unconstitutional. “So in obedience to the will of the people, who after all placed me in the presidency many years ago, I now say to my countrymen: I will follow what you want, and today I announce my retirement from politics,” he said.

    Duterte, a tough-talking populist who is most known for a drug war that has left thousands dead, has previously claimed he would retire from politics. He made a similar pronouncement just before running for the presidency, which he won in 2016. […]

  41. blf says

    MyPillow Guy Thinks Idaho Votes Were Switched Electronically. There Are 7 Reasons He’s Wrong:

    [… Mike] Lindell submitted a document, titled The Big Lie, to the Idaho Secretary of State’s office that claimed votes for Trump in all 44 state counties were electronically switched to Biden in the 2020 election. But according to the Secretary of State’s office, at least seven counties in the state don’t use electronics at any point in their vote-counting process.

    “Once we had the document in hand, we immediately believed there was something amiss,” Chief Deputy Secretary Chad Houck said in a statement released late Wednesday.

    “This document alleged electronic manipulation in all 44 counties. At least seven Idaho counties have no electronic steps in their vote-counting processes,” he added. “That was a huge red flag, and one we knew we could either prove or disprove fairly directly.”

    [… and the usual, several counties were checked (again), and only one mistake was found…]

  42. blf says

    I’m not familiar with this site, and since what is being discussed is so ridiculous, had to check they aren’t another Onion. They do not seem to be, other sites are also reporting on the ridiculousness. (I have not gone hunting for the actual social morans posts, that is, teh e-trvth (the “ground truth”), however.) In Spain, After the emergence of vaccines, “volcano deniers” appeared:

    First, they denied the existence of the coronavirus pandemic, then they opposed vaccination, considering it unnecessary and harmful. Now the eruption of Cumbre Vieja volcano last Sunday on the island of La Palma (Canary Islands) has “deniers” in Spanish social networks. They argue that the volcanic eruption was not accidental, but deliberately provoked. They think this is a conspiracy. It’s about distracting people from dangerous vaccines.

    There are not many “volcano deniers” yet, but they provoke strong feelings and reactions on social networks. They believe that the volcanic eruption made it necessary to evacuate more than 6,000 people and caused serious material damage, and this is the result of the Machiavellian plan.

    The volcanic eruption could be caused by satellites with mirrored telescope lenses, focused on volcanic craters, they say[, obviously unfamiliar with satellites, optical telescopes, volcanoes (other than of their own spittle), logic, and the numerous secret bases underneath all of the Canary Island’s volcanoes].

    If you look at the photos and videos, you will see that the lava is flowing from the side of the volcano, and not from the top of the volcano, as it appears to be flowing outwards. It is very strange, this eruption is not of natural origin, one negotiator [sic] wrote on Twitter. [yeah, eruptions are always straight up, mobile phones cause Superman a problem (very few changing rooms), and elephants are actually disguised unicorns]

    Meanwhile, the eruption of the Cumbre Vieja volcano is of a fissure type, and not of a central type (from the crater), that is, volcanic material exits along longitudinal fissures with many holes through which lava flows.

    Other deniers assert that volcanic eruptions are provoked to make us forget that electricity is getting more and more expensive. [this is why England(? teh “U”K?) — and France — are overflowing with molten lava from all the volcanoes you aren’t reading about (from memory, both have put up electricity prices recently)]

    Vacuna (Spanish vaccine) and Volcan (Spanish volcano), both words beginning with the letter ‘V’ — coincidence? I don’t think so, one Twitter user wrote referring to vaccine deniers. [in English, vacuous eejit also begins with ‘V’ …]

    I suppose it’s possible these Verily Vacuous Volcano Vaccine Vacuum-for-brains are actually joking, but none of the sources I’ve seen are presenting them that way… and as quoted (presumably in translation) above, any joke has been lost.

  43. tomh says

    The Lily
    Published by WaPo:

    California will become the first state to track the violent deaths of LGBTQ people
    Such a program is crucial in understanding why this community faces disproportionate violence, advocates say
    Ray Levy Uyeda / September 30, 2021

    Understanding the circumstances surrounding violent death is critical to its prevention, but for LGBTQ people, large-scale data collection hasn’t existed — until now.

    In a historic move, the state of California will be the first to pilot a program that will record sexual orientation and gender identity demographics of victims. Advocates say that the three-year pilot program will fill a critical gap in the state’s understanding of violent crime victimization, as well as allow for policymakers to design legislation that targets the unique needs of LGBTQ Californians.

    “This kind of program is an excellent step towards tracking and monitoring violence when it does happen, so that we can better understand risk factors and start to address those factors and ensure safety for LGBTQ+ people,” said Emily Rothman, chair of the Occupational Therapy Department at Boston University. “This is step No. 1 in the public health playbook.”

    The legislation, which Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed into law in mid-September, will establish a three-year pilot program among up to six participating counties in the state, including Santa Clara and Los Angeles, two of the largest counties in the country.
    […]

    The Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ advocacy organization, has independently tracked the violent deaths of transgender and gender nonconforming people since 2013. According to the HRC, 2021 will likely be the deadliest year on record yet. The impact of this violence on women of color is particularly alarming: Since 2013, 67 percent of all the recorded killings have been Black transgender women, according to HRC numbers.
    […]

    Although no federal database currently tracks the violent deaths of LGBTQ individuals, the FBI found that, in 2018, nearly 1 in 5 of all hate crimes in the country were motivated by anti-LGBTQ bias.

    According to the University of California at Los Angeles’s Williams Institute, a research center on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy, LGBTQ people are four times as likely to be victims of violence than are straight and cisgender people, and the threat of violence for LGBTQ women is five times higher than the risk of violent victimization for straight and cisgender women.

    As LGBTQ individuals gain certain protections in some ways — the Supreme Court last year ruled that gay and transgender workers are protected by civil rights law, for example — anti-LGBTQ bills are still being introduced in conservative states. Such legislation can create a culture of tolerance for anti-LGBTQ violence, experts say.
    […]

    Jody Herman, a senior scholar of public policy at the Williams Institute, said that the research collected by California’s pilot program would “shine a light on the reality of what’s actually going on on the ground.” For example, Herman said, “we know that study after study has shown a rather high prevalence of suicide attempts among trans people. But then when somebody asks, ‘Okay, well, how many trans people actually died by suicide?’ Well, we just don’t have the answer to that question, because we’ve been lacking in this data.”

    In order to counter anti-trans legislation, it’s critical that advocates are able to demonstrate the impact of the culture of transphobia and homophobia, Herman said. One 2018 study found that more than half of transgender male adolescents attempt suicide….

    “LGBTQ people have been largely invisible in the systems that are so important to the U.S. population,” Herman said. “The National Violent Death Reporting System is another example of a large-scale national data collection system where LGBTQ people have been invisible.”

    Making LGBTQ people visible in death is critical to making them visible in life — and this understanding is starting to take root, Herman said. Because of lobbying from LGBTQ organizations, the Census Bureau is including questions of sexual orientation and gender identity this year in its ongoing household pulse survey. “It’s very exciting,” Herman said.

  44. says

    Neo-Nazi ‘active clubs’ spring up around country as handiwork of notorious fascist living abroad

    The clubs organize in small local groups, recruiting young white men eager for violence in such dark corners of the internet as the encrypted-chat app Telegram, promising them an outlet in “active clubs” where they can fight and train with weapons. But these are not just fight clubs: They are also fascist gangs who indoctrinate members into neo-Nazi ideology.

    The “active clubs,” as Karim Zidan at Right Wing Watch and Tess Owens at Vice reported this week, are spreading both nationally and internationally and forming alliances with preexisting fascist groups such as Patriot Front, though in small numbers. They are the brainchild of Robert Rundo, the erstwhile leader of the far-right street-brawling gang Rise Above Movement, whose involvement in the 2017 Charlottesville protest violence led to federal indictments and his current status living abroad to avoid federal charges. And their spread provides a concise illustration of what happens when hardcore far-right ideologues evade the law: namely, they double down on their activities and become even more dangerous.

    The clubs, which Rundo appears to be organizing from various countries where he is currently living abroad as a quasi-fugitive, are specifically geared toward recruiting angry young white men with a taste for violence and white nationalist slogans. The primary Telegram channels where they are organized are called Will2Rise and Active Club.

    […] As Owens explains:

    The main “active club” channel cross-pollinates propaganda from nationalist fight clubs around the world, such as images of muscled white men with their faces covered, doing pull-ups, boxing, or graffitiing white nationalist slogans or symbols. The channel also helps direct subscribers toward smaller, locally-focused channels that facilitate real-world meet-ups.

    In addition to engaging in fitness activities such as weight training and combat sports training, the clubs also promote the “thrill and excitement” of spreading fascist propaganda in the form of flyers, stickers, and graffiti. “Create displays of defiance. Show your community our culture will not be erased,” the same recruitment flyer reads.

    […] “The active club is not so much a structural organization as it is a lifestyle for those willing to work, risk and sweat to embody our ideals for themselves and to promote them to others,” Rundo theorized on his Active Club Telegram channel. “The active lifestyle is the counter to the left’s culture of apathy, addiction, and vice. Get active today in your area and be the change you want to see.”

    Rundo also created a video site called Media2Rise, which he envisions as a place to “counter” liberal narratives. One of the first videos he created for the site was a propaganda “documentary” extolling the virtues of the fascist organization Patriot Front.

    According to Right Wing Watch, Rundo’s active clubs have sprung up in Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. Active clubs have formed in Canada as well, with an Ontario group recently renamed “Action 14,” a reference to a neo-Nazi slogan.

    […] his last known whereabouts was Bosnia and Herzegovina, after local authorities kicked him out of Serbia in March. He has claimed in chats that he was placed on a “no-fly list” that forced him to spend “a few months” getting out of the U.S. and into Eastern Europe.

    His tenuous status abroad is a product of his career as a neo-fascist organizer, one that dates back to at least 2017, when he and other members of their California-based fight group, the Rise Above Movement (RAM), participated in brawls at a pro-Trump rally in Huntington Beach and at a Proud Boys event in Berkeley. Fatefully, Rundo and his fellow RAM members also flew to Charlottesville in August 2017 and played leading roles in the lethal violence that ensued.

    […] Since moving to Eastern Europe, Rundo’s activities have included founding the International Conservative Community, a propaganda outfits that boasts a network connecting neo-Nazis around the world. The ICC, which is also involved with the fundraising and propaganda campaigns for Kyle Rittenhouse, the Illinois teenager who gunned down three protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in 2020, has active groups in Greece, Poland, Sweden, Hungary, Russia, and Canada.

    […] Rundo calls it “white nationalism 3.0.” In his vision for the movement, groups are local, self-contained, and judicious about their public and online presence. Rather than taking part in rallies and demonstrations where they can be identified, now they stick to training and fitness activities, and focus instead on spreading propaganda […]

    “[…] Rundo has indicated that he sees many white, male Trump supporters as potential new recruits into militant white nationalism, due to the disillusionment and persecution they feel under the current U.S. administration and mainstream cultural climate,” wrote the nonprofit public interest group Advance Democracy in a report on Rundo’s activities. […]

    In particular, Rundo’s emphasis on mixed-martial-arts-style fighting as a medium for spreading neo-Nazi ideology carries all the classic appeal of old-style fascists, but for a new generation of young white men: an aesthetic of violence, a contempt for weakness, profound misogyny, and visceral racism. But it wraps the package in the fraudulent imagery of uplifting “oppressed” young people.

    “Messaging [is] also about aspirational qualities like solidarity, honor, courage, trust, loyalty, and brotherhood,” Cynthia Miller-Idriss, author of Hate in the Homeland, told Owens. “I think that’s a really important part of why people are attracted to these movements. People think it’s just because of hate, but often they are attracted to the idea of being part of something.”

    “Being a part of something” strikes me as a weak excuse for being a Nazi.

  45. says

    Wonkette: “‘Boogaloo Boi’ Admits He Pretended To Be A BLM Activist, Shot Up Police Station”

    People on the Right are always crying that everything is a false flag, that anyone doing anything bad while dressed as a Trump supporter is actually Antifa, that everyone who disagrees with them is a crisis actor, that politicians are sending secret messages to each other through pictures of their dogs on Twitter (I wish that was a joke, it’s not a joke) — and really, it is hard not to wonder who on earth would have the time or energy to bother with that nonsense.

    Well, apparently someone would, and did, and that person is Ivan Harrison Hunter of Boerne, Texas, pictured above. [Photo available at the link.] Except rather than being a nefarious, Soros-check-collecting, anti-fascist, Harrison is a Boogaloo Boi that plead guilty this week to shooting up a Minneapolis police station while trying to pass himself off as a BLM protester angry about George Floyd’s death.

    Hunter has been charged with one count of rioting, the sentencing guidelines for which suggest he will serve between 37 and 46 months in federal prison.

    Via Minneapolis Public Radio:

    Hunter admitted that he fired 13 rounds from an AK-47-style rifle into the 3rd precinct police station on May 28, 2020, as other rioters looted and set fire to the building after police evacuated. No one was struck by the gunfire.

    After shooting at the building, Hunter was recorded on video high-fiving another person and yelling “Justice for Floyd!” Investigators matched the skull mask Hunter was wearing in the video to a photo on his Facebook page.

    Prosecutors say Hunter came to Minneapolis in the days following Floyd’s murder after corresponding on Facebook with Michael Solomon of New Brighton, Minn., and Benjamin Teeter of Hampstead, N.C. The men had been part of the “Boogaloo Bois,” a group that exploits tensions to further violence.

    “Hunter admitted that he fired 13 rounds from an AK-47-style rifle into the 3rd precinct police station on May 28, 2020.” Sheesh. That’s sounds worse than “rioting.” It sounds like attempted murder.

    You may recall Solomon and Teeter from the time they tried to join forces with and sell weapons to an FBI agent posing as a member of Hamas. He was also reportedly in touch with Air Force Staff Sgt./Boogaloo Boi/Murderer Steven Carrillo, as we noted when he was first arrested in October of last year.

    Then, just a few hours after the precinct was set on fire, Hunter started texting with California Boogaloo Boi Steven Carrillo, who had just killed a Federal Protective Services Officer in Oakland, and who would shoot and kill a sheriff’s deputy in Santa Cruz only five days later. He asked Carrillo for money and recommended he consider going after police buildings.

    “I did better,” Carrillo replied.

    Another Boogaloo Boi, Aaron Caleb Swenson, was recently sentenced to 50 years in prison for the attempted murder of a police officer — so Hunter got off pretty light, considering.

    The Boogaloo Bois/Boys are an extremist group known for their fondness for Hawaiian print (because “Big Luau” is one of their special secred code words) and their desire to push society towards a second Civil War. Some of them want a full on race war, others just want to overthrow the government because they think it is doing tyranny to them. They have been kicked off of most parts of the internet and, thankfully, have not been heard from much since the January 6 insurrection.

    The Booglaoo Bois are not the only far-right group in the news right now. The El Mirage Police Department announced this week that Thomas Christopher Retzlaff, was murdered earlier this month. Retzlaff had allegedly been targeted for “a surveillance and assassination plot” by Jason Van Dyke. a former Proud Boy who previously represented the group as an attorney.

    Via Phoenix New Times:

    On September 1, 2021, El Mirage Police Department officers discovered 55-year-old Thomas Christopher Retzlaff dead at his home with unspecified “fatal injuries” after responding to a welfare check requested by his wife, according to agency spokesperson Timothy Mason. The Maricopa County Office of the Medical Examiner later ruled the death a homicide.

    In recent years, Retzlaff had been entangled in a vicious and convoluted legal battle with Jason Van Dyke, a Texas-based attorney who is a former Proud Boys member and once served as the group’s lawyer.

    Van Dyke filed a $100 million libel lawsuit in federal court in 2018 accusing Retzlaff of falsely calling him a Nazi and a pedophile in blog posts. Retzlaff had also filed bar complaints against Van Dyke in an attempt to derail his potential job as a prosecutor in the Victoria County District Attorney’s Office, according to a report by The Daily Beast.

    After leaving the Proud Boys, Van Dyke allegedly tried and failed to join the Neo-Nazi extremist group The Base last year, although he denies he is the person who sounds just like him and shares many of his personal details in a recording obtained by VICE.

    Van Dyke says he has not been associated with the group for more than two years and had nothing to do with Retzlaff’s death, although he did celebrate his death with whiskey and steak, according to The Daily Beast.

  46. says

    Thousands gather at Women’s March rallies in D.C., across U.S. to protect Roe v. Wade.

    Washington Post link

    Thousands of protesters marched at rallies in Washington and in cities across the country Saturday, decrying Texas’s recent ban on most abortions and warning that the U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority could impose further restrictions in the coming months.

    Amassing in downtown D.C. before walking in a clamorous procession to the Supreme Court, a roster of speakers bemoaned a looming threat to Roe v. Wade and implored Americans to enlist in a nationwide campaign to preserve women’s abortion rights.

    “No matter where you live, no matter where you are, this moment is dark — it is dark — but that’s why we’re here,” Alexis McGill Johnson, president of Planned Parenthood, told the crowd at the “Rally for Abortion Justice.”

    […] By 1 p.m., the crowd had swelled to the thousands as people spilled into the streets on either side of Freedom Plaza, clustering in pockets in the shade, their eyes on the stage.

    “Not only is abortion health care, but at my organization we also believe it’s self-care,” Marsha Johns, executive director of the Ayiha Center, a Texas-based abortion rights organization, told the throng. “You can no longer tell us what to do with our bodies.”

    At that, the protesters erupted in cheers, many hoisting homemade signs and chanting, “Abortion is healthcare!”

    The day of demonstrations was the first that the Women’s March has organized since former president Donald Trump left office in January. […]

  47. says

    For years, the voice behind ISIS propaganda was a mystery. Now a Canadian faces criminal charges.

    Washington Post link

    A Canadian who U.S. prosecutors allege is behind influential English-language propaganda videos for the Islamic State has been brought to Virginia to be prosecuted.

    Mohammed Khalifa, 38, was captured by Kurdish forces in Syria in 2019. At that point, according to prosecutors, he had been with the Islamic State for six years. He started as a fighter, according to court documents, before becoming involved in the translation and dissemination of English-language propaganda.

    He ultimately led ISIS’s English-language media arm, prosecutors allege, whose output included videos, audio statements and an online magazine. Prosecutors say Khalifa narrated over a dozen ISIS recruitment videos, including two of the group’s most influential efforts at luring Westerners: “Flames of War: Fighting Has Just Begun,” in 2014, and “Flames of War II: Until the Final Hour,” in 2017.

    […] “As alleged, Mohammed Khalifa not only fought for ISIS on the battlefield in Syria, but he was also the voice behind the violence,” Raj Parekh, the acting U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, who also is one of the prosecutors handling the case, said in a statement. “Khalifa promoted the terrorist group, furthered its worldwide recruitment efforts, and expanded the reach of videos that glorified the horrific murders and indiscriminate cruelty of ISIS.” […]

    In an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. after his capture, Khalifa said, “I had a normal life back in Canada, I was doing very well for myself, and I decided to give it up knowing … what I was sacrificing in the process. That was a decision I made, and I stuck to that decision.”

    According to the CBC, Khalifa was an information technology specialist in Toronto when he joined the Islamic State. He said he was himself radicalized by propaganda videos — ones narrated by Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen who joined al-Qaeda and was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen in 2011. […]

  48. says

    Boris Johnson’s government has been a reckless failure, but Keir Starmer, Labour’s new leader, hasn’t offered a convincing alternative.

    New Yorker link

    Britain’s Labour Party has been out of power for eleven years. The Party’s most recent Prime Minister was Gordon Brown, a complex, often frustrated figure, who coped admirably with the 2008 financial crisis but lost a general election, in 2010, to a coalition of the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. Since then, under three successive Conservative leaders, the British population has undergone a self-defeating program of austerity, the tedium and discord of Brexit, and the unnecessary loss of thousands of lives during the government’s incompetent handling of the pandemic. Even before covid-19, life expectancy had flatlined in the United Kingdom for the first time in a hundred years. […] Wholesale electricity prices have tripled in Britain in the past twelve months, and there is currently a national gas shortage, caused mostly by panic buying. On October 6th, the government plans to cut around a hundred million pounds a month from Universal Credit, a benefit payment received by some six million people. The future looks hard. […] The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, is a shirker. Sixty per cent of voters do not trust him.

    And yet Labour remains peripheral. In December, 2019, under its previous, left-wing leader, Jeremy Corbyn, the Party suffered its worst election result since 1935. Corbyn was succeeded by Keir Starmer, who was meant to bring Labour back into the mainstream. Starmer, who is fifty-nine, comes off like a centrist action figure. Before he became an M.P., he was the chief prosecutor for England and Wales, and a human-rights lawyer. […] he helped to abolish the death penalty in Uganda; he has a happening hair style. The hope projected onto Starmer was that he would somehow marry the radicalism and energy of the best parts of Corbyn’s agenda with a greater sense of patriotism and better suits. It hasn’t worked out that way. […] Labour continued to shed voters from white working-class communities […] opinion polls still put the Conservatives, and their program of national disarray, five to seven points ahead of Labour.

    Starmer’s supporters argue that he has been hampered by the pandemic, which has made it difficult for him to get his message across. In recent days, thousands of Labour members, activists, politicians, and hangers-on assembled in Brighton, on England’s south coast, for the Party’s annual conference. It was a chance for Starmer to relaunch himself. Before the conference began, he published a fourteen-thousand-word essay, called “The Road Ahead,” which sought to lay out his vision for the country. As with most things that Starmer says, there was little to disagree with. […] There was no sign of the clear, but sometimes outlandish, policy ideas of the Corbyn era: […] But there was nothing to replace them, either. […] Writing in the Guardian, Rafael Behr congratulated Starmer on identifying “opportunity” and “security” as two promising themes with which to attack Johnson’s unstable government, but despaired of the vague padding around them. “Two cleverly chosen words at the heart of Starmer’s pamphlet stake out a viable position,” Behr wrote. “The problem is in the other 13,998.”

    Veterans of Labour’s most recent government emphasize how far the Party has fallen. “The emphatic nature of that defeat in 2019 underlines the enormous change that Labor has to go through to become acceptable to the electorate again,” Pat McFadden, a Labour M.P., told me. McFadden was an adviser to Tony Blair and a minister in Brown’s government. […]

    You can see history passing the Party by. Since Labour lost power, British politics has undergone two great upheavals—Brexit and the rise of Scottish nationalism—both of which have been motivated by questions of identity and belonging. Labour has yet to formulate a convincing response to either.

    […] One of the more insightful things that Starmer said was perhaps more memorable than he meant it to be: “In a way, the more we expose the inadequacy of this government, the more it presses the question back on us. If they are so bad, what does it say about us?”

  49. Trickster Goddess says

    I’ve been an atheist since I was nine years old, but I was raised in a Mennonite family and most of my relatives are still believers, so I am glad to see the church leadership speaking up in support of vaccines.

    No religious exemptions from COVID-19 vaccines: MC Canada

    Mennonite Church Canada’s executive ministers released a statement earlier this week responding to inquiries from constituents regarding exemption from COVID-19 vaccines.

    The message, signed by Doug Klassen (Mennonite Church Canada), Garry Janzen (MC B.C.), Tim Wiebe-Neufeld (MC Alberta), Ryan Siemens (MC Saskatchewan), Michael Pahl (MC Manitoba) and Leah Reesor-Keller (MC Eastern Canada), states the following:

    “For a religious exemption to be granted, rationale for exemption must be clearly indicated within our sacred texts or confessional statements.

    We wish to clarify that there is nothing in the Bible, in our historic confessions of faith, in our theology or in our ecclesiology that justifies granting a religious exemption from vaccinations against COVID-19.

    “We have heard concerns from some members of our constituency regarding the vaccines. However, we do not believe these concerns justify an exemption from COVID-19 vaccinations on religious grounds from within a Mennonite faith tradition.

    “From the earliest biblical writings, in the words of Jesus Christ and in ecclesial writings since Jesus’ ascension, the command to love God and love our neighbour is paramount. Vaccinations allow us to live out this command. Not only do they reduce the severity of symptoms for those who become infected with COVID-19, but they reduce the risk of spreading the virus to those around us. We also note that individuals should make personal health care decisions based on advice given by their doctors.

    “We pray for unity among us in the Spirit of Christ, who calls us into this life of love, especially for our most vulnerable neighbours.”

  50. says

    […] an estimated 70 million Americans who are eligible to protect themselves against being hospitalized or dying from covid-19 have not done so. To be as generous as possible, some of those people may still worry about losing days off work to side effects or fear that getting a shot could reveal their undocumented status. But the selfishness and foolishness of people who don’t face those obstacles endanger not only their own health but everyone else’s as well.

    Not getting vaccinated is indeed a decision, at this point, given the practically universal access to safe and effective vaccines that the entire nation enjoys. Guaranteeing protection from this highly infectious and deadly disease is no more difficult or complicated than dropping by your neighborhood pharmacy once or twice and rolling up your sleeve. Serious side effects are astonishingly rare, and more routine ones are manageable and often, as was true for me, nonexistent. And the benefits are massive, both for individuals and society.

    Are you a lover of freedom? Do you hate all those covid-19 restrictions? Have you been impatient for life to get back to the old normal? Then get yourself vaccinated immediately and do everything you can to make sure your family and friends do the same. Aim your torch-and-pitchfork anger at the covid-19 virus — not at the experts and officials who are trying to save your life even as circumstances and available evidence shift around them.

    The willfully unvaccinated are covid-19’s enablers. They are giving the virus an enormous supply of potential hosts, allowing it to thrive and evolve — perhaps someday in a way that evades the vaccines. They are filling intensive-care hospital beds and keeping beleaguered doctors and nurses under constant, and unnecessary, siege. They are prolonging a crisis that we have the resources to get under control

    Incredibly, cynical politicians are actively boosting the death toll. Florida, where Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has sought to further his presidential hopes by pandering to the anti-vaccination crowd, suffered 14,334 covid-19 deaths this summer, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

    Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) earned membership in the Pandemic Hall of Shame on Wednesday by tweeting that “I stand with” the handful of National Basketball Association players who have publicly refused to be vaccinated. Similarly enshrined are Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley and a host of other ambitious Republicans who seek to curry favor with the party’s populist base by painting vaccination as a question of free choice rather than an imperative of public health.

    Fortunately, there is an intervention that works to eliminate vaccine hesitancy: employer mandates. If workers are told they must be vaccinated as a condition of keeping their jobs, it turns out that the vast majority comply. […]

    Washington Post link

    About those employer-based vaccine mandates: many people who say they will quit their jobs rather than be vaccinated do not do so. The get vaccinated. They remain employed. They stop pontificating. Only a few lose their jobs. The negative noise around mandates doesn’t match the reality.

  51. says

    Trickster @50, that gives me some hope.

    In another hopeful sign, the General Conference for mormons is being held in Salt Lake City. Instead of gathering thousands of mormons in indoor spaces, they have very few in-person attendees. They have fairly good social distancing guidelines in place, and the top mormon leaders encouraged the church members to get vaccinated.

    In other news: Facebook is still a cesspool of pandemic hoaxes, and it’s killing people

    Earlier in the year, Media Matters reported on the presence of dozens of Facebook groups promoting the newest hoax cure in the COVID-19 pandemic: ivermectin. Primarily used to fight parasites in livestock animals, ivermectin is popular and relatively safe as a dewormer—but do not under any circumstances give it to some breeds of dogs—with many species-specific formulations. It is also used as a dewormer in humans, if you are unfortunate enough to need it.

    What it does not do is cure COVID-19, because a virus is not a worm that burrows into your intestinal lining. Research at one point suggested ivermectin might kill COVID-19 in a petri dish, but that isn’t saying much. A cinder block will also kill COVID-19 in a petri dish, if you douse it in gasoline, light a match to it, and throw it with enough force. […] As the pandemic drags on, everything from tanning beds to nebulized ketchup will find momentary purchase as the newest cure. […]

    A month later, The New York Times has revisited Media Matters’ findings to give an update, and the update is what you would expect. Facebook has “taken down a handful of the groups,” but the rest continue to thrive. […] Reporters and researchers can easily find groups promoting ivermectin and coaching others how to dose themselves with the livestock versions, can report them to Facebook, and can watch as the company removes a bare handful and ignores the rest.

    A not particularly new wrinkle is the effort by anti-vaccine and pro-miracle-cure Facebook group administrators to evade automated Facebook moderation by encouraging group members to write in code, with intentional misspellings or in-group abbreviations so that the words “vaccine” or “masks” or “ivermectin” do not trigger a Facebook response. You will note that in its own research, Media Matters was able to find a large number of such posts. It’s not possible that Facebook can’t find what outside researchers can so easily find and catalog. It’s just not.

    Then there’s the newest Facebook-promoted pandemic hoax, with anti-vaccine advocates warning those that do come down with severe COVID-19 infections not to go to hospitals for treatment, allegedly because hospitals both won’t let you get your bleach, ivermectin, or Betadine miracle cures and may try to kill you outright in order to boost pandemic death rates.

    The most notable side effect of these Facebook groups is, of course, death.</b? […]

    I am not a gazillion-dollar tech company premised on monetizing human paranoias, so there are a lot of details about this situation that elude me. There are some facts, however, that are indisputable. Reporters have regularly been able to find the sort of content Facebook claims to not allow, and have done so with little to no resources at their disposal. Facebook not only has the cash to finance entire teams for the job, but can also provide the technical tools far more advanced than journalism's "look around for a day or two and see what you find."

    […] If the company believes misinformation resulting in sickness and death isn't worth any more effort than it's giving, it's reasonable for the public to come to its own conclusions as to why. […]

    We can speculate all we like, but the fact of the matter remains. Journalists can find dangerous medical misinformation about vaccines, “miracle” drugs, and other potentially deadly hokum without much looking … and Facebook, for its own part, can't.

    That ain’t a limitation of their technology, and it’s not a function of their size. It means they’ve chosen to spend less effort removing that deadly misinformation than journalists from Media Matters, The New York Times, or other outlets are to find it. That is intentional.

  52. says

    COVID-19 long-haulers plead for government action

    COVID-19 long-haulers and advocates are stepping up their calls for state and federal officials to take action and dedicate funding to those who have endured the mysterious condition that stems from the coronavirus.

    […] “We need to have more legislation for survivors like ourselves and not just keep telling our stories because there’s a bazillion stories out there now,” said Maya McNulty, a long hauler from New York. “[…] We are living with this … disease, and there is no hope.”

    The grassroots, nonpartisan group COVID Survivors for Change launched a week of action on Friday, with delegations from all 50 states dedicated to illustrating how the virus has changed the lives of long-haulers and families who’ve lost loved ones.

    Advocates said they plan to contact officials, including Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D), Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte (R), Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) and Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R), to push for initiatives to support COVID-19 survivors.

    Their requests range from direct funding for long-haulers to a 9/11-style commission to investigate how the pandemic led to hundreds of thousands of deaths and potentially millions of long COVID-19 cases.

    […] Reuters reported that the U.S. exceeded 700,000 coronavirus deaths on Friday.

    Rock Island, Ill., resident Jennifer Johnson, who has suffered from long COVID-19 for seven months, set up her chair to be photographed with medical equipment, a cane and medications that she now needs to use.

    “It’s one thing to see a chair with nobody in it, but then it’s a whole different experience to have to see what people are dealing with on a daily basis,” she told The Hill.

    Johnson, a 46-year-old single parent of two teenagers, said she has six providers for her various symptoms, including inflammation, muscle weakness, decreased lung capacity and memory problems. She said that immediately following a suspected stroke two months ago, “I couldn’t tell you my name.”

    But she is worried about the financial costs of her extensive health care needs as “a full-time employee” who is “not able to work full-time” and expects to lose “significant income.”

    […] The National Institutes of Health announced last month that it dedicated almost $470 million to develop a national study population to investigate the long-term effects of the virus, with the hope of recruiting between 30,000 and 40,000 participants.

    David Putrino, director of rehabilitation innovation for the Mount Sinai Health System, said it’s been “really challenging” as his clinic has cared for almost 1,600 long-haul patients throughout the pandemic. In a survey of patients, 60 percent said they had a change in employment status due to their symptoms.

    “We’re doing our best to manage their symptoms and provide good evidence-based care,” Putrino said. “But obviously with a novel condition, evidence-based care is tough. And obviously it’s also just not easy to provide reassurance when you can’t say in good faith that you know precisely what’s happening to a patient.”

    Janna Friedly, the medical director of University of Washington Medicine’s post-COVID-19 Rehabilitation and Recovery clinic, said she supports more government support for long-haulers as they deal with an “increasing burden” of costs.

    Friedly, who previously experienced long COVID-19 symptoms for nine months, said the clinic “desperately” needs more resources to care for patients, especially those with 10 or more different symptoms who require multiple specialists.

    “I think we’re just starting to really scratch the surface in understanding the financial and economic impact of long COVID on patients themselves, but also on the health care system and in the workforce,” she said.

  53. says

    Major oil spill reaches Southern California coast

    A major oil spill reached Huntington Beach in Southern California on Saturday, causing an emergency response to protect the region’s ecology.

    Huntington Beach spokesperson Jennifer Carey said the oil spill is believed to have originated from a pipeline that has dumped 126,000 gallons into the waters.

    “We classify this as a major spill, and it is a high priority to us to mitigate any environmental concerns,” Carey was quoted as saying by the Los Angeles Times. “It’s all hands on deck.”

    Workers moved to shut down the pipeline and retrieve as much of the oil as possible soon after the spill occurred, the Times noted.

    As of Sunday morning, the ongoing spill had already surpassed the 2007 oil spill that affected San Francisco Bay when a cargo ship struck the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and 58,000 gallons leaked.

    There were “significant ecological impacts” in Huntington Beach, Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley tweeted.

    “We’ve started to find dead birds & fish washing up on the shore,” Foley tweeted, sharing photos of oil washing onto the beach. […]

  54. says

    Seriously, What’s The Deal With ‘Manifest Destiny Jesus’?

    The mainstream image of Jesus Christ is a pasty white guy. He doesn’t even have much of a tan. Yes, J.J. painted a Black Jesus in an episode of “Good Times” and Madonna might have hooked up with a Black Jesus in her “Like a Prayer” video, but Jesus is usually presented as a blonde surfer dude, who the disciples might’ve nicknamed “Moondoggie.”

    When I was a child, family members would point out the Bible verse that described Jesus as having hair like wool and “feet like burnished bronze, refined as in a furnace” (i.e. a dark brown complexion like someone from the Middle East). This didn’t wear down my religious skepticism, because a Jesus of any other shade is still a scam. It’s like when a corporation makes its CEO a woman or a man of color without actually changing any of its awful policies.

    I’ve been contemplating the conflicting images of blonde surfer Jesus and Soul Brother Jesus after watching the documentary Manifest Destiny Jesus from filmmakers Josh Aaseng, Daemond Arrindell, and T. Geronimo Johnson, who also serves as narrator. Aaseng and Arrindell met author Johnson in 2017 when they adapted his novel Welcome to Braggsville to the stage. I know Aaseng from our time at Seattle’s Book-It Repertory Theatre, where he was literary manager and later associate artistic director. He adapted and directed an amazing version of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five in 2015. Aaseng’s a white guy from Montana, but he nonetheless questioned the popular conception of Jesus as white.

    He told South Seattle Emerald:

    “I was in New York City during 9/11, and I started thinking, ‘Jesus looks more like Osama Bin Laden than he does Mel Gibson,'” Aaseng said. “There is this complete fantasy of what Jesus looks like and how mind-altering that is for the people who think that’s an accurate representation of Jesus.”

    As Black men, Arrindell and Johnson have lifelong experience confronting the perverse fact that so many Black Americans worship what is arguably the idealized image of their oppressor. Johnson describes white Jesus as an “extension of our bondage,” and the documentary features the searing line from James Baldwin about how “Black people are victimized by an alabaster Christ.”

    Christianity is part of America’s legacy of slavery, and there were always two racially distinct interpretations of the scripture: The still-prominent white prosperity gospel that claims rich white people have earned the favor of God because they are rich and white, which is convenient. An incredibly on-the-nose demonstration of this nonsense is when Senator Joe Manchin from West Virginia frets about an “entitlement culture” while chilling on his yacht as his broke-ass constituents appeal to him from tiny kayaks.

    However, enslaved Black people had a different brand of Christianity forced upon them: Submit to the horrors inflicted upon them in this life and perhaps, if they’re very good, they’ll enjoy salvation in the next one. There was no indication, however, that the white enslaver was destined for hell.

    Theologian James Crone called the crucifixion a first-century lynching. I’ve resisted that comparison on the grounds that Jesus’s brutal death and eventual resurrection were supposedly his grand plan. No Black person ever wanted to be lynched. But perhaps I’ve looked at his from the wrong angle. White liberals especially have an unfortunate tendency to romanticize Black suffering. Slavery, segregation, and even today’s racial oppression aren’t indelible stains on American history but part of some benign narrative where the nation is in a state of perpetual self-correction. America was always great, even when it’s a slave state, because eventually slavery will end. Go, America! Untold numbers of Black bodies must suffer for generations so Abraham Lincoln can end up on Mount Rushmore. Black people are forever dying for America’s endless sins.

    When I moved to Seattle almost decade ago, I lived in the Central District, which was what realtors would call a “neighborhood in transition.” Manifest Destiny Jesus features interviews with Black people who grew up in the neighborhood and watched as white Amazon employees “discovered” the area. The documentary makes a clear link between gentrification and colonization. Even the terminology, while racially coded, is similar. White “settlers” arrive and set about “civilizing” a place where “savages” live. White people think nothing of saying a neighborhood is “improving” when in reality they mean it’s getting whiter. Meanwhile, the very presence of Black people in sufficient numbers implies an area in decline, one white people are warned to avoid. It’s a “critical race theory” everyone grows up learning.

    […] redlining barred Seattleites of color from “good” neighborhoods — segregation through real estate covenants that explicitly forbade selling or renting property to anyone who wasn’t white.

    There’s an interview with a Black man who recalls how his father, despite having worked for decades to save up for a down payment, was told that buying a home in West Seattle in 1955 was an “unrealistic option for a negro.” Instead, he would have to settle for a neighborhood that the city actively oppressed by refusing to invest key resources (consider which neighborhoods have the most convenient public transportation routes, newer schools, well-maintained grocery stores). My own father was my son’s current age in 1955. This was not so long ago.

    The image of white Jesus is directly connected to European and American imperialism. The documentary’s title is a reference to a church in Columbia City, another rapidly gentrifying Seattle neighborhood. The church features a stained-glass window bearing the image of a white Christ seemingly directing his followers westward. A pastor visiting the church once asked, “What’s the deal with Manifest Destiny Jesus?”

    Johnson states that the racial wealth gap and the myth of Black inferiority is the product of a racist feedback loop that we must break to move forward. Evidence from local schools boards implies that white America will choose the ostrich’s head in the sand option, but the people willing to at least try can start by watching Manifest Destiny Jesus.

    You can view the documentary online here through the end of October.

  55. blf says

    3,000 paedophiles in French Catholic church since 1950s — inquiry head:

    […]
    The head of an independent commission investigating child sexual abuse in the French Catholic church has said about 3,000 paedophiles have operated inside the institution since 1950.

    Days before publication of its report, Jean-Marc Sauvé said the commission’s investigations had uncovered between 2,900 and 3,200 paedophile priests or other church members, adding that this was “a minimum estimate”.

    Sauvé told Agence-France Presse that the 2,500-page report, based on church, court and police archives as well as interviews with witnesses and due to be published on Tuesday, had tried to quantify both the number of offenders and of victims.

    It also looked into “the mechanisms, notably institutional and cultural ones” within the church which allowed paedophiles to remain, and will offer 45 proposals, he said.

    The commission, made up of 22 legal professionals, doctors, historians, sociologists and theologians, was set up in 2018 after Pope Francis passed a landmark measure obliging people who know about abuse in the church to report it to their superiors. [superiors, not the authorities — typical cult obfuscation –blf …]

    It remains unclear, however, exactly what actions the church will take against offenders, and in many cases prosecution could be unlikely because the abuse took place beyond French statutes of limitations.

    […]

  56. says

    BILLIONS HIDDEN BEYOND REACH

    Washington Post link

    A massive trove of private financial records shared with The Washington Post exposes vast reaches of the secretive offshore system used to hide billions of dollars from tax authorities, creditors, criminal investigators and — in 14 cases involving current country leaders — citizens around the world.

    The revelations include more than $100 million spent by King Abdullah II of Jordan on luxury homes in Malibu, Calif., and other locations; millions of dollars in property and cash secretly owned by the leaders of the Czech Republic, Kenya, Ecuador and other countries; and a waterfront home in Monaco acquired by a Russian woman who gained considerable wealth after she reportedly had a child with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    Other disclosures hit closer to home for U.S. officials and other Western leaders who frequently condemn smaller countries whose permissive banking systems have been exploited for decades by looters of assets and launderers of dirty money.

    The files provide substantial new evidence, for example, that South Dakota now rivals notoriously opaque jurisdictions in Europe and the Caribbean in financial secrecy. Tens of millions of dollars from outside the United States are now sheltered by trust companies in Sioux Falls, some of it tied to people and companies accused of human rights abuses and other wrongdoing.

    The details are contained in more than 11.9 million financial records that were obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and examined by The Post and other partner news organizations. The files include private emails, secret spreadsheets, clandestine contracts and other records that unlock otherwise impenetrable financial schemes and identify the individuals behind them.

    The trove, dubbed the Pandora Papers, exceeds the dimensions of the leak that was at the center of the Panama Papers investigation five years ago. That data was drawn from a single law firm, but the new material encompasses records from 14 separate financial-services entities operating in countries and territories including Switzerland, Singapore, Cyprus, Belize and the British Virgin Islands.

    The files detail more than 29,000 offshore accounts, more than double the number identified in the Panama Papers. Among the account owners are more than 130 people listed as billionaires by Forbes magazine and more than 330 public officials in more than 90 countries and territories […]

    As a result, the Pandora Papers allow for the most comprehensive accounting to date of a parallel financial universe whose corrosive effects can span generations — draining significant sums from government treasuries, worsening wealth disparities, and shielding the riches of those who cheat and steal while impeding authorities and victims in their efforts to find or recover hidden assets.

    “The offshore financial system is a problem that should concern every law-abiding person around the world,” said Sherine Ebadi, a former FBI officer who served as lead agent on dozens of financial-crimes cases.

    Ebadi pointed to the role that offshore accounts and asset-shielding trusts play in drug trafficking, ransomware attacks, arms trading and other crimes. “These systems don’t just allow tax cheats to avoid paying their fair share. They undermine the fabric of a good society,” said Ebadi, now an associate managing director at Kroll, a corporate investigations and consulting firm. […]

    More at the link.

  57. says

    Sanders: Sinema Is ‘Wrong’ To Call Delayed BIF Vote An ‘Ineffective Stunt’

    Senate Budget Committee chair Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on Sunday pushed back at Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s (D-AZ) statement that called progressives’ success in delaying the vote for the bipartisan infrastructure bill “an ineffective stunt to gain leverage over a separate proposal.”

    Appearing on ABC News, Sanders was asked to respond to Sinema’s statement that accused progressives of pulling off an “ineffective stunt” that holds the bipartisan infrastructure bill hostage over the reconciliation package. The House vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill was delayed as a result of progressives’ threat to tank the bill if a vote was held on it before reconciliation, defying moderates’ push for decoupling the passage of both bills.

    Sanders replied that he thinks Sinema is “wrong.” He cited commitments by President Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to pass both infrastructure bills in tandem.

    […] “The Republican Party is bought and paid for by the pharmaceutical industry. They’re not going to do anything,” Sanders said. “But I hope very much and I expect that the Democratic caucus and the president, I know he will, stand firm and tell the drug companies, ‘Stop ripping us off.’”

    […] Sanders went on to argue that the $6 trillion he initially proposed for reconciliation is “probably too little” to address the climate change crisis so therefore a price tag of $3.5 trillion “should be a minimum.” “But I accept there’s going to have to be give and take,” Sanders said, before saying that $2 trillion for reconciliation is “not enough.”

    […] “This is not make or break, this is a totally arbitrary date — it was supposed to be Monday, it was pushed to Thursday, and if it’s pushed back two more weeks, it doesn’t matter,” Sanders told reporters on Thursday. “It will pass. But it must pass in tandem with the legislation that the American people want.

    In response to the delayed vote on BIF, top Democratic centrists such as Sinema and Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) threw a fit in separate statements.

    “We cannot let this small faction on the far left … destroy the president’s agenda and stop the creation of 2 million jobs a year,” Gottheimer said in a statement.

    The President, however, appears unfazed by centrists’ frustrations over the delayed vote for the bipartisan infrastructure bill. On Saturday, Biden acknowledged that although “everybody’s frustrated, it’s part of being in government,” he will “work like hell” to pass both infrastructure bills. […]

  58. says

    ‘Not Going To Happen’: Jayapal Shoots Down Manchin’s Topline Counteroffer

    Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, on Sunday rejected Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) counteroffer of a $1.5 trillion top line for the reconciliation package after progressives spurred the delay of the House vote on the bipartisan infrastructure, which buys Democrats more time to reach a deal on reconciliation amid moderates putting up a fight […]

    Pressed during an appearance on CNN about whether House progressives could back Manchin’s $1.5 trillion proposal — a counterproposal he made after his repeated refusal to name a topline number amid his complaints over the reconciliation bill’s $3.5 trillion price tag. Jayapal replied, “That’s not going to happen.”

    “That’s too small to get our priorities in. So, it’s going to be somewhere between 1.5 and 3.5,” Jayapal said. “And I think the White House is working on that right now, because, remember, what we want to deliver is child care, paid leave, climate change, housing.”

    […] “We’re not thinking about the number. And the President said this to us too. He said, don’t start with the number. Start with what you’re for,” Jayapal said. “And that’s what he’s asked them for. And then let’s come to the number from there. So, that’s how we’re thinking about it.”

    “I don’t feel the need to give a number, because I gave my number. It was 3.5. So, if you’re in a negotiation, you need to have a counteroffer before you bid against yourself,” Jayapal continued.

    Jayapal’s latest comments come on the heels of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) urging passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill by Oct. 31 while making clear the need for both infrastructure bills to pass.

    “Out of respect for our colleagues who support the bills and out of recognition for the need for both, I would not bring BIF to the Floor to fail,” Pelosi said. “Again, we will and must pass both bills soon. We have the responsibility and the opportunity to do so. People are waiting and want Results.”

    […] On Friday, President Biden reiterated his commitment to passing both infrastructure bills in tandem during a meeting with House Democrats. Jayapal told reporters on Friday afternoon that the President backed coupling the bipartisan infrastructure plan and reconciliation package. […]

  59. blf says

    Apropos of nothing, this morning I woke to my mobile going mad with four(?) messages in rapid succession. Alerts, actually, from both Météo France (the weather bureau) and the local village council, raising a literal red(!)-alert for thunderstorms and flooding. That in itself was rather amazing, I don’t recall the last time I saw a red-alert. I checked that the skylights were closed whilst the mildly deranged penguin put on a diving suit (rather odd, she’s a penguin). There duly arrived a thunderstorm with (at least where I am) not that much rain, albeit heavy. The forecast is for continuing bouts of rain… and I just got another alert from the village saying much of village is without power. Obviously, I am not.

    Residents in southern France urged to stay home amid more torrential rain and floods (possibly paywalled):

    […]
    Between 80 and 120mm of rain was expected to fall throughout the region on Monday, rising to between 150 and 180mm in the eastern part of Bouches-du-Rhône, and even up to 240mm in some areas.

    “This turbulent weather could be accompanied by hail and strong gusts of wing,” Météo France wrote.

    Educational authorities in Marseille, located in Bouches-du-Rhône on the Mediterranean coast, asked families not to send their children to school on Monday. “Schools will remain open in a reduced capacity to take in those who have no other solution,” the city’s mayor Benoît Payan tweeted.

    I’m east of Marseille, arguably near the “eastern part of Bouches-du-Rhône”, but as per above, there hasn’t (yet?) been that much rain. The village’s schools did close for the day, however.

    […]
    Residents were being asked to stay at home, not to evacuate without instruction from the authorities, and not to use their basements.

    The mildly deranged penguin is wondering what to do with the monsters she’s collecting in the basement, Things in Steamer Trunks and so forth…

    I’m making sure the mobile and phaser batteries are fully-charged.

    […]
    The weather alert comes after a weekend of torrential downpours in the region. Two months’ worth of rain fell in Marseille on Sunday night and into Monday morning, according to France Bleu. Several streets were flooded, including around the city’s Vieux-Port area, and trains between Marseille and Avignon, Briançon, and Côte d’Azur, were suspended.

    There wasn’t any rain to speak of here, not a million kilometres from Marseille, until Sunday evening — and the heavy stuff, not that there’s been much, in my immediate area, wasn’t until today.

    […]
    Periods of heavy rainfall are common at this time of year in the south of France, where they are referred to as épisodes cévenols (Cévennes episodes). During these periods, “the Mediterranean Sea is very warm so the water evaporates easily and accumulates in the atmosphere, and when there is atmospheric circulation which brings this water in towards the land, and the Cévennes mountain range, this air cools down and a lot of water falls,” climatologist Françoise Vimeux explained to The Local earlier this year.

    The weekend saw unusual levels rain across the country, with 22 départements on orange alert on Sunday morning. The rain caused many of the events organised for Paris’s “sleepless night” to be cancelled, while the west coast was particularly affected. A record 98.3mm of rain fell in Nantes over 24 hours, according to Météo France. Monday’s weather was forecast to be much more calm outside of the south of France.

  60. says

    New York Times link

    Arizona Vote Review ‘Made Up the Numbers,’ Election Experts Say

    The circuslike review of the 2020 vote commissioned by Arizona Republicans took another wild turn on Friday when veteran election experts charged that the very foundation of its findings — the results of a hand count of 2.1 million ballots — was based on numbers so unreliable that they appear to be guesswork rather than tabulations.

    The organizers of the review “made up the numbers,” the headline of the experts’ report reads.

    The experts, a data analyst for the Arizona Republican Party and two retired executives of an election consulting firm in Boston, said in their report that workers for the investigators failed to count thousands of ballots in a pallet of 40 ballot-filled boxes delivered to them in the spring.

    The final report by the Republican investigators concluded that President Biden actually won 99 more votes than were reported, and that former President Donald J. Trump tallied 261 fewer votes.

    But given the large undercount found in just a sliver of the 2.1 million ballots, it would effectively be impossible for the Republican investigators to arrive at such precise numbers, the experts said. […]

    a worksheet containing the results of the hand count of 40 of those boxes was included in a final report on the election inquiry released a week ago by Cyber Ninjas.

    The three election experts said the hand count could have missed thousands or even hundreds of thousands of ballots if all 1,600 boxes of ballots were similarly undercounted. Their findings were earlier reported in The Arizona Republic.

    […] Noting that the leaders of the Arizona review had “zero experience in election audits,” the experts concluded, “We believe the Ninjas’ announcement that they had confirmed, to a high degree of accuracy, the election results” of one of the largest U.S. counties “is laughable.”

    Laughable or not, none of it changed the fact that Mr. Biden won the state by about 10,500 votes and Maricopa County by roughly 45,000 in several official tallies of the vote.

    Katie Hobbs, the Democratic secretary of state in Arizona, said the report’s findings vindicated criticisms about the Cyber Ninjas process.

    “It was clear from the start that the Cyber Ninjas were just making it up as they went,” Ms. Hobbs said in a statement. “I’ve been saying all along that no one should trust any ‘results’ they produce, so it’s no surprise their findings are being called into question. What can be trusted are actual election officials and experts, along with the official canvass of results.”

    And yet, a similar Fraudit is ongoing in Wisconsin.

  61. says

    […] in Virginia, The Washington Post last week highlighted a direct-mail piece in a competitive state legislative race in which “a Republican challenger sent a mailer to thousands of households with a digitally altered photo of the Democratic incumbent, who is Jewish — his face in profile, features accentuated in shadowy tones — gazing upon stacks of gold coins.” The mailer was paid for by Virginia’s Republican Party.

    Being open and obvious about their anti-semitism.

  62. says

    Under DeJoy’s plan, mail service to be ‘slower than in the 1970s’

    USA Today reported last week that the U.S. Postal Service, acting on Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s plan, is moving forward with plans that will make some mail service “permanently slower.” CBC News added some additional details in a follow-up report late last week:

    Almost 4 of 10 pieces of first-class mail will see slower delivery, according to Paul Steidler, senior fellow at the Lexington Institute and an expert on the postal service. That “means mail delivery will be slower than in the 1970s,” he said, calling DeJoy’s plan “disastrous.” Starting on October 1, the postal service’s current three-day delivery standard for first-class mail — letters, bills, tax documents and the like — will drop to delivery anywhere within the U.S. within five days. In other words, Americans should now expect that letters and other mail could take up to five days to reach their destinations, and vice versa.

    As we recently discussed, it was six months ago when DeJoy unveiled his “strategic plan” for the future of the Postal Service, and it was not well received. The Republican donor, chosen for the job by Donald Trump despite his lack of postal experience, presented a blueprint that included, among other things, higher rates, slower services, and reduced post office hours.

    It was widely panned, and over the summer, the Postal Regulatory Commission, which plays a USPS oversight role, was sharply critical of DeJoy’s plan, questioning its core assumptions.

    That, of course, was around the time that the public learned that the controversial postmaster general was also facing an FBI investigation over a campaign-finance scandal.

    Nevertheless, DeJoy’s strategy is still being implemented, which got me thinking about a legislative proposal from several months ago. Remember this Washington Post report from March?

    Democrats are swarming to block a key piece of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s 10-year restructuring plan for the U.S. Postal Service, casting doubt on the feasibility of his proposals for achieving financial stability for the agency. A group of House Democrats on Friday introduced legislation to prohibit the Postal Service from lengthening mail-delivery windows and require it to adhere to present service expectations. They named the bill the Delivering Envelopes Judiciously On-time Year-round Act, or DEJOY Act.

    Obviously, that bill did not pass. In fact, it’s gone largely overlooked: After it was introduced by Democratic Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois, the proposal picked up a grand total of 10 co-sponsors.

    If the disappointment with permanently slower mail delivery is broad enough, perhaps lawmakers might give the DEJOY Act a second look?

    It looks to me like they are just letting United States Post Office die while we all watch. Dejoy is the killer.

  63. says

    Josh Marshall: What Really Happened Over the Weekend

    Over the last four to five days, we’ve seen a fascinating and occasionally surreal set of contending storylines for what happened on Capitol Hill with the President’s infrastructure, climate and safety net agenda. In advance we saw the continued portrayal of an intra-party fight between “progressives” and “moderates” when in fact we had something closer to unanimity with a tiny but critical number of holdouts. Really it was Manchin and Sinema vs everyone else.

    Over the weekend, as Pelosi and Biden finally decided to toss aside the self-imposed deadline for passing the “hard” infrastructure bill, this prog. vs mod. storyline escalated into “Biden throwing in his lot with the left,” or a “left-wing revolt.” A weekend story in the Times actually claimed that in his meeting with House Democrats Biden had said for the “first time” that the two bills were linked. [And that is a fucking lie.] Apparently we all forget that just a couple months ago there was a whole faux mini-scandal when Biden threatened to veto the hard infrastructure bill if the two weren’t passed together. […]

    This is all a testament to how a deeply entrenched set of assumptions can have wildly distorting effects on coverage of fairly nuts and bolts factual issues.

    […] Note what Biden told House Democrats when he met with them. He said the bills had to pass in tandem, that linkage was just “reality.” He also told House Democrats that they would have to come down significantly from the $3.5 trillion number. In one report he threw out the number $2.2 trillion. That seems like a plausible number – significantly up from Manchin’s $1.5 trillion opening bid or current offer but down from what most of the party was supporting and backing.

    […] it’s really hard to know the significance of a $2.2 trillion number without knowing what’s in it. Which programs get dropped? Does everything get slimmed down so you get a lot of perhaps ineffective-because-underfunded programs or do you concentrate on a few?

    The most relevant point, I think, is that Biden told his party they’d be coming down significantly and he seems to have been able to get them broadly to accept that. That’s a compromise.

    That belies a core element of much recent reporting. There’s been a lot of talk about needing to compromise, about the progressives’ violating the political taboo of making the good the enemy of the perfect, of preferring all of nothing to a lot of something. But this has pretty clearly not been the case. Rep. Jayapal publicly and Biden and Pelosi less publicly have been asking Manchin to name his number. They’re practically begging to compromise down. What they’ve been resisting is being dictated to or surrendering all their leverage and getting an unknown reconciliation bill in which they’d be beggars rather than negotiators.

  64. says

    ‘God’s Will Is Being Thwarted.’ Even in Solid Republican Counties, Hard-Liners Seek More Partisan Control of Elections.

    Michele Carew would seem an unlikely target of Donald Trump loyalists who have fixated their fury on the notion that the 2020 election was stolen from the former president.

    The nonpartisan elections administrator in the staunchly Republican Hood County, just an hour southwest of Fort Worth, oversaw an election in which Trump got some 81% of the vote. It was among the former president’s larger margins of victory in Texas […]

    Yet over the past 10 months, Carew’s work has come under persistent attack from hard-line Republicans. They allege disloyalty and liberal bias at the root of her actions, […] she denied a reporter with the fervently pro-Trump network One America News entrance to a training that was not open to the public [snipped other nonsense]

    Viewing her decisions as a litmus test of her loyalty to the Republican Party, they have demanded that Carew be fired or her position abolished and her duties transferred to an elected county clerk who has used social media to promote baseless allegations of widespread election fraud.

    […] Hood County stands out nationally and within Texas because it offers a rare view into the virulent distrust and unyielding political pressure facing elections administrators even in communities that Trump safely won. […]

    […] such efforts can be dangerous given the power of elections administrators to control the number and location of polling places, the use of mail-in ballots and compliance with state and federal laws. […]

    Carew’s case is particularly troublesome because it “smells of political bullying” and reflects a wider rift in Texas among different factions of the GOP that has grown more pronounced since the election, said Carlos Cascos, a Republican who served as secretary of state for two years under Gov. Greg Abbott before leaving in 2017.

    “They’re in power, they get somewhat cocky and they start eating their own. That’s what I’m seeing happening with the Texas GOP,” said Cascos […]

    Similar fissures have cropped up in Hood County, where far-right conservatives who preach allegiance to Trump have split with more establishment-aligned Republicans in demanding that Carew’s duties be placed under elected County Clerk Katie Lang, who has espoused Trump’s stolen-election theory. Lang made national headlines in 2015 after refusing to issue a marriage license to a gay couple following the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision legalizing same-sex marriage. [All the best people.]

    She […] vigorously opposed mask mandates and repeatedly called for Carew’s ouster. […]her husband, who as a former state representative chaired the hard-right House Freedom Caucus.

    […] The attacks have confounded Carew, 47, whose job is nonpartisan, but who has voted in Republican primaries for the past 11 years, according to public records. Stress now invades her sleep, waking her up at night as her mind replays the barrage of accusations against her […]

    “God’s Will Is Being Thwarted”
    […] Hood County represents a growing number of areas that have begun shifting from electronic-only machines to more secure hybrid models, which provide paper ballots and are intended to help guard against fraud. A new state law requires all counties to move to voting systems that produce paper ballots by 2026. Like many elections officials in the state’s largest counties, including nearby Tarrant and Dallas, Carew uses the machines to randomly number ballots in accordance with guidance from the Texas secretary of state.

    But critics such as Laura Pressley, a self-proclaimed elections expert and favorite of hard-line Republicans in the county, accuse Carew of purposefully ignoring an obscure provision of state law that calls for paper ballots to be consecutively numbered starting with one. Pressley argues that ballots cannot be audited without such numbering, enabling the possibility of election fraud. […]

    “Our elections are the representation of free will, and if we can’t trust that our free will is being represented legally and accurately, then God’s will is being thwarted,” Pressley [said]

    The push for consecutive numbering has become so potent in Hood County that commissioners in May asked Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to weigh in on the dispute.

    The pending decision could put Paxton, a Trump supporter who unsuccessfully sued to overturn presidential election results in battleground states, at odds with the Republican-led secretary of state’s office. The office has defended Carew, arguing in a July letter to Paxton that electronic voting systems must number ballots randomly so as not to violate privacy rights. It also has said that the consecutive numbering provision was intended for paper ballots, not electronic voting machines.

    […] J. Alex Halderman, an election security expert at the University of Michigan, said that over the years states have outlawed the numbering of ballots, adding that “Texas’ policy is at the other extreme.”

    Colorado law explicitly states that paper ballots cannot be marked in any way that allows for voter identification. Numbering of Election Day ballots is not allowed in Illinois or North Carolina, and election laws in states including Alabama, Arizona, Mississippi and New York don’t call for the numbering of ballots.

    […] The law dates back to a time when legislators believed that numbering ballots and voter lists would allow for easy identification and help to catch fraud. […] by 1947, the League of Women Voters was pushing for a secret ballot in Texas.

    […] historians have pointed to the numbering system as a facilitator of election fraud. Douglas Clouatre wrote in his book “Presidential Upsets: Dark Horses, Underdogs, and Corrupt Bargains” that George Parr, a longtime political boss in South Texas, used numbered ballots, in combination with poll lists, to identify and bribe voters to choose Democratic candidates and reject Republican ballots. Parr’s scheme is credited with helping John F. Kennedy win Texas in 1960.

    Seven election experts and administrators [said] that consecutively numbering ballots is out of step with best practices in election security and is not required to conduct effective election audits.

    […] A 14-year veteran of county elections administration, Carew left a job in Aransas County on the Gulf Coast to be closer to her ailing parents, children and growing grandchildren in north Texas.

    Having grown up in Weatherford, just 25 miles away, Carew said she was proud to be running elections in Hood County. She had garnered nothing but praise from Republican leaders in Aransas County who tapped her in 2015 to be their first elections administrator.

    “I can’t imagine anyone not giving anything but A-plus as a grade. She’s that good,” Ric Young, the Aransas County Republican Party chair, said in an interview. “People have to realize her credentials are impeccable and she knows what she is doing.”

    […] Of the state’s 254 counties, about half — which make up roughly 80% of registered voters — have appointed an independent elections administrator. The others are run by elected local officials, usually county clerks, who are also expected to avoid partisanship.

    “There has been a consistent trend in Texas to move toward the fairer, less politicized administration of elections,” said Jeremi Suri, a history professor at the University of Texas at Austin. “In the last year, we are starting to see people try to reverse that in ways that are discouraging.”

    [A] study, which interviewed more than three dozen elections administrators, found that 78% believe misinformation and disinformation spread on social media has made their jobs harder, with more than half saying the position has become more dangerous.

    […] Texas’ new voting restrictions, a recent push by GOP activists to seize control of local party precincts and efforts to delegitimize the elections process in places like Hood County could have a greater chilling effect that drives out a generation of independent elections administrators […]

    Carew entered Hood County in the summer of 2020, when Trump was already raising the specter of election fraud. […]
    Republican County Judge Ron Massingill argued that the county needed someone with experience to deal with an expected “turbulent” presidential election. […]

    Hood County commissioners voted against the grant [a $29,000 grant from the Center for Tech and Civic Life for items that included election supplies, voter education material and mail-in voting support.], which was accepted by 101 other Texas counties, including 85 that voted for Trump. Texas Republican lawmakers have since passed legislation that would require written consent from the secretary of state’s office for private grants exceeding $1,000 to election departments, arguing that they seek to tilt the balance of elections in favor of Democrats. [Bullshit]

    […] Blue Shark Media […] has repeatedly attacked Carew, even resurfacing her failed request for the nonprofit grant and calling it nothing more than an attempt to draw unsolicited mail-in ballots.

    […] The demands for Carew’s ouster have grown so vigorous that critics have threatened political action against Massingill, the county judge, for his support of the elections administrator.

    Massingill, who is quick to point out that he is a recipient of Trump’s Order of Merit for loyalty and service to the Republican Party, said the attacks on Carew from his own party are unwarranted. […]

    Blue Shark Media aired an episode calling for Carew’s removal. The show had spent months criticizing Carew for a host of perceived slights, including her connection to the League of Women Voters, which honored Hood County and 53 others for their “outstanding” election website. […]

    In another example that Carew was not ideologically pure, the show’s hosts pointed to a report that she had denied Christina Bobb, a former Trump administration official who works for One America News, access to a private training held at a conference of the Texas Association of Elections Administrators. Dominion Voting Systems, one of the country’s largest election system vendors, filed a defamation lawsuit against the network and Bobb in August, alleging “false and manufactured stories about election fraud.” […]

    Despite concerns from some Republican precinct chairs about a lack of evidence, the Hood County Republican Party Executive Committee in July passed a resolution threatening a social media campaign against Massingill if he didn’t convene the county’s elections commission to discuss Carew’s termination.

    […] When Massingill refused, Katie Lang, the vice chair of the elections commission, stepped in and called a meeting. Aside from opponents, the meeting drew poll workers, election judges and former officials in Aransas County who defended Carew.

    In the end, the elections commission voted 3-2 not to terminate Carew, marking the same split as when it hired her to be the elections administrator. […] the vote had not ended the effort against her. […]

    “I Felt Alone”
    Carew has struggled to withstand the personal attacks and the accusations that she violated the law. She worries she has grown less trusting and more cynical.

    “I felt alone to tell you the truth,” she said in an interview. “The worst part was being dragged through the mud over something they don’t know what they’re talking about.”

    […] her experience in Hood County has overshadowed more than a decade of service as an elections manager. And she worries that she will only be known for the claims lodged at her by those trying to remove her from the role.

    But Carew is sure of one thing. She has already told her husband that Hood County will be her last elections administrator position.

    “I don’t feel like I am the same person I was a year ago,” Carew said. “This county has ruined me.”

    People who actually know what they are doing, people can run a free and fair election, are being pushed out.

  65. says

    Follow-up to comment 66.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    It’s an apocalyptic white-supremacist authoritarian cult.
    ——————-
    You can’t out organize, shit, you can’t even out vote this nonsense.

    And we’re gonna depend on “decent” Republicans to reject these Stalinist tactics?
    ——————
    They continue to eat their own.
    ———————
    These people are insane. God’s will my ass.
    ——————–
    If you worship a god whose will can be thwarted by a few middling humans, maybe you should find yourself another god?
    ——————–
    God never mentioned America nor did anyone in the Bible. Matthew, Mark, Luke and Fred. None of them mentioned it. [Mormons think otherwise. :-)]
    ——————–
    They want direct control of the election system. If you keep an OAN reporter out from anywhere, private meeting or not, maybe you aren’t a loyal soldier to the cause. If you’re a competent professional, that’s a bug, not a feature. Better an incompetent loyalist, in their view. They know in their bones a well-run democracy isn’t going to work for them. They need to cheat to win. It’s God’s will.
    ——————–
    What needs to be foregrounded – but consistently is not – is the obvious: all that virulent distrust and unyielding political pressure is knowingly manufactured by authoritarian shysters and conmen, i.e., by the Republican war machine. That this is not foregrounded every time is why they get away with it and might succeed in destroying our democracy.

  66. says

    GOP lies tied to rural Americans dying of COVID at double the number compared to urbanites

    People living in America’s rural communities are dying at twice the rate of people living in American cities, a new study shows. And all of the rural areas are in … guess what? That’s right, Republican states. States, we might add, with low vaccination rates, supported by conservative politicians selling anti-vax sentiment and hoax cures under the guise of “personal freedom.”

    Health disparities in rural communities aren’t new. Greater levels of poverty combined with limited access to medical care and systemic racism create a natural recipe for disaster. But, add in existing co-morbidities such as age, obesity, and diabetes, and throw on this pervasive misinformation about vaccines—which also drives low vaccine rates and staffing shortages—and now the recipe is deadly.

    […] According to the study, 20% of rural residents said they would “definitely not” get a COVID-19 vaccine, compared to 7% of urban residents and 14% of suburban dwellers. Given what we know about vaccines—that they save lives—the compounding issue is that people who live in rural areas have a higher risk of poor outcomes if they’re struck by COVID-19.

    […] Adam Willmann, board chairman of the Texas Organization of Rural and Community Hospitals, believes the political divide and misinformation has made it difficult.

    “It’s more about politics now than it is about health or health care,” Willmann tells KXXV-15, ABC news in Central Texas.

    In southwestern Missouri, only 26% of Newton County’s residents are fully vaccinated. […] the health department held raffles, offered vaccine clinics, advertised in local newspapers, and even brought vaccines to remote areas. But vaccine numbers only increased after a community member died or got seriously ill.

    […] Hospitals in rural communities from Texas to Alaska have all been forced to activate “crisis standards” of care, rationing resources as they attempt to handle the tidal wave of hospitalizations.

    “There is a national disconnect between perception and reality when it comes to COVID in rural America,” Alan Morgan, head of the National Rural Health Association tells KHN. “We’ve turned many rural communities into kill boxes. […]

  67. lumipuna says

    Some notes on the Pandora Papers (see Lynna at 57), regarding specifically Russian oligarchs. I just noticed this old Guardian article, using the Panama Papers to shed light on the shady dealings between Vladimir Putin and some of his favorite buddies:

    Long article from 2016

    Rehashed and slightly elaborated in this new article in the light of Pandora Papers:

    Introducing Putin’s likely ex-mistress

    Putin’s close friends have included, among others, oligarchs Gennady Timchenko, Yuri Kovalchuk and Nikolai Shamalov, as well as “officially not rich people” Petr Kolbin, Sergei Roldugin and Svetlana Krivonogikh. There appears to exist an elaborate network of personal loyalty, where “real” ownership of assets is not only hidden from public but also relative in nature. Putin in particular seems to pull a lot of strings on how other oligarchs use “their” money.

    I recently summarized here a Finnish news report on Valaam monastery, where Putin is regarded as a very generous patron and basically next to God himself. In another story, however, I saw a mention that the recent lavish construction projects at Valaam (for the purposes of monastic life and accommodation of VIP guests) have been (officially) funded first and foremost by Gennady Timchenko. Now, it increasingly makes sense how Putin isn’t using his “own money” super lavishly on projects like this, but rather he’s using his own people.

    Timchenko, like nearly all of these players, has been on US sanction list since the Crimean crisis started. According to Wikipedia, he is a citizen of Armenia (he was born there during Soviet era), Russia (his family and main business network are there) and – Finland. Apparently, he lived here for most of the 1990s while working in oil trade, and still owns some physical assets here. Finnish language sources suggest he was naturalized* on a fast track (like many other Russian immigrants at the time) on the grounds of having some ancestry among Russia’s ethnic Finns. There has been suspicion that his claim to Finnish ancestry was fraudulent.

    *Supposedly in 1999, though AFAIK Finland didn’t allow dual citizenship until 2003 so IDK?

  68. says

    News that is kind of funny:

    […] Trump, in addition to having a horrible temper, a mean mouth, and contempt for women […], loves Broadway show tunes. There was, it appears, a “Music Man” in the Trump entourage […] and that person’s job was to “soothe” Trump by playing tunes that he loved from cast albums that he likes, particularly “Memory,” Grizabella’s song from the original New York production of “Cats.”

    This news, even more than the stuff about placating Putin or the North Koreans, seemed, for lovers of Broadway music, to be the last straw […]. Trump’s need to be soothed by Broadway music degrades both the office of the Presidency and a great American institution. […] the disquiet of learning that the Broadway tradition is some kind of mental pacifier for Trump, or the knowledge that Trump confirmed what people who don’t like show tunes have always thought about show tunes—i.e., that they are what people like Donald Trump like. Tragically, this is what we have come to: a critic must somehow jump to the defense of Andrew Lloyd Webber.

    The first consolation one might reach for is that “Broadway” seems to be used somewhat narrowly in Grisham’s telling, meaning not the work of Rodgers and Hart or Stephen Sondheim but, precisely, the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber. One could make a case […] that Lloyd Webber descends more truly from the pre-Broadway operetta traditions, adulterated with some prog-rock clichés, that conquered Broadway […], one would acquit the American theatre of responsibility and land on the larger point: that operetta and autocracy have often had an intimate relation. Hitler’s favorite music was not only Wagner’s, much as he approved of that intellectually, but the echt operetta “The Merry Widow,” of which he could not get enough.

    […] “Cats,” with its sturdy T. S. Eliot foundation, is in truth a rather winning, if bizarre, product of the early eighties—not unlike Trump himself in his larval, less poisonous form—and one need not be a fan of operetta to see the musical as a singular accomplishment. […] Fans of the singer-actress [Betty Buckley] know that she has long been waging a war on social media against the appropriation of her song by the Trump campaign, which has treated her demands to cease with the same contempt with which it treats every other kind of subpoena or, for that matter, other legal demands (from Tom Petty’s estate and the Rolling Stones) to desist playing music by people who presumably despise him and what he stands for.

    Reached at her ranch in Texas, […] Buckley […] had a significant tale to tell about the song, whose appeal to Trump has so long mystified her. […] “The role of Grizabella is really a tiny one, but it had a huge impact onstage—in fact, its only function is to stop the show! If you don’t stop the show, you haven’t done the song! So, when I was asked to audition for the show, I felt confident. We’d all heard the cast album [of the London version]—heard Elaine Paige’s version of ‘Memory’—but the photos make it look like, oh, weird cats on some other planet. Nobody knew what the story was unless they’d flown to London to see the show.

    “Still, I was a huge fan of Trevor Nunn—‘Nicholas Nickleby!’ The artistry was divine. And it turned out that Andrew [Lloyd Webber] had come to see me in ‘Promises, Promises.’ So I did my first audition, and they passed because, as they told my agent, I radiated health and well-being and they needed a girl who could radiate death and dying.” She laughed. “That’s a hard one to get past. But I had been studying with a wonderful voice teacher named Paul Gavert, and I knew I could sing it and had the powerful feeling that it was my turn. So—even though they’re auditioning everyone—inside, I’m, like, ‘I’m Grizabella. They’ll be back.’

    “Six months later, my agent calls and says, ‘They want to see you tomorrow again for “Cats.” ’ So I go in and sing ‘Memory.’ Trevor comes down to the lip of the stage. ‘More suicidal! More suicidal!’ he says. And then I sing it again, and again: ‘More suicidal! More!’ […] Two hours later, I had the part.”

    In rehearsal, however, and even well into previews, she admits that she couldn’t find a way to push the song past the polite-applause barrier. “I was terrified, terrified, terrified. […]. So Andrew called a special rehearsal and made me do it again. ‘Plácido Domingo was at the show last night and he said, ‘Tell the girl to just sing the song,’ ’’ he said. I am just singing the song, I thought. What is he talking about?

    “So I began to think, All the cats represent people—and Trevor kept saying that Grizabella is like Marilyn Monroe, she went too far, too much sex, booze, and drugs and catnip, she’s older and dying. . . . She’s lost her beauty and so I’m playing it that way, super-sad. But this is the early eighties, right? When New York was just beginning to have a homeless problem. And so I began to follow homeless people—women my age, women who were like me—trying literally to interpret them. I was playing it pathetically—but what I saw instead on the streets were women really trying to hold on to their dignity, so their self-presentation was all dignity and grace. ‘Don’t pity me!’ their eyes said. One woman on my block approached me once, and she’s walking like the most beautiful thing in the world, exactly like Grizabella, white, pasty makeup with red, red lips all smeared; she’s wearing coats and sweaters in layers and layers. Watching her, I saw her float down the street in the most graceful way and look at me directly—her eyes were clairvoyantly blue […]

    “So I tried to internalize that look. The opposite of dragging myself around the stage and acting like a pitiful being. I intuited my way through the experience. And two previews before opening night, when I did the full version, the eleven o’clock . . . there was this breathless, stunned silence in the theatre. And the house went nuts! Trevor says, ‘That’s what I meant!’ For me, the lesson was, I acted the opposite of the direction—not stage pathos but dignity! At the song’s climax, I was looking directly in the eyes of the audience, and I felt, We’re all in this together.”

    It was, in other words, her study of the precarious poise of the abject that made the song work on stage. It was also, arguably, what gave her version its enduring subtext of both resistance and resilience. Of course, it’s eerie, and even beyond eerie, to think that the increasingly inequitable conditions of New York in the early eighties, when Trump came to his first fame as an unabashed representative of the then new greed-is-good culture, was the source of the emotional power of the song that he finds most soothing.

    What Trump is soothed by, perhaps, is not the sentimentality of the song alone but a tensile line of steel […] “Saying they used that song to calm him down! In his rages. It helped me understand what’s baffled me about its appeal to him. The literal aspect of it is about this old cat who’s dead and dying—but beneath the beautiful music and beautiful poem is such a longing to connect! So, like, Trump was a handsome kid, but his dad was a bully, so he became a bully, just trying to impress Daddy. I can’t win with charm, he thought . . . and he’s always felt outside. In his heart of hearts, there’s this tremendous need, an insatiable need, to be loved, the love he never received from his father or mother. So that is in that song: that incredible longing to belong, to connect, to not be rejected, that’s what this whole thing is. All these years, I had no clue why that song touched him,[…] I get it, I get it!”

    […] Trump’s indifference to the wonders and glories of American music is not an oddity but a symptom of what a parched version of the country he supposedly holds in what passes for his heart. He has hardly any idea of what ever made America great. There is a genuine pathos in the vision of a man who has achieved power but remains unreconciled to himself, who soothes his way past his own rages and agonies by listening to the song of a homeless alley cat. The harm that tyrants do is incalculable—but the misery that they keep enclosed inside is always incredible, in the literal sense of being so large that it is hard to believe.

    Betty Buckley has a somewhat more cheerful conclusion to draw from this strange pas de deux. “Now that we know that show tunes work, I think the government should start a special Broadway commission—send us singers to all the hot spots, to every dangerous dictator to keep them contained . . . or else exile them to a desert island where Broadway show tunes play on a loop all day long, until they’re inundated in Broadway music, until they’re cured.”

    New Yorker link

  69. says

    lumipuna @69:

    […] There appears to exist an elaborate network of personal loyalty, where “real” ownership of assets is not only hidden from public but also relative in nature. Putin in particular seems to pull a lot of strings on how other oligarchs use “their” money.

    I recently summarized here a Finnish news report on Valaam monastery, where Putin is regarded as a very generous patron and basically next to God himself. In another story, however, I saw a mention that the recent lavish construction projects at Valaam (for the purposes of monastic life and accommodation of VIP guests) have been (officially) funded first and foremost by Gennady Timchenko. Now, it increasingly makes sense how Putin isn’t using his “own money” super lavishly on projects like this, but rather he’s using his own people. […]

    Interesting analysis. I think you are spot on. Yes.

    Putin owns his people so thoroughly that he can decide how and when they use their money.

    Also, it’s kind of funny that he uses other people’s money to achieve his own ends, just like Trump.

  70. says

    Remember when officials claimed they couldn’t process asylum-seekers due to capacity? That was a lie.

    Federal immigration officials lie, and they do it all the time. The latest confirmation stems from a lawsuit launched by journalist Bob Moore and his outlet, El Paso Matters, that sought further information into “metering.” This was a practice escalated by the previous administration where Customs and Border Protection (CBP) unlawfully turned away asylum-seekers at ports of entry, claiming supposed capacity issues as an excuse.

    Advocates have long insisted those claims were complete bullshit. They were right. “Records obtained by El Paso Matters, along with a watchdog report and evidence presented in the lawsuit challenging metering, show that the capacity excuse often was untruthful,” Moore reports. Data obtained through the lawsuit revealed that border officers “routinely turned back” asylum-seekers even as enough space to process hundreds sat empty.

    […] In one example from June 2018, the report said that a border officer turned away three Guatemalan asylum-seekers despite evident ability to process them. “Right now, we cannot process them,” he claimed to Annunciation House representatives. “This is nationwide, as I’m sure you know. We are at capacity.” In reality, “about 60 people were being held in CBP cells on the El Paso-Juárez border, and more than 200 holding spaces for processing migrants sat empty, a researcher would later discover when preparing a report for a lawsuit challenging the legality of turning back asylum seekers at the border,” El Paso Matters reported.

    […] While former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen claimed under oath to Congress that she’d taken no actions to reduce CBP’s ability to process asylum-seekers at ports of entry, an DHS inspector general report last year confirmed that was a lie. “On June 5, 2018, Nielsen signed a memo authorizing port directors to establish metering at official border crossings,” BuzzFeed News reported in 2020. “The memo also authorized port directors to reassign staffers away from processing undocumented immigrants.”

    […] Last month, a federal judge ruled that ‘metering’ of asylum applicants at the U.S. borders is illegal, Reuters reported.

    “@CBP lied & people died, & their deaths could’ve been avoided had (DHS) not directed agents to disregard US federal law,” Al Otro Lado border rights project director Nicole Ramos tweeted

    . […]

    I’d previously noted how quickly border officials’ excuses crashed and burned when cornered in unique situations. Back in July 2019, border officials were dead-set on blocking a pregnant asylum-seeker and her family, initially claiming to them, “We’re full,” The Washington Post reported at the time. These agents were so eager to violate U.S. asylum law that they hadn’t even noticed that Oregon U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden and his staffers were behind the family, having met them while visiting a Mexican shelter. A supervisor was called, and just minutes later, the family was allowed to pass through.

    “I feel very confident that if the family had tried to present alone, they would not have been allowed in,” immigration attorney Taylor Levy told The Post at the time.

  71. says

    Okay, that’s pretty low: Conservative news outlets and Fox News attack veteran Sen. Duckworth for disability tax break

    There are only three things that can be considered policy ideas for the Grand Old Party of racist misogynists these days: 1) people who can reproduce shouldn’t have control over reproductive rights, 2) everybody should have guns—except people of color, and 3) no taxes for the wealthiest among us.

    One of the more immediate problems facing conservatives in our country is that most people like the idea of taxing the rich to pay for all the infrastructure the rich are using for pennies on their millions of dollars.

    On Sunday, Fox News published a story by Dom Calicchio titled “Democrat Tammy Duckworth slammed for getting tax break on her Illinois home.” Is Fox News talking about taxing the rich? No, just attacking a veteran. In the third paragraph, the Calicchio article remembers to mention that “the 53-year-old U.S. senator pays zero in property taxes because she has a disability rating of 70% or higher, as determined by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.” That’s right. On top of that, it isn’t until 12 paragraphs down that he mentions Duckworth doesn’t take an available veterans tax break on her considerably more expensive home in Virginia. Weird. It’s almost like she isn’t actually even taking advantage of tax breaks the way disgraced former president Donald Trump did, […]

    The article jumped off a Chicago Sun-Times article that explained how the ”biggest tax breaks go to homeowners 65 and older and disabled veterans.” The article is an equal amount of hot garbage, but the headline of that article doesn’t mention Duckworth and the article doesn’t exactly “slam” Sen. Duckworth since there really isn’t anything to “slam” about a veteran who lost both legs when the helicopter she was piloting was shot down in Iraq in 2004, getting a total of “$4,637 from the homeowner exemption that nearly every homeowner receives and $37,842 under a tax break Illinois legislators passed in 2015 for veterans who have been certified by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs as being at least 70% disabled.”

    […] Does Sen Duckworth, a disabled veteran, deserve the same tax exemptions as all other veterans? Fox News and Chicago Sun-Times are just asking questions.

    A reminder: Sen. Duckworth could make a lot more money by taking the tax break on her larger, more expensive Virginia home. She paid over $16,000 in taxes this year on that property. […]

    Sen. Duckworth was asked about property tax exemptions in response to the Sun article and gave this succinct response: “I’m surprised that someone would question veterans who have been wounded in service to their nation in a combat zone accessing benefits.”

    Well, the rich have been given all the money and our economy still mostly stinks for most Americans. So, for the millionth time in the last four decades, Reaganomics (or “trickledown” economics) has been proven wrong. Again. Conservatives would like Americans to worry about the national debt for the first time since they said it was a myth and passed their unpopular tax giveaways to the rich. […]

  72. says

    A redistricting story that provides some concrete details about the ways in which Texas Republicans are diluting the voting power of people of color.

    In 2020, Democrat Candace Valenzuela, who was running to become the first Black Latina member of Congress, lost the closest congressional race in Texas to Republican Beth Van Duyne.

    She was considering running again in 2022 for Texas’ 24th congressional district […] between Dallas and Fort Worth, but when she saw the redistricting maps for the US House released by state Republicans last week, “it was viscerally shocking to me,” she said.

    […] Republicans had transformed the district into a bastion of white Trumpism.

    The Dallas–Fort Worth area has grown faster than any part of Texas, with more Latinos living there than in the entire state of Colorado, notes Michael Li of the Brennan Center for Justice. Yet instead of creating a new majority-Latino congressional district, Republicans chopped up diverse cities like Carrollton, which is 60 percent nonwhite and where Valenzuela became the first Black woman to win a school board seat in 2017, into five different congressional districts to undermine minority voting power. She used to describe her district as a donut circling Dallas–Fort Worth International Airport. Now she calls it a “butterfly shrimp,” with its body in suburban red areas by the airport and its tail weaving in and out of the most conservative parts of Dallas.

    “They weren’t just trying to extract people of color who are trending Democratic in order to protect Beth Van Duyne or other Republicans,” Valenzuela said. “They were trying to completely and totally neutralize their voting power. This is something that is happening across the state.”

    Through the redistricting process, Texas Republicans are building a sea wall against demographic change—an early indicator of how the Republican Party nationally is responding to momentous population changes not by reaching out to growing communities of color but by diluting their voting power. […] all but ending competition at the very moment when ascendant Democrats are finally making the state competitive.

    White voters have been a minority in Texas since 2004 and over the past decade 95 percent of the state’s growth came from communities of color, but the GOP’s proposed congressional map increases the number of white Republican districts and decreases the number of majority-Latino and majority-Black districts. It packs minority voters into as few urban areas as possible in cities like Austin, Dallas, and Houston to limit their representation, while spreading out the rest among deeply red exurban and rural areas to nullify their influence. Despite gaining nearly 2 million Hispanic residents and more than 500,000 Black residents since 2010, Republicans didn’t draw a single new majority-Latino or majority-Black congressional district. Instead, the two new House seats the state gained due to population growth were given to majority-white areas in Austin and Houston.

    Republican House candidates won 53 percent of the statewide vote in 2020 but would hold a projected 65 percent of seats under the new lines, which were approved by the state Senate redistricting committee on Monday. The number of safe GOP seats would double, from 11 to 22 […]

    The 2020 race in the 24th was a battle between two candidates representing very different visions of the state: its diverse, Democratic, progressive future against its white, Republican, reactionary present and past. While Valenzuela rallied voters of color and appealed to disaffected Republicans, Van Duyne was best known as a former mayor of Irving who rose to prominence in tea party circles after falsely accusing local Muslim imams of trying to implement Shariah and urging the Texas legislature to pass an “anti-Shariah” bill. She befriended Michael Flynn in 2016 and joined the Trump administration as an official with the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

    Valenzuela lost by just 4,500 votes, a heartbreaking defeat for Democrats, but said “we got closer than we had been in a long time.”

    […] Van Duyne’s extreme voting record should have made her vulnerable in a fast-changing swing district, but Republicans protected her by increasing the percentage of white voters in the district by 15 points, from 59 percent to 74 percent. The district has gone from favoring Biden by 5 points to favoring Trump by 12 points. The partisan lean of the district has shifted to the right by nearly 20 points, more than any district in the state.

    […] The same level of gerrymandering is a defining feature of the maps drawn for the state legislature, where Republicans are desperately trying to insulate themselves from accountability after passing a flurry of extreme laws this year, such as a six-week abortion ban, permission for residents to carry guns without a permit, and a sweeping voter suppression law.

    […] Under the GOP’s proposed map for the state Senate, 20 of 31 districts would have white majorities, even though white people make up just under 40 percent of the state’s population. The number of pro-Trump districts increases from 16 to 19.

    […] Overall, white voters would control a majority in 60 percent of districts for the US House and state legislature—far above their numbers in the state. […]

    The same strategy could soon be replicated in other Southern battleground states. Republicans need just five seats to take back the House and could accomplish this through gerrymandering in Texas, Georgia, Florida, and North Carolina.

    […] The squabbling on Capitol Hill over the Democrats’ infrastructure and spending plans has overshadowed how the Freedom to Vote Act introduced by Senate Democrats last month would ban the kind of racial and partisan gerrymandering pushed by Republicans in states like Texas and Georgia.

    “If the Freedom to Vote Act was there, this map would be instantly blocked,” Li said of the Texas congressional plan.

    Yet Democrats are running out of time to pass it or devise a strategy for overcoming a GOP filibuster—and could soon be powerless to stop the GOP’s takeover of the US House and state Capitols for the next decade.

    Link

  73. says

    International coalition arrests ‘prolific’ hackers involved in ransomware attacks

    An international coalition of American, French, Ukrainian, and European Union (EU) law enforcement authorities coordinated on the arrest last week of two individuals and the seizure of millions of dollars in profit allegedly involved with a spree of damaging ransomware attacks.

    Europol, the EU’s law enforcement agency, on Monday announced the arrests on Tuesday in Ukraine of the unnamed individuals alleged to have been behind ransomware attacks that extorted between 5 million to 70 million euros.

    Authorities say the two began carrying out a series of “prolific” ransomware attacks in April 2020 against industrial groups in both Europe and North America, encrypting files and threatening to release stolen data online if the victims did not pay the ransoms demanded.

    In addition to the arrests, authorities carried out seven property searches that resulted in the seizure of $375,000 in cash, two six-figure luxury vehicles and the freezing of $1.3 million in cryptocurrencies.

    Europol coordinated the operations, with agencies involved included the FBI’s Atlanta Field Office, the French National Cybercrime Centre of the National Gendarmerie, the Cyber Police Department of the National Police of Ukraine and Interpol’s Cyber Fusion Centre.

    […] Last week, Biden announced that the U.S. would this month convene 30 countries in an effort to combat cybercrime, coordinate cyber law enforcement activities and address cryptocurrency concerns involved in attacks. The meeting will take place during the October Cybersecurity Awareness Month […]

  74. says

    Daily Mail Got Police Report About Corey Lewandowski, And It Is NASTY

    YIKES! The Daily Mail got its hands on the police report filed by Trump donor Trashelle Odom in which she alleges she was sexually harassed by a shitfaced Corey Lewandowski at a fundraiser, and it is WOW.

    Odom and her husband John are major Republican donors, having contributed $100,000 to Trump’s super PAC, Make America Great Again Action. Lewandowski headed the PAC until last week, when he got yeeted out after Odom’s story broke. Because apparently you can be alllllll kinds of disgusting, but the one unpardonable sin in Trumpland is to mess with the money.

    […] Anyway, with all due respect for sexual assault and harassment survivors, and without in any way diminishing what this woman went through, we present the Ten Most WTF Moments from Trashelle Odom’s Police Report Regarding Corey Lewandowski’s Conduct at a Las Vegas Benihana on September 16.

    Obviously this is all “allegedly,” whether we remembered to type “allegedly” after every horrifying allegation or not.

    1. ‘Cheese Dick.’

    Due to space constraints at a fundraiser for a private foundation, Odom was attending the event alone, without her family. She duly reported to the Benihana at 5:30, only to find herself seated between Lewandowski and a real estate construction guy named Bubba Saulsbury.

    “Almost immediately there were amicable jokes between Bubba Saulsbury and GOP operative Chris DeWitt (present and across the table) where they referred to one another as ‘Cheese Dick.'”

    You know, in case you were wondering whether it’s just Corey Lewandowski who would allegedly joke about his cock at a dinner in front of a woman he barely knew.

    2. Want to hear about Corey Lewandowski’s dick? No? Too bad.

    “Lewandowski entered the conversation with the comment that his ‘dick is four inches bigger than a normal dick.'” […]

    3. Corey Lewandowski: Man of Steel.

    “From there Lewandowski began to come on to me aggressively by first stating that he works out twice a day, that he runs 400 miles a week, and that’s why he can last for 8 hours in bed,” Odom alleges.

    Ummmm, we have questions. Such as, how would Corey have time to run 57 miles a day and still do sex for eight hours? Good thing he’s got more time on his hands now that he’s out on his ass from the Trump PAC.

    4. Corey Lewandowski is DTF with all the ladies who are not his wife, allegedly!

    “Trying to change the subject, I asked Lewandowski about his wife and kids, as I am very proud of the fact that I am happily married with children. Mr. Lewandowski replied that, ‘he doesn’t do anything with his wife — he gets his sex elsewhere.’ Around that time he commented that Gov. [Kristi] Noem is hot,” she wrote. […]

    5. Corey Lewandowski shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die.

    Odom reports that when she finally managed to steer the conversation off of Lewandowski’s penis and where he wants to put it, she mentioned that she was from “a bad area of California near where he was traveling.” Naturally this prompted Lewandowski to brag about committing multiple murders, including once when he was 10 years old and reportedly said he stabbed someone to death.

    Naturally.

    6. ASSAULT, NBD, ALLEGEDLY

    Odom alleges that Lewandowski touched her ten times, including on her back and buttocks, despite her protests that she was married, and that he threw a drink at her when she rebuffed his advances. All of which took place in a room packed with Republican grandees, who reportedly shrugged his behavior off, saying “Corey is always like this” and “Corey does this a lot.” […]

    7. He even molested her dinner?

    “He began ordering me drinks, that I wasn’t drinking, so he ultimately drank them. He also ate directly from my plate and used my utensils.”

    Ewwwww. […]

    9. Lewandowski was reportedly waiting outside Odom’s hotel room when she came upstairs.

    “As I walked to the elevator, Rick Kofoed was coming off the elevator. He said he was so sorry. Stacey was talking to Corey. I took the elevator to my room, which I knew was next to Lewandowski. He was in the hall. He looked angry and terrifying. It was very clear he was not sorry for his actions but mad.”

    So Lewandowski was getting chewed out by the organizers of the fundraiser for his appalling behavior, and he blamed Odom.

    10. Odom wasn’t the only person he is alleged to have assaulted/harassed that night.

    “I received a call from Mina Lu stating that Lewandowski grabbed her rear end and that she yelled at Lewandowski [in] the morning. She added that he was leaving the hotel in 30 minutes. I intentionally waited approximately an hour with the hope I could avoid him. I then left the hotel in the morning.”

    […] Remember back in 2012 there was that wacko documentary about the “Timeshare King” David Siegel, who was building a 90,000-square-foot mega-mansion for his wife Jackie and their kids, but it didn’t go well? […]

    Well, you’ll never guess who was hosting that party at the Westgate Hotel the 16th!

    Do you think Mr. and Mrs. Siegel were pleased to see the event honoring their daughter who died of an opiate overdose hijacked by Lewandowski and his antics? And do you think Lewandowski would have been You’re Fired for assaulting Mrs. Odom if he hadn’t managed to piss off the guy who owns the entire Westgate hotel chain at the same time?

    These people, man, I don’t know.

  75. lumipuna says

    Lynna at 71: I wouldn’t quite say Putin uses other people’s money in conventional sense, because he himself had a central role in enabling his friends to hoard that money in the first place.

    Quoting some key parts of the 2016 article:

    The complexities of these arrangements are probably designed to hide what is really going on here. But stripped back, it’s simple enough.

    Thanks to the Panama Papers, it is now possible to see how vast amounts of money flowed to Putin’s circle – and in turn, how some of that money has been used to invest in places Putin holds dear.

    All these manoeuvres documented in the Panama Papers had the same outcome: the friends of Putin accumulated large stores of secret cash offshore. But it has taken a massive data leak to prove for the first time what has been suspected for so long.

    Asked how much cash Russia’s president had after 16 years in power as president and prime minister, Adam Szubin, the US Treasury’s acting under-secretary, said he had seen various estimates. He told the Guardian: “It’s something he [Putin] is keeping intentionally very obscure.”

    Less obscure is that many of the sons and daughters of the Ozero group are now tycoons as well, the files suggest, with their own offshore portfolios. They even marry each other. After 16 years in power, Putin has transformed the state into a “friendocracy”, run like a medieval court, and with his friends and KGB neighbours in the role of feudal barons.

  76. lumipuna says

    Speaking of Putin’s people (see my previous comment) and the Ozero group, the 2016 article has some interesting connections between shady business, oligarch networking and Russia’s colonial history. Quoting a few snippets:

    Founded in 1990 in what was then Leningrad, Bank Rossiya has long been associated with Putin.

    It was set up with Communist party funds amid the collapse of the USSR. Putin helped the fledgling bank, from his position as boss of the city’s new foreign liaison committee. In 1992, the bank funded a flattering TV documentary about him. The first allegations of personal corruption against Putin date from this period.

    Leading members of Putin’s own Ozero cooperative – a lakeside community 60 miles north of St Petersburg where Putin had a dacha – are shareholders. So, at least in the past, was a gangster, Gennady Petrov, who was later arrested in Spain.

    The group struck an unusual arrangement. They would keep their money in common, in a shared bank account – a deal some suggest continues. Putin’s friend Yuri Kovalchuk is Bank Rossiya’s biggest shareholder. And chairman of its board. Now worth many millions each, the Ozero group control most of the country’s assets: oil, gas, railways as well as construction, TV and the media.

    Not far from the Ozero dacha community is the ski resort of Igora. The resort is home to 13 runs, a state-of-the-art spa, and an ice arena. There is an avenue of cottages where guests can stay, and a lake. The name Igora combines two Russian nouns – igra, play, and gora, mountain.

    One of the resort’s fans is Putin. A keen skier, the president attended its 2006 launch, where he was filmed scooting along the snow. He returned in 2011 for a private visit, his bodyguards trailing down the mountains behind him in dark glasses. Then in February 2013 Igora was the venue for a very special – and private – wedding. The bride was Putin’s daughter Katya. The groom was Kirill, the son of Putin’s old Ozero friend Nikolai Shamalov. Shamalov is a Bank Rossiya shareholder.

    According to Reuters, the couple rode in an old-fashioned sleigh drawn by three white horses. There was tight security, with the 100 VIP guests sworn to secrecy and mobile phones banned.

    Formally, the Igora resort belongs to a company called Ozon LLC. Ozon is part-owned by Bank Rossiya’s boss, Kovalchuk, and his son Boris. They have a 25% stake in the company. The other 75% is owned by Lowbrook Trading, which is registered in Cyprus.

    The owner of Lowbrook is unknown. Putin’s association with Igora, however, is not in doubt. According to locals, he has his own well-protected compound at Igora, called Zagorodnaya Sreda. It is concealed behind a tall fence, and known as “Putin’s residence”. Officially, of course, it’s not his. The plot is registered to the Kovalchuks.

    Using Wikipedia and a satellite map, I found that the Igora resort is located a few miles south of Sosnovo, in other words just within Finland’s pre-WWII territory. There used to be a Finnish village named Liippua approximately at the same site, but it was evacuated during war like other Finnish settlements in the area. Some villages were left empty after the war, while others were settled by ethnic Russians and given Russian names (such as Sosnovo, formerly known as Rautu).

    The Ozero dacha village is not labelled on the satellite map, but adjacent to the Igora resort there is a small cluster of nice looking houses that (according to a site map at the resort’s website) isn’t part of the resort. It’s unclear whether the abovementioned Zagorodnaya Sreda compound is part of this cluster, or separate. Russian Ozero means literally “Lake”, apparently named after the small artificial lake at the edge of the resort area.

    Since Putin is from St. Petersburg, it’s not entirely surprising that he likes having some of his many (?) holiday houses around the city, particularly on the northern side, which happens to be almost entirely former Finnish territory. Some years ago, I heard he’d bought a historically important 19th century mansion called Villa Sellgren just outside Vyborg. Recently, it was mentioned he has a residence on hold in Valaam for when he likes a spiritual cleanse. Now, I learned he also has a ski resort-adjacent holiday home in Sosnovo area.

  77. says

    lumipuna @77: “I wouldn’t quite say Putin uses other people’s money in conventional sense, because he himself had a central role in enabling his friends to hoard that money in the first place.” Good point.

    In other news, Wonkette reports: In Which Madison Cawthorn Declares Holy War Or Something

    North Carolina GOP Congressman Madison Cawthorn […] is facing a bevy of primary challenges from other Republicans in his state who think that maybe he goes a little overboard on some things. Thus, he is already campaigning for re-election next fall.

    Rather than reel it back, however, Cawthorn is turning it up to 11 and declaring a full-on Holy War on any citizens who do not share his personal religious beliefs, claiming that if his fellow Christians do not rise up against us, their children will never know what freedom is.

    Seems a little dramatic if you ask me. […]

    Transcript:

    I feel a spiritual battle going on on Capitol Hill. The only way that we take our country back is when strong God-fearing patriots decide it’s time for us to stand up, say “No to your tyranny!” Now is the time for our pastors and our congregations, like this one here, like many that you represent. It’s time for us to stand up and declare boldly that as men and women of faith, we have a duty to stand against tyranny, we have a duty to be civically involved, we have a duty to save this country for the next generation.

    Look back at the Old Testament. Look at David, look at Daniel, look at Esther, look at all of these people who influenced the governments of their day to uphold Christian principles. It is time for the American Christian church to come out of the shadows, to say “No longer are we going to allow our culture to be determined by people who hate the things that we believe in! We are going to stand valiantly for God’s incredible inerrant truths that predate any version of government.” Because my friends, if we lose this country today, if we bend the knee to the Democrats today, our country will be lost forever, our children will never know what freedom is.

    It’s our duty to stand up. Let us stand united as men and women of faith to fight for our country!

    There is a lot that is awkward here, starting with the fact that I’m a damn atheist whose entire understanding of Christianity comes from musical theater, yet even I know that no one in the Old Testament was fighting to uphold Christian principles. You know, because of how Jesus was not born when any of that happened?

    What I’d like to know is what, specifically, they are supposed to be fighting for, re: freedom/God’s inerrant truths. Is it that he wants to ban abortion or go back to banning same-sex marriages? What does that have to do with freedom? Are they going to fight us until everyone agrees to be a Christian and to practice Madison Cawthorn’s personal version of Christianity? Again, not seeing where freedom factors in here. I guess if we were going to take their guns away, they could claim that’s a freedom, but it’s not clear how that is one of God’s inerrant truths, given that guns, much like Christianity, did not exist when the Old Testament was written, and didn’t exist when the New Testament was written either.

    Is it about vaccines? Because, again, same problem here with the God’s inerrant truths here. It’s not really clear which of God’s inerrant truths Madison Cawthorn or anyone else would be prevented from affirming as a result of Democrats winning, or how the end result would be their children never knowing what freedom is.

    Now, I don’t think anyone expects the very holy Madison Cawthorn — who has been accused of sexual harassment by women who attended Patrick Henry College with him, a claim backed up by dozens of other sources who corroborated the allegations during BuzzFeed’s investigation — to understand the whole separation of church and state thing. He was homeschooled and dropped out of Patrick Henry after one year, so it is entirely possible no one ever told him about it. […]

    Somehow, Cawthorn has managed to be under the impression that Christians have remained “in the shadows,” rather than having spent the last several decades demanding that the law force everyone to adhere to their personal religious beliefs. If culture is Cawthorn’s issue, he’s a little late to the Holy War. The culture wars have been going on since forever and the right always loses them because at the end of the day, it’s hard to create culture when you’re not particularly creative about anything that isn’t some unhinged conspiracy theory about how we’re all secretly plotting to take your freedoms.

  78. says

    From Andy Borowitz: Facebook Apologizes for January 6th: “We Put the Lives of Politicians We Own at Risk”

    Apologizing for his company’s role in the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, acknowledged, “We put the lives of politicians we own at risk.”

    “At Facebook, we have worked tirelessly to acquire a world-class collection of politicians,” Zuckerberg said. “On January 6th, we recklessly and foolishly endangered that very expensive investment.”

    “We can—we must—do better,” Zuckerberg added.

    Nick Clegg, the former Deputy Prime Minister of the U.K. who is now a Facebook executive, vouched for Zuckerberg’s sincerity. “As a politician who was purchased by Facebook, I can assure you that Mark is committed to protecting the lives of others in my asset class,” he said.

    For his part, Zuckerberg said that Facebook would avoid enabling insurrections going forward and would instead focus on its core business of destroying users’ mental health.

    New Yorker link

  79. says

    Wall Street Journal:

    Afghanistan’s capital could be plunged into darkness as the winter sets in because the country’s new Taliban rulers haven’t paid Central Asian electricity suppliers or resumed collecting money from consumers.

  80. says

    Bloomberg News:

    Fights break out among angry motorists trying to get fuel. Grocery staples are out of stock on store shelves. A charity warns that doubling heating bills will force a million households to rely on extra blankets to stay warm. This was supposed to be the year the U.K. broke free of the European Union and forged ahead as a buccaneering free trader, delivering the benefits of a new, confident “Global Britain” to workers and companies at home. Instead, that picture of Brexit utopia is looking more like a dystopia.

  81. says

    U.S. Postal Service dips toe in postal banking venture, looks to expand program next year

    There’s good news coming from the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). Yes, the 10- year plan from Postmaster General Louis DeJoy […] to make Americans pay more for worse service and slower deliveries is being implemented starting this week. That’s bad and it needs to stop. However, thanks to the tireless work of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), a pilot project to start postal banking has quietly begun.

    David Dayen at The American Prospect reports that the pilot program allows customers to cash business or payroll checks at participating post offices, transferring the funds to gift cards. It’s in just four buildings in this test in Washington, D.C.; Falls Church, Virginia; Baltimore, Maryland; and the Bronx, New York. The art director for Prospect, Janos Rothstein, tried out the process at the Falls Church location. “At first, [the postal worker] said she didn’t think she could take the check,” Rothstein reported. “But she read the check into her scanner and it went through.” Rothstein was charged a flat fee of $5.95, the charge for cashing a check for any amount less than $500. Rothstein didn’t have to provide identification or endorse the check.

    The USPS already sells generic gift cards, which can be used just like a debit card, so this pilot project is allowing customers to in essence purchase those gift cards with a third-party business or payroll check. That meant the pilot program required no authorization from Congress to start. “Offering new products and services that are affordable, convenient and secure aligns with the Postal Service’s Delivering for America 10-year plan to achieve financial sustainability and service excellence,” USPS spokesperson Tatiana Roy told the Prospect. “This pilot, which is in collaboration with the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), is an example of how the Postal Service is leveraging its vast retail footprint and resources to innovate.”

    […] One of the officials was cautious in talking about the future of the program. “To be honest, these are pretty modest steps,” the official said. “It’s a small toe in the water. I think [the Postal Service] is just trying to see what kind of bite they’re going to get. It’s the symbolism that matters.” The same official did suggest that top leadership of the organization is open to the idea, but there are concerns about the needed technology and staffing upgrades. […]

  82. beholder says

    @57 Lynna

    Interesting data dump. I haven’t had time to take a close look at the Pandora Papers, but I heard rumors that not a single American oligarch or other U.S. national is listed in the trove, disproportionate to the critical role the U.S. plays in operating several of these havens.

    It almost makes one wonder if this is a mass surveillance demo from the CIA or NSA, with the very pointed threat to wealthy adversaries that their fortunes will disppear overnight if they don’t play nice with Washington’s imperialist aims.

  83. KG says

    beholder@84,

    Perhaps you shouldn’t be so gullible when it comes to rumours. The full list of those named has not been revealed, but billionaires Robert T. Brockman and Robert F. Smith have already been named. The papers also shed light on the secretive US trust industry – an industry which is very keen to avoid such light, and is an obvious boon to the CIA and NSA, as it means many rich and powerful foreigners have their money and data stashed in the USA. And many of the non-Americans named are prominent supporters of Washington’s imperialist aims – e.g. Tony Blair, King Abdullah II of Jordan, Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

    It almost makes one wonder if this is a mass surveillance demo from the CIA or NSA

    Coward. Either you believe the CIA or NSA are behind the leak, or you don’t. Which is it?

  84. KG says

    Substitute “consider it plausible” for “believe” in the last sentence of my #85 – I concede that you might not have a definite belief in such a proposition either way, but either you consider it plausible – worth further thought or examination – or you don’t.

  85. blf says

    Follow-up to @56, French Catholic Church inquiry finds 216,000 paedophilia cases since 1950:

    An investigation into sexual abuse in the French Catholic Church has found that an estimated 216,000 children were victims of abuse by clergy since 1950, Jean-March Sauvé, head of the commission that compiled the report, said on Tuesday.

    […]

    The abuse was systemic, Sauvé said at a public, online presentation of the report.

    The Church not only did not take the necessary measures to prevent abuse but also turned a blind eye, failing to report abuse and sometimes knowingly putting children in touch with predators, he said.

    […]

    Sauvé said the problem was still there. He added that the Church had until the 2000s showed complete indifference to victims and that it only started to really change its attitude in 2015–2016.

    Sauvé said the commission itself had identified around 2,700 victims, but that a wide-ranging study by research and polling groups had estimated that there had been around 216,000 victims. The number could go up further to 330,000 when including abuse by lay members.

    “You are a disgrace to our humanity,” François Devaux, who set up victims’ association La Parole Libérée, told church representatives at the public presentation of the report, before Sauvé took the floor.

    “In this hell there have been abominable mass crimes … but there has been even worse, betrayal of trust, betrayal of morale, betrayal of children,” Devaux said, also accusing the Church of cowardice.

    The report, at nearly 2,500 pages, found that the “vast majority” of victims were pre-adolescent boys from a wide variety of social backgrounds.

    “The Catholic Church is, after the circle of family and friends, the environment that has the highest prevalence of sexual violence,” the report said.

    A snippet from Al Jazeera, French clergy sexually abused ‘over 200,000 children’ since 1950:

    Sauve said 22 alleged crimes that can still be pursued have been forwarded to prosecutors.

    More than 40 cases understood to be too old to be prosecuted under French law, but that involve alleged perpetrators who are still alive, have been forwarded to church officials.

    The commission issued 45 recommendations about how to prevent abuse. These included training priests and other clerics, revising Canon Law — the legal code the Vatican uses to govern the church — and fostering policies to recognise and compensate victims, Sauve said.

    Christopher Lamb, the Vatican correspondent for The Tablet, a publication focused on the Catholic Church, said the abuse had been fuelled by “the idea that authority was somehow unaccountable”.

    And two snippets from the Grauniad, French Catholic church expresses shame after report finds 330,000 children were abused (Trigger Warning: Both of the following snippets are potentially quite distressing):

     
     
     
     

    It said the “vast majority” of victims were boys, who came from a wide variety of social backgrounds and who were attacked at a young age before reaching adolescence. Some sex offenders inside the church were “predators” on a vast scale who targeted extremely high numbers of children over long periods, with some attacking more than 150 victims.

    Sauvé said the numbers of victims were “damning” and “in no way can remain without a response”. He urged the church to pay reparations even though most cases were well beyond the statute of limitations for prosecution. He recommended the Catholic church overhaul its internal legal system, reform its governance, rethink training and look at the dynamics that allowed the abuse to take place — namely the overwhelming power of priests […]

    Survivors who spoke out to report investigators included Claudette Couturier, 65, who told France TV that her first memories as a very young child were of being raped by three priests who took turns to attack her. She and her sister lived with her alcoholic grandmother. The priests would come to dinner then attack the children in their bedrooms. […]

  86. blf says

    Most Americans support resettling Afghans in US: Poll:

    […]
    The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll found that 72 percent of Americans said they supported granting refugee status to people who worked with the US or Afghan governments during the war in Afghanistan, if they pass security checks.

    […]

    Seventy-six percent of Democrats said they backed resettling Afghans who worked with US or Afghan government forces, compared to 74 percent of Republicans, the poll found. Overall, just 9 percent of Americans said they were opposed.

    Observers say the findings demonstrate that most Americans regard giving the Afghans a refuge from potential Taliban retaliation as a duty after the nearly 20-year war.

    […]

  87. blf says

    Apropos of nothing, he’s back! He’s back!! Yeah!!! There’s a great egg vendor — that’s all he sells (and only chicken eggs at that) — who disappeared from today’s weekly market about the beginning of July. I’d understood him to say at the time he was going on vacation (for the typical-ish French month-ish), and so expected him back sometime in August. Nope. Ok then, September? Nope… Uh-oh, has something happened? Or did I misunderstand and he retired (but he doesn’t seem to be of retirement age?)? No idea, but there he was again today, in his usual spot, with his usual excellent eggs (still all chicken). I didn’t ask anything, but along with several other customers, was delighted to see him back.

  88. tomh says

    Biden lifts abortion referral ban on family planning clinics
    ASSOCIATED PRESS / October 4, 2021

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration on Monday reversed a ban on abortion referrals by family planning clinics, lifting a Trump-era restriction as political and legal battles over abortion grow sharper from Texas to the U.S. Supreme Court.

    The Department of Health and Human Services said its new regulation will restore the federal family planning program to the way it ran under the Obama administration, when clinics were able to refer women seeking abortions to a provider. The goal is to “strengthen and restore” services, said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra.

    “I have heard that almost everywhere in the country people have made the decision that conditions will be good for them to return to the program,” Clare Coleman, president of the umbrella group National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, said in an interview. “My sense is that people have been waiting for the rule.”

    Planned Parenthood, the biggest service provider, said on Twitter its health centers look forward to returning. But the group criticized part of the Biden administration rule that allows individual clinicians who object to abortion not to provide referrals. The administration said that’s “in accordance with applicable federal law.”

    Known as Title X, the taxpayer-funded program makes available more than $250 million a year to clinics to provide birth control and basic health care services mainly to low-income women, many of them from minority communities. Under former President Donald Trump, clinics were barred from referring patients for abortions, prompting a mass exit by service providers affiliated with Planned Parenthood, as well as several states and other independent organizations.

    Title X family planning clinics served about 3.9 million clients in 2018, but HHS estimates that number fell by nearly 40% after the Trump policy. The upheaval may have led to more than 180,000 unintended pregnancies, the agency said. In all, more than one-quarter of the clinics left the program….

    Combined with service disruptions due to COVID-19 shutdowns, “this has just been a massive one-two punch to the system,” said Coleman.

    Biden campaigned on a promise to overturn the restrictions on family planning clinics, but abortion was not a central issue in the 2020 presidential race. It may become one in the 2022 midterm elections to determine who controls Congress.

  89. says

    Text quoted by blf in comment 87: “Sauvé said the problem was still there.” After all this time, the problem is still there. Terrible. It seems like nothing less than dismantling the Catholic Church will make an impact.

    tomh @90, That’s good news. It’s the least they can do for now. That number of “180,000 unintended pregnancies” is startling.

    blf @89, so glad to see one thing returning to “normal” in your local market. I hear similar stories about the farmers’ markets in Manhattan.

    My local honey supplier seems to have disappeared.

  90. says

    […] the National School Boards Association requested federal law enforcement assistance to address the escalating instances of harassment and acts of intimidation local officials are having to deal with.

    As The Associated Press reported this morning, the Justice Department appears to be taking the matter seriously.

    Attorney General Merrick Garland on Monday directed federal authorities to hold strategy sessions in the next 30 days with law enforcement to address the increasing threats targeting school board members, teachers and other employees in the nation’s public schools. In a memorandum, Garland said there has been “a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff who participate in the vital work of running our nation’s public schools.”

    The AP’s report added that the attorney general intends to direct the FBI to work with U.S. attorneys and federal, state, local, territorial, and tribal authorities to address the threats.

    “While spirited debate about policy matters is protected under our Constitution, that protection does not extend to threats of violence or efforts to intimidate individuals based on their views,” Garland said.

    […] Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri responded to the attorney general’s initiative this morning with a tweet that read, “Now Joe Biden is deploying the FBI against parents who have concerns about Critical Race Theory being taught to their children. This is a remarkable and dangerous abuse of power.” [Oh FFS!]

    Just so we’re clear, local education officials are dealing with threats of violence. The Justice Department wants to protect spirited debate while preventing physical attacks. And a GOP senator is outraged — not by the threats, but by the attorney general’s eagerness to address a potentially violent intimidation campaign.

    To the extent that reality matters, the Justice Department didn’t express any interest in “parents who have concerns.”

    Hawley was wrong on Jan. 6, when insurrectionists with “concerns” launched a violent attack against the U.S. Capitol. Nine months later, the Missouri Republican doesn’t appear to have learned much from the experience.

    Link

  91. says

    The tally of new anti-voting laws reaches unsettling new heights

    The more Republican officials at the state level put new barriers between Americans and ballot boxes, the more GOP leaders on Capitol Hill pretended this wasn’t happening. In March, for example, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters, “States are not engaging in trying to suppress voters whatsoever.” [bullshit]

    A few months later, the Kentucky Republican added, “The biggest lie being told in American politics in recent weeks has been that the states are involved in a systematic effort to suppress the vote.” [FFS]

    […] a new report from the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law makes clear that too many state legislatures “have proposed and enacted legislation to make it harder for Americans to vote, justifying these measures with falsehoods steeped in racism about election irregularities and breaches of election security.”

    In all but seven states, regular legislative sessions are now over. Between January 1 and September 27, at least 19 states enacted 33 laws that make it harder for Americans to vote…. The 33 laws enacted so far in 2021 have various impacts, including but not limited to making mail voting and early voting more difficult, imposing harsher voter ID requirements, and making faulty voter purges more likely.

    The good news, the Democratic majority in Congress has crafted legislation, called the Freedom to Vote Act, which would counteract many of these new state-based voting restrictions. The bad news is, Senate Republican leaders have already said they’ll use a filibuster to kill the voting rights bill.

    Politico reported late last week that Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia is “frantically looking for GOP partners” on voting rights, even after Republicans “ruled out” supporting the compromise measure Democrats unveiled last month.

    The article added, “[T]he odds of Manchin’s engagement resulting in an agreement are slim, given the significant ideological gulf between the two parties on the issue.”

    Between the Brennan Center’s tally and the Republican Party’s intensifying hostility toward voting rights, it’s difficult to be optimistic. The obvious solution is to ignore the filibuster rule and protect democracy, but that remains a long shot.

  92. says

    Pence’s perspective on the Jan. 6 attack takes a farcical turn

    Nearly nine months after the Jan. 6 attack, former Vice President Mike Pence has had plenty of time to reflect on the insurrectionist violence, and as the HuffPost noted overnight, the Indiana Republican has arrived at some strange ideas.

    Critics pounded former Vice President Mike Pence’s claim on Monday that continued media reporting on the Jan. 6 insurrection was aimed at demeaning supporters of ex-President Donald Trump. Pence, appearing on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show, suggested news outlets’ ongoing focus on the deadly U.S. Capitol riot by a mob of Trump fans was solely an attempt to “distract from the Biden administration’s failed agenda.”

    The former vice president added, “They want to use that one day to try and demean the character and intentions of 74 million Americans who believed we could be strong again and prosperous again, and supported our administration in 2016 and 2020.”

    So let me see if I have this straight. Media professionals and news organizations don’t really want to report on developments related to Jan. 6 — the prosecution of rioters, the ongoing bipartisan investigation in Congress, etc. — but journalists are covering the story anyway. Why? Because we’re conspiring to cause a distraction for the White House, while simultaneously trying to make Donald Trump’s supporters look bad.

    Right off the bat, let’s note that Pence’s conspiracy theory is quite nutty, even by 2021 standards. News organizations cover developments related to Jan. 6 because there’s important news about an important event. As he really ought to know, there’s no need for secret partisan motivations.

    What’s more, the former vice president — who was hunted by the rioters, and who had to flee for his own safety during the attack on the Capitol — has been the source of some of this news. For example, Pence delivered remarks in early June in which he described Jan. 6 as “a dark day” in which law enforcement ultimately secured the Capitol and “we reconvened the Congress and did our duty under the Constitution and the laws of the United States.”

    Later in the month, the former vice president said he was “proud” of what he did on Jan. 6 and added that there’s “almost no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American president.” Are we to believe Pence made these comments as part of a pro-Biden scheme to “distract” the public?

    Finally, let’s also not overlook recent revelations that ahead of Jan. 6, the then-vice president actively explored alternatives to the rule of law and our constitutional system. Indeed, the latest reporting suggests Pence didn’t want to fulfill his legal obligations, but he couldn’t find a credible way to do the wrong thing.

    […] the former vice president — perhaps eager to curry favor with extremists who threatened to hang him nine months ago — is peddling silly ideas on Fox News. […]

    Those extremists aren’t going to vote for Pence in a Republican presidential primary no matter what he says.

  93. says

    Republicans are threatening the full faith and credit for the United States because they’re looking for a new toy to play with in the 2022 midterms.

    In recent weeks, much of the focus on Capitol Hill has been over Democrats negotiating how best to advance the White House’s Build Back Better agenda. Yesterday, that focus shifted dramatically to a very different kind of challenge. NBC News reported midday:

    President Joe Biden on Monday sought to ratchet up pressure on Republicans to work with Democrats on raising the debt limit, accusing Republicans of playing “Russian roulette” with the U.S. economy. Biden warned Americans that if Congress failed to act, mortgage rates would increase, retirement savings would go down and the U.S. could lose its financial credibility around the world. He called on Republicans to allow a vote on the debt ceiling this week.

    When Republicans like Florida Sen. Rick Scott first started pushing for a debt-ceiling crisis in April, it seemed like an abstraction because the threat only existed on the horizon. That luxury is now over: The Treasury Department has told Congress that the United States will begin defaulting on its obligations in just 13 days. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has told members that he expects the chamber to resolve the matter this week, and he’s already scheduled a vote for tomorrow on a clean bill passed by the House last week.

    […] Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell wrote to the White House yesterday, making clear that his Republican members will not vote to allow the United States to pay its own bills, and insisting that Democrats use a specific legislative procedure to defuse the GOP’s bomb: the budget reconciliation process.

    […] Republicans aren’t just telling Democrats to extend the debt ceiling; Republicans want to force Democrats to extend the debt ceiling in a very specific way.

    This is where the writing on the hostage note comes into focus: Republicans want to dictate the terms, giving the Democratic majority instructions as to how to prevent the GOP from causing a deliberate economic catastrophe.

    And why, prey tell, are Republicans obsessed with forcing Democrats to govern through an obscure legislative procedure? Senate Minority Whip John Thune effectively gave away the game yesterday, telling NBC News, “The way to do it if they want to do it at 51 votes is to do it through reconciliation, which requires them to specify a number.”

    The details get a little wonky, but there’s a subtle policy difference between extending the nation’s borrowing authority by suspending the debt ceiling until a specific date in the future and raising the debt ceiling by a specific amount of money: The former doesn’t set a dollar amount and the latter does.

    And so, if Republicans can force Democrats to extend the debt ceiling by making them vote on a scary-sounding figure — say, $30 trillion, instead of $28 trillion — GOP operatives believe it will create a more potent political weapon.

    In other words, Republicans are threatening the full faith and credit for the United States because they’re looking for a new toy to play with in the 2022 midterms. […]

    Congress is noticeably short on options.

    Congress can simply extend the debt ceiling in a clean bill. Republicans have said they will use a filibuster to prevent this from happening, though Sen. Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican who’s retiring next year, suggested yesterday that the GOP’s wall is starting to show some cracks. Whether Republicans would cave in time to prevent a disaster is unclear.

    Congress can attach a debt-ceiling extension to some other bill. When Democrats tried this last week, Republicans refused to consider it.

    Congress can incorporate a debt-ceiling extension to the Build Back Better agenda. Though several GOP senators pushed this approach last month, Democratic leaders have already ruled out this possibility, and there almost certainly isn’t enough time to jump through the procedural hoops to make it happen.

    Congress can extend the debt ceiling through a separate reconciliation measure. The Senate Parliamentarian’s office yesterday said the GOP demand is procedurally possible. […] But Democrats still have no intention of doing this, largely because it would take two weeks and the default deadline is in 13 days.

    […] Democrats could abandon their domestic agenda. Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine suggested yesterday that GOP senators might consider doing what has to be done if Democrats scrapped President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda. […]

    […] Democrats could extend the debt ceiling on their own by creating a new exception to the filibuster rule. I’ve long seen this as the easiest and most obvious solution, and some members of the Senate Democratic caucus are starting to come to the same conclusion.

    Indeed, if the Democratic majority gets to a point where they’re saying, “Republicans crashed the economy on purpose, but don’t worry, the filibuster rule remains intact,” that’s going to be an awfully tough sell to voters and the rest of the world.

    For his part, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia told reporters yesterday, “The filibuster doesn’t have anything to do with the debt ceiling,” despite the fact that the filibuster is the one thing Republicans are using to prevent an extension of the debt ceiling. [Joe Manchin is delusional.]

    […] the nation faces an economic calamity in 13 days unless Democrats figure out a way to overcome the Republican-imposed crisis.

    Link

  94. says

    Why Trump has a new super PAC with an unintentionally amusing name

    The problem is not just that Trump’s super PAC has a funny new name, it’s also the fact that Trump needs a new super PAC at all.

    On the surface, Donald Trump appears to already have a successful political operation in place. The former president has raised outlandish sums of money since his defeat last fall, and common sense suggests the Republican and his team would keep the machine churning, as is, so long as the cash keeps rolling in.

    It’s why it came as something of a surprise yesterday afternoon when the public was alerted to the creation of a new Trump-approved super PAC. The press statement read:

    “Make America Great Again, Again! (MAGA, Again!) announced the formation of the ONLY Trump approved Super PAC, replacing Make America Great Again Action. MAGA Again! will be led by Chairman Pam Bondi, a longtime supporter of President Donald J., Trump and the former Attorney General of Florida. She will be joined by National Finance Chair Kimberly Guilfoyle.”

    Bondi, of course, was at the center of a rather serious controversy several years ago — her Florida office ended its scrutiny of Trump’s so-called “university” after his charitable foundation made an illegal donation to a group supporting Bondi’s campaign — while Guilfoyle is dating one of the former president’s adult sons.

    Not surprisingly, the name of the outfit sparked plenty of derision. “MAGA Again!” — the exclamation point was included several times in yesterday’s press statement — has a certain child-like quality, but it’s difficult to take seriously.

    Indeed, it was several years ago when Trump’s retrospective phrase became a signature acronym for the Republican and his followers. It was, obviously, pronounced “maga.” Presumably, as the former president eyes yet another national candidacy, the new acronym will sound a bit more ridiculous, with an extended and exaggerated “ahh” at the end.

    But while the name generates mockery, the new announcement sparked a related question: Why would Trump’s political operation need a new super PAC at all? The New York Times reported on the apparent answer:

    Allies of former President Donald J. Trump formed a new super PAC days after Corey Lewandowski, Mr. Trump’s former campaign manager and the leader of one of the largest pro-Trump super PACs, was accused of sexual misconduct. The move, an attempt to isolate Mr. Lewandowski and deny him a role in Mr. Trump’s political operation, creates a new outside group to support the former president as he considers whether to run again in 2024.

    […] behind the scenes, it appears that Lewandowski did not want to leave the operation, and Trump World couldn’t figure out a way to legally replace him. [Farce!]

    The Times’ Maggie Haberman added that Trump’s team intends to transfer the funds from the old super PAC to the new one, “though it’s not immediately clear what the bylaws say about who has control over the money and transfers, or what other measures they might have available to allow the money to be sent to a new entity if one of two board members is resisting.”

    […] internal divisions, ugly fights, and dysfunction. […]

  95. says

    Yeah. About time.

    Bar Complaint Filed Against Coup-Planning Lawyer John Eastman In California

    Disbarment For Couping?

    A nonpartisan election integrity group is demanding an investigation into whether John Eastman, the conservative legal scholar dunderhead who mapped out a potential plan for then-Vice President Mike Pence to steal the 2020 election for Trump, engaged in professional misconduct.

    The States United Democracy Center sent a letter to the California bar association on Monday requesting that the state bar examine whether Eastman “violated his ethical obligations as an attorney by filing frivolous claims, making false statements and engaging in deceptive conduct.”

    The letter’s signatories included two former California Supreme Court justices plus an ex-GOP governor and an Obama official.

    “Is it now a disbarrable offense to engage in political speech, First Amendment protected?” Eastman asked in response to the group’s complaint while hinting that he might fire back with a defamation suit.

    The bar complaint comes as other Trumpland lawyers, including Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, face bar investigations for misusing the courts to overturn the election.

  96. says

    Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has set a deadline for Congress to act on lifting the debt ceiling: October 18. At that point, she will have exhausted all the available measures to shuffle money around to pay the bills. Which, again, is what the debt ceiling is about—paying the accrued bills for borrowed money already spent. […] this isn’t a game, however much the traditional media tries to pretend it’s all just partisan squabbling.

    “It would be catastrophic to not pay the government’s bills, for us to be in a position where we lacked the resources to pay the government’s bills,” Yellen said in the CNBC interview. “I fully expect it would cause a recession as well.” Never has the U.S. breached the debt limit, though the last few times we got this close to it happening—because of Mitch McConnell’s nihilism of course—the nation’s credit rating took a hit. The ratings outfits—Fitch, S&P, Moody’s—are all nervously watching the latest developments with concern. And they’re getting kind of sick of it. “The debt limit impasse reflects a lack of political consensus that has hampered the U.S.’s ability to meet fiscal challenges for some time,” Fitch said on Friday.

    Which is an awfully good reason for the whole debt ceiling as hostage problem to be done away once and for all. It’s not an outrageous suggestion; Yellen has recommended it. She argued last week before the House Financial Services committee that the statutory debt limit needs to be abolished because it is so “destructive.” It creates an artificial and unnecessary risk to the nation’s economy, and thus to the global economy.

    “I believe when Congress legislates expenditures and puts in place tax policy that determines taxes, those are the crucial decisions Congress is making,” Yellen told the committee. “And if to finance those spending and tax decisions it is necessary to issue additional debt, I believe it is very destructive to put the president and myself, as Treasury secretary, in a situation where we might be unable to pay the bills that result from those past decisions.” […] It wasn’t until 1939 that an actual ceiling was placed on the debt. Congress created it, so Congress can also abolish it.

    Some constitutional scholars make an argument that the president can just ignore the debt limit and continue to borrow to pay the nation’s bills. Following the Civil War, Congress wrote the 14th Amendment which included Section 4, which says in part that the “validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law […] shall not be questioned.” That would imply that, constitutionally, there is no debt limit, and thus, that the statute can be ignored. Ironically, that section was included in the amendment because of the fear in Congress that the forbearers of the current Republican Party—the Confederate states—would try to sabotage the government by refusing to pay the nation’s bills. […]

    Link

    So far, the Biden administration has not indicated that it will ignore the debt limit.

    Additional commentary from Steve Benen:

    […] Ending the filibuster, however, is ultimately inevitable and the most straightforward option even if it ends up being a carve-out just for the debt ceiling, like there are carve-outs of the filibuster for executive and judicial nominations. The Congress acting as a responsible branch of government should be something a simple majority of Senators can achieve.

    It’s not out of the realm of possibility that this is one end game President Joe Biden and leadership are working toward right now. It’s possible that they believe demonstrating to Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema that McConnell and team are more than willing to create a global economic catastrophe. It’s also possible that Manchema collectively is either too dumb or too self-absorbed or too committed to being “mavericky” to internalize that threat and grow the fuck up.

    Yep. I fear that they are too dumb and too self-absorbed.

  97. says

    Facebook comes under stark criticism at whistleblower hearings.

    […] Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager, testified in person before a full Senate Commerce subcommittee panel, urging Congress to hold the tech giant accountable for what she said was the harm it inflicted on children and its refusal to properly police its content.

    “Facebook should not get a free pass on choices it makes to prioritize growth and virality and reactiveness over public safety. They shouldn’t get a free pass on that because they’re paying for their profits right now with our safety,” she said.

    […] Haugen’s testimony went beyond calling out the company’s impact on young users.

    She said the company’s inability to catch offensive content on its platform is based on the company’s use of artificial intelligence which it has publicly boasted as a solution to combat issues of hate speech and misinformation.

    “The reality is that we’ve seen from repeated documents within my disclosures, is that Facebook’s AI systems only catch a very tiny minority of offending content,” Haugen said […]

    Haugen said in the “best case scenario” to catch “something like hate speech,” AI will reach about 10 to 20 percent.

    […] Haugen said Facebook has a “deep focus on scale,” meaning taking action cheaply for a “huge number of people.”

    “Which is part of why they rely on AI so much,” she said.

    Haugen said the issue is also underscored by Facebook being “understaffed” to address concerns.

    She said there was a “pattern of behavior: where issues were “so understaffed” that there was discouragement for having better direction. […]

    Why are they understaffed?

  98. says

    Aww. So sad.

    Trump falls off Forbes list of America’s richest people

    Former President Trump has fallen off Forbes’s list of America’s richest people.

    Trump’s fortune dropped to $2.5 billion, according to the Forbes 400 on Tuesday, which is $400 million short of the cutoff needed to make the list.

    This is the first time in 25 years Trump has not been on Forbes 400, with him on the top half of the list from 1997 to 2016 until he became president. […]

  99. says

    Wonkette: “Coronavirus Update”

    A major new peer-reviewed study of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine published in the medical journal The Lancet yesterday has some really good news, and some other news that may help make the case for booster shots, depending on whose headlines you’re reading. The Washington Post emphasizes that six months after the second dose, the vaccine remains 90 percent effective in preventing hospitalizations and deaths. Well that’s pretty good news, and it also includes the vaccine’s effectiveness against the Delta variant.

    The study included more than 3.4 million people, and its other major finding made for the more dour headline from Reuters, which is that six months after the second dose, the vaccine’s ability to prevent infection with the coronavirus dropped from an initial 88 percent to 47 percent, which might be a big factor in federal agencies deciding whether to expand the availability of Pfizer booster shots.

    The researchers concluded that the decline in effectiveness was not due to the Delta variant, noting that patients fresh off a new vaccination were equally protected from both the original strain and Delta, and that even as Delta spread in California this year, hospitalization rates remained low. Finally, the rate of breakthrough infections was more closely related to the time elapsed since the second vaccination than with which variant of the virus people were infected.

    […] So what’s the upshot of the study? Breakthrough infections after a vaccination may become somewhat more common, but they’re far less likely to put you in the hospital or a coffin, so for fuckssakes we need to keep encouraging and mandating vaccinations. […]

    ‘Natural’ Immunity Drops Quickly, Increasing Chances Of Reinfection

    The University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease and Policy reports on another major study that found that among people who’ve been infected with SARS-CoV-2, immunity from the virus wears off relatively quickly, with modeling showing that reinfections with the virus “will most likely occur at a median of 16 months.” The researchers found that “natural” immunity could wear off as early as 3 months after initial infection […]

    “Therefore, those who have been naturally infected should get vaccinated. Previous infection alone can offer very little long-term protection against subsequent infections.”

    […] What that probably means for policy is that Ron Paul and Scott Atlas should shut their fucking mouths about how wonderful it is for people to get infected with the coronavirus. It probably means that booster shots will become common for everyone, although at this point it’s not known whether a third shot’s effectiveness will wane over time, or will provide very long-term protection.

    […] The extreme virulence of the Delta variant has led New Zealand, which has had one of the strictest virus control policies in the world, to abandon its goal of eliminating all COVID infections, because Delta is so much more infectious than the original variant of the virus that extreme lockdowns, extensive testing and contact tracing, and tight border controls just don’t work to shut down the virus anymore. […]

    Australia, which we are given to understand is a whole different country, gave up on its “zero tolerance” approach to the virus earlier this month, although both nations are only slowly phasing in relaxations in lockdowns as they ramp up vaccination rates. New Zealand has had, to date, only 4,408 cases and 27 deaths during the entire pandemic […]

    Banking giant JP Morgan Chase is preparing to ban business travel for employees who refuse to get vaccinated, and will also take a larger portion of their pay to cover the cost of COVID testing. The company also won’t allow people to participate in in-person meetings if they aren’t vaccinated or refuse to disclose their vaccination status. GOOD.

    The travel and meeting bans will become effective immediately, and the higher payroll deductions will start January 1. […] “Clients are increasingly asking us to ensure meetings are restricted to vaccinated employees,” the bank wrote in the internal memo. “We agree with medical authorities that being vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself, loved ones, colleagues and communities from the virus.”

    JP Morgan has not actually mandated vaccines for employees, but it does require employees to register whether they’ve been vaccinated or not, and is now offering some really strong disincentives to going unvaccinated. The company does require that face masks be worn in its offices.

    […] Short Covid Idiocy Takes

    Lindsey Graham suggested at a Republican gathering at a country club in South Carolina that folks might could get vaccinated if they haven’t been, but got no further than “If you haven’t had the vaccine you ought to think about getting it because if you’re my age —” before being drowned out by boos and shouts of “No!” […]

    In New York City, hundreds of anti-vaxxers marched through parts of Brooklyn and Manhattan to protest in favor of people dying, and while they were at it, they tore down a vaccine testing site, because that’s how patriots do. Despite the protests, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city’s vaccine mandate for public school employees has been a success, with 95 percent of full-time employees having gotten at least one dose by yesterday, the deadline to get the jab or lose the job. […]

    In Farragut, Tennessee, a well-off suburb of Knoxville, antivaxxer protesters picketed at the entrances to several public schools, including Farragut Intermediate, Middle, and High School, the Oppossum Press reports. To get into their schools, kids as young as seven had to make their way past adults screaming at them and calling them “sheep.” Many of the protesters aren’t even parents, but they really hate a mask mandate ordered by a federal judge, presumably because having to wear a mask is traumatic to little kids, while having complete strangers scream at you is all about protecting your rights. The local sheriff’s office has pledged not to enforce any mask mandates of any kind, so no deputies were sent to stop the protesters from screaming at little kids on school property.

    […] So people are still being fucking idiots, even as the vaccine news is pretty good, hooray.

    Yr Wonkette is funded entirely by reader donations. If you can, please give $5 or $10 a month so we can keep you on top of all of this: the good, the bad, and the unfuckingbelievably stupid.

    https://www.wonkette.com/coronavirus-update-four-zillion

  100. says

    What’s Wrong With Kyrsten Sinema?

    New York Times link

    […] People sometimes describe [Kyrsten Sinema] as a centrist, but that seems the wrong term for someone who’s been working to derail some of the most broadly popular parts of Joe Biden’s agenda, corporate tax increases and reforms to lower prescription drug prices. Instead, she’s just acting as an obstructionist, seeming to bask in the approbation of Republicans who will probably never vote for her.

    A “Saturday Night Live” skit this weekend captured her absurdist approach to negotiating the reconciliation bill that contains almost the entirety of Biden’s agenda. “What do I want from this bill?” asked the actress playing Sinema. “I’ll never tell.” It sometimes seems as if what Sinema wants is for people to sit around wondering what Sinema wants.

    When Sinema ran for Senate, the former left-wing firebrand reportedly told her advisers that she hoped to be the next John McCain, an independent force willing to buck her own party. Voting against a $15 minimum wage this year, she gave a thumbs down — accompanied by an obnoxious little curtsy — that seemed meant to recall the gesture McCain made when he voted against repealing key measures of the Affordable Care Act in 2017.

    A “Saturday Night Live” skit this weekend captured her absurdist approach to negotiating the reconciliation bill that contains almost the entirety of Biden’s agenda. “What do I want from this bill?” asked the actress playing Sinema. “I’ll never tell.” It sometimes seems as if what Sinema wants is for people to sit around wondering what Sinema wants.

    When Sinema ran for Senate, the former left-wing firebrand reportedly told her advisers that she hoped to be the next John McCain, an independent force willing to buck her own party. Voting against a $15 minimum wage this year, she gave a thumbs down — accompanied by an obnoxious little curtsy — that seemed meant to recall the gesture McCain made when he voted against repealing key measures of the Affordable Care Act in 2017.

    But people admired McCain because they felt he embodied a consistent set of values, a straight-talking Captain America kind of patriotism. Despite his iconoclastic image, he was mostly a deeply conservative Republican; […] on votes where the parties were split, he sided with his party about 90 percent of the time.

    Sinema, by contrast, breaks with her fellow Democrats much more often. There hasn’t been a year since she entered Congress when she’s voted with her party more than 75 percent of the time. But what really makes her different from McCain is that nobody seems to know what she stands for.

    “We need to make health care more affordable, lower prescription drug prices, and fix the problems in the system — not go back to letting insurance companies call all the shots,” she tweeted in 2018. Yet Sinema reportedly objects to the Democrats’ plan to allow the federal government to negotiate drug prices for Medicare recipients and even opposes a scaled-back version of the policy put forward by some House moderates. She voted against the Trump tax cuts in the House but now seems to oppose undoing any of them. According to The New York Times, she’s “privately told colleagues she will not accept any corporate or income tax rate increases.”

    Why? An easy explanation would be money; she could just be protecting her campaign donors. But as Matthew Yglesias points out, in recent cycles small-dollar Democratic donors, who tend to be to the left of Democratic voters overall, have showered the party’s Senate candidates with cash. If Sinema tanks the Biden presidency, it’s unlikely to be great for her fund-raising. [But her fundraising from Republican-ish lobbyists is working!]

    […] In “Unite and Conquer,” Sinema describes entering the Republican-controlled Arizona State House as a strident progressive, accomplishing nothing, being miserable and then recalibrating so that she could collaborate with her Republican colleagues. The book is vaguely New Agey. [Oh, sweet baby jesus, spare me.] It places a lot of emphasis on deep breathing and extols what Sinema calls “Enso politics,” after a Zen term for a circle symbolizing enlightenment.

    Sinema describes finding self-actualization in learning to “open up my own ways of thinking to embrace a much larger possibility than the strict party-line rhetoric I’d been using.” She figured out how to have meetings with lobbyists that were “relaxed and comfortable,” […] Her “new ethos” helped her to get more done and, “perhaps most importantly,” be “much happier,” she writes.

    “Unite and Conquer” was about operating in the minority, not exercising power. Now that she’s part of a governing majority, Sinema is, ironically, recapitulating some of the pathologies she boasted about transcending. Rather than being part of a productive coalition, she’s once again operating as a defiantly contrary outsider. The bipartisanship that was once a source of liberation for her seems to have become a rigid identity.

    “I think she’s just really invested in that self-image, personally, as someone who stands up to her party, and I think she has really lost track of what is actually politically prudent, even to put aside the impact on the lives of millions of people,” said Emily Kirkland, executive director of Progress Arizona, a progressive group that worked to elect Sinema to the Senate. There’s a difference, it turns out, between being a maverick and being a narcissist.

    The article is by Michelle Goldberg

  101. blf says

    The Grauniad’s snark machine — albeit this is similar to slicing carrots with a chainsaw — Welcome to the Tory conference: this year staged in the Soviet-Union-on-Thames:

    There’s plenty of talk about the British Renaissance — and no mention of little things like empty shelves and fuel shortages

    Experience wonder this autumn as we head for Tory conference, where, according to Lord Frost, the British Renaissance has begun. Are you enjoying the British Renaissance? It’s like the Italian Renaissance, only instead of Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, there are two guys fighting over petrol on a forecourt in Epping. I suppose both involve a Shell.

    Lord Frost now spends most of his time castigating the EU for sticking to the terms of the deal struck by Lord Frost, and for doing so in a way that was predicted by seemingly everyone other than Lord Frost. […]

    Elsewhere, those who tuned into Manchester hoping to penetrate the mysteries of levelling up have yet to be enlightened. You may be starting to wonder if levelling up is a bit like Scientology’s Operating Thetan Level VIII. Which is to say, it takes a very, very long time and a lot of money to find out what it is, and when the secret is finally revealed to you, they have to do it on a boat out at sea, presumably because it’s so ludicrous that you’re going to lose what’s left of your mind and will need oceans of space and time to calm down.

    Levelling up secretary Michael Gove [yes, he really is the minister for levelling up –blf] could only offer vague stuff about leadership and pride, a reminder that the one thing we don’t have a shortage of is abstract nouns. According to culturicidal secretary Nadine Dorries, it’s about restoring pride in high streets, and something entirely unsubstantiated to do with nepotism at the BBC. In answer to your question: yes. Yes, this is the same Nadine Dorries who employed not one but two of her private-school educated daughters in her own office, at a cost to the taxpayer of up to £80,000. Nadine’s other contribution was to express surprise that she was appointed culture secretary, believing you needed to be young, cool and trendy. Really? The last four holders of the post were Oliver Dowden, Nicky Morgan, Jeremy Wright and Matt Hancock. During his tenure, Hancock famously wanted to turn up to party conference as a hologram. Even more incredibly, this year he wanted to turn up in person.

    […]

    In the meantime, the prime minister is delighted to offer you a lengthy period of painful transition to a high-wage economy. This seems to be the latest newly retrofitted idea to explain The Unpleasantness. You can see why its predecessor, Singapore-on-Thames, had to go. In the past couple of weeks, Johnson has announced everything from nuclear submarines to space rocket launches, at the same time as denying that there is any problem with boring little things like empty shelves and domestic fuel shortages. Warmest of welcomes to the Soviet-Union-on-Thames […]

  102. says

    5 Points On The Newly Released Testimony Of Rudy! Sidney! And The Big Lie Gang

    A mass of documents gathered in the course of a defamation lawsuit against the proponents of the Big Lie is out, providing depositions with those who led the fight to overturn last year’s election and records that shed new light on the effort.

    The documents include depositions with Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, representatives of the Trump campaign itself, and employees of MAGA news network OAN.

    […] The lawsuit has allowed Giuliani, Powell, and others to face close questioning about the Big Lie, and unearthed documents from the Trump campaign about the effort to subvert the vote. […]

    Sustained questioning makes the Big Lie promoters squirm.
    […] Over and over, Big Lie proponents revealed that they didn’t really check to see whether what they were saying was true. […]

    Giuliani added that, in Coomer’s case, he didn’t see anything that suggested the allegations “weren’t true.” […]

    Powell took a more aggressive line. At one point, attorneys replayed a video that Powell had posted about Coomer. After being asked why she posted it, Powell said, “frankly, I think your lawsuit is defamation of me.”

    The Trump campaign couldn’t stop fundraising off the Big Lie.
    The Trump campaign itself sat for an interview, making Republican strategist Sean Dollman available as a representative.

    Dollman was asked whether post-election claims of fraud were tied to the campaign’s fundraising apparatus. “So the longer the Trump campaign was publicly advancing theories of election fraud, the longer it could justifiably raise money; is that true?” an attorney for Coomer asked Dollman.

    The Trump campaign representative replied that they did not “continue with litigation just to raise funds.” Rather, the campaign “raised funds to do that.”

    The inevitable next question was: “if you had stopped contesting the election, it would have been harder to continue raising funds, correct?” […]

    Dollman added after further questions that the Trump campaign still believes that the election was fraudulent.

    When asked why, Dollman replied: “we have no underlying definite facts that it wasn’t.”

    A memo attached as an exhibit to the deposition, first reported by the New York Times, shows that other Trump campaign attorneys knew that some of the Big Lie claims were mythical. […]

    The Big Lie team began to suspect the Trump campaign and the RNC of holding back
    Giuliani and Powell both suggested in their testimony that the Republican National Committee and the Trump campaign itself tried to undermine their efforts at times to push forth the Big Lie.

    […] “The campaign in my opinion had checked out about three, four weeks before the election,” he said. “They were pretty much convinced he was going to lose, they were looking for jobs, they were worried about their standing in the Washington community.”

    He added that unnamed subversives in the Trump campaign “wanted to defeat” Trump himself, and alleged that attorneys performed a switcheroo on a legal complaint he filed related to the election outcome.

    “The complaint that was substituted… completely subverted our theory of the case,” Giuliani complained. “There were more than a few acts like this.”

    …and then they teamed up with an OAN reporter?
    Giuliani told attorneys that the Trump legal team effectively deputized a reporter for OAN, the pro-Trump news network, to work for the Big Lie.

    That, Giuliani said, involved Christina Bobb working for Trump’s “personal lawyers,” referring to her as “part of the legal team.” In that capacity, Giuliani claimed, she focused on searching for anything that would support the myth that the election had been fraudulent in the key states of Arizona, Michigan, and Georgia.

    […] Bobb became increasingly detached from reality in her rhetoric. […]

    “The rules that we made with [OAN editor] Charles [Herring] were that he would defer to us to whatever our needs were, that he couldn’t give it to us permanently but he could loosen up her assignments for the next couple of months, therefore she wouldn’t be working all that much for OAN,” Giuliani said.

    Herring, in his deposition, denied that he was aware of the arrangement.

    […] OAN has produced a string of documentaries that take ideas floating in the Trumpworld ether and give them form.

    Giuliani couldn’t stop revealing more details.
    Throughout all of this, attorneys for both sides kept trying to convince Giuliani to stop talking.

    He revealed details that included trash talk about Sidney Powell: “She wasn’t as collegial maybe is a nice way to put it, which isn’t unusual for lawyers that tend to be prima donnas.”

    He was met with protestations from his own attorney at times. At one point, Giuliani was asked about reporting suggesting that, on the night of the election, he told a group of senior Trump advisers in the White House to “just say that we won.”

    Giuliani attorney Joe Sibley kept interjecting to say “we’re asserting privilege” and to tell Giuliani “don’t disclose whatever you said to them,” but Rudy plowed ahead.

    “You asked a question and I’m going to finish it,” he fumed to the plaintiff attorney. “And I’m hardly going to tell someone to make an allegation and just say it without having substantial amount of proof of it.”

    Giuliani obliquely suggested that he would never — never — make an allegation without heaps of evidence.

    “And everything I alleged, I have at least one and usually 10 or 15 affidavits to support except nobody wants to look at them,” he added.

  103. blf says

    Lynna@91, commenting on me@89, “so glad to see one thing returning to ‘normal’ in your local market.”

    Amusingly (I hope!), the market today wasn’t anywheres near “normal” — it’s been pretty-much “normal” since earlier this year — but yesterday and over the weekend, this area of France was drenched in torrential rain (per France24, ‘Scenes of horror’ as torrential rains flood Marseille with water-swept trash, “According to Météo France, the national meteorological service, ‘the equivalent of several months of rain’ pounded Marseille between Sunday and Monday”; also see me@61). Presumably as a result, a lot of vendors were missing. The market was quite empty. I do hope everyone is Ok! I presume that, due to hazardous travel conditions, or having to deal with localised damage, or maybe just a case of “ah feck it” (not uncommon on rainy or especially cold days), the vendors decided to give today’s market a miss… we’ll see what the weekend markets, as well as next week’s market, is like.

    (I was sort-of planning on going to Marseille this week (maybe tomorrow?), but as I typed this, it occurred to me that perhaps isn’t a very good idea at the moment.)

  104. says

    blf, it sounds like you’ll have to wait for the bad weather to abate. Meanwhile, in my personal “not normal” market, the best honey is not available. I suppose I’ll have to shop for a substitute. I think all the vendors I like should live forever.

    In other news: Trump lover thought Fauci should be imprisoned for trying to save his life

    [See examples of of whacko posts by “James” at the link. The many posts includes an advertisement for a flag bearing the message: “Trump 2024 The Revenge Tour.”]

    […] A week after posting about that stupid flag that supposedly had all of us liberals MELTING DOWN, three weeks after claiming that the “real” virus was actually Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats, the actual real virus struck.

    Please remember the family of James, husband of Crystal. He made his way into the presence of the Lord after a very difficult battle […] [This is followed by a post from his wife refusing to blame covid, (which was admitted in a previous pos)t, but now Jame’s family is claiming that fentanyl caused his coughing, not the virus wrecking his lungs. His kidneys were not at risk from the virus, but from the “changes” in his treatment regimen.]

    OMG. There’s even a “Sons of Trump, MAGA Chapter” fake motorcycle club emblem posted by the James when he was alive.

    […] Love wasn’t enough to stop COVID, imagine that. You know what was? Starts with a “V.”

    “Life is definitely not fair and we don’t understand why bad things happen to such good people.”

    The “why” is easy, and again, it starts with the letter “V.”

    Need another clue? It rhymes with “magazine.”

    His kids look older, so at least he didn’t leave young children behind. But I don’t see how someone is “good people” while trying to imprison a life-long public servant like Fauci—all because he doesn’t like his ideas. It’s the same shit as the “lock her up” chants Trump loved to lead. Lock Hillary Clinton up for what? Her emails! […]

    These people are fascists, rallying around their Big Daddy fascist Donald Trump.

    And you know what? We still don’t want them dead, because their idiocy is prolonging this pandemic and giving the virus chances to mutate beyond the protection of current vaccines. We need assholes like this one to get the freakin’ jab already, so we can get back to normal. That’s the paradox of the moment. As satisfying as it might be to see these imbeciles commit suicide by COVID, we simply can’t continue like this. […]

  105. says

    Police union leader calls Black congressman ‘first-class whore,’ gets ‘first-class raid’ from FBI

    The FBI raided headquarters of a New York City Police Department union for police sergeants on Tuesday after what Mayor Bill de Blasio called “some very destructive actions” from the union […] De Blasio refused to comment on the FBI investigation but called union president Ed Mullins “divisive.” […]

    Investigators are also searching union president Ed Mullins’ Long Island home after securing a search warrant […] The probe is a joint effort between the FBI and the public corruption unit of the U.S. attorney’s Manhattan office. An FBI spokesman confirmed with the Times only that agents “were conducting a law enforcement operation pursuant to an ongoing investigation” at the sergeant union’s offices in Lower Manhattan.

    “At least four federal agents were inside the union’s headquarters at around noon on Tuesday,” New York Times journalists William Rashbaum and Michael Gold wrote. […]

    The Sergeants Benevolent Association (SBA), which represents about 13,000 current and retired sergeants and is one of the largest police unions in the country, hasn’t issued a statement about the raid, and neither has Mullins, who just a day earlier was criticizing de Blasio, per usual. This time, it was regarding the mayor’s plan to hire the private security firm Global Guardian Security to man the perimeter of Rikers Island to free up corrections staff at the facility Sen. Jabari Brisport deemed “inhumane” and “torturous” on a tour.

    “Our goal is to see if there’s a way to relieve some of the pressure on the DOC officers and some of the issues they are having so they can focus on the big problems and not be tied to some of the lower tasks,” Global Guardian President Dale Buckner told New York Daily News. “I would equate it to why contractors are used in war zones. You don’t want warfighters doing menial tasks. If we can give back real capacity to the department, that’s interesting to us.”

    Mullins deemed the use of a private firm “union-busting at its most basic core.” […] Mullins wrote to the union he represents. “Their actions, as well as their inactions, have already forced corrections officers to work in incredibly dangerous and filthy environments.”

    Interestingly enough, he didn’t mention the predominantly Black and brown inmates who have to live in those same “dangerous and filthy environments,” and Mullins seldom mentions anyone Black or brown at all on social media, except to degrade them or use them politically. Rep. Ritchie Torres, one of the first openly gay Black men elected to Congress, tweeted about the union leader being a subject of FBI interest: “Ed Mullins, who famously called me a ‘first-class whore’ for daring to ask questions about the @SBANYPD, just got a first-class raid from the FBI.”

    Scott Hechinger, a Brooklyn public defender, called Mullins an “overt racist, who regularly promotes violence & hatred” through the SBA Twitter Account.” […]
    Hechinger listed examples of Mullins criticizing NYPD leaders in a Twitter thread. [available at the link] […]

    At one point, Ed Mullins met with Trump at the White House. He posted: “Great meeting at the White House today. The Trump administration is very aware of the plight of police officers in NYC and is closely monitoring the situation. @realDonaldTrump has our backs!”

  106. says

    Follow-up to comment 96.

    Wonkette: “Corey Lewandowski Not Fired YOU ARE FIRED”

    Oh boy, this story just gets more and more charming.

    […] after Corey Lewandowski’s big week of alleged behavior that we are sure surprised no one he knows, there seems to have been a snag in the plan to fire Lewandowski from the Trump PAC he had been running along with that tragic dumbfuck former Florida attorney general Pam Bondi. That PAC is called the Make America Great Again Action PAC, or MAGA Action […]

    Zee problem? Corey says he’s not fired from MAGA Action.

    Mr. Lewandowski has told associates he has not been removed.

    There’s only two board members of MAGA Action, and Corey is one of ’em. And if Corey is one of ’em and Corey says he’s not fired COREY’S NOT FIRED.

    So Bondi and this other dipshit you might have heard of, or at least might have heard YELLING THROUGH YOUR TELEVISION BOX AND TRAUMATIZING THE TOWNSPEOPLE AND SCHOOLCHILDREN IN THE PROCESS … [video screenshot of Kimberly Guilfoyle available at the link] yeah that one, the one who willingly is in a relationship with Donald Trump Jr. She and Bondi have had to start a-NOTH-er Trump PAC, one that Corey is not invited to […]

    This new PAC? It’s called “Make America Great Again, Again!” [I think I may have failed to point out the dual “Again” in my previous comments about this farce.]

    Nope, not kidding. It’s called that. We swear to God. “MAGA, Again!” for short.

    We even re-read the Times article like four times, JUST to make sure we weren’t having a stroke. […]

    Tell us more, New York Times:

    Whether Mr. Lewandowski is banished from the Trump orbit and its network of wealthy donors is far from certain.

    Well, Wonkette has been pointing out on a regular basis that Corey never truly seems to be shut out of …

    The former president is known to bring aides he has fired back into the fold, including Mr. Lewandowski, who was removed from Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign but continued to enjoy access and influence at the White House.

    Yeah.

    Whole lotta well-oiled machines banging up against each other right now.

    And that’s, like, the end of the New York Times story. No more details, just “oh look, Corey says he’s not fired, and now these two idiots have said fine we’ll make our own PAC and it has a stupid name and you are not in it” and Corey is like “fine” and they’re like “fine” and this has been yet another blog post about what appears to be Corey Lewandowski’s threadbare relationship with consent.

    Allegedly.

  107. says

    blf @103, that was a very enjoyable read. The Grauniad’s snark machine, as you call it, was firing on all cylinders. I especially enjoyed, “Levelling up secretary Michael Gove could only offer vague stuff about leadership and pride, a reminder that the one thing we don’t have a shortage of is abstract nouns.”

    I recently completed a project that involved rewriting promotional blurbs for a client’s product. There were so many abstract nouns in the blurbs they sent to me that when I removed them there was almost nothing left. Nothing of substance. Maybe they should go into politics.

  108. says

    Religious Exemptions for Vaccine Mandates Shouldn’t Exist

    Freedom of religion was never meant to excuse people from obligations that apply to everyone.

    COVID VACCINE MANDATES are proliferating—and so, inevitably, are attempts to evade them by claiming a religious exemption. In Washington state, a church-affiliated group hosts “vaccine exemption workshops” for state employees, health workers, and school staff. On Facebook, people swap tips for couching vaccine hesitancy in religious terms. In Texas, employees are suing United Airlines over its policy of placing religious objectors on unpaid leave, one of many legal challenges to mandates around the country.

    The success or failure of those lawsuits will go a long way toward determining how many people end up claiming exemptions. What’s clear for now is that there are still millions of Americans who say they will refuse to be vaccinated and very little stopping most of them from claiming a religious exemption if they want to.

    All of which makes now a good time to reconsider the whole idea of religious exemptions from vaccine mandates. Under examination, they turn out to be a policy in search of a rationale—ostensibly designed to protect religious faith, but instead overwhelmingly used in bad faith.

    THE FIRST AMENDMENT restricts the government from prohibiting the “free exercise” of religion. For most of American history, this did not include religious exemptions from secular laws that apply to everyone. As the Supreme Court observed in 1879, “To permit this would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself.” Congress can’t tell you what to believe, the Court ruled, but it can tell you what to do.

    That wasn’t quite the end of the matter. In the 1960s and early 1970s, a high-water mark for protecting minority rights at the Supreme Court, the justices carved out space for religious dissenters. They ruled that if a superficially neutral law conflicted with a religious command, the government would have to pass the “strict scrutiny” test by showing that it had a “compelling interest” in enforcing the law.

    In 1990, the Court tightened things back up. In a case involving members of the Native American Church who took peyote, an illegal drug, as part of religious ceremonies, the Court held that religion doesn’t give someone the right to challenge a “generally applicable” law. Ruling otherwise, wrote the conservative Catholic Justice Antonin Scalia, “would open the prospect of constitutionally required exemptions from civic obligations of almost every conceivable kind.”

    One example of such a civic obligation that Scalia cited for his slippery-slope argument: compulsory vaccination laws.

    SCALIA WAS RIGHT about vaccines and civic obligation, but it’s odd that he had to worry about vaccine requirements in the first place. In fact, religious opposition to vaccines is vanishingly rare. In 2013, John D. Grabenstein, a vaccinologist and practicing Catholic, surveyed a wide range of world religions and couldn’t find any that had anti-vaccine teachings.

    Except one. The Church of Christ, Scientist teaches that the material world, including disease, is an illusion, and so the way to overcome disease is through prayer, not medicine or vaccination. Members routinely reject medical care, even for their children. Although tiny—most estimates peg membership in the tens or low hundreds of thousands range—the group was politically influential in the mid-20th century, with several Christian Scientists serving in the Nixon administration. In the 1960s and ’70s, as vaccine mandates for diseases like measles and polio proliferated, the church’s lobbying efforts contributed to a wave of state laws creating religious opt-outs. Today, 48 states and the District of Columbia allow some form of exemption. By the time the modern anti-vaxx moment picked up steam in the 2000s, these exemptions were sitting around like a loaded gun.

    “From a doctrinal perspective, it’s just the Christian Scientists,” Grabenstein says. “What we’re really seeing [now] is people wanting a personal philosophical exemption. They’re calling it religious when it’s really their own philosophy.”

    Other experts who have studied the matter come to the same conclusion: Almost everyone who claims a religious exemption is using it as a cover for secular concerns, like fear of side effects or a general distrust of government. “I would be very surprised if more than a handful of these people are really thinking about religion at all,” says Dorit Rubenstein Reiss, a professor at UC Hastings College of Law who has studied vaccine exemptions extensively. […]

  109. blf says

    Lynna@110 quotes, “Today, 48 states and the District of Columbia allow some form of exemption.”

    Eh?
    That was true a few years ago (until, from memory, the 2014 Disneyland measles outbreak), when only Mississippi and W.Virginia did not have a religious / personal lunacy exemption. (My memory is both states realised an epidemic would overwhelm their fragile healthcare systems, leading to the absence of any such exemptions.) However, today, “There are 44 states and Washington DC that grant religious exemptions for people who have religious objections to immunizations. Currently, 15 states allow philosophical exemptions for children whose parents object to immunizations because of personal, moral or other beliefs”, States With Religious and Philosophical Exemptions From School Immunization Requirements. (That adds up to 59 states (give-or-take a DC), so there’s clearly some overlap, as confirmed at the link.) There’s a state-by-state breakdown at the link, and the six with neither a religious nor personal lunacy exemption are California, Connecticut, Maine, Mississippi, New York, and W.Virginia. Except for Connecticut, it looks like all of them removed the exemptions before the Covid-19 pandemic; i.e., in 2019 (Maine & New York) or earlier.

    However, as noted at the link, “At this time, no state requires children to receive the COVID-19 vaccine for school entry.” However, California has just announced it “will mandate COVID-19 vaccines for students and staff, becoming the first state in the nation to require schoolchildren to be vaccinated against the coronavirus” (California becomes first state to require COVID-19 vaccine for students), albeit the mandate only applies to age groups for which there is a fully-approved vaccine (currently, 16+ years old).

    From memory (i.e., Orac’s site), there is a bug in California’s medical exemption — all that is required is, basically, a “doctor’s note”. There are no further checks. That has lead to quacks selling bogus “medical exemption” notes, albeit (again from memory (Orac again)), some of the more notorious quacks doing that are now having difficulties with the state’s medical licensing board.

  110. tomh says

    Re: #111

    ” there is a bug in California’s medical exemption — all that is required is, basically, a “doctor’s note”. There are no further checks.”

    When the law was first passed removing medical exemptions, that was indeed a loophole, but that has since been remedied. From the LA County DPH Health Update March 26, 2021.

    New Process for Filing Medical Exemptions

    As of January 1, 2021, all California health care providers (MD and DO) are required to submit new immunization-related medical exemptions (ME) on behalf of children enrolled at California’s K-12 schools and childcare agencies electronically via the CDPH CAIR Medical Exemptions from Immunizations for School and Child Care webportal: CDPH CAIR ME.

    This new medical exemption process is guided by the Senate bills SB 276 and SB 714 (Pan, 2019). These two pieces of legislation were passed in response to the rise in medical exemptions since California eliminated personal belief exemptions.

    CDPH will review all medical exemptions from schools where fewer than 95% of students have been vaccinated, from physicians who submit five or more exemptions in one calendar year, and for children who attend schools that have not submitted their required vaccination rate reports.

  111. blf says

    tomh@112, Thanks for the update / correction!

    From Vaccinate California Applauds Governor Newsom for Signing Senate Bill 276 and SB 714 to Protect Our Children and Communities from Vaccine-Preventable Diseases (an obviously biased but presumably fairly accurate source):

    The landmark legislation will require health officials to approve requests for medical exemptions to school-required vaccinations and grant officials the authority to revoke medical exemptions if they are found to be fraudulent or inconsistent with state guidelines.

    So yeah, that does indeed remove the original bug.

    B.t.w., in @112, I presume instead of “removing medical exemptions” what was meant is “removing personal belief (which includes religious) exemptions”.

  112. tomh says

    blf @ 113
    You’re right, that was careless. No beliefs! We don’t believe in beliefs in California.

  113. says

    As school boards face threats, prominent Republicans are outraged — by the Justice Department’s willingness to help those being targeted.

    Confronted with harassment, threats of violence, and acts of intimidation in many communities, the National School Boards Association recently requested federal law enforcement assistance. This week, Attorney General Merrick Garland said the Justice Department would, in fact, explore ways to help.

    A surprising number of prominent Republicans are outraged — not by the threats and intimidation, but by Garland’s willingness to assist scared local education officials.

    Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, for example, published this message to Twitter:

    “At his confirmation hearing, Merrick Garland promised not to follow the Obama model of weaponizing [the Justice Department] to target [and] persecute his political opponents. Just a few months in, he’s already breaking that promise.”

    First, the idea that President Barack Obama’s Justice Department persecuted the White House’s political opponents is utterly bonkers. And second, the idea that Garland’s willingness to address threats against educators is part of some partisan political scheme is bizarre.

    Alas, the Texas Republican is not alone. At a Capitol Hill hearing yesterday, for example, Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas asked Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, “Is it domestic extremism for a parent to advocate for their child’s best interests?”

    Similarly, Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri responded to the attorney general’s initiative with a missive that read, “Now Joe Biden is deploying the FBI against parents who have concerns about Critical Race Theory being taught to their children. This is a remarkable and dangerous abuse of power.”

    Away from Capitol Hill, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida also pushed back, publishing a tweet of his own that accused Garland of “weaponizing the DOJ by using the FBI to pursue concerned parents and silence them through intimidation.”

    I’ll confess, I didn’t see this one coming.

    Given the partisan pushback, one might think the attorney general’s announcement included highly provocative language that had the effect of triggering GOP fury. In reality, however, it did not.

    “In recent months, there has been a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff who participate in the vital work of running our nation’s public schools,” Garland wrote in a memorandum. “While spirited debate about policy matters is protected under our Constitution, that protection does not extend to threats of violence or efforts to intimidate individuals based on their views.

    “Threats against public servants are not only illegal, they run counter to our nation’s core values. Those who dedicate their time and energy to ensuring that our children receive a proper education in a safe environment deserve to be able to do their work without fear for their safety.”

    Imagine reading this and responding furiously.

    For what it’s worth, the Justice Department intends to hold strategy sessions over the next 30 days to explore how best to protect education officials. Given what we’ve seen over the last few days, it’s likely the GOP backlash will intensify.

    Link

  114. says

    Police investigating shooting at Arlington, Texas, high school; multiple people wounded

    Multiple people were wounded Wednesday morning in a shooting at Timberview High School in Arlington, Texas, according to local media.

    Several law enforcement agencies, including Arlington and Mansfield police, responded to the school. The Dallas Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is also on scene.

    NBC Dallas-Fort Worth reported that there are multiple victims. Ambulances were seen leaving the school.

    Although the school is located in Arlington, it is a part of the Mansfield Independent School District. In a letter to parents, the district called the incident an “active shooter situation” and said students and staff are locked in their classrooms and offices, according to the news station. No visitors are being allowed, the letter stated.

    The Arlington Police Department said in a tweet that officers were “doing a methodical search” of the school.

    Parents are being asked to go to the Center for Performing Arts where students will eventually be taken to once the school is secured, police said.

    This is a breaking story. We’ll get more details later.

  115. says

    All the best people:

    In Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate race, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Sean Parnell, the Trump-endorsed Republican candidate, is seeking “a gag order” against his wife. The goal, evidently, is to block discussion of previous protection-from-abuse orders against him.

    More Republican campaign news:

    In Colorado’s U.S. Senate race, Republican state Rep. Ron Hanks confirmed this week that he hopes to take on incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet next year. What makes Hanks’ candidacy notable is his recent past: The Republican was at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6; he visited Arizona’s bonkers election “audit”; and he attended MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell’s weird conference in August.

  116. says

    WTF is going on here?

    From Josh Marshall: “AT&T and the Demon Spawn of OAN”

    Reuters just published a fascinating special report about the role AT&T played in creating OAN, the far-right cable news network which has basically operated as a propaganda mill for Trumpite conspiracy theories. Just yesterday we learned that one of its lead “reporters,” Christina Bobb, worked for the Trump campaign while simultaneously working for OAN. That’s the kind of operation.

    So is AT&T a far-right company trying to push Trumpism?

    Well, we don’t know for sure. Reuters was able to piece together the story mostly from depositions in unrelated or tangentially related lawsuits. So we appear to have pretty solid confirmation of certain facts but we have to infer the different players’ motivations.

    Here are the basics. I will try to fill in some of the blanks from my own understanding of the telecommunications world.

    Basically, OAN’s whole operation has been funded by a series of carriage deals with AT&T. Basically it runs on AT&T’s cable TV operations, and particularly DirectTV, which AT&T acquired in 2015. A critical backstory is AT&T’s decade long effort to become a big time player in cable and eventually the post-cable cord-cutting world […]. Basically, without the AT&T deal OAN wouldn’t exist. That was the upshot of OAN owner Robert Herring Sr’s testimony in one lawsuit. That at least was the state of play before OAN got new levels of viewership when Trump [denounced] Fox News because Fox – more or less – refused to fully validate the Big Lie.

    But where it gets really interesting is in other testimony where Herring explained that he got the idea for OAN from AT&T executives.

    Here a bit more backstory is necessary. Herring and his son made big money in the semiconductor business and then for a while they’d been trying to get into cable programming as independents. They weren’t having much luck. They had a lifestyles of the rich and famous type channel and they were into boxing content too. But basically they weren’t going anywhere. They even sued the big cable companies for spots on their channel lists but the suit failed and if anything that left them worse off because now the cable companies kind of hated them. But then in the course of some meetings with AT&T execs some unnamed execs said they’d be eager to carry another conservative network.

    Let me quote here …

    “They told us they wanted a conservative network,” Herring said during a 2019 deposition seen by Reuters. “They only had one, which was Fox News, and they had seven others on the other [leftwing] side. When they said that, I jumped to it and built one.”

    Since then, AT&T has been a crucial source of funds flowing into OAN, providing tens of millions of dollars in revenue, court records show. Ninety percent of OAN’s revenue came from a contract with AT&T-owned television platforms, including satellite broadcaster DirecTV, according to 2020 sworn testimony by an OAN accountant.

    And then later …

    In a pivotal moment for the company, the Herrings say in court filings, depositions and sworn statements, unidentified AT&T executives told them there was an audience for another conservative news network. Herring seized the opportunity.

    In his 2019 deposition in the labor suit unrelated to AT&T, the elder Herring said he created OAN for two reasons.

    “To make money, number one,” Robert Herring said. “But number two, is that AT&T told us … they wanted a conservative network.”

    The lawyer questioning Herring, Rodney Diggs, followed up.

    “So,” the lawyer said, “AT&T kind of dictated the kind of network that they wanted. Because there was an opportunity, you jumped at it?”

    “Yes, sir,” Herring replied.

    In other words, the Herrings had been trying to break into the cable network world and failing. Then someone at AT&T said forgot your rich lifestyles channel, this is what we want: another conservative news channel. We’ll put that on our list.

    Now, we should first note that the nature of the litigation gave Herring some interest in playing up AT&T’s role. But that doesn’t mean it’s not true. And the rest of the information in the article strongly backs up this basic version of what happened.

    Why would AT&T want to do this?

    One obvious reason would be that the executives were rightwingers and wanted to fund another right wing news network. Here we don’t really know who the executives were and they probably wouldn’t be forthcoming anyway. So that part of this is a bit of a black box. […]

    The Herrings may be making the understanding more explicit than the AT&T execs wanted to make it. But in general it seems pretty clear this happened. […]

    What we seem to see here is that regardless of personal politics AT&T was operating in and expanding in one of the most regulatory-dependent industry spaces – telecom, cable TV, internet service, content – and they wanted more conservative programming because that helps get regulatory help. You can see in the descriptions above the unnamed executives appear to have been operating on the idea that CNN, CNBC and basically any network that’s not Fox News is “liberal”. That’s a pretty standard way corporate suits think in part because they’re corporate suits. But it’s also the way they have to operate in the regulatory space because that’s how Republican officeholders think and it’s how Republicans in general increasingly think.

    I know this in part just because I’m a reporter and I’m paid to understand American political culture. But I’m also a publisher and for many years I spent a lot of time needing to understand and operate in the Washington, DC/political news publishing space. That’s a much more concentrated form of the space that these big corporations function in. Or to put it more directly, it’s a space where politics and these big corporations meet up.

    In any case, in that world it’s very cookie cutter. You line up publications to advertise with …. and, well, we need a couple conservative publications for ‘balance’. That’s even if the ‘liberal’ publications are like The Washington Post and Politico. There’s a whole niche of right wing publications that survive or actually thrive on the basis of allowing corporations to check that box. Now some of these publications have decent sized audiences. And the politics of the corporations themselves, or rather the executives, play an important role. But this covering both-sides dynamic is the biggest and broadest driver.

    […] It’s possible the idea of getting another right-wing news network off the ground was the pet project of some AT&T executives for purely ideological reasons. But even if it was a driver I’m pretty sure these other factors played an important role. What is most interesting is how the high-powered corporate battle over control of the commanding heights of Internet provision and cable content distribution sort of spawned the bastard child/demon spawn of OAN. The AT&T execs may have thought there was just a good business opportunity as well. But the point is that that battle had essentially created OAN more or less viewerless and it was ready when Trump – who only really got into politics after AT&T pitched the OAN concept – needed it.

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/att-and-the-demon-spawn-of-oan

  117. says

    Of all the Trumpworld morons on the original subpoena list from the House 1/6 Select Committee, one is reportedly hiding under his bed from the subpoena delivery man. All four are reportedly just going to ignore their subpoenas anyway, because Donald Trump told them to, and because they think/hope the rules don’t really apply to them.

    Steve Bannon and Kash Patel are supposed to be appearing for testimony October 14, and Mark Meadows and Dan Scavino are supposed to show up the day after. Of course they’re also supposed to be submitting documents. But where Scavino, who was Donald Trump’s deputy chief of staff, is concerned, CNN reports that the House committee has been physically unable to serve his pasty face. […]

    Kash Patel has his subpoena. CNN says it “appears” Bannon and Meadows have gotten their subpoenas.

    But no matter, because the Guardian is also reporting this morning that all four a-holes are going to just ignore the subpoenas anyway, because according to a source, that’s what their god king Donald Trump is going to hereby order them to do.

    The select committee had issued the subpoenas under the threat of criminal prosecution in the event of non-compliance, warning that the penalty for defying a congressional subpoena would be far graver under the Biden administration than during the Trump presidency.

    But increasingly concerned with the far-reaching nature of the 6 January investigation, Trump and his legal team, led by the ex-Trump campaign lawyer Justin Clark [and] former deputy White House counsel Patrick Philbin, are moving to instruct the attorneys for the subpoenaed aides to defy the orders.

    CNN says it’s not that any of these idiots have any sort of coherent legal strategy, beyond loudly stomping their feet and saying they don’t wanna. […]

    Trump and those in his orbit who are likely considered to be witnesses in the committee’s probe have offered little indication they have coalesced around a broader legal strategy — whether that be some combination of the former president invoking executive privilege, resisting the subpoenas in an effort to run out the clock or pleading the 5th.

    While Trump threatened more than a month ago to invoke executive privilege to block the committee’s earlier request for records, several people close to the former president have told CNN in recent days that they are not aware of a legal strategy taking shape since then.

    But the Guardian’s source says they HAVE TOO found a legal strategy, and it is “executive privilege” and also the other things CNN mentioned, basically. As Wonkette explained recently, executive privilege is perhaps a stronger argument for Scavino and Meadows, who were actually working with Trump in the White House on and around January 6, than it is for Bannon and Patel. That said:

    Philbin appears less convinced than Trump about the strength of the legal argument, the source said, in part because the justice department previously declined to assert the protection for 6 January testimony, suggesting it did not exist to protect Trump’s personal interests.

    The source says it’s less about “strong argument,” and more about dragging this all out as long as possible. Hell, they are probably hoping they can drag it out until the midterms and hoping the Republicans take back the House, and if both of those things happen, then there won’t be more so-called “investigations” into the literal actual terrorist attack Donald Trump incited against the United States Capitol.

    We say put the motherfuckers in jail, all of them, hold them in criminal contempt. Rep. Bennie Thompson, who chairs the committee, has said, “For those who don’t agree to come in voluntarily, we’ll do criminal referrals.” The Guardian says folks on the committee “have expressed quiet optimism at least about the potential prosecution of witnesses who might defy subpoenas.” And GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger told CNN they’re “going to do everything in our power to get them to testify.”

    Hope they’re serious. […]

    Link

  118. says

    Wonkette: “Ahmaud Arbery’s Killer Would Prefer Court Not Remind Jury He’s A Gross Racist”

    Georgia father-son lynching duo Gregory and Travis McMichael are on trial for the senseless murder of Ahmaud Arbery. When your fate is up to a jury of your less homicidal peers, you try to set a good impression. You show up every day in a suit. […] And if you’re Travis McMichael, you don’t want the jury knowing how much of an obvious racist you are.

    McMichael and his attorneys have asked that the court ban from use as evidence at trial a photo of his license plate, which bears the Confederate emblem. […]

    Newsweek reports:

    The vanity plate is described as showing the old flag from the state of Georgia—out of use since 2001—that incorporates the Confederate battle flag. McMichael’s attorneys argued that using the photo of his plate as evidence is “not relevant and is prejudicial.”

    McMichael’s choice in vanity plates is extremely relevant. He’s 34 years old. Georgia replaced its state flag after much debate 20 years ago when he was barely in high school. He’s deliberately made open defiance of racial progress a part of his identity. It’s fair for us to judge him for this.

    More to the point, the plates were on McMichael’s truck when he and his father hunted down Arbery like an animal. They were in plain sight and Arbery would’ve seen it. According to Gregory McMichael’s own self-serving account in the police report, he and his son shouted, “Stop, stop, we want to talk to you!” The visible Confederate flag might’ve led Arbery to assume the conversation wouldn’t be productive.

    […] He purchased the vanity plates and paid an annual fee for the privilege of telling everyone he’s an asshole.

    The state’s attorneys more or less laughed derisively at McMichael’s motion to exclude the plates:

    Defendant Travis McMichael’s choice, and the fact that this vanity plate was on the front of his pick-up truck on Feb. 23, 2020, are intrinsic evidence in this case and can be fully used by the State to illustrate the intent and motive of Travis McMichael.

    […] Some relevant history: Georgia’s flag was changed in 1956 to incorporate the traitor emblem. This was in obvious response to the 1954 Supreme Court Brown v. Board of Education decision that desegregated public schools. Civil rights activists and Black legislators fought for decades to have the emblem removed. A compromise was reached in 2001, following a tense legislative battle, and a new flag flew over the state capitol for a couple years. It was finally put to a vote in 2004, and Georgians could choose between the “compromise” flag and a new flag. The new flag prevailed.

    However, as Time Magazine reports, the current Georgia state flag is almost identical to the actual Confederate flag, which is different from the “battle” flag you might recall from Trump rallies. The Confederacy was never an actual country just a rebel insurgency, so the “actual” flag is like a “fantasy nation” flag. [flag images are available at the link]

    The Confederate battle flag soon replaced the imaginary nation flag because it was more easily distinguished from the Stars and Stripes. When you saw the battle flag, even from a great distance, you knew whoever held it up didn’t believe in America and would kill to preserve a brutal system of racial oppression. The flag still conveys that message, and it’s one Ahmaud Arbery understood all too well.

    Link

  119. says

    Wonkette: “Idaho Gov. Left State, So Crackpot Lt. Gov. Lady Doing Bunch Of Crazy Bullsh*t Again”

    Idaho may have only a fraction of the population of Florida or Texas, but by Crom, we do our level best to make up for it in random acts of crazy bullshit. We seem to have more than our share of rightwing crazies, from the North Idaho Nazis who got sued out of business decades ago to the rabid anti-Semite who’s running for a seat on a school board this year — with the local GOP’s endorsement. The joke in Idaho has always been that we have a two-party system: Conservative business-oriented Republicans, and full-on crazy conspiracy-theory Republicans. Idaho Gov. Brad Little is one of the former. And Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin is very much one of the latter.

    Unlike in some states, the governor and lieutenant governor do not run together as a ticket, so it’s not all that surprising that McGeachin is gearing up for a primary challenge against Little next year. Just to emphasize that she’s running well to the right of Little, whenever he leaves the state, McGeachin has taken to using her momentary power as acting governor to sign some crazy and probably illegal executive orders. In late May, when Little attended a Republican Governors Association conference in Nashville, McGeachin issued her very own executive order banning all mask mandates in the state. Little rescinded it as soon as he returned.

    This week, while Little flew down to Texas to meet with other Republican governors to whine about the “crisis” at the border, McGeachin again issued a symbolic executive order on the pandemic, this time banning vaccine mandates and mandatory testing for infections. While she was at it, McGeachin tried to call up the Idaho National Guard and send troops to the US-Mexico border, only to be rebuffed by the Guard’s commanding general. So everything’s very normal here, all righty.

    […] Politico points out that in June, Little had already sent a group of Idaho State Police members to the border to assist with “intelligence gathering and investigative work to stop drugs from coming across the border,” because drugs at the US-Mexico border are such a huge crisis in Idaho.

    Little issued his own hilarious statement on Twitter, vowing to rescind any executive actions McGeachin took while he was away:

    I am in Texas performing my duties as the duly elected Governor of Idaho, and I have not authorized the Lt. Governor to act on my behalf.

    Before I even left the state, the Lt. Governor unabashedly requested information from the Adjutant General to deploy our National Guard to the border, the same place I am visiting today to work with my fellow Republican governors on solutions to the crisis.

    Attempting to deploy our National Guard for political grandstanding is an affront to the Idaho constitution and insults the men and women who have dedicated their life to serving our state and the country.

    The crisis at the border is something I take very seriously. That is why this summer I worked closely with the states of Arizona and Texas to determine the most impactful way to support their mission, and I sent a specialized team of Idaho State Police troopers to support drug interdiction efforts at the border. The people of Idaho can be assured that as their duly elected Governor, I will continue to fight this important issue.

    […] We really like the part where Little castigates McGeachin for “political grandstanding” by trying to deploy the National Guard while he was out of the state on his own grandstanding visit to the border, which by contrast was totally necessary and serious and appropriate.

    As of yet, Democrats in the state legislature have not called for all state officials to undergo mandatory irony recognition training.

    […] A lot of Idaho wingnuts are still extremely angry with Little because in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, he actually ordered a lockdown in Idaho, complete with closures of “non-essential” businesses and prohibitions on in-person church services. Little never issued a statewide mask order, leaving that up to municipal and county governments, but he never banned mask mandates, either.

    McGeachin, on the other hand, embraced the pro-virus crazy wing from the get-go, participating in a bizarre anti-public-health video sponsored by the far-Right Idaho Freedom Foundation, in which she posed with a Bible and a gun in the cab of a survivalist van. [Clearly one of the best people.]

    […] Idaho’s business-suite Republicans have always had the advantage in cash and support, especially among the state’s influential and affluential LDS community (which, we’ll remind you, also supports public health). But the crazy wing in Idaho politics keeps getting crazier, and might end up taking over, as has happened in so many states. As the pandemic continues to fill Idaho hospitals and morgues, there’s still plenty of time for the state to swing crazier. […]

    Link

    A photo of McGeachin, (with gun, bible and survivalist van), is available at the link. I question the wisdom of trying to shoot anything while holding a bible.

  120. says

    A ‘Historical Event’: First Malaria Vaccine Approved by W.H.O. [New York times link]

    Malaria kills about 500,000 people each year, about half of them children in Africa.

    The World Health Organization on Wednesday endorsed the first ever vaccine to prevent malaria, debuting a tool that could save the lives of tens of thousands of children in Africa each year.

    Malaria is among the oldest known and deadliest of infectious diseases. It kills about half a million people each year, nearly all of them in sub-Saharan Africa — among them 260,000 children under age 5.

    The new vaccine, made by GlaxoSmithKline, rouses a child’s immune system to thwart Plasmodium falciparum, the deadliest of five malaria pathogens and the most prevalent in Africa. The vaccine is not just a first for malaria — it is the first developed for any parasitic disease.

    In clinical trials, the vaccine had an efficacy of about 50 percent against severe malaria in the first year, but dropped close to zero by the fourth year. […]

    A modeling study last year estimated that if the vaccine were rolled out to countries with the highest incidence of malaria, it could prevent 5.4 million cases and 23,000 deaths in children younger than age 5 each year.

    And a recent trial of the vaccine in combination with preventive drugs given to children during high-transmission seasons found that the dual approach was much more effective at preventing severe disease, hospitalization and death than either method alone.

    To have a malaria vaccine that is safe, moderately effective and ready for distribution is “a historical event,” said Dr. Pedro Alonso, director of the W.H.O.’s global malaria program.

    Parasites are much more complex than viruses or bacteria, and the quest for a malaria vaccine has been underway for a hundred years, he added: “It’s a huge jump from the science perspective to have a first-generation vaccine against a human parasite.” […]

  121. blf says

    In teh “U”K, Christian TV channel fined by Ofcom over Covid conspiracy theories:

    […]
    A Christian TV channel has been fined £25,000 [c.$34,000 or c.€30,000] by the UK broadcasting regulator for airing misleading and harmful statements about coronavirus, including that the rollout of 5G mobile networks caused the pandemic.

    Programmes aired at the height of the first wave last year on LoveWorld, which holds a UK broadcasting licence and is beamed around the world, claimed there was a global cover-up over the technology being the cause of the health crisis.

    At the time BT, which owns mobile operator EE and the Openreach subsidiary responsible for the UK’s broadband network, was facing attacks on its engineers and mobile phone masts as the false conspiracy theory was circulated.

    Another report by LoveWorld Television Ministry presented the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a cure for Covid-19, without acknowledging that its efficacy and safety as a treatment was clinically unproven, or making it clear that it had potentially serious side-effects.

    […]

    A news programme aired last April titled Why is 5G linked to Covid-19? broadcast the claim that the mobile broadcast technology was a very dangerous … weapon [and turns you into a newt].

    When it comes into contact with a human body it can provide some poisons to the cells … This shows that what’s killing people, it’s not coronavirus, but 5G, said[babbled] a presenter.

    A sermon that was broadcast also cast “serious doubt” on the need for lockdown measures and the motives behind official health advice on Covid-19, including in relation to vaccination, Ofcom said.

    […]

    Christian Oyakhilome, a Nigerian pastor, founded the TV network’s associated church, Christ Embassy, in Lagos in 1987. The church has at least 90 branches in the UK and an estimated 13 million followers around the world.

    Some background from Misinformation at the pulpit:

    On April 5 [2020 …] Oyakhilome urged his congregation to pray and fast because the level of deception is far beyond what our world has ever seen. He didn’t elaborate on who was behind the deception, or how exactly it worked, but he was clear about its cause. The pastor claimed 5G was responsible for the deaths in Wuhan and the motivation for Nigeria’s stay-at-home orders: on March 29 President Muhammadu Buhari announced a lockdown of the capital, Abuja, as well as Lagos, and the neighboring state of Ogun.

    I’m not creating a conspiracy theory, I’m saying there is a conspiracy, Oyakhilome elaborated. I’m not theorizing; a theory is something that is not yet proven. This is not a theory, it’s a proven reality. It’s a fact, he [repeatedly lied …]

    Up until recently, Oyakhilome had been fairly uncontroversial. His 2014 divorce was briefly a news story in Nigeria, and while a six-year inquiry by the UK’s Charity Commission for England and Wales into allegations of his church’s misuse of funds did conclude that there was “serious misconduct and/or mismanagement in the charity’s administration,” no charges were ultimately filed. Then Oyakhilome began talking about COVID-19. In his account, unnamed but powerful forces were ushering in a new world order through 5G technology, and coronavirus lockdowns were happening so that 5G structures could covertly be built. The ultimate goal of the lockdowns and social distancing was not to curb the spread of the disease, he said, but to create the antichrist and go after the church of Jesus Christ.

    […]

    Dennis Erezi, a journalist involved in the fact-checking project Cross Check Nigeria, was not surprised by the pastor’s comments. He believes that spreading fake news is a useful way for leaders to prey on people’s ignorance for their own gain, and in this case, it enabled Oyakhilome to keep his parishioners in their pews. Nigeria is divided by ethnic, religious and political lines, and, Erezi noted, when controversial issues arise, opportunistic leaders are often willing to deploy an “‘us vs them’ narrative” to keep a hold on their followers.

    […]

    Earlier this year they were hit with a £125,000 fine, Pastor Chris’ TV Network Fined £125,000 For COVID-19 Conspiracies In UK (April 2021):

    Ofcom has fined a Christian broadcaster £125,000 after it breached the rules by airing “inaccurate and potentially harmful claims about coronavirus”.

    Loveworld Television Network was found to have made the violation back in January after a 29-hour show titled The Global Day of Prayer featured sermons with “potentially harmful” claims about Covid-19 — including that the virus was planned and created by the deep state, and vaccines were a sinister means of administering nanochips to control people.

    […]

    Rather unsurprisingly, “Pastor Chris” Oyakhilome is wealthy ($50m seems to be a common estimate).

  122. says

    Follow-up to comment 116.

    Suspected teen gunman arrested in Texas high school shooting that injured 4, police say

    The suspect, Timothy George Simpkins, was charged with multiple counts of aggravated assault with a gun.

    One person is in custody after four people were wounded Wednesday morning in a shooting at Timberview High School in Arlington, Texas, that police believe began with a fight, authorities said.

    Three people were taken to the hospital, including a 15-year-old boy who is listed in critical condition and has been in surgery, police said. A teenage girl suffered a minor injury and has been released. A 25-year-old man is said to be in good condition.

    An adult female, who is pregnant, was treated at the school and was not taken to the hospital.

    Police believe some of the victims were students. Two of them are believed to have been shot.

    The suspect was identified as Timothy George Simpkins, 18. Simpkins fled the school after the shooting but was later caught and charged with multiple counts of aggravated assault with a gun.

    “The suspect has been taken into custody without incident,” the Arlington Police Department said in a tweet. “Most students have been safely evacuated from Timberview High School.” […]

    How is it somehow better that a gun was used to settle a fight?

    Arlington Assistant Police Chief Kevin Kolbye said earlier Wednesday that the shooting was “not a random act of violence” and “a student who got into a fight and drew a weapon.”

  123. says

    Josh Marshall:

    Why is Mitch McConnell blinking? Let’s be clear: this is a blink, not a cave. There’s a lot to play out. But here is the gist. Democrats refusal to budge on using reconciliation to beat Republicans’ repeated filibusters is moving quickly toward a situation where there will literally be only two options: filibuster carve-out or debt default. Those are both very bad options to McConnell. As I noted yesterday, this isn’t a matter of saying ‘Oh Democrats are tougher. They won’t cave.’ It’s that the mechanics of reconciliation will mean there’s no more time. They’ll have no way to cave. That calendar reality creates a very bad situation for McConnell.

    McConnell’s move tells us he doesn’t believe Schumer will budge on reconciliation and that will move toward the default or filibuster carve out scenario. He doesn’t want to get there.

    So what’s he’s trying to do is get rid of that time limit, that calendar reality with ‘expedited reconciliation’. Basically reconciliation but he’ll allow it to be super quick now.

    Or he’ll allow a short term extension that will bring this back up in a month or whenever he thinks it will be worst for Dems. These are both ways of getting out of that default or filibuster carve-out scenario which he seems to realize is a big loser for him and his caucus.

    That’s what’s happening here.

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/heres-why-mcconnell-blinked

  124. says

    Follow-up to comment 118.

    As America grapples with the very real threat of fascism, the fledgling “One America News” network has staked out a position as one of the nation’s dominant promoters of pro-Trump, anti-democratic hoaxes and fake news. A new Reuters investigation pins much of the blame for its rise on a single American company: AT&T.

    According to the network’s archconservative founder, the whole thing was AT&T’s idea. In a deposition unearthed by Reuters, OAN head Robert Herring Sr. testified that it was AT&T executives who pitched the idea to him. The company, owner of CNN, HBO, and majority owner of DirectTV “told us they wanted a conservative network. They only had one, which was Fox News, and they had seven others on the other” side. So Herring built it, and AT&T has been the near-exclusive source of the network’s funding ever since.

    There are a few things in the report that seem especially notable. “The records include a reported offer by AT&T to acquire a 5% equity stake in OAN and AWE, though the two sides ultimately signed a different deal. The court filings also cite a promise by OAN to “cast a positive light” on AT&T during newscasts,” reports Reuters. The idea that AT&T would be so enamored with a brand-new conservative network already gaining a reputation for shoddy reporting and wholesale hoaxes that it would want part ownership is remarkable—or would be if the Dallas-based AT&T and its preceding incarnations had not had decades of experience in being one of the most malignant companies in the nation. That deal did not happen.

    What happened instead is that AT&T has funded the company in the more standard manner. As the network has continually promoted conspiracy theories about a deadly pandemic and pushed hoaxes that have successfully undermined American democracy and led to an attempted toppling of the United States government, AT&T and DirectTV have funneled “tens of millions of dollars” to Herring’s company through carriage fees. Do you get DirectTV? Congratulations. One of America’s leading sources of pro-fascist conspiracy hoaxes gets a cut of your monthly bill whether you watch it or not. That satellite box sitting beneath your television set helped create an insurrection.

    The other notable charge in the Reuters piece is the claim—also alleged in sworn testimony by the Herring family—that AT&T agreed in 2014 to a proposed bargain in which the Herrings would use their OAN network and their own lobbying to heavily promote the planned AT&T acquisition of DirectTV, crafting positive content about the merger to help sway federal regulators in exchange for AT&T placing OAN and another Herring network on DirectTV when the deal went through. The Herrings indeed mounted a full press to promote the merger; the lawsuit in question is because the Herrings say AT&T didn’t follow through with their end of the bargain.

    That lawsuit was settled secretly in 2017, and is presumably the reason that DirectTV began airing both Herring networks only weeks afterwards.

    Now, there’s a gaping problem that’s complicating our understanding of what really happened in that case. The Herrings are the driving force behind a “news” network that is infamous for publishing fraudulent content. They are not just liars, they have turned lying into the core premise of a new pro-fascism, anti-democracy, viewer-killing television studio. You can take the Herring claim that AT&T did this or did that only with 12 pounds of salt because all of these people can be presumed to be exactly the sort of people who would lie in court in order to line their own pockets.

    On the other hand, AT&T is also a company that has long had a corporate culture of being sleazy, icky slimeballs. An unnamed AT&T executive’s claim to Reuters that it would never trade political support to network deals comes off as laughable; if there’s any company in America that would do such a thing, AT&T would be it. All sides here are terrible, dishonest, and almost unfathomably gross.

    […] Similarly, the AT&T defense of its status as near-exclusive funder of a fascist “news” network actively promoting hoaxes and conspiracy theories both about the current deadly pandemic and about the supposed fraudulence of our very democracy is that it also carries networks that don’t do such things, so whatcha gonna do. Both defenses are unpersuasive.

    Oddly, the word fascism appears nowhere in the Reuters story. This is a bit curious as the network’s continued insistence that Dear Leader Donald Trump was the actual winner of an election he lost, its promotion of a stream of hoaxes aimed squarely at undermining confidence in elections that did not go Dear Leader’s way, and its goading of actual political violence in support of those aims objectively tick off sufficient boxes to describe the network as such.

    We’ve known for a while that DirectTV is the primary funder of OAN, and the primary means by which the network is able to peddle brazenly false information to Americans in an effort to sway them into doing actively harmful things. […]

    AT&T’s boardroom, and DirectTV’s boardroom, aren’t choosing to fund a “conservative news network.” They are using their companies to back a hoax outlet that has repeatedly and provably undermined the nation’s safety and welfare. […]

    This is indefensible by any standard. There was once a difference between “conservative commentary” and the invention of outrageous hoaxes meant to bend the “news” towards whatever paranoias the movement’s leaders find most useful; that line has been erased. Each of the companies involved is now responsible for killing Americans outright.

    There’s not a chance in hell any of the three companies will reconsider—again, all three are dens of gleeful crookedness, as has become commonplace at the pinnacle of American “success”—so your best bet is to take your money out of the picture. You do not need DirectTV. Dump it. Supporting for-profit companies looking to make that profit by goading Americans into believing false information about a deadly disease or about our very democracy itself is not defensible. […]

    Link

  125. says

    UK secretary slammed for not knowing what the word misogyny means

    The U.K. Justice Secretary Dominic Raab has been accused of not understanding what the word misogyny means after incorrectly referencing the word during an interview on violence against women.

    While Raab was speaking on BBC Breakfast Wednesday, he stated, “Insults and misogyny is absolutely wrong whether it’s a man against a woman or a woman against a man”.

    The host of the program then read him the “dictionary definition of misogyny,” which is “hatred towards or directed at women.” [video is available at the link]

    [snipped some responses] Raab has been put under fire in the past for his comments on women and girls. He has previously defended his remarks in which he called feminists “obnoxious bigots”.

    He also has said that “men are getting a raw deal from cradle to the grave,” and referred to “double standards” by feminists in the fight for equality, back in 2011. […]

    So, Raab is a misogynist with no self-awareness. He also stupid, but doesn’t know he is.

  126. says

    South Carolina Death Cult Members Boo Lindsey Graham For Gently Recommending They Stay Alive

    Lindsey Graham is the senior senator from South Carolina, a state that’s currently ranked 41st in the nation for percentage of residents vaccinated. South Carolina also averages 1731 new hospitalizations a day. It’s like there’s a connection somehow.

    Graham was at a GOP event in Summerville last weekend, and he gently suggested that vaccines aren’t literally the devil.

    GRAHAM: So the bottom line is I took the vaccine, I’ve had it, it kicks your butt. If you hadn’t had the vaccine, you ought to think about getting it.

    Jehovah’s Witnesses who show up at people’s houses just as they’re about to sit down for dinner have received a better reception. […] [video is available at the link]

    Graham folded before the mob, insisting: “I didn’t tell you to get it! You ought to think about it!” Maybe he should’ve told them to get a perfectly safe vaccine and even wear a mask in a crowded outdoor space. This is a public health crisis, but he can’t be bothered to act like a leader or anything. He’s got another election in five years, although God knows how many of his constituents will be around for it.

    He managed to piss off the crowd even more when he said he was glad he got vaccinated. Despite their co-opting of “my body, my choice,” MAGA doesn’t respect anyone’s personal choice to take the vaccine and not die. They believe there’s only one correct choice, and it’s one that typically ends in the ICU.

    Graham weakly offered the fact that “92 percent of the people in the hospitals in South Carolina (are) unvaccinated,” and they freaked out, shouting: “No! Oh my God! Lord Jesus! and LIES!”

    On “Morning Joe,” Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough blamed Facebook for helping MAGA dolts fall prey to vaccine disinformation. I’m not one to defend that hell site, but this feels like a cop-out. The assembled crowd just voted to re-elect Graham to the Senate but they still won’t listen to him. They want to be spoon-fed horse paste. […]

    Graham tried one last time to reason with his party’s Frankenstein monster […] Graham compared he COVID-19 vaccine to the one everyone took for the measles. The crowd almost uniformly declared, “That’s not the same,” which is true: COVID-19 isn’t literally the measles. But otherwise, their argument is absurd.

    Graham dismissed COVID-19 vaccine mandates in the military as a “dumb idea” because “we shouldn’t be driving people away from serving.” I don’t think the military needs disease vectors in the ranks who don’t have the sense to come in out of the COVID. […]

    […] these people wouldn’t bother fighting mandates if they had any intention of voluntarily getting vaccinated. This isn’t about some lofty legal principle. They just want to avoid any negative consequences for their actions. They’re Republicans, after all.

    That’s the “dilemma” Graham and his fellow MAGA enablers face. They can’t support vaccine mandates or encourage vaccinations, so they’ll have to just sit back and watch as their supporters die preventable deaths.

  127. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 126

    Oddly, the word fascism appears nowhere in the Reuters story.

    Because they either don’t recognize fascism when it’s right in front of them, they are too afraid of using the word lest they be branded “biased, or they take the attitude that’s it’s not their place as journalists to put ideological labels on individuals or organizations.

  128. says

    Washington Post link

    […] The federal government can only borrow money up to a maximum amount set by Congress. The United States reached that limit in August and has been unable to issue debt since. Over the past few months, the Treasury Department has relied on financial maneuvers and emergency measures to cover costs. Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen estimates those resources will run out around Oct. 18, even as bills keep rolling in.

    Money will still flow into Treasury’s coffers each day, mainly from taxes. However, that money won’t be enough to cover day-to-day federal expenses, according to an analysis from the Bipartisan Policy Center. [chart available at the link]

    According to estimates from the Bipartisan Policy Center, Treasury will only bring in enough money to pay about 60 percent of its expenses in the first week of default, leaving hard questions about what bills will be paid and what bills will not.

    Here are some of the biggest expenses that the country may not be able to pay if Treasury runs out of reserves by Oct. 18:

    The chart is available at the link. The chart shows these federal payments are at risk: $1.7 billion in federal workers’ salaries: $1.5 billion in payments to Medicare providers; $20 billion in Social Security benefits; $5 billion in payments to Affordable Care Act marketplace insurers; interest payments on the public debt; pay for active-duty military, etc.

    The debt ceiling will be raised eventually, allowing Treasury to pay late bills. But by then the damage to the global economy may already be done. Right now, foreign investors trust that loans to the United States will be paid back on schedule. If the federal government misses a payment on those loans, it will become more expensive for the country to borrow money. That could ripple out through the economy, potentially setting off a recession and raising costs for consumer loans such as mortgages, credit cards and car loans.

    With no clear plan from Congress and potential default only days away, Treasury may soon face difficult decisions on what obligations, including Social Security payments, interest payments and military salaries, to honor.

    How does Mitch McConnell think that elders who are on a fixed income from Social Security will fare if their payments don’t arrive?

  129. says

    They Are Stuck in Freezing Woods, and ‘Fortress Europe’ Won’t Let Them In

    New York Times link

    In the vast primeval forest that lies between Poland and Belarus, European bison graze under ancient trees alongside refugees, weak from cold and hunger. The new arrivals — from countries including Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Nigeria and Cameroon — have different stories, but a shared predicament. They all purchased flights to Minsk, Belarus, with the promise that they would be taken to the European Union, only to end up stranded in the woods.

    Left to wander the forest in freezing conditions, the migrants are the victims of President Aleksandr Lukashenko of Belarus. In retaliation for European Union sanctions against his regime, he is reportedly luring people to Minsk and then depositing them at the country’s border with Poland. But the problem goes beyond Belarus. The Polish government, presenting itself as the nation’s protector from invasion, has refused the migrants entry — and, in some cases, actively pushed them back into the woods.

    Far from earning rebuke, Poland’s approach has the backing of the European Union. It is, after all, more or less what the E.U. has been doing for the past five years. To avoid a repeat of the migrant crisis of 2015-16, when over a million people sought refuge in Europe, the bloc has tried to seal off the continent from another influx of people.

    But these efforts, often draconian and brutal, have failed. In the aftermath of the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan and as unrest continues across the world, more people will head for Europe. The next migrant crisis has arrived.

    With southern routes choked off, the bloc’s eastern border has become a major point of entry. Since August, there have been thousands of attempts to cross the Polish border outside official checkpoints. It’s a perilous undertaking: For almost two months, a group of 32 people from Afghanistan has been trapped near the Polish border village of Usnarz Gorny. They receive meager rations, lack fresh water and, according to aid workers, are losing strength […]

    Poland’s response has been severe. The government ignored a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights, which is separate from the European Union, to provide food, clothing and medical care. And by declaring a state of emergency, it barred journalists and aid workers from coming within three kilometers of the border zone. Not content with a media blackout, it’s also, like neighboring Lithuania, erecting a fence along the border.

    […] In “fortress Europe,” enclosure is the new normal. In the past five years, the bloc has paid Turkey and Libya to keep out migrants; and patrolled the Mediterranean Sea, while member states including Austria, Greece and Bulgaria have installed new border fortifications. The E.U. is currently working on a financial deal with Afghanistan’s neighbors to prevent people fleeing the Taliban from coming to Europe. Violent border pushbacks are increasingly common, illegal measures that critics say are supported by the bloc’s border agency, Frontex. The message is clear: Newcomers must be turned away, no matter the cost.

    […] On Sept. 27, Poland’s interior ministry held a news conference accusing the refugees of terrorism, zoophilia and pedophilia. As “proof” it offered a presentation of photos supposedly taken from migrants’ cellphones, which included images of Islamic State decapitations and a man having sex with a horse. Journalists revealed that these shots actually came from the internet and had no connection to the migrants.

    […] There is no time to lose. At least five people, according to Polish officials, have already died. […] the real number is unknown and probably higher. […] a 16-year-old boy from Iraq whose family [was] pushed back into the forest. At the time of contact, the boy was vomiting blood; in the morning, […] he was dead. As temperatures drop […] many more may perish.

    […] as more and more people displaced by armed conflict and climate change are turned away by the world’s richer nations, refugees are left to languish in Europe’s forests. Their fate feels like the dark premonition of a future that is already here.

  130. says

    We knew Greg Abbott’s border scheme was reprehensible, but we’ve just barely scratched the surface

    We knew that Greg Abbott’s “legally dubious” Operation Lone Star scheme colluding with border officials to round up and detain asylum-seekers and migrants for weeks and months without any charges was reprehensible, but we’ve just barely scratched the surface, folks.

    The Texas Tribune reports that just days after a court ordered the release of hundreds of men detained under Operation Lone Star, a prosecutor dropped charges against another 11 men. What happened? Well, the men said that officers forced them to climb 10-foot-fencing onto private property, then arrested them for trespassing.

    […] “A Border Patrol spokesperson said any suggestion that officers led migrants to private property so they could be arrested for trespassing is ‘absolutely false.’” But we know federal immigration agencies lie, and all the time. Recall that back in 2018, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson resigned rather than continue lying.

    “Without video evidence or a written report of the August incident from U.S. Border Patrol, Val Verde County Attorney David Martinez dismissed the trespassing charges Monday after the men had spent nearly two months in state prison,” The Texas Tribune continued. Martinez has ended up dropping over 120 cases initiated by the Texas Department of Public Safety, the report said.

    Hundreds of asylum-seekers and migrants, all men, have been jailed for lengthy periods of time without any charges at all under Abbott’s scheme. Late last month, a judge ordered the release of roughly 250 people who had been held without any charges. But a court-ordered release hasn’t meant freedom for all. While charges were dropped against asylum-seekers Ivan Nava and David Muñoz, the jail illegally held them to turn them over to Customs and Border Protection (CBP), advocates said.

    The Texas Tribune reports that the 11 men who have had their charges dropped “were expected to be sent back to Val Verde County and handed over to CBP officials for processing,” according to Texas RioGrande Legal Aid’s Kristin Etter. […] local officials and law enforcement have been aiding Abbott’s scheme, by actively encouraging landowners to file reports against migrants.

    “If you have someone who does damage to your property, file a police report because the fastest way for us⁠—say these people get caught and they get deported⁠—the fastest way to send them back home when they try to cross over again is for them to have a criminal record,” Republican aide Michael Blair said at a La Salle County town meeting, Vasquez reported. ”Because if they have a criminal record, they’re going home like that,” he continued. […]

    Abbott has also welcomed out-of-state law enforcement agents, who have eagerly swooped in, advocates said. “I realized Greg Abbott is organizing law enforcement for Operation Lone Star, and that law enforcement is organizing ranchers to file charges on [migrants],” Grassroots Leadership co-executive director Claudia Muñoz told Vasquez. She’d previously said that she has kept “telling people that if we don’t get a grip on this soon, it’s going to be really, really bad.”

  131. says

    We knew Greg Abbott’s border scheme was reprehensible, but we’ve just barely scratched the surface

    We knew that Greg Abbott’s “legally dubious” Operation Lone Star scheme colluding with border officials to round up and detain asylum-seekers and migrants for weeks and months without any charges was reprehensible, but we’ve just barely scratched the surface, folks.

    The Texas Tribune reports that just days after a court ordered the release of hundreds of men detained under Operation Lone Star, a prosecutor dropped charges against another 11 men. What happened? Well, the men said that officers forced them to climb 10-foot-fencing onto private property, then arrested them for trespassing.

    […] “A Border Patrol spokesperson said any suggestion that officers led migrants to private property so they could be arrested for trespassing is ‘absolutely false.’” But we know federal immigration agencies lie, and all the time. Recall that back in 2018, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson resigned rather than continue lying.

    “Without video evidence or a written report of the August incident from U.S. Border Patrol, Val Verde County Attorney David Martinez dismissed the trespassing charges Monday after the men had spent nearly two months in state prison,” The Texas Tribune continued. Martinez has ended up dropping over 120 cases initiated by the Texas Department of Public Safety, the report said.

    Hundreds of asylum-seekers and migrants, all men, have been jailed for lengthy periods of time without any charges at all under Abbott’s scheme. Late last month, a judge ordered the release of roughly 250 people who had been held without any charges. But a court-ordered release hasn’t meant freedom for all. While charges were dropped against asylum-seekers Ivan Nava and David Muñoz, the jail illegally held them to turn them over to Customs and Border Protection (CBP), advocates said.

    The Texas Tribune reports that the 11 men who have had their charges dropped “were expected to be sent back to Val Verde County and handed over to CBP officials for processing,” according to Texas RioGrande Legal Aid’s Kristin Etter. […] local officials and law enforcement have been aiding Abbott’s scheme, by actively encouraging landowners to file reports against migrants.

    “If you have someone who does damage to your property, file a police report because the fastest way for us⁠—say these people get caught and they get deported⁠—the fastest way to send them back home when they try to cross over again is for them to have a criminal record,” Republican aide Michael Blair said at a La Salle County town meeting, Vasquez reported. ”Because if they have a criminal record, they’re going home like that,” he continued. […]

    Abbott has also welcomed out-of-state law enforcement agents, who have eagerly swooped in, advocates said. “I realized Greg Abbott is organizing law enforcement for Operation Lone Star, and that law enforcement is organizing ranchers to file charges on [migrants],” Grassroots Leadership co-executive director Claudia Muñoz told Vasquez. She’d previously said that she has kept “telling people that if we don’t get a grip on this soon, it’s going to be really, really bad.”

  132. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Lynna@130

    How does Mitch McConnell think that elders who are on a fixed income from Social Security will fare if their payments don’t arrive?

    If my sister’s SSA doesn’t arrive on the 27th, she will be unable to pay the November rent for her apartment. Expect lots of noise from those being shafted. Hopefully they will blame the do nothing party.

  133. blf says

    Back in 1995, the Grauniad and Granada Television took down Jonathan Aitken, a then(? recent?) “U”K Minister. He was scamming with / bribed by the Saudis, and eventually jailed for perjury and other crimes (a synopsis from the Grauniad’s archives) after claiming to be yielding the simple sword of truth. He claimed after being released from goal he’d changed. And become some sort of a priest or similar. So it’s no surprise he seems to have been lying, Jonathan Aitken was paid £166,000 for book on Kazakh autocrat, leak suggests:

    Pandora papers cast doubt on ex-Tory minister’s claim he received no payment from Kazakh government for flattering biography

    In April 2010 Jonathan Aitken flew to Washington. The former Conservative MP and minister, famously jailed for lying, was in the US for the launch of his latest book: a flattering biography of Kazakhstan’s president, Nursultan Nazarbayev. Biographers are artists on oath, he told an audience of senators and diplomats. They like painting on a broad canvas. He added: I have never had a more dramatic and turbulent canvas than the life story of Nazarbayev.

    Aitken’s speech at the prestigious Library of Congress failed to mention one crucial point: that a PR firm working for the Kazakh government appears to have secretly commissioned and paid for his book. According to the Pandora papers leak, Aitken got £166,000 for his literary efforts. The money was routed via Hong Kong and the British Virgin Islands and discreetly sent to Oxford and the ex-MP’s company, Aitken Consultancy & Research Services Limited.

    According to the documents, the firm, WorldPR, also picked up the bill for Aitken’s overseas book tour. His expenses included a stay at the Capital Hilton, two blocks from the White House. Aitken’s $1,527 (£1,117) receipt [was] found in the leak […]. The PR company paid the Library of Congress $6,996 for venue hire, with the Kazakh embassy bankrolling a later speaking engagement at New York’s Harvard Club.

    Ironically enough, Aitken’s political career came to a dramatic and sticky end in 1996 after he lied in the high court about who had paid for a similar stay at the Ritz hotel in Paris — not a central Asian dictator back then, but the king of Saudi Arabia’s son. Aitken sued following revelations in the Guardian and by the programme World in Action that he had done the bidding of the Saudi royal family, working since the 1970s as a glorified fixer.

    The latest revelation is embarrassing for Aitken, who claims that he emerged a reformed character from a seven-month jail sentence after he was convicted of perjury in his libel action against the Guardian. The paper disputed Aitken’s untrue claim that his then wife, Lolicia, had paid the Paris bill. […]

    Nazarbayev was a popular and compassionate leader, who had built a successful economy and rid his country of Soviet-era nuclear weapons, Aitken wrote.

    The critics were unconvinced. The Guardian described the biography as “a fascinating, cleverly orchestrated snow job: quite probably the hagiography of the year”. The London Review of Books was similarly damning and said its flattery ranged “from the banal to the cringing”. All remarked that it glossed over Nazarbayev’s autocratic behaviour and intolerance of dissent. Torture by his security forces was widespread and “carried out with impunity”, Amnesty International noted.

    According to the documents, the under-the-table payments were made by WorldPR, a firm run by Aitken’s one-time press adviser Patrick Robertson. Robertson is Kazakhstan’s honorary consul to the Bahamas. […] Other clients include the late Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and Azerbaijan, another oil-rich post-Soviet state known for persecuting opponents […]

    According to the leaked files, WorldPR bought 3,000 private copies of Aitken’s book […] Overall, the biography sold 466 actual copies, bought by the public from bookshops and online. Robertson spent $96,000 in Russia on “media consultancy services” and paid a Moscow publisher $116,000 to translate Aitken’s follow-up book, Kazakhstan and Twenty Years of Independence. The deal included 10,000 Russian language copies and a media launch.

    Robertson is an ardent Brexiter who lives in St Moritz, Switzerland [whilst being “Kazakhstan’s honorary consul to the Bahamas”]. While a student at Oxford he founded the Bruges Group, a rightwing thinktank whose advisers and members have included a series of high-profile Tories, including Margaret Thatcher. […]

    The files give an insight into Robertson’s methods. In 2011 he set up a covert spinoff operation, SovereignPR, to handle a lucrative new contract with Azerbaijan’s state oil company, Socar. Robertson fired off a plan of action for his client. It included setting up a pro-regime thinktank, commissioning two books on the Nagorno-Karabakh region, claimed by Azerbaijan, and holding a grand debate at the Royal Geographical Society in London.

    Meanwhile, Aitken was rewarded for his biographical labours with a medal. In 2017 the Kazakh ambassador to the UK, Erlan Idrissov, gave him a government award. […]

    The Grauniad’s robust defence against Aitken’s libel suit is one of the cases which has earned it a reputation of a paper you don’t want to sue, they don’t roll over. Aitken is a proven liar, and apparently continues to be a liar-for-hire.

  134. raven says

    More violence against health care workers in hospitals.
    This has been happening for a long time now.
    The main perpetrators are Covid-19 virus deniers and antivaxxers. They get sick with the virus that doesn’t exist and end up in the hospital in serious danger of dying. Then they panic. The survival in the ICU is around 50%.

    Violent threats increasing against health care workers
    by LEANDRA BERNSTEIN | Sinclair Broadcast Group Wednesday, October 6th 2021

    WASHINGTON (SBG) — Health care workers have shouldered some of the heaviest burdens of the COVID-19 pandemic, treating dying patients, consoling grieving families and working long hours in understaffed hospitals. On top of those stressors, nurses and physicians are facing an increase in violent attacks and threats from their patients.

    An Idaho doctor reported being threatened after she refused to prescribe a patient ivermectin, an anti-parasite drug that had been used in experimental COVID treatment.
    Dr. Ashley Carvalho told KBOI that the patient’s family member told her, “I have a lot of ways to get people to do what I want them to do, and they’re all sitting in my gun safe at home.”
    Carvalho said she had to get hospital security involved, not because of her safety, but to protect the patient, whose family was not allowing her to provide treatment.

    It’s just a fraction of what nurses and other hospital personnel are dealing with on a daily basis. At another Idaho hospital in Coeur d’Alene, doctors and nurses were accused of killing patients by family members who didn’t believe COVID-19 was real, hospital spokeswoman Caiti Bobbitt told The Associated Press.

    Cox Medical Center Branson in Missouri announced it was issuing around 400 panic buttons after seeing violence against hospital staff skyrocket. Patient assaults against hospital staff tripled in the last year, “with the pandemic greatly compounding the issue,” the hospital said.

    Patients and visitors are often in extreme, dire emotional states when they enter a hospital that can fuel aggression. However, Cox hospital administrators stressed that dealing with violence is “NOT ‘part of the job.'”

    Workplace violence has become more common for more of the nation’s health care workers during the pandemic. A recent survey by National Nurses United found 31% of hospital registered nurses reported an increase in workplace violence. That number was up from 22% in March.

    Even before COVID-19, violence against health care workers had reached a concerning level. According to a 2018 report, three-quarters of all annual workplace assaults occurred in health care settings. The abuse can be so common that many doctors and nurses don’t report incidents.

    One of the top medical institutions in Boston recently reported two to three nurses are assaulted every day. Administrators at Massachusetts General Hospital said the figures were concerning, but they also believe it’s an underestimate of the threats, verbal abuse or physical assaults nurses face on a regular basis.

    While some workers dismiss threats, others are too extreme to ignore. Last month a health care worker was stabbed outside Morton Hospital in Taunton, Mass. Staff had fought unsuccessfully for improved safety measures in light of a “large increase in incidents of violence between patients and staff,” Morton Hospital Union Chair, Jacqui Fitts told WJAR. The apparently unprovoked stabbing reinforced that need.

    The American Hospital Association, which represents nearly 5,000 hospitals, networks and care providers, said it has heard anecdotal reports of “increased mistreatment, harassment and violence directed at health care workers in hospital and health system settings.” The AHA said it supports its members “taking any additional steps to promote the safety and well-being of their staff.”

    In an attempt to crack down on the growing threats, the Joint Commission, a national nonprofit organization that accredits hospitals, introduced new workplace violence requirements that will take effect at the start of next year. The requirements will include violence prevention, tracking incidents and making it easier to report. The commission is also focused on defining workplace violence as verbal, nonverbal, written or physical aggression, intimidation, bullying, sexual harassment or physical assault.

    The growing threats are happening at a time of increased stress and extremely high demand. Health care workers are facing burnout after 19 months of the pandemic, working overtime in dangerous conditions, often with poor compensation and fewer supplies than they need.

    According to a Morning Consult poll, one in five health care workers quit their job during the pandemic. Another 31% who kept their jobs said they considered leaving. Over half of the workers who left the profession cited the COVID-19 pandemic, many were burnt out and over a quarter said they felt a lack of respect from patients.

    Health care workers are not alone in facing a more aggressive, unhinged public. Assaults on flight attendants surged in the last year. The Federal Aviation Administration opened 750 investigations into unruly passengers, nearly four times the rate in an average year.

    Teachers, principals and school staff have faced unprecedented threats of violence over masks, vaccines and class curricula. The Justice Department and FBI announced they would help schools prevent violence and protect staff.

    Overall violence in the United States skyrocketed during the pandemic. Violent crime increased and the homicide rate rose 30% last year, the single largest increase in a century.

  135. raven says

    From the article I just posted above.

    One of the top medical institutions in Boston recently reported two to three nurses are assaulted every day. Administrators at Massachusetts General Hospital said the figures were concerning, but they also believe it’s an underestimate of the threats, verbal abuse or physical assaults nurses face on a regular basis.

    These assaults on health care workers by the patients and the patient’s families are common these days. They are happening dozens of times a day somewhere in the USA.

    The Covid-19 denier/antivaxxer patients are hard to treat.
    Since the Covid-19 virus doesn’t exist, they wait until they are very sick to come into the hospital. Since the virus doesn’t exist, they don’t believe they are infected with the virus. They are weak and having trouble breathing. They are surrounded by people in full PPE gear who look threatening to them. At some point in dawns on them that they might very well die. They panic and sometimes attack the staff.
    They also die a lot. The average stay in the ICU of a dead Covid-19 patient is 6 weeks.

    I’ve been reading a lot of health care websites and also the dead antivaxxer websites, the Hermancainaward and sorryantivaxxers. The unvaccinated patients they are seeing now seem to be almost 100% fundie xians. They are frequently hostile in general to the outside society and in particular to the mainstream medical system.
    They aren’t very bright or educated.

    One guy was an active antivaxxer. He ended up in the hospital with the Covid-19 virus. He was still posting the usual really stupid antivaxxer memes from his hospital bed. Shortly after that he crashed and ended up on a ventilator, and a few weeks later was dead.
    As the vaxxers say, he took the Covid-19 plane to heaven.

  136. raven says

    Maryland man allegedly fatally shot his pharmacist brother for ‘killing people’ with the COVID vaccine, court records show
    Baltimore Sun |
    Oct 06, 2021 at 4:51 PM
    A Cumberland man allegedly killed his brother and sister-in-law in their Ellicott City home last week because his brother, a pharmacist, administered COVID-19 vaccines, according to charging documents filed Wednesday in a Howard County court.

    Jeffrey Burnham told his mother he had to confront his older brother, Brian Robinette, because he was poisoning people by administering the COVID-19 vaccine, telling his mother, “Brian knows something,” according to the new charging documents filed against Burnham.

    It was a matter of time until an antivaxxer killed a health care worker.
    And here we are.

    Quite a few vaccination sites have been attacked lately as well.

  137. blf says

    raven@137(–139), If you want to be taken seriously, also include (links-to) the “(block-)quoted” sources.

  138. tomh says

    Republican support for Trump back on the rise ahead of 2024
    KIRK MCDANIEL / October 6, 2021

    (CN) — A new survey from the Pew Research Center reveals Republicans’ growing desire to see former President Donald Trump remain a prominent figure in American politics and run again in 2024.

    Republican voters are also less accepting of elected officials who criticize Trump, according to polling conducted in September among 10,371 U.S. adults.

    The poll released Wednesday shows 67% of Republican respondents believe Trump should remain a major national political figure, and 44% said they want to see him run for the presidency again….

    Pew conducted similar polling in the waning days of the Trump presidency earlier this year, just after the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. At that time, 57% of Republicans said Trump should remain a major political figure.
    […]

    Thirty percent of Republicans said the party should “not at all” accept elected officials who criticize Trump. A slightly larger group (32%) said the GOP should “not be too accepting” of officials who criticize the former president.

  139. Paul K says

    tomh @140: Whenever I see poll results about republicans, I wonder about actual numbers. Sure, 67% of them might believe something, but how many of them are there? More than two years ago? Fewer? As they’ve gotten more insane as a group, how many have stopped identifying as ‘republican’? Or (horrifyingly), how many MORE are there? Without that knowledge, these numbers lose a lot of meaning.

    I know that actual numbers aren’t everything. The crazy way our districting works, or doesn’t, means that they can gain or keep power regardless of being a minority. Still, I find these polls deficient if they don’t include some way to know comparisons between the numbers in a group.

  140. says

    Humor/satire from Andy Borowitz:

    Senate Republicans have blasted Facebook for endangering democracy, with Senator Mitch McConnell defiantly declaring, “That’s our job.”

    Several of McConnell’s Senate colleagues, including Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz, concurred that, by destabilizing democratic institutions, Facebook was encroaching on Republican turf.

    “On January 6th, I was on the ground, giving insurrectionists a hearty fist pump,” Hawley said. “When it comes to attacking democracy, I don’t need Facebook’s quote-unquote ‘help.’ ”

    “When it was time to delegitimize the election results, where was Facebook?” Cruz said. “The hard, grinding work of shredding democratic norms fell to dedicated foot soldiers, like yours truly.”

    But the harshest critique of Facebook came from McConnell, who called Facebook’s efforts to undermine democracy “amateurish at best.”

    “Facebook acted like it was such a big deal when their network shut down earlier this week,” the Senate Majority Leader said. “Well, we Republicans have been working tirelessly to shut down the entire U.S. government. Sorry, Facebook, but I’m not impressed.”

    New Yorker link

  141. says

    Text quoted by tomh @140:

    Thirty percent of Republicans said the party should “not at all” accept elected officials who criticize Trump. A slightly larger group (32%) said the GOP should “not be too accepting” of officials who criticize the former president.

    So, still a cult.

  142. says

    raven @136, 137, and 138: I’m particularly worried about threats against health care workers in Idaho, in part because I live here, and in part because the “settle all issues with a gun” culture seems to be growing.

    In other news: What’s good (and what’s not) about Congress’ new debt-ceiling deal

    To be sure, avoiding the Oct. 18 deadline is good news, but this is obviously a kick-the-can-down-the-road agreement.

    The one thing everyone agreed on was that Congress was running out of time. According to the Treasury Department, the United States was scheduled to default on Oct. 18, which is why Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced plans to resolve the debt-ceiling crisis this week in order to prevent any adverse economic consequences.

    As regular readers know, Republicans responsible for creating this mess had a single demand: GOP leaders insisted that Democrats diffuse the economic bomb by going through a lengthy and complex legislative process, which would’ve resulted in Republicans having a political weapon in the 2022 midterm elections. Democrats responded by saying there wasn’t enough time to jump through the procedural hoops — even if they wanted to, which they didn’t.

    Yesterday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell offered a temporary way out, and the result was a newly announced agreement. NBC News reported this morning:

    Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Thursday announced an agreement to extend the debt limit through early December, temporarily ending a partisan standoff just 11 days before the government’s deadline to avert default. “It is our hope we can get this done as soon as today,” Schumer, D-N.Y., said on the Senate floor.

    Though it’s not yet clear exactly how or when Congress will approve the deal, the agreement would raise the borrowing limit by $480 billion, pushing the new deadline to Dec. 3.

    The $480 billion figure was recommended by the Treasury Department.

    […] we can all breathe a sigh of relief that Republicans didn’t shut down the government or crash the economy on purpose — Wall Street seemed especially delighted by this morning’s news — but the reprieve is temporary. […]

    Why did McConnell make this offer?

    […] McConnell reportedly told his members that he believed Senate Democrats might very well end debt-ceiling filibusters altogether, and this offer prevented that from happening at least for now.

    How does this affect McConnell’s larger demands?

    For the most part, it doesn’t affect the GOP’s plan at all. Republicans desperately wanted Democrats to go through the reconciliation process — creating a dollar figure, instead of suspending the debt ceiling to a future date — and Republicans will continue to make this demand every day between now and December. […]

    The implicit message behind McConnell’s debt-ceiling offer was plain: “You don’t have time to pay my ransom the way I want it to be paid, so I’m prepared to give you more time to do exactly what I command you to do.”

    Why are Democrats agreeing to the deal?

    First, because it prevents default in 11 days. Second, Democrats were determined to avoid going over the cliff, but the party wasn’t yet unified on a solution, and there was limited time to settle on one. And third, as Politico noted this morning, “The view from the White House and many Senate Democrats is that the McConnell deal frees up the rest of October and November to focus on their reconciliation package.”

    Why are Republicans agreeing to the deal?

    First, it keeps open the possibility that Democrats will eventually meet McConnell’s demands. Second, it derails, at least for now, the growing talk of ending debt-ceiling filibusters altogether. And third, as we saw during Barack Obama’s presidency, McConnell sees political value in keeping the political world off-balance through temporary deals.

    […] McConnell’s reliance on stopgaps throughout the Obama era “created constant dysfunction and nonstop crises, all of which empowered Republicans, weakened Democrats, and had bad downstream policy consequences.”

    […] The Republican line is unchanged: The GOP minority is committed to filibustering any debt-ceiling measure that fails to put a specific dollar figure on the debt. The Democratic line is also unchanged: The governing majority is committed to addressing the debt ceiling, but not through the reconciliation process that would put a specific dollar figure on the debt.

    That leaves one obvious answer — scrapping debt-ceiling filibusters is an easy, obvious, simple, efficient, and effective solution, which wouldn’t cost a dime — that Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia doesn’t like.

  143. says

    Sigh.

    Head of Wisconsin ‘audit’ admits he doesn’t know how elections work

    There are no Cyber Ninjas operating at the state’s behest in Wisconsin, but that doesn’t mean the Badger State’s election “audit” will be less ludicrous.

    It was already a bad idea when Wisconsin Republicans decided to launch a pointless, partisan investigation into the state’s 2020 presidential election. Things got a little worse when GOP officials tapped former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman to help oversee the probe.

    As Rachel explained on the show in July, Gableman has been a “Stop the Steal” activist who falsely told the public the 2020 election wasn’t “honest.” More recently, Gableman traveled not only to Arizona, to take a look at its utterly bonkers “audit,” but also to South Dakota, where he attended a bizarre “symposium” headed by MyPillow chief executive Mike Lindell, an unhinged pro-Trump conspiracy theorist.

    Or put another way, Gableman is the kind of guy Republican legislators would tap to get a predetermined result, not the kind of official chosen to oversee a credible process.

    This week, however, the story took a rather farcical turn. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported yesterday:

    The attorney leading a partisan review of Wisconsin’s 2020 election acknowledged this week that he doesn’t understand how elections are supposed to be run. The admission by former state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman comes as he subpoenas mayors and election officials.

    “Most people, myself included, do not have a comprehensive understanding or even any understanding of how elections work,” Gableman conceded on Tuesday.

    Oh. So what we have here is a situation in which the Republican conspiracy theorist responsible for reviewing Wisconsin’s elections, by his own admission, is completely clueless about how elections work.

    Did I mention that GOP legislators thought it’d be a good idea to invest $680,000 in Wisconsin taxpayer money into this absurd exercise?

    […] The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported last week:

    Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell said Gableman could have easily gotten the information he’s seeking without issuing subpoenas. He suggested Gableman is trying to appear as dramatic as possible even though numerous records have already been released to news outlets and others under the state’s open records law. “They should have just asked for it,” said McDonell, a Democrat who has been critical of Gableman’s efforts.

    […] the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel also reported this week that the subpoenas appear to be ridiculous in their scope:

    Gableman’s comments about new subpoenas came as election officials around the state are mulling how they could comply with ones he issued Friday that direct them to turn over “all documents contained in your files and/or in your custody, possession, or control pertaining to the Election.” That comprises hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of pages of records for the state and its five largest cities.

    […]

    What could go wrong?

  144. says

    Multiple GOP 2022 candidates haunted by domestic violence allegations

    An unsettling number of Republican candidates running for Congress in 2022 have domestic-violence allegations in their background.

    During Donald Trump’s term, the Republican White House faced difficult questions about the number of men in the then-president’s orbit who’d faced domestic violence allegations. Staff secretary Rob Porter, for example, resigned in the face of allegations that he was physically abusive toward both of his ex-wives, though he insisted the claims were untrue.

    Steve Bannon, Trump’s former White House chief strategist, also had a domestic-violence charge in his background, though prosecutors ultimately had to drop the charges when Bannon’s then-wife failed to show up for testimony. Andy Puzder, Trump’s choice to lead the Department of Labor, saw his nomination collapse in 2017 in the face of multiple controversies, including spousal abuse accusations.

    Four years later, the GOP is facing a similar situation — though this time, it’s allegations surrounding Republicans hoping to be elected to the U.S. Senate.

    The Washington Post reported yesterday, for example, on the large number of high-profile Republicans rallying behind Max Miller, a former Trump aide who’s running for Congress in Ohio, and “who faces allegations of domestic violence.”

    In a Washington Post op-ed, former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham on Tuesday accused her former boyfriend of being violent toward her during their time working in the White House. She did not name him. But within hours of the piece’s publication online, Miller sued Grisham, alleging defamation. Through his lawyer, he denied the allegations.

    Miller, it’s worth noting for context, has already received Trump’s support for his congressional candidacy.

    What’s more, as the HuffPost noted yesterday, there are related controversies surrounding other GOP candidates running for Congress in the 2022 cycle:

    In Missouri, a woman who had an affair with former Gov. Eric Greitens said he sexually assaulted her and blackmailed her with nude photos. The estranged wife of Army veteran Sean Parnell, the leading Republican candidate in Pennsylvania, twice took out temporary protection-from-abuse orders against him. The ex-wife of Herschel Walker, the football legend who is the front-runner for the GOP nomination in Georgia, claimed in divorce records that he was physically abusive and threatened to murder her.

    Like Ohio’s Miller, Walker and Parnell have received Trump’s public backing.

    […] there’s a distinct possibility that all of these candidates will be Republican nominees in next year’s midterm cycle, which should leave GOP leaders with some difficult questions about the extent to which the party cares, if at all.

  145. says

    Senate Drops Report On Trump’s Use Of DOJ To Stay In Power

    Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats issued a report on Thursday detailing former President Trump’s efforts to use the Justice Department as a weapon in his bid to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

    It delves into some of the starkest examples of corruption that took place in the run-up to the insurrection, as Trump flailed for ways to stay in power.

    Among other things, the report documents a Jan. 3 meeting during which senior DOJ leaders and then-White House counsel Pat Cipollone threatened to resign if Trump went through with a plan to install former assistant attorney general Jeffrey Bossert Clark as acting attorney general.

    We’re going through the report line-by-line and will be posting updates […]

    Pak went out of his way to issue a “very bland” resignation statement, the report says, out of a desire to avoid influencing the special Senate elections in Georgia.

    […] Donoghue had told Pak that, unlike others who submit their resignation but serve until inauguration, Pak’s resignation would have to be immediate, according to the report.

    The U.S. Attorney asked why Trump wanted to fire him, and heard from Donoghue in response that it was because Trump believed he was “not doing enough” on account of being a “never-Trumper.”

    Afer Pak resigned, he emailed all of the then-serving U.S. Attorneys, and Donoghue, to send a message that included his “wish and hope that at least some of you will consider continuing to serve our country — our nation needs patriots like you to uphold the rule of law.” […]

  146. says

    Top allies to Trump’s violent insurrection are ignoring Congress’ subpoenas. Jail them.

    Today is the deadline for four of Donald Trump’s most notorious toadies to provide documents to the House special committee probing the Jan. 6 insurrection. Chief of staff Mark Meadows, aide Dan Scavino, professional grizzled hobo Steve Bannon and determined remora Kash Patel have all vowed to ignore their subpoenas from the committee; Trump himself has insisted they do so, claiming as ex-president to have an “executive privilege” to block their testimony. That is not a real thing and never has been.

    […] there’s been a great deal of evidence that Trump’s inner circle gathered the violent crowd that day for the explicit purpose of threatening Congress into overturning the election—an orchestrated act of sedition. Investigators want to know the full extent to which Trump’s White House staff, his allies, and Trump himself took action to gather and incite the crowd.

    We know Trump’s team gathered a collection of some of the most militant domestic extremists in the nation and told them, on television, to march to the Capitol to make their feelings known to the lawmakers assembled at that very moment to recognize Trump’s election loss. We know Trump and allies went to significant lengths to intimidate his vice president, Mike Pence, into accepting a scheme to nullify vote counts during the proceeding and that the crowd was assembled as a specific means of intimidating Congress into taking such action.

    We know, in short, that Donald Trump fully intended to topple the next United States government, that his staff helped him, that his Republican allies helped him, and that a significant chunk of the now-fascist Republican Party’s lawmakers endorsed or abetted the scheme. Now it’s time for each of those implicated in the seditious plot to testify about who knew what, who did what, and when.

    […] Committee chair Bennie Thompson has already indicated the committee was prepared to make criminal referrals to the Department of Justice, and because President Joe Biden has explicitly rejected the notion of invoking executive privilege on Trump’s behalf it is expected that the new slightly de-Trumpened department will not shield Trump on this one, no matter how much he screams for it.

    The committee, and Congress as a whole, needs to do significantly more than file charges. This was an attempted insurrection. It targeted the nation’s top elected lawmakers, and the shouted goals of at least part of the assembled crowd were to capture or kill elected officials in order to further Trump’s plot. Even criminal charges aren’t enough; the documents simply must be produced. It is a matter of national security.

    Imposing steep, ruinous fines for every day of delay is in order. Finally doing what has long been threatened, reestablishing a Capitol cell in which those refusing to help the committee investigate a seditious insurrection so that those seditionists can rot there until their minds have been changed, needs to be on the table as well. It’s difficult to imagine a more plausible reason for doing so than when investigating a literal violent attempt to topple our government.

    Attempting to overthrow democracy based on hastily crafted hoaxes meant to undermine the legitimacy of an election is an unforgivable act. Those who act to cover up how it happened are traitors to their nation.

  147. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 150

    Attempting to overthrow democracy based on hastily crafted hoaxes meant to undermine the legitimacy of an election is an unforgivable act. Those who act to cover up how it happened are traitors to their nation.

    BUT the Democrat’s, afraid of right-wing reprisals and zealously trying to make sure of irreparably divided nations stays together, will let this nonsense pass the same way they let Republicans ignore subpoenas during Trump’s first impeachment.

  148. says

    Humor/satire from Andy Borowitz: “Texas Temporarily Forced to Recognize Women as Humans”

    In a judicial decision that has stirred controversy in the Lone Star State, Texas has been temporarily forced to recognize women as humans.

    The incendiary decision, handed down by U.S. District Court Judge Robert Pitman, enables women to “come out of the shadows” and be granted rights similar to those enjoyed by other humans in Texas.

    In an emotional press conference, the Texas governor, Greg Abbott, called the judge’s decision to confer human status on women “a dark day in the history of our great state.”

    He warned that the state could face mass immigration from women “once word gets out that Texas considers them equivalent to human beings.”

    “The voters of Texas did not put me in office to allow women to be treated as humans,” he said, choking back tears. “As long as I can draw a breath, this will not stand.”

    New Yorker link

    For more regular reporting, see also: Judge suspends Texas abortion bounty hunter law in fiery opinion, but now far-right courts take over

    A federal district judge ordered Texas to suspend its abortion bounty hunter law in a remarkable opinion on Wednesday. U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman minced no words in a 113-page takedown of the law.

    Acknowledging that his was not the last word in a case that is likely headed to the Supreme Court, Pitman basically said he didn’t care—he wasn’t going to stay his judgment. That’s going to be up to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. For Pitman’s part, “The State has forfeited the right to any such accommodation by pursuing an unprecedented and aggressive scheme to deprive its citizens of a significant and well-established constitutional right. From the moment S.B. 8 went into effect, women have been unlawfully prevented from exercising control over their lives in ways that are protected by the Constitution. That other courts may find a way to avoid this conclusion is theirs to decide; this Court will not sanction one more day of this offensive deprivation of such an important right.”

    As predicted, Texas is appealing.

    “Though the court’s ruling offers a sigh of relief, the threat of Texas’ abortion ban still looms over the state as cases continue to move through the courts. We already know the politicians behind this law will stop at nothing until they’ve banned abortion entirely,” the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) Brigitte Amiri said in a statement. “This fight is far from over, and we’re ready to do everything we can to make sure every person can get the abortion care they need regardless of where they live or how much they make.”

    The lawsuit was brought by the Biden administration, and in a Twitter thread analyzing Pitman’s decision, Imani Gandy highlights Pitman’s rebuttal to Texas’ argument that the United States government has not suffered harm from the abortion ban, which allows anyone to sue any person who “aids or abets” an abortion performed after six weeks for $10,000 and attorneys’ fees. Pitman offers a list of federal agencies that “aid or abet” abortions, exposing the agencies or their employees to vigilante claims under the Texas law.</b?

    But the next courts to hear the case are dominated by partisan Republicans who … don’t really care about the law, let alone women’s right to self-determination or privacy or medical care. Pitman methodically answered many of the outs Texas was trying to use, but the higher courts may still embrace those, dismissing precedent and logic and common f’ing sense.

    Texas isn’t even the main game in far-right efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade, though. That’s coming on Dec. 1 in Supreme Court arguments about a Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks, with Mississippi officials making clear that yes, this is an effort to overturn Roe. It’s all too likely that the Trump Supreme Court will jump on this chance to gut women’s reproductive rights. […]

  149. says

    Tweet O’ the Day:
    https://twitter.com/FilmThePoliceLA/status/1445566038855217158

    Hollywood Blvd, Saturday, 11:22 AM:

    ANTI-VAXX PROTESTER: Do you see all of these homeless people around. Are they dead in the street with COVID? Hell no. Why?

    HOMELESS PERSON (walking by): Because I’m vaccinated you dumb fuck.

    If you scroll down in the thread, you can find a short interview with “Ray,” the homeless person who shouted, “Because I’m vaccinated you dumb fuck,” at the anti-vaxxer.

  150. says

    Wonkette:

    It’s Fox News’s 25th birthday. Here is a non-exhaustive list of things we will now say to Fox News on its birthday […].

    Happy fuckin’ birthday to the only network in America where Tucker Carlson told Andrew Yang yesterday that the Unabomber had some good ideas. Oh yes, and then there’s all Tucker’s astonishing white supremacist shit that he’s allowed to spew each and every night. We really don’t have time to get into that right now.

    Happy fuckin’ birthday to the network that has probably done more than any other single entity to turn an entire generation of white moron racists into ALSO vaccine skeptics/deniers, which is why people like this woman and likely many thousands more are currently mourning the deaths of friends, family and loved ones.

    Happy fuckin’ birthday to a network that has literal actual documentaries about it called The Brainwashing Of My Dad, which are literally actually about how entire families have been torn apart because [people] are addicted to the white racist liars on Fox News […]

    Happy fuckin’ birthday to the network that gave us

    ‘Fox & Friends’ Won’t Know Which Potato Head To Buy If They Can’t See Its Tater Tot!

    and

    FOX NEWS IDIOT WISHES BIDEN DIDN’T CONSTANTLY RIDE BIKE LIKE OLD SAD FRAIL DEAD BIKE RIDING PERSON

    and

    ‘Fox & Friends’ Idiots Find The REAL Trump Wiretapper, And It Is Hillary Clinton!

    and in our opinion one of Fox’s single greatest moments,

    Stupid Fox News Idiots Confused Why Sharks Always Live In The Ocean So Much [Direct links are available in the Wonkette article.]

    Happy fuckin’ birthday to the place that gave us Bill O’Reilly and Megyn Kelly and Sean Hannity and Greg Gutfeld and Laura Ingraham and Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade and Ainsley Earhardt and Jesse Watters and [NAME SHITTY PERSON WHO’S BAD AT NEWS HERE], whatever would we have done without alla them?

    Happy fuckin’ birthday to the one (1) nepotistic reason the small young Doocy boy, Pip or whatever his name is, is allowed to get in Jen Psaki’s face all the time and ask her stupid, racist questions.

    Know who else they gave us? Quite frankly, they gave us that shithole ex-president up there and his entire godforsaken family.

    We don’t have time/energy/desire/stamina/did we mention desire to write something like this, but here’s Media Matters’s top 400 times Fox News ruined the whole galaxy and made it stupider.

    Besides, if we really decided to delve deep into the subject matter […] we’d be writing this one post for the next two weeks. […]

    Link

  151. says

    As Europe Faces a Cold Winter, Putin Seizes on the Leverage From Russia’s Gas Output

    New York Times link

    Critics claim Russia is manipulating the flow of gas to push up prices.

    In Europe, the surge in the price of natural gas has halted factories, startled politicians and alarmed consumers fearful of a cold winter.

    For President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, who turned 69 on Thursday, it all added up to something of an early birthday present.

    The Kremlin has for years bridled at Europe’s drive to reduce emissions and to diversify its energy supply, efforts that threatened to undermine a Russian economy heavily reliant on oil and gas exports. This fall, as Mr. Putin sees it, the Europeans finally got their comeuppance: a confluence of events catapulted energy prices to record heights, putting the Russian president in a position to ride to the rescue.

    “Let’s think about a possible increase of the supply on the market, but we must be careful in doing so,” Mr. Putin told his energy minister Wednesday evening, sending gas prices down sharply in a matter of minutes — although they remain about seven times higher than a year ago.

    The televised exchange underlined the dominant position that Mr. Putin, for now, still commands as the leader of a country supplying more than 40 percent of the European Union’s natural gas imports. Russia has previously used its role as a critical energy source to pressure individual countries such as Belarus, Georgia and Ukraine. Now, the tensions are about something more existential: the future of Russia’s most important economic bond with Europe and of a key geopolitical lever for the Kremlin.

    “We decided: ‘We’ll let them freeze a good bit this winter and then they’ll become more talkative, and won’t insist on quickly abandoning gas,’” said Mikhail I. Krutikhin, an energy analyst at the consultancy RusEnergy. “The stakes are very high.”

    That sort of tough talk breeds deep mistrust in Europe, where critics see Russia as deliberately withholding extra natural gas from the market to try to pressure Germany and Brussels to quickly certify Nord Stream 2, the undersea pipeline that will transport huge amounts of gas to Western Europe.

    The decision by the Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom not to fill its European storage facilities has contributed to the high prices, according to Trevor Sikorski, head of global gas at Energy Aspects, a research firm based in London. […]

  152. says

    Associated Press:

    Russia accounted for most state-sponsored hacking detected by Microsoft over the past year, with a 58% share, mostly targeting government agencies and think tanks in the United States, followed by Ukraine, Britain and European NATO members, the company said.

  153. says

    Nerd @134: “If my sister’s SSA doesn’t arrive on the 27th, she will be unable to pay the November rent for her apartment.” Yep. Most people who depend of Social Security payments do not have any extra money. They just barely get by. Sometimes they don’t quite make it and have to decide between buying food, paying rent, and paying for prescription medicine.

    Mitch McConnell is evil to threaten people like that with his rhetoric about not raising the debt ceiling, and/or shutting the government down. McConnell has threatened both in the past, and he is threatening to do both now. He hasn’t dropped his threats, he just postponed them for a little while.

    Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi are trying to work around Mitch McConnell in order to govern responsibly. It would help if Joe Manchin would also get out of their way.

  154. says

    It was Jan. 3, and Jeffrey Bossert Clark had finally said yes.

    President Trump had asked him the day before whether he wanted the top job in American law enforcement: attorney general.

    It was a big offer, and a big title for a man who, according to the Senate Judiciary Committee, had spent the previous few days trying to convince DOJ officials to drop the “acting” off his title, acting assistant attorney general for the Civil Division.

    But the stakes were far greater than that, a report released Thursday by the Committee Democrats suggests. The report says that Clark planned to set in motion a series of events that would see the Justice Department transformed into a political weapon, used to declare the 2020 election corrupt and instruct state legislatures that the only path forward was to consider appointing a new slate of electors.

    Trump had searched for people willing to do this, and came up with Clark.

    It fell to Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, who took over after Bill Barr departed, to stand in his way, along with Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue, who was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the DOJ.

    The account of those tense few days that follows is based on information presented by Senate investigators and released in the Thursday report. The report is based on partial information: Investigators are still awaiting records from the National Archives, and Clark was, allegedly, uncooperative.

    Bill Barr’s last day at DOJ was Dec. 23. Rosen was set to take over the Department for the Trump administration’s final month the next day — a lame-duck, caretaker term before the Biden administration began.

    That day, according to the Senate report, Trump gave Rosen a quick call. The two exchanged small talk; Trump suggested they’d talk again soon.

    He called the next day.

    Trump peppered Rosen with various election fraud allegations, before startling Rosen with a question: did he know “a guy named Jeff Clark?”

    An acting assistant attorney general for the civil division since September 2020, and the Senate-confirmed assistant attorney general for the natural resources division since November 2018, Clark had nothing to do with election-related matters. Nor did he — or could he, per DOJ policy — have any reason to be speaking with the President.

    Rosen made a mental note, according to Senate investigators. It was “odd.”

    And so, on Dec. 26, he gave Clark a call. Going off little information, Rosen asked whether there was “something going on that I don’t know about.”

    Clark’s reply left Rosen “flabbergasted,” according to the report.

    Over the preceding week, Clark had met with President Trump directly via a connection he had with Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA), a major promoter of Big Lie conspiracies. Clark framed the Oval meeting with Trump as unexpected, saying he had gotten “caught up” in it, without saying what was discussed and why.

    The answer to that question came the next day.

    In a phone call, Trump told Rosen and Donoghue that he was hearing “great things” about Clark, and suggested that he’d be a good attorney general candidate. The election, after all, needed investigating, and didn’t Clark seem like the right man for the job?

    Donoghue, who was unaware of Clark’s activities at this point, was surprised. The two replied that Trump could change DOJ leadership if he wanted. But they went a step further, saying something they may have believed to be true at the time, but which would be tested: that changing DOJ leadership would not change its position on the election.

    The next day, on Dec. 28, Clark began put that proposition to the test.

    In the late afternoon, according to the Senate report, Clark emailed Rosen and Donoghue a message, drafted in part with what Senate investigators believe may have been help from a deputy named Kenneth Klukowski.

    Clark presented two “urgent action items.” One involved a demand to be briefed by the Director of National Intelligence, with Clark saying that he wanted access to classified information to determine whether a “smart thermostat” had mediated a cyber link between Dominion election machines and the Chinese government. Clark cited an Executive Order that allows the President to freeze assets in connection with national emergencies in that request.

    Sheesh! I didn’t know about bonkers “smart thermostat” conspiracy theory Clark was pushing.

    But it was the second “action item” that alarmed Rosen and Donoghue: a “proof of concept” proposal for the DOJ to send a letter to Georgia, declaring the election corrupt while advising the state to convene its legislature to consider appointing new, non-Biden electors.

    “[T]ime is of the essence,” the letter urged, proclaiming that a special session would be “in the national interest.”

    Clark suggested that the “concept” could be applied to other swing states.

    Rosen and Donoghue met this proposal with incredulity.

    “There is no chance that I would sign this letter or anything remotely like this,” Donoghue replied, according to the Senate report. “This would be a grave step for the Department to take and it could have tremendous Constitutional, political and social ramifications for the country.”

    The three met in the attorney general’s conference room. Donoghue told Clark he had “no business” with the election, and scolded him for the “wildly inappropriate” proposal and for having unauthorized contacts with the White House.

    The meeting ended, but not before Clark put in a separate request: could he have the “acting” removed from his title?

    Rosen and Donoghue knew that they needed to head Clark off, the report says.

    Much of what Clark wanted done would have required the involvement of the Office of Legal Counsel, the DOJ’s in-house legal advice office. The two briefed OLC chief Steven Engel, while keeping the rest of DOJ leadership in the dark.

    Clark’s efforts could, if widely known, “create panic,” they believed. […]

    Link

    More at the link.

  155. raven says

    Here is a gruesome and appalling example of antivaxxer stupidity. This right wingnut guy removed his brother from the hospital AMA, against medical advice, because they wouldn’t give him Ivermectin. Not too long after they got home, he died from the Covid-19 virus.
    His second to last post says goodbye to his brother. His last post calls the vaccines the mark of the beast and stupid juice.

    You can tell that this guy knows zero medicine and is incapable of learning anything.

    ​Erlanger hospital refused to give my brother the treatment he asked for in addition to their protocols. So we fought like HELL to get him out of their death trap to better care. They are killing people with their protocols.
    Let me be clear! Erlander refused to give him…
    Ivermectin
    Vitamin C thru intravenous
    Vitamin D thru intravenous
    *************************
    The Erlander doctor told my brother he would die before he made it to the elevator or during transport.

    the Devil is a liar. He made it home.
    Keep praying!!! We will take holy communion today.
    ****************************************************
    Thank you for everyone that helped my brothers wish come true. He wanted to go home and be with his family. I LOVE YOU AND WILL MISS YOU. RIP Marlon Hampton.
    *********************************************
    Let your natural immune system and/or antibody treatments beat Covid-19. Don’t take the mark of the beast-stupid juice.

  156. tomh says

    Biden to restore protections to three national monuments slashed by Trump
    MATTHEW RENDA / October 7, 2021

    (CN) — The Biden administration will restore environmental protections to three national monuments, including two in Utah and the only marine monument in the Atlantic Ocean, that were diminished dramatically by his predecessor Donald Trump.

    President Joe Biden is expected to announce Friday that his Department of the Interior will restore all of the 1.3 million acres to the Bears Ears National Monument plus slightly expanding its conservation footprint. Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument will be restored to its former size.

    The administration is also expected to restore protections to the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts, a marine monument in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of New England that consists of underwater mountains and canyons.

    Bears Ears was dedicated in 2016 by then-President Barack Obama in one of his final acts as president, while Grand Staircase Escalante was dedicated by President Bill Clinton in 1996. Trump reduced the size of each monument, shrinking Bears Ears by about 85% and cutting Grand Staircase Escalante in half at the urging of local leaders who say the curtailment of natural resource extraction industries has hurt local economies and represents a federal incursion into local decision making.
    […]

    Biden promised to look at restoring protections on his first day in office. In June, his Interior Department Secretary, Deb Haaland, recommended restoring environmental protections to all of the land removed by Biden’s predecessor.

    Haaland is the first Native American to head the Interior Department. Bears Ears is sacred to five different tribes that historically occupied the area in eastern Utah and contains petroglyphs, burial grounds and other elements that tribes consider culturally significant.
    […]

    Grand Staircase Escalante was cut in half in a manner that opened the possibility for mining a seam of high-quality coal, gaining the approbation of local industry players but earning the ire of environmentalists.

    Utah Senator Mitt Romney criticized Biden’s decision via Twitter on Thursday.

    “The decision to re-expand the boundaries of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante is a devastating blow to our state, local, and tribal leaders and our delegation.”

    But the decision was celebrated by conservation organizations.

    “Thank you, President Biden,” said Jennifer Rokala, executive director of Center for Western Priorities, in a statement. “You have listened to Indigenous tribes and the American people and ensured these landscapes will be protected for generations to come.”

  157. says

    Seems like a good idea to send Mike Lindell the bill:

    After MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell peddled strange claims about Idaho’s election results, state election officials examined his assertions and discredited them. This week, Idaho Chief Deputy Secretary of State Chad Houck confirmed to the Idaho Statesman that the office plans to send the pro-Trump conspiracy theorist a bill for $6,500.

    Idaho wants MyPillow CEO to pay for costs to refute his false election fraud claim

  158. says

    Possibly good news: Global Deal to End Tax Havens Moves Ahead as Nations Back 15% Rate.

    NY Times link

    More than 130 countries agreed to set a minimum tax rate of 15 percent as governments look to end a race to the bottom on corporate taxation.

    More than 130 nations agreed on Friday to a sweeping overhaul of international tax rules, with officials backing a 15 percent global minimum tax and other changes aimed at cracking down on tax havens that have drained countries of much-needed revenue.

    The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which has been leading the negotiations, said 136 countries and jurisdictions had signed on to the deal. […]

    The agreement is the culmination of years of fraught negotiations that were revived this year after President Biden took office and renewed the United States’ commitment to multilateralism. Finance ministers have been racing to finalize the agreement, which they hope will reverse a decades-long race to the bottom of corporate tax rates that have encouraged companies to shift profits to low-tax jurisdictions, depriving nations of money they need to build new infrastructure and combat global health crises.

    On Friday, Hungary, which had sought sweeter terms, agreed to back the new tax, joining two other important holdouts, Ireland and Estonia, which ratified the deal on Thursday.

    […] As the Biden administration prepares to try and raise corporate tax rates in the United States, getting a global minimum tax in place has become critical to prevent companies from simply shifting their headquarters overseas.

    The deal goes beyond setting a global minimum tax — it also creates new rules for the digital era. Under the agreement, technology giants like Amazon, Facebook and other big global businesses will be required to pay taxes in countries where their goods or services are sold, even if they have no physical presence there.

    The accord would represent a sea change in the way the world’s largest corporations have been taxed for decades, and is likely to see them pay more taxes while spreading taxable revenue more evenly to countries where those businesses earn sales. Until now, profits have largely been taxed where businesses have had a physical presence.

    The agreement represents a significant diplomatic win for Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen, who has made the international tax negotiations a top priority during her first year in the job. […]

    In the United States, Congress still needs to ratify any deal. To comply with the new global minimum tax requirements, the House and Senate will have to pass legislation raising the tax that American companies pay on foreign profits to 15 percent, or higher, from 10.5 percent.

    Democrats expect that they can pass a global tax increase along party lines using a legislative procedure called budget reconciliation that would not require support from Republicans. However, enacting other changes that will be needed to address taxing rights over large international companies will be more complicated and could require the backing of some Republicans

  159. says

    The New Jobs Numbers Are Pretty Good, Actually

    New York Times link

    They fell far short of analyst expectations, but they reflect a steady expansion that is more rapid than other recent recoveries.

    It’s not as bad as it looks.

    That’s the most important thing to take away from Friday’s release of the September jobs report, which found that employers added 194,000 jobs last month, a far cry from the 500,000 analysts expected. The initial response among experts was to wonder whether it called for an exclamation of a mere “oof” or a more extreme “ooooooof.”

    But when you peel apart the details, there is less reason to be concerned than that headline would suggest. The story of the economy in the second half of 2021 remains one of steady expansion that is more rapid than other recent recoveries. It is being held back by supply constraints and, in September at least, the emergence of the Delta variant. But the direction is clear, consistent and positive.

    Much of the disappointment in payroll growth came from strange statistical quirks around school reopening. The number of jobs in state local education combined with private education fell by 180,000 in September — when the customary seasonal adjustments are applied.

    There is reason to think the pandemic made those seasonal adjustments misleading. Schools reopened in September en masse, and employed 1.28 million more people (excluding seasonal adjustments) in September than in August. But a “normal” year, whatever that means anymore, would have featured an even bigger surge in employment. In other words, this might be a statistical artifact of a shrinking education sector earlier in the pandemic, not new information about what is happening this fall.

    Or as the Bureau of Labor Statistics put it in its release, “Recent employment changes are challenging to interpret, as pandemic-related staffing fluctuations in public and private education have distorted the normal seasonal hiring and layoff patterns,” which is the government statistical agency equivalent of a shrug emoji.

    Another detail in the report that takes some of the sting out of the weak payroll gains was news that July and August numbers were revised up by a combined 169,000 jobs, implying the economy entered the fall in a stronger place than it had seemed.

    Meanwhile, the focus on the underwhelming job growth numbers has masked what should be viewed as unambiguously good news.

    The unemployment rate fell to 4.8 percent, from 5.2 percent in August. It fell for good reasons, not bad — the number of people unemployed dropped by a whopping 710,000 while the number of people working rose by a robust 526,000. (These numbers are based on a survey of households, in contrast with the payroll numbers that are based on a survey of businesses; the two diverge from time to time, including this month.)

    This represents a remarkably speedy recovery in the labor market — attaining sub-5 percent unemployment a mere 17 months after the end of the deepest recession in modern times. By contrast, in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, the jobless rate did not reach 4.8 percent until January 2016, six and a half years after the technical end of that recession. […]

  160. says

    Update to comment 150:

    […] The Washington Post reported this morning that [Steve] Bannon has told the congressional select committee that he will not cooperate with the subpoena.

    The letter from his attorney, Robert Costello, notes that former president Donald Trump’s attorney recently asked Bannon to defy the lawmakers’ request for documents or information citing executive privilege, the doctrine cited by presidents to protect access to notes and communications related to holding the office of the president.

    As a rule, when these guys act like they have something to hide, it’s generally because they have something to hide.

    As for the committee’s investigation, the probe appears to be intensifying. Two weeks ago, subpoenas went out to Bannon, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, former social media director Dan Scavino, and Kashyap Patel, who was chief of staff to Trump’s defense secretary. Last week, the panel sought information from a group of activists, partisan operatives, and organizers who might help shed light on the “planning, organization, and funding” of events that led up to the deadly insurrectionist violence.

    And yesterday, as NBC News reported, the committee issued several new subpoenas for the organizers of the pro-Trump “Stop the Steal” rally on Jan. 6, including Ali Alexander and Nathan Martin.

    The same NBC News report added that Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson has said his panel would most likely send criminal contempt referrals for witnesses who do not comply with the subpoenas. “We’ll do criminal referrals and let that process work out,” the Mississippi Democrat said.

  161. says

    Josh Marshall: “Treat Trump Like the Common Perp He Is”

    […] Unsurprisingly, former President Trump instructed his aides to defy the Jan 6th committee’s subpoenas. The legal instructions were reported yesterday by Politico and the Post. They involve mostly hand-waving with turns at executive privilege, lawyer client privilege and various others. None of these aides are lawyers and they are not the President’s lawyers. Former Presidents have no executive privilege. Or to put it more precisely, executive privilege inheres in the office of the presidency, not individuals. The President is Joe Biden. Not Donald Trump. It’s up to him to make such an argument. Trump can ask.

    Now, here we get into a cloudy terrain of a corrupted federal judiciary. Anyone can make any argument they want. The federal appellate courts can and sometimes do credit the most inane legal arguments if they benefit the Republican party. But according to American law up to this point at least, Donald Trump can’t invoke executive privilege.

    You might say, wait, I’ve heard former Presidents invoke privilege before. Not precisely. The process is that the current President in almost every case defers to the requests of the former Presidents. This is both a matter of courtesy and a defense of the privileges of receiving confidential advice in which all Presidents, regardless of party, have some common interest. But the decision is Joe Biden’s.

    The particulars are less important than the big picture. Can a former President who directed a conspiracy to overturn a lawful election stymie a lawful investigation by infinite delays based on frivolous claims? That is what happened during Trump’s presidency. And that is a lapse the country has already suffered grievously for. But there are unique difficulties with a serving President. There are at least three distinct reasons for this. The first is executive privilege itself which a sitting President can repeatedly assert. The privilege is real and, though frequently abused, is an important tool for preserving the standing of the presidency vis a vis Congress and others. The second fact is that the President controls the Justice Department. To put it bluntly, if you’re investigating the President you have to contend with the fact that the cops work for the President. Finally, a sitting President controls the records of the federal government. And possession is nine-tenths of the law. Yes, the Supreme Court can finally order the President to turn over documents, as it did in 1974 in the tapes case which triggered the end of Richard Nixon’s presidency. But there are a lot of steps before you get to that point and a lot of deference courts give a sitting president. As long as you’re the one in possession of the records, someone has to directly order you to turn them over. That drives lots of litigation.

    This is an unfortunate dimension of investigating a President. But we have to blame ourselves rather than the constitution. The constitution provides a remedy for a lawless President: impeachment and removal from office. […] off the table with a former President.

    Preventing the President from stymieing a lawful investigation will require action by three separate parties. Congress must use fines and eventually imprisonment to compel action. The Department of Justice must refrain from imposing needless barriers under the institutional misapprehension that these are customary defenses of presidential privilege. It must also use its enforcement capacity to assist Congress. Finally, a corrupted federal judiciary must resist the temptation to maim the law to enable the former president’s law-breaking.

    The decision on whether to charge a former President with a crime is a weighty one. The decision to conduct a proper investigation of one is not. There are no excuses this time. Trump is just another lawbreaker and target of an investigation. […]

  162. says

    Swollen dunderheads continue to fund batshit bonkers schemes:

    Republican Greg Abbott claimed earlier this year that he would finish the previous president’s useless and racist border wall. In addition to the hundreds of millions of dollars he would seek in taxpayer funds, Abbott said he would crowdfund to raise money for the stupid plan. But The Texas Tribune reports that the crowdfunding flopped and that nearly all of the $54 million pot came from a single donor.

    That donor is billionaire Timothy Mellon. The report says he’s primarily responsible for padding Abbott’s stupid project, having “contributed nearly 98% of the fund’s total donations when he donated $53.1 million in stock to the state in August, according to public records.” More on the stock stuff in a bit. The Texas Tribune noted that Mellon was also a big donor to the previous president and supported Arizona’s notorious “Papers Please” law.

    Before Mellon’s intervention, Abbott’s fund had a final destination of Flopsville, raising just $1.25 million as of mid-August. For context, the $2 billion swindled by the previous president would still only cover a portion of costs. “But on Aug. 27, a state website that tracks donations to the crowdfunding effort said the fund had jumped to nearly $19 million,” The Texas Tribune said. “By the end of the month, it had topped $54 million. The donations have since stalled again.” […]

    The article’s co-author, James Barragán, further noted that even though Abbott had promised” transparency and accountability” when it came to the project’s donations, that was—surprise—bullshit.

    […] “Through some reporting, we learned that donating stock actually could give Mellon a pretty sweet tax deal in that he’d avoid the capital gains tax as well as be able to take a deduction on the donation,” Barragán wrote.

    As part of the anti-immigrant campaign he launched to save his ass during the Republican primary, Abbott has also ordered local law enforcement to round up asylum-seekers and migrants who have recently crossed into the state, jailing them for weeks and even months without any charges. We knew the scheme was reprehensible, but we just barely scratched the surface because a prosecutor recently dropped charges against several men who said that officers zip-tied their hands, forced them to climb 10-foot-fencing onto private property, then arrested them for trespassing.

    […] This isn’t the only recent instance of rich men making shady donations to the vanity projects of anti-immigrant governors. South Dakota’s Kristi Noem deployed 50 National Guard troops to the border thanks to a “private donation” from a Tennessee-based billionaire megadonor who made his cash from used cars and gave more than half a million dollars to the previous president’s campaign, The Washington Post reported. Noem similarly refused to release specifics, claiming in a statement that “[f]or operational security reasons, specific names of units, number of members, and mission specifics will not be released.” […]

    Link

  163. tomh says

    WaPo:
    Florida issues financial penalties to school districts with mask mandates
    By Lori Rozsa and Valerie Strauss / October 7, 2021

    The tug of war between Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and the Biden administration over mask mandates in schools escalated Thursday when the state Board of Education voted unanimously to penalize school districts that continue to require masks, a move the U.S. Department of Education warned could be illegal.

    The board found that eight districts were not in compliance with a new state law on parental rights and that they violated a recent state health department rule that says students exposed to the coronavirus cannot be ordered to quarantine if they are asymptomatic.

    School board members in the eight districts will have their salaries withheld. That’s already happened in Alachua and Broward counties — the first districts to defy DeSantis and implement mask mandates. But the combined amount withheld — over $500,000 for both districts, according to officials — was replaced with grants from the U.S. Education Department. President Biden said last month that Supporting America’s Families and Educators (SAFE) grants will restore 100 percent of pay for school workers who are punished for “doing the right thing.”

    The funding fight is the latest development in the ongoing clash between the Biden and DeSantis administrations over how to address coronavirus concerns in schools. Mask mandates have been at the center of contentious school board meetings across the state, some of which turned violent. DeSantis has said that only parents have the right to order their children to wear masks, but more than half of the state’s students live in counties where mask mandates are in place.
    […]

    Alachua County Public Schools Superintendent Carlee Simon said the state was “tying the hands of school officials who are dealing with a highly transmissible and potentially life threatening virus.”

    She said both rules — against masks and quarantining exposed students — threaten students. “Regrettably, it seems that our surgeon general has prioritized support for the governor’s political agenda over the health and safety of the citizens of Florida, including our children.”

  164. says

    No, no, no. This is such bad news. The Texas abortion ban is back in effect.

    A federal appeals court on Friday night put a temporary hold on a judge’s order blocking Texas’ six-week abortion ban.

    The 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals granted Texas’ request for an administrative stay of the order. Texas had filed the request Friday afternoon, after US District Judge Robert Pitman issued a sweeping order earlier in the week blocking the law at the request of the US Justice Department, which had brought a legal challenge last month.

    […] The fight over Pitman’s order could ultimately end up before the Supreme Court, which rejected an earlier request from abortion clinics that it block the law.

    The morning after Pitman had issued his order, some clinics in Texas resumed providing abortions to patients who were beyond six weeks in their pregnancy. They’re doing so at some legal risk, as the Texas law allows enforcement actions to be brought for abortions conducted while a court order blocking the law is in effect, if the court order is later reversed by a higher court.

    Rather than task government officials with enforcing the ban, via criminal or administrative penalties, the law deputizes private citizens to bring state court litigation against providers or anyone who assists a woman in obtaining an abortion after fetal cardiac activity is detected — a point usually around six weeks into the pregnancy but often before a woman knows she is pregnant. […]

    https://www.cnn.com/2021/10/08/politics/texas-abortion-appeal/index.html

    The Department of Justice can now go straight to the Supreme Court with this case, if they decide to do so. The fight is not over.

  165. says

    NBC News:

    The U.N. Human Rights Council on Friday recognized access to a clean and healthy environment as a fundamental right, formally adding its weight to the global fight against climate change and its devastating consequences.

  166. says

    CNBC:

    CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky cannot predict when the pandemic will end, saying it largely depends on human behavior — and that might be a problem.

  167. says

    The Daily Beast:

    […] Trump stumbled down a well-worn, extremely racist path on Thursday night, striking fear into the hearts of Fox News viewers about how Haitian migrants coming into the United States “probably have AIDS,” and somehow represent a “death wish for our country.”

    Calling into his good buddy Sean Hannity’s primetime show on Thursday, Trump grumbled about the surge of asylum-seeking refugees and migrants making their way to the southern U.S. border. According to the twice-impeached ex-president, dozens of countries are purposely sending newly-released prisoners to America.

    “I hear it’s 50 countries! They are emptying out their prisons into the United States,” Trump bellowed. “Their jails, some of the toughest people on earth are being dumped into the United States because they don’t want them. They don’t want to take care of them for the next 40 years!”

    Hannity, claiming he is “pro-immigration,” then asked his longtime confidant if migrants seeking to enter the country should at least have a COVID test and a “health check,” prompting Trump to smear those arriving from Haiti.

    “So, we have hundreds of thousands of people flowing in from Haiti,” the former president exclaimed. “Haiti has a tremendous AIDS problem. AIDS is a step beyond. AIDS is a real bad problem.”

    He continued: “So hundreds of thousands of people are coming into our country and if you look at the stats and you look at the numbers, if you look at just – take a look at what’s happening in Haiti, a tremendous problem with AIDS. Many of those people will probably have AIDS and they’re coming into our country. We don’t do anything about it. We let everybody come in. It’s like a death wish, like a death wish for our country!”

    This is far from the first time that Trump has described Haiti and its residents in demeaning and ugly terms, all while resurrecting the AIDS panic to besmirch them. It was reported in Dec. 2017 that Trump ranted to his advisers about Haitian immigrants receiving visas, grumbling that they “all have AIDS.”

    The following January, meanwhile, Trump reportedly asked lawmakers “why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here,” specifically pointing to Haiti. Instead, according to reports, the then-president suggested the United States admit more immigrants from places like Norway. […]

    Link

  168. says

    Washington Post:

    In June, the term [critical race theory] was mentioned 993 times during Fox News programming, including overnight rebroadcasts of daytime and prime-time shows. In July, it was mentioned 921 times. […]

  169. blf says

    To absolutely no surprise at all, teh raping children cult here in France is still claiming it must obstruct authorities, despite the recent commission report (see, e.g.,@56, and poopyhead’s post I see a pattern here), France rebukes top bishop for saying confessional secrecy trumps law in sex abuse cases:

    France’s top bishop has been summoned by the interior minister after saying that the pact of secrecy would prevent a priest from reporting sex crimes against children that were revealed during Catholic confession.

    Following the publication of a report this week about sexual abuse of children by the clergy, Eric de Moulins-Beaufort, who is archbishop of Reims and head of the Bishops’ Conference of France, said in a radio interview that the secrecy of the confession rite takes precedence over the laws of the republic.

    Under French law, anyone who is aware of a sex crime against a minor is obliged to report it to the authorities and risks heavy fines and imprisonment if failing to do so.

    “Nothing takes precedence over the laws of the republic in our country,” French government spokesman Gabriel Attal said on Thursday.

    He added that Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin — who also oversees religious issues — would receive de Moulins-Beaufort next week at the request of President Emmanuel Macron “in order to make sure that things are clear”.

    […]

    Confession must remain secret because it opens a space where one can speak freely… before God[the priest who teaches you new techniques & positions, then tests your understanding (sssh! stop crying, aaahhhhhhh!!)], de Moulins-Beaufort said on franceinfo radio.

    De Moulins-Beaufort said it was unlikely that many pedophiles would admit to their crimes during confession and that even if they did, it would be in euphemistic terms. [“We priests”, he added, “never deal in euphemisms, only cold hard facts of our own devising.”]

    He added that when children indicate during confession that they are being abused, the church must look for other ways to help them speak out. “Many children only speak during confession because they know it is secret,” he said, [adding, “I, of course, cannot have any doubts — oh, and know nothing, of course, NOTHING, of these alleged crimes”].

  170. says

    Black Children Were Jailed For A Crime That Doesn’t Exist. Almost Nothing Happened To The Adults In Charge.

    Judge Donna Scott Davenport oversees a juvenile justice system in Rutherford County, Tennessee, with a staggering history of jailing children. She said kids must face consequences, which rarely seem to apply to her or the other adults in charge.

    Chapter 1: “What in the World?”
    Friday, April 15, 2016: Hobgood Elementary School, Murfreesboro, Tennessee

    Three police officers were crowded into the assistant principal’s office at Hobgood Elementary School, and Tammy Garrett, the school’s principal, had no idea what to do. One officer, wearing a tactical vest, was telling her: Go get the kids. A second officer was telling her: Don’t go get the kids. The third officer wasn’t saying anything.

    Garrett knew the police had been sent to arrest some children, although exactly which children, it would turn out, was unclear to everyone, even to these officers. The names police had given the principal included four girls, now sitting in classrooms throughout the school. All four girls were Black. There was a sixth grader, two fourth graders and a third grader. The youngest was 8. On this sunny Friday afternoon in spring, she wore her hair in pigtails.

    A few weeks before, a video had appeared on YouTube. It showed two small boys, 5 and 6 years old, throwing feeble punches at a larger boy as he walked away, while other kids tagged along, some yelling. The scuffle took place off school grounds, after a game of pickup basketball. One kid insulted another kid’s mother, is what started it all.

    The police were at Hobgood because of that video. But they hadn’t come for the boys who threw punches. They were here for the children who looked on. The police in Murfreesboro, a fast-growing city about 30 miles southeast of Nashville, had secured juvenile petitions for 10 children in all who were accused of failing to stop the fight. Officers were now rounding up kids, even though the department couldn’t identify a single one in the video, which was posted with a filter that made faces fuzzy. What was clear were the voices, including that of one girl trying to break up the fight, saying: “Stop, Tay-Tay. Stop, Tay-Tay. Stop, Tay-Tay.” She was a fourth grader at Hobgood. Her initials were E.J.

    The confusion at Hobgood — one officer saying this, another saying that — could be traced in part to absence. A police officer regularly assigned to Hobgood, who knew the students and staff, had bailed that morning after learning about the planned arrests. The thought of arresting these children caused him such stress that he feared he might cry in front of them. Or have a heart attack. He wanted nothing to do with it, so he complained of chest pains and went home, with no warning to his fill-in about what was in store.

    Also absent was the police officer who had investigated the video and instigated these arrests, Chrystal Templeton. She had assured the principal she would be there. She had also told Garrett there would be no handcuffs, that police would be discreet. But Templeton was a no-show. Garrett even texted her — “How’s timing?” — but got no answer.

    Instead of going to Hobgood, Templeton had spent the afternoon gathering the petitions, then heading to the Rutherford County Juvenile Detention Center, a two-tiered jail for children with dozens of surveillance cameras, 48 cells and 64 beds. There, she waited for the kids to be brought to her.

    In Rutherford County, a juvenile court judge had been directing police on what she called “our process” for arresting children, and she appointed the jailer, who employed a “filter system” to determine which children to hold.

    The judge was proud of what she had helped build, despite some alarming numbers buried in state reports.

    Among cases referred to juvenile court, the statewide average for how often children were locked up was 5%.

    In Rutherford County, it was 48%.

    In the assistant principal’s office at Hobgood, the officer telling Garrett not to get the kids was Chris Williams. Williams, who is Black, had been a Murfreesboro cop for five years. “What in the world?” he thought, when he learned what these arrests were about. At Hobgood, two-thirds of the students were Black or Latino. Williams wondered if such arrests would be made at a school that was mostly white. He had a daughter who was 9. He pictured her being arrested. This is going to blow up, he thought; I’m going to end up in federal court over this. He considered quitting, but instead tried to get someone to intervene. Tucked in an office corner, he called a sergeant, a lieutenant and a major, but couldn’t find anyone to call it off.

    The officer not saying anything was Albert Miles III. Growing up, Miles, who is Black, had friends who hated the police. But Miles’ dad was a cop. Miles wanted to prove that police could be trusted. That afternoon, Miles had been pulled out of roll call along with another officer; a sergeant told the two to go arrest some kids at Hobgood. The sergeant didn’t say why, but at Hobgood, Miles started picking up details. Miles, too, wondered if these arrests would happen at a school full of white students.

    The third officer at Hobgood was Jeff Carroll. He’d been pulled out of roll call with Miles. Carroll, who is white, was a patrol officer and SWAT team member. In evaluations, supervisors praised him as a leader, “cool under pressure.” Carroll also had no idea what these arrests were about. But his sergeant had ordered them, and he followed orders. Carroll was the officer telling the principal: Go get the kids.

    Garrett asked if she could call their parents first. Carroll told her no. Garrett told the police that one girl had diabetes and got treatment when she arrived home after school. Please, the principal said. Let me call her parent. On this, the police ultimately compromised, saying the girl could get a shot in the nurse’s office before being taken to the jail.

    Of the two officers telling Garrett what to do — get the kids, don’t get the kids — Carroll seemed the more aggressive, the principal would say later. She agreed to get the kids.

    Having these arrests take place at Hobgood was not something school officials wanted. They wanted kids to feel safe at school. Garrett grew up poor. Nine-tenths of her students were poor. Years before, Hobgood had struggled academically. Now it was a celebrated success. Garrett and her staff had worked to build trust with parents, with students. “I don’t give up on kids,” Garrett says. But she knew that trust is fragile, and trauma endures.

    As Garrett gathered the girls from their classrooms, she believed the police would at least avoid a spectacle. School let out at 2:30. That was minutes away. Garrett’s understanding was that the police would keep the girls in the office until school was dismissed and everyone else was gone.

    Garrett rounded up the sixth grader, a tall girl with braids who had visions of becoming a police officer; one of the fourth graders, the girl with diabetes; and the 8-year-old third grader. In the hallway, the principal tried to prepare them, saying the police were there regarding a video of a fight. Hearing this, the sixth grader told Garrett that the two other girls hadn’t even been there.

    After returning to the office with the three girls, Garrett relayed to police what the sixth grader had told her.

    Her words were barely out when Carroll made it clear he’d had enough, Garrett said later when interviewed as part of an internal police investigation.

    Carroll pulled out handcuffs and put them “right in my face,” Garrett recalled.

    “And he said, ‘We’re going now, we’re going now, there’s no more talk, and we’re going now.’

    “And I said, ‘But, but, but.’”

    Carroll yelled at her, Garrett said. She felt intimidated. Bullied. She worried that if she said any more, she might be arrested herself. “And so I backed off.”

    By now the girls were crying and screaming and reaching for the principal, who was also crying, as was the assistant principal. “And it was, it was, it was awful,” Garrett later said.

    Carroll handcuffed the sixth grader. Later, asked why, he said because policy allowed him to. After being handcuffed, the sixth grader fell to her knees.

    Miles handcuffed the 8-year-old with pigtails. “Just acting out of habit,” he said later. Walking to a patrol car, Miles stopped and thought, “Wait a minute,” and removed the cuffs. “I guess my brain finally caught up with what was going on.”

    While Carroll drove those two girls to the jail, the fourth grader with diabetes stayed behind to see the nurse. She was sisters with the sixth grader; her initials were C.C.

    In all this back and forth, Principal Garrett realized something. The other fourth grader. She had forgotten about her. And now, school was out. The girl had boarded her bus, and was waiting to go home.

    The other fourth grader was E.J. Although she’d said “stop,” she was on the police’s list to be picked up for encouraging the fight.

    Go get her, the police told Garrett.

    Garrett was still crying. She didn’t want to go out to the line of buses and let all those kids see her like that. But she went, feeling she had little choice.

    A teacher beckoned E.J. off the bus. Then Garrett escorted her inside, to the awaiting police. E.J., scared and confused, begged for her mother — and threw up on the floor.

    The two fourth graders still at Hobgood, E.J. and C.C., were best friends. Williams and Miles walked the girls outside, not handcuffing either. With some parents joining in, the officers formed a prayer circle around the two girls. Miles prayed out loud for the kids to be protected and for God to bring peace and understanding. Then he buckled the fourth graders into a patrol car and drove off. On the way to jail the girls cried, “snot and all,” E.J. would say later. Garrett, meanwhile, pulled out her personal cellphone and began calling parents, no longer willing to do as the police commanded.

    For the officers, the confusion didn’t end at the school. It continued once the children began arriving at the jail.

    When Carroll walked in with the first two girls, Templeton, the investigating officer, pointed to the 8-year-old and asked what she was doing there. The police had no petition for her, Templeton said. The 8-year-old’s mother soon arrived and took her child home.

    Miles brought in the last two girls, the two fourth graders. Then, walking out to his patrol car, he ran into an angry parent, Miles would recall later. It was a father demanding answers. Miles dropped his head, shaking it. […]

    Only later, when he returned to the police station, did Miles allow himself to cry.

    ​​When the parent asked why this was happening, Miles had been unable to say. But the answer traces to individual missteps and institutional breakdowns — all on a grand scale.

    What happened on that Friday and in the days after, when police rounded up even more kids, would expose an ugly and unsettling culture in Rutherford County, one spanning decades. In the wake of these mass arrests, lawyers would see inside a secretive legal system that’s supposed to protect kids, but in this county did the opposite. Officials flouted the law by wrongfully arresting and jailing children. One of their worst practices was stopped following the events at Hobgood, but the conditions that allowed the lawlessness remain. The adults in charge failed. Yet they’re still in charge. Tennessee’s systems for protecting children failed. Yet they haven’t been fixed.

    Eleven children in all were arrested over the video, including the 8-year-old taken in by mistake. […]

    Rutherford County established the position of elected juvenile court judge in 2000, and ever since, Donna Scott Davenport has been the job’s only holder. She sometimes calls herself the “mother of the county.”

    Davenport runs the juvenile justice system, appointing magistrates, setting rules and presiding over cases that include everything from children accused of breaking the law to parents accused of neglecting their children. While the county’s mayor, sheriff and commissioners have turned over, she has stayed on, becoming a looming figure for thousands of families. […]

    While juvenile court is mostly private, Davenport keeps a highly public profile. For the past 10 years she’s had a monthly radio segment on WGNS, a local station where she talks about her work.

    She sees a breakdown in morals. Children lack respect: “It’s worse now than I’ve ever seen it,” she said in 2012. Parents don’t parent: “It’s just the worst I’ve ever seen,” she said in 2017. On WGNS, Davenport reminisces with the show’s host about a time when families ate dinner together and parents always knew where their children were and what friends they were with because kids called home from a landline, not some could-be-anywhere cellphone. Video games, the internet, social media — it’s all poison for children, the judge says.

    Davenport describes her work as a calling. “I’m here on a mission. It’s not a job. It’s God’s mission,” she told a local newspaper. The children in her courtroom aren’t hers, but she calls them hers. “I’m seeing a lot of aggression in my 9- and 10-year-olds,” she says in one radio segment. […]

    Her lawyers wanted to know: How many kids were there who, like E.J., had been improperly arrested? How many kids had, like Jacorious Brinkley, been improperly jailed? The lawyers gathered large samples of arrest and detention records from an 11-year period, ending in December 2017. Then they extrapolated.

    They would eventually estimate that kids had been wrongly arrested 500 times. And that was just for kids arrested by the sheriff’s office. This estimate didn’t account for other law enforcement agencies in the county that followed Davenport’s “process.” As for how many times the juvenile detention center had improperly locked up kids through its “filter system,” the lawyers estimated that number at 1,500.

    […] By 2014, the county was locking up children at nearly 10 times the state average. But then the state stopped publishing its annual statistical report […]

    […] In Rutherford County, Davenport still runs juvenile court, making $176,000 a year. (She’s up for reelection next year, and has previously said she’d like to run for another eight-year term.) Duke still runs the juvenile detention center, earning $98,000. And the system as a whole continues to grow. […]

    Much much more at the link. Included are cases of children being locked up and their medication not being given to them, children being permanently traumatized, and the county giving Davenport a budget of $3.69 million.

  171. says

    Follow-up to comment 175.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    This is what happens when right wing Christians get total political power.
    ———————-
    And this hasn’t been brought to the attention of the DoJ’s Civil Rights division… why?

    I mean, shit, they’re even violating state law. They’re definitely violating the civil rights of both kids and parents with this shit.
    ———————
    The State of Tennessee has laws and safeguards in place to try to make sure their justice system does not horribly scar children for life by slapping handcuffs on them and hauling them away to jail on bullshit charges that aren’t even actual crimes.

    Rutherford County, TN, has a Juvenile Court system in place to make sure they are, and it’s been run by 1 Judge for 20 years, who has more or less personally appointed all of the people who should be acting as checks on her authority, sees herself as some fucking twisted Granny Goodness figure, and needs to be locked up for the rest of her natural life for what she’s done to kids for so long, some of her victims… are parents of other victims.
    ———————–
    the rest of the state isn’t combing through law books to find obscure laws to charge nine-year olds as part of their business model to generate a fucking ‘profit center’.
    ———————
    Rutherford County isn’t “rural”. It is the 5th most populated county in the state (just outside of Nashville)

    See also: https://twitter.com/bykenarmstrong/status/1446505198516535297

    In this deposition, a lawyer asks Davenport about taking the bar exam.

    It took her nine years and five attempts to pass.

    Three years after she got her law license, she was on the bench.

    Video of this officious white woman is available if you scroll down in the thread.

    County commissioners liken the jail to a business and ask often about the number of beds filled.

    One commissioner, who used to work in a post office, came up with the charge of “criminal responsibility for conduct of another.”

    The problem? There’s no such charge.

    These kids were charged with a crime that doesn’t exist.

    When forced to stop jailing so many of its own children, Rutherford County ramped up its pitch to detain kids from other places.

    The county charges $175 a day for each kid they jail.

  172. says

    Pennsylvania GOP advances voting restrictions designed to bypass governor

    State House Republicans have passed a constitutional amendment out of committee and onto the full floor that would adopt several new voting restrictions. The amendment includes a voter ID requirement to be defined by later legislation. It would further ban counties from accepting private grants to remedy election administration underfunding, a restriction that Republicans have enacted in a number of states this year after nonprofits linked to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other wealthy donors gave millions to fund election administration last year.

    The amendment would also turn the secretary of state from a position appointed by the governor into a partisan official elected by voters, and it would require the state auditor to conduct supposed “audits” before election results are certified. However, state law already requires counties to conduct election audits, but Republicans in Pennsylvania, Arizona, and other states have pressed for sham audits of the 2020 results that lack rigorous standards as a way to discredit Joe Biden’s victory, so this amendment may just be a continuation of that effort.

    Republicans are using a constitutional amendment as a way to circumvent a potential veto by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, who has no role in the process. Instead, amendments must pass the legislature both before and after a general election takes place, after which voters have the ultimate say on the proposal via a referendum.

  173. says

    Trump hid $70 million in losses on D.C. hotel, and he also hid payments from foreign governments.

    […] Trump continues to win at one thing: He’s the king of the infamous shell game. Try if you dare to wager on where he’s hidden the shell, or in this case, his money.

    At the center of the latest of Trump’s short-cons is his Washington D.C. luxury hotel. According to newly released confidential filings by his accountants to the hotel’s landlord, the General Services Administration (GSA), he lost more than $70 million from 2016 to 2020. […] embarrassing.

    So, what do you do when you’re ashamed of your failing business? Well, if you’re Trump, you lie and only report your revenue to the Office of Government Ethics—to the tune of nearly $156.6 million. [He reported revenue and did report expenses or losses.]

    While everyone thought Trump was winning, his accounting firm, WeiserMazars LLP, disclosed the reality in confidential reports to GSA that the hotel lost nearly $73.9 million. […]

    The hotel is located in the historic Old Post Office building that the Trump Organization leases from the federal government.

    Additionally, the committee uncovered that the hotel received over $3.7 million in payments from foreign governments, an obvious conflict of interest, and a breach of a clause in the U.S. Constitution that clearly states: “apart from this fixed salary, the President shall not receive any other Emolument” from the United States or any state government.”

    […] But the con game continued, as the committee alleges that Trump hid more than $20 million in loans his real estate holding company made to the struggling hotel. He was trying hard to look like a big shot as his hotel was, in reality, hemorrhaging money.

    […] The committee’s investigation also uncovered that in addition to lying about the hotel’s revenue, Trump hid debts he had from the GSA while bidding on the lease for the property in 2011.

    But, one of the most egregious (if there is a “most” egregious when it comes to Trump) moves was somehow convincing the Deutsche Bank to give him “a significant financial benefit” on his loan while he was in office—allowing him to postpone payments on the $170 million for the hotel, the committee said. “Mr. Trump did not publicly disclose this significant benefit from a foreign bank while he was president,” the committee said.

    “For too long, the president has used his complex network of business holdings to hide the truth about his finances,” New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney, chairwoman of the committee, says. “The committee will continue to vigorously pursue its investigation until the full truth comes to light so that Congress can address the unresolved ethics crisis left by Trump and prevent future presidents from profiting off of the presidency.”

    Link

    Trump is a loser on all levels.

  174. says

    White House formally rejects Trump’s executive privilege claim on Jan. 6 documents

    The White House has formally rejected Donald Trump’s attempt to claim executive privilege over documents relating to Jan. 6, authorizing the National Archives to turn them over to Congress. Trump is likely to take this to court, but so far the courts have generally held that decisions about executive privilege reside with the executive. That’s President Joe Biden, not Donald Trump. […]

    “Congress is examining an assault on our Constitution and democratic institutions provoked and fanned by those sworn to protect them, and the conduct under investigation extends far beyond typical deliberations concerning the proper discharge of the President’s constitutional responsibilities,” Remus [White House counsel Dana Remus] continued. “The constitutional protections of executive privilege should not be used to shield, from Congress or the public from information that reflects a clear and apparent effort to subvert the Constitution itself.” […]

  175. says

    Wonkette:

    Mike Lindell is having a bad week. Not only is Donald Trump still not president, but he hasn’t even managed to find a state attorney general to sign on to his superduper lawsuit that will rocket to the top of the pile at the Supreme Court […] and restore our great and glorious savior to the Oval Office by Thanksgiving.

    But don’t worry, you guys, he’s still got a plan. As Salon’s Zachary Petrizzo reports, Lindell is going to be hitting the pavement, knocking on a door near you to see if you’re a dead voter who cast your ballot in the 2020 election.

    […] Oh, you say you’re actually totally alive? Well, how old are you then? Are you perhaps an 850-year-old Biden voter? [video available at the link]

    […] In case you were tempted to actually believe something that came out of Mike Lindell’s mouth (because your brains are made of tapioca?), please note that this claim has been repeatedly debunked. In some states, elections officials who can’t verify a voter’s birth date will input a date like 1/1/1901 as a placeholder until they can ascertain the real date.</b?

    Meanwhile, Lindell's claim to have found evidence of digital hacking in every county in Idaho […] Lindell's team had estimated an 8.4 percent hack rate in each and every county in Idaho, even the ones which had no voting machines at all, casting and tabulating all ballots by hand. But to make real sure, Deputy Secretary of State Chad Houck did a manual recount in the two smallest counties, and hey, wouldn't ya know, he actually found a couple extra votes for Joe Biden. Time to demand an Arizona-style fraudit — said exactly no one.

    […] Meanwhile, Lindell's legal troubles are no less batshit than the rest of his life. It's a wee smidge technical, but let's see if we can summarize this steaming pile of horse shit …

    Dominion Voting Systems sued Mike Lindell for defamation in federal court in DC. Mike Lindell then sued Dominion right back in federal court in Minnesota, and asked the judge there to rule that Dominion's DC suit against him was a BAD LAW THINGY. That went about as well as could be expected, so the DC case lumbers on.

    Mike Lindell moved to dismiss the DC case on the theory that Dominion Voting Systems, a private company, is murdering his First Amendment right to do free speeches. The motion was denied because SHUT UP, Dominion is not the government, you pillow pumping chowderhead.

    Mike Lindell promptly appealed the motion to dismiss to the DC Circuit Court, which docketed the case. At which point Mike Lindell turned around and shouted YOU AIN'T MA DADDY at the DC trial judge, with a September 23 filing captioned "Notice in Lieu of Filing Answer." His theory was that he no longer had to to comply with discovery, since the mere filing of an appeal divested the trial judge of jurisdiction, which is hot nonsense, and not at all how any of this shit works. […]

    Anyway! Dominion's lawyers sent Lindell's guys a letter telling them to turn in their discovery homework already, which prompted this AMAZING response. Lindell's argument seems to be that his lawyers have discerned a new, secret meaning in the 1964 NYT v. Sullivan case, which established the actual malice standard for defamation of a public figure. They read the goat entrails and discovered a heretofore undetected immunity for criticism of government conduct, and thus their appeal of the denied motion to dismiss is magically transformed into an appealable issue of qualified immunity […]

    Oh, you think we're making this up? Au contraire, mon frère.

    The majority opinion in New York Times v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964), described the First Amendment right that the decision secured as a “privilege for criticism of official conduct,” “the privilege for the citizen-critic of government,” and “the privilege immunizing honest misstatements of fact.” 376 U.S. at 282 & n. 21 (emphasis added). The opinion recognized this “privilege” as “a fair equivalent of the immunity granted to the officials themselves.” 376 U.S. at 283 (emphasis added). The denial of a motion to dismiss a defamation lawsuit abridging this “privilege” and “immunity” is the legal equivalent of a denial of absolute or qualified immunity, which is immediately appealable under 28 U.S.C. 1291.

    Hello, it’s got the words “privilege” and “immunity” right in there. What else do you want?

    Astute observers will note that this argument is premised on the theory that Dominion is actually the government, which the trial court already said was bogus. Also that it is PREPOSTEROUS. […]

    Link

  176. says

    Ex-Trump aide Dan Scavino finally served Jan. 6 subpoena

    Former Trump aide Dan Scavino has been served his subpoena from the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol after an extended struggle to find him, CNN reported on Saturday.

    The subpoena was brought to former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida on Friday, the news network reported. Scavino, a former deputy White House chief of staff for communications who was in New York at the time, asked a staff member to accept it on his behalf.

    CNN previously reported that the committee had been unable to find Scavino to serve him.

    He was reported to have been with Trump during a Jan. 5 meeting on convincing members of Congress not to certify President Biden’s electoral win. He also promoted the Trump rally that preceded the riot on Twitter and tweeted out messages from the White House on Jan. 6.

    […] Scavino was subpoenaed late last month along with former White House strategist Stephen Bannon, former chief of staff Mark Meadows and Kashyap Patel, the chief of staff to former acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller and a former House and White House staffer.

    Politico reported Thursday that a Trump attorney has advised the four aides not to comply, arguing that the information being requested is shielded by executive privilege.

    Robert Costello, Bannon’s attorney, wrote a letter to the committee on Thursday, referring to Trump’s threat.

    “We must accept his direction and honor his invocation of executive privilege. As such, until these issues resolved, we are unable to respond to your request for documents and testimony,” read the letter, which was obtained by The Hill.

    In a statement on Friday, the Jan. 6 panel’s chairman, Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), and vice chairwoman, Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), said that Meadows and Patel are engaging with the panel but that Bannon has “indicated that he will try to hide behind vague references to privileges of the former President.”

  177. says

    Wonkette: “Michael Flynn Says He Does Not Worship Satan”

    For the last few years, there has been but one person that QAnon followers have been as devoted to as Donald Trump — and that would be Trump’s erstwhile National Security Advisor, Gen. Michael Flynn. The popular mythology these days is that rather than being one individual person, Q was a team of “whitehats” trying to save the world by publishing cryptic messages on an image board known for publishing child pornography, for your Aunt Carol to decipher. This team included Flynn, Trump, and whomever else they happened to like at any given moment.

    Perhaps more than anyone else, Gen. Flynn has really leaned into his role as the grand seigneur of the Q movement, nurturing the conspiracy theory that considers him the greatest American hero (and profiting off it as well).

    Of course Flynn is making money off this nonsense.

    Alas, people who are pretty much just making shit up as they go along tend to be pretty fickle in their loyalties. When a video surfaced of Flynn doing a strange-sounding prayer that included references to “sevenfold rays” at an event last month, several followers started to consider the possibility that it was, in fact, a Satanic prayer, to Satan. And that perhaps Flynn had been leading them astray this whole time. […] [video is available at the link]

    In response, Flynn appeared on a random YouTube show called Truth Unveiled TV this week to tell his side of the story, which was that he was actually just reworking a prayer to St. Michael the Archangel that he carries around with him and was not in fact praying to Satan. [video available at the link]

    Ironically, Flynn suggests in the video that people should stop reading things into everything he or anyone else says, which is pretty much the main activity that his followers are Where We Go One We Go All-ing about.

    Now, Flynn’s prayer bears no resemblance at all to the most common prayer to St. Michael, but it does, as Twitter user Jim Stewartson pointed out, bear a strong resemblance to a “decree” by Elizabeth Clare Prophet, the leader of the Church Universal and Triumphant (CUT)/Summit Lighthouse — a theosophy-based cult that rose to prominence in the 1980s when her followers all moved to underground bunkers in Montana in hopes of living through the apocalypse she had predicted. [video available at the link]

    Prophet: I AM the instrument of those sevenfold rays and archangels! And I will not retreat. I will take my stand I will not fear to speak. And I will be the instrument of God’s will, whatever it is Here I AM, so help me, God! In the name of Archangel Michael and his legions, I AM freeborn and I shall remain freeborn! And I shall not be enslaved by any foe within and without!

    Flynn: We are your instrument of those sevenfold rays and all your archangels, all of them. We will not retreat, we will not retreat. We will stand our ground. We will not fear to speak. We will be the instrument of your will, whatever it is. In your name and the name of your legions. We are freeborn, and we shall remain freeborn. And we shall not be enslaved by any foe within and without, so help me God.

    There is little question that this is basically (entirely) the same prayer — although in CUT terminology, it’s called a “decree.” To be clear, by the way, it’s not “Satanism.”

    That being said … as hilarious and ironic as it would be if it were true, I highly doubt that Michael Flynn is secretly a member of the Church Universal and Triumphant or any other Ascended Masters group, not least of all because barely anyone is a member of CUT these days. However, the Summit Lighthouse does hand out pamphlets on occasion — I actually have one at home because all of my friends know I love weird religious tracts — and St. Michael the Archangel figures really heavily into the Ascended Master stuff.

    I just would not personally put it past an old Catholic guy from Rhode Island (where almost everyone is Catholic and assumes everyone else is also Catholic) […] or for someone to have given him the prayer already cut out. My dad literally just stopped mailing me newspaper clippings a few years ago and I have to assume this is a cultural thing of some kind. […]

    The big tell, however, is that he wears a lot of red and black, which is totally forbidden by both the “I AM” Activity and the Church Universal and Triumphant. It’s not a casual suggestion, either. When I visited the “I AM” Activity temple in Chicago, they told me I wouldn’t be allowed in if I were were not wearing the right colors from head to toe.

    But While We’re Here — What Even Is This Shit?

    Contrary to what Stewartson says in his tweets, The I AM Activity and the Church Universal and Triumphant, though both are centered on Theosophy, New Thought, and “Ascended Masters” woo, are not the same organization and have different beliefs. CUT certainly co-opted a whole lot of their nonsense from Guy and Edna Ballard and considered them both to be Ascended Masters once they died, but they were and are both their own weird thing. For instance, CUT definitely incorporated Christian beliefs, as well as beliefs from other religions, to a greater degree (although almost all Ascended Masters groups consider Jesus to have been an Ascended Master). They were also really, really, really anti-communist and really into hoarding guns, because they thought the apocalypse was coming and they were going to have to defend their bunkers from looters. […]

    Neither groups have particularly active followings these days.

    The primary belief of both groups is in the “ascended masters” — people who have been reincarnated enough times to attain enlightenment, become one with their “Mighty ‘I AM’ Presences” and enter “the sixth dimension,” whatever the hell that is supposed to be. The main characters from most religions? Ascended masters. Most of the leaders of these groups claim to be super close to becoming ascended masters themselves and frequently discuss their previous incarnations. Guy Ballard, for instance, had been many people, including King Henry V, King Richard the Lionhearted, George Washington, Alexander the Great and Aemilius, a Roman Centurion present at Jesus’ Crucifixion. […]

    Their main dude, however, is St. Germain — whose last incarnation was as Francis Bacon, though he was previously Christopher Columbus, Plato and Merlin, the fictional magician. Ballard claimed to have met St. Germain at Mount Shasta (yeah, they’re all up in that Mount Shasta shit). According to Elizabeth Clare Prophet’s nonsense, Francis Bacon faked his death and then lived as the Count of St. Germain for several decades and then ascended. However, all of these different Ascended Masters groups have different ideas about how that all was supposed to work.

    If you are thinking “Boy, that sounds like a super white version of some Eastern religious traditions,” you would be correct. Helena Blavatsky, the founder of Theosophy and a super weird and interesting lady in her own right, traveled to India to learn from the yogis there, took some of what they said and then came up with her own thing. […]

    The best Ascended Masters group, by the way, was the Unarius Academy of Science, led by the Archangel Uriel (aka Ruth Norman) and her extremely good outfits. […] [photo at the link]

    One thing I do find kind of interesting though is that Edna Ballard, Elizabeth Clare Prophet and Ruth Norman all had husbands who kind of started them off on the New Age Trip, but then very much took over and became the more prominent leader of their respected groups, particularly after said husbands died. […]Girl Boss Feminism, cult style. […]

    There are, of course, other Ascended Masters groups, like “I AM” University and most of your smaller New Age cults, which are probably more active than CUT or the “I AM” Activity these days. There are all kinds of theories involving some Ascended Masters being born as adults or having previously reincarnated on other planets, there’s even UFOlogy in some of them.

    So yeah, Michael Flynn is probably not secretly in a cult that barely exists anymore and is just a regular grifter. Although if he starts doing a violet flame decree or channeling St. Germain, I will happily eat my own words. [video available at the link]

    Link

  178. says

    The Ship That Became a Bomb

    New Yorker link

    Stranded in Yemen’s war zone, a decaying supertanker has more than a million barrels of oil aboard. If—or when—it explodes or sinks, thousands may die.

    Soon, a vast, decrepit oil tanker in the Red Sea will likely sink, catch fire, or explode. The vessel, the F.S.O. Safer—pronounced “Saffer”—is named for a patch of desert near the city of Marib, in central Yemen, where the country’s first reserves of crude oil were discovered. In 1987, the Safer was redesigned as a floating storage-and-off-loading facility, or F.S.O., becoming the terminus of a pipeline that began at the Marib oil fields and proceeded westward, across mountains and five miles of seafloor. The ship has been moored there ever since, and recently it has degraded to the verge of collapse. More than a million barrels of oil are currently stored in its tanks. The Exxon Valdez spilled about a quarter of that volume when it ran aground in Alaska, in 1989.

    The Safer’s problems are manifold and intertwined. It is forty-five years old—ancient for an oil tanker. Its age would not matter so much were it being maintained properly, but it is not. In 2014, members of one of Yemen’s powerful clans, the Houthis, launched a successful coup, presaging a brutal conflict that continues to this day. Before the war, the Yemeni state-run firm that owns the ship—the Safer Exploration & Production Operations Company, or sepoc—spent some twenty million dollars a year taking care of the vessel. Now the company can afford to make only the most rudimentary emergency repairs. More than fifty people worked on the Safer before the war; seven remain. This skeleton crew, which operates with scant provisions and no air-conditioning or ventilation below deck—interior temperatures on the ship frequently surpass a hundred and twenty degrees—is monitored by soldiers from the Houthi militia, which now occupies the territory where the Safer is situated. The Houthi leadership has obstructed efforts by foreign entities to inspect the ship or to siphon its oil. The risk of a disaster increases every day.

    A vessel without power is known as a dead ship. The Safer died in 2017, when its steam boilers ran out of fuel. A boiler is a tanker’s heart, because it generates the power and the steam needed to run vital systems. Two diesel generators on deck now provide electricity for basic needs, such as laptop charging. But crucial processes driven by the boiler system have ceased—most notably, “inerting,” in which inert gases are pumped into the tanks where the crude is stored, to neutralize flammable hydrocarbons that rise off the oil. Before inerting became a commonplace safety measure, in the nineteen-seventies, tankers blew up surprisingly often, and with lethal consequences […] Since the boilers on the Safer stopped working, the ship has been a tinderbox, vulnerable to a static-electric spark, a discharged weapon, a tossed cigarette butt.

    […] Some observers also believe that the Houthis have laid mines in the waters around the Safer. […]

    Given these concerns, it is striking that many tanker-safety experts and former sepoc employees are more worried about the ship sinking than about it exploding. Its steel hull is corroding, as are its many pipes and valves. Last year, the skeleton crew had to make emergency repairs to a cracked pipe leaking seawater into the engine room; a sinking was narrowly averted. If the Safer goes under, one of two scenarios is likely: it would break free of its moorings and be dashed against coastal rocks, or its weakened hull would shear apart. In either event, the ship’s oil would spill into the water.

    The Safer threatens not only the ecosystems of the Red Sea but also the lives of millions of people. A major spill would close a busy shipping lane. […] when the container ship Ever Given blocked the Suez Canal for nearly a week, this past March, the incident cost about a billion dollars a day. Ships rarely traverse oil-contaminated waters, especially when a cleanup is in progress, and their insurance can be imperilled if they do. A spill from the Safer could take months to clear […]

    In any scenario, Yemenis would suffer the most. The country, which has a population of thirty million, is already experiencing the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. Tens of thousands of Yemenis live in famine conditions, and another five million face dire food insecurity. Twenty million people require the support of non-governmental organizations to access basic provisions, and four million are internally displaced.

    […] Yemen’s Red Sea fishing industry has already been ravaged by the war. An oil slick would knock it out entirely. A big spill would also block the port of Hodeidah, which is some thirty miles southeast of the tanker. Two-thirds of Yemen’s food arrives through the port. […] The United Nations, whose mission to Yemen is overstretched and underfunded, has no contingency plan to accommodate a shutdown of the Hodeidah port.

    John Ratcliffe, an American who is a Yemen specialist in the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, is one of the central figures engaged in the U.N.’s attempt to solve the Safer crisis. He told me recently that the prolonged closure of the Hodeidah port might precipitate a famine unprecedented in scale in the twenty-first century. […]

    Yachts are compared by length, and container ships by cubic capacity, but oil tankers are compared by “deadweight”—the maximum tonnage that they carry when fully laden. By this yardstick, the Safer is one of the biggest ever built. Completed in May, 1976, in a shipyard in Japan, it measures more than four hundred thousand deadweight tons. It is eleven hundred feet long and two hundred feet wide, and can carry more than three million barrels of oil. […]

    The ship, then owned by Exxon, was initially named the Esso Japan. Classified as an ultra-large crude carrier, it resembled a giant barge more than a traditional seagoing ship. On the open ocean, slowing from full speed to a stop took about fifteen minutes, and required two miles of clear water. When the ship was fully laden, its “draft”—or depth below the waterline—extended more than seventy feet. It could be berthed only in the world’s deepest ports. The English Channel was very nearly impassable for the ship, and it could not steam through the Suez Canal.

    […] Ultra-large crude carriers were so enormous that Exxon offered bicycles to senior officers stationed on them, to make crossing the deck faster.

    […] In 197 Noël Mostert suggested that the fragility of supertankers rendered them “fatally flawed” as a species.

    As Mostert wrote those words, the brief golden age of the supertanker was already ending. The oil crisis of 1973 had driven up crude prices, reducing demand and setting off a worldwide financial crisis. The Suez Canal reopened in 1975, making smaller tankers useful again. The moment the Esso Japan left the shipyard, it was a dinosaur.

    Nonetheless, the supertanker was active for a while. […] In 1982, it was sent to Ålesund, Norway, and was “laid up.” That year, about two hundred and fifty oil tankers were mothballed in this fashion: Norway’s fjords became tanker parking lots. Many of the vessels were eventually sold for scrap, but the Esso Japan found another purpose.

    In 1983, the Hunt Oil Company, of Dallas, discovered crude in the Marib desert. The site of the strike was in the Yemen Arab Republic—sometimes known as North Yemen—about twenty miles from the border with the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen, or South Yemen. Between 1984 and 1987, Hunt teamed up with Exxon to build a pipeline from the Marib oil fields to Ras Issa, on the coast of North Yemen, near Hodeidah.

    For its Marib crude, Hunt needed storage space and an export facility on the coast. The company’s license to extract oil lasted only fifteen years, so building an onshore storage terminal at Ras Issa—which would take years and cost more than a hundred million dollars—didn’t seem like a good investment. Instead, for about a tenth of that price, Hunt bought the Esso Japan and retrofitted it as a floating storage-and-off-loading unit. Smaller tankers could berth alongside it to access its oil. Karim Abuhamad, a manager who worked on the conversion of the ship for Hunt, told me that the intent was to create a “floating gas station.”

    […] The tanker arrived in the Red Sea by March, 1988.

    In the late eighties, the Safer was one of the best places to work in Yemen. Many of the crew members were Italian, including some excellent chefs. More and more Yemenis came aboard to work. One former employee recalled that during this period the ship was as well appointed as “a five-star hotel,” with pristine living quarters. Moreover, Yemen was relatively peaceful. The discovery of oil on the border between North and South Yemen had spurred coöperation, and in 1990 the states merged. […[]

    By the late nineties, the Safer had begun to decay. […] The Yemeni government convened a committee to plan an onshore terminal. […] Not a brick was laid. Alobaly, who fled Yemen four years ago, told me that he suspected “huge corruption.”

    Hunt was denied permission to keep extracting oil in Yemen, and in 2005 sepoc began administering the pipeline and the Safer, which at that point was thirty years old. The ship’s age was beginning to show, but it was maintained well enough to pass annual inspections by the American Bureau of Shipping. Seven years later, a consortium led by ChemieTech, a Dubai-based company, finally began building an onshore terminal […]

    The new oil terminal was half built when Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, was overtaken by the Houthis.

    President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who ruled North Yemen between 1978 and 1990, and the unified state of Yemen until 2011, was astonishingly corrupt. A U.N. panel has estimated that while he was in power he acquired as much as sixty billion dollars in personal wealth. He also appears to have played a double game with the West: he officially aligned himself with the war on terror while tacitly providing support for proscribed Islamist organizations, to keep foreign aid flowing in.

    […] in September, 2014, a militia led by Abdelmalik al-Houthi seized control of the capital.

    Yemen is predominantly Sunni, and the Houthis are Zaydi Shiites—a minority of a minority. They long opposed the misrule of Saleh, whom they accused of robbing the country and colluding with imperialist enemies. (The Houthis’ slogan is “God is great, death to the U.S., death to Israel, curse the Jews, and victory for Islam.”) […]

    In March, 2015, a coalition led by Saudi Arabia, which included the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, intervened to stop the Houthi advance. The U.S., Britain, and France provided intelligence, planes, naval support, and bombs. The Saudis saw in the Houthi advance the hand of their regional enemy Iran, a Shia nation. But, despite the aerial might of the Saudi coalition, the Houthis weathered the attacks, and entrenched themselves in northern Yemen. When Saudi Arabia entered the conflict, it predicted that fighting would last six weeks; instead, it has endured for more than six years. During the war, other regional actors, such as the U.A.E., have flexed their military muscle. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has maintained a foothold in the south of the country. […] It is extremely unlikely that the Yemen of 2014 will ever be put back together.

    The consequences for civilians have been devastating. Both the Houthis and the Saudi-led coalition are alleged to have committed many war crimes. The Saudi air campaign has been recklessly conducted, and has killed thousands of civilians, including children. The Houthi regime has used child soldiers, deployed banned antipersonnel mines, and fired indiscriminately into civilian areas. Meanwhile, a sea-and-land blockade of Houthi-controlled areas by the coalition has contributed to life-threatening shortages of food, medicine, and fuel.

    Recently, the outlook for Yemen has deteriorated further. […] foreign-aid donations have proved unreliable, partly because the pandemic has strained resources. In March, Britain halved its contributions to Yemen. […]

    The crew of the Safer has watched the unfolding catastrophe in Yemen with mounting despair. ChemieTech’s onshore facility has been abandoned […] The annual sum spent on the Safer dropped from twenty million dollars to zero.

    By the end of 2015, all but one of the expatriate workers on the ship had evacuated. Tugboats, helicopters, and other vessels that serviced the Safer were withdrawn, and a team of divers who specialized in underwater repairs returned to their base city of Dubai. sepoc hired a local fishing boat to transport a Yemeni crew to and from the ship. […]

    […] The crew began to use the boilers only intermittently, to maintain the inert-gas and fire-response systems.

    By 2017, the boiler system’s fuel supply had been exhausted. The crew considered using crude from the Safer’s own tanks but decided that the risk of an explosion was too high, because the crude might emit dangerous gas. They also understood that once the boilers stopped they would probably not function safely again without significant repairs. The normal process for “laying up” boilers of such a size requires preservatives, known as oxygen scavengers, to be placed in the tank, in order to prevent corrosion. The sepoc employees on the Safer had no scavengers.

    sepoc […] attempted to sell the Safer for sixty million dollars. But nobody was interested in a forty-year-old, uninsurable rust bucket anchored in the world’s hottest conflict zone.

    By 2018, with the vessel now a dead ship and the area around Hodeidah overwhelmed by vicious fighting, virtually nobody was left on board the Safer except for a chief engineer, an electrician, two mechanics, a cook, and a cleaner. The team was swapped out with another one every month or so—if travel to Ras Issa was feasible. The million barrels of oil were stored in the ship’s central tanks, along its spine, and sepoc managers had filled the ship’s outside tanks with seawater, to mitigate the threat of a bullet piercing the hull and causing an explosion. If there were a fire on the ship, it would be impossible to control, because the Safer’s water pumps had been powered by the boiler system. In any case, there was now insufficient manpower to operate the ship’s fire stations.

    […] In December, 2018, the warring parties in Yemen met in Stockholm to sign a partial deal, […] both sides agreed to a ceasefire in Hodeidah, and at the nearby ports of Salif and Ras Issa. The warring parties have since discarded many provisions of the Stockholm Agreement, but the port of Hodeidah has stayed open, averting a nationwide famine.

    […] The U.N. assembled a team in Djibouti, which would cross the Red Sea in a service vessel and assess the Safer. But, the night before the inspection voyage was to start, a senior official in the Office for Project Services received a text message from a Houthi leader that said the mission had been cancelled.

    […] The U.N. was adamant that discussions about an ecological and humanitarian danger should not be appended to other wartime negotiations. But the Houthis were looking from the other end of the telescope: the Safer crisis gave them leverage in broader negotiations concerning the war.

    […] A second red flag was raised on May 27, 2020, when an alarm sounded on the Safer, indicating a leak in the engine room. The chief engineer, Yasser al-Qubati, rushed to the bottom of the ship to see what was going on. He was horrified to discover that a corroded pipe had burst and was spewing seawater into the engine room as if from an opened fire hydrant.

    […] if the engine room filled with seawater, the Safer would sink.

    The crew worked for five days, with little sleep, to stem the flow. The heat, humidity, and lack of ventilation created a vile smell deep inside the ship. The men attempted to clear the engine room of water using a pump powered by a diesel generator, but the generator failed. Fortunately, an electrician who happened to be visiting the ship repaired it within several hours. A rudimentary clamp was affixed to the broken pipe while a welder fashioned a patch for the hole. A team of divers with no experience on oil tankers was summoned from Hodeidah to fasten a steel plate over the sea chest, to stop the ingress of water. The divers succeeded—an impressive feat—but the plate was only a partial fix. Even today, some water continues to enter from the sea chest, and must be pumped out using power from the on-deck generators.

    […] Following the sea-chest incident, nobody could doubt the fragility of the vessel. […]

    I was told that Qubati, the chief engineer, could not speak to me, because he feared for his life. Many sepoc employees have felt threatened by the Houthis, and their communications are monitored, on and off the ship. But, through another route, I managed to read a report that Qubati wrote for his superiors at sepoc soon after the leak. He describes a ship that “moves forwards each day towards the worst” and a crew that works under unbearable stress, making one desperate choice after another to prevent the vessel from sinking. He concludes, “Science, mind, logic, experience . . . all confirm that the disaster is imminent, but when [it] will exactly happen, Allah alone knows.”

    The Red Sea is a natural marvel that is sometimes known as the Baby Ocean. The robust and relatively young coral systems in its waters extend twelve hundred miles, from the Gulf of Aqaba, by the Sinai Peninsula, to the Dahlak Archipelago, off the coast of Eritrea. The coral reefs support a unique and bountiful ecology. […]

    The Farasan Islands are gorgeous […] I stood in the bay with my pants rolled up and imagined oil blackening the water. We were about a hundred miles from the Safer. […] any major spill would pose a severe threat to marine species in the region. […]

    The Saudi Arabian government is now working vigorously to mitigate the threat of a major oil spill in the Red Sea. Officials are concerned about the Safer’s potential long-term effects on marine ecology and on international tourism, which the country hopes to promote in the next decade. More urgently, Saudi officials are anxious about the effect of a spill on key infrastructure along the coast, including desalination plants that turn seawater into drinking water. About half of Saudi Arabia’s drinking water is produced by desalination.

    […] Part of their strategy was to place booms in the sea to stop the oil from reaching the desalination plants.

    The men were old enough to be haunted by the memory of Saddam Hussein, in 1991, releasing some eleven million barrels of oil into the Persian Gulf, to stop a marine assault by the United States. The oil spill was the largest in history, and in some places the slick was five inches thick. It polluted five hundred miles of the Saudi coast, killing tens of thousands of seabirds, poisoning the water column, and creating lasting damage for the region. […]

    […] If every party were committed to a resolution of the crisis, all the oil could be removed from the Safer within a month or so. Another tanker could berth next to the ship and—while pumping inert gas into the Safer’s oil tanks—suck out its Marib crude. After that, a decision on the fate of the Safer could be made without fears of a spill, a fire, or an explosion. There are many scrap yards where the ship could be disassembled, so that its parts could be sold. Yet the Houthis have frustrated the U.N.’s attempts to take any steps […]

    the Houthis […] wanted to keep using the Safer as an offshore terminal—or at least to have another ship moored in the same position, with the same volume of oil on board. The estimated worth of the Safer’s current payload of oil is about sixty million dollars. While we spoke, the Houthis were fighting the coalition for control of the oil fields in Marib. […]

    […] Around the time that the most recent set of talks was cancelled, one of the clan’s leaders, Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, tweeted, in Arabic, “If, God forbid, an environmental catastrophe occurred with the explosion of the Safer, the world will stop not for a week, as it did in Suez, but will stop for a long time. And it will stop the navigation of Navy vessels and others. We hold the U.N. accountable.”

    Ratcliffe, of the U.N., admitted to me, “It’s very discouraging to read those kinds of comments.” […] “They would like to see something that’s closer to essentially a renovation of the vessel,” Ratcliffe said. “You can understand why that’s their perspective. But what we have been trying to say to them over these many months is that we don’t even know what the conditions are like on board. And it’s a very dangerous site. . . . We don’t feel like we can offer that kind of solution reliably without knowing what we’re dealing with.”

    […] the U.N. does not have enough money to refurbish the ship. The U.N.’s response to the Safer crisis has been funded by a consortium of donor nations: the Netherlands, the U.K., France, Germany, Norway, and Sweden. An assessment mission would likely cost about ten million dollars. A thorough renovation of the ship would cost upward of fifty million dollars. Finding a supertanker to replace the Safer, and converting it into a floating storage-and-off-loading unit, could cost even more. The consortium of donors has so far been unwilling to commit to these higher sums. Their reluctance is understandable: it’s impossible to know if the Houthis would accept this solution, even if the donor nations found the money.

    […] the more the international community fixated on protecting the Safer the more strategically valuable the ship became to the Houthis. Yemen was a failed state. At some point, the Houthis and the Saudi-led coalition would need to reach a peace agreement. Until then, the Safer was an ace up the Houthis’ sleeve.

    The Houthi leadership seemed perversely indifferent about an ecological disaster, even though civilians in Houthi-held territory would be by far the most harmed by a major spill. It was as if the Houthis were holding guns to their own heads. […]

    […] if the Houthis are hoping to maintain the colossal threat posed by the Safer—a spill—until it suits them to defuse the risk, the tactic is unsustainable: their leverage would vanish the instant the ship began to leak.

    The United States, which has made a more concerted effort to help end the fighting in Yemen since President Joe Biden took office, has been notably quiet on the Safer issue. Recently, however, Cathy Westley, the chargé d’affaires for the U.S. Embassy to Yemen, told me that she placed the onus squarely on the Houthis to stop obstructing the U.N., and she accused them of “politicizing the tanker.” I also learned that American representatives were attempting, through Omani interlocutors and other partners, to convince the Houthis of the perils of inaction.

    […] the ship is now defended by soldiers. It would take less than a day to transfer explosives to the Safer by boat.

    As the U.N.’s negotiations have foundered, other parties have made their own suggestions about how to fix the crisis. In March, Ian Ralby, who runs I.R. Consilium, a U.S.-based advisory group focussing on maritime issues, co-authored an article arguing that the only viable solution was for the U.N. Security Council to authorize the use of force to secure the Safer. He proposed that a naval minesweeping team comb the area for explosives, and that a naval guard protect the Safer as its oil is extracted and then loaded onto another tanker. Ralby’s point was that time was running short, and that it was too dangerous to keep negotiating with the Houthis on this issue.

    […] Peter Salisbury, a senior analyst for Yemen at the International Crisis Group, a non-governmental organization dedicated to conflict prevention and resolution, told me, “We are talking about a rusting, heavily guarded ship probably surrounded by sea mines that is highly prone to leaks and some kind of explosion.” He continued, “The consensus seems to be that you want to get the oil off without moving the ship, to minimize the risks of a leak. I struggle to see a military scenario that doesn’t significantly increase the chances of what we all want to avoid—a leak, or an explosion, or the F.S.O. Safer just sinking outright.”

    Iran has also offered to facilitate a nonmilitary version of a ship-to-ship transfer. […] It was puzzling that the Iranians had not made such an offer earlier, and in any case it seemed unlikely that the Saudis, or other members of the coalition, would welcome such a solution, given the role Iran is playing in the Yemen conflict. […]

    […] Discussions between the parties continue

    […] The Safer is not sinking. It is not on fire. It has not exploded. It is not leaking oil. Yet the crew of the ship, and every informed observer, expects disaster to occur soon. But how soon? A year? Six months? Two weeks? Tomorrow? In May, Ahmed Kulaib, the former executive at sepoc, told me that “it could be after five minutes.” […]

    The crisis unfolds at the speed of rust.

    These days in Yemen, the smart money flows to the pessimists. […]

  179. tomh says

    Politico Playbook: GOP hands Trump the party
    By TARA PALMERI / 10/10/2021

    Meridith McGraw, reporting from Saturday night’s Trump rally in Des Moines, Iowa, where we saw a clear glimpse of two interrelated dynamics that are shaping the GOP as it marches into the 2022 midterms:

    1) There’s a big gap between the GOP message and Trump’s message. On Saturday night we heard both from Trump himself — the former when he read the speech that was written for him, and the latter when he said what he really thought.

    — The GOP message: “After just nine months under [President JOE] BIDEN, violent criminals and bloodthirsty gangs are taking over our streets; illegal aliens and deadly drug cartels are taking over our borders; inflation is taking over our economy; China’s taking over our jobs; the Taliban has taken over Afghanistan; lunatic leftists are taking over our schools; and radical socialists are taking over our country — and we’re not going to let that happen.”

    — Trump’s message: “I’m telling you the single biggest issue, as bad as the border is and it’s horrible, horrible what they’re doing, they’re destroying our country — but as bad as that is, the single biggest issue — the issue that gets the most pull, the most respect, the biggest cheers — is talking about the election fraud of the 2020 presidential election.”

    That’s a problem for Republicans. Many of them want to make the midterm elections about the issues — inflation, the border, Afghanistan, etc. — to set the election up as a referendum on Biden’s presidency. Trump doesn’t. The bulk of his speech Meridith writes, “was devoted to his baseless claim [that] the 2020 election was stolen.” In focusing on that issue above all others, Trump effectively makes the 2022 election a referendum on him instead of Biden.

    2) The GOP establishment is now along for the ride. “Trump has held rallies since leaving the White House,” Meridith writes. “But never have elected Republicans of such tenure and stature appeared with him. And the presence of [Sen. CHUCK] GRASSLEY in particular signified that whatever qualms the GOP may have had with Trump are now faded memories; whatever questions they had about the direction of the party have been resolved. …

    “Back in January, Grassley offered a stinging condemnation for Trump’s behavior in the aftermath of the 2020 election — the type of statement that, at its heart, suggested a desire to rid himself of the messiness. … But Grassley is in a different place now. He recently announced, at age 88, that he is running for an eighth term. And with it, Trump has gone from nuisance to needed….

    “For Trump, this is a wonderful gift. The ex-president has been openly discussing the likelihood that he will run for president again. To be greeted with open arms in the all-important, first-in-the-nation presidential caucus state of Iowa was a flashing-neon light signal to voters that this party remains his.

    And he’s done it all while still launching broadsides against current leadership (he eviscerated Senate Minority Leader MITCH MCCONNELL at various points on Saturday for striking a deal with Democrats to raise the debt ceiling and for not having the ‘courage to challenge the election’) and without offering a morsel of remorse for how his presidency ended.”

  180. says

    Yellen Doubles Down On Support For Nixing The Debt Ceiling

    Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Sunday reiterated her support for axing the debt ceiling days after 11 Republicans helped Democrats pass a two-month extension, following Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) backtracking from his brinksmanship on the debt ceiling in an offer to Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

    Appearing on ABC News, Yellen was asked whether she has convinced President Biden to back her support for eliminating the debt ceiling.

    Yellen replied that it’s up to Congress to make the change while reiterating her support for nixing the debt ceiling.

    “I believe that once Congress and the administration have decided on spending plans and tax plans, it’s simply their responsibility to pay the bills that result from that,” Yellen said. “And that means we have had deficits for most of the post war period and that means raising the debt ceiling.”

    Yellen stressed that addressing the debt ceiling is “a housekeeping chore.”

    “We should be debating the government’s fiscal policy when we decide on those expenditures and taxes, not when the credit card bill comes due,” Yellen said.

    Yellen also doubled down on her opposition to minting a trillion dollar coin, calling it a “gimmick” that “jeopardizes the independence” of the Federal Reserve, before arguing that the country shouldn’t ever find itself in a position where the 14th Amendment has to be invoked if Congress doesn’t act on the debt limit by Dec. 3.

    “I don’t believe any President has ever had to make a decision about what they would do if Congress failed to raise the debt ceiling,” Yellen said. “I can’t imagine our being there on December 3rd. I have confidence that Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi and Leader Schumer will be able to manage this so that we don’t face the situation.”

    Despite offering Democrats an opportunity to kick the can a bit further down the road on the debt ceiling after a weeks-long standoff, McConnell warned Biden on Friday that Republicans won’t help raise the debt ceiling later this year, setting up another squabble with Democrats heading into December.

    “Last night, Republicans filled the leadership vacuum that has troubled the Senate since January. I write to inform you that I will not provide such assistance again if your all-Democrat government drifts into another avoidable crisis,” McConnell wrote in the letter to Biden.

    Yellen stated her support for axing the debt ceiling when asked by Rep. Sean Casten (D-IL) during a House Financial Services committee hearing late last month.

    “Yes I would, because I believe when Congress legislates expenditures and puts in place tax policy that determines taxes, those are the crucial decisions Congress is making. And if to finance those spending and tax decisions it’s necessary to issue additional debt, I believe it’s very destructive to put the President and myself, the Treasury Secretary, in a situation where we might be unable to pay bills that result from those past decisions,” Yellen said. […]

    Video of Yellen speaking is available at the link.

  181. says

    Oh, FFS.

    After a particularly cruel encounter, a 51-year-old New Hampshire woman was accused in a civil rights complaint of telling a Black child she would “kneel on his neck.” The state attorney general’s office announced the charges against Kristina Graper on Thursday, The Associated Press reported initially.

    “The complaint, filed in Strafford County Superior Court, alleges that on May 10, 2021, Graper threatened a nine-year-old black child who had been playing in a neighborhood park in Dover, after he accidentally broke a toy that belonged to Graper’s son,” the attorney general’s office said in a news release. The reason he accidentally broke the toy, by the way, is because Graper’s son pushed the other child, causing him to fall on a “foam missile or foam bullet,” an attorney for the 9-year-old’s family said in the complaint identifying him as D.H.

    “Afraid, D.H. ran away, but the defendant was able to catch up to him,” the attorney said in the complaint. At that point, Graper is accused of issuing the threat and calling the child the n-word, leaving him “shaking and upset—on the verge of tears,” the attorney wrote in the complaint. The child’s mother called the Dover Police Department when he returned home.

    […] “The defendant denied telling D.H. that she would kneel on his neck, and instead, she recalled stating words to the effect ‘you wonder why you guys get f***ing kneeled on.’

    “She also denied calling D.H. a n****r but later stated it was because because ‘they’ do not know how to shut their ‘n****r pie holes.’”

    […] The attorney for D.H.’s family said he has been “afraid to return to the park and will only do so when other children are there to help keep him safe.”

    Link

  182. says

    Lucian K. Truscott IV writes for Salon that a new confederacy is already here.

    All of the states that refused Medicaid expansion and have passed restrictions on voting and abortion are controlled by the Republican Party. Many of those same states have also passed bans on mask and vaccine mandates, and nearly all of them have endured more cases per capita of COVID-19, more hospitalizations and more deaths from the virus. In effect, without any states (yet) seceding from the Union, we already live in two Americas.

    One of those countries-within-a-country, in the words of the esteemed lawyer and Harvard professor Laurence Tribe, “has no set of constraints, no belief in the norms, no commitment to the Constitution or the rule of law, while the other side is trying to observe the rules.” He said this on Wednesday night on “All in With Chris Hayes” on MSNBC, while discussing the challenges we face going into the 2022 and 2024 elections.

    […]

    This is what I mean when I say that Republicans have already seceded. They’re a white party and they’re forming a white country with white laws and white companies and white jobs where white votes count and others don’t. They can live in the states that comprise that country, but they can’t survive there without our money. It was the same way with the South before the Civil War. They lived in their states with slavery, but they couldn’t survive without the economy of the North, so they started a war. They never intended to “secede.” They intended to win, and run the new country, which would be the South writ large, with slave-owners in power and slavery everywhere.

    Link

  183. blf says

    How to drink your coffee in the French style (possibly paywalled):

    [… C]offee officially arrived in France in 1669 when the ambassador of the Ottoman Empire brough bags of beans that made what he described as a ‘magical beverage’ to the court of King Louis XIV.

    Within two years, the first coffee shop opened in Paris, run by an Armenian who went by the name of Pascal. The rest, as history buffs probably don’t say, is history.

    French café culture is also rife with codes and codicils that can fool the unwary and earn them a Paddington Bear-level hard stare from a waiter.

    For a start, there’s usually nothing approaching a US-style menu unless you’re in one of the ubiquitous[?] big-city Starbucks. At most cafes you’re basically expected to know what you want when you order.

    Then there are the rules.

    The first rule of French coffee drinking is: milk is for mornings. Generally […] milky coffee is considered off the menu by 11am. That said, milk-in drinkers will probably get away with ordering a cafe au lait or cafe crème in the afternoon. But, be warned, at some cafes, you may get the horrified waiter stare.

    I suspect this might be a what I’ll call a “Parisian rule”, possibly for customers paying in rubles — I’ve never observed such a thing. (I also don’t put cow juice in my bean extract, so I do lack expertise / experience here.)

    [… U]nless you have somewhere else to be quickly, take your time. Sit down, watch the world go by. Once you’re at your table, it’s yours for pretty much as long as you want.

    Indeed, albeit no-one seems surprised when I don’t do it… albeit I also don’t pay in rubles.

    The third rule of French coffee drinking is: know your order.

    Oh absolutely! A “menu” — a word which exists in Français but doesn’t have the English meaning — doesn’t exist, even for the ruble-paying customers.

    […] Greet your waiter with a bonjour and say s’il vous plaît when you place your order. After all, what price politeness? Don’t forget to say merci, too, when your waiter brings you your chosen coffee. […]

    Absolutly, absolute, absolutely. Even if you pay in rubles.

    (My snarks about paying in rubles is a lot of English-language publications in France seem to be aimed at very wealthy individuals with mansions in Paris and Châteaux / vignobles elsewhere, when they are not on one of their superyachts…)

  184. says

    […] The U.S. has the lowest vaccination rate among wealthy democracies, and has now fallen behind many poorer nations, such as Uruguay, Cambodia, and Mongolia. The anti-vaccine movement remains a potent force. Last Monday, protesters tore down a covid testing site in New York City. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, one in six adults nationwide remains adamantly opposed to vaccination; only a third of parents say that they plan to get their children inoculated immediately after the vaccine is authorized, and a quarter say that they “definitely” won’t. In the U.K., ninety-seven per cent of people over sixty-five are fully vaccinated; during the Delta wave there, daily cases reached eighty per cent of record levels, but daily deaths only eleven per cent. Just eighty-four per cent of older Americans are fully vaccinated, and cases and deaths are more tightly coupled: both recently reached around two-thirds of last winter’s levels. “Are we going to have as bad a surge this winter as last winter?” Ashish Jha, the dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, asked. “I think we can definitively say no. But what people don’t appreciate about Delta is that it finds pockets of unvaccinated people and just rips through them. If you’re an older person living in this country, and you’re not vaccinated, it’s going to be a very bad winter.”

    […] When societies open up, rates of infection almost always increase. In the U.S., most business closures and strict capacity restrictions are ending; in-person instruction has resumed at schools and colleges; the weather is cooling, and we are spending more time indoors. All this means that the virus will have more opportunities to spread.

    […] A recent C.D.C. study in Kentucky found that people who had previously been infected but never got vaccinated were more than twice as likely to be reinfected as those who got immunized after contracting the virus were. Among vaccinated people, breakthrough infections, while unnerving, remain uncommon and generally mild, even with the Delta variant, but the chance that a breakthrough will develop into a serious illness seems to increase with time, as immunity ebbs, especially for older people. Our collective immunity will rise and fall, through some combination of booster shots, repeat infections, and time. “It’s like painting the Golden Gate Bridge,” Robert Wachter, the chair of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, said. “The minute you’re done, you have to get started all over again.” Complicating all this is the possibility that a new coronavirus variant could unsettle whatever equilibrium we reach.

    Only two per cent of people in low-income countries have received even a single dose of a covid vaccine. This is both a moral and a public-health failure: each week, thousands of people around the world die a vaccine-preventable death, and, as the virus continues to circulate unchecked, the probability of ever more dangerous variants rises. In June, the daily coronavirus case counts in the U.S. were a tenth of what they are today, and lower than at any point since the start of the pandemic. Then came Delta, and nearly a hundred thousand American covid deaths. “What happens next depends a lot on whether this virus evolves into an even worse strain,” Eric Topol, the director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, said. “We don’t have this thing contained globally. Heck, we don’t have it contained here. So far, the U.S. hasn’t been home base for a major new variant. Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta—they all came from other parts of the world. But we are such an epicenter that, in the future, we could be the Greek-letter originator.” […]

    New Yorker link

    There’s also this:

    In Alaska, where only half the population is fully vaccinated, hospitals are at capacity and doctors have had to ration intensive care.

  185. says

    Not a surprise:

    In Texas, gubernatorial hopeful Allen West has been hospitalized due to pneumonia caused by Covid-19. The Republican, who is not vaccinated, told supporters over the weekend that he’s taking hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin — both of which are ineffective treatments.

    Texas Tribune link

    West tweeted that he and his wife both completed monoclonal antibody treatment and were “in the observation period.”

  186. says

    NBC News:

    After a group of Pennsylvania Republican legislators filed a lawsuit intended to curtail voting by mail, the Democratic National Committee is seeking to intervene in the case in support of voting rights. (Of the 14 GOP legislators who oppose the commonwealth’s mail-in voting system, 11 of them voted to create the system they now oppose.)

    In other campaign news: Former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman and former Department of Homeland Security official Miles Taylor (both of them are Republicans) wrote a joint New York Times op-ed today, urging GOP voters to “form an alliance with Democrats to defend American institutions.”

    We Are Republicans With a Plea: Elect Democrats in 2022

    After Donald Trump’s defeat, there was a measure of hope among Republicans who opposed him that control of the G.O.P. would be up for grabs, and that conservative pragmatists could take back the party. But it’s become obvious that political extremists maintain a viselike grip on the national G.O.P., the state parties and the process for fielding and championing House and Senate candidates in next year’s elections.

    Rational Republicans are losing the G.O.P. civil war. And the only near-term way to battle pro-Trump extremists is for all of us to team up on key races and overarching political goals with our longtime political opponents: the Democratic Party.

    Earlier this year we joined more than 150 conservatives — including former governors, senators, congressmen, cabinet secretaries, and party leaders — in calling for the Republican Party to divorce itself from Trumpism or else lose our support, perhaps by forming a new political party. Rather than return to founding ideals, G.O.P. leaders in the House and in many states have now turned belief in conspiracy theories and lies about stolen elections into a litmus test for membership and running for office.

    Breaking away from the G.O.P. and starting a new center-right party may prove in time to be the last resort if Trump-backed candidates continue to win Republican primaries. We and our allies have debated the option of starting a new party for months and will continue to explore its viability in the long run. Unfortunately, history is littered with examples of failed attempts at breaking the two-party system, and in most states today the laws do not lend themselves easily to the creation and success of third parties.

    So for now, the best hope for the rational remnants of the G.O.P. is for us to form an alliance with Democrats to defend American institutions, defeat far-right candidates, and elect honorable representatives next year — including a strong contingent of moderate Democrats. […]

  187. says

    Representative Liz Cheney is correct.

    Cheney Slams Scalise For ‘Perpetuating’ Big Lie: It’s An ‘Attack’ On ‘Constitutional Republic’

    Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) rebuked her former fellow GOP leader, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), on Sunday for upholding […] Trump’s lie that the 2020 election was stolen (it wasn’t).

    Cheney, who was kicked out of her leadership role as House Republican conference chair for pushing back against Trump’s lie, retweeted a clip of Scalise’s interview on Fox News Sunday, during which the number two Republican leader refused to acknowledge that the election was legitimate.

    Cheney wrote in her retweet that “million of Americans have been sold a fraud that the election was stolen” and therefore “Republicans have a duty to tell the American people that this is not true.”

    “Perpetuating the Big Lie is an attack on the core of our constitutional republic,” she wrote.

    During his appearance on Fox News, Scalise persistently dodged when Fox host Chris Wallace tried asking him several times if he believed the election was stolen.

    Instead, the GOP leader kept claiming without evidence that states “didn’t follow their legislatively set rules.”

    Scalise was one of the 147 Republicans who voted against certifying Joe Biden’s electoral victory on Jan. 6, even after a mob of Trump’s supporters had attacked the Capitol with the ex-president’s encouragement earlier that day.

    Cheney has been in tension with House Republican leaders for months, particularly after she was removed from her leadership spot and replaced by Trump loyalist Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY).

    Since then, Cheney has joined the Democrat-led House select committee on investigating the Capitol insurrection. She and outspoken Trump critic Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) are the only two GOP lawmakers on the committee.

  188. says

    Follow-up to comment 193.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    Sadly, the people that need to hear this the most, will never hear it on Newsmax or OAN.
    ————————
    Incredible how much these people will lie to appease and support Trump. I don’t think they actually believe in Trump but they don’t want to lose the White Supremacist ‘vote’. It’s sad and sick.
    ——————-
    Scalise is playing to a propagandized cult, and he’s leaving room for shifting his stance.

    His hedging is an indication of that.

    Cheney is right to keep hammering him.
    ——————–
    Rep. Cheney may as well lob a few at Grassley too. To Grassley [Senator Grassley from Iowa], it was “smart” to accept the endorsement of Trump, who still repeats the same falsehoods that led to January 6 violence which caused Grassley to hide in fear. […] Those lies include “First of all, Biden didn’t get elected, OK?” The crowd [in Iowa] responded to Trump’s buffet of lies by chanting, “Trump won! Trump won!”
    ———————-
    A better question to Cheney who for a long time did support Donald Trump is, “Are you surprised.”

    I mean Liz drawing the line at insurrection just makes her less deplorable.

  189. says

    […] The hellish Fall we could see coming back in August is fully upon us, with Senate Republicans stretching out their sabotage for maximum effect. They didn’t shut down government on October 1, but agreed to a continuing resolution to keeps funds flowing for government operations just until December 3. Yes, the same day that that the debt ceiling will have to be dealt with. Republican leader Mitch McConnell is going to drag the pain out as long as possible. His primary aim remains trying to force Democrats to deal with the debt ceiling in their budget reconciliation bill, the package they are using to pass President Joe Biden’s big human infrastructure bill. He’s trying to derail that bill, with an assist from Democrats Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, by making the perceived cost of it too high for the deficit peacocks.

    Never mind that the original price tag of the bill just isn’t that big, relatively. Yes, $3.5 trillion sounds like a lot of money, but over ten years it’s just 1.2% of the nation’s economy. What is getting lost in the reporting, almost everywhere, is that it the bill as written covers 10 years of spending and taxes and that the taxes part of it could pay the whole thing. And while the traditional media—with a big boost from Republicans and the aforementioned turncoat Democrats—is entirely focused on that number, it is missing the larger story: costs of not acting in a big way, particularly on the environment, but also for greater racial and economic equality.

    While Manchin is making public noise about the human infrastructure side of the package, trying to force Democrats to decide among priorities for helping working families, it’s on the climate side, where Manchin is doing his worst.

    Manchin makes $500,000 every year from coal investments (more than $5.2 million over the past decade from coal investments). He is also the top recipient among Democrats for fossil fuel industry dollars, and the number 1 recipient for the coal, mining, natural gas, and oil and gas industries.

    One of Manchin’s confirmed demands in return for his vote is that the committee he chairs—Energy and Natural Resources—have “sole” jurisdiction on writing a clean energy standard, presumably locking out not just other committees and lawmakers, but the Department of Energy and government experts. He’s resisting the administration’s efforts to accelerate the transition to clean energy generation, and is continuing to push energy legislation that includes “all energy sources.”

    In a hearing on September 28, he reiterated that. “I believe that natural gas has an important role in the energy transition,” he said, arguing that helping utilities switch to renewables would somehow create electrical grid instability. “If we give them and pay them incentives to basically change their portfolio by 2030, reliability will be the loser.” That’s despite the fact that 76% of new electricity generation in the country came from renewable, clean sources according the Energy Information Administration. The one glaring example of a highly unreliable grid system came last winter in Texas, which gets most of its grid power from gas-fired plants.

    Manchin is demanding that any tax credits granted for solar and wind power can only be included if “fossil tax credits are not repealed.” That puts him in direct opposition to his Democratic colleagues. “I’m not interested in rewarding oil and gas companies who have had 100 years of tax benefits when we weren’t providing other benefits to other types of energy,” Sen. Debbie Stabenow from Michigan said. That’s despite her work with Manchin on a separate initiative to provide tax credits for manufacturing industries to use clean energy.

    Manchin’s even demanding that “Vehicle and fuel tax credits shall not be limited to electric vehicles—they must include hydrogen.” That’s because hydrogen fuel cells require electricity to be produced, and, at least right now, that would be done through natural gas or coal-fired electric plants. “The overwhelming majority of hydrogen in use today is produced via an emissions-intensive, fossil fuel-based approach, and there are a multitude of cost hurdles, resource constraints, and pollution-heavy alternatives standing in the way of such a pivot to green,” Julie McNamara, a senior energy analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists, has pointed out.

    All that’s spelled out in an “agreement” Manchin came to with Majority Leader Chuck Schumer in July, in which Manchin demanded the whole package be slashed to $1.5 trillion along with a whole series of other demands. Schumer noted in signing the document that he “will try to dissuade Joe on many of these.” He’ll be backed up by other Democrats in both the Senate and House.

    […] Oregon’s Ron Wyden […] told Roll Call that he’ll be talking to Manchin about his desires, but also “that the days of fossil fuel companies getting whatever handouts they seek are over.”

    […] Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts said at an event Thursday. “[…] There isn’t a middle ground between a livable and unlivable world. We cannot pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill without the reconciliation package. We cannot slash climate funding in this package.” […]

    It only helps McConnell to have Manchin and Sinema in there negotiating.

    It helps McConnell, and dooms the planet.

    Link

  190. says

    George Clooney comments on Trump and on Biden’s shifting poll numbers:

    George Clooney says President Biden’s recent sinking poll numbers are because he inherited a wounded country from former President Trump. [note: Biden’s poll numbers are already rising again.]

    […] “There’s a lot of things that have to be repaired, you know? There’s a lot of healing that has to happen and it’s going to take time,” said Clooney, who supported Biden in last year’s White House race.

    […] “Poll numbers come up and go down, I would expect them to go up again,” Clooney, 60, said. “Donald Trump’s went up and down.”

    The “Tender Bar” director — a critic of Trump — predicted that Biden’s predecessor is “going to be a factor for awhile.”

    “It’s so funny because he was just this knucklehead,” Clooney said of the ex-New York real estate developer and reality TV star. [“Knucklehead” is a good description.]

    “I knew him before he was a president, he was just a guy who was chasing girls. Every time you went out he’d come over and be like, ‘What’s the name of that girl?’ That’s all he was.”

    “The idea that there’s this whole group of people that they think he’s the champion of — which he certainly can’t stand in real life — but he’s going to play this out for awhile, and we’ll see where we go with it as a country,” the Academy Award winner said of Trump and his supporters.

    While Trump has publicly flirted with another White House run in 2024, Clooney said, “My hope is we have a little better sense than to do that again.”

    […] Asked if he would ever see himself going into politics, Clooney replied, “No, because I would actually like to have a nice life.”

    “I turned 60 this year and I had a conversation with my wife,” Clooney said, “and we were working a lot, as we both do, and I said, ‘We have to think of these as the halcyon years.'”

    “But in 20 years, I’ll be 80 and that’s a real number,” he continued. “Doesn’t matter how much you work out, doesn’t matter what you eat, you’re 80. And so I said, ‘We have to make sure we enjoy and live these years in the best possible way.’”

    Link

  191. says

    Wonkette: “John Birch Society Is BACK BABY, And They’re … Trying To Block Entrances To Your Kid’s School!”

    There used to be a time when we could look back on certain less savory parts of history and go, “Wow, those people were nutso, good thing we’ve evolved past that!” We haven’t been able to do that for a number of years, as Trumpism and its adjacent belief systems brought back basically every instinct that many of us had thought were in the dustbin of history for good. The Satanic Panic; blatant anti-Semitism; freaking out about immigrants; white nationalist nonsense like the Great Replacement. […] One of the terrible “we’re supposed to know better now!” things that is making a comeback? The John Birch Society.

    While it seems they never actually went away entirely […] they are now trying to make a full on comeback — as anti-masking activists. […]

    Kelly Weill at the Daily Beast reports that the JBS […] has been hosting anti-mask events, trying to gain a foothold in today’s paranoia market. Apparently, they are quite excited because they think this could actually lead to the anti-mask parents joining them in their crusade to end public schooling forever.

    Via Daily Beast:

    On a sunny Saturday in a Knoxville, Tennessee park, a man with a microphone told a crowd of parents to bar entry to their children’s schools.

    “Starting Monday morning and until this is over, we need to bring Knox County schools to a screeching halt,” he said to applause. He called on parents, students, and staff to participate. “We have a moral obligation to our children’s future. Block the entrance to the school with your car. That’s my suggestion. Block the entrance to the drive—don’t even let a bus in your schools. If you can be that bold in your groups, do it.”

    Although that sounds like pretty much your boilerplate anti-mask nonsense, the event, “Parents in the Park,” was organized and hosted by the John Birch Society.

    […] a spokesman for the organization, Paul Dragu, insists that they don’t actually want anyone to block the entrance to public schools, they just want children to stop going to them entirely. […] “The official JBS stance is that instead of struggling against public schools, parents should immediately abandon them altogether.”

    The JBS YouTube account, which has a shocking 85.1 thousand followers, is filled with videos with titles like “Bidens New World Order Agenda!” and “Installing the New World Order” and “COVID’S Lies Push People To Action,” because apparently the virus is a sentient being now. There is a whole series on the Illuminati and what those rascals been up to for the past several hundred years.

    […] The JBS has also used the anti-mask movement to push for an end to democracy all together.

    “You’ve probably experienced some of this same rhetoric as you going about doing what used to be mundane weekly chores like shopping, which have suddenly turned into a nightmare scenario of having to don a mask in order to play the theatrical part that the overall community of do-gooders wants you to do, all without a care or thought to what this usurpation of powers will lead to in the future,” [JBS CEO Bill] Hahn said in the video. He went on to describe mask requirements as a nefarious symptom of democracy. “This is what democracy looks like,” he said, “a majority sweeping away the rights of the minority.”

    The John Birch Society, for the record, did not have much of a problem with a “a majority sweeping away the rights of the minority” during the Jim Crow era. […]

    The John Birch Society is active in Idaho.

  192. says

    Prosecutors seek detention in Navy submarine espionage case

    Federal prosecutors asked Monday that a Navy engineer remain locked up as they press forward with charges that he tried to sell submarine secrets to a foreign country.

    The detention memo for Jonathan Toebbe was filed ahead of an expected appearance in federal court in West Virginia on Tuesday. The Justice Department submitted an identical motion for Toebbe’s wife, Diana, who was also arrested Saturday.

    Jonathan Toebbe is accused of passing on design information about sophisticated Virginia-class submarines to someone he thought represented a foreign government but who was actually an undercover FBI agent. The identity of the country was not revealed in court documents.

    According to the documents, Toebbe reached out in April 2020 to the foreign country to offer information about the submarines and to provide instructions for how to maintain a furtive dialogue. But the package he sent was obtained eight months later by the FBI, which initiated contact with Toebbe through an undercover agent who agreed to pay tens of thousands of dollars in cryptocurrency in exchange for the government secrets.

    Toebbe left memory cards containing sensitive documents in pre-arranged “dead-drop” locations, concealing it in one instance inside a peanut butter sandwich and on occasions inside a chewing gum package and Band-Aid wrapper, the FBI says. Diana Toebbe accompanied him on several occasions, including serving as a lookout during one such dead-drop operation in Jefferson County, West Virginia, court documents say.

    It was not immediately clear if either of the Toebbes had an attorney.

    In the detention memo, prosecutors checked boxes indicating that they believe the Toebbes represent a risk to flee and to obstruct justice. They also checked boxes showing that the prosecution, under the Atomic Energy Act, involves an “offense for which the maximum sentence is life imprisonment or death.”

    This couple has children, so yeah, feeling sorry for the kids.

  193. says

    From the opening paragraph in Eugene Robinson’s latest column: “T.S. Eliot wrote that the world ends ‘not with a bang but a whimper,’ but I fear our great nation is careening toward a third manner of demise: descent into lip-blubbering, self-destructive idiocy.”

    Washington Post link

    “How dumb can a nation get and still survive?”

    T.S. Eliot wrote that the world ends “not with a bang but a whimper,” but I fear our great nation is careening toward a third manner of demise: descent into lip-blubbering, self-destructive idiocy.

    How did we become, in such alarming measure, so dumb? Why is the news dominated by ridiculous controversies that should not be controversial at all? When did so many of our fellow citizens become full-blown nihilists who deny even the concept of objective reality? And how must this look to the rest of the world?

    Read the headlines and try not to weep:

    Our elected representatives in the U.S. Senate, which laughably calls itself “the world’s greatest deliberative body,” agreed Thursday not to wreck our economy and trigger a global recession — at least for a few weeks. Republicans had refused to raise the federal debt ceiling, or even to let Democrats do so quickly by simple majority vote. They relented only after needlessly unsettling an international financial system based on the U.S. dollar.

    The frequent games of chicken that Congress plays over the debt ceiling are — to use a term of art I recall from Economics 101 — droolingly stupid. In the end, yes, we always agree to pay our obligations. But the credit rating of the planet’s greatest economic superpower has already been lowered because of this every-few-years ritual, and each time we stage the absurd melodrama, we risk a miscalculation that sends us over the fiscal cliff.

    Today’s trench-warfare political tribalism makes that peril greater than ever. An intelligent and reasonable Congress would eliminate the debt ceiling once and for all. Our Congress is neither.

    In other news, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) was speaking to a crowd of Republicans at a country club in his home state Saturday when he tried, gently, to boost South Carolina’s relatively low rate of vaccination against the coronavirus. He began, “If you haven’t had the vaccine, you ought to think about getting it because if you’re my age — ”

    “No!” yelled many in the crowd.

    Graham retreated — “I didn’t tell you to get it; you ought to think about it” — and then defended his own decision to get vaccinated. But still the crowd shouted him down. Seriously, people?

    Covid-19 is a highly infectious disease that has killed more than 700,000 Americans over the past 20 months. The Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines all but guarantee that recipients will not die from covid. I have, or had, an acquaintance who refused to get vaccinated, despite pleas from his adult children to protect himself. He got covid-19, and it killed him. Most of the deaths the nation has suffered during the current delta-variant wave of the disease — deaths of the unvaccinated — have been similarly needless and senseless.

    Covid-19 is a bipartisan killer. In the tribal-political sense, the safe and effective vaccines are a bipartisan miracle, developed under the Republican Trump administration and largely distributed under the Democratic Biden administration. People in most of the rest of the world realize, however, that vaccination is not political at all; it is a matter of life and death, and also a matter of how soon — if ever — we get to resume our normal lives. […]

  194. says

    Sidney Powell [total dunderhead pretending to be a competent lawyer] Takes On Deep State Military Vaccines

    The Kraken may be dead, but Our Sidney Powell is raring to go another 10 rounds against Evil Joe Biden, who wants to hold down God-fearing patriots and stick them with dangerous coronavirus vaccines. First up is this amazing clunker filed on behalf of 16 unidentified service members who refuse to get the shot and are risking it all after the presidential directive making it mandatory. Errrr, make that 15 — since one of them “was pressured into being injected with the EUA Janssen vaccine” and yet remains an (un)named plaintiff for reasons unclear.

    The case, filed in a federal court in Florida by lawyers with Powell’s Defending the Republic, demands that the court enjoin the military from enforcing the mandate to vaccinate all service members. But wait, there’s more! Powell also wants the court to invalidate the FDA’s full approval of Pfizer’s Comirnaty vaccine “insofar as it based its decision on impermissible criteria, namely, the desire to enable federal vaccine mandates for nearly all Americans, rather than on whether Comirnaty is safe and effective under the FDCA and ‘safe, pure, and potent’ under the [Public Health Service Act].”

    […] The theory of the case is that DOD can’t get enough of the fully approved Pfizer jab, and is impermissibly forcing service members to accept other vaccines which are functionally the same or risk discipline or discharge. Never mind that the lawsuit immediately turns around to endorse a bunch of quack therapies that are not fully — or even partially — approved.

    There are now well-studied, safe and reliable alternatives to vaccination for prevention and treatment of COVID-19, including, but not limited to Ivermectin, Methylprednisolone, Fluvoxamine, Hydroxychloroquine, Vitamin C, Vitamin D3, Zinc, Melatonin, Aspirin, corticosteroids, monoclonal antibodies, and other accessible therapies. Merck recently announced a new COVID-19 treatment, an oral antiviral pill that dramatically reduces risks of hospitalization and death.

    Aspirin and melatonin???? Sheesh, this just gets worse and worse. Still both laughable and dangerous.

    […] This attention to detail will be familiar to anyone who followed the Kraken litigation. For instance, the anonymous plaintiffs allege that no medical or religious exemptions are being allowed at all. But Military Times details the procedures for requesting an exemption and even links to some forms for doing just that. However, MT notes that service members who dutifully rolled up their sleeves for eleventy-seven other vaccines required by their commanders are probably shit out of luck.

    And despite the suit’s blanket declaration that “[t]here is no discussion of exemptions for female service members who are pregnant, nursing or wish to become pregnant,” the suit immediately contradicts itself, admitting that pregnant people can request a waiver until after they give birth. Nevertheless, they moan that “[t]he guidance does not authorize exemptions for nursing women or women who wish to become pregnant” and points to a Jane Doe plaintiff who “is a [woman of child bearing potential] and would likely be injured by, and is unwilling to take, the vaccine due to a medical disorder.” And no, they’re not going to elaborate on that extremely vague yet conclusory statement — you’ll just have to take Sidney Powell’s word for it.

    The whole thing is classic Kraken gibberish, with dozens of pages of seemingly authoritative studies begging to be debunked. And we’re not going to go all Alex Berenson, but we would just note that the pre-Delta variant Cleveland Clinic observational study cited by Powell et al. as proof that previously infected people can’t be reinfected was contradicted by a more recent study at the University of Pennsylvania demonstrating that antibody development is highly variable and wanes over time.

    But more in our wheelhouse, we’d just note that the Indiana vaccine mandate case they cite as proof of the proposition that the vaccine was unproven was resolved in favor of the defendants, with the Supreme Court letting the university’s vaccine mandate stand. And while Team Kraken is correct that the eviction moratorium was overturned, it’s not clear what that has to do with military public health directives.

    In summary and in conclusion, this is bullshit. The only real question is what mythical beast this new round of pointless lawsuits will be named after? We vote Ouroboros, after the worm which devours its own tail. For obvious reasons.

    Link

  195. says

    North Carolina’s lieutenant governor is adamant he won’t resign after calling LGBTQ people ‘filth’

    North Carolina’s Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson is hearing calls for his resignation after homophobic, transphobic, anti-education, and bigoted-across-the-board comments he made at a church went viral. In the video […] Robinson seems to be promoting the need for “Christians” to take control of public schools in order to stop the left-wing indoctrination of children. The speech […] was given at Asbury Baptist Church in Seagrove, North Carolina, back in June, included germs of wisdom like, “Teach them a bunch of stuff about how to hate America. Teach them a bunch of stuff about why they’re racists.” Classically offensive GOP talking points.

    But after semi-mumbling against the idea that there is widespread white supremacy and racism in the U.S. to a predominantly Black North Carolina congregation, the Republican elected official went on to further detail the depth of his phobic ignorance, railing against something he termed “transgenderism.” Having worked himself up to a point where he wanted an applause break but lacking any content, Robinson explained that these schools are forcing kids and their parents to confront uncomfortable truths: “There’s no reason anybody anywhere in America should be telling any child about transgenderism, homosexuality, any of that filth. And yes I called it ‘filth.’ And if you don’t like that I called it ‘filth’ then come see me and I’ll explain it to you.”

    […] Democratic state Sen. Jeff Jackson released a statement saying that “There’s no debate here. This is open discrimination. It is completely unacceptable. Mark Robinson should resign.” State Sen. Jackson also warned that North Carolina’s Republican Party has been “clearing a path for him to be their gubernatorial nominee in 2024. If he runs, he’s all but certain to be the Republican nominee. He is immensely popular within his party – and I imagine he still will be, even after this.”

    Robinson [said] “We will not be intimidated. We will not back down. We will not change our language. The language I used, I am not ashamed of it. I will use it in the future because, again, it is time for parents in this state to take a strong stand for their children.”

    Of course, when ABC11 asked him how gay and lesbian and transgender folks and their parents and their parents’ parents are not supposed to take his comments to mean that they, themselves are “filth,” “filthy,” or “dirty,” Robinson did his best impression of an ambitious GOP coward, saying, “If they take it that way I sincerely apologize, but I don’t back off of my words.” He went on to explain that the concept of bringing up the concepts of LBGTQ existence with children was “filthy.” Okaaaaay? Let’s think about this “apology” for one minute, because it’s so goddamned insincere and meaningless.

    He apologizes if you take his words to mean what words mean but he also is saying he didn’t mean those words to mean the things that those words mean. But also he stands by his words because he doesn’t “back off of” them, even when by his own admission they’re ignorant or, at the very least, were spoken so poorly and in such a way as to need a very large level of rearticulation.

    When asked about his comments on Spectrum later the same day, using the same Zoom camera, wearing the same outfit, and sitting in the same room, Robinson added a touch of the self-aggrandizing persecution complex to his response: telling the news outlet that he would be adding himself to the massive crucifix the GOP has nailed itself to, that the “left” is making an effort to silence people like him—and people that threaten the lives of school board members. Doubling down on his double down, he said, “It doesn’t matter to me what the definition of hate speech is. I said what I said, and I believe what I said, and many people across the state feel the exact same way.”

    NBC News reports that this isn’t Robinson’s first anti-trans rodeo. A few months ago, Robinson spoke to the Upper Room Church of God in Christ and had this to say in a long-winded speech: “There ain’t but two genders. Ain’t nothing but men and women … You can go to the doctor and get cut up. You can go down to the dress shop and get made up. You can go down there and get drugged up, but at the end of the day, you’re just a drugged up, dressed up, made up, cut up, man or woman. You ain’t changed what God put in you—that DNA. You can’t transcend God’s creation.” He reportedly added this touch of conservative Christian hatred: “If there is a movement in this country that is demonic, and that is full of the spirit of antichrist, it is the transgender movement.”

    […] there’s a good chance this kind of viral bigotry is just the kind of thing Mark Robinson needs to get shot into the top echelon of the Republican Party’s leadership these days. […]

  196. says

    New Zealand’s sensible approach:

    New Zealand is implementing a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for health and education workers, as the country works to combat a coronavirus outbreak.

    Chris Hipkins, the country’s COVID-19 response minister, announced in a statement on Monday that high-risk workers in the health and disability sector must be partially vaccinated against the virus by Oct. 30, and fully inoculated by Dec. 1.

    The new regulation applies to general practitioners, pharmacists, community health nurses, midwives, paramedics, as well as non-regulated healthcare work, such as aged residential care, home and community support services and Maori health providers, according to Hipkins.

    […] School and early learning staff and support employees who come into contact with children and students must be partially vaccinated by Nov. 15, and fully vaccinated by Jan. 1, according to Hipkins.

    That school mandate is meant to “ensure only vaccinated staff and support people have contact with children and students” and also applies to home-based educators, support people in schools and early learning services and teacher-aides, administration and maintenance staff and contractors. […]

    Link

  197. tomh says

    Texas Gov. Greg Abbott bans COVID-19 vaccine mandates by any entity
    Ivana Saric / October 11, 2021

    Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order Monday prohibiting COVID-19 vaccine mandates by any “entity,” including employers, if someone objects to the vaccine for “any reason of personal conscience.”

    The new executive order goes further than the Republican governor’s previous vaccine mandate ban passed in August, which prohibited vaccine mandates by any state government entity or entities that received public funds.

    Abbott has also submitted the issue to the state legislature’s special session agenda. The executive order would be rescinded once legislation codifying it has passed, according to a press release from the governor’s office.

    The executive order also lists prior infection with COVID-19 as a possible medical reason for objecting to the vaccine…

  198. says

    Cruz, Hawley throwing ‘sand in the gears’ of U.S. foreign policy

    This is a terrible time for the United States to be shorthanded in foreign affairs. Some GOP senators are blocking qualified nominees anyway.

    As a country that considers itself the preeminent global superpower, the United States has dozens of embassies around the globe, led by Senate-confirmed ambassadors, who lead diplomatic teams who advance our interests abroad.

    At least, that is, in theory.

    In practice, President Joe Biden’s administration has a grand total of two ambassadors currently doing diplomatic work on behalf of the nation: Ken Salazar is serving as U.S. ambassador to Mexico and Linda Thomas-Greenfield is the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. That’s it. As of now, nearly nine months into the new administration, that’s the entire slate.

    The problem is not that the White House is uninterested in dispatching ambassadors to represent us abroad; the problem is the broken U.S. Senate and the willingness of some Republicans to abuse the system. The editorial board of The Washington Post made the case yesterday that this is a terrible time for the United States “to be shorthanded in foreign affairs,” but that’s precisely where we find ourselves.

    [T]he nation is severely short-staffed, thanks to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), who has put a hold on dozens of nominations that have reached the Senate floor, including seven ambassadors and top State Department and Agency for International Development officials, by refusing to grant unanimous consent to confirm them…. [W]e are getting a hollowed-out Foreign Service and ambassadorial corps.

    […] Cruz’s tactics are hardly proportionate to the concerns. As the Post’s editorial added:

    Mr. Cruz is putting sand in the gears of government and displays an indifference to the hard work of maintaining U.S. leadership abroad. U.S. ambassadors, both political and career, serve as eyes and ears of the nation and are critical to carrying out U.S. priorities and policy. So are the assistant secretaries of state and other officials awaiting confirmation. Damaging the diplomatic capabilities of the U.S. government hardly seems like a smart way to make a point about a foreign policy issue

    .

    […] Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri also announced plans to block presidential State Department and Pentagon nominees unless a series of officials resign in response to the end of the U.S. war in Afghanistan — an issue on which the GOP senator has been largely incoherent for months.

    This is not an academic exercise. As The Daily Beast recently summarized, “If an enemy of the United States wanted to decapitate America’s national security leadership, they could hardly do a better job of it than Sens. Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley have by blocking scores of top nominees, leaving critical positions unfilled by the men and women the president of the United States has selected for those jobs.”

    […] Twenty years after the 9/11 attacks, the United States finds itself facing similar conditions. The New York Times reported last month, “Only 26 percent of President Biden’s choices for critical Senate-confirmed national security posts have been filled, according to a new analysis by the Partnership for Public Service.” For comparison purposes, note that 57 percent of key national security positions were filled ahead of the 2001 attacks.

    It led Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut to argue that Cruz “is putting politics over country,” adding that no other senator in American history has blocked so many important foreign policy nominees at once.

    As a procedural matter, Cruz and Hawley are in the minority and cannot actually defeat every relevant Biden nominee on their own. But by abusing the chamber’s absurd rules, the Republican duo can force Democratic leaders to jump through a series of time-consuming hoops to confirm qualified nominees that the Senate has traditionally advanced in an efficient manner. At the same time, the more the governing majority is forced to clear these procedural hurdles, the less it’s able to do other legislative work.

    None of this befits a nation that expects to be taken seriously on the international stage.

  199. says

    President Barack Obama will campaign with former Gov. Terry McAuliffe in Richmond on Saturday, Oct. 23. Virginia’s gubernatorial election is three weeks from today, Stacey Abrams and Jill Biden are also campaigning with McAuliffe.

  200. says

    “Truly, Four Pinocchios is not enough.”

    Washington Post link

    Fact Checker: Trump’s never-ending parade of election falsehoods

    During a nearly two-hour speech Saturday night, filled with his usual falsehoods, the former president devoted more than 20 minutes to claiming, in detail, how the 2020 presidential election supposedly was stolen from him. This is a claim that has failed to be proven in recounts, in the courts, in state investigations and in repeated audits demanded by his supporters. Yet the former president remains undeterred.

    We’ve largely ignored Trump’s rallies since he left office. But given that nearly a year has passed since he lost the election, we figured it would be useful for readers to see whether he’s saying much new about it. Trump’s technique from the start has been to overwhelm his listeners with details — usually irrelevant details — to leave an impression of an election system that is highly suspicious and fraudulent.

    Trump generally focuses on the swing states he narrowly lost. One thing that is striking is that his act barely has been freshened since his speech on the National Mall in D.C. on Jan. 6 that was soon followed by the attack on the Capitol by his supporters. The one exception is Arizona, where an audit underwritten by supporters has given him some fresh numbers for his assault on the election process.

    Let’s look at the highlights by states. (On Saturday, he barely mentioned one swing state, Wisconsin, except to mention a poll he disliked.)

    Arizona

    “23,344 mail-in ballots came from people who no longer lived at that address. … No chain of custody for 1.9 million mail-in ballots. … 2,500 duplicated ballots with no serial number. … At least 1,900 blank mail-in ballot envelopes were discovered. … 2,081 votes were cast by people who had moved out of the state. … 284,412 ballot images were, quote, corrupt; they quoted ‘corrupt or missing.’ Oh, but I only lost by a little more than 10,000 votes.”

    This is a good example how Trump weaves a web of conspiracy. He lists a bunch of a highly specific numbers, most of which are meaningless, and then contrasts them with President Biden’s narrow margin of victory.

    Interestingly, Arizona was one state where Biden’s margin shrank from election night as the counting continued. Trump never mentions this, though he constantly harps on the fact that in other states, such as Pennsylvania and Michigan, his election night margin disappeared as more votes were counted. In the end, Biden pulled off a victory in Arizona — and it was not due to fraud but probably because of Trump’s constant attacks on Sen. John McCain, even after he died of cancer. McCain was a Republican but his widow endorsed Biden.

    In Arizona, Trump supporters spent nearly $6 million on an exhaustive review of ballots in Maricopa County — and the widely criticized review actually ended up increasing Biden’s margin of victory. But the audit, conducted by the Cyber Ninjas, also gave Trump a new set of numbers with which to confuse his supporters.

    We’re not going to go into detail, but let’s look at a few examples.

    Trump said that 23,344 mail-in ballots came from people who no longer lived at that address. So what? This is legal under federal election law. For instance, military and overseas voters cast ballots that can be tied to their address back home. Also, people may move just before an election; they can still vote as long as their driver’s license address still matches the voter registration address. In any case, the Cyber Ninjas came up with this number by matching the names of voters against a commercial database of addresses, not a database of voters.

    As for the 2,081 voters who allegedly moved out of state, Maricopa County says that a spot check using voter registration numbers found no discrepancies.

    Trump also mentions 2,500 “duplicated ballots with no serial numbers.” That was a figure that circulated in right-wing tweets when the draft report appeared, but the final report says 500 — and labels the issue of “low” concern.

    As for the “corrupt or missing” ballot images (Trump yet again gave a figure different than in the final report), Maricopa County said the Cyber Ninjas did not know where to look. “The server isn’t the place to find all ballot images. We provided the hard drives that contain all ballot images and confirmed these images were not corrupted and could be opened,” the county said in a tweet.

    Georgia

    “It was recently reported that 43,000 absentee ballot votes were counted in DeKalb County, Georgia, that violated the chain of custody rules. 43,000. Georgia was decided by only 11,779 votes. In other words, I needed 11,779 votes. And they have 40,000 here and 20,000 here.”

    Here again, Trump is kicking up dust to call into question his narrow loss in Georgia. This time, he has numbers courtesy of a Trump-friendly website called Georgia Star News — which is part of a chain of websites that purport to be about local news but exist mainly to keep alive Trump’s election falsehoods in key electoral college states.

    As we have reported before, the Star News has attempted to make hay out of chain-of-custody issues all year, even though the GOP-run secretary of state’s office says nothing of importance had been uncovered. DeKalb County is a heavily Democratic county that is more than 50 percent Black. The Georgia Star News alleges that although ballots are supposed to go from the drop boxes immediately to the county, some absentee ballot box forms were not logged by the county until hours later or the next day.

    Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger told CNN that, even so, ballots were still valid. “The ballots themselves were approved and are lawful ballots, but were processes violated? That’s what we’re investigating right now,” he said.

    “Also in Georgia, everybody’s heard the water main break story, right? Where people were rushed out of the vote tabulation room because of the water main break. ‘There’s a water main break, everybody leave.’ They all ran out, but there was no water main break. Only to see a crew of Democrat operatives, or whoever, come back and start pouring votes into machines from boxes that mysteriously appeared from under a table.”

    This story is one of Trump’s favorite falsehoods — that Republican poll watchers were ejected in Fulton County and that video showed suitcases of ballots had been hidden under tables — but it’s been repeatedly debunked.

    First of all, there was no “water main break.” A urinal simply leaked in the State Farm Arena, where absentee and military ballots were counted in the state.

    The Fact Checker investigated at the time and the surveillance video — which comprises four security camera feeds — showed no irregularities, illegal behavior or evidence of malfeasance on behalf of poll workers. The “boxes” have been repeatedly identified by election officials as the standard boxes used in Fulton County to transport and store ballots.

    Additionally, the video doesn’t even prove Trump’s assertion that GOP monitors were told to leave the counting room for poll workers to engage in illegal ballot counting. Georgia voting official Gabriel Sterling, a Republican, at the time said no formal announcement to clear the room was ever made. Sterling added that the full surveillance feed shows workers handling ballots that were stored and processed in full view of the news media and partisan monitors earlier in the evening.

    “This is what’s really frustrating: The president’s legal team had the entire tape,” Sterling said. “They watched the entire tape. They intentionally misled the state Senate, the voters and the people of the United States about this.” Sterling’s office posted a fact check with excerpts from the entire tape.

    Pennsylvania

    “In Pennsylvania, there were reportedly hundreds of thousands of more votes than there were voters. Oh, I see Philadelphia, more votes than voters. That’s a tough one to explain. Why didn’t they do something about that?”

    This falsehood is based on a misunderstanding of an incomplete voter registration database, which was missing numbers for some of the most populous counties in the state. “To put it simply, this so-called analysis was based on incomplete data,” said Pennsylvania’s Department of State, which labeled the claim “obvious misinformation.”

    A small group of Republican state representatives began to circulate this claim about a month after Pennsylvania’s election results were certified and Gov. Tom Wolf (D) had issued a certificate of ascertainment of presidential electors stating that Biden received 80,555 more votes than Trump in the state.

    “In Pennsylvania, thousands of voters reported receiving at least two ballots in the mail, and many others reported receiving mail-in ballots without requesting them. They just happened to flow in. They flowed in on Election Day.”

    Trump is again making mountains out of molehills. In October, some voters in Allegheny and Fayette counties received incorrectly printed ballots. In both cases, election officials issued corrected ballots and made clear: “Only one ballot will be counted for each voter.” The state also contacted in October about 4,300 voters who received two ballots, due to a printing error. Department of State spokesperson Ellen Lyon told reporters that any duplicate ballots were “coded for the same voter, so if a voter tried to submit more than one, the system would literally prevent the second ballot from being counted.”

    “Thousands of people were complaining that they weren’t allowed to vote because they were told that their ballot had already been cast.”

    This has been a persistent claim by Trump in various states — that Trump supporters went to vote, only to find their ballot had already been cast (presumably by Democratic operatives) and thus they were given a provisional ballot.

    But no evidence has ever emerged to prove this. For instance, Trump’s chief lawyer, former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, suggested that 17,000 provisional ballots were cast in Pittsburgh because Democrats had already cast fraudulent ballots on behalf of someone who unexpectedly turned up to vote. But there is no evidence that is the case; instead, there were a variety of issues, such as a missing signature on a form, that cause a provisional ballot to be used. […]

  201. says

    What can be done about Louis DeJoy’s plan to permanently slow much of the nation’s mail service? A large group of attorneys general has an idea.

    U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s plan to make some mail service “permanently slower” is not exactly popular. Paul Steidler, senior fellow at the Lexington Institute and an expert on the postal service, recently described the new U.S. Postal Service policies as “disastrous,” adding that mail service will be slower in the 2020s than in the 1970s.

    The question is what, if anything, can be done about this. As NPR reported, a sizable group of attorneys general has an idea.

    Attorneys general in 19 states and the District of Columbia filed an administrative complaint Thursday seeking to block U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s 10-year budget-cutting plan that includes slower deliveries, more expensive mailing rates and reduced hours for post offices. The complaint brought by the 20 attorneys general demands that the Postal Regulatory Commission thoroughly review DeJoy’s plan in detail before fully rolling out the proposed changes that will affect service nationwide. The process would allow U.S. Postal Service customers to provide comments during a hearing before the commissioners.

    […] NPR’s report added that the Postal Service has also begun “increasing prices on all commercial and retail domestic packages extending through the holiday season,” with the temporary price increases scheduled to end the day after Christmas.

    […] the Postal Regulatory Commission, which plays a USPS oversight role, was sharply critical of DeJoy’s plan, questioning its core assumptions.

    That, of course, was around the time that the public learned that the controversial postmaster general was also facing an FBI investigation over a campaign-finance scandal.

    While the Postal Regulatory Commission’s concerns did not stop the USPS from proceeding with the implementation of DeJoy’s blueprint, it’s now the basis for the pushback from the attorneys general.

    A CBS News report added, “The complaint alleges that Postmaster General DeJoy is moving forward with the 10-year plan despite failing to get a review of its entire scope. The USPS received an advisory opinion from the PRC for only a few portions of the 10-year overhaul, the complaint alleges.”

    [… While we wait for this matter to be adjudicated, let’s also not forget that President Joe Biden still cannot fire the postmaster general, though he probably wants to. […] the governing board of the U.S. Postal Service can remove DeJoy, and the confirmation of Biden’s nominees to the board increased the odds that it might take such a step, but for now, there’s little to suggest his job is in serious jeopardy.

    One of the Democratic board members is Ron Bloom, a Trump appointee who’s expressed support for DeJoy. In the spring, Bloom, who currently chairs the USPS board, told The Atlantic, in reference to the controversial postmaster general, “Right now, I think [DeJoy is] the proper man for the job. He’s earned my support, and he will have it until he doesn’t. And I have no particular reason to believe he will lose it.”

  202. says

    Wonkette:

    We haven’t had occasion to write about Hillary Clinton lately, but she was trending on Twitter this morning, and here’s why: It seems Secretary Clinton has co-written a thrilling page-turner with author Louise Penny called State of Terror. […]

    The New York Times notes in its review that former President Bill Clinton has been doing similar co-writing things with novelist James Patterson, then offers this little side-by-side comparison of their newest book vs. her book with Penny:

    Which of the Clintons’ novels you prefer will depend, as always, on personal taste. “The President’s Daughter” is all testosterone and swagger, full of gritty operatives eager to rush into impossible situations using only their wits and their massive weapons. “State of Terror” addresses similar subjects — terrorism, treachery, blackmail, government malfeasance. But while Bill’s characters speak loudly and wave their big sticks (they are men), Hillary’s listen intently and use their keen understanding of human nature to outmaneuver their adversaries (they are women).

    Oh good Lord. That paragraph is literally “he wrote a boy book and she wrote a girl book.” Thanks, New York Times, as always.

    Here is what the book is really about:

    The plot in “State of Terror” is ambitious and apocalyptic. Nothing less than the future of the world is at stake. As the novel begins, Ellen Adams, the former proprietor of an international media empire, has been improbably appointed U.S. secretary of state by Douglas Williams, the condescending president whose candidacy she had opposed. Exhausted and disheveled after flying back overnight from a disastrous trip to South Korea, she arrives late for Williams’s State of the Union address.

    “What in God’s name are you wearing?” snarks the secretary of defense, as Ellen rushes into the House chamber. “Have you been mud wrestling again?”

    BUT THEN.

    Things are about to get much worse. A bomb goes off in London, another in Paris, a third in Frankfurt. They are linked, but how?

    FIGURE IT OUT, CARRIE MATHISON ON “HOMELAND.”

    WAIT, SHE ISN’T IN THIS.

    Blame falls on Bashir Shah, an evil Pakistani arms dealer “intent on creating a hell on earth.” Shah was secretly freed from prison with the blessing of the previous U.S. president. He hates Ellen, whose media company once laid bare his crimes in a devastating documentary; he may have even killed her husband using untraceable poison.

    HE SOUNDS LIKE A REAL STINKER.

    And on and on and on. Sounds like it might be a fun read, if you’re into reading things like are described above.

    The Times says the book also features “Maxim Ivanov,” the Russian president who is sexist AF, and who also “ran rings around” the immediate previous American president, some Trumpy one-termer fuckwit everybody called “Eric the Dumb,” which is a pretty clever way of insulting two members of that family at the same time.

    To wit:

    Clinton and Penny reserve their darkest shade for former President Eric Dunn, a preening, bombastic one-termer who shredded the country’s reputation and retreated to Florida to sulk, play golf and plot his return. Sure, Dunn is charismatic, with an uncanny ability to exploit people’s weaknesses, but he is also an idiot. Even his closest associates called him “Eric the Dumb.”

    If Hillary Clinton wants to write a political thriller featuring a very stupid former president who’s led around on a leash by the Russians, we are not here to cast aspersions on that.

    Apparently the character literally lives in Palm Beach, and Clinton discussed that with Seth Meyers last night on his show. “Well, lotta people live in Palm Beach,” said Clinton, about the place where Eric the Dumb, her completely fictional character, lives.

    And with that, you may watch the video of Hillary Clinton and Louise Penny on Seth Meyers, because we don’t have any other things to type.

    [Video is available at the link.]

  203. says

    Wonkette: Raiders Coach Jon Gruden Sh*tcanned Just For Being An Entire Human Garbage Dump

    Jon Gruden resigned Monday as the coach of the Las Vegas Raiders football team after the New York Times exposed homophobic and misogynistic statements in emails he’d sent over the past decade. This was after emails surfaced from 2011 in which Gruden derided DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the NFL Players Association, using stock racist rhetoric.

    Gruden reportedly wrote the following in an email to Bruce Allen, who was then the president of the Washington Football Team: “Dumboriss Smith has lips the size of michellin tires.” To roughly translate from pidgin racist, Gruden apparently believed Smith had a dumb name and was dumb himself and also his lips were grotesquely large compared to Gruden’s objectively normal, thin lips. Friday, Gruden claimed amnesia about the email but insisted, “I never had a blade of racism in me,” which doesn’t make any literal sense.

    So, that was bad, but it seems the other emails are even worse. He regularly used gross language to disparage women and gay people while mocking any moderate social change within the league. This came out as a part of a separate workplace misconduct investigation, and he wasn’t even the target. I don’t want to imagine what the actual focus of the investigation has done.

    When he was working for ESPN as a color analyst during “Monday Night Football” […], Gruden sent an email calling NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell a “faggot” and a “clueless anti football [P-word].” Gruden suggested that Goodell had pressured Jeff Fisher, then coach of the St. Louis Rams, to draft “queers.” This was in reference to openly gay Michael Sam, who the Rams picked in 2014.

    Gruden also criticized President Barack Obama during his 2012 re-election campaign and referred to then-Vice President Joe Biden as a “nervous, clueless [P-word].” […]

    He swapped photos with the Washington team’s Allen of women wearing only bikini bottoms. This included a photo of two Washington team cheerleaders. This doesn’t seem like something you should do over work email or at all, honestly. (Allen was fired from the Washington football team in 2019.)

    […] The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh tweeted: “Nobody was a victim of Gruden’s vulgar comments in his private emails. The people who received the emails didn’t care. Nobody else knew about them. Nobody was hurt or even offended. Call it what it is: Gruden is getting canceled for thought crimes.” […]

    Gruden ridiculed the very idea of women working as referees. Presumably, their lady brains can’t arbitrate complicated sporting events.

    Walsh’s whining about “thought crimes” is so goddamn annoying because no one is going to literally torture Gruden to death because he said awful things. His employer is simply choosing to sever ties with him because his rhetoric is repulsive. Oh, and it definitely matters if the people who received the bigoted messages didn’t care. That’s how systemic discrimination works. […]

  204. says

    Details On Why Schiff Regrets Asking Mueller To Testify On Russia Probe

    Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) on Monday said that he regrets asking former special counsel Robert Mueller to testify before the House Judiciary Committee in 2019 following Mueller’s final report on the Russia probe.

    In his upcoming book “Midnight in Washington,” Schiff reportedly wrote that although he sent Mueller a handwritten note asking him to testify in July 2019, he found it “heartbreaking” when the then-special counsel declined or deflected dozens of questions.

    “Had I known how much he had changed, I would not have pursued his testimony with such vigor — in fact, I would not have pursued it at all,” Schiff wrote, according to CNN.

    […] Pressed on that revelation in his book during an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, Schiff detailed his regrets on requesting Mueller’s testimony when Maddow asked if he thinks someone else should have testified or led the Russia probe.

    “My regret only is in forcing him to testify when I could understand the moment he did, why his staff had been so reluctant,” Schiff said. “He wasn’t able to bring the report really fully to life. He just wasn’t the same man that I knew from years earlier.”

    Schiff added that Mueller led “a brilliant investigation” and is “a man of just incredible integrity” who “also presumes of others that they share the same devotion to the truth and have the same rectitude,” before taking aim at then-Attorney General Bill Barr for how he handled the receipt of the Russia probe report. […]

    “I think (Mueller) must have been astonished that Bill Barr would so betray his work, would lie to the American people about what was in his report repeatedly,” Schiff said. “And so I think you have the illustration of a really good man in Bob Mueller who presumes the best in everyone else, and then you have the exact opposite in Donald Trump.”

    […] Schiff shared his regrets surrounding Mueller’s testimony during an interview with NPR published on Sunday.

    “[…] I immediately told our members, ‘We need to cut down our questions. We can’t ask for narrative answers. We need to be very precise in what we ask. We need to have the page references of the report ready.’”

    According to NPR, Schiff found Mueller’s testimony to be “painful.”

    “And if I had known, I would not have pushed for his testimony,” Schiff told NPR. […]

    A video showing Schiff’s remarks to Rachel Maddow is available at the link.

  205. says

    Black man has a stroke, Boston police arrest him instead of calling an ambulance

    The Boston police have a notorious record when it comes to the treatment of Black citizens. The force itself is predominantly white, with efforts to diversify its ranks falling short decade after decade. So it can’t have been much of a surprise that when Boston police found Al Copeland slumped in his car in 2019, instead of calling an ambulance, they arrested the then 62-year-old and carted him off to jail.

    On the night Copeland was arrested, he knew he was having some kind of medical emergency. His years of training and driving for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) prepared him, so he pulled his car over immediately. He parked in front of the famed Berklee College of Music and told WBUR, although he was afraid, he thought, “at least if anything happens to me, somebody will find me.”

    When police found Copeland he was barely conscious, but instead of assuming he was ill, they filed a report claiming he was intoxicated and instead of calling an ambulance, they arrested him.

    “Why they didn’t assume he was sick?” Valerie Copeland, Al’s wife asks WBUR. “I can only and strongly believe it’s because he’s a Black male.”

    The night continued to become a nightmare for Copeland after he was taken to the police station. According to police records, while trying to use the bathroom in the holding cell, he fell and hit his head. Officers still did not offer him medical help, instead choosing to let him “sleep it off,” WBUR reports.

    It was only after five hours and Copeland beginning to vomit that officers finally called an ambulance to take him to Tufts Medical Center, where the nightmare turned into a horror movie. While there, medical workers also assumed he was drunk and made the decision to leave him in the emergency room unattended for seven more hours.

    Boston has settled with the Copelands for $1.3 million, but the officers have not been disciplined even though the investigation ended over a year ago.

    […] Although Tufts has apologized to the Copelands, the police department has never apologized or reached out to him or his family. And the physical damage is still quite significant.

    “My balance, my attitude, my appetite,” Al Copeland tells WBUR. “Tasting food, and some cognitive things that are still happening, and some physical things as well.”

    Copeland spent weeks at Tufts and months at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. He was forced to leave his job with the MBTA, and both eating and walking remain a challenge.

    […] The Copelands say they spoke to WBUR about the tragic day in April 2019 because they hoped it might change the way the Boston police handled cases like these, and to hopefully keep it from happening to another innocent Black person.

    “Hopefully some things can come out of this,” Copeland says. “To shed some light on it, to change some things systemically. But who the hell knows.”

  206. says

    Bad news regarding COVID cases in Russia:

    Russia recorded its highest daily COVID-19 death count on Tuesday as the country continues to struggle with pandemic under control.

    There were 973 coronavirus deaths on Tuesday, according to Russia’s coronavirus task force, along with more than 28,000 new cases, The Associated Press reported.

    Russia has been continuously breaking its daily death count as it hit 936 deaths on Friday.

    Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said Tuesday 11 percent of the country’s COVID-19 patients were in serious condition as pressure builds on the health care system, according to the AP.

    The national government has refused to lock down the country and has ceded decisions about pandemic restrictions to local authorities.

    A number of Russian regions have imposed vaccine mandates in certain lines of work, such as government offices, retail, health care, education and restaurants, according to the AP.

    “Any measure that can encourage more people to get vaccinated is good because only vaccination saves from death,” President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, previously said.

    The government’s task force says there have been 7.8 million recorded coronavirus cases with more than 218,000 deaths, but experts believe the number is much higher, the AP noted. [Yeah. I think that the number of deaths is probably a lot higher.]

    Data from Johns Hopkins University shows only 31 percent of Russia is fully vaccinated against the virus.

    Link

  207. says

    https://twitter.com/atrupar

    […] considering the circumstances surrounding her death, Trump’s Ashli Babbitt birthday video is tantamount to an endorsement of political violence. It’s a remarkable statement coming from the head of the GOP.

    Scroll down to also see:

    Wow. Jen Psaki just owned Ted Cruz.

  208. says

    https://twitter.com/neal_katyal

    “I do expect this to go to litigation. I think that the chances of Donald Trump winning are non-existent, he can’t stall out the truth,” former U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal tells @AriMelber of Trump’s efforts to withhold White House documents.

  209. says

    “Trump to Skip 2024 Campaign and Go Straight to Claiming He Won” by Andy Borowitz.

    PALM BEACH (The Borowitz Report)—Donald J. Trump will skip the 2024 campaign and go straight to claiming that he won, the former reality-show host has confirmed.

    Speaking to reporters, Trump said that campaigning in 2024 would be “a waste of time, quite frankly, because I have already won that election.”

    Asked how he could have won an election that is not scheduled to occur for another three years, he said, “People are saying that it already did happen. A lot of very smart people are calling me and saying that.”

    Trump said that, although he already won the 2024 election, “there was fraud and corruption like you wouldn’t believe.”

    “The 2024 election was so stolen it makes the 2020 election look not stolen,” he said. “The fact that I won in 2024 even though it was stolen from me is amazing, and, quite frankly, fantastic.”

    Trump lashed out at a reporter who asked if he planned to run yet again in 2028. “I already won in 2028,” he said. “That’s a stupid question and you’re a disgrace.”

    New Yorker link

  210. says

    Yes, there are still terrible wildfires in California:

    The Alisal Fire continued to wreak havoc on California’s Central Coast, ballooning Tuesday to 6,000 acres with 0 percent containment, according to Santa Barbara County officials.

    Authorities had already shut down a major thoroughfare and ordered mandatory evacuations as powerful winds swept across the state and fueled the rapidly growing fire that erupted Monday afternoon in the Los Padres National Forest.

    U.S. Highway 101, which stretches from California through Washington state, remained closed Tuesday near Santa Barbara. High winds fueled the fire overnight, helping it to jump all four lanes of the highway and spread to Tajiguas Beach.

    Between 100 and 200 structures were threatened, according to officials. About 600 firefighters are battling the blaze, and authorities said they hope the winds die down so crews can get the flames under control.

    “The fire is burning in dense chaparral and is being pushed by strong winds and growing at a rapid rate of speed,” said a Los Padres National Forest incident report. Smoke was visible throughout southern Santa Barbara County. […]

    NBC News link

    Video is available at the link.

  211. says

    Corruption:

    The State Department inspector general is investigating whether Trump administration officials helped themselves to expensive Trump-branded gifts meant for foreign dignitaries, NBC News confirmed Tuesday.

    The Office of the Inspector General is investigating whether political appointees of then-President Donald Trump removed the taxpayer-funded presents from the State Department gift vault in January and took them home, a department official with knowledge of the events said. The official said the dollar value of the missing gifts is “significant.”

    The latest probe into missing gifts was first reported by The New York Times. The paper identified the missing items as gift bags meant for foreign leaders at a Group of Seven summit that was supposed to be held at Camp David in 2020 but was canceled because of the pandemic. The gift bags included leather portfolios, pewter trays and marble boxes with the presidential seal or Donald and Melania Trump’s signatures, the Times reported. The newspaper cited public documents from the federal government, interviews with current and former officials, and statements from several departments and agencies for its story.

    The inspector general’s broad look at missing gifts during the Trump administration also includes a whiskey bottle worth $5,800 that was given to then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo by the Japanese but then disappeared. […]

    The State Department’s office of protocol is required to record gifts given to U.S. officials and keep track of their disposition. Recipients have the option of turning gifts of a certain value over to the National Archives or another government entity or purchasing them for personal use by reimbursing the Treasury Department for their value. […]

    Link

  212. says

    As Steve Benen reported:

    Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas declared over the weekend that the cancellation of hundreds of Southwest Airlines flights was result of the White House’s vaccine policy. Like far too much of Cruz’s rhetoric, that wasn’t true.

    From the Washington Post:

    […] the American predilection to celebrate stubborn individualism has gotten a lot of exercise over the past 20 months — fighting with baristas over mask rules and protests against coronavirus mandates — and you suddenly have a narrative: President Biden’s push for more vaccinations is the heavy hand of the authoritarian state on display.

    And so those engaged in this great and invented struggle against what they say are the forced injections of Americans look for heroes. Over the weekend, some were identified: unnamed pilots at Southwest Airlines who refused to fly, protesting their employer’s mandate that they be vaccinated against the coronavirus. A glut of flights canceled by the airline was attributed to a work stoppage and, in short order, those protesting pilots became a symbol of the new American cold war. Here, at last, are the freedom fighters opposing “Josef” Biden (even though the not-actually-a-mandate announced by Biden isn’t yet in place and the mandate at Southwest comes from the company, not the government).

    There’s one other problem. The celebration of these anti-mandate pilots is suffering from a remarkable dearth of evidence that the delays were to any significant degree, if at all, a function of pilots choosing not to work.

    An exchange between Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and a reporter for the Houston Chronicle is a good synopsis of the rhetorical fight. Cruz declared Sunday evening on Twitter that the cancellation of hundreds of Southwest flights was a function of “Joe Biden’s illegal vaccine mandate.” He linked to an article at CNBC that made no claim that America was suddenly “short on pilots & air traffic controllers,” as Cruz claimed. Instead, the article noted that there was “speculation on social media” that it was a response from pilots to vaccine mandates.

    The Chronicle’s Jay Jordan outlined what was known about the cancellations, contrasting it with Cruz’s claims. Cruz then accused Jordan on Twitter of being a “Dem propagandist” for outlining that evidence and offered a circumstantial defense of his initial claim. Jordan responded in kind.

    That “Dem propagandist” dig is telling, though. For Cruz, an effort to contextualize his unsubstantiated claims is definitionally an effort to aid his political opponents. It’s not only that Cruz is glomming onto this conservative-guerillas-fighting-the-leftist-autocracy framing for airplanes not flying, it’s that he is framing an effort to evaluate his claims against reality with another volley in the partisan cold war.

    Ideally, this is a country that operates on a shared set of facts. But we’re obviously far from that ideal and, instead, we are now a country that operates on disconnected sets of assumptions. For politicians such as Cruz, that’s useful: If something is gaining traction with his base of supporters and donors, there’s no real obligation for him to press the brakes.

    […]
    “[T]he blame should largely be heaped back on the operational organization,” the author writes. “Like Spirit back during the summer, Southwest seems to have lost track of its crews. The internal memo paints a picture of chaos, with those in charge of crew hotels scrambling — and in some cases failing — to find accommodation for crews scattered all over the country.”

    Southwest, its pilot union and the Federal Aviation Administration have all separately denied any work action. […] The airline’s original explanation that the delays were related to air-traffic-control issues and weather appear to be about delays at the control center in Jacksonville, Fla. A reporter in that city, Ben Becker, obtained a statement that acknowledged staffing shortages in part of the control center, both from approved leave and staffers following a mandate to stay home for 48 hours after receiving vaccine doses.

    An FAA statement mentioned that shortage along with weather and training exercises as causes for delays in flights Friday, which then spread to the weekend. (The “bad weather” rationale has been widely disparaged by those embracing the stoppage theory, but there were storms over central Florida that afternoon.)

    […] The point is that the rumors have far outpaced the evidence. It’s become an article of faith that the cancellations were a function of opposition to vaccines, in part because so many people want to believe that there are people willing to sacrifice their jobs in opposition to the vaccines. (There clearly are, but far fewer than polling at one point indicated.) In his response, Cruz draws an unintentionally good analogy, suggesting that Jordan is denying reality just as the media rejected the theory that the coronavirus emerged from a lab, itself an assertion now taken as an article of faith on the right despite a dearth of evidence. But the Southwest rumors are more potent; the idea of an individualist — no less a pilot, that avatar of daring and freedom! — standing athwart the will of the oppressive government is too compelling to let something as base as evidence hold it down.

    A lie gets halfway around the world while the truth is still putting its boots on. But an engaging rumor that aligns with partisan preferences moves faster still, instantly available in every Twitter feed and Facebook page on Earth.

    Washington Post link

  213. says

    The Mysterious Case of the COVID-19 Lab-Leak Theory

    New Yorker link

    Did the virus spring from nature or from human error? The article is by Carolyn Kormann. It is both too long and too complicated (too carefully written) to excerpt.

  214. says

    As reported by Steve Benen:

    […] in Montana, where state Republicans have banned voter registration and get-out-the-vote efforts in certain areas of college campuses, a new lawsuit was filed yesterday by the Montana Democratic Party, Montanans for Tester, and a University of Montana student.

    More information from the Associated press.

    […] The lawsuit filed by the Montana Democratic Party, Montanans for Tester, and University of Montana student Macee Patritti, is one of several challenging the law passed by the Republican-dominated Legislature earlier this year. The plaintiffs argue the law is suppressing the vote of young people who typically favor Democratic candidates.

    The law prohibits political committees including student organizations from conducting voter registration drives and other political activities inside certain high-traffic public university spaces including residence halls, dining facilities and athletic facilities.

    The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Missoula argues that the law contained in Senate Bill 319 “imposes arbitrary, vague, and onerous restrictions on the rights of college students” to participate fully in the political process.

    Montanans for Tester, the political campaign committee for Democratic U.S. Senator Jon Tester, argues in the court filing that the law could inhibit efforts to reelect Tester to the U.S. Senate by suppressing access to young voters who tend to support Democratic candidates.

    According to the lawsuit, Montanans for Tester along with the Montana Democratic Party registered over 3,000 new voters on college campuses by focusing on high traffic areas such as dorms and dining halls prior to the 2018 election.

    […] Another lawsuit filed earlier this year by university faculty, students and others is also challenging the law.

    The bill that led to the law was among several passed during the recent legislative session that appeared aimed at making it more difficult for college students to vote. […]

    Montana’s 2021 Legislature also passed a bill to end Election Day voter registration and to require more than just student identifications for college students to register to vote or vote. […]

  215. says

    McConnell’s debt-ceiling plan gets literally zero Republican votes

    Mitch McConnell came up with a plan to give Democrats more time to pay the GOP’s debt-ceiling ransom. Zero congressional Republicans voted for it.

    As the nation inched closer to default, due entirely to the latest Republican debt-ceiling crisis, GOP senators presented a ransom note featuring only one demand: Democrats had to raise the ceiling through the reconciliation process, assigning the debt a specific dollar figure that Republicans could use as a political weapon. If not, the GOP would crash the economy on purpose.

    Democrats not only opposed the idea, they explained that it was procedurally impossible, since there wasn’t enough time to jump through the many legislative hoops.

    It led Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to present an offer: Republicans would accept a brief extension of the nation’s borrowing limit in order to give Democrats more time to pay the GOP’s ransom.

    Senate Republicans hated the plan. In fact, when it came time to pass McConnell’s plan, GOP leaders struggled to find the necessary votes just to end their own party’s filibuster. When McConnell’s plan reached the floor, nearly 80 percent of Senate Republicans backed a filibuster to derail it and 100 percent of Senate Republicans voted against it.

    Last night, as NBC News reported, the same bill reached the House floor, where it faced a similar reception.

    The House voted Tuesday to pass a short-term increase in the debt ceiling to enable the Treasury to continue borrowing money to pay the bills for two months, setting up another round of fighting about the limit. The House voted 219-206 on partisan lines.

    As the roll call shows, literally zero House Republicans, including the ostensible “moderates,” approved the stopgap measure.

    These GOP lawmakers knew the bill would pass. They also knew that failure would lead to default and an economic catastrophe. They even knew that it was a leader from their own party who came up with the proposal in the first place. And yet, not one House Republican was willing to support McConnell’s plan to give Democrats more time to pay the GOP’s ransom.

    It’s almost as if the party is wholly uninterested in governing.

    The measure now heads to the White House, where President Joe Biden will sign the bill into law with five days to spare before the default deadline.

    In the process, this will start the clock on the next Republican debt-ceiling deadline, which is now expected to arrive on Dec. 3 — the same day as the next government-shutdown deadline.

    That said, Dec. 3 is an estimate, which was recently set by the Treasury Department. As federal tax receipts rapidly increase amidst a growing economy, it’s entirely possible that Congress will have some additional weeks beyond Dec. 3 to raise the debt ceiling.

  216. says

    What Representative Liz Cheney said:

    […] “While Mr. Meadows and Mr. Patel are, so far, engaging with the Select Committee, Mr. Bannon has indicated that he will try to hide behind vague references to privileges of the former President,” Thompson and Cheney said in a statement last week.

    “Though the Select Committee welcomes good-faith engagement with witnesses seeking to cooperate with our investigation, we will not allow any witness to defy a lawful subpoena or attempt to run out the clock, and we will swiftly consider advancing a criminal contempt of Congress referral,” the committee chairs wrote. […]

    Link

  217. says

    Raising my eyebrows and making a “horror” face in response to this news:

    Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) wrote a childrens’ book about cancel culture titled “Fame, Blame, and the Raft of Shame,” and now I wish I never learned how to read.

    The book’s description on the publication site includes this dire warning: “While today’s culture presents canceling others’ opinions as the solution to their problems, they don’t realize that a culture of canceling eventually cancels culture entirely.”

    Here’s the summary:

    Deep in the ocean, Starlotte City blooms beneath a dome made of glowing seaweed. The city’s beauty and strength are mirrored by its vibrant culture, and Eva wants nothing more than to take her place on Starlotte City’s stage. But, when one star performer suggests that they ought to cancel some animals for insensitive comments, the true strength of the seaweed city and its citizens is put to the test. Will Eva have the courage to stand up to the crowds, or will she allow fear to silence herself and others?

    Link

    Photos of the book are available at the link.

    Comments posted by readers of the article:

    Something tells me that the real author of Crenshaw’s book is Steven Miller.
    —————-
    Watch him sell millions.

    We are up against a machine, we are up against a racism so deep […]

    This man will have an audience. That audience will have paid Federal employees integrating this into the curriculum for millions of American children.
    ——————
    Cancel culture was coined for the media. Designed as a knee jerk objection to objecting to the objectionable. As the GOP gets deeper and deeper into the mud their acts become more and more disgusting. But forget that. If you object to racism, sexism or homophobia by walking away from it or not supporting it you’re “cancelling” the person that utters the filth but “cancelling” is now bad ( used to be rejecting ) so it’s YOU not that creep that’s wrong.
    ——————–
    I’m confused. Are parents now supposed to teach their children that they have to be friends with that kid who is hateful and calls people ugly names? What if the kid hurts people physically? What if she takes your lunch money and says that you’re ugly?
    I’m guessing that this isn’t aimed so much at children as it is toward more claims of victimization. I also assume that it is intended as a Christmas gift for everyone’s idiot in-laws.

  218. says

    Insurrectionist shoots himself in the foot (metaphorically speaking):

    A Jan. 6 insurrectionist decided to represent himself in his bond hearing on Tuesday — and then he reportedly got a little too chatty.

    Brandon Fellows is a New York man who’s been charged with obstructing a congressional proceeding and whom the feds say smoked weed in Sen. Jeff Merkley’s (D-OR) office after busting into the Capitol through a window. He was held in custody for missing a mental health evaluation, allegedly calling a probation officer’s mother and other violations, according to WUSA9.

    Per WUSA9, Fellows asked U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden last month if he could be his own legal counsel after spending two weeks reading law books in the jail library. McFadden gave Fellows permission to do so, but warned him “I do not think this is a good idea.”

    Fellows went on to talk… a lot.

    According to WUSA, the alleged insurrectionist appeared at the hearing Tuesday and told the court about a conversation he’d had with his ex-public defender in which he schemed to have McFadden kicked off the case by putting the judge’s wife’s phone number as his emergency contact — a gambit that Fellows said he had tried at least once before.

    The alleged insurrectionist also prattled on about the Taliban, Gitmo, and a lawyer allegedly telling him to wrap his phone in tin foil.

    Fellows, speaking under oath, ultimately stated that he had entered the Capitol building through a broken window, described the emergency contact number plot in his previous case, and admitted to skipping mental health and drug evaluations ordered by the court.

    McFadden tore into Fellows after the insurrectionist rambled for nearly two hours.

    “You’ve admitted to incredible lapses of judgment here on the stand, not least of which was seeking to disqualify a New York state judge,” the judge said. “You’ve admitted to obstruction of justice in that case, and you’ve admitted to what was probably obstruction in this case in trying to have me disqualified, and only Ms. Halverson’s advice stopped you from doing so,” he continued, referring to Fellow’s former public defender.

    “You’ve engaged in a pattern of behaviors that shows contempt for the criminal justice system, and I just have no confidence that you will follow my orders if I release you,” McFadden added.

    Link

  219. says

    Follow-up to comment 176.

    Hooray. Donna Scott Davenport lost her job. One of her jobs. Well-deserved consequence.

    A Tennessee judge whose conduct overseeing Rutherford County’s juvenile court caused national outrage lost her job with Middle Tennessee State University, officials confirmed to Nashville Public Radio on Monday. Donna Scott Davenport will no longer teach criminal justice as an adjunct instructor and “is no longer affiliated with the University,” MTSU president Sidney McPhee said in a statement.

    Davenport’s conduct was the subject of a joint WPLN/ProPublica investigative report that almost immediately begins with a violation of U.N. guidance on juvenile justice. The piece opens with children as young as eight years old being handcuffed and detained for allegedly witnessing a schoolyard fight at Hobgood Elementary School in Murfreesboro in 2016. The U.N. explicitly bars handcuffs from being used on children and only allows for children in court or in transit to be handcuffed if they pose a danger to themselves or others.

    It only gets worse from there as adult after adult fails the children around them […] School personnel do nothing more than cry. Just one police officer admits to removing handcuffs from a child. And an entire team works to bend the law to their whim because some of them misguidedly believe that charges ultimately help children learn, something that has been disproven time and time again.

    Davenport rules the juvenile justice system with an iron fist and even brags about it on a monthly radio show […]

    “I’ve locked up one seven-year-old in 13 years, and that was a heartbreak, but eight and nine-year-olds, and older, are very common now,” Davenport says in 2012, showing that exposure therapy works for her most heinous tendencies. God help her if she had to discipline another seven year old, though she could always wait until they reach that eight-year-old threshold to continue denying children basic human rights.

    It took Davenport five attempts and nine years to pass the bar exam and work her way up in an unjust system. Her own privilege clearly wasn’t enough, as Davenport felt the need to lie about her work experience. She claimed she kicked off her career working for “the feds,” when she worked under a program that only receives federal funding but is not part of the federal government.

    […] It should come as no surprise that Davenport is white and frequently deals in respectability politics meant to oppress the marginalized people her court routinely targets. She complains on her radio show about children misbehaving and parents acting even worse and even instituted a dress code that I don’t even have the wardrobe to adhere to.

    Her policies extend to the Rutherford County Juvenile Detention Center, where her original nominee to run the facility was arrested on drug charges and hastily replaced by Lynn Duke in 2001. Duke has an opaque system for keeping kids detained and frequently used solitary confinement — defined by the U.N. as torture — until it was barred following a lawsuit settled in 2018.

    And boy have there been lawsuits against the system over which Davenport presides. In fact, there are nearly 1,450 juveniles eligible to receive payment as part of a massive $11 million class action lawsuit that was settled against the juvenile court system.

    Left unsaid is the blatant profiteering from locking up so many young people […] Davenport may finally prove too costly for Rutherford County and lose her job there but the damage has already been done to innumerable families, friends, and the community.

    Link

  220. says

    Follow-up to comment 226.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    I’m so glad this monstrous woman has been knocked off her perch, at least a little. I read the ProPublica article a few days ago, and fucking hell, this woman is an absolute nightmare. She doesn’t give one single shit about the well-being of the children and families that come through her courtroom. She just relishes holding their lives in her hands and gets off on the power. She sends children to jail for swearing. She throws disabled children into solitary confinement indefinitely. She seems to believe that disrespecting her is an actual, literal crime. And the entire system and law enforcement community in that county props her up, enabling and participating in her abuses and law-breaking. It’s horrific. This woman has no business being a judge. Fuck, she has no business being around children. She needs to be removed from the bench. Like, yesterday. But at least now she won’t be able to teach her toxicity to college students. It’s nowhere near enough, but it’s a step in the right direction.
    —————-
    follow the money. […] this year she asked the county for a 23% budget increase, and to convert schoolrooms to a courtroom and an “intake center” where they’ll detain more children. She currently employs two full-time magistrates and wants another. Looks like she’ll get that increase, and if so her budget will be about five times what it was in 2005.

    So yeah, follow the money, and see who else is being paid and why.
    ————————–
    In some other cases, appeals courts have taken Davenport to task through unusually blunt language.

    In one, Davenport was overturned twice. Davenport, finding that a mother had neglected her daughter, granted custody to another couple. Two higher courts disagreed and ordered Davenport to reunify the mother and child. Instead, Davenport terminated the mother’s parental rights. The other couple then adopted the girl, after being “exhorted” by Davenport to move quickly, according to a state Court of Appeals opinion.

    The adoption went through while a challenge to Davenport’s parental termination ruling was still pending. In the second go-round, a state appeals court judge made clear his displeasure, saying, during oral argument, “Our little system works pretty simply”: If a higher court tells a lower court to do something, the lower court does it. “That didn’t happen in this case,” he said. Two months later, the appeals court overruled Davenport for a second time. Saying it was “troubled by the proceedings to this point,” the court ordered Davenport to reunite the mother and child — “expeditiously.”
    —————————
    Davenport describes her work as a calling. “I’m here on a mission. It’s not a job. It’s God’s mission,” she told a local newspaper. The children in her courtroom aren’t hers, but she calls them hers. “I’m seeing a lot of aggression in my 9- and 10-year-olds,” she says in one radio segment.

    The biggest assholes always hide behind God.

  221. says

    https://twitter.com/lawindsor/status/1447947406600032271

    EXCLUSIVE: Last night I told Governor Greg Abbott I was concerned about birth control and the morning after pill incentivizing women to be promiscuous.

    Abbott appeared to support outlawing both contraceptives, and said that “basically, we’ve outlawed abortion in Texas.”

    From Wonkette’s coverage of the video posted on Twitter:

    […] “My grandma’s a huge fan,” Windsor told Abbott, in character as a garbage person who respects Greg Abbott, asking him to sign something for her grandma, and thanking him for what he’s been doing lately to “defend the unborn.” She added, “We’re just wondering what more can be done until Roe v. Wade is not the law of the land anymore.”

    “Can you do something about morning after pills and birth control?”

    Abbott had ideas. He bragged that he had signed two very special laws. One “prohibits mail order abortion pills from being sent.” But the MOST IMPORTANT one, he said, was the Trigger Law. You know about trigger laws, yeah? […] trigger laws will automatically ban abortion. No legislative action required! Greg Abbott is so excited about that one.

    Abbott even says that with Texas’s trigger law, abortion will be “abolished” in Texas. You should know that “abolishing” abortion is language that comes directly from the most extreme forced birth activists in the country. They call themselves “abolitionists.” […]

    “So basically we’ve outlawed abortion in Texas,” Abbott bragged.

    When Windsor pushed Abbott, asking if he could please “go further” and outlaw morning after pills and birth control, he restated his support for the law he just signed banning mail-order abortion pills — which is different from morning-after pills — but conceded he wasn’t sure what they could do next about those issues. But he seemed open to it!

    And that’s what’s important for these people: that they keep moving the Overton Window further and further to the right. […] it’s no longer insane to think a state like Texas would have a bounty hunter law giving random rednecks in other states the right to sue abortion providers and the Uber drivers who transport people to use their services. Because Texas literally has that now.

    In summary and in conclusion, Greg Abbott says private businesses requiring vaccines are bad but seems open to further brainstorming on banning birth control. At the very least, he didn’t shut his constituent down and say “That’s fucking insane, Madam.” Sure, why the fuck not.

    Link

  222. says

    Mostly good news for senior citizens in the USA: Social Security benefits to rise 5.9 percent for roughly 70 million people in 2022

    Washington Post link

    The Social Security Administration announced Wednesday that its beneficiaries will see a 5.9 percent increase in their benefit checks starting next year — the largest boost to benefits in close to four decades.

    The adjustment will be made for 64 million Social Security beneficiaries as well as 8 million Supplemental Security Income beneficiaries. Some Americans receive both benefits.

    The cost-of-living increase, which will impact roughly 70 million people starting in late December and January, is tied to a measure of inflation that has surged this year as prices rise in a U.S. economy emerging from the coronavirus pandemic. Experts caution that millions of seniors will in reality see substantially less than a 6 percent bump, because Medicare Part B premiums are deducted from Social Security beneficiaries’ checks and are tied to seniors’ income. The increase in benefits will amount to roughly an additional $92 per month for seniors.

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics said Wednesday that prices rose 0.4 percent in September compared to August. Overall, prices are up 5.4 percent over the last year. The “cost of living adjustment” that determines Social Security payment hikes is based on a different measure of inflation, but they both capture similar phenomenon in the economy.

    The biggest program run by the federal government, Social Security is funded by payroll taxes paid by both workers and employers. Monthly payments then flow from Social Security primarily to retirees and people with disabilities, as well as to the relatives of workers who have died, among other groups. The program is the biggest source of retirement income for most seniors, representing more than 90 percent of retirement income for roughly a quarter of older Americans nationwide.

    Prices have risen throughout the economy since the pandemic, diminishing the value of government benefits beyond Social Security. But while wages have climbed for workers along with inflation, people who do not work are often dependent on government programs to update their payments based on federal metrics that are sometimes out of step with price changes in the economy itself.

    […] “This is welcome but inadequate — health care and prescription drug costs have been going up way faster than seniors’ cost of living. People’s Social Security benefits have been eroding for decades, and will continue to erode even with this increase,” said Nancy Altman, co-director of Social Security Works, a nonprofit group. […]

  223. says

    Despite the evidence, Republicans aren’t quite done with ivermectin

    It’s been months since the FDA reminded people that shouldn’t treat Covid-19 with livestock medicines. Some haven’t gotten the message.

    It was nearly two months ago when the U.S. Food and Drug Association published a curious missive to its official Twitter account, which may have left some people confused. “You are not a horse,” the FDA said. “You are not a cow. Seriously, y’all. Stop it.”

    Ordinarily, the FDA wouldn’t have to remind people that they’re not livestock, but as we discussed at the time, an alarming number of people were trying to treat Covid-19 by voluntarily taking a medicine known as ivermectin, which is generally a deworming medication intended horses and cows.

    As Rachel has explained on the show, there are limited instances in which humans should use ivermectin. For example, ivermectin lotion is often used to treat head lice. But according to the FDA, NIH, World Health Organization, the Journal of the American Medical Association, and even the company that makes ivermectin, the drug is not effective in treating Covid-19. It’s that simple.

    At least, it should be.

    Americans soon confronted a series of reports from across the country with people not only buying the deworming medication from livestock stores, but also inadvertently poisoning themselves. Conservative media outlets didn’t help, and neither did the usual suspects among congressional Republicans.

    What I didn’t fully appreciate was the degree to which this push never really went away.

    For example, in Texas, Republican gubernatorial hopeful Allen West was recently hospitalized due to pneumonia caused by Covid-19. Allen, who is not vaccinated, told supporters over the weekend that he’s optimistic — because he’s taking ivermectin.

    Soon after, Alaska Public Media published this report:

    An array of Republican state lawmakers and activists are pressing Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration and the state pharmacy board to make it easier for Alaskans to get access to ivermectin, the unproven COVID-19 treatment that state and federal agencies caution against using. In recent weeks, Palmer GOP Sen. Shelley Hughes has spoken with Dunleavy and his health commissioner to encourage them to consider supplying Alaskans with vitamins and drugs, including ivermectin, “that some Alaskan physicians are prescribing but pharmacies aren’t filling,” she said.

    The report added that several GOP state legislators also testified about ivermectin at a recent pharmacy board meeting — “where some asked board members to lean on pharmacists who are denying prescriptions for the drug.”

    This comes on the heels of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis tapping Dr. Joseph Ladapo as Florida’s controversial new surgeon general, despite — or perhaps because of? — Ladapo reportedly having promoted the benefits of ivermectin in the fight against Covid-19.

    I’d really hoped that we were past this by now.

  224. says

    Oh, FFS.

    Some people don’t care who hosts their fundraisers as long as the money keeps rolling in and Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker is just one of those guys. As Walker’s $3.7 million treasure chest grows, he heads to a fundraiser in Parker, Texas this weekend, co-hosted by dubious figure, Bettina Sofia Viviano-Langlais—a film producer, birther, and president and owner of Accelerate Entertainment, which offers a very short slate of very bad movies.

    Viviano-Langlais not only produces crap entertainment, but she’s also a vehement right-wing, anti-vaxxer with a very interesting symbol gracing her Twitter profile (which she immediately changed after reporting from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Patricia Murphy), but you can’t fool Twitter. See below. [available at the link.]

    When AJC asked for a comment regarding the swastika symbol on Walker’s host’s page, his camp responded with: “This is clearly an anti-mandatory vaccination graphic. Herschel unequivocally opposes anti-semitism and bigotry of all kinds.” Okay, and we don’t see the resemblance?

    Viviano-Langlais herself defended the symbol on Twitter saying she changed the profile picture because “It’s insane to think that pic was Anti-Semetic [sic]. Desperate actually. It was a pic showing what happens when fascists demand people insert foreign material into their body [sic] they don’t want…” […]

    But who cares about Nazi symbols when attendees to the fundraiser are paying $500 for the reception, and another $5,800 for VIP treatment and a photo with Walker?

    In addition to the obvious anti-vaccine theme, the party will likely be anti-mask as well. Viviano-Langlais and her husband Jim recently hosted a “Texas is Now Open” party in partnership with the Dallas Jewish Conservatives, featuring “fantastic conservative speakers, live entertainment, food & drink, and a big communal [mask-burning] bonfire!” Wondering if the Dallas Jewish Conservatives were aware of their host’s Twitter profile pic?

    NFL legend and Trump-minion Herschel Walker is currently the front-runner for the GOP nomination in Georgia.

    According to public records reviewed by Associated Press, Walker repeatedly threatened ex-wife Cindy Grossman during his divorce. In 2005, Grossman secured a protective order against him, alleging violence and controlling behavior, AP reports.

    In an interview with ABC News, Grossman said Walker held a gun to her head, saying, “I’m going to blow your f—ing brains out.” She filed for divorce in 2001, citing “physically abusive and extremely threatening behavior.”

    Meanwhile, Walker […] joined the board of Lin Wood’s “Fight Back Foundation” a few months ago. Wood is the attorney who helped raise $2 million for the bail and defense of Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenage vigilante who is charged with fatally shooting two men and injuring another at a Black Lives Matter protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin last year.

    Wood is a devout conservative, 9/11truther and Trump supporter who once tweeted that “President Trump Won reelection by a landslide. Biden cheated.”

    Good job Walker. Between aligning yourself with a truther and a birther, you’ve crafted the perfect GOP candidate. Come on Stacy Abrams, let’s get this joker out of here. […]

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