Comments

  1. Akira MacKenzie says

    I’m in the process of picking out all the horror/sci-fi films I intended to watch that whole weekend.

  2. says

    i am always amused by horror movies that make something ludicrous have an erotic appeal for the characters, like hellraiser frank’s “it’s never enough.” likewise, “from beyond” has people get real horny for pushing a button to spooky slime dimension.

  3. says

    There was a certain hokey MTV era of 80s horror movies, most of which i haven’t seen in a long time. Might be a fun theme. Stuff like Critters, Ghoulies, House, Phantasm II and Evil Dead II more than the originals, Gremlins, what was that alien possession one with Kyle MacLachlan in it? Killer Klowns from Outer Space… I’m thinking of stuff where the monsters don’t look remotely realistic, like somebody took Ratt Fink art and sculpted it in latex.

  4. says

    Kiyoshi Kurosawa is a horror director at heart, but he’s so good that people hijacked him to make art films like Bright Future. His best stuff is in genre tho. Cure, Kairo, and Sakebi are the best ones I’ve seen, but even the low budget and early Guard From Underground (aka Guard From Hell) had some bizarrely strong filmmaking in it. Personally, if you’re only going to get one, I’d say go for Sakebi or Cure. Cure is more classy, but the sense of humor in Sakebi, when it comes out, is too good to miss. I love it.

  5. birgerjohansson says

    Rather than a film, I will mention a book.
    “The End of October” by Lawrence Wright is a story about a pandemic – not this one, but a significantly worse one. It was published the spring of 2020.
    It is chock-full of information about infectious disease, embedded in the story so you can ‘ingest ‘ it without slowing down or getting bored. The novel may not be a stellar literary achievement, it is rather in the style of Tom Clancy but if there is a prize for successful didactic literature this book would be qualified.
    I do not mind a bit of lecturing. If people knew more basic science we would not be knee-deep in anti-vaxxers, creationists and goddamn flat-Earthers.
    .
    You may recall “The Cobra Event” by Richard Preston, that book contributed to making the then president Clinton sit up and take notice of the threat of bioweapons, although Preston took a bit more liberties with facts than Wright (but as a layperson, my opinion does not carry much weight. My advice is you read the books and then check the science with the sources available to you)
    .
    The book has some red herrings.
    The human die-off is depicted in a horrifying way, but as far as I can tell the death toll in % of the population is not worse than some historically recorded pandemics.
    The COVID unpleasantness of the last 21 months is by comparison ‘mild.

  6. Akira MacKenzie says

    My annual marathon always includes my collection of Lovecraftian films: HPLHS’ productions of “The Call of Cthulhu” and “The Whisperer in Darkness!” “The Resurrected.” (An early 90s adaptation of The Case of Charles Dexter Ward starring Chris Sarandon), and now the Nick Cage adaptation of “The Color Out Of Space.” Then there are some of the old Universal movies, like Lugosi’s “Dracula” and Karloff’s “Frankenstein” and “The Mummy.” I’ve also got the original “Psycho,” “Forbidden Planet,” “Alien,” “Hellboy,” “Solomon Kane,” and a few others.

    Of course, the night before Halloween, I always play the Mercury Theater on the Air’s infamous performance of “The War of the Worlds.”

    I love Halloween!

  7. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 7

    what was that alien possession one with Kyle MacLachlan in it?

    That would be “The Hidden” which, as I recall, also featured a young (and topless) Claudia Christian, long before she became Commander Susan Ivanova on Babylon 5.

  8. birgerjohansson says

    There is a rather competently done Alien rip-off film named “Creature”. Klaus Kinski makes a memorable performance as a creepy astronaut.
    .
    ‘Bad Taste’ is a spoof horror film, one of the early splatter films that does not take itself very seriously.
    .
    Speaking of Klaus Kinski, he made a brief appearence in a Bruce Lee rip-off film. I do not recall the title, it was cheesy but watchable.

  9. birgerjohansson says

    The 1986 horror comedy “Night of the Creeps” with Tom Atkins is pretty good. It is a homage to 50s and 60s horror films, it even begins with a black & white flashback.
    .
    “Drive Angry” with Nicholas Cage is much better than its reputation. But what makes it great is the performance of William Fitchner as The Accountant.

  10. birgerjohansson says

    Another surprisingly good film is “Highway to Hell”. It did not easily fit into a genre which hurt the box office performance but has a cult following.
    .
    Tom Selleck Gene Simmons and killer robots in the same film: “Runaway”.
    .
    A cheesy film with Jack Palance and Martin Landau: “Without Warning”.

  11. birgerjohansson says

    “Lifeforce” is a high-budget film from the early 1980s that is better than its reputation. And the photo and actors (kapten Picard!) is great, but it was just too weird for its time.
    .
    “Dog Soldiers” is a perfectly good film that just happens to be labelled “horror”.

  12. birgerjohansson says

    Slightly cheesy but objectively good films:
    Hardware (Lemmy has a cameo).
    -Death Machine.
    And the more traditional The Gate
    (Kudos to Brandon’s Cult Movie Reviews).

  13. birgerjohansson says

    An artsy and unsettling film: “Under The Skin”.
    Another unusual film is the Farsi-language “A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night” (it has subtitles, so don’t worry). Made by a Californian-Iranian director.
    .
    An artsy film that is an interesting failure is “The Hunger” with David Bowie, Susan Sarandon and Catherine Deneuve.

  14. birgerjohansson says

    Possibly “so bad it is good”:
    The evangelical horror film
    “Silver Bells” with the son of Chuck Norris confronting a satanist cult ruling an isolated town. He realises something is odd when the townspeople object to him touching the children (yes, för real).
    .
    The muslim film “Day (sic!) When Sun Rises From The West: Film That Shook The World”.
    The end of days is supposed to be preceded by the sun rising in the wrong direction, this is not the only scientifically nonsensical element. Bizarre ideas, crap dialogue, a feast for the sceptic film watcher.

  15. birgerjohansson says

    Bizarre Japanese films:
    “Cutie Honey” and “Big Man Japan”.
    Korean zombie film: “Last Train From Pusan”.

  16. hemidactylus says

    Did someone say Japanese films? “Audition” then. Totally messed up. I told my neighbor it was a romcom like “When Harry Met Sally”. He was already suspicious before this turning point:
    https://youtu.be/azeK3-pv2CE

    What’s in the sack? You don’t want to know.

    “Ringu” was much tamer. Too bad Hollywood bastardized it.

    “Phantasm” was creepy when I was younger, plus I loved the ‘71 ‘Cuda. Saw the rest, which weren’t as good.

    For really messed up and disturbing some of the found footage in the first two “V/H/S” movies. Best segments: “Tuesday the 17th” featuring “The Glitch”(horrific well beyond silly Blair Witch nonsense), “The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger” (aliens), “10/31/98”, “Phase I Clinical Trials” (pretty creepy like “The Glitch” above), “A Ride in the Park” (Zombies!!!), “Safe Haven” (most disturbing stuff I have ever seen…death cult and satan baby…far worse than “Audition”).

    Wouldn’t mind rewatching some of “The Strain” series which took vampires back from the whiny emos in the “Twilight” series. Back to Nosferatu roots.

  17. PaulBC says

    birgerjohansson@20 I am almost certain I saw Siskel and Ebert review “The Hunger” when it came out, and I have not given it any thought since then. IMDB gives it a 6.7, which isn’t too bad. Ebert was not a fan: https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/the-hunger-1983

    I might have remembered David Bowie playing a vampire if he had not outweirded himself by playing the Goblin King in Labyrinth a few years later. I had a friend who really liked that movie. I didn’t. The only thing I noticed years later is that a young Jennifer Connelly was in it. I have liked her in other roles (e.g. A Beautiful Mind) and and completely failed to make the connection.

    Is there an actual subject to this thread? Are all weird movie references appropriate? I finally saw “Streets of Fire” (1984) and the best I will say for it is that true to its name, the streets are actually on fire for about 15 minutes of the movie (better than “Chariots of Fire”, right?). Also, Rick Moranis. Rick Freaking Moranis.

  18. hemidactylus says

    I haven’t watched “Donnie Darko” for many years. It wasn’t horrifically disturbing, just intricate. Took me several times to decipher it, but not a mindf-ck like “Memento”. “Donnie Darko” took place during an October (1988?). How can you make a rabbit creepy? They found a way.

  19. PaulBC says

    Donnie Darko was OK. I was unaware of it (except maybe the title) until one of my kids wanted to see it a few years ago. At least it explained why my daughter’s friends knew the lyrics to an old Tears for Fears song.

    Simply by phonetic association I thought of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_City_(1998_film) which is also more intricate than disturbing and just very weird. It also has Jennifer Connelly. And I also completely forgot she was in it.

  20. hemidactylus says

    The most disappointing thing about “The Strain” is that unlike the Goth kids in South Park, the main protagonists never figured out all they had to do is burn down the Hot Topic store. Of course I doubt those vampires ever drank clamato through their juice box shrinking proboscis either.

  21. Tethys says

    I don’t usually enjoy horror movies. I prefer the Addams Family version of creepy, and watch those films for Halloween. I plan to watch Its the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown with adorable granddaughter.

    PaulBC

    Is there an actual subject to this thread?

    .

    It’s TET, (the endless thread) which once was used as a general conversation/ hang out thread. You can discuss any topic.

    To that end, I want to say that whoever invented spray ceiling texture should be keelhauled. Why would you cover beautiful plaster ceilings in something that is impossible to clean or maintain? Why!?

  22. birgerjohansson says

    “Razorback” may not be an outright horror movie, but it is certainly competently made.
    .
    For digging up weird , schlocky or so-bad-it-is-good film titles, Youtube places like “Brandon’s Cult Movie Reviews” and “Decker Shado” are useful.
    There are many B-film Youtube content makers, but those two are the ones I find most enjoyable (purely my own subjective taste).
    And you have Mystery Science Theatre 3000, but then you have to watch the whole films. I cannot take more than 3-4 minutes of “The Terrible Claw”. But it was fun to see a very young Clint Eastwood.

  23. says

    The Strain disappointed me. It started out great, with truly repulsive vampires, and then just got weirder and more confused as it went on. They had to smuggle a nuke to the Master’s native soil? Come on. That’s overdoing it.

  24. says

    You all mentioned Lifeforce, which features a beautiful vampire woman who is naked for practically the whole movie (but then, baby, she got real ugly in her bat form). But what about Innocent Blood, with Anne Parillaud strutting around with full frontal nudity? That was also a bit much. Seeing Don Rickles explode added more to the story.

  25. birgerjohansson says

    I forgot to mention films usually referred to as “Turkish Superman” or Turkish Star Wars.
    There are weird Italian films like Argoman where the hero has superpowers and behaves like a villain.
    If you want to combine “horror” with “weird” you can dig up some Indonesian or Thai films, in addition to the Japanese and Korean ones.
    .
    A forgotten US film is the horror/blaxploitation film ” Abby – The Devil is her lover now” (thank you, God Awful Movies).
    A black archaeology professor digs up a vessel that contains a Nigerian sex demon trapped inside. The demon escapes and travel across the Atlantic to possess the wife of the professor’s son (is this some kind of quantum entanglement thing? Is it a lower energy barrier to possess a relative to the one that opens the magic vessel than the opener himself?).

  26. birgerjohansson says

    Dang! I forgot Innocent Blood!
    But the film was too good to feature at the sites for cult movie classics.

  27. Tethys says

    An American Werewolf in London is horror with a lot of comedy thrown in. The Howling II has a bad plot, but some of the most realistic and terrifying werewolves in pre cgi films. I had never pictured bipedal werewolves.

    The Shining is a classic. Redrum, redrum!!

    @PaulBC

    At least my original ceiling is in good condition, unlike brick that gets covered with non-breathable materials for decades. I’m sure it was the modern thing at the time. Every thing done to my home in the 60s is slowly being removed, as it’s all ugly and poor quality compared to the original construction. I have some plastering and texture matching to do before I can finally paint the darn room. It’s just been an endless and tedious task to get all the texture off the crown moulding and ceiling. I’ve got twelve square feet to scrub, and this messy step will finally be complete.

  28. hemidactylus says

    In toto “The Strain” fell flat, but as with “Mr. Robot” there were scenes. Setrakian taking out the Nazi bastard Eichhorst with the Warfarin. The scene in the “New Horizons” episode where Dutch is escaping from the baby factory and stops in her tracks upon seeing the sheer horror and efficiency of the blood extraction operation with people on meat hooks and…plus just the campy coolness of the Luchador storyline with Gus’s uncle. Anyone growing up watching Saturday afternoon wrestling could appreciate that cross-cultural throwback.

    And The Ancients. Until this scene they seemed like a bunch of do nothing lazy privileged geezers then suddenly they developed a serious case of old school bad ass until the nuke:
    https://youtu.be/Il6n75S6Uy0

    And of course there’s Quinlan the Born dhampir with daddy issues. I was biased toward him because I liked Adam Carter in MI5. Unlike Jack Bauer most of the great characters in MI5 (Spooks) had spectacular death scenes because people in that dangerous line of work die:
    https://youtu.be/YZQnp_OBDnc

  29. says

    I don’t like horror movies much. At our house we watch “Nightmare before Christmas,” do showtunes from “Phantom of the Opera,” stuff like that. I do recommend Korean horror movies. There’s a really good take on vampires with Thirst (2009), and I enjoyed the monster movie The Host (2006).

  30. hemidactylus says

    @39- John Morales
    Damn you John you had to. Not only that several would go on to star in “The Walking Dead” the ironic ending where he does something horrific rendered unnecessary by subsequent events. It was a pretty good movie.

  31. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    “Dog Soldiers” is a perfectly good film that just happens to be labelled “horror”.

    I’ll second that as perhaps my favorite werewolf film of all time. Done on a B budget, and I’ve heard other people complain about the effects and animal suits, but I loved it. I should add a gore warning. Plot tl;dr squad of British soldiers vs a pack of werewolves out in the wilderness away from civilization. It has just the right amount of British humor to make it is amazing.

  32. chrislawson says

    Tethys@32–

    My list of horror films that are also genuinely funny/enjoyable/satirical rather than just traumatic (excluding movies that are pretty much straight-up comedies with horror tropes, also excluding a couple of Whedon films that are very good but I don’t feel like recommending):

    Evil Dead 2
    Evil Dead 3: Army of Darkness (this one really leans into Raimi’s Looney Tunes sensibilitities)
    Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (despite an absolutely appallingly bad creative decision in the denoument)
    The Old Dark House
    Arsenic and Old Lace
    Bad Taste (already mentioned upstream)
    Braindead (another lesser-known early Peter Jackson film, contains one of the great visual gags)
    Beetlejuice
    They Live
    Delicatessen
    Black Sheep
    Drag Me To Hell
    Brotherhood of the Wolf
    Lobster
    The Killing of a Sacred Deer

  33. hemidactylus says

    @47- chrislawson

    I liked “They Live” starring Rowdy Roddy Piper, one of the most notorious heels in wrestling history. He knew how to piss fans off big time. And that movie got taken for reality by conspiracy theorists. Some of Piper’s best work toward the end of his life was on “Always Sunny in Philadelphia”.

  34. chrislawson says

    My list of off-the-beaten track horror movies worth watching…Not all of these are obscure (a couple are recognised classics, and one or two have already been mentioned upstream), but they’re not your standard Hollywood production, even those that were made there.

    Raw
    Neon Demon
    Cure
    Kairo
    Carnival of Souls
    I Walked With a Zombie
    Diaboliques
    Possession (the Sam Neill/Isabelle Adjani one)
    Berberian Sound System (although its third act flounders)
    The Lighthouse
    The Haunting (1963 version only!!!!)
    Pan’s Labyrinth
    Cronos
    Pi
    Under the Skin
    Memories of Murder (based on a real historical case of an incompetent police investigation into a Korean serial killer — and as the case resists being solved, the police become as terrifying as the murders)
    Burning
    Videodrome
    Naked Lunch

  35. chrislawson says

    hemidactylus@28–

    And Piper has been immortalised by They Live for his quote “I came here to chew bubblegum and kick ass, but I’m all out of bubblegum”, which was not in the script. He had to convince John Carpenter to let him use it.

  36. brucegee1962 says

    We don’t go in for full-scale horror around here, but Bradbury’s animated “Halloween Tree” is always an October favorite, with Leonard Nimoy as Moundshroud.

  37. Rich Woods says

    @Akira #12:

    and now the Nick Cage adaptation of “The Color Out Of Space.”

    I can’t help but think that a Nick Cage adaptation of that story would be quite different to the recent Nicholas Cage version.

  38. snarkrates says

    I am afraid that horror as a genre does nothing for me. If I want to be scared, I’ll just listen to the news.

  39. specialffrog says

    If you want a completely weird horror / martial arts movie check out The Boxer’s Omen. It is like Kickboxer meets The Thing.

  40. says

    Horror from the all-too-real news: Man jailed in solitary for over a year is first to sue private prison company under recent state law

    A man who was swept up by federal immigration officials and jailed in solitary confinement for more than a year has sued, stating in his complaint that the private prison where he was detained subjected him to “unlawful conditions” that “amounted to torture,” advocacy groups representing the man said. Carlos Murillo, who was detained for 14 months beginning in December 2019, is the first person to sue under California law that allows victims to pursue legal action against private prison companies for failing to adhere to standards of care.

    Now that part is good news. The new California law allow victims to file lawsuits against private prison companies. About time those fuckers faced some accountability.

    “This isn’t just my story, this is the story of thousands of people who have suffered and continue to suffer in immigration detention,” Murrillo said in a statement from Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, among the advocates seeking justice for the man. “I’m speaking out today because I want to make sure that what I lived through doesn’t happen to anyone else. And if it does, I want to make sure that those causing the suffering are held responsible for it.”

    Yep. This is also a story about immigration, and about anti-immigrant doofuses in the USA.

    “Murillo was incarcerated in solitary confinement for 14 months beginning on December 13, 2019, at the Imperial Regional Detention Facility, where he spent 23 hours a day alone—a form of torture that was devastating to both his physical and psychological wellbeing,” the statement said. “The United Nations special rapporteur on torture, Juan E. Méndez, deemed that prolonged solitary confinement is a form of torture, and the UN’s Mandela Rules dictate that it should never be used with youth and those with mental or physical disability or illness, or for anyone for more than 15 days,” Vox reported in 2019.

    “Here, Mr. Murillo was held for over a year,” the lawsuit said—and his detention in solitary began through trickery by Management and Training Corporation (MTC), the private prison profiteer running Imperial.

    “Upon Mr. Murillo’s arrival at Imperial, an MTC employee gave Mr. Murillo a choice regarding where he wanted to be housed: general population or protective custody,” the lawsuit stated. “The MTC employee told Mr. Murillo that general population was dangerous and that he would be safer in protective custody.” The lawsuit states that Murrillo is a U.S. citizen though his military veteran dad, but had been unable to produce documents proving it. “Mr. Murillo, grateful for the advice and confident that his citizenship status would soon be sorted out, accepted the offer of protection. He was completely unprepared for what this ‘protection’ entailed.”

    Horror

    “What followed was a Kafkaesque nightmare of isolation, abuse, and callous disregard for Mr. Murillo’s physical and mental health,” Braun Hagey & Borden LLP, UCLA School of Law’s Human Rights Litigation Clinic, the California Collaborative for Immigrant Justice, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area continued. “Detainees in administrative segregation spend twenty-three hours a day alone in a cell. Their access to the yard, the library, other detainees, and even the showers is severely limited or nonexistent. Mr. Murillo was not informed of these restrictive conditions before he agreed to ‘protective custody.’”

    Murillo is now suing MTC under AB 3228, a first-of-its-kind bill signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom last year that went into effect this past January. “California is home to five civil detention facilities used to detain immigrants. As it stands the total number of individuals detained in this state is set to expand to 7,200 this year,” Immigrant Defense Advocates said last year. “Four out of five of these facilities are operated by private for-profit corporations, holding an estimated 90% of the detained population. These facilities lack transparency, accountability and a system to enforce uniform detention standards.”

    Yes. A complete lack of standards and a lack of accountability. The only consistent standard is “how much money can we make.”

    And, unfortunately, not shrinking in use by the federal government. While the president’s criminal justice reform platform pledged his administration would “make clear that the federal government should not use private facilities for any detention, including detention of undocumented immigrants,” a former Bureau of Prisons jail in Pennsylvania is set to reopen as a private immigration detention facility.

    ”There are many people inside detention that don’t speak English and are consistently taken advantage of because of this,” Murrillo continued. “I saw it with my own eyes. If my rights were violated, even as an English speaker, imagine what happens to those who don’t speak English: coercion, retaliation, bullying, you name it. It shouldn’t take being harmed by incarceration for us to care. We must have compassion and empathy for others and know that we should not stand by and watch these corporations make millions of dollars by violating a person’s human rights.”

    Link

  41. tomh says

    Lawsuits demand unproven ivermectin for Covid patients
    ASSOCIATED PRESS / October 16, 2021

    At least two dozen lawsuits have been filed around the U.S., many in recent weeks, by people seeking to force hospitals to give their COVID-stricken loved ones ivermectin, a drug for parasites that has been promoted by conservative commentators as a treatment despite a lack of conclusive evidence that it helps people with the virus.

    Interest in the drug started rising toward the end of last year and the beginning of this one, when studies — some later withdrawn, in other countries — seemed to suggest ivermectin had some potential and it became a hot topic of conversation among conservatives on social media.

    The lawsuits, several of them filed by the same western New York lawyer, cover similar ground. The families have gotten prescriptions for ivermectin, but hospitals have refused to use it on their loved ones, who are often on ventilators and facing death.

    There has been a mix of results in state courts. Some judges have refused to order hospitals to give ivermectin. Others have ordered medical providers to give the medication, despite concerns it could be harmful.

    In a September case on Staten Island, state Supreme Court Judge Ralph Porzio refused to order the use of ivermectin in a situation where a man sued a hospital on behalf of his ill father, citing its unproven impact.

    “This court will not require any doctor to be placed in a potentially unethical position wherein they could be committing medical malpractice by administering a medication for an unapproved, alleged off-label purpose,” he wrote.

    It’s astonishing, said James Beck, an attorney in Philadelphia who specializes in drug and medical device product liability and has written about the influx of cases. “I’ve never seen anything like this before.”

    Hospitals have pushed back, saying their standards of care don’t allow them to give patients a drug that hasn’t been approved for COVID and could potentially cause harm, and that allowing laypeople and judges to overrule medical professionals is a dangerous road to go down.

    “The way medicine works is, they are the experts, the doctors and … the hospitals,” said Arthur Caplan, professor of bioethics at New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine. “When you go there, you’re not going to a restaurant. You don’t order your own treatments.”

  42. davidc1 says

    The later Peter Cushing said the Hammer Studio films of which he made a shed load were fantasy ,the real horror films were ones like Marathon Man .
    American horror films seem to be the number one killer of American teenagers ,apart from skate board accidents .
    Anyone seen a film called The Keep ? Part war film ,part horror film set in Rumania .

  43. birgerjohansson says

    The Keep was a film version of a book ca.1980 by the same title. I did not find the book interesting so I avoided the film.
    .
    Recommended: “John Dies At The End” – American dark fantasy science fiction comedy horror film.

  44. Tethys says

    I stopped watching horror films in the 80s, so I wasn’t aware there is a sequel to The Shining. The Kubrick film does differ from the novel, but the hotel used as the Overlook, and Jack Nicholson’s performance are iconic in American horror films.

    The Serpent and the Rainbow is another 80s horror film that was entertaining. It features a pharmaceuticals company sending the protagonist to Haiti to discover the plants which voodoo priests used to create ‘zombies’.

    Apparently the film inspired the song Voodoo by Godsmack, which I also enjoy. The video is entirely appropriate for Halloween.

    I’m thrilled to report that my ceiling and crown moulding is free of horrible popcorn texture residue. Overhead work is always a nightmare, especially when you need to work wet so no dust is created. No spiders were harmed.

  45. says

    I’m tempted to watch “Trick Or Treat”, but only for the excellent sountrack by Fastway. As 1980s teen/horror movies go (e.g. “The Wraith”), “ToT” is one of those films that was a better as a memory than in rewatching.

    One of my favourite 1980s teen/horror movies was “Night Of The Comet”, a film that passes the Bechdel Test even without the two female lead characters. NotC was the film that inspired many 1980s and 1990s capable women characters (e.g. Ripley, Buffy, etc.). Among zombie movies, it came between the Romero flicks of the 1970s and “Return Of The Living Dead” in 1985, so it has a very different feel.

    As for Hallowe’en itself, this is the first time in years that I’ll probably stay home and stick to watching creepypasta videos. The only major parties here are outdoors because of restrictions on attendees (80 indoor, 300 outdoor), but given which foreigners are involved and running it, it’s better to stay away.

  46. birgerjohansson says

    The murderer of the British MP David Amess was inspired by the notorious islamist and ISIS supporter Anjem Choudari . This is the second murder in Britain that has been inspired by his online presence. Choudari himself has not been convicted for doing physical harm, but he is the mother of all hate preachers.

  47. birgerjohansson says

    I want to praise Sabine Hossenfelder, who is making surprisingly easy-to-understand physics videos on Youtube.

  48. birgerjohansson says

    Harris Sultan – an exmuslim making videos at Youtube – found a guy who claims to be converting djinn to islam. The common evangelical kooks have to up their game or be left in the dust!

  49. birgerjohansson says

    Sabine Hossenfelder revisited:
    she is doing quite a bit of mythbusting and is using language lay people can understand, without dumbing down the topic.
    She works at the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced studies (a clone of IAS at Princeton?).

  50. birgerjohansson says

    Gam 191 Flat Earth Clues (8-14)
    Eli, Heath and Noah dissect a horrible “documentary”

  51. birgerjohansson says

    Colin Powell has died at 84, from Covid complications.
    This comes on top of the death of Rumsfeld, the other awful guy in the Dubya administration.

  52. davidc1 says

    @66 Yes ,I read the book as well as seeing the film ,I enjoyed them both .According to Wikipedia there is a book based On John Dies In the End ,and the sequel is called This Book Is Full of Spiders .
    Just ordered a second hand copy of John Dies In the End ,the book not the film.

  53. says

    Russian influences in Nevada:

    As Adam Laxalt moves forward with his Republican U.S. Senate campaign in Nevada, he also testified last week at Lev Parnas’ corruption trial. As part of a failed 2018 campaign, Laxalt allegedly received $10,000 in the name of Parnas’ business partner, Igor Fruman, using money from a Russian tycoon, Andrey Muraviev.

    The summary above is Steve Benen’s take on reporting from The New York Times:

    Adam Laxalt was a Republican candidate for governor of Nevada in 2018 when he bumped into Rudolph W. Giuliani in a ballroom at the Trump International Hotel in Washington.

    Mr. Laxalt, who, like Mr. Giuliani, was a staunch supporter of President Donald J. Trump, accompanied Mr. Giuliani to a balcony, and told him that the governor’s race was “very close.”

    Among a group smoking cigars and having drinks, someone Mr. Laxalt did not know spoke up: It was Lev Parnas, a Ukrainian American businessman.

    “He immediately offered to help my campaign,” Mr. Laxalt said on Friday while testifying as a prosecution witness at Mr. Parnas’s corruption trial in federal court in Manhattan. “He offered to throw a fund-raiser.”

    Mr. Parnas is charged with conspiring to make campaign contributions by a foreign national and in the name of a person other than himself. Among the contributions at issue is one in the amount of $10,000 to Mr. Laxalt in 2018 that prosecutors have said was made in the name of Mr. Parnas’s business partner, Igor Fruman, using money from a Russian tycoon, Andrey Muraviev.

    Later, Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman became known for helping Mr. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, as he oversaw an effort in Ukraine to uncover damaging information about Joe Biden, at the time a leading Democratic presidential candidate who went on to beat Mr. Trump in the 2020 election.

    Mr. Laxalt’s testimony illustrated how thoroughly Mr. Parnas appeared to have installed himself in Mr. Trump’s orbit. Mr. Laxalt was a co-chair of Mr. Trump’s 2020 campaign in Nevada and he supported an effort to overturn Mr. Trump’s loss there.

    The interactions between Mr. Laxalt, who is currently running for a U.S. Senate seat in Nevada, and Mr. Parnas also provided a glimpse into the life of a political candidate eager to keep money flowing to his campaign.

    […] As the election neared, Mr. Laxalt kept inquiring about money. Mr. Parnas said he would bring Mr. Giuliani to Nevada to barnstorm on Mr. Laxalt’s behalf. Mr. Parnas also asked Mr. Laxalt whether he would like help in arranging a robocall. […]

    Link

    More details at the link. A bunch of pushy, mob-like clowns raising money from questionable sources. And … relying on Giuliani and Russians via Ukrainian connections?

  54. says

    What happened to the GOP legislators who participated in Jan. 6?

    One GOP state legislator who attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6 resigned after his arrest. He was, however, an exception.

    The Donald Trump supporters who participated in Jan. 6 had a variety of different backgrounds, but there was one group that stood out: While no members of Congress attacked their own workplace, several elected state legislators were on hand for the insurrectionist violence.

    One even faced real consequences. West Virginia’s Derrick Evans live-streamed himself entering the U.S. Capitol while shouting, “We’re in! We’re in! Derrick Evans is in the Capitol!” Two days later, the Republican lawmaker was arrested, and he resigned from the state legislature soon after.

    The West Virginian was, however, the exception, not the rule. Politico reported today on a project launched by the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC), which focuses on electing state legislators, and which set out to identify every Republican state lawmaker who went to the Capitol at Trump’s behest.

    […] the DLCC found 21 Republican lawmakers whom the group described as “insurrectionists,” and several hundred who promoted “Stop the Steal” rhetoric or signed letters or briefs calling to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

    “We honestly thought that it was possible that some of these folks actually would at least face consequences or step down,” Christina Polizzi, the DLCC’s communications director, told Politico.

    This was hardly an outlandish assumption. […]

    We now know, of course, that this didn’t happen. From the Politico report:

    Rather than shaming Republican state lawmakers out of office, Democrats found that many of the names on the list avoided pushback from party leaders in their state, grew their political platform and online following, and in at least three cases are now running for statewide office under the banner of former President Donald Trump and his lies about election fraud.

    […] Republicans who set out to rewrite the story of Jan. 6 have succeeded, at least with their target audience. At a GOP event last week in Virginia, in support of the state’s 2021 ticket, attendees literally pledged allegiance to a flag that was part of the Jan. 6 attack — as if it were a sacred relic from an event worthy of great reverence. [They have holy relics!]

    It’s the same thinking that leads Trump to celebrate those who committed acts of political violence. It’s also the same thinking that leads GOP members of Congress to characterize Jan. 6 participants as innocent tourists who are being unfairly persecuted.

    Jessica Post, who leads the DLCC, told Politico, “There’s a reason why representative Derrick Evans thought he could live-stream this thing from the Capitol without any accountability. A lot of these folks felt covered. This is today’s Republican Party.”

  55. says

    From Kurt Eichenwald:

    Colin Powell’s death says nothing about vaccine effectiveness. He had a blood cancer, which decreases effectiveness of vaccine and makes it harder to fight infection. Rather, it shows a big reason why we should all wear masks & get vaccinated: to protect the immune compromised.

    From Ashish K. Jha, MD, MPH:

    Given the passing of General Powell who was fully vaccinated, a lot of misinformation is spreading about breakthrough infections.

    So let’s talk about breakthroughs. What are they about? When are they a big deal? Let’s put on our public health and clinician hats on this thread.

    First, what is a “breakthrough” infection? Its when someone who is fully vaccinated still gets infected

    We know these vaccines prevent infection – but not 100%. So vaccinated people can still get infected

    But then, your immune system, trained by vaccines, really kicks in and within days of infection, a vaccinated person’s immune system goes into high gear.

    Memory B cells make antibodies. T cells arrive to kill infected cells. And for most people, they don’t go on to have severe disease. A few days of symptoms, then they recover. Awesome.

    So why are breakthrough infections still a problem for some people? Usually, they are a problem for older people or people with chronic illnesses (like heart failure or kidney disease)

    Why? First, their immune system may not mount as effective of a response.

    Second, a breakthrough that most people tolerate can kill vulnerable folks.

    A healthy person gets a breakthrough – 2 days of fever, cough, etc then recovers.

    An 80 year old with heart or kidney disease? Those 2 days of fever can precipitate a heart attack or kidney failure. And that heart attack or kidney failure can kill them

    We see this all the time in the hospital. Mild infections that kill vulnerable people.

    Vaccines turn COVID into a mild disease. For most of us, that’s awesome. For vulnerable people, its helpful but often not enough.

    So what do we do?
    1. Vulnerable people need boosters to reduce risk of getting breakthroughs
    2. Lower community spread

    No matter how good our vaccines – if we have a raging forest fire of infections among unvaccinated it will spill over and kill vulnerable vaccinated folks

    While Powell had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before his death, he had multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that impairs the body’s ability to fight infections.

  56. Walter Solomon says

    Cool. Give me suggestions!

    It Follows is one of my favorite horror flicks. There’s little in the way of gore and very few jump scares but the unrelenting, invulnerable nature of the entity chasing the protagonists is like Terminator dialed to eleven and much scarier.

  57. says

    Bad news concerning diplomatic ties between Russia and NATO:

    Russia on Monday suspended its mission at NATO and ordered the closure of the alliance’s office in Moscow in retaliation for NATO’s expulsion of Russian diplomats.

    Earlier this month, NATO withdrew the accreditation of eight Russian officials to its Brussels headquarters, saying it believes they have been secretly working as Russian intelligence officers. NATO also halved the size of Moscow’s team at its headquarters from 20 to 10.

    […] Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov delivered Moscow’s response Monday, announcing the suspension of Russia’s mission at NATO and the closure of the alliance’s military liaison and information offices in the Russian capital.

    He charged that the alliance’s action has confirmed that “NATO isn’t interested in any kind of equal dialogue or joint work,” adding that “we don’t see any need to keep pretending that there could be any shift in the foreseeable future.”

    Lavrov added that contacts between the Western military alliance and Russia could be maintained through the Russian Embassy in Belgium.

    […] “The alliance’s line towards our country is becoming more and more aggressive,” the ministry [Russia’s Foreign Ministry] noted. “The ‘Russian threat’ is inflated in order to strengthen the internal unity of the alliance, to create the appearance of its ‘relevance’ in modern geopolitical conditions.”

    NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu said the alliance has taken note of Lavrov’s statement, but added it hasn’t yet received an official notice from Moscow.

    […] Amid a strain in ties, Moscow has repeatedly voiced concerns over the deployment of NATO forces near Russian borders, describing it as a threat to its security. Russia and the alliance also have blamed each other for conducting destabilizing military exercises near the borders.

    Link

  58. Walter Solomon says

    Colin Powell has died at 84

    To paraphrase Kurt Vonnegut, now that the “Colon” is gone, we only need Bush and “Dick” to kick the bucket now.

  59. says

    From Wonkette: Colin Powell Was Vaccinated But Also Living With Cancer. Which Part Will Anti-Vaxxers Tell The Truth About?

    Colin Powell, the first Black secretary of State, has died at 84 from complications related to COVID-19. Powell was vaccinated, and he was living with multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer that would’ve made it harder to fight off breakthrough infections. Nonetheless, this will unfortunately fuel the anti-vax narrative from conspiracy theorists with no regard for the health of at-risk Americans.

    Born in New York City and raised in the south Bronx, Powell received a commission as an Army second lieutenant after graduating from the City College of New York City in 1958. President Harry S. Truman had desegregated the military just a decade earlier. He served in the military for the next 35 years (including tours in Vietnam) and rose to the rank of four-star general. He was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1989 to 1993. During that time he oversaw the invasion of Panama and Operation Desert Storm in the Persian Gulf War, perhaps the last US military engagement that played out (superficially at least) like the action movie Republicans demanded.

    […] Powell’s parents were immigrants from Jamaica, and he considered himself someone “who’d lived the American dream to its fullest.” During his 1996 convention speech, he said to an almost entirely white audience, “We might be black and treated as second-class citizens, but stick with it. Because in America, justice will eventually triumph.”

    POWELL: The Republican party must always be the party of inclusion. The Hispanic immigrant who became a citizen yesterday must be as precious to us as a Mayflower descendant; the descendant of a slave or of a struggling miner in Appalachia must be as welcome — and must find as much appeal — in our party as in any other party or any other American might. It is our diversity that has made us strong. Yet our diversity has sadly, throughout our history, been the source of discrimination. Discrimination that we, as guardians of the American Dream, must rip out branch and root. It is our party, it is our party, the party of Lincoln, that must always stand for equal rights and fair opportunity for all.

    That was a fantasy even in 1996, as Newt Gingrich was the speaker of the House and Pat Buchanan was still an influential figure in the party. But the GOP didn’t promote its cruelty, ignorance, and bigotry as openly, or at least not in the same way. Powell represented the party’s veneer of respectability, so it’s both ironic and fitting that Powell would willingly tarnish his reputation during the buildup to the 2003 Iraq war.

    Powell later said he regretted his February 2003 speech to the United Nations claiming that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. […]

    The Iraq War arguably remains Powell’s greatest single mistake. It’s certainly why leftists on social media are especially gross about Powell’s death today. Iraq wasn’t Powell’s idea, but the war’s chief architects, President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, saw everything Powell had built during his professional career as their own collateral to spend.

    “We’ve really got to make the case” against Hussein, Bush told Powell in an Oval Office meeting in late January, “and I want you to make it.” Only Powell had the “credibility to do this,” Bush said. […]

    Cheney reportedly told Powell before the infamous UN speech, “You’ve got high poll ratings; you can afford to lose a few points.”

    […] Four years later, Powell endorsed Barack Obama, a vocal opponent of the Iraq War. He railed against what he considered “a dark vein of intolerance in some parts” of the GOP, after Obama was elected. While privately not a fan of Hillary Clinton, he endorsed her for president in 2016 because he recognized the threat Donald Trump posed. […]

    Powell officially abandoned his former party after the January 6 attack on the Capitol. Some of his last public words, given during an interview after President Joe Biden’s inauguration, remained optimistic nonetheless.

    “[Biden’s inaugural speech] puts us in perspective. We’re Americans. We have a great country. It’s great today as it’s ever been, even with the nonsense that took place two weeks ago … You know, I sat there, just looking up at the dome of the Capitol, that kind of yellowish tone that it has, and I just kept staring at it and listening to what the president was saying and rethinking what I saw two weeks ago from the riots that were taking place, and just saying to myself: We’ll wash that out. We’ll wash that out. This is a real America.”

    A good man who was also too gullible and too optimistic. He was rolled by Cheney and Bush.

  60. says

    Miami school says vaccinated students must stay home for 30 days to protect others, citing discredited info.

    Washington Post link

    […] a Miami private school […] made another startling declaration: If you vaccinate your child, they’ll have to stay home for 30 days after each shot.

    The email from Centner Academy leadership repeated misleading and false claims that vaccinated people could pass on so-called harmful effects of the shot and have a “potential impact” on unvaccinated students and staff. [Oh, FFS!]

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has debunked claims that the coronavirus vaccine can “shed or release any of their components” through the air or skin contact. The coronavirus vaccines do not contain a live virus, so their components can’t be transmitted to others. […]

  61. says

    Joe Manchin’s ugly new demands expose the absurdity of arbitrary centrism [I would put “centrism” in quotes.]

    Washington Post link

    […] The West Virginia Democrat [Senator Joe Manchin] is making new demands that could badly impair our ability to combat child poverty and global warming, by shrinking two key components of the reconciliation bill.

    Manchin’s new moves reveal the folly of arbitrary centrism. This posture is essentially that any effort to restrain liberal governance is an inherent good, with no serious acknowledgement required of the real-world trade offs it entails.

    Manchin has told the White House that the expanded child tax credit (CTC) must be packaged with a work requirement and be capped at family incomes of around $60,000, Axios reports. TThis would dramatically downsize current policy […]

    Manchin’s opposition to the bill’s clean energy program will likely mean it will be jettisoned […] This policy, which would reward power companies that transition to clean energy sources and penalize those that don’t, is widely seen as critical to securing our decarbonized future.

    To satisfy Manchin and fellow spendophobe Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Biden has proposed a reconciliation spending target of around $2 trillion. This has Democrats scrambling to chop down the package […]

    Manchin has even suggested to colleagues that he doesn’t particularly care which progressive priorities get jettisoned; he just wants to see some of them gone.

    In other words, Manchin and Sinema don’t begin by saying: “Here’s what we need to do for the country. How should we pay for it?”

    Instead, they declare at the outset that we must spend much less than whatever liberals want to spend, and that liberals must junk major priorities to meet that demand. But the senators remain maddeningly vague about what programs they themselves will or won’t support.

    The arbitrary nature of this is captured in Manchin’s CTC demand. Current policy temporarily expands the CTC to poorer families and grants it to families making up to $150,000 […] Manchin wants to impose a work requirement and means-test it to exclude those making more than a far lower threshold.

    Manchin justifies such demands by warning against becoming an “entitlement society.” In this frame, the more we spend on things like the CTC and health care subsidies, the less incentivized people are to seek “rewarding” work. Fewer entitlements good; more entitlements bad.

    […] But the entire frame is wrong. The expanded CTC is empowering: It enables people to have families despite material constraints. It also provides a disproportionate boost in purchasing power in rural and less populous areas — because they tend to have more poor people and larger family sizes relative to population — potentially invigorating stagnating non-metro areas. One is West Virginia.

    […] Niskanen policy director Samuel Hammond calls Manchin’s position “performative austerity,” and points to a deep perversity. The work requirement is supposed to avoid fostering dependency. As it is, such a requirement is misguided: People need the CTC not because they are unwilling to work, but because children impose additional costs.

    But beyond this, Hammond notes, means testing the program might create more dependency by creating incentives not to strive for a higher income, making it more like the sort of welfare program Manchin fears.

    […] “Narrowly targeting the credit to the lowest income families risks creating a stigmatizing poverty trap.”

    […] Manchin’s effort to downsize Biden’s climate agenda would also mean huge downsides. […] West Virginia’s geography and topography means the state’s infrastructure faces unusual risk levels from extreme weather events.

    […] the primary impetus seems to be mainly about doing less of whatever liberals want to do. But this will impose costs that will likely be much worse than those Manchin worries about. Alas, the ideology of arbitrary centrism is blind to these trade offs.

  62. brightmoon says

    Not a fan of horror movies . But I rewatched Blacula recently which I hadn’t seen since the 1970s. William Marshall was still elegant and the movie was still silly

  63. Tethys says

    Blade is another vampire movie that is fun and a bit campy, rather than the jump scares and gore genre of horror. Wesley Snipes is as indestructible as John Wick.

  64. tomh says

    Axios
    Trump sues National Archives, Jan. 6 committee to block records request
    Zachary Basu

    President Trump filed a lawsuit Monday seeking to block the National Archives from releasing White House records to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, citing executive privilege.

    It’s the latest escalation in Trump’s campaign to disrupt the committee’s sweeping probe into the circumstances surrounding Jan. 6, including his actions and communications leading up to the Capitol attack.

    Trump has already attempted to assert executive privilege to block former aides from testifying, despite subpoenas issued by the committee.

    The committee will vote Tuesday evening on a criminal referral for former Trump aide Steve Bannon over his refusal to comply with a subpoena.

    President Biden has waived executive privilege on an initial set of White House documents produced in response to the committee’s requests for information — a move that Trump’s lawsuit attacked as “a political ploy to accommodate his partisan allies.”
    […]

    The lawsuit seeks to invalidate the committee’s request and block the National Archives from turning the records over, at least until Trump can conduct “a full privilege review of all of the requested materials.”

  65. says

    birgerjohansson, we don’t embed videos in this thread. By the time the thread racks up hundreds of comments, it is slow to load if videos are embedded. Please just link to the video to which you want to call attention.

  66. says

    https://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/civil-suit-trump-testifies-under-oath-more-four-hours-n1281841“>In civil suit, Trump testifies under oath for more than four hours

    Trump participated in his first deposition in several years, and he “conducted himself in a manner that you would expect Mr. Trump to conduct himself.”

    As NBC News noted yesterday, there are at least 10 civil cases pending against Donald Trump — and now that he’s out of office, it’s far more difficult for him to avoid them.

    As The Associated Press reported, one of them led to the Republican’s first deposition in quite a while.

    Former President Donald Trump was questioned Monday in a deposition for a lawsuit brought by protesters who say his security team roughed them up in the early days of his presidential campaign in 2015. Trump testified under oath behind closed doors at Trump Tower in New York City for several hours, a lawyer for the plaintiffs said.

    […] it wasn’t the highest-profile controversy of Trump’s 2016 candidacy, […] a small group of activists held a protest outside Trump’s New York office. Those same activists have alleged that they were violently assaulted by the candidate’s security guards, including Trump’s longtime bodyguard, Keith Schiller, who allegedly punched a protester in the head while trying to wrest away his “Make America racist again” sign.

    According to the plaintiffs, while the former president did not directly participate in the altercation, he bears legal responsibility for the actions of his employees.

    During his time in office, Trump’s lawyers said he was too busy to answer questions about the case and made multiple attempts at having the case dismissed. Those efforts failed.

    And now that he’s a private citizen, a New York judge directed Trump to give a deposition at Trump Tower. It was videotaped and could be played during the upcoming trial, though as The New York Times noted, “It is not yet clear whether Mr. Trump’s testimony will be made public; Mr. Trump’s lawyers could ask that it be sealed. But it may touch on several topics of interest, including Mr. Trump’s personal wealth and his relationship with at least one employee who has been scrutinized by prosecutors conducting an investigation into the former president and his business.”

    Benjamin Dictor, the attorney representing the men who filed the lawsuit [told] CNN, “The president was exactly how you would expect him to be, he answered questions the way you would expect Mr. Trump to answer questions and conducted himself in a manner that you would expect Mr. Trump to conduct himself.”

    Trump’s lawyers no doubt begged him to keep his answers brief and on topic. That description of his deposition suggests the former president chose a more predictable course.

    The CNN report also said the Q&A, which was under oath, lasted more than four hours.

    […] Trump issued a written statement that read, “After years of litigation, I was pleased to have had the opportunity to tell my side of this ridiculous story — Just one more example of baseless harassment of your favorite President.”

    He was, evidently, referring to himself.

  67. says

    Gallup poll report:

    Six months into Joe Biden’s presidency, approval ratings of U.S. leadership around the world had largely rebounded from the record-low ratings observed during the Trump administration. A new Gallup report shows that as of early August 2021, across 46 countries and territories, median approval of U.S. leadership stood at 49%. This rating is up from the 30% median approval at the end of Donald Trump’s presidency.

    Commentary:

    […] The 49 percent approval rating for U.S. leadership ties the high point reached in the first year of Barack Obama’s presidency 12 years ago.

    The results are not without caveats. […] Trump left a stain that has not washed off. What’s more, support for the U.S. varies greatly by nation, and in a handful of countries, the rebound is less pronounced. Our standing in Russia, for example, slid more over the last year than in any other country.

    […] the overall trend is unmistakable: The United States enjoyed solid global backing under Obama; that support collapsed under Trump; and it’s rebounding under Biden.

    […] Four months ago, the Pew Research Center released a related report documenting “dramatic” improvements in the United States’ international stature following the Democrat’s inauguration. […]

    the international surveys shatter Trump’s assumptions. At a campaign event last summer, the then-president turned his attention to one of his very favorite falsehoods: “You know, we’re respected again. You may not feel it, although I think you do. You may not see it. You don’t read about it from the fake news, but this country is respected again.”

    […] The United States was an international laughingstock for decades, Trump believes, but thanks to how awesome his awesomeness is, he singlehandedly restored the nation’s global stature. It was a ridiculous idea he brought up constantly, seeing it as one of his most important accomplishments.

    […] everything Trump said about his successes in improving the United States’ standing was wrong, and it’s Biden who’s actually accomplishing what his predecessor felt compelled to lie about.

    […] the United States’ reputation soared under Obama, repairing the damage done during the Bush/Cheney era. Now, it’s déjà vu all over again, as Biden restores confidence in the wake of Trump.

    All of this matters in ways that go well beyond bragging rights. As Rachel explained on the show in June, Biden is determined to show the world that the United States is back, it’s ready to lead responsibly […]

    Link

  68. says

    Hmmm. I wonder what is going to come of this:

    FBI agents have reportedly swarmed a Washington D.C. residence belonging to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.

    An FBI spokesperson confirmed to TPM Tuesday that “court-authorized law enforcement activity” was taking place at an address belonging to Deripaska. The bureau declined to comment further. […]

    Background:

    […] Deripaska played a starring role in allegations that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.

    Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort owed a debt of millions to Deripaska, which the Russian oligarch attempted to recoup during the campaign.

    At one point during the 2016 presidential race, Manafort offered to brief Deripaska on Trump campaign polling and the inner workings of the campaign.

    The longtime GOP political consultant had worked with Deripaska for years before the 2016 election, notably getting involved in an investment deal in the southern Ukrainian city of Odessa.

    That deal led to litigation in which Deripaska attempted to recoup $25 million from Manafort.

    Deripaska has also been involved in a series of business deals that involve U.S. metallurgical assets, a core component of the oligarchs’ business empire.

    The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Deripaska in April 2018 for “attempting to subvert Western democracies.” Deripaska sued to have the sanctions removed, but that lawsuit was dismissed in June 2021.

    Link

  69. says

    JFC.

    Conservative radio host and anti-vaxxer Dennis Prager was delighted to announce yesterday that he now has COVID-19, a thing he is extremely happy about and, in fact, worked extremely hard to achieve. […]

    It is infinitely preferable to have natural immunity than vaccine immunity and that is what I have hoped for the entire time. Hence, I have engaged with strangers, constantly hugging them, taking photos with them knowing that I was making myself very susceptible to getting COVID. Which is, indeed, as bizarre as it sounded, what I wanted, in the hope I would achieve natural immunity and be taken care of by therapeutics. That is exactly what has happened.

    What Prager is calling “natural immunity” has not been shown to be consistent when it comes to protection. Vaccines work better and the protection they provide lasts longer. Nothing is 100% a guarantee that you won’t get COVID, but vaccines are the best bet, statistically speaking.

    It is utterly bonkers to contract COVID deliberately.

    Get vaccinated. If you qualify, get a booster shot. Stay away from Dennis Prager.

  70. says

    Top Trump Fundraiser Boasted Of Raising $3 Million To Support Jan. 6 ‘Save America’ Rally

    What a thing to boast about. More money for insurrectionists.

    […] Wren [Caroline Wren, a former top fundraiser for the Trump campaign] boasted of having raised $3 million to support the rally. She also described how she had “parked” unspecified amounts of money for Jan. 6 at an arm of the Republican Attorneys General Association, at the Tea Party Express and at Turning Point, a collection of affiliated nonprofits that serve young Republicans.

    Routing funds to multiple groups “added a layer of confidentiality for the donor and offered institutional support for the 6th,” Stockton said.

    A Wren associate told another rally organizer that $3 million had been raised to support the rally on Jan. 6. […] the two accounts suggest the events of Jan. 6 may have been significantly better funded than previously known.

    Earlier news reports estimated that staging the rally cost only about half a million dollars, primarily funded by a roughly $300,000 donation Wren facilitated from the Publix supermarket heir Julie Jenkins Fancelli.

    […] Ahead of the Jan. 6 rally, Wren directed roughly $150,000 from Fancelli to the Rule of Law Defense Fund, the dark-money arm of the Republican Attorneys General Association, or RAGA, according to a person familiar with the transaction. The Rule of Law Defense Fund then paid for a robocall inviting people to the Capitol in order to satisfy the conditions of the donation Wren brought in, the source said.

    “At 1:00 p.m., we will march to the Capitol building and call on Congress to stop the steal,” the robocall said. “We are hoping patriots like you will join us to continue to fight to protect the integrity of our elections.” […]

    Rally planning documents obtained by ProPublica also show that Wren listed RAGA as the payer for five hotel rooms in Washington the week of Jan. 6, including a $1,029-a-night suite for Fancelli. [Why do they always give the really rich people lots of free stuff?] The documents suggest Wren expected the group to pay for several other attendees’ hotel rooms, including those of Trump campaign surrogate Gina Loudon and Bikers for Trump founder Chris Cox.[…]

    Lot’s of infighting, chaos and ill-will within the Trump camp:

    […] Wren pushed relentlessly for far-right provocateurs Alex Jones and Ali Alexander to appear on stage with the president, a proposal that was met with resistance from some Trump aides. The tension escalated until the morning of Jan. 6, when a senior White House official suggested rally organizers call the U.S. Park Police on Wren and have her escorted off the Ellipse. Officers arrived but took no action.

    The robocall facilitated by Wren led to turmoil at RAGA, a 22-year-old group traditionally dedicated to helping conservatives win state attorney general races. Four days after the existence of the call was revealed by the watchdog website Documented, the attorneys general group’s then-executive director, Adam Piper, resigned. In the months to come, much of the organization’s senior staff followed suit, as did Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, who was the organization’s chairman on Jan. 6. […]

    “When we discovered that the executive director of RAGA had used the organization’s funds for an unauthorized robocall urging attendance at the Jan. 6 rally, I accepted his resignation, ordered an audit and investigation, imposed new internal controls, and began a search for a new executive director,” said Carr in his April statement. […]

  71. says

    Unsigned Supreme Court decision sides with police in two qualified immunity cases

    This is more bad news.

    The Supreme Court moved on Monday to strengthen the doctrine of qualified immunity, which protects police officers accused of excessive force from lawsuits. The court released two unsigned decisions, without dissents, backing police officers who in one case shot a suspect with bean bags and then put a knee on his back and in the other case shot and killed a suspect who brandished a hammer at them.

    These actions were protected, the court said, because there must be precedent that a specific form of brutality is extreme enough to wipe away qualified immunity—and that precedent must come from the Supreme Court. It’s not enough that a lower court has told officers it is unacceptable to put a knee on someone’s back with enough force to injure them. The Supreme Court must have signed on to that very specific opinion. It’s almost like if an officer can figure out what the court hasn’t ruled out in the way of harming suspects—which is a lot—he has a free pass to do that.

    […] Earlier in the year, the court did find two cases vicious and disgusting enough to rule that the officers involved did not get qualified immunity. Notably, both those cases involved correctional officers, not police officers. In one, a Texas prisoner was held for six days in “shockingly unsanitary cells,” one covered in feces and one where the floor “was wet with urine and had a backed-up drain into which he was told to urinate, leaving him to sleep, naked, on the urine-soaked floor,” a judge on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals wrote. In the other, another Texas prisoner was sprayed in the face with chemicals “for no reason at all.” In both cases, the 5th Circuit sided with the correctional officers. In the second case, for instance, a judge wrote that, sure, the abuse had violated a constitutional right, “But it was not beyond debate that it did,” he continued, “so the law wasn’t clearly established.”

    In those cases, the Supreme Court disagreed, sending them back to the appeals court for reconsideration […] the court took it a step beyond simply saying “this was not bad enough” to saying that only cases where the facts line up with facts in previous Supreme Court cases are relevant.

    Qualified immunity allows law enforcement to essentially torture at will, knowing that the courts will protect them in all but the most gratuitous, egregious, and outright disgusting cases—and even sometimes then. The Supreme Court earlier this year showed some willingness to say that there are limits to that. On Monday it qualified that with a “but not too often, not too many […]”

  72. says

    […] a broad swath of land stretching from Nebraska to Ohio ranks as the globe’s most agriculturally productive region during the summer months. Its farms churn out the bulk of domestically grown corn and soybeans, most of which goes to feed the livestock that satisfies our meat habit, makes cheap fat and sweeteners for Big Food, and produces the ethanol that constitutes about 10 percent of our car fuel.

    It’s also an ecological basket case. Fertilizer-laden farm runoff pollutes rivers, lakes, and wells. Ultimately, these chemicals flow to the Gulf of Mexico, where they feed an algae bloom bigger than Connecticut that every year morphs into an aquatic dead zone. Worse, under assault from increasingly fierce storms, the Corn Belt’s fields are hemorrhaging its most precious resource, topsoil. In a 2021 study, researchers at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, estimated that more than a third of the region has completely surrendered its topsoil layer. Crop yields are already starting to suffer.

    There’s a deceptively simple trick that could help counteract this ecological unraveling, one that could keep food growing and help suck up climate-­warming carbon in the process: Incentivize farmers to plant a bunch of trees.

    The idea of trees sprouting from the low-slung green monotony might sound unhinged. Think of the Midwestern landscape before US settlers subjected it to the plow, and you probably picture grasses and flowers billowing in the wind. That vision largely rings true, but isn’t complete. Amid the tall-grass prairies and wetlands, trees and shrubs flourished in much of the region […]

    Native Americans wove agriculture into this landscape, which also teemed with wildlife. They grew corn, beans, and squash in ridged gardens near settlements, and actively managed nut-bearing trees (hickories, walnuts, and acorns), often by thinning out lower-yielding ones to favor the most bountiful.

    Everything changed soon after US enclosure in the mid-19th century, when settlers evicted most of the original inhabitants, drained wetlands, razed forests, and ripped into the land with plows. In place of staggering biodiversity, an agricultural empire featuring two main crops ultimately arose, tended with the tools of modern engineering and industry: genetically altered seeds, insect- and weed-killing chemicals, synthetic and mined fertilizers, and massive tractors and combines.

    […] Trees’ roots dig deep beneath the soil surface and fan out laterally, providing an anchor during heavy rain. They suck up nutrients all year long, keeping fertilizer from leaching away and polluting water. Trees shield crops and soil from the wind. And they both build carbon in the soil as their leaves drop and decompose, and also store it in their roots, trunks, and branches.

    The intermixing of food-bearing trees and annual crops […] could ultimately be more profitable for farmers than the current corn-soybean rotation in the Midwest […]

    breaking the all-corn-soybean habit will require a radical departure from today’s federal policy. Farmers currently growing those commodities get an immediate return from selling their crops at the end of the season. And even when prices are low, their profits are propped up by a bevy of government subsidies. So there’s little incentive to devote parts of their land to, say, walnut saplings, which would take years to pay off with a harvest. […]

    Link

  73. says

    Wonkette:

    Kentucky GOP Rep. Thomas Massie is a big whiny brat when it comes to COVID-19. He’s whined about masks and he’s whined about vaccine mandates. This summer, he compared vaccine passports to the Holocaust like a common Marjorie Taylor Greene. Now, he’s urging passive resistance against the mandates in the form of deliberate fraud.

    Friday, Massie, a professional lawmaker, tweeted the following “hypothetical.”

    hypothetically:

    I believe if a person were to find a vaccine provider who would fake the administration of the vaccine, this would be an ethical form of non-compliance for both the provider and the receiver, legality notwithstanding.

    It would also be hard to prove this happened

    It’s hardly ethical to gain admission into a space under false pretenses. This isn’t the same as using a fake ID to get into a bar. You’re jeopardizing the health of other people, who think they’ve made the safe choice to avoid unvaccinated dullards.

    Massie went on to say:

    You’d have to be a fool to think this isn’t happening, hasn’t already happened thousands of times already, and won’t happen with increased frequency as the mandates affect more people.

    No, we all assume crime exists. What’s alarming is that a sitting member of Congress is promoting this kind of behavior. […]

    […] A New Jersey woman known on Instagram as “AntiVaxMomma” sold several hundred fake COVID-19 vaccine cards to vaccine resisters who had $200 to spare. This reportedly included people working in nursing homes and hospitals.

    Police arrested Chloe Mrozak from Illinois after learning she flew to Hawaii on August 23 with a fake vaccination card. She reportedly wanted to avoid the mandatory 10-day quarantine for unvaccinated travelers. The criminal mastermind’s scheme was foiled when authorities noticed that the handwritten card claimed Mrozak had received two doses of “Maderna” instead of Moderna. […]

    Like most Republicans, Massie has vented about antifa and the impact of riots and looting in America’s cities. He smeared Louisville, Kentucky, residents protesting the police killing of Breonna Taylor as mostly “violent looters and and lawless criminals at this point” who couldn’t articulate their goals. The protesters simply wanted cops not to burst into a sleeping woman’s home and kill her. It’s not a tremendous ask.

    What vaccine scofflaws want is equally clear, we guess, but it’s just sociopathic: they want to function in society the same as vaccinated people but without the apparent burden of taking a free and safe vaccine. […]

    Monday, the National Hockey League suspended San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane for 21 games because he submitted a fake COVID-19 vaccination card. The NHL has strict protocols for unvaccinated players, which Kane presumably found inconvenient.

    […] Kane won’t play again until at least November 30. This will also cost him $1.68 million of his $7 million salary for the season.

    Before Massie starts getting any ideas, Kane isn’t a conscientious objector like Muhammad Ali. He’s just a selfish jerk, which is admittedly the ideal Republican constituency.

    Link

  74. says

    Russia allows methane leaks at planet’s peril.

    Washington Post link

    On the morning of Friday, June 4, an underground gas pipeline running through the ancient state of Tatarstan sprang a leak. And not a small one.

    In a different era, the massive leak might have gone unnoticed.

    But hovering 520 miles above the Earth, a European Space Agency satellite was keeping watch. The four-year-old Copernicus Sentinel-5P, which orbits the planet 14 times a day, looks for traces of methane and other gases.

    At 11:01 a.m. in Moscow, the satellite spotted a methane leak on the edge of its field of vision.

    On its next pass, 1 hour and 40 minutes later, the sensor captured an even larger view of the leak.

    […] methane […] was escaping into the atmosphere at a breakneck rate of approximately 395 metric tons an hour.

    […] Satellites can provide real time evidence of massive, unreported methane leaks — and who is responsible for them. […]

    Methane, the second-most abundant greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide, accounts for roughly a quarter of global warming since the industrial revolution, according to NASA. It is the chief component of natural gas.

    Today, the second-biggest natural gas producer is Russia, fed by the prolific Yamal region, followed by Iran and its Persian Gulf gas fields. Next come China, Canada and Qatar, with its flotilla of liquefied natural gas tankers. The United States, bolstered by horizontal fracking in the Permian Basin across west Texas and eastern New Mexico, remains the world’s largest natural gas producer.

    Scientists say that rapidly cutting methane “is very likely to be the most powerful lever” to slow the rate of warming. But they have also documented a disturbing and surprising spike in atmospheric concentrations in recent years that they have not yet pinned down.

    […] The number of methane plumes emitted from the aging Russian gas infrastructure rose by at least 40 percent last year, even though natural gas exports to Europe fell an estimated 14 percent […] a significant portion of Russia’s estimated annual methane releases are due to a relatively small number of catastrophic events like the one on June 4 […]

    • Russia has repeatedly revised its methods for calculating emissions, not only shrinking current figures but also rolling back past estimates. […]

    […] Russia’s gas enterprise remains shrouded in secrecy. Areas around key gas facilities that dot large parts of the Yamal Peninsula are considered restricted zones and are off limits to non-Russian citizens without special permission from state security services. […]

    More details, including satellite imagery, charts and technical explanations of how methane can escape into the atmosphere all along a pipeline route are available at the link.

  75. lumipuna says

    Covid-19 related news from Finland over the last few days:

    The general recommendation for workplaces to have as many people as possible working from home has been revoked. This was planned and announced some weeks earlier, and my university announced we will gradually start operating in an almost entirely normal manner over October. The health authorities have specifically noted that office and school settings are now deemed to be lower risk than was previously estimated. On this basis, masking on university premises was also made optional (recommended in relatively crowded settings, as opposed to generally mandatory) a couple weeks ago.

    Also a couple weeks ago, covid restrictions on restaurants and other such venues were almost entirely scrapped, a move that many health experts fear was premature. Last weekend, a much talked-about national “covid passport” was finally introduced. It only practically applies in the areas where some mild restrictions on restaurant crowding and opening hours are still in effect, and only on non-essential services. Restaurants etc. can now choose to either use the passport and be entirely exempt from aforementioned restrictions, or continue operating as previously. Pretty weaksauce, some here might say.

    The city of St. Petersburg in Russia also plans to introduce a “covid passport” soon, while there are plans to gradually open more transport connections with Finland. However, Finland and Russia still do not approve each other’s covid vaccines, so travel between the countries remains restricted/impractical for even vaccinated people. The current high infection rates in Russia, and moreso in Baltic countries, are a topic of concern in Finland. Russia has a massive problem with vaccine refusal that apparently isn’t going away anytime soon.

    Here in Finland, infection rates have been moderately high since late summer (not the least in Helsinki area, where I live). For a while, they seemed to be going down, and I postponed some of my errands. Then they went up again recently, and I can’t postpone my errands any more (at least I’m vaccinated). There’s a small but steady trickle of new covid deaths – the total toll just surpassed 200 per million people. Soon, about 80 % of the 12+ population will have been vaccinated twice, but getting upwards from there is going to be a slow and tedious struggle. Previously, there was talk of scrapping most restaurant restrictions only after the 80 % mark had been surpassed, but eventually the government didn’t wait that long, as noted above.

    In short, awkward pandemic conditions continue, with no end in sight, while everyone has recently decided we should just try to live more normally. The government and local authorities are very reluctant to reintroduce restaurant restrictions in areas where infections surge. Various regional healthcare systems remain more or less burdened with covid patients, and cautious with masking rules etc., which affects everyone’s access to healthcare in the short and long term.

  76. says

    An armed gang is demanding a $17 million ransom for the group of American and Canadian missionaries kidnapped in Haiti last week, The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.

    In other news, many thanks to lumipuna @110 for keeping us up to date on conditions in Finland. Being next door to Russia certainly complicates things.

  77. says

    Donald Trump’s bid to impede the work of the Jan. 6 committee hit an early roadblock. In other words, Judge Chutkan has a lot of common sense, is well-qualified, and her integrity is intact.

    Judge Tanya Chutkan has been among the harshest critics of Jan. 6 defendants.

    The Jan. 6 committee has hit the judicial jackpot. Donald Trump’s lawsuit seeking to kneecap the committee before it obtains his White House records has landed on the docket of Judge Tanya Chutkan.

    […] During the sentencing of Jan. 6 rioter Carl Mazzocco, Chutkan specifically called out his allegiance to Trump. “He went to the Capitol in support of one man, not in support of our country.”— Judge Tanya Chutkan

    Link

  78. says

    NBC News:

    A coalition of civil rights groups sued the state of Oklahoma on Tuesday over a law limiting instruction about race and gender in public schools. It is the first federal lawsuit to challenge a state statute implemented to prevent the teaching of critical race theory.

  79. says

    Racism in America:

    Iowa authorities are investigating multiple threats — including one of lynching — that Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Ross Wilburn received soon after writing an op-ed critical of former president Donald Trump.

    Wilburn, the state party’s first Black chairman, wrote the opinion piece published in the Des Moines Register ahead of Trump’s Oct. 9 rally at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. It ran online Oct. 8 and in print the following day and, in it, Wilburn accused Iowa Republicans of putting their loyalty to Trump ahead of Iowans’ needs.

    “The entire Republican Party of Iowa is welcoming Trump with open arms proving once again that they have completely surrendered themselves to a man who not only openly attacked the foundations of our democracy, but also has shown disdain for our Constitution, and failed to help the American people when we needed it most,” Wilburn wrote.

    Immediately after publishing the op-ed, Wilburn, who is also a state representative, received threatening messages […] Only the first voice mail included a violent threat of lynching, but all included explicit language, he told reporters Tuesday morning.

    “The n-word was used multiple times,” Wilburn said. “The voice mails and the email made reference to my writing about former president Trump and made specific references to my comments regarding Trump’s actions on January 6. This led me to believe that they had read my op-ed.” […]

    Washington Post link

  80. says

    The more we learn, the more we realize that we actually dodged a lot of bullets during the Trump administration.

    Yes, it could have been worse.

    New York Times: “Trump’s Pentagon Chief Quashed Idea to Send 250,000 Troops to the Border.”

    Trump’s defense secretary thought the idea was outrageous.

    In the spring of 2020, Mark T. Esper, the defense secretary, was alarmed to learn of an idea under discussion at a top military command and at the Department of Homeland Security to send as many as 250,000 troops — more than half the active U.S. Army, and a sixth of all American forces — to the southern border in what would have been the largest use of the military inside the United States since the Civil War.

    With the coronavirus pandemic raging, Stephen Miller, the architect of Mr. Trump’s immigration agenda, had urged the Homeland Security Department to develop a plan for the number of troops that would be needed to seal the entire 2,000-mile border with Mexico. It is not clear whether it was officials in homeland security or the Pentagon who concluded that a quarter of a million troops would be required.

    The concept was relayed to officials at the Defense Department’s Northern Command, which is responsible for all military operations in the United States and on its borders, according to several former senior administration officials. […]

    Mr. Esper declined to comment. But people familiar with his conversations, who declined to speak about them on the record, said he was enraged by Mr. Miller’s plan. In addition, homeland security officials had bypassed his office by taking the idea directly to military officials at Northern Command. Mr. Esper also believed that deploying so many troops to the border would undermine American military readiness around the world, officials said.

    After a brief but contentious confrontation with Mr. Miller in the Oval Office, Mr. Esper ended consideration of the idea at the Pentagon.

    Mr. Trump’s obsession with the southern border was already well known by that time. He had demanded a wall with flesh-piercing spikes, repeatedly mused about a moat filled with alligators, and asked about shooting migrants in the leg as they crossed the border. His aides considered a heat-ray that would make migrants’ skin feel hot.

    Around the same time that officials considered the huge deployment to the American side of the border with Mexico, Mr. Trump also pressed his top aides to send forces into Mexico itself to hunt drug cartels, much like American commandos have tracked and killed terrorists in Afghanistan or Pakistan, the officials said.

    Mr. Trump hesitated only after aides suggested that to most of the world, military raids inside Mexico could look like the United States was committing an act of war against one of its closest allies, which is also its biggest trading partner, the officials said. […]

    https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/19/us/politics/trump-border.html

  81. says

    https://twitter.com/existentialfish/status/1450437622128590852

    Sigh. See the tweet for examples of Fox News being prolifically and constantly anti-vaccine and against all vaccine mandates. Lots of propaganda:

    “Fauci’s credibility has been shot for over a year.”

    An image that shows Biden and Fauci as “The Swamp Twins EXPOSED.”

    “Biden’s vaccine mandate leading to mass job exodus.”

    “Pandemic of the unvaccinated: Biden administration repeats the same lie over and over.”

  82. says

    Dangerous harassment:

    At least three high-ranking public officials in Montana tried to pressure a hospital to allow a woman hospitalized with COVID-19 to access drugs that have not been authorized for treatment of the virus—and even “threatened” doctors and dispatched a state trooper, according to the hospital.

    “Last week, several of our providers and care team members who are working tirelessly at the bedside were harassed and threatened by three public officials,” Andrea Groom, spokesperson for the Helena-based St. Peter’s Health, told The Daily Beast in a statement Tuesday. “These officials have no medical training or experience, yet they were insisting our providers give treatments for COVID-19 that are not authorized, clinically approved, or within the guidelines established by the FDA and the CDC.”

    According to the Independent Record, a patient in her 80s had requested ivermectin, the anti-parasitic drug touted in right-wing circles as a miracle serum for COVID-19.

    Groom said Tuesday that the officials “threatened to use their position of power to force our doctors and nurses to provide this care.” The conversations had been “deeply troubling” to hospital staff and doctors “because they were threatened and their clinical judgment was called into question by these individuals,” she said.

    […] “Any allegations or assertions otherwise are unfounded,” she wrote. “Despite occasional requests by patients or family members to use alternative therapies or medications like Ivermectin that are not authorized or clinically approved to treat COVID-19, St. Peter’s Health will continue to follow clinical protocols that have been developed by medical experts and are consistent with FDA and CDC guidelines and recommendations.”

    Last week, Heidi Roedel, president of the Flathead County Republican Women, identified Shirley Herrin as a patient at the hospital embroiled in a firestorm to get alternative treatments for COVID-19. She urged members of the Facebook group “Montana Federation of Republican Women” to contact the hospital. […]

    Link

  83. says

    “El Chapo Refuses to Share a Prison Cell with Steve Bannon”

    Amid news that Steve Bannon could soon be jailed for criminal contempt, the convicted drug lord Joaquín (El Chapo) Guzmán said that “under no circumstances” would he agree to share a prison cell with the former Trump adviser.

    The ex-kingpin said that, although he had not heard of any plans to house Bannon in his prison cell, he was speaking “out of an abundance of caution.”

    “If the Department of Justice is looking for a place to lock Bannon up, don’t even think about putting him in with me,” El Chapo, who is being held at ADX Florence, a maximum-security penitentiary, said. “It’s not going to happen.”

    “I’ve tunnelled out of prison before, and I can do it again,” he warned.

    El Chapo’s sentiments have been echoed by the nation’s prison population, two million of whom have signed a petition refusing to share their cells with Bannon.

    Speaking at the D.O.J., the Attorney General, Merrick Garland, commented on El Chapo’s recoiling at the prospect of sharing a small space with Bannon. “I can’t say I blame him,” Garland said.

    New Yorker link

  84. tomh says

    High court declines to block Covid-19 vaccine mandate for Maine health care workers
    KELSEY REICHMANN / October 19, 2021

    WASHINGTON (CN) — The Supreme Court Tuesday declined an emergency application to stop the enforcement of a Covid-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers in Maine.

    The state is requiring its health care workers to be fully vaccinated for Covid-19 by Oct. 29. Several health care workers challenged the mandate, citing in their complaint beliefs that prevent them from receiving a Covid-19 vaccine because of “the vaccines’ connections to aborted fetal cell lines,” among other religious reasons.

    …..this case marks the first time the court addressed a statewide Covid-19 vaccine mandate.

  85. says

    McConnell: GOP should focus on future, not ‘rehash’ 2020

    Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) urged his party to focus on President Biden heading into 2022, and not relitigating the 2020 election that former President Trump still falsely claims was stolen.

    McConnell, speaking to reporters during a weekly press conference, was asked if he was comfortable with the party embracing Trump. The former president was at a retreat over the weekend for Senate Republicans’ campaign arm and endorsed Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) for reelection in Iowa earlier this month.

    “Well, I do think we need to be talking about the future, not the past,” McConnell told reporters Tuesday.

    “I think the American people are focusing on this administration. … It’s my hope that 2022 election will be a referendum on the performance of the current administration, not a rehash about suggestions of what may have happened in 2020,” McConnell added.

    The GOP leader’s comments come as Trump and some of his closest allies have continued to claim that that there was widespread election fraud last year, something Republican congressional hopefuls who align themselves with the former president have also echoed.

    McConnell dismissed those assertions in a floor speech earlier this year, saying that there wasn’t evidence of fraud “anywhere near the massive scale that would have tipped this entire election.”

    Since then, however, McConnell has largely stayed away from talking about Trump, who has continued to trash talk him and called for his ouster as Senate GOP leader.

    “Mitch McConnell should have challenged that election because even back then, we had plenty of material to challenge that election. He should have challenged the election,” Trump said at an Iowa rally where Grassley and other top GOP officials appeared.

    McConnell cannot face what happened on January 6. He doesn’t want you to think about January 6 when you go to vote.

    McConnell can’t face the ever-increasing mountain of evidence against Trump and his cronies. He doesn’t want you to think about the past crimes, nor the ongoing crimes, of various Republicans.

  86. says

    Good news: Democrats are filling judicial vacancies at a pace unseen in more than a half-century.

    […]

    […] the Senate is quietly making history with his judicial nominees. The Democratic-controlled Senate voted 52-41 Monday to confirm Gustavo Gelpi to be a judge on the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Boston, making him the fifth new circuit judge with a background as a public defender on Biden’s watch.

    Part of what makes this so striking is the professional backgrounds of these jurists: Most modern presidents made little effort to nominate judges with experience as public defenders. Under Biden, meanwhile, eight Senate-confirmed judges are now on the bench after having worked as public defenders.

    But just as notable is the sheer volume and speed with which the narrow Democratic majority in the Senate is filling judicial vacancies. NBC News’ report added that Biden, at least for now, is “outpacing every other president since Richard Nixon in confirming circuit judges, who have the last word in most federal cases.”

    Remember that the filibuster does not apply when it comes to confirming judges. The “narrow Democratic majority” is enough to get this important work done.

    […] For much of the left, the focus on the judiciary is welcome. As we’ve discussed on several occasions, Republicans in the Trump era prioritized judicial nominees above almost every other consideration. The campaign was as relentless as it was effective: the former president managed to appoint about 230 judges to the federal courts. That’s not as many as his recent two-term predecessors, but it was a striking tally for a failed one-term president who never won the popular vote.

    […] As of this morning, there are 79 vacancies on the federal bench — more if we include the Court of International Trade and the Court of Federal Claims — and that number is likely to grow as sitting judges retire and take senior status. Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse a Rhode Island, a senior member of the Judiciary Committee, has said filling every vacancy by the end of 2022 is his party’s “very prudent goal.”

    That’s an ambitious target, which will require a concerted effort on the part of Democratic leaders, but so far, the relevant players appear to be taking the right steps in a smart direction.

    Link

  87. says

    Follow-up to comment 120.

    Most GOP voters don’t see Jan. 6 as an attack on the government

    New polling suggests that over the course of 2021, the Republican Party and its voters have gradually become even Trumpier.

    In the immediate aftermath of the Jan. 6 attack, there appeared to be a political consensus about the seriousness of the insurrectionist violence. Though he later changed his mind, Donald Trump himself described the riot as a “heinous attack,” launch by a “mob” that “defiled the seat of American democracy” and “trashed the halls of government.”

    Nine months later, a new Quinnipiac poll suggests Republican voters simply don’t see Jan. 6 this way anymore. The survey asked respondents, “Do you consider what happened at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th an attack on the government, or not?” Consider the partisan breakdowns:

    Democrats:
    Yes, it was an attack on the government: 93 percent
    No, it wasn’t: 5 percent

    Independents:
    Yes, it was an attack on the government: 56 percent
    No, it wasn’t: 40 percent

    Republicans:
    Yes, it was an attack on the government: 29 percent
    No, it wasn’t: 66 percent

    The former president and many of his allies set out to rewrite the history of the riot, reframe the violence, and recast the perpetrators as patriots. The polling suggests those efforts are having an effect, at least with the GOP’s own voters.

    Meanwhile, Quinnipiac also asked respondents whether they want to see Trump run for president again in 2024. In May, 66 percent of Republicans wanted the former president to run again, and now, that total is up to 78 percent.

    This comes on the heels of related polling showing the number of Republican voters rejecting the legitimacy of the 2020 election getting worse, not better. […]

  88. says

    As contempt proceedings against Steve Bannon move forward, the Jan. 6 committee is generating new and previously unreported details about the attack.

    There can be no doubt that Steve Bannon has important insights to share about the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. After all, he spoke publicly before the insurrectionist riot about what was going to happen.

    With this in mind, it hardly came as a surprise when the bipartisan House committee investigating the attack issued subpoenas a few weeks ago, seeking information from key Trump insiders — and as regular readers know, Bannon was at the top of the list.

    The former White House strategist, following Donald Trump’s instructions not to cooperate, declined to comply with the subpoena. That, in and of itself, was a striking step: When the 9/11 attacks were scrutinized, it would’ve been considered extraordinary if a prominent presidential adviser simply refused to honor a subpoena and instead chose to keep relevant information hidden.

    As NBC News reported overnight, the bipartisan select committee investigating the Capitol attack is escalating matters.

    The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol voted Tuesday to advance a measure to refer former Trump adviser Steve Bannon to the Justice Department for criminal charges of contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate with its investigation. The committee voted 9-0.

    I’ve confirmed with Capitol Hill sources that the House Rules Committee will take up the matter today, followed by a vote in the full House tomorrow. If the measure advances — given the Democratic majority, that’s a safe bet — the matter would be referred to a U.S. attorney’s office for possible prosecution.

    If these circumstances seem unusual, it’s not your imagination. As Rachel noted on last night’s show, the last time the Justice Department pursued a criminal case like this one was nearly four decades ago, when a Reagan administration official refused to testify to Congress about EPA superfund sites. When the House voted that year on contempt of Congress, the vote was 413 to zero.

    Why would members of both parties link arms on this? Because congressional subpoenas are not supposed to be optional. They are not casual invitations. The more people feel they can ignore these legal commands from federal lawmakers, the more difficult it is for Congress to do its job — no matter which party is in charge.

    That said, Republican politics has changed dramatically since 1983, and it’s difficult to imagine a unanimous vote against Bannon tomorrow. Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a member of the select committee, was asked last night whether he expects other GOP members to agree to hold Bannon in contempt. “Should there be other Republicans? Yes,” the Illinois congressman said. “Are there going to be? I don’t know.”

    In the meantime, the committee’s work continues. Rachel spoke last night with the panel’s Democratic chairman, Mississippi’s Bennie Thompson, who confirmed that the investigation has already generated new and previously unreported details about the attack.

    “I assure you, at the end of the day,” Thompson concluded, “the public will be shocked to know how close we came to losing our democracy if those insurrectionists had succeeded.”

  89. says

    GOP Representative Prescribed Ivermectin For COVID, Griped That Pharmacists Wouldn’t Fill It

    Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD), who is also an anesthesiologist, says that he has prescribed ivermectin, an anti-parasitic drug, to treat COVID-19, even though it has not been approved for use in COVID cases.

    […] The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that during a radio program he was hosting on September 17, Harris said he had prescribed the drug several weeks prior. The revelation came as he was complaining about the difficulty of finding a pharmacy that would fill the prescription.

    “I wrote a prescription for ivermectin, I guess it’s now three weeks ago, four weeks ago, and yeah, couldn’t find a pharmacy to fill it,” the Republican said. “It’s gotten bad. . . . The pharmacists are just refusing to fill it.”

    Harris griped that it was “ridiculous” that national pharmacy organizations had spoken out against dispensing ivermectin for use in COVID-19 cases.

    Those organizations include the American Pharmacists Association and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, which declared in early September that they “strongly oppose” the “ordering, prescribing, or dispensing of ivermectin outside clinical trials.” The American Medical Association co-signed that statement.

    […] The GOP lawmaker’s remarks indicate that he prescribed ivermectin in August, which is the same month the Federal Drug and Food Administration (FDA) warned that even though the drug was approved to treat certain infections caused by parasites in humans, it was “not authorized or approved” for COVID-19 and “has not been shown to be safe or effective” against the virus. The agency also warned that taking large doses of ivermectin is “dangerous” and that people should never take ivermectin products made for animals.

    “You are not a horse,” the FDA tweeted at the time. “You are not a cow. Seriously, y’all. Stop it.”

    […] ivermectin has been heralded as a miracle drug for COVID-19 in the conservative world, particularly among those who refuse to get the actual COVID-19 vaccine (which has been proven overwhelmingly to protect people against becoming seriously ill from the virus).

  90. says

    Biden’s team wins this one. Jen Psaki is smarter and she has a nimble mind. She is well-informed. Fox News lackeys …. not so much.

    Peter Doocy isn’t just a Fox News disinformation peddler. He’s a hereditary Fox News disinformation peddler and, perhaps, the most pathetic failson being publicly promoted by the network. Tucker Carlson is dangerous. Junior Doocy can only try to be so dangerous, but he’s so bad at his job that mostly he just makes White House press secretary Jen Psaki look really, really good.

    And so it went on Tuesday when Doocy tried to press Psaki on COVID-19 vaccine mandates for police—his argument being that so many police would resign that it would compromise public safety. This led to a series of body blows and one indelible moment when Psaki asked Doocy, “What was the number-one cause of death among police officers last year, do you know?”

    Then she waited.

    Silence from Doocy.

    “COVID-19.”

    That was something of an understatement, actually. COVID-19 wasn’t just the leading cause of death for police officers on duty last year, it is also the leading cause of death for police officers on duty this year, and in both cases it is more than four times as common as the No. 2 cause of death.

    Psaki also offered up a litany of statistics showing the effectiveness of vaccine mandates, and the degree to which the claim that large numbers of officers will quit has been overstated. “If you look at Seattle as an example, which I know has been in some of the reporting, 92% of the police force is vaccinated, as are 93% of firefighters. Ninety-nine percent of Seattle’s 11,000 employees have submitted vaccine verification or an exemption request.”

    Doocy bravely/foolishly plowed on. “Public safety, though. All these other problems: Terror, murder, robberies, kidnappings. Is there any concern that if police forces shrink or if the size of the ready military force shrinks, that the United States or localities may not be equipped properly to deal with that?“

    “Peter, more than 700,000 people have died of COVID. Again, it was the number-one cause of death among police departments and police officers. It’s something that we should take seriously. Departments are trying to save people in their departments, people who work for them, we support that effort, and there’s been success across the country in that regard.”

    Terror? The U.S. is currently experiencing about a 9/11’s worth of COVID-19 deaths every two days. Murder? A year’s worth of homicide deaths from COVID-19 about every 12 days […]

    Doocy’s […] angling for a “White House doesn’t care if police quit en masse” headline is clownishly obvious here, and it relies on Fox News viewers to fail to notice that evidence does not at present exist of large numbers of police resignations, and that evidence does exist of COVID-19’s deadly impact on police departments. Lucky for him, Fox viewers can be relied on to fail to notice those things, but this exchange is deeply unlikely to expand the audience for the Fox message on vaccinations.

    Link

    See also: https://twitter.com/atrupar/status/1450516802925211653

  91. Pierce R. Butler says

    Lynna… @ # 91: A good man who was also too gullible and too optimistic.

    No no no no no! Much as I tend to agree with your other observations, since nobody else has corrected this I feel I need to.

    Though building his own career on the sacrifices of civil rights campaigners, Colin Powell had nothing but disdain for that movement. He did his damndest to support the worst aspects of the US war on Vietnam, particularly in the initial attempted cover-up of the My Lai Massacre:

    “In direct refutation of this portrayal is the fact that relations between American soldiers and the Vietnamese people are excellent.”

    Never (publicly) re-thinking Vietnam, he moved on to serving in Nixon’s White House, and rose to a high-level aide of Reagan’s DefSec Caspar Weinberger, whom Powell served particularly well by lying about the latter’s (major and incriminating) role in the massive Iran-Contra scandal.

    That got him to the Chair of the Joint Chiefs, just in time to mastermind Dubya Daddy’s first Gulf War and cement his position as the most powerful Black man (and, probably, military figure) in Washington. he leveraged that into claiming the foremost Cabinet position (Dubya wanted to make Powell SecDef, but had to yield to CP’s superior leverage). There, he – yet again- went along with a criminal Republican administration’s lies and atrocities, but no one should ever characterize that as a fall from any previously respectable stance.

    For supporting details, see the link above, and particularly the Consortium News Powell files.

    Primarily through his ex-chief of staff Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, in later years Powell did succeed in separating himself somewhat from the accelerating deterioration of his chosen political party, but we should consider that only a tactical withdrawal from a faction dominated by less-polished mobsters. Throughout his entire career, Colin Powell was a monster, and (pardon the redundancy) a Republican.

  92. says

    Pierce @126: I agree with you that I was too quick to give Colin Powell a pass.

    He did admit that he was wrong concerning that speech to the U.N. about WMD in Iraq. He admitted it several times. That’s a low bar, but for a Republican it was at least some indication that he was ashamed of the role he played in getting us into that particular war.

    I do not excuse nor forget Colin Powell’s failures.

  93. says

    ‘Not a cult at all’: The Daily Show’s Jordan Klepper heads to Iowa Trump rally

    The Daily Show’s Jordan Klepper has made a comedy name for himself for his field pieces, where he interacts with the illogical circus that is MAGA Americana. As far as comedy field pieces go, the MAGA crowd has always been like shooting fish in a barrel as there are so many lost, confused, and outright ridiculous folks to interview at any MAGA or MAGA-related event. […] After Trump lost soundly to President Joe Biden, The Daily Show has continued to follow the various iterations of MAGA rallies and anti-mask rallies—which are pretty much the same thing.

    On Monday, Klepper went to Des Moines, Iowa, to talk with MAGA types at a “Trump won” rally being held in October 2021, which is approaching a year since Donald Trump lost his bid at reelection. Klepper opened the piece by mentioning that this was his first Trump rally since The Donald lost his bid at a dictatorship on Jan. 6, 2021, “a day no one will ever forget … unless you’re a Republican member of Congress.” Humor can be cathartic, especially in the face of such willful ignorance.

    After talking to the ludicrously dressed man in the photo at the top of this story, Klepper speaks with a couple, mentioning that he hasn’t been at a rally since Jan. 6. He begins with a little gallows humor dad joke: “Have you seen any gallows go up anywhere?” The couple laughs and says no, they haven’t. “Do you think Mike Pence will show up here today or does he not want to hang?”

    The couple says he would be afraid because “he was a coward, he didn’t do the right thing.” Klepper reminds them that it might have more to do with the gallows thing, and the idea that a MAGA rally might end with the former vice president dying. Klepper then gives a little tour of some of the signage, including “a Confederate flag, in Iowa,” and “images of Trump on a velociraptor with a machine gun.”

    The Klepper talks to two ladies—both wearing single shoulder-attached America flag overalls—who bristle at the portrayal of MAGA rally participants as “some kind of a cult.” He asks them if they are looking forward to the disgraced former president saying anything in particular:

    WOMAN #1: Oh gosh, I feel like whatever he spews out of his mouth, I just love it.
    WOMAN #2: I just love—
    JORDAN KLEPPER: It doesn’t matter what he says?
    WOMAN #1: Yeah.
    WOMAN #2: We’re gonna love it, we’re gonna love being here. We’re going to love hearing what he has to say.
    KLEPPER: But this isn’t a cult?
    WOMAN #1: No, I don’t think so.

    Images of someone selling “Womens [sic] Pee Funnel” for $15 fill the screen while Klepper says in voice over: “Not a cult at all. It’s not like they would rather almost piss themselves than miss a second of the Donald’s speech.”

    But this is a rally for Donald Trump, and if they believe Donald Trump is still actually the president, it doesn’t also mean they can’t hope he will still run for … the job he supposedly still has … in 2024. Speaking with two younger men, both wearing sunglasses on an overcast day and holding out a banner that reads “TRUMP -2024- TAKE AMERICA BACK,” Klepper asks them what the big issues are that they hope Trump will address. They answer: “The border crisis,” which these two fellas believe has been “brushed under the rug.” Klepper asks if these two patriots are from Iowa. They are indeed! “So you’re worried about people coming from Minnesota?”

    Exactly.

    Then we move on to all of the “Fuck your feelings” MAGA types who think the left is so uncivil, and who feel like they are being disrespected for sharing their views. Two ladies dressed in matching bizarre outfits lament how some people have stopped talking to them completely “for my views.” Klepper understands, saying: “They should show respect.”

    This is exactly the point, the women agree. Then Klepper points out that the two ladies are wearing T-shirts with images of Donald Trump holding up two middle fingers, with writing that says, “One for Biden, One for Harris.”

    WOMAN: I think they speak for themselves.

    KLEPPER: Why wouldn’t someone want to engage with that, am I right?

    It is here that we walk into the world of QAnon. You can’t have a MAGA rally without a heavy Q presence. It’s the whole conspiracy: the ever-changing conspiracy. The cognitive dissonance and the break from this temporal plane of existence that must be employed to be a follower of “Q” is extraordinary. Speaking with one man who believes Donald Trump is still the acting president of the United States, Klepper attempts to pierce this delusion, specifically when the man asserts that Donald Trump is “flying around the world on Air Force One.” Klepper asks about how President Joe Biden can be on Air Force One if Trump is. The man says Biden is not, and that the entire Biden presidency is fake.
    In fact, Trump is not only running the country, he is “Running the military.”

    KLEPPER: And he’s running the military? So we should blame him for what happened in Afghanistan?
    MAN: No.
    KLEPPER: But it’s still his fault.
    MAN: It’s way beyond my—
    KLEPPER: —understanding.

    And finally, guess what? The Jan. 6 insurrection at our country’s Capitol building was a job done by the FBI … and antifa … “Basically RINOs” … the deep state.
    And the CIA.

    Photos and video are available at the link.

  94. lumipuna says

    Lynna:

    In other news, many thanks to lumipuna @110 for keeping us up to date on conditions in Finland. Being next door to Russia certainly complicates things.

    You’re welcome. I felt like writing a summary, since many small or subtle developments have happened lately. Overall, I should be just content that nothing very dramatic or “interesting” ever happens over here, with regard to the pandemic or otherwise.

    Since most traffic between Finland and Russia occurs on the Helsinki-St. Petersburg axis, the current pandemic situation between these two city areas isn’t actually that dramatically different. Experts estimate that Russia’s covid disaster is showing signs of slowing down, particularly in large cities where most people are by now either vaccinated or “naturally immunized”. In Finland we now rely mostly on vaccination rather than other means of infection control, so it seems traffic between countries shouldn’t pose much threat. However, eventually we need to either find some legal workaround to the vaccine recognition issue, or just scrap travel restrictions altogether.

    Personally, I kind of worry that this pandemic has severe long term damaging effects on Russia’s public health, economy and political stability. Presumably, huge numbers of Russians have survived covid but now suffer from long term health problems. Since vaccination remains unpopular in Russia, in the future people will largely maintain their immunity by getting repeatedly ill with covid, risking disability and death every time.

  95. says

    Jim Jordan and Matt Gaetz walk into a committee hearing to defend Steve Bannon, it does not go well

    On Wednesday, the House Rules Committee met to vote on whether the recommendation for charges of criminal contempt against former Trump campaign chair and Jan. 6 conspirator Steve Bannon would be forwarded to the full House. […] the full House could vote to drop Bannon’s file on the Department of Justice by Thursday.

    […] the vice chair of the House Select Committee, Liz Cheney, sat down to explain what makes Bannon’s documents and testimony vital. According to Cheney, it appears that Bannon “had substantial advance knowledge of the plans of January 6 and likely had an important role in formulating those plans.” And, more than anything else, Bannon simply, “has no legal right to ignore the committee’s lawful subpoena.”

    That last point seems like something that should gather universal support from any member of Congress. After all, if it’s not possible to subpoena someone who worked for a former administration, and who holds no official position, exactly how much power does Congress have to compel testimony from anyone? But that reasonable position ignores the fact that the party known as the GOP party is actually the TOT party—as in Terrified Of Trump. So Republican leadership gave all members the word before the hearing to cast their inconsequential votes in favor of a powerless Congress.

    But before that vote was cast, the committee had to listen to two defenders who charged in to uphold the right of Steve Bannon to plan the downfall of the nation and thumb his nose at consequences: Reps. Matt Gaetz and Jim Jordan. And that appearance … was kind of hilarious.

    Calling in Jim Jordan to defend Steve Bannon over his involvement in Jan. 6 is like calling in the Zodiac Killer to defend Jack the Ripper. That’s because, back in August, Jordan admitted that he had talked to Donald Trump on Jan. 6. But exactly when that call took place wasn’t exactly fresh in the congressman’s mind. “After?” said Jordan “I think after. I don’t know if I spoke with him in the morning or not. I just don’t know … I don’t know when those conversations happened.”

    “Conversations” being the key word here. Because, as Politico has since made clear, there was more than one call between Trump and Jordan in the middle of that little insurrection thing.

    “Look, I definitely spoke to the president that day. I don’t recall—I know it was more than once, I just don’t recall the times,” Jordan told Politico reporter Olivia Beavers. At least one of these calls apparently came after Congress members had been moved to a secure location, and since Jordan said that he, “like everyone” wanted the National Guard to get involved, that would be a very good sign that this call took place very much during the attack on the Capitol. Whether the second call also took place from this “secure location”—and whether there were only two calls—remains unclear.

    But there is something else that is known about that call: Jordan wasn’t alone. Someone else was listening in as he talked with Trump.

    After a group of lawmakers were evacuated from the House chamber to a safe room on Jan. 6, Jordan was joined by Rep. MATT GAETZ (R-Fla.) for a call during which they implored Trump to tell his supporters to stand down, per a source with knowledge of that call. The source declined to say how Trump responded to this request.

    So, the two men who were in the room on Wednesday begging the House Rules Committee to give Steve Bannon a waiver, were the same two men who spent Jan. 6 talking to Donald Trump during an active attempt to overthrow the government. Which makes Jordan’s efforts to dodge questions about that call today more worthy of a world-class eye roll. [video is available at the link]

    In his reply, Jordan insists that his call with Trump happened after the attack. But if it did, this was clearly a later call, because a call made while huddled in the House safe room was definitely not “after.” Jordan seems to recognize this, waffling around the idea of whether there was more than one call and in general trying to summon a semblance of being insulted by the question.

    But that moment doesn’t come close to the […] immolation applied by Congresswoman Norma Torres—a moment that could serve as a model for how to deal with either of these men on any occasion. “This is not about somebody paying to have sex with a young girl, or somebody not protecting people that are under their jurisdiction. This is about our democracy.” [another video is available at the link]

    Gaetz is certainly looking at plenty of legal action of his own in the near future. Jordan should be. But maybe this will help: During his reply, Jordan said that he “did not speak to the president during the attack.” That seems like something that could warrant a subpoena right there.

  96. says

    lumipuna @129: “Personally, I kind of worry that this pandemic has severe long term damaging effects on Russia’s public health, economy and political stability. Presumably, huge numbers of Russians have survived covid but now suffer from long term health problems. Since vaccination remains unpopular in Russia, in the future people will largely maintain their immunity by getting repeatedly ill with covid, risking disability and death every time.”

    Yeah, that pretty much summarizes my feelings as well.

  97. says

    Pretty much as expected: GOP blocks Senate Democrats’ revised elections bill

    Senate Republicans on Wednesday blocked Democrats from advancing a revised bill to overhaul federal elections, marking the latest blow to hopes of getting voting legislation to President Biden.

    The Senate voted 49-51 to end debate on whether to bring up the bill, known as the Freedom to Vote Act, falling short of the 60 needed.

    The bill would make Election Day a national holiday, set national minimum standards for early voting and voting by mail and include standards for states requiring voter identification. It also has new requirements on disclosing who is behind online ads and aims to stop partisan gerrymandering.

    Democrats view voting rights and election reform as a top priority […]

    “For every two steps forward, sometimes there are those who try to pull us one step back. Unfortunately, we find ourselves today in the midst of such a struggle. Across the country, the Big Lie – the Big Lie – has spread like a cancer as many states across the nation have passed the most draconian restrictions against voting that we’ve seen in decades. If nothing is done, these laws will make it harder for millions of Americans to participate in their government,” Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on Wednesday.

    Schumer switched his vote to “no,” a procedural step that allows him to bring the bill back up for another vote.

    Biden and Vice President Harris made calls to senators this week on voting rights

    […] “I want to be clear: if Republicans join us in proceeding to this bill, I am prepared to hold a full-fledged debate worthy of the U.S. Senate,” Schumer said.

    “What we can’t accept is a situation where one side is calling for bipartisan debate and bipartisan cooperation while the other refuses to even engage in a dialogue. If our Republican colleagues don’t like our ideas they have a responsibility to present their own,” he added.

    The Senate was not voting on the actual bill, they were just voting on whether or not to allow discussion of the bill. Republicans voted to NOT allow even discussion. Obstructionist dunderheads.

  98. says

    Follow-up to comment 132.

    […] “Today, Senate Democrats would like to start debate on the Freedom to Vote Act. Senate Democrats have worked hard to ensure this bill includes traditionally bipartisan provisions. But Senate Republicans are likely to block even debate on the bill, as they have before on previous voting rights bills. It’s unconscionable,” Biden said in a statement issued just before the vote.

    “The right to vote – to vote freely, to vote fairly, and to have your vote counted – is fundamental. It should be simple and straightforward. Let there be a debate and let there be a vote,” he said. […]

    Link

  99. says

    Wonkette: “Trump Argues For Absolute Right Of Presidents To Loot And Pillage In Copyright Lawsuit”

    […] Today’s WTF-ery comes to us from the copyright infringement suit filed by one Edmond Grant, AKA Eddy Grant, AKA the guy who did not fucking appreciate having his hit song “Electric Avenue” used without permission in one of Trump’s ridiculous campaign videos. Trump tweeted out the video on August 12, 2020, and Twitter yanked the video for copyright infringement within a few hours. Then Twitter yanked Trump himself, and not a moment too soon, so we can’t provide you with a link to the video in question. But we actually remember this one because the graphics were so embarrassingly crap — like Thomas the Tank Engine circa 1991, only worse. […]

    See Trump is a BIG CHOO CHOO TRAIN VROOM, and Biden is just a skinny dude manually pumping himself along the tracks.

    Which isn’t actually the dumbest thing you’ll read in this post, believe it or not.

    Grant and his publishing company Greenheart Music promptly sued for copyright infringement in a New York federal court on September 20, 2020. Trump then spent a year bellyaching and trying unsuccessfully to get the case dismissed. On September 28, 2021, US District Judge John G. Koeltl refused to grant Trump’s motion for dismissal for failure to state a legally cognizable claim.

    Trump had argued that the clip had transformed Grant’s song by turning it into a work of political commentary, making it a legitimate use under the Fair Use Doctrine, but the court disagreed.

    “In this case, the video’s overarching political purpose does not automatically render its use of any non-political work transformative,” Judge Koeltl wrote.

    And that meant that time was up, and Trump was going to finally have to answer the original complaint, which he did in the most Trump-y way possible.

    In the section on affirmative defenses, i.e. the part where the defendant says “yeah, well, even if I did, so what, and here is why!” Trump claimed that “Plaintiffs’ claims against Defendants are barred, either in whole or in part, by the doctrines of waiver, laches, acquiescence, inequitable conduct and/or unclean hands.” Which falls under the category of meh, dumb, but whatever. Obviously Grant didn’t waive his rights, or wait too long to file, or do something nefarious to void his own copyright. But, okay, people say a lot of stupid shit in pleadings.

    What they don’t usually say is this:

    Plaintiffs’ claims against Donald J. Trump are barred, either in whole or in part, by Presidential absolute immunity.

    […] WAAAAAA?

    Did that sorry POS just argue with a straight face that the president is free to steal copyrighted material and no one can do anything about it? There is no such thing as “Presidential absolute immunity” to do crimes. The only people on earth who had the nerve to make such a ridiculous argument got their asses handed to them by the Supreme Court last year in Trump v. Vance. And this wet fart of a man and his shameless lawyers have the nerve to come into a federal court and try this shit again?

    Link

  100. says

    Russia’s Navalny awarded prestigious European human rights Sakharov Prize

    Washington Post link

    Russian President Vladimir Putin’s sharpest critic and the country’s most prominent political prisoner, opposition leader Alexei Navalny, was awarded a prestigious European prize on Wednesday that recognizes his work in defense of human rights.

    Navalny, 45, rose to international prominence when he was poisoned in Russia on Aug. 20, 2020, making a recovery in Germany before returning to Russia, where he was immediately detained and later imprisoned. At the time, Washington condemned “Russia’s attempted assassination” of Navalny “with a chemical weapon” and imposed sanctions on top Russian officials and state agencies.

    The European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought — named after Soviet physicist and political dissident Andrei Sakharov — was launched in 1988 to “honor exceptional individuals and organizations defending human rights and fundamental freedoms,” according to the European Parliament. Previous winners have included Belarusian opposition figures, Nelson Mandela and Malala Yousafzai.

    “He has fought tirelessly against the corruption of Vladimir Putin’s regime. This cost him his liberty and nearly his life,” European Parliament President David Sassoli said in announcing the award to Navalny. “Today’s prize recognizes his immense bravery and we reiterate our call for his immediate release.” […]

  101. says

    Vikings Were in the Americas Exactly 1,000 Years Ago

    New York Times link

    Six decades ago, a husband-and-wife team of archaeologists discovered the remains of a settlement on the windswept northern tip of Newfoundland. The site’s eight timber-framed structures resemble Viking buildings in Greenland, and archaeological artifacts found there — including a bronze cloak pin — are decidedly Norse in style.

    Scientists now believe that this site, known as L’Anse aux Meadows, was inhabited by Vikings who came from Greenland. To this day, it remains the only conclusively identified Viking site in the Americas outside of Greenland.

    […] Pinning down the settlement’s age has been a challenge — radiocarbon measurements of artifacts from L’Anse aux Meadows span the entire Viking Age, from the late eighth through the 11th centuries.

    […] scientists presented what they think are new answers to this mystery. By analyzing the imprint of a rare solar storm in tree rings from wood found at the Canadian site, scientists have decisively pinned down when Norse explorers were in Newfoundland: the year A.D. 1021, or exactly 1,000 years ago.

    […] To determine when the site was occupied with greater precision, Dr. Dee and his colleagues analyzed three pieces of wood collected from L’Anse aux Meadows in the 1970s. Each piece, originating from a different tree and still bearing its outer bark, had been cleanly cut with a metal tool, perhaps an ax. That’s a giveaway this wood was cleaved by Vikings, said Margot Kuitems, an archaeologist at the University of Groningen, and a member of the team.

    “The local people didn’t use metal tools,” she said.

    Back in the laboratory, Dr. Kuitems cut a tiny amount of wood from each tree ring of each piece. It was like splitting hairs, she said. “I used a scalpel, but sometimes that was even too thick.” [microscopic images are available at the link]

    […] All that carbon originally came from Earth’s atmosphere. “It’s taken up with photosynthesis,” Dr. Dee said.

    The vast majority of the carbon in the atmosphere is carbon 12, a stable atom with six protons and six neutrons. Only a fleeting fraction is radioactive carbon 14, also called radiocarbon. That isotope of carbon is produced when cosmic rays — high-energy particles from the sun or beyond the solar system — interact with atoms in Earth’s atmosphere.

    Scientists who study cosmic rays used to think that these particles arrived in a relatively constant barrage, meaning that the ratio of carbon 14 to carbon 12 in the atmosphere has largely remained steady over time. But then in 2012, researchers found two cedar trees in Japan that recorded inexplicably high levels of radiocarbon in their rings dating A.D. 774 to 775. That spike is now known as a Miyake event for its discoverer, Fusa Miyake, a cosmic ray physicist at Nagoya University in Japan. Other Miyake events have since been spotted in tree ring records, but they remain exceedingly rare.

    “At the moment we only have three or four in all of the last 10,000 years,” Dr. Dee said.

    But it just so happened that another Miyake event occurred during the Viking Age, in A.D. 992 to 993. Trees found worldwide record an uptick in carbon 14 around that time, and wood found at L’Anse aux Meadows should be no exception. In the hopes of pinning down the age of the Americas’ only confirmed Viking settlement, Dr. Dee and his colleagues turned to the unlikely marriage of dendrochronology — the study of tree rings — and astrophysics.

    […] The researchers found that their three pieces of wood all exhibited a pronounced increase in radiocarbon that began 28 rings before their outer bark. Ring 28 must correspond to the year A.D. 993, the team concluded. They ruled out earlier and later Miyake events based on the carbon 14 to carbon 12 ratios measured in the wood, which vary in known ways over centuries.

    With a date now pinned to an inner tree ring, “all you need to do is count to when you get to the cutting edge,” Dr. Dee said. The three pieces of wood the team analyzed were all felled in 1021, the researchers calculated.

    Until now, estimates of when L’Anse aux Meadows was occupied have very much been “guesstimates,” said Sturt Manning, an archaeologist at Cornell University and the director of the Cornell Tree Ring Laboratory, who was not involved in the research. “Here’s hard, specific evidence that ties to one year.” […]

  102. quotetheunquote says

    “All anti-vaxxers are bastards”, Ontario edition.

    This is a truly brilliant demonstration of how to be a disgusting prick: Here in Ontario, Canada, a member of provincial parliment has been using the name and image of a recently deceased woman, without permission (of course), to shore up his fake anti-vaccine theories. The woman’s family has strongly objected, but their opinions (of course) are not important compared to the promotion of the Holy Cause.

    A Cambridge, Ont., woman is outraged after her late sister’s photo and personal information were used without permission in anti-vaccination social media posts by an Ontario member of provincial parliament (MPP).
    Farisa Navab, 20, died on Sept. 11 from a rare autoimmune disease.
    On Tuesday, images of Navab and 10 other people appeared on the social media of Randy Hillier, an Independent MPP for Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston. The posts suggested they died after having a “permanent adverse reaction shortly after receiving their first or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.”
    “It’s straight up lies,” said Ammarah Navab, noting her sister died of a genetic disorder.

    The MPP in question, Randy Hillier, is a long-time anti-vaxxer and conspiracy theorist; I don’t know if he thinks fluoride in our drinking water is contaminating his Precious Bodily Fluids, but it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if he did.

    More, including a screen of Hillier’s social media post, at the CBC.

  103. quotetheunquote says

    Oh, BTW, @136: Also brilliant, but in an entirely different way! I’ve been to L’anse aux Meadows – the reconstruction of the village is well worth seeing (as are the original mounds upon which it is all based, of course).
    I could not help but think, though, just how unfortunate it was that the Greenlander settlers stopped just there, though – I was visting in August and already dreary and rather cold!

  104. says

    Yep, more legal trouble for Trump.

    The trouble surrounding the Trump National Golf Club Westchester may become the latest in a long line of legal headaches for the former president.

    Donald Trump was already facing a criminal inquiry, multiple civil suits, and criminal charges against his private business when things took a turn for the worse yesterday.

    The New York Times reported that the district attorney’s office in suburban Westchester County, N.Y., recently subpoenaed records from his local golf course, Trump National Golf Club Westchester, and the town of Ossining, which sets property taxes on the course. […] the district court appeared to be interested in whether the Trump Organization “misled local officials about the property’s value to reduce its taxes.”

    If you saw Rachel’s report on this last night, you know these suspicions of wrongdoing aren’t coming out of nowhere. [video is available at the link]

    [Trump] owns a large golf course about an hour north of New York City, and like other property owners in the community, the Trump National Golf Club Westchester has to pay property taxes. […] tax assessors visit properties, make assessments about their value, and property owners are expected to pay taxes accordingly. As the Washington Post noted, the process with the Trump National Golf Club Westchester has not gone smoothly.

    The Trump Organization had challenged the property valuation for its Westchester club for every year since 2015. That process — used by many real estate companies — typically requires a company to submit data about its property’s financial performance, as evidence that it is worth less than the initial assessment.

    […] The Trump Organization tried to dramatically reduce its tax bill by arguing that the golf club was worth far less than tax assessors claimed. In fact, when local officials assessed the property’s value, they assigned it a $15 million assessment.

    The Trump Organization appealed, arguing that the real value was $1.4 million.

    There was, however, a separate claim that contradicted the business’ self-assessment. In 2016, then-candidate Trump had to file a financial disclosure statement about his assets — and at the time, he said his Westchester club was valued at over $50 million.

    In other words, he told the federal government his club was worth over $50 million, while at the same time telling the local government his club was worth $1.4 million.

    Why would he do that? Largely to lower the property tax bill he was supposed to pay, but didn’t want to.

    […] deliberately misvaluing property, in order to evade taxes, is illegal. Looking for ways to reduce tax burdens is fine, criminal misconduct is not.

    […] no charges have been filed against the Trump Organization […] District attorneys’ offices examine potential wrongdoing all the time without filing charges, and this investigation may quietly fade away. [I doubt that.]

    But given the available details, no one should be surprised if this becomes the latest in a long line of legal headaches for [Trump].

    Link

  105. says

    Yikes.

    North Carolina state representative Mike Clampitt swore an oath to uphold the Constitution after his election in 2016 and again in 2020. But there’s another pledge that Clampitt said he’s upholding: to the Oath Keepers, a right-wing militant organization.

    Dozens of Oath Keepers have been arrested in connection to the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, some of them looking like a paramilitary group, wearing camo helmets and flak vests. But a list of more than 35,000 members of the Oath Keepers — obtained by an anonymous hacker and shared with ProPublica by the whistleblower group Distributed Denial of Secrets — underscores how the organization is evolving into a force within the Republican Party.

    ProPublica identified Clampitt and 47 more state and local government officials on the list, all Republicans: 10 sitting state lawmakers; two former state representatives; one current state assembly candidate; a state legislative aide; a city council assistant; county commissioners in Indiana, Arizona and North Carolina; two town aldermen; sheriffs or constables in Montana, Texas and Kentucky; state investigators in Texas and Louisiana; and a New Jersey town’s public works director.

    ProPublica’s analysis also found more than 400 people who signed up for membership or newsletters using government, military or political campaign email addresses, including candidates for Congress and sheriff […]

    “Five or six years ago, politicians wouldn’t be caught dead hanging out with Oath Keepers, you’d have to go pretty fringe,” said Jared Holt, who monitors the group for the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab. “When groups like that become emboldened, it makes them significantly more dangerous.”

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/oath-keepers-militia-republican-politics

    Note the caveats concerning the membership list:

    The hacked list marks participants as annual ($50) or lifetime ($1,000) members, so not everyone on the list is currently active, though some said they viewed it as a lifelong commitment even if they only paid for one year. Many members said they had little contact with the group after sending in their dues but still supported the cause. Others drifted away and disavowed the group, even before Jan. 6.

    […] According to experts who monitor violent extremism, the Oath Keepers’ broadening membership provides the group with two crucial resources: money and, particularly when government officials get involved, legitimacy.

  106. says

    Ethnic disparities in state prisons are shocking:

    […] the amount of Black Americans incarcerated in state prisons is nearly five times that of white Americans and one in 81 Black adults per 100,000 nationwide is incarcerated in state prison.

    No states come off looking good in this report but there are certainly some states that stand out more than others. For example, Wisconsin has the highest rate of incarceration of Black adults in state prison.

    Just 6% of the population in Wisconsin is Black. Yet 42% of adults incarcerated in Wisconsin state prisons are Black. The rate of imprisonment is staggering: Black adults are imprisoned in state facilities nearly 12 times the rate of white Wisconsinites.

    […] Problems with data extend to four states in particular that don’t account for their Latinx state prison population: Alabama, Maine, Michigan, and Vermont.

    Already, the report has raised concerns about incarceration in states like Kansas. On Wednesday, the Kansas City Star issued a staff editorial condemning the high rate in which Black Kansans find themselves imprisoned in state facilities. The rate of Black adults incarcerated in state prisons in Kansas is six times higher than for White adults.

    “Kansas officials must take steps to reduce the state’s minority prison population,” the editorial notes. “For starters, minor infractions that send substance abusers and others to prison must be decriminalized.”

    The report calls for similar reforms, along with enacting proportional sentencing and implementing racial impact statements, which allow for lawmakers to seek alternatives to harsh punitive legislation and consider their outcomes. This could all be achieved with the passage of bills like the First Step Implementation Act and the drafting of new legislation that explicitly focuses on racial impact statements.

    Link

  107. says

    Donald Trump’s new ‘social media platform’ isn’t a Twitter rival. It’s an investment scam.

    On Wednesday evening, Donald Trump’s get-around-the-ban surrogate on Twitter, Liz Harrington, issued a statement announcing the formation of the “Trump Media and Technology Group” (TMTG). Most of the attention focused on this missive has been centered around the announcement of something called “TRUTH Social”—also known as yet-another-Trump-focused-Twitter-clone. But that’s not the real point of TMTG. The real point is that this is a scheme through which Trump can collect several hundred million dollars, even if his new social platform never posts a tweet, or a toot, or a fart, or whatever they end up being called.

    The truth behind TRUTH Social is right there in the first paragraph of the announcement, which is not focused on the technology behind the platform, or anything that Trump is bringing to the table. Instead, that paragraph is dedicated to explaining how the project has been given “an initial enterprise value of $875 million” and “a cumulative valuation up to $1.7 billion.” Which is amazing, because what it seems to have is nothing more than a credit line and some highly generic code that was hacked within minutes of the beta address becoming known.

    No sooner had the first test invites been handed out than someone spoofed Trump’s account and posted, well, as Daily Beast contributor Steven Monacelli accurately puts it, “a photo of a pig defecating on its own scrotum.” Two hours after it first went up, the whole site came down.

    However, it doesn’t matter if the site ever sticks its head above the waste pool again. Because that’s not the point. Donald Trump is potentially walking about with $340 million, even if it fails completely. That’s the point.

    What Trump is attempting here is something called a SPAC, or Special Purpose Acquisition Companies. It’s also known as a “reverse merger” or a “blank check company.” It’s a scheme in which some low-value shell company that’s already listed on a stock market “buys” a private company, then relists itself under the name of that new company. In almost all cases, what’s really going on is that the private company is just taking over the empty husk of that shell company—a company that may have existed for no other purpose than to serve as a placeholder for some future SPAC.

    Why go through these steps? Because getting listed on a stock exchange generally requires clearing a number of hurdles, including meeting requirements from the Securities and Exchange Commission. SPACS can just pop into existence, taking a fast track to a stock listing while dodging almost every qualifying step.

    The whole idea of the SPAC is relatively new, and in the last year they’ve really taken off. In some cases, these schemes have allowed start ups to jump immediately to market, capitalizing on interest in new technology or rising industries. Among others, several small electric car companies made a sudden appearance on NASDAQ last year after taking over the corpses of fading corporations.

    But there’s one particular kind of SPAC that’s described in this article from Mergers and Acquisitions. A kind known as the “celebrity SPAC.”

    First, a “celebrity” or another notable person (the “Sponsor”) raises capital by taking an empty holding company (the SPAC) public in an IPO. This SPAC then uses the cash proceeds from the IPO and a large stock issuance to acquire a private company, making it public.

    That’s exactly what’s happening with TMTG. Teenage Mutant Turtle Gropers—sorry, that’s Trump Media and Technology Group—doesn’t have to rival Twitter. It doesn’t even have to threaten whatever “conservative social media platforms” are still limping along out there. It just has to collect investors. Because this:

    Unlike IPOs, however, the Sponsor gets a 20% stake, called a “Promote,” and there’s much less regulatory scrutiny. Oh, and this “Sponsor” invests almost nothing in exchange for this 20% stake.

    Remember the numbers on how this was being “valued” in Trump’s announcement? That’s right. This is an attempt by Trump to scam between $175 million and $340 million with essentially no investment and no effort. As the article explains, the “sponsor” can walk away with a bundle, “even if the SPAC performs horribly and the share price plummets, while normal investors will lose everything.”

    Trump already has a good idea how this works, because, as CNBC noted in 2020, former Trump adviser Gary Cohn put together a SPAC worth a potential $600 million (and $120 million directly to Cohn) when it formed a “blank check” holding company whose entire purpose seems to be simply to get people to buy into shares. A SPAC of this variety is nothing more than a exchange-based Ponzi scheme in which the original Ponzi is guaranteed to walk away with a mountain of cash.

    TMTG isn’t a social media platform. It’s a scam. Trump does need another social media platform. He needs suckers willing to buy stock. And Trump has always been very, very good at locating suckers.

    So while it’s fun to point out that TRUTH Social has some of the most restrictive rules of any platform, including rules that prohibit criticizing TRUTH Social, it doesn’t really matter. The whole platform can be sh#t pigs all the way down. It can collapse under its own incompetence. None of that means a thing. What matters to Trump is that he gets to walk away with a bundle.

    Not every SPAC is a scam. […] But of the $82 billion raised through SPACS in 2020, a large amount is either super speculative investment or an outright scam. Which lead the Harvard Business Review to note last February that the SPAC bubble was looking very fragile. Once it became clear that this was a way to drub investors for ready cash, everyone wanted in.

    Trump isn’t being innovative in his technology. He’s not even being innovative in his scam. […]

  108. says

    OMFG.

    Gohmert Compares Sit-In Led By John Lewis To Capitol Attack

    Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) on Thursday compared a 2016 congressional sit-in led by the late civil rights hero Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) to the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.

    It was just the latest in Republican attempts to minimize the mob attack on Congress earlier this year. But it was an especially extreme example: Lewis led the day-long sit-in in the House chamber, joined by several other lawmakers, to build pressure for gun control legislation.

    “Where is the heart of this body?” Lewis said in a speech at the start of the sit-in, which came a few days after the Orlando nightclub mass shooting that left 49 people dead. “Where is our soul? Where is our moral leadership? Where is our courage?”

    The members of Congress who participated in the sit-in, Gohmert told Attorney General Merrick Garland in a hearing, actually committed the crime of which so many Capitol attackers now stand accused: Obstructing an official proceeding.

    “On June 22 of 2016, judge, most of the Democrat members of Congress took over the House floor, and, for the first time in American history, members of Congress obstructed official proceedings,” Gohmert said.

    “Not for 4 to 6 hours, but for virtually 26 hours,” he continued. “Not just violating over a dozen House rules, but actually committing the felony that some of the Jan. 6 people are charged with.”

    Gohmert noted that “nobody has been charged” for the sit-in, despite Jan. 6 defendants being “viciously” prosecuted for the same thing.

    “Those kinds of things — where you let Democrat members of Congress off for the very thing that you’re viciously going after people that were protesting on Jan. 6 — gives people the indication that there is a two-tiered justice system here in America,” the congressman said.

    Later in the hearing of the House Judiciary Committee Thursday, Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) called Gohmert’s comparison “disgraceful.” […]

    Comments from readers of the article:

    Hey, remember when Rep. Lewis savagely beat Capitol police with fire extinguishers and Trump flags?

    Yah, me neither.
    ———————–
    To be fair, here he [Lewis] is violently smashing an innocent police baton with his head. [Photo of John Lewis being beaten by a cop with a baton.]
    ————————
    It’s easy to dismiss this coming from crackpot Gohmert, but by the end of the day this will be a mainstream Republican talking point, it will be all over Fox News, and will start to be repeated by right wing leaning prosecutors and judges.
    ————————
    They were talking about GOP attempts to sanitize the insurrection this morning on Morning Joe. Everyone on the panel agreed that you can whitewash a thing people didn’t see or hear, you can whitewash history, but what you can’t do is convince people that a thing they watched unfold didn’t happen. Sure, their voters will lie and tell pollsters or whomever that it was no big deal, but they’re lying. Same with Gohmert and all the other GOPers trying to convince people they didn’t see what they saw. I’d wager that we’re gonna see lots and lots of Dem ads next year with footage of the insurrection raging in the background while some GOPer compares the insurrectionists to Rosa Parks.
    —————————
    Whitewashing the insurrection would be saying it didn’t happen or nothing really all that bad happened. The position they’re settling on, however, is that J6 was righteous and awesome. They’re going to make it a national holiday.

  109. blf says

    Almost as important as snails, frog’s legs, MUSHROOMS!, and, of course, vin, is Camembert culture: Dipping into the world of France’s most iconic cheese (video):

    […] Camembert [is] a national symbol that French people are very proud of, but recently Italian mozzarella outsold camembert in France. Has there been a major change in the hearts and minds of the French? Meanwhile, small and industrial-scale producers of camembert have been waging a war over the brand. What’s the traditional recipe, and how do you choose a good camembert?

    I’ve not only never squeezed a Camembert, I’ve never seen anyone do that. Albeit when I buy cheeses, it’s usually from a specialist professional cheesemonger (fromager·ère), who typically offer samples. The mildly deranged penguin, when she simply doesn’t just run through the fromagerie collecting the cheeses, prefers to go to the source and hunts them down wherever they roam. She’s also confused by that Almost as important introduction, and is looking at me very darkly…

  110. says

    The House of Representatives voted to refer Steve Bannon to the Department of Justice for contempt of Congress. (Bannon refused to comply with subpoena.)

    Nine (9!) Republicans voted with Democrats for the contempt referral. These days, nine is a big number of Republicans who are reasonable. That’s kinda of sad. It means the rest of the Republicans voted that, essentially, anyone subpoenaed by Congress can just ignore that call to testify.

  111. says

    Follow-up to comment 145.

    Congress is trying to get answers about an attack on our democracy. House Republicans suggested today that they’re largely indifferent to those answers.

    On the surface, this seemed like a straightforward dispute. Steve Bannon has important insights to share about the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol; he was subpoenaed to cooperate with a bipartisan investigation; and he refused. In fact, the former White House strategist said he couldn’t comply with the subpoena because Donald Trump didn’t want him to.

    For the committee investigating the insurrectionist riot, this wasn’t acceptable. Congressional subpoenas are not supposed to be optional. They are not casual invitations. The more people feel they can ignore these legal commands from federal lawmakers — at the behest of a former president who is now a private citizen — the more difficult it is for Congress to do its job.

    Earlier this week, the House select committee voted unanimously to hold Bannon in contempt. This afternoon […] the full House voted to do the same.

    […] The matter will now be referred to the U.S. attorney’s office in the nation’s capital for possible prosecution. Whether Bannon will actually be charged is not at all clear, and such cases are quite rare.

    […] Bannon is a Republican; he’s shielding information at the behest of a former Republican president; that same former Republican president bears responsibility for the attack on the Capitol; and so it stood to reason that Republican House members, the vast majority of whom want to stay on Donald Trump’s good side, would vote “no” today.

    […] as historian Kevin Kruse noted this week, “During Watergate, most Republicans — whatever their politics, whatever they thought of the president — supported efforts to secure evidence and witness testimony. They believed defending their branch of government was more important than defending their party’s leader.”

    Those days are long gone. GOP politics has changed spectacularly since those earlier controversies.

    Indeed, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy suggested yesterday that he doesn’t even consider the Jan. 6 committee that issued the subpoena to be a “real” committee. Soon after, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise formally urged GOP members to oppose the resolution. [Dunderheads]

    All but nine followed the Republican leadership’s directive:
    Liz Cheney of Wyoming
    Adam Kinzinger of Illinois
    Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio
    Peter Meijer of Michigan
    Fred Upton of Michigan
    Nancy Mace of South Carolina
    John Katko of New York
    Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania
    Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington

    On the one hand, nine is an embarrassingly low number. On the other hand, given the state of Republican politics in 2021, nine is also a larger number than I expected. […]

    Link

  112. says

    Layoff totals fall again, improve to pandemic-era low

    The last time layoff totals were this low, the pandemic hadn’t even started in earnest. The numbers are starting to look … normal.

    The week before President Joe Biden’s inauguration, weekly unemployment claims were still a painfully high 886,000. CNBC reported this morning on the newest data from the Labor Department, which offers the best news on layoffs we’ve seen in quite a while.

    Weekly jobless claims hit another pandemic-era low last week as the elimination of enhanced benefits sent fewer people to the unemployment line. First-time filings for unemployment insurance totaled 290,000 for the week ended Oct. 16, down 6,000 from the previous period, the Labor Department reported Thursday. This was the second week in a row that claims ran below 300,000.

    […] it was in March 2020 when jobless claims first spiked in response to the Covid-19 crisis, climbing to over 3 million. That weekly total soon after reached nearly 7 million as the economy cratered. For 55 consecutive weeks, the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits was worse than at any time during the Great Recession.

    […] And now, finally, we’ve seen two weeks in a row in which jobless claims have dipped below 300,000.

    Indeed, what we’re approaching is something resembling normalcy. […]

  113. says

    Jan. 6 probe getting very, very uncomfortable for Republicans

    Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio loves few things more than a bombastic interrogation, so long as he’s doing the interrogating. But when it came to answering a few meaningful questions while on the witness stand at a congressional hearing Wednesday, Jordan folded like an amateur in Vegas.

    Nearly three months ago, Jordan admitted in an interview with Spectrum News that he had spoken with Donald Trump on Jan. 6, but he also maintained he couldn’t recall exactly when. Jordan has had 84 days since that interview to go back and check the record for specifics, as House Rules Committee Chair Jim McGovern of Massachusetts noted during Wednesday’s hearing on whether the House should take up Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s contempt charge.

    “Did you talk to the former president before, during, or after the attack on the Capitol—or was it all three?” McGovern asked Jordan, who was testifying against sending the contempt resolution to the House floor.

    Jordan dodged. “Of course I talked to the president—I’ve been clear about that. I talk to him all the time,” he offered. “This is not about me, Mr. Chairman.”

    Au contraire, Congressman. In fact, Jordan may have dodged his way right into a subpoena, a prospect that Rep. Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania called a “very serious possibility” on MSNBC following the Rules Committee hearing.

    Dean doesn’t sit on the Jan. 6 committee, but she noted, “What we see from somebody like a Jim Jordan is an inability to string together a sentence because he would have to be trying to tell the truth or hiding the truth.”

    Well said. When you’re under oath, flat-out lying about the truth becomes perilous, which is why Jordan declined to directly answer the question.

    […] Because virtually no House Republicans want Bannon spilling the beans about the planning of the Jan. 6 attack. No [Republican] wants Bannon talking about the Jan. 5 Willard Hotel war room, where Bannon, Rudy Giuliani, coup architect John Eastman, and others worked the phones to convince congressional Republicans to vote against certifying the election results the following day. Ultimately, roughly two-thirds of the House GOP caucus opposed certification without a shred of verifiable evidence to support their objections.

    Let’s just note here that right outside the Willard Hotel on January 5 were members of various extremist militia groups who, on January 6, started their march toward the Capitol before Trump was even finished speaking. Why were those guys standing around outside the Willard Hotel?

    Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, vice chair of the select committee on Jan. 6, has also been absolutely sticking it to her GOP colleagues. Before the Jan. 6 panel voted to hold Bannon in contempt Tuesday, Cheney posited that Trump and Bannon may have been “personally involved” in organizing the Capitol attack and urged her GOP colleagues to do their “duty to prevent the dismantling of the rule of law.”

    On Wednesday, Cheney came straight back at House Republicans as she testified before the Rules Committee in favor of sending the contempt resolution to the House floor.

    “As you think about how you will answer when history asks, What did you do when Congress was attacked, when a mob, provoked by a president, tried to use violence to stop us from carrying out our constitutional duty to count electoral votes—when a mob, provoked by a president, tried to overturn the results of an election?” Cheney said, in remarks aired on MSNBC. “Will you be able to say you did everything possible to ensure Americans got the truth about those events? Or did you look away? Did you make partisan excuses and accept the unacceptable?”

    Cheney also revealed that GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy has been putting the squeeze on House Republicans to help cover up details about the Capitol siege.

    […] On Thursday, Cheney was back on the House floor making sure Americans know that Bannon forecasted the mayhem of Jan. 6 even before it happened.

    “I urge all Americans to watch what Mr. Bannon said on his podcast on Jan. 5 and 6. It is shocking and indefensible,” Cheney said, during debate before the House vote on Bannon’s contempt charge. “He said, ‘All hell is going to break loose.’ He said, ‘We are coming in right over the target. This is the point of attack we have always wanted.'”

    […] Trump himself will only make things worse, as he continues to demand unequivocal fealty from congressional Republicans. Amid an already tense week in the probe for Republicans, Trump poured more gas on the fire.

    “The insurrection took place on November 3, Election Day,” Trump said Thursday in a statement. “January 6 was the Protest!”

    That puts the Republican Party squarely in the anti-democracy camp. Exercising one’s peaceful right to vote against Republicans is now treasonous, according to Trump and his lock-step GOP allies. And the “protest,” as Trump put it, will include a trip to the gallows for anyone who falls afoul.

  114. says

    blf @144, I too have never squeezed a camembert. I think I might like to squeeze one. We’ll see.

    I don’t have access to a professional cheesemonger (fromager·ère), but I wish I did. Also, samples sound like a very good idea.

    Alas, these days I order online. Someone else puts the cheese I order in a bag and brings that out for curbside pickup. The camembert story made me miss shopping in person.

  115. says

    Bad news for women in Afghanistan:

    Many female city employees in Kabul were told by the Taliban not to return to work, bolstering fears that the gains made by women in Afghanistan over the last two decades may be stripped away under the new regime, The Washington Post reported.

    The female employees told not to return included many working in education and health, as well as other areas, said Neamatullah Barakzai, the Kabul head of public awareness, according to the Post. The government will reportedly continue to pay their wages as officials determine a work policy for women.

    Last month, the interim mayor for the city said that only women who had jobs that could not be replaced by men could return to work.

    The comments are a far cry from what the Taliban had originally promised earlier this year, claiming that women could pursue career paths and education, things that were previously out of reach when the military group controlled the country in the 1990s. The Taliban have also pledged to recognize the rights of women under their Islamic framework.

    Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid told NBC News in late August, amid the final days of the United States’ withdrawal, that women could be “doctors, teachers, be educated and can work to benefit society.”

    “They are our sisters, we must show them respect. They should not be frightened. The Taliban are humans and from this country. They fought for our country. Women should be proud of us, not scared,” he added.

    Taliban acting Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Salam Hanafi said on Wednesday as Moscow hosted talks with the Taliban and other nations that passport offices and police stations would continue to employ women, according to The Post.

    Link

  116. says

    Wonkette:

    Oh shitfuckdamn, the geopolitical crisis starts NOW, and we hate to say it, but it’s the drag queens’ fault. Which ones? All of them, obviously, but specifically some drag queens in Vermont at a football game. Pantshitting Christian Right weirdos are upset about it, that much is to be expected, but we didn’t realize there was going to be maybe World War 3, but HERE WE ARE.

    Charlie Kirk explains, in one of those white cisgender male rants that he imagines comes off far tougher than it does in reality, that the drag queens in Vermont are but one way “transgender garbage” is taking over America and will somehow lead to the Chinese invasion of Taiwan.

    Don’t say it doesn’t make sense, it’s not supposed to make sense […] [Video available at the link.]

    CHARLIE KIRK: At a high school in Vermont, just to kind of show the state of the nation, what are they doing during a high school football game? Oh, they’re having a drag show. […] This is a report of a local news outlet that a high school, a public high school, has a – this is in Burlington, Vermont, the godless, soulless, Burlington, Vermont – they have a drag show.

    They did! It was homecoming, and it was cute and faculty even participated and Charlie Kirk is having a pantshit about that.

    So Charlie played the clip of fun people in Vermont having fun and nobody being hurt by it, then came back MAD because he was MAD.

    KIRK: Kids on TikTok are saying that they are using “demon” as a pronoun. No joke. It’s a new thing, that — and of course, it’s not a spiritual war, everybody, nothing to see here …

    Hahahahaha, kids these days. We have no idea what the TikTok trend is. All we can tell you is that if you google “demon” and “TikTok” you will find such notable luminaries as Kirk and also Steven Crowder having a pantshit about it, and literally nobody else. So we are sure it’s a very serious issue in American society.

    KIRK: Dave Chapelle is now being potentially cancelled for being hilarious.

    No it’s because he’s an asshole. And spoiler, but he’s not very funny anymore. There was a time. That time is not now.

    KIRK: And it all ties together, all of this. The hyper-sensitivity, the inactivity, the anarcho-tyranny

    Charlie knows words.

    KIRK: But don’t worry everybody, according to the US State Department it is International Pronoun Day. Everything’s great. It is international pronoun day.

    We had not heard! But apparently it is and the State Department tweeted about it and you know who’s mad about that? Only the worst, most useless people this country ever produced.

    Here is where China sees a drag show in Vermont and has such a conniption it bombs Taiwan:

    KIRK: Meanwhile, China is testing scientific — no, hypersonic missiles. If I was Xi Jinping and I saw that Netflix employees are walking out over saying gender is a fact, if I were Xi Jinping and I saw drag queen halftime show, I would take Taiwan over lunch.

    Good thing Xi Jinping is not dealing with whatever psychosexual issues seem to haunt poor Charlie Kirk!

    KIRK: And the State Department says it’s International Pronoun Day. This is a real thing — and, oh, Media Matters will love this — the transgender garbage is making America a dangerous place. It allows our enemies an opportunity to take us over.

    Hahahahaha OK. You bet. But how, though? How does this give our enemies an opportunity? Is the State Department so busy watching fabulous drag shows and tweeting about pronouns that it has no idea China is doin’ missile stuff? Is that the job of the social media person at State, to monitor Chinese missile activity?

    How, Charlie? Show your work.

    As for Kirk saying “transgender garbage,” oh boy, he sure is fishing for a reaction to that one, isn’t he? Some outrage? Some evidence he has just owned the libs? What a very big man with very tough words he is!

    If you watch the video, you can see how ragey he gets when he’s about to say it, but also kind of excited. We imagine his heart-rate accelerated just a bit. And then you can see him kinda gulp and take a breath afterward, like he’s telling himself yeah, he just stood up to transgender people who have done nothing to harm him, and yet obviously make him so uncomfortable.

    The point is, Charlie Kirk can go fuck himself.

    Hey remember that time Tucker Carlson had a personal masculinity crisis over pregnant troops and Black women troops’ hairstyles, because he thought the Chinese military was so manly and he wanted us to be just like the big strong masculine hairy Chinese military?

    Our point is that these white conservative men get shrinkage over the strangest things, but they are always the same things.

    We’d ask a psychologist what they thought about this but it doesn’t seem necessary.

    Link

  117. says

    New York Times link

    Worsening conflict within and between nations. Increased dislocation and migration as people flee climate-fueled instability. Heightened military tension and uncertainty. Financial hazards.

    The Biden administration released several reports Thursday about climate change and national security, laying out in stark terms the ways in which the warming world is beginning to significantly challenge stability worldwide.

    The documents, issued by the departments of Homeland Security and Defense as well as the National Security Council and director of national intelligence, mark the first time that the nation’s security agencies collectively communicated the climate risks they face.

    The reports include warnings from the intelligence community about how climate change can work on numerous levels to sap the strength of a nation. For example, Middle Eastern countries like Iraq and Algeria could be hit by lost revenue from fossil fuels, even as the region faces worsening heat and drought. The Pentagon warned that food shortages could lead to unrest, along with fights between countries over water. […]

  118. says

    NBC News:

    A battle is raging at the heart of the European Union over accusations that its two most right-wing governments are subverting democratic principles and offering inspiration to populist parties across Europe. The E.U. accuses Poland of undermining the entire 27-nation union by asserting that its domestic laws take precedence over shared European law. Poland is the first member state to do so, and E.U. leaders say the move threatens the very foundations of the bloc. […]

  119. says

    NBC News:

    A Pennsylvania prosecutor on Thursday said it’s “simply not true” that Philadelphia riders “callously” did nothing to stop a woman from being sexually assaulted on a commuter train.

    The attack last week on a Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) train made for national headlines with commuters being painted as cold-hearted travelers who not only failed to intervene, but stopped to record the rape with their phones.

    However, Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer insisted that version events is not accurate.

    “There is a narrative out there people sat on the El train and watched this transpire and took videos of it for their own gratification,” Stollsteimer said, using local nickname for SEPTA’s Market-Frankford line.

    “That is simply not true. It did not happen. We have the security video from SEPTA that shows that was not the true narrative,” he said.

    Stollsteimer blamed SEPTA for painting an inaccurate picture.

    “I think it really came from SEPTA officials,” Stollsteimer told reporters. “I saw the video where they talked about ‘these people,’ acting like there was a group of people just callously recording this incident.”

    Fiston Ngoy, 35, was arrested and accused of the Oct. 13 assault in Upper Darby, officials said.

    Upper Darby Police Superintendent Timothy Bernhardt and SEPTA spokesman Andrew Busch on Monday both squarely blamed riders for not coming to the woman’s aid during the attack.

    Stollsteimer conceded that some riders might have caught a glimpse of the assault, but didn’t realize what they were seeing.

    “It was not very crowded at all, sparsely crowded, and it’s moving,” he said. “So this is an incident that’s happening over time. So people are getting in and out of the car. They may not all have been aware at any time of what would happen previously.”

    Link

  120. says

    […] So, 1.) the economy is improving from where it was when Donald Trump was in the White House, thankyouverymuch. And 2.) Dude, supply chains need infrastructure. Democrats are trying to pass infrastructure. Republicans are blocking the way.

    Again, it’s sort of pointless to try to pick apart what McCarthy is arguing in this letter [House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s letter to President Biden] because coherence or consistency is not the point. The point is being seen to always oppose everything Democrats do, and to convince people who aren’t paying much attention that what Democrats are doing is exacerbating supply chain problems without even beginning to sketch out a theory of how that is true. He’s taking two big complicated things—the global supply chain and Democratic efforts to pass hard infrastructure and social infrastructure bills—and trying to mash them up together without explanation, or even the acknowledgement that the Democratic legislation he’s fussing about has yet to pass.

    Link

    Background:

    […] In a long letter addressed to President Joe Biden but really intended to be quoted on Fox News and OAN, McCarthy repeatedly tried to link supply chain problems—which are a complicated result of pandemic shutdowns, pandemic shifts in demand, and decades of just-in-time manufacturing and supply, among other things—to legislation that Democrats haven’t even passed yet. Maybe his most hilariously dishonest move comes in the letter’s very first paragraph, where he claimed that “Republicans have repeatedly demonstrated a willingness to work on bipartisan solutions to improve our infrastructure.” This after House Republican leaders—of whom he is No. 1—whipped against passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill that had drawn 19 Republican votes in the Senate. […]

  121. says

    WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Declaring “no more government handouts,” millions of America’s children are demanding that all future salary payments to Senator Joe Manchin be tied to a work requirement.

    Tracy Klugian, who is nine years old, said that Manchin’s current arrangement, in which he is paid for no work whatsoever, amounts to “an obscene ripoff of the American taxpayer.”

    “Our message to Senator Manchin is clear,” she said. “Your years of feeding at the socialist trough are over.”

    But Jake Pearlgon, who is eleven, believes that a work requirement for Manchin might be the wrong approach. “Actually, it would be better if he worked less,” he said.

    New Yorker link

  122. birgerjohansson says

    I am forwarding this because it pertains to blatantly immoral religious scriptures, and the need for religious people to have the courage to acknowledge the reality of such repugnant passages.
    This example is from islam, but the old testament also comes to mind.
    “Covardience or courage?” https://youtu.be/_uWzagN2jW0

  123. birgerjohansson says

    Horror films or horrible films.
    ”Vijayendra Varma: Power of an Indian” review by Diamanda Hagan.
    This is the Indian/Hindu answer to the islamic “International Guerrillas” and it is excruciatingly bad. So bad it’s good?
    https://youtu.be/4ymyVBiSBtk

  124. birgerjohansson says

    Thanks to Harris Sultan, I learned someone named Sabboor had been dissing evolution on muslim social media. It was assumed he was a biologist, maybe even an evolutionary biologist but it now turns out his field is “the philosophy of biology”.
    Does biology even have a philosophy, beyond “if it replicates, it works” ?

  125. says

    Partisan political hacks on the Supreme Court:

    […] the Heritage Foundation hosted a notable event last night. The Washington Post reported:

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell lauded Justice Clarence Thomas on Thursday night as a “legal titan” whose independence and courage are illustrated through his “jurisprudence on unborn life.”

    […] it’s difficult to defend these circumstances. A conservative political group hosted an event for a conservative Supreme Court justice, who was in attendance for the celebration of himself. Congress’ most powerful Republican official — a man who has personally spearheaded a years-long campaign to politicize the federal judiciary — not only delivered a keynote address, he also specifically praised the justice’s work on a controversial issue that the Supreme Court will be considering in its next term.

    Every time the high court considers abortion cases, McConnell said, “Justice Thomas writes a separate, concise opinion to cut through the 50-year tangle of made-up tests and shifting standards and calmly reminds everybody that the whole house of cards lacks a constitutional foundation.” The audience at the Heritage Foundation applauded in approval.

    Is it any wonder why public confidence in the high court’s impartiality has waned?

    Link

  126. says

    Last fall, a Republican lawyer helped take the lead in Trump’s gambit to have the results of an election thrown out. Now he’ll oversee Texas elections.

    Link

    For proponents of democracy, recent developments in Texas have been heartbreaking. Republican policymakers not only approved sweeping voting restrictions, they soon after drew a heavily gerrymandered district map and launched a wildly unnecessary “audit” of 2020 election results. […]

    Yesterday, as this NBC News report made clear, the problems in the Lone Star State got a little worse.

    Texas Gov. Greg Abbott appointed a lawyer who briefly represented former President Donald Trump in challenging the 2020 election results to be Texas’ next secretary of state. The lawyer, John Scott, will oversee next year’s contests, including Abbott’s own re-election battle, as well as a recently announced review of 2020 election results in four counties.

    As a Texas Tribune report added, it was just days after Joe Biden was declared the president-elect when Scott “signed on as counsel to a lawsuit filed by Trump attempting to block the certification of Pennsylvania’s election.”

    As Rachel explained on last night’s show, the lawyer later dropped out of the case, but that doesn’t change the fact that Scott literally helped take the lead in Trump’s absurd gambit to have the results of an election thrown out. Less than a year later, Abbott decided to put him in charge of administering all elections in the nation’s second largest state — including the re-election bid of the Republican governor who chose him for the job.

    As my MSNBC colleague Ja’han Jones put it, “Abbott’s appointment of Scott as secretary of state places unmatched authority over Texas’ elections in the hands of a Trump loyalist who has endorsed the former president’s baseless lies about election fraud.”

    What could possibly go wrong?

    This comes on the heels of related news that the sham “audit” launched by Wisconsin Republicans will be led in part by a different Republican lawyer from the Trump administration who’s touted the Big Lie.

    […] Texas’ GOP governor [Abbott] said in a written statement yesterday, “John understands the importance of protecting the integrity of our elections” […]

  127. says

    Ron DeSantis’ handpicked surgeon general has been described as a “COVID crank.” Dr. Joseph Ladapo seems eager to prove his critics right.

    Link

    […] NBC News reported yesterday:

    Florida’s new surgeon general Dr. Joseph Ladapo during a press conference Thursday questioned the efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines, denounced all mandates in workplaces and argued people would face more health repercussions by losing their jobs because they refused to comply with requirements…. Ladapo invoked anecdotal examples and unsubstantiated conspiracy theories to argue against the vaccines […]

    “I mean, you hear these stories, people telling you what’s been happening in their lives — nurses, pregnant women who are being forced to sort of put something in their bodies that we don’t know all there is to know about yet,” the state surgeon general said. “No matter what people on TV tell you, it’s not true. We’re going to learn more about the safety of these vaccines.”

    After needlessly questioning the safety of the vaccines, Ladapo went on to needlessly question the efficacy of the vaccines.

    He added that Floridians should “stick with their intuition,” as opposed to following the guidance of public health officials who actually know what they’re talking about. Why the public at large is supposed to rely on what they intuitively believe might be true, despite not having any background in epidemiology, is unclear.

    Ladapo said all of this during an event with DeSantis — the governor who thought it’d be a good idea to make him the surgeon general of the state.

    As unsettling as Ladapo’s weird rhetoric was, none of this came as a surprise. As we discussed last month, before taking office, the doctor spent much of the pandemic questioning the value of vaccines and the efficacy of masks, while simultaneously touting ineffective treatments such as hydroxychloroquine.

    The editorial board of The Orlando Sentinel recently described Ladapo as a “COVID crank” who’s been “associated with a right-wing group of physicians whose members include a physician who believes infertility and miscarriages are the result of having sex with demons and witches during dreams.”

    And as The Tallahassee Democrat reported two weeks ago, Ladapo’s “first act as surgeon general came a day after his appointment, when he issued an emergency rule that took away school authority to quarantine students exposed to those who tested positive” for Covid-19.

    Florida has seen more than 3.6 million Covid-19 cases. The virus has claimed the lives of nearly 59,000 Floridians. The Sunshine State would benefit from having a leading public health official who believes in vaccines, masks, and sensible protections during a pandemic.

    Instead, Floridians have DeSantis’ handpicked surgeon general, whose judgment appears to be getting worse, not better.

  128. says

    Le Gasp! Biden Finally Embraces Changing The Filibuster

    After months of largely avoiding calls to reform the filibuster while GOP senators were gleefully weaponizing it to obstruct his agenda, the President said during a TV town hall event last night that he’s had enough: It’s time to “fundamentally alter the filibuster.”

    Biden suggested he might be open to eliminating the filibuster entirely.

    Meanwhile, he proposed bringing back the “talking filibuster,” where senators would actually have to go up to the floor and speak.

    Biden isn’t necessarily limiting his call for filibuster reforms to a carveout for voting rights or the debt limit either. He said potential changes to the filibuster could be extended to “maybe more” of his policy proposals.

  129. says

    […] Jim Banks [Republican House member from Indiana], is apparently now trying to play dress up — pretending to be a member of the panel probing the insurrection.

    And Liz Cheney made Banks’ bizarre maneuverings public on Thursday during a House floor speech. The remarks were made just before the full House voted 229-202 (with a surprising number of Republicans joining) to hold Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress. According to Cheney, Banks apparently has sent letters to various government agencies, claiming to be a ranking member of the Jan. 6 committee. He is most definitely not even a member of the committee, let alone a ranking one. […]

    “I would like to introduce for the record a number of letters the gentlemen from Indiana has been sending to federal agencies, dated September 16, 2021, for example, signing his name as the ranking member of the committee [that] he’s just informed the House that he’s not on,” Cheney said during her House floor remarks today.

    Here’s a video of her remarks […] [video is available at the link]

    Both CNN and Politico obtained copies of one of Banks’ letters, sent to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland. In that letter, Banks claimed to be a ranking member of the Jan. 6 committee and asserted that the “minority party” in Congress should be privy to the same information provided to the majority. He requested that any information Haaland shares with the select committee also be sent to him directly. You can read the short, weird letter here, courtesy of Politico reporter Olivia Beavers.

    Link

  130. says

    Follow-up to comment 170.

    Josh Marshall:

    […] Republicans had plenty of opportunities to get a commission or committee [January 6th investigative committee] in which they not only had complete control over who served on the Republican side but veto power over any significant action the body took. They refused that and after stonewalling for months ended up with one that gave the final say on membership to Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi accepted some McCarthy nominations but put her foot down in the case of two reps who are such consistent supporters of the Big Lie and the insurrection that it was absurd to place them on the committee investigating either. Now Jim Banks is sending letters to executive departments claiming that he is in fact that rightful ranking member (i.e., top Republican) on the committee.

    The most generous read of this is that it’s yet more Trumper theater. It seems unlikely that any Biden appointee at any relevant department is going to get confused about who’s on the committee. They watch TV too. But it is of a piece with the larger story. We get to try to overthrow the Republic and equal billing on the committee charged with investigating what we did. We also get to stonewall and block the investigation from starting for months. But if you decide to do it without us – because we refused to participate – well, we still get to participate.

    […] We’ve spoken a lot about Trumpism as the grievance politics par excellence. Every political movement has grievances of some sort. There’s nothing wrong with that. Indeed, petitioning for the “redress of grievances” is literally written into the constitution. But Trumpism is basically all grievances and grievances in a way that is the flip side of accountability. Rules aren’t fair – when they’re applied to us. The law is “very unfair,” as Trump often puts it – when it’s applied to us. Elections are fair – as long as we win.

    Is this privilege or lack of accountability or is it really simply a politics of power? It is really no different from the authoritarian impulse and hyper-masculinity politics that pervades Trumpism. We should have the power. Because we should. And anything that stands in the way of that is by definition unfair. Because we should have power.

    […] If the only legitimate power is yours then everything in a democracy turns out to be unfair. This kind of grievance politics masquerades as defensive when it is in fact purely aggressive.

    It is all of a piece.

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/trumper-privilege

  131. says

    Joe Manchin is full of bull pucky:

    When Mother Jones reported on Wednesday that Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) had told associates he was considering quitting the Democratic Party and had a specific plan on how to do so, he told Capitol Hill reporters the article was “bullshit.” He was wrong. The sourcing was impeccable. Now he has shifted his stance and come up with a cover story—and that, too, is inaccurate.

    In an interview with The Hill‘s Steve Clemons, who is a personal friend of Manchin (and of mine, too), Manchin said of the Mother Jones article, “What he reported is simply untrue… I’m not threatening to leave. Why would I? I’m very secure in my positions and honestly, I’m not the one stressed out.” Clemons writes:

    “What is true,” Manchin told The Hill, “is that I have told the president, Chuck Schumer, and even the whole Caucus that if it is ‘embarrassing’ to them to have a moderate, centrist Democrat in the mix and if it would help them publicly, I could become an Independent—like Bernie—and then they could explain some of this to the public saying it’s complicated to corral these two independents, Bernie and me.”

    Manchin characterized his offer as an effort that would help Biden and Schumer better explain the different perspectives in their caucus to Democrats

    Manchin made a similar statement to Fox reporter Kelly Phares on Thursday morning. [available at the link]

    Manchin’s spin has moved from a complete denial on Wednesday to a yes-but on Thursday, with an explanation that depicts Manchin as a senator generously considering a departure from the Democratic Party only to help Schumer and the other Democrats.

    But that’s not what Manchin privately told associates in recent days. According to people who heard Manchin discuss a possible exit from the party, he described it as a move that would have happened if negotiations between himself and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and other Democrats over President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion social infrastructure bill broke down. Manchin has privately stated that he will not accept a Build Back Better package larger than $1.75 billion, and he has opposed key provisions, including Medicare and Medicaid expansion, an expanded child tax care credit, and measures to address climate change. The negotiations are still under way.

    Explaining the farewell from the Democratic Party he was contemplating, Manchin recently told associates the first step would be for him to resign from his Democratic leadership position. (He is vice chair of the Senate Democrats’ policy and communications committee.) Then he would wait a week or so before taking the final step of changing his voter registration from Democrat to independent. He did not refer to this plan as a move to assist Schumer and the Democrats. He described it as a way to send a signal.

    Manchin tells Clemons and Phares that if he were to leave the Democratic Party, he would not switch to the Republicans and would continue to caucus with the Democrats, which would allow them to retain control of the Senate. That is not inconsistent with how he talked to his associates about a departure from the Democratic Party. He told them that he would call himself an “American Independent.”

    Manchin clearly was stung by the Mother Jones report. And in damage control mode, Manchin called BS on himself. Yet whether or not he was serious about leaving the party to influence the ongoing negotiations, he now is on the record saying that is not an option.

    Link

    Yeah, he has been enjoying his power … obviously. And he was looking for a way to exert even more leverage over the Build Back Better negotiations. It was a pure power play, without any sense of how much he might be hurting his own constituents in West Virginia.

    He comes across as an asshole, a liar and a flip-flopper.

  132. tomh says

    CNS Op-Ed
    ‘Texas values’ today: Pick on orphans and gay kids
    Robert Kahn / October 22, 2021

    One person died by suicide in Texas every two hours in 2019, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).

    The Texas Health and Human Services Commission(HSSC), “which oversees suicide prevention in the state, found that since 2000, Texas has seen an overall increase in suicide mortality of 36%,” according to a February 2021 report from The Center Square, a self-described conservative news website.

    “The rate of suicide mortality in women increased by 50% from 2000 to 2020, HHSC reports, and the rate of high school males who attempted suicide more than doubled. Suicide is now the second leading cause of death for individuals between ages 15 and 34 years old in Texas,” according to The Center Square.
    […]

    The American Journal of Preventive Medicine reported in February 2019 that lesbian, gay and bisexual young people are five times more likely to attempt suicide than straight youths, indicating “a need to conduct suicide prevention activities across age groups, including youth.”
    […]

    More than twice as many people died by suicide in Texas in 2017 than in alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents, according to the AFSP.

    And how did Texas Gov. Greg Abbott respond to this? Two weeks ago he took offline a state website that offered help to homosexual young people who were contemplating suicide.

    Why would Abbott do such a thing?

    He did it because another ignorant and vicious right-wing politician — Abbott’s primary challenger — accused Hizzoner of “promoting transgender sexual policies to Texas youth.” That is: a state-sponsored suicide hotline was pandering to homosexuals. And youth.

    “These are not Texas values, these are not Republican Party values, but these are obviously Greg Abbott’s values,” real estate developer Don Huffines said in a video that quickly went viral on Twitter. “That’s why we need a change. That’s what my campaign is about,” said Huffines, who represented the Dallas-Fort Worth area in the state Senate from 2015 to 2019.

    The Houston Chronicle subsequently reported: “The webpage published by the Department of Family and Protective Services linked to a suicide prevention hotline and other resources ‘dedicated to helping empower and celebrate’ young LGBTQ people.

    “Within hours, the webpage was gone.

    “So was the entire website for the Texas Youth Connection, a division of Family and Protective Services that steers young people to various resources, including education, housing and those on its LGBTQ page as they prepare for life after foster care.”

    Orphans, and children who have been in foster care, are even more likely to kill themselves, or try to, numerous studies have shown.

    So now we know where Abbott’s sympathies lie, if he even knows what sympathy means, or ever felt it for anyone other than himself, or is capable of it:

    Not with Texas, or children, or young people, orphans, but solely with Greg Abbott’s chances in the next election, running on what I call the “Go ahead and kill yourself, gay guys” platform.

    That’s “cancel culture” with a vengeance.

    Abbott did not reply to The New York Times’ request for comment, so I didn’t bother to call him.

    I did try to contact Huffines, though.

    No one answered calls to his real estate development company in Dallas.

    His “Huffines for Governor” website (“Husband. Father. Patriot.”) does not include a phone number, which seems unusual in someone running for office……

    His campaign website states, … “The blue wave election of 2018 resulted in Democrats taking virtually all of Dallas County, including Don’s seat in the Texas Senate. Nevertheless, Don remained determined to intensify the fight against harmful left-wing policies statewide and in the governor’s office.”

    Left-wing policies in Greg Abbott’s office?

    The governor who offers a $10,000 bounty for anyone who informs on any woman who seeks an abortion in Texas? And her doctor?

    Abbott? Whose party has introduced more anti-gay legislation in the past year — particularly targeting young people and school boards — than any other three states combined? (I stopped counting after 27.)…..

    So, Abbott, unhinged, and his no-hinges-at all primary challenger think the way to office today in big, strong, brave Texas is to pick on children, gay teenagers and orphans. Anything to propel them into the next rung on their greasy, pathetic ladders.

    I guess those are “Texas values” today.

  133. says

    Wonkette: “Even Republicans Not Sure Why Democrats Keep Hoping Republicans Will Have Some Moral Epiphany”

    When Republicans blocked the latest effort to pass a Stop Republicans From Cheating bill, Democrats gave some compelling speeches about democracy and our ongoing constitutional crisis. Meanwhile, former Republican Tom Nichols couldn’t understand why Democrats were acting like chumps incapable of rising to the seriousness of the moment.

    He tweeted Wednesday:

    I have long defended the filibuster because I think there are things that should not be decided 51/49, that should require a greater show of comity. But Barrett’s confirmation, in particular, made a mockery of that idea. This is hardball. Mitch plays it. Dems must play it too.

    This is no longer a civic competition between two political parties. This is a direct competition between a coalition in favor of the rule of law and liberal democracy vs a party that has become Trump’s weird cult of personality and an authoritarian political movement.

    The GOP is using a Senate rule to forestall legislative action against state-level authoritarian measures from a GOP base that is enraged at losing a fair election. So if it comes down to that one Senate rule or democracy itself, dump the rule and pass the bill. Mitch would.

    Whenever it’s suggested that Democrats should go gangster on Republicans, the predictable response is that this would alienate independent voters, whom Democrats need in order to win in 2022 and 2024. We shouldn’t make former Republicans feel too bad about themselves, so let’s politely lie to them about “bipartisanship.” […]

    What’s weird about this argument is that actual former Republicans are usually the most vocal about telling us that the current GOP is hot garbage. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has asked that “good” Republicans take back their party, but Nichols has repeatedly stated that the party is irredeemable. He worked for Republicans and voted Republican for 40 years, but he declared in a Washington Post op-ed prior to the 2018 midterms that the only way to truly cleanse the GOP was to vote against Republicans “in every race, at every level.”

    The tough medicine Nichols prescribed was prescient. The GOP didn’t just blink in the face of Donald Trump’s moral abyss. Republicans who share his contempt for democracy have infiltrated school boards and state legislatures. All the while Democrats made the quixotic choice to treat Trump as an outlier. In 2019, candidate Joe Biden claimed that Republicans would have an “epiphany” after Trump was gone and magically become the decent people they never were in the first place.

    “I just think there is a way, and the thing that will fundamentally change things is with Donald Trump out of the White House. Not a joke. You will see an epiphany occur among many of my Republican friends,” Biden said during a campaign stop in New Hampshire. “It’s already beginning in the House now … If we can’t change, we’re in trouble.”

    And if we can’t accept reality, we’re in trouble.

    Even worse Republicans took office in 2021 — Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, and Tommy Tuberville. And supposed “good” Republicans such as Nancy Mace and Elise Stefanik doubled-down on MAGA because it was politically convenient.

    Nicolle Wallace, once George W. Bush’s White House communications director, noted on her MSNBC show Wednesday that Democrats are deluding themselves if they believe there are any Republicans who might support voting rights legislation, in any form. [video available at the link]

    Michael Steele, former Republican National Committee chair, agreed. He doesn’t understand why Democrats dither over the filibuster while Mitch McConnell kicks their asses on the regular. Shouldn’t they act like they won an election or three?

    STEELE: This is raw power. That’s what this is … So the reality for Democrat is how do you want to play the power? What are you waiting for? … When it comes down to power and getting your agenda through … Mitch McConnell wouldn’t take a second breath about jettisoning the filibuster if it meant the GOP agenda would get done. I don’t see why the Democrats don’t see this. I get the niceties but baby I don’t get it, because you’re losing. You’re losing.

    Pro-filibuster Democrats Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are a lost cause. We get that, but the clock is nonetheless ticking. Maybe it was never Republicans who needed to have a political epiphany. They saw reality quite clearly.

    Link

  134. says

    From text quoted by tomh @173:

    So, Abbott, unhinged, and his no-hinges-at all primary challenger think the way to office today in big, strong, brave Texas is to pick on children, gay teenagers and orphans. Anything to propel them into the next rung on their greasy, pathetic ladders.

    That’s a good summary.

    In other news about dunderheaded Republican politicians:

    Marjorie Taylor Greene, who’s an actual member of Congress, has said and done so many awful things that it’s impossible to catalog them all. She’s compared vaccine passports to the yellow Stars of David that Nazis forced Jews to wear before killing them. She’s stalked and bullied her Democratic colleagues. She promotes violence and insurrection as a personal brand.

    Although she seems utterly shameless, she is apparently slightly embarrassed about that whole Jewish space lasers thing. She doesn’t like when people bring it up.

    Thursday, Greene confronted Reps. Jamie Raskin and Liz Cheney as the House voted to hold walking Dorian Gray portrait Steve Bannon in contempt. Greene has confused Congress with professional wrestling so she just yelled nonsense at Raskin and Cheney like she was Big Bad Mama from “GLOW.”

    CNN reports:

    “This is a joke,” Greene said in a raised voice to Raskin and Cheney, a Wyoming Republican, engaging in an altercation with the pair in the middle of the House floor.

    Then Greene walked closer and said directly to Raskin, “Why don’t you care about the American people?”

    Obviously, they do, which is why they’re investigating a deadly attack on the US Capitol.

    Greene demanded that Raskin and Cheney investigate “murders over the summer and BLM,” because she’s a gross racist. Congress is probably focusing on the January 6 insurrection because Congress was the target. This isn’t complicated.

    Cheney called Greene a “joke,” which is fact check “true.” When Cheney alluded to the infamous “space lasers,” Greene shouted, “I never said that!” which is fact check “false.”

    Back in 2018, Greene posted a Tolstoy-length diatribe on Facebook suggesting that the latest California wildfires weren’t the obvious result of climate change but in fact part of a larger globalist conspiracy involving lasers from outer space … “space lasers,” if you will.

    Here’s just some of what this loon wrote:

    I find it very interesting that Roger Kimmel on the board of directors of PG&E is also Vice Chairman of Rothschild Inc, international investment banking firm. I also find it interesting the long history of financial contributions that PG&E has made to Jerry Brown over the years and millions spent in lobbying. What a coincidence it must be that Gov. Brown signed a bill in Sept 2018 protecting PG&E and allowing PG&E to pass off its cost of fire responsibility to its customers in rate hikes and through bonds. It also must be just a coincidence that the fires are burning in the same projected areas that the 77 billion Dollar High Speed Rail Project is to be built, which also happens to be Gov Brown’s pet project. And what are the odds that Feinstein’s husband, Richard Blum is the contractor to the rail project. Geez, with that much money, we could build 3 US southern border walls. Then oddly there are all these people who have said they saw what looked like lasers or blue beams of light causing the fires […]

    Space solar generators collect the suns energy and then beam it back to Earth to a transmitter to convert to electricity. The idea is clean energy to replace coal and oil, if they are beaming the suns energy back to Earth, I’m sure they wouldn’t ever miss a transmitter receiving station right??!! I mean mistakes are never made when anything new is invented. What would that look like anyway? A laser beam or light beam coming down to Earth I guess. Could that cause a fire? Hmmm, I don’t know.

    And two months later Greene was elected to Congress […]

    Anti-semitic conspiracy theories involving the Rothschild family have a long, repulsive history. Greene even found a way to implicate Senator Dianne Feinstein and her third (and we assume final) husband, Richard Blum, who are both Jewish.

    Greene might argue that she never said she believed there were space lasers. She was just asking (stupid) questions, but that’s just as bad, if not worse. People just “speculating” on social media and spreading deranged conspiracy theories have resulted in actual deaths from people refusing to get vaccinated. The joke isn’t funny anymore.

    According to Raskin, Greene blamed the “mainstream media” for making people believe the space laser story. She should probably reserve her ire for Facebook, which posted her garbage in the first place.

    Link

  135. says

    CDC signs off on Moderna and Johnson & Johnson boosters and says people can get a shot different from their original one.

    Washington Post link

    Tens of millions of Americans can sign up to get Moderna and Johnson & Johnson boosters beginning Friday after the nation’s top public health official endorsed recommendations from expert advisers that the shots are safe and effective at bolstering protection against the coronavirus.

    The green light from Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, means that eligible Americans at risk of severe disease can choose any of the three boosters now authorized in the United States regardless of their original shot.

    “The evidence shows that all three COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States are safe — as demonstrated by the over 400 million vaccine doses already given,” Walensky said in a statement Thursday night, several hours after receiving unanimous recommendations from the expert panel, called the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. “And, they are all highly effective in reducing the risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death, even in the midst of the widely circulating delta variant.”

    […] The availability of boosters will be particularly welcome to the 15 million recipients of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, many of whom have been particularly fearful of breakthrough infections given that shot’s lower level of protection compared with the messenger RNA vaccines.

    “I agree that those who received a [Johnson & Johnson] vaccine should receive a second dose — I would prefer that those individuals get an mRNA vaccine” rather than a second Johnson & Johnson shot, said advisory panel member Pablo J. Sanchez, a pediatrician at Ohio State University.

    Interchangeability of shots is also likely to speed booster vaccination in nursing homes and other institutional settings where residents received different shots during the early rollout. The Pfizer-BioNTech booster is already in use since it was authorized and recommended last month.

    “I think the opportunity for these [mix and match] boosts [is] priceless,” said Helen Keipp Talbot, an infectious-disease doctor at Vanderbilt University and panel member.

    […] The FDA has authorized a third shot of Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech for anyone 65 and older, or any adults at high risk of severe illness because of underlying conditions, job exposure or because they are in institutional settings, and who have gone at least six months since their second dose.

    It broadened eligibility much further for those who received the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine to anyone 18 and older who has gone at least two months since getting the shot — criteria reflecting the lower protection afforded by that vaccine compared with the others. […]

  136. says

    Tactics used to spread vaccine misinformation in the wellness community, and why they work.

    Washington Post link

    When Kristina W. received her first dose of the coronavirus vaccine earlier this year, she was terrified. Until recently, she said, she believed that vaccines were so dangerous she was willing to “go into an all-out war” to protect her children from receiving any immunizations.

    “I had this deep-rooted fear that they could, and possibly even would, kill my children,” said Kristina, 26, a mother of two who lives in New Mexico and spoke on the condition that her full name not be used out of concern for her safety.

    Now, although she considers herself “pro-vax” and understands that vaccines are safe and necessary, that knowledge doesn’t always quell her anxiety. These lingering concerns, she believes, are a testament to the power of the anti-vaccination narratives she was exposed to in natural parenting and alternative health groups on Facebook, some of which had convinced her that routine childhood immunizations had nearly killed her eldest son.

    “If you’ve never been anti-vax and back to vaccinating, you don’t quite understand the level of anxiety” that can come with resuming vaccinations, Kristina said. “You have that logical knowledge that vaccines are just fine. They’re this great thing. But emotions aren’t logical.”

    Experts say the content shared in some wellness communities has powerful emotional and psychological foundations that can cause even science-minded people to question the public health consensus on the ability of vaccines to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. Some voices within the wellness space are adept at building connection, gaining trust and sowing doubt — all while appealing to widely held beliefs about healthy living.

    “This is what makes some in the wellness community so dangerous,” said Stephanie Alice Baker, a sociologist at City, University of London, who is careful to add that not everyone in the wellness space is trying to cast doubt on vaccines. “It’s not that the wellness community per se is conspiratorial, or that everyone has these kinds of nefarious interests where they intend to manipulate and deceive,” she said. “It’s that once you trust leaders and influencers in this space, then when they become more conspiratorial and extreme, you are susceptible to go down that path with them because you already trust them.”

    […] there are certain approaches, experts said, that especially key in on the interests and vulnerabilities of people who are invested in wellness culture.

    Recognizing these strategies is “essential in helping social media users develop resilience to harmful content and allowing them to report this type of content to platforms,” Cécile Simmons, a researcher with the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, wrote […]

    Kristina, the former anti-vaccine mother, recalled seeing comments casting doubt on the motives of public health agencies in the Facebook groups she visited.

    For example, she said, she became “suspicious” after reading a misleading claim about the CDC holding patents for a number of vaccines, and “that seemed to scream a financial motive.” While the CDC does license vaccine technology developed within the agency, some of which is patented, it does not sell vaccines.

    Promoting distrust can be especially effective when it plays into a person’s existing doubts about traditional institutions — doubts that often stem from legitimate concerns about health and safety or poor experiences with the health care system.

    […] Experts said it’s important to recognize potential financial motives behind the truth-seeker framing: It can help influencers promote and sell alternative therapies, such as herbal tinctures and essential oils, which undergo far less regulation than vaccines and drugs approved by the FDA.

    […] Another tactic is cherry-picking data. For example, some will point to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, known as VAERS, as evidence of widespread deaths and injuries from vaccines, while ignoring the broadly acknowledged limitation of its data. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, which co-sponsors the database with the CDC and FDA, a report alone cannot be used to determine if a vaccine caused or contributed to an adverse event. Furthermore, anyone can file a report to the database with “incomplete, inaccurate, coincidental and unverified information.”

    Gigi Winters, who runs the Instagram account “informed_mothers” and uses hashtags such as “#conservativememes” and “#conservativewomen,” encouraged her 49,500 followers to “Research everything!” in a short video referencing the coronavirus vaccines on Instagram Reels that has been viewed more than 86,000 times. In the video, Winters cites a misleading statistic about the coronavirus survival rate, writing, “I’ll take my 99.9% chance and trust my immune system instead…”

    That often-cited statistic, which has been circulating for more than a year, has been identified by fact-checkers as an apparent misuse of modeling data from the CDC, which noted that the parameters it was using in its scenarios “are not predictions of the expected effects of COVID-19” […] This statistic also doesn’t take into account the long-term health impacts and cost of treatment many covid-19 survivors may face. […]

    In some Instagram accounts featuring natural and holistic living content, vaccine misinformation is slipped in between general posts about well-being and designed to blend in with a profile’s overall visually pleasing aesthetics: vibrant photographs of food, flowers and landscapes as well as serene palettes and attractive fonts.

    […] Vaccine-hesitant voices within wellness communities also post frequently about impure, man-made products — and put the vaccines in that category, sometimes calling them “poison.”

    […] That sense of community helped draw moms Greene and Kristina into the anti-vaccine movement. “After a while, you have this online family where you can post a paragraph and then five minutes later you’ve got all these replies and all this advice and all this support,” Greene said. “You come to value their opinion and their thoughts and their approval even. It gets deep really quickly.”

    […] Both women acknowledge that one of the more difficult aspects of changing their stance on vaccination was coming to terms with the fact that they had been so mistaken.

    “It was extremely psychologically difficult to really face what I was wrong on,” Kristina said. “When you have deep-rooted beliefs, anything that goes against that can feel like a personal attack.”

    Greene now likens the fear of being wrong to a prison. “It keeps you in this box and it doesn’t allow for growth,” she said. […]

  137. tomh says

    WaPo:
    Texas GOP Lt. Gov. Patrick offered $25,000 for election-fraud tips. The first payout was for a Republican’s illegal vote.
    By Julian Mark / October 22, 2021

    Three days after the 2020 presidential election was called for Joe Biden — and as President Donald Trump took to Twitter and falsely claimed that tens of thousands of votes were cast illegally — Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) said he would reward a minimum of $25,000 to tipsters who uncovered credible instances of voter fraud.

    “I support President Trump’s efforts to identify voter fraud in the presidential election and his commitment to making sure that every legal vote is counted and every illegal vote is disqualified,” Patrick said in a Nov. 10 news release.

    Now, nearly a year later, Patrick has given out his first reward — but not to a member of his party, the Dallas Morning News reported this week. Patrick’s campaign sent a $25,000 check to Eric Frank, a Democratic poll worker from Pennsylvania whose tip led to the recent conviction of a 72-year-old registered Republican who cast a second vote in his son’s name last November, the Morning News reported.

    Having deposited his check, Frank told the Morning News that Patrick’s plan may have backfired.

    “It’s my belief that they were trying to get cases of Democrats doing voter fraud. And that just wasn’t the case,” Frank said. “This kind of blew up in their face.”

  138. birgerjohansson says

    The horrible thing is , when looking at Britain it seems like lying scum can make the public quite numb to scandals if they just stay in power long enough.
    So if the Merican version of totally unhinged, corrupt and proud of it crazies get hold on power again they might keep it.
    And don’t tell me demographic changes makes it impossible. They will just cheat harder.

  139. blf says

    Nasa/JPL’s Mars helicopter, Ingenuity, and the rest of the international Mars fleet (orbiters, landers, rovers, and secret bases) are now back-in-action after a few weeks out-of-communication with Earth due to Solar conjunction (the Sun being in-between Earth and Mars). During conjunction the fleet talked to themselves, each other, and negotiated with the Martians. No monoliths or Ice Warriors were found. Nor were the secret bases.

    Ingenuity has successfully passed its post-conjunction tests and will again attempt the higher-RPM test flight, its 14th, which was self-aborted prior to conjunction due to an anomaly being detected just prior to take-off. The flight attempt may occur as soon as today (October 23rd); it’s unclear to what extent the anomaly is understood (it hasn’t occurred again during tests post the aborted flight attempt). The 14th flight is similar to the first, and intended to flight-test spinning the rotors faster to accommodate the seasonal thinning of the Martian atmosphere. The rotors have never been spun as fast as intended during flight, not even here on Earth; the tips will spinning at about 0,8 Mach (Mars), or about 2800 RPM.

    Ingenuity is waaaaay beyond its design lifetime (at most five flights during 30 Martian days (Sols)), and being built mostly of off-the-shelf parts (the rotors, albeit not the motor, are perhaps the most complex of the few-ish custom-designed parts), its continuing ability to support the main rover mission (and even do some science) is impressive. Current best guess is the mechanical parts involved in spinning the rotors and adjusting their angle-of-attack are wearing out, presumably affected by the very cold night-time temperatures on Mars (as well as the heavier / longer use than anticipated).

  140. blf says

    I can boil water again! I’ve one of those electric kettles which speaks French where you can program the temperature (and how long the tea should be submersed) — this one a replacement for an older model which went completely inert some yonks ago — and over the weekend it decided that any cold water was around 80℃ and hence didn’t heat up the water much. Most annoying.

    Close inspection found a surprising amount of gunk all over… the usual sorts of things, bits of penguin feathers, small chunks of moldy cheese, garlic, snails, and a very uncooperative ninja prawn. Evicting the residents, followed by a very through cleaning inside and out, upside and down, and it’s now boiling water just fine again. I presume it will also again heat water to sub-boiling temperatures (the real point of this sort of kit, as it allows for proper temperatures for cafe, tea, etc.), but I’m waiting for all the parts to dry out before a final series of rinses and tests.

  141. says

    The Farmers to Families Food Box program was a Trumpian mess: “A $6 billion federal program created to provide fresh produce to families affected by the pandemic was mismanaged and used by the Trump administration for political gain, a new congressional report has found.”

    The Food to Families program, touted by Ivanka Trump, gave tens of millions of dollars to unqualified firms and was also used to promote then-President Trump.

    […] As a ProPublica investigation revealed last spring and as the new report further details, the Farmers to Families Food Box program gave contracts to companies that had no relevant experience and often lacked necessary licenses. The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, which released its report last week, found that former President Donald Trump’s administration did not adequately screen contractor applications or identify red flags in bid proposals.

    One company that received a $39 million contract was CRE8AD8 LLC (pronounced “Create a Date”), a wedding and event planning firm. The owner compared the contract to his usual work of “putting tchotchkes in a bag.” […]

    […] The Food to Families program was created by the Department of Agriculture in the early days of the pandemic to give away produce that might have otherwise gone to waste as a result of disruptions in distribution chains. The boxes included produce, milk, dairy and cooked meats — and many also included a signed letter from then-President Trump.

    The program was unveiled in May 2020 by Ivanka Trump. “I’m not shy about asking people to step up to the plate,” the president’s older daughter said in an interview to promote the initiative.

    According to congressional investigators, Ivanka Trump was involved in getting the letter from her father added to the boxes. The USDA told contractors that including the letter was mandatory. Food bank operators told the investigators the letter concerned them because it didn’t appear to be politically neutral.

    On the first day of the Republican National Convention in August 2020, President Trump and his daughter headlined a nearby event to announce an additional $1 billion for the food box program. Then-Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue also spoke at the event and encouraged attendees to reelect the president.

    A federal ethics office later found that Perdue’s speech violated a federal law that prohibits officials from using their office for campaign purposes. The USDA at the time disputed the notion that Perdue was electioneering, saying that Perdue’s comments merely “predicted future behavior based on the president’s focus on helping ‘forgotten people.’”

    The yearlong congressional investigation also identified problems with the deliveries themselves, including food safety issues, failed deliveries and uneven food distribution. Some contractors also forced recipient organizations to accept more food than they could distribute or store.

    Committee chair Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., said in a statement that the mismanagement of the program is another example of the previous administration’s failures.

    “The Program was marred by a structure that prioritized industry over families, by contracting practices that prioritized cutting corners over competence, and by decisions that prioritized politics over the public good,” he said.

    ProPublica also found that the Trump administration hired a lobbyist to counter the criticism that contracts were going to unqualified contractors.

    President Joe Biden ended the program in May.

    Link

  142. tomh says

    Axios
    Anti-abortion activists’ Supreme Court dreams are coming true
    Sam Baker / October 23, 2021

    This is the moment the conservative legal movement has been building toward for decades: The solidly conservative Supreme Court is about to hear two major abortion cases within a month of each other.

    All of this is likely to end with significant new restrictions on abortion and a clear path for Republican-led states to win the next big abortion cases, too — the culmination of a long and bitter fight for control of the judiciary.

    The court on Friday agreed to hear part of a challenge to Texas’ highly unusual abortion ban. Oral arguments will be Nov. 1 — a dramatically accelerated timeline that compresses into just a few days a process that normally takes months.

    One month later, on Dec. 1, the court is set to hear arguments in a separate case, challenging Mississippi’s ban on abortion after the 15th week of a pregnancy.

    Mississippi’s law and Texas’ law are structured quite differently, and the two cases raise different legal questions. But between them, they present the court with a whole lot of ways to rule in favor of tighter abortion restrictions.

    And with such a staunch conservative majority, the court seems virtually certain to take at least one of those options……

    That moment has arrived largely because conservative state legislatures kept passing new anti-abortion bills year after year, even when they were mostly being struck down in the courts, to keep the controversy alive — while Republicans in Washington maintained a laser focus, especially during the Trump administration, on taking control of the judiciary.

    “The court that we have now is the result of the long-game political strategy of the pro-life movement,” said Mallory Quigley, a spokeswoman for the Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion advocacy group.

    Roe v. Wade and subsequent Supreme Court precedents say that states cannot ban abortion before the point at which a fetus is considered “viable,” typically around 22 weeks. Mississippi, however, banned abortion after 15 weeks.

    The state has asked the court to uphold that ban, and also to go further and overturn Roe.

    Texas banned abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, which typically happens at around six weeks — before some women even know they’re pregnant.

    While Mississippi’s law is a straightforward government regulation, Texas allows any private citizen to sue any other private citizen who helps facilitate an abortion.

    Even many conservative legal experts believe the court will ultimately strike down Texas’ ban simply because of its vigilante enforcement structure…..

    The high court has twice refused to stop Texas’ law from taking effect while it works its way through the courts.
    […]

    What might now look like the mildest option on the table — upholding Mississippi’s 15-week ban, but declining to overturn Roe, and ruling against Texas — would be an enormous loss for abortion-rights advocates, because it would open the door for states to start proposing earlier and earlier bans, ultimately making them extremely hard to obtain in most GOP-led states.

  143. blf says

    Turkey’s Erdoğan wants US, French [and eight other country’s] ambassadors declared ‘persona non grata’ (spelling of Erdoğan corrected throughout):

    Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan said on Saturday he had ordered the foreign ministry to declare 10 ambassadors from Western countries ‘persona non grata’ for calling for the release of philanthropist Osman Kavala.

    Osman Kavala has been in prison for four years, charged with financing nationwide protests in 2013 and with involvement in a failed coup in 2016. He denies the charges.

    In a joint statement on October 18, the ambassadors of Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Finland, New Zealand and the United States called for a just and speedy resolution to Kavala’s case, and for his “urgent release”. They were summoned by the foreign ministry, which called the statement irresponsible.

    […]

    Kavala was acquitted last year of charges related to the 2013 protests, but the ruling was overturned this year and combined with charges in another case related to the coup attempt.

    Rights groups say his case is emblematic of a crackdown on dissent under Erdoğan.

    Kavala said on Friday that it would be “meaningless” for him to attend his trial as a fair hearing was impossible given recent comments by Erdoğan.

    Erdoğan was cited on Thursday as saying the ambassadors in question would not release bandits, murderers and terrorists in their own countries.

    “Since there is no possibility of a fair trial under these circumstances, I believe participating in hearings and delivering my defence will be meaningless from now on,” Kavala said in a written statement.

    The European Court of Human Rights called for Kavala’s immediate release in late 2019, saying there was no reasonable suspicion that he had committed an offence, and finding that his detention had been intended to silence him.

    It issued a similar ruling this year in the case of Selahattin Demirtas, former head of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), who has been held in jail for nearly five years.

    The Council of Europe, which oversees the implementation of ECHR decisions, has said it will begin infringement proceedings against Turkey if Kavala is not released.

    The next hearing in the case against Kavala and others is due on November 26.

    Highly appropriate, No Time for Love If They Come in the Morning (audio), Jack Warshaw’s 1976 classic (he updated it in 2019 but I don’t know of any high-quality recordings).

  144. says

    From text quoted by tomh in comment 183:

    The high court has twice refused to stop Texas’ law from taking effect while it works its way through the courts.

    At the very least, they could have issued a stay so that the Texas law was not allowed to be in effect while the lawsuits were working their way through the court.

    It’s like the conservative members of the court have zero empathy for women who need abortion care now.

  145. says

    Money, money, money: Lawmakers probing Jan. 6 are putting the pieces together

    When rooting out corruption, it’s best to follow the money. That is precisely what the Jan. 6 Committee is now doing according to reports out Friday detailing lawmakers’ highly organized effort to sniff out potential criminality in funding for pro-Trump rallies coordinated ahead of the assault on the Capitol.

    First reported by CNN, the committee is digging into financial details around Stop the Steal rally organizers and other similar vendors on their radar. In particular, they are rooting out possible campaign finance or election law violations, as well as other financial crimes.

    Two weeks ago, the investigatory body issued subpoenas to far-right activist and leader of the Stop the Steal movement, Ali Alexander, and Shelby County, Ohio, city councilman Nathan Martin.

    According to the committee, Martin was listed as the point of contact on a permit application submitted to the U.S. Capitol Police for a “One Nation Under God” event last December protesting the 2020 election results.

    An unnamed source cited in the CNN report suggested the committee is breaking up its work into teams. Some of the committee’s teams track funds specifically tied to rally organizers and other groups connected to former President Donald Trump. […]

  146. says

    Fox News host catches COVID-19, puts out statement telling people to get vaccinated

    Fox News’ Neil Cavuto announced that he has tested positive for a break-through case of COVID-19. Cavuto released a statement saying that as he has a series of underlying conditions, including multiple sclerosis, the fact that he was vaccinated probably saved his life. “While I’m somewhat stunned by this news, doctors tell me I’m lucky, as well. Had I not been vaccinated, and with all my medical issues, this would be a far more dire situation. It’s not, because I did [get vaccinated], and I’m surviving this because I did.”

    The fact that a Fox News anchor is vaccinated, considering all of the misinformation the fake news outlet promotes concerning vaccines and public health policies, is unsurprising. A memo of Fox News’ on-site vaccine requirements leaked to the press in September, and the conditions were stringent, “requiring all unvaccinated employees to be tested each day—not just once a week—in order to work in company facilities.” Fox News’ misinformation and viewership have been tied directly to lower vaccination rates in our country.

    Cavuto’s statement included a plea to the public, something that his statement would likely only be read and reported on in media outlets not called Fox News, saying, “I hope anyone and everyone gets that message loud and clear. Get vaccinated, for yourself and everyone around you. […]

    To be fair, Cavuto, unlike most Fox News personalities, has had moments of integrity, even on the rare occasion attacking Donald Trump. Cavuto, like many conservatives, knew (despite the benefits of the tax cuts) Trump’s incompetence as a leader was not good for business. Most of the time, Cavuto’s job is to run out billionaires in front of his audience who want to tell Americans that food stamps are bad and Donald Trump is the greatest president ever. Before that, Cavuto’s job was to attack labor in service of big business interests.

    Meanwhile, Tucker Carlson has spent the past few weeks and months passing around every grand conspiracy theory ever in service of scaring Fox News viewers from getting the COVID-19 vaccine. He’s said things like mandates for the vaccine are a way for the Biden administration to identify “sincere Christians in the ranks, the freethinkers, the men with high testosterone levels, and anyone else who does not love Joe Biden, and make them leave immediately. It’s a takeover of the U.S. military.”

    Recently it was reported that Fox News programming almost never goes a single day without trashing the COVID-19 vaccines in some way or another. And in undermining the science behind the vaccines and the purpose of public health policies for the past six months, Fox has helped lead to a completely politicized response to getting life-saving vaccinations. […]

    All that said, good on Cavuto for getting vaccinated and for putting out a statement that says, in no uncertain terms, that the vaccination helped save his life.

  147. says

    A Nevada man cried to the cameras about voter fraud. He wasn’t wrong, but he was the fraudster.

    And, of course, he was a Republican and a Trump supporter.

    Last November, Donald “Kirk” Hartle told everyone he could that there had been a “sickening” case of voter fraud involving his wife, who passed away from breast cancer in 2017. Hartle claimed that he never received Rosemarie Hartle’s mail-in ballot at his home in Las Vegas, Nevada, for the 2020 election, though she was inexplicably still on the active voter list. Rosemarie’s ballot was nonetheless somehow counted by Clark County officials, who even claimed her signature matched their records.

    Not really “inexplicable” that some voters who have died are still on the voter rolls. It takes time and effort to keep voter rolls up to date. Sometimes the corrections lag at bit. The important part of the story is that this single instance of voter fraud was caught; that it was used to extrapolate to claims of massive voter fraud that were not true; and that is was fraud on the part of Republican.

    Both Hartles are registered Republicans. Naturally, the Nevada Republican Party took up the 55-year-old’s cause and even tweeted about the incident the same day that the Associated Press called Nevada for Joe Biden. They boosted his case days later, posting an interview between Hartle and Las Vegas CBS affiliate KLAS to their Facebook page.

    The secretary of state’s office believes it may have solved this mystery and filed a criminal complaint earlier this month against—you probably guessed it—Donald “Kirk” Hartle. [Video available at the link.]

    Hartle has been charged with felony counts of voting more than once in the same election and voting using another person’s name. He faces a fine of up to $5,000 and up to four years in prison per charge.

    The Nevada GOP has remained silent about Hartle since the charges against him came to light. Hartle’s lawyer told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that his client will respond to the allegations in court on Nov. 18.

    Ha! Of course the Nevada GOP was not silent when they were using Hartle’s false claims for propaganda, over and over and over again. Tucker Carlson pontificated about this supposed voter fraud many times on Fox News. He did not issue a correction. Tucker performed his “sincere” and “objective” schtick when covering the story.

    Hartle is well-known in the business community in Clark County: He’s the chief financial officer at Ahern Rentals, an organization whose parent company faced state fines for violating COVID protocols when hosting two Trump events. That same company is hosting the For God & Country Patriot Double Down conference this weekend at the Ahern Hotel in Vegas. [Yep, fucking bonkers politics from top to bottom.]

    The conference is blatant QAnon propaganda and even features Ron Watkins—the man many believe is behind Q—as well as his father, Jim, who runs 8kun. The message board is a favorite of Q’s and responsible for hosting the manifestos of multiple mass shooters.

    According to Clark County officials, five people voted twice during the 2020 presidential election. All instances are currently under investigation. Clark County has 1,316,573 registered voters, of which 974,185 cast their ballots in the 2020 presidential election. The amount of people who voted twice account for a little over 0.00051% of voter turnout. Once again, voter fraud is not the issue, even if whistleblowing against it can earn you money from Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s weird voter fraud bounty fund.

    Link

  148. says

    ‘Meet the Press,’ like the other Sunday shows, is a relic of a lazy, low-stakes era

    On one of the now unwatchable Sunday “news” shows, Meet the Press host Chuck Todd introduced a segment on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic by—I’m just kidding. It wasn’t about the COVID-19 pandemic. It was a segment about the most favorite of all Sunday show segments, and indeed largely the only segment any of the Sunday shows ever do: How will This Thing, the major news of the day, Affect Mah Politics?

    “The economy’s inability to fully recover from the shock of COVID-19 is both an economic story and a political one,” intoned Todd.

    The economy’s inability to fully recover from the COVID-19 pandemic is in large part due to anti-distancing, anti-mask, vaccine-skeptical, pro-virus-spreading policies from Republican politicians who have been using conservative frustration with safety measures as a rallying cry for their own careers, resulting in a new wave of overwhelmed hospitals and dead victims that was entirely preventable if sociopathic politicos had not turned pandemic crisis protocols into the latest spite-riddled “culture war.”

    “All those economic problems add up to a big political problem for the president. Is all of this his fault? Of course not, but it is now his responsibility. And he and fellow Democrats are in real danger of suffering some serious political consequences. Mr. Biden ran on a promise of a basic return to normal—or at least a path to normalcy. But with the midterm elections just over a year away—”

    Stop. Just stop. Fine, we get it. We’re doing this again. Republicans continue to get their constituents killed at elevated rates; let’s now turn to our panel of experts to determine what the political implications of Republicans killing off their constituents will be for the Democrats who, uh, failed to convince them not to die to own the libs.

    […] Another of the Todd segments scraped up another entry in the “obsessively arch-right fascist Trump supporters still like Trump” press compulsion. Hey, the guy may have attempted to end our democracy through hoaxes and violence, but a bunch of Jesus-punchers think, if anything, that just makes him even more awesome. [Matt Negrin tweet with accompanying video is available at the link.]

    We’ve been here before. This ain’t new, and Matt Negrin, in particular, has brought all the necessary receipts and then some to show that Chuck Todd’s Meet the Press, in particular, is a relentless promoter of Republican frames, one that uses the “panel” format to mix hard-right Republican strategists and figures in with neutral journalists while studiously avoiding Democratic guests. Most insipidly, Todd has been a prime rehabilitator for the Republican supporters of an election hoax that led to a violent insurrection.

    Yep. That’s what I’ve noticed about Chuck Todd’s “reporting” for some time.

    Why? Is that “neutrality”? Is it “news”?

    […] It’s lazy. It’s cheap, hackish, phone-it-in programming cobbled together because doing journalism is hard but talking about the “political implications” of any news story is easy. Ask how the ongoing mostly Republican-state COVID-19 crisis is affecting social programs and you’ll have to do research to find out. Ask whether the stance of anti-mask politicians like Ron DeSantis is morally defensible and you’ll have to expose your own moral convictions.

    Ask how the widespread death and economic chaos will affect the political winds when whatever-the-next-election-is rolls around, though, and you don’t need to know a damn thing. It’s easy. It’s trivial. Pick out whichever guests will most reliably say something “exciting” and you’ve got yourself a show.

    […] On television, where nobody in front of or behind the cameras gives a particular damn whether or not a guest just lies outright to the nation because they’ll already be three lies beyond that one before anyone else can get a word in edgewise, there is absolutely no penalty for being wrong. Or lying. Or undermining democracy. Or egging on violence. Or anything else.

    […] Would it be economically wise to avoid a worldwide climate catastrophe that sinks Florida, burns much of the West to a cinder, causes widespread crop failures, and renders certain parts of the globe literally uninhabitable if the air conditioners fail? There’s not even a question! Set aside every moral and environmental question, and you’re still left with the unambiguous case that moving national energy policy toward less-polluting alternatives will save the country from unfathomable economic costs in the decades to come.

    We’re not going to get that conversation on Meet the Press, ever […]

    We will get an unending parade of professional know-nothings to discuss how Joe Manchin’s posturing or Bernie Sanders’ gruffness might bump off-year poll numbers in the span between now and the future crisis, because that’s the sort of talk that allows charlatans who don’t believe in anything to have opinions on everything.

    […] These shows are astonishingly tired, shambling along like brainless zombies wandering past thickets of political violence, environmental cataclysm, mass disease, widespread government failure, and the alteration of the nation’s democratic discourse into, literally, an arena of professional hoax-promotion. […]

    Those are not the formats in which a nation can grapple with a pandemic that will likely kill a million of its citizens. […] Nobody on these shows gives a damn if the nation falls or the atmosphere burns. It was only meant to be a club for idle banter […]

    Meet the Press found itself confronting an actual insurrection—and folded. It couldn’t cope. It had no tools for the job. So Chuck Todd invited the insurrectionists onto the program and helped redeem even election hoaxes, party-backed propaganda and candidate-organized insurrection as a reasonable political choice to be made. Not because he or anyone else involved gave a particular damn either way, and not because they did not, but because there is no Sunday morning format that can handle violent insurrection except as fodder for the professional know-nothings to banter aimlessly about. […]

  149. tomh says

    Votebeat:
    Congress gives extra funding to the Pentagon but leaves elections vulnerable
    Jessica Huseman / Oct 23, 2021

    Months after Democratic leaders in Congress backed away from providing billions of badly needed dollars to support local election improvements, we now learn that the Senate plans to add the very same amount of money to the Defense Department’s $715 billion budget — even though the Pentagon didn’t ask for it.

    …Congress gave an extra $10 billion to the Pentagon but zero to elections, ignoring multiple warnings and research the past three years emphasizing that America’s crumbling, underfunded election infrastructure presents a national security risk.

    It’s not as if the threats to elections are subtle. The last six years have brought us stunning misinformation circulated by hostile foreign nations; direct attacks by those countries on our election infrastructure; a violent insurrection at the Capitol spurred by a former president convinced he is the rightful leader of the country; and continued violent threats to election administrators.

    Meanwhile, election administrators have been screaming into the wind, trying to convince Congress that Windows 7 is not a sustainable operating system for elections. Anemic election budgets are also to blame for the paperless voting machine problem. Despite a recent push for paper-backed voting, several counties are stuck with paperless systems. That makes them frequent targets of election skeptics, especially amid the intense new attention on audits and claims of hacked machines.
    […]

    Thousands of counties rely on Windows 7 to run their voting systems — a deeply outdated operating system no longer getting regular security updates. At least 13 states use voting machines purchased before the invention of the iPhone. Thousands of counties relied on privately funded grants distributed by two nonprofits — the Center for Tech and Civic Life and the Center for Election Innovation & Research — for protective equipment during the pandemic and to make long-needed upgrades to their systems.

    As Democrats in Congress often remind us, the pandemic is not over. And as they’d like to forget, next year is an election year. These needs are not diminishing—they are quickly growing. And if Congress wants to prove it’s concerned about national security, even a modest investment in local election administration would protect us against vulnerabilities that an overfunded Pentagon can’t shore up.

  150. says

    Follow-up to tomh in comment 190.

    MSNBC summary:

    Numbers are hard. But we’ve made the math of the Biden plan a little easier for Mitt Romney and anyone else who is worried about the cost.

    Link

    In this 9:15 minute video, Chris Hayes compares budgets for military spending to budgets for spending that is proposed in non-military Democratic spending bills (Build Back Better, for example). Hayes also includes Trump’s tax cuts for comparison.

    Hayes played a clip of Mitt Romney speaking as an example of how Republicans are responding to the Biden administration’s plans to spend money on everything from basic infrastructure to child care to addressing climate change (etc.). Money to improve the lives of regular people in the country. Quoting Mitt Romney:

    So you may be hearing about the President’s social spending bill in Washington. The amount of money he wants to spend is really an astronomical amount of money. Just to give you some perspective, a million seconds ago, a million seconds ago was just earlier this month. A billion seconds ago, George Herbert Walker Bush was president. A trillion seconds ago neanderthals were on the earth. A trillion seconds ago. A trillion is an extraordinarily large number. So whatever number the Democrats come up with, ($1, $2 or $3.5 trillion), it’s a heck of a lot of money on social spending.

    Chris Hayes replies to Romney:

    [laughing] Terrific! Listen, communicating large numbers is hard. I know this first hand. But telling someone how long a trillion seconds is, or expecting them to know or care exactly how long ago neanderthals walked the earth, I mean … What if I told you that if you go back one second for every dollar in the military budget you’d arrive at the year the cave bear went extinct, over 700 billion seconds ago. […] You’d say, “What the hell are you talking about?” See how useless that is for a tool explaining government spending.

    First of all, the money being proposed here will be spent over the next ten years, not all at once. Romney leaves that out of his Jurassic Park math because really that’s in line with and often less than what he and fellow Republicans are happy to spend on other things. Let’s break it down for you: say one dinosaur equals $1 trillion […]

    Hayes uses a lovely graphic showing one dinosaur icon per $1 trillion spent.

    [A pared down] Democrat spending bill would be $1.5 trillion spent over ten years. That would be less than the $1.9 trillion cost of the Trump tax cuts for the same period of time. And every single senate Republican supported those tax breaks primarily for the rich and for corporations […] And that $1.5 trillion price tag from the Democrats that senators seem so worried about is equal to what we are about to spend on national defense in just two years. In just two years! Just the Pentagon budget!

    Much more in the video. And more dinosaurs!

  151. says

    AT&T has yet to answer for its support of OAN, and customers have had it.

    Link

    NAACP President Derrick Johnson is set to meet with AT&T leadership at the company’s Washington, D.C. headquarters [October 21 meeting] to discuss AT&T’s relationship with One America News (OAN). Johnson condemned AT&T after a Reuters investigation published earlier this month found that a lucrative contract with AT&T-owned platforms was responsible for 90% of OAN parent company Herring Networks, Inc.’s funding, and that AT&T even had a hand in creating OAN when it launched in 2013.

    “We are outraged to learn that AT&T has been funneling tens of millions of dollars into OAN since the network’s inception,” Johnson said. “AT&T has as a result caused irreparable damage to our democracy.”

    […] Herring hasn’t been shy about the editorial freedom and support AT&T has given his far-right network since then. During an interview on OAN last week, Herring showered AT&T with praise and even called on viewers to thank the company. [video available at the link]

    A full video of the interview also shows Herring outright lying about the controversy surrounding the Reuters report. When pressed by correspondent Pearson Sharp, Herring said that “all of our funding comes from the Herring Networks.” Technically true, but much of the funding Herring Networks received appears to come from that AT&T contract.

    OAN began airing […] on DirecTV in 2017 after parent company Herring Networks settled a case with AT&T over AT&T’s acquisition of DirecTV in 2015. Herring Networks claimed that AT&T had gone back on an oral agreement that would allow OAN to be broadcast on DirecTV once the acquisition went through.

    AT&T cited the settlement as the only reason DirecTV even broadcasts OAN. “When we acquired DIRECTV, Herring pressured us for months to carry OAN. We rejected their offer and in response, Herring Networks sued us, claiming we deliberately intended to injure Herring,” the company said in a statement. “Only as part of the settlement of that lawsuit did DIRECTV consent to a commercial carriage agreement with OAN four years ago.”

    OAN is available on other providers, including Verizon FiOS, GCI, and CenturyLink Prism. Those companies appear to be facing minimal backlash compared with AT&T. One source told media consultant Timothy Burke that 20% of the DirecTV cancellations they’d received were because of AT&T’s support for OAN. […]

    AT&T really has been hit in the pocketbook lately. The company’s stocks have been on a steep downturn since the Reuters report was published Oct. 6, though investors have been wary to hold onto it since the company announced a merger with Discovery Inc. in May. Last week, MarketWatch reported that AT&T was headed for an 11-year low. AT&T’s Q3 earnings call today didn’t exactly give it the boost the company was expecting, either. […]

    Last month, CEO John Stankey said the company would focus on a “multi-year effort” to rehabilitate its image. Sticking with OAN doesn’t exactly help with that. It remains to be seen what AT&T will do about Herring Networks following the meeting with Johnson. For now, many customers are more than happy to pull the plug on DirecTV and other AT&T-owned ventures instead of waiting for an answer to come.

  152. says

    Might finally be the end of the big forest fires in California: An “extreme and possibly historic atmospheric river” is battering California.

    Washington Post link

    Amid an exceptional drought that has wrought havoc on California for years, a Level 5 out of 5 atmospheric river is soaking the region, dumping double-digit rainfall totals and up to six feet of mountain snow. This heavy precipitation will help ease the drought but produce dangerous mudslides and debris flows in areas recently devastated by fires.

    Atmospheric rivers are long, narrow swaths of exceptionally moist air, sometimes sourced from the tropics, that can produce excessive amounts of precipitation.

    “It will be a wild 24 to 36 hours across northern California as we will see an extreme and possible historic atmospheric river push through the region,” wrote the National Weather Service in Sacramento, calling it a “dangerous, high-impact weather system.”

    Flash flood watches are up for most of Central and Northern California, blanketing some of the same areas that went upward of six months without a stitch of measurable rain. Sacramento recorded its first 0.01 inches of rain last week since March 19, capping off a record-setting 222 days without precipitation. Now it is bracing for more than half a foot of rain and flooding.

    Through midmorning local time Sunday, more than 3.5 inches of rain had fallen in Santa Rosa, Calif […]

    A rare “high risk” of excessive rainfall has been hoisted for parts of Northern California. The National Weather Service is referring to the potential for “life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.”

    […] Along the coast of the Pacific Northwest and as far south as Northern California, winds may gust up to 60 mph while waves along the shoreline top 20 feet.

    The offshore storm system instigating the deluge is also challenging records as an exceptionally intense “bomb cyclone,” with minimum central air pressures that could rival those of Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

    […] Atmospheric rivers are rated on their integrated water vapor transport, or a measure of how much moisture they are transporting over a given distance. Nearly a ton and a half of water is moving over every one-meter cross section of the atmospheric river each second, which makes this event a Level 5 on the scale devised by the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes in La Jolla, Calif.

    Atmospheric rivers carry most of their moisture at the mid-levels of the atmosphere, meaning the greatest rain and snow totals will be in the higher terrain. Rainfall rates could top an inch per hour, with snow falling at nearly six inches per hour above the freezing line. […]

    Animated graphics are available at the link.

  153. says

    Ha! Spot on and funny:

    Former President Barack Obama made a trip to Newark, New Jersey on Saturday to urge New Jersey residents to re-elect Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy mainly because the Republican challenger, Jack Ciattarelli, is a joke. “When you’ve got a candidate who spoke at a ‘Stop the Steal’ rally, you can bet he’s not going to be a champion of Democracy,” Obama said, chuckling before a crowd of more than 700 people at Weequahic Park. “Apparently Phil’s opponent says, well he didn’t know it was a rally to overturn the results of the last election, didn’t know it.

    “Brother, come on! When you’re standing in front of a sign that says, ‘Stop the Steal’ and there’s a guy in the crowd waving a Confederate flag, you know this isn’t a neighborhood barbecue,” the former president added. “You know it’s not a League of Women Voters rally. Come on! Come on, man! That’s not what New Jersey needs.”

    […] Obama said Murphy has been a supporter of his since “back when people could not pronounce my name,” and he’s “been busy” restoring funding cut for Planned Parenthood and increasing taxes on the wealthy. His opponent wants to implement a school funding formula that takes money “away from Black and brown communities” and cuts taxes on the wealthy, Obama said.

    “He wants to go backwards,” the former president added.

    Link

  154. says

    Longer, more frequent outages afflict the U.S. power grid as states fail to prepare for climate change.

    Washington Post link

    Every time a storm lashes the Carolina coast, the power lines on Tonye Gray’s street go down, cutting her lights and air conditioning. After Hurricane Florence in 2018, Gray went three days with no way to refrigerate medicine for her multiple sclerosis or pump the floodwater out of her basement.

    “Florence was hell,” said Gray, 61, a marketing account manager and Wilmington native who finds herself increasingly frustrated by the city’s vulnerability.

    “We’ve had storms long enough in Wilmington and this particular area that all power lines should have been underground by now. We know we’re going to get hit.”

    Across the nation, severe weather fueled by climate change is pushing aging electrical systems past their limits, often with deadly results. Last year, the average American home endured more than eight hours without power, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration — more than double the outage time five years ago. [charts and graphic displays of data are available at the link]

    This year alone, a wave of abnormally severe winter storms caused a disastrous power failure in Texas, leaving millions of homes in the dark, sometimes for days, and at least 200 dead. Power outages caused by Hurricane Ida contributed to at least 14 deaths in Louisiana, as some of the poorest parts of the state suffered through weeks of 90-degree heat without air conditioning.

    […] A major impediment is the failure by state regulators and the utility industry to consider the consequences of a more volatile climate — and to come up with better tools to prepare for it. For example, a Berkeley Lab study last year of outages caused by major weather events in six states found that neither state officials nor utility executives attempted to calculate the social and economic costs of longer and more frequent outages, such as food spoilage, business closures, supply chain disruptions and medical problems.

    “There is no question that climatic changes are happening that directly affect the operation of the power grid,” said Justin Gundlach, a senior attorney at the Institute for Policy Integrity, a think tank at New York University Law School. “What you still haven’t seen … is a [state] commission saying: ‘Isn’t climate the through line in all of this? Let’s examine it in an open-ended way. Let’s figure out where the information takes us and make some decisions.’ ” […]

  155. says

    Where Facts Were No Match for Fear

    New York Times link.

    Civic boosters in central Montana hoped for some federal money to promote tourism. A disinformation campaign got in the way.

    In the summer of 2020, as pandemic shutdowns closed businesses […] Rae Grulkowski, a 56-year-old businesswoman who had never been involved in politics but was alarmed about what was happening to the country, found a way to make a difference.

    […] Ms. Grulkowski had just heard about a years-in-the-making effort to designate her corner of central Montana a national heritage area, celebrating its role in the story of the American West. A small pot of federal matching money was there for the taking, to help draw more visitors and preserve underfunded local tourist attractions.

    Ms. Grulkowski set about blowing up that effort with everything she had.

    She collected addresses from a list of voters and spent $1,300 sending a packet denouncing the proposed heritage area to 1,498 farmers and ranchers. She told them the designation would forbid landowners to build sheds, drill wells or use fertilizers and pesticides. It would alter water rights, give tourists access to private property, create a new taxation district and prohibit new septic systems and burials on private land, she said.

    None of this was true.

    Yet it soon became accepted as truth by enough people to persuade Montana’s leading Republican figures and conservative organizations, including the farm bureau, Gov. Greg Gianforte and Senator Steve Daines, to oppose the proposal and enact a state law forbidding the federal government to create any heritage area in Montana. It is a ban that the state has no authority to enforce.

    Which is how a humble bid for a small serving of Washington pork by a group of local civic boosters became yet another nasty skirmish in the bitter nationwide struggle between the forces of fact and fantasy.

    […] From the vantage point of informed democratic decision making, it’s a haunting tale about how a sustained political campaign can succeed despite — or perhaps as a result of — being divorced from reality.

    […] The dispute has split communities, become a wedge issue in this fall’s political campaigns and left proponents of the heritage area flummoxed at their collective inability to refute falsehoods once they have become accepted wisdom.

    “We’ve run into the uneducable,” Ellen Sievert, a retired historic preservation officer for Great Falls and surrounding Cascade County, said. “I don’t know how we get through that.”

    […] Steve Taylor, a former mayor of Neihart (pop. 43) whose family owns a car dealership in Great Falls, is a conservative who voted for Donald J. Trump twice, though he said he has regretted those votes since the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. Fellow Republicans, he said, have painted the heritage area as a liberal plot.

    “They make it a political thing because if you have a Democrat involved, then they are all against it,” he said. “It’s so hard to build something and so easy to tear it down. It’s maddening. It’s so easy to destroy something with untruths.”

    Congress and President Ronald Reagan created National Heritage Areas in the 1980s as a partnership between the National Park Service and local boosters, who are required to match federal investment with funds raised locally. The 55 existing heritage areas, in 34 states […] collectively receive about $21 million annually — a pittance in the park service’s $3.5 billion budget — and have no impact on private property rights, a finding confirmed in a 2004 report by the U.S. General Accounting Office.

    The proposal for the Big Sky Country National Heritage Area, encompassing most of two central Montana counties that are together roughly the size of Connecticut, was the brainchild of Jane Weber, a U.S. Forest Service retiree who spent a decade on the Cascade County Commission.

    Beginning in 2013, Ms. Weber teamed up with local preservationists, formed a nonprofit, enlisted local businesses and raised $50,000 for a required feasibility study. In 2014, the Great Falls City Commission included the heritage area as part of its official growth policy.

    The proposal would take in four National Historic Landmarks: Lewis and Clark’s portage route around Great Falls; Fort Benton, a pioneer town along the Missouri River that was the last stop for steamships heading west from St. Louis in the 1800s; the First Peoples Buffalo Jump, a steep cliff over which Blackfoot hunters herded buffalo to their deaths; and the home and studio of C.M. Russell, the turn-of-the-century “cowboy artist” whose paintings of the American West shaped the popular image of frontier life.

    The park service requires demonstrations of public support, which Ms. Weber and her allies solicited. For six years, the process went on largely undisturbed. […]

    Then the 2020 political season arrived. [photo of right wing dunderheads is available at the link]

    […] Ms. Grulkowski’s interest was piqued.

    At the time, she was becoming engrossed in the online world of far-right media. From her home on 34 acres in Stockett, a farming community of 157 people south of Great Falls, she watched videos from outlets like His Glory TV, where hosts refer to President Biden as “the so-called president.” She subscribed to the Telegram messaging channel of Seth Keshel, a prolific disinformation spreader.

    And she came across a vein of conspiratorial accusations that national heritage areas were a kind of Trojan horse that could open the door to future federal land grabs.

    When Ms. Grulkowski, who owns a septic cleaning company, tried using Ms. Dodd’s group to push the idea that Montanans’ property rights were at risk, Ms. Dodd kicked her out for promoting lies.

    “I’m not happy with people saying it will seize your property, because that is disingenuous,” Ms. Dodd said. “I said to her, ‘I think you need to be careful about the message. It isn’t actually the way that it works, what you’re saying.’”

    But Ms. Grulkowski plowed ahead.

    One of her letters reached Ed Bandel, the local board member for the Montana Farm Bureau Federation, a powerful lobbying force. Mr. Bandel, who grows wheat and peas for energy bars on 3,000 acres, persuaded the farm bureau to oppose the heritage area and enlisted other agriculture groups to follow suit.

    […] By May, their campaign had reached the state capital, where Mr. Gianforte signed the bill barring any national heritage area in Montana after it passed on a near-party-line vote. A heritage area, the bill’s text asserted, would “interfere with state and private property rights.”

    In two hours of talking at his farm, Mr. Bandel could offer no evidence to back up that claim. He said he distrusted assurances that there were no such designs. “They say, ‘Don’t worry, we’re going to do it right. Don’t worry, we’ll take care of you. I think Adolf Hitler said that, too, didn’t he?” Mr. Bandel said. “The fear of the unknown is a huge fear.”

    Mr. Bandel said he trusted Ms. Grulkowski with the details.

    No. NO. NO. Do not trust rightwing dunderheads with the details.

    But when pressed, Ms. Grulkowski, too, was unable to identify a single instance of a property owner’s being adversely affected by a heritage area. “It’s not that there are a lot of specific instances,” she said. “There’s a lot of very wide open things that could happen.”

    That somewhat amorphous fear was more the point.

    Outside of a poultry coop, as her chickens and ducks squawked, Ms. Grulkowski ticked through the falsehoods she had read online and accepted as truths in the past year: The Covid vaccine is more dangerous than the coronavirus. Global child-trafficking rings control the political system. Black Lives Matter was responsible for the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. The United Nations is plotting to control world population and seize private land. Mr. Trump was the rightful winner of last year’s election. Even in Cascade County, where Mr. Trump won 59 percent of the vote, Ms. Grulkowski argued that 3,000 illegal votes were cast.

    “We didn’t believe in any of that stuff until last July,” Ms. Grulkowski said. “Then we stumbled on something on the internet, and we watched it, and it took us two days to get over that. And it had to do with the child trafficking that leads to everything. It just didn’t seem right, and that was just over the top. And then we started seeing things that are lining up with that everywhere.”

    […] “It’s very easy to take fear and mistrust and make it work for you. It’s very hard to fight back against all of that,” Ms. Weber said. “It’s kind of like trying to convince someone to get vaccinated.” […]

    Rightwing dunderheads had a negative effect on the local economy.

  156. tomh says

    RollingStone:
    EXCLUSIVE: Jan. 6 Protest Organizers Say They Participated in ‘Dozens’ of Planning Meetings With Members of Congress and White House Staff
    Two sources are communicating with House investigators and detailed a stunning series of allegations to Rolling Stone, including a promise of a “blanket pardon” from the Oval Office
    By HUNTER WALKER

    […]

    Rolling Stone separately confirmed a third person involved in the main Jan. 6 rally in D.C. has communicated with the committee. This is the first report that the committee is hearing major new allegations from potential cooperating witnesses. While there have been prior indications that members of Congress were involved, this is also the first account detailing their purported role and its scope. The two sources also claim they interacted with members of Trump’s team, including former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who they describe as having had an opportunity to prevent the violence.

    […]

    The two sources, both of whom have been granted anonymity due to the ongoing investigation, describe participating in “dozens” of planning briefings ahead of that day when Trump supporters broke into the Capitol as his election loss to President Joe Biden was being certified.

    “I remember Marjorie Taylor Greene specifically,” the organizer says. “I remember talking to probably close to a dozen other members at one point or another or their staffs.”

    For the sake of clarity, we will refer to one of the sources as a rally organizer and the other as a planner. Rolling Stone has confirmed that both sources were involved in organizing the main event aimed at objecting to the electoral certification, which took place at the White House Ellipse on Jan. 6. Trump spoke at that rally and encouraged his supporters to march to the Capitol. Some members of the audience at the Ellipse began walking the mile and a half to the Capitol as Trump gave his speech. The barricades were stormed minutes before the former president concluded his remarks.

    These two sources also helped plan a series of demonstrations that took place in multiple states around the country in the weeks between the election and the storming of the Capitol. According to these sources, multiple people associated with the March for Trump and Stop the Steal events that took place during this period communicated with members of Congress throughout this process.

    Along with Greene, the conspiratorial pro-Trump Republican from Georgia who took office earlier this year, the pair both say the members who participated in these conversations or had top staffers join in included Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas).

    “We would talk to Boebert’s team, Cawthorn’s team, Gosar’s team like back to back to back to back,” says the organizer.

    And Gosar, who has been one of the most prominent defenders of the Jan. 6 rioters, allegedly took things a step further. Both sources say he dangled the possibility of a “blanket pardon” in an unrelated ongoing investigation to encourage them to plan the protests.
    […]

    Gosar’s office did not respond to requests for comment on this story. Rolling Stone has separately obtained documentary evidence that both sources were in contact with Gosar and Boebert on Jan. 6.
    […..]

    While it was already clear members of Congress played some role in the Jan. 6 events and similar rallies that occurred in the lead-up to that day, the two sources say they can provide new details about the members’ specific roles in these efforts. The sources plan to share that information with congressional investigators right away. While both sources say their communications with the House’s Jan. 6 committee thus far have been informal, they are expecting to testify publicly.
    […More at the link]

  157. says

    From Roll Call:

    Surging tax revenues as the U.S. economy rebounded from the coronavirus-driven downturn helped reduce the budget deficit for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, the Treasury Department and White House budget office announced Friday. The fiscal 2021 deficit clocked in at a still-massive $2.8 trillion, although that’s down $360 billion from the previous year’s shortfall and it’s $897 billion less than the Biden administration predicted in February.

    Commentary:

    […] This isn’t quite the picture Donald Trump had in mind. […] in February 2016, the future president appeared on Fox News and assured viewers that, if he were president, he could start paying off the national debt “so easily.” [He] argued at the time that it would simply be a matter of looking at the country as “a profit-making corporation” instead of “a losing corporation.”

    A month later, in March 2016, Trump declared at a debate that he could cut trillions of dollars in spending by eliminating “waste, fraud, and abuse.” Asked for a specific example, he said, “We’re cutting Common Core.” (Common Core is an education curriculum. It costs the federal government almost nothing.)

    […] By July 2016, he boasted that once his economic agenda was in place, “we’ll start paying off that debt like water.”

    As The Washington Post’s Catherine Rampell explained before the Covid-19 crisis, “Federal deficits have widened immensely under Trump’s leadership. This is striking not only because he promised fiscal responsibility — at one time even pledging to eliminate the national debt within eight years — but also because it’s a historical anomaly. Deficits usually narrow when the economy is good and we’re not engaged in a major war…. Trump’s own policies are to blame for this aberration.”

    That was plainly true. The White House and congressional Republicans swore up and down in late 2017 that they could slash taxes for the wealthy and big corporations without increasing the deficit because, as they repeatedly insisted, “tax cuts pay for themselves.” We didn’t need additional evidence that their ridiculous belief was, and is, wrong, but the evidence soon followed anyway.

    And then, of course, the pandemic hit, at which point the deficit reached record levels.

    The latest data shows the deficit shrinking once more, just in time for GOP officials and candidates to start pretending to care about the issue again.

    Link

  158. says

    Two Jan. 6 rally organizers are talking, and congressional Republicans should be nervous

    Several House Republicans—exactly the ones you would guess—were involved in planning meetings for protests on Jan. 6 as Trump supporters tried to block the certification of the 2020 election and with it, Donald Trump’s loss, two sources have detailed to Rolling Stone. Both sources are in contact with the House select committee investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol, and both, let’s be clear, are motivated to paint their own involvement in the most innocent and patriotic light possible. But they can still have valuable testimony, whatever the motivations.

    The sources, identified as an organizer and a planner, say they participated in “dozens” of planning meetings, including some with the personal participation of or top staffers from the offices of Reps. Paul Gosar, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Andy Biggs, Lauren Boebert, Madison Cawthorn, Mo Brooks, and Louie Gohmert. (See, I told you you could guess.) “We would talk to Boebert’s team, Cawthorn’s team, Gosar’s team like back to back to back to back,” the organizer told Rolling Stone. Both were in contact with Boebert and Gosar on Jan. 6 itself.

    The meetings weren’t purely informational: At least one member of Congress was urging them to put on a protest. The two sources are subjects of an unrelated investigation that Gosar used as incentive to get them to plan the Ellipse protest, telling them that Trump would give them “blanket pardons.”

    “Our impression was that it was a done deal,” the organizer said, “that he’d spoken to the president about it in the Oval … in a meeting about pardons and that our names came up. They were working on submitting the paperwork and getting members of the House Freedom Caucus to sign on as a show of support.”

    The sources insist that they were involved only in planning the rally at the Ellipse, with the intention of pressuring Congress from that relatively safe distance to overturn the election. They wanted to overturn the election—they just insist they didn’t think it would be violent.

    ”The breaking point for me [on Jan. 6 was when] Trump starts talking about walking to the Capitol,” said the organizer. “I was like, ‘Let’s get the fuck out of here.’”

    The planner, too, pointed a finger at Trump, saying, “I do kind of feel abandoned by Trump.”

    And both pointed to the role of Stop the Steal organizer Ali Alexander, who previously bragged about planning Jan. 6 events with the help of Biggs, Brooks, and Gosar. Alexander, the sources told Rolling Stone, had agreed to not hold his “Wild Protest” at the Capitol, leaving the Ellipse event as the major draw of the day. But then he went ahead with it anyway. “We ended up escalating that to everybody we could, including [then White House chief of staff Mark] Meadows,” the organizer said. But Meadows—who they say was more broadly involved in planning Jan. 6 events—apparently didn’t intervene to stop Alexander’s event.

    A spokesman for Greene said her involvement was only in planning to object to the electoral certification in Congress, despite the fact that she was billed as a speaker at Alexander’s Wild Protest, as were Gosar and Boebert. Presumably all of the congressional Republicans will claim that they were only expecting a peaceful if spirited protest while they tried to overturn the results of a presidential election based entirely on conspiracy theories and sore loserdom. But despite the refusal of some on Team Trump, like Steve Bannon, to respond to the House select committee’s subpoenas, it sounds like the committee will be getting some valuable information about the planning process and the involvement of key Republicans.

  159. says

    Follow-up to comment 168.

    Wonkette:

    Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s new surgeon general Joseph Ladapo isn’t just a weapon of mass disinformation about COVID-19. He’s also a creep who’s seemingly incapable of basic human courtesy.

    Ladapo requires confirmation from Florida’s state Senate and was making the rounds last week when he reportedly stopped by Democratic Sen. Tina Polsky’s office. Polsky was diagnosed with Stage One breast cancer in August, so had good reason to request Ladapo put on a mask and not shower her with his breath droplets. […] but Ladapo refused, because he’s an asshole. That’s our theory, at least.

    Florida Politics reports:

    “I told him I had a serious medical condition,” said Polsky, who will begin radiation therapy treatment for cancer next week.

    She has fucking cancer! Ladapo couldn’t act like a decent human for five minutes. Instead, he suggested they take it outside. Polsky, who we’ve mentioned has cancer, didn’t want to go outside. Sometimes, you prefer to remain comfortably seated in your climate-controlled office, like when you have cancer. There was a brief back-and-forth, and Polsky asked Ladapo why he wouldn’t just wear a mask for their meeting.

    “He just smiles and doesn’t answer. He’s very smug,” Polsky recalled. “And I told him several times, `I have this very serious medical condition.’ And he said, ‘That’s OK,’ like it basically has nothing to do with what we are talking about.”

    […] Florida’s surgeon general should appreciate that cancer is bad. […]. A positive COVID-19 test would mean a delay in her treatment, which could jeopardize her survival.

    She eventually asked Ladapo to leave, but said that on his way out the door, Ladapo remarked, “Sometimes I try to reason with unreasonable people for fun.”

    I know I keep belaboring this point, but Polsky has cancer and therefore may be immunocompromised. Ladapo, meanwhile, seems to us like a straight-up sociopath. He demonstrates how cruelty has become the modern GOP’s governing philosophy. Ladapo’s spokesperson confirmed the meeting in a statement, but denied the taunting comments. The spokesperson also failed to spell Polsky’s name correctly, because apparently even that’s too much to ask.

    When my aunt met my infant son, she was just getting over a cold, so she wore a surgical mask. She didn’t want to get him sick. She’s a former nurse, not a fancy surgeon general, but she also cares about other people. Ladapo is opposed to the vaccine and mask mandates. However, he can freely choose to wear a mask to cover his reportedly unvaccinated face. He doesn’t […] This is an affirmatively anti-life equation: No masks or vaccines, ever. Legitimate medical science doesn’t support this position. […]

    The Florida Senate is GOP-controlled, so Ladapo had a glide path to confirmation. Polsky was probably a “no” regardless, but Ladapo behaving like a schoolyard bully put Republicans on the defensive. Republican Senate President Wilton Simpson sent a memo to all Senate staff that criticized Ladapo’s actions but avoided mentioning his name. Such bold, moral clarity! Like a common Susan Collins, Simpson said the incident was “disappointing.”

    “What occurred in Senator Polsky’s office was unprofessional and will not be tolerated in the Senate,” the Republican leader wrote. “While there is no mask mandate in the Senate, Senators and staff can request social distancing and masking within their own offices. If visitors to the Senate fail to respect these requests, they will be asked to leave.”
    […]

    Republicans, including Simpson, have spent this pandemic enabling the willfully ignorant. Simpson opposed mask mandates in schools. […] Anti-maskers can hide behind large numbers of impacted people while shouting “Freedom!” But when this is broken down to an encounter between a woman sick with cancer and a preening asshole, Republicans like Simpson can’t escape the shame.

    Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay tweeted that she appreciated Simpson’s gesture, but challenged him to show true leadership and reject Ladapo’s nomination. It’s not hard to do on the merits: Ladapo publicly spreads anti-vax lies and disinformation, and he’s aligned with extremist groups such as America’s Frontline Doctors, which includes that demon semen person (we won’t use the word “doctor”).

    The Orlando Sentinel has also declared Ladapo unfit for his position. However, we expect DeSantis to double down on his decision. He’s copied Donald Trump’s body language in speeches, so the obvious next step is to mimic Trump’s devotion to the worst people on Earth.

    Link

  160. says

    Wonkette: “GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis Offers Unvaccinated Cops $5K To Come Infect And Serve Floridians”

    Florida’s COVID-19 cases are trending downward since their August peak. Hospitalizations have decreased by 38 percent over the past two weeks, and deaths have declined by 31 percent. Hooray! Sure, COVID-19 might’ve killed 58,000 Floridians, but GOP Governor Ron DeSantis is real proud of himself for standing firm against medical tyranny. […]

    However, DeSantis does need to staff up on account of all the deaths, we guess, so he’s actively recruiting folks who share his apparently casual disregard for human life. During a segment on Fox’s “Sunday Morning Futures,” he told host Maria Bartiromo that he’s prepared to offer a relocation bonus of $5,000 to out-of-state cops who lost their jobs because they won’t get vaccinated. He’s making a dedicated push toward herd stupidity. […]

    He said:

    In Florida, not only are we going to want to protect the law enforcement and all the jobs, we are actively working to recruit out-of-state law enforcement because we do have needs in our police and sheriff’s departments.

    COVID-19 was the number one cop killer in 2020 and 2021 (so far). […] At least 37 cops have died from COVID-19 in Florida since the pandemic started, and the number continues to rise.

    DeSantis plans to throw open Florida’s doors to insubordinate, unvaccinated cops from New York, Minneapolis, Seattle […]

    Cities with vaccine mandates are treating cops well. They’d prefer police don’t die from a preventable illness. This is like offering cops $5,000 to come to work without a bulletproof vest, and there are often far more viral bullets to dodge in Florida. The state’s vaccination rate is lagging, and its new surgeon general Joseph Ladapo is an anti-science kook. […]

    Vaccination remains the best protection from contracting the disease. In the event of breakthrough infections, vaccines are effective at preventing serious illness that would hospitalize or kill you. This is according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, John Hopkins, and a recent study in the the New England Journal of Medicine.

    […] “Your right to earn a living should not be contingent on getting shots,” DeSantis said, demonstrating that he doesn’t understand how “rights” work. No one is holding anyone down and forcing a needle into their arm. However, private and public entities are under no obligation to make it easy for willingly unvaccinated people to function in society. There is no constitutional right to work in law enforcement or in healthcare, especially if you refuse to protect yourself and others from a highly contagious and deadly disease.

    Officer Anthony Testa from West Palm Beach died from COVID-19 last month. He was 36 and unvaccinated. COVID-19 then exercised its freedom to devastate his body. He was hospitalized and placed on a ventilator before eventually succumbing to the virus. He leaves behind a wife and four-year-old son. His story would be all over Fox News if his killer was an undocumented immigrant or a homeless person. Instead, he is an inconvenient death for the right wing’s anti-vax narrative. […]

    Link

  161. says

    Sudan’s military detains prime minister and dissolves government in coup.

    Washington Post link

    Sudan’s military on Monday detained the prime minister, dissolved the government and declared a state of emergency, in what could be the end of a democratic transition propelled by the millions of Sudanese who marched in the streets for the overthrow of longtime dictator Omar Hassan al-Bashir more than two years ago.

    The coup comes just days after the U.S. envoy to the region met with Sudan’s military leaders and warned them that American support for Sudan was conditional on sticking to an agreement that would see power put squarely in civilian hands this year.

    Sudan’s top military commander and head of state, Lt. Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, appeared on state television about noon local time to announce the new measures, but he did not specifically address the arrests of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and other members of the government. He also did not mention a target date for a transition to full civilian control of the government. He said the military was still committed to democratic elections by mid-2023.

    As news of the military’s action spread around Khartoum, crowds gathered in the streets in protest — just days after the capital witnessed the biggest pro-democracy demonstrations since 2019, when Bashir was toppled by a wave of popular discontent. Locals described security forces out in droves using batons and live ammunition to scatter protesters, who uploaded videos of the chaos despite Internet services being disrupted.

    […] Local news channels reported the closing of roads and bridges connecting Khartoum with the rest of Sudan by large contingents of security forces, as well as the suspension of flights at the airport. A prominent doctors association said in a statement posted to Twitter that two people had died of gunshot wounds and more than 80 were injured.

    Since Bashir’s ousting, the country has been governed by a civilian-military transitional council, and tensions over power-sharing have repeatedly threatened to boil over into outright confrontation. […]

    The United States, European Union and United Nations all issued statements calling for the immediate release of civilian leaders and their restoration in the government, and the African Union suspended Sudan’s membership. Saudi Arabia, a close ally, expressed concern in a statement but did not call Monday’s events a coup or military takeover.

    […] “The US is deeply alarmed at reports of a military take-over of the transitional government. This would contravene the Constitutional Declaration and the democratic aspirations of the Sudanese people and is utterly unacceptable. As we have said repeatedly, any changes to the transitional government by force puts at risk U.S. assistance.” […]

  162. says

    Another Republican leaves the party:

    […] Politico reported last week that Arizona Republicans are filling up their 2022 midterm ballot with “a roster of conspiracy theorists and extremists,” including a celebrity from the QAnon conspiracy world. Under a headline that said the Arizona GOP has gone “full fringe,” the article added that entire Republican ticket in the state is embracing the Big Lie as if it were true.

    Reading the piece, I was reminded of a Republican lawyer in Tucson named Robert Gonzalez, who wrote an op-ed for The Arizona Republic in February, urging voters not to give up on the GOP just yet. Against a backdrop in which the state party had just censured their own party’s governor for taking the pandemic at least somewhat seriously, Gonzalez argued that his party was not a “lost cause” and could still be salvaged.

    “We aren’t all election-result-denying, insurrection-endorsing, Trump-supporting extremists,” he wrote in February. In an appeal to voters repulsed by the party’s direction, the Republican lawyer concluded, “Don’t go just yet. We still need you.”

    Eight months later, Gonzales has changed his mind. In a follow-up op-ed for the state’s largest newspaper, he wrote that he was wrong; reforming the GOP from within isn’t going to work; and he’s leaving the party altogether.

    I had hope back in February that we could correct course. Especially after Jan. 6, a return to sanity seemed necessary, maybe inevitable. But after months of meeting with folks on the ground, watching the news and seeing the 2022 GOP primaries unfold, I’m less optimistic. One of the few remaining tools to influence the Republican Party is to sever ties. So I urge remaining Republicans who stand for truth and democracy to vote with their feet, and leave.

    […] it’d be a mistake to assume he represents a much larger constituency.

    […] The Washington Post’s Max Boot wrote in a column, “I’m a single-issue voter. My issue is the fate of democracy in the United States. Simply put, I have no faith that we will remain a democracy if Republicans win power. Thus, although I’m not a Democrat, I will continue to vote exclusively for Democrats — as I have done in every election since 2016 — until the GOP ceases to pose an existential threat to our freedom.”

    Boot, who earned a reputation as a relatively conservative political observer, added, “To prevent a successful coup in 2024, it is imperative to elect Democrats at every level of government in 2021 and 2022 — to state legislatures and governorships, as well as the House and Senate.”

    The same day, The New York Times published a similar piece from former Republican Gov. Christine Todd Whitman and Miles Taylor, a veteran of the Trump administration’s Department of Homeland Security, who wrote that political extremists “maintain a viselike grip” on the GOP at the state national and state levels. They added:

    Rational Republicans are losing the party 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 Democrats.

    […] “the rational remnants of the Republican Party” should partner with Democrats “to defend American institutions, defeat far-right candidates, and elect honorable representatives next year.”

    […] the louder disaffected Republicans become as they walk away from the party, the more GOP leaders have cause for concern.

    Link

  163. says

    Cheeses, They’re Just Like Us!

    New Yorker link

    The wheels at Crown Finish Caves, in Crown Heights, have spent months quarantined indoors, growing mold. Sound familiar?

    A lot of people think that they want to work in a cheese cave,” Caroline Hesse, the head of sales at Crown Finish Caves, a cheese-aging company in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, said, standing by a door marked “Employees Only.” “Then, when they realize that you’re in a tunnel that’s thirty feet underground for eight hours a day, a lot of them are, like, ‘Oh, maybe not.’ ” Hesse opened the door to let in a visitor.

    Crown Finish’s cheese cave is situated below one of the old Nassau Brewery buildings, on Bergen Street. The company’s owners, Benton Brown and Susan Boyle, bought the building in 2001 and converted the four stories aboveground into art studios. Then they had an idea for what to do with the vaulted brick tunnels beneath the building, where the brewery once aged lager. Brown had been learning about affinage, or cheese aging. Affineurs buy “green” wheels of cheese from cheesemakers who don’t have the time or the space to minister to the cheeses for the months or years needed before they’re ready to be sliced into wedges and sold to consumers. “Cheeses that don’t need to cave are like ricotta, mozzarella—things that don’t have a rind on them,” Hesse said. “Everything else—Brie, blue cheese—needs to be put in a cave.” The Nassau Brewery tunnels, which hadn’t been used since the brewery closed, in 1916, and where the ambient temperature has stayed a cool fifty-five degrees for more than a century, are an affineur’s dream.

    Hesse put on a red hairnet, a blue lab coat, and a pair of white plastic clogs—mandatory cavewear—and made her way down a spiral staircase. […]

    Opening a sliding door, she revealed the cave: a space the size of a decent studio apartment, with white brick walls and three banks of wooden shelves holding twenty-four thousand pounds of cheese-in-progress. A hygrometer—which measures humidity—read just below ninety per cent. The smell was more barnyard than locker room. In the back, two affineurs, Liana Kindler and Ethan Partyka, moved around, affinaging. Hesse made for a shelf of Mixed Signal, a clothbound Cheddar-style cheese from Vermont. “This went into the cave last week,” she said, pointing to a waxy orange cylinder a foot tall and two feet across. “And this went in last month,” she said, pointing to a Mixed Signal cylinder covered in green-gray mold. In a few more months, the mold would develop into a proper rind. Until then, the cylinders would be flipped regularly, to keep the moisture in the cheese from sinking to the bottom, and brushed, to maintain an even distribution of mold.

    Cheese aging is a craft of active patience. You can’t age cheese remotely. Crown Finish Caves kept operations going through the pandemic. At the start, the company sold whole wheels direct to consumers for the first time. “Everyone was hunkering down,” Hesse said, looking over a row of Carpenter’s Wheel, a goat’s-milk cheese from Maryland, which had been molded into smooth disks intended to look like river stones. “We made videos explaining how to store a whole wheel of cheese.” At the back of the cave, globes of Mimolette, an orangey French cheese, hung from the ceiling. “We like to keep a couple wheels of Mimolette, because there’s this great mold that grows on them—these nice red spots,” Hesse said. “The air has all these molds and microbes and things that pass over all the cheeses.” […]

  164. says

    This sounds like a good idea.

    Private individuals and community groups will now be able to sponsor Afghan refugees under a new program announced by the Biden administration on Monday. Under the Sponsor Circle Program for Afghans, groups of vetted individuals would form “sponsor circles” that will be responsible for securing housing and financial support for families, and help situate them in their new communities.

    “Americans of all walks of life have expressed strong interest in helping to welcome these individuals,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement. “The Sponsor Circle Program for Afghans harnesses this outpouring of support and enables individuals to become directly involved in the welcome and integration of our new neighbors.”

    The Sponsor Circle Program for Afghans, an initiative of the Department of State and the Community Sponsorship Hub, requires interested applicants to first pass a background check, complete mandatory training, and pledge that they can support newly arrived individuals or families for three months. “Once sponsor circles are certified, CSH will work to match them with arriving Afghans who choose to participate in the program,” Blinken said. Per the application website, “sponsor circles” must consist of at least five adults.

    […] “As of earlier this week, roughly 68,000 Afghan evacuees had arrived in the U.S. since August 17, according to Department of Homeland Security data,” CBS News reports. And because thousands of Afghans were quickly evacuated through a process called humanitarian parole, they’ll be unable to access services typically available to other refugees […]

    Link

    See also: https://www.sponsorcircles.org

  165. says

    White House details new international travel rules

    The Biden administration outlined on Monday very narrow exemptions that will permit unvaccinated international travelers to enter the United States.

    Anyone who is under the age of 18 traveling from overseas will need to show a negative COVID-19 test before boarding a flight, but are exempted from vaccination requirements, the White House said.

    Even though there are vaccines available in the U.S. to children as young as 12, administration officials said they are sensitive to the global variability regarding access to vaccination for older children who are otherwise eligible to be vaccinated.

    Similarly, the White House said people who are traveling on non-tourist visas from countries that have vaccinated less than 10 percent of their population are also exempt from the vaccine requirement. There are more than 50 countries that meet that threshold, including much of Africa, according to the World Health Organization.

    A senior administration official said those individuals would need to show a “compelling reason” for traveling to the U.S.

    “They need to have a specific, compelling reason. So, tourist visas will not qualify for that,” the official said. If they qualify, they need to show proof of a negative test taken within 24 hours prior to departure.

    Other exemptions include those with certain medical conditions, clinical trial participants and those traveling on short notice for emergency or humanitarian reasons, the official said.

    Most non-U.S. citizens and nonimmigrants arriving into the country by air will need to show both proof of vaccination and proof of a negative coronavirus test taken at least three days before departure. […]

  166. says

    Liberty University’s Honor Code Used To Punish Victims Of Sexual Assault

    When the kind of parents who would send their kids to Jerry Fallwell’s Liberty University send their daughters to Liberty University, they probably imagine they’ll be safer there than at some heathen secular institute. After all, Liberty University is filled with Good Christians and has strict rules and an honor code with rules like “Sexual relations outside of a biblically-ordained marriage between a natural-born man and a natural-born woman are not permissible at Liberty University.”

    They would be wrong.

    An extremely disturbing report from ProPublica alleges that the university has been using that same honor code, “The Liberty Way,” to intimidate and punish students who are victims of sexual assault. Specifically, the school seems to have made a habit out of requiring students who report their sexual assaults to sign documents admitting to breaking the school’s honor code by drinking, being alone with a member of the opposite sex, going to an off-campus party, etc., before even looking into their cases. And, when they finally do, after several months, they reportedly tell the victims their assailants have been found innocent due to a “preponderance of evidence.”

    In at least one case, this may have been because they got rid of the evidence, claiming it was too explicit.

    [Elizabeth] Axley went in and looked through the materials. The photos with her injuries, she recalled, were no longer there. Axley said that when she asked what had happened, Bucci told her the photos had been removed because they were too “explicit.”

    “I felt like I’d been punched in the stomach,” Axley recalled. “I had been relying on them all these months to take my evidence into account when considering my case, and it wasn’t even in my file.”

    Violations of The Liberty Way are not handled, by the way, with a slap on the wrist. They can result in various punishments, including fines. While victims who self-report violations as part of reporting a sexual or physical assault are not supposed to be punished, according to the Liberty Way Honor Code, they have been discouraged from reporting by faculty who told them that they very well could be.

    The RA, Axley said, told her not to report it, saying Axley could be found to have violated the school’s prohibition against drinking and fraternizing with the opposite sex.

    Instead, the RA offered to pray with Axley.

    “I was really confused,” recalled Axley. “They were making it seem like I had done something wrong.” […]

    In the fall of 2013, Diane Stargel sought the help of the university’s mental health counselors, telling the counselor she met with that she’d been raped by another student at a party off-campus. Stargel recalled that the counselor listened and then asked her to sign a “victim notice” that warned she could be found to have broken the Liberty Way if she chose to move forward. Terrified of losing her scholarship, Stargel signed the paper and did not formally report being assaulted. “I feel like Liberty bullied me into silence after what happened to me,” said Stargel. “I’ve always regretted that I never got my day in court. But at least now I can stand up and say, ‘Yeah, that happened to me.'”

    Amanda Stevens also remembers being warned she could be fined for having violated the Liberty Way. After she reported being raped to the school’s Title IX office in April 2015, Stevens recalled that a school official listed her potential infractions: drinking (though she had not been drinking at the time of the assault), having premarital sex and being alone with a man on campus.

    Some students interviewed said they were also discouraged from going to the police, and if not that, simply not informed they had the option (which the law requires the school to do). In one case a victim was told that if she reported her case to the police, the Title IX office wouldn’t be able to investigate her claim, which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

    Even after criticism of the school’s handling of sexual assault started blowing up online this year, the school maintained a policy of both ignoring it and trying to suppress it, according to a former faculty member who says he was fired for trying to push them to do something about it.

    While Liberty University’s alleged conduct is appalling, it’s not even remotely surprising in a patriarchal culture like that, where it is frequently considered a woman’s job to keep men from sinning. To the kind of people who believe that crap, sexual assault is simply the end result of a woman failing to do that. That is why they are more concerned about making the female students sign papers acknowledging that they broke the school’s honor code than they are with doing something about the fact that they were sexually assaulted. […]

    “Historically, and based on the cases you presented to me, I do not believe Liberty has a conception of sexual assault that is consistent with criminal law, and certainly not with federal civil rights and campus safety,” said S. Daniel Carter, who helped write a law governing how universities that receive federal funding handle sexual assault cases.

    Unfortunately for Liberty, they don’t get to have their own conception of sexual assault, just like no one gets to have their own conception of murder or insider trading. Sexual assault is a crime whether they think it is or not. While no criminal charges are being pressed, over a dozen former students have brought a lawsuit against the school for not doing anything about their sexual assaults, making it “difficult or impossible” for students to report, and alleging that the “public and repeated retaliation against women who did report their victimization” made the school a hostile environment for anyone who did choose to report.

    […] Until they figure something out, female students might want to get the hell out of there.

  167. says

    Wonkette:

    […] Facebook is a Doomsday Machine that will kill us all.

    Okay, that’s not really news in the year 2021. But seriously, why haven’t you deleted that filthy hell app yet?

    In case you’re still swimming in the blue sewer, every major news outlet in the country got its hands on another tranche of leaked Facebook documents this weekend, and, spoiler alert, it’s really, really bad. (The papers came from whistleblower Frances Haugen, of course.) Turns out, the company consistently prioritized its own profits over the safety of its users and was delighted to monetize content that it knew was harmful to them. All while touting the world-spanning benefits of its “community” and publicly disclaiming responsibility for the poison it was pumping out into the world.

    […] “This is a dark moment in our nation’s history,” Mark Zuckerberg wrote [on January 6], “and I know many of you are frightened and concerned about what’s happening in Washington, DC. I’m personally saddened by this mob violence.”

    Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer echoed his boss’s brow-furrowing, asking employees to “hang in there.”

    “We have been ‘hanging in there’ for years,” one staffer shot back.

    “All due respect, but haven’t we had enough time to figure out how to manage discourse without enabling violence?” said another. “We’ve been fueling this fire for a long time and we shouldn’t be surprised it’s now out of control.”

    “I’m tired of platitudes; I want action items,” another responded. “We’re not a neutral entity.”

    Another put it even more bluntly: “History will not judge us kindly.”

    Facebook’s staff was absolutely furious because they’d been screaming bloody murder about the ways the site was optimized to monetize outrage and radicalize users, and plastering upper management with policy memos with solutions to prevent the platform leading vulnerable people down the rabbit hole to meet up with like-minded maniacs. But nothing ever changed.

    Watching in horror on November 5 as the “Stop the Steal” page grew to 330,000 people in its first 24 hours, one Facebook employee wrote, “Not only do we not do something about combustible election misinformation in comments, we amplify and give them broader distribution. Why?”

    […] Here’s the Washington Post’s summary of how Facebook’s algorithms got rejiggered to prioritize incendiary content over things you might actually want to see:

    Zuckerberg has long been obsessed with metrics, growth and neutralizing competitive threats, according to numerous people who have worked with him. The company’s use of “growth-hacking” tactics, such as tagging people in photos and buying lists of email addresses, was key to achieving its remarkable size — 3.51 billion monthly users, nearly half the planet. In Facebook’s early years, Zuckerberg set annual targets for the number of users the company wanted to gain. In 2014, he ordered teams at Facebook to grow “time spent,” or each user’s minutes spent on the service, by 10 percent a year, according to the documents and interviews.

    In 2018, Zuckerberg defined a new metric that became his “north star,” according to a former executive. That metric was MSI — “meaningful social interactions” — named because the company wanted to emphasize the idea that engagement was more valuable than time spent passively scrolling through videos or other content. For example, the company’s algorithm would now weight posts that got a large number of comments as more “meaningful” than likes, and would use that information to inject the comment-filled posts into the news feeds of many more people who were not friends with the original poster, the documents said.

    MSI was the reason the site was initially reluctant to clamp down on COVID misinformation, even as it was infecting the entire platform: “Mark doesn’t think we could go broad,” read notes of one meeting. “We wouldn’t launch if there was a material trade-off with MSI.”

    As NBC’s Brandy Zadrozny writes, the consequences were stark, pushing users toward ever more radical content. An internal report titled “Carol’s Journey to QAnon” documented the time it took for Facebook’s algorithm to start recommending QAnon pages to a dummy profile that claimed to be a mother from North Carolina whose interests included politics, Christianity, and Donald Trump. Forty-eight hours, from Trump to Q.

    [snipped Zuckerberg’s cowardly actions in Vietnam] in America, Zuckerberg cited the paramount importance of free speech — and the danger of pissing off Republicans — as a reason to leave dangerous misinformation on the platform. […]

    The Wall Street Journal notes that the CEO took a similarly laissez-faire approach to posts that promote racial violence against Muslims in India. […] In a report entitled “Adversarial Harmful Networks: India Case Study,” researchers documented hate speech and misinformation flowing from pages associated with the Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh group, or RSS, promoting the idea of a “Love Jihad,” whereby Muslim men would seduce Hindu women to convert them, or that “Muslim clerics spit on food to either ‘make it halal,’ or spread Covid-19, as a larger war against Hindus.” […]

    CNN got an internal memo from Vice President of Global Affairs Nick Clegg, bucking up the troops:

    Social media turns traditional top-down control of information on its head. In the past, public discourse was largely curated by established gatekeepers in the media who decided what people could read, see and digest. Social media has enabled people to decide for themselves – posting and sharing content directly. This is both empowering for individuals – and disruptive to those who hanker after the top-down controls of the past, especially if they are finding the transition to the online world a struggle for their own businesses.

    Riiiiiight.

    Why the hell haven’t you deleted that goddamn app yet?

    Wonkette link

    See also: https://www.wired.com/story/how-to-delete-your-facebook-account/

  168. blf says

    Strange as this may seem, I’ve never seen Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator. Earlier today, whilst idly browsing, I stumbled across a German band(? singer?), Berge, and found this, LET US ALL UNITE — Charlie Chaplin (The Great Dictator Spreech) (video). I do not know who the voice artist is — it could be Mr Chaplin but I doubt it, and is not Berge(‘s singer), a woman — this seems to be an atypical Berge performance — but is well-done… and the speech itself is from 80 years ago but still, unfortunately, applicable.

  169. says

    Politico:

    The U.S. military said it killed a senior al-Qaida leader in an airstrike Friday in northwest Syria. Army Maj. John Rigsbee, a spokesperson for U.S. Central Command, said in a statement that Abdul Hamid al-Matar was killed by a drone strike.

  170. says

    Yale professor and expert on authoritarianism says 2024 Trump coup is ‘underway’

    If U.S. democracy falls this century, it will likely be at the hands of a stubby-fingered sack of extra-piquant donkey farts who likely never bothered to read the Constitution he swore to uphold—and certainly didn’t understand it if he did bother. […]

    Donald Trump is a buffoon, but he’s an evil buffoon, and it doesn’t actually take a smart man to demagogue against democracy. You simply need zero shame, a preternatural instinct for bullying, and a party full of Q-besotted quislings to go along with your rotten plans.

    On Friday’s episode of The Beat With Ari Melber, Yale history professor Timothy Snyder didn’t mince words when it came to the ominous, anti-democratic forces that are currently gathering to storm the gates of our venerable republic.

    After Melber noted that several Big Lie proponents are running (with the backing of the ocher abomination) for secretary of state positions in several U.S. states—which would give them a great deal of control over the 2024 election in some key swing states—he had an unsettling talk with Snyder, an expert on authoritarianism and author of the book On Tyranny. […]

    Video is available at the link.

    Excerpts:

    ARI MELBER: “When you see this effort to put this much pressure on installing partisan officials who’ve embraced lies and tried to overturn elections in these official positions for next election, how concerned should we be? What, if any, foreign analogs do you see?”

    TIMOTHY SNYDER: “Well, as someone who follows contemporary Russia, there is a Russian phrase that comes to mind, which is ‘the administrative resource.’ What the administrative resource means in Russian is that, sure, you have an election, but the people who are running the election are going to determine how the election turns out. What the Republicans are going for is precisely that thing—the administrative resource.

    Historically speaking, what we know about a big lie is that, because of its very scale, it’s not about truth or not-truth, it’s about living in a kind of alternative reality. And what we’re looking at is people who believe in or pretend to believe in this Big Lie actually carrying out our elections. And the problem with this, or one of them, is that, since these people have already claimed that the other side cheated, that basically legitimates their cheating. In other words, if you talk about the Big Lie now, you’re basically promising to cheat the next time around, and that’s very concerning.”

    MELBER: “How worried are you that the United States could face a situation where coordinated efforts by these kind of officials could actually swing an election?”

    SNYDER: “Oh, we don’t need the ‘could’ … I mean, I would say we should be thinking of this as what is happening, and then ask ourselves what we can do to prevent it. I mean, it’s very clear that some combination of people who talk about the Big Lie being in important administrative posts, along with nonlegal or extralegal reviews of the election, perhaps along with states claiming for themselves the right to allocate electoral votes against the wishes of their own people. Some combination of that is clearly in the works, alongside voter suppression, which has a long and dark history in our country.

    The scenario for 2024, for most influential people around Donald Trump, which unfortunately means one of the political parties, is precisely to be installed without winning the election. That’s very consistent with everything Mr. Trump has ever said—in 2016, 2020, and now. So I don’t think it’s something that could happen; I think it’s something that’s underway, and the question is, can we accept this reality in time to take the measures we need to take to prevent it?”

  171. tomh says

    Re: #199
    WaPo:
    Rep. Mo Brooks, denying planning role in Jan. 6 rally, says he’d be ‘proud’ if his staff helped out
    By Timothy Bella / October 26, 2021

    Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) on Monday disputed a report that he had a role in organizing the rally on Jan. 6 that immediately preceded the riot at the U.S. Capitol. But his denial came with a note: Brooks said he would be “proud” if any of his staff had a role in planning the rally held moments before a riot that caused five deaths and hundreds of people being injured.

    Brooks responded to a Rolling Stone report that found the GOP congressman or his staff to have been in contact with two unnamed organizers of the Jan. 6 rally and similar gatherings following the 2020 presidential election.

    He told AL.com that the “beginning” of his involvement in the rally was when the White House asked him to speak the day before, saying he “had no intentions of going to that rally until Jan. 5.” While the congressman could not say whether any of his staff worked on the Jan. 6 rally, he acknowledged that he would be happy if they had helped organize it.

    “Quite frankly, I’d be proud of them if they did help organize a First Amendment rally to protest voter fraud and election theft,” Brooks said of his staff to the outlet.
    […]

  172. says

    Texas Governor Greg Abbott approved his party’s gerrymandered district maps yesterday. As the Texas Tribune summarized, “The maps were drawn to keep Texas Republicans in power for the next decade. They simultaneously diminish the power of voters of color — despite new census numbers pointing to Texans of color as the main force behind the state’s population growth.”

  173. says

    tomh @215, Mo Brooks wore a bullet-proof vest when he spoke at events preceding the January 6th insurrection. So, yeah, I think he knew that crowd harbored the potential for violence.

    Brooks claiming that he had nothing to do with organizing the attack on the capital is disingenuous.

    […] after Joe Biden was named the president-elect, Brooks’ support for Donald Trump reached a new level. The far-right Alabaman not only spent weeks insisting the election had been stolen, reality be damned, Brooks also vowed to spearhead the effort in Congress to contest the results.

    He even appeared at the Jan. 6 rally near the White House and did his part to rouse the pro-Trump mob, telling the audience it was time to start “kicking ass” and asking those in attendance what they were prepared to sacrifice for the good of their country.

    By his own admission, Brooks was wearing a bulletproof vest at the time.

    The attack on the U.S. Capitol soon followed. Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell ultimately filed a civil suit, naming Brooks among the defendants. […]

    This is the same Brooks who expressed tacit sympathy for extremists’ motives in August, and who urged telecommunications companies not to cooperate with a bipartisan congressional investigation into the Jan. 6 attack in September.

    If you’re thinking the House select committee investigating the attack will probably want to have an under-oath chat with Brooks, you’re not alone.

    Link

    I think Brooks is just parsing words carefully when he claims he “had no role in organizing,” and that he would be proud if his staff did have a role in organizing the lead up to the insurrection.

  174. says

    Another Republican got caught committing nefarious deeds … so he is blaming others in order to muddy the waters.

    […] The state senator [Tennessee Sen. Brian Kelsey] has been accused of conspiring with others to violate federal campaign finance laws. Kelsey has been charged with conspiracy, illegally transferring “soft money,” and both making and accepting excessive contributions to a federal campaign.

    The state senator insisted yesterday that he’s innocent — but that’s not all he said.

    “This is nothing but a political witch hunt,” Kelsey wrote on Twitter. “The Biden Administration is trying to take me out because I’m conservative, and I’m the #1 target of the Tennessee Democratic Party.”

    [cough] Ummm, it was you, Senator Kelsey, that violated campaign finance laws, not the Biden Administration.

    In other words, the Tennessee legislator wants the public to believe that federal law enforcement is conspiring against him. Sure, it may look like a federal grand jury in Nashville returned a five-count indictment charging Kelsey with a variety of crimes, but he’d like voters to see this as an example of the Biden administration politicizing the Justice Department as part of an electoral scheme.

    To the extent that reality matters, the claim is foolish. The grand jury probe began in 2019 — two years before the Biden administration existed. Unless Kelsey is prepared to argue that Democratic prosecutors had access to a time machine, we know that the conspiracy theory isn’t true.

    But it’s entirely possible that some of Kelsey’s supporters will believe the line anyway — and therein lies a problem.

    Indeed, the Tennessean isn’t the only politician with legal troubles pushing this line. Before U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry was charged last week with lying to the FBI, the Nebraska Republican created a legal expense fund. It’s online fundraising page said Fortenberry was facing “the Deep State’s bottomless pockets,” and went so far as to claim that President Joe Biden’s FBI “is using its unlimited power to prosecute me on a bogus charge.”

    Like the Tennessee story, the investigation into the Nebraska congressman pre-dates Biden’s presidency. The conspiracy theory is difficult to take seriously.

    What matters more, however, than the rhetoric being wrong is the fact that it’s also inherently unhealthy. These Republicans have effectively argued that federal charges brought against GOP officials during a Democratic presidency should be seen as suspect, as if federal law enforcement is necessarily an extension of the White House’s political agenda.

    Donald Trump may have tragically adopted such a worldview, but it’s important for the Justice Department as an institution to be seen in a more independent light, and no one benefits from bogus conspiratorial thinking.

    Link

    Republicans are projecting … again.

  175. says

    To Trump: the answer is still, “No.”
    NBC News:

    The White House on Monday rejected another executive privilege request by former President Donald Trump over documents sought by the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. In a letter obtained by NBC News, White House counsel Dana Remus told the National Archives that President Joe Biden has determined that Trump’s effort to keep a new batch of Jan. 6 records out of Congress’ hands “is not in the best interests of the United States.”

    Commentary:

    […] This latest decision refers to a second batch of materials, which follow up on the first batch from a few weeks ago.

    […] as far as the Biden White House is concerned, this is not a normal dispute over congressional oversight and document production.

    “These are unique and extraordinary circumstances,” Remus recently explained in correspondence with the National Archives. “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. The constitutional protections of executive privilege should not be used to shield, from Congress or the public, information that reflects a clear and apparent effort to subvert the Constitution itself.”

    She added that the materials in question “shed light on events within the White House on and about January 6 and bear on the Select Committee’s need to understand the facts underlying the most serious attack on the operations of the Federal government since the Civil War.”

    As a practical matter, these decisions mean the White House has given the National Archives the green light to release materials — phone records, visitor logs, internal communications, etc. — to the congressional panel investigating the insurrectionist attack. It’s difficult to speculate about what those documents may contain, but we know Trump did not want to give lawmakers this access.

    Indeed, the former president’s lawyers filed suit last week — against the National Archives and the congressional committee — in the hopes of blocking disclosures.

    The litigation is not expected to succeed. As a recent NBC News report added, we may very well see “a legal showdown between the current and former president over executive privilege,” though the Republican “faces long legal odds” since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1977 that the incumbent president “is in the best position to assess the present and future needs of the Executive Branch.”

    Link

  176. tomh says

    U.S. Senate confirms voting rights advocate Perez to 2nd Circuit
    Nate Raymond / October 25, 2021

    (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate on Monday voted to confirm Myrna Perez to serve on the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, clearing the way for the voting rights expert to join the New York-based appellate court despite Republican objections to her past advocacy.

    The Democratic-controlled Senate voted 48-43 to approve Perez amid a push by the White House to install more civil rights lawyers to the federal bench and calls by progressives for greater protections for voting rights.

    Perez, who has been the director of the voting rights and election program at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, was the seventh of President Joe Biden’s 13 appellate nominees to win Senate confirmation so far.
    […]

    At the Brennan Center, Perez advocated against Republican-backed voting restrictions enacted in Georgia and Texas this year that she said “rest on the Big Lie, the disproven notion that there was mass voter fraud in 2020.”

    Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee largely opposed her nomination, with Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa calling her “the most outspoken liberal judicial nominee we’ve seen in this administration.”

    Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas in August called her “dangerous” and “radical” as he criticized her advocacy against voter ID laws and other Republican-backed measures.
    […]

    Biden has nominated two other judges to the 2nd Circuit. The Senate in August confirmed former public defender Eunice Lee to sit on the court, and the Senate Judiciary Committee last week advanced the nomination of Vermont Supreme Court Justice Beth Robinson.

    Two 2nd Circuit judges, U.S. Circuit Judges Jose Cabranes and Rosemary Pooler, recently announced they planned to take senior status, giving Biden a chance to install five of the court’s 13 active judges. Six are Republican appointees.

  177. blf says

    Facebook, YouTube take down Bolsonaro video with false vaccine claims:

    Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro found himself in social media time-out Monday after his video warning of a supposed link between Covid-19 vaccines and AIDS triggered action by Facebook and YouTube.

    Facebook removed the offending video, while YouTube went further, suspending the far-right leader for one week in addition to blocking the clip.

    […]

    Bolsonaro […] cited purported official reports from the British government — since debunked — in his weekly live address on Facebook last Thursday.

    He claimed the reports suggest that people who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 are developing Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome much faster than expected.

    I recommend you read the article, he added, without saying where the information came from.

    I’m not going to read it here, because I don’t want to lose my Facebook live video.

    […]

    The British government denied any such “reports” cited by Bolsonaro, in response to an AFP fact-checking team.

    The Brazilian Society of Infectious Disease Specialists said in a statement there was no evidence of any relationship between Covid-19 vaccines and AIDS.

    […]

    Frustratingly, France24 does not provide a link to the apparent debunking, and some admittedly quick searching has not located any debunking (not even at the AFP’s fact-checking site).

    I assume the claim is a hugely garbled variant of a report in Science (or its source, The Lancet, both of which are privately-owned journals, not the British government), Could certain COVID-19 vaccines leave people more vulnerable to the AIDS virus?:

    Cold-causing adenovirus used in four experimental COVID-19 vaccines increased risk of HIV infection when used in AIDS vaccine trials

    Certain COVID-19 vaccine candidates could increase susceptibility to HIV, warns a group of researchers who in 2007 learned that an experimental HIV vaccine had raised in some people the risk for infection with the AIDS virus. These concerns have percolated in the background of the race for a vaccine to stem the coronavirus pandemic, but now the researchers have gone public with a “cautionary tale,” in part because trials of those candidates may soon begin in locales that have pronounced HIV epidemics, such as South Africa.

    Some approved and experimental vaccines have as a backbone a variety of adenoviruses, which can cause the common cold but are often harmless. The ill-fated HIV vaccine trial used an engineered strain known as adenovirus 5 (Ad5) to shuttle into the body the gene for the surface protein of the AIDS virus. In four candidate COVID-19 vaccines now in clinical trials in several countries, including the United States, Ad5 similarly serves as the “vector” to carry in the surface protein gene of SARS-CoV-2, the viral cause of the pandemic; two of these have advanced to large-scale, phase III efficacy studies in Russia and Pakistan.

    In today’s issue of The Lancet, four veteran researchers raise a warning flag about those COVID-19 vaccine candidates by recounting their experience running a placebo-controlled AIDS vaccine trial dubbed STEP. An interim analysis of STEP found that uncircumcised men who had been naturally infected with Ad5 before receiving the vaccine became especially vulnerable to the AIDS virus. The vaccine, made by Merck, had been the leading hope for what was then a 20-year search for a shot that could thwart HIV. But after the STEP results appeared, the field went into a tailspin. […]

    In addition to the Ad5 COVID-19 vaccine candidates, several other leading vaccines, including ones made by Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca / the University of Oxford, use different adenoviruses as vectors. There’s no evidence that any of those adenoviruses increases the risks of an HIV infection.

    […]

    Russia’s Sputnik V uses Ad5, and so some countries have suspended its use as a precautionary measure (e.g., Namibia to suspend use of Russian COVID-19 vaccine).

    Also, apparently, an Ozland Covid vaccine candidate was scuppered because it resulted in false-positive HIV tests, Australia ends local COVID vaccine trials due to HIV false positives (December 2020), but this doesn’t seem to have had anything to do with Ad5.

    No-one other than kooks — which certainly includes Bolsonaro — is claiming that any Covid-19 vaccine causes HIV / AIDS, or even is a known risk. At the moment, the Ad5 concern is a prudent warning of a bad result in the past.

  178. blf says

    This is a rarity, a zero-star review, Sex: Unzipped review — perverse Sesame Street is a TV disgrace. The conclusion of the fairly short review:

    I understand, of course, that a thrown-together piece of crap like Sex: Unzipped is not the place to find nuanced takes on issues such as sexual exploitation, sex workers rights or anything else suffused with such complexity. In which case, they should be off the table completely, not presented in a way that blithely assumes consensus.

    Zip it back up.

    I’ve been unable to determine how many zero-stars reviews the Grauniad has awarded.
    Apparently, Roger Ebert has awarded only c.60 out of c.10,000 reviews (Roger Ebert’s Zero-Star Movies).

  179. says

    Joe Manchin moved the goalposts … again.

    President Joe Biden will be representing the U.S. at the global climate summit in Glasgow beginning Sunday, where he will have to explain to all the world leaders that while the majority of American people want to take action to eliminate carbon emissions, one member of his own party is thwarting his—and the whole country’s—will. Around 60% of Americans think the pace of global warming is accelerating, and 55% want Congress to pass legislation to transition electricity generation to clean processes, away from gas and coal-fired plants, according to a new survey […]

    While Biden is preparing for the summit, Sen. Joe Manchin is moving more goalposts for the big social, climate, and economic agenda Biden and the Democrats in Congress are trying to complete. Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, had already succeeded in stripping the most effective climate provision in the package. The Clean Electricity Performance Program (CEPP) would have rewarded utilities for making the transition and penalize those that don’t. That’s out. Then on Monday, news broke that Manchin was also demanding that the proposal to impose a methane fee on U.S. oil and gas producers has to be stripped. That would be penalizing the industry for pumping the planet-warming gas into the atmosphere and Manchin is opposed. His colleagues are now scrambling to find a compromise, which will probably involve giving the industry money: “providing $700 million in funding that would be rebated to oil and gas producers to help them comply with the fee,” according to a Washington Post source.

    While Manchin is intent on giving more money to the climate-destroying fossil fuel industry, he also came out Monday telling the press that he will not agree to spending money to make life and health better for his—or anyone else’s—constituents. Right out of the gate Monday, Manchin contradicted reports from the White House and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer that talks with Biden, Schumer, and Manchin on Sunday were productive and that Manchin was moving off of this $1.5 trillion cap for the package and they were considering as much as $2 trillion. Nope, he said. It’s $1.5, and by the way, that shouldn’t include Medicare and Medicaid expansion. [Oh, FFS.]

    “I’m concerned about an awful lot of things,” Manchin told reporters. Those things aren’t how much carbon the industry that funds him is pouring into the atmosphere, or how much he wants to reward them for doing so. No, he’s concerned about pinching social services pennies—he doesn’t want any of those undeserving people feeling like they should have health care or something.[…]

    the fight will be making sure that the two bills are voted on together and that Manchin and Sinema don’t pull the rug out from under them [out from under all the other Democrats, including the progressives], because they’re prepared to get whatever they can get out of the larger bill.

    Link

  180. says

    Wonkette: “Fox News Apparently Pro-Riot Now So Long As It’s About Spreading COVID-19”

    Anti-vax protesters swarmed New York City’s Barclay Center Sunday in support of Brooklyn Nets player Kyrie Irving, who they seem to believe has a constitutional right to play professional basketball while unvaccinated. Muhammad Ali was a courageous conscientious objector to an unjust war, and Irving is, well, a goofball who objects to needles.

    According to the New York Post’s Brian Lewis, the protesters chanted “Stand with Kyrie” (I hope not too closely). I’d love to know how those anti-vax protesters felt about the NFL blackballing Colin Kaepernick because he knelt during the National Anthem. […]

    Fox News host Brian Kilmeade opposed Kaepernick’s peaceful protest and wasn’t even sure what he was so upset about. After all, hadn’t America bestowed upon him two white parents? However, Kilmeade expressed his support Monday for Irving’s childish refusal to protect himself and his teammates from a deadly virus. He even thanked the rally organizer John Matland:

    There’s so many great people who feel the same way about the vaccine, on all different education, all different backgrounds; they just are not being listened to. John, thanks for standing up, appreciate what you’re doing.

    Kilmeade admitted that the anti-vaccine mob that tried to storm the Barclay Center like it was the Capitol in January “got a little overzealous,” which he doesn’t support. Amazingly, he’s able to distinguish between the lawful protesters and the violent mob. They aren’t all collectively terrorists. Of course, last September, Kilmeade wanted to round up police violence protesters and treat them like al-Qaeda. […]

    Matland told Kilmeade unprompted that his protest this weekend was in partnership with Black Lives Matter of Greater New York, a designer imposter fringe group with no official connection with the Black Lives Matter Global Network. Last summer, Fox News promoted controversial statements from BLM New York leader Walter “Hawk” Newsome in ongoing efforts to smear the entire movement. Donald Trump denounced a quote from Newsome as “Treason, Sedition, Insurrection!” (The answer to this “Jeopardy!” question is “What are three things that Trump himself would attempt in a few months?”)

    During the love-fest interview, Kilmeade never mentioned that Matland had teamed up with a group that his own network had claimed wanted all cops dead. That should tell you all you need to know about Fox News. […]

    Monday, former professional boxer Floyd Mayweather tweeted his support for Irving in a video where he declared that “America is the land of the free. Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and supposedly, freedom to choose.”

    Yeah, if you’ve raised a teenager, you can guess where this goes.

    Choice is defined as an act of selecting or making a decision when faced with two or more possibilities. America gave us the choice to take the vaccine or not take the vaccine. As time moves on, that choice is gradually being stripped from us.

    This definition of choice is incredibly juvenile and thus very American. If your choices have consequences, they argue, you’re not free at all. This is the core of the problem with anti-vaxxers. They want to make choices that impact others but they protest most bitterly if anyone freely responds to that choice. As the great American rapper Thomas Jefferson said, “Every action has an equal opposite reaction.”

    Anti-vaxxers have freely made their choice. They must accept the consequences […] Their willful ignorance is quite simply a deadly choice.

    Link

    Videos are available at the link.

  181. says

    Wonkette: “MyPillow Guy Has Very Exciting Thanksgiving Prophecy To Share!”

    Steve Bannon, he is this guy who is made of matted rodent hair, and he’s been referred to the Justice Department for contempt of Congress for failing to cooperate with the January 6 committee.

    But he’s got time to have the MyPillow guy on his show to talk about overturning the election their favorite loser lost. Yes, still, even after all Mike Lindell’s prophecies have failed to come true, these people are still working their grift, and now Lindell says the Supreme Court is going to do the thing with the election on Thanksgiving week.

    But listen, because it’s even more than that. On a recent episode of the Steve Bannon podcast, Lindell announced that on his weird Frank website, he will be doing a MANY DAY Thanksgiving telecast, of all the proof the election was stolen from Dear Leader Trump. And Steve Bannon says for this Lindell is a “genius” and that there are going to be “fistfights” at all the dinner tables, because of the wonders the MyPillow guy has revealed.

    You betcha. […]

    Let them explain:

    LINDELL: This is absolutely the biggest cover-up for the biggest crime in history. And it’s really sad. I cannot wait to drop this Supreme Court case the Tuesday at 9 a.m. before Thanksgiving and the whole world is going to be watching all this unfold over Thanksgiving.
    The whole world.

    LINDELL: And we’re actually gonna do a marathon, Steve, from Wednesday night of Thanksgiving all the way through to Sunday on FrankSpeech dot com.

    In case you were wondering if anybody had actually invited Mike Lindell to share a Thanksgiving meal. Looks like he may have gone ahead and made some plans for himself.

    At this point Bannon told Lindell to “slow down” — with a smirk on his face, it should be noted, not that we are suggesting he doesn’t actually believe Lindell’s conspiracy theories in his heart — and clarified that Lindell was saying that on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, he was going to drop a lawsuit that will have “some sort of sponsorship or somebody who’s got standing that’s not Mike Lindell.” Was Mike Lindell really saying a state’s attorney general was going to sign on to this? Yes, he said! And why would anybody doubt him? His prophecies have always come true before. And it’s going to be “9-0,” Lindell said, that the Supreme Court would at least want to look at his very good lawsuit.

    AND THEN:

    LINDELL: And you’re going to be sitting around the table — this is very important to our country and the world — everyone can be sitting around the table and going, ‘Hey, what do you think of that? You think the Supreme Court is going to accept it and protect our country like they’re supposed to?’

    Totally.

    BANNON: What I love about this — they said, hey, if you just get Trump out, orange man bad, and you get Biden, you can start having holidays again without arguing at the table and at each other’s throats.

    But Mike Lindell comes in, and he’s going to go the Wednesday, the eve of Thanksgiving, on a marathon, so you can go back and have fistfights. The family squabbles. Lindell, you’re a genius!

    Steve Bannon is fantasizing about fistfights at Thanksgiving tables because America’s families are sitting together watching FrankSpeech dot com. And he’s calling the MyPillow Guy a genius.

    But no, Lindell protested, there would not be fistfights, because the delusional squirrels who live in his butt actually believe his Thanksgiving broadcast is going to bring America together, and here’s why:

    LINDELL: No, no, no it’s different now! Thirty-some percent of Democrats now believe this country was stoled and through the machines. This is going to be a uniting! Not a dividing!

    Like we said, delusional squirrels.

    And we swear to God it sounded like he said “stoled,” so we’re going with it, with the proviso that we could have heard it wrong.

    Wonkette predicts Lindell’s Thanksgiving prophecy will fail to come true just in time for him to issue a new Christmas prophecy […]

    Link

    Video is available at the link.

  182. says

    Wonkette: “Mitt Romney Warns That Taxing Billionaires Will Force Them To Buy More Ranches, Paintings, Unicorns”

    Democrats are looking for ways to fund President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda now that Senator Kyrsten Sinema from Sinema-Land opposes rolling back the huge Trump tax cuts for the wealthy that she voted against four years ago. It’s hard to find a spare trillion these days, but Democrats think they can shake down the marginalized billionaire class.

    The New York Times reports:

    Billionaires could be taxed on unrealized capital gains on their liquid assets, Democratic officials said yesterday. It would affect people with $1 billion in assets or those who have reported at least $100 million in income for three consecutive years, according to news reports. That would ensnare perhaps 700 taxpayers — or the wealthiest 0.0002 percent — but Democrats hope it would generate at least $200 billion in revenue over a decade.

    It’s unclear why the Times used the verb “ensnare,” like Democrats are setting up bear traps for these poor billionaires. This seems like a solid plan […] Let’s consult with almost-billionaire Mitt Romney, who’s forced to work past retirement age to provide car elevators for his family. The senator from Utah explained on Fox News yesterday why taxing billionaires is a terrible idea. […]

    ROMNEY: It’s not a good idea to tell billionaires don’t come to America, don’t start your business here.

    This is a common rhetorical dodge for rich people who want to dodge taxes. Their patriotism is apparently so transactional, they won’t stay in the country if taxed at a level they’re unlikely to feel in any real sense. Meanwhile, no Democrat seriously suggests that working people will flee the country and settle somewhere that actually provides universal child care, paid family leave, and affordable health care.

    Romney claimed that higher taxes for billionaires would convince the “Steve Jobs and the Bill Gates and people like that” to go somewhere else. Jobs and Gates both started as normal mortals who made their fortune in America, thanks to the contributions and hard work from their fellow Americans. It’s not too much to ask that billionaires not abandon their countrymen because they don’t like a capital gains tax. […]

    Then Romney reminded us of simpler times when Democrats didn’t run against fake populists like Donald Trump but unabashed cartoon plutocrats like Romney himself. Every time Mittens opened his gold-plated mouth in 2012, Barack Obama’s polls numbers improved in the Rust Belt.

    ROMNEY: You’re going to tax people not when they sell something but just when they own it and the value goes up. And what that means is … these multi-billionaires are going to look and say, “I don’t want to invest in the stock market, because if that goes up, I’m gonna get taxed!” So maybe instead I’ll invest in a ranch or paintings or things that don’t build jobs.

    How does Romney think ranches even work if he claims that “investing” in them wouldn’t create jobs? […] You have cattle to rustle and horses to groom.

    Paintings probably do require less maintenance and upkeep, but I’m imagining a rich asshole dropping a million on a painting from some artist who died broke in a rat-infested apartment and hanging it in a room of a house they visit once a year, all the while thinking, “I’m so clever for avoiding that extra tax that might’ve funded child care.”

    That’s what this is all about. Senator Joe Manchin wants to put an income cap of $60,000 on the child tax credit, which is arbitrary and would penalize families making $61,000 instead of $59,500. (It would also raise taxes on families making between $60,000 and $150,000, the current cap.) That’s real life and real money, while billionaires would play games with paintings and ranches rather than help less fortunate people. Of course, when you’re among the wealthiest 0.0002 percent, almost everyone’s less fortunate.

    Romney’s spiel does make another compelling argument in favor of Elizabeth Warren’s straightforward soak-the-rich tax. Thanks, Senator.

    Link

    Video is available at the link.

  183. says

    Trump Tells January 6th Panel He Has Diplomatic Immunity as Russian Official

    In his latest bid to prevent the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack from obtaining relevant documents, Donald Trump has claimed diplomatic immunity in his capacity as a representative of the Russian government.

    According to Trump’s legal argument, his status as a Russian official during his four years in the White House makes all documents produced during his tenure property of the Russian Federation.

    “Any attempt by the U.S. to seize Russian property will be seen as an act of war,” a letter from Trump’s legal team reads.

    While Trump waits to see if his claim of diplomatic immunity succeeds, he is also prepared to argue that, having once hired Rudolph Giuliani as his attorney, he would be justified in pleading insanity.

    New Yorker link

  184. says

    Vaccine news from NBC News:

    A smaller dose of Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine cleared its first regulatory hurdle Tuesday for use in young children, after a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee voted to recommend it for emergency use authorization for those ages 5 to 11.

  185. says

    Five points for anger, one for a ‘like’: How Facebook’s formula fostered rage and misinformation.

    <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/10/26/facebook-angry-emoji-algorithm/"Washington Post link

    Five years ago, Facebook gave its users five new ways to react to a post in their news feed beyond the iconic “like” thumbs-up: “love,” “haha,” “wow,” “sad” and “angry.”

    Behind the scenes, Facebook programmed the algorithm that decides what people see in their news feeds to use the reaction emoji as signals to push more emotional and provocative content — including content likely to make them angry. Starting in 2017, Facebook’s ranking algorithm treated emoji reactions as five times more valuable than “likes,” internal documents reveal. The theory was simple: Posts that prompted lots of reaction emoji tended to keep users more engaged, and keeping users engaged was the key to Facebook’s business.

    Facebook’s own researchers were quick to suspect a critical flaw. Favoring “controversial” posts — including those that make users angry — could open “the door to more spam/abuse/clickbait inadvertently,” a staffer, whose name was redacted, wrote in one of the internal documents. A colleague responded, “It’s possible.”
    The warning proved prescient. The company’s data scientists confirmed in 2019 that posts that sparked angry reaction emoji were disproportionately likely to include misinformation, toxicity and low-quality news.

    That means Facebook for three years systematically amped up some of the worst of its platform, making it more prominent in users’ feeds and spreading it to a much wider audience. The power of the algorithmic promotion undermined the efforts of Facebook’s content moderators and integrity teams, who were fighting an uphill battle against toxic and harmful content. […]

  186. tomh says

    The Supreme Court is about to decide whether states can blatantly ignore the Constitution
    Erwin Chemerinsky / October 27, 2021
    Erwin Chemerinsky is dean and professor of law at the UC Berkeley School of Law.

    The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Monday in two cases challenging a Texas law that prohibits abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy. The stakes in these cases are great not only for the future of Roe v. Wade but also for the ability of states to violate the U.S. Constitution.

    No one disputes that Texas’ Senate Bill 8 blatantly violates the Constitution. The Supreme Court has ruled for almost 50 years that states cannot prohibit abortions until a fetus is viable — about the 24th week of pregnancy. Yet the Texas law prohibits abortions far earlier than that. Until and unless Roe v. Wade is overruled, the Texas law is unconstitutional and should be enjoined.

    Twice, federal district courts have done exactly that and issued preliminary injunctions to keep the Texas law from going into effect. In each instance, on Sept. 1 and last week, the Supreme Court refused to enjoin the law…

    How can this be? Texas says that neither it nor any government officials can be sued to enjoin the law because they play no role in enforcing the statute. Texas argues that the only way to challenge the law would be for a doctor to violate it and argue, as a defense, that the law is unconstitutional…

    Texas says no court can consider the constitutionality of the law or issue an injunction against it, but this surely cannot be right. The court has repeatedly said people don’t need to violate a law in order to challenge its constitutionality.

    The two cases to be heard by the court on Monday thus raise the question of whether a state can adopt an unconstitutional law and immunize it from being enjoined by any court.

    One of the challenges was brought by Whole Woman’s Health, a facility that performs abortions, and asks whether state officers could be sued to enjoin the statute. The other case was brought by the U.S. government on behalf of Texas women. The issue before the court is whether the federal government has standing to sue a state when it’s violating the constitutional rights of its residents.

    …..That means the consequences are far greater than just abortion rights: If no one can bring a suit challenging a state law authorizing civil suits, then states can adopt laws creating liability for the exercise of any constitutional right. As a consequence, states could, for example, adopt a law authorizing suits against those performing same-sex weddings, even though there’s a constitutional right to marriage equality.

    The outcome of the cases before the Supreme Court would be obvious and clear — states cannot disobey the Constitution — except that the cases arise in the context of abortion. And a majority of the justices on the court have already shown that they are opposed to constitutional protection for abortion rights.

    It’s hard to overstate the significance of what will be argued next week, which is ultimately about whether a state can flout the Constitution. If no one can sue to enjoin an unconstitutional law, what is left of the supremacy of the Constitution and the rule of law?

  187. says

    Yeah, this guy is all over the place.

    Eastman Memo author reverses his reversal on anti-election pitch

    After describing his own memo’s strategy as “crazy,” John Eastman quietly said there’s “no question” that he sees his memo’s legal reasoning as sound.

    […] John Eastman has had a busy 12 months. [Trump saw] him on Fox News and was impressed — and as part of that work, Eastman filed the brief last December on Trump’s behalf that asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the 2020 presidential election. (It was filled with factual errors — including an obvious one literally on the first page.)

    Soon after, he authored what’s become known as the Eastman Memo, which was effectively a blueprint Republican officials could follow to reject the results of the U.S. election and keep the losing candidate in power. […]

    Eastman even spoke at the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally ahead of the insurrectionist attack on the Capitol.

    But nearly a year later, as the Eastman Memo becomes more scandalous, its author has decided to distance himself from his own bananas legal strategy. Eastman spoke last week to National Review, a conservative magazine, and argued that the memo that bears his name “does not accurately represent” his views.

    …Eastman now tells National Review in an interview that the first of the two strategies Giuliani highlighted on stage — having Pence reject electoral votes — was not “viable” and would have been “crazy” to pursue.

    Asked about his memo’s assertion that the vice president was the “ultimate arbiter” of deciding whether to count Electoral College votes, Eastman added, “This is where I disagree. I don’t think that’s true.”

    As for the blueprint he sketched out after the election, the Republican lawyer went on to tell National Review, “[A]nybody who thinks that that’s a viable strategy is crazy.”

    […] as Rachel noted on the show last week, it was heartening, at least to a degree, to see him back away from his own work. It suggested that Eastman recognized just how problematic it was to serve as the architect of a plan that, if implemented, could’ve paved the way for a coup.

    […] facing calls for his disbarment, Eastman effectively told a conservative publication that he didn’t stand by his own work in the Eastman Memo. There was, however, a slight problem: Eastman may not have been entirely sincere in his comments to National Review.

    Lauren Windsor is a progressive activist known for catching GOP officials saying provocative things as part of hidden-camera interviews. She’ll approach important Republican figures, pretend to be an ally, make flattering comments, and then record her targets making candid comments.

    As Rachel explained last night, Windsor caught up with Eastman the day after the National Review report was published, and with a little prodding, the conservative lawyer said his memo wasn’t “crazy” at all.

    In fact, Eastman boasted that there’s “no question” his memo’s legal reasoning was sound and that the only reason Pence and other Republicans didn’t follow his blueprint is that they’re members of a political “establishment,” enjoying “cushy” lifestyles in D.C.

    This is clearly not what the lawyer told National Review.

    […] The Washington Post reported overnight that the bipartisan House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack is now expected to subpoena Eastman.

    The article added, “Eastman told The Washington Post last week that he had not been contacted by the panel investigating the insurrection, but a person familiar with the select committee’s work disputed that claim and said investigators have been in touch with Eastman.”

    Eastman is also a liar. He lied to the National Review. He lied to The Washington Post. Good thing we have his actual memo in black and white.

  188. says

    Marjorie Taylor Greene says more about Jan. 6 than she probably intended

    As Donald Trump and his partisan allies got to work rewriting the history of Jan. 6, they targeted core truths about the attack on the Capitol. It wasn’t a “riot,” they said, it should instead be seen as a “protest.” Those responsible for the violence shouldn’t be seen as insurrectionists, they added, but rather as innocent tourists who are being unfairly persecuted.

    With this in mind, it came as a bit of a surprise this week when Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia said largely the opposite — for a deeply unfortunate reason. As a Washington Post analysis noted:

    During an appearance on conservative outlet Real America’s Voice, Greene repeated a frequent GOP talking point that the real focus of congressional investigators should be violence at Black Lives Matter protests in 2020. But while doing so, she essentially suggested the Capitol riot comported with our Founding Fathers’ vision. “[The racial-justice protest violence] was an attack on innocent American people, whereas Jan. 6 was just a riot at the Capitol,” she said. “And if you think about what our Declaration of Independence says, it says to overthrow tyrants.”

    I’ll confess, “just a riot” is one of those phrases I don’t generally expect to hear from members of Congress.

    There’s quite a bit wrong with the far-right Georgian’s perspective, starting with the obvious problem that elected lawmakers tasked with certifying the results of a free and fair election were not, in reality, “tyrants.” […]

    But taking a step further, note that Greene didn’t just draw an absurd historical parallel, she also took steps to justify political violence. Look at the quote again: “[The racial-justice protest violence] was an attack on innocent American people, whereas Jan. 6 was just a riot at the Capitol.”

    It’s an argument rooted in the belief that when those other people commit acts of violence, it’s an unforgiveable attack, but when people on my side commit acts of violence, it’s defensible, even admirable, and entirely consistent with American traditions.

    Greene is giving voice to the idea that Jan. 6 was an insurrection — and that’s OK. […]

  189. says

    How did a Pulitzer Prize winning Toni Morrison novel become a defining issue of Virginia’s gubernatorial campaign?

    […] the defining issue of Virginia’s closely watched gubernatorial race has changed more than once. The contest was going to hinge on the candidates’ ability to address the pandemic. Or maybe the economy. Or reproductive rights. Perhaps it would come down to a referendum on President Joe Biden. Or his predecessor.

    The race was not supposed to be defined by a novel from the 1980s. And yet, as NBC News noted yesterday, here we are.

    One of the great American novels that recounts the horrors of slavery has erupted as a flashpoint in the closing days of Virginia’s race for governor, with Democrat Terry McAuliffe and his allies accusing Republican Glenn Youngkin of “racist” campaigning. Toni Morrison’s “Beloved” is staple of high school English programs, but a parent who advocated it be banned from Virginia schools appeared in a new Youngkin ad released Monday.

    The impetus for the new attack ad was a comment McAuliffe made in a debate last month: “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” In context, it didn’t seem especially controversial: The idea that a small group of extremist parents, for example, should exercise veto power over what students learn about science, civics, history, and art is a recipe for educational chaos.

    But the former governor’s critics nevertheless pounced. McAuliffe, the argument went, is trying to marginalize parents. For Youngkin, a new, defining issue had arrived: The Republican would empower parents, not educators, to shape school curricula, while his Democratic rival would not.

    This week, this pitch was crystalized in a commercial. […] Viewers were introduced to a woman named Laura Murphy who says her son was traumatized by offensive “reading material” he’d been assigned in school. She lobbied in support of measures that would’ve required schools to notify parents about “explicit” assignments and require teachers to make alternative arrangements in response to parental objections.

    McAuliffe, Murphy explained in the ad, vetoed these efforts.

    […] Those who see the commercial aren’t getting the whole story. Murphy, a Republican donor, was describing a 2013 incident in which Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel had been assigned in her son’s Advanced Placement English course for high school seniors. There’s no denying the fact that the fictional work about slavery is challenging and upsetting, but that’s the point: In an AP English class, students should expect to read difficult content.

    As for how this relates to the final week of Virginia’s gubernatorial campaign, voters are apparently supposed to believe that a vote for Youngkin is a vote for empowering GOP activists to cancel literary classics, written by Nobel laureates, in English classes.

    Polls show a race that is effectively tied. Election Day in the commonwealth is just six days away.

    AP classes are, essentially, college courses offered to exceptional high school students. The “child” in question was a high school senior, but that fact does not appear in the Republican political ad.

  190. Paul K says

    And schools that offer AP classes are not, I believe, allowed to pick and choose which materials they cover. The courses are offered by an outside, private company. The AP exams that follow the courses are the same across the country, so it makes sense that the curriculum would have to be the same everywhere, too. I have problems with the whole AP process (my son took some courses, and I’m on the school board), but this argument is ridiculous.

  191. says

    Wonkette: “rump Tech LOLsuits Going Exactly As Well As You Expect”

    In July, Donald Trump held a batshit presser to announce that he was filing a bunch of batshit LOLsuits against Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook for tortiously deplatforming him in violation of his sacred First Amendment rights. And he filed them in federal court in Florida, despite all three platforms having forum selection clauses in their terms of service that require all claims to be adjudicated in California and under California law.

    The theory of these cases — if indeed this drivel rises to the term — is that the tech platforms are actually the government, and thus when they booted him, it was mean Democrats doing unlegal censorships. Not deterred by facts or logic, Trump also argued that he himself was the government, and thus could not be constrained by mere terms of service and forum selection clauses like a common mortal.

    “Defendant’s Motion [to transfer the case to California] should be denied because the forum selection clause in Defendant’s TOS does not apply to Plaintiff, who at all times relevant to this dispute was the sitting President of the United States and the head of the Executive Branch of the federal government,” he argued in the Twitter case.

    Astute observers will note that “this dispute” was filed in July, when the plaintiff was most definitely not “the sitting President of the United States.” And even if he were, that would make this a case of the government censoring itself, and thus not an issue of First Amendment law. But we don’t need to engage in a meta-analysis here, since the thing is just garbage on its face. [LOL]

    Certainly the courts thought so, with US District Judge Michael Moore bouncing the YouTube suit off his docket on October 6.

    “To begin, the Court need not reach the issue of whether the United States or its officials can be bound by a forum-selection clause because, in this case, there is no federal agency or entity that is a party to this case,” he wrote, noting that “Plaintiff Trump agreed to the TOS in his individual capacity, has brought this suit in his individual capacity, and is seeking the restoration of his YouTube account in his individual capacity.”

    US District Judge Robert Scola Jr. was even more scathing yesterday when he yeeted the Twitter suit, going through the five statutes and cases cited by Trump’s crack legal team and pointing out that not one of them had anything to do with the instant claim.

    Even assuming that Trump was using his account in his official capacity, Trump has not advanced any legal authority to support his contention that he satisfies the second requirement of the exemption: that he is “legally unable to accept the controlling law, jurisdiction, or venue clauses. . .” The response in opposition cites several regulations to show that Trump was legally prohibited from accepting the forum selection clause at issue. (Resp. in Opp’n, ECF No. 58 at 9.) However, after a careful review of the citations, the Court finds that not one prevents Trump for accepting the forum selection clause.

    Trump’s tweets were collected at the National Archive, so Twitter’s forum selection clause, which he both agreed to and sues under as a private citizen, doesn’t apply? GTFOH.

    Nor were the judges impressed by the plaintiff’s attempt to Florida-ize the cases by adding a nonsensical claim under the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. Without professing an opinion as to whether Florida’s consumer protection law applies to social media platforms (it doesn’t), both judges expressed confidence that their California brethren would be well-equipped to interpret Florida statute if the need should arise.

    The motion to transfer the Facebook case is still pending, probably because the court hasn’t stopped laughing at the affidavits submitted last week from Alan Dershowitz and Corey Lewandowski splaining how the court just has to order Zuck to give Trump back his account right now or else.

    Dersh reminds the court that he used to teach at Harvard, gestures feebly in the direction of the the complaint and says, “I believe the allegations of the Complaints which I have reviewed raise serious, substantial legal issues some of which have not been heretofore litigated.” He’s also worried that “Unless preliminary relief is granted, it is likely that the censorship imposed by Facebook and Twitter will impact the 2022 elections.” Not for any specific reason, you know, he just feels it in his kishkes and wants the court to do something about it.

    As for Lewandowski, who was recently banished from Trumpland, he’s very sure that “President Trump’s continued absence from YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter constitutes a prior restraint in the vitality of the ‘marketplace of ideas’ in American politics.” Which has fuck all to do with the law, but perhaps we should cut Corey a break since he “runs 400 miles a week, and that’s why he can last for 8 hours in bed,” so he’s probably pretty tired.

    In summary and in conclusion, this is some weak shit lawyering, and now Trump is going to have to prosecute his weak shit claims in even more hostile territory. […].

    Link

  192. says

    Paul K @235, good points. Thanks for the additional information.

    In other news: some Fox News viewers are expressing the view that host Neil Cavuto should just die already. Why? Because he encouraged viewers to get vaccinated.

    Fox host Neil Cavuto is immunocompromised and has MS. He’s a cancer survivor. He’s been trying and trying and trying to get Fox viewers to get their damn COVID vaccines, after he got a breakthrough case. About getting COVID, he said, “Had I not been vaccinated, and with all my medical issues, this would be a far more dire situation.” He doesn’t want his viewers to die, for some reason.

    And now he’s back on the TV, and they played some of the viewer messages people left for him while he was away. Cavuto does this sometimes, with the viewer comments and the hate mail. Fox News watchers, of course, are as charming as they are literate. And because in this case it was Fox News watchers dealing with an immunocompromised person who is vaccinated, the messages ranged from their usual weird wingnut “jokes” to downright deranged. Oh yeah and a couple death threats. Totally normal. […]

    DION BAIA (PRODUCER): Our first email comes from John in New Orleans who says “heard you’re back on the show this week. That’s too bad.” So uh, that’s not very nice but I figured we’d kick it, start it off with a kicker.

    CAVUTO: That seems a little mean.

    BAIA: Yeah, I know I’m sorry but it wasn’t from me.

    Haw haw, too bad you’re back!

    And then there’s T.J., who just wishes Cavuto would kill himself.

    BAIA: We’ve got T.J. who also emails. “It’s clear you’ve lost some weight with all this stuff,” one person wrote in an email. “Good for you. But I’m not happy with less of you. I want none of you. I want you gone. Dead. Caput. Fini. Get it? Now, take your two-bit advice, deep-six it and you!”

    Oh, silly Fox watchers!

    What about Barbara? Barbara’s probably one of the nice ones:

    BAIA: We have another one from Barbara via Yahoo. “I admire your strength through so much adversity. But let me give you some advice shut up and enjoy the fact that you’re not dead. For now.”

    Shut up and enjoy not being dead for now […]

    So those two could definitely be construed as death threats, against the guy who pleaded with them to all get vaccinated because he doesn’t want them to die, and because he had contracted a virus that, if he weren’t vaccinated, likely would have killed him because of his health conditions.

    Then there was Vince. Bless Vince’s heart. […] tweet: “Hey guys I bought a new car after being told it was the best Then it blew up after I left the car lot So now I’m begging everyone to please buy the same car Sorry I’m just pretending to be Neil Cavuto” […]

    They only get smarter from there. Like the brain stallion who said, “Cavuto is the Tigger of talking heads: a head full of fluff, just not cool like Tigger.” Or the one who said, “When the asses gather, they call Cavuto boss…”

    What a job it must be, to work at Fox News as a marginally sane person. Just to be on the receiving end of the dripping dregs of humanity at all times.

    We just hope Cavuto’s team has forwarded all the important messages to the FBI, where they belong.

    Link

  193. says

    Wonkette: “Judge Not Sure If Men Kyle Rittenhouse Shot Are Victims Or Satisfied Bullet Recipients”

    Judge Bruce Schroeder, who’s presiding over Kyle Rittenhouse’s double murder case, set some ground rules on how lawyers can refer to the men Rittenhouse forcibly evicted from existence last summer. After the prosecution and defense made their last-minute motions, Judge Schroeder ruled that no one can refer to the three men Rittenhouse shot as “victims.”

    From ABC 7 Chicago:

    “The word ‘victim’ is a loaded, loaded word,” he said. “‘Alleged victim’ is a cousin to it.”

    “Victim” isn’t a loaded word. What’s loaded was the assault-style rifle he used to shoot three people. “Alleged victim” is literally the point of the trial. Rittenhouse is alleged to have committed first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide, and attempted first-degree intentional reckless homicide. (He’s also charged with violating the city’s temporary 7 p.m. curfew.) These charges, excluding the curfew violation, require victims, human beings who’d still be alive and/or unmaimed today if not for Rittenhouse.

    So, how can the prosecution and defense refer to the people Rittenhouse mowed down like dogs? Judge Schroeder is fine with rioters, looters, and arsonists. Those descriptors apparently have no negative connotations. […]

    The judge said, “If more than one of them were engaged in arson, rioting, looting, I’m not going to tell the defense you can’t call them that, “ to which I must retort, “Huh?” How can the defense prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the victims (fuck you, your honor) had committed these crimes? The jury came to see The Trial Of Kyle Rittenhouse. This is an entirely separate production the judge is trying to greenlight.

    It’s one thing for a defendant to testify that they felt their life was in danger, but Rittenhouse isn’t qualified to conclude that the people he shot were criminals. It’s arguably irrelevant because actual police officers (in theory) can’t summarily execute “rioters, looters, and arsonists.” […]

    public defender Olayemi Olurin at Legal Aid NYC had this to say:

    Prosecutors call every single complainant in every case, a victim. Even when there’s no allegation of violence and they’re talking misdemeanors. Now all of a sudden that’s too loaded a term to describe 2 people who were shot and killed by a white supremacist, wow.

    Perhaps even more appallingly, Judge Schroeder agreed to allow testimony from the defense’s use-of-force expert. The prosecution argued against this on the grounds that the teenage Rittenhouse isn’t a police officer. The judge will also let the jury see video that shows local police enthusiastically greeting Rittenhouse and armed militia members. The cops even gave RIttenhouse a bottle of water, because the last thing you want is a dehydrated murderer.

    “If the jury is being told, if the defendant is walking down the sidewalk and doing what he claims he was hired to do and police say good thing you’re here, is that something influencing the defendant and emboldening him in his behavior? That would be an argument for relevance,” the judge said.

    The fact that the police openly pal around with gun-toting vigilantes and white supremacists isn’t exculpatory. That evidence should be introduced during a separate internal affairs hearing.

    Rittenhouse never should’ve been in Kenosha that night and certainly not armed with a gun he wasn’t legally allowed to carry. Nonetheless, he’s expressed zero remorse over his actions and has seemingly embraced his newfound celebrity as a conservative darling.

    […] I have the sneaking suspicion that he’s going to walk, and escaping justice isn’t likely to humble him. […]

    Link

    PZ also posted about this. See How to commit violence using only your words

  194. says

    Wonkette: “We Bet Democracy Would Work Better If Election Officials Didn’t Fear Being Murdered”

    Until 2020, working in state elections offices tended to be a job for nerds who love doing good government, a matter of organization and administration and all sorts of basic competence that those of us with ADHD look at with wonder. It was one of those government jobs that seldom got much attention as long as the votes were counted and there weren’t long lines at the polls. […] And people who volunteered to work the polls and count the votes were generally treated as public-spirited folks […]

    Ah, but that was before Donald Trump and the craziest fringe elements on the Right started insisting that elections are rigged, even maybe in places Trump won […] So election workers just doing their jobs might find themselves getting constant death threats because the Gateway Pundit decided to name them and accuse them of stealing the election for Joe Biden.

    Yesterday, election officials testified to a Senate Rules Committee hearing on the threats they and their families have received for the crime of running clean elections. It’s pretty ugly stuff, as seen in these clips collected for last night’s “Rachel Maddow Show” on MSNBC. [video is available at the link]

    Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, who’s running for governor, said that orange jumpsuits had been mailed to her office, and that armed protesters had showed up outside her home, just to make clear that they knew where she lives. […]

    I never expected that holding this office would result in far-Right trolls threatening my children, threatening my husband’s employment at a children’s hospital or calling my office saying I deserve to die and asking, “What is she wearing today, so she’ll be easy to get.”

    Al Schmidt, a Republican who serves on the city commission and on the Philadelphia Board of Elections, testified that he’d received messages like “Tell the truth or your three kids will be fatally shot,” which included the children’s names, his home address, and a photo of his home, all reconnaissance-like because these guys love pretending they’re special ops commandos. Another email read “RINO stole election, we steal lives,” and still another threat to his family said “Cops can’t help you. heads on spikes, treasonous Schmidts.”

    Very fine people, those Trump supporters. […]

    Since last year’s election, the number of volunteers who say they won’t work the polls has increased, and as CNN notes,

    Nearly one in three local election workers said they felt unsafe because of their jobs, according to an April survey on behalf of the Brennan Center for Justice, with about 17% of those who responded saying they had received threats.

    CNN also interviewed several election administrators who have faced threats, including Hobbs, who said one man left messages on her office voicemail repeatedly saying “Die you bitch, die! Die you bitch, die!” and another patriot who said “I am a hunter — and I think you should be hunted. You will never be safe in Arizona again.”

    Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold pissed off MyPillow fans by investigating would-be election ratfucker Tina Peters, the county clerk of Mesa County. Peters has since been removed from any election duties after evidence indicated she’d been part of a scheme to leak password-protected election machine hard drives to fellow Q-Anon crazies. For keeping Colorado elections clean, Griswold has received her own threats, including a tweet reading “Bullet. That is a six letter word for you,” CNN reports:

    An email sent to her office over the summer read: “I’m really jonzing to see your purple face after you’ve been hanged.”

    Asked by CNN last week if she feels safe in her job and going about her days, Griswold paused for nearly 30 seconds before answering.

    “I take these threats very seriously,” she finally said, choosing her words carefully. “It’s absolutely getting worse,” she added.

    CNN also notes that several elections officials it contacted for the story begged off commenting, either because they’d been advised not to by security experts, because it might reveal vulnerabilities to people stalking them, or because they just found talking about it publicly too traumatizing. […]

    CNN:

    [A] person fantasizing about how great it would be to see an official get hurt is seen as protected under free speech, and isn’t the same as a person laying out a specific threat for how and when to hurt an official. That’s not much comfort to Griswold. “I realize that most of it is probably bluster, but what’s concerning is the one time it’s not,” she said.

    It also seems like a dubious distinction when considering whether to provide police protection to an official: Sure, you can’t arrest someone for a nonspecific wish of harm to an official, but you can certainly take action to prevent the official from being harmed.

    The Justice Department, CNN reports, is at least taking the threat seriously, and has set up a task force aimed at assessing and improving security for elections officials, although that effort is just getting underway this year, because why would the previous administration have wanted local officials to be safe from threats and intimidation?

    Yesterday’s hearing also highlighted the need to pass the Freedom to Vote Act, which in addition to setting national minimum standards to protect the vote also includes provisions making it a federal crime to threaten elections officials or to publish personal information on their families in an attempt to threaten or intimidate the officials. In an interview with Maddow last night, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) said that once the Build Back Better reconciliation bill is completed, the next goal has to be passing the Freedom to Vote Act, even if that means changing the filibuster.

    Or we could just let things keep going as they are, until nonpartisan election officials are all driven from their jobs and elections are run by QAnon.

    Link

  195. says

    In late July, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said all the right things about Covid-19 vaccines. Alas, a lot can happen in three months.

    By late July, Covid-19 was taking a severe toll in Alabama. Infection totals were starting to spike, state hospitals were filling, and death tolls were headed in a tragic direction. The state’s Republican governor, Kay Ivey, publicly pleaded with Alabamans to do the smart and responsible thing.

    “I want folks to get vaccinated. That’s the cure. That prevents everything,” Ivey told reporters on July 23. She added, “Let’s get it done. And we know what it takes to get it done…. Folks [are] supposed to have common sense.”

    The governor went to assure the public that the vaccines are safe, effective, free, and life-saving.

    “[I]t’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks,” Ivey concluded, adding, “It’s the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down.”

    For those focused on ending the pandemic, her rhetoric was welcome and easy to applaud. Here was a conservative Republican governor in one of the nation’s reddest states delivering an important message in plain terms. Even the Biden White House endorsed the Alabaman’s message.

    A lot can change in three months. The Associated Press reported this week:

    Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey on Monday directed state agencies not to cooperate with the federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate, where possible, and instead help with the state’s efforts to file a lawsuit challenging the vaccination requirements…. Ivey signed an executive order forbidding executive branch agencies — which include agencies such as Medicaid, Mental Health and Human Resources — from penalizing employees or businesses for non-compliance with the federal vaccine mandate. If federal law requires the penalty, Ivey directed the state entity to take steps to notify the affected business or individual that Alabama does not condone the penalty.

    It’s a bit jarring to compare the governor’s competing approaches. In July, Ivey couldn’t have been more enthusiastic about vaccines. It was “common sense.” It was “time to start blaming” those who resisted — because they were letting Alabama down.

    But in October, confronted with a stubborn pandemic and evidence that vaccine requirements are effective, Ivey is going to great lengths to make sure her state resists the White House’s vaccine policy in every way possible.

    The AP report added:

    In a statement Monday, the Alabama Democratic Party said vaccine mandates are “nothing new,” noting that states and the federal governments mandate a number of things to protect people — including seat belts, restaurant inspections and numerous other vaccinations that are required to go to school or join the military. “What’s wrong with a mandate that protects public health and keeps our hospitals from overcrowding?” the party stated.

    That need not be a rhetorical question.

  196. says

    Follow-up to comment 231.

    Eastman Spins Wild Tales Of Jan. 6 As A Trap Sprung By Media And FB

    […] In new video released Wednesday, Eastman took on a more conspiratorial cast, wildly claiming that the Jan. 6 insurrection was a “setup.”

    Who was behind the setup? Eastman claims it’s the FBI and big media.

    […] Eastman cited a debunked right-wing conspiracy theory that an “antifa guy” had been paid thousands of dollars by CNN to break into the Capitol for footage of the siege. In reality, the FBI Director Chris Wray has said there is no evidence that antifa (a broad term for anti-fascism that isn’t identified as a solid group) was involved in the Capitol attack, nor is there evidence that CNN or any other outlet paid anyone to ransack the Capitol.

    Eastman also baselessly claimed that the feds had infiltrated the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys, two right-wing extremist groups with members who’ve been arrested in connection to the attack, to spark the violence that day and lay a “trap.”

    “The Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys had not just wallflowers sitting on the side of the organization, but people instigating within the association, FBI plants,” Eastman told the activists. “It was a setup. And unfortunately our guys walked into the trap.”

    Eastman had joined Rudy Giuliani onstage at the pro-Trump rally in D.C. that preceded the storming of the Capitol.

    During his speech, Eastman peddled lies about the 2020 election being tainted by “fraud” before he directly called out Pence and demanded that the then-vice president have GOP-controlled state legislatures “look into” the election results (a key component of Eastman’s plot detailed in his infamous memo to Trump). […]

    Posted by readers of the article:

    So much easier to tell the truth, if we learn nothing else from this numbskull.

    Keeping lies and half-truths straight is a hell of a lot of work that is totally unnecessary.

    Of course, maybe if he just shut up about it, he wouldn’t have so much difficulty.
    ————————
    Isn’t bizarre conspiratorial thinking one of the symptoms of certain types of dementia? Is that what is going on with Giuliani and Eastman and Trump?
    ————————-
    Seems like Eastman is in line with Trump’s other so-called “lawyers” and setting himself up for yet another disbarment.
    ————————
    JFC these people are stupid. That’s the tell: if they’ll work for Donald, they’re either insane egomaniacs (Bannon), drunken crooks (Giuliani), sociopathic propagandists (Miller x2), or Dunning-Krueger poster children (this dipshit).
    ————————-
    at a certain point … Eastman will be successful in his effort to demonstrate his own mental incompetence … appears that he is closing in on this goal.

  197. blf says

    Nasa/JPL’s Mars helicopter Ingenuity successfully completed its 14th(!) flight. This very short flight was a test that higher rotor speeds work, as a means of dealing with the seasonal thinning of the Martian atmosphere. A previous test before Solar conjunction in late September self-aborted due to an apparently still unexplained anomaly.

  198. says

    blf @243 thanks for keeping us up to date on the little helicopter that could. Inspiring.

    In other news, Republican dunderheads continue to stoke violence:

    There are two things to know about the Republican Party’s organized attack on non-corrupt secretaries of state and other state election officials. The first is that it is resulting in more chaos in more places than you might think. The second is that it is working. It is having exactly the effects Republican lawmakers and party leaders intended when they grabbed hold of Donald Trump’s absolutely false hoaxes claiming a random and varying assortment of supposed election plots against him.

    A CNN rundown of just some of the vitriol and death threats being directed at numerous secretaries of state, all of whom committed the alleged sins of not furthering Trump’s hoax or not magically “finding” new Trump votes after Trump demanded they do so, included the following:

    “I’m really jonzing to see your purple face after you’ve been hanged,” wrote an emailer to Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold.

    “I am a hunter—and I think you should be hunted,” a woman told Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs in a voicemail.

    For Republican Party officials, elected and not, this was the expected and desired outcome.

    When you craft outright lies for your own gain, whip those devoted to you into a frenzy with claims that all of America is under threat because of the hoax you invented, and point at individual public servants with the message that that person, the one right there, is the one conspiring to steal the country from you, you are acting with both the knowledge that your hoax will likely cause your now-furious base to act out on your invented dangers and intentionally choosing which people you will aim them at.

    […] an orchestrated, nationwide push by Republican Party officials to falsely claim there is a conspiracy threatening their voters in the form of public servants who were not willing to bend to a delusional Dear Leader’s claims of invisible victory.

    This is the movement Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, the Republican National Committee, your local Republican candidates, and uncountably many other Republican lawmakers built by embracing and extending the Big Lie. The purpose of the lie was not solely to defend a delusional Trump’s wounded feelings. It is to demonize those whose loyalty to the party was proven insufficient when faced with a choice of helping to overturn an election or accepting a Republican loss. Those people are being purged. […]

    Every other election official in the country is facing the same, if only because the crowds Republican leaders have now worked into foaming rage through repetition of a false and crooked hoax do not intend to waste time parsing out which precise targets they should be mad at. […]

    The point needs to be made again: The threats of violence being delivered to elections officials, from secretaries of state to local precinct volunteers, are the intent of Republican lawmaker’s repetitions of election-hoax language. […]

    This, truly, is what it means to be anti-American. Republican leaders are intentionally targeting those that run our elections—not for any actual sins, but with invented hoaxes specifically intended to provoke such fury against those officials that they abandon their posts.

    It’s working. CNN notes that up to “40% of election and poll workers in the largest jurisdictions” have already said they will not be returning to their posts for the next election, and “nearly one in three” local election workers say they feel “unsafe” in their jobs. Nearly one in five say they “had received threats.”

    Who will fill those positions? In some cases, nobody. This will create Election Day chaos, long voting lines, and reduced turnout. In other cases the positions will be filled by the same propaganda-believing partisan loyalists who worked to drive out current officials; they will form new teams more willing to commit the sort of acts Trump and his allies believed true Republican loyalists should be willing to do.

    […] In some cases, the threats of violence have more immediate results. A meeting of the Michigan redistricting commission was “indefinitely delayed” due to such a threat—the machinery of our elections is being directly sabotaged through propaganda-driven violence.

    There is no plausible denial of any of this. Any claimed concerns about election “integrity” coming from Republican mouths are rendered immediately invalid if the concerns raised are false information. You craft a propagandistic hoax only to achieve a goal that cannot be justified using the truth. The moment Republicans adopted the Big Lie as touchstone and as test of loyalty, the moment they claimed that the country was in peril due to fictional conspiracies by the movement’s opponents, it became self-evident that they were seeking remedies against their enemies that normal politics could not supply.

    The moment the once-conservative, now ideologically vacant party adopted flagrant hoaxes as means of stoking public fury, it turned to fascism.

    […] Stoking violence via intentional hoaxes is a betrayal of the country. The Party is corrupt, is fascist, and is a full-throated enemy of our democracy.

    There are no election “questions” that have not been answered. There were exactly zero claimed election “frauds” that Trump’s band of rat-chewed propagandists could even once identify, in all of the speeches and court cases, that was not immediately debunked. Every Republican leader knows this, because they followed each and watched as each was proven to be a fiction. When they continue to repeat the now-proven lies, it can only be because they believe the advantage of attacking Republicanism’s enemies with false information is worth not just one insurrection, but whatever new violence can also be squeezed out for the Party’s use.

  199. says

    […] in the post-Trump era, his rabid fans have ripped off the mask of plausible deniability and are now openly calling for killing liberals and Trump critics—which includes anyone who believes he lost the 2020 election to Joe Biden.

    Much of this toxic discourse is occurring in the more extreme corners of the internet, but on Monday at a “Critical Racism Tour” event in Nampa, Idaho, it was blurted out into the open when an audience member asked Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk: “When do we get to use the guns? … How many elections are they gonna steal before we kill these people?” Kirk replied with a nondenunciation denunciation, warning that such talk is “playing into their hands,” but then saying that the query was just “overly blunt” and agreeing that “we are living under fascism.” [video is available at the link]

    The event, billed as “Exposing Critical Racism at Boise State University” but held on the campus of Northwest Nazarene University, was primarily focused on promoting the bogus critical race theory narrative that American right-wingers have been wielding as a pseudo-controversy to disrupt college campuses and school boards. Kirk was the featured speaker, and he took questions afterwards.

    A bearded man who did not identify himself told Kirk he was going to ask him “something a little bit out of the ordinary,” and then proceeded:

    At this point, we’re living under a corporate and medical fascism. This is tyranny. When do we get to use the guns? [Crowd whoops.] No, and I’m not, that’s not a joke, I’m not saying it like that. I mean literally, where’s the line? How many elections are they gonna steal before we kill these people?

    The crowd seemed mostly supportive of this view, so Kirk tried to calm them down:

    KIRK: No, uh, hold on. Stop, hold on. I’m gonna denounce that and I’m gonna tell you why. Because you’re playing into their plans, and they’re trying to make you do this. That’s okay … They are trying to provoke you and everyone here. They are trying to make you do something that will be violent, that will justify a takeover of our freedoms and liberties the likes of which we have never seen. We are close to having momentum to get this country back on a trajectory using the peaceful means that we have available to us.

    So to answer your question—and I just think it’s, you know, overly blunt—we have to be the ones that do not play into the violent aims and ambitions of the other side. They fear—let me say this very clearly—they fear us holding the line with self-control and discipline, taking over school board meetings. They’re the ones that are willing to use federal force against us.

    I know that people get fired up. We are living under fascism. We are living under this tyranny. But if you think for a second they’re not wanting you to all of a sudden get to that next level, where all of a sudden they’re going to say, ‘We need Patriot Act 2.0.’ If you think that Waco was bad, wait till you see what they want to do next.

    What I’m saying is that we have a very fragile balance right now in our current where we must exhaust every single peaceful mean possible. I will say this: Idaho has not even started to exercise the peaceful means of state sovereignty against the federal government. Not even close. I’ll give you five things Idaho could do right now.

    Kirk then went on to suggest that Idaho’s governor should announce that there would be no coronavirus-related vaccine or mask mandates. (In fact, Gov. Brad Little is publicly fighting the federal vaccine mandate in court, though states’ options to do so are extremely limited under the law.) He also suggested that the legislature announce it was going to choose which federal laws apply to the state—something that, again, Idaho legislators are already doing, though predictably meeting with futility.

    His main suggestion, however, was for the state government to inform the federal entities managing the state’s federal lands that “you’re out of the state of Idaho, we’re managing our own lands.” This is in fact an old idea in Idaho, dating back at least to the days of the Sagebrush Rebellion of the 1970s and ‘80s.

    There was a recent push for this idea—the Idaho Legislature in 2013 passed a resolution demanding the federal government “immediately transfer title to all public lands” to the state government. Other states, like Utah, tried following suit. But by 2017, but it had run aground on the shores of cold hard reality: Some 32.6 million acres out of 52.9 million of Idaho’s total land is owned by the federal government.

    Moreover, because these are mostly heavily forested wildlands that over the past decade have been beset by drought and a resulting plague of wildfires, the costs of managing these lands is prohibitive for a small state like Idaho. Then-Gov. Butch Otter attacked the idea, citing the 2015 fire season—in which fires burned 740,000 acres in the state to the tune of $300 million, the cost of which was mostly picked up by the federal government—as a recent example: “If the feds weren’t there to pay for it … you’d blow a huge hole in the state budget,” Otter’s press secretary explained.

    Perhaps even more relevant is the fact that Idaho can’t claim ownership of federal lands under the legislation by which it was admitted to the union in 1890. The state also currently receives some $2.3 billion annually from the federal government in its education endowment fund as compensation.

    […] His “denunciation” of the argument for killing liberals was not at any point a civil or moral one—Kirk clearly was sympathetic to the man’s sentiments. Instead, it was purely tactical, calling violence “a mistake.”

    His interlocutor responded: “I just want to know, where is the line?”

    KIRK: The line is when we exhaust every single one of our state ability to push back against what’s happening. We haven’t even started the process of having Idaho, or states like Idaho, get back to self-government as our founders envisioned. They gave us state sovereignty!

    What is the line? Look man, I think we’re at the teetering edge of a regime that knows that good decent Americans are gonna get to the place where, like in the movie Network, ‘I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it anymore!’ Right? Well guess what? Know that there’s a deeper game at play. Understand the psychological warfare that’s being played here. They’re trying to animate you. They’re trying to get you to do something that then justifies what they actually want to do.

    So what’s the solution? We need to start to demand Idaho to be Idaho, and the federal government can stay out of Idaho for just about everything.

    So Kirk’s “denunciation” of the question amounted primarily to urging the audience to reel in their violence for the time being while proceeding to attack local and state governments when they fail to follow their extremist agenda. Even this solution contains an innate threat: We have seen how the right’s “self-control and discipline, taking over school board meetings” has played out on the ground—with barrages of threats, intimidation, and actual violence, including that directed at health care workers attempting to enforce pandemic mandates.

    The impulse for eliminationist violence, moreover, is latent in all of this: Even if Kirk’s audience takes his advice and bides their time, the threat remains intact to overthrow local authorities if they fail to enact their extremist ideas […] We already saw how that played out on the ground on Jan. 6 at the Capitol after the “Stop the Steal” rally, an event at which TPUSA was a major sponsor, providing seven buses carrying 350 people.

    If right-wing propagandists like Charlie Kirk and his army of devoted followers have their way, that scenario will be playing out again. But the next time, if the eliminationist extremism of his army’s footsoldiers continues to fester, it may very well be with guns.

    Link

    So, yeah, these people are way too close to using their guns to settle all arguments.

  200. says

    A good thread from Aaron Rupar:
    https://twitter.com/atrupar/status/1453410673917059079

    Videos are available at the link.
    Some excerpts:

    Tom Cotton is trying very hard to craft a perfect 20-second soundbite for Laura Ingraham.

    Yikes. Tom Cotton worked himself into a lather.

    Tom Cotton leaves the hearing room in a huff.

    This Garland hearing follows the pattern of most high-profile congressional hearings in recent years
    — Democrats ask questions about policies and issues
    — Republicans push conspiracy theories and try to own libs in hopes of getting booked on Hannity

    Merrick Garland displays an impressive degree of patience with John Kennedy’s loaded questions.

    astounding shamelessness is the MAGA superpower.

    here’s a perfect illustration of how Republicans and Fox News work together to use these hearings to craft short soundbites for TV … and another one. a soundbite shorn of context to give the impression that Sasse owned Garland. It’s propaganda.

    Do any of these Republicans making a big fuss today over DOJ’s efforts to protect school board members from violence realize that many school board members are also parents?

    Hawley concludes his questioning by calling for Garland to resign.

    Ted Cruz defends Nazi salutes at school board meetings.

    After hours of Republicans arguing that concerns about threats against school board members are overblown, Cory Booker brings receipts showing that there have been many such incidents, including physical violence.

    Ted Cruz wants AG Garland to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Fauci.

    Garland pushes back on mischaracterizations from Tom Cotton (yep, he came back for more).

  201. says

    Good news … maybe: Iran will return to nuclear talks in Vienna next month.

    Washington Post link

    Iran has agreed to return to nuclear negotiations in Vienna by the end of November, Tehran’s top negotiator said Wednesday, signaling the possible revival of a process aimed at restoring the 2015 nuclear deal that has been stalled for months and surrounded by uncertainty.

    In a message posted on Twitter, the negotiator, Ali Bagheri, the deputy foreign minister, who has been meeting with European diplomats in Brussels, said the exact date of the negotiations would be announced next week.

    Bagheri said he had engaged in “very serious and constructive dialogue” with Enrique Mora, the European Union’s deputy secretary general for political affairs, “on the essential elements for successful negotiations.” But Peter Stano, a foreign affairs spokesman for the European Union, said “there is nothing to announce at the moment.”

    […] For months, his government has said it would return to the negotiating table but declined to set a date, feeding a growing sense of pessimism and alarm over whether the restoration of the nuclear deal was possible.

    […] Trump in 2018 withdrew the United States from the agreement, under which Iran agreed to limit its nuclear activities and submit to international monitoring in exchange for a lifting of U.S. and international economic sanctions. After Trump reimposed punitive sanctions, Iran restarted its high-level enrichment program.

    President Biden promised to reenter the accord, and negotiations started in April. Iran refused direct talks with the United States, and European partners have acted as go-betweens for the two delegations.

    Earlier this month, the Biden administration indicated it was shifting its stance toward the delayed resumption of the talks, from warning that the timeline was not infinite to saying it was prepared to consider what Secretary of State Antony Blinken called “other options if Iran does not change its course.”

    Rafael Grossi, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said this month that because of interruptions in the agency’s monitoring of Iran’s nuclear activities, the next few weeks would be “decisive” in determining whether a resumption of negotiations was possible. […]

    One deadline for returning to the talks was rapidly approaching: a meeting of the IAEA board of governors scheduled for mid-November. The European parties have repeatedly threatened to issue a condemnation of Iran and consider reimposing sanctions if it does not comply with verification commitments.

    In a briefing published Wednesday, Henry Rome, a senior analyst on Iran at the Eurasia Group, said that Bagheri’s commitment to return to nuclear talks should “not be misinterpreted as a sign of real progress” and that the timing appeared to be a “tactical move to forestall a censure resolution” at the IAEA meeting in November. […]

  202. says

    NBC News:

    The Senate confirmed two Republicans nominated by President Joe Biden to top diplomatic posts Tuesday. Former Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake was confirmed as U.S. ambassador to Turkey, and Cindy McCain, the widow of GOP Sen. John McCain of Arizona, will be the country’s representative at the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture.

  203. tomh says

    Attorney General Garland defends memo in school speech maelstrom
    The Biden administration’s top lawyer appeared before lawmakers Wednesday as Republicans clamor for his resignation.
    Samantha Hawkins / October 27, 2021

    WASHINGTON (CN) — Rejecting assertions from Republican lawmakers that he is trampling conservative speech, Attorney General Merrick Garland is doubling down on his efforts to protect school board members as division over critical race theory and mask mandates usher violent threats.

    The Senate Judiciary Committee summoned the attorney general to a hearing Wednesday focused on the memo he disseminated earlier this month that suggests the FBI and U.S. attorneys should hold meetings with local leaders to discuss strategies for addressing the rise in threats against education officials.

    “The memo is only about violence and threats of violence,” Garland said. “It makes absolutely clear in the first paragraph that spirited debate about policy matters is protected under our Constitution. That includes debate by parents criticizing school boards. That is welcome. The Justice Department protects that kind of debate.”

    Garland’s meeting with senators Wednesday follows one on the same issue last week with the House Judiciary Committee. In the interim, 19 Republicans from the House committee wrote in a Monday letter to the Justice Department that they were troubled by Garland’s testimony.

    “Parents have an undisputed right to direct the upbringing and education of their children, especially as school boards attempt to install controversial curricula,” they wrote….

    Senator Richard Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, told his colleagues Wednesday that those who are arguing that school board meetings haven’t become more violent are “ignoring reality.”

    “Free speech does not involve threats and violence,” Durbin said.
    […]

    Across the country, as public health orders for mask wearing and vaccinations in a pandemic have driven a political wedge, school boards have also had to grapple with angry parents about an academic framework from higher education known as critical race theory. While not a fixture of K-12 instruction, the theory of studying U.S. history through the lens of institutional racism is sometimes applied broadly to any efforts toward inclusion.

    Garland came under fire at Wednesday’s hearing from every Republican on the committee, but perhaps most notably from Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, who stormed out of the room after a pointed reference to Garland’s Supreme Court nomination that never came to pass because of Republican log-jamming during the Obama administration.

    “This testimony, your directive, your performance is shameful,” Cotton said. “Thank God you’re not on the Supreme Court. You should resign in disgrace, judge.”

    Missouri Senator Josh Hawley echoed the call for Garland to resign.

    “You have weaponized the FBI and the DOJ,” Hawley said. “It’s wrong, it’s unprecedented to my knowledge in the history of this country, and I call on you to resign.”
    […]

  204. says

    Unfortunately, that makes sense: QAnon streamer convinced Democrats are pedophiles turns out to be registered sex offender

    A QAnon streamer whose incendiary rants accusing Democrats of running a pedophile cabal earned him thousands of followers and led to his deplatforming on YouTube has been revealed to be a registered sex offender. David Todeschini, who goes by the name David Trent on his Net4Truth BitChute channel, was convicted of one count of first-degree sexual abuse and one count of second-degree sodomy, according to the New York sex offender registry.

    Todeschini’s real name and convictions were revealed by Right Wing Watch, which is dedicated to monitoring right-wing activists. The site was tipped off by Gabe Hoffman, who executive produced a documentary aiming to expose pedophilia in Hollywood, titled An Open Secret. Todeschini is considered a “level three threat,” defined by the New York sex offender registry as “high risk of repeat offense and a threat to public safety exists.”

    The conspiracy theorist was 45 years old in 1996 when he coerced and sexually violated an 8-year-old boy. Todeschini was convicted a few years later and sentenced to 28 months to 7 years in state prison. He was released from prison in 2006 and has gone on to make a name for himself in the QAnon community.

    The year prior to his release, Todeschini published a book he claimed exposes government secrets like “CIA drug smuggling, the JFK assassination, Operation Phoenix, Covert Operations, etc.” A surprisingly prolific writer, Todeschini’s works include a book purporting to teach readers to become human lie detectors and a book titled Psychiatry, Mind Control, Genocide, and Infanticide. […]

    Todeschini is a prolific streamer and frequently posts videos like “CABAL ARRESTED absolute proof” and “Epstein NOT Dead – on board his boat surrounded by military” packed with memes, rants, and outright threats to lawmakers. His latest show, titled “THE DS BS NEVER ENDS,” was released the day after Right Wing Watch’s report was published. Throughout the 46-minute video, Todeschini complains about the mainstream media, the trailer park he manages, and once again makes violent threats against Democrats. He does not, however, mention his registered sex offender status.

  205. says

    The Wall Street Journal published letter from Trump: No facts, just no facts, and only no facts

    Last Sunday, the Wall Street Journal ran an opinion piece endorsing the Republican candidate for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The entire article takes an extremely pro-Trump position, arguing that the Pennsylvania court did not “defend the law as it is written” when it allowed counting of votes that were delayed in the mail due to the pandemic. It insists that the court should never have allowed those 10,097 votes to count—even if they were kept segregated from the rest of the votes. But in the midst of this editorial, the Journal admits: “This didn’t matter because Mr. Biden won the state by 80,555.”

    That admission of basic facts was far too much for the Wall Street Journal editorial board’s favorite person. On Wednesday, the WSJ published a “letter to the editor” from Donald Trump. [Link purposely omitted.] As might be expected, that letter contains a laundry list of lies that have been roundly disproven time and time again. In fact, most of them are claims that never had any basis in reality to begin with, but were simply pulled out of Trump’s … let’s say “golf hat.” That includes not just claims that there were far more late ballots than actually existed, but that there were 120,000 “more votes than voters!” (The exclamation point there is Trump’s, obviously.)

    Naturally, doing their part for spreading the Big Lie and further eroding the already fragile structure of American democracy, the WSJ ran all of Trump’s claims without any comment or context. […]

    The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page has long been a cesspool of extreme positions and a showcase of rabid Republicanism. But in publishing Trump’s letter, they’ve now turned into an ad for insurgency.

    As The Washington Post notes, if the Wall Street Journal was going to run the letter at all, they owed it to readers to provide the facts about Trump’s claims . After all, they wouldn’t run a letter that came in and made more than a dozen known-false claims about a corporation. […] why is it okay for the WSJ to run a letter that repeats lies about the election, especially when those lies have already had their day in court?

    […] In a 14-point response, the Post explains how, if the WSJ decided to publish the letter at all, they could have provided context and informed their readers about which of Trump’s claims had been found to be false, which of them had already been tested in court, and which of them would not have made any difference to the outcome even if found to be true. By lumping together claims that are real but unimportant, claims that are conjecture but unproven (or worse, proven false), and claims that are, at best, rampant speculation, Trump’s letter makes it seem that there were an overwhelming number of Pennsylvania votes in dispute. In fact, there were very few. Not enough to move the decimal point on the results, much less affect the outcome.

    In a second article, The Washington Post points out the simplest fact of all—even though social media platforms like Twitter were astute enough to halt Trump’s continuous run of lies and misstatements, recognizing (belatedly) that these claims were fueling division and unrest, the Wall Street Journal still has no qualms about throwing gasoline on a burning democracy. […]

  206. says

    Follow-up to comment 250.

    The 14 things you need to know about Trump’s letter in the Wall Street Journal

    Washington Post link

    […] Even if those who decided to publish the letter lacked the resources to fact-check each of the claims, they might have pushed back on obviously false claims, as when Trump falsely claims that Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg spent millions of dollars to “interfere in the Pennsylvania election.”

    They might also have noted that the organization that Trump repeatedly cites as an authority for his claims, the “highly respected” group Audit the Vote PA, has no actual experience in evaluating elections. Or, perhaps, that the organization’s website includes allegations of fraud that are themselves obviously false. […]

    They could have pointed out that the first claim in Trump’s letter, about late-arriving mail ballots, had already been adjudicated by the courts and wouldn’t have changed the outcome of the race. That’s even if the numbers he cited (which came from Audit the Vote) were credible, which they aren’t.

    […] They could have taken out obviously unimportant arguments like his trip back to the “we have signed affidavits!!!” well.

    […] they could have pointed out that a canvass of one county that claims to have identified 78,000 “phantom voters” is simply not credible. […]

    The paper could, for example, have asked that Trump offer some baseline number of examples of proven, demonstrated fraud, not simply various numbers dependent on amateur analyses of voter data. […]

    […] The main thing you need to know about the letter, of course, is that Donald Trump is still railing against his election loss 358 days after it occurred. And that prominent institutions are still enabling his dangerous misinformation more than 358 days after they should have known better.

  207. says

    Biden Vastly Expands “Protected Areas” Where ICE Can’t Arrest Immigrants

    Even as the administration disappoints immigration advocates, it’s providing real relief to undocumented people in the US.

    Starting this week, the number of places where immigration enforcement officials are not allowed to arrest people is growing. The Biden administration issued a new policy Wednesday that directs agents to stay away from playgrounds, domestic violence shelters, healthcare facilities, public demonstrations, disaster response centers, and other locations.

    The new “protected areas” policy went into effect immediately and supersedes all previous guidance for what used to be called “sensitive locations.” For years now, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents had been instructed to avoid arresting people in places of worship, hospitals, courthouses, and schools. This, in part, is why immigrants facing deportation have sought refuge inside churches as part of the sanctuary movement.

    This change may not seem like a huge deal, but it can have real, immediate impact for millions of undocumented people in the United States who live with fear and anxiety every day. While in theory sensitive locations remained protected during the Trump era, agents were seen in courthouses and hospitals, which increased the level of fear in undocumented communities and in households with mixed-status families. In fact, when the pandemic started spreading in the United States, reports of ICE agents at testing sites spread on social media, keeping some undocumented folks from getting tested. At a clinic in Los Angeles, a doctor told me his patients were “very afraid” and hesitant to seek treatment. […]

    Wednesday’s policy, which follows an April announcement that DHS would limit immigration arrests at or near courthouses, mandates that “to the fullest extent possible” immigration enforcement agents do not arrest people at or near the following protected areas:

    Places that provide social services “essential to people in need”: food banks, domestic violence shelters, facilities that serve disabled persons.

    Places where children gather: childcare centers, after-school programs, foster care facility, bus stops, and playgrounds.

    Medical treatment facilities: hospitals, doctor’s offices, COVID-19 vaccination and testing sites, mental health providers, community health centers, urgent care centers, places that serve pregnant people.

    Public demonstrations such as parades, demonstrations, or rallies.

    Places of worship or religious study including temporary structures dedicated to activities of faith.

    Places where disaster relief is being provided: emergency response shelters, places along evacuation routes or where family reunification is underway.

    Places where civil ceremonies occur: funeral, graveside ceremony, wedding.
    […]

  208. says

    Wonkette: “Fox News Imagines Merrick Garland Putting ‘Concerned Parents’ In Gun Sights, What Could Go Wrong?”

    Fox News somehow managed to top even the most breathless rightwing rhetoric against Attorney General Merrick Garland today with a graphic accompanying a “Fox and Friends” story pushing the lie that the Justice Department is “targeting” conservative parents who are upset about other lies that Fox News has been pushing about public schools. In mere reality, the DOJ has simply announced that it will investigate very real incidents of violence and death threats against public schools and school boards. But everyone on the Right is having a great time being angry at Garland for something he isn’t doing, so why not?

    The introduction to the “Fox & Friends” segment praised Republican senators for “grilling” Garland yesterday over his nonexistent persecution of parents mad about school mask mandates and “critical race theory,” and illustrated Sen. Josh Hawley’s claim that Garland had “weaponized the FBI” against ordinary parents by showing gunsights superimposed over people at a school board meeting. […]

    But wait! It’s only a visual metaphor! It’s not like anyone could possibly think Merrick Garland is literally training a sniper scope on good Christian parents who simply want to scream about liberty and masks and communists indoctrinating children into thinking that America has ever been racist. So it’s perfectly fine for Radio Rwanda Fox News to send the very subtle and entirely metaphorical message that the federal government is preparing to kill you simply for trying to protect your children (from masks and real history).

    OK, let’s remind y’all one more time: In hearings held by both the House and Senate, Garland has repeatedly made clear that the DOJ doesn’t care if people protest at school board meetings, even if they raise their voices, lie, promote conspiracy theories, or dress like their favorite Founder by wearing a tricorner hat along with a QAnon shirt, as John Adams was fond of doing. The DOJ isn’t sending FBI agents to school board meetings, either. But if people are threatening violence, then yes, that is a matter it would look into.

    […] Mind you, thanks to the false rightwing narrative, even Yr Wonkette’s own facespace posts, which detail why it’s all bullshit, have attracted a lot of very excitable rightwing parents who have very poorly informed thoughts on Garland, with insights like these:
    [Garland has declared] any concerned parent a domestic terrorist.

    I believe he should totally disappear

    Thank goodness merrick and the fbi are around to protect us from those evil, domestic terrorist parents. I sleep much better at night knowing our school boards are protected, also.

    This is communism. He has committed Treason

    This DOJ is acting more like the KGB or the Gestapo evert day in an attempt to silence all that resist this administration socialist agenda.

    He needs to be sent to gitmo one way

    And our favorite,

    Parents are brave warriors against the teaching of hate, and division, and teaching races to fear one another. That is the magnification of racism. School boards are leftist zealots today and should be removed. School books taught the wrongs of slavery and equality issues for many decades. To say otherwise would be a lie. Now they want to create hate and anger. Shameful. Parents, from many cultures, are bravely fighting this woke garbage. Modern day heroes.

    Honestly, we can’t see how a little graphic suggesting Garland has rightwingers in his literal gunsights could possibly escalate rightwing threats. It’s not like the American Right is in the habit of threatening to kill people it’s unhappy with. And it’s also not as though we might expect a person in not-total control of his faculties to respond to stochastic terrorism by terrorizing. […]

    And when rightwingers actually do grab their guns and act on their violent fantasies, they don’t kill that many people at a go, just nine in a Black church one time, 11 at a synagogue another time, three at a protest another time, and 23 people at a Walmart in El Paso yet another. […]

    And we certainly shouldn’t worry about the guy who plaintively asked Charlie Kirk at a Toilet Paper USA event the other day,

    When do we get to use the guns? … That’s not a joke. I’m not saying it like that. I mean, literally, where’s the line? How many elections are they going to steal before we kill these people?

    That was actually near me, in the Boise exurb of Nampa, Idaho (motto: “Gateway to Kuna”).[…]

    Link

  209. says

    Wonkette: “Tucker’s New ‘1/6 Was An Inside Job’ Documentary Looks Pretty Weird”

    […] Tucker [made] a big announcement on his show about a TV miniseries fiction documentary special he made called “Patriot Purge.” It’s about the “new War on Terror,” which Tucker explains is a war on the terrorists who attacked the Capitol on January 6, who Tucker always assures us were just regular folks with some sincere and valid questions. The trailer outright suggests that January 6 was a “false flag.”

    HOO BOY. A lot of people are saying there’s pretty no much daylight anymore between Tucker and Alex Jones. Glad a lot of people are starting to notice that, finally. […]

    “The helicopters have left Afghanistan, and they’ve landed here at home,” Tucker Carlson declares ominously, about this new war on terror, which apparently involves white conservatives getting attacked by helicopters just for loving Jesus and asking questions about the election. The trailer begins with military drumming, and promises “the true story behind 1/6” and also “the plot against the people,” over footage of Ashli Babbitt getting shot and killed while participating in the white terrorist attack.

    But in case Tucker hasn’t made this point one million times in the last year, voiceovers declare that the new enemy is “half” the country. Because it’s never just about the Capitol terrorists or other rightwing extremists, you see. Tucker has a deep need for all white Republicans to identify with the terrorists, and he’s been pushing it since January.

    Another voiceover declares that “the Left is hunting the Right.” Someone else adds, “sticking them in Guantanamo Bay for American citizens, leaving them there to rot.” Clips play of President Joe Biden saying white supremacists are the greatest threat to the homeland, followed by “stop the steal” insurrectionist grifter idiot felon Ali Alexander complaining that even he has been called a white nationalist. (He is not white.) Of course, as Philip Bump notes, the trailer doesn’t really mention who Ali Alexander is, instead just letting him be a random non-white person on camera saying, in essence, “look, they’re calling ME a white nationalist? Haw haw haw, what a ridiculous!”

    Bump adds:

    What is useful to know about Alexander, though, is that he’s an inveterate right-wing opportunist who latched onto the post-election “stop the steal” mantra as a lucrative fundraising gambit. He was central to the creation of a rally scheduled for the Capitol grounds on Jan. 6, having previously declared on social media that he was “willing to give his life” for the fight against imaginary voter fraud. There are not many people on God’s green earth who would benefit more from a redirection of blame for the violence of Jan. 6 to the federal government, so here’s Alexander, popping up from his period of guilty anonymity, to boost Carlson’s point.

    And so the trailer goes, with more militaristic imagery of kindly white conservatives being the new Osama bin Laden and finally, some Aryan jackass idiot woman at the end declaring that January 6 might have been a “false flag.” That the federal government might have made it up, in order to declare war on ALL WHITE CONSERVATIVES. […]

    Here’s what GOP Rep. Liz Cheney, who co-chairs the January 6 committee in the House, has to say about Tucker’s new movie film: [video available at the link]

    It appears that @FoxNews is giving @TuckerCarlson a platform to spread the same type of lies that provoked violence on January 6. As @FoxNews knows, the election wasn’t stolen and January 6 was not a “false flag” operation. @rupertmurdoch […]

    Tucker’s “1/6 was an inside job” docu-drama will air on Fox Nation next month. The planned destruction of America at the hands of the Republican Party and Rupert Murdoch continues apace.

    Link

  210. says

    Manchin Will Agree to Halloween Only if Candy Is Completely Removed

    Signalling his opposition to a storied tradition, Senator Joe Manchin said that he will agree to Halloween only if candy is completely eliminated.

    The West Virginia senator, arguing that the “big Halloween giveaway is over,” said that billions are wastefully spent on candy each year.

    “People seem to think that children going from house to house to get candy for free is fun,” Manchin said. “I call it something else: socialism.”

    Manchin’s neighbors said that his opposition to candy on Halloween is long-standing. “Kids skip his house, because he just gives out coal,” one neighbor said.

    New Yorker link

  211. says

    NBC News:

    Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been charged with forcible touching, a misdemeanor sex crime, according to documents filed in an Albany City Court on Thursday.

  212. says

    Biden arrives in Europe, allies have a fear: Trump’s possible return

    The day Joe Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 presidential election, “sighs of relief rippled through capitals” around the world. NBC News Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel reported, “As the results came through tonight, I started to watch the reaction coming in around the world, and people were reacting like the United States had overthrown a dictator, that democracy has been saved, that America’s reputation had been saved.”

    In the months that followed, the United States’ allies liked what they saw from the new Democratic president. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson declared in February, “America is unreservedly back as the leader of the free world — and that is a fantastic thing.”

    […] there were similar assessments from, among others, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, French President Emmanuel Macron, and a great many E.U. officials. It wasn’t just leaders’ rhetoric: International public-opinion research found the United States’ global reputation bouncing back in 2021 […]

    And so, as President Biden arrives in Europe for two important summits, he has reason to expect a warm welcome. There is, however, a problem hanging overhead: […] our allies aren’t concerned with our current president, so much as they’re concerned about the possible return of his predecessor.

    The leaders of America’s closest partners have watched Biden’s popularity plummet while former president Donald Trump has begun holding raucous election-style rallies and making his trademark provocative or false pronouncements on a range of issues. And that is raising questions about the durability of any promises by — or agreements with — the current administration.

    In other words, Trump is still a problem. And not just here in the USA. Trump is a problem for the entire planet.

    “After four years with Trump, the world is very, very curious whether this is a lasting new direction of American politics or we could risk a return to Trumpism in 2024,” said Anders Fogh Rasmussen, a former Danish prime minister who served as NATO secretary general. “It will be an uphill effort for Biden to convince his allies and partners that he has changed American attitudes profoundly.”

    Rasmussen went on to tell the Post that world leaders are even watching Virginia’s gubernatorial race — and if Terry McAuliffe’s Democratic candidacy falls short, it would be a sign of trouble for the United States’ overall direction.

    “It would add to some skepticism in Europe that the declaration that ‘America is back’ is only temporary,” Rasmussen said.

    […] This is emblematic of the lasting damage the former president did to the United States’ international credibility. […]

    There was a unique set of circumstances — the late-October Comey letter, Russian interference, Hillary Clinton’s pneumonia, etc. — which happened to unfold at roughly the same time, which led to an unfortunate fiasco that the United States was eager to undo.

    The thesis was bolstered by Democratic electoral gains in 2017, 2018, and 2019, each of which made it easier for Americans to tell the world, “See? We’re correcting the mistake. The accident of history is being gradually undone.” When Biden defeated Trump by several million votes, the case seemed to grow easier.

    But for international observers, the fears are not easily dismissed. In 2016, Americans proved themselves capable of electing someone like Trump to the nation’s highest office, and in 2020, his popular vote totals actually improved a little.

    Roland Paris, a former foreign policy adviser to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, asked last fall, “How could tens of millions of [Americans] reward this lying demagogue [Trump] after everything he’s done? People knew exactly what they were voting for. How deep are America’s democratic convictions, really?”

    Complicating matters, Trump hasn’t gone away. The United States only has two major parties, and one still belongs to the corrupt, twice-impeached former president, who’s made no secret of his interest in another possible candidacy.

  213. says

    JFC.

    Some Republicans ‘lay the groundwork’ to question Virginia’s elections

    If Youngkin loses, some in the GOP will say it was the result of “theft” — because in some Republican circles, results they dislike must be delegitimized.

    On his radio show yesterday, Fox News’ Mark Levin told his listeners that former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe is “preparing to try and steal” next week’s gubernatorial race in Virginia. The host added on his program, “This is very important to understand. So they’re going to try and steal the election.”

    […] as Politico reported, such rhetoric is quickly becoming more common.

    […] Trump and some of his supporters have already begun warning of voter fraud and laying the groundwork to question the veracity of Virginia’s elections after undermining faith in the 2020 results with a series of baseless claims. “The Virginia governor’s election — you better watch it,” Trump said in an interview, “You have a close race in Virginia, but it’s not close if they cheat.”

    More recently, Virginia state Sen. Amanda Chase, a prominent Republican proponent of election conspiracy theories and a campaign surrogate with whom Youngkin has campaigned, also claimed she’s aware of Democratic efforts to try to “steal” the gubernatorial race.

    […] There’s a very good chance that Glenn Youngkin, the GOP nominee in the commonwealth, will win on Tuesday and Virginia will take a sharp turn to the right after years of progressive governance. But since it’s at least possible that Republicans might fall short, some in the party are doing exactly what Donald Trump did ahead of his own 2020 defeat: GOP conspiracy theorists are making excuses by throwing around baseless fraud allegations.

    In other words, if Youngkin loses, some in his party will tell Virginia’s electorate that his defeat was the result of systemic wrongdoing that exists only in conspiracy theorists’ minds.

    […] Ideally, Youngkin would take steps to denounce such efforts, but as the editorial board of The Washington Post explained last week, the GOP nominee is doing largely the opposite:

    Next month’s elections in Virginia coincide with a singular moment in U.S. history, in which one major party has turned against accepting the results of free and fair elections. That momentous juncture poses a character test for all Republicans, which turns on this question: Will they stand against the assault on democracy’s most basic precept, or will they tolerate it? Glenn Youngkin, the GOP gubernatorial nominee in Virginia, has failed that character test.

    The Post’s editors made the compelling case that Youngkin has “indulged and encouraged” proponents of his party’s Big Lie: “Few stances could be more subversive to the American experiment or more corrosive to our pluralistic system’s fundamental legitimacy. Few shine so bright a spotlight on a candidate’s courage and commitment to the Constitution, or lack thereof.”

    The editorial board concluded, “[A]t a moment when democracy itself is under assault, Mr. Youngkin chose to dignify a fundamental fiction that is subverting our system, rather than stand up squarely for the truth. In so doing, he proved himself unfit for office.”

  214. says

    Boise mall shooter was a far-right gun rights extremist who stalked local antifascists at rally

    The man who opened fire at a mall in Boise, Idaho, on Monday, killing two people and injuring five others before being fatally wounded by police, was a far-right gun extremist who had expressed an animus towards Latinos and other minorities—and who not only carried a gun into the Idaho governor’s office, but also turned up armed at an April antifascist protest in Boise and menaced demonstrators […]

    Jacob Bergquist, 27, was a convicted felon who had moved to Idaho a few years ago and had apparently developed an obsession with establishing his right to carry a firearm under Idaho law, a review of his social media posts indicates. He died Monday at a Boise hospital after being shot during the culmination of a shooting rampage inside Boise Towne Square, the state’s largest shopping mall.

    Bergquist shot and killed a security guard, Jo Acker, 26, of Caldwell, and a Latino man, Roberto Padilla Arguelles, 49, who lived in Rupert. […] Bergquist also wounded two women inside a store in the mall, then proceeded outside where he exchanged gunfire with police; a woman inside a nearby car was wounded, as was one of the police officers.

    […] On April 2, Bergquist entered the office of Idaho Gov. Brad Little in the Statehouse in Boise and asked for an interview, saying he wanted to query the governor about his thoughts on convicted felons like himself being able to carry guns. A state trooper who observed the interaction and then sought guidance from the Ada County prosecutor’s office was advised that Bergquist was within his rights to do so under Idaho law.

    […] The cause of enabling convicted felons to have their firearms rights restored has long been a cause of so-called “Second Amendment” absolutists who contend that the Constitution prohibits any gun regulations whatsoever […] The same ideology has also become a major conduit of recruitment of gun owners into white nationalist and other extremist ideologies, and it proved to be a central factor in the radicalization of the insurrectionists who attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

    But gun rights extremism has long had a large constituency in Idaho, resulting in some of the most lax gun ownership laws in the nation. In 2014, Idaho passed a law—which was passed unanimously in both the House and the Senate—declaring the state no longer had to abide by federal gun laws going forward. It also criminalized the enforcement of federal gun laws. Such laws, as The Atlantic explains, are unconstitutional on their face, but they have not yet been challenged in court. […]

    Link

  215. says

    Justice Department lays out the constitutional stakes of the Texas abortion vigilante law

    Lawyers scrambled to deliver briefs to the Supreme Court this week to persuade the court to overturn the Texas abortion bounty hunter law. With arguments coming Monday, Nov. 1 in separate challenges—from the Justice Department and from abortion providers in the state—the lawyers filed one set of briefs on Wednesday, with responses due on Friday.

    “Where, as here, a state enacts a blatantly unconstitutional statute, assigns enforcement authority to everyone in the world and weaponizes the state judiciary to obstruct those courts’ ability to protect constitutional rights,” lawyers for the Whole Women’s Health Center wrote in their brief, “the federal courts must be available to provide relief.”

    […] Far-right lawyers designed a law to get around the courts, and Justices Samuel Alito, Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Clarence Thomas patted them on the backs approvingly. The court again refused to temporarily block the law when agreeing to hear these challenges.

    Maybe the far-right justices will, after these briefs and arguments, reverse themselves until the Supreme Court hears and decides Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a challenge to a Mississippi abortion ban that could be the official moment when Roe v. Wade is overturned. Probably it won’t. But the stakes here go well beyond reproductive rights, as Brian Fletcher, the acting solicitor general of the U.S., detailed in his brief:

    S.B. 8 was designed to nullify this Court’s precedents and to shield that nullification from judicial review. So far, it has worked: The threat of a flood of S.B. 8 suits has effectively eliminated abortion in Texas at a point before many women even realize they are pregnant, denying a constitutional right the Court has recognized for half a century. Yet Texas insists that the Court must tolerate the State’s brazen attack on the supremacy of federal law because S.B. 8’s unprecedented structure leaves the federal Judiciary powerless to intervene. If Texas is right, no decision of this Court is safe. States need not comply with, or even challenge, precedents with which they disagree. They may simply outlaw the exercise of whatever constitutional rights they disfavor; disclaim enforcement by state officials; and delegate the State’s enforcement authority to members of the general public by empowering and incentivizing them to bring a multitude of harassing actions threatening ruinous liability—or, at a minimum, prohibitive litigation costs. On Texas’s telling, no one could sue to stop the resulting nullification of the Constitution.

    Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton barely bothered to respond, filing the same brief to respond to both cases and repeating the argument that since Texas itself is not enforcing the law, it is merely deputizing every angry ex-boyfriend and every clinic protester and everyone who wants $10,000 to do so. Why would he change what has worked so far with this court, with Federalist Society justices accepting the way Federalist Society lawyers designed the law to evade scrutiny? […]

  216. says

    He Was a Board Member of the Oath Keepers. Now, He’s Holding State-Approved Trainings for Law Enforcement in Texas.

    On a glorious Saturday morning in October, about 75 people are gathered inside an airy warehouse on the wooded grounds of Foam Works, a local insulation company on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The mostly white, middle-aged crowd sports Trump 2024 hats and T-shirts extolling the Second Amendment, but no masks. Parked on the grass outside are cars scrawled with window paint warning about the evils of the “New World Order.” They’ve come from around the region for a “citizen summit” organized by a Maryland state trooper and the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA) to educate “we the people” about the Constitution, and how a county sheriff could help them “resist government overreach.” CSPOA’s founder Richard Mack came from Maricopa County, Arizona, to headline the all-day seminar.

    As attendees mill about grabbing donuts and coffee, Mack genially chats with them and hawks his self-published books, including The County Sheriff America’s Last Hope and The Proper Role of Law Enforcement. Tall and tan, at 68, Mack has the look of an aging game show host and carries himself with the self-assurance of a minor celebrity. He has decades-long deep ties to militia and extremist groups. He even wrote a book with his friend Randy Weaver, the white separatist whose wife and son were killed by federal agents during an 11-day standoff at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, in 1992 […]

    Mack’s organization, CSPOA, is made up of hundreds of elected county sheriffs and their supporters who promote the idea that sheriffs have the power to refuse to enforce laws they deem to be unconstitutional—like, say, virtually all gun control laws. Mack believes that county sheriffs have more power than the president of the United States.

    “He’s had more success in bringing anti-government ideas to law enforcement than anyone else,” says Mark Pitcavage, a senior research fellow at the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism who recently published a research report on Mack and CSPOA.

    Recently, CSPOA members have made headlines for refusing to enforce state mask mandates and they’ve played a leading role in some communities challenging the results of the 2020 presidential election. […]

    Mack has been a familiar face on the far-right extremist circuit since the mid-1990s […] In 2011, a group called Patriots of Gillespie County, in Fredericksburg, Texas, hired him to start CSPOA to focus on recruiting law enforcement into the patriot movement. […]

    What’s new for Mack, and especially troubling to civil rights advocates, is that this year, the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) approved CSPOA to provide official trainings that officers need to maintain their proficiency certificates. So have 10 other states, according to Mack, including Virginia, Montana, and South Carolina. This is happening even as the FBI has been warning for years that extremists have been trying to infiltrate law enforcement to pursue their ideological goals. […]

    […] His spiel in Maryland is an odd jumble of civics lesson, Thomas Paine quotes, and dated pop culture references. According to Mack, sheriffs have the power to kick IRS or USDA agents out of a county, where he says federal officers have no jurisdiction. […]

    At one point he plays a clip of Angela Bassett in the 2002 made-for-TV movie The Rosa Parks Story to illustrate why he believes that a “constitutional sheriff” would never have kicked Rosa Parks off that famous bus. Instead, he would have escorted Parks safely home, thanked her for her bravery, and ensured that her husband had a loaded gun in the house. Despite his fondness for invoking Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. in his public appearances, Mack has won few fans among civil rights activists, largely because of comments like the one in his 1996 book, From My Cold Dead Fingers: Why America Needs Guns, in which he wrote that “the Reverend Jesse Jackson types and the NAACP have done more to enslave Afro-Americans than all the southern plantation owners put together.”

    […] Over the course of 90 minutes, he covers everything from sex scandals at the Drug Enforcement Agency to the Agriculture Department’s persecution of the Amish for selling raw milk. He rails against the tyranny of government requiring “face diapers” and vaccine mandates and claims hospitals have fabricated statistics about the number of people who have died of COVID. He doesn’t mention that he had the disease himself in December. (“I thought I was going to die,” he tells me later.) He tells the group that his presentation is very similar to what he teaches in the sanctioned continuing ed classes for law enforcement, minus some deeper dives into things like civil asset forfeiture. […]

    Much more at the link, including an analysis of the activities of Michael Peroutka, a Maryland debt collection lawyer and founder of the Institute on the Constitution (IOTC), which has teamed up with Mack to provide “educational” content. Here’s just one example:

    “And who is empowered to decide what the law is?” Peroutka continues. “The sheriff. The source of law is not what some judge wrote last week. Law comes from God.” He continues to unspool his Taliban-level legal analysis to the admiring crowd, who gave him a standing ovation when he took the podium. “Unjust laws are not laws,” he says. “In America, if it violates the Bible, it’s not law.” By that reasoning, he explains, Roe v. Wade can’t be law because of Exodus 20:13, which says, “Thou shalt not murder.”

    “Roe v. Wade isn’t law,” he noted. “It’s just an opinion.”

  217. says

    Mark Zuckerberg Changes Name to Mother Teresa.

    Mark Zuckerberg has legally changed his name to Mother Teresa, Mother Teresa confirmed today.

    In an official statement, Mother Teresa said that he had changed his name to better reflect his mission of charity and kindness.

    “The name ‘Mark Zuckerberg’ did not accurately describe my function: to be a force for good, spreading love and kindness throughout the metaverse,” he said.

    Mother Teresa admitted that it might be difficult for some Meta employees to get used to his new name, but he said that he would give them until the end of October to do so.

    After that, he said, any employee who refers to him as Mark Zuckerberg will be immediately “expelled from the metaverse.”

    “Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind,” Mother Teresa said.

    New Yorker link

  218. says

    NBC News:

    The Food and Drug Administration on Friday authorized Pfizer-BioNTech’s lower-dose Covid-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, making it available to 28 million children in the United States.

  219. says

    Roll Call:

    Michael A. Riley, the Capitol Police officer who faces charges for obstructing the investigation into the Jan. 6 insurrection after deleting Facebook communications between him and a man who was charged with entering the Capitol, resigned from the department this week, his lawyer said in a statement.

  220. says

    The Hill:

    The House on Thursday passed yet another short-term extension of highway and transit construction programs that are set to expire on Sunday in order to avert thousands of worker furloughs and halted projects.

  221. says

    Washington Post Fact Checker: The repeated claim that Fauci lied to Congress about ‘gain-of-function’ research

    “At a Senate hearing in May, Dr. Fauci said, ‘The NIH has not ever and does not now fund gain-of-function research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.’ That was under oath, under testimony. On October 20th, the NIH principal deputy director in writing directly contradicted it.”— Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), remarks at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Oct. 27

    “Last week his agency admitted they had in fact funded gain-of-function research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”— Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), at the same hearing, Oct. 27

    In May, we examined a high-profile spat between Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. At issue was whether the National Institutes of Health had funded “gain-of-function” experiments at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV). At a Senate hearing, Paul said “super viruses” had been created, and Fauci shot back that the senator was “entirely and completely incorrect.”

    We awarded Two Pinocchios to Paul, saying “there still are enough questions about the work at the Wuhan lab to warrant further scrutiny, even if the NIH connection to possible gain-of-function research appears so far to be elusive.”

    Readers have been asking for an update ever since a top NIH official sent a letter to Congress on Oct. 20 saying that the nongovernmental organization EcoHealth Alliance — which received NIH funding to do the research on the potential for bat-specific pathogens in nature to jump to humans — did not report an experimental finding that indicated a spike in viral growth.

    Both Cruz and Cotton have cited the NIH letter to assert that Fauci lied to Congress. Cruz even told Attorney General Merrick Garland that Fauci should be prosecuted. The issue is important because of speculation that the virus that caused the coronavirus pandemic might have been created in a lab. But the NIH letter does not say what they claim — and, in fact, the NIH letter appears to have inaccuracies.

    The Facts
    This is a complex story, on many levels. We are going to keep focused on what was disclosed in the NIH letter and in the release of grant updates by EcoHealth by the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Intercept.

    Gain of function, in many ways, is basic biological research. It’s done all the time with flies, worms, mice and cells in petri dishes. Scientists create novel genotypes (such as arrangements of nucleic acids) and screen or select to find those with a given phenotype (such as trait or ability) to find new sequences with a particular function.

    But it’s one thing to experiment with fruit flies and another thing when the research involves genotypes of potential pandemic pathogens and functions related to transmissibility or virulence in humans.

    That’s when gain of function becomes controversial. The idea is to get ahead of future viruses that might emerge from nature, thereby allowing scientists to study how to combat them. But increasingly many scientists have decided the research was potentially dangerous — and, especially in China, not done with the proper safety precautions.

    Even now, it’s not clear whether the research funded by EcoHealth in China amounted to gain of function. When the Intercept obtained EcoHealth documents in September, seven of 11 scientists who are virologists or work in adjacent fields told the Intercept that the work appeared to meet NIH’s criteria for gain-of-function research. Obviously, it’s a matter of dispute within the scientific community.

    But Cotton claimed NIH admitted that it had funded gain-of-function research. That’s wrong. No such admission appears in the letter, and NIH officials continue to insist that the EcoHealth work using NIH funds did not constitute gain-of-function research.

    In 2014, gain-of-function research was paused for three years as the U.S. government set up a case-by-case review process to oversee funding, known as the Potential Pandemic Pathogen Care and Oversight (P3CO) framework. Under that framework, funding of enhanced potential pandemic pathogens would receive greater scrutiny if research was intended to create such pathogens and if the virus was highly transmissible and could create a pandemic among humans.

    There has long been criticism that the P3CO framework had too many loopholes. But the EcoHealth grant, awarded in 2014, does not show that it intended to create an enhanced pathogen or that its experiment posed any harm to humans.
    “As sometimes occurs in science, this was an unexpected result of the research, as opposed to something that the researchers set out to do,” Lawrence A. Tabak, NIH principal deputy director, wrote in his letter to Congress dated Oct. 20. “Regardless, the viruses being studied under this grant were genetically very distant from SARS-CoV-2,” which causes covid-19.

    Now let’s turn to the experiment itself [Snipped a long section describing the experiment in detail. See the link for more information.]

    In a response to Tabak’s letter this week, Peter Daszak, the president of EcoHealth, emphasized that the report highlighted genome copies per gram. “Viral titers were not conducted in this experiment,” he said, adding that six to eight days later, there was “no discernibly significant difference among the different viral types.”

    (Confusing matters, however, a graph in the 2018 EcoHealth report was mislabeled “viral load per gram of lung tissue,” even though the graph’s Y axis is clearly labeled genome copies per gram of tissue.) [Yeah, honest mistake.]

    Richard H. Ebright of Rutgers University, a longtime critic of gain-of-function research, dismissed this explanation. “The claim is technically true. PCR is measuring viral nucleic acids, not viruses per se,” he said in an email. “But the claim is factually nonsense. PCR is a standard method for quantifying viral growth,” and “NIH, in the Tabak memo and in subsequent comments, has made it absolutely clear that the NIH interprets EcoHealth’s data as indicating a greater-than-10-time increase in viral growth.”

    Robert Kessler, a spokesman for EcoHealth, told The Fact Checker that the experiment was conducted only once and involved only a few mice. He confirmed Tabak’s comment that researchers encountered an unexpected result. “This testing is intended to determine whether strains discovered in the field can infect humans and how efficiently, not to create super viruses,” he said.

    “Given the small number of mice, it is also uncertain whether the survival and weight loss data were statistically relevant, and as no further replications of this experiment were performed, we are unable to corroborate these initial results,” Daszak said in his letter to NIH.

    […] We sent questions to NIH about the failure to note the 2018 disclosure by EcoHealth and why it believed an increase in genome copies per gram would indicate 10-fold increase in viral growth. After a four-day wait, we received this emailed statement: “NIH stands by the letter provided to Congressional Committees in response to their inquiries and released by the House Energy & Commerce. NIH is not commenting on internal deliberations with the grantee beyond the information in the letter.”

    […] The Pinocchio Test
    EcoHealth’s research has come under increased scrutiny after more details about its work in China have been revealed, either through congressional or journalistic pressure. The NIH letter, flawed though it may be, indicates the federal government is taking a closer look, too.

    But we see no reason to change the Two Pinocchio rating we awarded Paul [Rand Paul]. There is a split in the scientific community about what constitutes gain-of-function research. To this day, NIH says this research did not meet the criteria — a stance that is not an outlier in the scientific community. Indeed, it appears as if EcoHealth halted the experiment as soon as it seemed to veer in that direction.

    Meanwhile, Cotton and Cruz are spinning the letter as confirming what it does not say. They are welcome to offer an opinion about its meaning. But, so far, it’s not a fact that NIH has admitted funding gain-of-function research. So they also earn Two Pinocchios.

  222. says

    Trump’s Truth App Gets Formal Demand To Stop Violating Software License

    It’s a step that could end in the license being revoked.

    […] Trump’s new TRUTH social network is in violation of the software license it’s built on and must get in compliance, the holder of the license demanded this week.

    The company that holds the software license for the open source code sent TRUTH Social, the Trump-founded venture, a letter demanding compliance with its software license, Mastodon CEO Eugen Rochko said in a statement.

    Rochko told TPM last week that he believed an early version of Trump’s network was using open-source software that he developed, called Mastodon, without abiding by the terms of the license that make it available to use.

    “Truth Social is required to make its complete source code available,” the letter reads. “We request that Truth Social comply with this important condition of the license.”

    Rochko said in the statement that though he would “prefer if people so antithetical to our values did not use and benefit from our labour,” the reality of open-source, free software means that “you give up the possibility of choosing who can and cannot use it from the get-go.”

    […] The letter, sent on Tuesday, triggers a 30-day response period for Trump to comply

    […] “Users were quick to note that the terms of service included a worrying passage, claiming that the site is proprietary property and all source code and software are owned or controlled by them or licensed to them,” Rochko added.

    If Trump refuses to comply with Rochko’s demand within the 30-day period, that could result in the license being revoked, and in eventual legal action […]

    Another option could be to cease use of the code – requiring them to spend the massive amount of time and money it takes to build a social network from scratch. […]

  223. says

    Follow-up to comment 267.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    Not only Big Tech is trying to silence Trump, but now Little Tech is giving it a shot as well!
    ———————
    I am convinced Trump enjoys using other people’s IP without paying for it or without their permission. The more the other people protest, the happier he is. Just ask the Village People and the Rolling Stones.
    ———————-
    This is a slam-dunk injunction case. If he doesn’t comply, Trump will get shut down in a heartbeat and a half.
    ———————
    The other missing parts are phone apps to access the site, and a cloud services host like AWS to run the back-end servers and bandwidth. That’s expensive, and has to conform to terms and conditions that Trump will hate. They also have to find a DDoS firewall provider.

    As far as I know, TRUTH social hasn’t gotten this far yet, which is one indication that it’s a just a meme stock scam. Putting up a demo web site with open source software doesn’t mean anything. It’s like showing an artist’s rendering of a new office building you’re going to to open, without actually building anything.
    —————————-
    Who could have predicted TRUTH would be built on a lie and a fraud? What’s that? Literally everyone? Oh. Ok.
    ———————
    Since this is now a publicly traded company with shareholders, it can’t afford to ignore this legal demand or to try to avoid it. The big question is what is the downside to the company if it complies with the requirements for being properly licensed?
    ——————–
    The upside is that this social network is nearly guaranteed to fail, like the vast majority of social networks people have come up with.
    ——————–
    The big obstacle to setting up a site like this is the cloud services provider, which can shut down a site in a heartbeat like AWS did to Parler. As far as I know, TRUTH hasn’t contracted with a cloud service yet to become an actual “live” social media platform, instead of just a signup web page. And it never will, if it’s just a stock scam.

  224. says

    Sens. Manchin, Sinema release grotesque tweets congratulating themselves. Twitter barks back

    On Thursday, after weeks and weeks of goalpost-moving, constant compromising on what was already a compromise, incoherent messaging, and consternation, Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema finally agreed to something. That ‘something’ mimics the many campaign promises President Joe Biden (and most of the Democratic Party) made to voters this past election cycle. The Build Back Better (BBB) plan that was supposed to include lots of climate change initiatives, paid family leave, expanded Medicare coverage for vision and dental, and government negotiation on prescription drugs, will now have some climate change stuff. Better than nothing? Eh.

    That’s the clear hope of people like Manchin and Sinema, who have allowed their corruption and cynicism (and possibly pathological narcissism) to torpedo their own chances at having a meaningful legacy of service to the American people. While Manchin’s one driving force is his own corruption and that of his corrupt family, Sinema’s motivations have been hard to pin down. Either way, both senators have let down the American people and have greatly hurt other Democratic candidates and incumbents’ chances in the coming months. What will happen next remains a mystery as House Democrats, who agreed to the original compromise of $3.5 trillion spent over 10 years to be coupled with a reconciliation package, are now in a place where the White House is desperate to get something passed and Sens. Manchin and Sinema have shown they are not trustworthy people—at all.

    On Thursday, as the White House announced it had a “framework” agreed on to some mysterious degree by the two senators most likely to be found staring at themselves in on their phones, those two decided to release statements lauding themselves. The responses to these two statements were intense.

    Kyrsten Sinema wrote, “After months of productive, good-faith negotiations with@POTUS and the White House, we have made significant progress on the proposed budget reconciliation package. I look forward to getting this done, expanding economic opportunities and helping everyday families get ahead.” Joe Manchin’s tweet was equally gross: “President Biden’s framework is the product of months of negotiations and input from all members of the Democratic Party who share a common goal to deliver for the American people.”

    Whether this cynical move will be enough for voters to forget what these two have actually done to hurt the American people remains to be seen for someone like Sinema, who seems to believe she just needs big corporate donors to float her into a cushy Senate gig until she is ready to run for president. Joe Manchin is a corrupt scumbag in a state that is hellbent on voting bankrupt human beings like Joe Manchin into office.

    It’s a tale of two politicians with very unpopular, anti-American attitudes and actions: [tweets, with images, are available at the link]

  225. says

    Whoa! Things are getting worse and worse for John Eastman.

    On Friday, the Washington Post dropped another bombshell report on what […] Trump’s top lieutenants were up to during the January 6 insurrection: As a mob chanting “hang Mike Pence!” raged through the Capitol, one of Trump’s lawyers, John Eastman, sent an email to the vice president’s office blaming Pence for the carnage. According to an email obtained by the paper, Eastman (who was responding to an angry email from a Pence staffer) wrote that “The ‘siege’ is because YOU and your boss did not do what was necessary to allow this to be aired in a public way so that the American people can see for themselves what happened.” What’s more, the Post reported, Eastman continued to advocate for the electoral college results to be rejected after Congress returned to business following the riot.

    Eastman, at the time (but no longer) a professor at the University of California Hastings College of Law, had spoken alongside Rudy Giuliani at Trump’s rally on the National Mall that morning, where he alleged widespread fraud from Georgia voting machines and stated that if Pence didn’t delay the certification of the Electoral College, “We no longer live in a self-governing republic.” But behind the scenes, he’d played an even more important role; as Robert Costa and Bob Woodward reported in their book Peril, Eastman had drafted a memo that outlined a series of steps by which Trump, with Pence’s help, could overturn the results of the election.

    Since that memo was published, Eastman and his current employer, the Claremont Institute, have sought to downplay its significance. Claremont recently described the reporting and criticism of its fellow as a “disinformation, de-platforming, and ostracism campaign,” and vowed to “not remain silent in the face of widespread lies peddled by malicious domestic political opponents.” Eastman, in a lengthy interview with National Review, said that the memo was simply one of several arguments he’d prepared for Team Trump’s perusal and not one he ultimately recommended or even agreed with in full.

    But Eastman was not participating in some after-hours law-school bull session; he was advising a corrupt and desperate man who would do almost anything to hold onto power. The radical scenario outlined in the memo, and the equally-radical scenario Eastman says he ultimately recommended—in which Pence would decline to certify the results, buying time for Republican legislators in key states to purportedly investigate alleged fraud, and submit new slates of electors—would have only indulged Trump’s delusions about his own chances.

    And Eastman pursued all of this, because he was likewise deluded about what had happened in November. As part of a legal analysis he prepared for state legislators making the case that they could reject their states’ election results, the Post reported, “Eastman’s seven-page paper featured theories about voter fraud published by the right-wing blog the Gateway Pundit and an anonymous Twitter user named ‘DuckDiver19.’”

    DuckDiver19. It’s a long way from Federalist no. 68.

    Link

  226. says

    Group of 20 summit news:

    President Biden and other world leaders endorsed a landmark global agreement on Saturday that seeks to block large corporations from shifting profits and jobs across borders to avoid taxes, a showcase win for a president who has found raising corporate tax rates an easier sell with other countries than with his own party in Congress.

    The announcement in the opening session of the Group of 20 summit marked the world’s most aggressive attempt yet to stop opportunistic companies like Apple and Bristol Myers Squibb from sheltering profits in so-called tax havens, where tax rates are low and corporations often maintain little physical presence beyond an official headquarters.

    It is a deal years in the making, which was pushed over the line by the sustained efforts of Mr. Biden’s Treasury Department […]

    The revenue expected from the international pact is now critical to Mr. Biden’s domestic agenda […]

    Leaders hailed the agreement, which was negotiated by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development with nearly 140 countries signing on. It would impose a minimum 15 percent corporate tax rate in nearly every country in the world and punish the few holdouts who refuse to go along. The O.E.C.D. estimates the accord will raise $150 billion per year globally from tax-fleeing companies. […]

    New York Times link

  227. says

    https://twitter.com/RepKatiePorter/status/1453828603125420041
    Video from Katie Porter:

    Shell’s CEO said that meeting energy demand while addressing climate change is “one of the defining challenges of our time.” But @Shell won’t put its money where its mouth is. I made this hypocrisy plain with a simple visual.

    Excerpt:

    Shell is trying to fool people into thinking that it is addressing the climate crisis, when what it is actually doing is to continue to put money into fossil fuels.

    Commentary:

    […] During Porter’s questioning of Shell President Gretchen Watkins, the California congresswoman held up a jar filled to the brim with M&Ms, each of which represented about $50 million. Altogether, the M&Ms signified upwards of the $22 billion Shell’s 2020 annual report called for spending on renewable energy in the near term. The near term must add up to almost a decade, because Watkins said Shell is only spending $2 billion to $3 billion on renewables this year.

    Porter noted that Shell will be spending between $16 billion and $17 billion this year on oil, gas, and chemical operations, with another $3 billion going towards marketing. “Mrs. Watkins, to me, this does not look like an adequate response to one of the ‘defining challenges of our time,’” Porter said, quoting Watkins’ own testimony. “This is greenwashing,” Porter added. […]

    Link

  228. says

    Texas Cops Thought They Were Real Cute Ignoring Calls For Help From Biden Bus

    […] “helping people one does not like” is a requirement of pretty much any job that involves interacting with the public […]This is particularly true of professions like firefighters, doctors, nurses, EMTs and others tasked with jobs in the general lifesaving field. It should apply to cops […]

    Like, for instance, the San Marcos, Texas cops who thought it was very funny that a “Trump Train” of nearly 50 cars swarmed a Biden campaign bus last year, attempting to drive it off the road.

    Transcripts of 911 calls released in discovery for a lawsuit against the city, Director of Public Safety Chase Stapp and several cops reveal that not only did they and their 911 dispatchers think it was very funny that the Biden bus was being harassed, but also that they refused to provide a police escort for the bus when asked to take over doing so by another jurisdiction.

    Via Texas Tribune:

    The 911 dispatcher in San Marcos put the New Braunfels dispatcher and the Biden campaign staffer who was pleading for assistance on hold and called Daenzer, the police supervisor on duty.

    “I am so annoyed at New Braunfels for doing this to us,” the dispatcher tells Daenzer, who answered the call and began laughing, according to the transcribed recording in the filing. “They have their officers escorting this Biden bus, essentially, and the Trump Train is cutting in between vehicles and driving — being aggressive and slowing them down to like 20 or 30 miles per hour. And they want you guys to respond to help.”

    “No, we’re not going to do it. We will ‘close patrol’ that, but we’re not going to escort a bus,” Daenzer responds.

    The transcript shows that the 911 dispatcher passes along information about the sense of danger expressed by the Biden campaign staffer who called for assistance as he was trying to caravan behind the bus in a white SUV.
    “[T]hey’re like really worked up over it and he’s like breathing hard and stuff, like, ‘they’re being really aggressive.’ Okay. Calm down,” she said to Daenzer.

    The transcription shows that Daenzer said the Biden bus should “drive defensively and it’ll be great.”

    “Or leave the train,” the 911 dispatcher responds. “There’s an idea.”

    In group text messages that were also entered into discovery, the cops discussed the incident in the days following, still mocking the passengers on the Biden bus and laughing about how they were unable to leave the highway because of the “Trump escort.”

    According to the filing, plaintiffs argue a text message between some of the San Marcos police officers who refused to provide assistance “poked fun at the attack.”

    To support that claim, the lawsuit refers to a group text message among San Marcos officers, including Winkenwerder, in which an unidentified person appears to refer to Democrats who drove through town as a derogatory slang term for someone who is mentally disabled.

    The following day, Chase Stapp, the public safety director, texted multiple officers about the situation, according to Friday’s filing. “From what I can gather, the Biden bus never even exited I-35 thanks to the Trump escort.”

    Yet in the days afterward, after news of the melee spread, officers started calling the event a “debacle” in internal emails and braced for a “political fire storm” after officers realized that what happened in San Marcos “might lead to political and legal consequences,” the complaint alleges.

    When Daenzer wrote the report of the incident four days later, he said “due to the staffing issues, lack of time to plan, and lack of knowledge of the route, we were unable to provide an escort.”

    It wasn’t just threatening and scary — the Trump supporters even caused a collision with one of the vehicles being driven by a Biden staffer. People could have been hurt or killed. The San Marcos cops received multiple phone calls from people who had nothing to do with either campaign asking them to please do something, and they refused.

    It looks like they all still have their jobs for now, but given the damning nature of these transcripts, one hopes they don’t have them for much longer.

    In a particularly disturbing twist, former Texas Republican lawmaker Jonathan Stickland seemed to suggest that the passengers could have just shot the Trump supporters, creepily demanding that Shannon Watts of the gun control advocacy group Moms Demand Action “repent for turning millions into potential victims w/ leftist advocacy.” […]

    Call me crazy, but it seems like shooting at people in cars from a moving bus would have made things a lot more dangerous for everyone involved. It’s hard to see how that ends well.

    If police officers like these are too devoted to Donald Trump to do their jobs, then perhaps they ought to consider another profession. One which does not involve getting a paycheck paid for by everyone’s taxes.

    Wonkette link

  229. blf says

    Tonight I did something I haven’t done for years (even pre-pandemic) — go to a nightclub (on my own initiative). The band was playing “Brazilian traditional” music — and was good — as was the beer (a witbier from Aix). As were the people I met — a Norwegian history professor (who lived / studied in Brazil) and is now moving to the village, his partner (who has lived in the village for awhile), a Brit whose parents are from the area, etc. The entry protocol was strict, and enforced, you had to show your Health Pass (proof of full-vaccination, etc.). The ventilation wasn’t good, but I knew that beforehand… and of course, it has hot, sticky, and a lot of fun. Only complaint is the volume seemed low, albeit once I stuck my head inside the sound-stack (speakers) it was almost bearable…

  230. tomh says

    Axios:
    What would immediately happen in each state if Roe v. Wade is overturned
    Oriana Gonzalez / Oct. 28, 2021

    Abortion would immediately become illegal in at least 12 states if the Supreme Court were to overturn Roe v. Wade, and more would likely follow suit quickly.

    States have been preparing contingency plans for a post-Roe landscape while state Republicans ramped up efforts to get the landmark ruling overturned. And the future of Roe is on the court’s docket.

    The court on Monday will hear oral arguments in two cases challenging a Texas law effectively banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. Abortion providers and the Justice Department are both challenging the law.

    A month later, the court will hear another major abortion case, challenging Mississippi’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks. The state is asking the court to overturn Roe.

    If the court were to ultimately overturn the precedents that established the constitutional right to an abortion, a patchwork of state laws would govern the procedure.

    Oklahoma on Monday will become the 12th state to have a “trigger law” in place — an abortion ban that would kick in right away if the court overturns its precedents. Four states have even amended their constitutions to prohibit any protections for abortion rights.

    Several other states don’t have trigger laws in place but would likely move quickly to ban or tightly restrict the procedure if the court clears the way: Florida, Indiana, Montana, Nebraska and Wyoming would be prime candidates, according to new analysis from the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights research organization.

    Alabama, Georgia, Iowa, Ohio and South Carolina have all enacted restrictive laws that were then blocked by federal courts. They could try to revive those policies in a post-Roe world.

    The other side: At least 15 states and Washington, D.C. have enacted laws that would automatically keep abortion legal if Roe is overturned.
    […]

    While the Texas cases will not be directly addressing whether the high court overturns or weakens Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the procedural questions they are focusing on could affect how states handle abortion legislation.

    “If the court were to hold that federal courts are powerless to stop state laws that prohibit the exercise of a fundamental federal constitutional right, then that gives states an easy avenue to get around Roe and Casey,” Marc Hearron, lead counsel for abortion providers in Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson, said in a press call last week.

    And the Mississippi case a month later does directly implicate Roe.

    A map at the link shows the immediate effect overturning Roe would have on every state.

  231. says

    […] Unhoused people, in general, are deeply vulnerable to all sorts of abuse and discrimination, pandemic or not, and one story out of North Carolina has many people unable to turn away from all too common reality.

    In this case, Joshua Rohrer, a veteran of the Iraq war who lives with PTSD related to his military service, was arrested for panhandling in Gastonia, North Carolina, on Oct. 13. Rohrer alleges that his service dog, Sunshine, was tased during the arrest, then was later hit by a car and killed. This is horrifying no matter what, but additionally so because Rohrer’s two-year-old dog was part of his PTSD treatment plan prescribed by Veterans Affairs (VA), according to Military Times.

    Rohrer maintains that he wasn’t doing anything illegal when he was stopped by police. Rohrer was standing on a median near a shopping mall in Gastonia when someone called the police; the caller told 911 Rohrer wasn’t bothering or harming anyone, but suggested he was using Sunshine as a way to get money from people out of sympathy, and described the situation as “bullcrap.” According to Rohrer, he was there, but he was waving at people and chilling when he says a woman offered him money. As soon as he took the money, Rohrer says the police pulled up “aggressively” with lights on.

    From there, an officer informed Rohrer he’d be receiving a ticket for panhandling, which is illegal under some specifications in the state. Rohrer argued he wasn’t panhandling and the officer called for backup. Rohrer was also asked to show state ID when he said he only had his VA-issued ID.

    Justyn Huffman, a witness to Rohrer’s arrest, told local outlet WCNC that when Rohrer didn’t move fast enough to get his ID, “they slammed him up against the car and they put cuffs on him.” Huffman added that officers surrounded Rohrer during the arrest.

    According to Rohrer, Sunshine jumped onto the hood of the car in an attempt to comfort him, which prompted the cops to yell at Rohrer, but he said he couldn’t calm her down without being able to physically interact with her. Rohrer says Sunshine nipped at one of the officer’s ankles as she jumped down, and the officer tased her. (Some reports say Sunshine nipped the officer’s boot, not his ankle.)

    According to Huffman, he and fellow witness Nydia Conley were screaming at the police not to shoot the dog. He recalls Sunshine bolting to a store nearby with a taser prong still on her body. Conley described the scene as “traumatizing.” Meanwhile, according to Huffman, police slammed Rohrer onto the pavement before being taken away for booking.

    Rohrer says he cited his right to keep his service dog with him as someone with a disability but says police laughed at him.

    “I begged them to bring her to me or to give her to an officer to take with them,” Rohrer said. “But they wouldn’t listen, they didn’t care.” He stressed that he “begged” the police not to separate them but says they didn’t care about either of them or the fact that he needed her.

    Dave Dowell, a Veteran Affairs advocate, was at first able to locate Sunshine, but she ultimately slipped out of her leash and bolted. Rohrer was released from jail the next day and within two days, found her. She had been hit by a car and killed. Dowell said Sunshine’s death has made Rohrer suicidal and depressed.

    Rohrer faces charges for panhandling and resisting arrest. According to a statement from the Gastonia Police Department, the department is investigating the incident to “determine if the conduct of our officers was appropriate.”

    Some in the community are protesting to raise awareness for both Rohrer and Sunshine. […]

    Link

  232. says

    They put a spell on us: Black musicians and spooky tunes for Halloween

    The article includes a lot of videos, including Screaming’ Jay Hawkins performing “Whistling Past the Graveyard.” Excerpt:

    […] Whistlin’ past the graveyard

    Steppin’ on a crack

    I’m a mean motherhubbard

    Papa one eyed jack

    You probably seen me sleepin’

    Out by the railroad tracks

    Go on and ask the prince of darkness

    What about all that smoke

    Come from the stack

    Sometimes I kill myself a jackal

    Suck out all the blood

    Steal myself a station wagon

    Drivin’ through the mud

    There’s also Nina Simone’s rendition of “I put a spell on you.”

    And more.

  233. says

    Trump has found a way around his being banned from Facebook, and he is using the platform for fundraising … big time:

    […] It scares me how quickly President Fifteen Flushes was able to shove Jan. 6 down the memory hole—at least in the barmy bean-brains of his troglodytic troop. And Facebook—which has banned Donald Trump from its platform for two years—seems far more concerned these days about hiding its crimes against humanity than fumigating its site against anti-American ex-presidents.

    Tell me exactly why Facebook is allowing Trump to do this? Other than pure, noxious greed, that is.

    While Trump is currently banned from Facebook for—erm, uh … Jesus Waffle-Noshing Christ, this can’t be right, can it?—attempting a coup against the legitimate government of the United States of America, he’s found a way around that ban, while he also skirts laws about using his current fundraising to fund a (likely) future presidential campaign.

    Washington Post:

    [Trump’s] primary political action committee, Save America, has been spending more than $100,000 a week this month on Facebook ads, according to the company, many of which seek donations with deceptive claims about corruption in the last election and public support for the belief that “Trump is the true president.”

    Facebook allows the ads because Trump is not posting them personally through his suspended account and the ads do not speak in Trump’s “voice,” according to a company spokeswoman. The money raised can be used to finance his current political operation — his staff, his rallies, his travel — until he announces another campaign. At that point, he would have to start fresh with a new account, but with a significant advantage: advisers may rent back the updated list of donors that Save America has collected to give him a head start. And advisers say he could transfer the money to another outside group that buttresses his bid.

    Oh, isn’t that cute? You’d think that at some point, on its way to making the planet safe for fascism again, Facebook would take time to meaningfully enforce its ban. […]

    The fundraising haul puts his political operation, which has so far reported giving little to other candidates or causes, among the largest in the country, dwarfing organizations set up to raise money nationwide. The National Republican Senatorial Committee declared less than $30 million in cash at the end of September and the National Republican Congressional Committee had $65 million in cash at the same point.

    […] Trump’s post-election-loss foray into politics is unusual, as is his continued fundraising effort (aka scam). The last losing president to make another run at the White House was Herbert Hoover, who, like Trump, also presided over a cratered economy. […]

    Gee, it would sure be nice if someone stopped him. Huh, Facebook?

    Of course, if Facebook doesn’t want to bar Trump’s fundraising efforts, they could at least put the kibosh on his corrosive lies. They’re not doing that either, of course. In one series of ads cited by The Post, the Trump team claimed “53% believe Trump is the true president” and “56% believe the 2020 election was tainted.” As the paper noted, those numbers refer only to Republicans, and it remains an open question whether they’re actually Americans anymore.

    So it’s time to do better, Facebook. That should be pretty easy, as the bar could not possibly be any lower.

    Link

  234. says

    Noisy NYC Anti-Vaccine Protests Are Hiding a Simple Fact

    The mandates are working.

    Rowdy protests. Trash thrown at the Mayor’s mansion. Suspensions following threats to state Senate staffers. With the pushback against New York City’s vaccine mandate among a relatively small number of government employees grabbing headlines all week, it might have been easy to miss one simple fact: The mandates are working.

    While 26,000 people missed Friday’s 5 p.m. deadline (and its accompanying $500 cash bonus), thousands more across city agencies were inspired to get the shot, according to data provided to Gothamist by Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office:

    the NYPD’s vaccination rate rose to 84% on Friday, up from 79% the day prior. FDNY’s rate increased to 77% from 69%. The Sanitation Department went from 67% to 77% .

    Last night, the mayor announced that 91 percent of city workers now had one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, after a Saturday surge saw an additional 2,300 shots. […] 19,000 employees joined the ranks of the vaccinated since the city did away with weekly testing as an alternative. […]

    Still, there are holdouts—and apparent “sick outs”, especially amongst protesting firefighters, which have curtailed services within some firehouses in the city. “Irresponsible bogus sick leave by some of our members is creating a danger for New Yorkers and their fellow firefighters,” FDNY Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro said in a statement. “They need to return to work or risk the consequences of their actions.”

    And there has been an uptick in complaints about uncollected trash […]

    Unpaid leave for the remaining vaccine-resistant kicks in on Monday.

  235. says

    Kinzinger slams Republicans ‘who haven’t said a dang word’ about ‘lie and conspiracy’

    Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), who has been critical of […] Trump’s claims about the election and announced last week that he will not seek reelection, slammed Republicans on Sunday “who haven’t said a dang word” about the “lie and conspiracy” pushed by factions of the GOP.

    When asked by host George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week” if his retirement announcement handed Trump a win, Kinzinger said it “potentially” did before criticizing Republicans who have “put their head in the sand.”

    “It’s not really handing a win as much to Donald Trump as it is to the cancerous kind of lie and conspiracy not just wing anymore but mainstream argument of the Republican Party,” Kinzinger said.

    “This is not on … the 10 of us that voted to impeach. It’s not on [Rep.] Liz Cheney [R-Wyo.] and I to save the Republican Party. It’s on 190 Republicans who haven’t said a dang word about it, and they put their head in the sand and hope somebody else comes along and does something,” he added.

    Trump on Friday sent out a statement that read, “2 down, 8 to go,” referring to Kinzinger’s and Rep. Anthony Gonzalez’s (R-Ohio) decisions to not seek reelection next year. Both lawmakers voted for Trump’s impeachment in January.

    Kinzinger has been critical of Trump and the state of the Republican Party following the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. He is now one of the two GOP members — along with Cheney — serving on the select committee investigating the attack.

    Kinzinger told Stephanopoulos on Sunday that “basically” only he, Cheney and “a few others” are “telling the truth.”

    “You can fight against the cancer in the Republican Party of lies, of conspiracy, of dishonesty, and you ultimately come to the realization that basically it’s me, Liz Cheney and a few others that are telling the truth, and there are about 190 people in the Republican Party that aren’t going to say a word, and there’s a leader of the Republican caucus is that embracing Donald Trump with all he can,” he added. […]

  236. says

    Dr. ‘Demon Sperm’ Warns Our Leaders Have Been Replaced With Blood-Drinking Clones

    Well, okay, that explains a lot.

    Of all the “America’s Frontline Doctors” spreading misinformation about the COVID pandemic, Dr. Stella Immanuel is perhaps the most whimsical. She doesn’t stop at claiming COVID is a harmless virus evil scientists invented so they could kill you with vaccines, she doesn’t stop at claiming masks don’t work or that a variety of bullshit she sells on her website will cure you — she’s got a whole mythology going on that involves demon sperm, satanic vaccines and now, blood-drinking clones.

    In a video captured by Right Wing Watch this week — right in time for Halloween! — Dr. Demon Sperm warns us that many of our world leaders have been replaced by clones. Clones who make laws that kill people, so that they can then drink their blood. [video available at the link]

    She says:

    We have human beings, like all the rulers of darkness of this world. These are people that are human beings that have [liaisons?] with the devil, but we have spiritual weaknesses in high places.

    These are the clones that are not human. Some of them are governors in states, some of them are Presidents in different countries, some of them are big leaders of places [unintelligible] like the CDC, WHO, the FDA, some of those people are leaders and their job is to make laws that will cause people to die. And you know why? Because they are blood drinkers. They need people to die because they need to drink blood.

    Huh. Yeah, it seems like people die pretty regularly without anyone needing to create laws to help them do that? The thing I don’t really get here is that recently, Dr. Immanuel told Gateway Pundit that the whole COVID pandemic was a Trojan horse for a vaccine that would reduce the world’s population by 10 to 15 percent and also implant the Mark of the Beast into everyone.

    I actually think that the whole pandemic was a Trojan Horse for vaccines. COVID, from day one, I’ve always said it, it’s completely treatable, and it’s completely preventable, And there is no reason for you to be giving a vaccine for a disease that’s completely treatable, and completely preventable. And on top of that, the death rate of COVID is not that high. So, we need to wake up and realize that these mandates, the vaccines, and everything is taking us right into the book of Revelations where you cannot buy or sell without taking the vax. I tell people my big mantra right now is, get prevention, early treatment, if you get sick, sick, sick and end up in the hospital, don’t be afraid, because you know that it’s a transition. If you’re, if you’re a child of God, if you’re a Christian, you should not be afraid to die, first of all. So the reason why they can cage us is we’re all so scared. So I said, you know, die saved and die human. […]

    Bill Gates had a video, that said that if you do good vaccines, they can cut down the world’s population by 10 to 15%. Bill Gates has done a lot of atrocities in India in Africa and everything. If somebody tells you they want to depopulate the world with 15% with vaccines. Why would you let them sponsor a vaccine? And Bill Gates’ hands are in every vaccine. And then of course we talk about the whole Mark of the Beast, 666 thing.

    Obviously they haven’t done a very good job with that, as nearly all of the people still dying from COVID are unvaccinated — but if they need to drink people’s blood, then why would they want to reduce the human population? If there is anything I have learned from watching way too many vampire shows on the CW, it is that people who drink blood tend to prefer to get it direct from the source. While clones may not have a dental situation that allows them to drink straight from the carotid, you can get a lot more blood from a living person than from a dead person.

    I’m just gonna say it — it seems like Dr. Immanuel has not really thought this whole thing through. [LOL] It’s quite slapdash. […] logistically, I’m just not buying this as a cohesive evil plan to enslave all of mankind for Satan. It’s simply not believable that these clones would go through such an elaborate scenario just to obtain the human blood they need to survive when there are obviously more convenient ways of doing that. […]

    She gets points for creativity […] but if she wants to keep selling expensive telehealth appointments and vitamin supplements, she’s should really consider doing something about all of these plot holes.

  237. says

    Washington Post link

    “Misinformation online is bad in English. But it’s far worse in Spanish.”

    Our research found Facebook, YouTube and other platforms aren’t doing enough to combat falsehoods

    The release of internal Facebook documents showing that the platform isn’t doing enough to stop a flood of lies and misinformation has sparked outrage nationwide. As bad as these problems are in English, though, they are even worse in other languages: Facebook has admitted its platform was used to incite violence against the Rohingya in Myanmar, and in the Philippines, the site helped fuel a vicious drug war and attacks on dissident journalists. Social media platforms are allowing far more misinformation to spread in other languages than they are in English.

    But some of the scariest misinformation online is spreading right here in the United States — in Spanish.

    […] We are living with the consequences of years of inaction, which have yielded a mass shooting of Latinos in El Paso, a literal insurrection and deaths from anti-vaccine misinformation.

    Latino communities maintain strong connections across Latin America; the result is an entire continent of Spanish-language misinformation largely unchecked by the platforms. Latinos are more susceptible to misinformation simply because of how much time we are spending online — twice as much on YouTube as non-Latino adults […] Two-thirds of Latinos treat YouTube as a primary source for their news and information about politics and elections. Half of Latinos in the United States use WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned messaging platform, more than any other ethnic or racial group in the country.

    Spanish-language misinformation narratives often start on Facebook or YouTube, but then conversations or viral content move to closed WhatsApp groups where there’s less of a chance for fact-checkers to intervene. […]

    Many Spanish-language social media pages and groups are cesspools, enabling smugglers to target desperate migrants and refugees and spreading harmful covid-19 and vaccine misinformation as fast as your tia’s “Dios Te Bendiga” meme. These tech platforms don’t just spread racist hate speech targeting Latinos; they’re also frequently spreading racial tropes that perpetuate colorism and anti-blackness, which help drive a wedge between Latino and Black communities.

    […]. Facebook still has Spanish-language posts active today from November 2020 that promote election lies with no warning labels. Facebook and YouTube both announced policies to remove or restrict QAnon content, but it continued to spread in Spanish. The platforms allowed content to stay up for weeks until we flagged it for them — and they still refused to take some down.

    Facebook pages we were tracking last year spread the lie that dead people voted in Nevada in the 2020 election, a claim Facebook’s fact-checking partners rated false multiple times. The pages posting the claim in English had the posts labeled as “false information.” One Spanish post with hundreds of shares still has no label.

    […] Facebook will flag vaccine misinformation content in English, but the same content in Spanish takes days to get flagged, if it ever does. The online activist group Avaaz found Facebook failed to issue warning labels on 70 percent of misinformation in Spanish, compared to only 29 percent in English. […]

    When a soccer player collapsed in cardiac arrest during an international match this year, anti-vaccine social media accounts jumped on it, falsely claiming the incident was related to the coronavirus vaccine (the player hadn’t even been vaccinated, his coach said). Several Facebook pages we found sharing the lie in English were almost immediately labeled as false. But the exact same lie posted on a prominent disinformation account in Spanish was left up for days — an endless amount of time for disinformation — receiving hundreds of shares before being labeled.

    Late last year, Facebook said it was banning content promoting false claims that the vaccine contained a microchip. Since then, we have seen Facebook label several posts in English promoting this narrative as false, but similar posts we have tracked in Spanish still have no label.

    […] Advocates have been pushing for a set of solutions that the platforms can take — including hiring a C-suite position to oversee Spanish-language content moderation, expanding Spanish language moderation capacity and being more transparent about their moderation systems and processes — but with little to no success. And Facebook and the other platforms have repeatedly shown that they won’t solve this problem. […]

    Social media companies hide behind meaningless marketing terms like “connecting” and “community” because their only real goal is higher profits. Lies, hate and even insurrection and deaths are not accidental byproducts of the way these platforms operate — they are the growth strategy. […] And for all the harm Facebook and other companies allow to flourish in English, their handling of Spanish content has been even worse.

    And we wonder why so many Spanish-speaking people voted for Trump.

  238. says

    Good news from New Jersey, as summarized by Steve Benen:

    In New Jersey’s gubernatorial race, the final Stockton University poll found incumbent Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy leading Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli, 50 percent to 41 percent.

    And about that tight gubernatorial race in Virginia:

    […] the final Roanoke College poll showed Democratic former Gov. Terry McAuliffe with the smallest of leads over Republican Glenn Youngkin, 47 percent to 46 percent. FiveThirtyEight’s averages, however, show Youngkin with a one-point advantage.

    Youngkin is a replica of Trump, just younger, and more careful about trying to occasionally hide his trumpish nature. If he is elected in Virginia it will be a disaster.

    Related:

    […] Trump over the weekend told Fox News that he “strongly” endorses Youngkin, and this morning, the former president issued a written statement, telling his followers that he and Youngkin “get along very well together and strongly believe in many of the same policies.” It’s worth emphasizing that Trump’s written statement went on to say, “I am not a believer in the integrity of Virginia’s elections, lots of bad things went on, and are going on.”

    […] Trump will also host a virtual campaign rally tonight in support of Virginia’s GOP ticket. Youngkin has already said he will not be participating in the event.

    JFC.

  239. says

    “In May, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds rushed to get people off of jobless aid. For those fired over missed vaccinations, she’s changed her mind.”

    Yeah, not good. I think this almost amounts to the Governor of Iowa paying people to NOT get vaccinated.

    n the spring, many of the nation’s Republican governors embraced a provocative economic idea. With congressional Democrats having approved enhanced unemployment benefits, these GOP officials decided the smart move would be cut off the extra assistance to the jobless, in the hopes that it would force people back to work faster.

    Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds joined the partisan push in early May, arguing that there were too many Iowans receiving too much aid for too long.

    “Now that our businesses and schools have reopened, these payments are discouraging people from returning to work,” the Republican governor said nearly five months ago. “Our unemployment rate is at 3.7 percent, vaccines are available to anyone who wants one, and we have more jobs available than unemployed people.”

    As the Associated Press reported over the weekend, Reynolds’ perspective on rushing people off of unemployment assistance appears to have changed a bit — for a very specific reason.

    Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds on Friday signed into law a bill that allows Iowa workers to seek medical and religious exemptions from Covid-19 vaccine mandates and guarantees that those who are fired for refusing a vaccine will qualify for unemployment benefits. Reynolds signed the bill a day after the Iowa Legislature passed it in a one-day special session convened to pass the state’s redistricting maps. The law becomes effective immediately.

    The GOP governor, who has consistently opposed requirements for masks and vaccines, despite her state’s difficulties during the pandemic, said in a statement that “no Iowan should be forced to lose their job or livelihood over the Covid-19 vaccine.”

    Reynolds is also moving forward with plans to sue the Biden administration over its efforts to end the pandemic through vaccine requirements.

    The disconnect between the policies is jarring. In May, unemployment insurance was derided by Republicans for creating unhealthy disincentives: People would make irresponsible decisions, they said, affecting themselves and the larger economy, as a result of unneeded financial rewards from the government. The goal, they argued, should be to get as many people off jobless aid as quickly as possible.

    And yet, in October, as some Americans lose their jobs after choosing to go unvaccinated during the pandemic, Iowa’s Reynolds seems to have arrived at an entirely different set of assumptions.

    Link

  240. says

    “Three University of Florida professors want to give expert testimony on Republicans’ voter-suppression law. So why are they being blocked?”

    Florida officials took great pride in how well their system of elections performed in 2020. But as we’ve discussed, that didn’t stop Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and GOP state legislators from putting new hurdles between voters and their democracy anyway — in part because they could, in part to give themselves an added electoral advantage, and in part because the GOP believes it must enact policies supportive of the party’s Trumpian conspiracy theories.

    With this in mind, the governor in May signed voter-suppression measures into law, which took effect immediately and will be in place for the Sunshine State’s busy 2022 election cycle.

    Not surprisingly, Florida Republicans’ new anti-voting policies are being challenged in the courts, and under normal circumstances, we’d expect to see some of the state’s leading scholars offering expert testimony, explaining in detail the effects of the new state statutes.

    As The Miami Herald reported, however, the current circumstances are anything but normal.

    In a decision that could have far-reaching free speech implications for faculty at universities and colleges across Florida, the University of Florida has refused to allow three political science professors to continue to serve as expert witnesses in a case that challenges a new state law that restricts voting access. Political Science Professors Daniel Smith, Michael McDonald and Sharon Austin, in cases before the state, were told by emails earlier this month that their requests to serve as experts would now be rejected.

    The professors’ dean said that the scholars’ testimony “may pose a conflict of interest to the executive branch of the state of Florida” and “create a conflict for the University of Florida.”

    It’s an odd argument. It’d be one thing if a lawyer for the governor was prepared to give testimony about a law his employer/client had signed into law, but in this instance, we’re talking about university professors who operate independently from DeSantis’ office.

    To see a “conflict” is to suggest the university’s professors are somehow an extension of the DeSantis administration. They are not.

    […] The New York Times added, “Leading experts on academic freedom said they knew of no similar restrictions on professors’ speech and testimony and said the action was probably unconstitutional.”

    The professors are now represented by counsel, and it’s likely that we haven’t heard the end of this story. Among the questions in need of answers is how the university arrived at this decision, whether the school feared political retaliation, and whether anyone in state government leaned on university officials before the decision was made.

    Update: The Chronicle of Higher Education reported this morning that the University of Florida’s accreditor plans to investigate the incident. The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent added, “The Democratic members of Congress from Florida are set to come out sharply against the decision, I’m told, and depending on how things go, this could result in congressional hearings.”

    Link

  241. says

    […] One of the lingering questions is what kind of Jan. 6 documents Donald Trump is so eager to keep from Congress. Now we know.

    […] records from Mark Meadows, Stephen Miller, and former White House Deputy Counsel Patrick Philbin
    The White House Daily Diary, which includes the president’s movements, calls, and meetings

    Phone logs, including calls between Trump and then-Vice President Mike Pence concerning Jan. 6

    Proposed talking points for former White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany

    A handwritten note concerning Jan. 6

    A draft text of Trump’s pre-riot speech

    A draft proclamation honoring the Capitol Police

    A memo about potential anti-election litigation

    A series of emails from a state officials regarding election-related issues

    Talking points on alleged election irregularities in one Michigan county

    It’s worth emphasizing that at this point, Saturday morning’s court filing revealed the list of materials, but not the contents of the materials. In other words, we now know that Trump wants to hide phone logs detailing calls between Trump and Pence about the Jan. 6 attack, but it isn’t clear precisely what’s included in these call records.

    The next step, of course, would be to see the calls themselves, which would presumably shed light on why the former president doesn’t want Congress to see the materials.

    For what it’s worth, Trump’s litigation is not expected to succeed. As a recent NBC News report added, we may very well see “a legal showdown between the current and former president over executive privilege,” though the Republican “faces long legal odds” since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1977 that the incumbent president “is in the best position to assess the present and future needs of the Executive Branch.” […]

  242. says

    There’s a new PRRI study looking at American identity and probably the big takeaway is how much anti-democratic beliefs and openness to political violence have taken root in the GOP. I’m going to list here some of the findings. These are ones that stand out to me. Definitely worth reviewing the whole thing.

    62% of Republicans believe being born in America is something that makes you truly American. 43% for Democrats. 63% say being a Christian is something that makes you “truly American”; 35% for Democrats. […]

    31% of Americans mostly or completely agree that the 2020 was stolen from Donald Trump. 68% of Republicans believe this. 82% of people who most trust Fox News believe this. 97% of people who “most trust far-right news” believe this. 26% of independents believe this.

    About one in four Republicans are Qanon believers.

    11% of Democrats believe that “true American patriots might have to resort to violence in order to save our country.” 30% of Republicans believe this. 39% of people who believe the election was stolen from Trump believe this. […]

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/the-gathering-storm-3

  243. says

    COVID-19 vaccination for children aged five to 11 is expected within days, following the FDA’s emergency use authorization on Friday. Many parents are wildly cheering that news, counting the days until it becomes a reality. But, as with so many times during the coronavirus pandemic when the voices of people who aren’t doing the right thing for public health are elevated above those who are, the media won’t give you so many chances to hear from parents who are ready and waiting to protect their children, their families, and their communities.

    […] people are hesitating to get their kids vaccinated—just as too many adults have hesitated to get themselves vaccinated. But why not report on the people who are eager to do the right thing? Why not elevate their voices? Instead, we watch again and again as the small proportion of anti-maskers get more coverage than the majority of people who support public health measures, as the tiny percentage of people willing to leave their jobs rather than be vaccinated get widespread coverage. But parents counting the days until their kids can be vaccinated against COVID-19 just as they’ve been vaccinated against measles and chickenpox and tetanus and diphtheria and pertussis and rotavirus and polio and more? For some reason, we’re not so interesting to the media.

    Jean-Pierre Jacquet is a New York educator with four children—a seven-year-old and five-year-old triplets. His wife is an OB/GYN who has had patients with COVID-19, but, he says, they were lucky—especially early on in the pandemic—that she had the personal protective equipment she needed.

    Speaking about what changes his family will make once the kids are vaccinated, Jacquet said that, for instance, his sister and her children were visiting: “We spent the weekend hanging out with each other, and we did a lot outside, but we’re masked indoors. When we’re eating, we’re eating in different rooms.” With vaccination, they can relax some of those restrictions. Similarly, “We’re at the age where we’d love to put them in different activities, not because they’re going to become a premier soccer player, but just for running around outside,” but with inconsistent safety protocols across organizations, they’ve waited.

    […] One mother of two living in a Georgia county where less than 40% of residents have had one dose of COVID-19 vaccine said she waited until school started to vaccinate her 12-year-old. But now, her 11-year-old “is ASKING why she can’t get it. She wants it. As soon as it’s available for her, I will get it. If she feels informed enough at 11 to ask for it, there’s no way I will deny her when the rest of us in the house are vaccinated.” Her daughter doesn’t want to be quarantined and miss school—“Being at school is very important to her”—and they will be more able to be more comfortable visiting with elderly and at-risk family members once she’s vaccinated.

    Highlighting the importance of advice from trusted figures, the mother added: “My pediatrician has also vaccinated her own children, and I have confidence in her as a mother.” […]

    Link

    Much more at the link, including many quotes from parents eager to get their children vaccinated.

  244. says

    Covid-19’s global death toll has topped 5 million.

    Link

    […] Together, the United States, the European Union, Britain and Brazil — all upper-middle- or high-income countries — account for one-eighth of the world’s population but nearly half of all reported deaths. The U.S. alone has recorded over 740,000 lives lost, more than any other nation. […]

  245. says

    BLOODSHED

    Washington Post link

    For 187 harrowing minutes, the president watched his supporters attack the Capitol — and resisted pleas to stop them.

    Trump had just returned to the White House from his rally at the Ellipse on Jan. 6 when he retired to his private dining room just off the Oval Office, flipped on the massive flat-screen television and took in the show. At the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, thousands of his supporters were wearing his red caps, waving his blue flags and chanting his name.

    Live television news coverage showed the horror accelerating minute by minute after 1:10 p.m., when Trump had called on his followers to march on the U.S. Capitol. The pro-Trump rioters toppled security barricades. They bludgeoned police. They scaled granite walls. And then they smashed windows and doors to breach the hallowed building that has stood for more than two centuries as the seat of American democracy.

    The Capitol was under siege — and the president, glued to the television, did nothing. For 187 minutes, Trump resisted entreaties to intervene from advisers, allies and his elder daughter, as well as lawmakers under attack. Even as the violence at the Capitol intensified, even after Vice President Mike Pence, his family and hundreds of Congress members and their staffers hid to protect themselves, even after the first two people died and scores of others were assaulted, Trump declined for more than three hours to tell the renegades rioting in his name to stand down and go home.

    During the 187 minutes that Trump stood by, harrowing scenes of violence played out in and around the Capitol. Twenty-five minutes into Trump’s silence, a news photographer was dragged down a flight of stairs and thrown over a wall. Fifty-two minutes in, a police officer was kicked in the chest and surrounded by a mob. Within the first hour, two rioters died as a result of cardiac events. Sixty-four minutes in, a rioter paraded a Confederate battle flag through the Capitol. Seventy-three minutes in, another police officer was sprayed in the face with chemicals. Seventy-eight minutes in, yet another police officer was assaulted with a flagpole. Eighty-three minutes in, rioters broke into and began looting the House speaker’s office. Ninety-three minutes in, another news photographer was surrounded, pushed down and robbed of a camera. Ninety-four minutes in, a rioter was shot and killed. One hundred two minutes in, rioters stormed the Senate chamber, stealing papers and posing for photographs around the dais. One hundred sixteen minutes in, a fourth police officer was crushed in a doorway and beaten with his own baton.

    […] The Post’s investigation also found that signs of escalating danger were in full view hours before the Capitol attack, including clashes that morning among hundreds of pro-Trump demonstrators and police at the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial. The mounting red flags did not trigger stepped-up security responses that morning, underscoring how unprepared law enforcement authorities were for the violence that transpired. Yet some officials knew what to expect; Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) had hired a personal security detail out of fear for her own safety. […]

    Much more at the link.

  246. says

    Senator Joe Manchin screws the whole country … again.

    Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) reminded everyone that his vote remains crucial for passing the reconciliation bill at a hastily arranged Monday press conference at the Capitol.

    Manchin called the presser after stating that he wanted to “clear up a lot of things” related to his position on the infrastructure bill. The White House has pushed for votes on both the reconciliation package and the bipartisan infrastructure bill this week. […]

    But Manchin declined to offer any clarification of his position

    Well, that’s totally par for the course. He’s still delaying and obstructing. He’s still looking for a way to may sure that the reconciliation bill fails in the senate. He sounds like a 74-year-old Republican.

    “I’m open to supporting a final bill that helps move our country forward,” Manchin said. “But I’m equally open to voting against a bill that hurts our country.” [Oh, FFS. Could you be more vague?]

    Manchin took no questions, adding only at the end that he would not “negotiate in public” and intended to continue negotiating in “good faith.” [“Good faith,” my ass.]

    “We must allow time for analysis and complete transparency,” Manchin said of the reconciliation package, which currently stands at $1.75 trillion in new spending over the next 10 years.

    See comment 193 for a realistic view of the cost.

    Manchin all but stated that he is not yet ready to vote on the White House’s reconciliation framework, released last week by the House Rules Committee.

    But he did direct most of his remarks towards House progressives, who he criticized for refusing to vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill last week. Many members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus said they would not vote for the bipartisan bill until Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) made their support for the reconciliation package clear.

    “Holding this bill hostage is not going to work in getting my support for the reconciliation bill,” Manchin said, referring to the bipartisan package.

    Those same House members had signaled that they were ready to vote in favor of the reconciliation package this week, so long as Manchin and Sinema signaled their support to President Biden.

    At another point, Manchin demanded that the reconciliation package’s real cost be stated before he votes. The Congressional Budget Office has yet to score the bill; the deficit hawk-leaning Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget issued a statement hours before Manchin’s press conference demanding that the bill be scored before Congress holds a vote. [Right. Manchin is echoing Republican talking points.]

    Manchin echoed that line, accusing the White House of releasing a framework full of “shell games” and “budget gimmicks that make the real cost of the so-called $1.75 trillion bill estimated to be almost twice that amount” were the programs to be extended permanently.

    Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) pointed out minutes after Manchin concluded his remarks that the bill needs a score from the CBO anyway in order for the Senate parliamentarian could consider the bill.

    “None of what was said was exactly new,” he tweeted. “The tone alarmed people, but substantively nothing has changed.”

    Link

    Posted by readers of the article:

    You holding the other bill hostage won’t get you what you want on this one, but me holding this bill hostage should get me what I want on that one. Oh, fuck youuuuuu

    Passing both bills in tandem was always the Biden plan. Manchin is not only delaying and obstructing, he is also trying to rewrite history.

  247. says

    When Rubio criticizes corporate America, read the fine print

    Marco Rubio intends to champion the interests of working people by steering business leaders away from “woke” corporate values. That won’t work.

    Sen. Marco Rubio is well aware of the close ties between his party and corporate America, and the Floridian has spent years trying to position himself as a different kind of Republican. During his ill-fated presidential campaign, for example, the senator said he intended to make the GOP “the party of the bartenders and the maids, of the people that clean our rooms and fix our cars.”

    […] In March, the senator wrote an op-ed for USA Today in which he condemned Amazon, not over wages and working conditions, but because he perceives the online behemoth as being “allies of the left in the culture war.” The piece repeatedly used the word “woke” derisively. [Oh, FFS.]

    […] [Snipped description of op-ed for The New York Post.] This week, the Floridian is at it again. Rubio’s newest op-ed, published by The American Conservative, is the latest installment in the series. The Associated Press reported:

    In an op-ed published Monday, the Republican from Florida called corporate America “the instrument of anti-American ideologies.” Rubio bemoaned what he described as corporate America’s “wokeness” — a catch-all phrase for being sensitive to social problems such as racism and inequality but which is also derided by critics as virtue-signaling or adopting neo-Marxist world views. He proposed holding corporate leaders legally liable “when they abuse their corporate privilege by pushing wasteful, anti-American nonsense.”

    […] Of course it sounds nice to think a leading GOP senator would prioritize the interests of bartenders, maids, and mechanics over the demands of Wall Street, but there’s a substantive breakdown. Does Rubio support a higher minimum wage? No. Does he support social-insurance programs such as the Affordable Care Act to ensure bartenders, maids, mechanics, and their families have health security? No.

    Has the senator championed paid-leave legislation? No. Is he prepared to back stronger labor union protections? No. Did Rubio oppose his party’s massive tax breaks to corporations already enjoying record profits? No.

    Instead, the Floridian intends to champion the interests of working people by steering business leaders away from “woke” corporate values. It’s about conservative ideological and cultural goals, not practical and material goals. […]

  248. says

    Another one? Sheesh!

    Another leading GOP Senate hopeful faces domestic violence allegations

    Pennsylvania’s Sean Parnell, a Republican Senate candidate, is facing dramatic domestic violence allegations from his estranged wife.

    […] When Parnell launched a U.S. Senate campaign earlier this year, many GOP officials in Pennsylvania were delighted. When Donald Trump announced his support for Parnell, the former president assumed he was backing a likely winner.

    But just below the surface, there are several areas of concern. In fact, CNN reported last week that a growing number of Republican officials are concerned that Parnell’s “messy personal life” may undermine his chances.

    Reading this Philadelphia Inquirer report published yesterday, “messy” isn’t an adjective that captures the seriousness of the allegations.

    The estranged wife of Republican Senate candidate Sean Parnell testified under oath Monday that he choked her until she bit him to escape, that he hit their young children, and that he lashed out at her with obscenities and insults. In tearful testimony, Laurie Snell told a family court judge that her husband once called her a “whore” and a “piece of s—” while pinning her down. On another occasion, she said, Parnell slapped one child hard enough to leave fingerprint-shaped welts through the back of the child’s T-shirt. And she said he once got so angry he punched a closet door with such force it swung into a child’s face and left a bruise. She said Parnell told his child: “That was your fault.”

    In the same sworn testimony, as part of child custody proceedings, Snell claimed that in 2008, after a Thanksgiving trip, Parnell briefly forced her out of their vehicle and told her to “go get an abortion.” […]

    People’s personal lives are messy, but even taking that into account the number of Republican men who abuse women is disturbing.

  249. says

    Why do Republicans keep complaining about fentanyl seizures?

    Republicans keep complaining about the Biden administration stopping illegal fentanyl shipments at the border. It’s getting a little weird.

    In July, Republican Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona published an odd complaint. “Under Joe Biden,” the Arizonan wrote via Twitter, “enough fentanyl to kill 238 million Americans was seized at the southern border last month. Where’s the outrage in the media?”

    It was hard not to wonder whether the congressman — the chair of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus — had thought this through. Why would anyone in the United States, other than drug dealers, complain about officials seizing fentanyl at the border? […] why anyone would be outraged that U.S. officials had successfully done their jobs.

    And yet, that didn’t stop the Republican National Committee from making the same complaint several days later, as if the seizure of fentanyl shipments was necessarily evidence of failure, rather than the opposite.

    In fact, in recent months, a variety of other congressional Republicans — South Carolina’s Ralph Norman, Texas’ Brian Babin, Texas’ Beth Van Duyne, Texas’ August Pfluger — have all criticized the Biden administration over fentanyl shipments seized at the border.

    Yesterday, Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa published this tweet, pushing the same line. (I’ve edited the text slightly, converting abbreviations to actual words.)

    “Welcome to President Biden’s America, where 10,000 pounds of fentanyl have been seized by Customs and Border Patrol so far this fiscal year, which is enough to kill over 2 billion people or more than one-fourth of the world’s population.”

    Let’s briefly review some basic details.

    Criminals have tried to smuggle illegal drugs into the United States for many years. It’s happened during Republican administrations; it’s happened during Democratic administrations. Criminals have focused their efforts on the southern border, the northern border, ports, and even airports. The United States’ system of defense is far from perfect, but a dedicated group of professionals do their best to stop the shipments before they reach American streets.

    That is, of course, what we want them to do. If officials have seized 10,000 pounds of fentanyl so far this fiscal year, that’s evidence of the system working as intended.

    […] If the president had implemented an “open-border” policy, as the right routinely claims, U.S. Customs and Border Protection wouldn’t have stopped these shipments before they entered the country.

    White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates asked via Twitter yesterday, “Wait, Republicans are now attacking us for stopping fentanyl trafficking?” […]

  250. says

    More farcical happenings being promoted by dunderheads: Roger Stone Threatens To Run For Florida Guv If DeSantis Doesn’t Do Trumpy Election Audit

    Formerly convicted Trump associate Roger Stone is demanding that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) launch an “audit” of the state’s 2020 elections. Or Else.

    Stone threatened via Telegram on Sunday to tank DeSantis’ reelection bid with a third party gubernatorial campaign if there isn’t an audit of Florida’s election results on the basis of ex-President Donald Trump’s election fraud myth.

    “If Gov. Ron DeSantis does not order a full audit of the Florida 2020 vote I may be forced to seek the Libertarian party nomination for governor in 2022,” Stone wrote. […]

    Posted by readers of the article:

    Roger can’t stand the fact that the entire GQP has pretty much adopted his “ratfuck the system” schtick, and now he’s just a bitter and increasingly out of touch old man who doesn’t get any credit for it.

  251. says

    Wonkette: “Lord God Joe Manchin Demands More Temples In His Honor Before Supporting Reconciliation Bill”

    Senator Joe Manchin, the man who assumes he’s president, seemed to put the kibosh Monday on actual President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda. While Biden was out of the country on a diplomatic trip, Manchin harshly criticized the Democrats’ reconciliation bill with a children’s treasury of rightwing talking points about the deficit and spending.

    The Washington Post reports:

    “I will not support a bill that is this consequential without thoroughly understanding the impact it will have on our national debt, our economy and the American people,” Manchin said. “Every elected representative needs to know what they are voting for and the impact it has, not only on their constituents, but the entire country.”

    “I’m open to supporting a final bill that helps move our country forward,” the senator added. “But I’m equally open to voting against a bill that hurts our country.”

    Fortunately, the final reconciliation bill is titled Move Our Country Forward and not Bill That Hurts Our Country. […]

    Manchin is so goddamn annoying. He’s the cranky old dad who grudgingly agrees to dinner out at a nice restaurant and then complains about the prices once there […]

    The White House and congressional Democrats have spent months now negotiating — or more accurately, appeasing Manchin. Yes, he’s the vital 50th vote in the Senate, but 81 million of us across the nation voted to elect Joe Biden and his campaign platform. Just 290,510 West Virginians re-elected Manchin in 2018, so based on how math and democracy works, Manchin should defer slightly to the people’s agenda. […]

    Manchin isn’t uniquely powerful. Kirsten Gillibrand or Elizabeth Warren could also refuse to support reconciliation unless the bill met their specific preferences. Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have leverage primarily because they’ve made it clear they’re willing to walk away from reconciliation, tanking Biden’s ambitious agenda and dooming their Democratic colleagues up for re-election next year. That’s how self-centered centrists roll and we must accept it. However, it pisses them off whenever other Democrats, especially progressives, exert the same leverage over their bipartisan “OK, fine, we’ll repave some fucking roads” infrastructure bill. They don’t have enough Republican votes to pass the BIF without progressive caucus support, and that offends Manchin, who believes he’s entitled to votes from people he regards with nothing but contempt. […]

    Emperor Manchin demanded an immediate vote on the the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure plan, which experts suggest has shakier financing than the reconciliation bill. He insisted that “the political games have to stop.” OK, Yahtzee is a game. Putting an offer on a house that’s contingent on inspection is not a game but a straightforward professional agreement. Progressives provided their votes for BIF contingent on Manchin and Sinema’s support for reconciliation. […] No matter how much bath water is removed from the final reconciliation bill, Manchin and Sinema seem determined to kill Biden’s baby.

    Manchin claimed this is “not how the United States Congress should operate or in my view has operated in the past.” That’s just bullshit. He hasn’t condemned his Republican buddies for repeatedly blocking voting rights legislation and almost filibustering the nation into default. However, good old-fashioned legislative horse-trading was a cornerstone of an era when Congress supposedly operated effectively.

    […] The White House remained optimistic that Manchin will come around like he always does. Once his belly’s full with a few pounds of progressive flesh, the old tiger will support the president’s bill. […]

    Senator Manchin says he is prepared to support a Build Back Better plan that combats inflation, is fiscally responsible, and will create jobs. The plan the House is finalizing meets those tests — it is fully paid for, will reduce the deficit, and brings down costs for health care, child care, elder care, and housing. Experts agree: Seventeen Nobel Prize-winning economists have said it will reduce inflation. We remain confident that the plan will gain Senator Manchin’s support.

    Manchin obviously wants progressives to take the blame if either or both bills fail, but leading House progressive Rep. Ro Khanna wouldn’t take the bait. Khanna told CNN that progressives are still prepared to vote for both bills this week. […]

    Link

    And the boring, repetitive, yet absolutely essential work of Congress proceeds.

  252. says

    Wonkette: “North Idaho Has A New Wingnut News Source, And It’s A Doozy”

    Residents around northern Idaho last week found their mailboxes packed with the expected flyers for candidates in the area’s city council, school board, and mayoral elections being held today, as well a another very special publication: a 16-page tabloid called The People’s Pen, a rag whose bare-bones website describes it as “a printed publication empowering patriots.” The cover illustration, by local arteest and sometimes political cartoonist Daniel Brannan, depicts a super-muscly patriot guy in camo body armor, carrying an AR-15 and a holstered handgun, as other patriots “cowboy-looking dude” and “lady with elaborate blond braids” also stand armed and ready, as a really buff German shepherd sits alertly, too. Also, for some reason, the painting features lens flares.

    Civil War Or At Least Rezoning

    The grouping is labeled “The Battle for Coeur D’Alene 2030 AD,” and it’s not entirely clear until you read the tabloid why that’s the apparent date of the coming civil war, or at least a squirmish in it. Turns out there’s a wingnut running for CDA City Council, Roger Garlock, who explains in an interview that he wants to put a stop to the nefarious actions of a group of city planning commissions, one of which is named “CDA 2030.” Garland says CDA 2030 will implement the UN’s Agenda 21 plan and force all the people of north Idaho to live under tyranny and stuff, by forcing changes to zoning laws and destroying all the city’s single-family zoned neighborhoods via “infill zoning, high density zoning, and mixed use zoning.”

    If that sounds familiar, it’s because it’s pretty much what Donald Trump tried to scare suburban white ladies about, […] kill those who would undo the zoning laws that Make America Great.

    Agenda 21 Coming To Make You Ride Bikes

    Also, just in case anyone had forgotten what Agenda 21 is, there’s a lengthy discussion of how it’s all a fiendish plan to do away with individual freedom and to make all levels of government yield to the tyrannical dictates of the United Nations and force you to ride bicycles. It’s among the most enduring conspiracy theories on the far Right, even though we’re well into the 21st century and no blue-helmeted stormtroopers have shown up to crush liberty under their jackboots. In mere reality, Agenda 21 and a follow-up UN document, Agenda 2030, are simply a set of recommendations or aspirations aimed at promoting sustainable development, not a blueprint for the New World Order. […] It’s kind of difficult to steal America’s sovereignty and impose one-world socialism when the UN has no actual power to do so.

    Not that wingnuts like the good folks at People’s Pen don’t try to say it’s on the way any day now. […] the schools are full of communists pushing “equity” on our children […]

    People’s Pen [complains] that the media is required to promote “sustainability, gender equality, diversity, social justice, collectivism, multiculturalism, and promoting government authority.” […]

    Critical Race Theory Gonna Give Black Kids All The Good Stuff

    The current issue also includes a nice dose of moral panic over the supposed scourge of “critical race theory” in local schools, and explains how the average school day works in the fallen American Schools of Today’s America:

    It’s Monday morning; a child sits down at his classroom desk, six feet apart from his classmates who, like him, are all wearing masks. His teacher begins the day by going over the weekend news segments currently dominating the headlines, where she claims, as she always does, that “former president Donald J. Trump attempted to destroy our Democracy,” and that his supporters, who are all “white supremacists,” failed in their attempted coup at the United States capitol. This recap of the news is then followed by the daily discussion on race, sexuality, gender and “social equity.” The bell rings and the students quietly shuffle on to their ‘next class.

    This is a brief glimpse into our children’s classrooms. This dystopian description of the average child’s day at school may sound like hyperbole, but it is in fact a reality for millions of children all across this nation.

    […] We’re told that CRT is nothing less than a “malicious attempt to re-write history, and often times completely fabricate current events in a way that inspires mistrust, confusion and contempt for groups and individuals based on their race.” (This definitely means white people, especially conservatives, who are the greatest victims of everything.) […]

    There’s a lot more griping about all the socialist indoctrination, plus a brief rant about allegedly “pornographic” books in school libraries, plus the mandatory fearmongering that your children are learning that there are “between 25 and 73” different genders, so please vote for all the school board members backed by the Kootenai County Republicans, including the sweaty anti-Semitic guy too.

    Be Like Us, Think For Yourself

    There’s also an editorial encouraging patriots to move beyond simply reacting to the evil plans of “the Adversary” [hmmm, that’s Mormon jargon] to take away all our freedom, and to start planning the kind of America that patriots will build once The Adversary is finally defeated. Who exactly the Adversary is goes unnamed. […]

    Art Criticism For Wingnuts

    The current edition closes with a screed by house arteest Daniel Brannan complaining that a new statue scheduled to go up in CDA looks exactly like the Biblical Tower of Babel. The statue, a “Monument of Peace and Unity,” is a horrible thing because the artist isn’t from Idaho […]

    Are you terrified yet? Ready to take up arms to fight the socialist overlords of Kootenai County? […]

    Link

  253. says

    The high-stakes U.N. global climate summit started its second day in Glasgow on Tuesday with pledges by the United States to curb the emissions of methane and new efforts expected by the nations to address deforestation. World leaders have made significant pledges to slow climate change so far at COP26 — but not enough to stave off a catastrophic rise in global temperatures. After leaders depart Tuesday, negotiators will keep working over the next two weeks, but chances of a breakthrough by the talks’ conclusion remain uncertain.

    […] The Biden administration unveiled a sweeping set of policies to cut the emissions of methane — a key greenhouse gas — in the nation’s oil and gas operations, in what is likely the president’s most consequential effort to fight climate change to date.

    More than 100 world leaders representing over 85 percent of the world’s forests pledged to halt deforestation over the next decade.

    […] Many young activists attending the summit have expressed frustration with the long-term targets presented by government officials. To them, pledges to reaching net-zero by 2050, 2060 or 2070 just looks like kicking the can further down the road.

    Washington Post link

  254. says

    In Virginia’s gubernatorial race, which is today, Trump held a tele-rally last night in support of Glenn Youngkin and the GOP ticket. “I’ve gotten to know him so well and our relationship is great,” the former president said of the Republican nominee, who chose not to participate in the virtual event.

  255. says

    The Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) said in a statement yesterday that “there is no specific, credible threat to election infrastructure” this year.

  256. tomh says

    Wednesday, 11/3, at 10:00 AM EDT the SC will hear oral arguments on the NY concealed carry laws. Oral arguments can be heard live here.

    NYT:
    Opinion | If the Supreme Court Claims Power Over Gun Carry Laws, It Would Be Making a Grave Mistake
    By J. Michael Luttig and Richard D. Bernstein / Nov. 2, 2021
    Mr. Luttig is a former U.S. Court of Appeals judge. Mr. Bernstein is an appellate lawyer.

    The Supreme Court will soon decide whether Americans have a constitutional right to carry loaded concealed weapons in public and in public places, wherever and whenever they believe they might need their guns for self-defense. Practically, that could mean everywhere and at all times.

    The announcement of such an absolute and unfettered right would be shocking and disquieting to most Americans, not just to Americans in the many states where the people, through their elected legislatures, have for centuries restricted the carrying of handguns in public. It would also be concerning to many Americans who support gun rights. They, too, would understandably be unsettled and frightened by the idea that everywhere they went, their fellow citizens might be carrying loaded guns.

    At stake in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen is whether the Supreme Court will claim for itself the power to decide where and when Americans can carry loaded handguns in public — a power that the Constitution reserves for the people and their elected representatives.

    …..The court has a newly reconstituted conservative majority who may want to expand Second Amendment rights and protections. But that would be a mistake in this case because the framers of our Constitution intended the people and their democratically elected legislatures to decide where and when to permit the carry of firearms in public, as they have done for centuries.

    The Supreme Court is not constitutionally empowered to make these decisions, and it is ill suited to make them. For the justices to begin deciding for the people exactly where and when a person has a right to carry a handgun in public would be to establish the court as essentially a National Review Board for Public-Carry Regulations, precisely the kind of constitutional commandeering of the democratic process that conservatives and conservative jurists have long lamented in other areas of the law, such as abortion. It would be hypocritical for this conservative court to assume what essentially would be a legislative oversight role over public-carry rights, when conservatives on and off the court have for almost 50 years roundly criticized the court for assuming that same role over abortion rights.

    New York isn’t the only state that authorizes local officials to issue residents unrestricted licenses to carry a loaded handgun in public if they show a particular need. (In 2018 and 2019, at least 65 percent of New Yorkers who applied for such an unrestricted license were granted one.) Seven other states have similar statutes…..Most other jurisdictions restrict the carrying of handguns in myriad public places, including schools, courthouses, parks, public transit, restaurants and bars, malls, businesses and houses of worship. These laws restricting public carry would fall, too, were the gun advocates to prevail, as would the District of Columbia’s.
    […]

    Striking down all of these laws would upend the entire country’s regulatory scheme for the public carry of guns that has been meticulously designed over the course of the past two centuries, laying waste to legislative efforts to curb gun violence in America.

    …..What is more, centuries of unbroken history and tradition show that there has never been such an unrestricted constitutional right to bear arms outside the home.

    Historically and traditionally, legislatures have restricted the public carry of guns, from medieval England to colonial times, through the founding and to the present day. In fact, many of those early laws were more draconian than our own, banning the carry of guns in public places generally, without offering any exceptions like those New York provides for people who can demonstrate an actual need to defend themselves.
    […..]

    The people and their representatives have responsibly made the decisions where and when to allow the carry of handguns in public since long before our country’s founding. As contemplated by our federalism, the various colonies, states and jurisdictions have regulated and restricted public carry differently, each in response to the different needs of public safety and self-defense in their particular public spaces and locations. Whatever its policy misgivings and temptation, this conservative Supreme Court would be wise, not to mention true to its conservative principles, to leave these decisions for the people and their elected representatives to make — as the framers of our Constitution intended.

    Luttig and Bernstein, along with others, have filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court in support of the State of New York in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen.

  257. says

    Follow-up to comment 300.

    Republicans Name Joe Manchin Employee of the Month

    In a big win for the senator from West Virginia, congressional Republicans have named Joe Manchin Employee of the Month for October.

    Speaking to reporters at the Capitol, Manchin seemed overwhelmed by the award, saying that he was “humbled and honored.”

    “When I work hard to keep benefits out of the hands of poor children, I’m not doing it to win a prize,” he said. “I’m just doing what I love.”

    Kyrsten Sinema, the senator from Arizona, sent her congratulations to Manchin after learning that she had been the runner-up for the award.

    “I knew it wouldn’t be easy beating a great competitor like Joe,” she said. “Maybe next month.”

    New Yorker link

  258. says

    NBC News:

    Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Tuesday that Democrats had reached an agreement on lowering prescription drug pricing, one of the party’s key disputes in the $1.75 trillion safety net bill…. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., a key holdout, endorsed the agreement.

  259. says

    Washington Post:

    The heads of the five major unions representing members of the New York City Police Department warned that 10,000 unvaccinated police officers were ‘set to be pulled from [the] streets’ as a Nov. 1 vaccine mandate deadline for New York City employees passed. So far, the number is 34.

  260. says

    New York Times:

    The Biden administration announced on Saturday that it had reached a deal to roll back tariffs on European steel and aluminum, an agreement that officials said would lower costs on goods like cars and washing machines, reduce carbon emissions, and help get supply chains moving again.

  261. says

    Democrats Bring Medicare Drug Pricing Negotiations Back From The Dead

    […] On Tuesday, Senate Democrats announced that they’d arrived at a deal.

    “By empowering Medicare to directly negotiate prices in Part B and Part C, this deal will directly reduce out of pocket drug spending for millions of patients every time they visit the pharmacy or doctor,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday afternoon. “It will cap out of pocket spending at $2,000 per year — ending the days when a life-changing diagnosis could mean thousands upon thousands of dollars in new expenses. And it will reform the entire industry to end price gouging.”

    While Schumer didn’t release all the details, the provision will certainly be less ambitious than what many Democrats initially wanted to do. It lets negotiations begin in 2023 on certain drugs, but includes patent exclusivity for most drugs for nine years before negotiations can start and exclusivity for 12 years on more advanced drugs, according to the New York Times.

    “It’s not everything we all want,” Schumer said. “Many of us would have wanted to go much further, but it’s a big step in helping the American people deal with the price of drugs.”

    […] the pharmaceutical industry has incredibly deep pockets and has been spending heavily against any provision like this. […]

    After the proposal was chopped from the White House’s reconciliation framework late last week, lawmakers rallied.

    […] Those deliberations continued into the weekend, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) told reporters today.

    Sinema put out a statement during Schumer’s remarks saying she “welcomed the new agreement.”

    Klobuchar added that now the focus is on having an “enforcement mechanism” for the provision, which is still being written.

    Fighting for the survival of this provision was one of the last loose ends remaining as Democrats look to wrap up the reconciliation package. […]

  262. says

    Wonkette: “Stupid Arizona QAnon Idiot Has Racist Thing To Say About Virginia Elections”

    Wendy Rogers is the QAnon-loving GOP state senator from Arizona who really got excited when she heard about the Arizona frauditors scanning the ballots for secret bamboo, because that’s how stupid she is. She wasn’t even trolling. She thought it was so cool that the frauditors were examining ballots like that, to find out if China had secretly sent a bunch of ’em to Arizona on Joe Biden’s behalf.

    Anyway, she’s also a vile racist, if this tweet she sent about Virginia’s elections today is a reliable barometer for such things, and if the bamboo thing didn’t spoil that surprise for you.

    Good morning. Today is election day in Virginia. Check in if you already voted Republican. Also, if you have family and friends who haven’t voted, please send them a reminder via text or call. Let’s go Old Virginia! Make General Lee proud.

    […] Goddammit, you can’t even parody these people.

    Go vote, Virginia.

    Link

  263. says

    Taniel:

    A big picture check-in at 8:30pm:

    —GOP are very strong in Virginia
    —Dems on path in NJ but still very early
    —Progressives way ahead in Boston, Cleveland
    —Dems keep Manchester [NH], St Petersburg [FL]
    —Police-boosting side down in Austin, Cleveland
    —Large expected leads for Gainey, Krasner

    It’s still too early to know what’s going on in PA’s big Supreme Court race, and we wait for polls to close in New York, Minnesota, and Washington (site of huge battles).

  264. says

    Follow-up to SC @313:

    Terry McAuliffe received 1.6 million votes, which is easily the most ever for a Democratic gubernatorial nominee in the commonwealth. He lost anyway thanks to enormous Republican turnout.

    Other campaign news: Voters in Boston yesterday chose Democrat Michelle Wu as the city’s new mayor, becoming the first woman ever elected to the office.

    And: Voters in Pittsburgh yesterday chose Ed Gainey as their new mayor, easily defeating retired police officer Tony Moreno. The Democratic state representative will be the city’s first elected Black mayor.

    Akira @315, the GOP didn’t even need voter suppression laws to win in Virginia. Democrats have done all kinds of good things in Virginia and now we’ll probably get to watch as the new Republican governor rolls all that progress back.

  265. says

    A slightly more hopeful analysis of yesterday’s election results:

    To study election results in the United States is to realize that gubernatorial races often produce counterintuitive results. For example, Vermont, Maryland, and Massachusetts are three of the nation’s bluest blue states — but they’re each led by Republican governors.

    On the other hand, Kentucky, Kansas, and Louisiana are reliable red states, each of which Donald Trump carried by double digits. They’re also led by Democratic governors.

    I mention this because the conventional wisdom this morning suggests that Republicans will look at yesterday’s results in Virginia and New Jersey, and use them as templates in the 2022 midterm election cycle.

    There’s reason for some skepticism. Pointing to Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin’s success in Virginia, a Roll Call analysis explained:

    Youngkin blazed a legitimate path to victory in territory that had previously rejected Trump by keeping some distance from the former president. While Trump will claim credit for Youngkin’s win, his absence from Virginia and not requiring Youngkin to kiss the ring allowed the GOP nominee to appeal to the independent voters he needed to win. That won’t be as easy in 2022 for Republican candidates who have to navigate competitive primaries, and profess loyalty to Trump, before moving on to the general election.

    All of this applies equally well to New Jersey, where Republicans nominated Jack Ciattarelli, who had no qualms about denouncing Donald Trump and who didn’t want the former president to be involved in his candidacy at all. For congressional GOP candidates, this won’t be as easy. A Washington Post analysis added:

    What also matters is whether Republicans can actually put forward candidates like Youngkin and perhaps Ciattarelli who can effectively craft their own brand. That’s especially true given how much some top GOP Senate candidates have tied themselves to Trump in the service of winning primaries — and how much Republicans might nominate candidates more extreme and with more baggage than Youngkin because they have Trump’s backing.

    The Associated Press added, “Whether Republicans can maintain this week’s success in the 2022 midterms — where the most competitive races will be in traditional swing states and moderate districts — may depend on whether Trump is content to remain an afterthought in national politics, even as he moves toward a 2024 presidential run. That’s not likely.”

    Link

    No matter what, there are still too many voters living in the sludge of disinformation and voting for doofuses like Youngkin. I think Youngkin will show his true trumpian colors now that he has been elected.

  266. says

    Mitch McConnell’s case against the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is so awful that it’s insulting to Americans’ intelligence.

    The U.S. Senate is moving forward with plans to consider the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell isn’t happy about it. Here’s the message the Kentucky Republican delivered to reporters yesterday afternoon:

    “Clearly, [Democrats] want to change the subject … to a non-existent problem with this marching out of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. Again, I repeat, the Supreme Court did not strike down the Voting Rights Act. It’s still on the books. There’s no evidence right now anywhere in the country that states are engaged in suppressing the vote based upon race.”

    [head/desk]

    So, a few things.

    First, the idea that Democrats are only pretending to be interested in voting rights, as part of a ruse to distract the public, is plainly silly. This has been a priority for the party for quite a while — they first took up the For the People Act last year — and Democratic leaders would be pushing the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act regardless of the larger political circumstances.

    Second, McConnell’s insistence that the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is “still on the books” is disingenuous nonsense — and he knows it. In their Shelby County v. Holder decision, Republican-appointed justices gutted the landmark civil rights legislation, making the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act necessary. For the Kentucky senator to pretend the Voting Rights Act is fine is insulting to Americans’ intelligence.

    Finally, I was struck by McConnell’s latest pitch about his party’s anti-voting efforts: “There’s no evidence right now anywhere in the country that states are engaged in suppressing the vote based upon race.” This is, oddly enough, a slight departure from his usual rhetoric on the subject.

    In March, for example, the Senate minority leader told reporters, “States are not engaging in trying to suppress voters whatsoever.” In June, McConnell pushed a similar line: “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.”

    That rhetoric was demonstrably ridiculous, though I’m fascinated by the tweak: McConnell’s new line is that there’s no voter suppression based upon race.

    In other words, there may be all kinds of voter-suppression measures becoming law in red states across the country — but don’t worry, they’re not racially discriminatory.

    But that’s wrong, too. The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law published a report last m